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Beyonce leads Soul Train nominations

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Beyonce Knowles
Gregg DeGuire/WireImage.com

Beyonce leads Soul Train noms
Beyonce leads all Soul Train Music Award nominees with three nods: best female album (B’Day), best female single (”Irreplaceable”), and the Michael Jackson Award for best video, also for ”Irreplaceable.” Mary J. Blige, John Legend, Chris Brown, Ne-Yo, Gnarls Barkley, the Isley Brothers featuring Ronald Isley, and Yung Joc each got two nominations. Winners will be announced on March 10, at a ceremony in Pasadena, CA hosted by LeToya and Omarion, and aired in national syndication the week of March 17. (Hollywood Reporter)

Adam Sandler to star in Zohan
Columbia is picking up Judd Apatow, Robert Smigel, and Adam Sandler’s original screenplay You Don’t Mess With the Zohan, and has selected Sandler to star. It is a comedy that follows a Mossad agent who fakes his death so he can anonymously move to New York and become a hair stylist. Smigel, creator of Triumph the Insult Comic Dog and several of SNL‘s ”TV Funhouse” sketches, is doing a rewrite. Apatow penned The 40-Year-Old Virgin, and co-wrote The Wedding Singer with Sandler. Shooting on Zohan is scheduled to begin this summer, with a summer 2008 release date target. (Hollywood Reporter)

Apple’s Jobs calls for end to music antipiracy software
Apple CEO Steve Jobs issued a 1,800 word essay calling for an end to the Digital Rights Management (DRM) protections used to limit the use of digital music files. Currently, DRM prevents users from playing songs downloaded from Apple’s iTunes store on any player other than the iPod, which owns an 80 percent market share. Likewise, smaller digital music retailers, like Napster, Rhapsody, and Yahoo Music, cannot currently sell music that works on an iPod. Jobs’ essay encouraged major labels to begin selling music in open MP3 format, and EMI is reportedly already experimenting with doing so. Dropping DRM could help Apple in European markets where the company has received criticism for limiting competition. ”Much of the concern over DRM systems has arisen in European countries,” Jobs wrote. ”Perhaps those unhappy with the current situation should redirect their energies toward persuading the music companies to sell their music DRM-free.” (Variety)

Island makes Dupri president of urban music
The producer will head Island Records’ urban division. He left his position heading urban at Virgin last October following poor sales of girlfriend Janet Jackson’s 20 Y.O., which he executive produced. (Hollywood Reporter)

Weinsteins pick up new dance movie spoof
The Weinstein Co. picked up Steve Basilone and Annie Mebane’s spec script spoof Dirty Step Stomp and are setting it up with Benderspink. The project spoofs dance movies like Dirty Dancing, Save the Last Dance, Step Up, and Stomp the Yard. (Variety)

Perrineau to co-star in CBS drama pilot
Former Lost star Harold Perrineau (Michael) will co-star in the CBS pilot Demons. The drama is about Gus, an ex-Jesuit priest-psychologist who performs exorcisms. Perrineau will play a fellow priest and friend of Gus’. Sources say that Perrineau was unable to reach an agreement that would have brought him back to Lost. (Hollywood Reporter)

Kate Bosworth eyes two projects
Kate Bosworth is in negotiations to join the cast of Columbia’s untitled blackjack movie (formerly known as 21), directed by Robert Luketic, and is in talks to play a starring role in the supernatural thriller After.Life. The blackjack movie, which stars Kevin Spacey, Laurence Fishburne, and Jim Sturgess, is about a team of brilliant math students at MIT who get into trouble after they rake in millions as card counters at blackjack tables in Las Vegas. Bosworth would play a member of the card counter team. For After.Life, Bosworth would play a young woman in a state of limbo between life and death who fights to avoid being buried alive by a funeral director. (Hollywood Reporter)

Wal-Mart launches video downloading service
Wal-Mart launched a service offering digital downloads of TV programs and movies from all the major studios. The service will allow users to choose from more than 3,000 movie and TV videos and download them to their PC for less than the cost at iTunes. Meanwhile, Amazon.com has announced that its Unbox service has teamed with TiVo so that their downloaded movies can be played on TV screens. (Hollywood Reporter)

Kristen Wiig headed to Walk Hard
The second-season SNL cast member is set to co-star opposite John C. Reilly and Jenna Fischer in Columbia Pictures’ comedy Walk Hard. Jake Kasdan will direct with Judd Apatow producing. Apatow and Kasadan also wrote the script, about a singer (Reilly) who overcomes adversity to become a musical legend. Wiig will play the wife of Reilly’s character. Shooting is slated for later this month. (Hollywood Reporter)

ABC doing special on Oprah’s African school project
Oprah Winfrey’s Harpo Prods. and ABC will telecast a one-hour special, Building a Dream, that will focus on the talk show host’s five-year effort to build a school for disadvantaged girls in South Africa. The $40 million school now hosts 152 girls, and that number is slated to expand to 450. Winfrey will host the special, which will air on Feb. 26 at 10 p.m. (Hollywood Reporter)

IN THE GOSSIPS

Page Six: Sources say photographer/marketer Kate Schelter is likely behind gossip Web site SocialiteRank.com.

Ben Widdicombe: Eddie Murphy considers a return to standup after a 20-year absence.

Rush & Molloy: Cathy Griffin, the media rep at Lindsay Lohan’s rehab center, is also a gossip reporter for Liz Smith, People, and L.A. Confidential.

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