Plus, news about ''Star Wars: Episode II,'' Michael Jackson, Jami Gertz, Ellen DeGeneres, Martin Scorsese, Spike Lee, Renee Zellweger, Richard Harris, and others
Alicia Keys
Credit: Alicia Keys: Chris Delmas/ZUMA Press

SOUND BITES Alicia Keys topped the list of nominees for the American Music Awards. She picked up five nods, including favorite new artist and favorite female artist in both the pop/rock and soul/R&B slots. Her nearest competitors are the 10 country and pop acts that picked up two nominations apiece, including ‘N Sync, Aaliyah, Destiny’s Child, Janet Jackson, Shaggy, Tim McGraw, Dave Matthews Band, Brooks & Dunn, R. Kelly, and Lonestar. The nominees, announced yesterday in Beverly Hills by Sean ”P. Diddy” Combs and Jewel, will find out if they’re winners at the awards telecast on Jan. 9, 2002, at Los Angeles’ Shrine Auditorium. The Dick Clark-produced awards show, now in its 29th year, picks winners in a poll of 20,000 listeners, unlike the Grammys, which are picked by industry insiders.

He got it bad. Usher is delaying his tour because of a dislocated shoulder. He suffered the injury while rehearsing a dance number last week. On Monday, he underwent surgery in Los Angeles. The tour, which was supposed to begin Dec. 6 in Minneapolis, will now start in April.

REEL DEALS George Lucas wants ”Star Wars: Episode II — Attack of the Clones” to be released next spring on the same day in as many countries as possible, and since movies often open abroad on Thursdays, that’s when it’s opening here, too. Lucas announced yesterday that ”Clones” will open May 16, 2002, getting a solid, six- to eight-day jump on whatever blockbusters open Memorial Day weekend. Also, a full-length ”Clones” trailer will play this weekend with ”Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone” — as if that movie needed any help.

Michael Jackson has announced a plan to make his feature directing debut with a low-budget children’s movie called ”Home of the Angels,” about an orphaned 8-year-old boy. Working alongside with the inexperienced Jacko will be codirector Bryan Michael Stoller, a Canadian former child star who has directed such low-budget family fare as ”Undercover Angel,” a 1999 film about a 6-year-old girl who plays Cupid for Yasmine Bleeth. Stoller is one of the few adults who’s been a guest at Jackson’s Neverland ranch. The New York Post quotes him as saying, ”Michael and I both love animals and the reason why he likes kids … is because he trusts them. They look at him like just a fun person…. I’ve seen how he is with kids and it’s totally innocent, from what I’ve seen.”

Ellen DeGeneres
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