A divider or a uniter?: To the relief of TV producers (and the disappointment of conservative bloggers), Kanye West stuck to just singing during last Friday's multichannel "Shelter for the Storm" benefit concert. That didn't stop him from throwing out criticism during an earlier appearance on Ellen DeGeneres' talk show, saying, "They have been trying to sweep us (African-Americans) under the kitchen sink." Kanye's now-famous "George Bush doesn't care about black people" line has become a divisive issue within the rap world. Jay-Z was quick to publicly agree with Kanye, and he and Diddy have announced plans to start a relief fund specifically designed to help African-Americans affected by disasters. Usher, however, sounds like he has been handed someone else's talking points: "I wasn't mad at Kanye's statement -- that's his opinion -- but it's obviously not the opportunity or the time to poke fun or appoint blame. This is an opportunity where we all need to come together -- musicians, actors, politicians -- and help the Gulf region." Nelly took the path of least resistance. "I'm not going to say no and I'm not going to say yes," Nelly told the Times. "I will say they definitely didn't get there soon enough." Chris Rock, meanwhile, was the only celebrity on the telethon to go off-script and air his views about the Bush administration, looking directly into the camera and saying: "George Bush hates midgets." (Contact Music, MSNBC, N.Y. Times, AP)
Jackson wants Usher: Michael Jackson's idea to record an all-star charity single a la "We Are the World" has so far had a hard time getting over that first, key obstacle: getting other stars involved. So Jackson is looking for a yes from someone who will make everyone else want to join, and has set his sights on Usher. Roger Friedman of Fox writes, "Jackson has already spoken with Usher's manager, his mom, Jonetta Patton. Now he has to pitch the idea to the young singer himself." Jackson is also reportedly coming to New York soon to try to sell the idea to other performers. (Fox 411)
Super Anchorman?: CNN is rewarding Anderson Cooper for his heartfelt work during Hurricane Katrina. His impassioned interjections during an interview with Sen. Mary Landrieu, D-La., was a pivotal moment in the coverage of the disaster. Now, CNN has asked him to join Aaron Brown for two hours of prime-time news in addition to his regular show, "Anderson Cooper 360." "He is the anchorperson of the future," said Jonathan Klein, the president of CNN. "He's all human. He's not putting it on." Anderson says he has tried to keep his own emotional reactions off-camera -- "who wants to see that?" He adds, "I am least of all interested in any TV anchor's opinion, and least of all my own." (N.Y. Times)
It's hard to tell whether Sienna Miller is actually pregnant or whether she's getting back together with nanny-lovin' Jude Law, but one thing is for sure: She'll be appearing as Edie Sedgwick in the Andy Warhol move "Factory Girl." Director George Hickenlooper says, "We're starting the film on Nov. 7. Sienna is ready to go." If anyone can help Courtney Love make it through rehab, it's Robert Downey Jr. "Robert has called Courtney several times," says Star magazine. "He knows exactly what she is going through and really wants to help. He's telling her about his own struggles with cocaine and how he finally got clean." A new book written by John Lennon's first wife, Cynthia, claims the Beatle once hit her in a jealous fit. "I could put up with his outbursts, the jealousy and possessiveness but not the violence," she writes Another loss for the blues: Suffering from both heart disease and lung cancer, Clarence "Gatemouth" Brown died in Texas on Saturday at age 81. The Louisiana native was forced to evacuate his home in Slidell before Hurricane Katrina hit -- the house was destroyed -- and went to stay with relatives in Orange, Texas.
Kanye West on rap and immortal fame: "Death is the best thing that can ever happen to a rapper. Almost dying isn't bad either." (E! Online)
If you're near a TV at 11 a.m. EDT, catch the debut of the new Martha Stewart talk show, "Martha" (syndicated on various channels, check local listings). Later, it's the second season of the partner-trading reality show "Wife Swap" (ABC, 8 p.m. EDT) and a new episode of "Prison Break" (Fox, 9 p.m. EDT).
-- Scott Lamb