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PEOPLE & ENTERTAINMENT

The Baltimore Sun

MTV goes for Britney, baby, one more time

Despite Britney Spears' train-wreck performance at the MTV Video Music Awards last year, the network confirms the pop singer will kick off the show once again.

But it won't be a performance. Instead, MTV Networks Music Group President Van Toffler said, it'll be something "fun and unexpected" on Sunday night's show.

Unexpected is probably the kindest way to describe Spears' performance at last year's VMAs. In what was heavily promoted as the troubled singer's comeback, she instead gave an unfocused, almost unwatchable performance of "Gimme More," one of the many low points in her year of debacles.

"MTV has long played an important role in my career. How can I not be there to kick off their 25th VMAs? I'm excited to open the entire show, to say hi to my fans and to be nominated," Spears said in a statement.

Toffler said MTV had nominated her for three VMAs, including video of the year, for her clip "Piece of Me."

Spears has given the VMAs many highlights over the years, from her kiss with Madonna to her performance with a writhing snake.

Spears also equals ratings gold: Last year's VMAs were up 23 percent over the 2006 show.

On Web, more of Moore

Inspired by Neil Young and Radiohead, Michael Moore will release his new film online and for free.

The film, Slacker Uprising, follows Moore's 62-city tour during the 2004 election to rally young voters. It will be available for three weeks as a free download to North American residents beginning Sept. 23.

The 97-minute long Slacker Uprising will be the first major film to be released in such a way.

Presenting Kathy Griffin

Kathy Griffin, who shook up an Emmy ceremony last year with a rowdy acceptance speech, is bringing her act to this year's prime-time awards show. Griffin and comedian Don Rickles will team up as presenters at the Sept. 21 ceremony on ABC, the TV academy says.

Griffin is a nominee for Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List and the special Kathy Griffin: Straight to Hell.

Last year, Griffin joked about Jesus while accepting an Emmy Award at the creative arts ceremony that precedes the main broadcast show. Reports of her remarks provoked criticism from Christian groups.

No joy ride

A Los Angeles man claims in a lawsuit that Gene Simmons took him for a ride on a marketing deal with the Indy Racing League.

Allan Brown is suing Simmons and two business partners, claiming the group cut him out of a 2006 deal between the Kiss bassist and the league.

Brown is seeking unspecified damages and is claiming fraud and slander. His suit alleges he helped broker the deal but was cut out of the contract while on vacation. He also claims Simmons and his partners mischaracterized him as "lazy" and "rich" to league officials.

Simmons promoted IndyCar racing in 2006, and even co-wrote a song, "I Am INDY."

An e-mail message left for Simmons' attorney was not immediately returned Wednesday.

BIRTHDAYS

Comedian-actor Bob Newhart, 79

Actress-singer Carol Lawrence, 76

Movie director Werner Herzog, 66

Cathy cartoonist Cathy Guisewite is 58

Actor Michael Keaton, 57

Actress Rose McGowan, 34

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