- - Monday, November 21, 2011

Taylor Swift wins top prize at American Music Awards

Taylor Swift and Adele tied with three wins each Sunday at the American Music Awards, but the event belonged to the country superstar after she beat the soulful crooner, as well as Lady Gaga, Katy Perry and Lil Wayne, to win artist of the year, the ceremony’s highest accolade, which the 21-year-old singer-songwriter also claimed in 2009.

“This is so crazy,” said a beaming Miss Swift, who also picked up the trophies for favorite country female artist and favorite country album for “Speak Now.”

Adele had been the night’s leading nominee with four bids, but the soulful singer didn’t have much of a presence during the show: She was absent from the ceremony because she is recovering from throat surgery. Adele tied Miss Swift with three awards, nabbing favorite pop/rock female artist, adult contemporary artist and pop/rock album for “21.”

Other winners included Maroon 5 as favorite pop-rock band/duo/group, Beyonce as favorite soul/R&B female artist, Bruno Mars as pop/rock male artist, Foo Fighters as favorite alternative rock artist, Rihanna for favorite soul/R&B album for “Loud,” Hot Chelle Rae as new artist of the year and Lady Antebellum as favorite country band/duo/group.

“We thank you very much for an incredible year,” Lady A singer Charles Kelley told fans.

Nicki Minaj kicked off the 39th annual fan-favorite ceremony with an over-the-top performance that featured the pink-loving singer sporting a pair of speakers on her much-talked-about derriere. She later earned two trophies: favorite rap/hip-hop artist, besting a group that included mentor Lil Wayne, and favorite rap/hip-hop album for “Pink Friday.”

“Chase your dreams,” the pink-haired Miss Minaj encouraged the audience. “I never thought this could be possible.”

The sprawling three-hour ceremony inside the Nokia Theatre in an unusually rainy Los Angeles was drenched with musical performances, including Justin Bieber getting into the holiday spirit amid a forest of neon lights with “Under the Mistletoe,” and Kelly Clarkson channeling the big-band era with a swinging rendition of “Mr. Know It All.”

Several artists delivered stripped-down performances: The Band Perry crooned an emotional “If I Die Young,” a subdued Katy Perry accompanied herself on guitar for “The One That Got Away” and a platinum-blond Chris Brown simply sang “All Back” before being joined by a troop of helmet-clad backup dancers for a flashy interpretation of “Say It With Me.”

Jennifer Lopez performed essentially a live version of the car commercial starring the “American Idol” judge set to her groove “Papi” - complete with a revolving car onstage - before launching into her dance hit “On the Floor.” She was joined by rapper Pitbull, who later returned to the stage for the sexually charged “Rain Over Me” with Marc Anthony.

‘Idol’ winner to appear on hometown mural

“American Idol” winner Scotty McCreery is being honored in a mural at his high school in North Carolina.

The News & Observer of Raleigh reports that Mr. McCreery was on hand Friday as the mural was unveiled at Garner High School.

According to the Associated Press, the mural honors the school’s sports accomplishments. Mr. McCreery is pictured because he swung his microphone like a baseball bat at the end of a song on “Idol.”

He is pictured next to former Garner basketball star Donald Williams, who was named most valuable player during the University of North Carolina’s run to the 1993 national championship. Hal Stewart, who coached the Trojans to the 1987 state football title, also is on the mural.

Mr. McCreery is attending his senior year at Garner High School.

‘Idol’ producer Lythgoe to be honored with Emmy

“American Idol” executive producer Nigel Lythgoe might have to print some new business cards after he receives a special honor at the 39th annual International Emmy Awards ceremony.

“I’ve been nominated [six times] for an Emmy for 'American Idol' … and haven’t won any of them,” Mr. Lythgoe said in an interview with the Associated Press. “I’ve even got printed on my business card ‘multi-Emmy loser,’ so it’s going to be wonderful to actually accept one.”

Mr. Lythgoe, 62, who returned as “Idol’s” executive producer last season, was to be presented with the honorary International Emmy Founders Award on Monday night at the Hilton New York Hotel in recognition of his work as “a major reality show innovator” as well as for “his amazingly deep commitment to dance around the world,” said Bruce L. Paisner, president and CEO of the International Academy of Television Arts & Sciences.

Mr. Lythgoe produced the British TV phenomenon “Pop Idol,” and then was tasked with creating its American version in 2002. He attributes “American Idol‘s” eventual success to Rupert Murdoch’s decision to leave alone its British production team and not try to Americanize the show.

“I think Americans sugarcoated all the critiques that they would do on shows like this,” said Mr. Lythgoe, who earned the nickname Nasty Nigel for his caustic remarks as a judge on the British show “Popstars.” “With bringing Simon Cowell out here we knew we wanted this new honesty.

“When we first came here, we had people waiting with baseball bats ready to take Simon out. The second year he’d get booed and there would be a smattering of applause. The third year he was getting applause and cheers.”

Gaga Thanksgiving special to feature Bennett duet

ABC’s Lady Gaga Thanksgiving special, “A Very Gaga Thanksgiving,” will not be a hastily assembled concert special.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, the network has released the first promos for the 90-minute Thanksgiving night broadcast. In addition to a duet with Tony Bennett and a sit-down interview with Katie Couric at Lady Gaga’s alma mater, New York’s Sacred Heart Catholic High School, the show will present an elaborate meal.

Chef Art Smith appears at a banquet table filled with Thanksgiving fixings - and a waffle iron - to teach the singer how to prepare deep-fried turkey and waffles for her guests. Those guests include a small troupe of children, shown in the preview gathered around Lady Gaga while she blows glitter on them.

Conceived and directed by the singer, the special airs at 9:30 p.m. Thursday.

Compiled from Web and wire reports.