- The Washington Times - Thursday, September 11, 2008

Lucky 7 for Chesney

Kenny Chesney, the Country Music Association’s reigning entertainer of the year, dominated the CMA Award nominations on Wednesday, receiving seven, including album of the year, Associated Press reports.

Mr. Chesney also was nominated again for entertainer of the year, a category he has won for the past two years. Other contenders for the award include Brad Paisley, Keith Urban, George Strait and Sugarland. The latter two received five nominations each, including single of the year Mr. Strait for “I Saw God Today” and Sugarland for “Stay.”

Other multiple nominees include Mr. Paisley, Mr. Urban, season four “American Idol” winner Carrie Underwood and Alan Jackson. Miss Underwood’s “Carnival Ride,” Mr. Chesney’s “Just Who I Am: Poets & Pirates,” and Mr. Jackson’s “Good Time” were nominated for album of the year along with Mr. Strait’s “Troubadour” and Brooks & Dunn’s “Cowboy Town.”

Other CMA nominees include Taylor Swift and Rascal Flatts.

The CMA awards are set for Nov. 12 and will air on ABC.

No. 2 for Usher, wife

Usher is going to be a father for the second time, People.com reports.

The R&B star and his wife, Tameka Foster, are expecting their second child together, a source close to the singer confirms.

The couple welcomed their first child, Usher Raymond V, in November 2007.

In a July interview in Essence magazine, Usher, 29, said that his son, nicknamed Cinco, is an “extension of my union” with Miss Foster, 39, whom he married in August 2007.

Anne’s ex pleads guilty

A smooth-talking Italian businessman who once dated actress Anne Hathaway and claimed to have friends in high places at the Vatican pleaded guilty Wednesday in a multimillion-dollar real estate fraud case.

Raffaello Follieri agreed not to appeal any sentence of up to five years and three months in prison for his plea to wire fraud, money laundering and conspiracy. Sentencing was set for Oct. 3, AP said.

Prosecutors have said Mr. Follieri, 30, posed as the Vatican’s representative to the United States, telling investors that the Roman Catholic Church would sell him property at a steep discount.

As part of his plea, he admitted misappropriating at least $2.4 million of investors’ money, sending it to foreign personal bank accounts that were disguised as business accounts.

“I knew what I was doing was wrong,” he told U.S. District Judge John G. Koeltl. He has been in jail since his June 24 arrest, unable to post $21 million bail.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Reed Brodsky told the judge that Mr. Follieri misled investors into thinking he was spending their money to buy Catholic properties below market value “when he in fact used it to live a lavish lifestyle.”

High note for Woody

Director Woody Allen, best-known for his comedies, earned high praise Monday from music critics after his debut over the weekend as director of a classical opera, Agence France-Presse reports.

Mr. Allen, 73, had been wooed by famed tenor Placido Domingo, general manager of the Los Angeles opera, to direct the romantic comedy “Gianni Schicchi,” the third piece in Giacomo Puccini’s “Trittico” of one-act operas.

“Allen, who described himself recently as ‘not the greatest choice in the world’ to direct an opera, turned out to be the greatest choice in the world for the comic conclusion to ‘Trittico,’” wrote Los Angeles Times music critic Mark Swed, calling Mr. Allen’s version “a production of genius.”

Compiled by Robyn-Denise Yourse from Web and wire reports

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