- - Thursday, May 5, 2011

CMT, country stars team for benefit show

An initial list of country music stars has aligned with CMT to raise money for tornado victims across the South.

Hank Williams Jr., Alabama, Lady Antebellum, Keith Urban and Tim McGraw will join other stars in a 90-minute benefit concert for tornado relief Thursday in Nashville, Tenn. Proceeds from the special will go to the American Red Cross Disaster Relief Fund.

The concert will air live at 9 p.m. on CMT and will be simulcast on www.CMT.com.

The state of Alabama was especially hard hit, and Mr. Williams initially thought he might do a local benefit for his former home state. After some thought, he reached out to CMT and suggested a benefit.

“I don’t want to raise $50,000,” Mr. Williams said in an interview with the Associated Press. “I want to raise a lot of money. And I want people who are motivated to be part of it as we try to help these devastated folks.”

The CMT benefit marks the second time in a year stars have gathered to raise money following a disaster. A 2010 Nashville concert for flood relief brought in millions.

British pop star joins ‘X Factor’ judges panel

The Fox network says British pop superstar Cheryl Cole will be seated at the judges panel for “The X Factor,” the Associated Press reports.

Miss Cole will join Grammy-winning music producer Antonio “L.A.” Reid and Simon Cowell on the much-anticipated singing contest debuting in the fall on Fox, the network announced Thursday.

The series is based on Mr. Cowell’s hit British show, where Miss Cole has been a judge.

“I’m thrilled for Cheryl. She is massively excited about this show and has been fantastic to work with,” Mr. Cowell said in a statement. “She is also a complete brat! Most importantly, this girl can spot talent.”

“The X Factor” is open to solo singers and vocal groups age 12 and older. Auditions are under way. The winner gets a $5 million record contract.

ESPN expands coverage of poker world series

ESPN on Wednesday announced plans to boost its coverage of the World Series of Poker, less than one month after backing away from two online poker companies considered heavily influential in the industry and indirectly connected to the event.

The cable network said that in addition to normal weekly coverage starting in July, it planned 34 hours of semilive television coverage for the series’ no-limit Texas hold ‘em main event on ESPN2 and ESPN. The coverage in real time will be on a 30-minute tape delay and will show hole cards.

The announcement comes after the network said it was moving away from deals with PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker, online poker companies whose executives face allegations of bank fraud and money laundering. ESPN previously said those moves didn’t affect plans for the series, owned by Caesars Entertainment Corp.

* Compiled from web and wire reports

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