Singer Haggard given honorary doctorate
BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - They call him "The Hag," but now Merle Haggard can answer to "doctor" as well.
Haggard was presented an honorary doctorate Friday by California State University, Bakersfield.
The doctor of fine arts honor was conferred during School of Arts & Humanities commencement ceremonies that also celebrated the late Buck Owens.
The university does not bestow honorary doctorates posthumously, so Owens was instead awarded the President's Medal.
The music of Haggard and Owens exemplifies country music's "Bakersfield Sound."
Kanye West's album is leaked online
LOS ANGELES - "Yeezus," the highly anticipated new album from Kanye West, leaked online on Friday morning, resulting in immediate Twitter trending and sending less-ethical fans all over the world to various illegal download and mirror sites to get a free copy.
The back cover of the CD has also leaked, which shows the many samples and songwriters involved in West's newest construction. Among those sampled include Nina Simone, whose version of "Strange Fruit" gets center stage on "Blood on the Leaves." The title takes its name from the lyrics to the song, which describes in horrifying detail the lynching of a black man.
Other samples include work by dancehall artists Capleton and Beenie Man, blues artist Latimore, rapper/producer Marley Marl and, most curiously, Hungarian prog rock band Omega on "New Slaves." Collaborators also include Daft Punk, Frank Ocean, Justin Vernon, Kid Cudi, Chief Keef and others.
"Yeezus" officially comes out on Tuesday.
Billy Ray Cyrus' wife is seeking a divorce
LOS ANGELES - Billy Ray Cyrus' wife has filed for divorce from the country singer after 19 years of marriage.
Court records show Tish Finley Cyrus filed Thursday in Los Angeles, citing irreconcilable differences. She's seeking custody of their teenage child and spousal support.
It's the couple's second divorce attempt. Billy Ray Cyrus filed for divorce in 2010 but later withdrew the petition.
The couple issued a joint statement seeking privacy for their family. They say they want to find a resolution that's in the best interests of their family.
The two got married in December 1993 and have three children together, including actress-musician Miley Cyrus.
Kobe Bryant, Kimmel featured in charity
LOS ANGELES - Kobe Bryant will sit down with late-night host Jimmy Kimmel for a conversation at the Nokia Theatre on Aug. 15 to raise money toward eliminating homelessness in the Los Angeles area.
"Kobe Up Close" will feature the NBA star talking about his career and sharing some of his favorite stories with Kimmel. Tickets for the event range from $25 to $200.
All proceeds will benefit the Kobe & Vanessa Bryant Family Foundation, which is partnering with Cedars-Sinai Medical Center's Sports Spectacular to help underserved communities.
Connick Jr. song honors Newtown girl
NEWTOWN, Conn. - Harry Connick Jr. has written a song in honor of a 6-year-old girl killed in the Newtown, Conn., school shooting.
Connick this week released the song "Love Wins," dedicated to Ana Grace Marquez-Greene. He says proceeds will go to the Ana Grace Fund set up to help the girl's family.
Connick played with the girl's jazz saxophonist father, Jimmy Greene, and sang at the funeral for Ana, one of 20 first-graders and six adults killed in December at Sandy Hook Elementary School.
'Iron Man' sans suit comforts confused tot
SUNDERLAND, Mass. - Robert Downey Jr. may not be a real superhero, but he sure acted like one for a little Massachusetts boy.
Heather Denno took her 1 1/2-year-old son Jaxson to watch filming for the movie "The Judge," starring Downey, in her hometown of Sunderland this week.
Downey, star of the "Iron Man" movies, spotted the little boy and went over to say hello.
Heather Denno told Jaxson that Downey was "Iron Man."
Confused because of the lack of the trademark metallic red-and-gold suit, Jaxson burst into tears.
Downey put a comforting hand on the boy and calmed him.