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Jay-Z tops MTV nominations

MIAMI -- The MTV Video Music Awards are all about scene-stealing stunts, so it was fitting that the network announced yesterday that stars will approach this year's red carpet on luxury yachts.

Jay-Z's jarring video for "99 Problems," which depicts his own murder as a metaphor for his retirement from rapping, had a leading six nominations, the cable network said.

Beyonce, No Doubt, and OutKast had five nods each. Hip-hop stars Missy Elliott and Usher braved the heat and humidity to announce the nominations at the luxury Mandarin Oriental hotel. The awards will be handed out Aug. 29 at the bayfront AmericanAirlines Arena.

"The awards show here is going to be hot. I mean literally hot," joked Elliott, who was wearing a camouflage hat, shorts, and a black T-shirt in the 90-degree heat.

Beyonce was up for her dance hit "Naughty Girl" and for "Me, Myself and I." No Doubt was picked for Gwen Stefani's angry acting in "It's My Life" and OutKast for its Ed Sullivan Show-on-acid video of "Hey Ya."

The show will not have a host, the network said. Performers will include Usher, Jessica Simpson, newcomer Kanye West, and a rock threesome of Jet, Hoobastank, and Yellowcard.

Organizers touted the fact that many of music's biggest stars will be pulling up to the arena in luxury yachts. Usher, wearing a white T-shirt beneath a long-sleeve button-down shirt, jeans, and orange-and-yellow neon shoes, was already bragging about his boat. "There's going to be a lot of muscle out there. So I'm going to have to have a sexy one," he said.

This marks the awards' 21st year, but the first time the ceremony will be held outside Los Angeles or New York. MTV president Van Toffler promised more memorable moments like the Britney Spears-Madonna onstage kiss last year and the Neil Young-Pearl Jam performance of "Rockin' in the Free World" from 1993.

OutKast and Jay-Z are joined in the category of video of the year by Usher's nightclub ode "Yeah!," D12/Eminem's humorous "My Band," and Spears's sultry "Toxic." Nominees for best male video are Usher, Jay-Z, Justin Timberlake ("Senorita"), West ("All Falls Down"), and Prince ("Musicology").

Best female video nods went to Spears, Beyonce, Alicia Keys ("If I Ain't Got You"), Simpson ("With You"), and Christina Aguilera ("The Voice Within").

Nominated for best group video were No Doubt, D12, Hoobastank ("The Reason"), Maroon 5 ("This Love"), and Good Charlotte ("Hold On").

Nominees for best rap video are Jay-Z, D12, 50 Cent ("P.I.M.P. Remix"), Ludacris ("Stand Up"), and Lil' Jon & the East Side Boyz ("Get Low").

In the R&B category, Usher, Keys, and Beyonce were joined by Brandy ("Talk About Our Love") and R. Kelly ("Step in the Name of Love").

Besides OutKast and West, best hip-hop video nominations went to Black Eyed Peas ("Hey Mama"), Nelly ("Shake Ya Tailfeather"), and Chingy ("Holidae In").

Usher, Black Eyed Peas, Spears, and Beyonce were all named in the dance video category, as was Elliott ("I'm Really Hot").

Actors return to `CSI'

LOS ANGELES -- The two actors fired from America's top-rated TV drama in a pay dispute have won back their jobs on "CSI: Crime Scene Investigation" but lost their high-stakes bid for pay raises.

Production on "CSI," halted by their widely publicized salary tiff with CBS last week, is set to resume today with both Jorja Fox and George Eads reinstated to the ensemble cast, the Viacom Inc.-owned network said.

A source close to the situation said both Fox and Eads were rehired at their original salaries of $100,000 per episode, foregoing earlier CBS offers that would have extended their contracts by a year with a pay raise of about $20,000 per episode each.

Fox was dismissed on July 14 after missing a deadline to provide written assurance that she planned to show up for work as scheduled. Eads was let go the next day when he failed to show up for the start of production on the series's upcoming fifth season.

Talk of the dial

11 a.m. WBIX-AM (1060) -- "Dollars and Sense." Guest: David Smith, senior fellow, Demos.
5 p.m. WBNW-AM (1120), WPLM-AM (1390) -- Guests: Tim Kern, political economist; Lisa Dennis, president, Knowledgence; Nancy Anderson, author, "Work With Passion"; Jay Wallus, president, Street Smart Training.

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