Howard Weitzman, Power Attorney Who Represented Michael Jackson Estate, Dies at 81

Legendary attorney Howard Weitzman, who represented the Michael Jackson estate, Sean Combs, Justin Bieber and many other clients, died earlier today, his son, Jed, confirmed to Billboard.  He declined to give the cause of death.

Weitzman, 81, passed away peacefully at his Los Angeles home surrounded by family, listening to music from his favorite artists, Neil Young, Led Zeppelin and Joni Mitchell.

Weitzman, a partner at Kinsella Weitzman Iser Kump, was a perennial on Billboard’s Top Music Lawyers list, including the latest edition, which came out last week.

The litigation heavyweight was cited most recently for his work with the Jackson estate, most notably for its dispute with HBO over the Leaving Neverland documentary and the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeal’s December ruling in favor of the estate that the case must by arbitrated.

The lead attorney on more than 300 civil and criminal jury trials, according to the bio on his firm’s website, Weitzman represented some of the biggest names in sports and entertainment during various points in his career, including O.J. Simpson, Marlon Brando, Ozzy and Sharon Osborne, Magic Johnson and Arnold Schwarzenegger, as well as talent agencies William Morris, ICM and CAA. He also represented his fellow attorneys, including Joel Katz.

Weitzman, the son of grocers, was born in Los Angeles and played second base on the University of Southern California baseball team that captured the national championship in 1961. When pro baseball seemed out of reach, Weitzman enrolled in USC’s law school because it has no foreign language requirement, according to a 1984 profile in The Washington Post, published while Weitzman was defending John DeLorean.

Among the other high profile cases Weitzman worked on, according to the law firm bio,  included representing the Jackson estate in its lawsuit against Lloyds of London to recover funds from a cancellation insurance policy covering Jackson’s This Is It tour, the outing he was rehearsing for when he died. Weitzman was also lead counsel for Justin Bieber in a suit against Mariah Yeater, who accused a then-teenage Bieber of fathering her child in 2011. He also represented Britney Spears’ Britney Brands in a dispute over royalties for her fragrance line with marketing company BrandSense.

Weitzman taught a course on trial advocacy at his alma mater for 12 years, as well as lectured at Harvard, Georgetown, UCLA and numerous other law schools.

In addition to Jed, Weitzman is survived by his wife, Margaret, his son Armen, his daughter-in-law Amanda and granddaughters Indya and Lulu.

Correction: This article was initially sent to readers with a coronavirus newsletter alert. This was in error and should have been a breaking news alert. Weitzman’s family has not stated any cause of death.


Bulldog Off the Leash in Surprise-Packed ‘The Masked Singer’

Fans of The Masked Singer expect to be surprised when they tune in each week. It’s the name of the game. On Wednesday night (April 7), there were plenty unexpected shocks when Bulldog was revealed to the world.

This week saw the Group B contestants strut their stuff, with a final wildcard inserted into the mix.

Black Swan performed a strong rendition of Whitney Houston’s “How Will I Know,” Piglet hit a touching cover of Lukas Graham’s “7 Years,” Crab pumped it up with Rick James’ “Give It to Me Baby” and Chameleon went with Dead Prez’s “Hip Hop”.

Matters took a sideways turn when wildcard Bulldog tried to enter the pack with a cover of New Edition’s “Candy Girl”.

It was last out, first to go as Bulldog got his marching orders. As the mask came off, the performer turned out to be host Nick Cannon, in his return to the show having testing positive for COVID-19 at the early stage of season 5.

Watch below from Fox’s hit show.

Carrie Underwood Lands Fifth No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Album Sales Chart With ‘My Savior’

Carrie Underwood achieves her fifth No. 1 on Billboard’s Top Album Sales chart, as My Savior opens at No. 1 (chart dated April 10).

My Savior was released on March 26 via Capitol Nashville/Universal Music Group Nashville and sold 68,000 copies in the U.S. in the week ending April 4 – the second-biggest sales week of 2021, and the largest for an album by a female artist this year. The year’s only larger sales week was registered by the debut frame of Morgan Wallen’s Dangerous: The Double Album (74,000 copies; chart dated Jan. 23).

Billboard’s Top Album Sales chart ranks the top-selling albums of the week based only on traditional album sales. The chart’s history dates back to May 25, 1991, the first week Billboard began tabulating charts with electronically monitored piece count information from SoundScan, now MRC Data. Pure album sales were the measurement solely utilized by the Billboard 200 albums chart through the list dated Dec. 6, 2014, after which that chart switched to a methodology that blends album sales with track equivalent album units and streaming equivalent album units. For all chart news, follow @billboard and @billboardcharts on both Twitter and Instagram.

Of My Savior’s debut sales of 68,000, physical album sales comprise 43,000 of that figure (all in CDs) while digital album sales comprise 25,000. The CD was a strong performer with Internet and mail-order sellers (like Amazon) and mass merchants (Target, Walmart, etc.). Unlike a number of albums that have posted sturdy debut-week sales figures in recent times, My Savior’s first-week did not benefit from the availability of a vinyl LP. Instead, its vinyl edition will be released on April 30.

My Savior also debuts at No. 1 on the Top Christian Albums and Top Country Albums chart, and at No. 4 on the all-genre Billboard 200. It’s her second No. 1 on Top Christian Albums, following last year’s My Gift (her first Christmas record) and her ninth consecutive leader on Top Country Albums (the entirety of her charting albums). Underwood leads a busy top 10 on Top Album Sales, as its one of six albums that debut in the region.

NF’s Clouds (The Mixtape) bows at No. 2 with 58,000 – the biggest sales week of 2021 for an R&B/hip-hop album. Clouds’ sales were aided by a signed CD edition that was sold via NF’s official webstore.

Evanescence’s The Bitter Truth launches at No. 3 on Top Album Sales with 26,000 copies sold – and is the week’s top-selling rock album. The Bitter Truth also bows at No. 1 on Tastemaker Albums, which ranks the top-selling albums of the week at independent and small chain record stores. The set sold 6,000 copies through those retailers across all formats (CD and vinyl LP).

AJR’s OK Orchestra starts at No. 4 on Top Album Sales with 13,000 sold, while Justin Bieber’s Justice falls 2-5 in its second week with 10,000 sold (down 68%).

Neil Young’s live album Young Shakespeare debuts at No. 6 on Top Album Sales with nearly 10,000 copies sold. The set captures a Jan. 22, 1971 performance at The Shakespeare Theater in Stratford, Conn., and was not publicly available until this release. Young Shakespeare sold 5,000 copies on vinyl, enabling its No. 3 debut on the Vinyl Albums sales chart.

Lana Del Rey’s Chemtrails Over the Country Club falls 1-7 in its second week with 9,000 sold (down 84%), Taylor Swift’s former leader Folklore dips 6-8 with 6,500 (down 33%) and Billie Eilish’s previous No. 1 When We All Fall Asleep Where Do We Go? is a non-mover at No. 9 with a little over 6,000 (down 16%).

Closing out the top 10 is the self-titled debut from Smith/Kotzen – rock veterans Adrian Smith and Richie Kotzen. The set starts with 6,000 sold.

Phil Wickham Tops Christian Airplay Chart With ‘Battle Belongs’

Phil Wickham earns his second No. 1 on Billboard’s Christian Airplay chart as “Battle Belongs” ascends to the top of the April 10-dated survey. In the airplay tracking week ending April 4, it increased by 5% to 9.1 million audience impressions, according to MRC Data.

Wickham wrote the track with Brian Johnson.

“Before it was released, ‘Battle Belongs’ became my personal prayer of hope and faith in the middle of a difficult season,” Wickham tells Billboard, referring to the COVID-19 pandemic. “It’s so incredible to see how so many people, families and communities have taken it and made it their own anthem. What an honor it is to use music to point people to the hope that I have found in Jesus.”

On Billboard’s multi-metric Hot Christian Songs list, “Battle Belongs,” pushes 3-2 for a new high. It drew 1.7 million U.S. streams and sold 1,000 downloads in the week ending April 1.

The 36-year-old San Diego native attained his first Christian Airplay leader in 2014 when “This Is Amazing Grace” ruled for 10 frames starting that March. Of his 18 charted titles, he has banked six top 10s. His third entry, “Safe,” became his first top 10, peaking at No. 4 in 2010.

“Battle Belongs” follows Wickham’s “Great Things,” which reached No. 7 last July.

Wickham’s new No. 1 is the lead single from his album Hymn of Heaven, due June 25.

Koryn Hawthorne Scores Second Gospel Airplay No. 1 With ‘Speak to Me’

Koryn Hawthorne achieves her second No. 1 on Billboard’s Gospel Airplay chart, as “Speak to Me” tops the tally dated April 10. In the week ending April 4, the single gained by 6% in plays, according to MRC Data.

The coronation follows the song’s 19-week reign on the airplay-, sales- and streaming-based Hot Gospel Songs chart, where it first led in November.

“Won’t He Do It,” the 23-year-old’s debut single, ruled Gospel Airplay for 19 weeks starting in April 2018. It dominated Hot Gospel Songs for 41 weeks beginning in March 2018, the chart’s longest command by a female artist.

“Wow, honestly after coming from such a huge record like ‘Won’t He Do It,’ releasing new music was super-scary for me,” Hawthorne tells Billboard. “I was afraid people would only connect to the one song, but I’m so grateful to have another record that resonates with so many people, especially in a time like this. ‘Speak to Me’ is special, so thank you to my team and thank you to all of my supporters. And last but definitely not least, thank you God.”

“Speak to Me” was co-written by Johntá Austin, Jeremy Hicks and Troy Taylor. It samples gospel icon Donnie McClurkin’s 1996 single “Speak to My Heart.”

Hawthorne, who was a finalist on the eighth season of NBC’s The Voice in 2015, has charted another Gospel Airplay entry, as “Unstoppable” reached No. 5 in June 2019, in between her two No. 1s.

Mon Laferte’s ‘La Mujer’ Takes On a Whole New Meaning in New Gloria Trevi-Assisted Version

Mon Laferte’s “La Mujer” takes on a whole new meaning thanks to fresh lyrics and a dream collaboration with Gloria Trevi.

“The song is more powerful now,” says the Chilean singer-songwriter. “It needed fresh air and I thought, I wanted to sing with another powerful woman and, well, the first one that came to mind was Gloria.”

The change in the lyrics is subtle but poignant. It went from “I am that woman of the overdose. I am that woman that you know so well” to “I am that woman. I am your overdose. I am that woman that you know nothing about.”

“It’s a song I wrote years ago and had stopped singing because I didn’t like the lyrics anymore. It was toxic,” says Laferte. “But since the pandemic paused many things, I had the time to revisit the song and rewrite certain parts for the new album.”

After reaching out to Trevi, the Mexican star kept it honest. “First, I thought, great because I love her work. Mon is transparent and brave,” the “Pelo Suelto” singer tells Billboard. “But I am also an artist that has to be honest and transparent with the music that I sing so I needed to hear the song first in order to say yes. When I heard the lyrics, I thought ‘Wow.’ I thought, ‘I am that woman.’ I identified.”  

Laferte also talked about collaborating with Trevi, an artist whose inspired her music and writing. “I used to sing her songs when I was little, and I was known as Gloria’s double at our school because I was the one with the personality that could get away with impersonating her. I wore my ripped tights, would dance with my hair almost sweeping the floor,” Laferte shares.

Adding, “I tell Gloria that she has inspired a lot the way I write my songs because they come from an honesty that I learned and found in her songs because as she says, she’s an open book, and that’s how I write my songs too. I’m not telling fictional stories bur rather my life is in each song.”

The new version, which premiered Wednesday (April 7), lands on Laferte’s sixth studio album, aptly titled Seis, out Thursday. On it, the 37-year-old singer pairs honest, vulnerable and commanding lyrics with corrido tumbado, banda and mariacheño sounds.

Above, watch the highlights from our interview with the pair, where Trevi explains why she said yes to collaborating with Laferte and why both think the label “female empowerment” has turned into a cliché.

Banda Los Recoditos Claims 18th Regional Mexican Airplay Top 10 With ‘Ponle Que Sí’

Banda Los Recoditos adds another top 10 to its collection on Billboard’s Regional Mexican Airplay chart with “Ponle Que Sí.”

As “Ponle Que Sí” lifts 13-10 (list dated April 10), the band scores its fourth straight top 10 and adds its 18th total Regional Mexican Airplay top 10 over the history of the chart, which began in 1985, a merit it now shares with Banda Carnaval. Los Tigres del Norte continues at the top with a massive 44 career top 10s.

“Ponle” ascends with an 11% gain in audience impressions, to 3 million, earned in the week ending April 4, according to MRC Data, which also yields to a 37-34 jump on the all-Latin format Latin Airplay chart.

“Ponle” follows “Para Que Me La Diste,” with Grupo Codiciado (No. 4 peak, Nov 20). The band’s first top 10 streak dates back to “Ando Bien Pedo,” the 12-week leader in 2010.

In all, out of Banda Los Recodito’s 18 total top 10s, five have hit No. 1.

“Ponle” was produced by Alfonso and Joel Lizárraga and released Feb. 26 on El Recodo/Fonovisa/UMLE.