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AWARDS & BENEFITS NEWS: CMA Award Finalists Given Lifetime Membership to CMA & 50 Cent, Nelly, Win Big at the Source (Click on More to view all articles)

(CelebrityAccess News Service) – CMA Award finalists will be given complimentary membership for life to the Country Music Association. Previously, CMA only granted lifetime membership to those inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. CMA's Artist Relations Committee, which is chaired by Kix Brooks of Brooks & Dunn, made the recommendation
at CMA's September Board meeting and was approved unanimously by the board of directors.

"We want to acknowledge the career achievement and contributions of all Grand Ole Opry members and all artists who have been nominated on the final ballot for a CMA award by granting these performers lifetime membership in CMA," said CMA
Executive Director Ed Benson. "Their accomplishments war-
rant our gratitude and this is a sincere token of our
appreciation." –Jane Cohen and Bob Grossweiner

50 Cent, Nelly, Win Big at the Source

MIAMI (AP) — Rapper 50 Cent won two major awards, including album of the year, and Nelly and Lil' Kim also took home trophies at The Source Hip-Hop Music Awards.

50 Cent's album "Get Rich or Die Tryin'" won album of the year, while his hit song "In Da Club" earned him the award for single of the year for a male solo artist. He was not present at the show.

Nelly was honored as male artist of the year, while Lil Kim, who tied with Jay-Z for the most nominations with five, won female artist of the year.

Among the stars on hand to watch, present and perform were Nelly, Lil' Kim, LL Cool J, Trina, Ja Rule, Fat Joe and Trick Daddy.

Lil' Jon and the East Side Boyz joined 50 Cent with two awards — artist of the year for a group and video of the year. Sean Paul won in the dancehall reggae category for "Dutty Rock."

The show, which began Monday night and ended early Tuesday morning, will air Nov. 11 on BET.

The following are winners announced at the show. Other winners will be announced later:

— Album of the Year: 50 Cent, "Get Rich or Die Tryin."

— Artist of the Year, Male: Nelly

— Artist of the Year, Female: Lil' Kim

— Artist of the Year, Group: Lil' Jon and the East Side Boyz.

— Single of the Year, Male: 50 Cent, "In Da Club."

— Single of the Year, Group: Clipse, "Grindin."

— Single of the Year, Collaboration: Bone Crusher featuring TI and Killer Mike, "Neva Scared"

— R&B/Rap Collaboration of the Year: Ja Rule featuring Bobby Brown, "Thug Lovin"

— Video of the year: Lil' Jon and East Side Boyz featuring Mystical and Krayzie Bone, "I Don't Give a (expletive)"

— Producer of the Year: The Neptunes

— Dancehall Reggae Album of the Year: Sean Paul, "Dutty Rock."

— International Album of the Year: K-os, "Exit"


On the Net:

The Source Hip-Hop Awards

Theater Renovation Benefit Draws Stars

GREENWICH, CT (AP) — A theater created from a Westport barn drew Hollywood and Broadway names to a gala benefit that raised $1.5 million for a renovation project.

Robin Williams and Carole King performed, "Will & Grace" star Sean Hayes hosted, and Christopher Reeve and Harvey Weinstein were among the guests at Thursday night's event at the Hyatt Regency Greenwich.

Organizers sold 700 tickets, ranging in price between $500 and $2,000.

Beginning next month, the 168-year-old barn that became the Westport Country Playhouse's home in 1931 will undergo a $30 million renovation.

"It is the most important theater on the East Coast," actor Paul Newman said. "There were more important actors and actresses that performed there in the 1930s, '40s and '50s than anywhere else."

Newman's wife, Joanne Woodward, is the playhouse's artistic director and a major supporter of the renovation.

Douglas Fairbanks Jr., Helen Hayes and Gloria Swanson are among the performers who have appeared on the playhouse's stage.


On the Net:

Bill Cosby Performs at Benefit

GREENSBORO, N.C. (AP) — Bill Cosby topped the bill at inauguration festivities for Bennett College president Johnnetta Cole that helped raise more than $2.7 million for the school.

The comedian took the stage for 40 minutes at a black-tie, $250-a-person gala attended by nearly 800 people, including Maya Angelou and Coretta Scott King.

Cole said the generous donations showed that the historically black women's college in Greensboro "could not only survive but thrive."

The Friday night party wrapped up a day of events on campus leading up to Saturday's inauguration of Cole, who is leading a charge to raise $50 million for the school.