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Osbournes Poke Fun at Britney, Justin

Sheryl Crow, an activist for recording artists’ rights, brought her own message against a possible war with Iraq to Monday night’s American Music Awards.

Crow accepted her award for pop-rock female artist wearing a white T-shirt emblazoned with the message “war is not the answer” in black sequins. She had the V-neck shirt specially made.

“I just think there’s a really vital, sweeping peace movement out there that’s not getting covered in the press, so I just kind of try to do my part,” she said backstage.

“I think war is based in greed and there are huge karmic retributions that will follow. I think war is never the answer to solving any problems. The best way to solve problems is to not have enemies.”

MTV’s outrageous Osbournes singled out ex-sweethearts Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake for some laughs during the opening moments of the show.

“I’m going to have to take him, Britney. He’s all mine,” Sharon Osbourne said as her son Jack walked into the audience to plop on Spears’ lap while her daughter Kelly sat on Timberlake’s lap.

Spears and Timberlake, who were sitting apart, played along and laughed. The pair ended their high-profile romance last year.

Rocker Ozzy Osbourne and his family, stars of the MTV reality series “The Osbournes,” were hosts of the awards show, broadcast on ABC from Los Angeles’ Shrine Auditorium. They kept network censors busy with their plentiful use of four-letter words.

Later in the show, Timberlake presented an award with Sharon Osbourne and her dog, and at Osbourne’s encouragement, Timberlake bent down and kissed the pooch.

Crow wasn’t a fan of the opening banter.

“My private life would never be part of the opening act,” she said backstage.

The awards show reunited singer Pat Boone with his former Beverly Hills neighbors, the Osbournes.

“I think the Osbournes have said I’m the best neighbor they ever had, maybe because I’m the only one that never called the police,” said Boone, a presenter. “We’re friends and we get along great.”

Boone said he approached Ozzy Osbourne at the show and asked if they could duet on one of Osbourne’s songs that Boone says is his favorite.

“He and Sharon both enthusiastically said yes, so there may be an Osbourne-Boone duet in the offing, I hope,” Boone said. “I can’t tell you what song because I’m afraid somebody will beat me to it.”

Alabama added to its record haul when it received the Award of Merit from Reba McEntire and former President George Bush, who praised the group in a taped segment.

Their 22nd career AMA broke a tie with Michael Jackson for most ever.

“We used to jump around back here a lot when we won, but these are really sharp and I hurt myself,” member Mark Herndon joked of the pointy Lucite award.

The group is currently on its final tour, citing the rigors of being away from family as the main reason for quitting the road.

“We’re not breaking up or anything. We plan on being active,” lead singer Randy Owen said. “We plan on being friends and doing a lot of other things.”

Owen, Teddy Gentry, Jeff Cook and Herndon launched the country group in 1980 and have sold more than 65 million albums. Their hits include “Love in the First Degree” and “Can’t Keep a Good Man Down.”

“They are simply great,” said McEntire, who first appeared on a Nashville show with Alabama in 1981 and later toured with them. “We’ve had a lot of fun together throughout the years.”

Shania Twain likes to get close to her fans, so she climbed a giant metal staircase in the audience to reach the upper balcony of the Shrine Auditorium during her performance.

“That’s what makes it fun for me. Without the audience, it’s just all like in my video, it’s not really all that exciting,” she said.

Twain dismissed talk that she doesn’t want to perform live anymore as misunderstood.

“I prefer being in concert. It’s my favorite thing,” she said. “I guess it’s television that I’m not as crazy about. I’m just a little more relaxed in concert with my fans. My passion is more in songwriting than it is in performing and being a star. Someday it will all go away and I guess my point is that it’s OK if it does.”

Twain will headline the halftime show at the Super Bowl in San Diego on Jan. 26.

Asked for a preview of her performance, she said, “Hopefully something exciting and dynamic. Just some fun clothes and something really again including the audience. No more stair climbing for me.”

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