you could try removing the music folder from libraries, and empty wmp, then just use wmp to play or send music etc,
selecting your music from explorer instead, that would be the way to keep wmp lean. and uncheck the "add to library when played" in player options.
im not au fait with the "sending to" features in blue ray or smart tv's, but if you were to try it and it was unsuccessful or you didnt like the changes then its just a case of re adding the music folder back to the library and letting wmp rebuild itself.
personally i dont think there is much risk in the auto updates being turned off, you could check manually now and then, the fact is it gives you every day ,once a week or monthly so change it to monthly.
and i doubt the auto updates has a great deal to do with the not responding issue.
to be honest the only feature i miss was the album view, you can have an album view in winamp, its not as straight forward as it was in wmp so i dont use it i have a very basic winamp setup. but nicely skinned ...
(click to enlarge!)
minimized sits nicely on the taskbar