Published March 03, 2009
Jacko Passes Medical Tests, May Announce Shows Thursday | Mariah Carey’s Real Baby Barks | West Side Glory: Musical Is A Hit Before Opening | Jimmy Fallons Scores… U2’s Bleak Horizon; Ron Silver’s Hits; Virgin Megastores to Close
Michael Jackson has passed the required medical tests so he can perform this summer in London.
Jackson — I can tell you exclusively— has no looming diseases or any other physical ailments that would prevent him from getting insurance or making his commitment to AEG Live for 10-30 shows this year. He received a clean bill of at least physical health.
Jackson arrived at the Lanesborough Hotel Tuesday, a pricey spot that is a converted hospital.
As this column first reported in December 2007, Jackson will perform at the O2 Arena outside London later this summer. AEG Live has guaranteed him $10 million for 10 concerts. If the shows are well received and attended, and Jackson can make the commitment, AEG Live will have him do a total of 20-30 shows with a possible $30 million total.
It's a great deal for a faded pop star who hasn't performed live in an arena setting since 2001. All he has to do is perform his "Thriller" album and a few miscellaneous hits.
The deal solves Jackson's immediate cash problems. He owes $7 million to Prince Abdulla of Bahrain in a settled breach of contract suit. He's also possibly over $50 million in debt to Colony Capital LLC. Colony's emissary, mysteriously named Dr. Tohme Tohme, is Jackson's manager now, too.
If Jackson were smart, he'd include his brothers and sister, cut them in for a little action, and make the O2 Arena shows a family affair. Jackson's performance with his brothers at his 30th anniversary shows at Madison Square Garden in September 2001 were the highlights of the concert.
Mariah Carey is not pregnant, thank you. She is working on her new CD with producer-writer The Dream, however, with whom she’s already had a couple of number 1 singles.
The album will follow last year’s hit, E=MC2, on which The Dream — aka Terius Nash — produced her hit, “Touch My Body” and “My Love.” For those of you don’t completely get it (myself included) these producers have nicknames like The Dream. They also write a lot of very melodic pop music. Mariah’s in good hands.
There’s a lot more going on in Carey’s life these days although she is not—not- pregnant. We laughed about all those “baby bump” pictures that appear in tabloids week after week. Carey seems pretty sanguine about enjoying the conceiving process with new husband, Nick Cannon.
Cannon, by the way, tells me he’s not giving up acting to host “America’s Got Talent.” “The opportunity came up and I thought it would be fun,” he said. Nick is a gifted actor – check him out in the movie “Bobby” from 2006 — and is young enough to take some detours along the way.
Nick isn’t the only member of the Carey-Cannon family to get into reality TV. Mariah says, perhaps only half-joking, that her Jack Russell terrier, named Jack, may also get his own show. Jack is often referred to as Mariah’s ‘real baby.’ He even stars in his own home videos on YouTube. “It will all about our lives seen through his eyes,” the pop star said. Stranger things have happened.
A bigger question right now, aside from all this baby and dog talk, is who is managing Carey. She and Benny Medina parted ways amicably last year. Medina turned up an Oscar party with Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony, and may be getting back into the management game with them. (Medina is credited for Lopez’s major successes.)
The revival of the famed 1957 musical “West Side Story” is already a hit. Last week its box office take was so good that it finished second only to “Wicked” — even though it doesn’t open officially until March 19th — grossing an astounding $1,042,713 for its first seven shows. I’m told the producers have $10 million cash in the bank, and are aiming — fingers crossed — for a three year run on Broadway.
I took advantage of a snowy Monday and popped into last night’s preview for an early look. Arthur Laurents, the 90 year old writer of “WSS,” is directing the show. He happened to be sitting in front of me. Talk about spry! Just as the show ended, he sprinted up the aisle to give notes to the cast. Last year, Laurents directed Patti Lupone in a revival of another of his shows, “Gypsy.”
I can’t tell you too much about “WSS” just yet except that the theater was full and the audience loved the show. There are no “names” except Matt Cavenaugh, who plays Tony and has appeared in a couple of earlier musicals. He’s a break out star from this, but so is 21 year old Josefina Scaglione. She’s been imported directly from Buenos Aires, looks more Irish than Latina, and is drop dead gorgeous. She’s also a trained opera singer with a stunning voice. The story is that friends of Laurents saw her perform in Buenos Aires. She subsequently put an audition on You Tube, the famed director loved it, and sent for her. Talk about overnight sensation!
Broadway aficionados may rest assured that Jerome Robbins’ extraordinary choreography has been meticulously reproduced by Joey McKneely. The dancing in “WSS” remains not only of the highest standard, but something that truly can be described as “awesome.”
It’s kind of crazy to see “West Side Story” the night after “Guys and Dolls.” It makes you wonder why no one writes real songs anymore. It’s a lost art. Seems like spring 2009 is going to be all about nostalgia on Broadway, which is fine. But it won’t be so much fun if traffic is all snarled up from turning the Great White Way into a mall. Last night even the people who work at the Palace Theater were wondering aloud about this cockamamie idea.
PS In last night’s audience: magician David Copperfield, disguised with jet black hair, and a model on his arm, ‘natch. …
… Jimmy Fallon’s opening show last night seemed like a home run to me: Robert DeNiro — who never does talk shows— made a rare appearance and was pretty funny, Justin Timberlake proved to be an excellent mimic, and Van Morrison was transcendent. Fallon’s “Slow Jammin’ the News” blues number with the Roots was very clever. The first night bodes well for the future. I just hope the bloggers and wags give him a chance to find a rhythm for his show. People forget that it took Conan O’Brian at least two years before he went from ridiculed to revered.
… U2 performs on David Letterman’s show every night this week to promote its new album No Line on the Horizon. Four years after How to Dismantle an Atomic Bomb and eight after its Grammy winning “All The Things You Leave Behind,” I’m sorry to say that Bono et al have come up with something of a mess. “No Line” is full of the U2 sound, but no songs as good as “Original of the Species” or “Stuck in a Moment.” Better they should have called it “No Songs on the Album.” Whatever it was they san on Letterman last night, it was dreadful. This CD is coming off like a contract fulfiller. This group moves in mysterious ways. …
… What do you do on a snow day but chat with an old friend? I called up Ron Silver, a great actor and political activist, to talk about the SAG strike, his days on “Rhoda,” and his weekly radio show on Sirius XM radio. Our talk got me thinking: if you’ve never seen them, this is a good weekend to watch Ron’s best film performances — his Oscar nominated turn in Paul Mazursky’s classic, “Enemies: A Love Story,” and his fine work in “Blue Steel,” “Garbo Talks,” and his wonderful portrayal of Alan Dershowitz in “Reversal of Fortune.” …
… Just as I reported here last June, the Virgin Megastores in Manhattan are closing this spring. Times Square and Union Square are each being shut, as well as the rest of the Virgin stores. Virgin leased them to Vornado Realty last year, so they wouldn’t get the blame for shutting down the remaining big record stores in New York City. So that’s it: record stores are a thing of the past with the exception of J&R downtown, and a few scattered tiny indies like Bleecker Bob’s. There are just a few bookstores left as well since Barnes & Noble started shutting down their large outlets. We can all meet and discuss shoes, however. Mercifully, they cannot be downloaded. …