Madonna’s record company, Maverick, which is distributed by Warner Bros., owes its success not to the Material Mom but to singer Alanis Morissette. So strange comes the news that Maverick is now in a bitter fight with Alanis over what will happen to her next album.
I am told by sources who seem to know the deal that Maverick has low-balled its offer to Alanis on a cash advance for her next record. The result is that Morissette is threatening to leave the label that made her famous — and which she put on the map — by invoking the seven-year statute. This is the same law that Toni Braxton used to break her deal with LA Reid’s LaFace Records a couple of years ago.
She is said to be in a work slowdown, delaying delivery of the record until the situation is sorted out.
Alanis’ first Maverick album, 1995’s Jagged Little Pill, was one of the biggest hits of the 90s, if not all time. It launched three hit singles, sold in the tens of millions, and established Maverick. Madonna, you see, while a co-owner in the label with Guy Oseary, is signed to the Warner mothership.
As with everything else at Warner Music Group, money is at the root of this problem. Recently, the group’s unpopular head, Roger Ames, folded subsidiaries Giant Records (which just had a Grammy for album of the year with Steely Dan) and Quincy Jones’ Qwest Records into the company. My sources said he would like to do the same with Maverick, leaving only Warner and Reprise (which Frank Sinatra founded 50 years ago) as the Warner imprints.
I am told that Ames’ unpopularity indeed extends to Jones, one of the cornerstone people at the Warner Music Group from the days of Steve Ross. Qwest was folded apparently without much warning. "There are all different ways to show respect to a leader," a Warner source said. "Roger did none of those things for Quincy."
Ames apparently has designs now on bringing Maverick into the Warner fold, which would cut costs and add much-needed artists like Prodigy to the lacking Warner roster. As for Maverick, Morissette continues to be a big seller for them. Her second album, 1998’s Supposed Former Infatuation Junkie, sold well also and was well-known for its video of Alanis naked and singing "Thank you, India."
"This is probably not something that Guy Oseary or Madonna started," my source said. "It more than likely comes from business affairs, where everything comes from now."
Ronnie Dashev, Maverick’s chief operating officer, did not return calls.
The flower arrangements were spectacular Tuesday night for Oprah Winfrey’s one year anniversary as a magazine publisher. The flowers must have cost a fortune. And the food was great too. But writers and celebrities stayed away in droves. Go figure.
Instead, O filled the cavernous Cipriani party space near Grand Central with hundreds of advertising executives. They were there in droves. And why not? Even if the cannolis tasted sour, the shrimp was fresh.
Some celebs did pay obeisance to the great O though: Diana Ross and daughter Rhonda, Bette Midler, the O’Jays and Gerald Levert (who gave socko performances), singer Yolanda Adams, and the great Quincy Jones drifted by, as well as Nick Ashford and Valerie Simpson, and Oprah’s in-house shrink, the shifty-eyed Dr. Phil McGraw.
Ellen Levine, the glamorous and terrific editorial director of Hearst Publications, which owns O with Oprah, presided with usual aplomb and class. Helen Gurley Brown, the longtime former editor of Hearst’s Cosmopolitan, slipped in and out in five minutes. "That’s how I do it," said Helen merrily as she scooted off to more important appointments.
What can I say? I think Oprah is a genius. I remember sharing an ottoman with her at a dinner party 15 years ago. She was already glowing with success and her show had only been in syndication for a year. Now she is wealthy beyond belief, and puts out a daily talk show that doesn’t stoop to the lowest common denominator. She’s had whole shows devoted just to the reading of a novel, for goodness sake! What else can you ask for?
And if I didn't mention it before, Oprah looked fan-tastic in her gown. Give the woman a standing ovation!
As I’ve written here a couple of times recently, NBC’s Law & Order is indeed filming ahead into next season — just in case there is a writer’s strike. A source close to the show confirmed yesterday that the series will not wrap until June 30, the day before the proposed strike.
"Usually we’d wrap in early May at the latest," said the source, "but we’re shooting into next season." Now it’s the Writers Guild of America’s turn to determine whether or not Wolf Films and NBC are in violation of any laws, bylaws or regulations. We just pass the information along, for your information and entertainment.
Here’s where we get to clear up some infelicities from the last couple of weeks — something about the change in seasons and all that.
First off, Derek Rundell, of Rundell, Coursey & Co., wants to make it clear he was never sued by WebMD. Rundell, Coursey & Co. was not the outfit Michael Jackson invested in. It was HollywoodTicket.com, which is merely Rundell’s venture. Rundell also said that even though HollywoodTicket.com is currently not operational, it should be back online soon. …