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TV Stars From Practice, Dawson's, Strike Out In Big Screen Effort

James van der Beek, Dylan McDermott | Michael Jackson | Isaac Hays, Dionne Warwick | Derek Jeter

TV Stars From Practice, Dawson's, Strike Out in Big Screen Effort

It seems that TV stardom and movie stardom don't always click. 

Such is the case for James Van Der Beek of Dawson's Creek fame. His big movie break, Texas Rangers, is considered so bad it's headed straight to video and that's if he's lucky. 

The $30 million catastrophe was filmed by Miramax's Dimension division two years ago, and was planned to capitalize on the popularity of the teen soap star. 

But by now the movie is felt to be so incredibly unsalvageable that it would best be never shown on the big screen. Dimension has announced several release dates for Texas Rangers, but none have come to fruition. And none will, I am told. 

"It should be buried as deeply as possible and never dug up," says a production source. "James Van Der Beek cannot act, at least not in this." 

Ouch! 

Texas Rangers also co-stars The Practice's Dylan McDermott, Dimension teen queen Rachael Leigh Cook, former model and That '70s Show Fonzie wannabe Ashton Kutcher and pop star Usher Raymond. It was directed by Steve Miner, whose previous credits are mostly from television. 

But Miner is also responsible for the 1986 clunker Soul Man, a truly offensive outing in which the very white C. Thomas Howell pretended to be black to get a scholarship to Harvard. The movie was so dreadful that it seriously hampered the careers of Howell and his co-star Rae Dawn Chong

For Dimension, Texas Rangers is the rare total write off. The division is incredibly successful, with hits including the Scream series, Spy Kids and Scary Movie 

But Texas Rangers is not the only movie with big name stars to lose its theatrical release and go from the shelf right to the video store. Billy Bob Thornton's Daddy and Them co-starring the director's former flame Laura Dern, has become something of a movie industry legend. It's unlikely it will ever have a red carpet premiere. And Wim Wenders' The Million Dollar Hotel, starring box office draw Mel Gibson, played for less than a week last February before it too was boxed up and carted away. 

Invincible Off to Wobbly Start 

Michael Jackson's Invincible album is being watched by record industry insiders this week as it hits store shelves. 

So far the results are mixed. Even though Jackson's p.r. machine has declared itself No. 1 in Great Britian (something they did after one day of sales), the American results are more interesting. 

For example, Tower Records on Manhattan's Upper West Side told me that it started the week with 2000 copies of the album on hand. About 200 had been sold on Tuesday and Wednesday. 

"People definitely want it," said one store manager. 

Altogether Tower says it took 50,000 copies into its nearly 190 stores nationwide this week. This may sound like a low number, but consider that the chain also took 45,000 copies of 'N Sync's much more anticipated Celebrity album back in June. 

"There were several additional buys, because it sold so well," a marketing rep for Tower said. 

But Tower also says that marketing money for Invincible from Epic Records has been limited to its Christmas/holiday promotions, and not for the initial release weeks before that. 

Neither towerrecords.com nor hmv.com, the Web site for the HMV Mega Stores, had any special mention of Invincible on its front pages as of last night. That's a little odd considering the album cost Sony/Epic $30 million. You'd almost think they didn't want it do well. 

Dionne, Shaft Singer to Honor Al Green, Others 

Next Thursday, Nov. 8, try and get to the Apollo Theatre. That's the night of the 12th Annual Pioneer Awards, given by the Rhythm and Blues Foundation. It's the hottest night of music you can imagine. 

Two of my all time favorite people, Isaac Hayes and Dionne Warwick, are hosting the show. And what a night it should be. Al Green, the unpredictable reverend and star singer of such hits as "Let's Stay Together" and "Tired of Being Alone," will have the lifetime achievement award presented to him by 60 Minutes' Ed Bradley

But a lot of other R&B legends are scheduled to attend including Sly and the Family Stone and Fontella Bass, the great singer of the hit "Rescue Me." 

If Stone shows to pick up his award, that will be one of the great moments in history. A recluse who has admitted to long-term drug addiction, Stone — real name Sylvester Stewart — has been AWOL for years. His influence on everyone from Prince to Janet Jackson to almost all modern hip-hop, though, is beyond debate. His last known appearance on record was with Earth, Wind and Fire around 1990. 

I am most looking forward to the appearance of Motown songwriters Holland-Dozier-Holland, the trio that wrote most of the great Supremes and Four Tops songs. Mary Wilson of the Supremes will present them with their songwriting award. 

The Foundation — which is far more legit and helpful to indigent musicians than some other more high profile groups — got its start when Atlantic Records star Ruth Brown used her winnings from a legal action to start the endowment. Since then, a number of artists and executives, who all acknowledge the incredible contributions by soul artists to American culture, have pitched in to help. 

Chief among them is Bonnie Raitt, who unbeknownst probably to most of her fans is a driving force behind the Foundation's success. Jerry Butler, "the Iceman," and the Cook County commissioner in Chicago, is also at the forefront of the organization. Last year Motown Records Founder Berry Gordy donated $750,000 to start a fund within the organization in memory of his sister. Aretha Franklin donated $50,000 on the spot during the dinner/concert. Stevie Wonder pledged $1 million by helping to make a recording the Foundation could sell. 

For more information about the Foundation and the Apollo dinner/concert, call (202) 588-5566. Tell them this column sent you. 

Mr. November, Derek Jeter 

New York Yankee shortstop Derek Jeter hit the winning homerun last night in the World Series the first World Series homerun ever in the month of November. As Reggie Jackson was once the Yanks' Mr. October, I guess we can now call Jeter Mr. November. And why not? Jeter is on his way to untold millions in commercial endorsements. Luckily he has the talent to back up his hype. He, Paul O'Neill and Tino Martinez — not to mention Shane Spencer  made Wednesday night's Series game the most exciting one in years. And it was only Game 4. Now that the Series is tied with two wins apiece for the Yanks and the Arizona Diamondbacks, the weekend games should be a better ratings grabbers than "Who Shot JR?" and O.J.'s Bronco ride!

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