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Liam Neeson: Return From Dead In Star Wars Episode Two?

Liam Neeson | Mariah Will Carey On 

Liam Neeson: Return From Dead In Star Wars Episode Two? 

Liam Neeson is ready and able to take on Broadway. The Oscar nominated star of Schindler’s List starts a 120 performance run this winter in Arthur Miller’s classic play, The Crucible. Neeson’s co-star is Laura Linney, another Oscar nominee (You Can Count On Me) with a long history on the New York stage.

Richard Eyre, whose movie Iris is playing to acclaim right now with Golden Globe nominees Judi Dench, Kate Winslet and Jim Broadbent, will direct them.

But 2001 has been an eventful year for Liam Neeson, no matter how you slice it. A brutal accident on his upstate New York spread — which he shares with wife Natasha Richardson and their children — almost put him out completely. He wound up fracturing his pelvis and walking on crutches, barely making his start date for Martin Scorsese’s Gangs of New York shoot in Italy last summer.

Fear not, though. Neeson already had another film in the can if he was laid up any longer. Because he played Qui-Gon Jinn in Star Wars Episode One: The Phantom Menace, Neeson is guaranteed a reappearance in the following two episodes. “I’m not supposed to say anything,” he told me recently at the premiere of Iris, “but let’s face it, Jedi knights never die.”

Indeed, in Star Wars Episode Two: Attack of the Clones you can pretty much bet that Qui-Gon Jinn is, if not one of the clones, a hologram with lots of spunk and personality.

As for The Crucible, Neeson told me that he never did see the movie version, which was produced a couple of years ago with Daniel Day Lewis, Joan Allen and Winona Ryder. He’s barely even seen the play produced on stage.

“I saw it once in Ireland, performed by amateur actors who were farmers by day," he told me. " It was such a sight. These were men who were milking cows by day. I never forgot it.”  

Mariah Will Carey On Without Record Label

The word came out yesterday from the Los Angeles Times, and then on Reuters, that Mariah Carey is negotiating her way out of her $20 million per album deal with EMI Music/Virgin Records.

This is supposedly because Mariah’s Glitter album was such a stiff. Since Glitter was released, and Mariah recovered from a nervous breakdown, the people who signed her to EMI were fired, and Mariah was left without an advocate at the massive, anonymous company.

In truth, EMI knew what it was getting into when they signed Carey and took on the Glitter project. No one there can say they didn’t know what the album was, or how it would be marketed. What they couldn’t have counted on, though, was interference by Sony Music with Carey’s career. Mariah even hired a private detective to investigate rumors that Sony — really, Sony COO Tommy Mottola, Mariah’s ex husband — was conspiring against her.

The coup de grace was Sony’s release of Mariah’s greatest hits album two weeks ago — this release cut into her new career and, dumped by Sony into the marketplace without promotion or marketing, was guaranteed to flop like a flounder. And so it has.

If Mariah is indeed leaving EMI after one album, it’s no embarrassment for her, and no precedent either. Bob Dylan went over to David Geffen’s Asylum Records in the mid-1970s and recorded two albums before returning to the old Columbia Records. Paul McCartney drifted over to Columbia Records from Capitol (now EMI), fizzled, and went back to Capitol. Diana Ross went from Motown to RCA and back to Motown. It happens.

Not to say Mariah will return to Columbia, or Sony — that’s highly doubtful given her antagonistic relationship with Mottola. But plenty of labels could remake Mariah into a star. Most often mentioned is Clive Davis’s J Records. Of course, Carey would have to listen to Davis and do what he says — which would include advice to lose the cleavage and the hip-hop friends. Other labels where she could find money and fame would be Warner Bros., Dreamworks and Arista.

With the right management, and some thought, Carey will be back on top in no time. The question is, how will EMI save face after this — among other — debacles? My guess is big name acts will be reluctant to sign with a company that can’t stand behind its artists. This hasn’t been a kind year for this company — witness the flops of new albums by McCartney and Mick Jagger.

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