Maybe it was produced by a guy with a porno past, but who cares? A clip of "What More Can I Give?," Michael Jackson's famously unreleased charity single, is now available for listening right here at the Fox411. After months of collecting dust, now fans can make their own minds up.
You can hear Celine Dion, Ricky Martin and Luther Vandross, as well as Jackson's high-pitched mellifluous tones. That's Mariah Carey doing "oo-woos" in the background. The song is a melodic cousin of Jackson's 1985 hit "I Just Can't Stop Loving You."
Now that Jackson is off Sony Records, the only question that remains is why doesn't some other enterprising record company step in and release "What More Can I Give?" as a first anniversary tribute to the Sept. 11 families? It would seem appropriate. I can't believe that the artists who participated wouldn't sign off on such an effort. If the Sony performers who are involved can't obtain releases from their companies, then public sentiment would dictate a boycott of their regular records.
Meanwhile, Sony Music may have bigger problems than its fight with Jackson. I am told that Celine Dion's husband/manager Rene Angelil is livid that his wife's current Sony/Epic Records album A New Day Has Come has been a flop. The CD has sold 2 million copies, which is a lot for most artists but nothing for Dion. Equally bad in sales is Marc Anthony, whose Mended CD is stuck around 350,000 copies. His previous effort for Sony was a huge hit with many hit singles. Neither Dion nor Anthony has had a hit single from their new albums.
But even worse is the Men in Black 2 soundtrack. Even though the movie has been an enormous hit, the album — by actor/rapper Will Smith, called Born to Reign — has sold a measly 104,000 copies thus far. Smith previously had managed to score big rap hits while at the same time being a box office star. Compounding the embarrassment is the fact the MIB2 is a Sony movie.
All of this bodes poorly for Ricky Martin, who's getting ready to release a new album this fall. After the monster success of "Livin' La Vida Loca," Martin took a subsequent misstep with his Sound Loaded album. If Sony doesn't turn his third English language effort into a hit, Martin may not so quick to support Tommy Mottola in the press.
If all of that doesn't sound good, there's more bad news lurking around the corner. The word from the Sony building at 550 Madison Ave. is that John David Kalodner, the venerable eccentric and beloved producer behind Aerosmith, Kansas and Journey's greatest triumphs — and who's been with Sony since it was just Columbia Records — may not have his contract renewed next winter. Observers have already noted that Kalodner's entire department has recently been laid off. Ironically, Aerosmith's new greatest hits package — which is mostly Kalodner's work — is the lone bright spot these days for Sony on the Billboard/Soundscan charts.
Sopranos teenager Robert Iler is on probation these days for a weird mugging incident in New York, but that doesn't mean he can avoid trouble totally.
Iler, 17, was at the premiere for Tadpole, a film about a teenage boy who falls in love with his stepmother but is seduced by her best friend. In answer to the question of whether Iler could ever be attracted to one of his stepmother's friends, he answered: "Oh, yeah."
The kid has gotten really bad press in the city tabloids this year, but I found him to be, as always, soft spoken and polite. It's hard to imagine him mugging someone. "It's been a bad time," he said, "and my dad was very tough with me. But I've learned a lot, and I'm sorry I got involved [with the other kids in his so-called gang]. Now I have to watch my step and be careful about who I associate with."
Iler still has his fans among the Sopranos cast, though. His TV mom and sister — Edie Falco and Jamie-Lynn Sigler — came to support him, as did Vince Curatola, who plays Johnny Sack. And get this: even though The Sopranos returns to HBO on September 15, they just finished shooting the season last week. It took nine months to produce 13 one hour episodes. "And we haven't finished looping," Curatola said.
Also on hand for the premiere of Gary Winick's excellent, charming comedy Tadpole were stars John Ritter, Sigourney Weaver and Bebe Neuwirth — the latter is just about assured of an Oscar nomination for Best Supporting Actress and a Golden Globe nod too for her performance. More on Tadpole tomorrow...
It's now been 45 years since Jack Kerouac published his seminal work, On the Road, and there's still no film version of it. I'm told the recent deal to go forward with director Joel Schumacher has fallen apart, although actor Billy Crudup says he's still interested in making the movie if a director can be found.
Kerouac remains a mysterious and potent figure for movie makers and biographers. Thunder's Mouth Press has just reissued Regina Weinreich's important treatise on the writer, called Spontaneous Poetics. In the winter, Viking will release a book of Kerouac's original Haiku's, edited by Weinreich, which is sure to make a splash.
What's the problem with the movie, though? At one point in 1995, Francis Ford Coppola was going to try On the Road. I know that the owners of the Kerouac estate — his in-laws — are notoriously difficult. But time's a-wasting and Crudup's not getting any younger. I hope they can it get it together sooner rather than later.