Yes, that's right -- your eyes are not deceiving you. On Mariah Carey's new album, Charmbracelet, the sexy chanteuse warbles a cover version of Def Leppard 's 1993 hit "Bringin' on the Heartbreak."
I know it sounds weird, and that it probably won't work, but guess what? At last night's listening party for Carey's new disk, this was one of the many applauded tracks on an album full of potential hits.
They've done everything to Mariah Carey but kill her -- and by "they," you know who I mean. I have written my own articles critical of her for one reason or another. She's been accused of plagiarism and bad fashion taste; she's had a couple of nervous breakdowns and a vindictive ex-husband.
She should have been washed up by now. But somehow, against all the odds, Mariah Carey is about to stage a huge comeback.
F. Scott Fitzgerald was wrong. American life does have a second act.
Carey told me last night at the Hayden Planetarium, right before her album was played for fans chosen by lottery and some press and radio people, that she will tour to promote Charmbracelet . We discussed her new song "My Saving Grace."
"I hope people will like it," she said. I offered that maybe popular taste was running back to music that sounded real, not processed. "I hope so," she replied, "but I don't know if we'e there yet."
Carey wore a tight black catsuit, revealing her famous cleavage. She looked healthy and relaxed, and seemed very happy to be among her fans.
During the playback session, which was augmented by a great planetarium show, she accepted shout-outs from the wildly enthusiastic audience. Naomi Campbell, Trey Lorenz and Carey's producer Randy Jackson were in the crowd.
A couple of the songs were new even to me, added since I reported on Oct. 15 about the seven I had heard. We heard a lead-off track that will eventually have duet vocals by Justin Timberlake .
Another track, Jackson told me later, was recorded with live instruments in one take. It's a killer R&B song that hearkens back to Earth, Wind & Fire .
On one song there's an Isley Brothers -like lead guitar solo, à la "Who's That Lady?" On the Def Leppard number, guitarist Rob Bacon wails away while Mariah turns in a nifty rock anthem ballad sure to be a hit.
All in all, Charmbracelet -- which will be on Carey's MonarC Records as of Dec. 10 -- is probably the best thing she's ever done.
Said Jackson, who's quite a nice guy (I didn't know he was an American Idol judge -- he's in the middle of auditioning the next set of performers): "It's the most real and honest record she's made. She didn't care what anyone thought of the lyrics. They were only important to her."
On one song, the half-Irish, half-Puerto Rican Carey sings maybe her most interesting line ever: "I was stigmatized / for being black and white."
Now we'll sit back and watch Jerry Blair, Cindy Berger and Mariah's manager pull off what should have been the toughest sell of the year. But so far they've done everything right, all the T's are crossed and I's dotted. Charmbracelet is all set for a big launch.
Campbell Scott is the son of two acting greats -- the late Colleen Dewhurst and the late George C. Scott. He's been around for some time, quietly piling up credits with movies like Dying Young, Daytrippers, Singles, Longtime Companion and Mrs. Parker and the Vicious Circle. He was always the guy you thought might have the breakout part, but wound up playing second or third fiddle.
Not anymore. This Friday he opens as the lead in Rodger Dodger, and all I can tell you is he's mesmerizing. I didn't just like this movie because it had my name in it. An indie production (Scott is the producer) written and directed by first-timer Dylan Kidd, Rodger Dodger took the Tribeca Film Festival by storm this year and went on to wow screening audiences.
It's like a cross between Tadpole and In the Company of Men, with a touch of Bobby Roth's Heartbreakers. And Scott is brilliant as the bitter-but-persevering, self-described ladies' man, Rodger, who must tutor his 16-year-old nephew about women.
Scott is not much for gossip fodder, but I can tell you that for the last five months he and one of my favorite actresses, Patricia Clarkson, have been an item.
"We went on one date," Clarkson told me Monday night before the premiere at Kanvas on Ninth Avenue, "and that was it."
Clarkson is starring right now in Welcome to Collinwood but will shortly be seen in another wonderful movie, Far From Heaven with Julianne Moore and Dennis Quaid. More on that tomorrow.
Meanwhile, the story of Whitney Houston's new album, Just Whitney, remains a strange one.
Released to the Internet for massive downloading on Friday, Just Whitney isn't supposed to be in stores until Nov. 26. You'd think the folks at Arista would be freaking out, but when I broke the news to them one executive replied, with a yawn: "Oh, every album is on the Web these days."
One theory being bandied about is that Arista may be pulling an Usher on Whitney. To Whit: when they didn't like the album Usher delivered, it was suddenly released to the Web. Arista then claimed that they were scrapping it and starting over. The subsequent album was a big hit, and the former one disappeared into the ether.
Is Just Whitney headed for that fate? Time will tell.
Meanwhile, it seems that Whitney's former mentor, Clive Davis, is about to take on more responsibility at Bertelsmann. The story I've heard, reported elsewhere in different forms, is that the moribund RCA Records label will be merged into Davis' J Records, both part of the BMG family.
Davis will probably run the combined labels from his gorgeous midtown offices with the J staff and a few RCA people who will be left over. RCA doesn't have many acts or much pizzazz at the moment, so Davis will be charged with working his magic on it. First step: try to save Christina Aguilera from herself.
Don't miss a rare performance tonight at B.B. King's in New York by "Soul Man" Sam Moore. He will be joined by his famous Atlantic Records backup musicians: Cornell Dupree, Bernard Purdie and Chuck Rainey. Saturday Night Live's Leon Pendarvis will also play with them.
This is a once-in-a-lifetime shot, so don't complain if you miss it. There aren't many real legends still walking around. This gang is it. They're helping Sam promote his Pretty Good Lovin' album on 2K Records. By the way, Atlantic Records co-founder Jerry Wexler had quite a reunion with Sam on Saturday at the Hamptons Film Festival.
Sadly, I must report the death of legendary artist Richard Bernstein, the man who actually made the covers of Andy Warhol's Interview magazine during its heyday in the 1970s and 1980s. Bernstein, who was in his mid-60s, died last Friday in his studio at the Chelsea Hotel.
I talked with a couple of Warhol associates yesterday, including his biographer, Pat Hackett, who said, "Richard really made Interview what it was with his covers. They said everything about the magazine." You can look at some of that work at richardbernstein.com.
Last year, I had the pleasure of hiring Richard to execute a couple of pieces of art for Talk magazine's Oscar issue. Ultimately the cover piece was used inside, but I had the rare opportunity to visit him at the Chelsea and gossip about Interview and Fame magazine folks from past years. He showed me his latest work, large digital canvasses that were really beautiful. It's a shame he didn't live longer to show them.
Bernstein, ironically, lost his own best friend on Sept. 11, 2001 when beloved photographer Berry Berenson perished on one of the hijacked flights. With Bernstein's death, along with Warhol, Fred Hughes and many of the old Factory crowd, it's as if they've all become residents of the lost city of Atlantis.
I guess only Bob Colacello survives, so he'd better write a terrific history of the Factory soon, or re-publish his Warhol biography. Luckily, they were all famous for more than 15 minutes. Bernstein's influence on commercial art will continue for a long, long time.