Entertainment Weekly panned it, but rapper Jay-Z's double CD is a winner. It's going to sell north of 650,000 by the time it's all counted, and it could go as high as 700,000 copies all told. There's a sucker born every minute, so said P.T. Barnum, P. Diddy and Jay-Z.
While Jay-Z was busy making money, P. Diddy was busy spending it last night. Not satisfied with all the money the Prince of Morocco lavished on him for his birthday a couple of weeks ago, Sean Combs threw himself yet another 33rd birthday party — at the Supper Club off Times Square.
Patti LaBelle, Denise Rich, Ivana Trump with her young boyfriend and singer Samantha Cole all showed up, along with about 1,000 complete strangers. Mary J. Blige was scheduled to sing, but us older folk had to head on out before she took the stage.
Janet Jackson and Jermaine Dupri came together and were dressed similarly in formal black outfits and hats. They sat in a cordoned off area by themselves and talked constantly through the party. The pair is said to be working on a joint album project of some kind.
Diddy has now become something of a fashion arbiter for his crowd. The invite to this party instructed the men to wear ties and the ladies to sport sexy dresses. "For WAXING, go to J Sisters or Bliss Spa," Puffy instructs his guests. I wonder if invites with details will become in vogue this Christmas season all over America.
On the outside of the invitation, Diddy (presumably) wrote the following credo: "There is genius in persistence. It conquers all opposers [sic]. It gives confidence. It annihilates obstacles. Everybody believes in a determined man. People know that when he undertakes a thing, the battle is half won, for his rule is to accomplish whatever he sets out to do."
Yesterday's New York Times business section took a page out of the Fox 411. Media writer David Carr wrote about the lack of blacks on magazine covers, focusing on Halle Berry's appearance this month on Cosmopolitan. We've been telling you since last spring that magazines don't want blacks on their covers — and don't have them. Still, it was nice to see Carr pick up the ball and run with it.
What he didn't do was mention Conde Nast Publications anywhere in his piece. That's a little strange, since the company publishes Vogue, Vanity Fair, Glamour and Self. Maybe he could have gotten to the bottom of the situation at VF, which still has not had the most recent Oscar winners for Best Actor and Actress on its cover nine months after the Academy Award ceremony, but has featured two white actresses twice (Jennifer Connelly, Kirsten Dunst) in the same period.
There will be no Oscar scandal this year, not unless websites run by self-appointed guardians of the gold statue have their way.
Yesterday, this column was attacked by one of those websites — one which is not run by a sanctioned news-gathering organization. The site complained that I had reviewed Martin Scorsese's Gangs of New York, a Miramax movie, too early. They said I broke an embargo on reviews, and that I raved about the movie because I was a "shill" for Miramax. They "push-emailed" their "subscribers," without bothering to speak with me or check their facts. They made a number of errors.
On the very same page, the same site proclaimed Gangs of New York the leader so far for the Best Picture nomination.
This is a gossip column. Our job, like Liz Smith's (she was chastised by the same people for running a review of The Hours before it opened) is to get the early dirt on hot movies like Gangs and tell our readers ASAP. I did not see Gangs with other reviewers, and no one mentioned an embargo to me. Readers of this column like their movie news first, and I endeavor to give it to them.
In April, Miramax will release a documentary I co-produced called Only the Strong Survive. Made for about a half a million bucks, this film has nothing to do with what movies I report about for Fox 411. Miramax made some stinkers this year — Jerry Seinfeld's Comedian and Steven Soderbergh's Full Frontal come to mind — and I told you about them first. You can't hide a bad movie and you shouldn't have to ignore a good one. It doesn't matter what studios made them.
So far, Miramax has a bunch of good Oscar-worthy films this year. But so do Focus Features, Sony Pictures Classics, Columbia, New Line/Fine Line and, of course, DreamWorks. The latter could have two Best Picture nominees with Road to Perdition and Catch Me If You Can. We're going to plug all of them, and let the chips fall where they may.
As for these Oscar-prognosticator websites that have no affiliation with news gathering organizations: beware their own ulterior motives. They are unmonitored and ungoverned. They're a lot of fun but, in the end, mean very little. The members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences are pretty smart. In the end, they vote for what they believe in and are not influenced by snarky repartee.