Lisa Marie Presley's new album was rejected by RCA, the lifelong home of her dad's recordings.
An RCA insider confirmed for me this week that Lisa Marie actually came in and played demos of her songs "three or four years ago." Those songs have now been remixed and processed for release as a Capitol Records album called To Whom It May Concern.
But the songs on To Whom were played for RCA executives a long time ago, apparently, and they were rejected outright. "They weren't very good," said one listener, "and there wasn't much we could do for them. We told her that it wouldn't be right to release just because she was Elvis' daughter. And she understood that."
Presley at one time had let Alanis Morissette's producer, Glen Ballard, do the production work on the album. "But even that didn't help," says the RCA insider. "I don't know what they've done to the stuff to make it work now. We heard the song about her father. That is not a new song. It's been around for a while. And look, she can't really sing."
Indeed, in her first radio interview to promote the album, a rather naïve Presley told as much to the DJs in Atlanta. She confessed that the tracks had been worked on and re-worked from their original versions. In a Texas radio interview, she actually balked when one interviewer suggested playing a track from the album. Evidently it wasn't her favorite. He had to suggest a couple more before Presley selected one she wanted to hear.
And then again, her radio interviews -- at least the early ones -- have been kind of interesting for their candor. Presley has talked about her marriages to Michael Jackson and Nicolas Cage, calling the former one "a real marriage."
Billy's Crystal-Clear Memories
"My grandfather used to say, If you stick around the store long enough, they'll give you something," Billy Crystal recalled last night about his 25-year career in show business. "Or was that Winona Ryder?"
Crystal was the guest of honor last night at the annual black-tie dinner for the American Museum of the Moving Image. And moving was the right word for once at this event that salutes one big star every year.
Crystal managed to pull quite a nice crowd of pals to sing his praises: Jack Palance, Robert De Niro, Robin Williams, Jimmy Fallon, Molly Shannon, director Harold Ramis and Bob Costas were among those who toasted him. Also in the audience was Oscar-winning director Barry Levinson (Rain Man) and writer/director Wes Anderson, who came with actress/designer Tara Subkoff.
Palance, who turns 84 next week, is still kicking it. He took the stage and ribbed Crystal about making City Slickers, which led to his first and only Oscar in 1991. Palance told me, by the way, that although he's an Academy voter he hasn't seen any of the current movies.
"I saw a movie about 17 years ago," he said. His wife reports that she and Palance's daughters take the Oscar ballot and fill it out themselves.
Not so for Williams, who is still getting over the bizarre voting at last month's Broadcast Critics dinner. He lost the Best Actor award to the other two nominees -- Jack Nicholson and Daniel Day-Lewis, who tied. But Williams told me he's happy with the final five Oscar nominees. "Adrien Brody is my choice," he said, "but of course Jack is the Buddha."
Williams did a whole routine on stage and was his usual side-splitting self. He spoke in about 15 dialects, riffing around on a variety of subjects. Among other things he compared comic writer Bob Zmuda, a friend of theirs, "to comedy as Don King is to ice skating." Very weird, all brilliant.
Actor Kevin Spacey got a lot of laughs when he did spot-on imitations of Johnny Carson, Christopher Walken and Bill Clinton. I was never sure why he was there, and maybe neither was he since Spacey cut out right after his presentation. When Crystal called out to him during his own closing speech -- and realized he wasn't there -- he said, "What about Kevin Spacey? Huh? Embarrassing no? He didn't sound like any of those people!"
Of course, the big build up of the night was to see what Robert De Niro would say. De Niro is currently sporting a beard that makes him look like Jerry Garcia. When he took the stage, he -- as usual -- produced a piece of paper from which he awkwardly read, then exited stage right. De Niro is by now famous for his inability to speak at these events, so no one was terribly surprised. But then, when Crystal said something about him in jest later, De Niro bounced back on the stage.
"You are a great person and I love you," he told Crystal from the podium. I'll tell you it was kind of an amazing moment. It was almost like he was the patient from Analyze This having a breakthrough.
Crystal told me before the evening started that the last time he'd been in the main ballroom of the Waldorf Astoria was 1973. "It was my first gig," he recalled. He told the audience later that things were a lot different than when he'd made his breakthrough movie, When Harry Met Sally, in 1989.
"Back in 1989, Bush was president, the economy was tanking, and we were about to go to war with Iraq."
Very different. Indeed.
Quaid's Quandary Not Studio's Fault
The Focus Films gang took umbrage with some of my comments yesterday that Dennis Quaid's lack of an Oscar nomination was their fault. I have to agree with them: it was not their fault.
In truth, Quaid did not put up much of a fight for a nomination. Focus did what they could, and they did a lot for Far From Heaven. They obviously know what they're doing since The Pianist and its director (Roman Polanski) and star (Adrien Brody) were all nominated.
The story is, Quaid was a bit of a lox during the nominating process. He sort of let it pass by him, not realizing that some effort would have to go into a campaign. "He's the kind of star who's only comfortable talking to other stars," observed one publicist, and that's an insightful statement.
Quaid always seemed aloof in public. It may not be his real personality, but it's what he projected. In the end, there was no groundswell of support for him. On the upside, he's still young, and his career is booming. There will likely be other shots for him in the future.
Getting to The Core
I was wrong, and I'll gladly admit it. Even though I'd been told that Paramount's disaster movie The Core was being postponed, studio publicist Louise Kaufman says it's opening on March 28 on schedule. Apparently it's not disturbing enough to make us relate it to news events. Good! I loved Deep Impact, and The Core sounds like it might be every bit as good.