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Directing a sequel? It's not considered the highest level of achievement in Hollywood. Directing the third installment of a series when most of the stars have decamped? Much worse.
So it is with some shock and surprise that I report the director of American Pie 3, aka American Wedding, is none other than Jesse Dylan, son of America's unofficial poet laureate, Bob Dylan.
No, it is not fair to compare a famous father with his son, and I cannot deny Jesse a chance to make a living. But still ... American Pie 3? This is not Jesse's first motion picture directing job. That was How High, starring members of the Wu Tang Clan. It's clear that this Dylan is not terribly concerned with social change.
This Dylan, you may recall, was the founder of the short-lived but controversial Paradise Music and Entertainment. That was the company whose stock Hollywood money manager Dana Giacchetto manipulated so as to hide the shady dealings of his investment firm.
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Paradise, which was supposed to be a cutting-edge new technology firm, has been dead for about a year. Giacchetto is currently living in a Bronx halfway house until his prison sentence for fraud ends in July. According to the New York Post, he is shopping an autobiography.
The whole future of the compact disc business is teetering on what happens over the next eight days to Warner Bros. Records.
Later today the numbers should start coming in for Fleetwood Mac's first album in 15 years, called Say You Will. As in: say you will fork over $15.99 for this long-in-the-tooth group missing one of its most important members (Christine McVie). There is already a lot of rumbling that American Idol star Kelly Clarkson outsold the Mac 5-to-1 in their head to head debuts. We'll see how that pans out.
More important: on Tuesday, Warner will release Madonna's American Life. Last Thursday, the company put all the tracks on mtv.com for previewing, but with a caveat: in the middle of each track Miss Ciccone herself loudly welcomes you to the event. This is so the tracks can't be used for bootlegging.
Sadly, this may not matter. Listening to American Life is a disappointing exercise. Madonna has never been a great songwriter; she was always smart enough to have a powerhouse collaborator. Patrick Leonard, Kevin Bray and William Orbit were among the past writers who gave her records a cushiony production.
Unfortunately, the new songs are sort of like Madonna unplugged. They are acoustic efforts, pared down to Madge's less adorned than usual voice and simple arrangement. The result is that she sounds depressed and unfocused. She's missing the Madonna spunk or any sense of humor or irony. Someone plug her back in! What we don't need is a 44-year-old woman acting like a teenager.
If record (CD) buyers don't rush into stores for either of these items, it won't be entirely because the product is bad. It will be because the era of purchasing music in stores is over for those who matter (kids). There has been an essential change in the way music -- and soon movies -- are delivered to consumers. The only people unaware of this are the record companies. It's as if the old milk men who used to deliver bottles of the cold white stuff at dawn refused to acknowledge the rise of the convenience store.
I told you in this space on March 20 that Tommy Mottola, the deposed leader of Sony, was not getting his own record label.
Between the war and the Oscars, maybe no one was paying attention. But starting last week some newspapers started to report what I had already told you. In Monday's New York Times, the story finds a home in the paper of record. It took a month, but it's there.
I already told you that Mottola and Andy Lack, the new head of Sony Music, had a screaming fight over the phone when Lack told Mottola there'd be no deal. Mottola went berserk. Part of his mandate was to find Wall Street backers who would kick in some of the money. There were no takers. He went back to Lack to get the bread. Lack, who has no ties to Mottola but many to Mottola's enemy, Sony head Sir Howard Stringer, broke the bad news.
Is it any wonder that Stringer was given a promotion by Sony only a week or so later? He had finally done what they thought impossible: sever ties with Mottola for good.
More recently, Mottola had intervened in the putting together of an investigative reporter's story about Universal Music Group head Doug Morris. Mottola thought that if he could gently stop John Connolly from revealing various things about Morris that Morris would back him. He obviously knew Sony was out of the picture. He told Connolly: "Doug means a lot to me right now."
The article is still on the boards at the new Radar magazine.
Mottola getting a label at Universal seems unlikely for many reasons. His ex-wife, Mariah Care, Mariah, records there. She had a good enough sized hit with her Universal album, Charmbracelet, that the company doesn't want to rock the boat. Bringing Mottola under the same corporate tent would not be good for Carey's state of mind. And no one wants to rock a boat that's finally been stabilized.
The Sony people were not too thrilled, I am told by insiders, when they opened Mottola's ledgers and took a look around. During the last three weeks of March, the company had difficulty paying freelancers and vendors. A semi-moratorium was put on any payouts until after March 31, the end of the Sony fiscal year. Sorting out the books post-Mottola, I am told, is a lot like dealing with a deposed dictator after his toppling.
Ironically, exactly such a thing is taking place right now in the world.
Cholly Atkins, the legendary tap dancer who taught all the Motown acts how to move, died Saturday in Las Vegas at age 89. He was surrounded by family, as well as "students" Gladys Knight and Mary Wilson.
Atkins had a long and heralded history with Honi Coles in the world of tap and even starred on Broadway in Gentlemen Prefer Blondes in 1949 with Carol Channing. He performed with jazz masters Louis Armstrong, Cab Calloway and Count Basie. In the 1980s he won a Tony Award for his work as choreographer of Black and Blue on Broadway.
What Atkins really means to pop culture can never be overestimated. He created all the dance steps that the famous Motown groups used to accompany their hits. He invented the "stop" in "Stop! In the Name of Love" and the “train pull” in Gladys Knight and the Pips' "Midnight Train to Georgia." Every move or twist of Marvin Gaye, Smokey Robinson and the Miracles, the Temptations and the Four Tops came from Atkins. Michael Jackson learned his earliest moves at Atkins' feet. Atkins called his own moves "vocal choreography."
"What the Funk Brothers were to the Motown music, Cholly was to the dancing," former Supreme Wilson said tonight. "He was on par with Fred Astaire. He was a wonderful human being. It's a shame he didn't receive all the recognition he deserved."
Atkins did receive an honorary Doctor of Performing Arts in American Dance degree from the Oklahoma City University School of American Dance and Arts Management. He also wrote an autobiography called Class Act with Jacqui Malone.