Mary Poppins Directs | Stanley Tucci, Edie Falco | Album Charts Seesaw

Mary Poppins Takes the Director's Chair

Call it a reunion of the Broadway version of Victor/Victoria. Tony Roberts, the quintessential Woody Allen leading man, is going to star in Julie Andrews' first production as a director this summer.

Andrews will direct Roberts in a revival of the musical The Boyfriend, which will be staged in August at the Bay Street Theatre in Sag Harbor, Long Island.

Coincidentally, the Bay Street Theatre is owned by Andrews' daughter, Emma Walton. To make matters all in the family, Julie's ex-husband and Emma's dad, lighting designer Tony Walton, will work on the production as well.

Andrews first became a Broadway star when she appeared in The Boyfriend some five decades ago. But good for her, taking up yet another avocation in show business. (She also writes children's books.) No mention, as usual, of her husband, director Blake Edwards, with whom Andrews was said to be having serious problems a couple of years ago. Edwards is never seen with Andrews and Walton in Sag Harbor, and wasn't with Andrews at recent public appearances.

Tucci and Falco: Still Separate but Together

Stanley Tucci and Edie Falco are finding the road to love paved with cobblestones. For one thing, they are not living together, Falco said the other night. "No, no, no. We're not there yet," she said, tsk-ing me in the nicest way. "It's all a mess."

Here's the back story: The pair met while performing naked in the sexy Broadway play Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune. I remember Falco telling me how she was looking forward to this last spring. The Sopranos star didn't really know the Big Night actor/director.

Well, you do the math. They're naked, they're on stage for six months; what do you think is going to happen? He left his wife and their three small children for Falco. You don't get that much anymore. Headlines were born!

But look, they're both nice people. They're still nice people. Who knows what will happen, especially with those three kids involved. In the meantime, I can tell you, they each look as if they've de-aged by five years without Botox or plastic surgery. You can't beat that.

Album Charts Seesaw, Thanks to Universal

No one ever said the record business was pleasant. And it's not. But what's going on these days is more than even the greediest types could have envisioned.

Although the final numbers aren't in yet, the new No. 1 and 2 albums on the charts this week will likely be by an unlikely pair of acts: the shock rocker Marilyn Manson and a little-known, heretofore unsuccessful rock band called Cold that records for the Universal Music Group-distributed Geffen Records. The members of the previously career-cold Cold must be taking a cold shower because they're in such shock.

What do Cold and Manson have in common? They are each distributed by UMG, which is still part of Vivendi and the American brother of Universal Pictures. UMG is an umbrella corporation comprising labels like Island Def Jam, Interscope and Geffen. It is also the primary home of hardcore rap and hip-hop acts including Eminem, 50 Cent and Ja Rule.

In the last couple of weeks, UMG has lost an embarrassing lawsuit to a small independent label called TVT. That stands for Television Tunes, which is how owner Steve Gottlieb started out -- by marketing (record) albums of old TV show theme songs. From that came a whole company.

But Gottlieb at one point ran afoul of Universal. He wanted to release an older album recorded by Ja Rule with his old group, Cash Money Click. Island Def Jam head Lyor Cohen wouldn't let him. Universal, which had already gained a reputation for stealing acts from smaller labels, blocked him. So Gottlieb sued them and won $132 million, a little more than half of which was a finding of damages against Cohen.

Cohen is one of several lieutenants working under Doug Morris, the chief commander of UMG. Another lieutenant is Jimmy Iovine, who is closer to Morris and doesn't like Cohen. A few months ago when the New York Post reported that Universal was guilty of "double scanning" its albums to create the impression they were doing better than they were, insiders at UMG thought Iovine planted the story. "He wants Lyor out," they told me. Cohen's contract was coming up for renewal at the time.

What really goes on at UMG is anyone's guess, but this week's album chart may shed some light. For most of the last year, the corporation has dominated the charts with Eminem, 50 Cent, and miscellaneous junk they say is selling like hotcakes.

Eminem can be explained as a phenomenon, but 50 Cent is another story. There's no explanation for that success.

But here comes Marilyn Manson and Cold, whose last albums sold 120,000 copies and 6,000 copies, respectively, when they were released in 2000. Manson will do about the same this time. But Cold, who pretty much no one has ever heard of, somehow sold almost 100,000 copies of their new album last week. Go figure!

Meanwhile, Island Def Jam is being investigated about another satellite label, Murder Inc., which is home to Ja Rule and the singer Ashanti, among others. Murder Inc. is run by loose cannon Irv Gotti, the same guy who ratted Tommy Mottola out to XXL magazine last year and confessed that Mottola stole music from ex-wife Mariah Carey for Jennifer Lopez. Federal investigators are trying to figure out if Gotti's childhood friend, Kenneth McGriff, a convicted drug dealer, is his silent partner in Murder Inc.

Let's say Morris, Iovine, and Cohen are innocent of everything that could be proposed here. Let's say it's just a matter of lack of judgment. They didn't follow the adage "Lie down with dogs, get up with fleas." Something tells me long after no one can remember any tracks by Cold or 50 Cent, Universal Music Group will be under more penetrating legal scrutiny. There's more to come, and it's going to get a lot uglier, that's for sure.