The only Jackson who's not regularly involved in a scandal is making some big plans.
I am told that Janet Jackson will headline the Super Bowl at the end of January, creating a half-time show that's sure to set off fireworks. The deal is being put into place now.
Janet, Michael's younger sister, has so far stayed mum about her brother's problems. And that's probably the way she will remain. The pop singing sensation has a new album due in March, produced by Jimmy Jam Harris and Terry Lewis, and she's not about to let herself be dragged into Michael's troubles.
"It's too bad, because in 1993-94 she was just starting to do press for an album when that scandal broke," says an insider, "and all the press would ask about is Michael. And here [we] are again."
Janet is said to almost be done with the putting the finishing touches on the new record, which will feature some lush ballads as well as her trademark dance numbers.
Meantime, don't believe a word of the stories that circulated last week about Michael being roughed up during his arrest. Even though Jermaine Jackson says he has pictures and proof of it, no one actually associated with Michael believes this to be true. Every interview you see with Jermaine, the Jackson parents, or the rest of the family is positively not sanctioned by Michael Jackson's camp.
"They're all freaking out that Michael will be found guilty and the gravy train will be over," says my Michael insider. "He and Janet support the family. They don't want that to end."
You know, forget the Osbournes. MTV should have done a reality show about this family. They are the ultimate dysfunctional group.
A long time ago, before Phil Spector became known as a gun-waving nut and alleged murderer, he was — no matter what Paul McCartney says — a genius record producer. He co-wrote "You've Lost That Lovin' Feeling" with Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil in 1964, and it went on to become the most-played song on radio in the 20th century.
On Thursday night, Mann and Weil were honored by the New York chapter of recording academy, along with Daryl Hall and John Oates, rap producer Timbaland, "Chic" writer/producer Nile Rodgers, Ruben Blades and more.
I asked Mann and Weil how they worked with Spector, who is notably crazy. "He wasn't like that then," said Weil, "and he didn't wave any guns around."
"Basically we had the verses but we couldn't figure out how to make the end work. Phil came up with the Latin thing in the middle and the end chorus."
Coincidentally, Hall and Oates also had a hit with "Lovin' Feeling" about 15 years later, in the late 70s.
"I thanked John Oates for helping us put an extra room on our house," joked Weil.
If you're a fan of their songs — and who isn't? — Mann and Weil will be launching an Off-Broadway show this March in which they will perform many of them. They include — are you ready? — "On Broadway," "You're My Soul and Inspiration," "We Gotta Get Outta This Place," "Here You Come Again," "Make Your Own Kind of Music," "Only in America" and 50 or so other Top 40 hits.
It's not easy being the sister of the world's greatest living playwright. Actress Joan Copeland made that clear when she spoke Thursday night at the Hearing dinner at the Regent Wall Street ballroom. She and Miller were there to honor philanthropist Bill Harris, along with Walter and Betsy Cronkite, guitar legend Les Paul, and musician Byron Janis and his wife Maria Cooper Janis, the elegant daughter of the late great Gary Cooper.
"It's funny about hearing loss," Copeland told the crowd. "Somehow my brother never hears me when I ask if there's a part in his new play for me."
You know that drew big laughs. And even though a great deal of the crowd was hearing impaired, they still managed to applaud wildly for the night's two entertainers: "Soul Man" Sam Moore and "Jekyll and Hyde" star Linda Eder. Also in the crowd were "One Life to Live" star Robert S. Woods with his wife Loyita, and his show colleagues, actors James and Kassie DePaiva.
Speaking of soaps, you'd be surprised how many baseball players and hip-hop people are fans. I guess this is because they only wake up in the early afternoon!
For example, the extremely urbane Jimmy Jam is a fan of "The Young and the Restless." He also loves "All My Children." On that latter one, he's completely right. "AMC" is right now enjoying a huge renaissance, thanks to some very clever writing. For once, Susan Lucci might have a good Emmy reel, and the rest of the cast — notably the two young women who play her daughters — are in a good zone. David Canary continues to be the most underrated actor in show biz.
But oh, things are so different on NBC's "Days of Our Lives" and ABC's "One Life to Live." These two shows are currently using serial killers to bump off high-priced actors in an effort to economize. The latter show is simply a mess, with actors coming and going in an incoherent roundelay ordered by ABC's unpopular president of daytime, Brian Frons.
From what they're saying in Iternet chat rooms, Frons is lucky if the serial killer doesn't come looking for him.
"Days of Our Lives" is in such a tailspin it's been meriting serious articles in the press. The show's owner, Ken Corday, is the son of its late, admired founders Ted and Betty Corday. The senior Cordays were real writers and producers who genuinely loved the soap tradition. Corday the younger is a businessman with no such romantic notions. In the last few weeks he's killed off two long-running family matriarchs and several beloved characters. He's cut into the show's core for a short-term ratings hike with a vision of the future show populated by inexpensive teen actors.
Corday's disrespect for the show's past extends even to the actually dead (that is, in real life). He's been using the video visage of the late MacDonald Carey, who played the show's patriarch from the beginning until his own death, to warn other characters about their impending demise. I don't know if the Carey estate has complained or if they're getting AFTRA checks for the use, but it's in the poorest taste possible. Thirty years ago, Days was featured on the cover of Time because it was so popular. Now it's just a shell of its former, scandalous self.