Destiny's Child | Jacko | Paul Giamatti | Stocking Stuffers

Beyonce's New Album on Hold

All the fans of Beyonce Knowles' "Dangerously in Love" album will have to wait longer than expected for a follow-up.

Plans for a March 2004 release of the new Beyonce album have been scuttled by Sony Music. Instead, the label is concentrating on getting a new Destiny's Child album ready for a late summer release.

Beyonce won't be off the radio, however. Sony is sending out a new single from "Dangerously" called "Naughty Girl" to follow her hits "Crazy in Love" with Jay-Z, and "Baby Boy" with Sean Paul.

One possible reason for the change in plans is that no work, per se, has materialized for a new Beyonce album — even though the March date was scheduled for some time. The new album was supposed to comprise many tracks that didn't make "Dangerously," including "Summertime," a recent radio hit that wasn't on the album.

But Sony execs changed their minds, I am told, about oversaturating the market with Beyonce's music — especially since Destiny's Child is about to begin recording their new album.

"Destiny's Child is too important a franchise to just let it drop," my source says.

This approach is quite different from another solo star who broke loose from a group this year. Justin Timberlake, sources say, has decided to record a follow-up album to "Justified" rather than make a new 'N Sync album with his bandmates.

Will ABC Broadcast Neverland Rally?

The word is that ABC, which already gave us one interview with Michael Jackson's parents and another with his brothers, is ready for Round 3.

I told you yesterday that cameras were rolling at Neverland on Saturday for the big support event staged in honor of Jackson. There were celebrities, performances, and lots of family.

Now I'm told that Daphne Barak, the same correspondent who conducted the parents' interview, was all over the Saturday event. Apparently it was her film crew gathering testimonials for Michael's next TV show.

This, of course, would continue to be a sore point for CBS, which was supposed to air a Jackson special in November but postponed it for obvious reasons.

Barak and her crew were criticized last week when several outlets, including Jeannette Walls', reported that some kind of payment was made to the Jackson family for their participation in the other specials. The same deal would seem likely for this one as well.

It's one thing for ABC to pay the Jacksons or get money to them through an intermediary. But I wonder how Michael feels about his family cashing in during this time of great stress? Maybe he's actually pleased they've found a source of income other than himself.

Paul Giamatti Splendid in 'Splendor'

Do you know who Paul Giamatti is? You should. He's worked in movies steadily for the last 10 years, playing weirdos and nut jobs. He was Andy Kaufman's alter ego, Tony Clifton, in "Man on the Moon." And in Howard Stern's "Private Parts," Giamatti was the guy trying to keep Howard in line at the radio station.

Right now, Giamatti — one of my favorite character actors — is having the biggest success of his career  in "American Splendor," the refreshingly odd movie about comic strip writer Harvey Pekar. He's gotten a nomination for best actor from the Independent Spirit Awards, and could very well win. His "Splendor" co-star Hope Davis just picked up a Golden Globe nomination.

I talked to Giamatti the other day by phone. He was home in Los Angeles trying to figure out how in the world people have caught on to this unusual and wonderful film.

He says of the directors, "They pulled it off. It was all in the script. Everything except what would happen in the animated part was there."

Giamatti knew little about Pekar except from his popular and caustic appearances on "The Late Show with David Letterman."

"He's very similar to Tony Clifton, I guess," he said, "which is probably why the role had the same appeal. It's all that strange and weird behavior."

Giamatti, from Seattle, is a graduate of the Yale Drama School. Since "Man on the Moon" and his other roles, he's suddenly getting recognized on the street by fans. "They don't know why they know me. They think I'm someone they used to know. They're not sure."

Starting Thursday, Giamatti plays the comic relief in "Paycheck" opposite Ben Affleck — no mean feat all things considered. He was on the set when rumors started flying in the tabloids that Jennifer Lopez was coming in to keep Affleck away from co-star Uma Thurman. There was more drama in the press than in the movie, although Giamatti says of the finished version, "It was really pretty good. It's put together well. I was entertained."

But nothing is more entertaining than his portrayal of Pekar in "American Splendor." The movie is the kind of curve ball — like "The Station Agent" and "Monster" — that makes you think there's still a future for cinema. Check it out during the holidays. You won't be disappointed.

Stocking Stuffers

Still looking for last-minute gifts? I bought an MP3 player for myself last week, the Creative Labs Nomad Jukebox Zen Extra. As good if not better than the Apple iPod, it's also $200 cheaper. The sound is superior to the iPod, too. My only complaint is that the printed directions are skimpy. But there's lots of info on the included CD-ROM. If you've been resistant to MP3, and I was, the Zen Extra should change your mind. It's got a massively big 30 GB hard drive, and only costs $240 after rebate ... In albums, you can't beat Cyndi Lauper's "At Last," Julia Fordham's "Concrete Love" or Sam Moore's "Plenty Good Lovin'." Ellis Hooks, a new, old-sounding soul singer, has a hot album out right now called "Up Your Mind" that he put out himself. It's so good that Artemis Records picked him up. A new album hits stores in March ... Looking for a great new cookbook? Try Martha Rose Shulman's "Ready When You Are: A Compendium of Comforting One-Dish Meals." Published by Clarkson Potter, it's the latest in a long line of Shulman's easy-access, award-winning bestsellers.