It was only three short years ago that Mariah Carey's career was in the toilet. But she seems to have forgotten that.
Last week, Carey fired her longtime publicist, Cindi Berger, of powerhouse firm PMK HBH, because — I am told — she held her responsible for a stupid, unchecked gossip item that ran in a local newspaper.
On top of that, Mariah is all but severed from the record company exec who brought her back from the abyss of the infamous "Glitter" movie and soundtrack.
Jerry Blair, who worked on Carey's records for more than a decade at Sony/Epic, started her new MonarC Records at Island/DefJam and helped make her "Charmbracelet" album a success following the "Glitter" debacle.
Now Blair is out too.
In their place: Jennifer Lopez's former manager, Benny Medina, who has systematically taken over Carey's career, sources say. Carey obviously doesn't realize that following her "nervous breakdown" in the summer of 2001, and the "Glitter" disaster, it was Blair and Berger who reconstructed her press image.
This pair worked tirelessly to smooth over Carey's bad publicity and do something to make her seem sympathetic. Prior to the Blair/Berger resuscitation, Carey had the baggage of being a defendant in plagiarism lawsuits and a night-crawling trollop.
It always startles me when celebrities forget the work that professionals do to make them stars. A couple of years ago I heard one movie star tell Charlie Rose that she actually picked her own material for films, when everyone in the business knew it was her savvy business partner.
But this is what happens when millions of dollars make stars feel insulated from reality. In Mariah's case, it's the $50 million which EMI Records paid her to leave their label after "Glitter" almost killed them.
Ironically, Carey seems blissfully clueless that Medina was Lopez's manager when J-Lo stole — or was given — advance music from "Glitter" for her "I'm Real" single remix with Ja Rule. The result was that Carey freaked out as ex-husband Tommy Mottola made the handoff.
But who does she think Mottola gave the "Glitter" samples to? Lopez herself? Carey was never the brightest bulb on the Christmas tree, but you have to wonder now if someone's forgotten to plug the lights in at all.
Last night's New York screening of "Shrek 2" from DreamWorks — you remember DreamWorks — featured lots of celebrities and their kids, who were very much underfoot. Small kids make for an unruly crowd; I will never again complain about adults at a screening.
Soon-Yi Previn/Farrow Allen brought her daughter, Bechet. Susan Sarandon came with her son and friends. Daily News publisher Mort Zuckerman brought his six-year-old daughter. "Station Agent" actor Bobby Cannavale had his little boy, and James Gandolfini not only brought his four-year-old son Michael but also his ex-wife Marcy. He blushed, by the way, when I gushed about his work on "The Sopranos" this season.
I also spotted Amy Irving, Kelly Ripa, Stephen Baldwin and "The Today Show's" Ann Curry, all with kids in tow, as well as director Barry Sonnenfeld. The great grand dame actress Celeste Holm (look her up or rent "All About Eve" if the name is foreign to you), also turned up.
On the media side, it was nice to see Vanity Fair writer Leslie Bennetts and husband Jeremy Gerard, freed in the last couple of weeks from New York magazine, with their daughter, Emily, and son, Nick. I remember when they were embryos!
All these kids dined on cocktail franks, grilled cheese, Baskin-Robbins green ice cream and succulent brownies and Rice Krispies treats while DreamWorks' Jeffrey Katzenberg hung out in the lobby of the Beekman Theatre. He greeted the ubiquitous Melanie Griffith and Antonio Banderas, childless for the night but each dressed in dramatic black, as well as Joan Rivers, who was not critiquing the clothes of the kids who buzzed around her.
Since I couldn't stay to see the film — HBO's more adult "Elaine Stritch: At Liberty" was beckoning me downtown — I asked my friend, 13-year-old Andrew MacDonald, of the Dwight School, to send me a post-mortem. (Andy's 11-year-old brother Corey was with him, but he was busy chowing down on the free food.)
Herewith, Andy's report. Just in case his teachers are reading this, I've done a little copy-editing:
You asked me to write a review of the movie. You didn't tell me to write what it was about or my opinion on it so I will do both.
The movie was a follow-up to the first one, in which Princess Fiona married Shrek. Fiona's parents aren't pleased by her choice of husband. When a late suitor named Prince Charming shows up at the tower where she was held and finds her gone, he and his mother — a fairy — will stop at nothing to break Fiona's and Shrek's marriage. They want Prince Charming to be king and Fiona as his queen.
The movie has mostly the same characters as 'Shrek 1' and has added a few as well. The adults will laugh at almost every joke while children will only find humor in the ones that they could understand, which was a lot of them. The movie also had added to the adult humor by sticking in a few rude jokes, which to me were hilarious. Once again the movie was a 9 on my humor scale from 1-10 and was all around funny, but yet still had a recognizable plot.
So that's it. I just happened to run into Antonio Banderas as well."
Note to DreamWorks: For quote rights, please call this column!
Lou Reed, Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins were all guests at singer Garland Jeffreys' early show Saturday at Joe's Pub; Reed even performed with Jeffreys, who was raising money for the McBurney YMCA on West 23rd St.
Of course, this ever-intrepid reporter missed that show (too early!) but caught Jeffreys' second show, which was quite extraordinary. He finally performed his old hit "Matador," and added a cool version of Joni Mitchell's "You Turn Me On (I'm a Radio)."
During at least two numbers, Jeffreys swung through the packed audience, showing off the range of his lovely rich tenor voice that marries Cuban, Puerto Rican and downtown New York flavors.
I picked up a Jeffreys' album when the show was over called "Wildlife Dictionary," which I'd never heard of but liked immensely as soon as it went into the CD player.
One track, called "Happiness," is so good, I don't know why it wasn't a hit when it was released in 1997. (Joking of course — I do know why. Two words: Clear Channel.)
Anyway, you should buy this album at www.garlandjeffreys.com or on amazon.com.