Courtney Love's solo album, "America's Sweetheart," released in February, has been a huge sales disaster with only 86,000 copies sold, according to Nielsen SoundScan.
But now I'm told by Love's friends and associates that the troubled rock singer was forced to put the album out before it was ready so it would make Virgin Records' fiscal-year deadline of March 31.
Not only that, but I am told that Virgin paid for Love's rehab last fall at Wavelength, a voluntary facility in Malibu, so they could bring her back and forth to the studio when needed during the re-recording of "America's Sweetheart."
I say "re-recording" because apparently the album was originally made in France, then offered to four different record companies. Virgin, according to my sources, bought it and then demanded that it be completely redone — and fast.
"That's what put Courtney over the edge," says a source. "The album should have been released now, in June. But they announced that it was coming out in February. Courtney had all kinds of issues she was dealing with last fall. This endangered her life."
What's more, according to a publicist who works with Love and to another source, Virgin suggested Love put her 11-year-old daughter Frances Bean Cobain in the first music video from the album for publicity purposes.
"They wanted her to be video star," says a source. "They thought this was a good idea." At the time, Frances Bean was the subject of a custody dispute.
Insiders cite Virgin's head of A&R, Josh Deutsch, company president Matt Serletic and EMI's David Munns as the villains in this saga.
"It's morally reprehensible what they did to her," a source close to Love told me yesterday. "They were taking her in and out of rehab. The people at Wavelength were like, 'What's going on here?' And Courtney was rushing to write new lyrics for the songs. It was not the album she wanted to do."
Press clips from last fall show that Love — who'd announced her stay at Wavelength — was out on the town many nights.
Meantime, Virgin itself is floundering. The latest Janet Jackson album, "Damita Jo," has sold an alarmingly low 783,000 copies and is now out of the top 50 after a short and inglorious run.
Deutsch figured prominently in another story covered by this column recently, in which he and three songwriters were accused of stealing two songs for a new album by Virgin artist Ricky Fante.
Yesterday I learned that Deutsch and company had agreed to surrender 100 percent of the rights to "It's Not Easy" to writers Wilson Pickett and Jon Tiven. Deutsch et al. had previously turned over 60 percent of another Fante song to its real author.
A spokesperson for EMI Records, which owns Virgin, says of Love: "These claims are absolutely untrue. The label has made this artist's well-being a priority, as it does with all of its artists. To suggest otherwise is patently false.
"It is true that the record was delayed. It was originally supposed to be released in October, but the label and Courtney decided to go back into the studio in the interest of making the record the best it could be."
The rep also denied that the label interfered with Love's rehab.
The Love story is particularly of interest considering the singer's penchant for public spectacle. Last fall she was arrested for trying to break into the home of her ex-boyfriend, Jim Barber, who produced "America's Sweetheart." That episode set off a chain of events which will culminate next Tuesday when Love will be sentenced for illegal drug possession.
Love, the widow of rock legend Kurt Cobain, is now essentially locked out of her own Los Angeles home, a friend says, because that's where her daughter is living with her temporary guardian, Love's ex-stepfather.
"She can't go there, so she's staying in New York right now," says the friend.
When Love has gone to Los Angeles, she's apparently been bunking with former New York Times pop-music writer Neil Strauss in what has been described to me as a Hollywood mansion.
This house is where Strauss is living while writing a book about a team of nerdy guys who teach a seminar in how to pick up women. They call themselves the "seduction community." Courtney, according to one source, stays in a separate wing of the house.
To paraphrase Cindy Adams, only in L.A kids, only in L.A.
P.S.: I'm told that this won't be the end of the "America's Sweetheart" soap opera. To be continued...
Marvin Hamlisch and Lyle Lovett? Not exactly the usual combo. But Lovett heard Hamlisch playing the piano Tuesday night at the Plaza Athenée for a group of swells who'd just seen Kevin Kline's new film "De-lovely." Lovett immediately pulled up a chair as Hamlisch gracefully delivered five tunes by Cole Porter, who Kline plays effortlessly in the film. ...
Finally, a shameless plug for a worthy cause. The Save a Child's Heart Foundation in Washington, D.C. rescues children with heart problems from all over the world and brings them to Israel for a high level of care. They also train medical personnel in these countries. You can look them up at Saveachildsheart.com. The group would like to have a celebrity spokesperson — one with a heart, preferred!