Redford | Jacko | Grammys | Whitney Houston

Will Redford Save the Boss and Pals?

The ongoing negotiations for Robert Redford's Sundance Channel to broadcast Vote for Change's big concert finale continue apace.

Redford has expressed a desire to let the Sundance Channel show Bruce Springsteen and about 15 other acts perform live from Washington, D.C.'s MCI Center on Monday, October 11.

(This mega-show was rescheduled from the day before in Miami because of the precarious weather situation down there.)

Organizers from Vote for Change, Moveonpac.org and ACT are certainly keen on the big show getting as wide an audience as possible. I'm told that originally the group thought they would do a broadband Internet setup, but nixed the idea when Redford came along.

Redford's problem is said to be in securing funding. About $2 million would be needed to send the show out over Sundance.

So where's the money?

"There's been some hesitation as we get closer to the election and it looks like Kerry might lose," a source told me. "They don't want to throw good money after bad."

I'm reminded, however, of a big 1976 show for Jerry Brown at the Capitol Center — now the MCI Center — with the Eagles, Linda Ronstadt and Dan Fogelberg. Even though Brown didn't get the nomination, the concert was a huge success for the Democratic Party.

Will Redford be able to wrest the financial support he needs in time to make the show?

While we wait to find out, tickets go on sale tomorrow morning at 10 a.m. EDT. Artists include Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne, R.E.M., John Fogerty and the Dixie Chicks.

Jacko: Accuser's Mom Makes 'Crazy' Claims

The mother of the boy who's currently accusing Michael Jackson of child molestation got her small-screen time this week.

Someone — I can't imagine who — leaked her police interview tape to the new syndicated entertainment sideshow "The Insider."

Last night the mother claimed that her own son shot her with a BB gun because he was so unhappy she was breaking up the relationship with Jackson.

She also claimed that she feared her children would be taken away from her by Jackson's people and that she was being forced to go to a part of Brazil where "there are no hotels and no Americans."

The show implied that the boy, who's suffered from cancer, was not in remission at that time.

A real insider who knows exactly what happened to the mother and her children says her claims are "crazy" and can prove it. He's willing to testify in January when the case is supposed to go forward.

He will be watching today when the mother takes the stand in Santa Maria, Calif., at a hearing to determine whether or not she understood that private detective Bradley Miller worked for then-Jackson defense attorney Mark Geragos. (My insider says she most definitely did. "She said, 'Those people who work for Geragos are bad people.'")

My source was shocked when he heard the police interview.

"The boy was by no means gay, and if he was really so traumatized and molested, wouldn't he want get out of the relationship? Instead of shooting his mother?" he asked. "There are no guns at Neverland, anyway. No BB guns, certainly. I was with them all the time and I've never heard of it."

As far as the infamous trip to Brazil goes, my source says Jackson's people planned to put the mother and family up at a condo on the beach in Brazil 20 minutes outside of Rio de Janeiro. The mother, my source points out, wouldn't have agreed to go anywhere "without stores."

"She loved to take advantage of shopping with Michael's money," my source said. "She did it all the time."

Furthermore, the mother's boyfriend, now her fiancé and father of her fourth child, would not have let Jackson's people "kidnap" her.

"He's a U.S. Army major," my source points out.

There will be testimony about a scene the mother made in the U.S. passport office when she didn't think she was getting priority treatment as a celebrity.

"Do you know who I am?" she asked the clerks.

Frank Tyson and Vinnie Amen, two Jackson employees believed to be unnamed co-conspirators in the case, could not be reached.

As my source points out, the trip to Brazil never even happened in the long run.

"By the time they were going to go, all the press had died down. They didn't want to go anymore and it wasn't worth it. It's not like authorities had to be called in to stop the trip. They just didn't want to go."

The source, who was privy to all the machinations during February and March 2003 involving Jackson and this family, also says that during that time the boy — who has been painted by the prosecution as frail and sick — was, luckily, in remission and quite healthy.

"He ran around and played and was not tired at Neverland," the source says.

The public's view of the boy, when he was possibly still sick, was filmed six months earlier than the period corresponding to the charges filed against Jackson.

Alicia Keys May Lead Grammy Nominees

As we head into Emmy Award weekend, here's a thought: Can you name the five best albums of 2004?

Very shortly, the Grammy panels are going to have to start voting on the group's next nominees. The official deadline for release to be considered is September 30.

And so, the head-scratching begins. The anemic record business didn't have a lot to offer this year.

"We might actually have to give a Grammy to Jessica Simpson!" a record executive exclaimed in horror to me the other day.

As of right now, with R.E.M.'s new album not quite out and U2 planning a November release, 2004 hasn't been so good.

The only obvious choice for a Best Album nominee is "The Diary of Alicia Keys," with inevitable subsidiary nominations for Keys in Record of the Year ("You Don't Know My Name") and maybe Song of the Year ("If I Ain't Got You").

From there, it gets dicey.

Of course, there's a lot of support for Kanye West, the producer behind some songs on Keys' album. His own CD, "The College Dropout," is a lovely ode to wearing a lot of Ralph Lauren clothing and not getting an education. Right on!

His nomination would represent the hip-hop crowd and probably negate the better-selling but less interesting latest by Usher. (Don't worry about Usher — he'll definitely have a bouquet of nominations because the Grammy show needs his performance desperately.)

There were no CDs by legends who might be resurrected this year, since Stevie Wonder put off his release and folks like Paul Simon and Bruce Springsteen were off duty.

Santana was also on an off year, and Norah Jones  — the overnight sensation from two years ago — had an album that didn't generate much enthusiasm.

So where do we go from there?

Most likely to the late Ray Charles and his "Genius Loves Company" album of duets. It's not Ray at his best: His voice sounds strained and the collaborators are straight from a merchandising meeting. But it's better than no Ray at all, and a nomination — nay, a win — would be excellent news for smallish Concord Records. So chalk Ray and pals up to No. 3 after Keys and West.

But now, with two spots left, the situation really gets grim.

There are releases by Anita Baker, Prince, Lenny Kravitz and Diana Krall all to consider. They are all of high standards, but nothing that's a breakout.

The Grammys don't seem to know what to do with Elvis Costello, or his "When I Was Cruel" would have been nominated two seasons ago. Therefore, we won't hold our breath about his latest release, "The Delivery Man."

Joss Stone is popular, but her "Soul Sessions" is not a full-length CD. It's dubbed an "EP," for "extended play." Like Julia Fordham's "That's Life," Stone's work should wind up in pop vocal and female categories.

Among rock bands, the selection is not stupendous either.

Maroon 5 may get in there simply because of their amazing chart stamina and that they're eons better than outfits like Hoobastank and Franz Ferdinand. (It makes you wonder, doesn't it, how rock could have produced the Kinks, the Who, the Jam, or even Aerosmith, in retrospect?)

Well, the Grammys are always surprising, and they do lean to the middle of the road when they get the chance, so Jimmy Buffett could have a chance and yes, maybe even Jessica Simpson. Sad, no?

And don't even get me started on Best New Artist. My vote goes to Dean Martin.

Survivors: Whitney Houston, John Cale

What a relief to see a healthy-looking, happy Whitney Houston on last night's World Music Awards.

Houston still has the best voice in pop music, and she proved it when she belted out "I Will Always Love You."

Of course, maybe she's happy that income-deprived hubby Bobby Brown will make some money from Britney Spears' release of "My Prerogative," a song he co-wrote a decade ago.

Whatever the case, if Whitney can keep it together, she has a shot at a major comeback and even a drug-free life. Bravo! ...

Also this week, former Velvet Underground player John Cale was the guest of honor at a hot party thrown by Larry Miller's Or Records.

The Bryant Park Hotel was crawling with former Warholians who came to double-check that it was really Cale playing and singing on "HoboSapien," his new album. It's cool, catchy pop music from an actual legend. Check it out.