Mariah |  Leo's Friend  Eileen Fulton

Mariah's Career In Trouble Again?

Poor Mariah Carey. She makes a little progress, she takes a few steps backwards.

Carey has been busy recording her second album for Island Def Jam, the follow-up to her 2002 CD, "Charmbracelet."

But since she's started working on it, Carey has jettisoned the two people who were closest to her and who were responsible for making "Charmbracelet" a hit: manager/partner Jerry Blair and publicist Cindi Berger .

She replaced them with Jennifer Lopez's former manager, Benny Medina, who maybe did not know as much about Mariah as his predecessors.

Now Medina is on his own, and Mariah is being ... Mariah.

According to my sources, the diva recorded most of a new album and planned to release it this fall. But the CD she came up with was apparently not to the liking of Island Def Jam's L.A. Reid, who now is responsible for making sure Carey doesn't fall on her face.

Apparently Reid was so displeased with the album that the new release date has been moved to next winter or spring.

A lot is riding on this new Carey album, not just for Mariah, but for Reid too. This is his big chance to prove that he was not personally responsible for the end of Arista Records, where he piled up a lot of bills and didn't have a lot to show for his work when he left.

His one accomplishment was turning OutKast into a household name, but his legacy — two failed Whitney Houston albums, for example, after a $20 million advance — is not stellar. (I'm still wondering what happened to the Arista acts we were told would change our lives, Lennon and Adema.)

Carey, who's dating a 28-year-old assistant from her now defunct MonarC Records label, is said to be shuttling between the Isle of Capri, New York and Los Angeles as she records and re-records.

I'm told that junior A&R people at Island Def Jam were recently asked if they had any new young, hip, "with it" material for the statuesque senior — that is, 35-year-old — chanteuse.

Leo's Friend Strips Away Hollywood Veneer

And you thought knowing someone in the business was one way to start an acting career.

Steve Stanulis is the retired New York City cop I wrote about a couple of years ago. He was the security guy for Dana Giacchetto, Leonardo DiCaprio's infamous financial adviser, who wound up going to jail.

Stanulis, now 33, retired from the force at 29 with an eye toward acting. He currently produces a strip show, of the male variety, on the weekends.

But Stanulis is also getting some roles in legit productions now, too.

Unfortunately, his history with Giacchetto and DiCaprio — who were so close they lived together for weeks at a time in Giacchetto's now vacated Soho loft — may be working against him.

Even though Stanulis has three credits to his name now, including a bit part in "The Interpreter" with Sean Penn and Nicole Kidman, he's still struggling to establish a career.

He spent five months in Italy, I'm told, on the set of DiCaprio's "Gangs of New York" only to have his scenes cut.

Now the new word is that after being on the inside track for some work in DiCaprio's next movie, "The Good Shepherd," directed by Robert De Niro, he was summarily turned down.

Leo, who lost a lot of money with Giacchetto and no longer speaks with the ex-finance man, evidently doesn't want any associations with him.

Eileen Fulton Is Back

The grand dame of CBS's long-running soap, "As the World Turns," is back at work.

Eileen Fulton, who has played the feisty Lisa Miller Hughes Grimaldi since 1960, had blood clots in her legs that prevented her from causing trouble in the fictional town of Oakdale, Ill. But Fulton is said to have recovered enough to rejoin the show in progress.

That's good news, because here in New York, among the veteran showbiz crowd, Eileen is a favorite with a strong following and a lot of fans. Welcome back!