Jennifer Lopez | Debbie Rowe | Mark Geragos | 'The Insider'

J-Lo's 'Rebirth'?

Poor reviews usually don't hurt a pop star who has a built-in audience. But the abuse that Jennifer Lopez received from the press last week, combined with the actual music, has not added up well for her.

Lopez's "Rebirth" album is going to debut at No. 2 on the Nielsen SoundScan chart this week, finishing behind rapper 50 Cent.

But what's really scary for Lopez is that she will be lucky to sell 200,000 copies of "Rebirth." Right now, hitsdailydouble.com is showing 94,000 copies, sold with 44 percent of their accounts tallied up. That's not good.

Lopez's last album, "This is Me ... Then," found 314,000 buyers in its first week. Of course, that album had the gimmicky single, "Jenny From the Block," to push it along. "Rebirth" lays claim only to "Get Right," the screechy track Lopez and friends "borrowed" from Usher.

To make matters worse, Lopez turned in an abysmal performance on NBC's "Today" show last week, lip-synching most of her performance and singing karaoke to her own tracks.

She was often so out of breath, while dancing and trying to add in a vocal here and there, that sometimes the tracks were playing without her moving her lips. It was a little like those bad, out-of-synch Japanese films from the 1950s.

Lopez seems like a genuine person, which makes her faux recording career all the more perplexing. It was invented to enhance her film career, but instead the non-singing has just detracted from that area.

The acting is in jeopardy, too. The release of a movie she made with Lasse Hallström, "An Unfinished Life," is in limbo because of the imminent demise of Miramax.

And while "Monster-in-Law," in which she and Jane Fonda do their version of "Meet the Parents," is set for a May release, the problem is that Lopez is not exactly known for her comic timing. See "Gigli" for an example of this. Gobble-gobble!

Two weeks ago, I told you that Lopez desperately tried to get her old manager Benny Medina back into the picture. But Medina ultimately declined the offer, leaving Lopez rudderless in her recording career, save for husband Marc Anthony.

Anthony's good intentions may yet be the ultimate ruination of Lopez the pop star, since he seems to feel that she's a good enough singer to go without significant back-up vocals.

One look at her on the "Today" show, however, should have been enough to demonstrate that she was like a deer caught in the headlights.

Debbie Rowe's $60K Ring Toss

I told you over the weekend that Debbie Rowe, Michael Jackson's ex-wife and mother of his two eldest children, was selling her diamond wedding ring on eBay. So far the sale is not going so smoothly.

Apparently many fake bidders went after Rowe's item hoping to cause mayhem. At one point the top bid was $102,000, but the bidder could not be verified.

Once all the phony bids were weeded out, Rowe was left with a top number of $60,000. There are two days remaining in the eBay sale, and if the reserve amount — $150,000 — is not met, the ring will be taken off auction.

I'm told that Rowe, according to her pals, is fine with that. What she isn't happy about is the hate e-mail from fanatical Jackson fans.

After all, as one source points out, it was Rowe who came to Jackson's defense in the "rebuttal" video (to the Martin Bashir documentary), which aired on FOX in late February, 2003. She sang his praises as a parent and reassured the world that he wasn't a child molester.

Rowe has gained the ire of Jackson fans, it seems, because she's listed as a witness for the prosecution in the current molestation case. But, of course, as a California resident, she had no choice except to answer her subpoena. Otherwise, she could have been held in contempt of court.

"If she testifies, it probably will only help Michael," says a friend. "She knows nothing about the current case, and has only good things to say about him as a parent."

Of course, Rowe is suing for custody or increased visitation in family court in Los Angeles for the children she carried for Jackson, Prince Michael and Paris. But it's not clear whether the judge will allow the jury to know that.

Casting Call for Mark Geragos

Producers of a TV movie based on the life and times of Amber Frey (the Y Generation's Susan B. Anthony) have sent out a casting notice for someone to play Mark Geragos, who was Scott Peterson's defense attorney and is a possible witness in the Michael Jackson case. Here is the description as it was sent to me (no calls please):

"Male, American born, light-skinned Mid-Eastern look (or Armenian), 50s, Defense attorney for Scott Peterson, he is a commanding presence but can also appear grandfatherly. He is strong willed, quick-minded and very much in control of the court when questioning a witness. He questions Amber Frey (Janel Moloney) who holds her own opposite this imposing lawyer. His dry sense of humor also surfaces at the beginning of this excellent, five-page scene. MUST LOOK LIKE THE REAL MARK GERAGOS."

'The Insider' Turns Inside Out

There's pretty much nothing wackier these days than Paramount's syndicated show "The Insider." This is the 30-minute companion to "Entertainment Tonight" that's supposed to take us places we've never gone before.

Last night, "The Insider" hit brilliant new lows with two non-Hollywood features.

One was the story of how a man was eaten alive by apes in a cage. "The Dark Side of Chimps" was how the show re-interpreted a segment from "Good Morning America" that promoted a National Geographic special called "Nature's Nightmare: Dark Side of Chimps."

The other segment was an inside look at boy beauty pageants that focused on "The Little Miss, Mister, & Teen Citrus Pageant," held in Orlando, Florida.

This, I believe, was original reporting, and not just a thrice-told story from other media outlets. I did think for a minute that the show had crossed over into parody. I am positive I saw those two segments on "Fernwood 2Nite," Norman Lear and Martin Mull's old talk-show spoof, years ago.

I feel for "The Insider." The producers obviously have the problem of overlapping with "ET" when it comes to running "exclusive" Hollywood stories.

"Access Hollywood" and "Extra," which run together in most markets, already have that problem.

And of course, real "insiders" know that most of the content on all four of these shows is supplied by publicists. At various times during the 7-to-8 p.m. hour in New York, the shows are all running their own versions of the same Hollywood story, and it's usually from an electronic press kit.

But "The Insider" has caught my eye. If they're going to go in this direction — sort of a daily Weekly World News — I will gladly tune in. What fun!