Jennifer Lopez: What readers need to know right away is that she had a personal team of five gigantic security guys who accompanied her to last night’s premiere of “An Unfinished Life.” They did not take their eyes off of her.
Also: She, superstar husband Marc Anthony, her mother and sisters dined in a private room at Megu after the screening.
Meanwhile, outside in the main room at the party sponsored by Gotham magazine, Academy Award-winner and Tony Award-nominee Morgan Freeman, who is one of her co-stars in the film, as well as Oscar-nominated director Lasse Hallstrom and his stunning actress wife Lena Olin were left to fend for themselves among the hoi polloi (that’s the people, if you must know).
Also out in the cold: Becca Gardner, the 14-year-old girl who played J-Lo’s daughter in the movie, “The Practice” Emmy-winner Camryn Manheim, screenwriters Mark and Virginia Spragg and venerable, veteran Oscar-winning producer Alan Ladd, Jr.
I don’t know what would have happened if Robert Redford, the movie’s actual star, had shown up. I guess we’ll never know.
And there’s more: Lopez’s erstwhile agent, Ed Limato, of ICM, also had to meet and greet in the main room. Now wait, you say, didn’t Lopez fire Limato in 2002? Didn’t he leak a memo to Variety saying he dumped her? Didn’t they feud publicly? Yes! Yes! Did you know they were back together? I didn’t. Good for them. No one held a grudge!
Eventually, all of these people, not wishing to wait around for Lopez to emerge from the private room, left Megu and went back to their lives.
When Lopez and Anthony left, it required several black SUVs and one grayish Bentley Continental GT, the $160,000 kind, which had closed drapes along the back windows.
The funny thing is, when the movie was over at the Directors Guild Theater, I got a chance to talk with Lopez and Anthony for a few minutes. They were very nice. I didn’t get the feeling that she was about to pull a big diva number, but of course she was so late to the screening that the movie started a half-hour late. She made her mother, sisters and two friends in wheelchairs wait for her entrance. But still…
I asked her, "Are you happy now?" I meant, following the Jen-Ben chaos and the marriage to Anthony. The answer: “I’ve never been happier. That was a crazy time in my life.”
When she shot “An Unfinished Life” in 2003, the Ben-Jen craze was at its peak. Lopez was happy to get away to rural Canada. “I was just there with my sister, and it was great,” she said.
You can see watching the movie that she’s “in the zone,” so to speak. It’s her best work since 1998’s "Out of Sight."
Hallstrom agrees. “It’s definitely the best she’s done since then,” he told me last night. He’s just back from the Venice Film Festival, where his next film, "Casanova," which comes out later this fall from Touchstone, got rave reviews.
He had not seen one whole Lopez film from her startling oeuvre of junk. “Just bits and pieces,” he said. But the three-time Oscar nominee for Best Director, who has high standards, is very satisfied with Lopez’s work.
“Yes, I think she really got it,” he said.
“An Unfinished Life” is not going to be an Oscar nominee. It’s not at that caliber. Nevertheless, it’s a very good movie with solid performances and some surprisingly effective moments.
Redford and Freeman have enormous rapport, and each plays well against Gardner, who was 11 at the time they shot.
Redford has never looked better on screen, or moved with such ease in years. Hallstrom, as usual, sprinkled his magic dust on everyone and came up with a quiet but poignant character study.
It’s not easy being the world’s greatest rock and roll band. The Rolling Stones, currently on tour and selling tickets for $450 a pop, are having so much trouble getting their new single played on the radio that they’ve even hired a specialist to help them.
“Rough Justice,” a song with just enough salacious bite in the lyrics to get someone’s attention, would have benefited from being banned. Unfortunately, its double entendres haven’t sparked enough interest one way or another. The result is an uphill battle to get played on stations that are crowded with younger acts — many of whom owe their existence to the Stones.
As of last week, “Rough Justice” did not register on the mainstream airplay charts on the Billboard Radio Monitor at all.
On that chart, the No. 1 single, “Listen to Your Heart,” a sterile remake of a pretty bad 1989 Roxette single, had 7,666 “spins” or plays. The No. 2 single, Mariah Carey’s blockbuster “We Belong Together,” was not far behind with 7,507.
By contrast, “Rough Justice” had been played a total of 407 times at all the stations that were playing it all. And that number wasn’t very high. The upside is that it’s 33 times more than the week before, but that isn’t saying much.
“Rough Justice” is also having trouble picking up radio markets. So far only one station in New York, WAXQ 104.3, has it.
There’s also one station each in Los Angeles, Chicago, Philadelphia and Atlanta.
After that, the list gets a little dire: all the cities are secondary markets, like Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Albany and Toledo. All told, “Rough Justice” could only be found on 32 radio stations across the United States.
WHJY in Providence currently holds the cumulative record, having spun the Stones single 192 times in total through Aug. 28.
For that alone, the Stones should put in a personal appearance at the station to thank their brave program director, Scott Laudani. When I spoke to him yesterday, Laudani — who’s got great taste in music and is currently hyping an RCA singer-songwriter he loves named Ray LeMontagne — was surprised to hear that he was the Stones’ biggest advocate.
“When the album came in, we played the whole thing. It took an hour and a half,” he said. “But that’s how I grew up listening to radio. But some bands have earned that exposure.”
He told me he thinks “Rough Justice” will prevail eventually. “New music has to be spoon-fed to the listeners,” he said.
Bob Buchmann, from Q104.3, told me none of this makes any sense to him. “It baffles me,” he said. “There’s no reason I’m the only one playing the record.”
To try and reverse the situation, the Stones — whose still-to-be-released album is on struggling Virgin Records — are said to have hired former Sony International exec Rick Dobbis to “work” the stations. (“A Bigger Bang” was officially released on Tuesday.)
Dobbis is said to have come on for “a lot of money,” says a source, “maybe as much as a half million dollars.”
But even Dobbis has so far had little luck making “Rough Justice” click with stations that are heavy into “lite hip-hop” sounds such as Mariah, Gwen Stefani and the Black Eyed Peas.
Of course, the Stones’ radio problems do stem from their age and where exactly to put them.
When they were in their heyday, radio stations played a variety of music including rock 'n' roll.
Now, thanks to Clear Channel, radio is so fractured into genres that there’s almost no place for an “oldies” act with new material.
Billboard’s Radio Monitor puts “Rough Justice” into a narrow category called “Heritage Rock,” where the Stones compete with Staind, Nickelback, Audioslave, Green Day and even Bon Jovi.
Let’s put it this way: none of the Stones’ contemporaries are on Heritage Rock. No Beatles, Kinks, Who, Hollies, no Aretha, Sam & Dave, Wilson Pickett, Supremes, Temptations, Simon & Garfunkel.
They are out there on their own, competing against bands whose members could be their kids, or in some cases, grandchildren.
What will happen? Virgin would be best advised to get another single out fast, maybe a ballad like “Biggest Mistake” or “Streets of Love.”
Do a remix of “Oh No, Not You Again” or “Look What the Cat Dragged In” with Jermaine Dupri at the controls. (Isn’t that why he was made president of Virgin’s Urban division?)
And get a video made with someone young and hip, like a Leonardo DiCaprio or the cast of "Entourage," to make the wrinkly old Stones have some appeal to kids who’ve probably never heard of them in the first place.
Otherwise, “A Bigger Bang” may turn into a whimper, and that would be terrible.
It didn’t take long for Joseph Jackson, our favorite Jackson, to come roaring into the spotlight.
Later today, producers of a movie called “Destination: Fame,” a king of straight-to-video version of the real “Fame,” will announce their movie’s release and its cast. Jackson, father to Michael Jackson, Janet Jackson, Grumpy, Lumpy and Whosis, is one of the stars.
Other cast members include Mario, the teen singing sensation from J Records, plus Cuba Gooding Sr., father of the Oscar-winning actor. Gooding was the sweet tenor voice who sang the hits “Everybody Plays the Fool” and “Just Don’t Want to Be Lonely” for the Main Ingredient in the early '70s.
The rest of the cast is made up of a bunch of good-looking young people who struggle to become stars.
Jackson Sr. sure does love the spotlight. Last year, he released his autobiography, a sanitized version of how he made the Jackson 5 a hit. It was published only in Germany, in German, and has yet to come out here.
In September 2001, I told you that Jackson, who lives in Las Vegas, was managing a young local singer named Crystal Marven. Nothing much has happened to Marven in the last four years. But guess what? His long suffering protégé makes her debut in “Destination: Fame.” She plays “Crystal.”
Jackson plays the head of an ad agency who launches the careers of all these kids. Presumably he doesn’t discipline them with the same brute force with which he is said to have abused his own children. He filmed his role as “Mr. Hawkins” in August 2003, a few months before son Michael was arrested on charges of child molestation.
“Destination: Fame” is co-directed and produced by Ted Bohus, whose credits, according the Internet Movie Data Base, include "Vampire Vixens from Venus" (which he also wrote), "Return of the Aliens: Deadly Spawn," "Nightbeast" and "Fiend."
Now, don’t think that “Destination: Fame” isn’t getting the full Hollywood treatment when it premieres on Sept. 15. The red carpet gala is all set for a place called The Movie Experience at Tower Plaza in — to paraphrase Johnny Carson — beautiful downtown Temecula, Calif. It’s unknown whether Michael or Janet will attend.
Just got word that the Disney shareholders have filed an appeal in the Mike Ovitz case. You may recall that Disney recently won the case brought against them by the shareholders, who claimed that the company shouldn’t have paid Ovitz $130 million for a year's worth of work.
The way it works: the Delaware Supreme Court will review the Court of Chancery’s opinion.
Milberg Weiss filed the appeal, as they handled the suit. They are also the law firm representing shareholders in a suit against Dreamworks Animation.
That suit prompted the current SEC investigation into that company and raised questions about sales of stock by company officers, among other things.