Paris Hilton | Justin Timberlake | Miramax, R.I.P. | McCartney a Hit

Paris Single Again: Who Will Bankroll Her Films?

The worst part of Paris Hilton's breakup with Greek money-kid Paris Latsis: He won't be there to finance her film career.

Back in July at the Live 8 show in London, Latsis and Hilton were very excited about their plans to make movies.

Latsis, whose proper last name is Kasidokostas, was supposedly getting ready to help produce Hilton's big breakthrough film.

Or at least that's what he and his producing partner told me. Their first production was to be a horror movie that was set to put Hilton over the top, as it were.

But being a producer means having the money, and it's possible Latsis' family didn't quite agree with this plan.

Latsis himself has been described as being "just a student" in interviews and certainly doesn't have enough money of his own to start a production company.

Now, it is not to be.

Hilton does have two movies in the can as of right now.

The first one, set for a November release, is "National Lampoon's Pledge This!" The second one is a comedy called "Bottom's Up," which is set to be foisted on the public next year. Each film is an independent release.

With any luck, the latter film will be presented, if not at Sundance, possibly at Slamdance, the nearby insurgent festival that prides itself on showing B-movies. Hilton is fast becoming an ironic icon at Sundance.

The heiress' previous cinematic outing, "House of Wax" — which Vanity Fair magazine mockingly likened to "Citizen Kane" in its cover story on Hilton last month — made about $65 million internationally, cost $40 million to make and possibly broke even. It was distributed by Warner Bros.

In case you were wondering, news of Hilton's broken engagement generated a few book sales for her over the weekend.

The hardcover edition of "Confessions of an Heiress" jumped on Amazon.com from No. 9,225 on Saturday to No. 8,189 on Sunday. The paperback doesn't come out for another 10 months, but it's already at No. 1,018,000 due to advance sales.

Justin Timberlake: Walking in Memphis?

Don't believe reports out of the U.K. yesterday about Justin Timberlake.

The tabloid press there — reliably inaccurate as ever — reported that Justin was going to buy the old Stax and Sun Records labels and return them to Memphis. Or something like that.

What's really happening is that Justin, who's been loyal to the heritage of the Memphis music scene, will be celebrated on Oct. 22 by the local chapter of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences.

Among the other honorees that night will be Isaac Hayes and David Porter, who together wrote many of Sam & Dave's gigantic hits at Stax, including "Soul Man" and "Hold On I'm Coming."

There's no word yet on whether the NARAS can get Sam Moore, the living legend who sang those songs, to perform them at the tribute. (Dave Prater, the duo's other half, died in a 1988 car accident.)

Other honorees on that night will include Craig Brewer, the writer/director of "Hustle and Flow," set and shot entirely in Memphis. There will also an award to Memphis's famed radio station, WDIA.

At the same time, organizers of a memorial/tribute concert for Memphis's greatest R&B legend, Rufus Thomas, are hoping Timberlake will make an appearance at their event, three nights later on Oct. 25. Many Stax musicians will be on hand, and the local PBS affiliate is said to be considering filming it.

Meanwhile, I am told that Timberlake has been in the studio with an eye toward making a follow-up to his award-winning, best-selling album, 2002's "Justified."

Unlike many of his pop-star peers, Timberlake can actually sing. He proved it to me several years ago when I saw him get up at a Clive Davis pre-Grammy dinner and wail his butt off with the likes of Patti LaBelle and Alicia Keys.

There was originally some thought that Timberlake would record a new album with *NSYNC first, but a second solo record seems to make more sense economically.

What wouldn't make sense would be Timberlake trying to buy Stax Records.

The label was sold to Norman Lear's Concord Records last year by film producer Saul Zaentz as part of a $90 million deal.

Zaentz's Fantasy Records — also part of that deal — owned Stax after it went into bankruptcy in 1975. Concord has no reason to want to sell Stax, since its catalog of Sam & Dave, Isaac Hayes, Staples Singers, Rufus and Carla Thomas, Otis Redding and Booker T. and the MGs is a valuable asset.

What might be interesting, however, would be if Timberlake recorded with living Stax legends. Moore, Hayes, Carla Thomas and many others are still active and vibrant.

If the enterprising 24-year-old wants to help celebrate Memphis' musical past, this might be the best way to do it.

Miramax R.I.P.

Did you see the double-page color ad in the New York Times Arts & Leisure section yesterday? (The ad also ran in Friday's Business Day section.)

On one page: "Miramax: The End of an Era." On the other: "The Weinstein Company."

That's because starting today, Miramax, as we knew it, is over and out. Disney takes over the company, moves the remaining staff and new hires to new digs, and does exactly what, I don't know.

In the meantime, Harvey and Bob Weinstein start a new chapter in their storied careers. The brothers remain at their old address, with many of their old employees still aboard.

They've hired Dan Klores Associates publicist Liza Burnett to run their public-relations department, along with Dani Weinstein (no relation) and many others who helped give the old Miramax hundreds of Oscar nominations in the past.

Eyes will now be focused on Judi Dench in "Mrs. Henderson Presents" and Emmy winner Felicity Huffman in "Transamerica." Both are said to be potential Best Picture/Best Actress nominees. There's also a lot of buzz on Jennifer Aniston and Clive Owen in "Derailed."

All of this means The Weinstein Co. should be right in place at Trader Vic's in the Beverly Hilton come Golden Globes time. And that, I think, is exactly what their new financial backers (such as Goldman Sachs) will want to see.

As for the new Miramax, there's a lot of goodwill about the guy running it, Daniel Battsek. But he's inherited a thankless task and is in a lose-lose situation at best.

McCartney's Unexpected Stage Hit

The first of Paul McCartney's four shows at Madison Square Garden turned out to be an unexpected hit, and one of the best solo shows of his career.

It was unexpected because, thanks to McCartney's publicist, it was a hard show to get into. Special VIP forms offered a chance to buy $300 tickets. Hello!

Concentrated foraging on eBay finally produced excellent seats at less than half that price. And there seem to be many more available for the remaining shows.

Ticket dilemma aside, another McCartney show reeked of ambivalence. Even though his new album is excellent, would McCartney live be anything more than a way to top previous fireworks displays in "Live and Let Die"? You see what I mean.

So what a surprise when McCartney's show quickly became an interesting mix of intimate actual solo performances by the forever-Beatle and robust rock 'n' roll turns of some of his best known work.

He also introduced several songs he'd never performed before in concert (if he has, my apologies to the die-hard fans). But it was a pleasure to hear "Too Many People" from "Ram," "I'll Get You" from "The Beatles' Second Album" (now available on "The Capitol Albums, Vol. 1") "Till There Was You" from "With the Beatles" and its U.S. counterpart, "Meet the Beatles," and "I've Got a Feeling" from "Let It Be."

He even smartly rescued the Beatles' earliest recording, "In Spite of All the Danger." Still no sign of "Another Day," his mini-soap opera masterpiece and first solo single, but the others made up for it.

After playing an unnecessary promotional film (it seemed like something you'd find at a corporate dinner), McCartney, unbelievably 63 years old, took the stage with his band and rocked through "Flaming Pie," "Jet," "Drive My Car" and a couple more standards with aplomb.

Right away though, it was easy to see that this would be different than the Rolling Stones' show earlier this month. McCartney's show was stage-directed — organized, really — and thought through.

For a good chunk of the show, McCartney either sat at the piano by himself or strummed a guitar. The result was that over-played anthems that in the past had felt forced or turgid — "Maybe I'm Amazed," "Let It Be," "Eleanor Rigby" — got a new life last night.

Melodic gems from the John Lennon-McCartney songbook, like "For No One," "Fixing a Hole" and the magnificent, underrated "I Will," were showcased to their greatest value.

Played by McCartney just on acoustic guitar with a loping stride, the latter shone, especially in the lines "And when at last I find you/ Your song will fill the air."

Every performer has good nights and bad, and McCartney's had all of them. Even last night his voice cracked occasionally, and he missed a few notes on the guitar.

Toward the end of a very soulful reading of "Let It Be," he seemed to forget the lyrics and dropped a couple of words.

It didn't matter. Overall, it was one of those nights when even the mistakes were OK, because the achievements were so brilliant.

He talked a lot, too (and so did the band — a little too much.) That led to the intimacy, especially when he reminisced about his father, and the punch line pretty much had meaning just for him.

For McCartney, the richest performer in the world, it was one of many pleasant, disarming moments. There was also a nice moment dedicated to the memories of Lennon and George Harrison.

And McCartney revealed something you never hear from rock stars — that those signs fans hold up can be distracting because he reads them and forgets what he's doing. Who knew?

Still, the real pleasure of the night was McCartney the musician. He does not move like the unreal Mick Jagger, and, no matter what, cannot rock like The Who.

But listening to him play boogie-woogie piano riffs — as he did quite a lot — and all those rolling solos was absolutely gigantic. Little Richard and Fats Domino can take a lot of pride in their "student" by absentia.

McCartney's contribution to the Beatles is often derogated in light of Lennon's caustic wit or Harrison's guitar technique. But McCartney was the engine that drove those songs, and he's not about to give up now.

One quibble, though: Hire a horn section, Paul. Even the Fab Faux, the famous Beatles tribute band, has one. "Penny Lane" and "For No One" need woodwinds. "Eleanor Rigby" requires violins. The artificial sweetening is bad for your health.