Michael Jackson’s plans for a new sort of “We Are the World” are fading fast.
He has no record deal, first of all. Even though Jackson has been in London hoping to get his charity single recorded, no one’s jumped at the chance to distribute it.
Meantime, there are lots of charity singles already available, including a new song from Stevie Wonder and another, including an all-star version of Eric Clapton’s "Tears in Heaven."
There had been talk of Def Jam’s L.A. Reid making deal with Jackson and the prince of Bahrain, but it hasn’t happened. In fact, the prince’s new lawyer, Atlanta record-biz whiz Joel Katz, is back home with no signed papers. And Reid is said to be on the fence about whether to make any kind of deal with Jackson.
But at least Jackson is not all alone at the Dorchester Hotel. I am told that after entertaining his 20-year-old ward Omer Bhatti during the summer in Bahrain, the exiled pop star has had a new personal guest/companion with him: Anton Schleiter.
Schleiter, the 20-year-old son of Hamburg-based Sony music exec Wolfgang Schleiter, has been a favorite of 47-year-old Jackson for years now. Jackson even dedicated the song “Speechless” to Anton and his sister on the album "Invincible."
When I spoke with Wolfgang Schleiter last year, he refused to defend Jackson or help him in his child molestation case.
Anton, it should be noted, appears in pictures to dress and wear his hair exactly like Michael.
Stevie Wonder released his first album in 10 years yesterday. But don’t think that with “A Time 2 Love” Stevie's library is depleted. According to his inside staff, Stevie has “hundreds” of songs he’s been working on. His brother Milton Hardaway told me last night at the album release party that “He has one song he’s been working on since 1973 that I’m waiting to see on an album.”
Last night, the release party was at the hot hot hot Megu in Tribeca. Two weeks ago, Leo DiCaprio and Giselle Bundchen just walked in and took a table without a reservation.
Last night, Nik Ashford and Valerie Simpson, Wesley Snipes, Gayle King and a host of music biz types toasted Stevie with Dom Perignon on his new release.
Earlier yesterday, Stevie appeared on “Regis and Kelly,” where he sang two songs. He also just taped “Good Morning America.” What I’d like to see: Stevie and his piano on "Charlie Rose" for a whole hour.
If you haven’t ordered, downloaded or conventionally purchased “A Time 2 Love” in a store already, you’re late. This is the soon-to-be-Grammy-nominated album of the year, with a Song of the Year nomination for “Shelter in the Rain” and countless other awards on the way.
Among my top choices for singles: “Can’t Imagine Love Without You,” “True Love,” “Passionate Raindrops” and “Sweetest Somebody I Know.”
(Paging Halle Berry, Vivica A. Fox, Regina King, Joy Bryant: Stevie needs you for videos!)
Before Stevie spoke last night, Universal Music Group’s chief Doug Morris made a toast with Motown president Sylvia Rhone.
“Stevie, we promised we’d handle your music personally,” Morris said. The UMG prez is in a position where he must put the same resources he’s used for Eminem, 50 Cent, Mariah Carey and Kanye West into “A Time 2 Love.” Can he do it? Yes. Will he do it? I think so. The ball is in his court now.
Stevie brought his daughter Aisha, who sings beautifully on the album on a fabulous new song called “How Will I Know?” He also brought Aisha’s mother Yvonne, as well as brother Milton and right-hand man Brian LaRoda.
When he took the mike, Stevie got philosophical, recalling his late wife Syreeta and late brother Larry, but he also said these important words about the album: “Buy it, and buy one for a friend!”
By the way, the notes for “A Time 2 Love” included with the CD are worth checking out.
Prince appears “courtesy of himself,” which is pretty funny. Bonnie Raitt, Paul McCartney, Doug E. Fresh and India.Arie all put in cameos, as well as a reunited En Vogue. Stevie plays most of the instruments on the album — what else is new? — and even designed the logo!
In the end, though, “A Time 2 Love” is about the music — and the music is as good as on any of his classic albums.
Was Katie Holmes already pregnant when War of the Worlds was being promoted? And did Steven Spielberg know?
The answer is: maybe. Of course, we’ll know soon enough. Because if Katie was already with child when Spielberg gave an interview on June 5, she’ll be giving birth by the end of January, beginning of February.
In an interview with Australia’s "60 Minutes" that aired on June 5, Spielberg said of Tom Cruise: “I've known him since '83 and I knew Tom when he first adopted his first two kids and so I really felt that this part suited Tom to a 't.'”
His “first two kids” is a strange way to describe someone’s only two kids, isn’t it? But when you watch Spielberg say it, he’s not making a mistake. It’s possible Cruise told him that Holmes was pregnant that long ago. If so, it means that the couple conceived a child almost immediately after they met on or around April 15.
Holmes’ recent pictures show that she’s between five and six months pregnant, in fact. This was a surprise, certainly. But it does account for Cruise’s weird behavior on Oprah, and the couple’s near silence during August when — after a barrage of press — they seemingly went underground for about four weeks.
That “60 Minutes” piece, by the way, which is all about Cruise and contains a revealing interview with him, is worth checking out. Both the video and the transcript are available at nine.msn.video.com.
It looks like Madonna is the victim of a massive leg-pulling — either that or someone really over the top is suing her. I vote for the former.
The whole problem with the Internet is that anyone can perpetrate a hoax. And so some woman calling herself Aisha Goodison, of Miami, claimed yesterday to be suing Madonna for 99 different counts, including “Wiretapping, Criminal Copyright Infringement, Stalking, Harassment, Assault, Invasion Of Privacy, Grand Theft Larceny, Corporate Theft and Fraud,” among other things.
Among other things? What could be left? Why not also Accidental Homicide and Fear of Snakes? Blame her for the tsunami, why doncha?
Aisha’s main complaint is that Madonna’s been hacking into her computer and taking all her ideas and songs. You can see where this is going: right out the window.
Anyway, Aisha — whoever she is — said she was naming as defendants an eclectic group of unrelated people including movie producer Jerry Bruckheimer, director Garry Marshall, Gwen Stefani, "Grey’s Anatomy" creator Shonda Rimes, Britney Spears and Luc Besson! Why she omitted Kofi Annan remains a mystery!
Whatever or whoever is behind this spent a lot of time on what is either an elaborate joke or just something really weird. In any case, Madonna should get a good laugh at this. Such is the price, I guess, of being really, really famous!
Virgin Records announced yesterday the exit of chief exec Matt Serletic (search), former manager of Matchbox Twenty. I told you two weeks ago that Serletic was out and that Jason Flom, founder of Lava/Atlantic was in. And so it shall be. I can’t wait to see who takes credit for these stories. But we told you on Oct. 4.
Flom’s first orders of business: saving the Rolling Stones album “A Bigger Bang” and working on Janet Jackson’s upcoming release. He will also undoubtedly bring a string of talented people and artists from Atlantic, which didn’t want them anymore.