Believe it or not, Michael Jackson now has Madonna to thank for some extra cash.
The Kabbalah Crier (formerly the Material Mom) has sampled the bass lines from a Jackson-penned song on her new album.
Her tune, "Sorry," contains a segment from "Can You Feel It?" That's a song Mikey wrote in 1981 with brother Jackie. It appeared on the Jacksons' "Triumph" album.
"Can You Feel It?" is credited to the two brothers and published by MiJac Music, Michael's company. Even though Jackson's ownership in MiJac is leveraged to the tune of $70 million, he still gets royalties.
And Madonna will have to ante up for use of the sample. There's talk that "Sorry" will even be a single release from Madonna's forthcoming "Confessions on a Dance Floor," which could mean even more dough for Michael.
Of course, he'll have to split the fees with Jackie, who actually wrote several songs used around the time of the Victory tour, circa 1985.
Ironies abound here, since Michael speaks these days to almost no one in his family, including Jackie.
But even more interesting is that Michael for a long time had a competition going with Madonna in which he would try to top anything she did, according to sources. The fact that she's now thrown him this bone should feel like a major validation of success to Jackson, I am told.
Madonna's album, sources say, is full of samples this time around — quite a different story from years past.
Even though her first single, "Hung Up," is, I think, a brilliant dance record, that's due largely to a chunk of Abba's "Gimme Gimme Gimme" wafting through it. Madonna is going to have pay for a few samples on this album, including one from Donna Summer's "I Feel Love."
Not paying in advance for a sample can lead to bad publicity and lawsuits. Just ask Kanye "Clip Job" West. He appropriated Shirley Bassey's famous "Diamonds Are Forever" for his new album without asking the singer's permission or seeking the proper license.
The result has been a very disgruntled Bassey speaking out against him and a barrage of lawyers' letters. There is even talk that Bassey may sue West, since she now appears as an unpaid guest star on his platinum-selling CD.
And by the way: Madonna may deny that her dance single "Isaac" is about Kabbalah philosopher Isaac Luria, but she'll have a hard time proving otherwise.
She was better off with that story anyway. Her new spin, that the song is about a man named Yitzhak who chants in Hebrew on the record, makes no sense at all. At least with the Luria version, it seemed like she knew about an important person in her adopted religion. Now she says she never heard of Luria. I think that may be worse.
You think you know where Meryl Streep lives, right? Up in bucolic Connecticut, right?
But Streep, husband Don Gummer and her kids are all living in Goldie Hawn's New York apartment for the moment. That's because the Gummers' new, fabulous home way downtown in Tribeca is not ready yet. Just yesterday, they moved out of their home in Greenwich Village.
It's a typical story of construction blues. Everything should be done in two weeks. It's nice to know that even Streep hears that from her carpenters, etc.
The Gummer household is busier than usual, too, since Meryl opens next weekend in the offbeat comedy "Prime" with Uma Thurman. And next month her daughter, Mamie, stars in the Roundabout Theater's Broadway production of a new play, "Mr. Marmalade."
There's been almost no publicity about this, as Mamie Gummer doesn't need the pressure of being compared to her mother. But at last night's premiere of "Prime," Mamie proved to be so poised and mature that I've no doubt we're going to see the beginning of a new dynasty.
As for Meryl, "Prime" is quirky and doesn't always work, but she is flawless as usual. This time she plays a Jewish mother/psychoanalyst. She's hilarious.
"I've been Jewish before," she laughed when we talked last night. No kidding. Most recently she played Ethel Rosenberg in "Angels in America," for which she won several awards. But Streep has also been Polish, Italian, Australian, Argentine and British (a few times).
She said she liked working with newish director Ben Younger, whose only previous credit was "Boiler Room."
"He reminds me of Fred Schepisi," she said, "in that he's got his masculine and feminine sides all worked out."
In "Prime," even when things get a little iffy, plot-wise, Streep bolsters every scene.
When I told her that we were sitting in the back of the Ziegfield Theater wondering if she'd ever make a misstep — she doesn't, of course — Streep replied, shaking her head, "I know people watch me like that, too."
She shrugged. It's a burden being perfect all the time.
Streep liked playing against Thurman, too. When Uma's mom, Nena, came over to say hello at the lavish after-premiere party for "Prime" at the famed Four Seasons restaurant, Meryl told her her daughter was "amazing. You don't find actresses who look and act like that who like to lean forward into the material. She wants to learn from everything."
Next for the woman who is inarguably America's greatest living actress: six different films, including Robert Altman's take on "A Prairie Home Companion," plus "Dark Matter," which will be directed by highly regarded opera/theater director Chen Shi-Zheng and produced by her old friend, Mary Salter.
She'll also play Mother Courage next summer, returning to the Public Theater's Delacorte Theater in Central Park.
That's enough, isn't it?
By the way, Meryl's husband in "Prime" is played by her old Yale Drama School pal, John Rothman, whose brother, Tom, runs 20th Century Fox.
But don't think John Rothman is hired for any reason but talent. He has over 50 film credits as a beloved character actor, including three MWoody Allen movies ("Stardust Memories," "The Purple Rose of Cairo" and the classic "Zelig").
This guy works all the time but gets little publicity — let's give him some credit from now on!
I'm told it's no big mystery why Jessica Simpson's secrets keep winding up in Us Weekly. A higher-up at her record company is said to have become fast friends with Us Weekly editor Janice Min.
Jessica's ever-vigilant dad, Joe Simpson, had better start taking names. ...
Damon Johnson is the struggling-artist son of Page Six's Richard Johnson. And guess what? After paying some dues, Damon is starting to make some real sales for his excellent canvases. He's also found a fervent supporter in designer Tracey Stern — who just had an exhibition/party for him at Pangaea in the Hollywood, Fla., Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. Damon Johnson's work can be found at www.markmurray.com. ...
And finally, traffic to the Hamptons tonight should be miserable. Despite predicted rain, thousands of intrepid souls are heading to the 10th annual Hamptons International Film Festival. It's more star-studded than ever this year, with lots of premieres and much finger food. Debra Winger is a juror, too, and that's worth the price of admission, as they say. A full report on Monday. ...
And: Amazon.com is listing Stevie Wonder's amazing new "A Time 2 Love," in stores now, as its fourth-highest-seller this week, trailing only the 30th-anniversary edition of Bruce Springsteen's "Born to Run," Rod Stewart's new album of standards and a newly discovered 1957 jazz CD by Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane.
"A Time 2 Love" should be a Grammy nominee for Best Album alongside CDs by Green Day, U2, Rob Thomas, Alicia Keys and maybe even Paul McCartney. ...