Courtney Love to Play London's West End | Prayers for a Legend: Arif, the Great | A 'Super' Book? | Diddy's New PR

Courtney Love to Play London's West End

The new and improved Courtney Love, one of our most talented and conflicted performers, has a lot of plans. Among them: heading to London’s West End where she’ll appear in a “classic” play before the end of the year, perhaps even earlier.

But first: Courtney is busy in the recording studio with producer Linda Perry, who put Christina Aguilera on the charts with “Beautiful” and gave James Blunt his career with “You’re Beautiful.”

Perry, whom Courtney rightly calls a “genius,” will probably sign Love to her Custard label for the album. The title hasn't been set, but “How Dirty Girls Get Clean” has been bandied about.

Perry hasn’t given Courtney any songs with the word “beautiful” in the title, but she did give her a stunner, Love says. “She whipped a song out of the ‘Beautiful’ and gave it to me,” Courtney reports. “It’s stunning.”

This week, to cleanse herself and get ready for a big round of singing and lyric writing, Love has stashed herself away at a spa for several days of fasting.

“It’s not for weight,” she told me, “it’s for clarity.”

She’s on a mostly liquid diet of lemon water, apple juice, zucchini, carrots, parsley juice, aloe vera and — believe it or not — castor oil.

The diet must work. Indeed, Courtney Love has never sounded better. She’s “clean” as a whistle and much resolved to have a series of successes this year including the play, the album and a book she’ll publish this fall called “Dirty Blonde.”

The publisher is a classy one, too: Faber & Faber via Farrar, Straus, and Giroux. Their other authors include Tom Wolfe, Philip Roth and Walker Percy. Not bad.

“It’s not a kiss and tell,” she insists. Conde Nast’s Fashion Rocks supplement will carry an excerpt in September.

Back to the album: Courtney tells me that the principal work has been done by Perry, herself, and Smashing PumpkinsBilly Corgan.

“Not many people know this,” Courtney says, “but Billy’s been living with me for the last four months.”

By selling 25 percent of the Nirvana song catalog, Courtney raised enough money to buy a big Gatsby-like house in the Hollywood Hills, complete with a formal ballroom.

“Billy has one wing, Frances (her 13-year-old daughter) has another and I have one,” she says proudly.

The change in finances has a lot to do with Courtney’s new outlook. She says at her low point she had about $4,000 left, and she and Frances had moved into a rented condo.

Offers were always pouring in to use Nirvana’s songs (aka songs by her late, celebrated husband, Kurt Cobain). Coca-Cola was desperate for one for a commercial.

But in April, Courtney sold 25 percent ownership in the catalog to music vet Larry Mestel. Bono was among those who wanted to buy the catalog, Courtney says. But "he didn’t understand the extent of my debt,” she reports. They remain friends.

Now she says, a new feminine version of K-Y Jelly is begging to use one of the songs for their commercials.

“They probably want 'Come As You Are,'” she jokes. However, there have been no decision so far.

One of her big purchases with her new money is an Aston Martin, although she doesn’t know how to drive it. That’s just as well.

“I have a driver,” she says.

She is determined to stay out of trouble. And if Linda Perry’s Custard Music winds up with Universal Music — the company Courtney sued to get out her contract — she’ll be happy to go along without any complaints.

“I don’t hold any grudges,” she says right before hanging up. She’s got to get back to that parsley juice!

Prayers for a Legend: Arif, the Great

Word is spreading through the musical community that the great and truly legendary producer Arif Mardin is now seriously ill.

Let’s all send this gentle, charming man good thoughts and prayers. Never one to seek publicity, Arif — who’s 74 — has had a surprise “second” career in recent years, producing Norah Jones’ Grammy-winning hits like “Don’t Know Why.”

Last year he produced Queen Latifah’s jazz album, also a hit. He has 12 Grammy Awards all together.

Starting at Atlantic Records in 1963, Arif was really a silent partner in creating that great sound, along with Jerry Wexler and Ahmet and Nesuhi Ertegun.

His resume is stellar, from the Bee Gees' lush pre-“Saturday Night Fever” comeback album “Main Course” with “Jive Talkin,” “Nights on Broadway” and “Fanny (Be Tender With My Love)” to Aretha Franklin — working with Jerry Wexler and Tom Dowd on her watershed hits from 1967-68 including “Respect,” “Chain of Fools” and “Think” — to Dusty Springfield’s immortal album, “Dusty in Memphis.”

The rest of his artist roster isn’t bad, either. It includes Chaka Khan’s trademark “I Feel For You” (the one that repeats her name over and over), Bette Midler’s “Wind Beneath My Wings,” landmark albums by Roberta Flack & Donny Hathaway (the original one, with “Where is the Love?”), Average White Band (“Pick up the Pieces” and “Cut the Cake”), Hall & Oates’ “Abandoned Luncheonette,” Judy Collins’ “Send in the Clowns,” Carly Simon’s “You Belong to Me,” Brook Benton’s “Rainy Night in Georgia” and countless other solid gold hits by The Rascals, Barbra Streisand, Diana Ross, Patti LaBelle, Phil Collins, Culture Club, Melissa Manchester, Manhattan Transfer, Modern Jazz Quartet, Willie Nelson, John Prine, Scritti Politti, Queen, David Bowie and Jewel — not to mention all his early jazz work with Freddie Hubbard, Max Roach, Les McCann and Herbie Mann.

Arif, we are thinking of you today, sending our best wishes to your beautiful wife Latife and your son Joe, (a Grammy-winning producer himself). If we never thanked you properly before, please accept our gratitude now. Your legacy is immense.

A 'Super' Book? Fans Disagree

The movie “Superman Returns” has gotten some good advance reviews from the trades in addition to Time and Newsweek. But readers of the movie’s novelization, which went on sale June 1, aren’t too pleased.

On Amazon.com, the $6.99 paperback is ranked between No. 3,500 and No. 4,500 — not exactly a stellar lead-up to the film’s June 28 opening. Most of the people who bought the book don’t seem to like it either, giving it an average two and a half out of five stars.

The book apparently has plenty of spoilers, but leaves one out: the paternity of Lois Lane’s little boy. For that info, I guess we’ll have to see the movie, which is said to be visually stunning, if nothing else.

Diddy's New PR

Sean 'Diddy' Combs is hiring the big guns for his fall projects. He's just signed on with PMK-HBH's powerhouse Cindi Berger for publicity after a decade with Dan Klores.

Diddy's got a new album, which is much anticipated, and a movie version of "A Raisin in the Sun" in which he will re-create his, uh, enthusiastic Broadway performance.

Berger's team includes the able Jill Fritzo, who has experience with controversial icons. She worked with C. Love (see above) when she made "The People vs. Larry Flynt."

Contrary to some other reports, however, Fritzo doesn't represent Denise Richards or Christina Aguilera anymore.