The word from Atlanta is that R&B supergroup Outkast has turned down Oprah Winfrey's offer to appear on her show in early September.
It’s not part of the hip-hop boycott, however. Sources tell me that Antwan 'Big Boi' Patton wants do the show, but Andre '3000' Benjamin has declined, effectively nixing the deal.
Outkast has a soundtrack and a movie called "Idlewild" due on Aug. 22 and 25, respectively. The CD is a single-disc set, unlike their Grammy-winning, best-selling "Speakerboxxx/The Love Below," which spawned the mega-hit "Hey Ya!"
The movie musical sets the duo as musicians in a southern speakeasy in the 1930s, sort of a "Cotton Club" with Ving Rhames, Terrence Howard, Cicely Tyson, Patti Labelle, Macy Gray and Ben Vereen co-starring.
I’m told that Benjamin and Patton are at odds about everything involved with the promotion of the album.
"Andre is only interested in acting now," says my source.
Indeed. Benjamin has several acting projects scheduled in the near future. He’s also in Guy "Mr. Madonna" Ritchie’s unfortunate "Revolver," which has been universally panned and is already on DVD in Britain and Canada.
Nevertheless, Benjamin sees himself as a thespian.
"When their deal is over with Arista, he’s outta there," my source says.
Benjamin is said to be averse to doing almost anything to help the album, and that decision is making Patton properly upset.
"He’s only doing stuff to help the movie," my source says.
The "Oprah" appearance, which couldn’t even happen until the show returns from summer reruns on September 6, would certainly be a boost. On the other hand, by then two weeks will have already passed since the release. It could be a moot point by then.
Outkast is an ongoing truce anyway. The two artists literally make separate songs that are combined together. Benjamin no longer tours with the group, and Patton is said to be steamed about the way things have gone.
The group has already released a single from the album, an ebullient number called "The Mighty O," and based on — or shall we say heavily influenced by — Cab Calloway’s immortal "Minnie the Moocher."
Ironically, it features the Outkast duo rhyming together for what is said to be the first time in six years.
But that may be the last time they appear together on anything.
"Since Andre had a baby with Erykah Badu, his whole perspective has changed," says my source.
One source who says he’s heard a few of the album’s songs was also a little surprised about their subtext.
"It sounds like they’re singing about each other," he said.
But of course, Andre and Big Boi are probably just in character.
Michael Jackson will have to pay Marc Schaffel about a million bucks after a Santa Monica jury's decision Friday. Schaffel won about $900,000, plus court costs from Jackson. The total amount included $300,000 that Schaffel claimed he used to buy the continued silence of a family Jackson had already bought off. In a counter claim, Jackson won $200,000.
The math is easy. How Schaffel will get his money isn’t.
According to my sources, the lawyer who handled the case for Jackson, Thomas Mundell, is owed millions by the singer. The next thing you know, he’ll be suing Jackson.
At this point, Jackson is really a man without a country. I’m told that he is back in Bahrain after attempting a flight to freedom earlier this month. He thought he’d move to Europe from Bahrain, buy a mansion and be free of Prince Abdullah and his 2 Seas Records deal.
Remember all that Ireland-Paris-UK gossip that got tongues wagging? Alas, that is not possible.
First of all, Jackson has no cash. His restructured finances gave him little loot to play around with — he’s still got a $300 million loan with Fortress Investments, increased from $270 million to buy out his former attorney, John Branca, from his 5 percent interest in Sony ATV Music Publishing.
Michael could, per the new agreement, sell half of his stake in Sony/ATV back to Sony. But right now, Sony sees no need to pay him for it. They have the agreement, and they’re in the driver’s seat. Sony literally can sit back and do nothing for a long time.
Not only does Jackson not like to honor signed agreements, he’s famous for flouting them. Right now he’s being sued for $48 million because he signed a contract with Darien Dash, cousin of Roc-a-Fella Records co-founder Damon Dash, to secure him the original Fortress funding.
But Jackson’s deal with Prince Abdullah is iron clad. He’s got to make a record that the Prince can release on 2 Seas. And until he makes that record, Michael is stuck in Bahrain, where the Prince gives him a mansion, a driver and Bentleys. But outside of Bahrain, Michael is stranded. Hence, the quick trip back to the island state.
The big question now is will Prince Abdullah give Michael the money to pay off Schaffel? Or will Schaffel place a lien on Jackson’s accounts and Neverland?
On the latter issue, Schaffel would have to get in line behind Fortress to collect his money. But that also means that Neverland is so encumbered by debt that it’s no longer a viable asset for Jackson.
On Friday, New York City's most in-debt deadbeat dad was freed from jail.
Judge Sara Schecter of Manhattan Family Court released Jesse Hilsen, the one-time manager of the rock group KISS, until a bankruptcy hearing scheduled for July 20.
Earlier on Friday, in another courtroom, Hilsen’s ex-wife Rita Hilsen was awarded $805,000 in back support, and Hilsen was ordered to turn over his passports and put on 10 years’ probation with scheduled call-ins.
The result of Schecter’s decision was devastating for Rita Hilsen, who’s spent 22 years trying to get some money out of her ex, a nasty piece of work who has his defenders.
Chief among them is a man named Harry Catton, who appeared twice in the court's waiting room in the last few weeks.
Catton, in his mid 40s, told me that he’d met Hilsen in prison, where he’d gone to spite his wife over $7,000 in back support.
On Friday, Catton waited patiently for Hilsen’s release. When it was secured, he ferried Hilsen out to his SUV with New Jersey plates — he’d earlier told us he lived in Brooklyn — and then nearly ran over Rita Hilsen’s attorney, Jacqueline Bukowski, when she tried to ask him questions. There were several witnesses, including a New York Post court reporter.
The fear now is that Hilsen, who travels on an Israeli passport, has already left the United States for either Israel or South Africa. Bukowski says she will now pursue the bankruptcy in Brooklyn, hoping a judge will allow it to proceed even if Hilsen is gone.
If you don’t really know what Jackie Wilson and Sam Cooke — the original Kings of Soul Music — looked like, then check out YouTube.
Someone’s just put up a lovely video — said to be from around 1958 — of Jackie and Sam lip synching to Cooke’s song "Everybody Wants to Cha Cha." It’s priceless.
There are other Cooke and Wilson videos posted as well, all gems. And trust me, they would not have turned down Oprah for anything.