Paris Hilton | Sting | National Board of Review

Paris Hilton: No More Singing

Well, it was a fun idea while it lasted. But Paris Hilton’s debut album has sold a paltry 120,000 copies. It’s already pretty much off the charts, too.

With new releases from Beyonce, Justin Timberlake, Janet Jackson and other big actual recording stars, Paris’ foray into the music business is about to become a Trivial Pursuit question.

However, the melody lingers on like bad fish. The costs on Paris are said to be ridiculously high, probably around $1 million considering travel, video and dog food. The album itself was also costly, with production fees usually seen on albums by — ahem — actual recording artists.

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For Warner Bros., that’s not great news as they head into the fourth quarter. The label has no CDs with its name on it anywhere on the charts except for the Red Hot Chili Peppers’ now fallen recent album.

While competitors like Universal Music and Sony BMG barrel ahead with one Top 10 release after another, Warner Bros. remains stricken by a failure to launch.

The Paris disaster could signal a sea change at Warner among execs. I'm told by insiders that Warner Music Group overlord Lyor Cohen did not want to do Hilton's album, and that it was pushed by label chief Tom Whalley.

That jibes with what Paris herself said last winter when she gave this column an exclusive listen to her brand of anonymous Europop. She exclaimed: "Tom Whalley is really behind this. He thinks it's the greatest album."

Warner's success rate may change next month when Sean "Diddy" Combs releases his new album, "Press Play." It was shepherded not by Whalley but by Cohen's secret weapon, Kevin Lyles.

As I told you in July when Combs played me excerpts from his album, he may have a sizeable hit on his hands. Combs’ Bad Boy Records, which releases through Warner’s Atlantic division, has actually had a couple of middling hits this summer. This much can be said for Bad Boy: they’re trying at least.

As for dear Paris, a recording career was only one of many ways for her to market herself. She still has jewelry (designed by someone else), books (written by someone else) and drunk driving (that she does herself).

The strangest thing about Paris might be her publicist. Since John Lennon’s murder in 1980, Elliot Mintz has fashioned himself as Yoko Ono’s public barricade and keeper of the Lennon flame. It’s hard to imagine two clients less alike than Paris and Yoko. But in Hollywood, money talks, and that’s the bottom line.

Sting Recognizes His 'Saints'

It was a nicely star-studded premiere last night in Chelsea for Dito Montiel’s award-winning film, “A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints.” Robert Downey Jr. and Rosario Dawson weren’t there — they were working elsewhere — but Chazz Palminteri and Dianne Wiest were on hand to accept thunderous applause. They are likely Oscar nominees in their respective supporting categories for their stellar work in this terrific film.

Of course, “Saints” has a secondary angle: it’s produced by Trudie Styler and executive produced by Trudie’s hubby Sting and their friend Bobby Sager.

It’s rare that paparazzi are more interested in the producers than the stars, but that was almost the case last night.

Also on hand were several of the young stars of the movie, including Channing Tatum, who had a dance movie hit this summer called “Step Up,” and Adam Scarimbolo and Melonie Diaz, who might be the film’s breakout stars as the offbeat Giuseppe and the younger version of Dawson’s character.

For Montiel, “Saints” is an autobiographical tour de force that chronicles his life in Queens, N.Y., circa 1976. You know the time simply from the music — the disco hit “Native New Yorker” is the first track you hear, and Ace Frehley's version of Russ Ballard's 'New York Groove' is the last."

The driving horns of Gerry Rafferty’s “Baker Street” are used for the climax. But this is no “Saturday Night Fever.” The kids in “Saints” are poor and fighting for their lives. It’s a little “West Side Story” meets “Death of a Salesman.”

Palminteri and Wiest — who are both considered top notch on any day — each give masterful performances in “Saints.”

Wiest, who never goes to parties and rarely attends premieres, saw the film for the first time and was in tears when it was over.

“I can’t believe how good it was,” she kept saying to the constant line of admirers including designer Donna Karan and singer Chynna Phillips.

But Sting and Trudie won’t be letting this success make them lazy. They are off to Hollywood today: Sting is taping an episode of NBC’s “Studio 60 on Sunset Strip,” on which he’ll perform selections from his upcoming “Songs from the Labyrinth” album. And Trudie is going to be a guest this week on the "Late Late Show With Craig Ferguson.”

In the meantime, watch for “Saints” as it unrolls in New York and Los Angeles on Sept. 29 and then across the country all through October. First Look Pictures’ Ruth Vitale reeled it in at Sundance and “Saints” could be the sleeper indie hit of the season.

Movie Awards Group: More Scandals

Eileen Newman has quit her job running the bizarre National Board of Review after less than a year. You may recall the Newman came in with big ideas last winter.

But NBR president Annie Schulhof, who’s turned the already cliquey organization into an even worse forum for payback and backslapping, didn’t like Newman trying to voice her opinion. So she’s out and has a great new job with National Video Resources as deputy director.

Newman and Schulhof fell out pretty quickly, I’m told, after every human being on earth warned the former about the latter. Schulhof now has no actual group director; although, as one former member put it, she might as well do the job herself.

Newman follows famed and beloved PR guy Gary Springer out the door. Springer found out he’d been replaced when he read it in this column. Schulhof didn’t bother to call him and let her new PR person send out a press release. According to sources, Schulhof had heaped praise on Springer up till then.

The NBR remains the bane of movie publicists. Not reviewers — as its name suggests — its membership consists of a strange group of fans who pay $600 a year to see screenings and have Q&A sessions with the casts of the films, all at the studios’ expense.

Why do the studios do this? It gives them an award they can trumpet in ads in the first days of December, a helpful tool in selling Christmas films.

Last year, the NBR sent out a voting ballot to its members that left off a number of potential winners. When this column discovered that fact and printed it, the group sent out new ballots. It should be interesting to see what they do this year.