She’s not known as Miss Congeniality, but Diana Ross — let’s face it — has a great voice. It has never sounded better than on her new album, called “I Love You,” and released by Manhattan (EMI) Records on Jan. 16.
Well, that release was two weeks ago, and timed to the release of "Dreamgirls." The album actually came out the day after "Dreamgirls" won the specious Golden Globe for Best Musical or Comedy, which made sense.
The "Dreamgirls" story is heavily based on the life of the Supremes, and Beyonce’s Deena character is Ross through and through.
Nevertheless, not many people seem to want Ross’s album. Total sales thus far according to Nielsen Soundscan are 31,000. This is surprising, since she appeared on “Good Morning America” and “Regis” on the same morning in impressive back-to-back performances.
Although she feigned little knowledge of "Dreamgirls" on both shows, Ross has been acutely aware of the show and the film since it all began in 1981. She is not the sympathetic character in real life or in fiction.
Still, “I Love You” is full of well-chosen cover material including Heatwave’s “Always and Forever” and the 1970 chestnut “More Today Than Yesterday.”
Ross — even with her penchant for getting snapped whilst shopping at Ralph’s and looking like the Bride of Frankenstein — has a readily recognized signature pop voice. But 31,000 is pretty frightening.
Of course, it’s virtually impossible for older stars — whose classic records are a staple of oldies radio, Muzak, etc. — to get any airplay at all for their new stuff.
Sam Moore, whose album readers of this column know I helped work on, has had little radio exposure from his new album, even though it features Bruce Springsteen, Jon Bon Jovi and Eric Clapton among 20 guests. Same goes for Jerry Lee Lewis and Aaron Neville.
Yet, the voices of Moore, Lewis and Neville are heard constantly on oldies radio and “lite” stations on an hourly basis all over the world.
For Ross, “I Love You” should have, could have been a big comeback. But at this rate it’s unlikely there will be more promotion. Surprisingly, Ross has not appeared on the one show that could have helped her: "Oprah."
Even though talk-show queen Oprah Winfrey has also professed undying admiration of Ross, on the day of the release of “I Love You,” Winfrey did a music show with Carly Simon, newcomer Corinne Bailey Rae and Mary J. Blige.
Sales for all their albums skyrocketed, and Simon in particular can account for her “Into White” CD being her biggest in 20 years, thanks to the appearance.
And that’s not all: ironically, "Dreamgirls" star Jennifer Hudson just appeared on "Oprah," and sang her heart out.
"Dreamgirls," in fact, has been heavily promoted on "Oprah," which may be one reason Ross has stayed away. But if she doesn’t give in soon, and acknowledge the movie in some way, her CD may be headed to the budget bin. That would be a shame.
You may remember when Bert Fields — now a character in the Anthony Pellicano case — served as Michael Jackson’s lawyer in the early to mid-1990s.
In fact, Fields represented Jackson during his original child molestation accusations and negotiated the $20 million settlement with the Chandler family.
Now Fields and Jackson — once the protégé of the above mentioned Miss Ross — are involved in a legal action again. This time, however, they’re on different sides.
Fields’ firm, Greenberg Glusker Fields & Claiman, is listed as the firm representing Airport Industrial Real Estate in a lawsuit against MJJ Productions.
It was filed in the Torrance branch of Los Angeles Superior Court on Nov. 9, 2006. A hearing is scheduled there on Feb. 20, 2007. The issue is over back rent, because Jackson — as I reported in 2005 — didn’t pay up on airplane hangers in Los Angeles where he kept memorabilia. The stuff was eventually moved to a cheaper location near Neverland.
Is it a conflict of interest for Fields' firm to represent someone against Jackson? Let’s leave that for legal minds. But Jackson is also still being sued by former lawyer, Brent Ayscough, for $200,000 in unpaid fees. He’s also being countersued by his former accountant, Alan Whitman, who Jackson has alleged didn’t do a good enough job keeping him afloat.
And those are not all of Michael Jackson’s legal woes. According to the Web site for the Los Angeles Superior Court, he’s still being sued by Mickey Fine Pharmacy in Beverly Hills for $100,000 in unpaid bills — despite a public release claiming that the bill had been settled.
And Jackson — now living in Las Vegas and looking for work — still appears to be in court with Debbie Rowe, the mother of his two eldest children, Prince and Paris, over custody issues.
The children, by the way, appeared in photos spread all over the Internet Thursday. Their fine features and blond hair raised more questions of their paternity, since they look absolutely nothing like Michael Jackson prior to his extensive plastic surgery.
Is that all? Not exactly. Yet a new lawyer, Gregory Cross, of Baltimore firm Venable LLP, is claiming to represent Jackson. Cross’ specialty? According to the Venable Web site: bankruptcy and debt refinancing.
The site states: “Mr. Cross’ litigation practice is unique in that it handles disputes of all levels of complexity in state, federal and bankruptcy court.” Stay tuned…
Peter O'Toole, nominated for Best Actor in "Venus," has changed his mind. He’s coming to the Academy Awards.
“O’Toole has decided, ‘What the hell?’ and is going to walk the red carpet,” a source says.
O’Toole will also attend the Oscar nominees’ lunch, a Hollywood tradition.
The funny thing is, with a little effort, O’Toole could be the surprise winner over Forest Whitaker. Stranger things have happened.
Considering that all the other nominees have been pretty well combed over, O’Toole and Judi Dench — who’ve stayed away from this year’s campaign — will probably be treated like royalty. ...
Black Hollywood will celebrate its 50 Most Powerful in Tinseltown at a gala on Feb. 21 at the Beverly Wilshire. Marilyn Crawford is organizing, and everyone from Will Smith to the "Dreamgirls" cast to Three 6 Mafia is expected.
Halle Berry and Denzel Washington, prom king and queen for Black Hollywood, should be there too if they’re in town. Bravo! ...
Don’t miss Philip Haas’ “The Situation,” which opens Friday in limited release. This searing drama (with a lot of action) is set in Baghdad today. Connie Nielsen is sensational, and the rest of the cast does a remarkable job. This is the first movie about the Iraq war that makes it seem real. ...