Lindsay Lohan | Madonna | Steven Spielberg | 'The Lives of Others' | The Beatles and iTunes

Lindsay Lohan's OK, So Leave Her Alone

Lindsay Lohan is doing better than you'd think. Forget the stories about her text-messaging friends about sex and McDonald's: they're ridiculous. And forget rumors that she went out clubbing this past weekend: Not true. Lohan, 20, is doing pretty well considering her dad's in jail and her mother is a party animal.

Sources say it was Lohan herself who volunteered to go to rehab while she was finishing a film. When this one is done, so is Lohan. She will take a much-needed break and focus on getting grounded.

What she's learned so far, as relayed by a mutual friend: "'The people who work with me on films don't really care, apparently, about my well-being as much as they may say they do in the beginning.'"

It's a hard lesson and Lohan is finally learning the hard way that Hollywood is a business, and the people who run it will say just about anything to get a movie made.

Still, just about everyone agrees that Lohan is a keeper. Every director wants her to be in his or her movie. Forget the rumors that certain actors or directors refuse to work with her; it couldn't be further from the truth.

And she means business. Also communicated to me from the set of "I Know Who Killed Me," this last bit of Lindsay-ism: "I plan on sticking with my sobriety, as I always wanted to. Working the steps helps it resonate more."

I told readers of this column last fall that I had run into Lohan at the Hyde nightclub in September. She was dating Harry Morton and was sober as a judge. She proudly showed me her water bottle.

"See?" she said.

I'm rooting for this talented, smart, often misguided 20-year-old. She's going to make it. She has to, and she knows it.

Madonna Strikes Out With Dud Live Album

The sales figures are coming in, and it doesn't look so good for Madonna. Her live album and DVD, derived from her Confessions tour, will debut with a mere 35,000 copies sold in stores. You remember record stores, right?

That would put Madonna at around No. 20 for the week. But over on Amazon.com she's No. 5. This speaks more to the kind of albums Amazon sells and who their customers are than to whether Madonna has a hit. She doesn't.

Meanwhile, Norah Jones is back with her third album, and it's coming in at No. 1. Called "Not Too Late," Jones' set should sell somewhere between 350,000 and 400,000 copies.

This isn't bad, but it's a far cry from her 2004 album that sold over a million copies in its debut week. This huge shortfall can't be attributed just to downloading. It's also apathy on the part of dwindling customers.

That Jones has a hit at all is a testament to Bruce Lundvall and Blue Note Records. She has had exactly one hit single in her career — "Don't Know Why" — but her core fans still hang on.

The writer of "Don't Know Why" is long gone, too. The new album was composed by Jones and her boyfriend and band member, Lee Alexander, keeping very much in the style of the original single.

Spielberg's Comments Leave Grey Area

What is going on with Steven Spielberg and DreamWorks? The folks at Paramount are dumbfounded by the director's quotes in yesterday's New York Times, especially since sources tell me that Spielberg had reassured the Paramount brass that he would say nice things about them.

But the Times piece has left the Paramount honchos wondering what's going on. They were, in a word, perplexed.

"I take exception when the press is contacted by our friends and partners at Paramount, who refer to every DreamWorks picture as a Paramount picture. It is not the case,” Spielberg's Times quote states.

Spielberg is a co-founder of DreamWorks, which last year was bought by Paramount. He was referring to the premiere of "Dreamgirls," at which Paramount Pictures Chairman Brad Grey introduced the movie.

At issue are the constraints on freedoms perceivably caused as big names mesh and outside corporations buy up smaller-yet-well-known operations, the Times reported.

Click here to read the New York Times story.

"Steven is a star, and part of Paramount buying DreamWorks was to get him, frankly," a source told me. "Paramount wants to make him happy. They're not sure what's making him unhappy."

It's possible that Spielberg's comments are the manifestation of frustrations at DreamWorks about "Dreamgirls" not getting a Best Picture nomination.

On the other hand, DreamWorks can't complain about the box office. "Dreamgirls" is headed quickly to $100 million mark and, post-Oscars, could go as high as $125 million.

"Dreamgirls" also had a brilliant campaign, despite the criticism that's been leveled at it lately. The Cannes preview, the November media screenings and the Vanity Fair cover were all as expertly executed as they could have been.

Spielberg definitely is unhappy as evidenced in the Times piece. He is right that no marriage is perfect. Still, this couple doesn't even live together.

DreamWorks and Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment still are located a world away on the Universal lot in Studio City, far from Paramount's fabled arched entrance. Ironically, DreamWorks couldn't make a deal with Universal last year when it was desperate for cash, but Paramount came through.

In any case, the whole dust-up may have been just that: an airing of grievances before everyone goes back to work. Last night the studio announced a release date for "Indiana Jones 4," directed by Spielberg: May 22, 2008.

'The Lives of Others' Is a Foreign Picture Favorite

With Pedro Almodovar's "Volver" mysteriously out of the race for Best Foreign Film, we're left with some good choices: "Water," "Pan's Labyrinth," "Days of Glory," "After the Wedding" and the German entry "The Lives of Others."

This last entry was screened last night at Sony for an eclectic crowd including: Elie Wiesel; Lou Reed; Peter Weller; James Schamus; Stephen Schiff; Vanity Fair's Beth Kseniak and Kevin Sessums; Ellen McCourt; Paris Match's Dany Jucaud; Chopard's Stephanie Labeille; "The Producers" and "Annie" writer Tom Meehan; super literary agent Lynn Nesbit; Stanley Crouch; Andy Borowitz; Joel Siegel; David Denby; producer Jean Doumanian; playwright A.R. "Pete" Gurney; and Gossip Central's new blogger Regina Weinreich.

I do feel bad. If I had been smart enough to have seen "The Lives of Others" at the Toronto Film Festival, or anywhere else, I could have told you then that it is a remarkable film, brilliantly written and directed, with outstanding performances.

If it were American-made or at least in English — which it could not be given the material — "The Lives of Others" would win Best Picture. It's that good. In many ways it's almost the German equivalent of "American Beauty."

Wiesel, who's too important to go to premieres, said it was the best film he had seen in a decade. Run to see "The Lives of Others" when it's released this Friday.

The Beatles Become Apple Royalty

I started reporting in this space a couple of years ago (maybe more) about the ongoing battle between The Beatles, aka Apple Records, and Apple Inc. It was a trademark issue because the Beatles owned the Apple name first. Steve Jobs named his company after Apple as a tribute, but The Beatles sued him.

There were two outstanding agreements. Jobs forked over millions in 1991 and agreed never to have a music company named Apple. We all know how that went.

Yesterday, it was announced from the super-secret Apple Inc. and the semi-secret Apple Records that they had reached a settlement.

My sources are in agreement: The Beatles likely will receive a royalty on iPods and from other Apple hardware that produces music. It's no small change, either.

In exchange, Apple will get The Beatles to back off. What's not resolved is whether The Beatles' songs will ever be available on iTunes. I'm told the answer is yes, but not just yet. In the meantime, by holding out, The Beatles continue to rake in a mint by making fans buy their CDs.

Good for them.