Sting, Police to Announce World Tour

Sting, Police to Announce World Tour | Norah Jones Got Her $ at the Last Minute | Madonna and Diddy | Hollywood Swinging

Sting, Police to Announce World Tour

Get ready. Just as I told you a few weeks ago, the Police are not only reuniting for the Grammy Awards. They are also preparing a world tour.

The announcement will come on Feb. 12, with a press conference in Los Angeles at the Whisky a Go Go. The tour will start in Canada and then head to the U.S.

The big question is whether the group will perform at stadiums or arenas, i.e. Giants Stadium vs. Madison Square Garden. Even now, dates and venues are being worked out.

But so far one venue that can’t be used, at least for nostalgia’s sake, is Shea Stadium in Flushing, N.Y. That was where yours truly stood on a mud-soaked, tarp-covered (barely) field on Aug. 18, 1983.

Maybe because the Mets take themselves more seriously now, they don’t want a huge rock concert taking place at home while they’re away. Willie Randolph wouldn’t like that. At any rate, I’m told the Mets have declined the opportunity for a nostalgic reunion show during baseball season.

Interestingly, even tour promoter Arthur Fogel — the man the Police have hired based on his incredible success with U2 — was said not to be sure about whether there would be a demand for gigantic locations.

Given the current climate in the very tentative music business — in which almost nothing is selling CD-wise — he might be considered correct.

But even last night at the Four Seasons in West Hollywood — where most of the music biz schmoozes during Grammy week — the talk was that the Police tour should be the biggest of all time.

And these guys look to be right. Already an import CD of the group’s greatest hits is listed at No. 411 on this morning. Not bad for a group that officially disbanded 23 years ago.

Norah Jones Got Her $ at the Last Minute

Grammy-winner Norah Jones got the money for her new album, "Not Too Late," at the last minute. Her album title may be a sly reference to contract negotiations with EMI Music.

I’m told that Jones’ lawyer, Kenny Meiselas — the same guy who reps Sean Combs, Akon and a bunch of other hip-hop guys — concluded Jones’ mega-millions deal for the album just a couple of weeks before EMI’s former chief Alain Levy got the boot from the company.

Now, considering EMI’s sketchy position, Jones should count herself lucky that Levy was so generous on his way out the door.

EMI should consider itself lucky too. Jones sold 400,000 copies of the CD in its first week; EMI shipped more than a million copies to stores. The album is the first true hit of what looks to be a difficult year for retail sales of CDs.

EMI — even with the Beatles and Beach Boys catalogs safely tucked into its library — now looks more and more like it will be sold or merged into another company this year.

For that reason, and with even more layoffs looming — the company’s Grammy party on Sunday night is said to be paid for in toto by corporate sponsors.

Madonna, Diddy's Home: House of Cards

Warner Music Group — home to Madonna, Diddy and, thank goodness, the Red Hot Chili Peppers — is in a free-fall mode.

The company announced this morning a 74-percent drop in net profits for its first quarter, to just $18 million. The WMG stock has dropped 5 percent this morning and is near its low at $20.37 (the 52-week bottom would be $19.71).

The whole “first quarter” thing is misleading, however. The first quarter ended on Dec. 31. That means that during the Christmas season, WMG sold almost nothing.

It doesn’t matter which quarter is represented by the holidays. If you can’t make it happen then, it’s not going to happen.

It didn’t help that Sean "Diddy" Combs’ album, "Press Play," upon which millions were spent, was a total dud. Even though critics loved it, and the single “Last Night” can be heard in every club and at every party, the album barely went gold. In the past, Combs’ albums sold millions.

Warner spent somewhere in the neighborhood of $10 million to go into business with Combs on his Bad Boy Entertainment after it was dropped by the Universal Music Group.

Combs did have a couple of minor hits last year with his acts, but nothing on the scale of his former successes.

Tastes change. Similarly, rapper Jay-Z released his comeback album on Island/Def Jam and it was also a stiff. Hip-hop is either dead, dying or undergoing a generational revamp.

But Combs was not the only problem at Warner Music. For a company top heavy with music experts like Lyor Cohen, Kevin Liles and Julie Greenwald, they don’t release very much.

Since Edgar Bronfman’s group took over, there’s been almost no talent development. The company seems to rely solely on catalog sales.

And even that is problematic. Their international department is a mess, often acting uncontrollably like a rogue outfit with no control exacted by the U.S.

The WMG sales woes are compounded this week by Madonna’s live album from her "Confessions" tour selling just about 40,000 copies — a bigger scandal than any of the tabloid kind in which Madonna has participated.

But perhaps relying on a 48-year-old former provocateur to sell CDs isn’t the best idea at this point for a business aimed at teenagers.

And what are the current WMG chart albums? Nearly everything is a holdover act from years ago: The Peppers and My Chemical Romance CDs have now been out so long they’ve turned into catalog titles. The only bright spots are Atlantic’s Pretty Ricky and a newish quirky chanteuse Regina Spektor.

The latter wasn’t found or released by the new regime, however, but by Sire Records’ legendary Seymour Stein, the same man who gave us Madonna, the Ramones, Talking Heads, the Pretenders and the Sex Pistols.

That should tell us all something. I’ll let you, dear reader, be the judge of what that is!

Hollywood Swinging

A little Oscar news first: Peter O’Toole, who got a standing ovation from his fellow Oscar nominees at the Academy lunch, has returned to England for the time being.

He is expected back for the actual Oscars, but needed a dose of reality first. Who can blame him? ...

Yes, that was LeAnn Rimes arriving from Nashville last night with husband Dean Sheremet for the Grammy country shindig scheduled for this evening at Wilshire Ebell Theatre. Carrie Underwood, tipped as Best New Artist this year, was on the same flight.

Ryan Seacrest spotted at the Four Seasons in heavy conversation with Epic Records’ Charlie Walk and top TV producer Ben Silverman (he’s got "The Office" and "Ugly Betty," if you don’t know).

Seacrest was overheard saying he’d been up since 4 a.m. (it was by then around 8 p.m.) thanks to his hosting every radio show imaginable.

“I keep this sweater in my car,” he told a honeymooning couple from Florida who asked for an autograph. ...

And Lindsay Lohan did not go out last night. In case you were wondering, she went to an AA meeting, and then went home. What did the folks from do without her?