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Police, Sting to Do MTV 'Unplugged'

Police 'Unplugged' | Clive vs. Clarkson | Silverman Saving NBC | Airport Semantics

Police, Sting to Do MTV 'Unplugged'

On the heels of their opening show in Vancouver, The Police have agreed to perform an MTV “Unplugged” set this summer.

Sources tell me that the date for the show is July 13 and it will take place at a still-to-be-named location in Miami.

“It’s an all-acoustic set,” says a source. It’s also the first time The Police as a group have appeared on “Unplugged,” since the group disbanded in 1983 and the MTV show didn’t start until 1989. Sting appeared on “Unplugged” in 1991 as a solo act.

The "Unplugged" show will come at a great moment in The Police tour. On Monday night, the group did their premiere show in Vancouver to a wildly enthusiastic audience including actors Penelope Cruz and Laurence Fishburne and rocker Eddie Vedder. On Wednesday night, the group will welcome Elvis Costello and Diana Krall backstage.

But apart from the celebs who are going to be making pilgrimages to their backstage area, The Police are drawing raves from everyone — including Sting. The rocker was apparently caught off guard by the enormous reaction Monday night, telling a friend, “It really is a big deal, isn’t it?”

Yes, it is. Now, if the “Unplugged” show goes well, the possibility exists of an album taken from the broadcast. Previous “Unplugged” albums by artists like Eric Clapton and Neil Young have been big, big hits.

Tuesday, by the way, was a day off for the group in Vancouver. They spent much of it on a yacht, according to insiders. That night, Sting and wife, Trudie, took their kids to see either “Shrek the Third” or “Pirates of the Caribbean.” Why the uncertainty?

“It was whichever one they could get into,” their friend says. They had to buy tickets like everyone else.

Kelly Clarkson vs. Clive Davis: Nonsense

Don’t believe stories you’re seeing about record mogul Clive Davis trashing or even disapproving of Kelly Clarkson’s upcoming album.

Right now, Kelly’s new song, “Never Again,” has received more than 1,800,000 plays on YouTube. It was only added at the beginning of May.

But since then, rumors have circulated on the Internet that Davis has been naysaying Clarkson’s “My December” album for odd reasons — that she wrote her own songs and didn’t take advice from her leader.

This is either some kind of urban myth that started outside the label or a PR stunt from within —maybe designed to show Clarkson is a bit of a rebel, an "American Idol" with an edge.

Here’s something that is true: No albums go out under Davis’ name without his approval or imprimatur. It’s just not possible. For better or worse, Clive Davis is the last word on all his releases.

The new single, “Never Again,” is not only very edgy, but it’s also reminiscent of Clarkson’s modern classic, “Since U Been Gone.” Ironically, it was Davis who brought Clarkson that song for her last album, and transformed her from bland ballad singer to a pop new wave star a la the Go-Go's or Chrissie Hynde lite.

It was one of the smartest changes in pop history, and gave Clarkson a career that the other "American Idol" winners have not achieved.

Of course, Davis is legendary for guiding his stars in mostly the right direction. Along with his team (Tom Courson, Richard Palmese, Peter Edge, etc.) Davis has had numerous post-Arista hits with Alicia Keys, Santana, Carrie Underwood and others.

His one disappointment has been with Fantasia, whose hip-hop album released in December was a big mistake. But now that Fantasia has become a hit-singing, gospel-flavored "pop star" on Broadway in “The Color Purple,” my guess is Davis will retool her for radio next year.

Right now, all eyes are on Davis and his team on two other big projects: Jennifer Hudson’s debut and Whitney Houston’s return.

In the meantime, expect Clarkson’s “My December” to be one of summer’s few bright spots sales-wise when it hits stores June 26. The one track I really want to hear of the 14 is called “Chivas.” It’s sure to “scotch” all the rumors!

Silverman Saving NBC

Yesterday, Ben Silverman became, like, the head of NBC. Jeff Zucker put him in charge of all the shows. Ben is 36, and the brains behind “The Office,” “Ugly Betty” and “The Biggest Loser.”

A few months ago, Zucker gave him a gazillion-dollar deal to just feed NBC shows from his successful production company, Reveille. But that wasn’t enough. Ben is out to erase the bad memories of another Silverman who once ran NBC, Fred Silverman, the man behind “Supertrain” and “Me and the Chimp.” He’s already way ahead.

Ben Silverman is young, but he’s also one of those guys you meet occasionally who’s been ambitious and industrious since he was 12. He also seems to be everywhere, having meetings with everyone and winning over everyone in his path. Maybe that’s why Zucker gave him the title to share with Marc Graboff. Someone has to stay in the office.

I don’t know much about Silverman’s predecessor Kevin Reilly except that he launched “Heroes” and will be probably be a huge success in his next job. Television is a very personal industry, all about loyalties and comfort. Zucker obviously loves Silverman. And my guess is, Ben Silverman — if he did order “Supertrain” — could make it a hit.

Airport Semantics

Web site Cinematical.com reports that director Mike Figgis was detained for five hours by brilliant TSA agents at LAX. Why? When asked what he was doing in Los Angeles, he replied, “I’m here to shoot a pilot.”

The brainiacs didn’t understand that meant “to direct a TV show."

Not too bright, the agents held Figgis aside until someone showed them “Leaving Las Vegas.” I will never forget the time I caught a TSA agent at JFK placing bets with his bookie on a Yankees game over his cell phone in front of the American Airlines terminal. I am sure some of these guys are very capable. But many are simply not very savvy.

For symmetry’s sake, also check out Figgis’ wonderful small film, “Stormy Monday.” It stars Melanie Griffith and Sting. A lost little gem.