Michael Jackson | Hugh Grant | Daniel Day-Lewis

Jacko Taking Opinions On Career

Michael Jackson has been soliciting opinions about his dying career from strangers in the music business.

Sources over at the luxe and private Chinese eatery Mr. K’s on Lexington Avenue in New York report that Jackson and his lawyer Peter Lopez have been meeting with various executives trying to figure out how to restart his dead career.

Sources at the fancy boite say that Jackson and Lopez had at least one meeting at Mr. K’s on Oct. 26, the same day this column broke the news that the singer had defaulted on a $23 million loan secured by his Neverland Ranch. Despite proclamations to the contrary, the default is still in effect today.

Jackson, even though his financial world was crumbling, seemed just fine, insiders say.

At the meetings, Jackson has expressed interest, I am told, in doing business with Starbucks’ Hear Music as no regular record company wants to work with him.

“He said, My friend Paul McCartney did that,” says a source, and dropped names of other rock stars who’d be surprised to hear themselves described thusly.

McCartney, especially, despises Jackson for buying the Beatles song catalog out from underneath him 20 years ago.

One curious thing that came up in the talks: Jackson may not be proceeding with the "Thriller" 25th anniversary album featuring Kanye West, Akon and will.i.am that Sony is expecting from him, but thinking of using tracks done by those producers as the basis for a new album.

A fly in that ointment: the pending lawsuit brought against by Prince Abdullah of Bahrain, who claims that Jackson owes him two record albums for which he was already paid $7 million.

Hugh Grant Jokes About Arrests for 'Sex and Violence'

Hugh Grant is charming on screen, and Tuesday he was just as beguiling when he spoke at the star-studded memorial service for his friend and publicist, Robert Garlock.

Grant was joined by other Garlock clients Kate Winslet and Uma Thurman, who also reminisced with the packed crowd at Lincoln Center’s Walter Reade Theater.

Broadway stars Raul Esparza and Ashley Brown (she plays Mary Poppins) sang, Robert’s colleagues Leslee Dart, Alan Eichhorn and movie critic Peter Travers also spoke. Penelope Cruz, dressed down to the point of not being noticed, and Ellen Barkin were in the audience.

Travers quoted Robert saying that film critics were like soldiers who came in after the war was over “and shot all the survivors.” It was the best line of the day. All the speakers talked about Robert’s obsession with the “Mary Poppins” musical and his favorite song, “Practically Perfect.”

Robert died much too young at age 41 on Sept. 2 from complication from lymphoma and pneumonia. His death was a blow to all his “civilian” friends, but maybe more so for the celebrities whom he cared for as if they were his children.

Their speeches, all lovely, reflected that. Winslet observed that sometimes “he was my only friend in the world.” Uma, who was very emotional, recalled their many travels together all over the world.

But it was Hugh Grant who hit the right note. He said that just to give Robert a challenge every couple of years, he would get himself arrested for acts of “sex or violence.” He made reference to his various legal scrapes over the years. That got a huge laugh.

Grant said that it amazed him after a wild night on the town, wherever they were, Robert could look worse than Grant. He recalled flying with Garlock on the Warner private plane, drunk, watching “Who’s Afraid of Baby Jane?” and “other dreadful movies.”

“Sometimes I felt like his employee,” Grant joked. “I was Hobson to his Arthur.”

Daniel Day-Lewis Joins Heated Oscar Race

Daniel Day-Lewis is back. After his wild and wonderful performance in "Gangs of New York" failed to get him a much-deserved Oscar, DDL is back in the race again.

His star turn in Paul Thomas Anderson’s “There Will Be Blood” is a sure shot for a nomination, putting him into a hot category that grows more competitive every day: Philip Seymour Hoffman, John Cusack, George Clooney, Matthieu Amalric, James McAvoy, Casey Affleck and Jack Nicholson are just some of the names already in the mix.

It’s almost too much to think of another non-Oscar campaign for DDL, however. Anyone who recalls the agony of the "Gangs" experience will confirm that. He doesn’t do publicity or interviews, and shuns the entire experience. What we will get are stories about how he stayed in character the entire time he shot the movie, and what a burden this was for the people who worked with him.

But there’s no denying DDL’s intense appeal. As California oil man Daniel Plainview circa 1902, the actor plays a ferocious, searing lunatic who starts out a little eccentric and winds up, well, mad as a hatter.

You cannot take your eyes off him, and that’s saying something, since “There Will Be Blood” runs two hours, 38 minutes. DDL is in nearly every scene, too. He gives what is quite simply a tour de force performance in a movie that verges on masterpiece.

Paul Thomas Anderson, of course, gave us most notably “Boogie Nights” and “Magnolia.” A lesser achievement was “Punch Drunk Love,” inexplicably starring Adam Sandler.

Anderson, who shadowed the late Robert Altman for insurance reasons on “A Prairie Home Companion,” pays homage to that director in a lot of his work. But you can also see glimpses of Terrence Malick and several other directors, even Joel Coen.

There’s a lot going on in the stark world of “There Will Be Blood,” which is “inspired by” an Upton Sinclair novel called “Oil!” Some of it recalls the feel of Altman’s Western village from “McCabe and Mrs. Miller.”

There’s a difference. Here, there is no love story. ”Blood” is a study of a megalomaniac in love with himself. The only real tension in the story is brought by Plainview’s nemesis, a young evangelist minister played so well by Paul Dano that he too will be receiving an Oscar nomination and many accolades. He is as mesmerizing as Day-Lewis.

It’s not only the actors who make “There Will Be Blood” so powerful (although the great Irish actor Ciaran Hinds is wasted in a throwaway role). Jonny Greenwood’s relentless score is magnificent, as is the production design by Jack Fisk, the art direction and cinematography. Spurting oil derricks explode into flames in this movie and they look real. This is some achievement.

“There Will Be Blood” may wind up as a Best Picture nominee, but it’s a little too early to tell. If anything it suffers, as does the Coen Brothers movie “No Country for Old Men,” from an abrupt ending that it doesn’t quite work with the rest of the film. There will be lots of arguments about both films on this point because they are both, otherwise, stellar.

The Academy likes movies that are a bit tidier, so “Atonement,” “The Savages” and “Michael Clayton” could be safer choices. But there is no question that “There Will Be Blood” will be an important addition to the canon of film. No matter what.