Published December 31, 2007
We end the year on this note: According to all the tabloids and blogs, at least three big-name celebs are pregnant. Or they might be pregnant, based on careful examination of long telescope pictures taken to intrude on their privacy.
It’s a pregnant pause during a two-week non-news cycle — all about wasting time watching waists.
The most likely of these pregnancies would be Nicole Kidman. Married to country star Keith Urban, Kidman has long professed a desire to bear a child. (She has two adopted children with another movie star, from whom she is divorced.)
Is Nicole preggers? For her sake I hope so, but it seems unlikely. The one thing that interferes with pregnancy in Hollywood is a schedule. Kidman is locked tight into hers, with the shooting of Stephen Daldry’s "The Reader" co-starring Ralph Fiennes already revving up as Baz Luhrmann’s "Australia" wraps.
Not only that: Kidman has two more films set to go including the very likely "Monte Carlo" with Julia Roberts and Amy Adams as her hoped for co-stars. This means she’s booked through September, when a baby would have to be born, if she’s with child now.
Even if she took a week off for that, Kidman is still without a vacation. Maybe Urban can do the nursing.
Who else is pregnant? The tabs say Jennifer Aniston is definitely in a family way thanks to Jason Lewis, who plays "Smith" on "Sex and the City." The pair may not even know each other, but that doesn’t seem to matter.
And Penelope Cruz? The Sherlock Holmeses are all abuzz about Javier Bardem knocking her up.
Cruz, of course, has a new Pedro Almodóvar film ready to roll. She’s also got the musical "Nine" directed by Rob Marshall and starring Bardem, which will begin once the Writers Guild strike is over.
She could be pregnant, or then again, just eating a lot from the anxiety of not knowing when she goes back to work.
And what if none of these women is actually feeling the swell of motherhood approaching? How will the tabs explain it? You see, they won’t.
You may recall that Britney Spears was pregnant on one of their covers about a month ago. She’s not. And there’s no reason to retract the story. The headline is good for a year!
P.S. Forget the pregnancies. Many congrats to Jimmy Fallon and producer Nancy Juvonen, who got married over the Christmas holiday. Sometimes the nice guys finish first!
As of last Friday, Warner M. Group (the M stands for madness) handed over 2.9 million tracks — their entire catalog — to Amazon.com’s MP3 service. The tracks can be bought and downloaded for 89 cents.
Because they’re not protected by DRM, Digital Rights Management, the songs — by everyone from The Eagles to Prince, Aretha Franklin, Neil Young and Led Zeppelin — can then be copied and redistributed to anyone, anywhere. They will play on any MP3 player. They can be burned, ripped and reproduced -- all for free.
For WMG’s chief Edgar Bronfman, this is called a strategy.
It’s also called schizophrenia. You see, last Feb. 8, Bronfman gave speech decrying the end of DRM.
"We advocate the continued use of DRM," he told a conference. "The notion that music does not deserve the same protection as software, film, video games or other intellectual property, simply because there is an unprotected legacy product in the physical world, is completely without logic or merit."
OK, so he lied. What else is new? WMG’s stock is at $6.10 Monday morning. It reached a new low -- below $6 -- last week, rebounded a little and may yet take a further dive today. Bronfman has killed Warner Music and pretty much set fire to the record business. It’s a legacy that can’t be beat.
What happened here? One theory is that he wanted to thwart Apple’s iTunes — which still carries DRM on most tracks and prevents their downloaded music from being easily transferred to other systems. Another is that he was taking a cue from Universal Music, which gave a lot of their music to Amazon earlier this year.
Either way, Bronfman has clearly demonstrated he doesn’t care one whit about the legacy artists who are stuck with WMG for life. Many of them — especially those on Atlantic/Rhino — are dependent on CD sales for mechanical royalties.
The bulk of that group didn’t write their own songs, so CD sales are still important. By turning over the catalog without DRM, Bronfman has ensured that CD sales will almost instantly dry up and turn to dust.
At the same time, he’s carved the greatest-hits albums of his artists into 89 cent singles. If you wanted one or two hits in the past, you had to buy an entire album. Now more than ever, even with iTunes, the albums are divisible.
Now, the songs can be redistributed at will, over and over. Atlantic’s late chief, Ahmet Ertegun, is no doubt rolling in his grave. In particular, his R&B stars — from Ruth Brown to Sam & Dave to the Drifters — will suffer the most.
I can’t imagine that the lawyers for Eric Clapton, Zeppelin, the Rolling Stones, Prince and so on, can be happy about any of this. Without DRM, those acts can also kiss off their own future CD sales. Even if they were minor, they were something.
Now only the Beatles remain absent from the legal downloading world. I can’t see one reason why they would want to give in at this point. Better to make fans buy their CDs than diminish their own recorded catalog.
We’re taking tomorrow off to nurse a hoped for hangover. In the meantime, here’s thanks to all the people who help get this column out every day.
To Jennifer D’Angelo and all the folks in New York (like Catherine Donaldson-Evans and Maurice Boyer) and Los Angeles (newcomer Jonathan Passantino), not to mention the invaluable Andrew Hard.
Dozens of other kind souls make all sorts of contributions to the FOX 411, now in its ninth year. They know who they are.
So I say, humbly, Happy New Year; many, many thanks; and here’s to 12 more wild months!