Cher -- a Hit Again -- Was Dropped by Label

Cher | Mark Ruffalo | Michael Jackson

Cher — a Hit Again — Was Dropped by Label

I told you yesterday that Cher — yes, Cher — hit the top 10 this week with her new greatest-hits album. Very Best Of Cher sold 111,000 copies according to This sort of thing almost never happens.

But what makes Cher's rare appearance at the top of the charts interesting is that her label, Warner Bros., dropped her last winter after her most recent album, Living Proof, failed to catch on in a big way.

Warner was said to have wanted to concentrate on younger acts and not on an old fogey like the 56-year-old former hippie-chick singer.

But here's the thing about Cher: You can never count her out. That's called staying power, and she has it in bucket loads.

The sales of Very Best Of Cher can only be credited to one thing — hard work. Cher toured the world last year in a gaudy (well, what did you expect?), elaborate show that recalled all of her hits. She played videos of herself with Sonny Bono. She pulled out all the stops. The "Farewell Tour" was so successful that it was extended at least twice.

At one point last year, I was backstage at Madison Square Garden when I spotted her before the show wearing a headdress even Lucille Ball couldn't balance. It was sort of amazing.

Despite the "Farewell," I am assured she is hardly ready to retire.

"She's just not going to do big stage shows like that anymore," says a friend. "But she's not going anywhere."

Where she will probably go is right into the studio to make a new album and capitalize on the success of her current one. Whether or not it's for Warners is yet to be determined. My guess is that Clive Davis will be looking at the charts this week and calling Cher's manager — especially after the overnight ratings come in from her NBC special last night.

Can You Count On Mark Ruffalo?

Last night, XX/XY finally got its premiere in New York, thanks to the GenArt Film Festival. The indie film about tangled romantic relationships in New York played at the 2002 Sundance Film Festival, then sort of disappeared. Now IFC Films will distribute it.

Mark Ruffalo, who zoomed into stardom thanks to You Can Count On Me, is the unlikable central character who cheats on his wife and gets caught. At one point the audience is treated to more Ruffalo than necessary when he bares his backside during an unromantic sex scene. It's not a pretty picture.

Interestingly, GenArt gave XX/XY a premiere party at ShowWorld. This is an Eighth Avenue porn palace that — thanks to Rudy Giuliani — has to have legit events sometimes so it can stay open. The place got packed early with a lot of young, indie film types who were probably better off not using the bathrooms.

There were some celebrities. Cyndi Lauper was there because her husband, actor David Thornton, is in the movie. David said a theatre critic recently described him as being "Alec Baldwin meets Garry Shandling," which is kind of an interesting combination. I would have preferred to see Thornton and Ruffalo switch parts in XX/XY. It might have worked out better.

Some of the GenArt judges were there too, lesser-known actors such as Adrian Grenier and Laura Elena Harring. But no sign of Ruffalo, who was off shooting a new movie.

Jacko Goes Homesteading

Michael Jackson is spending a lot of time in Florida. I told you several weeks ago that he was looking for property there. Now other news outlets are finally picking up the story.

Jackson has just lost one lawsuit, to Marcel Avram, and is poised to lose another to his former business manager, Myung-Ho Lee.

The plan seems to be to get Jackson to Florida, which is a so-called "homestead" state that protects the losers of civil suits from losing their homes as well.  This is the same path taken by O.J. Simpson, who got out of Dodge — that is, Brentwood — before he lost his $33 million civil suit to the families of Nicole Brown and Ron Goldman.

So what about Neverland, the ranch Jackson will have to part with in order to buy in Florida? Set on famous California property, the real estate and houses could garner $50 million if a corporate buyer can be found.

But keep in mind that Jackson has borrowed against Neverland over the years. Mopping up that mess means he has to get top dollar. And so far, no white knight has emerged.

Meantime, Jackson's supporters are saying that his cancellation for a peace event in Austria this weekend is a non-starter. Apparently organizers of the event promoted Jackson's appearance without a contract. When he informed them he wasn't coming, they claimed he did a last-minute back out. But he was never actually planning to be there.