How many Best Actor winners actually go on to make a record that people want to buy? Or listen to?
Yes, I know William Shatner and Regis Philbin are recording artists. The late Richard Harris had a hit with "Macarthur Park."
David Soul and Jack Wagner had hits too. Robert Downey Jr. released a record last year. Remember when John Travolta thought he could sing?
But Jamie Foxx's "Unpredictable," which comes from J Records next Tuesday, is a bona fide hit.
Foxx — winner of this year's Oscar for playing Ray Charles in Taylor Hackford's "Ray" — is no Lindsay Lohan. There's no fakery here.
We saw him perform two years ago at Clive Davis' pre-Grammy dinner, and he was so good that Clive signed him up right away. This is the album.
Foxx co-wrote several of the songs, which is no surprise. He is a proficient pianist, having been trained classically. You can hate him for being talented, but it's all real.
By the sounds of "Unpredictable," Foxx — at 38 — can have a full-time recording career if he wants one.
This is no J-Lo either. He can sing. Or as Rufus Thomas used to say, "He can sainnng," opting to emulate Marvin Gaye, Sam Cooke, and even Anthony Hamilton.
Foxx's duet with Mary J. Blige on "Love Changes," a remake of a late-'70s soul classic, is destined to be a big radio hit. The nice thing is, the duet — like most of the album — is done old-school style, meaning not too much yodeling. It's straightforward and heartfelt.
A ballad Foxx wrote by himself, called "Heaven," is another sure-fire hit single. It's a real gem.
North Carolina-based songwriter Mike City contributes two more hits — "Extravaganza" and "Get This Money." "Three Letter Word" of course is "sex," which Foxx repeats often over a delicious rhythm track.
It's interesting that Foxx has opted for a melodic, hook-filled album that almost seems a little retro in its feel. That's good news as far as this listener is concerned. Producers Peter Edge and Breyon Prescott had the right idea.
On the downside, I could not make "Unpredictable" play on my computer. Even stranger, the CD side of this Dual Disc comes with a warning that the "audio side of the disc does not conform to CD specifications and therefore will not play on some CD or DVD players." Hey, what?
Luckily, the audio side did play on my beloved Creek 43MKII CD player, or I would have been up a creek without, well, you know. What is Sony BMG doing?
"Unpredictable" is released a little late in the season — right before Christmas. Album sales really aren't posted between Christmas and New Year's, but expect the numbers to be huge come the first week of January once word spreads.
After this and the awards for "Ray," plus the upcoming "Miami Vice," Jamie Foxx is going to have many boulder-sized bodyguards. He will be so hot and so off-limits even his family will have to write him fan mail if they want to see him again.
Sarah Jessica Parker, aka Mrs. Matthew Broderick, is about to break out of her "Sex and the City" mold and hit the big screen in "The Family Stone."
But she told me last night at the movie's New York mini-premiere that once she's finished with current projects, she's going to stay home for a while with her 3-year-old son, James.
"I'm so lucky to have a husband and child I love," she said.
As always, SJP was unfailingly polite, gracious and welcoming. She is the epitome of delightful, which is nice for those of who've known her since the early '90s.
I can still recall when she and Broderick sang the theme song for "The Mary Tyler Moore Show" together at a fundraiser for the old Naked Angels theater troupe. This was long before they were married, around 1993 or so.
It's not a normal household, no matter how nice the people are. The Seinfelds are their close friends. Parker's brother is writing a pilot for HBO.
Parker could be a late dark-horse choice for a Best Actress nomination for "Family Stone," joining likely candidates Judi Dench, Felicity Huffman, Charlize Theron and Reese Witherspoon.
Unlike "Sex"'s Carrie Bradshaw, Meredith in "Family Stone" is a neurotic, throat-clearing career woman who is positively unlikable for most of the charming romantic comedy. And yet, as audiences are about to see, Parker makes Meredith such an irresistible character that you find yourself rooting for her despite everything.
It's Parker's chance to return to her movie career, which was interrupted by "Sex and the City." Last night's private screening of the film at the Directors Guild Theater, followed by dinner at the Plaza Athenee, convinced everyone that she's back.
Among the guests were Jerry and Jessica Seinfeld, "Sideways" star Paul Giamatti and "Sideways" director/writer Alexander Payne and co-writer Jim Taylor with wife (writer) Tamara Jenkins.
Broderick showed up later at the dinner following his nightly performance on Broadway in "The Odd Couple." Parker calls Broderick "Mattie."
Yesterday morning, they were each on the "Today" show in separate segments. She was promoting "Family," he "The Producers." They didn't realize until they compared schedules on Tuesday night that they were both getting up early to do the same thing.
Actress Amy Irving arrived with actor pal David Marshall Grant, fresh from seeing ex-husband Steven Spielberg's "Munich."
How did she like it?
"I was blown away. It's an amazing film," she said.
Irving is about to star off-Broadway in a play about famed American poet Elizabeth Bishop, who lived in Brazil for 16 years.
"She was married to a Brazilian, just like me," said Amy, who has a son with Brazilian film director Bruno Barreto.
"The Family Stone," of course, is a lot lighter. It's a Christmas comedy about a WASPy Connecticut family who must meet their son's intended fiancée (Parker).
The cast is something out of a dream: Dermot Mulroney is the fiancé, Diane Keaton and Craig T. Nelson are his parents and his siblings are played by Luke Wilson, Rachel McAdams, Elizabeth Reaser and Tyrone Giordano.
The latter, a deaf actor, plays Mulroney's deaf, gay brother who has a black life partner. Claire Danes plays Parker's sister.
Keaton, who's got her name in the Best Supporting Actress category for various awards, is an Oscar shoo-in, the only real rival to Catherine Keener's portrayal of Harper Lee in "Capote."
Director and writer Thomas Bezucha, a former creative director for Ralph Lauren fashions, in his second feature gives Keaton one of the few complex roles around for women of "a certain age."
Even when "Family" turned a tad predictable, Keaton and Parker managed to pull it out of a possible rut. Mulroney and an exceptionally good Luke Wilson aren't bad either.
Look for "The Family Stone" to pick up some later awards. The Screen Actors Guild would do well to nominate it for Best Ensemble Acting, along with "Mrs. Henderson Presents," "Capote," "Munich" and "Walk the Line."
I loved running into Luke Wilson's parents last night, too.
Originally from the Boston area, they moved to Dallas in 1963. Robert Wilson ran the Dallas PBS station, he said, and was the first to bring "Monty Python" to America. He also gave a start to PBS newsman Jim Lehrer.
The lovely couple, still married, told me they never expected two of their sons — Luke and Owen — to become movie stars. Their other son, Andrew, directed "The Wendell Baker Story," which New Line will release in February and which stars Luke and Owen.
And what of son Owen's nickname, the "Butterscotch Stallion"?
"I don't think you should ask my wife that," Robert Wilson said, with a chuckle.
"I think it's going away now, I don't hear it so much anymore," said Mrs. Wilson.