Here's a little update to the story below, concerning the planned all-star fundraiser to benefit the victims of the World Trade Center and Pentagon tragedies, which may run on all four broadcast networks (Fox, NBC, CBS, and ABC).
The show will be broadcast live on Friday from New York and Los Angeles, but the locations will be entirely secret. "They will come from undisclosed locations," says an insider. And no press will be invited, or any other guests. "Everyone will have to watch it on TV. There isn't enough time to do press credentials."
Right now there are still questions about the feasibility of the project, especially with coordinating technical elements such as switchboards for fundraising. And even now there is still no central charity chosen to receive the money from viewers. "In all likelihood the charity won't be announced until Friday," says the insider.
As Michael Jackson might say, What more can I give? Below is my initial report about the all-star event. So far t hese are all the details I have for now. Stay tuned....
Joel Gallen, the producer of many MTV Video Music Awards shows, is the man behind the possible all-star show.
Gallen is also the producer of the upcoming movie, Zoolander, starring Ben Stiller as a male model. Ironically, Zoolander may have to be held and edited because of scenes that reference the World Trade Center.
When I reached Gallen last night at his Tenth Planet Production offices he was surprised to hear the news about the Stiller movie.
Still, he said of the possible live show he wants to put on, "We're trying to get it together now."
Earlier reports suggested that George Clooney and Jim Carrey were signed on to the project. Considering Stiller's long friendship with Gallen, it's likely that he'll be part of whatever show materializes. And Stiller brings with him a slew of possibilities including Robert De Niro, his co-star from Meet the Parents, and Stiller's own talented parents, Anne Meara and Jerry Stiller.
Whether or not such a show could be assembled in three days time, with Rosh Hashanah in the middle of the week, remains to be seen. But it's a laudable idea, and I hope Gallen can pull it off.
Of course let's not forget one obstacle in this world of corporate synergy: Gallen works for MTV, which is owned, like CBS, by Viacom. His Zoolander movie is at Paramount, also part of the Viacom family. Will other networks want to cross corporate lines? Will Viacom go along with sharing?
We'll have to wait, and see, and cross our fingers for Gallen.
So Michael Jackson is going to save the world. First he better save himself.
Yesterday he announced that he'd try another "We Are the World" type gig, with a song called "What More Can I Do?" He plans on getting Britney Spears, 'N Sync and the Backstreet Boys to take the place of Bob Dylan, Ray Charles and Dionne Warwick.
Meanwhile, word from the Jackson camp is that a power struggle among Michael's top managers may cause yet another palace coup.
Currently Michael is managed by Trudy Green, of the Howard Kaufman Management Company. Green shares this role with John McClain, an outside record producer who's been close to the Jackson family for many years and considered himself "a seventh Jackson brother." It was McClain who's credited with getting the Jackson brothers including Jermaine on stage together for those freak show concerts at Madison Square Garden on Sept. 7 and 10.
In what remains an odd possible conflict of interest, McClain — who sources say has been a paid Jackson consultant for years — also runs the urban music department for DreamWorks Records. DreamWorks is part of the MCA Universal Records family. Jackson records for rival Sony Music.
But yesterday word came that Green might be out of the picture, following in the footsteps of Louis Levin, who preceded her, and an outfit called The Firm, which dropped him from their client list.
Green signed on in mid-summer, right before the botched premature release of Jackson's single "Rock My World." "Rock My World" is now stalled on the Billboard charts at number 10, and is fizzling as the lead single from Jacko's Invincible album due out Oct. 30. Radio & Records, which measures actual airplay, has "Rock My World" at a dismal number 20.
Insiders tell me that "Rock My World" is the best track they've heard from Invincible, which doesn't bode well.
But Green and McClain are insisting to friends that they're closer than ever and that there is no truth at all to the rumors of Green's departure. What's interesting is that clearly Green and McClain are feeling threatened in their position by David Gest, Jackson's friend who organized and produced his Garden shows. Gest, according to sources, has been the one spreading the rumors that McClain wants Green out of the picture.
Thanks to the paranoid Gest, Jackson alienated most of the New York press and all of the music press by denying them access to the event. Magazines that were writing cover stories on the event and the new album were forced to buy their own tickets. Green and publicist Susan Blond complained privately of not being given their own tickets until the last minute. Even Entertainment Weekly went after him with a cover line that read in part: "Jacko is more wacko than ever."
Jackson's announcement today that he wants to record a song to benefit the World Trade Center victims came across not as a humanitarian gesture, but a public relations gambit. He would like us to think this is similar to his "We Are the World" effort back in 1984. There are some striking differences, however. In 1984, Jackson was coming off the huge success of Thriller. He was still African-American, and he hadn't settled $20 million on a boy whom he allegedly molested.
How proceeds would be collected from the song is also something to question. Jackson's charity, Heal the World, is still tangled up with Shmuley Boteach and Heal the Kids, an offshoot charity. Last February the group held their infamous children's forum at Carnegie Hall and promised another one at the Neverland Ranch in April. The second event never took place and since then Heal the Kids and Heal the World both seem to have drifted into oblivion. Dr. Stanley Greenspan, the noted child psychiatrist who was drafted to help with the charity, told me last night that he hasn't heard from the charity, Jackson or Boteach in months. And he wanted to make it clear he's not involved with them in any way. "I'm a researcher. I give advice," he said. "I don't endorse anyone."
Interestingly, this new song — says Jackson's publicist — was written in 1999. You might easily infer that the title is a rhetorical question posed by the singer — as in, he's done so much already to save the world, what else can he do? On one song from the new album, written by R. Kelly, Jackson sings: "I can't save the world by myself."
As Regis Philbin says, facetiously, "I'm only one man!"