'Idol' Singer a Ringer? Album Already Out | Mary Hart: 'ET' Anchor Now a Minister | Clive Davis: Ambush | Mothers, Daughters; Hollywood Chef-ap-peel

'Idol' Singer a Ringer? Album Already Out

How much of a ringer is "American Idol" contestant David Cook? His self-released album, "David Cook," is on the charts and the current season isn’t even over.

Cook’s 2006 CD, “Analog Heart,” was the No. 1 downloaded album all weekend on Amazon’s MP3 service. It even beat Mariah Carey’s "E=MC2."

Back when Cook auditioned in Omaha for "American Idol," he was identified as a bartender who happened to be a friend of Chris Daughtry, a now wildly successful post-"Idol" graduate.

It sure didn’t seem like Cook had a big career already — albeit regionally. He’d already appeared on a couple albums with a local group, and there was some vague mention of a solo album that he’d made himself.

But if "Analog Heart" is now being offered officially to proper downloading services — and not on just mysterious indie platforms — then Cook has to be behind it. That’s a first: an album out from an "Idol" contestant before the contest has concluded. What if he doesn’t win?

More importantly, what happened to "American Idol" simply being a competition for totally unknown or undiscovered artists? What fueled the fantasy for the audience was the concept that anyone — the waitress down the street who had a nice voice — could suddenly become a superstar. It was one thing when Carly Smithson (nee Hennessey) was revealed to have released an album five years ago. But for Cook to have one out now, I think, disqualifies him as a true competitor.

And P.S.: Isn’t this some strange way to get around the "American Idol" contract for management and a recording contract? In the past, "Idol" contestants had to agree to be managed by 19 Entertainment and give BMG first right of refusal for their albums. But a digitally available album made before the show and released before the winner is known? Hmmm…Seems like that bartender from Omaha was smarter even than wily Simon Cowell.

Mary Hart: 'ET' Anchor Now a Minister

OK, "Entertainment Tonight" has done some pretty far-fetched things, like paying for interviews — but this, this takes the cake.

Mary Hart, now with “ET” since right before Andrew Jackson was sworn in as president, has become ordained as a minister. You’re asking: for God’s sake, why?

The reason is that she will officiate at a real wedding at the red carpet premiere of Patrick Dempsey’s — aka McDreamy’s — new movie, “Made of Honor.”

The wedding will take place on the red carpet on April 28 in New York, right before the movie begins. “ET” has the exclusive on it. The “lucky” couple are Michelle Golightly and Shaun Bollinger of Camp Hill, Pa. They were chosen, according to a Columbia Pictures press release, from 1,800 entries, 18 semifinalists and four finalists.

It’s unclear from which matchbook Hart got her ordination, or how legal it is off the red carpet and say, in a court of law. But what’s more worrisome is what the folks at CBS Paramount TV might be thinking of next, like Cojo taking EMS training so he can ride with ambulances to Britney’s house. Don’t put it past them.

By the way, “Made of Honor,” which seems like Columbia Pictures’s first movie in forever, was heralded last week by a lavish invite that looked the real thing to a wedding. For Dempsey, who toiled in obscurity for a while before “Grey’s Anatomy,” I hope this romantic comedy is his big-screen vindication. He’s waited a long time for it!

Clive Davis: Ambush

The situation with Clive Davis at BMG Music on late Thursday caught all of us unawares —including Davis himself, his loyal lieutenant Charles Goldstuck and everyone else at Sony/BMG.

I’m told that Davis and Goldstuck didn’t know until it happened that BMG’s Rolf Schmidt Holtz had pulled the trigger and that their careers had been uprooted. Even Davis’s attorney, Allen Grubman, who knows everything, didn’t realize what was happening until it was too late.

On BMG’s part, it was a brilliant stroke of deception. Seven years ago, when word leaked out that Davis would be ousted from Arista Records, journalists like myself and Mitchell Fink — then of the New York Daily News — were able to raise a ruckus.

This time, the people arranging the deck chairs on the Titanic-like recording business moved swiftly and without one bit of thought about the larger picture.

Of course, their “larger picture” is the bottom line, the succession of executives and who gets a bigger corner office. It has nothing to do with the future of the record business or any passion for the music. Otherwise, Schmidt Holtz and his other cronies wouldn’t have made such a miserable showing of ousting the man behind the current No. 1 album (by Leona Lewis), the biggest album so far of the year (Alicia Keys) or the one man with whom anything positive about the business is still identified.

Some of my sources think Davis will just accept his “emeritus” position as Ahmet Ertegun did years ago at Atlantic Records. They say will he just emcee his annual Grammy party and fade away. Others are not so certain. Over the weekend, Davis strategized with family and friends at his penthouse apartment on Park Avenue.

Seven years ago — when he was just a mere stripling of 68 — Davis called in Wall Street money and started the successful J Records. J Records did so well that BMG wound up buying it from Davis for a total, some say, of $50 million. Could he do it again? I think so. Would he want to? That’s the question.

Davis has nothing to prove to anyone as far as legacy goes. At 75, he could easily just sail into the sunset on his yacht. That’s what the BMG folk are hoping he’ll do. The rest of us would love to see him take a few key people, get the money (even in this environment, a Clive Davis label is a sure bet) and rock it out one more time.

As for Goldstuck, now gone from BMG-RCA: he is one of the business’s true gentlemen. Look for him to land somewhere great, with a big-time role.

Mothers, Daughters; Hollywood Chef-ap-peel

The hottest hair salon in New York right now is in the meatpacking district — Edris Salon is above Scoop at 14th St. and Ninth Avenue. This is where all the young celebs like singer Mandy Moore and all the fashion mag people are going in droves.

Monday, the salon is offering an extra nice premium for mothers and daughters associated with the Marty Lyons Foundation — this is a foundation that supports children ages 3 to 17 with life-threatening illnesses. Celeb hairstylist Edris Nicholls and famed manager Ann Lawlor (who jumped from the fading Warren Tricomi salon uptown) are bringing in moms and their girls for the full fashion makeover, all gratis. Cool, cool, cool. ...

Don’t complain that there no movies out for adults. Run, don’t walk, to see Morgan Spurlock’s hilarious and insightful non-fiction film, “Where in the World Is Osama Bin Laden?” Spurlock obviously doesn’t find bin Laden, but in looking for him — and he does in some dangerous places — we learn a lot about the Middle East, the American government and about the bin Laden family. Smart stuff for smart people. ...

All those hot, hot, hot restaurants are in Los Angeles/Hollywood, right? So which one got nominated for Best Restaurant by the James Beard Foundation awards? Campanile and chef/owner Mark Peel, that’s who.

Campanile has been around for about 20 years. It’s also the place that gave striking WGA members weekly cheap eats. Peel, by the way, is publishing a cookbook of his modern Italian delights with chef-author Martha Rose Shulman next year. …

And just a little gossipy aside: Nominated for Rising Chef of the Year is Matt Molina of Osteria Mozza, which is owned and run by Peel’s ex wife Nancy Silverton. Mozza — the highest-end pizza place in the world — is jammed night and day, frequented by any number of famous faces — and serves a number of delicious dishes apart from the instantly classic pizza.

Peel and Silverton (who started Campanile with Peel years ago) still rule L.A., just separately. Maybe it was always their plan to divide and conquer!