Jackson Wants Usher for Charity Single

Michael Jackson | 'The Island' | New Travel Mag | This and That

Jacko Appeals to Usher for Help

Michael Jackson is indeed serious about recording that charity single with an all-star cast. But he knows it won’t be easy to convince other stars that his stigma is gone. What to do?

Jackson, I am told, is making a full court press on R&B star Usher to be first to say yes. Sources say Jackson feels if Usher agrees, everyone else will follow.

Jackson has already spoken with Usher’s manager, his mom, Jonetta Patton. Now he has to pitch the idea to the young singer himself.

Meantime, I’m also told that the usual chaos is occurring in the Jackson camp over who’s organizing this project. So far no one seems to be in charge of rounding up the talent for this new “We Are the World,” or even deciding how or where it will get done.

I’m told that Michael’s father, Joseph Jackson, has appointed himself quarterback. He spent a full day in meetings recently in Las Vegas, presumably to help Michael. But he also could have been making plans for his movie debut. (See yesterday’s column.)

My sources say that Michael may be arriving in New York shortly to start pitching his charity single idea to other performers. Of course, he will then be moonwalking fast to avoid process servers in the lawsuit brought against him here by Prescient Partners for $48 million. Sha-mone!

'The Island': They Loved It in South Korea

Remember 'The Island?' Michael Bay’s dreadful futuristic thriller starring Ewan McGregor and Scarlett Johansson was a total bomb in the U.S., bringing in only $32 million. It cost about $150 million to make. Reviewers hated it. Audiences ignored it.

But, it’s a hit.

“The Island” has made $112 million overseas, where apparently whatever is lost in translation is just as well.

For Dreamworks, “overseas” has been a boon in a year when nothing has worked at all. Think about it: Thanks to South Korea, Japan, France, Germany and the United Kingdom, “The Island” could possibly break even. Otherwise it would have been a total write-off.

In fact, 'The Island' made almost as much money in South Korea as it did here. (I don’t know if the South Koreans know how well invested their big company Samsung is in Dreamworks, but that couldn’t have the motivation to buy tickets.) "The Island" has made $20 million there. And an average of about $7 million in each of those aforementioned countries.

For Dreamworks, even a little bit of help like this comes at a time when they are in tense negotiations with GE/Universal to buy them.

Dreamworks’ David Geffen thinks his company is worth $1 billion. They need the cash to pay back investors like Paul Allen.

But even “The Island”'s success abroad may not put the sale price in that category. Half of that is more like it, and that would be a triumph.

As for Dreamworks Animation, which is not for sale to GE Universal, supporters are crowing about the wild success around the world of “Madagascar.”

The animated feature made $191 million in this country, but nearly $300 million elsewhere. That brings the worldwide total to $483,135,779 as of last weekend.

Australia, Germany, France and the U.K. have been the most wild about “Mady,” as it is referred to on message boards.

Dreamworks Animation is struggling, that’s for sure. In a recent filing, the company claimed that in the quarter ending June 30 they had an operating loss of $10,502. Holy moley!

But help may be on the way. Next week, DWA finally unveils “Wallace and Gromit.” From the trailer, it looks like a hit. But how big a hit no one can say yet.

My guess is, if it’s halfway decent, “W&G” will be a phenom. So too do those rumor-mongers on the message boards. They’re convinced Disney is about to swoop in and buy them out.

Making a List

I'm told that celebs are lining up to be in a new and unusual travel magazine that hits the stands next week.

TravelSavvy is actually a re-launch of a magazine that needed a kick in the pants. So editor in chief Jill Brooke has turned it into a very witty "book of lists." This is a clever way for publicists to get their clients into a national magazine without giving a "real" interview.

For example: Damon Dash picks his favorite clubs all over the world (like something called Pacha in Ibiza, Spain); Tony Hawk gives his list of 10 favorite skateboard parks; and the pregnant mom from "Lost," Emilie de Ravin, shares her top spots on Oahu.

In case you're interested, there's also a comprehensive guide to the best hotels for affairs in New York. The lumbering, anonymous Marriott Marquis in Times Square is among them. Who knew?

This and That

Oscar watch: It’s all about Charlize Theron again. She’s the star of “North Country” with Frances McDormand and a revived Woody Harrelson. Watch this space Monday. I’ll tell you all about it...

Robert Downey Jr. and his new wife, Susan Levin, had a post-wedding brunch at Jean Luc restaurant in the Hamptons two Sundays ago. It now seems that if there were no Jean Luc in the Hamptons (there are three: JL East, Madame Wong’s, and JLX in Sag Harbor) no one would eat on the South Fork. (Nick and Toni’s can only hold so many people, you know.)

Lorraine Bracco and Keanu Reeves, of all people, provided the celeb buzz. Displaced most publicly from Ron Perelman and Ellen Barkin’s famous Creeks mansion, the Downeys had to scramble. They hired Jean Luc less than a week out, and still pulled it off. Jean Luc by the way is a real person named Ed Kleefeld…

Meantime, down in Miami Beach, where there’s no Jean Luc, “Duke of Hazzard” star Johnny Knoxville was one of the VIPs who trotted over to Sushi Samba for a post-MTV Video Music Awards party. I’m only mentioning this because one of the other guests was "it" boy Fabian Basabe and his wife Martina Borgomanero Basabe. I’ve always wanted to put their names in this column. Now I’ve done it, and I will never do it again. I promise…

Finally: I noted on TV Guide’s Web site that Mary Alice Dwyer Dobbin, the executive responsible for eviscerating Procter & Gamble’s soap operas over the years, is leaving her job at the end of the month. Great news. Now maybe there’s a chance “Guiding Light” can be resuscitated before it’s cancelled.