Has Janet Jackson straightened out her career chaos at last?
Last night she performed in Houston, her first show in a couple of weeks since canceling and rescheduling a bunch of them including Madison Square Garden.
Janet — who is to the Jacksons what Marilyn was to the Munsters, aka the Normal One, announced finally that a bout of vertigo did her in.
But Jackson watchers speculated that she’d picked up an old trick from brother Michael. When ticket sales are off, or you just feel blue, claim illness. Michael has made more unnecessary hospital visits than any other celebrity besides his own mentor, Liz Taylor.
Still, it seemed so unlike Janet. She’s always had a strong work ethic, and always seemed above her family’s shenanigans.
But the truth is, tickets were not moving. Yesterday afternoon you could have bought 8 floor seats for the show at Houston’s Toyota Center.
Even with Janet back on the road, her biggest problems are not resolved.
For one thing, she’s left her record label, Island Def Jam, after one release, the disappointing "Discipline," which followed two flops in a row: "Damita Jo" and "20 YO." Her departure from Island/DefJam could cause a problem in her personal life since longtime fiancée Jermaine Dupri heads up the R&B part of the label and was responsible for Discipline being so, well, undisciplined.
But Dupri didn’t get it. He cast Janet as her 30-year-old self and not a mature 40-year-old woman who should be handling different kinds of material, not more bump and grind.
Sources say Dupri may be next at the end of Janet’s big broom, which could also sweep away manager Johnny Wright and others whom she may blame for this latest debacle.
But pr goddess Patti Webster, recovering from surgery, insists no one’s going anywhere. At least, for now.
Janet’s next big issue is trying for the fourth time to re-start her recording career before there’s really nothing left to it. There aren’t so many choices left. She can cross off the Universal Music Group and EMI, where she lodged for many years with Virgin. That really leaves just Sony/Columbia, where she might convince Clive Davis to work his magic. Of course, she could go to Warner M. Group’s Atlantic Records, where Davis protégé Pete Ganbarg has just taken over artist relation duties.
Everyone in the music biz can breathe a sigh of relief: Clive Davis’s annual Grammy party is a ‘go’!
When the Sony buyout of BMG forced Davis into his new emeritus role, many people in the music biz fretted that the famed mogul’s annual Grammy party would be no more.
As such: I have good news.
Thanks to much behind the scenes negotiating, Davis will be hosting the annual soiree at the Beverly Hilton come next February 7th. Sources tell me that after years of being the renegade Grammy weekend event, Davis’s do will finally be sanctioned by NARAS, the National Academy of the Recording Arts.
This means that as an official Grammy event, the Davis dinner and show will be paid for by the Grammys, who will then go out and seek corporate sponsors to set off expenses. This shouldn’t be too hard. For the last several years, many big ticket names have fought to be part of the event.
What a relief! This year, Davis should have his usual raft of Grammy nominees including Alicia Keys, Leona Lewis, Jennifer Hudson, and Gavin DeGraw, and that’s just for starters. It would have been a huge buzz kill not to have had the festivities to celebrate these artists and others. One advantage to the new deal: Davis can invite non Sony BMG artists to perform.
Meanwhile, over at Sony headquarters, Davis is getting a whole new office suite built for him on the 36th floor. But here’s something funny. Sony chiefs Sir Howard Stringer and Rob Wiesenthal are right below. Knowing that the 76 year old Davis likes to play music loud in his office, the pair made noises about trying to put him somewhere else. It didn’t work. Instead, Davis’s floor is being sound proofed so he can rock out 24-7 without disturbing the adults below.
Benny Medina, the man who gave us JLo, is calling it a day.
Medina more or less invented Jennifer Lopez and turned her into JLo. He also created Tyra Banks as a talk show host, and resurrected Mariah Carey after her "Glitter" debacle.
But very shortly, Medina has announced, he will close the doors on his Handprint Entertainment. It’s certainly the end of an era.
But stars are fickle, and lately Benny’s have moved on to greener pastures. A stint with Usher was short. Banks left once she started making real money. Lopez left during her famed "Bennifer" days with Ben Affleck, who didn’t like Medina. More recently, Mariah said "adieu" after her marriage to actor Nick Cannon.
Medina isn’t just going to slink into the sunset. But maybe he’s ready for another chapter in his adventurous life. His first chapter was as the creator of "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air," which mirrored his teen years as a poor kid who got a birds-eye view of the swellicious life in Hollywood courtesy of Motown founder Berry Gordy, Jr. and his family.
Labelle — the trio who gave us "Voulez-vous couche avec moi, c’est soi?" in 1975 — is back with their first new album in three decades. Patti Labelle, Sarah Dash, and Nona Hendryx have just released a delicious new collection of songs called "Back to Now" on Verve Records. This is sensational R&B, not to be missed. Now I’m told the ladies will do one live show, at the Apollo, on December 19th. Top tickets are only $200 — I think they could have charged more since they actually sing! (A mostly pre-taped show by just one female singer had a top ticket of $400 or so. Hello!)…
…Lang Lang, the hotshot Chinese pianist who’s an international sensation, is giving back to the world. On Monday at New York’s Town Hall, the rockstar classical musician announced the formation of a new foundation to help music education programs. He introduced three 8-year-olds who’ve already won scholarships of $2,400 apiece; in turn, they each sat down at the grand piano on stage and played like they were at the Van Cliburn competition. The audience was composed of 900 school children, some of whom may have never seen a piano before or heard one played live. Luckily, Lang Lang did just that, giving us four numbers interspersed with speeches by Citigroup chief Sanford Weill and Grammy chief Neal Portnow. The Town Hall event was sponsored by the Starkey Hearing Foundation…
…Rob Thomas, the great young (well, 36 is young to this writer — sniff!) singer songwriter who also heads up matchbox twenty, is going to the dogs this Saturday. Rob and his stunning wife Marisol host their first annual Sidewalk Angels Foundation event this Saturday up in Westchester. Yes, you can call it their "pet project’ since proceeds benefit the Pets Alive Animal Sanctuary in Middletown, New York. Thomas is performing with Chris Daughtry at the dinner, too. More info here.
…Last week I was first to tell you Andy Lack was leaving Sony Music for greener pastures. Well, now I am last to inform you that Lack is going to Bloomberg News as CEO of their multimedia group. As my mom would say, it’s a big job! Congratulations, Andy…