Mariah Carey Back: Diva Readies for Dec. 4 Release

Mariah Carey Back | Madonna Drops Religion for Shopping | Vagina Dentata Horror Comedy | Gov. Arnold: New Flack; Rob Thomas Rocks

Mariah Carey Back: Diva Readies for Dec. 4 Release

Mariah Carey is back, kids. New York’s hometown chanteuse, famous for lots of things including an eight-octave range, is getting her new album ready for a Dec. 4 release.

The album is the follow-up to her mega-selling "Emancipation of Mimi." So far, the new one, Mariah told me Thursday night, does not have a name.

“We’re working on that,” she said, “and we’re working on an R&B song like 'Fly Like a Bird' from the last album. But we have lots of songs.”

Carey looked sensational in a tight-fitting blue gown as she was honored by VH-1 Save the Music along with former President Bill Clinton and VH-1’s John Sykes.

Roger Waters of Pink Floyd, and Jon Bon Jovi with John Mayer, turned in memorable performances.

Carey didn’t sing — she’s on vocal rest while she makes the CD — but she gave a great speech about what music in her Long Island public school meant to her.

In the audience to cheer her on were L.A. Reid, Benny Medina and her cousins.

Just to demonstrate that she has still has pipes, Carey sang out a couple of lines from the chorus of “Vision of Love” in her story of making it to the big time years ago.

Later, I told her that there had been a small war going on between Madonna’s fans and hers, and that some of it resulted in nasty e-mails to this column.

“What? Why?” she asked. “I mean, I think I was in sixth grade when Madonna got started.”

Carey’s old rivalry used to be with Whitney Houston, who was closer in age. But with Houston in semi-retirement for now, somehow Madonna became her peer.

And what of “Tennessee,” the Lee Daniels film Carey made? Is it any good, I wondered?

“I think so,” she said. “Lee thinks it is. I haven’t seen it yet.”

Carey’s unnamed album hits stores on Dec. 4, although L.A. Reid told me he might hold off one more week to the 11th and hit the holiday sales big time. Are there any singles, I asked?

“It’s like only singles so far,” Carey said, laughing. “I don’t want to give it away. But wait 'til you hear it.” She has about a month to six weeks left to finish it.

Meanwhile, Carey stayed from beginning to end so she could root on old friend Sykes — she hung out with his kids for a bit — and see Bon Jovi play with Mayer, and Waters perform a jubilant version of “Another Brick in the Wall” with a 60-piece children’s choir and orchestra from New York public schools.

Waters had rehearsed the piece for several days up in the Bronx with the kids, who were all grins during the show. It was quite moving.

Bon Jovi followed Mayer to the stage after the latter did his Curtis Mayfield-inspired “Waiting for the World to Change.” When Bon Jovi got up to sing “Wanted Dead or Alive” and “Who Says You Can’t Go Home,” he humorously called out for partner Richie Sambora.

In his place, Mayer — sporting a crushed velvet purple suit — took over lead guitar duties. Later, Bon Jovi called him the “Eric Clapton of the next generation.”

Reid, Doug Morris, Sylvia Rhone and Steve Bartels of the Universal Music Group cheered on both Bon Jovi and Carey. In a dying business, this gang is having a run of success again with Kanye West and 50 Cent, among others.

But their new surprise hit is the soundtrack to Julie Taymor’s “Across the Universe” Beatles film. Released last Friday, the soundtrack is already No. 2 on iTunes and has sold 16,000 copies, according to Nielsen Soundscan.

The iTunes number is pretty interesting, as Beatle fans may be downloading it to hear the new — and very good — takes on the songs, including a bluesy version of “I Want to Hold Your Hand” and an electric take on “She’s So Heavy” by the cast.

Madonna Drops Religion for Shopping

Madonna is still raising funds and a ruckus for the Los Angeles Kabbalah Center. Proceeds from her four new children’s books aimed at teens, released to indifference last week by Penguin, go entirely to Raising Malawi, the African charity that’s a front for Kabbalah in that impoverished nation.

But unlike her previous children’s books, this group is not available on the Kabbalah Center‘s Web site. The other tomes, you see, all had Kabbalah-like themes. Madonna donated a portion of the money that was derived from them. In 2006, Madonna kicked $250,000 to the Kabbalah Center, according to the tax filing of her Ray of Light Foundation.

Last week, Madonna turned up in Israel, of all places, and told the country’s president, Shimon Peres, she was Jewish. She handed him a paperback book about Kabbalah and had the nerve to say that “every celebrity in Hollywood” was reading it.

I have some idea what Peres, who loves a good photo op, did with “The Book of Splendor” once Madonna and Guy Ritchie departed his office.

What Madonna doesn’t realize, of course, is that none of the people she traveled with to Israel proselytizing Kabbalah are actually Jewish. Not Demi Moore, not Ashton Kutcher. They’re just people who’ve skipped to the dessert instead of eating a long meal.

Actual Jews — who are offended by this Kabbalah talk — will eat that meal tonight before Kol Nidre services and the beginning of Yom Kippur. We won’t eat again until Saturday night.

Being Jewish requires more to being Jewish than just announcing your membership and buying a paperback. The same could be said of joining any religion. It would help, of course, if Kabbalah were an actual religion. It isn’t. It’s a business started by Philip Berg, a former insurance salesman, who’s turned gobbledy gook into a fortune-making machine for himself.

Madonna’s new books, by the way, are far less spiritual than her original set. In "Friends for Life," "Goodbye Grace" and "The New Girl," the pop star almost seems to have a different voice, targeting pre-teens’ problems with friendship, family and shopping instead of slipping in aphorisms.

But almost more interesting is Madonna’s biography that comes with the books on and appears on their Web site. Even though her adoption of Malawi child David Banda has not yet been approved, she lists him as one of her three children, including Lourdes and Rocco. It seems pretty clear she won’t be giving him back.

Vagina Dentata Horror Comedy Set for Release

Did you wonder what happened to "Teeth"? The horror comedy about a girl whose vagina has dentata premiered at Sundance and then fell into a distribution quandary.

But now Roadside Attractions says it will open "Teeth," maybe wide, on Nov. 30. It's just to get an early bite on the holiday season.

"Teeth" is directed by actor Mitchell Lichtenstein, son of the late important artist Roy Lichtenstein, whose paintings are famous for mimicking cartoons.

Actress Jess Weixler won a special dramatic acting prize from the Sundance jury for her portrayal of a Christian high school girl who discovers things about herself that, well, suggest she needs more than the usual orthodontics.

Gov. Arnold: New Flack; Rob Thomas Rocks

California Governor and ex-"Terminator" Arnold Schwarzenegger has a new publicist. Laura Braden sent out an e-mail this week proclaiming, “I recently joined Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger’s administration and am in charge of all non-political media, including entertainment/Hollywood press.”

Sounds like he’s getting bored presiding over all those cabinet meetings. …

Rob Thomas has written six new tracks, and they’re all on Matchbox Twenty’s greatest hits album called “Exile on Mainstream” coming on Oct. 2. The title is witty enough, since the group has never been considered "edgy" or hip because the group members are not drug addicts, philanderers or scofflaws.

But Thomas is one of the few great pop songwriters of this last generation, and only getting better with each new release. The six new songs are tighter, more concise and catchier — if possible — than favorite hits like “Push,” “Unwell” and “If You’re Gone.”

Producer Steve Lillywhite has helped too, giving the band a little more gravitas. But I guarantee you, “These Hard Times” will soon enough be a radio song we can’t get away from. It’s an instant classic. “Mainstream” — with 17 tracks — is destined to be one of those CDs you can’t stop playing.