A lot of press announcements came out this week regarding Mariah Carey's next movie deal. Producer Anthony Esposito told the willing and waiting wire services that Mariah would star in a new movie called Sweet Science, and play a boxing coach.
But hold it, say Carey insiders.
Apparently Esposito, who was the man behind Carey's Wisegirls, decided to make his announcement independent of having a deal, a signed contract, or even a distributor for Wisegirls. That's right. He's so busy getting ready to make a new movie that Esposito apparently still hasn't found someone to take on the one he's got in the can.
I will say that Esposito did tell me at Sundance he fully expected to make another movie with Mariah. He's been planning Sweet Science for some time.
But Carey has not agreed to anything. In fact, I doubt she will until she and her management sees how Esposito fares with placing Wisegirls.
Wisegirls is a good film, by the way, and Mariah-surprisingly — acquits herself in the movie as a tough talking waitress with a heart of gold. If Esposito can get it out there and make some money, he might have an argument to get Mariah back before his cameras. But a lot remains to be seen.
Meantime, Carey — who picked up $49 million as she waltzed away from Virgin Records — would be wise to take a break and strategize her next moves.
Shaggy-haired aging singer Rod Stewart has been showing up faithfully at Clive Davis's pre-Grammy parties for the last couple of years. Now it's all paid off. Stewart has just joined Davis's J Records.
Rod recorded for Warner Records for 25 years, then moved last year to sister label Atlantic. But his sales are way down, with the exception of his greatest hits. And Stewart is looking for a way to recapture some audience.
One project in the works is an album of standards to be produced by Richard Perry. Perry was the man who made hits for Carly Simon, Ringo Starr, Harry Nilsson, and the Pointer Sisters in the '70s and '80s. He's been less active lately, but he's a record biz legend. If anyone could bring back Rod, it's him — and of course, Clive.
Now, the big question is whether Davis's Tuesday night pre-Grammy gala will feature a performance by Stewart. (Last year he had trouble staying awake and kept resting his head on the lap of his Amazonian girlfriend Penny Lancaster.) I sure hope so. Rod Stewart in top form is always hip. Imagine a duet with Alicia Keys…
Steven Shainberg's S&M movie, Secretary, got a lot of buzz at Sundance. I don't remember if there was any biting in the film, but so far no distributor has bitten.
Secretary is just about as "out there" as it can be. It's replete with scenes of sado-masochism and would be hard to rate at the MPAA. James Spader plays a wicked boss who gets off on torturing his employee, played brilliantly by Maggie Gyllenhaal.
In the current issue of Premiere, Spader — who has a whole resume of playing sleazy sexually dysfunctional creepoids — doesn't do much for his reputation.
On the set, according to Premiere, Spader asked Gyllenhaal— who's the daughter of director Stephen Gyllenhaal — if she masturbates often. "Because I do, as often as I can," he explains.
Indeed, Spader told director Shainberg, after seeing Gyllenhaal on video tape, "I could spank the hell out of her."
Is it all a come-on with Spader? Or is he really just icky? Strangely enough, I've been told countless times that he's good friends with fellow Porsche collector Jerry Seinfeld. They both maintain their cars at the same airport hanger in Southern California. Funny, you could just see Elaine using this S&M stuff as a reason to break up with some guy on Jerry's old show. I don't know how he keeps a straight face.
Robert Plant, the gifted vocalist and leader of Led Zeppelin, is preparing his first new album in almost a a decade.
According to sources, Plant is putting the finishing touches on his new album with his touring group, the Strange Sensations. Plant has been recording and playing with this group for some time, but seems to be near ready to unleash their work on an unsuspecting world.
This is good news maybe for Universal Music Group, where Plant is now signed, and too bad for Warner Music Group, which released all the Led Zeppelin albums and all of Plant's solo stuff under the Atlantic label. UMG's Steve Leeds, who puts together the artist's promotional packages, is structuring Plant's comeback right now. In fact, this item may be the first step in his plan. Leeds worked with Plant at Atlantic and knows his ins and outs.
By the way, if you're too young to know, Led Zeppelin created the grunge/heavy metal rock sound now heard on the radio and MTV performed by various looking dolts. Go out and get a newly remastered copy of Houses of the Holy this weekend, and say these words: "I am not worthy, I am not worthy" while Creed clogs the airwaves.
About two years ago I wrote that Hogan Sheffer, the brother of actor Craig Sheffer (A River Runs Through It), had taken over as headwriter of the CBS soap As the World Turns. He had no soap experience, but had been a respected story editor at DreamWorks Films.
So what happened? Seems that the 45-year-old As the World Turns has been revived into a hit — despite the fact that owner Procter and Gamble would probably love to pull the plug on it and sister show Guiding Light. Sheffer gave the show a jolt. It's still a soap, but when you've got a bad cold and you're home for the afternoon, Sheffer delivers a little frisson.
His main weapon has been the revival of 25-year veteran Colleen Zenk-Pinter. I swear she was on that show when I was in high school — and she has not aged. Remarkable. She seems to be on almost every day, and is turning in a performance that nighttime actresses on hour-long weepfests like ER could learn from. Let's be kind and say she's in her late 40s — if so, she gives hope to those who think the youth movement in TV is here to stay. Someone give that woman an Emmy, and fast!
Now if only they'd give good old Don Hastings something to do. He's been on since...well, since before this gossip writer was born! He must have something to say by now!