Jackson at Grammys | Kimora Lee No Scientologist | Grammy After-Party May Steal the Show | Blanchett's Dylan 'Here' on Wed | Mogul Cancels Oscar Party
Jacko's Surprise Grammy Appearance
Is it true? Well, my sources say that Michael Jackson may actually be performing at the Grammy Awards this Sunday.
A lot could change between now and Sunday night, but the scenario that’s been described for me goes something like this: Justin Timberlake starts the show singing along with a tape of Frank Sinatra. The next act up is Jackson, performing one of his hits from "Thriller," possibly even re-creating the dance number for "Billie Jean" he made famous at the Motown 25th anniversary show in 1983.
Will it happen? Who knows. Jackson, my sources insist, has been rehearsing at a Burbank studio and keeping away from the Staples Center, where the Grammy show takes place.
Of course, if it does happen, Jackson would get a huge boost for the special 25th anniversary edition of "Thriller" that Sony releases on Tuesday. And if it doesn’t work out, well, then … as they say, nothing ventured, nothing gained.
Michael, the ball’s in your court. And believe it or not, we’re rooting for you.
Kimora Lee: No Scientology
Kimora Lee Simmons — celebrity designer, ex-wife of Russell Simmons and great beauty — is not happy with Scientology.
On Thursday, we had to call her press person and inform her that Kimora is being featured in a new Scientology promotional video. The sect’s chief, David Miscavige, can be seen in the video telling followers that Simmons has been distributing the group’s "Way to Happiness" propaganda pamphlet in New Jersey and Los Angeles.
The news that Simmons is somehow involved in Scientology comes around the six-minute mark in the eight-minute video posted at YouTube.
Miscavige, dressed in a tuxedo, seems to be addressing a large crowd in the gauche, ornate Celebrity Center in Hollywood from the same podium on which he gave Tom Cruise an Olympic-looking medal in 2004.
He tells the gathering that to reach new recruits 12 to 18 years old, they can do better than Simmons, who "funnels booklets" in the aforementioned locales. On the screen behind him, Simmons’ face is shown.
Only one problem, though, Simmons’ publicist told me on Thursday while her client was traveling. "I’ve asked everyone," said the flack. "Kimora is not a Scientologist. We have nothing to do with this."
Of course, Miscavige also claims support in the video for Scientology from Philips Electronics in Pakistan, Dell computers "all over Africa," Coca-Cola Pakistan, 7-Eleven in Taiwan and Ecuador’s postal system. He says that 70 million people are reading or in possession of "Way to Happiness."
But mostly, Miscavige — who gave the speech at a New Year’s Eve rally at the end of 2006 — has one goal: to obliterate psychiatry. He tells his listeners about the group’s progress in breaking "the dark spell cast across Earth by psychiatry."
"We booby-trapped the entire psychiatric ecosystem," Miscavige says. "We’ve already yanked 21 psychiatrists’ licenses in the last four weeks."
Miscavige is under fire these days, by the way. His 24-year-old niece, Jenna, has left the group after being raised in it, and has a lot to say about what’s gone on behind the scenes. She’s already turned up on one syndicated show, "Inside Edition," and likely will have more to say in the next few days, I am told.
Clive's Gang Ready for Grammy Brawl
Clive Davis' annual Grammy party on Saturday night is shaping up as a hot, hot ticket — and a potential rival to the actual Grammys.
Thursday night, we got to see both Leona Lewis and Daughtry rehearse their sets on stage at the Beverly Hilton. Of course, Alicia Keys is a natural to perform at the party; she’s got the No. 1 album and is the key player in the J Records crown.
But other names for the party are being bandied about, including the Grammy-nominated Foo Fighters. Whitney Houston will not perform, but she is expected to attend. Houston is about to resume recording her comeback album.
Sources at Davis’ J Records remain high on the Houston project, as well as forthcoming albums from Jennifer Hudson, Gavin DeGraw and Lewis. The latter is being pushed — rightly so — as the inheritor to the Houston/Mariah Carey legacy.
Meanwhile, as I said the other day, Kelly Clarkson already has gone to work on her new album. Davis has assigned her to in-house hit-maker Pete Ganbarg, who’s already sifting through songs with the "American Idol" star as they look to make a commercial comeback after her "My December" wrong turn last year.
Cate Blanchett Exclusive: She's Here
Cate Blanchett is nominated for Best Supporting Actress as Bob Dylan in "I’m Not There."
But what if you can’t sift through this long, complex film to find Blanchett’s remarkable performance?
Here’s the answer: Director Todd Haynes has cut Blanchett’s total of 44 minutes in five segments and put them on a Web site. You can find this unusual collection of clips here.
There are a lot of great supporting performances this year, but Blanchett is absolutely amazing. My favorite section is halfway through Part 3, when Blanchett and the greatly underrated actor Bruce Greenwood volley back and forth during Dylan’s "Ballad of a Thin Man" (sung by Stephen Malkmus). It’s just a mind-blower and easy evidence of Blanchett’s brilliance.
Oscars: No Barry, But Lotsa Spirit
First it was Ed Limato, then Vanity Fair. Now comes word that mogul Barry Diller is canceling his Oscar party, held annually on the Saturday afternoon before the big show.
Diller, under siege in a corporate war, needs the break to concentrate on beating John Malone in a fight for IAC and the beautiful Frank Gehry-designed building the company lives in on Manhattan’s West Side.
But fear not: Diller may be gone, but the Independent Spirit Awards persevere. Held simultaneously on Saturday, the Spirits suddenly are a hotter-than-usual event. For those who’ve been going for years, this is no surprise. They’re always fun.
After the Spirit Awards comes the party at Shutters on the Beach in Santa Monica. Already RSVP’d for the IFC-sponsored soiree are Sienna Miller, Julian Schnabel, Tamara Jenkins and Frank Langella. Believe me, there will be no shortage of stars at this deal. Stay tuned. …
Oscar nominees in acting and directing got a nice early bit of swag last week at the annual Oscar luncheon. They also received Motorola’s as-yet unreleased ROKR E8 phone, which is supposed to be the coolest combination MP3 player and phone yet.
It’s described thusly: "When powered off, the surface of ROKR E8 is smooth, with no visible keys. Power on the device and it presents a virtual numbered keypad on the front surface. With one 'press' of the virtual music key, the phone keypad disappears and control keys for the music player -- play, pause, fast forward and rewind -- appear in its place."
If only it cleaned the kitchen! But at this rate, Motorola must be working on that. ...
Warner Music stock closed at $6.67 on Thursday after remaining stockholders learned about chief Edgar Bronfman’s $30 million folly with Bulldog Entertainment.
However, after the markets closed, the Associated Press reported — along with other outlets — that the French government is considering bringing insider trading charges against Bronfman stemming from his sale of Vivendi stock in 2000.
Interesting, since Wall Street insiders are still trying to figure out what went on with WMG stock here on Jan. 10 and Jan. 11 that caused a massive volume in activity and a slight but inexplicable rise in price per share.
WMG remains a great unsolved mystery on so many levels. ...