SING OUT, JOHN:
It’s K-Tel to the rescue. The record company, best known for cheesy albums advertised on late-night TV, will issue a compilation of John Travolta’s 1976 Let Her In and 1977 Can’t Let Her Go. ”The licensing deal was just done, so we’re moving as fast as we can,” says Steve Wilson, VP of A&R for K-Tel. But the record’s schmaltzy love songs won’t be the last notes Travolta will warble. The actor wants to sing again. ”I met with Steven Spielberg and I said, ‘Put me and Barbra Streisand in a musical,’ ” says Travolta. ”I don’t want to sing alone. I’d like to sing in a movie. So maybe that’ll happen.” A Streisand spokesman hums a no comment.
— Casey Davidson
THREE’S A CROWD:
Maybe it’s the recent flap about the lack of black Oscar nominees that’s turned the riches-to-rags story of Dorothy Dandridge — the first black woman to be nominated for a Best Actress Oscar (for 1954’s Carmen Jones) — into such a hot property. Leading the stampede is Whitney Houston, who plans to coproduce and star in a film based on an upcoming Amistad Press biography. Meanwhile, Janet Jackson, who paid tribute to Dandridge in her ”Twenty Foreplay” video, is said to have optioned a 1970 bio of the actress, Everything and Nothing. The odd woman out? Halle Berry. The costar of Executive Decision and Losing Isaiah was beaten to the punch for the rights to both books but remains determined to portray Dandridge, who was bankrupt when she died of a drug overdose in 1965. ”I sat next to Halle at a dinner recently,” says Debra Martin Chase, Houston’s production partner, ”and she said, ‘If for any reason [Whitney] doesn’t want to do it, I’m interested.’ ” But Berry may be destined to stay a bridesmaid. Houston is hooked: ”Dorothy had a lot to offer and a lot to give,” the singer said recently. ”She was a beautiful, beautiful woman.”
— Beth Johns and Cindy Pearlman
And the latest hot topic of radio talk around the country is — semantics? Pop’s reigning angry woman, Alanis Morissette, is causing an all-out airwave debate over a simple adjective with her top 10 single ”Ironic.” The singer seems to define the word improperly. Morissette’s laundry list of head-scratching scenarios, like ”rain on your wedding day” or ”a blackfly in your chardonnay,” may be heartfelt (”It’s Alanis’ own personal, artistic statement about her experiences in life,” according to her spokeswoman), but DJs and other linguists are quick to point out that her musings should be filed under annoying or coincidental, not ironic. ”I’d say Joan Osborne’s ‘One of Us’ has a hell of a lot of irony,” says Susan Willis, associate professor of English at Duke University. ”But what Alanis is singing about is a bunch of bummers.” On the other hand, a song called ”Bummer” just wouldn’t have quite the same ring.