Plus, news about Alan Jackson, Creed, Courtney Love, Sidney Poitier, Jonathan Franzen, Lorraine Bracco, Edward James Olmos, and others
Mariah Carey
Credit: Mariah Carey: David Fisher/London Features

Just one sweet day after Virgin Records paid Mariah Carey $28 million to end her contract after one flop album (”Glitter”), her lawyers are thinking of suing parent company EMI over the wording of its announcement of the split. Once the financial settlement was reached, it took Carey’s and EMI’s lawyers 10 more days to hash out a joint press release, saying that the contract had been ”amicably” scrapped and that she and the label would ”part ways,” implying a mutual decision by both parties. But hours later, EMI issued its own statement to the London Stock Exchange, saying it had ”terminated” Carey’s deal, suggesting that she didn’t walk out, she was dumped.

Carey’s reps called EMI’s release ”false” and a ”direct violation” of the settlement agreement by issuing an additional statement. ”What would make me happy is if EMI had lived up to the terms of the agreement at least long enough for one round of tea and crumpets,” said Carey’s lawyer, Marshall Grossman. ”I think the public is sick and tired of big corporations beating up on talent.” (The settlement gives the beaten-up Carey a total of $49 million, including her $21 million advance from last April, for nine months of work and one failed album). However, EMI’s lawyer, Hollywood heavyweight Bert Fields, claims the label was required by stock exchange rules to issue its own statement on the split, that ”terminated” didn’t necessarily mean ”unilaterally dumped,” and that if Carey filed a breach of contract suit, EMI would file a countersuit for libel.

Meanwhile, Carey is shopping around for a new label, although no one is likely to duplicate the $20 million per album terms of her Virgin deal. Carey reportedly wants any new deal to include a job for her pal Nancy Berry, the former Virgin exec who signed her last year, and whom new EMI CEO Alain Levy promptly fired when he took over in September and began cutting costs. Already, Arista Records has said no. Said a spokesperson ”Arista Records is not signing Mariah Carey now or anytime in the future, nor are we in any discussions with Nancy Berry.” One rumor had it that Whitney Houston, Arista’s biggest-name artist, called label chief L.A. Reid and made him end discussions to bring the rival diva to the company, but Houston’s publicist says, ”Someone in [Houston’s] in-house company called Arista to find out if it was true [that Reid was negotiating with Carey] simply out of curiosity, and they said no. Miss Houston knows nothing about this and would certainly applaud anything good for [Carey].”…

As it turns out, there are lots of pop stars who’d like to be liberated from their record contracts. Several of them descended on Sacramento yesterday to lobby for the removal of an exemption in California law that allows record labels, alone among entertainment companies, to hold performers to contracts of more than seven years in order to fulfill what the protesting artists see as unreasonably burdensome obligations (multiple albums, tours, videos, and other promotional duties). Label heads maintain that the contracts are fair and that artists sign them voluntarily. Still, the deals amount to ”indentured servitude” and ”slavery,” according to Courtney Love, Don Henley, Carole King, Stevie Nicks, Sheryl Crow, Beck, and Offspring frontman Dexter Holland, who visited the state capital to testify in favor of legislation proposed by Democratic state Sen. Kevin Murray that would end the exemption.

SOUND BITES After eight weeks, Creed have been driven out of the No. 1 spot on the Billboard chart by Alan Jackson, whose ”Drive” debuted on top and sold 423,075 copies, according to SoundScan. The country singer’s 11th album marked the best-selling January debut since SoundScan began keeping track 11 years ago. Creed had to settle for No. 2, with ”Weathered” moving 128,050 units. Linkin Park‘s ”Hybrid Theory” also slipped one spot, coming in at third with 92,625 sold. Holding in fourth place was Nickelback‘s ”Silver Side Up” (77,625 CDs). Falling two places to No. 5 was Ludacris‘ ”Word of Mouf” (75,500 copies).

While Usher‘s ”8701” reentered the top 10 at No. 8, the rest of the top albums were mainstays from last week’s chart: Ja Rule‘s ”Pain Is Love” (up one spot to No. 6), Nas‘ ”Stillmatic” (down two to No. 7), Pink‘s ”M!ssundaztood” (falling three slots to No. 9), and Enya‘s ”A Day Without Rain” (holding at No. 10)….

Drive (Music - Alan Jackson)
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