MARIAH SET TO BE A CANNES CANNES GIRL

The Cannes Film Festival welcomes all celebrities, but this year it’s going to be a little more fun than usual.

Mariah Carey is set to descend on the famous Croissette’the strip along the beach in Cannes’as star of a hot movie called ‘Precious.’

‘Precious,’ of course, was called ‘Push’ when it had a sensational debut in Sundance this year. But there was another movie called ‘Push,’ which no one will even remember by the time someone releases ‘Precious’ this fall.

By someone, I do mean’who knows? It’s a Lions Gate movie, but The Weinstein Company thought it had a deal first at Sundance. There will be some legal wrangling before the movie is released.

In the meantime, Mariah hits Cannes with thunder and lightning starting next week promoting ‘Precious’ and its popular director, Lee Daniels, previously the producer of ‘Monster’s Ball’ and the director of ‘Shadowboxer.’ Daniels has quickly established himself as a force in the industry. He also directed Mariah in the less successful ‘Tennessee.’ Other ‘Precious’ cast that should be showing up includes Lenny Kravitz.

And plenty more big names are headed to Cannes despite the bad economy. Brad Pitt stars in Quentin Tarantino‘s “Inglourious Basterds.”’ Director Terry Gilliam has Johnny Depp, Colin Farrell, and Jude Law finishing up Heath Ledger’s role in ‘The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus.’ The legendary director Francis Ford Coppola is going to debut his new ‘Tetro’ at the Directors Fortnight arm of the Festival with actor Vincent Gallo in the lead role.

So the Festival de Cannes begins next Wednesday, with Pixar/Disney’s ‘Up,’ a highly anticipated animated film from the people behind ‘Wall E.” And on Thursday of the following week, at the Hotel du Cap, Sharon Stone, Kenneth Cole and Harvey Weinstein come in for their annual AmFar dinner, Cinema Against AIDS, the most glittering night of the Festival, with Annie Lennox performing and Bill Clinton making a special appearance. Not too shabby!

MCCARTNEY, BONO: PAY THESE MUSICIANS, PLEASE

Yesterday I noted that in the Warner M(usic) analysts’ call, Edgar Bronfman Jr was all excited about the Performance Rights Act coursing its way through Congress right now. That’s House Bill 848 and Senate Bill 157.

Why not? If the bill passes, and radio stations are forced to pay a royalty for song play to performers, record companies’the copyright holders’will get a small percentage of the take.

But more importantly, and this is really important, the performers’who’ve collected nothing during the FIFTY years of rock and roll on radio’will receive the lion’s share of that royalty.

Right now, when you hear a song on the radio, only the writer(s) of it, and the publisher, get paid.

Under the new act, which the radio companies object to, the singers and musicians will get paid, too. All of them, not some of them.

The Bill is supported by tons of musicians like Paul McCartney and Bono, who already get paid a writers’ royalty but have rallied to support all musicians. ‘Soul Man’ Sam Moore and Judy Collins, as well as Sheryl Crow and plenty of others have already gone to Congress to plead this worthy cause.

House Judiciary Committee Chairman, Rep. John Conyers (D-Michigan) is a prime supporter of the bill. And so is Senator Orrin Hatch.

I’ve written about this a lot in my old column. But basically, the lack of a performance royalty is why so many older performers are forced to hit the road every year looking for audiences. While record sales may dry up when a performer is past his/her prime, their songs are still played on radio day and night. This is why Las Vegas is filled with pop stars whose records don’t sell but whose songs we love like Cher, Bette Midler, even Celine Dion.

Fifty years of free radio seems like enough: it’s time to get the Performance Rights Act passed. It’s legislation for artists who’ve been denied for too long.

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