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"Everyone stood up and cheered after it was played. I’ve never been in a room where you could feel such a reaction to a record."
——Steve Barnett, Epic Records Group Exec. VP/GM

JACKSON ACTION

The King of Pop Is Back On Top And Other Rumors du Jour From the Michael Camp
The Michael Jackson rumor mill is bubbling over into news of his first studio album in a decade, a new manager and a star-studded tribute concert.

Just after tapping veteran artist rep Louis Levin (whose roster includes longtime client Michael Bolton) as his new manager, the enigmatic superstar showed up at New York’s Hit Factory to preview 15 tracks from his new album, "Invincible," for 70 Sony execs who were flown in from around the world, including bigwigs Thomas Mottola, Dave Glew and Polly Anthony.

"The record is f***ing incredible," said Epic Records Group Exec. VP/GM Steve Barnett, who snuck into the event disguised as Macaulay Culkin. "Everyone stood up and cheered after it was played. I’ve never been in a room where you could feel such a reaction to a record." The man obviously hasn’t attended a Clive Davis listening party.

The album will come out by Sept. 25 so that it will be eligible for next year’s Grammy Awards. It is Jackson’s first album of new songs since ’91’s "Dangerous."

Among the songs previewed were "Unbreakable," "Speechless," "The Lost Children," "Privacy" and the title track. According to sources, other titles include "Heartbreaker," "Break of Dawn," "Heaven Can Wait," "Rock My World," "Butterflies," "2000 Watts," "Cry," "Shout," "Don’t Walk Away" and "Threatening."

Jackson completed the album with producer Teddy Riley at Miami’s Hit Factory. Other producers connected with the project include R. Kelly, Rodney Jerkins, Swizz Beatz, Jodeci member DeVante DeGrate, David Foster, Kevin "Shek’spere" Briggs and the Neptunes.

MTV reports the first single will be a collaboration with Method Man, though insiders insist, "If Michael has chosen a single, he hasn’t announced it yet." No video has been shot yet, nor has a director been chosen.

Meanwhile, the Gloved One’s Madison Square Garden concert tribute to himself has been confirmed for Sept. 7 and Sept. 10 by show producer David Gest. The lineup will reportedly include NSYNC, Britney Spears, Brian McKnight and Whitney Houston.

According to a choreographer close to the project, a casting call has gone out for 30 dancers trained in jazz, hip-hop and chimp-tossing.

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