Alicia Keys

‘Dreamgirl’ Alicia Keys?    ·    February 12th, 2005,2933,147090,00.html

Is Alicia Keys ready for her film debut?

There’s buzz here in Hollywood on the eve of the Grammy Awards, and it’s getting loud.

Keys, I’m told, is being pursued for a major role in the movie version of the Broadway hit “Dreamgirls.” She may be meeting this very day with writer/director Bill Condon to see what’s what.

Get ready, because this girl can do anything. She may wind up joining Beyoncé Knowles — who’s rumored to have a role already — and another superstar as “The Dreams,” a trio based on The Supremes.

When on Broadway, the show-stopper “And I Am Telling You I’m Not Going” featured the singing of the then-heavyset Jennifer Holliday.

You can bet girls will be climbing all over each other to get this part. But Queen Latifah — with whom Condon worked on “Chicago” — would seem the likely candidate.

But back to Alicia: I caught up with her last night at the rehearsals for Clive Davis’ annual pre-Grammy party at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

This year the party will feature a number of artists, including solo performances by Alicia and her collaborations with Carlos Santana and Usher. Maroon 5 will also perform their big hits.

In the audience will be at least two other J Records hit acts: Gavin DeGraw and Mario. Whitney Houston will not be attending, but there’s no scandal here. According to my sources, “Next year will be her big comeback. It’s too soon.”

Aretha Franklin apparently toyed with the idea of getting in her bus and making the trip from Detroit, but decided to stay put.

We had a rare glimpse of Keys working out her two duets with Santana — his “Black Magic Woman” and the Doors’ “Light My Fire.”

Keys also gave us a delicious version of “If I Ain’t Got You,” her Best Song nominee, even though she had some complaints about the keyboards.

Meanwhile, Santana played blistering guitar solos in the Beverly Hills Hotel ballroom for a select few. I was honored to be the only writer in the room. He also rocked out on “Oye Como Va,” which he will perform on Saturday night.

Davis was beaming the whole time. He has a new Santana album shipping on April 8, with lots of guest stars including Michelle Branch and the lead singer from Puddle of Mudd, Wesley Scantlin.

Maroon 5, by the way, may look a little different on the Grammy show. They’re using a temporary replacement drummer, Matt Flynn, in place of regular member Ryan Dusick.

Dusick (who happens to be “Knots Landing” star Michele Lee’s nephew), injured his shoulder several weeks ago and is only now getting it back into shape. Don’t worry though: If Maroon 5 wins any awards, Dusick will be ready to accept.

And then there’s Fantasia Barrino. As I told you a few weeks ago after seeing her perform at the Rainbow Room, this girl can “sang!”

Three times in one hour last night, she knocked out scarily good versions of the Gershwins’ “Summertime,” which is her signature song.

Davis presented her with a plaque for a platinum album, meaning she’s shipped 1 million copies of her debut record. She’s the biggest thing turned out by “American Idol” so far and is definitely a keeper.

She’s also a doll. After rehearsal, I asked her what she was doing for the night.

“Staring at that plaque,” she replied.

There’s no doubt that Fantasia is living her own fantasy right now.

At one point last night, Keys, Usher and Santana were all working together on the smallish stage of the ballroom, while photographers, camera crews and J Records staff buzzed around and did their respective jobs. It was so low-key that you might have forgotten that three superstars were in the room.

Arnold Stiefel, Rod Stewart’s longtime manager, breezed in to pay respects to Davis and see what was happening. (Rod is off in Australia playing to sold-out venues every night, and won’t be at the awards on Saturday.)

“It’s so nice to see my J Records family,” Stiefel said, and he meant it.

Rod has had three hit albums with Davis, and another “Songbook” CD is due this fall.

“I never had this experience at Rod’s other labels,” Stiefel said. “You feel like these people are a family.”

He’s right. When Davis started J Records four years ago, there was a real “let’s put on a show” attitude. The result? A company that has a lot of people who seem to really care about what they’re doing.

Compare it to some other record companies that shall go unnamed, where bail is mostly what’s on the staff’s minds. J is a unique company, and one to savor.

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