CNN Showbiz

Janet Jackson is in the driver's seat

Jackson at MTV awards September 22, 1995
Web posted at: 9:15 p.m. EDT

From Correspondent Mark Scheerer

NEW YORK (CNN) -- If it looked like Janet Jackson was in a good mood at the recent MTV video music awards, she was.

"It's fun," she says. "It's a lot of fun being so wanted."

Janet Jackson is currently the equivalent of a free agent in professional sports. Her 1991 contract with Virgin Records allowed her to escape after just one album. And now she's the object of desire for many record label heads.

Jackson "(They're) sending their planes," she laughs. "What else do they do? Jeffery comes over to the house all the time. And Geffen lives down the street."

That's Jeffery as in Katzenberg and Geffen as in David Geffen, and Steven Spielberg, who would love to have Jackson in the music division of their new Dreamworks SKG Studios. Virgin Records and a new label at Sony called Work, formed by ex-Virgin executives, are also said to be in the chase, along with A&M Records, where Jackson first recorded. They're putting out a greatest hits album with some new tracks.

One of the few label heads not interested is Arista's Clive Davis.

"I have a lot of um, divas, so that I'm not in that race -- if there is one, I'm not sure," Davis says. "But, she certainly has been a successful artist."

Verna "You are looking at an artist whose last three records have consistently sold upwards of seven, eight million units, in the U.S. alone," says Billboard's Paul Verna. "A lot of artists go through peaks and valleys, but she is definitely on a steady upwards course, very steady."

Jackson is in a position to demand a deal for four to six albums with a $10 million advance and an unprecedented royalty rate of 25 percent per sale. What impact that would have on other artists is not for her to say.

Video still "Y'know, I don't know," she says. "I don't think any other record company will let an artist sign for just one record, so I don't know if it's going to help other people, help other artists." (142K .aiff sound or 284K .wav sound)

One thing Janet Jackson definitely knows is that she's in the driver's seat.

"What am I going to do?," she laughs. "I'm going to Disneyland."

And after Disneyland, Janet Jackson will be heading for the bank.

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