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Michael EP on H’w’d Records

George Michael plans to issue a five-song EP on Hollywood Records, his second release outside the Sony Music system since his contractual dispute with the company surfaced.

Michael filed suit last October in the United Kingdom to break his contract with Sony U.K., the company that signed him worldwide (Daily Variety, Nov. 4, 1992).

That suit called his pact heavily weighted in favor of Sony, effectively amounting to restraint of trade. Sony has responded by stating its contract is valid and legally binding.

While sources say Michael has vowed to never record again for Sony, he has been actively pursuing opportunities at other companies. He already has announced plans to write and produce a Warner Bros. album titled “The Trojan Souls,” a collection of Michael songs sung by Elton John, Anita Baker and Aretha Franklin, among others. Michael will be involved in the album’s promotion. Sony allegedly passed on the project.

The Hollywood project, whose name could not be obtained yesterday, will be a five-song live EP to be issued April 6, with its first single out March 15. The album will benefit the Phoenix Foundation, a trust fund established in memory of the late Queen singer Freddie Mercury.

Michael’s project reportedly will feature two tracks taken from the recent Wembley Stadium tribute to Mercury as well as three other live tracks. The work will include a duet with Arista recording artist Lisa Stansfield and features the songs “Somebody to Love,””Days of Our Lives,” a cover of “Papa Was a Rolling Stone” and “Calling You.”

Hollywood Records has confirmed the project, but a spokesman was unavailable yesterday to give further details.

However, one Hollywood Records source said Sony was permitting the album’s release on Hollywood because it feared jeopardizing its U.K. case against Michael, who could claim his trade was being “restrained” if he was unable to continue issuing his music while the court case is pending.

No court date has been set for the case in the United Kingdom. Sony offices were closed yesterday for the Martin Luther King holiday. Michael’s management office said the singer would issue a statement later this week and declined further comment.

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