Published March 16, 2009
I am terribly saddened to report that the great actor and political activist, Ron Silver, died this morning at his home in New York. Ron was 62 and had been bravely battling esophageal cancer for the last two years. He leaves two children, Adam and Alexandra, his parents and his two brothers, as well as countless friends and admirers.
About ten days ago I wrote in this space about Ron’s great acting achievements. Of course, he first came to popularity acting with Valerie Harper and Julie Kavner in “Rhoda,” as their menschy neighbor, Gary. But very quickly he took off in movies, with such milestones as his performance in "Enemies: A Love Story", his wonderful portrayal of lawyer Alan Dershowitz in "Reversal of Fortune", and so many other films including "Garbo Talks", "Blue Steel", and "Ali". He was nominated twice for Emmy awards.
Ron was also an accomplished theater actor. His credits included the original Broadway cast of "HurlyBurly" (1984) with William Hurt, Judith Ivey, and Harvey Keitel. In 1986 he co-starred on Broadway with Marlo Thomas in the comedy "Social Security". And in 1988 he, Joe Mantegna and Madonna were the original cast of David Mamet’s “Speed the Plow.” Ron won a Tony Award for his portrayal of Charlie Fox, the screenwriter with the idea who comes to Bobby Gould (Mantegna) for help. In all three plays, Ron secured his place as the “it” New York actor of his time, consummate, literate, dangerous and smart.
The smart was a good thing and a bad thing. In 1989, Ron helped found the Creative Coalition with Alec Baldwin, Ron Silver, Christopher Reeve, Susan Sarandon, Blair Brown and Stephen Collins. It only takes a second to realize this was a group of liberal minded actors, and Ron was part of them. But soon his politics turned conservative. In short order Ron started endorsing candidates like New York Republicans Rudolph Giuiliani and Alfonse D’Amato. This caused no end of headaches, discussions, debates, and fights. But it also made for a lively time.
I didn’t always agree with Ron politically, but it didn’t matter. He was a great friend, a great family man. He loved his kids. Whether we ran into each other at events or planned on seeing each other, we always had a great time talking Hollywood or chewing over Washington. Last August, Ron insisted on covering the Democratic convention in Denver for Sirius Radio. He was very weak, but he did it with gusto, running around the city getting interviews for his show. He could not be stopped, even though his daughter, Alex, and I, as well as his Sirius assistant, could see the strain.
Last week when I checked in with him, Ron’s voice sounded like a distant signal over a radio. Still, he was bouncy and ebullient. We talked about a lot of things including his radio show on Sirius, which was he was still doing once a week. He had an idea. “Why don’t we a whole show with gossip columnists?” he asked. I said, we’ll think about it. But he couldn’t stop thinking. He had a million ideas for shows, and I think would have had dozens more great performances in him as an actor. I’m not the only friend who will say this in coming days, but he will truly, always, be sorely missed and greatly remembered.
We’re not surprised: Anna Nicole Smith’s doctors and her ex-consort have been charged by authorities with three felony counts each of conspiracy and several other charges of giving fraudulent prescriptions.
Well, back on Friday, March 16, 2007 we told you exclusively that Dr. Kristine Ehrosevich had sent a fax from the Bahamas to Los Angeles before Anna Nicole Smith died asking for a menu of potent drugs that could kill her patient. This was the same doctor whom "Entertainment Tonight" paid as a consultant and was constantly referred to on their program as the dead model’s "best friend."
In the fax, Eroshevich requested a laundry list of drugs to be sent to the Bahamas by courier for "M. Chase," the pseudonym Smith used to obtain drugs.
The list was scary and potentially very harmful. It included: four bottles of 2 mg Dilaudid; 2 milliliter bottles of Lorazepam (Ativan); two bottles of 350 mg Soma, a total of 180 tablets; one bottle each of 30 mg Dalmane and 400 mg Prexige, the latter a British drug; and one bottle of methadone, 300 5mg tablets. All of them are classified as different types of painkillers.
At first Eroshevich sent the fax from the Bahamas to Sandeep Kapoor, the Los Angeles physician who treated Smith under the pseudonym "Michelle Chase." Kapoor has also now been charged by authorities
According to the L.A. County District Attorney., the conspiracy counts allege that Eroshevich, Kapoor, and Howard K. Stern conspired to furnish controlled substances to Smith from between July 2004 and January 2007.
Eroshevich sent the damning fax on Sept. 15, 2006, a week after baby Daniellyn was born and five days after the death of Anna Nicole’s son Daniel.
When Kapoor refused to fill the prescriptions sent by Eroshevich, sources told us in March 2007, the doctor sent the request directly to Key Pharmacy in North Hollywood, Calif. It was also refused there.
The doctor wrote the fax in her own hand and added a note at the bottom: "You have my local number here. Please call if half of the amounts can be prepared, I’ll have someone take them to a courier to bring to me and he can [illegible] Fedex the rest, except for the Intensol, which has to be on ice."
She signed it "Kris," even though it seemed from the fax that she didn’t actually know Kapoor.
One pharmacist, to whom I read this list, noted at the time that all the dosages requested were much higher than usual.
"That’s 12 times the amount of Dalmane. All together, these drugs potentially will kill you. I would have refused to fill the order."
All of the drugs carry warnings for pregnant women and those who are breastfeeding especially not to take them.
The directions for Prexige read: "Tell your doctor if you are breast-feeding a baby. Ask your doctor about the risks and benefits of taking Prexige in this case. It is not known if lumiracoxib, the active ingredient of Prexige, passes into the breast milk and could affect your baby."
In a brief conversation last night with Eroshevich, the psychiatrist acknowledged the existence of the fax, but declined to comment on it, citing "patient confidentiality."
The tabloid shows used Eroshevich as an expert even though she’d been fired in 2006 as a physician for the Los Angeles County Retirement Association — also reported here first.
From the Board of Retirement minutes:
"Recommendation to terminate the services of Board Panel Psychiatrist Khristine Eroshevich, M.D., Ph.D. (Memo dated July 7, 2006)
Mr. [James] Castranova [the board’s legal counsel] gave a brief explanation of the recommendation to terminate Dr. Eroshevich's services. It was noted that on two occasions, Dr. Eroshevich arranged for psychologists to conduct fact-to-face examination of LACERA members, which is a violation of the agreement between LACERA and Dr. Eroshevich, when only Board Certified Physicians are allowed to conduct these examinations.
"A motion was made by Mr. Russin, seconded by Mr. Chery, to approve the recommendation. The Legal Office, at the request of Mr. Russin, will review Dr. Eroshevich's invoices to ensure that charges are proper. The Legal Office will report its findings and any recommendations to the Insurance, Benefits and Legislative Committee. The motion passed with Mr. Macias abstaining."
Castranova, whom I spoke with in March 2007, confirmed that Dr. Eroshevich farmed out her duties to other shrinks in violation of her agreement. In other words, she was sending unqualified doctors to interview members of LACERA when she was supposed to be doing the work herself.
LACERA spokesman Gregg Rademacher told me it’s the first time he could remember that his organization had had a physician who’d farmed out their job to other professionals, only to be caught later. Calls to Eroshevich at two California offices with answering machines were not returned.
There was more that was odd about Eroshevich’s closeness to Smith. They were also neighbors. In fact, they were next-door neighbors.
Real estate records for both Anna Nicole and Dr. Khristine Eroshevich revealed — here for the first time — that the patient and her doctor actually lived next door to each other in million dollar homes in Studio City, California.
Public records indicated that Dr. Eroshevich and her husband, Wes Irwin, live at 3656 Avenida Del Sol in Studio City, California. Their house is listed as a four bath, four bedroom set up purchased in 2002 for $925.000. Eroshevich bought the house with a mortgage of $693,750.00. In 2006, according to public records, the total value was $980,335.00. And yes, the house has a pool.
Oddly, next door is a home owned by Anna Nicole Smith and Howard K. Stern. The home was purchased in 2004 for $1,335,000, with a $934,500.00 mortgage from a private firm in Burbank, California called J&R Lending. The deal wasn’t finalized until almost a year later and registered to a company called Hot Smoochie Lips, Inc. Stern and Smith were the only officers of that company. A woman who answered the phone at J&R said the loan had been subsequently sold, but refused to give any more information.
For about a year, since right before the chaos involving his Neverland Ranch possibly being sold at auction, Michael Jackson has had a mysterious new manager.
The man known as Tohme (pronounced toe-may) called himself a doctor. Different sources said he referred to himself either as an orthopedist or orthopedic surgeon. But there was a discrepancy: who was this man, the latest in a long line of managers who seemed to Svengali the pop star?
Yesterday, after many efforts, I finally pinned the 59-year-old Tohme down. A little. He conceded that he is not a licensed physician. “Not at this time,” he said. He refused, after repeated attempts, to say what kind of doctor he might have been at any time. His associates declined as well.
“If you want to talk about Michael Jackson, fine,” he said. “The story isn’t about me.”
But the story is very much about Tohme, who has not only taken over Jackson’s life but has a certain conflict of interest: he acts as a consultant to Colony Capital LLC, the company now partnered with Jackson in ownership of Neverland. Colony bought Fortress Investment’s $23.5 million note on the ranch last year.
More recently, they changed the name of the property to Sycamore Valley Ranch and became partners in the deed with Jackson. A small fortune changed hands, giving Jackson a much needed cash infusion of several million dollars.
But the pop singer always needs more money — he’s like a vampire when it comes to funds. So Tohme restarted talks with AEG Live begun in 2007 about Jackson performing at the O2 Arena in London. Now a staggering 35 dates have been set beginning July 8th. Another 15 are likely. Jackson hasn’t performed live in a full show since September 10, 2001.
Adding to this, Tohme is also responsible for the coming auction of Jackson’s personal memorabilia. He set up the auction with Julien’s Auction House last fall. Contracts were signed. Now Jackson is suing Julien’s, saying he didn’t know what was going on. Julien has catalogs printed, and is going forward. So far, Jackson’s attorney has not filed for a court order to stop the auction.
Sources around Jackson don’t have a high opinion of Tohme. They worry that he’s just the latest person who’s come into Jackson’s life with a personal agenda.
But Thomas Barrack, head of Colony Capital, says Tohme’s a “great guy,” someone’s he known a long time “in the business world, around L.A.” When I asked him how Tohme knew Jackson, Barrack answered: “You’ll have to ask him.” He did say it was Tohme who introduced him to Jackson.
Tohme is fuzzy on this point. “I knew him a long time,” he said of Jackson. At first he said he knew Jackson’s family, then he backtracked and said his relationship was with Michael. We never really figured that one out.
“I love Michael,” Tohme said. “I want what’s best for him. When the problems with Neverland came, I was approached to see if I could help. I knew him for twenty to thirty years.”
Tohme told me he set up the AEG Live deal, even though he was clearly not around in 2007 when I first reported the story. I asked him if he set up the auction. “I did not set up the auction, the auction is not going through!” This is in direct contrast to my conversation with auctioneer Darrell Julien last winter, who sang Tohme’s praises as the pair worked to put it all together.
“We had a certain period of time to empty Neverland last year,” Tohme said. “I was looking for a place for storage, a place to dump a lot of stuff like cars. I called Julien’s and asked if they could do it, come pick it up.” He says an auction could only go through with Jackson’s approval.
Last week, Darrell Julien told this column: “Michael has plenty of storage facilities. He wouldn’t have called me for storage.” True enough: Jackson at different times has had airport hangers at Santa Monica airport filled with his belongings. He’s also had warehouses closer to home near Neverland.
So what about Tohme Tohme, who’s not a doctor? There were a lot of questions I couldn’t ask him because he kept yelling, and refused to answer. I never got to ask him about a 1996 bankruptcy filing on record in the state of California. In the court filing, vs. Marathon National Bank, he listed himself as “Tohme Tohme, Doctor.”
A search of the Lexis Nexis database shows no mention of “Tohme Tohme,” doctor or otherwise, prior to December 22, 2008 when he issued a statement about Jackson’s health.
He was charming in our conversation. He said, “If you play it right, you will be the first one to know everything about Michael Jackson.” I said, thanks, I already was. He said that Michael is in great shape and could easily do 50 shows. “He could do a hundred.”
Madonna — you know, the other big pop star — dined out last night but she left Jesus at home.
That’s Jesus Luz, her 21-year-old boy toy from Brazil. Instead, Madonna and her manager Guy Oseary took a big booth all to themselves at the Waverly Inn. They missed the restaurant’s owner, Graydon Carter, editor-in-chief of Vanity Fair, by about 15 minutes.
Briefly, designer Donna Karan stopped by and sat with them. Also coming over was Alec Baldwin, in a suit and tie he’d worn all day for the taping of “30 Rock.” He was on his way to dinner at a back booth with Brooke Shield and husband Chris Henchy.
Adjacent to Madonna’s table, New Yorker writer and author of “The Tipping Point,” Malcolm Gladwell, with a bunch of friends.
Before long, the booth next to Madonna’s and Guy’s was re-set and in came Will Ferrell from performing on Broadway in his George W. Bush show, “You’re Welcome, America.” His penultimate performance of the limited Broadway run, he told us, will be on Saturday night broadcast live on HBO. The show finishes on Sunday with a matinee.
And that’s the Waverly on a Thursday night. Someone told us the Princess of Sweden was having dinner with her gal pals at an all blonde table. Bob Colacello, of Vanity Fair and Andy Warhol’s original Interviews, was also in the room. Publicist Desiree Gruber told us about her happy baby boy with her Desperate Housewives husband Kyle Maclachlan.
Outside, while the paps waited for the stars, a crew from Old Navy dragged around a life size doll from one of their commercials in a promo stunt. “We’re hoping to get a picture of it with Madonna or Will Ferrell,” a young woman from the company said. She may still be out there.
Earlier in the night: Vanity Fair sponsored a huge photo exhibit of many famous shutterbug artists like Sylvia Plachy and Mary Ellen Mark at Donna Karan’s Zen Studio at 711 Greenwich Street. This is a huge facility with big white walls, and lots of groovy people eating cool looking hors d’oeuvres.
The whole thing seemed like a movie version of a hip New York party. Rose McGowan posed for pictures. Soap star Ricky Paull Goldin shook hands with fans. People asked Plachy, one of the most famous photographers of our time, where was her son, Adrien Brody, the Oscar winner? Two Law & Order stars— Linus Roache and Jeff Goldblum were there – but they never met and have never met.
Goldblum told me that “Law & Order: Criminal Intent” will finally start in April, six months late. They’ve got five of eight episodes in the can, at last. So what’s his character to like? “His parents were psychiatrists, but he doesn’t speak to his father,” Jeff said while a tall, gorgeous brunette tried to chat him up. “He has a mysterious past.”
But his name is not Tohme.
The Grammy Awards are being moved up a week next year, to January 31st. They would ordinarily be on February 7th, but that’s the day of the Super Bowl. Both shows are on CBS. This puts Clive Davis’s party with NARAS on January 30th, and the MusiCares Person of the Year dinner on January 29th. Mark your calendars now…
…Peter Rice, the guy who made Fox Searchlight a hit, is getting kicked upstairs and is taking over Fox Entertainment. (As my mom would say, this is a “big” job.) Rice has had a string of hits and Oscar nominees like “Juno.” But last month Fox Searchlight got its Best Picture for “Slumdog Millionaire.” Nancy Utley and Steve Gilula will succeed Rice, but we’ll miss this guy a lot. Congrats, Peter! It’s been a swell ride!