Published March 30, 2009
The word over the weekend from Los Angeles is that star singer Rihanna is not cooperating with prosecutors in the Chris Brown case.
Sources say Rihanna "wants the whole thing" to go away and isn’t helping the district attorney prepare his case against Brown for allegedly beating her to a pulp in the early hours of February 8th, the day the of the Grammy Awards.
Apparently Rihanna is angry, they say, that pictures of her bruises were leaked to the press. She’s not happy, too, that she was quickly identified as Brown’s victim.
Rihanna’s loyalty to Brown, I predict, will backfire. For one thing, even without her testimony, prosecutors already have evidence and a statement.
But even more damaging to Rihanna, ironically, will be the image of her as a battered woman defending her alleged batterer. This isn’t 1967. In a post-Tina Turner confessional world, too much is known about this sort of thing. Rihanna is a role model for young women.
But for her to endorse — either implicitly or explicitly — what went on that night could result in her going from victim to enabler. And while victim earns the public’s sympathy, enabler doesn’t. Future commercial sponsors may not see Rihanna’s as an image they want to send to young consumers if she’s viewed as interfering with Brown’s criminal prosecution.
Right now a hearing is set for one week from today. At that time, Brown will likely be arraigned, charges will be filed. Whether Rihanna supports those charges and will help prosecutors at trial remains to be seen.
There’s the usual turmoil in the world of Michael Jackson.
Now that Jackson is about to come into some money, everyone around him wants a piece of the pie. Not to be counted out is his father Joseph Jackson.
I told you last week that Jackson and sketchy concert promoter Leonard Rowe decided they should be Michael’s managers. They called this reporter and anyone who’d listen. I reported this news here.
Over the weekend, Jackson senior and Rowe sent out a "press release" to this column and various Jackson fan clubs asserting that they were Michael Jackson’s managers. Their intent, it seems, is to start booking shows without Michael’s permission.
Well, let it be said again: Jackson senior and Rowe are not managing Michael Jackson and certainly not attending to his "business interests" as laid out in their press release. Over the weekend someone named Ladd Biro kept emailing this reporter insisting all this was true. But conversations with Jackson’s current actual advisers and producers of his London shows confirmed that Leonard Rowe and Joseph Jackson simply have nothing to do with the singer.
Indeed, sources at AEG Live, which is producing the London shows, told Rowe to cut it out or face the consequences.
Meanwhile, conversations will take place this week among all the parties involved in the auction of the contents of Jackson’s Neverland ranch. Jackson and his manager, Tohme R. Tohme, signed papers last summer authorizing the auction. It was only as the date drew near that they recanted, and now claim they didn’t understand what they were getting into. The auction is set for the last week of April.
Now I’m told that Colony Capital LLC may throw their hat into the ring and file to stop the auction as well. Colony is Jackson’s financial partner in the ranch, and would like to sell it. A deal is on the table — as reported here first — but it includes all the memorabilia taken for auction.
And the auction plans proceed apace. Last week, Julien’s Auctions put on display some of the best items at the Hard Rock Cafe in New York. Hundreds of fans came for a gander at Jackson’s stuff. Stopping the auction is still possible but it would be like putting a genie back in its bottle.
Tovah Feldshuh opened on Broadway last night in "Irena’s Vow" and there’s already talk of the film version.
Trust me, this film is going to happen. And already in the running are Natalie Portman and Scarlett Johansson. They’re just two of the young actresses who want to play the real-life Polish Catholic woman Irena Gut Opdyke who rescued 13 Jews during WWII.
Feldshuh, an accomplished and beloved theater actress, has four Tony nominations under her belt, but no wins so far. She’ll likely be nominated for this wonderful performance, and sent into formidable competition with Oscar winners and nominees like Jane Fonda, Marcia Gay Harden, Susan Sarandon, and Joan Allen. Wow! Feldshuh holds her own in this group. And maybe has an edge because she’s not from Hollywood.
And so to Palm Beach we went and have now returned, principally to hear Patti Labelle sing at a sensational 80th birthday party for Pantone Color System’s inventor, Larry Herbert, who’s also a passionate member of the board of the American Film Institute. (Without Larry, no one would know what color to paint their living rooms!)
But it was also to celebrate our pal, Larry, and his wife, Michele, a force of nature herself, as they rounded up the best of Palm Beach society and imported a couple hundred more friends and family from New York, L.A. and beyond to the legendary Breakers Hotel. (Don’t get nervous — we peons camped out at the far more reasonable and relaxed Chesterfield.)
Among the guests who came to see and hear and experience it all were cogniscenti from NYC like Ivana Trump, Denise Rich, photog Patrick McMullan, PR great Norah Lawlor, Broadway producer Francine LeFrak, Caroline Hirsch (of Caroline’s Comedy Club) and Andrew Fox, Paris-Hollywood powerhouse Yanou Collart, music attorney Paul Schindler, and famed astronaut wife Lois (Mrs. Buzz) Aldrin.
Yes, there were about 300 guests, seated under spinning chandeliers that raised and lowered depending on what was happening in the Breakers largest ballroom. (Oh yes have you ever seen the Breakers? It’s one of America’s over the top incredible resorts.)
Michele, a former dancer with a killer bod, surprised Larry by importing dancers from "Dancing with the Stars" and staging a video-and-live presentation with changed lyrics – "Larry, Baby" – sung to "Santa Baby." Imagine the setting too of massive orchids everywhere, sumptuous portions of gourmet good (including individual ice sculptures!),
DJ Cassidy — New York’s hottest club mixer — for the after party, and so on. The Herberts’ son’s band, Born Again Baldwins, serenaded the birthday boy with "My Way."
Into all this came Ms. Labelle around midnight, with backup singers and a pianist, and brought tears to the eyes of this already wildly seduced crowd with "Lady Marmalade," "Love You, Need You," "Somewhere over the Rainbow," and "On My Own."
Is there a recession in Palm Beach? Yes, sad to say, many of the fancy homes owned by people who were conned by Bernie Madoff are for sale. The shopkeepers along Worth Avenue have many tales of woe. (Although Lisa Perry’s boutique has taken off like a rocket!) But a party without a budget for an 80th birthday? It somehow seemed appropriate, with love and wine flowing through the room. What a night!