Now, it’s Larry’s turn.
After enduring months of watching Howard K. Stern sell the rights to his story, Anna Nicole Smith’s story and “licensing footage” to Paramount TV for millions of dollars, Larry Birkhead is ready to reap the rewards of paternity.
Sources tell me that Larry cut a high six-figure deal with NBC for the exclusive access to his success story. The deal, they say, was cut by his former attorney, Debra Opri, back around the time of Smith’s funeral.
“It’s in the high six figures,” says my source. “It’s enough to cover the money Debra Opri says he owes her, with plenty left over.”
Opri is suing Birkhead for $620,000 in legal fees. The case is now in arbitration.
I’m told the deal was actually cut through NBC’s Bravo channel for documentaries about Birkhead.
The way it’s been explained is this: Everything Birkhead does for “Access” will be repurposed for Bravo. And it was “Access Hollywood” executive producer Rob Silverstein who delivered Birkhead to NBC’s “Today” show for an exclusive interview with Meredith Vieira. That appearance was also covered by the Bravo deal.
When I found him yesterday on the “Access” soundstage, Silverstein would only say, “I’ve never seen a story where so many hands are out.”
He pointed to Virgie Arthur, Smith’s mother, as another example of someone who wanted money for interviews (she got it, for a while, from ABC).
Of course, Birkhead’s fee is nothing compared to the money sources say Stern has made off the death of Anna Nicole Smith. That figure, my sources report, is now as high as $4 million. This column reported that Stern and Smith had made a deal with Paramount TV back before her baby was born. Then, when the baby arrived and Smith’s son died, “Entertainment Tonight” and “The Insider” began their long exclusive arrangement with Stern.
Sources also insist that Paramount Television paid for Smith’s lavish Bahamas funeral. “They put $300,000 into Dannielynn’s account,” an insider insists. “That’s how they bought their access.”
But now that Stern is old news, and no longer of interest, “ET” and “The Insider” are out of the picture. Since the DNA test results revealed that Birkhead is the father, the Paramount shows no longer have access to the story. “The Insider” has become “The Outsider.” On the last couple of shows, their reporter “on the ground” in the Bahamas has been relegated to using public information to look exclusive.
Birkhead will need all the money he can lay his hands on once he takes custody of baby Dannielynn. Although he’s billed as a photographer, it’s unclear what kind of career the 34-year-old really had in that arena other than taking pictures of Smith. A few years ago he called himself a celebrity journalist, and wound up in a lawsuit with USA Today over a story about Sharon Stone.
And here — to parody “ET” — is some breaking news you can only find in the FOX 411: Birkhead is said to be in the middle of negotiations for a million-dollar photo shoot of himself and the baby with a celebrity weekly. The suspects: Us Weekly, Star, OK!, Hello!, Life & Style, In Touch Weekly. Why not? He’s going to be buying a lot of diapers soon.
Birkhead did have another career in mind before he met Smith. According to public records, he got a Kentucky real-estate license in 1993. But the license, according to the same records, expired on March 31, 2007.
If Birkhead moves back to Kentucky, he would probably be the best known real-estate agent in the state, which is a good thing, since he wouldn’t be able to touch most of baby Dannielynn’s inherited multi-million-dollar estate.
Halle Berry is not depressed and she is not suicidal.
“I was a long time ago,” she told me on Tuesday night at the premiere of “Perfect Stranger.”
“I had no idea that story would go out again. I’m fine. I’m happy.”
She was suicidal during her marriage to baseball player David Justice. But since then, she’s won the Academy Award, become a top earner in Hollywood and landed a male model boyfriend nine years her junior who looks like Sawyer from “Lost.”
And Halle is anything but lost. She carries "Perfect Stranger" even more than costar Bruce Willis. The movie’s success will be a test of her ability to “open” a film.
“I think I do carry it,” she said when I saw her at the premiere after-party at Tao nightclub. “I’m proud of that.”
She was busy welcoming actors Tim Robbins and Kevin Pollak, among others. Willis, by the way, played the chivalrous second banana at the premiere. Looking svelte in a designer suit, he told me the new “Die Hard” movie felt like a monster hit.
Only one problem, he said. Willis showed me stitches under his chin where he was thrashed by a woman’s high-heel shoes on the first day of shooting. “Look at this,” he said, pointing to the 20 or so stitches that had healed.
“Anything else?” I asked.
“Plenty,” he said. “I’ll tell you about it later.”
“Perfect Stranger” is a stylish mystery produced by Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas, Julia Roberts’ longtime business partner and adviser. Elaine’s husband Dan — a real-life lawyer, by the way — got to play a lawyer in the film. He even has dialogue, which he delivers most professionally!
“We’re never going to hear the end of it,” laughed Elaine.
And speaking of family members who are acting, Willis told me his eldest daughter with Demi Moore, Rumer, has left school to act full time. “She’s already turning down offers,” he said. “Wait 'til you see her. She’s a natural.”
The wheezy old play about Darwinism vs. Creationism, “Inherit the Wind,” opened last night at the Lyceum Theater to thunderous applause.
Christopher Plummer and Brian Dennehy are so amazing in Doug Hughes’ completely energizing production that you can only imagine they would have to share the Tony Award.
Plummer, who’s got Tonys from 1974 ("Cyrano") and 1997 ("Barrymore"), is likely to win again, however. He’s in the zone.
Dennehy is no slouch, either. Last night, famed newsman Mike Wallace, whom Plummer played in the movie “The Insider,” was in the audience, as were Fran Drescher, Universal Studios chief Ron Meyer, Jill Clayburgh, Joan Rivers, Edie Falco, Blair Brown, Bobby Cannavale and Annabella Sciorra. ...
What a weird swipe at this column in yesterday’s New York Times by Allan Kozinn re: the Beatles and Neil Aspinall. Bitter that they got there last, the Times sort of picks up our themes, but gets it wrong anyway.
It wasn’t that the Apple Corp.'s press release said Aspinall had decided “to move on.” It was that the company was coldly wishing him “great success in whatever endeavor he chooses to pursue in the future.” A sad way to dump a 65-year-old man who’s spent all of his adult life on one project. The Times apologia is even sadder. …
Who wasn’t at the Waverly Inn on Wednesday night? The place was packed to the gills with A-listers, from Julianne Moore and hubby Bart Freundlich to Bill Murray at another table, Ralph Lauren commanding his usual group and jet-setting Taki Theodoracopulos with Christopher Buckley and another big table of fabulous types.
Murray told me he was so happy when Alan Arkin won his Oscar “that I went around my house turning all the lights on. I didn’t even realize I was doing it.” Nice …