News is breaking everywhere today that Mariah Carey is back in the hospital.
This much I know: She did not return to Silver Hill in Connecticut. This time, wherever she is, she's getting some real treatment and not the kind reserved for celebrities.
Carey only spent a short time at Silver Hills this summer after she announced that she'd had an emotional and physical breakdown. Within 10 days she was at her mother's house, frolicking in the garden and sending for her New York hairdresser, Oscar Blandi.
The rumors flew that Mariah had attempted suicide. Even this reporter discounted them. Yesterday a veteran Hollywood press agent called and told me the suicide rumor had taken on new steam. But you know Los Angeles: This could just be an aftershock.
Carey also cancelled her much-trumpeted Barbara Walters interview, which was scheduled for next week, the day before the release of her Glitter album. Just as well, I suppose. The Glitter soundtrack is a marginal release at best. Better to stay in bed and let it happen.
Mariah also left a couple of voice messages recently on her Web site. One was a sweet, but depressed sounding Carey giving condolences to the family of singer Aaliyah. The other was just telling her fans — "the lambs" — to hang in there. They were each left during the last week of August and were particularly downbeat.
What next? How about a full program for recovery? How about Mariah getting her life together and realizing all that glitters isn't gold, and life is too short for this nonsense. And that Barbara Walters is not your therapist.
Never say Tom Cruise has no power or determination in Hollywood. The mighty Cruise recently faced an obstacle and met it head on. And no, this has nothing to do with Nicole Kidman. No smarmy jokes please.
Cruise and his producing partner Paula Wagner decided that they wanted Shadow of the Vampire director E. Elias Merhige (pronounced like marriage) to direct a movie called Suspect Zero for them. Not one that Tom would star in, but one that the producing pair — who are currently on a roll with The Others — would put together for another actor.
But there was a problem. Merhige is represented by Artists Management Group, the management talent agency owned by super-famous Michael Ovitz. Cruise is represented by Creative Artists Agency, which Ovitz used to run. There's a lot of hostility between both camps because of Ovitz decamping years ago and then starting this competing agency. But that's another story.
According to my sources, Cruise-Wagner Productions tried on at least two separate occasions to contact AMG and make an offer to Merhige. You'd think Merhige, whose only credit of any interest was the wonderfully executed Shadow of the Vampire, would be thrilled. You'd think AMG — which is having birthing pains of its own — would be jumping for joy that Merhige was wanted by an outfit as hot as Cruise-Wagner.
Well, it didn't work out that way.
Merhige has told intimates that he was finally contacted directly by Wagner and Cruise, who insisted that their efforts to go through AMG had failed. The result: Cruise took matters into his own hands. "Tom took Elias to lunch and made him an offer he couldn't refuse," says an insider. "Elias was surprised that he hadn't heard about the offer before."
Indeed, it turns out that Merhige is now almost set to direct Suspect Zero, a thriller written by Zak Penn, for Cruise-Wagner. There were obstacles however. For one thing, Merhige wasn't keen on directing someone else's script, so he and a writer named Billy Ray, selected by Cruise-Wagner, are doing a three-week polish and rewrite before they send out for casting. Also, Merhige is still hoping to bring on board one of his producers from Vampire, to give the guy a career boost.
Is it just another Hollywood legend or it did it really happen? AMG's Stephanie Davis, one of the firm's sharp, talented crew, did confirm for me yesterday that AMG twice rejected offers from Cruise-Wagner. "There were issues of concept and creative control," she said. "But it is true they came after Elias hard. Paula Wagner in particular really wanted him." And did Tom have lunch with Merhige? "I can't say. I know that Elias has lunch with people like Nicolas Cage and John Malkovich."
So Merhige moves up a notch on the Hollywood food chain. Cruise gets what he wants. And Mike Ovitz? He's doing just fine, thanks.
I guess USA Today has decided to make some changes. After many years, Jeannie Williams is giving up her celebrity/gossip column and moving on to other sections of the paper.
I don't know if Jeannie's happy or upset about this, and I'm sure USA Today doesn't care what I think. I'd just like them to know that there isn't a harder working reporter anywhere than Jeannie. She's a trouper who does yeoman work, scut work and gets good stuff no one else does.
There isn't anyone on this gossip beat who doesn't see Jeannie with her tape recorder and microphone, diligently — and bravely — digging for something of interest even at times when not much is there. I also hope USA Today knows that very often stars and publicists request to have Jeannie at an event because they know she will give a fair and balanced report.
Jeannie will give 'em hell no matter what section of the paper she winds up in. And I guess we'll all benefit from that. Brava, Jeannie!
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