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Did Whitney Miss Diane Sawyer Interview?

Whitney Houston Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation | Billy Joel

Did Whitney Miss Diane Sawyer Interview?

Another day, another Whitney Houston story. They're coming fast and furious now.

This one is about Diane Sawyer's planned interview with Whitney and hubby Bobby Brown. My sources say that Whitney and Bobby were supposed to show up in Atlanta Thursday to meet Diane. Instead, the couple stayed at the Hotel Bel Air in Los Angeles and blew off the appointment.

That's version one. In version two, Sawyer -- according to her producer -- was still planning an interview with the couple, but it wasn't scheduled for Thursday. She was in her office, he said, when I called.

In version three, Whitney's publicist insisted that there might be an interview in the future, but that it was ABC's prerogative to announce it, and that Whitney did not "maroon" (publicist's words) Diane in Atlanta.

Ah ha. You take your pick.

My source, who's usually on the money, insists that Whitney and Bobby simply never got it together in Bel Air, and that Diane, hearing of this, subsequently did not fly to Atlanta to meet them.

My source also said: "When Bobby filmed his video with Ja Rule recently, he hired extra bodyguards for the day to look tough. At the Bel Air, there's been a lot of carousing in public areas, and they're not happy with him."

Well, come on, is that a surprise?

All in all, Whitney did not have a great week. Her album was leaked to the Internet, her father is suing her, and now this. Plus, even though the album is now available to everyone who wants to hear it, her old mentor Clive Davis hasn't even listened to it yet, say my sources.

As for the Sawyer business, I do know that Houston and crew were still at the Bel Air yesterday afternoon, and that they still hadn't left for Atlanta as was scheduled.

So maybe one day Whitney will hook up with Diane. All I know is there is still the issue of what to do about the leaked album, and the fact that Arista's L.A. Reid is getting commissions on three of the songs if Just Whitney... is released poses a conflict of interest.

Personally, I'm not interested in running daily Whitney updates, but I am told that she is so isolated she doesn't even know how all this reflects on her. And that is terrifying.

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Director Still Rakes It In

It's that time of year again -- time to scrutinize the federal non-profit tax filing for the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation.

This is not the museum in Cleveland, but a group concocted here in New York years ago that hands out awards at an annual Waldorf-Astoria blow-out. The foundation and the museum are separate institutions, although few realize that.

In past years this column has reported that foundation leader Suzan Evans-Hochberg was taking home around $300,000 a year in salary.

(However, the Cleveland museum's IRS Form 990 reports that Evans' foundation salary was $250,000. By comparison, the museum's vice president of exhibits, its highest-paid regular employee, received $168,000 for his services. The Museum's CEO was paid $378,000.)

I can now tell you that Evans claimed a significant salary drop for 2001, perhaps based on this column's past revelations. She is now down to a paltry $175,000 for her role as inductee-picker and -chooser.

However, other salaries at the foundation have risen -- from $30,000 to $70,000 a year. So has the foundation's rent, from $32,000 to $50,000 a year -- even though Atlantic Records gives it room and board at 1290 Avenue of the Americas, and its employees answer the phone at an AOL Time Warner exchange.

How much money did the foundation -- meaning the big Waldorf dinner -- donate to the Cleveland museum in 2001?

None.

Not a penny, although in the filing they claim to have "promised" $500,000 to the museum if it expands. But in 2001, no money went from the foundation -- which claims assets of over $10 million -- to the museum. (The foundation's securities filing is so thick it now constitutes a separate stapled package.)

Additionally, the foundation didn't do much for indigent musicians.

While Evans took home the $175,000, she only sent $3,051 in assistance to specific musicians. Even this makes for a contradiction in the foundation's tax filing, since elsewhere in the same paperwork it claims to have given $18,674 to "provide financial assistance to individuals who have been or continue to be involved in the rock and roll music industry."

The foundation also lists $123,624 to "preserve and protect historical documents, records, and artifacts related to the rock and roll music industry."

But isn't that what the Cleveland museum is supposed to do? So what was the $123,624 spent on? And to whom did that $18,674 go, as well as the other $3,051?

This year's filing was signed by Evans and entertainment attorney Allen Grubman, the group's treasurer.

This year Evans has come up with a list of potential inductees that includes the Clash, Elvis Costello and the Sex Pistols -- all groups that considered themselves punk rebels in their day. It will be interesting to see if, knowing the reality of the Hall of Fame, the bands' original members will want to join the establishment.

More importantly, it seems from a look at the Cleveland museum's event schedule that it is now busy including appearances by groups and acts who have been ignored by the Hall of Fame Foundation, most specifically R&B groups such as the Manhattans and the Dells .

The Cleveland museum even has a Latino day program, even though Evans steadfastly refuses to induct Richie Valens, creator of "La Bamba."

Here's a list of other acts not in the Hall of Fame, presumably because they aren't hip enough: Bob Seger, Alice Cooper, Mitch Ryder, Iggy Pop with and without the Stooges, the MC5, Jack Scott, Cat Stevens, Carly Simon, Black Sabbath, the Guess Who, Blue Öyster Cult, Electric Light Orchestra, Yes, Chicago, the Moody Blues, Jackson Browne, Paul Revere and the Raiders, Three Dog Night, Leon Russell, Randy Newman, Gram Parsons, Genesis, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Jethro Tull, Hall & Oates, and Linda Ronstadt.

At Broadway Opening: Standing Ovation for Billy Joel

No one had ever seen anything quite like it.

"Only when the hostages came to a show after they were released from Iran," recalled Bebe Neuwirth. Tommy Tune said he'd never seen it either.

Right before "Movin' Out" started last night, Billy Joel came in to take his seats with daughter Alexa.

And the crowd -- which included Rod Stewart, Rosie O'Donnell, Clive Davis, Denise Rich and producer Phil Ramone -- burst into a spontaneous three-minute standing ovation. Billy looked shocked. There was cheering in the Richard Rodgers Theater. And this was before the show even started.

By the time it was over, newcomer Michael Cavanaugh -- whom Billy found at the New York New York piano bar in Las Vegas -- was an overnight sensation, and Joel had a Broadway hit on his hands.

Inside the theater during the show, the preternaturally young Tommy Tune literally swooned and gasped at Twyla Tharp's muscular dance numbers and hoofers including the phenomenal Elizabeth Parkinson, John Selya and Keith Roberts.

"Wait, look at this," he kept saying to his companion. Later he told me he'd visited the show in Chicago during tryouts, but he seemed awfully well-versed in all the numbers.

Rod Stewart and girlfriend Penny Lancaster did not make the afterparty, although everyone else did. Seems Rod and Penny got confused about the half-block walk to the Marriott Marquis, and are now somewhere in Manhattan in a limo.

Rod's new album, It Had to Be You: The American Songbook, though, is set for a Top 20 debut next week, and I'm sure he'll be back by then.