You may have seen Joanna Molloy's report in the New York Daily News that Whitney Houston skipped her dad's funeral. Well, she also missed the burial. And the lunch for her family that followed at the Fort Lee Hilton.
Houston and husband Bobby Brown did attend the wake the night before for John Houston, who died last week at the age of 82. Apparently the Browns did not use regular fashion etiquette for their appearance. According to sources, Bobby wore a white suit with a white turtleneck. When Whitney took off her long coat, she was sporting a white tank top.
"Everyone else was dressed appropriately," says my spy. Whitney, however, did keep her sunglasses on the whole time she was at the wake. Even though Whitney didn't make her father's own funeral, her staff did.
Her talent agent, Nicole David, even spoke at the service. All of the staff from Nippy Inc. were there, as well as Whitney's publicist, Nancy Seltzer.
So what happened?
"The cars went to Whitney's house in Mendham, so they were expecting to pick her up," my source reports. "But Whitney and Bobby partied all night, and they sent the cars away. Whitney is not a morning person. The service was set for 11 a.m."
None of this went over too well with Whitney's family, the rest of whom managed to make it. And don't believe the story that Whitney wanted to avoid the press. "The burial was private. No one would have seen her," my source says. "And there was a little press at the church, but not enough to cause trouble. She just didn't want to go. I think it's unforgivable."
The ghosts of the past are knocking on Michael Jackson's door and rattling his windows. Over the weekend, TheSmokingGun.com posted the 1993 child molestation complaint against Jackson by the then 13-year-old plaintiff. The graphic claims of sexual abuse in the affidavit are hair-raising and difficult to take.
I can tell you that the boy, now a 23-year-old man living under an assumed name, found some consolation after the firestorm that grew out of the scandal. In 1999, when he turned 18, he used his $20 million settlement to buy a $2.35 million home on eastern Long Island near the beach. I hope that some of the money was spent on therapy of some kind as well.
The man's father, a Hollywood dentist who aspired to be part of the film community, also lives on Long Island under a different name. It was he who put a stop to his son's life at Neverland.
What's most interesting is the race to figure out who first leaked the court papers to KABC-TV in Los Angeles, and then to The Smoking Gun. You can bet the man's attorney, Larry Feldman, will want to get to the bottom of that. I am told that the culprit is closer at hand than we might think (not Feldman or his office, by the way), and that all it takes is a little connecting of the dots to come up with a name. I'm also told that all parties involved in this are red-faced about it.
One of my favorite actresses, Alfre Woodard, turned up last week at a swell premiere for HBO's Unchained Memories: Readings From the Slave Narratives. The excellent show premieres tonight on HBO.
Woodard is also part of the all-star cast of the Paramount feature The Core, which has now been postponed from its March 28 release. The Core is a disaster movie about the Earth's melting core throwing off everything in the world. Astronauts have to crash a rocket ship into the core to put it back in shape. It doesn't make much sense, but it doesn't have to. The main thing is that Paramount feels it would be too unnerving to see right after the Columbia space shuttle disaster.
"We're very upset for our friends at NASA," Woodard told me the other night. "We spent a lot of time training with them, and we know how dangerous their work is. It's a terrible shame."
As for Unchained Memories: A dozen or so famous actors read from The Slave Narratives of 1936-1938, a compilation of interviews with former slaves conducted by the Federal Writers Project during the Great Depression. Samuel L. Jackson, Oprah Winfrey, Courtney B. Vance, Ossie Davis and Ruby Dee are among the other performers. Whoopi Goldberg does the narration.
I knew nothing about The Slave Narratives before I saw this show, and I'll bet most people are clueless about them, too. The show is eye-opening. What's more, I'm sure you don't know about the project, which was a division of the New Deal's Works Progress Association, that produced the Narratives. Thank goodness it did. The results make for a remarkable document.
"You're my favorite slide guitarist." I heard it. That's what B.B. King said to Bonnie Raitt right before the conclusion of Friday night's massive blues show at Radio City Music Hall. "Now listen," he told Raitt, "I want you to go out there and do your thing. I don't want you to lay back and wait for me."
Raitt, who was much shocked by King's compliment, gave him a jocular answer. "I've never embarrassed myself before," she said, "and I'm not going to now."
And so she didn't. With Robert Cray making a trio, Raitt and King took the stage and wrapped up a four-hour, 40-act evening that PBS filmed for broadcast next fall. It's all part of the Blues series that directors Martin Scorsese, Antoine Fuqua, Wim Wenders and others have put together. The concert is Episode 7, and it will feature acts culled from this incredible evening. Among the performers were Buddy Guy, Jimmy Vaughn, Ruth Brown, Macy Gray, Gregg Allman, Shemekia Copeland, Solomon Burke, Anjelique, Angie Stone, John Hammond, Steven Tyler and so on and so forth.
ABC anchor Peter Jennings, who was just in the audience as a fan, was so moved by the talent that he took out his checkbook and wrote a check for $1,000 to the Blues Foundation. (This is different than the Rhythm and Blues Foundation; they'll take his money, too, if he likes.)
"Seeing this group gives me shivers down my spine," King said before he, Raitt, and Cray launched into the last number. "Even Lucille has the shivers!" he said, referring to his famous guitar.
The project, by the way, is underwritten by Paul Allen, the co-founder of Microsoft who's taken his billions and done a lot of good things with them. This is the best thing he's done by far. Bravo!
Tomorrow morning at 8:30 a.m. we'll finally hear whom the members of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences chose to be Oscar finalists. It's almost certain that the five Best Picture nominees will be Chicago, Gangs of New York, The Hours, Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers and The Pianist. So the bigger dramas will be among the actors and the directors.