People, get ready. There's a lawsuit a-coming.
Altheida Mayfield, the widow of R&B legend Curtis Mayfield is furious with the main trustee for her late husband's estate -- and she's not going to take it anymore. Altheida's lawyers have prepared a 20-plus page court motion which, when filed, will ask the Atlanta probate court to remove Curtis' longtime manager Marv Heiman from all of the Mayfield Family trusts.
Curtis Mayfield was quite literally a musical genius and social commentator. He composed and performed the music for classic films like Superfly, Sparkle, and Let's Do It Again. He also wrote many other dozens of famous songs like "I'm So Proud," "People Get Ready," "It's All Right," "Let's Do It Again," "Gypsy Woman," and "Move on Up." His protégés included R&B stars Jerry Butler ("I'm the One Who Loves You") and Major Lance ("Monkey Time").
But Mayfield died in 1999 at age 57, nine years after he became a paraplegic after a tragic accident. While performing at an outdoor venue in Brooklyn in 1990, a light tower fell on him. Mayfield could not move from then on. He kept working however, issuing a much-praised album called New World Order in1996.
When Mayfield died he left a widow and 10 children of various ages from different relationships. But Altheida was his longtime spouse and mother of six of his children. (All six of Altheida's kids plus two of Curtis's older children are official beneficiaries of the estate.)
Nevertheless, Mayfield appointed his manager Heiman as executor of the will. Heiman is President and Chairman of the Board of Sussex Financial Group, Inc. and Sussex Insurance Group in Deerfield, Illinois.
But now Altheida says that in less than four years Heiman has severely damaged the Mayfield Family Trust, helping himself to millions in fees.
At the same time, Altheida claims Heiman has caused innumerable tax problems for her and the children.
But Heiman won't leave. His response to her request that he step down as executor? Altheida says Heiman simply refused. Even worse, she says he told her that she would not receive her quarterly income payment from the trust.
"He wanted to make sure I didn't have enough money to pay my lawyers to remove him," she said.
Altheida Mayfield's Atlanta-based attorney, Joseph Farrell, of Quirk & Quirk, says however that he thinks finally through negotiation he may have persuaded Heiman to disburse the widow's funds.
A call to Heiman at his home in Highland Park, Illinois was not returned.
Farrell has not yet filed his motion to remove Heiman from the estate, something which rankles Altheida Mayfield. Nevertheless the papers have been drawn up, and a look at them does not cast Heiman in the best light.
At the center of Altheida's complaint is a UCC filing -- another "securitization" or "Bowie Bond" situation -- in which the Mayfield heirs were in essence taking a loan against Curtis' copyrights.
"I don't know why Marv did that," Altheida Mayfield says now. "We didn't need the money. But I was so distraught after Curtis' death I wasn't paying close attention."
According to the complaint, Heiman secured the copyrights for $5.4 million. He then paid each of the eight heirs $65,000 apiece, adding as well two more Mayfield children who weren't even listed as proper heirs.
Heiman paid himself nearly ten times that amount: $540,000, a 10 percent commission.
According to the complaint, Heiman also took commissions in 2000 and 2001 totaling $380,000 on other publishing deals. That brings Heiman's total commissions to $920,000 over a two year period. Not bad.
Heiman has also collected over $350,000 in office expenses and more than half-million bucks in management fees from the Mayfield Trust since Curtis Mayfield's death four years ago.
Altheida Mayfield also accuses Heiman of investing her money in a firm called Metropolitan Health Networks, a small Florida company. Heiman, she says, never told her he was an officer of the company and that his relatives were shareholders. According to the company's financial filings, Heiman was a director on August 10, 2001 when he purchased 5,000 shares as an insider. He resigned the position a little over a year later.
According to a report published in Business Week, the company is also under investigation by the State Attorney General in Wilmington, Delaware.
Heiman, it should be noted, was a 30 percent partner with Curtis Mayfield in his businesses for three decades before his death. On the Curtis Mayfield albums reissued under Heiman's sales and deals he credits himself in the album notes as "contractor."
More to come, I'm sure, as this very disturbing saga unfolds...
If you've been following the breakup of Salma Hayek and Edward Norton, then you'll be interested in this tidbit. A few days before Norton was spotted on the town with David Blaine and friends, he took in a performance of The Exonerated off Broadway.
Those in the audience heard him talking about the breakup. "He said it had been coming for a long time," says my source. "But he definitely said it was over." Norton, who lives in Greenwich Village, now seems to be sampling a lot of the local entertainment and cuisine. I'm hearing reports about him daily. Nothing like living in a fishbowl!
Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle is starting to show signs of coming to an end in its theatrical run.
On Tuesday the mindless comedy made about a million bucks, bringing its total to around $83 million. It's number six on the Box Office charts, which is not a good sign. At this rate, it would take another month in the same number of theatres to hit $100 million -- and that's not going to happen.
Last week the film's producers added about $7 million from ticket sales in the United Kingdom and in Italy.
But basically Full Throttle has yet to earn back its stars' salaries.
Drew Barrymore and Cameron Diaz alone account for more than $40 million. The director, the other players, and special effects easily equal that amount.
So is that the last we see of Charlie's Angels on screen? Something tells me the answer is yes -- or if a third film is ordered, expect to see less expensive actresses join Barrymore on screen.