Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown | Michael Jackson | New Year's Eve in N.Y.

Whitney, Bobby Spend Christmas Apart

Is it possible Whitney Houston has finally awakened? I am told that she and husband Bobby Brown spent Christmas apart, and that they are if not officially detached, they are certainly separated geographically.

Houston is now installed at her Mendham, N.J., estate, surrounded by friends and family. Brown is presumably in Atlanta, where he will be arraigned next week in the domestic abuse case Houston instigated against him two weeks ago.

The couple's 11-year marriage has always had its ups and downs, beginning with Brown fathering another child simultaneous to conceiving his daughter Bobbi Kristina with Houston.

That might have been a clue to most women, but Houston signed up for a decade-long run that has seen her career nosedive. At the same time, Brown has had several brushes with the law and more than one incarceration.

A year ago, the whole mess came to a head when the pair appeared on TV with Diane Sawyer. Houston admitted to taking drugs, while Brown appeared incoherent.

Two weeks ago, Houston called suburban Atlanta police and said Brown had hit her. When cops arrived, Brown was gone. That was on a Sunday. Two days later, Houston reiterated her statement to the police, I am told, after Brown threatened her over the phone.

Nevertheless, Houston arrived at the police station the following day to pick up Brown. As I reported then, she was singing, "You Make Me Feel Like a Natural Woman" to anyone who would listen.

Is this the end of Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown? One can only dream that this relationship is close to being over, and that Houston will find her way back to a normal life. But unfortunately, you can never count this couple out.

New York Times, Daily News Get Jacko News Here

It must have been exhausting for the New York Times' Sharon Waxman to write her Michael Jackson story published in Tuesday's issue. This required reading all of our columns about the Nation of Islam's influence over Jackson and then reconfiguring them to seem like they were new.

Waxman's big scoop, that Jackson's publicist Stuart Backerman resigned, has also been everywhere in the last 24 hours. Backerman, who's been incredibly loyal to Jackson, actually considered resigning Dec. 20, after the Neverland Ranch support event. But he stayed on to help Jackson's fan groups, who like and respect him.

Backerman, I am told, did not want to deal with the Nation of Islam leaders who have gained control of Jackson's inner circle.

(I was amused to read that Jackson's attorney, Mark Geragos, was upset that Backerman spoke to the press outside Neverland during the event. Backerman was invited to the event for exactly that reason by Jackson and provided reasonable commentary.)

Of course, Waxman would have known all of this from reading the Fox 411, beginning with our column on Dec. 18. Most recently, I told you -- and Waxman -- in this space on Sunday night that Jackson's managers Dieter Wiesner and Ronald Konitzer had not been able to contact Jackson in almost two weeks. Yesterday's Fox 411 also included an interview with Nation of Islam chief of staff Leonard Muhammad.

But let's not leave out the New York Daily News, which also has an "exclusive" Tuesday about the Nation of Islam dividing Jackson's inner circle. I have to assume that all of these hot shots read the Drudge Report, which regularly cites and credits this column properly for our Jackson scoops.

New Year's Rocking Eve in New York

I'm sorry to say I will miss Garland Jeffrey's big New Year's shows Wednesday night at the Cutting Room in Manhattan. (London is too far a commute!) But if you're in the area, don't miss Jeffrey's all-star event featuring Mick Jones from Foreigner, Steve Earle, Danny Federici, Elliott Murphy and Willie Nile. I hear that more members of the E Street Band may make surprise appearances, including possibly Little Steve van Zandt. Sounds like an amazing night!

I hope Steve Walter is ready for the onslaught of fans. He co-owns the Cutting Room with "Sex and the City" star Chris Noth, which means the place should be overrun with celebs, celebs, celebs galore!