Jane Fonda | Michael Jackson | Rebecca Gayheart | 'Amped'

Fonda Dishes on Ted Turner in New Book

Jane Fonda says her marriage to Ted Turner ended for two distinct reasons: her conversion to Christianity and his continuous cheating.

In her spellbinding autobiography, "My Life So Far," Fonda reveals that she made the religious conversion without telling her husband of almost eight years.

"I hadn't told Ted beforehand because by then I didn't feel we were on the same team," she writes. "Alongside the frantic life we shared, I was living a parallel inner life, where I took care of my own needs ... I also knew that if I had discussed with him my need for spirituality, he would have either asked me to choose between him and it or bullied me out of it."

Fonda writes that her religious conversion coincided with the realization that Turner had never stopped cheating on her.

A month into their marriage, she found out he'd had a "nooner" with another woman. She confronted him and bashed him over the head with a mobile phone.

Through counseling, they eventually reconciled, but Fonda had more disappointments to come.

"He had spent our whole last year together looking for my replacement," she writes. "The day we parted, three days after the millennium, he flew to Atlanta to drop me off. As I drove from the airport to [my daughter's] home in a rental car, my replacement was waiting in the hangar to board his plane. My seat was still warm."

Fonda's book, which will be released today, is a spectacularly candid, intelligently written piece. It's really unlike anything I've ever seen by a celebrity. Instead of sugar-coating her past, Fonda has confronted it head-on. I never would have expected anything else than the brutal honesty she espouses in "My Life So Far."

Stormy Weather at Neverland

With all the chaos surrounding the testimony in the Michael Jackson trial yesterday, you would think the pop star would get a clue about shoring up his team.

But there's plenty of grumbling in the inner circle. I'm told that indeed, Michael is not talking to his brother Randy Jackson, and has at least temporarily relieved him of his responsibilities as the person in charge of destroying his career.

Randy and the other Jackson siblings have been conspicuously absent from court for quite a while now. The word from Neverland is that "things are tense," especially given the commencement yesterday of the alleged "prior acts" sessions.

At the same time, Jackson's balancing act of keeping everyone around him happy isn't really working.

After court yesterday, some of his fans were let into Neverland and given a tour and copies of Jackson's CD boxed set. But other fans didn't make the cut, and they were not too pleased, I'm told.

Among those who didn't make it in, ironically, were the organizers of the weekend rallies that got Jackson so much attention.

But the falling-out with Randy certainly has to be the biggest concern for Jackson right now.

Randy has been blamed for just about everything that's gone wrong in Jackson's world lately, including the debacle of missing the Neverland payroll and firing people like former loyalist Bob Jones, who could turn out to be a damaging prosecution witness.

Without Randy — who has earned the enmity of everyone I've spoken with at the ranch, and that's a number of folks — Michael's back to having no manager and no one person in charge of keeping his perilous financial situation in check.

Jackson's trial continues today with more cross-examination of the 24-year-old youth pastor who claimed that he was fondled three times by Jackson before the age of 10.

He will likely be followed by his mother, a former Neverland maid who took $2.4 million from Jackson in 1993 without ever filing a police complaint about her employer or taking him to court. She later recanted her story.

The pastor's compelling testimony underscores a real problem so far in the state's case against Jackson: His recollections, and others from that time period, are not what the singer is actually on trial for.

California is the only state that would allow this testimony from mostly third-party witnesses more than a decade later. The old case, no matter how you slice it, is far more persuasive than the new one.

Eventually, jurors will have to balance the emotion they feel about the alleged "prior acts" and the facts they have before them in the current case.

Gayheart's Brave Heart

"Steel Magnolias" opened last night on Broadway, a revival of Robert Harling's original 1985 play, which began its run off-Broadway.

The new cast is all-star: Marsha Mason, Frances Sternhagen, Christine Ebersole, Delta Burke, Rebecca Gayheart and Lily Rabe, the 21-year-old daughter of playwright David Rabe and actress Jill Clayburgh.

They're all great, but Gayheart — who has no real theatre experience — was the revelation. She really held her own.

The daughter of a Kentucky miner, Gayheart told me after the show that she wanted to throw up when she got to the first day of rehearsal.

"Imagine, all these famous women, and me!" she said.

Gayheart said her apparent ease on stage was actually a façade, and that she was nervous all the way through her opening-night performance. Well, she fooled me.

Gayheart has done a lot of TV and movies, mostly mediocre. She knows that "Steel Magnolias" is important for her career.

"This is what I had to do," she said.

After the many calls for standing ovations last night, an unusual moment: Harling took the stage and recalled the true history of the play.

It was inspired by his sister, who died 18 years ago and left a two-year-old son. Harling's nephew was there, as well as his parents and assorted family members.

The playwright made many thank-yous and told more than a writer usually does about the background of a work.

This got me to thinking: What if Arthur Miller had done this at the premiere of "Death of a Salesman?"

"Here's my failure of a father," he might have said, "And my idiot brother. I based the play on them."

Or Edward Albee, on the opening night of "Who's Afraid of Virginia Woolf?"

"In the audience tonight is a shrew I once knew. Martha, take a bow. And her stifled, vindictive husband. George? Let everyone see you."

Or even better, said producer Beverly Camhe , Albee after the premiere of "The Goat, or Who Is Sylvia?"

"Can you imagine him introducing the goat?" she quipped.

Then again, maybe this will not turn into a trend.

Among the eclectic group of stars who came to the premiere: Chris Noth, as Ebersole's guest; Amanda Peet with Sarah Paulson enjoying nights off, respectively, from Neil LaBute's "This Is How It Goes" at the Public and the latest revival of "The Glass Menagerie"; Tim Curry, reveling in his night away from "SPAMalot"; and former "Dawson's Creek" star Katie Holmes.

Holmes is a native of Ohio. She told me she's just moved to downtown New York and is enjoying the city for the first time. Katie, try the cooked chickens at Jefferson Market. They're the best!

Getting 'Amped' for Blading

A glitch in the tidy world of communications last week gave the wrong impression about a terrific book called "Amped."

David Browne's excellent treatise on the world of everything on wheels somehow got snarled up in a Web site report mocking rollerbladers, I am told. Then an avalanche of bad reviews appeared on Amazon.com from misguided inline skaters.

Alas, let me be among those to correct the notion: Browne loves all extreme sports, and he appreciates them equally.

Skateboarders, inline skaters, everyone: Read this book. It captures the excitement of your world better than you can imagine.

And a big hello out there to Renée Zellweger from your recent server at Starbucks on Ninth Avenue in Manhattan. I'm told that you and your companion — boyfriend maybe? — couldn't have been nicer.

Renée is blonde again. She and her friend made the server's day while she got them a triple-espresso something-or-other.