Jacko Fires Closest Confidantes, Shuts Web Site
Michael Jackson's world is one of constant upheaval. But the latest news from Jackson is more disturbing than usual.
Sources tell me the disloyal, capricious ex-King of Pop has fired both of his closest confidantes.
More headaches: His Web site, www.mjjsource.com, which had been run by his brother Randy and former stylist Karen Faye, is gone as well, leaving subscribers and fan club members high and dry.
Now I'm told that Faye has been dismissed along with aide-de-camp/keeper of all secrets, Evvy Tavasci.
The loss of Tavasci, more than Faye, is a huge blow to Jackson's equilibrium, even if he doesn't know it. She's been the backstop for all of his kookiness as well as his legal and personal wrangling.
In the past couple of years, she'd moved Jackson's MJJ Productions out of rental offices in Los Angeles and into her own home.
When Jackson got into trouble with the Arvizo family, it was Tavasci who kept track of them. Her name came up in court last spring dozens of times.
Faye is a different story. She's operated as Jackson's confidante also, and appears with him in the outtakes of Martin Bashir's documentary. Toward the end of the trial last spring, it was rumored that Faye was no longer doing Jackson's makeup because her fee was too high. But she continued to help run the Web site.
Unfortunately, that site is now shut down for the second time this year. There isn't even a page left up to explain what happened.
The site was the invention of Michael's brother Randy, who had two assistants.
"They're all gone," including Randy, says a source.
I told you a couple of weeks ago that Jackson was in trouble again financially, that Neverland was for sale and that employees were leaving because of missed paychecks. Now the end really seems to be in sight for this bloated enterprise.
As if to make matters worse, Michael's father, Joseph Jackson, has kept busy promoting himself at Michael's expense with his new "Hip Hop Boot Camp."
Jackson senior, always eager to make a buck off his son, recently gave interviews about this sort of quasi-reality show accompanied by a man named "Charles Kopay," who happily supplied quotes to the wire services.
But "Kopay" is in fact Charles Coupet, a New Yorker who runs a miscellaneous company called Tech Systems Ltd.
Last spring I reported that Coupet was in business with freelance journalist Daphne Barak, who'd recommended Coupet as a literary agent to Macaulay Culkin's father when he wanted to publish a book.
Why did Coupet change the spelling of his name for this new round of interviews? It's unclear, but his secretary told me she'd never heard of the Jacksons, "Hip Hop Boot Camp" or Barak.
"You must have the wrong person," she said.
Alas, we have precisely the right person, based on an extensive investigation.
Dana Reeve, who should be up for sainthood at this point, is skipping tonight's Creative Coalition benefit dinner. She was supposed to present an award to Arianna Huffington. Al Franken will fill in for her.
But don't think Dana's absence means her cancer is worse. Her assistant tells me that she's "doing great" while undergoing chemotherapy, but has limited energy. That's to be understood. Dana will appear next week at the annual dinner for the Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation.
"The tumor is shrinking," a source told me yesterday.
The word is that Reeve has been getting a huge amount of support from her family as well as from Marsha Garces Williams, wife of Robin Williams, and an unnamed boyfriend who has slowly entered the picture in the last few months.
"He's not famous and they're keeping it low-key," said a source.
Hey — after what Reeve has been through, she deserves any happiness she can find.
Meantime, the Creative Coalition event should be pretty interesting. They're giving an award to Star Jones. It's being presented by Elizabeth Hasselback. Talk about "creative."
The always funny Mario Cantone is emceeing the evening. The co-chairs are Jaci and Morris Reid, who have a PR company called Westin Rinehart in Washington, D.C.
If Sean Combs can be compared to Jay Gatsby, then the Reids are sort of the African-American versions of Daisy and Tom Buchanan. Last summer they hosted a huge party at their home in the Hamptons with Toni Braxton supplying entertainment.
Last night's Film Society of Lincoln Center tribute was for director David Cronenberg, but the stars of his newest movie got a lot of attention, too.
Viggo Mortensen, Maria Bello and William Hurt, all in Cronenberg's latest, the Oscar-buzzed "A History of Violence," were happy to support their captain. Mortensen and Bello each flew in from Los Angeles on a moment's notice.
Before the screening, the actors and director were fêted at a small dinner at the fabulous Abbocato on West 55th St. They were joined by Blondie's Deborah Harry, actors Peter Weller and Willem Dafoe, New Line Cinema chief Michael Lynne and author-model-icon Bebe Buell.
Buell just happens to also be the mother of Viggo's "Lord of the Rings" co-star Liv Tyler, so the pair hit it off like a house on fire at dinner, chatting up a storm.
But mostly, all the women wanted to sit near Viggo, even the female publicists.
He's a popular boy, square-jawed, elusive Viggo. When he's up for a Golden Globe in mid-January (he's going to be in every awards race for "A History of Violence"), Viggo will be even more on the radar with an art show at Track 16 Gallery at Bergamot Station in Santa Monica.
When I told him he reminded me of Richard Widmark in "History," he replied: "I studied him, but I also studied Lee Marvin in 'Point Blank.' It's a great movie."
Everyone at dinner did agree that it's criminal Widmark has not gotten an honorary Oscar for his extraordinary work.
Academy governor Tom Hanks, are you listening? This should be the year for Widmark and for Robert Altman. Please tell the other Academy governors that Widmark will be 91 on Dec. 16. If patience is a virtue, then, goodness, this man is virtuous beyond all expectations!
But back to Cronenberg, whose time has come after making around 20 films, including "Crash," "Existenz," "Videodrome," "The Fly," "Dead Ringers" and "Scanners."
If you haven't seen "A History of Violence," it's truly 2005's sleeper work of art. And Howard Shore's score (he was there too last night) is reminiscent of the best of Elmer Bernstein. Of course, Howard has a couple of Oscars already, but you can never have too many!
Bello, by the way, is shooting Oliver Stone's new film about Sept. 11, playing Nicolas Cage's wife. She's a real beauty and intensely intelligent, a rare combo. Between "History" and "The Cooler," she's just about to break through. According to the Internet Movie Database, she's 38 years old, but she looks about 10 years younger.
"Derailed" opens tomorrow, and it's a taut thriller that should bring fans to theaters simply because Jennifer Aniston is so hot right now.
Clive Owen is the star, and he keeps the action moving. I'm actually a little surprised he wasn't chosen to be the new James Bond. He seemed the obvious choice.
But "Derailed" has a secret twist that so far the entertainment press is respecting. I won't tell you what it is, either, but suffice to say that Harvey Weinstein — who's releasing the film under his new Weinstein Company banner — is keeping up a tradition he invented.
Back in 1992, it was Weinstein who made sure no one knew the "twist" in "The Crying Game." The result was big box office.
Everyone keeps asking me, "What does Harvey have for the Oscars?" (At Miramax he won over 50 Academy Awards and had more than 100 nominations.)
This year, Harvey's cinches are two Best Actress nominees: Judi Dench in "Mrs. Henderson Presents" and Felicity Huffman in "Transamerica."
The other nominees in the Best Actress category could be Charlize Theron ("North Country"), Reese Witherspoon ("Walk the Line") and either the aforementioned Bello or maybe Keira Knightley in "Pride and Prejudice." Not too shabby.