It’s Dec. 20, 2005, a day that Michael Jackson thought would never come. Nevertheless, it’s here, and things are worse than he can imagine.
Jackson, I can tell you exclusively, is now in default on a $2.2 million loan which he secured last April with his family’s estate in Encino, Calif. The loan was arranged through a mortgage broker by grocery magnate Ron Burkle, and not paid by Burkle himself.
Indeed, Burkle does not even know the dozen or so people who put up the money, and they don’t know him. The leader of the group is Thomas W. Smotrich, a Southern California philanthropist who made his money in commercial real estate.
Yesterday, I was told that Jackson missed his December payment, which had a grace period up until the 10th of the month. For the moment, Smotrich and his group will not foreclose, but the option is theirs should they change their minds.
The Encino home is not part of the $270 million worth of loans held by Fortress Investments and which come due today. Luckily, Jackson’s mother, Katherine, will have a roof over her head anyway. Daughter Janet has bought her a home in Las Vegas, sources say.
What remains to be determined is what will happen to all the other people who live in Hayvenhurst, including Jermaine Jackson and some of his children.
Meanwhile, the Jackson situation remains dire today, with no one in direct contact with the singer as his deadline has come and gone. It’s amazing to think we’ve finally arrived at this day considering how much money Michael has made, and how much he’s spent on absolute junk.
What certainly astounds the many “insiders” and “sources” who are quoted in this column and have, at different times, endeavored to save Jackson from himself, is his total divorce from reality at this point.
What happens next is anyone’s guess, but this much we can surmise: it won’t be pretty.
Alexa Ray Joel performed her second show last night at The Cutting Room, and she garnered a sold-out room that included an eclectic group of well-known faces. Her mom, Christie Brinkley, came with best friend Jill Rappaport of the "Today" show. Cyndi Lauper, just back from promoting her hit album, "The Body Acoustic," brought her manager Lisa Barbaris and some friends.
Yours truly sat with up-and-coming singer Jessica Domain, wedged in between Christie and music veteran Jeff Schock. That’s when someone asked, “Isn’t that Gilbert Gottfried?” And of course, it was. To make things stranger, at the show preceding Alexa’s, the legendary actress Celeste Holm not only appeared, but sang from the stage.
Alexa Ray is 20, and she has her father’s DNA written into her fingers. She is already a pro on keyboards, and has a keen sense of melody. Her voice was distorted by an iffy sound system. But when she hit bluesier songs, all self-written, Alexa was channeling not so much Billy as a young Carole King circa 1970. Lots of record industry types shoved their way into the crowded room last night, all hoping to find a new star. The good news is, she’s here. She just needs a little time to perfect her craft in front of a less anxious and supportive audience.
Every year, Z100, aka WHTZ, New York’s local Top 40 station, puts on a holiday concert for its listeners. This column can only take so much, so on Friday night we sent the delightful Maris Ryger-Wasserman of New Rochelle, a sixth grader at Horace Mann School, to cover the event with two friends. The acts included Kanye West, Backstreet Boys, Shakira, Chris Brown, Ludacris and others. Here is Maris’ report, with very minor copy editing:
Thank you again for the Jingle Ball. It was amazing!
The first act was The Click Five. They are only known for one song "Just The Girl." They played three songs though. No one knew the first two and just ignored them. Then when "Just The Girl" came on everyone was jumping and screaming. I loved their wardrobe! They wore white suits and red high tops. They get a B+.
Then there was Ludacris. He rocked! He was so energetic! He did all the songs everyone knew. The crowd was entertained completely. A++
Then was the killer of the night Frankie J. BOO! I love his music but the back track was singing more than him. His dance moves were good but not for the music he was singing. He was dancing upbeat dance music and was singing slow dance music. It made for a horrible mix. His singing, when he sang, was so off pitch. I had to cover my ears, it sounded like nails on a black board. He killed the night. He gets a F.
Then was Sean Paul who blew the crowd away. When he sang his old songs, everyone loved them. When he sang his newest song, "We Be Burnin," the crowd went wild. When he sang, burning flames came up. The crowd got very excited. He deserves an A+++++.
Natasha Bedingfield came out to introduce the next artist and sang a little, and got the crowd excited.
Then: the one and only BACKSTREET BOYS!!!! Every single girl went wild! They sang a song to support Hurricane Katrina. They sang their hit, "I Want It That Way." The girls were screaming "I love you Backstreet Boys!" Every single girl in that arena went crazy. They get an A+++++!!!
Then Fall Out Boy who was OK. They were a very energetic group. I would give them a B.
Rihanna came on and sang a little of "Pon De Replay." Then she sang a little Christmas song. Then the best part was when she introduced Kanye West. She preached the first part of his song. She was amazing.
Kanye West completely stole the show. The first song was a little shaky but then everyone got into the groove and absolutely loved it. He ended the show not doing "Gold Digger" and the crowd shouted KANYE, KANYE, KANYE! He came back and sang "Gold Digger" and the whole place went wild! Everyone screamed and sang along. He deserves an A+++++++++++++++++++!!!
Then All American Rejects introduced Shakira: not too exciting.
Then Shakira came and did not do her signature belly dance. She did her new hit "LA TORTURA." She had her shirt lifted up, did a little belly dancing. Then she sang "Underneath Your Clothes." She said, “Now it is getting serious, so I better take this down.” The crowd booed her wanting her to still show her skin. Everyone sat down -- we were getting very bored and wanting to save our energy for Chris Brown. Shakira’s dance moves looked like a robot mixed with soldier, it was horrible. Along with Frankie J, she gets a F.
Then was the amazing Chris Brown! There were two guys on stage pretending to be dead. Then smoke was all over the stage and Chris Brown came out!! He was in a bulletproof vest. He did a dance to "Thriller," which was very fun. Then he did his hit single "Run It." Everyone was singing and dancing along. It was a great choice for a closing act.
Are you trying to figure out which charity is for real, and which isn’t? There’s only a few days left to give before the tax year runs out. Here are some of our favorites, all of which can be Googled for Web sites:
- Literacy Partners does amazing work all over New York teaching kids and adults alike to read and write.
- The Christopher Reeve Paralysis Foundation was created for the late Superman’s fundraising abilities. His work is still going strong.
- T.J. Martell Foundation is named for the 21-year-old son of Tony Martell, a Columbia Records exec. TJ died 30 years ago, but his dad has made this group a premier cancer research organization.
- MusiCares is the principal charity of the recording industry. They send music education into the schools at a time when there are more and more cutbacks.
- UJA Federation also has a music division.
- The Robin Hood Foundation collects millions and disburses the money all over New York to needy causes. They’re not nice to the press, but hey, neither is Tommy Lee Jones.