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Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie Likely Guests at Cannes

Cannes | Valerie Laub

Brad, Angie, Stones, Scorsese: Cannes Do

The way things are shaping up, the 60th Annual Cannes Film Festival is going to be one wild fortnight by the Croisette.

Martin Scorsese and the Rolling Stones may turn up to premiere their concert film, tentatively titled "Live at the Beacon." Paramount Pictures, which caused a sensation last year at Cannes with "Dreamgirls," is talking to the whole lot of them now.

And Paramount’s got more than that: Jerry Seinfeld will probably bring his animated "Bee Movie" to Cannes as well, which should set off a lot of fireworks. "Bee Movie," I’m told, is not really a kids' animated flick. It’s very much for adults.

Add to this big news: AmFAR is moving its annual Cinema Against AIDS dinner from its traditional Thursday night perch to Wednesday night to make way for Steven Soderbergh’s red carpet premiere of "Ocean’s Thirteen."

Yes, that means Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Ellen Barkin and friends will also be crowding the Croisette, the long narrow avenue that separates the magnificent hotels from the actual beach. (Yes, there is a beach!)

And if Brad’s coming, Angelina Jolie is not far behind. Her movie about the murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl is also under consideration for a Cannes preview.

All of this, of course, is tentative, but add all these folks to Woody Allen premiering his new film, a likely appearance by Quentin Tarantino for his half of "Grindhouse," a possible showing of Michael Moore’s "Sicko" and the inevitable surprises — plus a gala for the 40th anniversary of New Line Cinema, with a potential screening of the studio’s hotly anticipated "Hairspray."

Sacre bleu!

Saying Goodbye to Valerie

Valerie Rose Laub died on Sunday. She was an astonishing 31 years old. You don’t know who Valerie was, but I’ll tell you: she was Phoebe Snow’s daughter. Valerie was born with such a confluence of injuries in 1975 that no one knew what was wrong. Truthfully, I don’t think to this day anyone ever did figure it out.

Phoebe Snow was 23 years old when Valerie was born. Let’s say that she was as big as Norah Jones, Joss Stone, Tori Amos, Sarah McLachlan and two dozen other female pop stars all rolled into one.

She had a huge hit, called "Poetry Man." She had a monster self-titled album. She was the voice of her generation. You can see pictures of her with other stars of the time on her Web site. She was going to be the next big thing, a jazz, pop and R&B singer of singular magnitude.

And then Valerie was born.

As Phoebe remembers it, everyone told her to have Valerie institutionalized. They said she wouldn’t live very long. For a minute, Phoebe gave in. But then she came out of her shock, and reclaimed her child. By then, she owed her record company, Columbia, albums and money. She would never "recoup" as they say. She would always be in debt. She missed sessions and fought with record executives. She wouldn’t tour because she felt she shouldn’t leave Valerie. She declared bankruptcy.

There were occasional signs that Phoebe might make a comeback. All of them failed. She had a hit single with Paul Simon, "Gone At Last." But nothing further came of it. By 1979, she recorded a terrible album for an Atlantic subsidiary. Her career was really, completely sunk.

Two things happened that helped in the mid '80s: Charles Koppelman heard her on TV singing a Bloomingdale’s jingle. He signed her to an album, and it became a minor hit.

"Something Real" should have relaunched Phoebe Snow, but she was so wigged out from life with Valerie by then, it wasn’t possible. Later she won a malpractice suit against the hospital where Valerie was born, and the money made life a little easier. Just a little.

Valerie was 16 in 1991, the year I remember Phoebe announced that her child walked for the first time. It was a miracle.

With no real diagnosis, and no precedents, Valerie was a medical anomaly. Phoebe talked about doctors in Mexico and alternative treatments, but whatever it was, it was a miracle. And that’s the way things have been since then.

Phoebe and Valerie lived in a small apartment in Fort Lee. Phoebe did occasional gigs, and they would sell out. To say she became kooky is a kind of way of putting it. I don’t know what she was like before all this, but life devoted to Valerie was not easy no matter how much Phoebe loved her.

The child's physical deficiencies were severe, and daunting. Her communication skills were a challenge. At this point, as Phoebe continued to care for her child, the mystery of Valerie became almost spiritual. There was no explanation for why or how she had lived so long, except that Phoebe had willed it.

When I heard that Valerie died, my first thought was relief. She had been released into the cosmos, where her beautiful spirit could roam without the encumbrance of her physical deficiencies.

Valerie did and was able to laugh. She had a sense of humor. But she couldn’t share it with many people, just Phoebe, a few close friends and a caregiver. She was warm, she knew and gave love easily and loved to hug people she trusted. If there’s an afterlife, and just for right now let’s say there is, Valerie Rose is lighting up the stars.

I can’t help but think about Valerie and Phoebe. Over the years, I’ve fallen out of touch with Phoebe. She was not an easy friend, and at one point the connection was broken.

No matter how Phoebe Snow operated in the music business, it was never her priority. That was always Valerie. It’s hard to imagine someone giving up a career like that today, and sacrificing themselves for their child. That’s what Phoebe Snow did for her daughter.

I don’t know what she will do now that Valerie is gone. Three decades of love and service are over. But I hope somewhere along the line, no matter what’s happened to her in the business (where her terrible reputation is never far away), Phoebe Snow gets to sing again. She’ll do it for Valerie, and for a whole generation that got cheated out of knowing Phoebe Snow as a star the way her daughter did.