Michael Jackson may at last be living out his greatest fantasy: life as Elvis Presley.
According to my sources — who are very much on top of the current Jackson situation in Las Vegas — Michael has retreated largely to his bed rather than do any work.
But Michael will be getting out of bed soon, because on June 30, his one-year lease on a Las Vegas mansion runs out. And then Jackson is out, too, along with his three kids, nanny and security team.
The house Jackson’s been renting for millions of dollars that he doesn’t really have belongs to a weird and scary guy, too. Luke Brugnara is a self-made San Francisco commercial realtor with designs on being a Las Vegas player.
Brugnara, unlike many of Jackson’s previous and patrons and landlords, is no pussycat. He’s wildly outspoken, with no constraint when it comes to putting things the way he sees them. Apparently he’s looking forward to moving into the 11-bathroom, 20-room manse he leased to Michael so he can make his move in Sin City.
Where that leaves Jackson is unclear. Friends and family are “very worried” that he’s drugged most of the time on prescription painkillers. He is more than ever isolated from nearly everyone by his children’s nanny, Grace Rwaramba, and his Washington, D.C.-based publicist Raymone Bain.
What Jackson isn’t doing: making an album of any kind, working on music or touring or getting himself ready for the May 2008 turnover of the Beatles catalog to Sony Music.
He is, however, possibly aware of the $5 million settlement reached recently with entrepreneur Darien Dash minutes before the latter’s lawsuit was set to begin court proceedings last week.
Sources tell me that Jackson spends a great deal of time in bed and is not focused on any kind of reality. That’s not a total surprise, but with the end of the Vegas lease, he may have to consider returning to Neverland.
All of the acrimony in the Jackson story is trained on Rwaramba, whom I’ve told you about before. She’s been married — and may not be divorced — and has been with Jackson since she started as an office assistant more than a decade ago.
And here’s something new about Jacko’s nanny: While Michael’s residential issues keep him at large, Rwaramba is living in a luxury condo at Las Vegas’ new Turnberry Towers. A concierge at the Towers confirmed last night that she was there.
By the looks of the floor plan, Rwaramba has installed herself in a 900-plus square foot one-bedroom with excellent views of the city. It’s unclear whether she bought it or is subletting, but the Towers are pricey. According to its Web site, apartments run between $500,000 and more than $1 million. Not bad for a nanny!
Where Jackson goes from here is the big question. Even though Bain put out a decoy press release last week that he would move to Europe and tour, there are no plans for that. With Rwaramba set up at Turnberry, it’s likely he’ll find another overpriced mansion on which he can burn off his remaining money.
Ah, what a night for Larry King. He called Ringo Starr “George” during his Beatles show last night, and read most of his interview off of cue cards he held closer to his face than Mr. Magoo used to read traffic signs.
Still, there’s not much you can do to the Beatles. Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, Olivia Harrison and Yoko Ono acquitted themselves well. Paul and Ringo still share a lovely camaraderie, and Larry is so self-absorbed he didn’t even get it when they were having fun with him.
I loved it when Larry announced Paris Hilton’s appearance, and McCartney shook his head to suggest that he’d never heard of her.
McCartney also played a little bit of mandolin and the opening of his single, “Dance Tonight.” Young wannabe rockers could take a lesson from this: It was simple and pure, and rendered perfectly. Nice.
But it might have been nice if Larry had mentioned that the Beatles just observed two 40th anniversaries: the release of “Sgt. Pepper” (June 2 in America) and “All You Need Is Love” (June 25th).
Plus, McCartney turned 65 last Monday. Next week, Beatlefest comes to Las Vegas, and on July 6, a 50th anniversary weekend celebration of John Lennon meeting McCartney takes place in Liverpool with a festival (see www.birthofthebeatles.com).
Larry might also have asked McCartney what he thought about Michael Jackson, and the turnover next year of Paul’s songs to Sony.
Or how Paul feels about Yoko — who was sitting there — getting a larger portion of royalties because of John’s death. Or he could ask asked Yoko about Julian Lennon. Instead, one of King’s red suspenders fell off in the first segment, like a bra strap on a tipsy ingénue. Too bad Paris wasn’t the guest last night.
By the way, if you’re wondering about the Beatles’ influence even now, Danny Bennett suggested to me that the abrupt ending of the last episode of "The Sopranos" and the cut to black was inspired by the Beatles’ “She’s So Heavy” from “Abbey Road.” Could be!
On Tuesday, a picture of Vivi, Rosie O’Donnell’s daughter with partner Kelli, which Rosie posted on her blog, caused a commotion. Little Vivi was pictured with toy artillery slung around her neck, as if she were about to head off into the killing fields.
Was Rosie making an anti-war statement? Was it something about children? Was it ironic? Taunting?
Or none of the above. Here’s the story. Rosie, according to sources, was going through some pictures of the kids and thought that was a particularly good one.
“It meant nothing,” says a friend. “The kids play everything from war to dress up. It didn’t occur to anyone that it would be perceived in any particular way.”
By the end of the day, Rosie had posted a slide show of Vivi in other get-ups (like dresses, etc.) with Cyndi Lauper’s “Girls Just Want to Have Fun” playing in the background.
Lighten up, folks! It’s only June. Let’s keep the tension down till summer really kicks in.
Incoming British Prime Minister Gordon Brown has found a U.S. publisher for his bestselling U.K. tome, "Courage."
Weinstein Company Books, a division of the movie company that currently has "Sicko" and "1408" in theaters, has won the rights to the book. They plan to publish in spring 2008. "Courage" was just released in Britain, where it's an instant hit.
Brown, the son of a minister, profiles eight of his heroes, a la John Kennedy's "Profiles in Courage."
His portraits include Edith Cavell, who nursed the wounded of World War I in Belgium and helped Allied soldiers escape back to England; Protestant pastor Dietrich Bonhoeffer, who in 1940 returned to Nazi Germany from New York to lead the Christian opposition against the Nazi regime; businessman Raoul Wallenberg, who left neutral Sweden in 1944
to go to Budapest to try save the lives of Hungarian Jews; Cicely Saunders, who changed the way we care for the dying by founding and leading the Hospice Movement; and Aung San Suu Kyi, who for 20 years — much of that time under house arrest in Rangoon — has led her country's democratic opposition to military dictatorship and continues to do so today.
All of these subjects sound like good movie projects, too. Maybe Brown will sign on with the Weinsteins as a producer, as well, in his spare time!