Published August 14, 2007
He may be homeless, wandering, carting around three school-aged kids, but Michael Jackson has a new friend: former imprisoned crack addict and Washington, D.C., Mayor Marion Barry. And that's good in a way, because he is being sued by an old friend, Prince Abdullah of Bahrain.
Jackson, according to my sources, has been spending time with Barry, thanks to their mutual friend and publicist, Miss Raymone Bain. It turns out that before she represented Jackson, Bain was Barry's PR lady. She has been with him the whole time, since the day he went to jail for possession of crack cocaine in 1991.
Now, I'm told Bain has put her two most famous clients together. Imagine the possibilities.
Barry, twice elected mayor in Washington, most recently pled not guilty to driving under the influence and without registration in November 2006. He was acquitted this past June on the drunk driving. His various other "priors" included assorted drug and tax-evasion charges over the years.
In 1990, he was arrested at D.C.'s Vista Hotel after he was caught on camera smoking crack. He served six months in prison. In 2002, U.S. Park Police said they found $5 worth of crack and a trace amount of marijuana in his car parked at Buzzard Point in southwest Washington. Barry was never charged, however. He accused Park Police of planting the drugs.
That's not all. At an IRS hearing in 2005, he failed the mandatory drug test. He had cocaine and marijuana in his system.
The following March, he was sentenced to three years' probation for misdemeanor charges of failing to pay federal and local taxes. The popular ex-mayor and city councilman claimed in early 2006 that he was robbed in his home by a group of young men who had helped him with his groceries.
On the face of it, Barry fits in nicely as Jacko's new B.F.F. Former friends include: Leonard Muhammad, of the Nation of Islam; Michael Flatley, who was falsely accused of rape; Prince Jefri of Brunei; Uri Geller; and accused charity absconder Rabbi Shmuley Boteach.
Maybe the four-times-married Barry (wife No. 4 was Bain's good friend Cora Masters) can give Michael some advice. After all, he's being sued by his old pal, Sheik Abdullah bin Hamad Al Khalifa.
Prince Abdullah graciously took Jackson and his family in after the 2005 child-molestation trial. He housed him, fed him, chauffeured him and even imported Jacko's friends to Bahrain for a special Christmas in 2005.
All the prince wanted in return was to make a CD and start a record company with Michael. Jackson agreed, as usual signed agreements he had no intention of keeping and then did no work. You may recall Two Seas Records, the joint venture that Jackson agreed to, for example.
Now the prince is demanding in his lawsuit that Michael go to work for him as agreed. Abdullah expects Jackson to make his record and put it out so the prince can begin to recoup the millions he invested in Michael during their friendship. Fat chance.
Jackson hasn't worked at anything in years — no performing, no recording. Occasionally, he announces that he is making some kind of record, but so far there's no evidence of this.
That Jackson is now being sued — in London, no less — by his former benefactor is a bad sign for the singer. He has depended on the kindness of Arab billionaires for some time now, but between this and what seems to be his current nomad status, he may have exhausted his credit in the last place where it still existed.
Laura Linney didn't have to play an insane, over-the-top, type-A, controlling New York mother to know this: When she has a kid, there will be no live-in nanny to raise it.
"I know it's matter of working or not, but I can't see having one," she told me Monday night at a private screening of her terrific new comedy, "The Nanny Diaries."
"A babysitter yes, but a nanny, no," Linney said.
The 43-year-old Oscar nominee (who looks 33) gets high marks for her role as Mrs. X, the unnamed society matron who turns her little boy over to the care of Scarlett Johansson — and then learns to regret it.
In "The Nanny Diaries," husband-and-wife directors Robert Pulcini and Shari Springer Berman have made a delightful, funny, cream puff of a movie with some trenchant social observations and a heavy dollop of New York satire.
It's based on a novel by Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus. Pulcini and Berman last made "American Splendor" with Paul Giamatti, which went on to win many awards and lots of acclaim. Giamatti is just as good in this, as Linney's over-scheduled mogul husband.
I heard Monday night at the premiere dinner at the Upper East Side Manhattan society locale Swifty's that their book was based on the lives of people I have known for a long time. Yikes! Since they are technically not celebrities, I'll leave this revelation to others. If true, I guess it explains why the real-life couple split.
I first saw "The Nanny Diaries" in April when a slightly different version was being readied for release. Harvey Weinstein decided to hold on to it, do a little tinkering and get it ready for a late summer push.
Linney and Johansson will each likely wind up with Golden Globe nominations for their work. Linney, of course, will be strong in the next Oscar race with her amazing performance in "The Savages."
Among the guests at Monday night's dinner was co-star Donna Murphy, better known as one of Broadway's superstars. She's in the "Nanny" cast along with another singer, Alicia Keys, and "Fantastic Four" star Chris Evans, whose only required superpower here is to romance Scarlett.
P.S.: A surprise guest at the "Nanny Diaries" dinner was a young knockout Norwegian actress I wrote about several months ago. Ewa da Cruz (pronounced "Eva") is a drop-dead Audrey Hepburn look-alike. She shows off a wild sense of timing and humor as a madcap heiress on the CBS soap "As the World Turns."
As the date of Marvel Entertainment's David Maisel, Ewa was a delight to meet in person. She told me she had a small part in last year's Toronto Film Fest hit, "Bella." Now it's just a matter of time before a big agent swoops her up and makes her a star.
Ed Limato, the powerful Hollywood agent, has scored a sound victory.
A few weeks ago, Limato was unceremoniously dumped from his top perch at ICM, where he represented Denzel Washington, Richard Gere, Steve Martin, Michelle Pfeiffer and even Mel Gibson.
Limato fought back and took his case to arbitration. On Monday, the arbitrator sided with him. Limato is now free to take his megawatt clients and seek remuneration elsewhere.
If Gibson weren't such an albatross, he might have gone to Endeavor. But with Gibson he could wind up at either CAA or William Morris. Last week, he was spotted lunching with CAA's Kevin Huvane and Chris Andrews, the former ICM agent who had to testify at the hearing.
Wherever Limato ends up, he is going to have a great end of the year. Watch for Richard Gere to make a return in late fall with his spring entry, "The Hoax." It's an Oscar-worthy performance. He will be right up there with John Cusack ("Grace is Gone"), Leonardo DiCaprio ("Revolutionary Road"), Philip Seymour Hoffman ("The Savages") and Don Cheadle ("Talk to Me"), among others.
The Limato story is also about Hollywood and power plays. But it's also about younger people coming in and sacking older people because they think they are smarter or know more about the business. It happens every day in real life, and in Hollywood. What the newbies never get is that one day it will happen to them too.
The only good thing to come out of this at ICM is that Toni Howard, one of the truly great people in Hollywood, is in charge, at least for the time being. Toni is a gem, a one of a kind, and has fans in all corners.
And kudos — yes — to Nikki Finke, who writes the LA Weekly's Deadline Hollywood blog. The Limato Saga was truly her great aria.
She followed it down to the most minute detail. I wouldn't be surprised if Nikki knows what Ed eats for breakfast — besides assistants, that is.