Michael Jackson’s living in limbo, so the stories start floating around.
Now comes one that his “nanny” or whoever she is, Grace Rwaramba, has lupus and is fighting it alone.
This is a weird twist on an old story, so let’s set it straight. It’s Jackson who suffers from lupus, sources close to the former pop star report. Rwaramba has other things, like avarice and visions of grandeur. They are separate ailments.
Rwaramba, for example, has the noble idea that she will somehow save her native country of Rwanda by bringing Jackson there to do charity work. Unfortunately, this is as likely as her marrying Jackson.
Jackson continues to live in the Washington, D.C., area with his three kids and Rwaramba, who also has a luxury condo — as this column reported earlier this year — in Las Vegas.
At this point, though, one can only wonder what Jackson’s kids are being taught, since their home schooling has taken them off the grid of any normalcy whatsoever.
For example: Even though Tom Cruise’s kids are home schooled (in Scientology, etc,) we at least see them at soccer games.
Meanwhile, sources tell me that Jackson’s remaining team is busy trying to settle the remaining lawsuits pending against him.
The fear, they say, is that with little cash on hand, all the settlements could put the singer into a forced bankruptcy. But let’s not start that rumor.
My sources at Sony Music, which is part of Jackson’s financial house of cards, say they won’t let that happen. It’s too much bad press, and they don’t want the blame.
The next group of Oscar movies is finally getting a little clearer as the releases start pouring in. Once again, the hype has to be separated from the reality. Everyone who covers this stuff has a different list of their preferences.
Right now, this is how it looks from here. The Oscar nominees for Best Picture, based on what we’ve seen and what we know could shape up this way. Among the known quantities: "The Savages," "Atonement," "Elizabeth: The Golden Age," "I’m Not There," "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly," "Into the Wild" and "No Country for Old Men" have made it thus far past the hurdles of openings, reviews and strong feelings.
The big spoilers — movies no one’s seen yet — include "Sweeney Todd," "There Will Be Blood," "The Great Debaters" and "Charlie Wilson’s War."
Yes, that means that "The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford," "Michael Clayton," "The Namesake," "Control," "3:10 to Yuma," "Hairspray," "The Bucket List," "In the Valley of Elah" and a few others should yield nominees in other categories, but not likely Best Picture.
For Best Actress, Cate Blanchett has the award all but sewn up in “Elizabeth: The Golden Age.” She also has the lead in Best Supporting Actress for playing Bob Dylan in “I’m Not There.” Basically, it’s an all-Blanchett Academy Awards.
Other actresses of note should be Indian star Tabu in “The Namesake,” Laura Linney in “The Savages,” Halle Berry in “Things We Lost in the Fire,” possibly Helena Bonham Carter in “Sweeney Todd,” Keira Knightley from “Atonement” and two less showy performances: Marion Cotillard in “La Vie En Rose,” and Julie Christie in “Away From Her.”
For example: the Best Supporting Actor category is already filling up fast. Casey Affleck from “Jesse James," Ben Foster from “3:10”; Javier Bardem from “No Country” and Clive Owen from “The Golden Age” are in that line. That leaves maybe one other slot open, give or take good campaigns and some clever marketing. And some kind of award should go to Indian actor Irfan Khan, who was wonderful in “The Namesake” and “A Mighty Heart.”
In Best Actor, it’s similarly a tight race. Tommy Lee Jones looks good from "Elah," followed by Philip Seymour Hoffman in “The Savages,” George Clooney in “Michael Clayton,” and John Cusack will make that list for his excellent work in “Grace Is Gone,” but only if he mounts an Oscar campaign with some enthusiasm.
Mathieu Amalric is sensational in “Diving Bell,” but a nomination would take incredible effort. That still leaves some guess work because no one’s seen Johnny Depp in "Sweeney Todd" or Daniel Day-Lewis in “There Will Be Blood.”
And that’s just the beginning. The category of Best Supporting Actress is entirely up for grabs at the moment as is Best Director. I’ll get to some of those on Wednesday. For now, let the games begin!
We missed the 40th anniversary black-tie gala thrown by New Line Cinema last Friday, but the reports keep coming in.
Co-chairs Michael Lynne and Bob Shaye — maybe too happy after showing more stupendous footage from “The Golden Compass" — threw quite a bash, I am told, at Rose Hall in Lincoln Center.
Their guest list was a Who’s Who in formal wear, including News Corporation's very own Rupert Murdoch, plus Jane Fonda, Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban, Morgan Freeman, Jennifer Hudson, Charlie Rose, Brett Ratner, Javier Bardem, Roger Waters and John Waters (no relation — the former of Pink Floyd, the latter of "Pink Flamingos"!)
There were video toasts, too, from Adam Sandler, Ed Norton, Jim Carrey, Cameron Diaz, Queen Latifah, John Travolta, Chris Tucker and Jackie Chan.
Shaye and Lynne, you know, started New Line in a fifth floor walk-up apartment in 1967. They’ve had their share of controversy — what studio execs haven't — but they must know something to still be on top. Bravo!
And don’t be surprised if Latifah’s name is added to the list of supporting actresses for this year’s Oscars, thanks to her knockout performance in “Hairspray.”
Bruce Springsteen’s magnificent “Magic” is a hit. His latest album with the E Street Band is No. 1 this week in its debut, with 350,000 to 400,000 copies sold. And this is before his "60 Minutes" interview that aired on Sunday. I guess the "Today" show appearance was worth getting up for after all!
The next height for “Magic” to scale is the Grammy Awards, where Springsteen will likely be up against Paul McCartney for Best Album. …
Speaking of McCartney, Blender magazine has tried to get some publicity by naming him one of the worst lyricists of all time.
Top of the list is Sting, with Carly Simon and Robert Plant also hidden among some truly bad writers. They had to throw these names in to get attention, since no one knows the other people they mention.
Magazines always get a lot of attention when they issue lists. So let’s name Blender worst rock magazine, even more so than Rolling Stone, which we’re still boycotting because of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.