With so many past managers and financial angels burned or lied to, it’s a wonder that Michael Jackson still has anywhere to go or anyone left to turn to.
So it comes with some surprise last week that Jackson was welcomed back to the estate of grocery magnate and burgeoning media mogul Ron Burkle.
In the spring of 2005, Burkle helped extricate Jackson from his Bank of America loans, encouraged him to leave his quasi-management arrangement with Charles Koppelman and took over running Jackson’s business for a few months.
The whole thing ended badly — as it always does — with Burkle’s people unable to handle the Jackson lunacy. But Jackson came to see Burkle as a savior. As I reported exclusively in this column a few months ago, Jackson admitted during a deposition this year that during his 2005 child molestation and conspiracy trial, he regularly called Burkle from the men’s room on a cell phone and begged him to buy Neverland or the Beatles catalog.
But now, Jackson may be looking for a Burkle bailout again. He’s one month into his three-month countdown to losing Neverland after defaulting on a $23 million loan.
Despite his publicist’s claims, Jackson is no closer to paying the loan back to Fortress Investments. If he doesn’t by Jan. 19, Fortress can claim foreclosure and put Neverland up for sale.
Burkle, who’s no fool, could easily just wait and buy it then. Why exactly he would loan Jackson the money to keep is unclear.
The Broadway stagehands strike is a nightmare, but in the case of one show, the producers may have thought of something unique.
Frankie Valli told me Sunday night that there has been some kind of conversation with "the Nederlanders," he says, to bring his show to a non-union house.
Valli, of course, is the inspiration for the Nederlanders’ mega hit, "Jersey Boys," which is on strike like most other shows.
Sunday night, Valli wrapped up a five-night, sold out but underpublicized series of shows at the Rose theater in Jazz at Lincoln Center.
He may not have the Four Seasons with him on stage, but Valli has the pipes, a hot band and talented back-up singers/dancers.
In a show that runs Vegas-style — just under 90 minutes — Frankie capably reviews his career with all the hits from "Walk Like a Man" and "Rag Doll" through "My Eyes Adored You" and "Oh, What a Night."
He also offers a medley of songs from a new album in which he sings hits that he never got to do on his own. Some of those are "Call Me (Don’t Be Afraid)" and the '70s disco hit, "Native New Yorker."
It turns out that he cut that latter track before it went out with the anonymous disco group Odyssey and became a one-hit wonder. "No one thought I should do it at the time," Valli recalled.
Another track he was desperate to cover was Boz Scaggs’ hit, "We’re All Alone," which Rita Coolidge scored a hit on. Again, "No one would put our version out," Frankie said.
Strike or no strike, it makes excellent business sense to put "the real Jersey Boy" on or near Broadway this Christmas if the fictional "Jersey Boys" aren’t able to make it.
As an added treat Sunday night, by the way, Valli welcomed Michael Longoria, who’s supposed to take over the role of … Frankie Valli … Tuesday night, if there were a show.
Longoria, who’s been playing Joey in the musical, held his own but got a little flummoxed singing "Let’s Hang On" with his real-life counterpart.
Also in the audience: WOR’s radio legend Joey Reynolds, Sony Music publisher Marty Bandier and Café Carlyle crooner Steve Tyrell.
So listen: If Valli is brought into the Broadway district to soak up a potential "Jersey Boys" audience, who knows what’s next? Olivia Newton-John re-creating "Grease"? Stranger things have happened.
Jane Fonda’s turning 70, which seems impossible. But anyway, her Atlanta birthday party, featuring a performance by Bonnie Raitt, has a high price tag for a good reason.
Fonda is using the Dec. 13 birthday to raise money for the Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention, or GCAPP.
Instead of accepting gifts, Fonda — a two-time Oscar winner — is asking her guests to join GCAPP’s Inner Circle. She wants 70 donors to donate $7,000 a year for seven years to the cause.
An individual investment of $7,000 a year for seven years or a one-time donation of $49,000 will sponsor one young person from sixth grade through high school graduation.
It’s too rich for our blood, but I’ll bet there are a lot of people who’d be interested in this end-of-the-year charitable donation.
And guess what? I’m told that among the guests will be Jane’s ex, Ted Turner, and his new girlfriend, novelist Elizabeth Dewberry. That should make for an interesting night!
You can read all about it at www.gcapp,org. And Sona Chambers, who runs this excellent foundation, tells me GCAPP still has a Sundance Film Festival package up for silent auction that includes tickets to premieres, skiing, the whole shebang.
The Writers Guild Strike has been very fertile for frustrated creative types. Over the weekend, Nikki Finke ran a bunch of videos from stars like Sean Penn, Harvey Keitel, Felicity Huffman and William H. Macy, and the cast of "Ugly Betty" that showed what life was like without dialogue.
My favorite is a rap video from writer-director David Schlussel called "Writer Boi." Julia Louis-Dreyfus, among others, makes a cameo. Very witty stuff during a very scary time. …
A song called "Apologies" was featured Sunday night on "Brothers and Sisters." It’s by Grace Potter and the Nocturnals. Apparently I am very late "discovering" Grace Potter, from Vermont, who is so much like Janis Joplin (without drugs) it’s scary.
The Nocturnals are her Big Brother and the Holding Company. Over the weekend I so fell in love with them that I (legally) downloaded all the music I could find from them either on Amazon.com or at Indie911.com. Frankly, Grace Potter is the Best New Artist of 2007. Give her new album, "This is Somewhere," a listen and I think you’ll agree…