First of all, Michael Jackson has evidently found someone to buy his $300 million main loan from Fortress Investments.
The dubious winner of this prize is said to be HSBC, the same bank that recently wrote down $3.4 billion in losses on bad credit and closed several hundred branches.
Details are sketchy, but the international bank — with Sony’s help — is nevertheless taking on the debt. The refinancing should kick out about $20-$25 million in cash for the liquidity-free singer.
But it’s not all a golden story. Jackson still owes Fortress $23 million for the loan secured by his Neverland Ranch. The default notice issued Oct. 12, 2007, had a 90-day moratorium, which means time is running out. The deadline before foreclosure would run somewhere between Jan. 12 and 19.
And guess what? Jackson, my sources say, will not use that new cash to pay the Neverland debt.
“It’s all the money he has,” one source says. “And you know how fast he can run through that.”
More than likely he won’t pay off the $4 million mortgage he’s got on his parents’ home in Encino, either.
But Jackson may have a way to make money. As I told you last week exclusively, AEG Live has been talking to Jackson about doing a tour. Now I hear that the proposal is to do a series of shows just at the O2 Arena outside of London, the same venue where Led Zeppelin just played.
The shows would run from March through April, all at O2. They’d be stripped down, and not big productions. Fans would be expected to travel to Jackson rather than make him go around the world.
They’d also be pricey for fans, because Jackson would by then need some big, big bucks to fill his emptying coffers. But it might be worth it: the word is that the basis of the show would be, soup to nuts, a 25th anniversary re-creation of “Thriller” to go along with the soon-to-be-released Sony CD and video package.
AEG’s Randy Phillips, who used to co-manage Rod Stewart, is behind the plan. Sources say he and Jackson have met several times, and that Michael “is in good shape.”
But insurance is still an obstacle, and so is Jackson’s mental health. Whether he would actually be able to fulfill such a contract remains to be seen.
“This is just in the talking stages and you never know what will happen,” says a source.
Is there already “Atonement” backlash? I told you last that when the Golden Globes went hog wild for Joe Wright’s romantic World War II epic — a movie a lot of people really love — there might be trouble. And so there has been.
The American Film Institute released its top 10 yesterday for 2007. “Atonement” is not on the list. Quel surprise!
But wait: their list, I think, is the best I’ve seen so far. It includes Sidney Lumet, Julian Schnabel, Sean Penn, the Coens and most importantly, Tamara Jenkins' “The Savages.”
AFI Top 10:
· "Before the Devil Knows You’re Dead"
· "The Diving Bell and the Butterfly"
· "Into the Wild"
· "Knocked Up"
· "Michael Clayton"
· "No Country for Old Men"
· "The Savages"
· "There Will Be Blood"
Yes, it was the wedding of the year. Movie mogul Harvey Weinstein’s nuptials with designer Georgina Chapman are still causing reverberations in tony, bucolic Westport, Conn. That’s where the fantasy assemblage took place in multiple huge heated tents erected on Weinstein’s beachside estate.
These were no camp tents; they were ornamented with what I’m told were hundreds of thousands of dollars of gorgeous flowers, real flickering chandeliers and catering by both Cipriani and Nobu.
One guest said, “It was the most intimate feeling wedding I’ve ever been to.” To top it off, there was a full fireworks display.
The beautiful bride wore a simple, elegant, ruffled, off-the-shoulder dress which she designed herself with Marchesa partner Karen Craig.
“It looked light as a feather but it must have weighed a lot,” reported a guest.
And who was there to chow down on these delectable delights? Sources tell me movie stars like Robert De Niro, Renee Zellweger, Cameron Diaz, Eva Mendes, Kerry Washington, Anne Hathaway, director Quentin Tarantino, a very pregnant Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony and titans like Rupert Murdoch, whose 4-year-old daughter with wife Wendi Deng served as flower girl, Ronald Perelman, Ron Burkle, Dirk Ziff, Brian Roberts, Steve Schwarzman, Joe Ravitch and Cablevision’s Jim Dolan.
Then, of course, there were the media types: Les Moonves and Julie Chen, Jeff Zucker, VH-1’s John Sykes, Graydon Carter, Lorne Michaels, Anna Wintour, Glenda Bailey, Mort Zuckerman, David Pecker, Jane Rosenthal and hubby Craig Hatkoff.
I’m told that Hollywood lawyer Bert Fields and art dealer wife Barbara Guggenheim came with investor Vivi Nevo, that famed former U.S. attorney David Boies and his wife Mary were there as well, not to mention Hollywood players like Brad Grey, Kevin Huvane and Jim Wiatt. Even former New York Gov. George Pataki was there!
Diaz attended with manager Rick Yorn and his wife. Zellweger brought manager John Carrabino, Mendes came with longtime boyfriend George Augusto.
I’m told that De Niro, who’s usually shy of public speaking, gave a beautiful and unprompted toast. Harvey’s brother, Bob, “was funny and brought everyone to tears,” says another guest.
The “vibe” in the Robert Isabell designed trio of tents was said to be warm and fuzzy, but also — and let’s say this — lavish. The Gipsy Kings provided hot salsa music as the temperature outside began to drop.
The celebs who couldn’t attend sent videos that were put together by the Weinstein staff, they say. Among the well-wishers were Hillary and Bill Clinton, New York City Mayor Mike Bloomberg, George Clooney, Denzel Washington, Heidi Klum and “English Patient” director Anthony Minghella.
“Chicago” director Rob Marshall sent dancers who put on a live show for the guests in a parody of the musical. Ben Affleck and Gwyneth Paltrow, each of whom owe their careers to Weinstein, also sent videos. Matt Damon, who also got his start with the visionary moviemaker, didn’t, however.
There must have been odd moments. I’m told that Anna Wintour was none too pleased when introduced to “Devil Wears Prada” star Hathaway. Hathaway’s boyfriend, Rafael Follieri managed to steer clear of Burkle. The latter was until recently suing him.
A double-wide Lopez must have done a double take upon seeing two exes — Affleck and Sean Combs — in the video reel. When Lopez was congratulated for keeping her pregnancy out of the news with regular denials, she responded, “I am still am!” A guest asked her when the “babies” were due — she’s having twins, also unannounced — Lopez said, “Sometime in early 2008.”
Plenty of former Miramax staff was also on the guest list, many of whom are now hit producers on their own after working for Weinstein.
Meryl Poster is now a hit producer at NBC/Universal, Jon Gordon is busy setting up projects, Barbara Schneeweiss is producing “Project Runway” for Bravo and Rick Schwartz is getting ready to start “Monte Carlo” — a movie this column broke the news about a few weeks ago — with a possible superstar cast of Amy Adams, Nicole Kidman and Julia Roberts (alphabetically listed here).
Instead of wedding gifts, by the way, the couple had asked all their guests and friends to donate to the Robin Hood Foundation. They’re also sponsoring the building of a school in India. Donations for that can be made to Give2Asia.
First Warren Zevon, now Dan Fogelberg. Dan died Sunday from prostate cancer at age 56. Of course, in the classic R&B world, early death has been common. But among the singer songwriters who broke ground in the early '70s, it seems way too soon for these guys to go.
Dan wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea after his humongous soft rock hit “Longer” became bigger than … anything. But the Dan Fogelberg I, and maybe others, loved was from his early career, when “Part of the Plan” showed him to be a descendent of the melodic, sometime melancholy folk-rock era from Buffalo Springfield through CSNY, Poco and the Eagles.
I have fond memories of his participation in a Washington, D.C., 1976 concert with Linda Ronstadt, the Eagles and Jackson Browne for Jerry Brown. His great song wasn’t “Longer” or “Run for the Roses,” but his genius duet with Tim Weisberg on “Tell Me to My Face” and the grand, eloquent, “There’s a Place in the World for a Gambler.” See what I mean on YouTube.
No one, I mean no one, in pop today is capable of these kinds of sublime recordings. They’re too interested in fashion. Dan Fogelberg, with many hits and no place in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, will be sorely missed. (P.S. Thanks to the YouTube poster. Nicely done.)