Music legend and murder suspect, Phil Spector, isn't trying to make friends or curry favor with old pals while he waits for a second trial. He turned up at reviled R&B legend Ike Turner's Los Angeles funeral on Friday and gave an impromptu speech that laid into both Tina Turner and Oprah Winfrey.
Spector, according to our spy in the Greater Bethany Community Church in Gardena, Calif., was among several celebrity mourners including Bonnie Raitt and Little Richard who gathered to say good-bye to the Grammy-winning musician.
"I'm so sorry, I wasn't prepared to say anything," said the thin and frail-looking music producer. "Nobody had told me that I was going to speak. This is a very sad occasion for me."
Spector rambled, but he had points to make. Here they are, for better or worse:
"First of all, the things that were said about Ike, that were in that piece-of-trash movie they made about him were ... (applause), it was a piece-of-trash movie. I haven't seen the movie but it was told to me, and [Barney] Kessel was the world's greatest guitar player in the world and the only reason that Ike didn't play on 'River Deep, Mountain High' was because Ike was the second greatest guitar player in the world. I treasured him and everybody knew it except Ike. That's how good he was
"B.B. King told me at a party with Doc Pomus and Joe Turner and Ray Charles sitting there that Ike Turner was the only guitar player he wouldn't play behind. That's how good he was. But Ike never boasted. He came to parties with me and I'd say, 'play, play' and Ike would never play.
"Ike could play circles around Eric Clapton and Eric knew it. I had someone once ask me what's the difference between Ike Turner and Eric Clapton. I said, 'you don't know the difference between Eric Clapton and Ike Turner? That's funny, why don't you ask Eric, Eric knows.'"
"Ike made Tina the jewel she was. When I went to see Ike play at the Cinegrill in the '90s after his absurd reason for being sent to prison for no reason other than being a black man in America, there were at least, and I counted them, five Tina Turners on the stage performing that night, any one of them could have been Tina Turner."
"And sell-out, whom you really love and respect but I have an ambivalence towards Oprah Winfrey. She made Tina Turner's book into a bestseller, which demonized and vilified Ike. The book wouldn't have sold 10 books. It was badly written. It was a piece of trash and because Oprah idolized Tina, she didn't feel it wrong to vilify a 'brother.'"
"Other black sisters did the same thing to Ike and there was a very famous story about Whoopi Goldberg, who had a television show for about five minutes, interviewed Ike. Ike had called me and said, 'Shall I do the show?'
"I said, 'You can't get hurt.' And he said, 'OK, I'm going to do it.'
"And we figured it would be good because it's Whoopi and Whoopi asked him, 'I understand before you were married when you were living together, you beat the hell out of her and she tried to commit suicide because she was so terrified of you and she tried to jump out of a window,' and Ike said, 'Yeah, but it's hard to jump out of a window from a basement floor.'"
"It was only one Ike. I learned more from Ike than any professors I've been around. He never, ever bothered me. He never interfered with me. He never got in my way."
"When we did 'River Deep Mountain High,' people said you can't put Ike and Tina Turner's name on that record. It won't sell because they are rhythm and blues and it's a pop record. I said I signed Ike and Tina Turner, it won't even say featuring Tina Turner; it's Ike and Tina Turner."
Spector said part of the reason he became disillusioned with the record business was because he could not make Ike and Tina as big of an act as he wanted.
"I wanted them to be the biggest revue in America. They were the first act that I recorded that ever could play big-time and break it in Vegas and America."
Tom Cruise’s press campaign against ex-wife Nicole Kidman takes a nasty turn this weekend.
Cruise lets new wife, Katie Holmes, tell Parade magazine that his two older children with Kidman, Connor and Isabella, call her "Mom."
For Kidman, who’s working in Australia wrapping up an epic film with director Baz Luhrmann, this had to sting. It’s bad enough that she has more or less acknowledged in interviews that the children, whom she and Cruise adopted as babies and whom she raised until the couple’s 2001 divorce, live full-time with Cruise. At the time of the divorce the boy was 8 and the girl 6. They certainly knew who their mother was.
Kidman is a devout Catholic but has been forced to let Cruise raise the children as Scientologists — another blow, sources say. Cruise's sister home-schools Conor and Isabella in the works of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard.
Holmes also was raised as a Catholic, but Cruise refused to let their baby, Suri, be baptized in the Church.
"You can be a Catholic Scientologist or a Jewish Scientologist," Cruise told Diane Sawyer in an interview. "We are just Scientologists."
The Cruise-Kidman divorce commenced unexpectedly in February 2001, when Cruise swiftly filed just a few weeks after the couple’s 10th anniversary. On his divorce petition, Cruise claimed the couple had not been married for a full decade, which was untrue. It was thought this was to avoid paying Kidman extra alimony.
What followed was bizarre: Six weeks after the filing, Kidman announced that she’d had a miscarriage. A mystery ensued: Why would Cruise have filed for divorce when his wife of a decade was six weeks’ pregnant with their baby? The couple previously had been unable to have children and instead adopted Isabella and Connor.
This latest jab of Cruise’s through wife Holmes is made even more bitter because of comments Kidman recently made about the children. She told interviewers last month that the children often call her "Nicole" and not "mommy." But that may have been taken out of context. As parents of teens know, they often are disrespectful or glib just to get attention.
Holmes, who is 29 and under Cruise’s constant control, may not fully understand the impact of what she told Parade. Friends say that being away from her children is "painful" for Kidman, who is considered one of Hollywood’s most agreeable and friendly players. She didn’t need to be blindsided while doing her job half a planet away from the children she loves.
Technically, Dec. 21 is the shortest day of the year.
That’s probably some consolation to the folks at Paramount, who are dealing with a new, unforeseen problem. I do not mean the snubbing of "Sweeney Todd" by the Screen Actors Guild Awards.
On Thursday, the New York Post’s intrepid Jeane MacIntosh reported that Paramount exec Pam Abdy was named as the girlfriend of a married New Jersey mobster with ties to the Bloods gang who is accused by the government of helping to run a multibillion-dollar gambling ring.
It’s like an episode of "The Sopranos." And that’s ironic, since "The Sopranos" was produced by Brad Grey, who is the head of Paramount. Abdy came to Paramount in 2003, before Grey took control of the studio.
Since Grey’s arrival in 2005, Abdy’s career has fast-tracked, sources say. The pair have been extremely close ever since, likened even to a mentor-protégé relationship. The two have regularly attended industry functions, such as the Emmy Awards, together.
Interestingly, Grey recently announced unexpected executive changes at Paramount. Almost all the studio players were shuffled around or named in the changes. The only omission was that of Abdy.
Variety on Thursday speculated that Abdy was being considered to succeed John Lesher at Paramount Vantage; Lesher had been promoted. But perhaps Abdy’s absence and the shake-ups had more to do with advance knowledge of the impending scandal.
Abdy’s East Coast beau, the Post reported, is reputed Luchese-made man Joseph Perna. He wasn’t the only mobster arrested on Thursday. So, too, was Abdy’s uncle, former Luchese Jersey boss Martin Taccetta, 58, as were Perna's two brothers and his father, reputed capo Ralph Perna.
The group was charged with running a gambling ring that raked in $2.2 billion in 15 months and used violent tactics to collect gaming debts.
Dozens of their conversations were caught on tape by federal investigators. But what makes Abdy’s role in this all the worse are quotes in the government papers in which she equated the mob and the movie business. (Shades of Tony Soprano’s nephew, Christopher!)
According to MacIntosh’s report, during the taped conversations, Perna gave specific examples of the differences between his line of work and his girlfriend's, noting that in the movie biz, there's "no gun and there's no sword" and they "don't prick the finger" — both describing established traditions of a Mafia induction ceremony.
Abdy responded her business "is worse."
"Let me tell you," she said. "There's something called the press. And people kill you in the press."
Let me be the first to use this pun: In the end, Abdy may have to abdy-cate her position at Paramount.
Michael Jackson’s winter shows at the O2 Arena in London still are under discussion.
We announced the possibility of these shows last week. Since then, the British papers have helped themselves to our story without credit.
Both The Daily Mail and the London Paper have reported the shows, lifting quotes and material right out of this column. They "repurpose," i.e. steal, the information wholesale.
And yet, Jackson — who appeared on purpose this week in public wearing bandages on his face — has not made a commitment. I say on purpose because this is what Jackson does to get attention. If he didn’t want us to see the bandages, he wouldn’t have gone out.
Adam Rifkin’s "Look" is not an Oscar movie and shouldn’t have been released this month by its small distributor.
Nevertheless, "Look" is playing in New York at the Angelika and deserves a wider audience. It starts showing on Friday in Los Angeles and Chicago, as well.
Rifkin has done something unusual here, making his whole film as if it had been viewed from hidden surveillance cameras. The cameras are the kind we all know exist but forget about—nanny cams, public spaces, etc.
The stories Rifkin weaves together are reminiscent of those in "Crash" or several Robert Altman movies. But the vignettes are well-told, and some of them even line up at the end.
Maybe the best one concerns a lothario store manager played by Hayes MacArthur, the young actor now engaged in real life to Ali Larter. Jamie McShane also is very good as a high school teacher who’s ensnared and seduced by one of his students.
"Look" isn’t the only non-Oscar film of value out there right now. "Bella," a 2006 Toronto Film Festival winner, still is playing and proving to be a sleeper success. It doesn’t hurt that the star and producer, Eduardo Verastegui, has stuck around New York for several weeks, attending premieres and making women go crazy.
Luckily for the rest of us he’s returned to Los Angeles for the time being!
"Good Morning America" cooked the books on Thursday. It put out a list of the top 10 cookbooks of the year. Two of them were written by the same person, Martha Rose Shulman. Martha’s own book, "Mediterranean Harvest," made the list. And so did a book she worked on, Sherry Yard’s "Desserts by the Yard." Sherry is Wolfgang Puck’s pastry queen and one of our favorite people. Shulman also helps Puck with his books. Congrats to them all. …
Joel Dorn died this week of a heart attack. He was 65. A force at Atlantic Records during its heyday in the '60s and '70s, Dorn produced back-to-back Grammy-winning records for Roberta Flack — "The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face" and "Killing Me Softly." He also produced Bette Midler’s groundbreaking 1973 debut, "The Divine Miss M."
A hugely influential jazz producer as well, Dorn was as important to Atlantic’s history as the late Ahmet and Nesuhi Ertegun, the beloved Arif Mardin and Tom Dowd and the last living Atlantic legend, Jerry Wexler.