Just in case you were wondering after reading fun blogs like Defamer and Gawker: Katie Holmes actually did run the New York City Marathon last November.
Rumors were flying on Wednesday because Katie finished at exactly the same time as another runner, Paul Vincent. Both Vincent and another man, Wes Okerson, were photographed with Katie during her run and afterward.
Well, Okerson — a handsome 30-year-old transplanted from Maryland to Beverly Hills — was first identified in this column a few weeks ago when he was a guest with Tom Cruise at the New York cocktail reception for "Lions for Lambs."
On Wednesday night I spoke with Okerson’s mom, Mary, a lovely, vivacious woman who explained that her son and Vincent are Cruise's trainers. "Wes trained Katie and, yes, she really ran the marathon," Mary Okerson told me. I believe her.
It’s easy to get caught up in conspiracies where Cruise is concerned these days. But there’s less to this one than anyone might think.
By the way, even Holmes' mom apparently mentioned at the time that Katie was perspiration-free after running 26 miles. But I guess if you can meet, fall in love with and become pregnant by a stranger in six weeks, then marry him, ditch your family and friends and have a baby, then anything is possible!
Gawker and Defamer may have overreacted to whispers that Holmes didn’t run the complete race, but the owner of the two blogs — Nick Denton — had more important things on his mind. Denton has been one of the online publishers to post at least one of the promotional videos Cruise made for Scientology in 2004.
This column had access to the videos on Saturday but hesitated putting them online until more was known about them. In a sense, even though we wrote about the videos on Monday morning, Denton "scooped" us by posting one.
On Wednesday, Denton posted a letter his office received from Scientology’s painfully busy legal mouthpiece Ava Paquette of Moxon & Kobrin of Beverly Hills. (Information about the firm, which is owned by Scientologists, can be found on Wikipedia and other sites.)
Of course, she wanted the video taken down for many reasons, not the least of which was her complaint of copyright infringement.
Denton refused. Instead, his attorney, Gaby Darbyshire, responded: "We are using this video in the context of news reporting and critical commentary, which are uses that may not be authorized by your client but which serve the public interest. For this and other reasons, we believe our use is fair. We further do not accept that we have broken any criminal laws in publishing it, and in any event, several of the statutes you cite are inapplicable in this case."
So there. The video will remain on Gawker/Defamer, and perhaps other media outlets that receive a similar letter from Paquette will respond in kind.
By the way, an interesting take on the Cruise videos is being hosted on no less than the Carnegie Mellon University Web site.
Is the music business dead? I’ll say so. If you want to know why the Writers Guild of America (not to mention the DGA and SAG) must hold for proper payment of Internet rights, just take a look at this week’s CD chart. The top 10 sold fewer than a total of 450,000 copies. The record company people let the Internet destroy them. This is the result.
Ironically, the No. 1 album is the soundtrack to the hit film "Juno," on Rhino Records. Rhino is a division of the former Warner Music Group, now known as Warner Mess Group. WMG stock is hovering around $5, a miserable failure. "Juno" sold about 72,000 copies last week, which in the heyday of the business would put it around No. 15. But times have changed.
Last summer, I told you that rather than develop artists or hits, WMG’s Edgar Bronfman had bought a luxury concert company called Bulldog Entertainment that charged $3,000 a ticket to people in the Hamptons for dinner and a show by Prince or Billy Joel.
Now comes financial analyst Rich Greenfield, writing in his blog from Pali Capital. Greenfield is as critical of Bronfman and Co. as I (we’ve never met or spoken). He’s come up with some interesting observations.
He writes in a piece titled "I Know What WMG Did Last Summer — Party Like It’s 1999": "Bulldog cost Warner over $16 million to acquire and we believe it has sustained substantial (multimillion-dollar) losses since the acquisition was made (total cost is likely nearing $30 million)."
Greenfield continues: "Our sources indicate that Warner Music’s management team DOES NOT need board approval to make acquisitions that are below $50 million. If this is true, we believe this policy should be changed immediately. If this is not accurate, we want the board to explain why this transaction (regardless of size) was approved.
"We believe Bulldog is part of a group of investments/joint-ventures that Warner has made that go well beyond its core business (management appears to be stretching, highlighting how troubled its core business really is). Other assets in this group include: Den of Thieves (TV production company), Brand Management, Violator Management, and Artist Arena (a fan services company).
"Bottom Line: Why was Bulldog acquired, who at WMG is responsible for the decision to acquire it, who is being held accountable for its multi-million (dollar) losses, how is it being accounted for, why was it not material to disclose to public market investors, how distracting are these type of non-core investments to a management team whose core business needs significant attention and are there other non-core acquisitions/investments that WMG has made or is currently in the process of making that have not been disclosed?"
So this is not just little ol’ me anymore, this is Wall Street. When the history of how the record business was destroyed is written, Bronfman will be the main player named in its demise.
Is it possible? The 2008 Sundance Film Festival kicks off Thursday night in Park City, Utah, with Martin McDonagh’s highly anticipated "In Bruges."
The movie stars Colin Farrell and Ralph Fiennes, but not all Sundance films are so highbrow. Still to come in the next few days: Paris Hilton arrives. She’ll host some parties, dance on some tabletops and screen a movie called "The Hottie and the Nottie." It’s not actually part of the festival — keep calm — but still, compared to Alan Ball’s dreadful "Towelhead," this one will be most appreciated. …
Strike or no strike, the Grammy Awards are happening on Feb. 10. National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences president Neil Portnow says the show must go on, and he’s right. The Grammys are preceded by a week of events, including the very important MusiCares Person of the Year dinner honoring Aretha Franklin.
Really, the Grammys have nothing to do with the WGA; Patrick Verrone et al would be wise to issue a waiver and let the show go on without pickets. Music artists and writers have a lot in common on the issue of the Internet. The writers should appreciate that, and let what’s left of the music biz proceed unimpeded…