Heather Mills likes to portray herself as the Queen of all charity giving.
But according to Justice Bennett’s decision in her divorce case, Mills has not been truthful about her largesse.
A year ago, when Mills appeared on "Dancing With the Stars," she made it very clear she was donating her entire fee to animal rights groups.
But according to Bennett, Mills received about $220,000 and gave a little less than half to VIVA USA. Bennett notes in his decision in paragraph 195 that he’s seen the "Dancing" contract and that she donated L50,000 — or $100,000 — British sterling pounds to the group.
At the time, Mills said on the VIVA Web site: "The last few months have not been good for me as my life has been on hold. But I love dancing and want to support Viva! in this important campaign to expose the appalling cruelty to which millions of pigs are subjected on British farms. Taking part in this show satisfies both desires. The show itself might also provide a bit of fun and a few laughs — things I’ve been missing for far too long."
She told countless interviewers — in clips all over the Internet — that she was donating her "Dancing" fee, leaving the impression that it was all of it, not just some of it.
Consequently, in making his decision about how much of Paul McCartney’s hard-earned money Mills should be allowed to distribute to needy causes, Bennett allocates the former model $100,000 a year. Any more than that, he notes, would have to come out of her own pocket.
Meanwhile, it’s Mills’ crabbing about not having enough security (i.e. bodyguards) that becomes almost a plot line in Bennett’s decision. In the final divorce, Mills gets McCartney to pay for security for two years. After that, she’s on her own. Bennett doesn’t seem fazed by this, especially after McCartney’s testimony in front of him.
Bennett says that McCartney — maybe the most famous rock star in the world — told him:
"Before Heather and I were married I had a fairly limited and low-key security presence unless I was on tour, which creates a very different set of circumstances. There were never any bodyguards at [his farm].
"The general farm employees kept a lookout for anything suspicious. There was virtually no security at [his London apartment]. At the office complex in New York there would be one guard on the door given the location of the office in midtown Manhattan. There was an off-duty police officer who provided night cover when I was at Long Island, and on trips to and from the airport.
"There was no permanent close protection during this period unless I was on tour or attending high-profile events. This was how I had lived with my first wife and our four children."
McCartney continues: "There were no real changes after Heather and I married until Beatrice was born; however, Heather then began demanding, increasingly stridently, far more 'security' to protect her from what she viewed as press intrusion.
"She did not suggest that she needed security for her or Beatrice’s personal safety. Rather, her aim was to erect a barrier between her and the photographers. Accordingly, whilst there was no security at [the farm] over and above the presence of farm hands, security was increased when we were [in London] and was increased when we went to my American properties. I must stress that I believe there was no need for this increase other than Heather’s insistence. Indeed, I have reverted to my former pattern of security in recent months."
McCartney, who never has lived a high-on-the-hog existence of mansions, butlers, etc., told Bennett: "My real concern with Heather’s demands for bodyguards 24 hours a day is our daughter. Unless on tour, my older children had very little security.
"They all attended local state schools. It is not healthy for a child to have security 24/7. It sets them apart from their peers and makes them an object of curiosity and, at times, ridicule. Such children live in gilded cages. I do not want this for Beatrice. I am rarely photographed with Beatrice. She needs as normal an upbringing as possible, and surrounding her with round-the-clock security is not the way to achieve this."
If you were in Nashville, Tenn., Wednesday night and you weren’t at the historic Ryman Auditorium, you really missed something.
"Soul Man" Sam Moore put on a spectacular show for children's organization the Lili Claire Foundation with a bunch of his friends: Wynonna Judd, Travis Tritt, Lorrie Morgan and Jo Dee Messina. Not only that: In the audience were Alison Krauss, John Waite and "American Idol" star Bo Bice.
The nearly two-hour extravaganza honored Barbara Orbison, widow of Roy; Universal South Music’s Fletcher Foster; and rock manager Charlie Brusco.
The Ryman, if you don’t know, is the scene of the original Grand Ole Opry and a former church. It’s one of the most beautiful music venues in the world for its size and acoustics.
Not one of the performers disappointed the sold-out crowd, and there were more standing ovations than we’d seen in a long time. Wynonna, in particular, was a gem. Her version of Foreigner’s "I Want to Know What Love Is" was so moving that the audience was on its feet before she was done.
"That’s what I do," explained Wynonna, deadpan, after the show, acknowledging that "people like that song. It’s like going to church." She’s working on a new album, all cover songs, she told me, and it should be out in October.
Judd — who brought along her two kids — stayed to the end and even participated in a big singalong with the artists of "Amazing Grace." Earlier, she joined 72-year-old soul legend and original member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame (when it meant something) Moore on a rockin’ version of "I Can’t Stand the Rain."
But it was Moore’s night, ushering Tritt, Morgan and Messina on and off the stage to join him in various duets. Each of the three was up to the task, but it was Moore alone — on "Rainy Night in Georgia" — and an R&B-ed "Tennessee Waltz" that brought down the house.
Regular readers of this column are aware that I’ve known and admired Moore a long time, but this show — which was taped and may be shown in the future — was one that this Ryman audience will long remember as historic. Moore continues to astound, much like Tony Bennett. As he ages, his voice only gets richer, his phrasing and showmanship are only more assured.
Meanwhile, I was incredibly impressed with Messina and Morgan. Here are two vibrant country stars that should have crossed over into mainstream pop a long time ago. That they’ve been pigeonholed in country is a real shame. What voices! And they’re sexy, too!
My informal tour of the Nashville music scene during the day certainly was an eye-opener, too. Here is the last place where the music business continues to thrive, unspoiled by downloading and corporate execs devouring it from within. It was nice to see that somewhere the record biz still feels like it has a community, and that talk of it being dead is really limited to New York, Los Angeles and Warner M. Group.
As for the charity, check out www.liliclairefoundation.org. They’re a remarkable organization formed for children suffering from neuro-genetic diseases. Two young people who’ve gotten support from the group actually performed in the show Wednesday night and were wildly well-received.