Published June 11, 2008
Movie star Paul Newman has quietly turned over the entire value of his ownership in Newman’s Own — the company that makes salad dressing and cookies — to charity.
Completed over a two-year period in 2005 and 2006, the amount of his donations to Newman’s Own Foundation Inc. comes to an astounding $120 million.
This is unprecedented for any movie star or anyone from what we call Hollywood. Of course Newman and actress wife Joanne Woodward have never been Hollywood types. They’ve lived their lives quietly in Westport, Conn., for the last 50 years. (They were married in January 1958. And people said it wouldn’t last!)
This column learned about this extraordinary gift as news started coming out recently about Newman’s battle with lung cancer. This is not news to my readers. I told you several months ago that Newman — who has five grown daughters — was seeing an oncologist, that he’d been in and out of Memorial Sloan Kettering hospital on many visits from Westport. Like everything else, the Newmans tried to keep Paul’s illness a private matter.
But a tip-off that he was maybe not doing so well came in late May. Newman announced that he would not direct a production of “Of Mice and Men” later this summer at the Westport Country Playhouse, where Woodward is the artistic director.
News of his illness seems to have been exacerbated by none other than neighbor Martha Stewart. She recently published pictures of Paul on her Web site from a party she hosted. He looks gaunt but nevertheless smiling his trademark smile. Nothing will set him back. This racecar driver and adventurer should not be written off as “dying.”
“He’s a fighter,” one of his close friends told me Tuesday morning. “And he’s going to keep fighting.”
In the meantime, I also told you last August that in Botswana, the Newman name is known not for being a movie star. It’s known for his famous Hole in the Wall Gang camps. The camps go to Africa every summer to run programs for impoverished and ill children. It’s the same program they run in dozens of similar camps all over the United States.
The Hole in the Wall camps are just a few of the places the hundreds of millions of dollars have gone that Newman has raised since he got the idea to bottle salad dressing for charity.
According to Newman’s Own federal tax filing for 2006, the actor personally gave away $8,746,500 to a variety of groups that support children, hurricane relief in the Gulf Coast, education and the arts.
Some of Newman’s recipients are well-known: He gave Rosie O’Donnell’s children's program $5,000 and even donated $25,000 to his pal Robert Redford’s Sundance Institute. But most of them are for the kinds of programs that we never hear about, the kind that simply keep people alive.
But don’t think that Newman — who received his Kennedy Center honor in 1992 and deserves a Presidential Medal of Freedom — did this because he suddenly thought he was dying. When he set up the new foundation, he hadn’t yet been diagnosed with lung cancer. It was just in honor of his 80th birthday, and an acknowledgment that he wanted to make sure his charities would continue receiving his largesse.
By the time you read this column, Lee Trink, the popular and affable president of Capitol Records, will be telling his troops his last day is June 30.
Sources tell me Trink’s resignation will be followed in short order by that of Jason Flom, head of Virgin Records. Both labels are part of EMI Music.
And get this: Neither Trink nor Flom will be replaced. Guy Hands and the folks from Terra Firma, the new owners of EMI who have no experience in the record business, don’t believe in label presidents.
This means that as Coldplay — the group headed by Gwyneth Paltrow’s husband, Chris Martin — releases "Viva La Vida," the biggest album of its career, its American record label will have no one running it. This also means that the Beatles will have no one directly representing them. Neither will Katy Perry, who has the No. 1 single in the country with "I Kissed a Girl," or any other Capitol acts.
And the funny part is that none of them knows it. As of Monday morning, no one from EMI had bothered to call the people representing any of those acts to tell them the news. They even left the Beatles’ Apple Records out of the loop. The Beatles catalog, which is not available for official downloading anywhere, still sells millions of CDs for Capitol.
This is the way I am told all the EMI labels will be run. Nick Gatfield is coming in to take over as "president of A&R labels for North America and the U.K." for all of EMI. But the individual labels will not have presidents. They will have "A&R presidents" and heads of marketing.
Unfortunately, right now there is no marketing chief for Capitol. And now there’s no president.
Elsewhere in the EMI world, there is chaos. Janet Jackson and the Rolling Stones have left Virgin. That label’s remaining stars are Lenny Kravitz and Joss Stone. Neither of them has a long-term commitment.
More perilous is the situation at Blue Note and Manhattan Records, two highly successful divisions of EMI run by Bruce Lundvall and Ian Ralfini. Their artists include top-selling acts such as Norah Jones and Celtic Woman.
Lundvall is sort of the Clive Davis of EMI and may get the same kind of deal as Davis now at Sony BMG — sort of president emeritus. But even that is unclear, since Hands and friends are said not to have contacted him yet.
Meanwhile, Capitol is said to be renegotiating with one of its few hit rock groups, 30 Seconds to Mars. The group, featuring sometime-movie star Jared Leto, sold about 2 million copies of its last CD worldwide. But the group has no current deal with EMI and could leave if it gets a better offer.
As for Flom: He came to Virgin after a purge at Atlantic. Warner M. Group paid him out about $50 million to take over his label there and sent him packing.
At Virgin, Flom established KT Tunstall and Red Jumpsuit Apparatus and spent a good deal of time putting out fires as EMI went through office moves, internal mergers, downsizing and a number of other calamities. Still young by industry standards, Flom will pick up his artists, staff and paper clips and start something new and no doubt even more successful.
These new moves leave alone at least for the time being EMI Music Publishing. Sources tell me there is a strong feeling that Terra Firma will try and sell off EMI Recorded Music — the "records" or CDs — and keep the publishing company. The long-named potential buyer of the record company is WMG. But that doesn’t even seem so likely. My guess would be Sony Music trying to buy EMI, since the Beatles’ songs are housed in their own publishing company.
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Sean Combs’ eldest son, Justin, graduated from the Horace Mann Middle School in Riverdale last week. Diddy brought his own videographer to record the event, along with lots of family. Justin, who had a restaurant named for him, is leaving Horace Mann to attend high school closer to home in Mount Vernon where he lives with his mother, Misa Hylton-Brim. …
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The judge, in case you wondered, was Larry Paul Fiddler, the same man who recently let the Phil Spector murder trial turn into such a disaster. It’s amazing he’s still around. …
The ratings dropped once again last week for CBS’ "As the World Turns" without star Martha Byrne. Of course, there are some who think CBS and sponsor Procter & Gamble simply are trying to drain their audiences and cancel this show and "Guiding Light." It would be a unique approach. The latter show continues its own ratings descent, thanks to its poor production values. …