Jacko-Liz Taylor Split? | Eminem's Record Company | Morgan Freeman
A Jacko-Liz Taylor Split?
Word from the weird world of Jacko, Liz, Liza and all things camp is that Michael Jackson and Elizabeth Taylor are no longer in each other's camps.
However, Senator John Kerry is in Liz's. Let me explain.
Two weeks ago, Taylor celebrated her birthday with a big gathering at the posh Hotel Bel-Air in the gated confines of Los Angeles.
Her hairdresser and pal, Jose Eber, was there, along with Dr. Arnold Klein, Liz and Jacko's dermatologist. (Debbie Rowe, who bore Michael two children, used to be Klein's assistant.)
And, says my source, also present was Senator Kerry, recovering from prostate surgery.
Kerry loves Hollywood. Two years ago he announced his candidacy for the presidency at super-agent Ed Limato's star-studded pre-Oscar party.
But no Jacko was present at Liz's bash.
"The talk all night was that they'd had a terrible falling-out," says my source, who somehow got invited. "It seems that Michael had summoned Liz to Neverland, but when she arrived he wasn't there. She's furious."
Indeed, Michael has been spending more time in the Palm Beach-Bal Harbour area of Florida looking for a new home.
The reason? Florida is a "homestead" state, where real estate cannot be taken away by lawsuit judgments and settlements. The expert on this, of course, would be O.J. Simpson.
The big questions though are: Who would buy Neverland? And will Florida let Michael have a zoo, carnival rides and child-replica mannequins in his new home?
As for Michael and Liz, I personally hope they make up soon. What with Liza reportedly in rehab and David Gest having to cancel his and Minnelli's blow-out anniversary party, this whole gang really needs some stability!
Eminem's Record Company Haunted by Past?
The company that releases CDs by Eminem, Ja Rule, 50 Cent, Ashanti and other hip-hop and rap stars is suddenly a hot topic.
Universal Music Group, which is run by Doug Morris, had been going along quietly doing its business while the press attended to scandals at Sony/Columbia, BMG/Arista and other places that demanded attention.
But with a spin-off by parent corporation Vivendi Universal increasingly possible, the company finds itself the subject of unwanted attention. It's ironic, too, because some old ghosts are haunting the place.
Last week I told you about the brouhaha surrounding a piece for Radar, the new general-interest magazine hitting the stands in a couple of months. It assigned a piece on UMG and Morris to investigative reporter John Connolly.
Even though Connolly hadn't even finished the article or turned it in, former Sony Music CEO Tommy Mottola pleaded with him and with Radar's editor Maer Roshan "to make the piece go away."
Mottola is said to be starting some kind of deal with Morris at Universal since his label deal at Sony has not materialized. Needless to say, Mottola's calls have had the opposite effect on Roshan and Connolly.
But why is Morris so nervous about this article? I'll tell you why. Roshan's major backer in Radar is Michael Fuchs, the great executive who created HBO for Time Warner. In the mid-'90s when Fuchs was HBO's golden boy, he was moved by Time Warner executives to Warner Music Group.
There, Fuchs fired Morris, who in turn went behind Fuch's back to get Fuchs fired. Talk about bad blood!
Fuchs was forced out of Warner after 20 years of success at HBO and a horrible stint trying to deal with the record division. He took home a reported $60 million and waited to see what would happen around him.
I am told it is not lost on Morris that Fuchs is backing Radar, where the real story of Warner Music's spectacular collapse may finally be told. Even though Fuchs didn't know the Morris story had been assigned, I am told that once he did hear about it, he was quite pleased.
Is he happy enough to make Morris squirm about old skeletons in the closet? I would say yes to that. Very much so.
Last week, Connolly sent an e-mail to Elektra Records president Sylvia Rhone, asking for an interview as part of the Morris story. Elektra is part of the Warner group, and Rhone was handpicked by Morris to run it years ago. They are still quite close, speaking on the phone daily and seen together often.
Rhone's publicist wrote Connolly back asking for his questions in writing. Connolly responded by saying that the questions were of "a highly personal and confidential nature." He preferred, he said, to speak to her attorney or her manager if she was not available.
Alas, Rhone's office did not respond again. Instead, Connolly received a letter from famed Hollywood attorney Bert Fields.
Fields informed Connolly that he had been retained by Morris "with respect to your repeated acts of slander and extortion. We now have a number of witnesses to whom you have made false and defamatory statements about Doug based on your assertion that you are writing a book about him."
Connolly tells me he is not writing a book about Morris, that he was assigned a short piece about Morris by Radar, and has no idea what Fields is talking about.
Morris, meanwhile, is watching while a ticking time-bomb of a lawsuit against his company threatens to expose the way Universal does business.
Lydia Harris, the producer of a documentary about Death Row Records, is suing Universal/Interscope and Death Row Records' infamous leader Marion "Suge" Knight.
Harris claims that as a founder of Death Row she was supposed to get 50 percent of the proceeds. But she says that all the defendants have done every shady thing they can think of to prevent that from happening.
So far Morris has managed to avoid giving a deposition. But according to records at the Los Angeles Superior Court, the case is scheduled to start in late May. If it happens, we may finally learn some of the dark secrets of the record business.
Morgan Freeman Remembers His Glory
Oscar nominated (but never a winner) Morgan Freeman says in the April issue of Premiere that the most important movie of his career is Glory, the 1989 drama about black soldiers fighting for the Union during the Civil War.
"It's history that no one knew anything at all about," he explains.
Premiere, by the way, is filled with great stuff in the new issue with Bruce Willis smirking on the cover. In particular is their excellent coverage of this year's Sundance Film Festival, with some great, hard-to-get portraits of the likes of Bob Dylan and Al Pacino. Check it out.