An Internet war has broken out concerning actress Anne Heche's new memoir, Call Me Crazy. Anne's sister and mother have each taken to a Web site called Readers Forum at http://discussions.previewport.com, where they have opened up a debate about the accuracy of Anne's recollections.
Perhaps the most striking of these postings is the denial by Nancy Heche, Anne's mother, and Abigail, her sister, that Nancy knew of the sexual abuse of Anne by Nancy's husband. Anne Heche's father, who turned out to be gay, died of AIDS in the early 1980s.
On the site, an obviously hurt Nancy Heche writes: "I am trying to find a place for myself in this writing, a place where I, as Anne's mother, do not feel violated or scandalized. I find no place among the lies and blasphemies in the pages of this book."
Abigail Heche, in combined postings, rails against her sister's newly published claims.
"It is my opinion that my sister Anne truly believes, at this moment, what she has asserted about our father's past behavior; however, at the same time, I would like to point out that Anne, in the past, has expressed doubts herself about the accuracy of such memories.
"Based on my experience and her own expressed doubts, I believe that her memories regarding our father are untrue. And I can state emphatically, regardless of Anne's beliefs, that the assertion that our mother knew about such behavior is absolutely false."
Anne's sister also has some interesting thoughts on her sister's claim in the book and to Barbara Walters about being crazy, and her temporary conversion to homosexuality.
"Is it true she was a lesbian? Is this the one tidbit you've chosen to believe is true? I think Anne has stated that she wasn't a lesbian, she was just crazy. I'd prefer to keep the lesbian and lose the 'crazy' if I could choose. Anne has many ways of getting attention as we can all attest to by the brilliant exploits over the years."
As for the family's current condition, Nancy Heche concludes: "[Anne has] stopped talking to me. She made the decision to cut off communication."
What does this reporter think of the whole Anne Heche mess? I've known Anne for several years, and in fact actor Vince Vaughn, publicist Norah Lawlor, and I were all present at the moment that Anne connected with Ellen DeGeneres at a Hollywood party in 1997.
Anne is a terrific and compelling actress. But I find it strange that her adoration of Ellen, and all the other impassioned stuff of the last four years, is now being written off as a manifestation of craziness.
I don't know why Anne wrote this book or wanted to subject herself to such scrutiny. I think she would have been better off simply marrying her new fiancé, and keeping quiet about Ellen and the whole chapter in her life.
I have rarely seen a calculated effort to win public support collapse as quickly as this one. More often than not, it's better to keep quiet. Something tells me this book is going to be harder for Anne to shake than her famous walk in the woods.
This is a day people are going to be talking about for a long, long time. Tonight, Michael Jackson's 30th Anniversary All-Star Show opens at Madison Square Garden. It's really going to happen. People are being flown in from everywhere. Lots of money — millions and millions of dollars are being spent to accommodate a lot of old Hollywood stars, performers, hip-hop divas, the whole deal. Tickets are on sale on eBay, really expensive tickets (for $2,500) are still on sale through Ticketmaster, and the world is buzzing.
One thing's for sure: Rabbi Shmuley will not be there. Not only is it Friday night, but he's also persona non grata in the Jackson camp since this column revealed his history of mishegos in the U.K.
Who will be there? First of all, pop singer Usher is opening the program with Jackson's hit song, "Wanna Be Starting Something." The choreography and lighting are said to be stunning. Not only that, but toward the end of the song, Usher will be joined on stage by the Lucy and Ricky of R&B, Whitney Houston and Bobby Brown. Which one will be dressed more flamboyantly? We'll have to wait and see.
Later in the show, Usher returns to sing another Jackson hit, "Man in the Mirror."
Also tonight, there will be a trio of Mya, Tamia and Deborah Cox on "Heal the World." Rapper Rah Digga joins them for a little rhyming.
But Britney Spears and Ricky Martin have scratched their names from the all-star lineup. Other stars, like Dionne Warwick, Shaggy and Gladys Knight, will perform their own hits rather than Michael's. Gladys Knight, it should be pointed out, discovered the Jackson 5 back in 1969.
The acts for the all-star shows have been rehearsing all over New York this week, at SIR Recording Studios, at the Chelsea Piers and finally at the Garden. Houston and Brown have been in town for days, staying at a posh midtown hotel on the dime of producer David Gest. To paraphrase a Jackson song, they are not alone. When these hotel bills come in, I hope someone's there to hold Gest's hand and fan him. Almost every pop singer in the land uses "Mini-Bar" as his or her middle name.
Meanwhile, there's word that a pair of disgruntled Internet entrepreneurs from Los Angeles will attempt to serve Jackson with a lawsuit today, just to embarrass him. Derek Rundell and Court Coursey were first interviewed in this column last April about their defunct Web site, HollywoodTicket.com. They said Jackson was investing $2 million into their venture. Now they're claiming that the money never came, and are going to do their best to drive the point home.
Rundell and Coursey have their own legal problems. They've been battling a lawsuit from WebMD, the online medical site. A source who was involved with Rundell and Coursey in another failed venture told this reporter: "Those two were spending a lot of time with Michael at Neverland. They were very empowered by knowing him." Meaning, they traded on his name as much as possible.
HollywoodTicket.com, by the way, is still not a functioning site.
For months the record business has been buzzing that Arista Records president LA Reid is in trouble and about to get axed. For a while, it looked like this was just a nasty rumor. Not anymore.
Reid was counting on releases by Usher, Blu Cantrell and Puff Daddy — aka P Diddy — to solidify his position. Indeed, the first two scored big radio hits in the last month. But taken together, the three albums have not been astounding sellers. They are currently at numbers 20, 33 and 34 on the new Billboard Soundscan chart.
The result is that Reid is once again the subject of exit rumors. A source who is very close to this scene says: "Things are very bad now. I would say he'll be out by the end of the year."
What exacerbates all this is that Clive Davis, who Reid succeeded, has had such a phenomenal success with Alicia Keys' debut album. It's number 4 this week and has sold nearly 2 million copies.
Reid still has one arrow left to shoot, the new album by Kenneth "Babyface" Edmonds, which ships next week. It's a winner, with a big hit single on it called "What If."
I ran into Johnny Wright yesterday afternoon backstage at the MTV Video Music Awards rehearsal. He's very excited about his client Britney Spears' movie debut. Britney stars in Not a Girl, for Paramount, directed by Tamra Davis. The film opens in February under the MTV Films banner, which sounds a little like a conflict of interest, no?
Anyway, Britney's movie also has a soundtrack with songs by her and that Justin Timberlake of 'N Sync. This should only ratchet up the animosity between that group and The Backstreet Boys since Brian of the latter group produced a movie called Olive Juice starring his wife Leighanne and featuring his own songs — but still that project has no release date or distributor.
And then there's always Glitter, Mariah Carey's imminent movie release. All of this makes me think of Troy Donahue, the teen movie star of the early 1960s, who recently passed away, and Freddie Prinze Jr., whose movies are an embarrassment. One day all of this stuff will be playing on the Cheese Channel, which will be found at number 760 on our digital cable boxes, along with Saving Silverman and a Jason Biggs Film Festival.
In case you hadn't heard, Famke Janssen recently dropped out of Barry Sonnenfeld's Men in Black 2. She worked one day on the project, but then claimed an illness in her family and bolted. She was replaced by Lara Thin, I mean Flynn, Boyle.
Now Famke, the beauteous star of X-Men and a number of indie movies, has jetted off to join the cast of I Spy. This is the Eddie Murphy/Owen Wilson remake of the classic 60s TV show that starred Bill Cosby and Robert Culp.
So did the family problem resolve itself? Indeed, no. A source close to Janssen said simply, "With Men in Black it was, shall we say, creative differences that ended the arrangement." And in Hollywood, that's as good an illness as any.