Bobby Brown: 'I Died Three Times' | Clooney: Olympics Won't Be Boycotted | How Gucci Got Ready for Madonna | P.S.: Anthony Minghella's Memorial
Bobby Brown: 'I Died Three Times'
Bobby Brown, the R&B pop star and Whitney Houston’s drug-addicted ex-husband, died three times and had to be resuscitated.
That’s just one of the revelations in the autobiography he’s self-publishing on May 13 with distributor Atlas Books of Ohio. "Being Bobby Brown: The Truth, the Whole Truth and Nothing But…" is co-written with Derrick Handspike, whom I spoke to Thursday night.
On Thursday press reports touched on a few items from Brown’s memoirs, but there’s a lot more.
What’s the incentive at this point to sell out Whitney, daughter Bobbi Kristina and even himself? As Handspike — an Atlanta hip-hop producer and author of several books — explained: "We are very wealthy from this already."
It’s not completely clear how the pair has made so much from a vanity press publication, but Handspike intimated that there are "investors." "It’s a joint-venture kind of thing," he said.
For her part, Whitney, says rep Nancy Seltzer, refuses to comment now and forever on the book. "She’s not going to talk about the father of her child."
But starting soon, Bobby’s going to be talking. His press reps are approaching all the shows and made an inquiry to Oprah. The angle is gong to be that this is Brown’s way of telling his story, and that there’s very little about Whitney — at least not enough for which to sue him.
"He OD's on heroin," Handspike told me. "No one knows that. He had a stroke. They said he had a heart attack but he had a stroke."
And then there are the three deaths. Brown relates that his heart stopped three times and he had to be revived with paddles.
Brown also owns up, Handspike tells me, to hitting Houston. "He considered it horse play. The reason Whitney called the police was that he laughed at her and then left. She said, 'You think you’re going to just walk away from this?' Then she called the police."
In the book, much is learned about Brown that you may or may not be interested in. He "scored" with Janet Jackson. He also immediately hit it off with Whitney in a physical way.
"We also had bedroom chemistry." He isn’t modest, either. "I've always been known to be a pretty good lover. The word on the street is that I’m well-endowed, if that means anything. Does it, ladies?"
More on Monday. It’s worth the wait…
Clooney: Olympics Won't Be Boycotted
George Clooney, who’s done a yeoman job bringing the plight of the Darfur people to light, says that China’s support of Sudan won’t cause a total Olympic boycott.
Clooney, I might add, said this at the end of a long apolitical night at the '21' Club where he celebrated the release of "Leatherheads" with such an A-list crowd that the guests are still pinching themselves.
Still, it seemed like we might get in one serious question since the rest of the gathering was like a mini Oscar party or the kind of rollicking time you imagine movie stars once had in New York — maybe at Toots Shor or the Stork Club, definitely at '21.'
At one point yours truly was standing just on the perimeter of a circle that included Clooney, Bruce Willis, Sam Rockwell, Clive Owen, Harvey Weinstein and sultry-looking Oscar-nominee Patricia Clarkson in a chic black cocktail dress.
When Clooney — who knows how to hold the attention of other movie stars in a circle around him — wasn’t paying total attention to the anecdotes and jokes, he was signaling a very blonde, chic Ellen Barkin so she wouldn’t feel left out.
No one was smoking, but if this had been the 1950s, you know, they would have been. And imbibing martinis. Alas, it’s 2008, and people "had to get up early tomorrow morning." They drank still water and worried about calories from the ice-cream dessert.
Still: Director Taylor Hackford (whose wife is shooting a movie about Tolstoy in Germany) was busy fielding questions about how he convinced Joe Pesci to come out of retirement after a decade and be in his new movie, "Love Ranch," with Hackford’s wife, Helen Mirren, and Gina Gershon.
Meanwhile, Katie Couric turned up with boyfriend Brooks Perlin. She wound up sitting with and then not with NBC Universal chief Jeff Zucker and his wife, Caryn, after meeting Oscar-winning directors Joel Coen and Steven Soderbergh (the latter with wife, Jules Asner, an imminent author). Candice Bergen followed the action from the other side of her table. NBC’s wunderkind, Ben Silverman, made a brief appearance.
Clooney’s producer-actor pal Grant Heslov told us about his cameo in "Leatherheads." His old friend, the beloved Richard Kind, invited Clooney to the final dress rehearsal today of "Candide" at Lincoln Center. There were several members of the cast there, including Jonathan Pryce and the great character actor Peter Gerety who’s worked so much this year that he forgot he’s also in "Stop-Loss" right now. (And "The Wire" on HBO as the judge, and "Syriana" and so on.)
Some other guests — all of whom were assembled and seated by Peggy Siegal, who introduced everyone to Nicholas Edmiston, the famous international yacht builder from Monte Carlo: the immortal Liz Smith, beauteous Marquesa designer Georgina Chapman (aka Mrs. Weinstein), blonde Soderbergh producer Laura Bickford. Willis brought his delectable girlfriend, Emma Hemming, a California girl with South American roots.
Wanda McDaniel from Armani chatted up a late-arriving elegant Clive Owen and told us about the big Metropolitan Museum Costume Institute Ball on May 5 chaired by Clooney and Julia Roberts with Anna Wintour in honor of Giorgio Armani. Whew!
The group began to pull up stakes around midnight. That’s when Richard Kind noticed a thick manila envelope had been left on a chair. It wasn’t Clooney’s.
Kind peered inside. "It’s a script, for a musical," he said. "Leap of Faith." Hackford had left behind all his notes for his coming Broadway show. "Is there a part in here for me?" Kind joked. The others told him, finders keepers.
The "Ray" director had already gone home. So down to Hackford’s East Village loft went Siegal with Clarkson to deliver the envelope, script and notes. Gracious as always, Hackford was thrilled to see his folder. He hadn’t realized before they called that it was missing. A tour of the apartment ensued — wasn’t that the whole point of shlepping 50 blocks? — featuring a look at Mirren’s Emmy for HBO’s "Queen Elizabeth I."
"Oooh," Siegal said, ogling the gold statue, as a New York night of nights came to an end.
"I have two," mocked Clarkson facetiously, (she does — each for HBO’s "Six Feet Under.")
"It’s no big deal."
How Gucci Got Ready for Madonna
The House of Gucci has been in business since 1899, according to the fashion company’s Web site. In all that time it never started a tax-free foundation. That is, not until they met Madonna.
On Thursday, Charlotte Blechman sent me a letter Gucci received from the IRS on January 16. It was just three weeks before Gucci planned to launch its new Fifth Avenue store with a fundraiser for Madonna’s Raising Malawi charity, in fact really a front for the Kabbalah Center in Hollywood, UNICEF.
But Raising Malawi, which was formed in 2006 by Michael Berg, son of the founder of Kabbalah, still didn’t have its 501 © 3 classification from the IRS. It couldn’t collect the money coming in from Madonna’s pals and sycophants. So Gucci had to pitch in. According to the IRS letter, the fashion giant applied for tax-exempt status and got it on Nov. 7. The official letter arrived in January.
So that clears up where half of the $3.7 million went from the Feb. 6 event at the U.N. Presumably, UNICEF accepted its half. The question now is: What will Gucci do with $1.85 million? Will it donate to Raising Malawi and put it in the hands of Berg and Co.? Or will it give it to a legitimate organization set up to help Malawians without a religious cult agenda?
In an e-mail, I queried Blechman: "Did you create the Foundation for the sole purpose of donating money to Kabbalah/Raising Malawi? If your effective date was November 7, 2007 it sure seems that way. Gucci didn't have a Foundation prior to this. And how are you giving/donating/moving money to Raising Malawi if they aren't registered? Is that through Spirituality for Kids?"
She did not respond. Blechman’s primary interest, as far as I could tell, was to make sure we knew that Gucci had its own foundation now.
Meanwhile, Madonna’s documentary "I Am Because We Are" has its world premiere as part of the Tribeca Film Festival on April 24 here in New York. That means it’s ineligible to be part of the official Cannes Film Festival. If it’s going to be screened in Cannes, "I Am" will have to be shown as a stand-alone screening, for PR purposes but not as part of the Festival de Cannes.
Such a thing would have been ironic, anyway. Madonna’s ex-husband, Sean Penn, is the head of the jury judging films in competition this year.
P.S.: Anthony Minghella's Memorial
Many dozens of Hollywood’s and New York’s finest were heading to London on Friday for director Anthony Minghella’s memorial service on Saturday. Harvey Weinstein was to read a tear-soaked letter from producer Sydney Pollack, who was Minghella’s partner. Renee Zellweger, who won an Oscar with Minghella, also is scheduled to speak.
The remarkable Pollack, who’s also been ailing, I am told went into the pair’s Los Angeles office this week and held a staff meeting. Many thought he was coming in to announce the closing of the company, Mirage Productions. Far from it. "He’s keeping it open for Anthony," one observer told me.