Let me be the first to tell you what Goldie Hawn is going to be doing during the months of May and June. She is off to look for joy. That's right: joy.
Goldie — always a fun presence when she arrives in New York — is making a documentary about joy. That is, the spiritual side of this hard-to-find noun.
She's got a camera crew, and they're sifting through various options of where to film around the world. They've already been up to see the folks who run Esalen as a possible locale, but Goldie's journey will take her around the world, she told me last night.
Her you-know-husband-whatever Kurt Russell told me he will meet up with Goldie and the crew at various points along the trip.
"We're going to meet scientists, poets, everyone," she said. More importantly, although she has "suitors" for the film's distribution, she's decided not to part with the rights to it. "I'm going to own this film," she told me. "I'm not giving anything away anymore."
Look for Joy sometime this December, which is Hawn's target date. And don't think she's given up acting. Her The Banger Sisters, about two ex-rock groupies, which co-stars Susan Sarandon, hits theatres in June.
The reason Goldie and Kurt were in town last night: the annual dinner for the American Museum of the Moving Image. This year's honoree was Mel Gibson, who acquitted himself well while enduring a two-hour tribute from various co-stars and friends.
Along with Goldie and Kurt, Jodie Foster, Danny Glover, Matthew Modine, director Richard Donner, Glenn Close, Gary Sinise, and DreamWorks honcho Jeffrey Katzenberg gave tributes. Conspicuously missing — certainly busy with other appointments — were Gibson's favorite co-star, Renee Russo, and director Ron Howard.
The quips were plentiful as the show moved along, but it was Mel who as usual stole the evening. Looking at a gigantic poster of himself that hung across the stage, Gibson told me before the evening's fun got underway: "I don't like to be in everyone's face, and I certainly am now."
Unbeknownst to all of us, Mel — not loving the idea of staring at his movie-star face so reverently all night — then asked the stagehands if they had any black paint on hand. When it was his turn to take the podium, Mel pulled a chair out, jumped up on it and spray painted a graffiti mustache on his likeness.
His publicist told me later that all the posters of Mel in his office have either mustaches, blacked-out teeth or horns provided by the star himself. He does not take himself too seriously.
Commenting on the clips of his movies — many of which were moneymakers but not award winners — Gibson laughed, "I wouldn't have made some of those choices."
He got a good riff on beautiful and smart Paramount Pictures head Sherry Lansing, though. "A homeless man came up to her and said, 'I haven't eaten in four days.' Sherry said, 'I wish I could do that!'"
Lansing took it with her usual good nature.
Among some of the non-roasting guests was director M. Night Shyamalan, whose June film Signs stars Gibson. The movie is another of Night's psychological thrillers, this time about mysterious patterns sculpted in farm fields.
I asked Mel if after making the movie he finally understood where those patterns came from. "In the movie? Yes. In real life? No," he said.
Finally, last night's dinner marked a rare appearance by Mel's wife, Robyn, the mother of his seven children. Robyn is sort of notorious for not coming to public events, and she managed not to arrive with Gibson, preferring to come in quietly. Only last week I happened to see her arriving with Mel at the Four Seasons Hotel in Los Angeles, so I knew she existed.
A pretty, young brunette who certainly doesn't look like she's been raising all those kids — from ages 3 to 21 — Robyn Gibson beamed at the end of the tribute. What was her favorite clip? "Conspiracy Theory, I think," she said.
The Writers Guild is joining David Letterman, Ted Koppel and Barbara Walters on ABC's list of headaches. Yesterday sources from the Writers Guild told me that negotiations with ABC News for news writers and other support staff — not the million-dollar kind, but the $30-$50,000-a-year regular guy kind — are not going well. In fact, they're going so badly that the Writers Guild is considering calling a boycott of ABC News.
"We've been negotiating with them since January," one insider tells me. "In all the negotiations we've had before, we've never seen such Disney-fication. ABC is saying they want to be able to say who among the employees can stay in the union, and who cannot.
"If employees choose to stay in the Guild, they can be demoted," the source said. "If they opt out, ABC/Disney will make a 'private' deal with them. Basically they want all of ABC Newsfeed, which produces the news for affiliates, to be non-union in three years."
Union representatives are said to be so frustrated that they are considering a plan to boycott Good Morning America, Eyewitness News and other big ABC News shows. This would entail bringing other unions into the fray for support.
"They're trying to break our union," complained a WGA source.
ABC News issued a statement yesterday afternoon, saying, "We regret the Writers Guild of America has chosen rhetoric instead of attempting to resolve these issues across the bargaining table."
The network's news department has had a bad week already, what with the revelation that Nightline may be removed or retooled. That was compounded with an upset at This Week that led to the resignation of Cokie Roberts.
Michael Jackson's financial problems are real, folks, make no mistake about it.
And Sony Music's denial to Variety yesterday shouldn't make anyone feel better about the situation.
After reading this column a couple of days ago — in which I reported that Sony Music Publishing chief Richard Rowe had been in talks with Jackson about his $200 million loan and the rights to the Beatles' song catalog — Variety managed to get a statement out of Sony.
The company told Variety, "We are not in discussions with Mr. Jackson over the sale of his share of the ATV catalog." A Sony rep insisted, "These rumors are completely baseless."
Indeed, this is mighty good spin-doctoring on Sony's part since they wouldn't have to buy the catalog — they would actually be foreclosing on it.
Jackson owes Sony at least $200 million. This doesn't take into account the rumored $30 million spent on the making of Invincible — a figure producer Rodney Jerkins alluded to when the album was released — or the cost of remastering Jackson's older albums. The latter figure is also supposed to be off the charts.
As of the new SoundScan/Billboard report, Invincible has sold 1.9 million copies. Last week it moved 22,000 copies, which is now just a trickle.
Purported international sales come to 3 million copies, but those figures are for albums shipped, not sold.
In any case, Jackson is in deep trouble. With Sony's fiscal year coming to an end on March 31 — and with revenues down everywhere in the record business — it would not be surprising for the company to try to recoup some of their losses with Jackson.
Indeed, a source who knows the inner workings of the Jackson-Sony saga confirmed to me last week that Rowe — whose father, by the way, is said to be the man who passed on the Beatles 40 years ago at London Records — has been in "constant contact" with Jackson and his representatives trying to sort out a solution.
Additionally, Jackson reached out to private financiers here in New York about a month ago, according to my sources, looking for ways to raise money. The llamas, I guess, are getting hungry at Neverland.
Interestingly, another source — one who is also well-versed in the mechanics of this story — tells me: "Michael's people are playing this wrong. This is a very typical case of race in the music business. Just like when singers signed away their rights for Cadillacs and jewelry, Michael has been hog-tied by corporate interests who want to see him fail."
Indeed, merely taking the Beatles' song catalog from Jackson could be a publicity nightmare for Sony, which could be accused of making and breaking its onetime megastar. Look for Rowe to work out some deal in which everyone saves face, and Jackson can still live in the style to which no one else is accustomed.