Michael Jackson's infamous personal charity, the Heal the World Foundation, is pretty much dead.
The question remains: Where did all the money go from the event Michael hosted at Carnegie Hall a year ago?
You'll recall that on Valentine's Day 2001, a few hundred people crowded into Carnegie Hall to hear Michael Jackson and Shmuley Boteach host a panel on children. Tickets cost $40, $30, and $20 apiece. The money was supposed to be going to a new charity called Heal the Kids, or Time for Kids, or Heal the World.
One year later, you may be wondering what happened to the charity and to the money. It's a good question. No one seems to know the answer.
As far as can be determined, Jackson's Heal the World Foundation ceased operations some time ago. It's still listed with the IRS as a charity, but there's no information about it to be found.
In the United Kingdom it's officially closed. In this country, the last tax filing available — for 1999 — shows Jackson giving no money to other charities at all and receiving no donations from others. He ended the year with $114,000 in claimed assets, having spent $15,000 on clerical procedures. Jackson's personal accountant, Barry Siegel, wasn't even sure the charity still existed.
If you type healtheworld into the Internet, it automatically takes you to a Web site for healthekids.net, which is hosted by Shmuley Boteach, the publicity hound/rabbi. On that site, it appears that Jackson and Boteach's charities have somehow merged. The phone number in New York for this group turns up an answering machine. Repeated calls were not returned.
Last year I reported that Boteach had been run out of England when the British Charitable Commission determined that he'd used funds from the Oxford L'Chaim Society for personal stuff, such as a house. Since then, the L'Chaim Society has changed its name and requested that Boteach stop claiming a connection to them.
Nevertheless, Boteach's tax-free foundation in the United States is called Oxford L'Chaim Society, implying a tie to the prestigious British university.
The L'Chaim Society's last public tax filing, for 1999, shows that the charity took in $300,000. Of that amount, $160,000 went to "management" and $122,000 was sent as a lump-sum donation to the L'Chaim Society of Cambridge, the other top British university.
But of course representatives of the Cambridge Society swore to me last year that they hadn't heard from Boteach in a long time. Certainly they didn't mention a huge donation, and neither did he.
But even so, more than half the money collected by Boteach in 1999 went to salaries. Less than half was donated to charity.
So far, there is no public accounting for 2000 or 2001. The Form 990 for 1999 is signed, by the way, not by Boteach, but by his wife, Deborah.
Patricia Blythe, whose name is listed on the L'Chaim Oxford voicemail as the public-relations person, did call me back. She claimed not to know anything about the charity itself.
"I work for Shmuley," she said, twice. "Someone will get back to you."
No one did.
And about the money from the Carnegie Hall ticket sales? Your guess is as good as mine. How interesting it will be to hear from those who wrote checks to the charity and then tried to deduct them from their 2001 taxes…
Mulholland Drive director David Lynch has set his sights on a new collaborator: powerhouse British chanteuse Julia Fordham.
On Friday night, Lynch commanded a table at Los Angeles's Knitting Factory to watch the beauteous Fordham perform her hits, including "Happy Ever After" and "Lock and Key."
Lynch, who's worked mostly with New Jersey composer Angelo Badalamenti, sought Fordham out and asked her to write some music for his next film.
Meanwhile, Fordham and L.A.-based manager Lori Leve are busy shopping Fordham's new CD, Concrete Love, to record companies.
The album — which I've heard and is absolutely spectacular — was supposed to be released last year on Atlantic's Division One label. It was produced by Joni Mitchell's former husband and producer Larry Klein. But the label folded before the CD could come out, and now Leve is fielding offers from several others.
Whichever label picks Fordham up will have an automatic Grammy nomination for Best Pop Performance, Female next year.
Fordham recently performed at the Sundance Film Festival to sold out audiences at the Sundance Café.
If you haven't heard Fordham's incredible instrument of a voice, she sounds like the love child of Joan Armatrading and Nina Simone. You can meantime order her solo albums from amazon or cdnow.com. Entertainment Weekly called her 1997 album East West "a chilling tour de force."