Michael Jackson | CBGB | Roman Polanski
Jacko: New Subpoena May Drag Him Home
Michael Jackson's Bahrain vacation may be coming to an end.
This week, papers were served on Jackson's three known remaining attorneys by a lawyer for Marc Schaffel, Jackson's former partner.
Schaffel, formerly an unnamed and unindicted co-conspirator in Jackson's child molestation case, is suing Jackson for $4 million he says he loaned to Jackson over the course of four years.
Jackson's lawyers — Brian Oxman, Brent Ayscough and a Houston attorney named Michael Sydow — have rebuffed Schaffel's attempts to get Jackson to come home for a deposition in the case. Their main complaint is that any video deposition would immediately wind up in the press.
Nevertheless, Schaffel's lawyer, Howard King, has now served a motion for a hearing on August 17. King will push for Jackson to begin a deposition before August 31.
In the papers, King assures Jackson's team that the video will remain secret, which is too bad, 'cause we'd love to see it.
This should be interesting as it develops. Jackson is being sued by about four different parties now, none of whom are having any luck getting him before a judge.
Additionally, Jackson has almost no proper legal representation, since his regular civil team disbanded this year.
And of course, he continues to face down a December deadline for disposition of his 50 percent stake in Sony/ATV Music Publishing.
CBGB: For Rent by Its Enemy
The famed New York City punk-rock club CBGB and OMFUG — originally a folk-music venue named Country, Bluegrass, Blues and Other Music for Uplifting Gormandizers — is getting closer to eviction after 30-plus years on the Bowery.
The club's landlord, the Bowery Residents' Committee, a non-profit charitable organization established to aid the homeless denizens of New York's most famous skid row, has listed the club and its adjacent art gallery with Cushman and Wakefield Realtors. CBGB's lease runs out in late August.
Sources say that the building's owner has also agreed with the BRC to be ready to move everything belonging to CBGB out of the building on a moment's notice.
It's no coincidence that Cushman and Wakefield is shopping the storied space. A member of the BRC's board of directors happens to be Alex Cohen, a senior executive at the gigantic real-estate firm.
He told me it's no conflict of interest, however, in his opinion.
"I'm not profiting from this," he said.
The BRC, as I reported in this space in April, is intent on getting rid of CBGB, no matter what. It's turned down offers to negotiate with the club on matters of back rent and an affordable lease going forward.
If the BRC gets its way, the place where the Ramones, Talking Heads, Blondie and Patti Smith — among others — all got their starts will become either a bank or a clothing store by the fall.
There is also a rumor — unfounded — that New York University, which has swallowed central Greenwich Village whole, might be looking to replace the club with more dormitories.
Personally, I always wonder how it works when someone like Cohen, or the BRC's chief executive, Lawrence "Muzzy" Rosenblatt, addresses such an issue when they're at dinner.
Do they say, proudly, "Oh yes, we closed down a very famous New York nightspot. Now the neighbors can buy jeans"?
The BRC is no small-time institution for the homeless. It's a $25 million-a-year operation, with backing and directors who have deep pockets.
One of their primary backers, ironically, is an organization called Seedco, which — according to its Web site — finances low-income job-training programs and backs small businesses, including downtown art galleries. Seedco got the BRC its seed money and continues to donate large amounts on an annual basis.
When I called Seedco yesterday for a comment, the president's wife, Mrs. William (Miriam) Grinker, returned my call from her Park Slope, Brooklyn, aerie.
She was very pleasant. She said, "We have no comment. We're not getting involved in this."
Others on the BRC board include journalist Julie Salamon, who writes for the New York Times and once authored a book about the disastrous making of "The Bonfire of the Vanities."
CBGB will hold a round of benefit concerts in August to rally its vast following, and maybe also to remind the yuppies without memories who run the BRC why the Bowery wouldn't be the Bowery without CBGB.
Also crucial: "Little Steven" Van Zandt, of Bruce Springsteen and "Sopranos" fame, has stepped in. Van Zandt, according to sources, has offered to start a foundation that would not only raise money for the club, but put on shows to give the BRC a higher public profile. But I am told that so far the BRC hasn't responded to Van Zandt's proposal.
Cohen, of Cushman and Wakefield, told me: "CBGB's doesn't pay their rent. They make $2 million a year. This is about a tenant who won't pay the rent. Would you want to give them a new lease?"
But CBGB founder and owner Hilly Kristal counters that the club makes no such money. Kristal grossed $2 million last year thanks to clever merchandising of CBGB T-shirts and such, he claims.
"But we barely break even overall," he explained. "Do you think unknown bands and singer-songwriters are drawing enough to offset the rent?"
The BRC proposes to double the club's rent if it offers it a new lease at all. That would push the monthly nut from $20,000 to $40,000.
Further, Kristal claims that the BRC — as the primary leaseholder — is in violation of several rent laws, all of which are now being discussed in New York's least pleasant venue, Housing Court.
If CBGB does close, or is driven from its location, it will be only one of many Village institutions that have vanished recently, thanks to corporate greed and skyrocketing rents.
The Bottom Line is also gone, as are the Lone Star Café, Balducci's, the famed Jon Vie bakery on Sixth Avenue and Great Gildersleeves, among others.
Luckily, there are 13 or 14 Starbucks below 23rd St., so the Village will be able to retain its unique identity.
Polanski: Almost Verified ... or Not
It's been quite a week up at Elaine's, as Roman Polanski's British libel trial ended last Friday with him winning $87,000, plus a sizeable reimbursement of legal expenses, from Vanity Fair magazine and its editor, Graydon Carter.
Anyone who claims to remember anything that happened in Elaine's some 35 years ago has chimed in. Reporters from all over, most of them pups, have come through the doors looking for a comment of some kind from Elaine Kaufman herself about this tempest in a shot glass.
Last night Lainie Kazan, who'll play Elaine in a forthcoming Broadway musical, was holding forth at her table while the great actor John McMartin was at another.
Men's Health editor Dave Zinczenko was warming up a cute blonde at a front table, while in the side room, mystery writer Carol Higgins Clark was being thrown a big birthday party by her mother, Mary Higgins Clark. No less an eminence than literary agent Esther Newberg was spotted on the premises.
Elaine, fielding questions about Mia Farrow's courtroom memories at the Polanski libel trial, did tell me one interesting tidbit.
"I got a call from Kiki," she said, and right away we knew she meant Kiki von Frauenhofer, "widow" of novelist Jerzy Kosinski, who wrote "Being There."
Just to recap: Kosinski — a pathological liar — committed suicide in 1991 at age 58 after being revealed to be a talented and charming fraud. He and Kiki never married.
Kosinski, a friend of Polanski — both were Polish-Jewish Holocaust survivors — was married for a short time, until her 1968 death, to a wealthy American socialite, Mary Hayward Weir.
Kosinski, a great tale-teller, was supposedly on his way to Sharon Tate and Polanski's Los Angeles home the night Tate and four other people were randomly murdered there by Charles Manson's followers in August 1969.
Polanski was in Europe at the time, and the Vanity Fair article alleged that, while traveling back to Los Angeles after the murders, he tried to seduce a Swedish model at Elaine's by promising her he would make her "the next Sharon Tate."
Did Kosinski know anything about Polanski's social life right before or after the murders? If so, did he tell Kiki?
"She says she kept a diary and knows everything." Elaine said.
Ah ha! Maybe this is the answer!
"The thing is, Jerzy never brought her here. He made her stay at home," Elaine recalled.
And? Did Kiki say what she knew?
"No, as a matter of fact." She grimaced. "I don't even know why she called."
Too bad for Vanity Fair.