Did Michael Jackson call a secret meeting of his entire family last month to tell them about his newly expected children?
According to my sources, Jackson convened all of his immediate family members — parents, siblings, nieces and nephews — at Neverland on June 5 for a special meeting. Jackson himself was physically absent but was on a speaker-phone set up so he could address the group. All the siblings were there with the exception of Janet, I am told.
One theory is that Jackson told the group there would be at least one additional member soon, thanks to a woman who claimed to be pregnant by him through artificial insemination. But no one knows for sure, and now — even with US Weekly and the National Enquirer fighting over who broke the story — there is doubt that Jackson has a new child or children coming at all.
Yesterday, inner circle members of the Jackson group absolutely and categorically denied the current story, saying that Michael had not fathered one or four new babies who would be due around February. "No, no, no" is what I got from people I consider as close to Jackson as they can be.
On the other hand, at least two other Jackson intimates believe that some form of the new babies story has some veracity. They say that Jackson often kept company with a mysterious and wealthy young Palm Beach woman named Sylvia who would come to visit the pop star in a chauffeur-driven Bentley when he stayed in Miami.
One source says: "My wife once tried to get friendly with Sylvia, get her last name, invite her to dinner, when Michael wasn't in the room. Michael was furious. He said we were nosy for trying to find out about his personal life."
Could Jackson really have arranged with this woman or another to carry his child(ren) with none of his lawyers or associates aware of the plan? One former associate told me yesterday: "Yes. I know because I did things for him where I was the only one who knew what was going on. It can be done, and Michael likes to do things that way."
If the new baby story is a lie, as Jackson's insiders claim, then the question is, where did it come from? In the meantime, another source — one who has access to Jackson's accounts payable — says so far no one has billed the pop star for unusual legal work, and no cash outlays have been attributed to potential surrogate mothers.
Our favorite pop singer-songwriter from the era of talented composers, Carly Simon, finally has a movie devoted just to her.
As "Saving Silverman" was a paean to Neil Diamond, the new Brittany Murphy comedy, "Little Black Book," is slavish in its devotion to Carly. Her songs "Let the River Run," "We Have No Secrets" and "Nobody Does it Better" are just a few featured in the film. There's also a little surprise at the end of the movie which last night earned the filmmakers thunderous applause.
Alas, Carly couldn't make it out of Martha's Vineyard last night to accept all these accolades, but her husband, writer Jim Hart, was there and was impressed. So, too, was the movie's cast — Murphy, Ron Livingston, Kathy Bates and Holly Hunter — as well as Sony's Sir Howard Stringer, Barbara Walters, Claire Danes, Revolution Pictures' Joe Roth, Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas, and Deb Schindler, Claudia Cohen, Tim Robbins, comic Robert Klein, and dozens of young women who seemed enthralled by "Little Black Book."
Afterward, the action moved to Gustavino's under the 59th St. Bridge, where the party was so jolly that it spilled out onto the plaza. Mariah Carey's manager Benny Medina, looking buff, stopped by to say that Carey's new album is underway here in New York. For the first time in years, Carey is not recording on the Isle of Capri.
"We're not doing the diva thing," Benny said.
Carly is not the only rock star in "Little Black Book," by the way. Making his big studio debut is Gavin Rossdale, husband of No Doubt's Gwen Stefani and leader of his own erstwhile group, Bush. (No relation to the president, please.)
If only all this fun and frivolity had translated over to the premiere of "Catwoman" at the Henri Bendel store on Fifth Avenue. While "Little Black Book" stars mingled with the crowd at Gustavino, the "Catwoman" party was held behind a velvet rope inside Bendel's and far from onlookers.
A Warner Bros. publicist said we couldn't go in (neither could the New York Times) but maybe he could bring star Halle Berry out to see us by the rope. Since this conjured up a weird feeling of maybe feeding goats at the Bronx Zoo, we decided to leave -- especially after another Warner robot (model 712: black suit, clipboard, attitude) confirmed that we would never get in. We waved to Time Warner chairman Richard Parsons, who was inside the VIP area, and pushed on into the night.
Michael Moore's "Fahrenheit 9/11" will pass the $100 million mark possibly as early as Saturday, making it the most successful documentary ever and one of the year's biggest hits.
But $100 million at the box office means more than Democrats saw the film. It's a mixed bag, and often with interesting members.
One of them is Bob Grabow, who runs a special events company in Texas that often books Linda Ronstadt. Grabow told me yesterday that he's standing behind Ronstadt despite her little Las Vegas controversy.
"I think everyone should see 'Fahrenheit' and make up their own minds. It is the patriotic thing to do."
But don't count this guy as a partisan of any kind. He's probably not voting for either presidential candidate. "I'm not impressed by Bush or Kerry," he said.