Leo's Manager Paid More Than Half a Million in Scandal

Leonardo DiCaprio | Courtney Love | Tower Records | Army Archerd | Michael Jackson

 Leo's Manager Paid More Than Half a Million in Scandal

Last September, Leonardo DiCaprio's manager, Rick Yorn, quietly settled a $1.3 million lawsuit brought by Dana Giacchetto's bankruptcy receiver. Yorn, who is currently at the center of a new controversy with his partner Michael Ovitz, had been accused of demanding the money from Giacchetto — who maintained the financial accounts of movie stars Yorn managed — so he could buy a new house.

York agreed to pay the receiver $610,000.

This is not chump change, even in Hollywood. The stipulation of settlement, signed last summer, is filed with the Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York.

The original complaint alleged that Yorn had taken a total of $1.3 million from money adviser Giacchetto as payment for stock in Paradise Music and Entertainment, a company on whose board Giacchetto sat. But Yorn had never gotten that stock, the bankruptcy receiver insisted. And he knew it.

Yorn, the receiver cited in its suit, had "requested, insisted upon, and received several substantial transfers of money from Cassandra [Giacchetto's money-managing group] as purported loans and/or advances for his acquisition of a new home …"

In all, there were six payments by Giacchetto from his other clients' accounts to Yorn between Aug. 24, 1998, and Sept. 10, 1998, totaling $606,521.

Another payment, of $737,000, was made by Giacchetto to Yorn a year later. On that check, Giacchetto wrote: "Paradise Shares." But the suit contends that all of Giacchetto's clients had to sign releases when they were buying Paradise stock, and that Yorn knew that and never did sign — because there never was any stock.

In between the two payments, Yorn paid Giacchetto back most of the original transfer. That would account for the settlement figure. To pay Yorn in September 1999, Giacchetto looted the accounts of other clients. The money came from Courteney Cox ($500,000); Ben Stiller ($250,000); Tobey Maguire ($150,000); Brill's Content editor David Kuhn ($250,000); actress Lauren Holly ($100,000); and Lara Harris, a non-celebrity client ($500,000).

Nevertheless, Yorn's clients have stuck it out with him. When I asked Cameron Diaz about this recently at the premiere of The Sweetest Thing, she gave me a blank look and said, "It's too bad somebody" — meaning Giacchetto — "could do so much harm."

In Hollywood, it seems, all is fair. Yorn is currently in demand by a talent agency called The Firm, run by Jeff Kwatinetz. The Firm, according to Monday's New York Times, is negotiating with Michael Ovitz to merge their business with Ovitz and Yorn's Artists Management Group.

But a source told me this week: "This is not the case. Jeff just wants Rick. He doesn't care about Mike Ovitz. He's nothing to him. He's never going to merge with AMG. It's all a ploy to get Rick."

Yorn would come to The Firm with DiCaprio, Diaz, Maguire, and a handful of other top names.

The ironies here cannot be lost on Ovitz, a brilliant move-maker who lately has had a run of back luck. After all, it was Giacchetto — now in prison for bilking his clients — who introduced him to Yorn and helped design the deal that combined what had been Addis-Wechsler Management with Ovitz.

"What people wanted Mike Ovitz for was his cachet and clout," said my source. "But he doesn't have either right now. He doesn't have the clients. And a lot of people hate him."

Ovitz could trace his difficulties back to the days of his infatuation with Giacchetto. In one magazine article he called him his "life advisor." At the time, Giacchetto was busy moving money from one client's account to another, using the funds to finance a jet-set lifestyle.

Giacchetto, who agreed to a summary judgement from the Securities and Exchange Commission of $14 million and has been stripped of his ability to be a money adviser ever again, is currently serving a 57-month prison term for fraud in the federal prison at Allenwood, Pa.

Robert Geltzer, the bankruptcy receiver, tells me that so far he's managed to find $1 million of the money Giacchetto mismanaged.

Courtney Is Crazy — Like a Fox

For what it's worth, I was glad to hear that the judge in Seattle threw out that petition for Courtney Love to have a psychiatric examination.

The former members of Nirvana were asking for this because they're trying to hold on to Kurt Cobain's songs. Courtney is his widow and mother of Cobain's child, but she signed away some of her rights under duress and now wants them back.

Courtney Love is not crazy. She is also fighting the record industry for artists' rights. She is often tactless and rude, annoying and irritating and relentless. Well, those are her personality traits, and she has every right to have them. But crazy? Like a fox.

I'm embarrassed that whenever a woman stands up for her rights, the men she's suing instantly say she's nuts and should be locked up. Foo on those Foo Fighters (that's what former Nirvana drummer Dave Grohl's band is called).

But it sounds like she has a good judge in Robert H. Alsdorf. He wrote in his decision: "… requiring a mental examination in response to a marketing dispute would serve no purpose other than to contribute a circus-like atmosphere to the trial …" Good for him!

Tower Records — Is It Worse Than We Thought?

I took a walk through Tower Records in downtown Manhattan yesterday. It was sobering — the place was a ghost town. The smell of desperation and Chapter 11 is everywhere. I have to say, I was shocked. The record business really is in trouble.

What other business prices all their new stuff, which no one's heard, out of the market, but at the same time keeps all the old stuff discounted? It doesn't make sense. Granted, both Norah Jones and John Mayer were priced to sell CDs at $8.99. But Paul Westerberg's new album was marked $18.99. Forget it!

Even more depressing: The mezzanine at Tower has given way to boom boxes. They're not selling CDs there anymore. On the first floor, the stock looked spare and uninviting. A lot of acts were in the wrong categories. The staff looked depressed.

It's hard for someone my age to imagine the death of the record store, but the day has already arrived. Between online ordering and downloading, I suppose kids do not flock to the stores as we used to for the latest release. (I remember how we lined up to buy Let It Be, it was so exciting!)

Up the street, at The Wiz, I ventured in to try and purchase a single-drawer CD player of some quality. The salesman told me they are no longer made, and that I should buy a cheap DVD player that plays all formats. In the so-called audio room something atrocious was being pumped through the speakers — no inducement to making a purchase. I left empty-handed.

Today I will order the single-drawer CD player from either AudioAdvisor.com or from toysfromtheattic.com. Two great pleasures are gone …

Happy Anniversary, Army

Happy 50th anniversary to Variety's extraordinary elder statesman, Army Archerd. For half a century Army has been reporting, on a daily basis, the ins and outs of Hollywood — all exclusive, told in his unique voice.

He is a classy role model for me and many other columnists. We wouldn't know what we were doing without Army blazing the trail. Congrats, Army — and here's to many more years of your even disposition and wisdom!

Jacko Redux: Post-Apollo Party and More

We're still reeling from a loooong night at the Apollo with Michael Jackson, Bill Clinton and friends.

The after-party was chaired by Gotham magazine publisher Jason Binn, a rising star among young Democratic fund-raisers. It was held at the Studio Museum in Harlem on 125th Street, just down the street from the Apollo. Harlem looks better than ever right now — it's a real comeback success story.

But more than a couple of people have said to me, "The whole Michael Jackson part of the evening was creepy."

Yes, it was. And the idea of all those actors — paid extras — dressed up in garb from around the world like a bad postcard. Can it be that Jackson really thinks of each nationality in stereotypes? Sombreros, painted faces, forelocks, etc.?

Still, Michael brought with him a complete set of impressive special effects: two machines that threw flames from the stage skyward, plus a big video projection. He also had ex-Red Hot Chili Peppers and Jane's Addiction member Dave Navarro (of all people) on electric guitar, which made a huge difference on "Black or White." Slash would have been proud.