Luther Vandross | Dana Giacchetto | Sex and the City
Luther Doesn't Know He's No. 1
It's a bittersweet story for singer/producer Luther Vandross . Because of his stroke back in mid-April, he does not know he has the No. 1 album in America.
Vandross, who is now in a rehab hospital, as yet does not communicate in any substantial way and is not understanding what is being said to him. This is from at least two people who are close to the situation.
Because of this, Luther is not aware that he has the biggest hit of his career with Dance With My Father. The album sold 440,000 copies last week and is likely doing the same this week.
And it's all earned by Vandross. This is no sympathy sale. Dance With My Father is his tour de force , whether you're a fan or not.
Meanwhile, American Idol singer Ruben Studdard had better start listening to Vandross' records, or maybe hire a vocal coach. At the annual UJA-Foundation luncheon in New York on Wednesday for record company executives — honoring RCA Group's Charles Goldstuck and Def Jam's Kevin Liles — Studdard wheezed out against a pre-taped track of his hit single, "Flying Without Wings." It should have been called "Singing Without a Voice."
Not only was Studdard unable to sing below a raspy whisper, but also the song itself — first a hit for the U.K. group Westlife — came off as a weird rewrite of "The Greatest Love of All."
There's no denying Ruben's a nice guy, but in person he may be suffering from the same thing that has reportedly plagued Kelly Clarkson: no range.
Range, by the way, does not mean being able to do the Yodelympics up and down the scales. It's something Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey and maybe Christina Aguilera have, but it is rare.
Ruben didn't have it on Wednesday. His inability to hit the notes made a few in the room noticeably wince, including producer Jermaine Dupri.
Mariah, who was guest host emcee, shot him a funny look too, even though she praised the idea of him. Ruben as a concept, you see, is much better than Ruben in reality.
But back to Luther: Everyone is praying for him and pulling for him. How splendid it will be to see him in good shape by the Grammys next February.
Leo's Money Man Out After 2 ½ Years
If you're feeling cynical about the law, then you know that in this country one can pretty much get away with anything if you have the right lawyer.
Dana Giacchetto, the 40-year-old money manager who bilked celebrities and even pulled a couple of fast ones on über-agent Michael Ovitz, is already out of jail. He's serving out the end of his light sentence on something called "home confinement."
Home, in this case, is almost certainly not the SoHo loft where Gwyneth Paltrow, Leo and the late John-John all partied like it was 1999, in 1999. Giacchetto is more likely installed at the home of his loyal fiancée, Allegra Brasco.
But even his "home confinement" — which allows him to come and go as he pleases— will be finished on July 28. How comforting this must be to all the non-celebrities who lost money with him.
Two Sundays ago, Giacchetto — dressed in all-black Prada — was featured in the New York Times Magazine. The magazine didn't reveal his status, but promoted his next venture: gourmet fast food. To borrow a regular Times Magazine phrase: What were they thinking?
Giacchetto was convicted of fraud because he stole millions of dollars from his celebrity clients as he managed their money. He took from Leonardo DiCaprio (who literally lived with Giacchetto and was with him daily) to give to Cameron Diaz and so forth. He amassed a large art collection on everyone else's dime, threw lavish parties and jetted around the world like a star.
Even when he was caught and was under investigation by the SEC, he gave interviews to Vanity Fair and New York magazine, lied to all of them and continued to steal money from one account to give to another.
At his sentencing hearing several of his non-celebrity victims — the people who'd been hit the hardest — came and told the judge what hardship Giacchetto had caused them.
During his run as an arrogant A-lister, Giacchetto managed to lie about a Harvard education, his professional background and his standing with the SEC. No one questioned him. Every one of the gullible celebrities he came in contact with believed his stories. So did their money managers, who wanted to appear hip and threw in with him.
Maybe he was a character borne of the times. Giacchetto's roommate in Boston, before they both moved to New York, was Craig Kanarick . Kanarick would also wind up moving to New York and starting an Web design company called Razorfish. For a few wild moments at the end of the 1990s, Razorfish was hyped as the Next Big Thing. Now, in 2003, Razorfish is gone and Kanarick is a minor footnote in the dot-com boom.
Giacchetto's sentence went pretty fast, didn't it? When he received 57 months in jail on Feb. 7, 2001, it seemed like it would be a long run in prison. But thanks to the fact that he was considered a flight risk the previous April, Giacchetto had already been incarcerated for 10 months. That much was deducted from his sentence, making it 47 months.
Another 12 months or so was lopped off because Giacchetto claimed he needed to go into a drug program: so 37 months. By my count, February 2001 to July 2003 comes to 30 months. So Giacchetto managed to pick up another seven months' get-out-of-jail-free along the way with a standard 15 percent reduction.
He needed to be out for the Prada sample sale, I guess. The sentencing hearing itself was something we should never forget.
Giacchetto had previously written the judge a poem (Vive, Vive, Globum! — click here for the full text). At the hearing he sobbed, explaining his actions due to the fact that his mother "had polio. My father's father — I'm sorry, I have to say this — blew his brains out when he was young."
He continued: "Yes, I do lie. I've lived in a fantasy. I'm not a one-dimensional mendacious character. From the day I started Cassandra Group, I wanted to help artists. Please show me some mercy."
His mother, Alma, shouted out: "We love you, Dana! You're very honest!" There was stifled laughter in the courtroom.
Giacchetto's crazy ride claimed a number of other victims, none of whom will be pleased to meet up again with him. Among them: DiCaprio's talent agent, Rick Yorn , who was sued by Giacchetto's bankruptcy receiver and had to cough up $1.3 million.
Also sued by the receiver was Giacchetto's unofficial security man, a retired 30-year-old New York City policeman who had to return $8,000 he got in "fees."
Giacchetto told The New York Times he was busy working on a gourmet fast-food company called Taste. This should be of some interest to his victims, to whom the court ordered Giacchetto must pay restitution of $14 million.
I am sure they will all be watching his every move quite closely. Those Prada clothes and designer haircuts he's returned to don't come cheap.
Sex Chair Update
Here's the first-ever home-decorating tip from the Fox411. I think I've found the Sex and the City sex chair. It's a knock-off of Le Corbusier's famous modern leather chair. I stumbled upon it in the window of White Furniture yesterday on lower Broadway. It had a tag on it for $650, and you can imagine how much fun it was to explain the whole story to the owner.
Anyway, they have a Web site: www.whiteonwhite.com. And look for the Karazona chair. (In black leather it's $960, style LC 103.) Chiropractor not included.
Trust me, in a couple of weeks everyone's going to want one. But how you get it up on the bed, I don't have the faintest idea.