Yesterday the New York Post's Page Six breathlessly broke the news that Nicole Kidman was seen "making out" with rapper Q-Tip recently. They are said to be an item. You could hear heads being scratched all over town about this one.
So what's the real story?
Indeed, Mr. Tip -- whose real name is Jonathan Davis -- is 32 years old and comes from New York City. Before he was on his own, Davis founded the seminal hip-hop group A Tribe Called Quest. They were not fearsome, violent rappers, but in fact a groundbreaking ensemble that combined jazz and melodies with their own kind of poetry. In other words: A Tribe Called Quest was too smart for its own good, and now it's gone. Davis, ironically, signed to Arista Records and Clive Davis, where he's allegedly been working on a new album.
I've seen Q-Tip three times recently. The first time was at the premiere of Gangs of New York. Since he is not a commonly seen presence at movie premieres, I did inquire about his status there. He seemed to know Kidman but they spent almost no time in the same space all night. She stayed close to her buddy, Moulin Rouge! director Baz Luhrmann.
I asked Kidman about Q-Tip a couple of days later, on Dec.12, when we did a lunch time interview at the Hotel Plaza Athenee. She said she met Davis -- whom she calls by his Islamic name, Kamaal Fareed -- through a mutual friend, but not Leonardo DiCaprio. Rather, Kidman's got a regular friend in New York who's a stylist from the state of Georgia. That friend introduced her to Davis at a holiday party, which resulted in the whole group of friends going out to dinner. You wanted the minute by minute, blow by blow? You got it.
Since then, Q-Tip does indeed seem to have become part of Kidman's world. He sat next to her at the premiere of The Hours and almost lost his seat in the Paris Theatre when a publicist, thinking he shouldn't be there, almost had Davis ejected. At the moment he was sitting by himself with a media power couple on either side -- News Corp's Rupert Murdoch and wife Wendy to the left, and Viacom's Sumner Redstone and his lady friend on the right.
He was also at the Golden Globes, but stayed close to Kidman's extended circle of friends and not much with her. Kidman was busy attending to her sister, Antonia, who is pregnant. At the Miramax after party, Antonia became overwhelmed by the sea of people and almost had to leave. Eventually, Kidman -- who's fiercely protective of her -- found a banquette where they sought refuge and champagne (not for Antonia, don't worry).
"He's very a talented musician, isn't he?" Kidman asked me at that lunch last month. "But I don't know much about that whole world, do you?"
Chances are she's going to find out more about it soon. Kidman will be in New York for three months beginning in February to shoot Birth, in which Kidman's character believes her dead husband (Danny Huston) has been reincarnated as a 10-year-old boy. (This does sound like Cybill Shepherd's movie Chances Are, in which Robert Downey Jr. turned out to be Cybill's dead ex, but you never know.)
Will there be many Nicole/Q-Tip sightings? Will they eclipse J-Lo and Ben-Lo? I doubt it. But hey, Nicole is single. Isn't this the whole point of being single? She's catching up with the world she missed for 10 years. She should have some fun without everyone poking around in her business! Hmmm. Let's see how long that lasts!
By the way, I'm told that Q-Tip -- who once hung with diva Mariah Carey during her pre-divorce days from Tommy Mottola -- is interested in starring in a biopic about Marvin Gaye. The title of that should be "Stubborn Kind of Fellow," but my guess is if it ever sees the light of day, the story of Gaye would be called "Sexual Healing." Just a guess.
It may be time for the Academy Awards to look to the Grammy's for some advice. Even though the ratings weren't great for the Golden Globe telecast, a lot of people said the same thing once they were over: They've crossed a line into Oscar territory.
Indeed, what a strange situation for the Oscars. They're not given out until March 23, but two months earlier pretty much all the nominees showed up and gave thank you speeches at another nationally televised ceremony. Yikes!
TV ratings for the Oscars have not been too good in recent years. Certainly, the Golden Globes situation doesn't help.
The Globes, of course, are voted on by 90 or so people who are wined and dined by the movie studios all year. They are coddled to wherever they go despite often having tenuous journalistic credentials. They're supposed to be members of the Hollywood foreign press, but some of them are simply Americans who represent journals from abroad.
The Academy, on the other hand, consists of 5,000 actors, directors, writers, producers and miscellaneous studio people. They're voting for peers in most cases, and are seriously well informed about the movies. By contrast, the HFPA members do not even show up for every screening. A couple of years ago, only a handful managed to see Terrence Malick's The Thin Red Line.
The Grammy's came up with a simple solution to the problem of competition a few years ago. They simply and quietly banned anyone who wanted to perform on their show from being on the rival American Music Awards. This is why so few stars showed up this year to pick up their AMA's. They want to be seen on the sanctioned show. They're not stupid.
Last year, Dick Clark -- who produces the AMA's and the Globes -- got into a legal fight with the Grammy's. He wanted Michael Jackson on the AMA's; that meant no Grammy's for Jacko. Michael was supposed to perform on the AMA's. Ultimately he showed up to get a statue, but there was no moonwalking.
The Oscars now have a similar problem awaiting them on March 23. How to get an audience for a show that's already been seen? I doubt the Academy wants my advice, but they're only going to get ratings if they offer things not shown at the Golden Globes. Maybe U2 can perform their song from Gangs of New York, for example. But the real solution is to have big names as presenters, and not B-listers pushed by publicists on stage. And I mean Big Names, too: Redford, Hoffman, Fonda, Streisand, Hawn, Cruise, Hanks, Bullock, Grant. Now that would be a show worth watching.
I think I met Nell Carter only once, when she was the unlikely co-star in a Ismail Merchant movie called The Proprietor. She played the housekeeper and friend of French actress Jeanne Moreau and gave a splendid performance. She even sings in The Proprietor, and her voice is spectacular. What a shame to lose her at such a young age.