P. Diddy Pal Rick Ross Must Pay Big Bucks For Vicious Blogger Attack

Rick Ross, a rapper who Billboard says is being managed by Sean P.Diddy Combs, lost a major and potentially career damaging civil case in Manhattan yesterday.

A Federal court jury ruled that Ross would have to pay $300,000 to DJ Vlad, aka Vlad Lyubovny, for allowing his entourage to beat the guy to a pulp.

Ross, aka William Leonard Roberts II, records for DefJam. Lyubovny was beaten up by Ross’s entourage at the Ozone Awards on August 10, 2008 in Houston. The blogger and DJ is also a vice president at SRC/Universal Records.

The reason? Ross was angry that Vlad had revealed in a blog that prior to being a rapper, Ross was a corrections officer in Florida. Lyubovny’s injuries included a broken eye socket, a broken nose, nerve damage to his face, cheek, upper lip, teeth and gums– all of which required seven stitches under his right eye following the attack.

Brian D. Caplan of Caplan & Ross, who represented Lyubovny at the trial, issued a statement: “There is no place in civilized society for members of the media to have to fear retribution for their news coverage and commentary. The jury awarded Mr. Lyubovny $250,000 in punitive damages against Rick Ross to send a message that such conduct will not be tolerated or condoned.”

Weirdly, it’s since all this happened that Combs, according to Billboard, has become close pals with Ross. According to a report yesterday in Billboard, not only is Combs managing Ross, but Ross is helping to write Combs’s next album. He’ll need the money.

Combs may feel sympathetic to Ross. In 1999, he was accused of attacking Universal Records exec Steven Stoute in his office, ambushing Stoute and beating him with a Champagne bottle, a telephone, and a chair. The case was settled out of court, with Combs pleading to harassment instead of felony assault and reportedly paying Stoute half a million dollars.

Gwyneth and Mom Headed to Broadway’s Night Music?

Stranger things have happened.

There’s some talk on Broadway that replacements are being sought for Catherine Zeta Jones and Angela Lansbury in “A Little Night Music.” Once the pair play past the Tony Awards in June, they are expected to leave for greener pastures (movies, in Jones’s case) and a little rest (in Lansbury’s.)

And so the rumor floating around is that the producers are interested in Gwyneth Paltrow and her mother, Blythe Danner, taking over the roles. This means Oscar winner Paltrow would sing the famous “Send in the Clowns.” She can sing, you know, Paltrow just finished making a musical film called “Love Don’t Let Me Down,” in Nashville with Tim McGraw. She starred in “Duets,” directed by her later father Bruce Paltrow and had a semi-hit single with Huey Lewis on a cover of a Smokey Robinson song.

Danner can do anything, so taking over for Lansbury would be a cinch.

Only problem: each is too young for the roles. Jones is three years older than Paltrow. Each of them is substantially younger than Glynis Johns was when she originated the role. Danner is strikingly younger than 85 year old Lansbury, that’s for sure. Could it work? Well, they do call it acting. All those years, Estelle Getty played 20 years older as Sophia on “Golden Girls.”

If Paltrow isn’t available, I did hear one producer mention Mariska Hargitay as a possibility. Obviously, they’re looking for stars. But I don’t think Chris Meloni could do the Lansbury part justice. (Just kidding! They could call it “Night Music SVU.”)

Meanwhile, the talented Matthew Settle takes over the part of Billy Flynn in “Chicago” this Monday, April 19th. Matthew, of course, plays the rock star dad on “Gossip Girl.” I have a feeling he’s going to be great! PS “Chicago” has been on Broadway since November 1996. I can remember in the ol’ days when “Fiddler on the Roof” and “Hello Dolly!” held the longevity records when they hit seven or eight years. How times have changed.

More stars on Broadway: Kelsey Grammer opens on Sunday in the latest revival of “La Cage Aux Folles.” The word is the production is great. Can’t you picture Frasier Crane in this show? It’s perfect casting.

Miramax May Finally Return to Its Rightful Owners

Miramax–the name and the catalog–may finally be returned to its rightful owners, the Weinstein brothers.

I was the first to write several months ago that once Disney decided to close Miramax, they should give the name back to the Weinsteins. Well, Disney does nothing for free, except when you wish upon a star. So the Weinsteins are in the middle of talks to buy it all back. They’re joined supermarket billionaire Ron Burkle, who also owns half the debt of Barneys department stores and most of Sean P Diddy Combs.

There are others in the bid for Miramax, including billionaire brothers Alec and Tom Gores, whose brother Sam owns the Paradigm Talent Agency and is married to former “Another World” star Jensen Buchanan. The other horse in the race belongs to David Bergstein, who once owned ThinkFilm.

Bergstein is a terrible choice. He destroyed ThinkFilms and is now embroiled in a nightmare case in bankruptcy court. Giving Miramax to Bergstein would be like putting it in an incinerator, no matter how much money Bergstein says he’s representing. No one at Disney, especially Bob Iger, wants to be part of that legacy.

The Gores are an interesting family. The two brothers–Alec and Tom–could not be less like brothers Harvey and Bob Weinstein. For one thing, the Gores were very much a part of the Anthony Pellicano case. Alec hired Anthony Pellicano to wiretap Tom’s phone and that of Alec’s wife, Lisa, because he thought they were having an affair. It’s amazing they still talk to each other, let alone are combining to buy a company.

Alec Gores’ second wife, Hedi, is on the board of Madonna’s Raising Malawi, a front for the Kabbalah Center of Los Angeles. She’s used Alec’s fortune to help underwrite the cause.

Alec Gores does have a connection to filmmaking: back in 2004, he commissioned actor Tom Arnold to write and direct a $5-million feature film called “The Kid & I” starring Gores’ 18-year-old son, Eric, whose mother Gores allegedly wiretapped just three years earlier.

Eric Gores, like the character he plays in the movie, suffers from cerebral palsy. He co-starred in the vanity production with Joe Mantegna, Linda Hamilton, Jamie Lee Curtis and Shaquille O’Neal.

“The Kid & I” is notable for being the only film in which Arnold Schwarzenegger has appeared since becoming governor of California. Gores, by coincidence, donated $7,000 to the Republican Party, George W. Bush and failed California U.S. Senate candidate Bill Jones during that period.

Obviously, neither the Goreses nor Bergstein is an appropriate owner for a catalog that includes three Best Picture winners and dozens of hits from “Chicago” to “Good Will Hunting,” “Shakespeare in Love,” “Il Postino,” “Pulp Fiction,” and “The Cider House Rules.”

In the end, Disney is a family company. Bob Iger knows that. It’s built on the Disney family legacy. Miramax is very much the same, dedicated to the memory of the Weinsteins’ father, Max, and their very much living and feisty mom, Miriam. If the Weinsteins prevail, Disney and Iger get gold stars. Everyone’s happy. And the movie universe is in balance again.

Harry Potter Back to Broadway–with Clothes!

Harry Potter is coming back to Broadway. And this time, he’ll wear clothes!

Daniel Radcliffe has signed to star in a revival of “How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying.” It’s a musical, so apparently our Harry can sing. Who knew?

No word yet on who will be his female co-star.I guess if they could get Emma Watson to do it, the box office would sell out immediately. Radcliffe’s prior Broadway show was “Equus,” in which he co-starred with his Potter colleague Richard Griffiths. Radcliffe appeared naked for some of that show, which got a lot of publicity. In “How to Succeed,” he’ll wear suits and ties, thanks.

The last revival of this show was a hundred years ago, starring Matthew Broderick and Sarah Jessica Parker, with the great  Lilias White. It was an enormous hit. For the White role, maybe the producers can get Fantasia. Now, that would be rockin’!

The original show, from the 1960s, starred Robert Morse (now of “Mad Men”) and Michele Lee of “Knots Landing” fame. They went on to star in the movie.

Saturday is Record Store Day


Saturday is Record Store Day around the country. Support your local independent record store! Here in Manhattan the situation is tragic. With the demise of Tower, Virgin and HMV, there are few places where you can actually buy CDs, LPs, or videos.

Back in the late 70s and early 80s, I used to ricochet between Bleecker Bob’s and Rocks in Your Head in SoHo. Strangely enough, the former is still there on West 3rd St. Rocks is long gone, replaced by a real estate agency.

The days of flipping through bins and flirting with girls who were doing the same is relegated to “Hannah and Her Sisters” when Woody runs into Dianne Wiest. What a shame!

As much as I loathe Los Angeles, they at least have Amoeba Records. We just have greedy landlords. But check out the Record Store Day website. There are a few little shops left here and there. I’ll bet if all the people in the world walking around with little earplugs blasting music could hear the full sound of LPs or even well made CDs through a real stereo system and speakers, they’d faint. (www.stereophile.com) A whole generation of downloaders is missing the real thing. Too bad, kids.

For the best, most affordable speakers in the world: www.sequerra.com

Cannes As Predicted: Robin Hood, Wall Street, Woody, Godard

The 2010 Cannes Film Festival movies have been revealed, and –drum roll–it’s a great list.

As I predicted, Oliver Stone‘s “Wall Street 2,” Ridley Scotts “Robin Hood” (announced officially after we broke the story), and Woody Allen‘s “You Will Meet a Tall, Dark Stranger” are all in, albeit out of competition. As I wrote this morning, Julian Schnabel declined to have his “Miral” in that group and so it’s out.

But the rest of the list is pretty cool. Derek Cianfrance‘s exceptional “Blue Valentine,” from Sundance, is included. Kudos to the Weinstein Company. This will be an Oscar player next winter. There are also films from Mathieu Almaric–the actor from “Munich” who played the bad guy in the last James Bond; Sophie Fiennes, youngest sister of Ralph and Joseph and Martha; as well as Alejandro Gonzales Innaritu, Doug Liman (this could be the big surprise hit), Bernard Tavernier, Stephen Frears, Mike Leigh, and Diego Luna.

The 2010 Cannes Film Festival will be notable for one special premiere: “Socialisme,” by Jean Luc Godard. The 79 year old father of the French new wave cinema is a god in France and to all cineastes around the world. Although Godard is best known in America for “Breathless,” his resume is full of many gems and masterpieces. It might be interesting to get him and Woody Allen into a press conference.

Congratulations to Thierry Fremaux. It’s a unexpectedly great list. Let the games begin on May 12th!

Mel Gibson: The Passion Is Kaput with Oksana

Mel Gibson and Oksana Grigorieva are kaput-ski. He said “das vidaniya ” to her.

Let’s see: she got an album recorded, paid for and released on a label invented just for her: Icon Records. Of course, it was just on ITunes. But the whole thing, including a song called “When It’s Over,” can be heard for free on http://www.oksana.fm. I wonder if Mel ever listened to the lyrics to these songs. “A girl’s gotta do, what she’s gotta do.” Indeed.

Oksana also got a baby. This is called insurance. Or an investment. Her other kid was fathered by ex James Bond Timothy Dalton. I mean, hats off to Oksana. And she’s not even 40.

The relationship cost Mel his marriage, and around $500 million to ex wife Robyn if her lawyer did a good job.

Mel and Oksana’s last public appearance, by the way, was at Hollywood Reporter ex publisher Eric Mika‘s pre Oscar party at the mayor’s residence. Mayor Villiaragosa actually gave Mel an award, along with the Mexican Chamber of Commerce, for shooting a new movie in Mexico despite the protests of locals. Mel was there, looking disheveled and asleep, with Oksana. They left quickly.

So who’s the next artist on Icon Records?

Hollywood Cougar Alert: The Pack Grows Larger

Here’s a new Hollywood cougar alert: this Oscar winner’s son is now living with a sleek older actress who appeared in said winner’s watershed hit. There’s a 25 year age difference between said cougar and her protege. He’s not that much older than her kids. The Oscar winner is said to be very displeased. I say, the kid has great taste. The funny thing is, I wrote about this couple by name earlier this year, not realizing they were together. D’uh!

This couple follows in the footsteps of Demi and Ashton, of course, and several others including a well known “older” and hot female Hollywood producer and a young filmmaker from a name-family. Lorraine Bracco has been down this road, too. And, possibly, Susan Sarandon and her new business partner. This, along with husbands leaving wives for 22 year olds, seems to the current celebrity trend. Then again, Al Pacino is 37 years older than his new girlfriend, and it’s applauded. So, who knows? I also love Quincy Jones’s mathematical explanation to me recently: the 77 year old music legend advises that your age and your lover’s shouldn’t add up to more than 100. Q’s current girlfriend must be 23!..

On Yankee opening day: former Yank pitcher Jeff Nelson stopped in to the Dugout Bar, across the street from the Hard Rock Cafe, to sample new energy drinks Sin, and Serenity. The drinks, much tastier than Red Bull, are about to add a chocolate flavor to Serenity, which works as well for sleep as watching Gus van Sant‘s “Gerry.”…

PARENTS ALERT:...Tito Puente, Jr. is the entertainment on Monday night, April 26th for the annual Give Kids a Shot! benefit. This is the charity that’s raising money for awareness of the meningitis vaccine. Richard Thomas is the emcee, and honorary chairs for the night are director/actress Liv Ullmann and Ambassador John Loeb. My old friend, Gary Springer, is one of the organizers. A new award named for his late wife, Nancy, will be presented to New York Ranger legend Adam Graves. Gary and Nancy’s son, Nick, contracted meningitis at age 14. Ten years later he’s a superstar wheelchair athlete, and a hero. For more info, call 212-244-7333…

Jack Kevorkian: Dr. Death Becomes a Rock Star

Dr. Jack Kevorkian: he helped 130 people to their deaths through assisted suicide. He spent 8 1/2 years in jail. And now, at the age of 82, Dr, Death is a rock star.

Last night was the New York premiere of Barry Levinson’s excellent new HBO about Kevorkian, “You Don’t Know Jack,” starring Al Pacino. The screening was at the Ziegfeld, with a heavy A list. The party was at the legendary Four Seasons restaurant. This is the top. You can’t do better than this kind of action.

At the Four Seasons, young girls in mini-skirts lined up to have their picture taken with Kevorkian. A listers like Bob Balaban, Michele Lee, and Garry Trudeau were guests. The Four Seasons served their famous lambchops and mashed potatoes.

The joke going around was: don’t even tell Dr. Kevorkian you have the sniffles. In case he’s trigger happy.

But seriously: Oscar winner Levinson has made an Emmy worthy movie, giving Pacino a nuanced performance–his best in many years. John Goodman and Danny Huston are very, very good in supporting roles, as is Susan Sarandon as Kevorkian’s right hand. Ordinarily Sarandon would be the female standout but “Jack” has a surprise: Brenda Vaccaro.

Youngsters may wonder: who is Brenda Vaccaro? Well, she was hot stuff–cute, smart and sexy–in the 60s and early 70s. Vaccaro was an “It” girl. sort of in the same category as Susan St. James and Stefanie Powers. She did tons of TV every year, dated everyone, and had a great role in a Best Picture, “Midnight Cowboy.”

In “Jack,” Brenda plays Kevorkian’s beloved sister Margo, his partner and rock as if her whole legacy depended on it. She and Pacino seem like they’ve been brother and sister forever. They’ve known each other in real life since the 60s, so that helps. “Marty Bregman gave us each our starts and introduced us,” Al explained, while Bregman beamed. “We go all the way back,” said Brenda. Pencil her in for a Best Supporting Actress Emmy next fall.

Pacino was happy cat all night. He brought his 33 year old Argentinian girlfriend, Lucilla, who’s also the mother a 13 year old. He also brought his 20 year old daughter, Julie, a budding filmmaker. A short film of hers called “Prodigal,” may play out of competition at Cannes. Pacino has two younger kids with Beverly D’Angelo, but this one’s ready to go in the world. She’s a smart cookie, and funny.

“She’s also a great softball player,” Pacino chimed in.

But back to Dr. K on the couch, getting his picture taken with nymphets. He’s very happy about the movie. And why not? It’s a very synpathetic portrait of a man who–right or wrong–helped 130 people die. These stories usually don’t end with lambchops. He loves Pacino. He told Al, “I’d love to go down the street with you dressed as me. I’d say, I’m Al Pacino and this is Jack Kevorkian. That’s how much you’re like me in the movie.”

Each of Kevorkian’s attorneys were there, too, but only one–Detroit’s Geoffrey Feiger–is in the film (played so well by Danny Huston). Feier rose to fame on TV defending Kevorkian, but apparently they had a falling out along the way. The more steadfast Mayer Morganroth, who’s mentioned in passing in the film, was the guy who really filed all the motions and stuck by Dr. Death for 16 years. He never leaves his client’s side. After years of pro bono work, he’s finally getting paid.

Kevorkian is looking forward to all his new fame, starting with that lunch time interview on Friday with Anderson Cooper. “Bring your toughest questions,” he advised me. “I’ll answer anything.” Stay tuned.

Schnabel Says No to Cannes, Yes to Venice and Toronto

Award winning director and famed artist Julian Schnabel will not be taking his new film, “Miral,” to the 2010 Cannes Film Festival.

The festival announces its lineup this morning. Schnabel had previously debuted his “Diving Bell and the Butterfly” there, and “Before Night Falls.”

But he says the festival wanted him to screen “Miral” out of competition but in the main festival. He said thanks, but no. The result is that “Miral” will debut in Venice, and then go to Toronto back to back next September. In Toronto, Schnabel, sources say, may also have a huge exhibition of his art simultaneously.

The Cannes fest is never without controversy, so some media outlets say they are boycotting this morning’s announcements because they’re being denied red carpet spots during the upcoming festival. And I’m also told opening night film “Robin Hood” may only have director Ridley Scott and star Russell Crowe at its press conference on the morning of May 12th. For some reason Cate Blanchett and the rest of the cast may not attend. Why? I have no idea. Usually the entire cast of a film sits for its press conference. Quel fromage!

Check back at http://www.hollywoodnews.com later this morning for the complete list of 2010 Cannes films.