Archive for the 'celebrity' Category

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.

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…

Oprah Book: Ex-Employees Could Make Good Unnamed Sources

Who woulda thunk it?

The mainstream media has accepted the word of Kitty Kelley, a trash biographer who depends of unnamed sources, over Oprah Winfrey, a woman who’s obviously made too much money and been too successful as a broadcaster and philanthropist.

As of now, and thanks to the internet, Kelley’s assertions about Winfrey in her new book have been presented as a fait accompli. No one’s bothered to check them out. They’re just reprinted millions of times, from the New York Post to the Washington Post.

This column was the only one to call Oprah’s aunt in Mississippi, Mrs. Katherine Esters, to see what Kelley had wrought. And Mrs. Esters, as I wrote here yesterday, disputed Kelley’s claims. She says that Kelley manipulated and hounded her, that she never told Kelley family secrets.

It seems to fall on deaf ears.

The New York Post just laid it out, happily enough: “Lesbian fling, prostitution, and abuse lies.” That’s it, case closed. Unbelievable. Even worse: the lofty Howard Kurtz deigns to roll in the mud, writing about Kelley and using her interview with the slimy Michael Jackson hunter Diane Dimond, formerly of “Hard Copy,” to bolster his argument. Has Kurtz ever been able to book himself on Oprah? Probably not.

Kelley must be pleased. Her attempted assassination has no doubt caused the pain she sought to inflict on Winfrey. She’s endeavored to ruin a career far more substantial than her own by miles. Good work!

Kelley had a lot of help in this project. Unnamed sources are usually disgruntled ex-employees. In this case, Kelley has said she used people who’d signed confidentiality agreements. They’d have to give back their monetary settlements if they were caught.

It’s not hard to find the culprits. Oprah’s show has not had a lot of turnover, and the staff has always been treated well. But back in 1994 there was a huge amount of turmoil. Lots of people left or were fired. This could be an Agatha Christie mystery. (It was covered in Entertainment Weekly at http://www.ew.com/ew/article/0,,304426,00.html.)

Also, Kelley’s book is published by Crown, a division of Random House. Maybe they’re getting even. Back in 1994, Oprah abruptly canceled publication of her scheduled autobiography by Knopf, another Random House division. She returned the advance. But the decision left Random House holding the bag without its anticipated best seller.

And let’s not forget: there was some kind of manuscript or treatment from that book. It’s no doubt out there, somewhere.

Of course, the current Random House is not the company started by Bennett Cerf and run so beautifully for many years by Bob Bernstein. Kelley’s book is the kind of thing only hacks like Lyle Stuart would publish in the old days. How times have changed.

Anderson Cooper Gets First Interview with Dr. Kevorkian

Wasn’t Anderson Cooper just swimming with sharks last week on “60 Minutes”?

Now he’s doing something even more courageous: he’s interviewing Dr. Jack Kevorkian.

Dr. Death is giving Cooper his first post-prison interview this Friday. It’s not actually on CNN, but set for a lunch time live get together at CNN headquarters in New York.

The interview will be preceded by sandwiches and snacks, according to the invite, and a welcome from CNN’s prez, Jon Klein.

You have to give Cooper credit for doing this. His own brother, Carter, committed suicide at age 23 in July 1988. Anderson wrote about it in his blog back in 2005: http://www.cnn.com/2005/US/08/16/brother/

Talk about a charged meeting. Kevorkian has said he helped at least 130 people die of physician assisted suicide. He served 8 years of a 10 to 25 year prison sentence for second degree murder. He’ll turn 81 in May.

This lunch time interlude suddenly is the hottest ticket in town, as Dr. Kevorkian has agreed to answer questions from the audience. The last time he was in public, by the way, was right before he went to jail. It was Time Magazine’s 75th anniversary at Radio City Music Hall. The crowd included Henry Kissinger, Joe DiMaggio, and Muhammad Ali, but Kevorkian was who everyone wanted to, if not meet, look at.