Michael Jackson‘s most recent manager, Tohme Tohme, sometimes known as ‘doctor,’ has paid the price for his big mistake.

I’m told that Jackson’whose SUV had a fender bender of little importance the other day in Los Angeles’has kicked Tohme to the curb.

‘He won’t return his calls, and he’s changed all his numbers,’ says one source close to the situation. Another source confirmed it.

Tohme has paid big time, though, for making the mistake of putting Jackson’s Neverland Ranch tchotchkes up for auction. I’m told that Tohme himself put up more than $2 million to stop the auction with Julien’s Auction House. Today would have been the final day of the auction, with the really juicy stuff going up on the block including Macaulay Culkin‘s artwork and gifts from Elizabeth Taylor.

A couple of weeks ago a judge ruled in favor of Julien’s, when Jackson tried to sue to stop the auction. Another court date had been set for last week, but the parties settled in advance of that. It was fairly certain that the second court date would have ratified the first, in which case Julien’s was set to go ahead.

Instead, Tohme’in a panic’came up with the necessary dough to satisfy Julien’s for the money they’d already spent and pay them their commission. Where he got the money is another story. Some say it may have come from Colony Capital, Jackson’s partner in Neverland. Tohme’who’s been disproved as a physician and also as an ambassador at large to Senegal– has been their agent in the Jackson story for over a year. Still unresolved is where MusiCares, the Grammy charity, received their due and promised percentage.

As part of the deal with Julien’s, all the Neverland items have been on display at the former Robinson May store in Beverly Hills. The exhibition goes on all this weekend, with a $20 admittance fee. Next week, Jackson’s people will come and haul all the Neverland souvenirs away. It’s uncertain whether they’ll be unpacked back at the ranch or put into storage in nearby Buellton, California.

What is certain is that Tohme caused a rift between himself and Jackson. And at the same time, Arab investors are circling to close their deal on buying Neverland with all those souvenirs ‘ as I told you in my old column a few weeks ago. That deal should be coming to a close soon. Sources say that there’s recently been a lot of activity at Neverland, with what look to be construction workers coming in to do renovations. Considering the seedy conditions the Julien’s staff found the place in last summer’the descriptions in their depositions were not pretty’this may be required before the imminent sale.

So is there any good news for Jackson? I am told that despite the auction action, the faded pop star has been rehearsing for his London concerts out in the San Fernando Valley, working out, hiring dancers and musicians, and is generally pumped right now to get his 50 shows ready. He’s already brought back long time show director Kenny Ortega, and the word is loyal ex-make up artist Karen Faye is coming back to the fold, too.


Cyndi Lauper‘s in a new movie that opened at the Tribeca Film Festival. She’s really only in a couple of very good scenes in ‘Here and There,’ which was shot in New York and Belgrade, Serbia and stars her real life husband, actor David Thornton.

Thornton is well known to audiences from many episodes of ‘Law & Order,’ from all the Nick Cassavetes movies, and from a sterling performance in ‘A Civil Action’ a few years ago.

But ‘Here and There’ is kind of an indie tour de force. It reminded me of ‘Anna,’ the great Sally Kirkland movie with Paulina Porizkova from a few years ago, and ‘The Visitor.’ It’s sort of the reverse of ‘The Visitor,’ as Thornton’s Robert’a middle aged, broke and depressed musician– goes on a visit to Belgrade and his life is changed.

Darko Lungolov, whose 2004 documentary ‘Escape’ won the Hamptons Film Festival audience award, says that ‘Here and There’ is only partially autobiographical. Once, like Robert, he was a moving guy with a van in New York. That’s called paying your dues.

Lauper, who came to the premiere last night with her often hot pink tresses tinted a soft blonde, said she got into the film ‘Mainly because I live in the same house’ as Thornton. But no joking’she has an Emmy Award for her work on ‘Mad About You’ a few years ago. By the way, she also wrote the lovely theme song for ‘Here and There,’ too. Whichever distributor picks it up’it’s a natural for IFC or Overture’gets the song, too.

I don’t know how many times ‘Here and There’ shows this weekend, but it’s worth catching’it may be the sleeper of the Tribeca Fest. It’s natural and honest, with exquisite pacing. Thornton is top notch, as are all the Serbian actors surrounding him including Mirjana Karanovic‘apparently a famous Serbian movie star’who plays his middle aged love interest in a style reminiscent of Susan Sarandon.


Monday night, it’s Rosie O’Donnell vs. Tom Hanks‘and everyone wins! Rosie’s Broadway Kids are putting on a benefit performance at New World Stages on West 50th St. I’ve seen those kids, and they’re amazing. A couple of them are already being scouted for Broadway careers. Rosie and her gang have done a remarkable job over there. Expect Chita Rivera, Jane Fonda, and a bunch of stars to help out, as well as the great Kelli Carpenter O’Donnell‘At the same time, Tom Hanks gets feted by the Film Society of Lincoln Center. His wife Rita Wilson will be there, along with Steven Spielberg, Kate Capshaw, Jeremy Irons, John Patrick Shanley, Meg Ryan, and many surprise guests. And that’s just a Monday in New York!…

‘Don’t believe a word of yesterday’s New York Post toasting, tar and feathering of Woody Allen’s new ‘Whatever Works.’ The movie is great. I’m told, however, that as usual there may have been some background to why the Post went to such lengths to kill it. Insiders say the paper was unhappy it didn’t get to see ‘WW’ earlier and had to wait until the premiere. Boo-hoo. ‘WW’ is classic Woody Allen. I predict his old fans will flock back to see this one’

‘Last week, during my hiatus, I had a chance to get downtown to 45 Bleecker Street and catch the very good original play, ‘Rumspringa.’ The word is the term the Amish people use for the year 17 year olds are sent into the world to decide their futures. Peter Zinn wrote and directed this engrossing and often funny, well staged piece. The four cast members were all stand outs and memorable, including the very good Jim Boerlin, C.S. Drury, Kirsty Meares, and Mickey Sumner‘the latter a breakout actress not to be missed. She’s also one of Sting and Trudie Styler’s remarkable brood of great kids, although she’d prefer no one knew that. Mickey has taken a page out of her classically trained actress mother’s book, but she has a lovely style all her own. Keep an eye on this one’

‘I’ve been waiting for announcement in the New York Times, but so far not a word about the passing on April 21st of the remarkable Ruth Bowen. She started the Queen Booking Agency in Harlem in 1959, handled every important R&B act, and was Aretha Franklin’s manager and friend for most of her career. Ruth was a legend in Harlem, in music, and New York culture. There would have been no nights at the Apollo without her. She was 85 but had the spirit of a 25 year old. Ruth Bowen will be sorely, sorely missed’

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Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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