Friday, May 24, 2024

Tommy Mottola: “If You Want to Get Married at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, Be Prepared to Write A Check”


Some years ago, I wrote a story — probably on–about how Tommy Mottola got married to singer Thalia in St. Patrick’s Cathedral. Because he had converted to Judaism for his first marriage, and because Mariah Carey wouldn’t give him an annulment, Mottola was in a bind. To married in the Catholic Church, he needed a “get” from wife number 1, and an annulment from wife no. 2. Neither was forthcoming. So he went to Cardinal Egan at St. Patrick’s, listened to him play the piano, and wrote him a check for $500,000 for an album advance– that’s right, an album. Check We have never heard “Cardinal Egan Plays the Best of Elton John and Rachmaninoff.”

Now, reading Esquire, I see that Mottola tells the writer of his new book, “Hitmaker,” an important lesson: “If you want to get married at St. Patrick’s Cathedral, be prepared to write a check.”

“Hitmaker” is part fact and part fiction. I’m assuming some of it is fact. It’s a good read, anyway, as reimagined by writer Cal Fussman (the Esquire guy). The beginning part is good because it’s about growing up, Mottola’s family, his early days. It’s nostalgic and poetic. The whole early part of his career, managing Hall & Oates, getting his name in “Cherchez La Femme,” was all interesting and well told. Is it true? I’m sure there are people with other perspectives.

“Hitmaker”–which was given out for free at a Grammy party by the truckload–is a good read. It’s also a gauzy version of everything that happened during Mottola’s rein as Mariah Carey’s husband and the head of Sony Music. Call it historical fiction. I don’t know how many people are interested in either version– Tommy’s or the real one–and this may be the only one ever to be published.

Suffice to say that the real stories from Sony about Mottola, Mariah, Donnie Ienner–Tommy’s right hand man, etc– would really be hair-raising. When one Mottola exec met with another record company head about a possible job, the man was dragged out of the Black Rock building on 52nd St. by security guards, with no notice. And that’s just the beginning.

Mottola’s was a rein of terror.

So there’s one anecdote in the book that sort of says it all. I’m surprised it’s included, but maybe Mottola thinks it’s funny. It’s on page 145, and it’s a recollection by another right hand man, Jeb Brien. Mottola was unhappy with the “prick of a manager” who ran the group Split Enz, named Nathan Brenner. Brenner had had a fight with Mottola’s best pal and partner in his management company, Randy Hoffman. They ran into Brenner at a Grammy party; he was wearing a blue brocade tuxedo. Mottola told Hoffman, “This will be your payback.” He went to the bartender and had him mix up a concoction of stain producing items–red wine, whipped cream. blueberries, etc. And he dumped it on Brenner.

This page is omitted on purpose from the search version:

“Hey Nathan,” Tommy said, “How you doin’?” Brenner gave him a what-the-fuck-do-you want-look. Tommy said: “This is compliments of Randy Hoffman.” Then he tipped the glass over Brenner’s head and emptied the entire contents all over him. Brenner was freaked. He didn’t know what to do. “And another thing,” Tommy told him. “You are hereby banned from entering the United States. You are never allowed to come back into this country unless I say you can.”




Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
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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