Houston seeking inspiration in Israel

Singer Whitney Houston has jetted to Jerusalem looking for inspiration for her new Christmas album.

Denver Post/May 29, 2003

Houston arrived Sunday for her stay with the Black Hebrews, a group of about 2,000 black Americans who followed a Chicago bus driver to Israel decades ago and believe they are descendants of one of the lost tribes of Israelites.

Their religious customs include a vegan diet and polygamy. Houston spent her first day at their compound in the desert town of Dimona receiving massages, relaxing and meeting with sect members, who call each other saints.

"She is loving it," said Patricia Houston, the singer's spokeswoman and sister-in-law. "She is a spiritual woman and wanted to come here and touch the land and be around the saints of Dimona." Houston is accompanied by a group of relatives, including her husband, singer Bobby Brown, and their daughter.

The King of Pop's finances are a royal mess. According to a lawsuit filed by his former advisers, Michael Jackson is laden with debt and close to bankruptcy, E!online reports.

Although the singer's lifetime earnings are believed to total around a half-billion dollars, big spending at his Neverland ranch, shopping binges, the costs of baby-making and face-shaping, as well as myriad legal expenses, have created what one recent lawsuit against him calls "a ticking financial time bomb waiting to explode."

That's according to Union Finance and Investment Corp., reportedly one of South Korea's leading financial firms, which seeks $12 million in fees and expenses, plus interest and punitive damages from Jackson. Trial is set for June 18.

Brian Oxman, the Gloved One's attorney, refuted the charges. "I see no signs of impending disaster," although he added: "I cannot say it for 100 percent sure because nobody knows his financial statements."

Union Finance attorney Pierce O'Donnell counters, "The day of reckoning is near. For whatever reason, Michael Jackson is not paying his debts. He has little or no means of income. He lives off a line of credit."

Break out the blinders! Roseanne is following in Anna Nicole Smith's portly footsteps, signing a deal with ABC for a 13-episode reality TV show. The network vows to bring us "Roseanne - the good, the bad, the ugly, the pretty, the everything."

Meanwhile, not content with having become a caricature of herself, R&B giant Macy Gray now wants to become a cartoon. Gray is reportedly set to sign a deal with Warner Bros. Animation for "A Pretty Good Life" based on her experiences as a child, when her height, wild hair and voice led to playground bullying. The tallest woman in music - at 6 feet plus afro - will not only provide the model and voice for the lead character but will write original music for the soundtrack.

A couple of Hollywood epics are history, in more ways than one.

The set for "Alexander the Great," the forthcoming film on the ancient Greek conqueror starring Leonardo DiCaprio, has been dismantled in Morocco and will be moved to Australia, CNN reports.

A longtime favorite Hollywood location, the northwestern African country has been rocked by suicide bombings in the coastal city of Casablanca that have killed 41 people.

The film is in hot competition with another biopic of Alexander in the works, starring Colin Farrell and directed by Oliver Stone. But producer Dino De Laurentiis said continuing work on the DiCaprio movie had become too dangerous.

"Unless the situation changes in five or six months, any important American actor could be a target," he said. "That's a risk I cannot take."

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