The greed of so many in showbiz

GOOD MORNING: It is positively disgusting, worse, it is nauseating. I am talking about the evidence I have personally seen — and heard — first hand of the greed of so many in a showbiz community, a community that has built its longstanding reputation of charity. There are potential arrests that would expose those who, under the cloak of compassion, were, instead, fattening their already fortunate fortunes. I have personally seen a threatening letter demanding payment for a “charitable” performance. … It all started with appearances at charitable functions orchestrated by Aaron Tonken. But it went further, yes, even to the White House. Tonken pled guilty to one count of mail fraud and one count of wire fraud and mail fraud — not because he benefited, but because he facilitated the money (laundered) from donors to go into the pocket of celebrities, and their handlers and the Hillary Clinton senate campaign. Tonken is scheduled for sentencing on Feb. 23 and he faces prison, fines and restitution to donors who gave money for tributes and fund-raisers that never took place. It’s hard to believe that this young man who came from nowhere ended up in his pajamas eating popcorn, sleeping in a bed in the White House — seven different visits … A few weeks ago, radio station magnate Kenny Roberts was visited a second time by federal authorities to inquire about his involvement with the Aug. 20, 2000 “Hollywood Gala Salute to President Clinton” benefiting Hillary Clinton’s senatorial campaign. Every star was there at his ranch, the former Robert Taylor estate. We sat next to Brad Pitt and Jennifer Aniston. Peter Paul of Stan Lee Media underwrote the $2 million gala that raised $1.4 million. And “The Family Celebration,” Sunday April 1, 2001, featured President Ford ($200,000 to receive the “Special Giving Award”), President Clinton, Loreen Arbus, Robert Lorsch, Sylvester Stallone, ‘N Sync and the entire cast of “Ally McBeal” — at the Beverly Wilshire which followed a luncheon at the Regency Club where Arbus hosted and made a sizeable donation to the Clinton Library… Despite all these monetary manipulations, Tonken has claimed no monetary profit to himself and has apparently satisfactorily made that evident to the state and federal charges who released him on his own recognizance and without bail. Friends who believe in his innocence ( but not his intelligence — stupid) have been financially supporting him, among them Kenny Roberts who told me he believes Tonken never monetarily benefited from any of these dealings. Roberts believed in helping him — just as others had helped him when he was in (financial) need. I have obtained documents that show more than $370,000 in receipts of jewelry that Tonken bought for the various celebrities in payment for their “charitable” appearances. There are names are attached to each “gift.” I have also seen the incredible travel receipts — over a million dollars — for celebrities to fly in private jets and for luxury cruises. (Some investigations concern the absence of income reports on tax returns.) … To date Tonken is more than $15 million in debt. Maybe the book and movie rights will help him.

JUST AS CNN’S ANDREA KOPPEL recupes from her trek to Libya and her exclusive interview with Moammer Ghadafi, her father Ted K. departs today for another trek to Iraq. The Koppel family lunches together in D.C. before his departure — he’ll be reporting from the field (again!). Andrea and husband Ken Pollack are expecting their first child (a boy) next month and are readying the nursery. But she also expects to keep working now that Secretary of State Colin Powell’s back from his hospital stay. She’s covered him around the globe — just as she had his predecessor Madeline Albright … Andrea said she was told no holds barred in the Ghadafi interview in his compound outside Tripoli. While CNN domestic aired only five minutes of their talk, CNN International used eight minutes — and almost an hour of their visit remains. It was the first time in 10 years anything was satellited from Libya. Included was his statement confirming giving up the program of weapons of mass destruction. He told her he thought it was unfortunate Saddam Hussein’s capture was shown on TV — it made him look “sympathetic” … Pollack, author of the 2002 best seller “The Threatening Storm: The Case for Invading Iraq” (Random House) is now talking to the publisher about his next, about Iran. When asked when she’d write her book, Andrea, who has traveled and reported around the globe, admits she’s now more occupied with the arrival of their firstborn. She says she’ll write it “when it makes sense” … I also spoke with Tavis Smiley, whose late night (11 p.m.) talker is PBS’ first Coast-originating program. In the one day he’d interviewed Magic Johnson (aired Wednesday), Wesley Clark, Tracy Morgan and Essie Mae Washington, Strom Thurmond’s African-American daughter. Smiley was given a sendoff party at KCET by more than 300 well-wishers including KCET president Al Jerome and Anheuser Busch/Washington Mutual. Bill Cosby and Al Jarreau launched the Smiley show.

THEIR MANY FRIENDS were saddened by news of the death of Camela Ostern (Mrs. David Markman ) who died Sunday at the age of 35. The daughter of Ava (Mrs. Chuck) Fries, was well loved in the community where she worked for children’s charities. She cofounded the First School Scholarship Trust and fundraising for the Westside Children’s Center … Eva Marie Saint and husband Jeffrey Hayden will perform “Love Letters” for the first time in L.A., Feb. 15 at the BevHills Hotel to benefit the Epilepsy Foundation. Epilepsy has affected the life of their 13-year-old grandson Eli who developed a seizure disorder following surgery when he was 7 years old. “He is an inspiration to our family,” Eva says of the youngster who is an “A” student.

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