Keeping Tabs

Greekly World News

Murder-suicide. Family warfare. What, no incest?

Euripides might feel at home editing the tabloids this month, what with murder-suicide (Phil Hartman and his wife, Brynn), internecine family warfare (the Sinatras), incarceration for wife beating (Tommy Lee), and bizarre behavior (Charlie Sheen and Farrah Fawcett).

Comedian Phil Hartman’s killing hasn’t made it into the supermarket tabs yet, but the rest of the down-market press have covered the ghastly events. “Phil Hartman’s murderous blond wife had a major cocaine habit that caused wild mood swings,” reports the New York Post. The reason for last week’s fatal mood swing, according to the Post? “[She] shot him dead in a jealous rage and then blew her brains out after he announced he was dumping her for another woman.”

The other woman has not been universally confirmed. While the Daily News of Los Angeles reported that Brynn read a note from her husband implying that he wanted to end the marriage, the New York Daily News quoted a friend who said the comedian told him only a few days earlier that his marriage was “better than ever.” The publication also reports that Hartman recently gave his wife the ultimate ill-advised 40th birthday present: a gun.

United Press International reports Hartman was murdered “execution-style,” with two shots to the head and one to the chest, around 2 a.m. while he lay in bed. Shortly afterward Brynn (nee Vicki Omdahl) fled, leaving one or both of her young children, ages 9 and 6, behind. She went to the home of an unidentified male friend, where she incoherently confessed to the murder. The friend did not believe her, but after she fell asleep, he opened her purse and found a gun. They returned to her home early in the morning, and while police were bringing the 6-year-old daughter out, Brynn locked herself in the bedroom and shot herself with another gun.

The distraught families of the couple issued a joint statement that implied the tragedy was some sort of creation of the press. “The unbridled speculation offered in the media are unfounded. Phil and Brynn were a loving couple, devoted to each other and their children.” Their will gives custody of the children to Brynn Hartman’s sister.

A fter farewell tributes to Frank Sinatra last week, this week the supermarket tabs turn to the gory aftermath: the escalating hatred between his children and his widow, Barbara. They have loathed each other for years, but the final break came, according to the Globe, when Barbara called Sinatra’s publicist by cell phone to alert her that the dying Sinatra was on his way to Cedars-Sinai hospital by ambulance, but did not call any of his three children to tell them the news. After the singer was pronounced dead, a doctor called his daughter Tina. So just then you’re ready to side with the kids, the Globe comes up with a twist. Daughter Nancy, it reports, has always been moved by the moment at JFK’s funeral when John-John saluted his dead father. The Globe reports Nancy told Barbara, “I want to salute daddy.” In order to do this the children wanted a “massive, military-style public funeral televised worldwide.”

It turns out, according to the National Enquirer, Nancy had already announced plans for a military honor guard on her Web site, even though Sinatra had never been in the service. Barbara wanted a private funeral, with no military presence and no saluting. When the two daughters came to negotiate with Barbara (Frank Jr. just wants to be kept out of it), according to the Enquirer “the first thing Barbara did was wave Frank’s will in their faces–and say tauntingly, ‘Good for me–bad for you.’ ” Barbara got her way, and she and Sinatra’s children went to the funeral in separate limos.

They are even feuding over the singer’s final words, reports the Enquirer. Nancy claims they were, “I’m losing.” But gossip columnist Cindy Adams says Barbara told her they were “I don’t want to go … I don’t want to go … I want to be here for Christmas.” (The Star reports Sinatra essentially died in his sleep and had no parting words.) Now, according to the Globe, Nancy is planning a nasty tell-all book about her stepmother. The publication says Nancy has declared, “It’s payback time.”

It’s a sentiment Sinatra at least would understand. In its tribute issue, the Star reports how the singer used to visit the Barbara Sinatra Children’s Center, the place his wife established for abused children. While there he was taken with a 7-year-old girl who, he found out, had been sexually abused by her father. So Sinatra got the father’s name and address and drove with his friend Jilly Rizzo to the man’s house. Sinatra put the father in a headlock and said if he ever abused the child again Sinatra would come back and kill him. Barbara tried to ban Frank from the center, and when he showed up anyway the staff would try to make sure he didn’t see any of the parents there for counseling.

Toward the end of his life Sinatra also found himself in a charitable mood over an old rival, Marlon Brando. Sinatra had seen some pictures of Brando and decided he needed to talk to the obese actor about his weight. Sinatra called Brando and told him he shouldn’t let himself go. “You look like f–ing hell, Brando,” the Star reports he said, and he advised the actor to lose “maybe a hundred pounds, pallie.” Brando replied by telling the singer to “f– off” and hung up on him. Sinatra then reportedly ripped the phone out of the wall and threw it across the room. It’s a scene Phil Hartman, as Sinatra, would have played so well on Saturday Night Live.

M ötley Crüe drummer Tommy Lee will have plenty of time to contemplate his temper as he serves his six month sentence for felony spousal abuse of his wife, former Baywatch actress Pamela Anderson. According to the Enquirer Lee is in a single-person cell because, explains an “insider,” “Nobody can beat up a goddess like Pamela Anderson without someone gunning for them.” The publication also reports that Anderson plans to go ahead with her divorce and feels she can never forgive Lee. More ominously, the Star reports that the actress is actually planning to give him another chance and wants to try a second honeymoon after he gets out of jail for assaulting her. The Enquirer also reports that she is going to court to stop distribution of a home video of her having sex with Tommy Lee, and another one of her having sex with an ex-boyfriend. (Pam, throw away the tripod!)

Celebrity free falls are rampant this month. Actor Charlie Sheen’s latest accessory is an electronic monitoring device, and he was ordered by a Malibu court to enter drug treatment, according to the Associated Press. Sheen will then have a July hearing on whether he violated his probation–he pleaded no contest a year ago to attacking a girlfriend–by engaging in drug activity. Sheen recently overdosed on cocaine and methamphetamine, the 32-year-old actor’s third overdose, according to the Star. A few months earlier, Sheen’s father, actor Martin Sheen, and other family members tried to get Charlie to go to the Promises rehab center (where Brynn Hartman had reportedly been treated), but he refused. And it reports that a friend says Sheen “likes free-basing and he keeps loaded guns in the house.” Another source predicts if Sheen doesn’t shape up, “it’s only a matter of time before they’ll be printing his obituary.”

For a year the tabs have been reporting on what the Star calls “a string of bizarre incidents” involving actress Farrah Fawcett. From an erratic performance on the David Letterman show to a violent confrontation with a boyfriend to the latest, her odd behavior at the Cannes Film Festival. The recently face-lifted Fawcett was, according to the Enquirer, “dazed and confused” and “giggly to the point of being silly” at the festival, where she was promoting her latest film, The Apostle. The Star reports she canceled a scheduled press conference and never showed up at a party with the movie’s star, Robert Duvall. It was worse, they say, when she did make appearances. The publication quotes a “film critic” who says at the post-screening interview she “giggled uncontrollably … and she was talking gibberish.” Fawcett’s spokeswoman says the actress was suffering from food poisoning.

Even Euripides didn’t write all bummers. So on a happy note, actor Jim Carrey and his ex-wife, actress Lauren Holly, have been spotted shopping for a new set of wedding rings, according to the Star. This must mean that what the Enquirer calls their “weird love pact” is working. The couple has agreed to make love only once a week, so Carrey can prove their relationship is not just about lust. And he has also agreed to stop making funny faces every time he passes a mirror, a habit that had “frightened” his now ex-wife, according to the Enquirer–but that also helped boost his salary to $20 million a movie.