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Bobby Brown and Whitney Houston, disgustingly close. McMillan loses groove. Kelly Preston: "Good for Tom Cruise!"

By Salon Staff
Published June 30, 2005 12:19PM (EDT)

Morning Briefing:
What it means to be Bobby Brown: Some TV critics reviewing Thursday night's debut episodes of "Being Bobby Brown" on Bravo are having a little trouble discussing a scene in which Brown comes to the aid of his wife, Whitney Houston, in a most unusual way. "There's a throwaway scene in the second of tonight's debut episodes ... that is so bizarrely tasteless that anyone within viewing distance will feel compelled to huddle quietly with loved ones and wait for the end of America. Because surely that has to be what's next, as the elevator can plunge no farther. Ding. Rock bottom. Everybody out," Fort Worth Star Telegram Pop Culture Critic Cary Darling writes in a review headlined "Rock-bottom reality." "It's a conversation between Brown and his wife, pop diva Whitney Houston, that begins with her urging him to have a colon exam but ends with WTMI -- way too much information. In fact, the resulting image of poor Whitney in bowel distress may be burned so indelibly into the brain as to leave a deep psychic scar." What could Darling be referring to? You don't have to wait for tonight to find out. Because a writer for Time Out New York, Howard Halle, managed to bring himself to ask Brown directly about the scene in an interview for the magazine's back page, called, fittingly enough, "The Hot Seat." Here's their exchange:

TONY: You and Whitney are so intertwined in the public mind. Does it bother you that some people call you Mr. Whitney Houston?
BB: That doesn't bother me, because that's my wife and I'm proud of her.
TONY: Evidently, you're very close. There's a moment in the show when you describe helping Whitney with constipation by using your, uh, hand. Were you kidding?
BB: Oh no, I had to. She couldnt go boo-boo. Sometimes, when people are constipated, you gotta help them out.
TONY: I don't know if I'd do that for my wife.
BB: Why not?
TONY: I don't think she'd let me. But I'm glad you guys have that type of relationship.
BB: Yes, we do.

(Fort Worth Star Telegram, Time Out New York)

Mad at Mailer: Not surprisingly, the Asian American Journalists Association is none too pleased with Norman Mailer after the writer ripped into New York Times book critic Michiko Kakutani in an interview with Rolling Stone, labeling her, among other epithets, "a token" minority hire. In an open letter sent to Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner, the association's president, Dallas Morning News reporter Esther Wu, wrote: "Calling out Norman Mailer as a racist ... would be easy. But that's not why we're writing. We take greater offense at his reference to her as a 'two-fer' and a 'token' because she's 'Asiatic, feminist,' which essentially diminishes the accomplishments of all women and journalists ... To Mr. Mailer, we'd simply like to say: Shame on you." Mailer, for his part, was ready with more name-calling, labeling Wu's letter, "an excellent example of high-octane political correctness." (Lloyd Grove's Lowdown)

Preston: Press on, Tom: At least one person besides Katie Holmes thinks that Tom Cruise is doing the right thing by holding forth on everything from psychiatry to Brooke Shields to aliens and, most particularly, the teachings of Scientology founder L. Ron Hubbard in his recent spate of interviews with the press. "He's creating awareness," Cruise's fellow celeb Scientologist Kelly Preston told Fox News on Wednesday. "Good for Tom Cruise for bringing it to the forefront." (Rush & Molloy)

Giving back the groove: Terry McMillan has lost her "groove" -- or at least the guy she thought had returned it to her. Jonathan Plummer, the young Jamaican guy whom McMillan met at a resort and married six years ago -- and upon whom the author based her book "How Stella Got Her Groove Back"-- is, it turns out, gay. Now, the estranged couple is locked in a messy divorce. She claims he used her to get U.S. citizenship and to get his hands on her fortune. He says he didn't know he was gay when he met her -- at age 20 -- and that she has harassed him since he informed her of his orientation. "She is an extremely angry woman who is homophobic and is lashing out at me because I have learned I am gay," Plummer, now 30, contended in court papers, later telling the San Francisco Chronicle that McMiillan scrawled the following label on a bottle of Jamaican hot sauce: "Fag Juice Burn Baby Burn." McMillan and Plummer have taken out restraining orders against each other. (N.Y. Daily News)

Also: Responding to complaints from groups as diverse as the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation and the Family Research Council, ABC has pulled from its lineup a reality series called "Welcome to the Neighborhood," in which conservative white suburbanites choose a new neighbor from a varied batch of candidates, including a black family, a Hispanic family and a family in which the parents are gay. (Associated Press) ... Michael Jackson is reportedly recovering from his child-molestation trial in the kingdom of Bahrain, where he is a guest of the king's son, a friend of Jackon's brother Jermaine. (Associated Press) ... A London lawyer representing Saddam Hussein's family says he may sue the U.K. Sun for printing photos of Saddam in his tighty-whiteys last month on the tabloid's cover. (The Guardian) ... Domino Harvey, the former model portrayed by Keira Knightley in a film called "Domino," scheduled for release next month, has been found dead in her bathtub in her Los Angeles home. Harvey had a history of drug use, but the L.A. County Sheriff's office says there was nothing on the scene "to indicate foul play of any kind." The results of toxicology tests are not yet in. (N.Y. Daily News, The Guardian) ... Jason Alexander, Britney Spears' Vegas-wed hubby for a day, has hired a publicist to help him launch a career as an actor, model and professional partier. (Lloyd Grove's Lowdown) ... Martha Stewart took to the New York City streets this week to dish out dumplings to the masses as part of her new daytime reality show, "Martha." (N.Y. Daily News) ... Bill Cosby insists that the string of women stepping up to accuse him of drugging and groping them won't stop him from touring the country to urge poor black parents to take greater responsibility for the fate of their children. ("Nightline" via N.Y. Daily News) ... Rumors are afoot that ABC has secretly been talking to Ellen DeGeneres about bringing the comedian in to create a late-night chat show to replace Ted Koppel's "Nightline," though both ABC and DeGeneres' people deny it. (Page Six) ... Corey Clark, the former "American Idol" contestant who has accused Paula Abdul of having a sexual relationship with him and offering him help on the show, has released a statement apologizing for the events leading up to his arrest on misdemeanor battery charges at a hotel in Sacramento, Calif., last weekend. Clark says the whole thing was a "huge misunderstanding," elaborating, "My dancers, crew, management and I were all involved in a food fight that lasted only a few minutes." (Associated Press) ... Actor and singer Marques Houston is reported to have accepted a $2 million offer from Playgirl magazine to doff his duds in the pages of an upcoming issue. Houston is promoting a new album, called "Naked." (

Turn On:
Bravo airs the aforementioned "Being Bobby Brown" series premiere Thursday night at 10 p.m. EDT.

-- Amy Reiter

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