Whitney Houston & Bobby Brown:
'Addicted to Each Other'
Thursday, September 14, 2006
By Roger Friedman
If it’s true, and Whitney Houston is really breaking away from Bobby Brown
after 14 tumultuous years, then "Hallelujah!"
On the other hand, a source close to Houston and Brown is skeptical that
this separation will stick. “They are addicted to each other,” my source
But a couple of things may be motivating Whitney now. For one, she needs
money, and Brown is nothing but a drain on her. For another, Brown has been
publicly linked to another woman, a model named Karin Steffans.
Brown, however, is famously erratic. One minute he can tell a magazine
writer that his marriage is intact. The next, says my source, he can be on
all fours and barking at a dog — something my source says Brown was doing
just two months ago.
If Whitney has really gotten herself away from Bobby and is serious about
making a new record for Clive Davis, it’s the most exciting and happy news
in the world.
No one could touch Whitney in her
prime. Her voice is magic. And her last album, with the exception of a rude
opening single, wasn’t even that bad. It’s just that Houston’s PR by that
time was such a mess that nothing could help her.
A Whitney Houston-Bobby Brown divorce, though, could get very ugly if it
goes public. The Browns are domiciled in Fulton County, Ga., which is
probably where the action would take place. Houston owns an estate in
Mendham, N.J., but it’s likely that it’s in her name only.
Houston’s family uses the Mendham home as their headquarters, and Brown is
rarely seen there. Whitney bought the Mendham estate in 1987 for about $2.2
million, according to public records, with a $1.4 million mortgage. In 2003,
it seems from public records that she refinanced and took out a $2 million
mortgage. It was most recently appraised at more than $5 million, which
Whitney also owns a home in Alpharetta, Ga., a suburb of Atlanta. But
sources there tell me that the house seems “abandoned” and that “no one is
around.” She bought that house herself in 2003 for $1,388,900 with a $1
In addition to the two main homes, it seems that Whitney has also been
actively buying and selling property for relatives. The most outstanding
purchase is a condo in North Bergen, N.J., that she refinanced in 1998 with
a $3,450,000 mortgage.
I told you last winter that Houston had been holed up in a rented Atlanta
townhouse with another singer, named Cherrelle, where it rumored the two of
them were doing drugs. The landlord of that house is now trying to sue the
pair for $20,000, but tells me he can’t find them.
If she’s really cleaned up and feeling better, Houston would do well to
clear up that mess and close the books on it rather than let it get into a
Brown’s financial situation is shaky by all accounts. He’s already been
spent time in jail for missed child-support payments. In a divorce, he would
be required to contribute something to his daughter with Houston, Bobbi
Brown’s busy lifestyle, however, is mostly funded by Houston, with the
exception of income from his reality TV series and occasional royalty checks
from his days long ago as a pop star.
Houston, on the other hand, has a more complicated financial situation.
Aside from the real estate, she depends on live performances to make money.
Her album sales are well behind her.
And even a new album with Davis will likely be counted toward the $50
million or so she received from BMG under L.A. Reid when he renegotiated her
contract in 2001. Houston’s two releases since then were poor sellers and
didn’t come close to earning back her huge advances.
I reported in this column that when that contract was signed, Houston got a
$20 million check almost instantly. Since then she’s been paid at least that
But BMG is now part of Sony, and it’s unlikely that more money will go out
to her until something is produced. Sony, you see, has already lived through
Michael Jackson. They’re not going down that route again.
If Houston is really going to work again, there is no doubt she can have a
huge second act to her career. She will have to listen to Clive Davis, who
will assemble the best songs, writers and producers on the planet to make it
happen. Can he do it? Oh yes, he can. He just needs a willing partner.
NEWSFILE: 14 SEPTEMBER 2006