[Fox 411 Report]

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 said.

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 seems low.

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 million mortgage.

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 courtroom.

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 Kristina.

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 again.

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.



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