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Eilish, Chalamet, Gorman and Osaka headline fall Met Gala

NEW YORK — When the Met Gala returns in September, it will feature a starry contingent of celebrity co-chairs: Actor Timothee Chalamet, musician Billie Eilish, poet Amanda Gorman and tennis star Naomi Osaka.

Honorary chairs for the evening will be Tom Ford, Adam Mosseri and Vogue’s Anna Wintour.

The museum made the announcement Monday on the traditional day of the Met Gala — the first Monday in May. Those plans, of course, were upended by the pandemic. The Sept. 13 gala will be a more intimate affair, to be followed by a larger one on May 2, 2022. Both will launch a two-part exhibition, a survey of American fashion to be on view for almost a year.

“In America: A Lexicon of Fashion,” opening Sept. 18, will celebrate the 75th anniversary of the museum’s Costume Institute and “explore a modern vocabulary of American fashion,” the museum has said. Part two, “In America: An Anthology of Fashion,” will open in the museum’s popular American Wing period rooms on May 5, 2022, and will explore American fashion, with collaborations with film directors, by “presenting narratives that relate to the complex and layered histories of those spaces.” Both parts will close on Sept. 5, 2022.

Filmmaker Melina Matsoukas (“Queen & Slim”) has been commissioned to create an open-ended film to project in the galleries, with content changing during the course of the exhibition.

The gala, which was canceled last year, is a major fundraiser, providing the Costume Institute with its primary source of funding.

As always, the exhibits will be the work of star curator Andrew Bolton.

In addition to Matsoukas, other confirmed collaborators from the film world include cinematographer Bradford Young, whose projects have included “Selma” and “When They See Us;” production designers Nathan Crowley and Shane Valentino; and Franklin Leonard, film executive and founder of The Black List, a listing of top unproduced screenplays.

Actor indicted in $227M Ponzi scheme involving film rights

LOS ANGELES — An aspiring actor was indicted Tuesday in Los Angeles on suspicion of running a massive Ponzi scheme that solicited hundreds of millions of dollars from investors for phony Hollywood film licensing deals, federal prosecutors said.

Zachary Joseph Horwitz, who has appeared in low-budget movies under the screen name Zach Avery, was charged by a federal grand jury with multiple counts, including securities fraud, wire fraud and identity theft, the Los Angeles Times reported.

It wasn’t immediately known if Horwitz has an attorney.

From 2014 to 2019, Avery allegedly he lied to investors to secure $690 million in loans to his film company, 1inMM Capital, prosecutors said.

More than 200 investors, including three of Horwitz’s closest college friends and their family members, lost about $230 million, the Times reported.

Prosecutors said Horwitz told investors that their money would be used to purchase film distribution rights that would then be licensed to platforms such as HBO and Netflix.

But instead of using the funds to make distribution deals, Horwitz allegedly operated his company as a Ponzi scheme, using victims’ money to repay earlier investors and to fund his own lifestyle, including the purchase of a $6 million home, prosecutors said.

Representatives for Netflix and HBO have denied that their companies engaged in any business with Horwitz, according to an affidavit.

Horwitz was arrested April 6 on an initial fraud charge and he spent more than two weeks in jail before his release on a $1 million bond, according to the newspaper.

After years, court hands tax

win to Michael Jackson heirs

LOS ANGELES — A U.S. tax court has handed a major victory to the estate of Michael Jackson in a years-long battle, finding that the IRS wildly inflated the value at the time of his death of Jackson’s assets and image, leading to an estate tax bill for his heirs that was far too high.

The IRS had put the value of three disputed aspects of Jackson’s worth at the time of his 2009 death at about $482 million. In his decision issued Monday, Judge Mark Holmes put that figure at $111 million, far closer to the estate’s own estimates.

The estate’s executors said it was a huge and unambiguous victory for Jackson’s children.

“We’re pleased,” co-executor John Branca told The Associated Press on Tuesday. “We always try to do the right thing. We tried from the beginning to follow the IRS rules and regulations, and relied on the best experts possible. It’s unfortunate that we were forced to litigate to protect ourselves.”

The judge most disagreed with the IRS over the value of Jackson’s image and likeness. While the IRS put it at $161 million, Holmes ruled it was just $4.15 million. He noted that despite Jackson’s acquittal on all counts at his 2005 trial for child molestation, the allegations continued to dog him, and while Jackson was selling out dates for a planned world tour when he died, he could not find a sponsor or merchandise partner.

“The fact that he earned not a penny from his image and likeness in 2006, 2007, or 2008 shows the effect those allegations had, and continued to have, until his death,” Holmes wrote in the sprawling 271-page decision that tracks Jackson’s fame and finances through most of his life.

The tax fight had led to a bill of about $700 million after an audit of the 2013 taxes on the estate, whose heirs are Jackson’s mother and three children, about $200 million of it a penalty for underpaying.

A new tax bill will now be calculated using Holmes’ figures, and it will include no penalties.

Also in dispute were Jackson’s 50 percent stake in Sony/ATV Music Publishing, a catalog that includes 175 Beatles songs; and his interest in another catalog that includes the songs he wrote.

The IRS expert had put those assets at a combined total of about $320 million. The judge found that with Jackson’s debts, both combined were worth only $107 million at the time of his death.

The ruling, awaited for years, resolves one of the few disputes that still hovered over Jackson’s estate nearly a dozen years after his unexpected death on June 25, 2009, after a lethal dose of the anesthetic propofol.

Another was resolved a week earlier when a judge dismissed a lawsuit brought by choreographer Wade Robson, one of two men featured in the 2019 documentary “Leaving Neverland,” who alleged Jackson sexually abused him as a child. The similar lawsuit of James Safechuck, the other man featured in the documentary, was dismissed in October. The men’s attorney called the decisions a dangerous precedent for protecting children, and said they plan to appeal.

Tommy West, co-producer of

Jim Croce albums, dead at 78

MORRISTOWN, N.J. — Tommy West, a music producer, singer and songwriter who played a role in the short-lived career of musician Jim Croce, died of complications associated with Parkinson’s disease, his family said. He was 78.

West died Sunday in hospice care.

Born Thomas Picardo Jr. in Jersey City, N.J., he developed his musical talents after his family moved to Neptune, according to his friend Mike Ragogna.

“His musical career began in 1958 as co-founder of the doo-wop group, The Criterions, with childhood friend and future Manhattan Transfer founder, Tim Hause,” Ragogna said.

West had met Croce while both were students at Villanova University in 1961.

West and Terry Cashman coproduced three albums for Croce in the early 1970s, which went on to platinum status. “You Don’t Mess Around With Jim,” “Life and Times” and “I Got A Name” included hit singles “Bad, Bad Leroy Brown” and “Time in a Bottle.”

Croce was killed in a plane crash in Louisiana at age 30 in 1973.

West and Cashman also wrote songs for “The Partridge Family” television musical sitcom, featuring David Cassidy and his stepmother Shirley Jones.

West partnered with Mary Tyler Moore’s MTM Records in Nashville in the 1980s to produce for country artists including Holly Dunn and Judy Rodman.

In his later career, West operated his Somewhere in New Jersey studio from inside a barn in the northern part of the state.

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