Has the Ratpac bromance between Brett Ratner and James Packer cooled?


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Pirvate Sydney: Packer packs in RatPac

A question mark hangs over why James Packer has quit Hollywood after selling his stake in production company, RatPac Entertainment. Andrew Hornery investigates.

It was quite a scene on Hollywood’s Walk Of Fame. The likes of stars Chris “The Rock” Johnson and Eddie Murphy had come out on a chilly day in January to watch Hollywood producer Brett Ratner be honoured with his own star on Tinsel Town’s famous boulevard. Even Australia’s Foreign Affairs minister Julie Bishop, a good friend of Ratner’s, was there.

But there was one noticeable absence in the crowd: the unmistakable shadow of the business partner and buddy who had financed much of Ratner’s meteoric rise in Hollywood over the past five years, Aussie billionaire James Packer.

And while pint-sized Ratner praised Packer in his speech, the towering casino mogul was thousands of kilometres away at his Ellerstina polo estate just outside of Buenos Aires, still grappling with the fall-out from the Chinese scandal which had seen his Crown staff arrested and thrown into a dingy Shanghai lock-up.

This week’s news that Packer was selling out of his Hollywood film production company company RatPac and walking away from the partnership with Ratner has been seen by some as the end of the “bromance” between the men, though those close to both men who PS spoke with this week maintain that their friendship is “fine”.

In the US, Packer's investments outside of casinos are in movie production arm RatPac, which produced the Leonardo Dicaprio movie The Revenant, as well as stakes in Robert De Niro's restaurant chain Nobu.

RatPac produced the Leonardo Dicaprio movie The Revenant.

But for years they had become Hollywood’s odd-couple, their affection and friendship seemingly indestructible.

Indeed it was widely reported that Ratner was the man who introduced pop star Mariah Carey to Packer, having billed the singer as one of his closest long-term pals, though even Ratner’s most famous friends joke about how many “stars” he has on speed dial.

James Packer and Mariah Carey, with Brett Ratner on Packer's super yacht.

James Packer and Mariah Carey with Brett Ratner on Packer’s super yacht. Photo: Mariah Carey, Instagram

Ratner certainly delivered the celebrities in spades for Packer. The pair setting up their RatPac offices in a suite on the Universal Studios lot which had once belonged to the original rat packer, Frank Sinatra.

Packer beamed as he was photographed with the likes of Robert De Niro, Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt and Martin Scorsese, men he now considers friends.

But long before them, Packer had been well versed in the art of celebrity friendships, having cultivated a close bond with Tom Cruise, though that relationship appears to have dimmed over the years, as Cruise embedded himself further into Scientology and Packer distanced himself from the controversial religion.

James Packer with his Macau business partner Lawrence Ho (left) and Hollywood stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, director Martin Scorsese and producer Brett Ratner.

James Packer with his Macau business partner Lawrence Ho (left) and Hollywood stars Leonardo DiCaprio, Robert De Niro, director Martin Scorsese and producer Brett Ratner. Photo: AP

Since 2012 Packer had established himself as one of the most powerful players in Hollywood, largely courtesy of Ratner’s contacts. Their company produced a series of both critically acclaimed and box office hits, including The Revenant, Birdman, Creed, The Lego Movie, American Sniper, Kong: Skull Island and Godzilla.

But there were also a few lemons, among them Jupiter Ascending, Entourage, Pan, In the Heart of the Sea, Storks and Collateral Beauty.

“James was really just having a go … sure there were a few mistakes they made but really, they are incredibly proud of what was achieved,” an associate told PS on Thursday.

And while the Carey-Packer union imploded so spectacularly last year, some now suspect the bust-up caused inevitable strain between Packer and Ratner, though this week’s move appears to be fiscally motivated on Packer’s behalf.

“Hollywood needs much deeper pockets’ than James’,” one of Packer’s associates informed PS.

Packer is re-focussing his attention on his Australian casino operations, specifically the construction of his Crown Casino at Barangaroo.

And while Packer still counts his Rabbitoh’s co-owner Russell Crowe within his sphere, it would appear he will remain the only big name celebrity in Packer’s new court.

Not to worry, he will always have Karl Stefanovic.

‘No choice’ but to go to police

Eastern suburbs socialite and high-profile interior decorator Janelle “Nellie” Tilley has confided in friends that she had “no choice” but to go to the police and seek charges against her former lover, millionaire Sydney publican Phillip De Angelis.

“It is humiliating for her, she finds this really embarrassing but she had to do something to protect herself and her family … she hopes that maybe it might encourage other women to do something if they find themselves in a similar situation,” a close friend of Tilley’s told PS on Thursday as news broke.


Nellie Tilley.

Tilley, a mother of three boys, is well known within Sydney’s influential eastern suburbs and is the former wife of Simon Tilley, brother of James Packer’s confidant Ben Tilley. The 52-year-old is a regular at charity fundraisers and red carpet events, up until now Tilley’s life appeared glamorous, having dated some of Sydney’s leading bachelors, including finance executive and former Goldman Sachs boss Simon Greenaway.

Her former boyfriend, 36-year-old Phillip De Angelis, is a member of one of the country’s most powerful pub families. His uncle is Arthur Laundy, one of the wealthiest publicans in Australia.

De Angelis now faces 25 charges, including common assault, assault occasioning actual bodily harm, “destroy or damage property with intent to injure”, “aggravated break and enter and commit serious indictable offence – people there” and “intentionally choke etc person with recklessness”.

De Angelis, who is yet to enter a plea but has retained Kennedy’s Lawyers to represent him in the matter, is also accused of breaking into Tilley’s home several times last year, “with intent to cause fear of physical or mental harm”, as well as stealing her keys.

Last week an interim AVO was put in place, banning De Angelis from going within 100m of Tilley’s home.

At Waverley Local Court the interim order was made without admissions by De Angelis. He was granted bail and is listed to return to Downing Centre Local Court on June 22.

De Angelis did not respond to PS’s calls this week.

It is not the first time Phillip De Angelis has landed in hot water. In 2012 he was embroiled in a complaint to Fair Work Australia after a female employee at the Hotel Ingleburn tendered her resignation following a “highly offensive inappropriate remark”.

In an altercation over a broken ATM, she alleged De Angelis told her to “shut the f— up, you stupid f—ing s–t”.

His brother, hotel supervisor Peter De Angelis, called the woman the following day to apologise for his brother’s behaviour and suggested the three of them meet to discuss the incident the following week – an invitation which she accepted.

But while Phillip De Angelis did apologise to the woman upon her return to the workplace on Monday, the meeting did not take place.

Fair Work Australia Commissioner Alistair MacDonald said: “The [woman] reacted adversely to this highly offensive insult – she was shaking in anger, she had been insulted and she had been humiliated in front of others,” Commissioner MacDonald said.

Commissioner MacDonald said the evidence given by the woman was not in dispute but dismissed the proceedings.

Polishing up that ol’ shine

It’s been 20 years since David Helfgott has appeared on the London stage, but on the eve of his return, it would appear not everyone in Old Blighty is quite so eager to see the Australian pianist come back.

Helfgott’s manager Jeff Weaver offered a firm “no comment” when PS inquired about an article that appeared in London’s Private Eye magazine.

The item questioned whether the May concert at London’s Barbican was “such a good idea?”

David Helfgott and Geoffrey Rush at the National Film and Sound Archive to celebrate 20 years since the release of Shine.

David Helfgott and Geoffrey Rush at the National Film and Sound Archive to celebrate 20 years since the release of Shine. Photo: Rohan Thomson

The article went on to say: “Helfgott was the real-life subject of a feelgood 1990s biopic called Shine [played by Geoffrey Rush] that documented his apparent triumph over mental illness to make a career as a professional performer. For a while, thanks to the film, Helfgott basked in fame. But when it came to giving concerts, his mental problems were sadly and ruinously obvious.”

And on it continued: “Helfgott disappeared and hasn’t played in London for 20 years. Now he’s back to resume a concert life, encouraged by his wife – who claims to be clairvoyant and apparently foresees a second coming for him. Reports suggest that his condition is exactly as it was before. A very questionable booking.”

No such fears were expressed by the audience at last month’s Helfgott performance at Gooseberry Hill Primary School in Perth where he conducted a 30-minute recital.

“Helfgott did not disappoint as he performed with characteristic gusto and finished with a frenetic rendition of Flight of the Bumblebee,” according to a review in the local paper.

Helfgott also played a special concert at Perth’s Mundaring Weir Hotel in March to celebrate his 70th birthday, where he was joined by wife Gillian. The Mundaring Weir Hotel was where Helfgott played annually for some 30 years on his road to recovery.

Foul-smelling delivery not an Easter treat for Roxy Jacenko

Whatever you think of publicity seeking missile Roxy Jacenko, she certainly did not deserve the nasty Easter surprise delivered to her swanky new Paddington offices sometime last weekend.

PR agent Roxy Jacenko. SMH GOOD WEEKEND Picture by NICK CUBBIN GW130629

Roxy Jacenko got an unwelcome Easter surprise. Photo: Nick Cubbin

Jacenko’s Sweaty Betty mail box appeared to be the target of the vile and rather cowardly attack, which resulted in a thick, brown, foul-smelling sludge of dubious origins oozing down the walls outside her front door and smeared all through her mail box.

While the swarm of blow flies appeared to be enjoying it, no one else was.

No Kerr nuptials for Gunnedah

PS has been assured there will be no wedding bells for supermodel Miranda Kerr and her billionaire beau, Snapchat founder Evan Spiegel, in the next few days.

Miranda Kerr is famed for her creamy complexion.

Miranda Kerr is expected to tie the knot with Evan Spiegel in a small, intimate ceremony abroad. Photo: Getty Images

However, Kerr’s family and friends are getting ready for the big day in the next month or so.

Sadly the wedding will not be taking place in Kerr’s hometown, the Koala capital of Australia, sunny Gunnedah, with the American-based couple expected to tie the knot in a small and intimate ceremony abroad.

Suzy collection going under the hammer

While PS’ collection of limited edition, slightly-used commemorative royal family dolls would surely fetch a hefty price, it would be nothing compared to the estate of Aileen Mehle, known to her fans worldwide as the late society columnist Suzy, who died last year in New York at 98.

The huge haul is set to be sold in two auctions at Doyle Auctioneers & Appraisers. Her extraordinary collection of jewellery will be offered as a special section of the April 27 auction, while her elegant furniture, decorations, paintings, couture, costume jewellery, accessories, photographs, and memorabilia will be offered on May 24.

Save for PS please - Aileen Mehle, known as the legendary society columnist Suzy. Credit: Doyle New York

Aileen Mehle, the legendary society columnist Suzy, lived a life as glamorous and exciting as any of those whose lives she chronicled. Photo: Doyle New York

During a career spanning more than 50 years, Aileen Mehle lived a life as glamorous and exciting as any of the society figures, film stars, and celebrities whose lives she chronicled in her columns.

She was married twice and was linked romantically with five and dime heir Woolworth Donahue, Hollywood producer Walter Wanger, and Frank Sinatra.

In the 1960s, she was a regular panelist on the television program What’s My Line? and even had a cameo role in a 1967 episode of Batman. PS can only dream!

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