Craig Bennett the veteran showbiz reporter is coming to Cronulla for an outrageous and gossip filled lunch to talk about his recently released memoir's True confessions of a shameless gossip on Wednesday, August 7, at Sealevel Restaurant .
Bennett is Studio 10's resident showbiz reporter - dishing up all the hottest gossip and entertainment news daily as well as talking showbiz on radio 2GB and writing showbiz stories for New Idea and Woman's Day.
Bennett and Marie Simone have organised this event with a catalogue of celebrities to add to the showbiz razzle dazzle of the day with Paula Duncan, Carlotta, Denise Drysdale, Mark Vincent charity fixture Marie Sutton and Gordana Willesee on the list with special guest Laura Jays from SKY News- and Craig has issued a warning, those attending may need the smelling salts.
Bennett is a self-confessed gossip tragic - and has been shamelessly nosing his way around the showbiz scene for nearly 40 years, sniffing out scandals and celebrity peccadillos, then dishing on the stars with gusto on television, radio, in newspapers, magazines and online.
He has ties to the shire - he grew up in Ramsgate - but as is explained in his book, there is quite a bizarre tale associated with his adoption.
"My parents, Keith and Irene, were always very upfront about my having been adopted," Bennett says.
"Years later, when I began my life as a showbiz reporter on Sydney's Daily Mirror newspaper in the early 80's, former Number 96 star and close friend Elaine Lee read my tarot cards and claimed I'd been orphaned and abandoned in a bus shelter in Ramsgate.
"To me, the whole bus shelter story seemed extraordinary. Like a plot line from The Bold and The Beautiful. I never pursued it because it seemed too outrageous, even for me.
"When my mother read the book, she told me the bus shelter story wasn't quite right, but her revelations were even more surprising, and heartbreaking! All will be revealed at the lunch."
One of the more astounding revelations in the book is that Gold Logie winning TV legend Jeanne Little, claims she was taken by aliens as a 15-year-old - snatched from her Brighton-Le-Sands bedroom.
"Jeanne would shock and stun dinner parties with this outrageous story that she swore was true. That she was whirled up into a spaceship then returned to her bedroom."
The book also caused a stir in the US with Bennett's revelations about eight times married movie icon Mickey Rooney, who Bennett found to be an unpleasant man.
"Many people told me unsavoury stories of Mickey's philandering, and allegations of his "auditioning" hopeful starlets for roles that never existed. Aussie showbiz sensation Rhonda Burchmore worked with Mickey on the London stage in Sugar Babies in the late 80's. Her stories would curl your hair."
Rooney's daughter Kelly has slammed Bennett's take on her famous father, but he is standing by his stories.
Bennett has snuck into Cher's dressing room, and tried on her wigs, talked to Nanny star Fran Drescher's about her heart wrenching ordeal that included being raped at gunpoint, followed by a cancer misdiagnosis, and surreptitiously checked out whether Star Trek icon William Shatner wears a wig.
Living in Hollywood Bennett had a cornucopia of A-list celebrity encounters, from being accidentally knee-capped by Johnny Depp's shopping trolley, to running into Michael Jackson in a park.
A bizarre encounter with Oscar winner Faye Dunaway, and being squirted by her garden hose. Having an in depth chat with Jodie Foster about boxer dogs and encounters with Joan Collins, Ann Miller, Farrah Fawcett, Ryan O'Neal, Shirley Jones, Esther Williams and Elton John.
Bennett has his favourite celebrities to interview - Dame Angela Lansbury, Dame Patricia Routledge, Paula Abdul, who has a psychic and a beautician for her five dogs, beefcake Fabio and I Dream of Jeannie legend Barbara Eden, who knew Marilyn Monroe and said there is no way she'd ever have committed suicide.
Jane Fonda shared with Bennett a crazy story of skinny dipping with Michael Jackson during the making of On Golden Pond.
Bennett said it's amazing that his memory is still intact, after so much champagne and decades of showbiz partying.
"I learned to appreciate the opportunities I'd had, the people I've met, and the fun along the way. None of it is taken for granted," he said.
"I also appreciate the war-chest of secrets that will never make it into any book. I might be a self-confessed, out and proud shameless gossip, but the reasons I've still got plenty of showbiz friends is because I'm a trustworthy gossip, if there is such a thing."
All lunch proceeds are going to the Country Autism Network which aims to help families in rural NSW work their way through the maze that is ASD.
Tickets for the three course lunch and drinks are $190-plus everyone gets an autographed copy of Bennett's wild and shocker filled memoirs - the event is supported by local businesses Sylvania BMW and Anne Macpherson of Annie Mac Design Jewellery who will be donating a kids car and jewellery for the charity event.
For tickets contact : Marie Simone -firstname.lastname@example.org