Details of Whitney's Death Emerge: Xanax and Alcohol May Be to Blame

If you don't already know, let me be the first to apologize for ruining what should have been a placid Sunday of Grammy-snarking — Whitney Houston, the diva that even Bret Easton Ellis's misogynistic, socially-numb serial killer held in high esteem, died last night at the heart-breaking age of 48. Houston's hairdresser and bodyguard were the first to find the singer with her face underwater in her bathtub at the Beverly Hilton where she was staying. Details are still scant, but, with typical journalistic stoicism, TMZ is already reporting that a mélange of Xanax and alcohol probably caused Houston to lose consciousness and drown in the tub. With ironic cruelty, fate determined that as members from the music community gathered at the Beverly Hilton to celebrate another year in mediocre music, they would mingle with the Los Angeles County paramedics transporting Houston's body from her hotel room to the coroner's office for an autopsy. Though Houston was plagued by years of drug abuse and a tumultuous 14-year marriage to Bobby Brown, she became the most-honored female singer of all time over her 25-year career, collecting more than 400 awards — including 6 Grammys and 30 Billboard Awards — and selling more than 170 million albums worldwide. She had a movie career that includes the VH1 go-to Saturday afternoon movie, The Bodyguard, as well as the more respectable and awesomely titled Waiting to Exhale. She's also credited with influencing the generation of female singers who followed her, a group that includes the likes of Beyoncé, Mariah Carey, Alicia Keys, and Celine Dion, who, along with just about every other disconsolate celebrity, poured their sorrow and dismay through the social sluice ways late last night:

I just can't talk about it now. It's so stunning and unbelievable. I couldn't believe what I was reading coming across the TV screen. My heart goes out to Cissy, her daughter Bobbi Kris, her family and Bobby.

- Aretha Franklin

Heartbroken and in tears over the shocking death of my friend, the incomparable Ms. Whitney Houston.

- Mariah Carey

I've know Whitney since she was a little girl and I loved her. She was like family to me. I will miss her.

- Smokey Robinson

No words! Just tears #DearWhitney.

- Rihanna on Twitter.

She was just a gift in voice ... She was just so innocent in the business, and that voice was so pure and her life was so pure. That's what I'm holding on to. I think what we're going to do in the long run of her life story is focus on the voice, not the tragedy, but the voice.

- Lionel Richie to CNN.

That voice — it could hit all the octaves, making it so very hard to choose a favorite of her songs and so unnervingly easy to empathize for a brief moment with Patrick Batemen, who settles after a brief deliberation with "The Greatest Love of All," which as he explains, "Is one of the best, most powerful songs ever written about self-preservation and dignity. This universal message crosses all boundaries, instills one with the hope that it's not too late to better ourselves. Since it's impossible in this world we live in to empathize with others, we can always empathize with ourselves." Much respect, Whitney Houston, and may the pulp tabloids resist the urge to trample your grave with sordid details of your final hours. [AP, OMG, TMZ, Reuters]

  • The music community is scrambling a hasty Whitney Houston tribute in the wake of the singer's untimely death. Jennifer Hudson will lead the dirge-singing at tonight's award-ceremony-turned-wake, the Grammys. E!]
  • Whatever your opinion is of Bobby Brown and his purportedly pugilistic marriage philosophy, this is what Whitney Houston's much-maligned ex-husband said when he found out during a reunion tour in Southaven, Mississippi with former boy band New Edition that Houston had died: "I love you, Whitney. The hardest thing for me to do is to come on this stage." [NDNY]
  • Kim Kardashian, Amber Rose, and Britney Spears, celebrities that really don't need any more bad press, are taking heat for not seeming distraught enough in various photos taken last night at Clive Davis's pre-Grammy party at the Beverly Hilton Hotel where Whitney Houston died. [a href="http://www.dailymail.co.uk/tvshowbiz/article-2100026/Kim-Kardashian-Britney-Spears-party-Beverly-Hilton-Hotel-Whitney-Houston-died.html?ITO=1490">Daily Mail]
  • Glee's Matthew Morrison has said that Whitney Houston's death is "kind of eerie" because, according to him and whatever other publicity weavers are keeping their foots of the pedals of Fox's ratings loom, the show had planned a Valentine's Day special featuring a rendition of "I Will Always Love You." Fox producers are now considering turning the show into one big Whitney tribute in which hopefully the cast members organize a school-wide boycott of Valentine's Day because they're pining so hard for Whitney Houston. Mr. Schue then teaches them a lesson about the healing power of love by playing "I Wanna Dance with Somebody" and showing them that what Whitney would have really wanted was to see a new generation of 20-somethings masquerading as teenagers on television enjoying the fuck out of her music. [E!]

  • Based on some creepy pictures taken from from the other side of an Australian restaurant, People has determined that Robin Wright and crazy-eyed dramatist Ben Foster are now involved in some kind of romantic joint-venture. Wright, 45, is seen putting her palm against Foster's significantly younger 31-year-old face in an effort either to read his fortune or sap some of his youth. No word from the handlers that manage these people's transparent, fish tank lives, but maybe that's only because nobody wants to excite the sleeping-dragon that is Wright's ex-husband of 14 years, Sean Penn. [NDNY]
  • Anna Wintour can't deal with revolving glass doors and reportedly paused last night at the entrance to a Frank Gehry-designed glass building, asking an aide in a sharp tone typical of the unexpectedly frustrated, "How do we get in?" If you're feeling particularly down about Whitney Houston's death, imagine being Anna Wintour's personal assistant and having had the opportunity last night to answer her question by saying, "You have to say ‘Open Sesame,' Ms. Wintour, and twirl around in a circle three times. Then, and this is very important, you have sing, in order, the lyrics to every song from the Disney movie Aladdin. [NDNY]
  • Kim Kardashian's jilted publicist Jonathan-with-an-X-because-it's-cooler-that-way-Jaxson is joining forces with Kris Humphries in an effort to prove the Humphries/Kardashian unholy alliance was a sham. Though he hasn't decided whether he'll file suit, Jaxson has retained Humphries's Minnesota-based attorney Lee A. Hutton and could seek payback for the stress Kardashian lawyer Marty Singer's threatened $200,000 arbitration caused him. According to Singer's demand for arbitration, Jaxson had violated a confidentiality agreement he'd signed with Kim Kardashian when he suggested that her lavish August wedding to Humphries was a publicity stunt. After threats of a defamation action, Jaxson says that he was so stressed that he almost killed himself and racked up thousands of dollars worth of medical bills in the process, proving that the fallout from a Kim Kardashian divorce is the tabloid equivalent of one of those really dirty suitcase bombs that Homeland Security used to talk about all the time. [NDNY]
  • Co-star of Kim Kardashian's sex-tape Ray-J is releasing a book this week called Death of the Cheating Man: What Every Woman Must Know About Men Who Stray, in which he refers to a mysterious ex-lover he calls "KK" who "hypnotized" him with sex. According to Werner Herzog, only extremely stupid creatures like chickens are susceptible to hypnosis, not that we're judging or anything... [Bossip]
  • Nick Carter will not schedule any more appearances for a while after his last tour stop tonight in Columbus, Ohio so that he can grieve for the death of his sister Leslie, whose funeral he reportedly missed last week. [TMZ]
  • Bow Wow, formerly of 'Lil fame, has hit a financial Strait of Messina — not only is he inundated with tax liens, but now a limo company is suing him for an unpaid bill dating back to 2008 of $3,594.87. [TMZ]
  • Sheryl Crow's 50th birthday has been pretty much been torpedoed by Whitney Houston's untimely death. [HuffPo]