How Stella Got Her Anger Back

10 Aug 2005
Terry McMillan's new book: The Interruption of Everything

"I find out that he has a lover of 9 months. I kicked him out of the house. .., and I put him up in a hotel for 3 weeks, and the next thing I know, he gets an attorney and he's suing me ... he knew he was gay when he met me ... this is basically extortion ... I basically paid 300 and some odd thousand dollars to get him a pet grooming business. Two days ago or three days ago, I find out he sold everything in it and split. OK? ... He did this, all of it, to basically eclipse the publication of my book so that people would think that it's a publicity stunt, and I don't need him for publicity. And all this is basically because he wants my money. He's not getting it. You know, he has risked my life having sex with men for years. He has gotten to become a U.S. citizen because of his affair with me, his relationship with me. ... he''s an habitual liar, and he's a sociopath. And I will prove it. ... I don''t care about him being gay, but he risked my life. What if I'm sitting here HIV positive? ... He should get a job. "

- Terry McMillan on the Tavis Smiley Show (July 12th, 2005)

There it was. After a long public silence about her nasty divorce with Jonathan Plummer, Terry McMillan, 53, broke loose last month on the Tavis Smiley Show. Tavis made it clear from the get go. There was no escaping the topic. First reminding her that her "business is all on the internet", Tavis didn't mince words: "We can do it now or later. How you want to handle this?" After some hesitation, McMillan chose to bite the bullet right away. Admitting that the matter had caused her great stress, she says: I think my voice is 2 octaves lower. I call on the phone, and people say, "Yes, sir".

For those readers who may need an introduction to this Jerryesque saga, the tale began with a best-selling novel, turned into a motion picture back in 1998 entitled: How Stella Got Her Groove Back. The novel recounts Terry McMillan's own experience of falling in love on the beaches of Negril, Jamaica, back in 1995 with a young Jamaican man young enough to be her son. The movie starred Angela Bassett in the role of Stella Payne -- a highly successful, forty-something San Francisco stock broker. The young islander she falls for is Winston Shakespeare (played by Taye Diggs). In real life, McMillan ended up marrying her Winston (Jonathan Plummer), 23 years her junior, on a romance-filled Maui wedding on September 8th, 1998. McMillan was, however, smart enough to have Plummer sign a prenuptial agreement waiving his right to any spousal support in the event of their marriage's collapse. But things have a funny way of working out differently.

Fast forward 10 years after that initial faithful meeting and the love story takes a sordid twist. Turns out that this idyllic real-life Wintson, now 30-year old Jonathan Plummer, is gay. And oh yeah, another thing ... he apparently signed that prenup under "duress". To some observers, the turn of events was no surprise at all. According to many sources in Jamaica, the fact that Jonathan Plummer was gay all along, and that he was using McMillan to obtain his U.S. immigration papers, was entirely evident to the locals who knew Plummer.

But Stella was too busy finding her groove to notice.

After settling in McMillan's $4 million estate in Danville, the marriage started unravelling after a few years. "He became less attentive, less charming, more distracted and absent from the home,'''' said McMillan. The fairy tale was dying. Both now have a different version of the series of events which ultimately led to a restraining order barring Plummer from the marital estate. McMillan claims that Jonathan Plummer only confirmed to her that he was gay "after" the relationship had gotten to a point of no return. She claims she had confronted him about some long-distance calls to a male friend in Jamaica and his time spent on gay online chatrooms. On his end, Plummer said: "I was kicked out of the house in December right after I told her [I was gay].'' Plummer and his lawyer have accused McMillan in the media of being a homophobe. But McMillan insists: "I'm not a homophobe. I'm a Jon-o-phobe."

Evidently motivated by his concerns to keep as many chips on his side as possible through the divorce procedures, Jonathan Plummer claims that he "didn't know" he was gay back in 1995 when he met McMillan on that Negril beach. Hummmmm ... Interesting. First of all, it's evident that Terry McMillan would have been a highly sought-after prize while sunning herself on that Negril beach back in 1995. She was already a multi-millionaire and a celebrity thanks to the amazing success of her novel, Waiting to Exhale, which had been turned into a blockbuster movie -- starring a pre-weed-scandal Whitney Houston. In McMillan's mind, there is no doubt that Plummer zeroed in on her for those specific self-serving reasons. She had her suspicions at the time but, as she told the court, "Jonathan was very charming and made me believe that he was crazy about me.'' She goes on to say: "It was devastating to discover that a relationship I had publicized to the world as life-affirming and built on mutual love was actually based on deceit," in her court declaration. "I was humiliated." Much to McMillan's dismay, a U.S. Superior Court judge awarded a temporary victory to Jonathan Plummer by ordering McMillan to pay him $2,000 a month in spousal support, plus $25,000 in attorney's fees until a full trial is conducted in October. McMillan is expected to argue for the annulment of the marriage, and Plummer will seek to challenge the validity of the prenuptial agreement. Stay tuned.

One thing's for sure though, the media circus hasn't hurt the sales of Terry McMillan's latest, and eerily appropriately titled, sixth book The Interruption of Everything. It recently hit the coveted number one spot on the New York Times best-sellers list and sales show no immediate signs of slowing down. Now, Jonathan Plummer says he''s thinking about writing his own book, entitled: "How Stella Lost Her Groove." So looks like both the 10-year-old saga, and the "cah-ching" sounds at your local Chapters or Indigo are set to continue for a while longer. What's next? Queer Eye for the Disillusioned Sistah?

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