Tonight, all eyes were on the Los Angeles Shrine Auditorium to witness the presence -- or absence -- of Whitney Houston at the Arista Records' benefit concert. To cut to the chase: Yes, she showed. (Did a six-song, 20-minute set, even.)
Houston -- who bowed out on the Oscars and skipped a couple of Grammy rehearsals -- was indeed among the performers at the bash, which doubled as a 25th anniversary celebration of the Arista label.
In keeping with her M.O. at being, well, different, Houston bade her audience farewell with the curious: "The record's not over yet, remember."
The appearance was her first since the blown Oscar gig (also to be at the Shrine) and came on the heels of an article in the new People magazine in which the singer's alleged substance abuse problem was hinted at publicly.
In addition to Houston, the concert was to feature performances by geriatric rocker Santana, rock mavens Annie Lennox and Patti Smith, elevator musicians Kenny G., Barry Manilow, Carly Simon, not to mention Sarah McLachlan, Brooks & Dunn, Deborah Cox, Alan Jackson, LFO, Monica, Next, Puff Daddy and Westlife.
The bash, dubbed "25 Years Of #1 Hits: Arista Records' Anniversary Celebration," will air in convenient TV form May 15 on NBC.