This story first appeared in the May 24 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
In his 2013 predictions, posted on MediumThomas.com in December, Thomas John foresaw a woman in a white dress falling at the Oscars, a new pope and a small U.S. terrorist attack in April. (One misfire on John's part: predicting Bradley Cooper and Zoe Saldana would set their engagement; they broke up in late December, and Cooper's now dating a model or Rachel McAdams, depending on whom you ask.)
Perhaps Hollywood's youngest psychic at 28, John, who often travels to L.A. from his NYC home base, may also be among the most in-demand. He does as many as eight readings a day (at slightly less than $200 an hour) and is booked at least six months in advance. "I've been to many mediums," actress Jenny McCarthy tells THR. "Thomas is by far the most accurate one. Spot on!" Adds an anonymous Hollywood beauty exec with major celebrity clientele: "Recently I was trying to decide if I should buy my name back from the Japanese to distribute product there under my own banner. I spoke with several lawyers and got very mixed advice. Someone introduced me to Thomas John. Now I understand that I positioned myself to triple my revenue."
What a difference a recession makes. Last we looked into our crystal balls, Hollywood regarded psychics the way it does reality shows: entertaining, over the top and even necessary, but not a lot of truth or importance to them.
But shake that Magic 8 Ball again, and you'll find the attitude has morphed from "Reply hazy" to "It is decidedly so" in regard to the industry's reliance on psychics. This isn't your storefront variety of fortune teller. Once inhabiting the semi-disreputable province of PYTs wondering whether their boyfriends would commit, now Hollywood's high-end mediums provide business advice to clientele which some of them claim is about 70 percent moguls, executives, producers, directors and, of course, celebrities who face waxing and waning popularity and career insecurities.
"These days, it's almost all money, business and deals. They want to know which lawyer to hire. I have specific entertainment attorneys I send them to -- you need to send the right people to the right people," says noted psychic Gina (one name only), based in Phoenix, who charges $200 an hour and travels to Los Angeles frequently for her tony clientele. "I miss the days when I was always being asked to find someone's lost kitten. I have more CEOs now than I'd like."
Dolores Cardelucci goes further. "I'm really a business reader. I do career stuff," says the senior psychic (she's 82 years old), who claims to have consulted for Paula Abdul, Brad Pitt, Avril Lavigne and a smattering of WME agents. (Lavigne has denied any association with Cardelucci; all other clients did not respond to THR queries.)
A source tells THR that Cardelucci advises Kelsey Grammer -- an executive producer on the former NBC and CBS show Medium -- on many business decisions. "A lot of my clients are men," she says. "I don't see the psychic junkies, honey. I'm not a Band-Aid."
In full disclosure, this writer has had readings over the years with both Gina and John, meetings that have yielded information on life changes that came to fruition. How do they do it? Neither really knows -- they just know they could do it from birth.
"I don't read body language," says John, who began his practice by reading models, then moved on to screenwriters, managers and A-list actors. "I keep my eyes closed during a reading. The information just flows through. It's coming from another sensory system. I originally wanted to be a psychologist, but I had this intuition from birth. Eventually I found I just couldn't turn it off anymore." Says Gina: "I don't call myself a psychic but a clairvoyant. I see pictures in my mind, and I like to hold a belonging of a client's -- a pen, a shirt, something you can feel and see. My soul sees things. I talk to other souls."
If you think we're talking about a bunch of flighty eccentrics (one really could include all of Hollywood in that description), we're not: Every psychic we spoke with works long hours and has assistants and, except for Gina, professional websites, and nearly all of them travel the world for readings and television appearances.
But all of that is the upside. They still often are surrounded by people in highly insecure, grumbly or even depressive states. "We tend to be spiritually evolved people," says Cardelucci. "But let me tell you, honey: Nobody goes to a psychic when they're happy."
But they do go when they want to maximize financial aspects, at least in Hollywood. A producer who requested anonymity tells THR that after consulting with Gina, she successfully brought a TV series from a Mediterranean country to the U.S. Needless to say, she continued their working relationship. "Those projects turned out to be the best for me and the networks I want to work with," says the producer. "She saved me a ton of time and research and hopefully will help me make a lot of money in the next few years."
Karin Silverstein, a former OWN exec and now owner of KS Talent & Media, a content development and casting company, has developed several shows with psychics and gotten to know their top-tier clients over the years. "I know numerous industry people who consult psychics for everything from advice on projects and castmembers to release dates and personal issues," she says. "So much of what happens in the entertainment business is luck -- it's not science. Once someone finds a person who gives them accurate advice, they keep them as their ongoing intuitive coach. Why not?"
Reality TV producer Kirk Durham (Fox's upcoming Toxic Office) met Westwood-based psychic Aiden Chase about five years ago when Chase came to pitch a show. "I booked a session with him, and I left completely recharged. It really opened my eyes to the power of energy work," says Durham. "Now I see him when I'm starting a new show. I rely on his healing to strip away the BS and guide me in a positive direction." Chase, who charges $395 a session, refers to himself as a "clairvoyant healer": "I channel energy and tweak your DNA so you can tune in to the right energy. It's like quantum physics."
You would be hard-pressed to find a popular psychic these days who goes by that simplistic moniker. Carmen Harra, based in New York and Hollywood, Fla., employs hypnotherapy and "parapsychology" (the study of such paranormal phenomena as clairvoyance and telepathy); New Yorker Tony LeRoy, who we've heard reads Isaac Mizrahi and Naomi Campbell, refers to himself as an "intuitive counselor." "I deal with silly fashionista stuff and deep intellectual stuff -- and a lot of, 'What show should we buy next?' " he says. Crisann Morgan calls herself an "empathic counselor" and conducts most of her readings by phone. Carrie Carter (who a source tells THR works with a producer or two for Jimmy Fallon) calls herself a "channel" for the many CEOs and lawyers she advises: "I have been told many times that my advice has saved corporations millions of dollars." But celebrities also consult her to "speak to loved ones who've crossed over to the other side."
Colette Baron-Reid, possibly the most expensive psychic at $400 for 30 minutes, feels she earns her bread: "I'm a coach, an intuitive business strategist -- and, yes, I'm a psychic medium too." Her highest-profile clients are said to be Ron Howard and his daughter Bryce Dallas Howard, and her waiting list can run to three years.
Perhaps not surprisingly, nearly every psychic THR talked to is developing one or more TV shows. "We're working on a show called The Wise Guys," says LeRoy. "I help other people make deals -- now I'm going to have to make my own!" Harra, who "works with companies building reality shows" is developing one for herself. "Television is where I'm going more and more. I recently did a reading for Patti Stanger on her Bravo show," says Fort Lauderdale, Fla.-based Michelle Whitedove, winner of Lifetime's America's Psychic Challenge. Whitedove originally was managed by Alyssa Milano's mother, Lin -- and the young Milano came to depend on her insights as an actress starting out.
But predictions can't ensure good ratings, either for themselves -- or clients. "This will only last until a project they recommend tanks," says one cynical observer. Even Whitedove admits that should be skeptical. "There are so many fruit loops in the fruit loop box in this business -- but I can assure you, I'm not one of them."