It sure was a shock to learn, just before Christmas, that Susan Sarandon and Tim Robbins were breaking up. Since their very brief announcement, the rumor mill has been running wild. A new article by a reporter from The Daily Beast, who has a long history of not-so-pleasant run-ins with the couple, suggests that the split may have been caused by Susan and Tim’s differences of opinion on political issues. Specifically, the report claims that Robbins has been quietly donating campaign money to Republicans (gasp!) while Susan has gone even further to the left. According to this report, even Susan’s own mom was surprised by the breakup.
It was their low-key, under-the-radar, one might even say boring approach to life in the big city that apparently allowed them to separate in the summer with zero publicity. Lenora Tomalin, Susan’s 86-year-old mother, says she was “shocked” when her daughter called last week to tell her about the split a day before the news broke. “It was perfect timing because the press couldn’t do much with it, because of Christmas and all the other news that would be in the forefront,” Tomalin told me over the Christmas weekend.
She recently saw Susan and Tim at a family wedding in New Jersey and says everything seemed normal. “My daughter was a little concerned about my hearing about it otherwise. It has affected me a lot, I’m still dealing with it,” Tomalin told me. “The way she was talking, it was very amicable. Tim is still in the picture because of the kids. I think they’re handling it beautifully. There’s no recrimination of any kind.”
Tomalin roundly dismissed published speculation that the 63-year-old Sarandon has taken up with 31-year-old Jonathan Bricklin, a business partner and co-investor in the Manhattan ping-pong club Spin. “Gracious, no!” Tomalin said, adding that she met Bricklin recently when he and Susan gave her a tour of the establishment. “He’s a gem. He has nothing to do with her other than as a business partner… If she was [seeing Bricklin romantically], Susan would be upfront about it.”
Tomalin added: “I’m fond of Tim even though I had that blowup with him years ago.”
That was back in early 2003, when I was writing The Washington Post’s Reliable Source column and Tomalin gave me an interview in which she identified herself as a staunch Republican and described the tension her political differences had caused between herself, Susan, and Tim. After the item appeared, Tim called her to angrily upbraid her for airing dirty laundry. She said she was devastated. Weeks later, when I ran into Robbins at a party in Los Angeles, he was still steamed—profanely putting me on notice that if I ever wrote about his family again, he would “find” and “hurt” me. Months later, he was still telling anyone who’d listen—like a lunchtime crowd at Washington’s National Press Club—that I am “a sadistic creep who writes, or rather, scratches, his column with his fingers in the dirt.”When it came to politics, Robbins and Sarandon tended to espouse and admonish rather than try to persuade. Either you were enlightened or just weren’t—either ideologically chaste or downright corrupt. “I am not, was not, a big Clinton fan,” Robbins told me back in 2002. “I hear he was a liberal. I hear people described as liberals all the time that I don’t tend to agree with. I think the rise of the Southern Democrats and the Democratic Leadership Council has pushed the definition of what’s a liberal farther and farther to the right.”
…Loyal Dems would undoubtedly be gobsmacked to learn that, if Federal Election Commission records are to be believed, Robbins has not only donated regularly to Democratic candidates over the past 18 years, he also has written checks to conservative Republicans. In the 2006 election cycle, according to public records, the actor gave $5,000 to 10 Republican candidates for the House and Senate—including, most shocking of all, Minnesota’s resident wingnut, Rep. Michele Bachmann. Why such largesse to the enemy? Former GOP congressman J.D. Hayworth of Arizona, who lost in 2006 despite Robbins’ $500 donation, was baffled and surprised when I reached him over the weekend. “Maybe because I covered the Durham Bulls as a sports broadcaster in the late 1970s and early ’80s? Maybe because I used to frequently rent Bob Roberts back in the ’90s?” Hayworth wondered, mentioning two of Robbins’ starring vehicles. “All I can say is, ‘Thank you!’ I hope he enjoyed the Christmas card.” My efforts to reach Robbins to hear his explanation were unavailing, alas.
But other sources are saying that the couple’s breakup was due to Susan’s flourishing relationship with a business partner who is 30 years her junior. Jonathan Bricklin, 31, is reportedly getting “touchy feely” with Sarandon, even though her rep, Jonathan’s rep, and Susan’s mom are all denying it.
Susan Sarandon and long-time lover Tim Robbins announced their split two days before Christmas, with their rep issuing a statement saying they “separated over the summer” and “no further comments will be made.”
Since then Sarandon, 63, has denied she is in a relationship with ping-pong club owner Jonathan Bricklin, 31, as has his rep.
But an inside source close to Bricklin tells Fox411.com that the two are spending a lot of quality time together.
“The way they touch each other, greet each other and spend so much time together, they are far more than friends,” said the source. “They are very comfortable with each other, very touchy-feely. You don’t touch a friend the way Jonathan and Susan do.”
The source, who has seen the two together since Sarandon and Robbins announced their split, added that “Susan looks great…. She’s been extremely busy over the holidays with her kids, the new club and Jonathan. She meets him at the club all the time in the middle of the day.”
The club in question is a new NYC ping-pong club called SPiN, in which they have both reportedly invested money.
Yes, we’ll say it again, a ping-pong club. (Only in New York…)
Anyway, the couple even apparently spent part of the New Year’s holiday together.
“Susan is always around [SPiN], she enjoys being with Jonathan, and they were together over the New Year last week,” said the insider.
While some eyes may widen at the couple’s 32-year age difference, the insider says the two look great together.
“She may be 63, but she is glowing. She hardly wears makeup and she still looks phenomenal,” the pal blabs. “Susan is too gorgeous to be single!”
The source adds that the May-November relationship wasn’t what ended the Sarandon/Robbins romance.
“[Sarandon and Robbins] have been separated for some time,” said the insider. “It was definitely not a rash decision, and Susan and Tim are very protective of all their children, especially their two boys.”
For a couple like Susan and Tim, who have long been very vocal and passionate about their political views, it makes sense that a change of opinion might be a deal-breaker. It’s too bad, because there are a lot of couples with differing political views who somehow find a way to make it work – look at Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver. Maybe it was a combination of the two? Either way, I doubt that Tim or Susan are ever going to comment about it. But at least they are taking the high road and not talking smack about each other.