By Stephen M. Silverman
December 06, 2002 10:45 AM

In a true public-relations coup Thursday night, Whitney Houston’s ailing 82-year-old father pleaded from his hospital bed in a televised interview for his daughter to settle his $100-million breach-of-contract lawsuit against her, urging her to “pay me the money that you owe me.”

John Houston, propped up on a pillow with an oxygen hose plugged into his nose, made his public appeal on the syndicated TV show “Celebrity Justice.” His appearance came a day after his daughter, 39, said in her own ABC “Primetime” interview with Diane Sawyer that her father’s suit marks one of the lowest points of her life.

The bedridden Houston — whose illness has not been disclosed, Reuters reports — claims in his suit that his daughter hired him and his business partner to help her with various financial difficulties and to negotiate her contract with Arista Records, only his company was never paid, he alleges.

Addressing his daughter directly during the interview, Houston said, “You get your act together honey, and you pay me the money that you owe me. If you do that, you haven’t got a lawsuit. … At my age, I haven’t got that long. Now if you think I got that long, you think about it. You step into my shoes. I would like to spend the last years of my life on a boat some place.”

On “Primetime,” which drew an astonishing 21 million viewers — despite the fact that many critics, noting Houston’s often-disoriented condition, called it a “trainwreck of an interview” — the pop diva told Sawyer that, despite everything, she still loves her father.

But, she added, “They’ll never get $100 million out of me. I know that.”