Call it an early Valentine’s present to their New York fans. Last night Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel reunited on stage at the reopening of the legendary Beacon Theater on the Upper West Side.
It was quite an occasion, too. In the audience were Paul McCartney (and Nancy Shevell), Jon Bon Jovi with wife Dorothea, Harvey Weinstein and Georgina Chapman, Rosie O’Donnell and Kelli Carpenter, Whoopi Goldberg, James Gandolfini, musician Robert Randolph, and Jimmy Fallon with wife Nancy Juvnonen, not to mention Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Police Commissioner Ray Kelly.
And those were just the celebs we spotted in the front section. There may have been more in the sold-out, three-tiered auditorium, renovated to its former glory by Cablevision’s Dolan family.
The night was billed just as a Paul Simon show, and that would have been enough. Simon played for over two hours with a 20-minute intermission and covered all parts of his solo career, from “You Can Call Me Al,” “Graceland,” and “Boy in the Bubble” to earlier hits, like ”Me and Julio,” “Loves Me Like A Rock,” “Late in the Evening,” and “Slip Slidin’ Away.” For very old Simon fanatics, he threw in “Duncan” from his first solo album.
Simon also brought members of the cast of his late lamented Broadway show, “The Capeman,” who did some of those numbers. And he threw in some obscure but beautiful gems like “Fathers and Daughters,” “Train in the Distance,” and “You’re the One.”
But there was a buzz in the air, probably because yours truly spotted Garfunkel’s singer wife Kim in the audience. At least a couple of us knew what was going to happen: Garfunkel, flown up on a private plane from the middle of a Florida tour, took the stage to a thunderous ovation. I mean, people were screaming — even Paul McCartney.
The pair then did gorgeous versions of “The Sound of Silence,” “The Boxer,” and “Old Friends/Bookends” as if it were 1965 or even 1981 on Central Park’s Great Lawn. Garfunkel made one crack about Simon’s missing toupee, and Simon “zetzed” him back. But mostly what was striking was how the duo fell into their old positions, side by side. Simon is so fluid when performing with his own band, but he takes a rigid stance next to Garfunkel probably out of sense memory. Garfunkel swoops and sways next to him in time, and the two of them proceed to do something no one else in the world can do. It’s magic.
What was the show all about? I have no idea, and the tickets were expensive! But it was well worth it, and should be again tonight when Simon — sans Garfunkel but with plenty of surprises — completes the Beacon’s welcome into the Madison Square Garden/Radio City ownership.
Was it Paris Hilton who placed the mysterious text message or cell call to Chris Brown on Saturday night?
Sources say now that Paris met Brown on late Friday night in Hollywood at a party for hip hop producer Timbaland. Paris with sister Nicky Hilton. Brown accompanied girlfriend Rihanna, who performed at the party with the guest of honor.
Photographers at nightclub Boulevard 3 captured Paris chatting with Brown at least twice. In one photo, Paris is seen holding a cell phone or Blackberry (they were the co-sponsor). If she was getting his digits at that moment, it would explain a lot.
The other picture shows Paris with her right arm around Brown’s neck, and the two are terribly cozy. Hilton comes with a tantalizing set of emotional baggage and a reputation for being frisky. In the picture, Brown looks mesmerized.
The pair had a lot of time to get to know each other. Rihanna was on stage for at least half an hour, performing hits like "Umbrella," "Disturbia," and "Rehab."
My sources say that it was Paris who called or text messaged Brown the next night, around midnight, for some kind of get together. Let’s not jump to conclusions: it’s possible Hilton sends out dozens of messages late at night on a variety of subjects.
Whatever Paris’s message was, it didn’t sit well with Rihanna. What followed seems to be a fight that spilled out of the couple’s car as it headed through Hancock Park and ended with the pop songbird taking a beating.
Hilton certainly can’t be blamed for what happened to Rihanna. But if she was the mystery caller, it answers some questions about what happened on that fateful night.
As for Paris, even though Rihanna and Brown didn’t make the Grammys on Sunday night, she turned up, on schedule, backstage at the Staples Center more than mid way through the show.
P.S. The continued silence from both sides in the Rihanna-Chris Brown case isn’t doing either singer any favors. The tabloids and blogs are bursting with anonymous sources recounting what they think happened on Saturday night. Most of it is untrue, and nearly none of it makes any sense. But until someone makes the episode clear, this will continue. Answers like "Rihanna is doing just fine" from publicists simply will not suffice.
You may not know this, but Academy Award nominee Melissa Leo got her start on ABC’s "All My Children" almost 25 years ago.
Over lunch at Michael’s yesterday, beautiful Melissa, now 48, says the soap’s star Susan Lucci was "the hardest working person I ever met in show business." Leo could not say enough good things about Lucci, with whom she even made a TV movie after she left the soap.
"You don’t have to wonder how she’s been on top for so long. She has an amazing work ethic. And she’s a lot of fun."
Leo has weathered her enough personal crises to fill her own soap opera. In 1997 she and ex John Heard were a constant presence in New York’s tabloid gossip columns as they fought over their 10 year old son’s custody. Leo tells me there’s a happy ending. John Jr., now 21, she says "insisted they work out" their problems. The result is peace between the warring parents. John is in college. And Heard recently send Leo a short note wishing her good luck in the Oscar race for her movie, "Frozen River."
Now Leo is getting ready for the Indie Spirit Awards and the Oscars next week. In case you’re interested, it looks like her Oscar gown will come from designers Badgley Mischka. The Indie Spirit outfit is undecided. "I saw a great dress in a window in Santa Monica, but it was very expensive," she said. (That’s a hint to Sony Pictures Classics: send this terrific actress a nice gift!)
Leo has been a single mom and a struggling working actress her whole adult life. The Oscar nomination comes after a long stint on "Homicide: Life on the Streets," countless TV appearances on shows like "Law & Order" and lots of small movies.
But now she’s got several projects in the can, and is headed to Michigan next week to join Hilary Swank and Sam Rockwell in director Tony Goldwyn’s "Betty Ann Walters."
Leo is also a pleasure to have added to the cast of characters this Oscar season. She’s down to earth, self effacing, and has normal expectations about the Academy Awards. That’s what makes her performance in "Frozen River" so compelling. As she says, fans of the movie are having trouble separating her from Ray Eddy, the mom-slash-smuggler. "One woman at a Q&A said she was surprised I was there, and not in jail," Leo told me. "And she meant it."
Melissa is a long shot to win the Best Actress Oscar next Sunday, but she’s writing a speech just to be on safe side. You never know what could happen. "I didn’t have a speech when I won Best Actress at the San Sebastian Film Festival," she recalled with a laugh. "My cab driver advised me to write something down. He knew how the business works better than I did!"
If you like the music in the new comedy "Confessions of a Shopaholic," you can thank Hollywood’s favorite music supervisor Bonnie Greenberg. Uncredited in the film because she left early to go work on a project for the Obama campaign, Greenberg found a cool, unknown demo version of Cyndi Laupers’ "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" by Greg Laswell. The disarming sad lament underscores a key scene in the film. The full version is on the Shopaholic soundtrack. Greenberg also provided the composer, Chris Westlake, and choreographer, Joanne Janssen, for another key dance sequence between Hugh Dancy and Isla Fisher. The dance was so popular that a reprise of it was added to the end of the film…
…It must not be so easy to work on a hit ABC show. Grey’s Anatomy, Desperate Housewives, and Brothers & Sisters all lose main characters and actors at the end of this season. Katherine Heigl and T.R. Knight are off Grey’s, Nicollette Sheridan is being pushed from Housewives, and Balthazar Getty is getting the boot from B&S. The underlying message to ABC actors: you are expendable. It’s a new world! Some of it is plausible, but Nicollette – Wisteria Lane will never be the same!
…Last fall I told you the famous Jefferson Market in Greenwich Village was in danger of not making its 90th birthday this year. Good news: today the market reopens after a three month break, complete with a fab new renovation and its famous rotisserie chickens. The new owner is John Catsimatidis of the Red Apple and Gristede chains. John — who has mayoral aspirations — realized that too many celebs and regular folk depended on the Jefferson for its legendary butcher and conviviality. He stepped up to the plate and did a remarkable job. More good news: Former owner Louis Montuori is staying on as a paid consultant and many of the former employees are coming home. It’s a happy ending to what could have been a sad story…