Wednesday, September 14, 2005
Cat Stevens | Harvey Weinstein | Rolling Stones | Mia Farrow
Cat Stevens Nominated for Rock Hall
It had to happen eventually. Cat Stevens — now known as Yusuf Islam — has been nominated for induction into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
My sources tell me he's a shoo-in, too.
Stevens had several huge-selling popular records in the 1970s, until he became a Muslim and changed his name. Those hits were "Moon Shadow," "Peace Train," "Oh Very Young," a cover version of Sam Cooke's "Another Saturday Night," "Father and Son" and "Wild World."
A decade or more ago, Stevens was roundly denounced for seeming to back the fatwa, or death sentence, placed by Iran's Ayatollah Khomeini on the head of writer Salman Rushdie for his novel "The Satanic Verses."
Last year he was refused entry into the United States on suspicion — ridiculous as it was — that he was a terrorist of some sort.
Nevertheless, Islam does run a school in London's Islington neighborhood that is closely watched by authorities.
Stevens is not the only slam-dunk on the Rock Hall list.
For reasons that elude me, jazz legend Miles Davis is also there. So are the Dave Clark Five, John Mellencamp, Blondie, the Sir Douglas Quintet, the J. Geils Band, the Sex Pistols, Patti Smith, Grandmaster Flash, the Stooges and Lynyrd Skynyrd.
In other words, one woman (Smith) and no R&B stars. I guess we exhausted the latter category in the last couple of years with the Dells, the O'Jays and Percy Sledge.
But the list of omissions continues to be a problem. Where are Linda Ronstadt and Carly Simon? The Moody Blues? Todd Rundgren? Billy Preston ?
And if Davis — a weird choice if ever there was one — is indeed selected from the above group, then posthumous entries wouldn't seem to be a problem.
In that case, Motown's Mary Wells — who had hits like "My Guy," "Don't Mess With Bill" and "Beaten to the Punch" — should have been in already.
Gwyneth Gives 'Proof'
It was the end of an era last night at New York City's Ziegfeld Theater.
Miramax — the real Miramax — had its final premiere after 26 years in business. It packed the historic movie house one last night for the debut of John Madden's "Proof."
"I'm feeling sentimental tonight," Harvey Weinstein said, introducing himself to the crowd as the head of Miramax for "two more weeks."
To be fair, Weinstein told the audience that his new company, the Weinstein Company, would be doing business in the future with Disney, the company that forced him out of Miramax. But come on — Disney could have made this situation a lot better. It chose not to.
Here's an irony, though: the Weinstein Company's elegant new logo was designed by Pixar, the other major company in a power struggle with Disney.
The logo consists of two animated klieg lights that cross each other, forming a "W."
Harvey said the finished logo would be a little more complex, but this early version will go out on prints of "Proof" along with the Miramax logo.
When first the new logo, and then the Miramax one, appeared on the screen last night, the former got the louder applause.
Meanwhile, Weinstein profusely thanked the Miramax staff, as well as producers Julie Goldstein and Meryl Poster for their many years of hard work and loyalty.
When the movie began to roll, star Gwyneth Paltrow — looking gorgeous as usual in a gold gown — came into the lobby and kissed Weinstein on the cheek.
"Thank you," she said.
Weinstein earlier reeled off the list of films they'd done together over the last decade: "The Pallbearer," "Emma," "Shakespeare in Love," "Sliding Doors," "The Talented Mr. Ripley," "Bounce" and "the movie whose name shall not be said" — "A View from the Top."
Earlier, in the theater, Paltrow — who's a cinch for an Oscar nomination — and Sir Anthony Hopkins each took bows to thunderous applause.
Dustin Hoffman came with his kids. Looking at the movie's poster, in which the title is enclosed by mathematical-formula brackets, he told me, "I think this is the first movie ever to have parentheses."
Stones: A Bigger Bang on Stage Than in Stores
Call Mick Jagger "snake hips." Or even a wonder of the world at this point.
He's 62 years old and has the body of a 16-year-old girl. He's happy to show off his six-pack, too, anytime he can get away with lifting his shirt.
Seeing him run marathons back and forth across the stage at Madison Square Garden last night was kind of exhausting. He shakes his full head of shaggy, dark hair and swivels around on one foot. It's a revelation.
The Rolling Stones' whole show at the Garden last night was a revelation, though. They may not be selling lots of albums anymore (their "A Bigger Bang" finished third this week, with a lukewarm 124,000 copies sold). But they can pack a 15,000-seat house at $454 a ticket and rock like there's no tomorrow.
I've seen the Stones a lot over the last 33 years, but this seemed like the tightest, hardest show they'd ever performed.
It was funny too, thanks to Jagger's relaxed interplay with the audience.
"This is our 20th show here at the Garden," he said. "People who came in 1969 now come with their kids. It's like a big bong."
Then he made a joke about bringing all of the family, considering the high ticket price: "It's their college fund."
More amusing, though, was Jagger's insistence on speaking in an affected Cockney accent. He must know by now that we all know this former student at the London School of Economics is from money, and has money.
In a video interview on this Web site with Grrr! columnist Mike Straka, he's erudite and articulate. But I guess the Cockney thing equals "street," a cred Jagger thinks he still needs to prove.
But he doesn't. Mixing their past glories with new songs, the Stones played a new blues number not too long into the show.
"Back of My Hand" owes more to Robert Johnson and the Mississippi Delta than to anything you could hear on contemporary radio.
It was a beautiful moment, and it signaled that the show was not going to be a lazy one.
Keith Richards said in a recent interview that Jagger had taken more of an interest musically in "A Bigger Bang" than in any of the Stones' recent albums. He seems to have taken a similar interest in the show, too, pushing himself to the limit physically.
Jagger struts, runs, dances in a frenzy and generally radiates energy for two hours and 10 minutes (and three small costume changes). He also plays — or attempts to play — lead guitar, although Richards is always there to back him up or bail him out.
There were many highlights in the show — even though the proceedings kicked off 50 minutes late. (At 140 minutes, the show cost most fans $3.24 a minute.) "Sympathy for the Devil," "Satisfaction" (now 40 years old), "Honky Tonk Women," "Paint It Black" and a slowed-down, bluesy version of "19th Nervous Breakdown" were all excellent. Jagger was particularly good on "Bitch," "Tumbling Dice" and "All Down the Line."
Disappointments: a total skipping of the Stones' albums of the late '80s and '90s. Nothing from "Dirty Work," "Steel Wheels," "Voodoo Lounge" or "Bridges to Babylon," except for "You Got Me Rocking." And no ballads or particularly intimate moments: no "Wild Horses," "Angie" or "Fool to Cry."
No real surprises, in other words. But lots of adrenaline, and no end of high octane. And that's why, no matter what they play or for how long, the Stones remain the World's Greatest Rock 'n' Roll Band for a reason.
Broadway's Cherry; Mia's Cheery
A weird report from the hit Tony Award-winning Broadway play "Doubt" last night.
Apparently, Tony Award-winning actress Cherry Jones "went up" — forgot her lines — not once, but twice. The audience was a little shocked when Jones finally announced, "I've lost my lines. I need the book." She then took two pages from the script and read from them to finish the scene.
It's an actor's greatest fear, so I'm sure Jones was not too pleased with herself. But consummate actress that she is, she finished the play with no problem.
Mia Farrow, I'm told, got quite a nice London vacation thanks to Roman Polanski.
You know that Farrow's testimony in Polanski's libel suit against Vanity Fair helped him win. Now I hear that Mia brought a quorum of her many children with her when she flew to England to testify, initially on Polanski's dime. But the hotel bills were included with Polanski's legal bills, which were ultimately paid by Vanity Fair. Mia can thank the magazine and Graydon Carter if she chooses.