Quite an event last evening in East Hampton where Paul Simon and Suzanne Vega joined host Garland Jeffreys for a mini mega concert under the stars. Phoebe Snow also performed.
The occasion was a fundraiser for popular local activist and longtime resident Denis Craine, severely afflicted with Lou Gehrig's Disease. Craine is a father of five including three kids under the age of 15. His five year old daughter, a charmer, even performed a little number from the stage.
But it was Jeffreys, too long a cult performer in the New York area, who shined. He organized the evening and made sure it ran like clockwork. By 6:30 p.m. hundreds of locals who'd paid between $50 and $500 gathered on the football field of the local high school. They weren't disappointed. After Snow finished her warm up set, Vega took the stage and performed her hits "Luka" and "Tom's Diner" as well as a handful of other songs. The audience loved her.
Jeffreys himself followed with favorites like "Wild in the Streets," "96 Tears," and "35 Millimeter Dreams." Why he isn't a bigger star is a mystery to me -- there is no other more lively performer. Audiences love him and his mixture of blues, soul and rock. Maybe it was because he was the organizer of the evening, but Jeffreys timed his set to start just as the sky was turning a bright pink and orange during a full moon sunset. Very effective.
Paul Simon was the star of the evening though. Sounding a tad rusty (with maybe a slight case of laryngitis) Simon was short on talk but long on music. He and his magnificent band went through "America," "Boy in a Bubble," "Me and Julio," "Graceland," "Slip Sliding Away" and "The Boxer" with such ease and grace that it was startling. The highlight of the set was a countryfied rockabilly version of "Mrs. Robinson" that made the 34-year-old tune seem new.
If you live in the Hamptons this was the second great charity show in three days. On Monday Bob Dylan made a rare appearance at Southampton College and turned in a show I've heard termed as "cool" and "weird." What else is new? Among the special guests who came to see Dylan were Michael J. Fox, his wife Tracy and son Sam, and Billy Joel. Joel told me he made a point of showing Dylan his new motorcycle. (Dylan had a famous bike accident in the late '60s.)
"He kept saying is it an Indian? And I'd say No it's a Kawasaki. And he'd say, It's an Indian," Billy said, doing an excellent Dylan imitation. Joel was eating lunch yesterday at San Pietro on East 54th St. with daughter Alexa, for whom, by the way, he said he is not apartment shopping.
Alexa agreed. "I don't need my own apartment," observed the attractive, well spoken 17 year old.
We ran this item back on July 10, but summer being what it is and Vivendi Universal appearing to be in free fall, here it is again:
Just in case you were wondering, we know it from the source: DreamWorks SKG will not be bailing out the Universal Music Group.
There has been much speculation in the last few days that, with the disaster at Vivendi Universal, the company would spin off its profitable and successful music division (home to Eminem, Nelly and Ja Rule, among others). The thinking was that DreamWorks would wind up taking Universal/Interscope/Def Jam/Motown etc. and moving it into its own house.
Not so, Jeffrey Katzenberg told me at the Perdition premiere.
"We have enough on our plates, and we're having fun. We already have a great record division. Are they having fun over there?" he asked, rhetorically.
They're having a lot of success, I countered.
"But no fun," he replied.
In fact, Katzenberg is probably having more fun than he has a right to in cynical Hollywood. DreamWorks has produced 2.5 Best Picture Oscars in the last three years (American Beauty, Gladiator and their share of A Beautiful Mind). Shrek was a phenomenal hit, and also won an Oscar. Now Perdition, Catch Me If You Can and a non-violent Jackie Chan movie will make 2002 a huge year for them. Not bad for a studio just celebrating its seventh year in business.
What is Katzenberg looking forward to next? July 2, 2003 — Sinbad. Brad Pitt is the main voice. The others belong to Catherine Zeta-Jones, Joseph Fiennes and Christine Baranski. "We've proved we can make serious hits in live action, now we're going to do it with animation," Katzenberg said.
Circle that date — because he will, rest assured.