Whitney Houston is not completely out of it after all. She sent flowers yesterday to her mentor, Clive Davis when she heard he was getting a New York Heroes award from the local Grammy chapter here in Manhattan.
Davis was honored along with Dionne Warwick, Hal David and Burt Bacharach, Marc Anthony and opera legend Beverly Sills last night in an emotional but fun ceremony. On hand to present the awards were Luther Vandross, Atlantic Records co-founder Ahmet Ertegun, choreographer Ann Reinking, and the evening's host, Sopranos star Dominic Chianese , who regaled the crowd with a song, of course.
Warwick, who was blond for the occasion, brought along her son, her famous singing sister Dee Dee and her mom, whose sister is Cissy Houston, mother of Whitney. Got that?
But there was talk at his Grammy event, talk of Mariah Carey 's chart comeback this week and also of Whitney Houston's new album. Apparently, so as not to have a total disaster, Arista Records is deep discounting Just Whitney to $8.98 a CD at many retailers so they can sell 200,000 units this week. "Then," said a BMG insider, "you'll see a big drop off."
Universal Music Group has been doing the same thing with Shania Twain 's latest album, too, deep discounting it to prop up sales. Most albums otherwise sell for $13.99.
It was all in the family too, since Dionne's career comeback in the late '70s was orchestrated by Davis. And Warwick's original career highs were with Bacharach and David. Small world.
The big news out of the evening is that after many years of silence, Bacharach and David have written a new song together. "I think it's as good as anything we've ever written," Burt said. "I want to show it to Clive, but I'm afraid he'll reject it," he joked. "There was a time when Carole Bayer Sager (his ex-wife and collaborator) submitted 12 songs in a row to Clive that he rejected."
Davis was inducted by the immortal Ertegun, who is quite the force of nature at his advanced age. Time cannot diminish him. The 80-plus-year-old is stronger than ever. He told a good anecdote about Davis, who is about a dozen years his junior (no one can say for sure since no one knows how old either one of them is). First he said, "I want to thank the Recording Academy for encouraging the younger generation of music executives." (Ha ha.)
Then, Ertegun recalled his efforts in the late '60s to sign the group Moby Grape to Atlantic. Davis wanted them for Columbia, but Ertegun thought he had the inside track. Just when he was sure he had them, the group said they were going to have one last meeting with Davis.
"Whatever you do, don't sign with him," Ertegun told them, persuading them that they'd be lost at monolithic Columbia but catered to at Atlantic "where," Ertegun said, tongue-in-cheek, "we really care about the music."
"They called after their meeting, and told me they'd signed with Clive after all," Ertegun recalled. "But they said they had good news for me. You know how you like our music so much, they said? Well, Clive says you can come and listen while we record our album."
The point of this story, as everyone knows by now, is that Clive is clever and Clive wins. Davis made his own brief but eloquent acceptance speech. He praised Ertegun (they are not pals, by the way, which made this so interesting) as a "music man, someone who is loyal to his corporation but maintains his individuality."
Warwick told me that she has been recording a new album, a 40th career anniversary CD of her and various superstars dueting on her past hits. So far Elton John has agreed to record "Heartbreaker" with her. Others on the album will be Gladys Knight, Patti LaBelle, Luther Vandross , and Kenny Rogers .
As for Bacharach, I did learn that he was shocked to hear Whitney Houston discuss his firing of her from the Oscar telecast — something she talked about with Diane Sawyer on ABC. "Her agent called the day after the firing, which was the day of the Oscars, to ask if Burt would give her a second chance," said a friend of Bacharach's. "Burt said only if Whitney herself called him. And she never did. She never has to this day."
But she did send Clive flowers. So that's something.
The Sopranos star Lorraine Bracco plays a shrink named Dr. Melfi on the TV show. But Bracco got to meet the real thing, and I mean the realest, when she was introduced to Oliver Sacks Sunday night.
The famed psychiatrist — author Awakenings and other best sellers — has had his experiences in Hollywood, though, so he wasn't too over-awed by all the other Sopranos in the room (Artie Buco, Furio, etc) or even actress/director Penny Marshall.
The occasion was a private cocktail hour for Steven Green , the New York realtor who got an award Sunday night from the Shield Foundation, an 80-year-old New York charity that cares for developmentally disabled children.
Green, who's 37 and also keeps a fleet of private jets, hosted the event in his rooftop apartment at the Essex House hotel. Neil Sedaka was a guest but he also played the piano while Bracco, Marshall, et al whooped it up. Now, that's the good life, and don't let anyone tell you anything different.
Last spring I had the great opportunity to visit the folks at what is now called www.vedo.com. This is the official printing and marketing site for limited edition art from the Vatican Library. You might think a place like this would be a factory, but the fact is that all the printing done for consumer sales for the Vatican is out of this remarkable Santa Monica, Calif., printing plant. Basically, in search of information about the late abstract expressionist Sam Francis, I wandered into their offices and found this treasure trove on my own. Now I'm recommending the Web site to anyone who's looking for a unique holiday present this year.
In the same offices as Vedo is Circa Publishing, the printers who worked with Francis and continue to print catalogues for him and maintain his archives. Original prints from Circa hang in The Museum of Modern Art in New York, The Whitney Museum of American Art in New York, and The Tate Gallery in London, among others. Also at the Vedo facility are the lithograph printers for Los Angeles' many up-and-coming modern artists.
Also, as in previous years, I am happy to remind you about BakeryGift.com. This is the site for Chanukah and Christmas gingerbread houses that celebs like Sharon Stone, Alec Baldwin, and Matthew Broderick have all gobbled up in seasons past. There's a limited number of houses this year, I am told, so get your orders in early.