(From June 28, 2003)
Believe it or not, Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel are hitting the road.
The beloved folk duo from the 1960s has agreed to 30 dates at arenas like Madison Square Garden beginning in September. The story was rumored a couple weeks ago, but I can tell you now it's definitely happening, "definitely" being a word that has no definition in the Show Business Dictionary.
This is happy news for all their fans, but curious news considering that the two do not get along at all. The last time Simon and Garfunkel toured was in 1994, which included a long stint at Madison Square Garden with a very high ticket price ($350).
This tour should be no different price-wise, since the only thing that could bring these two together is the sound of a cash register or the swoosh of an American Express gold card being swiped through a terminal.
Just this past February at the Grammy Awards, the pair argued over which song to sing to open the show. They grumbled right up until the moment they hit the stage, and they split from each other instantly when the "Sound of Silence" became true. They didn't even actually receive the award itself on stage and didn't speak to each other.
Their last studio recording was the great song "My Little Town," in 1976.
If you were born since then and are puzzling over why anyone cares about any of this, I can explain it this way: Their voices, when blended, are magic. It's one of the mysteries of nature how two people who make such a gorgeous sound together can be at each other's throats most of the time.
Still, I will be one of the thousands ready to plunk down good, hard cash to hear them one more time. The inevitable DVD and such should earn them a lot of money, but I hope Simon and Garfunkel will consider at least one free concert in their hometown, as they did way back in 1981 in Central Park under a clear, moonlit sky.
By the way, everyone knows about Simon's solo albums, but Garfunkel has put out a few, too. My personal favorite dates back to "Breakaway" in '75, which sounds even better today.
It's not every day that you get to witness cultures colliding, but then again there was nothing usual about the party for the movie "Party Monster."
I did get to witness the meeting of now 23-year-old "Home Alone" star Macaulay Culkin and New York's famous cable-TV porno queen Robyn Byrd.
Said Macaulay: "Hey! I was 12 once! I used to watch her!"
Yes, but of course when Macaulay was 12, we thought he was that sweet little kid slapping his cheeks with delight. Whoops!
The truth is, apple-cheeked Macaulay — who wore a light gray suit and white dress shirt and looked about 15 — is still a pretty sweet kid, which is why "Party Monster" means so much to him.
His first "adult" role is really his first "adult" role, if you know what I mean. He plays disco killer Michael Alig, the real-life gay, sometime transvestite New York party promoter who killed his drug dealer. Alig is now in jail, but his "best friend," another sort-of drag queen named James St. James, wrote all about it in a memoir (called "Disco Bloodbath") now turned movie.
For Culkin, "Party Monster" is a step away from all things related to his former career. It works on some levels. It doesn't on others.
The latter is because "Party Monster" lacks a coherent script or direction. It's a mess. Culkin and Seth "Scott Evil" Green do their best to rise above it, and sometimes do, but the fact is that "Party Monster" is headed for cult status and video stores.
Are there any good moments in "Party Monster"? Well, there are kitschy ones. John Stamos, looking like he's either had a face lift or has lost 50 pounds, plays a sleazy talk-show host.
Diana Scarwid, who's never recovered from playing Christina Crawford in "Mommie Dearest," is Alig's purposely oblivious mom. Marilyn Manson has a bit part. Chloe Sevigny blows through the story. And Dylan McDermott, free of "The Practice," tries to make Limelight nightclub owner Peter Gatien seem sympathetic. (Not.)
But back to the party. With the exception of Ashton Kutcher, most of the cast of Fox's "That '70s Show" was present. That's because the show's Wilmer Valderrama has a part in the movie.
It's no coincidence that another "'70s" star, Mila Kunis, is Macaulay's girlfriend in real life. She commanded one of the booths at New York's Plaid nightclub last night smoking up a storm. Other "'70s" stars present included Danny Masterson and Topher Grace, who came with girlfriend Anne Hathaway to the screening, but skipped the party.
"I love you in that show, man," Grace, who is known for his sarcastic delivery, said to Wilmer. "It's that '80s thing, isn't it?"
I wondered how the cast had taken to Kutcher's romance with an older woman, Demi Moore. "She's a nice lady," Masterson said. "We actually all met her the same night Ashton did. You can see why he likes her. She's very lovable."
Maybe the smartest thing rocker Elvis Costello ever did in his long career was fire his manager, Jake Riviera. During their time together, Costello was considered difficult, unpleasant, and self-defeating.
Since the two split, Costello has had nothing but success and good relations with his record labels. Case in point is the excellent new Costello release, "North," which will come out in a couple of weeks through deals drawn up for him by his current manager, Danny Bennett, and another Danny, Danny Goldberg, who brought Costello to Mercury Records a few years ago.
Riviera has many enemies in the record business, not the least of whom is probably beloved rocker Dave Edmunds. He and Nick Lowe, Costello's best producer, once had a popular band called Rockpile. But after one album, Edmunds reportedly couldn't take Riviera's interference and ended the relationships.
The last time I saw this failed amateur pugilist was in 1986, backstage at the Broadway Theatre before a Costello show. He was as advertised: rude, nasty, vulgar and violent.
Cut to last night, when Lowe, whom I've praised in this space in the past, played an acoustic set at GQ magazine's big coming-out party for new editor Jim Nelson.
Lowe and behold, there was Jake Riviera, now white-haired, but still looking for a fight, cursing in his Cockney accent, baring widely spaced teeth, looking very much like a rabid pit bull. Seventeen years had not mellowed him.
Within minutes of our meeting he was tempting fate, barking and inviting temporary restraining orders. At last — here was an explanation for Nick Lowe's lack of a career.
"You're just a corporate [expletive]," he screamed at me for no apparent reason, "just like everyone else here!" Blood vessels popped under his pasty complexion. "I'm sorry Nick, I shouldn't have let you play here! I hate all these [expletive]!" There was more, but it's not possible to type it up. You get the picture.
Then Riviera sent his other client from a time warp, Richard Hell, out to make some retro-punk noise. None of it was pretty.
As for Lowe, he performed valiantly in front of an ardent crowd of fans that included Fleetwood Mac's Lindsey Buckingham and actor Peter Gallagher, star of Fox's great hit show, "The O.C."
Lowe also had some good media heavyweights digging his scene, including Condé Nast editor-in-chief James Truman and new Cargo magazine publisher Alan Katz. Before the evening was over, actor Benjamin Bratt showed up — sans spouse Talisa Soto — but with his pal, Paolo Mastropietro, husband of Bratt's pregnant former "Law & Order" co-star Jill Hennessy.
"Why isn't he a bigger deal?" asked one of Lowe's happy fans during the set.
Now I guess we know.
Nobody wants Universal Music Group. That's the rap about the No. 1 record company.
I said yesterday that GE and NBC might look askance at UMG's $52 million lawsuit loss to TVT Records. But the fact is, NBC is not buying Universal in their Vivendi deal. The whole record division remains at Vivendi, for the time being.
In June, Vivendi took the record division off the table while accepting bids for the rest of its entertainment assets.
The company line at Vivendi is that UMG "is not for sale." The truth is none of the bidders, with the exception of former owner Edgar Bronfman Jr., really wanted it. Since Vivendi was not about to sell the movie company, etc., back to Bronfman, they removed it from the offerings.
You're probably asking yourself: Why wouldn't NBC like to have Murder Inc., Ja Rule, P. Diddy and Tommy Mottola under their corporate umbrella? The problem is that given the current state of the record business, no one really knows how much UMG is worth — or if it's worth the headache to find out.
Porter Bibb, the investment analyst who's become something of a Universal expert, says that if Vivendi Chairman Jean-René Fourtou were smart, he'd be contacting Microsoft, Yahoo, Dell or Gateway to buy the record division, since Apple has had such a hit with iTunes and the iPod.
"But I'm not sure the French are that creative," he told me.
In the end, Fortou will likely sell UMG to Bronfman, Bibb said. "He knows how to structure a deal they'll like, and he really wants it. Also, he's still on the Vivendi board with his father and has a lot of control."
In the meantime, with Vivendi in remote France, UMG's management will roll along pretty much autonomously until something happens. For Doug Morris and his crew of iconoclasts, that should be excellent news.
This Should Explain It All ...
Here's an excerpt from a recent Arista Records press release. I've left it without translation: "Atlanta-based So So Def/Arista recording duo Youngbloodz, who are in the vanguard of the crunk movement, are drinking in the spirit of the highest chart debut of their career, as their second album, DRANKIN' PATNAZ, enters with top 5's across-the-board ... The album got off to a summer-long head start with the June release of its first single, 'Damn!' ..."