The biggest surprise appearances last night at the New York screening of "Concert for George"? Jerry Seinfeld with wife Jessica and Michael J. Fox with wife actress Tracy Pollan and their son Sam, who is Michael's very own Mini-Me.
Both TV stars turned out to be big Beatles fans and were eager to get a sneak peak at "Concert for George," which opens Friday.
"CFG" is a documentary about the George Harrison memorial concert given last November at London's Royal Albert Hall. This extraordinary event starred Eric Clapton, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, and Ravi Shankar, among others, playing George Harrison's great music.
Now that superb evening has been made into a film so that everyone can see it.
Ray Cooper, the former percussionist for Elton John and the head of Harrison's film company, Handmade Films, produced it along with Harrison's widow, Olivia.
Cooper, Olivia, and Dhani Harrison, George and Olivia's son, were all there last night at the Walter Reade Theatre in Lincoln Center. So too was May Pang, John Lennon's girlfriend from the early '70s, who reminisced with Olivia about the mutual affection between John and George.
"They always worried about Ringo," Pang said, "because he didn't really write songs. They took care of him." Starr, of course, has proven in time to have been a gifted drummer even so.
Warner Special Marketing will release "Concert for George" plus a CD and eventual DVD. One can only hope they do a better job than Warner Records did with Harrison's last CD, "Brainwashed." "Concert" is something no music fan should miss.
We report, you decide. So I'll allow you, dear reader, to figure out how the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Foundation continues to operate as it does.
The group's IRS filing for 2001-2002 recently emerged for public viewing, and, as usual, it's an enlightening document.
The Rock Hall director, Suzan Evans, claims an annual salary of $150,000 — which is one-half of what she used to make until we started reporting her six-figure income four years ago. The Foundation lists other, unspecified salaries of $80,000.
You know the group has $10 million in investments. Its extensive portfolio is attached to the filing. You'd think with such a big war chest the foundation would be helping out down-on-their-luck musicians, working to lobby Congress for pensions for their members from record companies, or doing something of value besides staging a dull, over-priced banquet every year at the Waldorf.
Indeed, the Hall of Fame Foundation bestowed a whopping $14,000 to musicians in need last year. They also gave one grant, to the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Museum in Cleveland, Ohio. That was for a little over $3,000.
The Foundation does say it has millions earmarked for the Museum, should it be in need. Who does it say that to? Me, when I ask every year what it does with its bounty. In reality, the Museum — thanks to the stewardship of Terry Stewart — is on its own.
The Hall of Fame, which is separate from the Cleveland museum, is run mostly by Evans — a wealthy matron from Harrison, New York — and Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner. They select the inductees every year, and the "winners" are chosen from that group. Last March, the Foundation inducted no blacks and no women.
This year the nominees include Prince, Jackson Browne and John Cougar Mellencamp, all of whom will probably make the cut. (Stay tuned for that memorable jam session: Prince riffing away on "Here Come Those Tears Again" and Jackson singing the leads on "Little Red Corvette." Classic.)
George Harrison will get in as a solo performer because, cynically, he died last year, and more cynically, there's a chance that some big stars like Eric Clapton and Paul McCartney will come to give or receive the award. Recent Waldorf dinners have lacked that star power.
Important R&B groups from rock's origins, like The Dells and The O'Jays, have been waiting for years to make it. Basically, Wenner has to like you or remember you if you want to pass the admission process.
Randomly, a couple of choices will be made from among The Sex Pistols, Black Sabbath, Lynyrd Skynyrd, Gram Parsons, The Dells, The "5" Royales, Bob Seger, The Stooges, Traffic and ZZ Top. Patti Smith, a punk pioneer and a seminal figure in rock history, remains a long shot. Linda Ronstadt is not even on the ballot. Maybe next year. (Ha!)
Evans and Wenner see no place for Chubby Checker in this little club. Checker, who had a hit twice with "The Twist," the most popular dance record in rock history, isn't allowed in because he "covered" the song.
Hank Ballard & the Midnighters, who originally recorded "The Twist," are in, however. The Moody Blues, Procul Harum, and Carly Simon have never been considered.
Carole King, who had the longest running hit album of the rock era with "Tapestry," is in as a songwriter pre-1970 but not as a performer. Paul Simon, Michael Jackson and McCartney are in twice. And so on.
Most mobsters, if they're really mad atcha, will kick you in the kidneys or remove them for you free of charge. But not the lovable trio of Vince Curatola, Dominic Chianese or Steve Schirripa. These genuine "Sopranos" — three really nice guys — are pitching in this Sunday in New York for the Kidney Foundation.
Vince's dad is on kidney dialysis, so all the guys are participating in the 5K Kidney Foundation Walk in Riverside Park. Registration is at West 83rd St. and Riverside Drive at 9:30 on Sunday morning.
I hear Vince — who tours with the group Chicago when he's not whacking his enemies — will maybe warble a tune or two. All you have to do is ask Dominic, and maybe he'll take out his ukulele.
P.S.: As long as we're on the subject of "The Sopranos," I wanted to mention James Gandolfini's acceptance speech at the Emmys last week. He rattled off a list of names, including Mary Collins.
It so happens I've known the sainted Mary for many years. She was Gandolfini's first manager, and set him on the road to success.
When I thanked Gandolfini for Mary after the ceremony, and noted that he'd also thrown in the name of "Marcy," his ex-wife, he said: "I'd been wanting to do that for a long time. Only now I'll get in trouble for the names I forgot."
In other words: You can't win. Bada-bing.
The funeral for George Plimpton today will be a private one for family only, but that doesn't mean there won't be public tributes to the great man of letters.
On October 14th, the Paris Review will celebrate its anniversary with a party that had already been planned. Now that event — at Cipriani's 42nd Street — will turn into a Plimpton celebration, with writers and friends turning up to make a final toast to their friend.
A month later, and still in the planning stages, will be an actual memorial service for Plimpton, organized by his pals and The Paris Review.