The likely Democratic presidential nominee is about to get some big gun help from some major pop stars.
Next week it will be announced, I am told, that Barbra Streisand and Neil Diamond will perform a one off-concert for John Kerry. The pair, who had a huge hit many generations ago with "You Don't Send Me Flowers," will be sending bouquets of cash Kerry's way on June 7 in Los Angeles. Streisand isn't likely to stop there. She performed for Al Gore in the 2000 presidential race and is expected to start pitching in all over the place later this year.
Meantime, New York will reciprocate three days later on June 10 when a gaggle of superstars hits the stage at Radio City Music Hall for Kerry. Expect to see Bette Midler, John Mellencamp, Sheryl Crow, Robin Williams and Whoopi Goldberg among the many names at that show. (If the latter two are there, Billy Crystal can't be far behind.)
(Interestingly, I'm told that both Steve Martin and Jerry Seinfeld have each turned down entreaties to host other Kerry fundraising shows this year. "They don't do political material," explained a source who tried to corral them.)
But back to Radio City: The New York show could turn out to be something even bigger than currently planned since it's also the night of the annual Songwriters Hall of Fame dinner and show in Manhattan. This is the big deal show put together by Linda Moran, lyricist Hal David, and producer Phil Ramone, which has gone from small potatoes to big leagues in just three years. This year Stevie Wonder is one of the honorees, which means he could conceivably appear at both events.
Other inductees that night will be politically minded performers such as Al Green, Don McLean and Hall & Oates. Rob Thomas of Matchbox Twenty is getting the first-ever Starlight Award that night and other prizewinners include Motown's Norman Whitfield and Barrett Strong, and Charles Fox (he wrote Roberta Flack's "Killing Me Softly" and Jim Croce's "I Got A Name.")
The organizers of these shows, by the way, are the same team that brought us The Concert for New York immediately after the World Trade Center tragedies. Miramax's Harvey Weinstein, Infinity Broadcasting's John Sykes, and Rolling Stone's Jann Wenner will put the New York show together, with Irving Azoff responsible for the west coast production as the trio's L.A. man. Other concerts have been mentioned as possibilities, with the name of The Eagles coming up way too often.
Today could be a busy one in the world of the Michael Jackson case. I'm told that the names of four people who were indicted last week by a Santa Barbara grand jury may finally surface. These names were whited out on the indictment and omitted from legal papers, but the word is that Dieter Wiesner, Marc Schaffel, Frank Tyson and Vincent Amen, all of whom worked for Jackson during the time his teenage accuser and family were staying at Neverland, could be named. Readers of this column know that in the case of the latter three, the charges would be questionable at best.
Meantime, a rumor went out last night that the mother of the 14-year-old boy was thinking of posting a letter on the Internet asking for support from the public. If so, wouldn't this be a violation of the gag order issued by Judge Rodney Melville?
Last night famed film director Robert Altman was honored by the new Avon Theatre up in Stamford, Connecticut. Two of his films, "McCabe & Mrs. Miller" and "The Company," made three decades apart, were shown and Altman took questions from the audience following the screenings.
Altman's big news is that he's filming three new half hour episodes of his famous series, "Tanner '88" for the Sundance Channel. The shows will use the same cast as in the original series — Michael Murphy, Pamela Reed and "Sex and the City's" Cynthia Nixon — showing them older and wiser. Altman has already filmed the trio for "bumpers" to be used around the existing episodes, and will film part of the new shows at the Democratic National Convention in Boston this July.
Gene Wilder was among the guests last night in Stamford who got to see "McCabe & Mrs. Miller," Altman's 1971 masterpiece (he has several, you know) up on a big screen for the first time in 30 years. The gorgeous new print of the film shows stars Warren Beatty and Julie Christie in their superstar prime, as well as Altman repertory players Shelley Duvall, Keith Carradine, John Schuck, Bert Remsen, and a very young William Devane. Carradine is so young he looks like he was just hatched from an egg.
I've seen "McCabe" a few times in the last 10 years or so, so you'd think I'd be bored. But it was incredibly engrossing. This is some of Beatty's best work, and Christie is marvelous. The music is by Leonard Cohen. Altman told us later that he'd had to call Cohen personally to get the rights because Warner Bros. didn't want to pay for songs from rival Columbia Records.
How is it possible that Altman doesn't have an Academy Award? He's been nominated for "Gosford Park," "Short Cuts," "Nashville," "The Player" and "MASH." His influence is pervasive in American film, and the lists of actors he's launched goes on and on. I hope the Academy governors — who have also been beseeched to do something for Richard Widmark and Doris Day — consider rectifying this oversight as well.