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Will Ah-nold Save the RNC?

Ah-nold | MTV Awards

Ah-nold: Will He Save the Convention?

The best rumor on Saturday night at the Time Warner Center RNC party for the media: Arnold Schwarzenegger, governor of California, had rented, appropriately, Governor's Island for a big party this week.

All I can say is: If only.

In fact, press and delegates alike were praying that Schwarzenegger would turn up at Ellis Island for an event last night — and anywhere else his star power might lend a little glamour to the proceedings this week.

In fact, he skipped Ellis Island, and also, I am told, backed out of another event with New York Gov. George Pataki and Mayor Michael Bloomberg at the last minute.

There was also some question about whether he'd attend a planned tribute to Rudy Giuliani at the Rainbow Room on Wednesday night.

But Schwarzenegger did promise to show up at a joint shindig to be hosted by the Recording Industry Association of America (they're the ones who give the gold records) and the Motion Picture Association of America (recently turned over from Democrat Jack Valenti to former Clinton cabinet member Dan Glickman).

Without Arnold, the Republican National Convention kicked off its festivities in earnest on Saturday night. But the celebrity quotient is low and the pickings are slim.

The only hope at this point is that the Governator rides into town on some futuristic vehicle, steps down in some kind of titanium boots and announces that he's here to part-ay.

Otherwise, the Republicans are in trouble. At the Time Warner blast, about 1,500 people showed up, far less than the "more than six thousand!" advertised.

I recognized about 10 of the guests, including boxing promoter Don King, Guardian Angel Curtis Sliwa, self-promoting rabbi Shmuley Boteach and CNN's averse-to-staying-at-home Larry King.

Time Warner CEO Richard Parsons kicked off the scripted evening with current Mayor Bloomberg and former Mayor Giuliani, as well as Gov. Pataki.

There was more sizzle outside, where the humidity was about 80 percent.

The only Hollywood "type" around was actress Anna Deavere Smith, from "The West Wing," "The American President" and her one-woman shows. She said she was going to write about the convention.

Smith's innovative and provocative theater pieces about race relations, she acknowledged, would probably not be among those approved by the RNC for delegate viewing if they were currently being performed.

I did have a nice chat with Harper's Magazine's great editor Lewis Lapham, who said he'd never met my distinguished colleague Cindy Adams or seen her in person. How is that possible? I wondered.

Anyway, the indefatigable Cindy had already blown past our area, looking spectacular in designer duds and hoping herself to find some grist for the mill.

But this is a convention very unlike the Democrats' Boston gathering. No Ben Affleck, no Alec Baldwin. Not even confessed Republican Britney "I'm just a girl who can't say no" Spears or Jessica "Maybe I'm related to O.J." Simpson.

Bruce Willis, Clint Eastwood, Kevin Costner — all no-shows. Kid Rock, anyone?

The Creative Coalition, still trying to throw off the bitter taste of its Boston debacle at the gruesome Louis Boston clothing store, will wrangle who it can for a book party tonight featuring Ron Reagan. (The book is "Five Minutes With the President," and worth reading for the stars' amusing fantasies.)

Tomorrow the Coalition will stage several events, including a musical program featuring the Max Weinberg 7 from the Conan O'Brien show (maybe Bruce Springsteen will show up!). The guest list promises at least an appearance by CC co-president Joe Pantoliano ("Joey Pants"), so we have something to look forward to!

Kennedy cousin Chris Lawford, a Democrat, is also set to show up at the Creative Coalition events, which should be interesting since another family member, Maria Shriver, is uncomfortably positioned in the "enemy" camp as Mrs. Schwarzenegger.

(Yet another cousin, Rory Kennedy, is set to show her new HBO documentary about the Indian Point nuclear plant in the next couple of weeks.)

And what of Michael Jackson, you ask? Well, he's back at Neverland, having exhausted all his travel funds for the rest of the year.

MTV Awards: Missing the Midriffs

Last night's MTV Video Music Awards was broadcast from Miami, where it must be very hot.

Nevertheless, almost none of the performers showed any skin. The women in particular were as circumspect as Victorians at a tea party. What a change from previous years!

Jennifer Lopez, wearing a Stella McCartney dress, could have taught first-graders, she was so covered up!

The Janet Jackson Super Bowl incident continues to reverberate and resonate, even on a cable network unknown for good taste. But of course, MTV is owned by CBS/Viacom, where the whole thing started last January. Whoops!

Otherwise, the VMAs are a sad story, with much cacophony, preening and lip-synching, and not much music to go around. With the exceptions of Alicia Keys (and guest Stevie Wonder), OutKast and Christina Aguilera, we have on our hands a generation of illiterates and unwatchables.

Is this what Marvin Gaye, Bob Dylan and the Beatles worked so hard for? Some legacy. Jon Stewart didn't do himself any favors in those cut-ins (what was he thinking?) but actor Owen Wilson actually managed to sneak in a funny line or two about Clarence Thomas — a line that I am sure went over the heads of the audience. Oh well. Someone had to try.

And there were plenty of omissions: no memorial moment for Rick James, or even a mention of the sad passing of Laura Branigan over the weekend. Each was an early MTV staple.

Alicia Keys did a little tribute to Ray Charles, who never ever had a video shown on MTV in his life and must have been laughing from above. But good for Alicia, who comported herself beautifully in all departments last night. She's a class act. Her song, "If I Ain't Got You," had better be nominated for a Grammy.

As for Hoobastank, Jet, Yellowcard and all the other undistinguished rock bands that fluttered through the show last night, all I can say is: Hang your heads in shame.

These one-hit wonders will join those of Creed, Nickelback, Train and a long line of similarly unremarkable bands soon enough.

The Stones, Beatles, Kinks and the Who, as well as Aerosmith, Led Zeppelin, R.E.M., Nirvana and even, yes, Three Dog Night, will sleep soundly tonight.