It was quite a night in New York last night. Time Inc.’s staggering celebration of its 100 most influential people triggered a reunion of Jennifer Lopez and her ex, Sean "Diddy" Combs. They pretty much haven’t been seen together since they ran 11 red lights after a nightclub shootout in 1999.
Lopez, looking serene and beautiful, was accompanied by her music star husband, Marc Anthony, of course. The pair chatted a lot of with New York Police Commish Ray Kelly and his lovely wife, Vanessa, until Diddy wandered up and said hello. It was a short visit, but everyone shook hands.
"That was something," I said nervously.
"That was nothing," Lopez said. "We see him all the time." Anthony shook his head in accord.
All of this took place at Jazz at Lincoln Center, the most dramatic room in New York overlooking Central Park South with truly gigantic windows. The multi-tiered room buzzed with A-listers from Katie Couric, Wynton Marsalis and Will Smith to Al Franken, George Lucas, Harvey Weinstein and our very own Bill O'Reilly.
I even got to meet snarky blogger Jessica Coen of Gawker fame who mistakenly thought I was my boss, Roger Ailes (I was flattered; she was disappointed!)
It was quite an achievement for Time Inc. considering that up and across town, a similar A-list crowd had gathered in the magnificent Temple of Dendur at the Metropolitan Museum of Art to honor Queen Rania of Jordan.
That party, which was also to celebrate the launch of a cartoon called "Ben and Izzy," had its share of glittering celebs including Couric; Al Roker and wife, Deborah Roberts; "CBS Early Show" laureate Harry Smith; and weather guy Dave Price, plus some of my favorite Hollywood-on-the-Hudson types: actors Campbell Scott and Patricia Clarkson; Steve Buscemi and his wife, Jo; Ron Silver (with friend Ghislaine Maxwell); the smashing Cindy Adams; and Barbara Walters, who stuck to the queen as if with Velcro all night.
Barbara aside, plenty of interesting people who actually were told not to go near the queen mixed and milled about. I ran into old friends Steven Rivers, the West Coast PR whiz with whom I worked at Jane Fonda’s movie production company in the early 1900s (just kidding!) and Pat Mitchell, head of the Museum of TV & Radio.
Queen Rania has not one idea who any of us are, but I’ll bet she had a good time. And now we all know "Ben and Izzy" are not ice-cream vendors.
Roker confirmed: Tom Cruise really did snub his crew on the red carpet at the premiere of "Mission: Impossible 3" last week.
Cruise banned everyone from the cast from talking to Al — our Al, America’s sweetheart of a weatherman — because of the Matt Lauer "you don’t know the history of psychiatry" incident on the "Today" show.
"Our show went out to all the NBC O & Os," Al said — the stations in the biggest markets, accounting for millions of "M: I3" tickets that weren’t sold.
I did like Couric's comment when I asked her what was new.
"I get into trouble when I talk to you," she said (she must be getting advice from Lorraine Bracco!) So I won’t repeat our conversation, but Katie looked ready for her next gig, and I was right. Keep reading.
Back at the Time Warner Center, I got to meet the Dixie Chicks, who performed three songs including their big hit "Not Ready to Make Nice."
Singer Natalie Maines told me she was happy the song has been so popular with country fans.
"We didn’t want them to pigeonhole us,” she said.
She hasn’t listened to Neil Young’s new “Let’s Impeach the President” song, however. One of the other Chicks said, “Is every song on his album like that?” Yup. She arched an eyebrow.
Comedy Central's Stephen Colbert was the comic relief for the night, but the big ticket was Paul Simon. The great pop singer-songwriter releases a very amazing album today called "Surprise."
He performed one of the songs from it, “How Can You Live in the Northeast?” about his experiences bringing relief to Katrina survivors.
Michael Jackson should hear this: Michael, this is how you do it, kid. You go there with trucks of medicine and food, and then you write about it. You don’t just talk about it.
(Simon, by the way, has a new song called "Father and Daughter," which is a cinch for Best Song at the 2007 Grammys. All due respect to John Mayer, but this one, in its simplicity and grace, is a killer. Get ready.)
There were more and more interesting types floating around, including Gayle King, who said she didn't know what was going on with "The View." I had my own reunion with "Baseball Abstract" author Bill James, an old friend from the '80s.
The Boston Red Sox hired him in 2002, and then they won the World Series. I assured him that even with his advice they weren't going to win again.
I also met the guy who invented Wikipedia, Jimmy Wales, and video game designer Rob Pardo, who couldn’t believe he’d been invited. James, Wales and Pardo were all on the 100 list.
There also were some nice speeches, too, particularly one by Wynton Marsalis. He spoke so eloquently about New Orleans and Katrina that when Couric took the mike — she, too, had come over from the Queen Rania dinner — she said, "I don’t know about you, but how about Wynton Marsalis for president?" She was right; he was brilliant.
Katie then talked about how Edward R. Murrow influenced her, and you really felt that somehow since her anointment as CBS anchor she's suddenly grown into the mantle. She's got it.
But back to the juicy stuff: J-Lo, now just Mrs. Marc Anthony, has also changed. The Bennifer saga is over. She and Marc live on Long Island. The chaos of being on the cover of US Weekly every week is over.
“I didn’t know you could live another way,” she said. "Now I do."
I got worried for a minute. Is she churning butter out there, or what? "Are you still a diva?" I asked.
"Yes," she said, "sometimes."
Jennifer is readying a Spanish-language album and is working on an English album with "new producers."
"They came to me with some ideas, and I said, 'let me hear what you've got.' I don't want to say who they are yet. But I think it's going to be great."
She's also done two movies. One of them, "Bordertown," is with Antonio Banderas. In the other, "El Cantante," she plays the wife of Puerto Rican singing star Hector Lavoe, who died in 1993. Lopez is considering singing a song for that soundtrack, she said, and she and Anthony might record a duet.
So what makes her life so different now?
"I think it's because we have so much in common," she said. "We're both kids from the Bronx. We grew up poor in the same kinds of houses." She added with a smile: "Only now we have a bigger house."
Meantime, I left the Time Warner Center just as my pal Ann Coulter was busy chastising Jimmy Wales about her Wikipedia entry and finding out from him how to change it. Listen, you Wikipedians, be nice to Coulter.
I leave you with this thought: She's got great legs no matter what her politics are, and you're lucky she has a sense of humor, too.