Paris Hilton is out of jail and now the District Attorney is upset.
The whole thing has become ridiculous, hasn’t it? California officials are obsessed with humiliating a blonde heiress, a girl as dangerous as a dab of Cool Whip on Jell-O.
At the same time, they don’t seem to mind that O.J. Simpson, whom a civil jury found responsible for the deaths of two people, is playing golf in Florida and laughing at them as he cleverly makes deals to collect fees for books and autographs.
Robert Blake, tried for killing his wife, is snacking in Malibu. Michael Jackson, subject of one child molestation trial and several investigations, lives in Las Vegas in the lap of luxury, travels around the world, and still entertains children at home.
Phil Spector, while awaiting trial for an alleged murder committed three years ago, has lived at home in a mansion and never spent an hour in jail. It took two whole trials to put the Menendez brothers away for killing their parents.
But Paris Hilton? Dopey, self-absorbed, semi-literate, rich and an affront to the working man, she must pay for her crimes. This one, they’ve nailed.
She managed to get out of jail after three hours, but now the DA is threatening to put her back in. A home imprisonment with an ankle bracelet isn’t enough. They’re going to torture her in a bare cell, solitary confinement, for a month, until she learns her lesson.
If they couldn’t get Simpson, Jackson or Blake, and if they can’t get Spector, they’re going to get Paris Hilton to prove a point.
It’s too funny. But that’s California, and Los Angeles, specifically.
You know what guys? Leave her alone already. Pick on someone your own size.
Don Kirshner is back.
The man who invented the Brill Building and published all the hits written by Carole King and Gerry Goffin, Neil Diamond, Neil Sedaka, Barry Mann and Cynthia Weil, helped invent Phil Spector and the Monkees and even created music television before MTV is not in Jann Wenner’s Rock and Roll Hall of Fame.
But last night, Kirshner, 73, was inducted into the Songwriters Hall of Fame for giving birth to a substantial part of what we now know as contemporary pop, rock and soul music.
It was vindication a long time in coming for Kirshner, whom Letterman bandleader Paul Shaffer once parodied on the early "Saturday Night Live" with a memorable imitation. It made Kirshner a household name.
Somewhere along the way he lost his stature as the man who nurtured hundreds of hit records from “The Locomotion” to “You’ve Lost That Feeling.”
It wasn’t lost on his friends who came to support him last night, including Tony Orlando, Ron Dante and Toni Wine. The latter pair were the voices for the animated group Kirshner created called The Archies. They had the No. 1 song in 1969, “Sugar Sugar.”
Orlando, who worked for Clive Davis at Columbia Records before becoming a star in 1971 with the group Dawn — Wine wrote their first hit, “Candida” — gave a speech about Kirshner last night fit for a royal eulogy.
Carole King had to beg off because of appearances she’s making in China, but Sedaka came and sang “Breaking Up is Hard to Do,” Kirshner’s first hit, from 1957.
What I loved about meeting Kirshner is that he doesn’t care anymore. He doesn’t need Jann Wenner or the Rock Hall of Fame. He is own living Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. In the next couple of years, there’s going to be a Broadway musical about him. A famous director is piloting the project (it’s still hush-hush, but trust me, it’s good). And entire genre of music, “the Brill Building sound,” is named for his contribution to pop culture.
Does he still have his copyrights? “I sold a lot of them a few years ago,” he told me. But don’t worry about Don. “I kept a few,” he said, with a wink.
In 1963, he sold his Aldon Music to Screen Gems for, are you ready, $2 million.
“Today it would be worth $100 million,” Kirshner said.
All of those hits, like “Up on the Roof” and “Calendar Girl,” gone. But Kirshner wasn’t finished. Within three years he had “The Monkees” on TV and selling millions of records. Many of the songwriters from Aldon supplied the music. Neil Diamond gave them “I’m a Believer,” Carole King wrote “Pleasant Valley Sunday.” Don Kirshner was back in business.
In the '70s, he brought the rock concert to TV. His droll Brooklyn accent was so hilarious as he introduced every rock act of the age that Shaffer had to do an impersonation of him. Don Kirshner became even more famous. Last night, he recalled finding Bobby Darin and Connie Francis, among others. The audience went wild. So much for the Rock Hall.
The intimate nature of the Songwriters Hall of Fame dinner in the Marriott Marquis ballroom — a huge, glamorous event, really, produced by Phil Ramone — is in counterpoint to the Rock Hall’s bloated and irrelevant undertaking at the Waldorf. Linda Moran, Hal David and Phil Ramone have transformed what used to be a small ceremony into the real annual celebration of the music business.
It would be hard to imagine, for example, Anthony Gourdine, of the leader of Little Anthony and the Imperials, wowing the Waldorf crowd as he did last night, opening the show solo with a magnificent, soaring version of his hit “Goin’ out of My Head” as a tribute to songwriters Bobby Weinstein and the late Teddy Randazzo.
Marilyn McCoo, the underrated star of The 5th Dimension, celebrated Michael Masser with a sultry “Greatest Love of All,” that rivaled Whitney Houston’s standard. Marc Cohn, the guy who wrote “Walking in Memphis,” introduced award winner Jackson Browne by making “Too Many Angels” into an R&B hit.
Then Browne, who’s in the Rock Hall but clearly took this award more seriously, stole the show with a rock out on “Lives in the Balance.”
Cohn joked that Browne was such a ready political activist and friend, he worried a couple of years ago when he was accidentally shot in a parking lot that he’d become the subject of a Browne benefit concert.
Cohn also surprised me. People of our age always thought Browne’s second album was called “Saturate Before Using.”
“I learned later that it’s just called Jackson Browne," he said.
Browne, whose passionate speech was very moving, talked about how his mother, a creative writing teacher, gave him the freedom to write what he wanted.
He also joked that record company executives used to beg him to write a short song every now and then for radio.
“All my songs were four or five minutes,” he said. “And I always put the best song last on the album, not first.” He’s right, of course. All the great Jackson Browne albums are like that —check out his classic, “Late for the Sky.”
Did I mention that Dolly Parton, ageless, who won the Johnny Mercer Award, knocked out a rocking take on “9 to 5” and sent herself up with jokes about plastic surgery and her breasts? She was the last award of the night, and more like a refreshing dessert than anyone could have guessed. Broadway star Idina Menzel saluted her with Dolly’s “I Will Always Love You.”
The highlight of the night: the entire audience singing all the words of “Day O” to its composer, Irving Burgie, as he led them in a call and response. Burgie’s wife passed away last week, and he didn’t want to come. But he realized this might be it, so he accepted the honor reluctantly. I’ll bet he’s glad he did.
My favorite speech? Kanye West, of all people, introduced his pal, John Legend, who got the Hal David Starlight Award for contemporary songwriting.
Legend played his haunting hit, “Ordinary People,” but not before West recalled — with no trace of his hip-hop persona — “I liked everything about the song when I heard it, except for those words, Ordinary People. I thought it sounded too plain.” He paused. “I guess I was wrong.”