Backstage at Live Earth

Live Earth | 'Sicko' | CBS Radio

Backstage at Live Earth

The Live Earth show at Giants Stadium was notable almost more for the number of iPhones being shown off by celebrities than the number of celebrities themselves.

Director Darren Aronofsky, whose significant other, actress Rachel Weisz, was one of the speakers, told me backstage that he was completely happy with his iPhone, and that the AT&T service was excellent so far. Did he stand in line to get it?

"I have a friend at Apple," he confided.

At least he wasn't expending any electricity in the process. Considering how much power and resources were spent to make the Live Earth shows a success, that's saying something.

Elsewhere, we spotted Zach Braff with a buddy, Chad Lowe with a pal, Abigail Breslin with her mom and Randy Jackson, who came to introduce Alicia Keys and wound up staying to greet Sting and meet the Police when they arrived at their dressing room.

Of course, the Police's digs — one room, actually — turned out to be the place to be when Kanye West and John Mayer crowded in, door closed, to figure out the version you saw of "Message in a Bottle."

Sting in particular was impressed by Kanye's improvised line that the only police he wanted to see in the 'hood were Sting's Police.

"It was very clever," Sting admitted, as Mayer nearly got teary-eyed when he realized he would be playing with the Police on their classic hit.

Elsewhere, the talk was mainly about how the Live Earth producers had bought out the carnival in the Meadowlands that had held the lease for that day. The result, although possibly not all ticket-holders knew this, was that you got free admission to the fair with the Live Earth ticket.

There was talk that Al Gore's kids and grandkids were among those smart enough to take advantage of the deal. The Ferris wheel did look like fun.

There was so much going on backstage — where the temperature was about 50 degrees warmer than on the field — that it was hard to pay attention to all the acts and speakers.

I was sorry to miss Robert F. Kennedy Jr.'s impassioned talk, but at that point, Ann Curry had snatched up Sting and wife/activist/producer Trudie Styler to interview them for the "Today" show about Pablo Fajardo, the Ecuadorian Chevron worker-turned-lawyer who is suing the company that used to employ him over the pollution of his country.

Randy Jackson, meanwhile, introduced us to an all-grown-up Raven-Symone, a child star of the "Cosby Show" 20 years ago. Raven was very busy wanting to meet Sting, although it didn't happen, and telling me that she never heard another word from Bill Cosby or anyone else from the show since it went off the air.

"After all, I was like 3 years old. It's not like I knew them," she said.


Richie Sambora, on the other hand, seemed rehabilitated from his Heather Locklear-Denise Richards episode in tabloidville. After Bon Jovi rocked Giants Stadium — hometown boys make good — Richie hung out in the celebrity lounge, where people ate ice-cream cones and basically stayed clean and green. Rosario Dawson was there, too, although the pair did not cross paths.

Everybody was interested in the location of Leonardo DiCaprio, who evidently spent most of the show in a luxury box hidden from the great unwashed. Sources said he was by himself, and that his only use of electricity was getting his hair "blown out" before going on stage.

Wherever Leo was, it wasn't with the rock acts who were performing or even with the other celebs — he missed Steve Kroft of "60 Minutes" and wife, Jenny Conant, for example, and never got near the Police, Kanye, Bon Jovi or John Mayer. C'est la vie.

Leo was probably with Cameron Diaz, who was also noticeably absent from the backstage area unless she was going on stage.

One unusual group: a whole posse from Universal Music Group, starting with L.A. Reid, his wife Erica and exec Steve Bartels. What were they doing there?

"We have Bon Jovi, the Police, etc," explained publicist Laura Swanson.

You gotta give them credit. There weren't any other record execs rolling backstage. It was almost a throwback to the great old days of rock 'n' roll.

The New Jersey show wasn't just about itself: There was plenty of talk about Madonna's London performance. Even though her voice was reed thin, insiders told me that she flew in her own dancers and backup singers at her own expense and "made an incredible effort" to widen her charitable interests beyond Malawi orphans. She gets credit for that, certainly.

There was also a lot of talk about how clean Giants Stadium looked during and after the show, how attendants were constantly sweeping up and how fans were policing themselves. One anecdote had fans in the parking area chastising others who had left garbage on the ground.

"Put that in your car," they were supposedly advised.

Sting agreed with that philosophy wholeheartedly. He told me during a break backstage that he had never succumbed to the rock 'n' roll paradigm of trashing hotel rooms or throwing televisions out the window.

"I always had a very clean room," he said.

And still, following Bon Jovi's energetic and muscular performance, the Police rocked the house in a way that no other band did on Saturday night. Fans stood on chairs to see them, and it was obvious that the Stadium had filled in the large chunks of empty areas from the afternoon for the final big-name acts. As late as Friday night, it was still possible to purchase seats in the best sections.

"It could have been the price," noted one observer.

The top ticket was $348.

Where was all that money going to go? Now, that's the big question. Live Earth is not a registered charity in and of itself. Any money they made on Saturday, possibly as much as $6 million, is being collected by a group called the Alliance for Climate Protection.

The Alliance is only supposed to stay in business for three years, and use the money to make commercials and disseminate as much information as possible on climate change and global warming. Some of the money will go to preexisting climate groups.

This should be interesting. Among the members of the Board of Directors is former Ford and Bush administration National Security Adviser Brent Scowcroft. There is also Teddy Roosevelt IV, a managing director of Lehman Brothers.

Insiders say the big question will be how much of a fee Kevin Wall, the producer of Live Earth, takes from the profits. But that information won't be known until all the accounting is done and the Alliance files its first tax return as an established 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization.

"They're going to have [to] make a case and compete for funds," a source said. "There's a lot of politics among them, like who was here first."

After the show, sources said that Al and Tipper Gore weren't too exhausted to turn down an invite for breakfast the next morning with Sting and Trudie Styler at their elegant Central Park West aerie.

The Gores, along with daughter Karenna and son-in-law, Drew Schiff, chowed down on a Mexican buffet along with Police members Stewart Copeland and Andy Summers, actor Chazz Palminteri and members of the Police entourage who were getting ready to rejoin their reunion tour in Miami.

Insiders say Gore gave a speech thanking the Police for making the Live Earth show a success. Styler introduced them to Fajardo, who celebrated his 35th birthday with the Police and the Gores serenading him. What's Gore doing next?

"Going out and giving my slideshow," he replied.

'Sicko' Is Healthy

Michael Moore's "Sicko" expanded to 702 theaters over the holiday weekend and turned into a big hit.

It finished the weekend at No. 9, with a huge per-screen average, and, more importantly, the smallest percentage falloff from Saturday to Sunday of all the movies in the top 10.

Oldies Are Goodies

A few weeks ago, I speculated in this space that when Dan Mason took over CBS Radio, his first job would be to return New York's WCBS-FM to oldies and get rid of the atrocious Jack radio.

Now comes word he is doing just that. Sometime this week, CBS 101.1 will be restored after two painful and unnecessary years.

I hope Mason will be able to get the old talent back like Cousin Brucie, Dan Ingram and Harry Harrison. Can the "Doo Wop Shop" be far behind?

Next stop for Mason is to revive WNEW-FM, which was killed and turned into a schlock station of ballads too syrupy to mention.