Jennifer Garner, also Mrs. Ben Affleck, hit Broadway Thursday night and came out a winner.
Garner plays Roxanne in Edmond Rostand’s classic, “Cyrano de Bergerac” opposite none other than Kevin Kline and directed by the talented David Leveaux.
Known mostly for TV’s “Alias,” Garner could have fallen on her face. But she triumphed, pulling off a terrific performance in front of a very demanding opening night crowd that included Glenn Close, Kline's “Big Chill” co-star, plus Kathie and Frank Gifford, and, of course, a beaming Affleck and brother, Casey.
Garner, in fact, couldn’t have been better, and that’s something considering her co-stars. Kevin Kline, Oscar- and Tony-winner, is simply spectacular as Cyrano, literally redefining the character and making a play you didn’t think you wanted to see again fresh and alive. It’s Kline’s best performance since his “Hamlet” at the Public Theater years ago.
During intermission, I ran into Ben with his longtime agent, Patrick Whitesell. Had Jennifer ever been on stage before, I asked?
“She’s done a lot of regional theater and has tons of experience,” he said. “She was ready for this, believe me.”
She certainly seems to be: it’s the easiest transition for an actor from film to theater in some time.
The whole Affleck family is in high gear right now. Ben’s “Gone Baby Gone,” now in theaters, is a hit. His brother, Casey, stars in it and is getting great reviews. And Casey is a sure-fire Oscar nominee for his role as the sniveling Robert Ford in “The Assassination of Jesse James,” if Academy voters and the rickety Golden Globe members take the time to watch him on DVD. It’s one of the great performances of the year.
When Aretha Franklin wants to make it a memorable night, she knows exactly how to do it. Thursday night she went on stage at Cipriani’s soaring 55 Wall Street, fought off the cold air and gave a historic private show for contributors to the Sarah Ferguson Foundation.
Unfortunately, it was so late that Fergie herself missed it. The Duchess of York was already on a late flight back to the U.K. to see her daughters after spending the night working like crazy to make the event a success.
Earlier in the evening, a re-formed Kid Creole and the Coconuts and Natasha Bedingfield wowed the crowd as well.
The sold-out crowd had thinned out quite a bit thanks to the hour, but the remaining 200 or so donors, including Clive Davis, Nikki Haskell, producer Hillary Shorr, actors Emily Mortimer and husband Alessandro Nivola, Jason Lewis and Mandy Gosling (Ryan’s knockout sister), got quite a treat.
In rare form, Aretha — who brought her whole orchestra and back-up singers — showed her best stuff in some time on a magnificent ballad called “One Night with the King,” a gospel ballad.
Of course, she wasn’t bad either on Jackie Wilson’s “Higher and Higher,” on Diana Ross’ old “It’s My Turn,” “I Love You for Sentimental Reasons” and “Respect,” “Chain of Fools,” “Natural Woman,” “Don’t Play that Song for Me” and other hits. She took to the piano to introduce a new song and ended the show with a little “church-going” gospel.
In the middle of the set, Aretha asked for a short break, thinking her voice was suffering from the cold air in the venue. She likes it hot and asked for a heater on stage to keep her throat open. But it wasn’t necessary. Her chops were better than ever, remarkably. Maybe she should start every show around midnight!
Want to know why Paul McCartney divorced Heather Mills? Here’s the answer: She won’t shut up. She uses the press to tell her story, even when no one wants to hear it.
This week, Mills went everywhere in the U.S. and the U.K. insulting Paul, blaming him for being cheap, uncharitable and hinting again that she would reveal stories about his first marriage if she didn’t get what she wanted. And what does she want? Money. Baby, she wants to be a rich man, too.
Mills’ biggest mistake was claiming that McCartney was uncharitable and that he doesn’t do enough with her money. What Mills doesn’t realize is that there was a Paul McCartney long before she came along in 2000. There was also a Linda McCartney.
They were involved in Live Aid, at which McCartney played, as well as the Concerts for the People of Kampuchea (Cambodia), Ferry Aid for the victims of the Mersey Ferry disaster and have been major advocates for PETA, aka People for Ethical Treatment of Animals.
There’s more: McCartney donated $2 million to tsunami aid, and last year he reportedly gave $1.6 million to Adopt-a-Minefield instead of playing for the group because he was in the middle of the divorce and didn’t want any more publicity in that regard.
I was there backstage in 2004 at Live 8 in London’s Hyde Park, when McCartney opened the show with U2, stayed 12 hours, and closed the show with a dynamic performance, all for Bob Geldof’s Make Poverty History campaign.
McCartney spent the day doing interviews and helping out any way he could. (All right, he insisted on opening the show, but that was his right. He’s Paul McCartney.)
What did Heather do all day? She went around with a camera crew making a documentary backstage. It was unsanctioned, since Live 8 owned the rights and had their own video plans. But Heather was bored and wanted to get her name in there.
This week, she told Matt Lauer in a long “Today” show rant that it was she who was responsible for getting McCartney back to work after Linda died in 1998.
OK, let’s make this clear. When I met Heather with Paul at the late Moomba restaurant in 2000, she was very specific: She knew no Beatles songs and wasn’t about to learn them.
It was a shocking admission. Her sister, Fiona, a little sparkplug with a Cockney accent, couldn’t believe it. Heather then told me that she was actually a fan of Men at Work’s Colin Hay and had taken Paul to a couple of his shows.
Paul rolled his eyes. He was dating a woman who cared nothing for his career as the world’s most successful pop star and composer, but liked the talent who’d composed, “Who Can It Be Now?” His mistake was to go and marry her.
What does Heather want? More publicity, in any regard. Her latest round of interviews is designed as a saber-rattling. This is her way of telling Paul, "Pay up or I will tell all."
But what exactly is she going to say if uncorked further? That Paul supposedly beat Linda, his beloved wife of 30 years? That’s not a path to sympathy for Heather. She doesn’t get it. Linda and Paul were devoted to each other. And we’ve been down this road before. Heather trotted this out a year ago, only to be met with disbelief. It’s a dog, as they say, that doesn’t hunt.
So far, McCartney has not said a word about the divorce in public. Not only that: If there is some mysterious campaign that he’s waging against Heather, as she claims, it must be very much on the down low. In the U.S., the only time we hear about the divorce is from her. McCartney’s publicist doesn’t call up U.S. journalists to knock her, and his family, including Linda’s, who are American, remain mum on the subject.
What Heather should do now is take whatever she’s offered and go away. It’s not like McCartney isn’t going to give her massive amounts of child support for their daughter, Beatrice. He’s just not going to give Heather his fortune, whether she puts a sock in it or not.