Published July 19, 2008
Paul McCartney and Billy Joel made a little rock history Friday night when the former Beatle took the stage at the end of Joel's second and last Shea Stadium show.
McCartney hadn't played Shea since 1966 with the Beatles, when he was just 24. But he returned to perform "I Saw Her Standing There" and "Let it Be," sending an already enthusiastic crowd over the top.
Joel had already introduced special guests Tony Bennett, Garth Brooks, Roger Daltry of The Who and Steven Tyler of Aerosmith during his three-hour set. Hometown boy Joel saluted New York in performing the two final rock shows at Shea. The home to baseball's Mets will close when this season ends.
For McCartney, pulling off this surprise wasn't easy. He arrived at JFK airport at 10 p.m. and then zoomed over to Shea with a police escort to make his timed appearance. Joel even started the show a little later, hoping it would help hasten McCartney's arrival.
Joel had plenty of other guests in the audience, too, including ex-wife Christie Brinkley, current wife, Katie Lee, and daughter Alexa Ray. At some point during the show, a man down front apparently proposed to his girlfriend between songs. It caught Joel's eye, who advised the man, "Get a good prenup."
Joel's set, other than the guest stars, was pretty close to the one he played Wednesday night with one exception. After straining through a faux doo wop number called "This Time," he told the audience: "There were a lot of high notes. That's the last time you'll be hearing that."
Considering that the two Shea shows were really Billy Joel events, you have to give him credit. He let McCartney have the last word with a haunting version of "Let it Be," which the 66-year-old former Beatle played on the piano. The audience went wild, and Joel closed the night with his usual admonition to the audience: "Don't take s--t from anybody."
One of the great singers of all time — greater than any on that crazy Rolling Stone list I told you about on Friday — is gone. Jo Stafford was 90. Her recording of "You Belong to Me," which can be found on YouTube, sold 2 million copies in 1952. It ranks as one of the most important female vocals of all time. Stafford was a class act, and she will be sorely missed. But her legacy lives on. Thanks for everything, Jo.
It looks like there’s a snag in Tom Cruise’s big career comeback film. According to sources, Cruise is probably not going to be playing the role of Edwin A. Salt, a fictional CIA officer who is outed as a spy.
"Edwin A. Salt," which is set at Columbia Pictures, has had a rocky road. First Terry George was set to direct. He left and was replaced by Philip Noyce.
But now Cruise is out, and I’m told it’s because of money. Apparently, Tom is unaware of the change in his status in the Hollywood community. Where once he was the top-paid star, Cruise now is in a position where a $20 million salary is not possible. I’m told an internal memo went around among the film’s producers and top creators in which the Cruise situation was discussed and names were gathered for a replacement.
The reasons for Cruise’s departure are not just his diminished popularity, negative public opinion and Scientology — although those would be good enough. It’s also just generational. Cruise is 45. His heyday as a box office star — if he ever had one — is over.
Like past huge leading action stars such as Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger, Cruise must face the brutal facts of aging. Ironically, he’s been replaced by Will Smith, whom Cruise has courted for Scientology. Talk about rubbing "Salt" in a wound!
Of course, it doesn’t help that his last big feature, "Mission: Impossible 3," was eons ago, in Hollywood terms — 2006. On top of that, even a film shot now and released next summer would have to erase in the audience’s mind Cruise’s upcoming release, "Valkyrie," aka The Nazi Movie, due next February.
And still, "Salt" was not even going to be released by United Artists, the studio where Cruise has a financial interest. With "Salt" back in the shaker, maybe he can concentrate on projects with partner Paula Wagner at UA, instead.
Meantime, Cruise remains at the center of the mystery concerning his kids Isabella and Connor’s continued absence from their mother, Nicole Kidman. The kids, I’m told, still have not visited Kidman in Tennessee nor met their new half-sister, Sunday Rose. This kind of thing, Cruise doesn’t seem to comprehend, only adds to his career predicament.
Leave it to Rolling Stone, the magazine we boycott because of Jann Wenner’s tragic mishandling of the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame every year.
In November, Rolling Stone is going to publish a list of the all-time best singers. It doesn’t matter if they’re dead or alive, active or retired, in their prime or over the hill. It’s just a free-for-all of names listed on a ballot and sent to Wenner’s friends.
Voters are asked to select "20 top singers, in order of preference. Among the criteria to take into account: originality, stage presence, influence and, most important, vocal ability."
That last one must be why Justin Timberlake, Aaliyah and Perry Ferrell are on the same ballot as Whitney Houston, Paul Rodgers and James Taylor.
But it’s a list, you say, and these lists are simply marketing tools designed to infuriate readers and stimulate sales. Right you are. But if they’re going to do a list, regardless of their so-called winner, maybe "the Bible" (ho ho) of rock 'n' roll should try not to forget significant names.
Missing from the three pages supplied by the magazine are a nice chunk of talented singers, starting most glaringly with Phoebe Snow, the undisputed best stylist of her generation, and Phillippe Wynn, the lead singer who made the Spinners’ hits such as "I’ll Be Around" and "Could It Be I’m Falling in Love" immortal classics.
Also absent are Johnny Mathis; Billy Preston; Kenny Loggins; Deniece Williams; Isaac Hayes; Carla Thomas; Gene Chandler; Richie Sambora; Jerry Butler; Julia Fordham; Marilyn McCoo; James Carr; Luther Ingram; Ann Peebles; Walter Jackson; Jennifer Warnes; Don McLean; Reba McIntyre; Martina McBride; Al Wilson; Mary Wilson; Peter Cetera; Glenn Tilbrook; Paul Carrack; Dave Edmunds; Nick Lowe; Graham Parker; Joe Jackson; Harry Wayne Casey (KC of the Sunshine Band); Gloria Gaynor; and Alison Moyet.
Just in case you’re wondering, in addition to the usual suspects of rock (all the Sirs, Eagles and Pink Floyd), it’s good to know that Wenner, who signed the letter, thinks these people are better singers than anyone on the above list: Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Vince Neil of Motley Crue, Geddy Lee, PJ Harvey and Gerard Way of My Chemical Romance.
By the way, only one "American Idol" contestant is on Wenner’s list: Kelly Clarkson. Fantasia and the others be damned.
Isn’t it interesting? The minute a TV show hits a nerve, there’s an outpouring of "professionals" who want to debunk its importance.
I’m thinking how Italian-Americans went nuts when "The Sopranos" took off. The show hit a target, but left a lot of Italian-Americans critics complaining that Tony and pals were stereotypes, that the mob didn’t exist, etc.
Now it’s "Mad Men." Suddenly, after 50 years of conventional wisdom and documented culture, the 1950s never happened. The advertising game of Madison Avenue, documented so brilliantly in all of things, TV’s "Bewitched," set only a couple of years later, does not exist. The world of suburban post-war angst, chronicled in real time by John Cheever, Richard Yates, John O’Hara and many others, should be forgotten.
No one smoked, there were no affairs, there was no anti-Semitism, no one drank. It was just a hard-working time, like glee club. Are these people kidding?
I received at least two e-mail links on Thursday to a piece written by Mary Wells, the founder of Wells, Rich & Greene (and not the late great soul singer of "My Guy"), which appeared in The New York Times and on the Web site wowowow.com.
"I miss the glamour in our work that made our mothers so proud," Wells writes. "The lust we felt those days was not about sex — although there is always a string of sex running through every business of every era. By 1960 … You lusted to be FAMOUS for a great campaign, a great song, a great movie — to walk down the street knowing you had taken something unimportant and made it vital to millions of people."
Who is she kidding?
Wells cannot actually believe what she’s written but, of course, she gives herself away with one telling observation. Remember, she claims never to have met anyone like Don Draper of "Mad Men."
After reading the following, I think it’s possible she was Don Draper and is uncomfortable seeing herself up on the wide LCD screen: "It took until the late '50s, though, for the Jews with their great imaginations and dramatic writing skills and the powerhouse Italian artists to join up, take over and make advertising the preferred entertainment."
Ah, yes, those imaginative Jews and powerhouse Italians!
"Mad Men" creator Matthew Weiner gets his show right, and no amount of sanitizing and revising the past is going to change it. "Mad Men" should win all the Emmys it’s up for.
If you’re looking for some source material to verify this, look no farther than Joseph Heller’s classic 1976 novel, "Something Happened." The "Catch-22" author worked in advertising at the same time as Draper did, and this is what he had to say, in a nutshell. Draper could be speaking this monologue in "Mad Men" today:
"Is this really the most I can get from the few years left in this one life of mine?
"And the answer I get, of course, is always…Yes!
"Because I have my job, draw my pay. Get my laughs and seem to be able to get one girl or another to go to bed with me just about every time I want: because I am envied and looked up to by my neighbors and coworkers with less personality, drab wives, and because I really do seem to have everything I want. …"
Madonna’s brother’s unauthorized biography of her is a bestseller and at the top of the charts. Amazon has it at No. 16 and Barnesandnoble.com lists it at No. 26. The former sells it for half price, at $14. It’s worth about $7 for the shortage of revelations it contains.
Surprising, since Wendy Leigh, who wrote the book for Christopher Ciccone, usually has a higher rate of tabloid stories in her potboilers. Leigh — who likes TV — has been a silent partner so far in this misbegotten enterprise. …
I wish there were something to say about the Emmy Awards. But Thursday’s nominations, with the exception of "Mad Men" coming into the fray, were an utter bore. Most of them are exactly the same as last year and not much different than the year before. How could Dana Delany not have been nominated for "Desperate Housewives"? Where are Matthew Fox, Terry Quinn and Evangeline Lilly from "Lost"? Where are nods for "The Tudors" on Showtime? And how is it that the execrable "Two and a Half Men" just keeps coming back? Are they blackmailing someone?
Until the Emmys changes its rules and prohibits the previous year’s nominees from returning, the show is just going to keep going downhill. Maybe Katherine Heigl had a good point this year, keeping herself out of the running. Once is more than enough.