Two years ago, the Emmy Awards were knocked off track by the tragic events of Sept. 11. Now this year's Emmys may have their own troubles, this time from natural causes.
Hurricane Isabel may do some damage to Sunday's ceremony, even though it's in Los Angeles. That's because many of the nominees are New Yorkers who can't leave, or didn't plan to leave, until Friday. According to the National Weather Service, that's when New York should be shutting down because of torrential rains and wind.
In other words: Good luck getting out. And that's too bad because "Sopranos" alum Joe Pantoliano, aka Joey Pants, now star of CBS's "The Handler," is hosting a dinner Friday night in L.A. for his fellow nominees.
For example, "The Sopranos" are working all week shooting episode 13 of the upcoming season. Mike Figgis is directing, which adds to the drama. Likely winners James Gandolfini and Edie Falco, both nominated for acting prizes, are working right up until they're supposed to leave on Friday. So is show creator David Chase, and the producers.
Luckily not all of the "Sopranos" cast is going to Hollywood this year, as opposed to previous years when everyone went. Lorraine Bracco, for example, who plays Dr. Melfi, is shooting scenes on Friday and has passed up the trip. She wasn't nominated for an Emmy this year, but the word from the set is she will be after the next season airs.
On the other hand, maybe the dire hurricane reports are just a weather service mistake. Hmmm.
You may think that since Michael Caine is suave and famous, he's not subjected to the same scrutiny you and I get at airports. Guess again.
The two-time Oscar winner and internationally famous movie star was put through the paces a few months ago when he was returning to London from Austin, Texas.
"On the computer, I was very suspicious looking," he told me last night as we surveyed the new Mandarin Oriental Hotel in Manhattan's Columbus Circle. "I was alone, I was a foreigner, I was on a one-way ticket. And then, because they do the whole celebrity thing so I was the last to board the plane, the computer saw me as a potential threat."
Even though the security officers who took Caine off the plane recognized him, there was nothing they could do about the situation. "They had to do the whole routine or they'd get fired," he said. "They inspected my shoes, my bags, everything."
What got Caine talking about airport security? The fact that the new AOL Time Warner building in Columbus Circle, with its ahem — twin towers — reminded him of the twin towers of the World Trade Center. Sure enough, he has a point.
"They just stick up like the World Trade," he said, "and look how open the approach is."
Nevertheless, the new, chunky edifice, which looks bulky and out of place from the street, has great views of Central Park. Last night the Central Park Conservancy celebrated the Park's 150th anniversary with dozens of dinners all around the park and its perimeter.
At the glamorous, but not yet really open, Mandarin Hotel, New Line Cinema heads Michael Lynne and Bob Shaye gave a dinner for about 75 people, including Caine (with eternally beautiful wife Shakira) and Robert Duvall (with his own stunning spouse, Luciana), as well as Falco and Stanley Tucci, Bracco, director Barry Levinson, and actress Susan Saint James and husband Dick Ebersol of NBC. Right before dinner, Mayor Michael Bloomberg and his hefty entourage poured into the room to greet guests.
And by the way, Messrs. Shaye and Lynne — how's the new "Lord of the Rings" movie coming? Will it make its mid December deadline?
"Just barely," was the unanimous answer, although I am paraphrasing. Turns out director Peter Jackson is in London frantically trying to finish all the special effects.
"But we did have a screening last week," the pair reported. "And it's phenomenal."
I received an e-mail yesterday, forwarded from the manager of an older composer/performer whose work I admire greatly: Jimmy Webb. The gist of the letter is that my alma mater, New York University, is threatening to foreclose on the famous Bottom Line music club because of owed back rent.
I dare them to do it.
In the 20 years or more since I graduated from NYU, I have been loath to give money to the school. The reason is simple. Little by little, the institution has swallowed historic Greenwich Village. Quaint blocks of ramshackle buildings from the 1800s have been replaced by monolithic dormitories. It's been quite the spectacle, and very much an embarrassment, I'd say, for local politicians who've let it happen.
Most recently, NYU knocked down its Loeb Student Center on Washington Square South and replaced it with a hideous monstrosity of a building that lights up at night behind the famed Arch on the north side of the square. This unnecessary addition to the NYU landscape comes equipped with an equally unnecessary state-of-the-art, below-ground theatre that apparently puts Carnegie Hall to shame.
Now the Bottom Line is imperiled, and although it's not a landmark building, it's a sacrosanct part of Greenwich Village. It's where Simon and Garfunkel chose to announce their tour last week. But mostly the Bottom Line is living history in a neighborhood where NYU has tried to all but extinguish every vestige of non-academic life.
If the threat is real, and I sense that it is considering the university's track record, I hope some of the famous folk who got their start at the Bottom Line (Woody Allen, Carly Simon, Bill Cosby, etc.) come to its rescue. Shame on New York University for continuing with its bulldozing of this neighborhood's legacies.