Paul McCartney and his fiancée Heather Mills were in New York last night. Both of them were working. Mills was here to launch her new modeling career for INC International Concepts, a fashion brand available at better department stores. Paul came with her, then the two of them went to the annual Amnesty International dinner, where Paul accepted the Lifetime Achievement Award.
At the INC reception, held at Chateau (formerly known as Moomba) in Greenwich Village, I got a chance to talk to Paul about some recent events. He told me, "We're going out on tour this spring and summer to arenas." Like Madison Square Garden? "In fact, exactly like that. We'll even do two shows there. And I may include some poetry." His son James, a guitarist, will not be joining him, he said.
Glenn O'Brien, the very funny writer for GQ, was standing nearby. Hearing this he interjected: "Here's my advice. Don't read poetry to people who are standing."
McCartney looked great, and why not? He was accompanied by Mills, who's 34, her sister Fiona and Fiona's friend. McCartney turns 60 on June 18 and has four grown children.
Paul told me that my recent revelation that his new song, "Tiny Bubble," was very close to George Harrison's "Piggies" (from the White Album) was correct. "We didn't realize it until it was recorded. It's just that one area," — he sang the line — "but it was just in my head and I didn't realize it."
Of course, he's heard the White Album a million times, and all the songs from all the Beatles discography are seared in his head. We discussed how the White Album still holds up after 33 years. "It's the structure. I was listening to the 1 album recently and I was thinking, it's the structure of the songs. They have excellent foundations, like a good building."
McCartney told me he will play his World Trade Center song, "Freedom," at the Super Bowl on Sunday. He informed me that Heather — sort of eerily echoing Linda McCartney's participation in Paul's music — arranged the record. Then he said: "I got it from the clapping at Yankee Stadium. That boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom, boom. That's it. We wrote the song about a week before the Oct. 20 [Concert for New York City] show."
Heather assured me that was her last foray into music. "I didn't even know his songs when I met him," she said. Of course, she was born the same year the White Album was released.
"I only know them now from him playing them to me on the guitar." She does not listen to the Beatles' records and doesn't know the albums. Her favorite song? "Here, There, and Everywhere." Did she know "For No One," I asked? She didn't. She's never heard either Rubber Soul or Revolver, she said. "Oh, 'Blackbird' is very good," she said. Her sister laughed. She's been teaching her.
Heather — who is funny, attractive and articulate — is a big fan of Colin Hay, the former lead singer of Men at Work. "He's unbelievably good," she said. "I took Paul to see him in Los Angeles and he loved him. He's very funny between songs. Not at all like Men at Work. You can order his CD's off the Internet. There are four of them."
Paul half-heartedly agreed with her evaluation of Hay. Then he gave her a kiss on the lips.
I asked Paul if, given the Beatles' ever-growing popularity, it wasn't hard to release new albums. Driving Rain, his latest, which was well reviewed, did not sell well. That, plus the fans wanting to hear old songs at the Concert for New York City, and Paul playing new songs, must annoy him.
"You have to balance things. When we" — he meant the Beatles — "would go out and play 'Baby's in Black,' the fans would yell for 'She Loves You.' But we thought 'Baby's in Black' was shit hot. And eventually we were right. You have to do what you want and like too. After all, it can't be all old songs. I'm not the Ancient Mariner."
Being Tom Cruise's cousin wasn't always the best thing for an aspiring actor, but William Mapother has finally succeeded on his own.
Mapother, who has a key role in Todd Field's In the Bedroom, talked with me last week from Los Angeles. (You may recall this column was the first ever to write about William some two years ago, when Magnolia was released.)
For years he's had bit parts in Cruise's movies, all the time waiting for his big break. The two men's fathers were brothers. Tom's dad passed away several years ago; William's father is a Kentucky attorney.
"I'm really proud to be associated with this picture. This is my first really rounded role. Tom was thrilled. We screened the movie for him and some friends last summer. He was so happy for me. He just loved the movie, and he said it several times. It's really thought-provoking. And he was really happy for Todd [Field]."
Field had met Cruise while shooting Eyes Wide Shut in London, and told him about his idea of making In the Bedroom. Cruise advised him to go ahead and do it, and they never spoke about it again.
Mapother, a Notre Dame graduate, said he doesn't even remember meeting Field in London. "We met at a Hollywood party and had a long, intense conversation. He told me about the movie. He called me 15 months later and said I have this part for you if you're interested. He wanted to offer me the part and I insisted on reading for it. It was helpful since the producers didn't know who I was. Todd fought for me."
Playing such a bad guy has made its impact in public. "I already get women in the grocery store come up and say, 'I didn't like you when I met you and I just remembered why.' There's something about this character that really gets under people's skins."
Mapother said his creepy blonde hair dye came from a local drug store. "The hair stylist got it out of a box. We both decided that the character was probably dating a beautician. He also wears this necklace with a tooth. There are a lot of details."
How is it that the Mapother family produced two movie stars? "Well, they've produced one so far," he said with a laugh. William said he and Tom became close "because he only has sisters and I only have sisters, so we turned to each for protection!" Tom is three years older than William, the same age difference between their fathers.
Despite Tom's divorce from Nicole Kidman, Mapother and Kidman have remained friendly. "Throughout the '90s I spent a lot of time with both Tom and Nicole. Nicole and I always got along very well. I dated an Australian woman for about a year. They're great, very spirited and outdoorsy and fun. And Nicole is just like that. It's almost like she grew up as a tomboy. I think it's true that she's more relaxed now. It may be in part because she finally established herself."
Mapother's next role is a small one in Minority Report. "People have a hard time believing it. The casting director called me in for Minority Report and put me on tape. He didn't even know I was related to Tom."