Mariah Carey’s Grammy after party last night was one of several around Hollywood that was shut down by the Los Angeles Fire Marshal and the police department.
Yes, this is a town quite unlike New York, and the marshal is always waiting to shut something down early. Call it retribution from the unions to the celebrities who run wild all over the place here. It’s as regular as the smog.
Mariah’s party was a private one at the unbelievably magnificent Beverly Hills mansion/estate of grocery magnate Ron Burkle. High in the hills above the Beverly Hills Hotel, the Burkle castle once belonged to legendary comic actor Harold Lloyd.
It was on 18 acres then, but it’s whittled down to six by now. The place looks like something out of Jackie Collins meets F. Scott Fitzgerald. And among the principal guests in the last couple of years: Bill Clinton and Michael Jackson.
Last night, Mariah and Jermaine Dupri, her co-host, overbooked. The result was over 600 people trying to go up a long and winding driveway. Some went by foot, others by fancy golf cart. Shuttle buses brought people to the foot of the drive from a gathering place near the Beverly Hills Civic Center. One hundred or so private cars went directly to the house, even though only the permit was only for 50. And so on.
The problem, we heard, was that Burkle’s staff had only applied for a permit for a temporary structure they’d erected on his tennis courts. The permit didn’t cover the whole estate. The marshal seized on this mistake like Paris Hilton in a swag tent.
Who got in? Well, Rob Thomas and his wife Marisol made it, and they got to meet Joaquin Phoenix. Quincy Jones was turned away initially, but eventually found a way past increasingly agitated cops who’d gotten irate calls from Burkle’s neighbors to shut off the loud music and untangle the traffic in front of their homes.
When one of the party’s planners came down the drive to rescue Kelly Clarkson from the melee, he himself was barred from returning by the police.
Mariah’s back-up singers waited an hour before they were rescued. You get the picture. Part of Stevie Wonder’s 30-member entourage got sidelined, but Tyra Banks was smart enough to arrive on the early side.
Producer David Foster got in and out without any trouble, as did musicians Alex Orbison, Roy Orbison Jr., Cisco Adler and his girlfriend Mischa Barton.
Once we managed to overcome all the obstacles — thanks to Benny Medina’s super-smart friend and business associate Ken Starr (not the Whitewater guy) — we got quite an eyeful.
Burkle’s home is a lot like Hearst Castle, except it doesn’t have a ticket booth or souvenirs. It does boast a gorgeous full-size carousel, however, and an art collection that would make the curators at the Louvre in Paris trade their favorite espresso for an exhibit.
But don’t think my mentioning this could be trouble for Burkle. His security team is composed of former Secret Service agents who were incredibly nice to us, but I think mean business if the time comes.
Mariah’s party was not the only shut down by the fire marshal. Warner Music Group’s shindig at the Pacific Design Center was so overpacked that honcho Lyor Cohen couldn’t get in when he arrived.
The same was heard about Kanye West’s Entertainment Weekly-sponsored rap fest at The Loft in Hollywood featuring Jamie Foxx. Everywhere: pushing, shoving, name-calling and promises of lawsuits.
You know, the LAPD just loves to hear that, especially while writing tickets for jaywalking. New York’s Bill Bratton may be the police chief, but this is still “Chinatown," if you know what I mean.
And yet Mariah looked lovely, and was excited about her three Grammy wins. Medina, her manager, was over the moon about her performance at the show, especially “Fly Like a Bird,” the number that sent the audience into a frenzy.
“Three Grammys and that performance?” Benny said to me backstage. “We don’t have anything to complain about.”
That and the fact that Mariah’s voice and fashion were as good as you can get. Believe me, she sold more copies of her “Mimi” album last night to put it back in next week’s top 5.
Meanwhile, two other parties didn’t get the marshal, and still had plenty of celebs. At The Palm in West Hollywood, Universal Music Group welcomed Sting, Elvis Costello, U2, Kanye West, and all their winners as well as Doug Morris and L.A. Reid.
But the real action of the night was over at the Roosevelt Hotel, where Sony BMG threw a gorgeous outdoor by the pool event under a moonlit sky.
Bruce Springsteen — fresh from his triumphant show ending “In the Midnight Hour” with “Soul Man” Sam Moore — held court, but I don’t think he met Britney and Kevin Federline. At least, I hope not.
John Legend, Randy Jackson, Kelly Clarkson, Mischa Barton and the guys from Maroon 5 were all there, as were “Survivor” producer Mark Burnett and his fiancée, actress Roma Downey, two of my favorite people.
There was also a big executive presence, with BMG’s Clive Davis and Charles Goldstuck, Sony’s Andy Lack and Donnie Ienner, and in the middle — Rolf Schmidt-Holtz. And the word, from all involved, is that Lack is staying, happy to have a revised role, and Rolf now steps in to run things on a daily basis. They all seemed happy. No one got pushed into the pool.
All I can tell you is I met Sly Stone last night and Kevin Mazur took the picture. There is evidence. He mumbled something and gave me his home number. He is not Everyday People.
Before he went onstage, Sly was walking around for a few minutes backstage dressed as you saw him. No one recognized him. He didn’t come to rehearsals with an evident mohawk. Maybe that’s why he wore a hood.
Anyway, when he appeared on stage, you could see Steven Tyler’s eyes bulge. He didn’t know what to expect. In the holding area, watching on a monitor, Sting said, “You didn’t tell me about this.” His manager replied, “Who knew?” Indeed. Others waiting to go on just shook their heads.
Credit Tyler with trying to make the whole calamity work: he shouted out, “Let’s do it like we did in the old days, Sly.” And Tyler’s singing was outrageously cool. He hit a long falsetto note that should be put in the Smithsonian. Everyone else on stage was simply flummoxed, which accounted for the weird ending of the segment.
Sly walked right off stage and kept walking. He walked right out of the building. He did not stop. He got into a golf cart, and tried to advance. Bless his heart, Joe Perry ran after him to say goodbye and got close, maybe even shook his hand. A publicist told us, “Don’t even say his name.” It had not been an easy evening. I got the picture and the number. Dr. John, nearby, got a chuckle. We were all in the right place, at the wrong time.
Kids, do not do drugs. That’s all I can say.
I see in today’s New York Times that Frank Goodman, Broadway’s most notorious press agent, has passed away at age 89. By notorious, I do mean that Frank was well known for many things that you might not call wonderful traits.
He was vicious to his employees, mean to those around him and altogether not a cute guy. He also had a head of hair that stood straight up and bristled, much the way people did when they encountered him.
A perfectionist with a hair-trigger temper, I once saw him throw snow boots at one of the women in his office when I worked for him briefly in 1979.
Frank also had such a complicated personal life that he wound up the central figure — name changed — in a New York magazine feature in 1980. He was not a beloved or warm fellow, that’s for sure.
But Goodman was one of the original Broadway press agents much like the Sidney Falco character portrayed in “The Sweet Smell of Success.” His mission was to plant items in gossip columns and to get as many “mentions” as possible for his clients in newspapers.
Best known for working on Sid Caesar’s “Your Show of Shows” in the 1950s, Frank also had a great run launching PBS’s “Masterpiece Theater” in the 1970s. Shows like “Upstairs, Downstairs” got all their amazing press because of Goodman.
I only worked for Frank for a short time, and during a chaotic period in his life. Let’s just say he was running between two homes, and one them didn’t know about the other.
But in his evil perfectionism he gave me a crash course in things I have never forgotten about PR and show biz, and much as I like to say that working with him was nightmare, more often than not I think of him as I lick an envelope or write a letter to someone in the business.
He was one of a kind. I just hope when he got to heaven, two angels of the same period, John Springer and Mike Hall, gave him a lot of grief.