The audience from the Kennedy Center gala on Sunday night is still talking about Sting’s amazing gospel finale of “The Rising” as a tribute to honoree Bruce Springsteen. Last night at a “friends and family” rehearsal for his shows this week at the Cathedral of St. John the Divine, Sting told me: “I just wanted to get it right for Bruce. You could see him sitting there, restrained and watching.” From the looks of it, Sting got it very right. We’ll see it when the show airs on December 29th on CBS.
The whole idea of Sting performing for Bruce sprung from their original collaboration for Amnesty International in 1988. They anchored a six-week “Human Rights Now!” world tour for Amnesty (along with Peter Gabriel, Tracy Chapman and Youssou N’Dour). So it was only fitting that Amnesty, along with indefatigable producer Martin Lewis, hosted a swell after party following Sunday night’s awards for Sting, Bruce, and all the honorees ”Robert DeNiro, Mel Brooks, Grace Bumbry, and jazz great Dave Brubeck. It’s a long time ago now, but people forget: it was Sting’s participation for Amnesty in the “The Secret Policeman’s Ball” in 1981 that got Peter Gabriel, Bono, and others motivated to save the world. If you’ve never heard or seen this amazing spectacle, it’s finally available on DVD.
I don’t think the Amnesty people party much or get their names in print for all the great work they do, so Larry Cox,’ Timothy Higdon, Sandee Borgman, Karen Scott, Helen Garrett.’ Also present was one of Sting’s oldest friends, former Argentinian prisoner-of-conscience Juan Mendez and wife Silvia.)
The Amnesty party at the Mandarin Oriental was so much fun ‘ with lots of sponsors (Piper-Heidseick, Skyy Vodka, Stella Artois, Bass, Remy-Martin, Cointeau) picking up the tab so that the stars could party until 3am. And so they did. Did you know Robert DeNiro likes cucumber martinis? Did we even know such a thing existed?
I can only wonder what Kennedy Center producers George Stevens and his son Michael thought as guests Lewis put together for this shindig kept coming up and congratulating them. The usually staid KC surely needed this adrenalin rush. Here’s the Oscar party-like gang that mixed it up with Bruce, wife Patti Scialfa, Sting, and the sensational Trudie Styler: Meryl Streep, Martin Short, Herbie Hancock, Eddie Vedder, Matthew Broderick (Sarah Jessica Parker was in London), Carol Burnett, Jon Stewart, Jack Black , Ed Norton , Bob and Lynne Balaban, Joe Mantegna, Bill Irwin, Richard Kind, Florence Henderson; and Mel Brooks stars Roger Bart, Gary Beach , Shuler Hensley, Cory English, Jennifer Nettles of Sugarland not to mention that Laura Dern was also there as the wife of Ben Harper.
P.S. It was Dave Brubeck’s 89th birthday, so of course there was a cake and singing at 2am. (He’s also been married for 67 years. Hello, Tiger Woods!) Sting told me last night that he and Bruce spent a lot of time talking to Brubeck on Sunday night. Did he get any secrets? “I’ve been getting them right along,” Sting said, with gravity in his voice. He added, joking: “It’s a tantric thing.”
And more names! That “friends and family” rehearsal was mindblowing last night at St. John the Divine. In the audience were lots of familiar faces starting with Sting and Trudie’s actress daughter Mickey Sumner, who brought along famed acting teacher Sandra Lee; also Dan Abrams, Amy Sacco, John Sykes, and famed artist Stephen Hannock who’s busy drawing, sketching, etc. while the show goes on. “Larry King” show producer Sarah Holbrooke got to film a couple of the songs for Larry’s Christmas show on December 23rd. And the show has a special, unbilled guest among the two dozen musicians on stage: trumpeter Chris Botti.