Rihanna returned to Clive Davis’s annual pre-Grammy party last night, 51 weeks after her calamitous exit from the party with Chris Brown in 2009. She looked great, and seemed to have shed the past like an old coat. It was a bold move and one to be applauded.
Can it be almost a year ago that Rihanna and Brown left the party and got into a fight that would last forever?
But Davis’s annual spectacular party was about a special guest star last night. Barbra Streisand — who like Davis graduated from Erasmus High School in Brooklyn– made her first ever appearance at the Davis gala at the Beverly Hilton ballroom, with husband James Brolin. She also brought her manager of over 40 years, Marty Ehrlichman. They sat with Jane Fonda–also making her debut appearance–and her beau, Richard Perry the record producer responsible for Barbra’s great hit. “Stoney End.” Both Fonda and Streisand got standing ovations from the star studded crowd. Also at their table: hit songwriter Carole Bayer Sager and her husband, former Warner Bros. chief Bob Daly.
Streisand would have to wait about three and a half hours before another Oscar winner, Jennifer Hudson, came to pay tribute to her with renditions of “People” and “The Way We Were.” Each was spectacular. Hudson told me she’s lost 56 pounds in preparation for playing Winnie Mandela in an upcoming movie. She did it the natural way, nothing nuts. “Just a lot of walking and not a lot of eating!” she said.
But before that, Barbra got to see and hear the Black Eyed Peas, Fergie with Slash, Harry Connick Jr. solo and with Carrie Underwood, Maxwell, Ke$ha, and Carlos Santana’with Rob Thomas, and a blistering Mary J. Blige.
Barbra’also got to see what a Clive Davis party is really like: everyone from Chace Crawford to producer Brian Grazer, from Quincy Jones to’Berry Gordy to Englebert Humperdinck to Prince Abdulla of Bahrain. And in between: Wyclef Jean with his wife’ Marie Claudinette and brother Sam Jean; Rob Thomas and wife Marisol, Jon Bon Jovi and Richie Sambora, Jackie Collins, Joan Collins and Percy Gibson, Barbara Davis, Nikki Haskell. Jay Z, Jamie Foxx (who closed the show with a blockbuster R&B set), Diane Warren, Desmond Child, Frank DiLeo, Lyor Cohen and Tory Burch, Alice Cooper– yes, Alice Cooper!–as well as Taylor Swift, Usher, Phil Ramone, Gayle King, Adam Lambert, Randy Jackson, Ryan Seacrest, Russell Brand and Katy Perry, Les’ Moonves and Julie Chen, L.A. Reid, and AEG’s Randy Phillips and Rod Stewart’s manager Arnold Stiefel. And the mayor of Los Angeles.
The amazing this, the party is still the hottest ticket in town. And deservedly so. As Ryan Seacrest quipped, you always know the date of the Grammy Awards. It’s the day after Clive’s party.
There is never disappointment. For Streisand, she was knocked out–not only by Jennifer Hudson’s towering tribute. She told her tablemates that she’d like to try some Black Eyed Peas songs. Of course, when Fergie sang Aerosmith’s “Sweet Child of Mine” with Slash on guitar, it was a pinnacle among many.
Mary J. Blige tore through “I See Colors,” peeling the paint right off the walls. Earlier, she’d had some drama with her song, “No More Drama,” chastising the band for making a mistake.
Jane Fonda liked Maxwell, whom she’d never seen before. Later, a backstage insider told me that Maxwell–whom Jackie Collins rightly pronounced a new Marvin Gaye–was “so nervous he was shaking and had to be calmed down.” Then he came out, sang, danced and did a split, seeming cool as a cuke.
And wait, more names: Kelsey Grammer. David Foster. Johnny Wright. Penny Marshall. Chick Corea. Jill Goodacre (Mrs. Connick). Lots of record execs, movie execs. Barry Weiss. Tom Courson. Richard Palmese. Larry Jackson. Sylvia Rhone. Mel Lewinter.
Best bit of the night: Harry Connick, who can be hilarious, showed off his fake “Clive swag”: a skateboard he’d made up with Clive’s peering eyes, Clive stamps, and Clive apron. “They’re available out front,” Harry quipped. No kidding: watch tonight’s Grammy-cast. There will be a Clive announcement. I’m not allowed to say, but it’s very, very nice.
And where was Whitney Houston? On tour, and not one bit upset about her lack of Grammy noms. She’s got plenty. And Alicia Keys? Also busy promoting her album, still in the top 10 and selling like hotcakes. She missed this year’s early deadline. Her own non Jay Z version of “Empire State of Mind” is number 3 in the UK and soon to chart stateside as well.