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Samuel L. Jackson, Angela Bassett Get Some “Respect” on “The Mountaintop”

Last night, Samuel L. Jackson and Angela Bassett got a nice surprise after their Broadway performance of “The Mountaintop.” The Queen of Soul, Miss Aretha Franklin, brought six friends, paid for the tickets, and then visited them backstage. Franklin — [resplendent in a fake fur trimmed cape– was blown away by the play, which runs until January 22nd. And Aretha should know. She marched with Dr. Martin Luther King, sang to raise money for him, and has a pretty good handle on the man and his ideas. She told me later she thought Jackson did an excellent job. But Angela Bassett, playing a motel maid who has an interesting other life (I don’t want to give it away), steals the show, Aretha said.

“It’s very deep stuff,” she told the pair. Franklin is in New York for her annual Christmas shopping trip, taking her big tour bus in from Detroit. On Friday she appears on “Late Night with Jimmy Fallon,” where she’ll sing two songs and do a skit with him, too. She’s an avid viewer. “I love Jimmy Fallon,” she said. Tomorrow she hits another Broadway show, “Follies,” to see Bernadette Peters. And sometime over the week she’ll be making her Aretha’s Famous Chili in the kitchen of her five star hotel suite! But Franklin, who’s lost about 80 lbs this year, started the evening with Dover sole and pea soup at La Grenouille, and a bite or two of their famous chocolate-and-orange cake. Long live the Queen of Soul!

PS Don’t miss “The Mountaintop.” It’s extraordinary. And the big show will be on January 15th, when the duo perform on MLK’s birthday. It will an emotional event.