Last night’s PBS “In Performance: Memphis Soul” live show from the White House was a hit. But it was also pretty interesting, say attendees who got a sneak peak at the backstage stuff. For one thing, Justin Timberlake–who everyone liked a lot — brought not one, not two but three bodyguards. Three — into the White House’s very small, invitation only, checked by passport number guest list. He actually may have had more protection than the Obamas.
Timberlake also got to have more guests than any of the other artists, the actual stars of Memphis soul. He brought wife Jessica Biel, plus his mother, stepfather, and annoying publicist. But sources say Timberlake was relaxed and funny. “He’s very quick,” said one backstager. “We had a lot of fun.” Timberlake also didn’t grab the whole show. Considering that his album, “The 20/20 Experience,” has been number 1 for three weeks and has sold 2 million copies worldwide, Timberlake had no demands. He sang one song, supported the other players, and was extremely congenial.
There was also high praise for producer Ken Ehrlich, who’d been in China almost up until the show went into rehearsal. Everything came smoothly, the song selections and players were great. It was a real coup to get Cyndi Lauper to sing “Try a Little Tenderness.” She didn’t want to do it. But Ehrlich was right. She killed. Ben Harper and Charlie Musselwhite gave the show some heft, too. And Sam Moore singing “When Something is Wrong with My Baby” was the piece de resistance.
But those bodyguards. Really. I was recently at a small private movie premiere at which every actor had one. It’s too funny.