Saturday, June 15, 2024

Jon Bon Jovi on Richie Sambora’s Exit from the Band: “It’s Not a Life Sentence”


Jon Bon Jovi and his wife Dorothea certainly must have a painting of themselves aging in attic. Just past 50, this couple looks like a million bucks. They’re also among the nicest people anywhere. I ran into them last night at the after party for Jon Stewart’s important debut film, “Rosewater,” at the Stone Rose restaurant in the Time Warner Center. Was it a hot party? I also ran into the great actress Debra Winger, who never goes to anything. On an off topic, we joked– as we often do– about her sparse resume. She’s very picky about her roles. “But I’m reading things now!” she insisted.

Meanwhile, Jon Bon Jovi: it’s ridiculous that his group isn’t in the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. But there’s obviously some antipathy between him and Jann Wenner, the Hall’s puppeteer, after being passed over some time. Bon Jovi represents exactly what Rock and Roll was about before corporate titans took it over: ambitious local kids turn a garage band into international powerhouse with a fervent following. But the deficiencies of the Rock Hall are too numerous to repeat here.

Bon Jovi told me he’s getting over a serious depression after losing his bid (with partners) to buy the Buffalo Bills football team. “I devoted two years to that project,” he said with a shrug of shoulders. “But I’m coming out of it now.” I did ask Jon what the story was with lead guitarist Richie Sambora. He left Bon Jovi’s Because We Can tour in April 2013 and never looked back. Again, Jon seems a little perplexed: “He quit. He’s gone. No hard feelings. Being in a band isn’t a life sentence.” Fans will always hope that somehow all of this will work itself out. And it might: Bon Jovi, as a band, is 10 years younger than most of the legacy groups playing right now. And, to quote a song, who says you can’t go home?

As for Stewart, he’s taken some knocks as a first time director. But “Rosewater” is an important film with a strong core performance by Gael Garcia Bernal as Iranian-Canadian journalist Maziar Bahari. He was taken hostage in Iran and held– and brutalized– for 118 days. The reason he was taken was because of a comedy sketch on Stewart’s “The Daily Show” in which it was joked that Bahari was a spy. Upon his release Bahari wrote a book, and now Stewart– maybe out of a sense of guilt, and certainly one of responsibility–has made the movie. This Friday, “Rosewater” is a must see release.

And hey–I asked Jon Stewart about Bon Jovi coming to his premiere: “It’s the New Jersey connection,” he joked. “We have to stick together!”

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman began his Showbiz411 column in April 2009 after 10 years with Fox News, where he created the Fox411 column. His movie reviews are carried by Rotten Tomatoes, and he is a member of both the movie and TV branches of the Critics Choice Awards. His articles have appeared in dozens of publications over the years including New York Magazine, where he wrote the Intelligencer column in the mid 90s and covered the OJ Simpson trial, and Fox News (when it wasn't so crazy) where he covered Michael Jackson. He is also the writer and co-producer of "Only the Strong Survive," a selection of the Cannes, Sundance, and Telluride Film festivals, directed by DA Pennebaker and Chris Hegedus.

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