You do think of Tom Hanks as clean cut, and he is: married 21 years next week to Rita Wilson, father of four, winner of two Oscars, he is Hollywood’s good guy, for real.

But things got a little out of hand last night at the Lincoln Center Film Society tribute to Hanks at the newly renovated Alice Tully Hall. Several speakers had come and gone, all praising Hanks and relating anecdotes about working with him, when Julia Roberts hit the stage.

‘It’s late, I’m paying my baby sitter overtime, and I have to pee,’ Roberts declared at an all star audience that included Steven Spielberg, Mike Nichols and Elaine May, Bruce Springsteen and Patti Scialfa, Charlize Theron, Sally Field, Ron Howard, Julie Taymor, Jane Krakowski, Universal chief Ron Meyer, Sony Pictures head Amy Pascal, Geoffrey Rush, Jeremy Irons, Jeff Zucker, Bob Balaban, Christie Brinkley, Nora Ephron and more.

Roberts wasn’t finished. ‘Tom Hanks, what the f—?’ she announced, apropos of nothing except that playwright John Patrick Shanley, who’d just preceeded her, had used the f-word once, and in context. Roberts continued: ‘I’m wearing the same f’-ing dress as Tom’s publicist,’ she announced, showing off a summer dress to the audience.

A replay of a tape may show Roberts threw out a couple more verbal assaults before making this observation: ‘Sally Field played my mother in a film, too,’ she said to Hanks. ‘We’re brother and sister!’


There were plenty more tributes to Hanks through the two hour plus show which followed a no-press-allowed dinner for VIPS, celebrities, and the very wealthy in the all glass lobby of the new Alice Tully Hall. To keep gawkers out, the Film Society pulled down shades so the view was blocked. But enterprising photogs still got shots of celebs like Christopher Walken chowing down.

One highlight of the night was Springsteen and Scialfa, close friends of the Hankses, singing ‘Streets of Philadelphia,’ the Oscar winning song from the movie ‘Philadelphia.’

Springsteen jokingly told the crowd, ‘I met Tom Hanks in the bathroom at the Dorothy Chandler Pavilion. We were comparing the size of our Oscars.’ The couple seems to have weathered that crazy divorce scandal story from a couple of weeks ago without any trouble. Good for them!

Springsteen continued: ‘He [Hanks] has that whole regular guy shtick perfected, which I’ve perfected myself!’

Several of the other speeches revealed a little about Hanks’s personality and movies. We learned that he’s a great mimic, doesn’t like rehearsals, knows how to give impromptu toasts. He cut at least two scenes with Charlize Theron from ‘That Thing You Do.’ And he and Spielberg evidently remade the script of ‘Saving Private Ryan’ as they shot it.

Clips were shown from several of Hanks’s movies except, oddly, ‘Sleepless in Seattle.’ And although Meg Ryan has co-starred with him in three movies, she didn’t show up for the event. One excuse might be that she’s a juror down at the Tribeca Film Festival. But there was plenty of time for Ryan to make it uptown and say a few nice words about Hanks.

In the end, though, it was Hanks who spoke most eloquently. In a longish acceptance speech, he was funny and poignant, and very eloquent. He recited most of the words of Springsteen’s ‘Jungeland’ as he reviewed all his toast-ers, fondly thanking Wilson and crowing about son Colin’s current run on Broadway with Jane Fonda.

He did not talk much about his difficult childhood (it wasn’t good), and warmly pointed out members of Wilson’s family. He said, ‘In the end, we become artists to overcome loneliness.’

During the dinner hour ‘ the one press was banned from’I ran down to the New World Stages to see Rosie O’Donnell‘s Broadway Kids put on one of their terrific shows. Outside the theater I ran into another Hanks alum, Penny Marshall, who directed the star in his career making hit, ‘Big.’ She also directed him, and Rosie, in ‘A League of their Own.’

Why wasn’t she up at the Hanks extravaganza? Well, she hadn’t been invited, no one had told her about it, Rosie asked her to help with the fundraiser. ‘And this looks like more fun,’ Marshall said. She wasn’t far from right.

Rosie’s show was a home run as usual, with the kids from her after school program now all headed to performance art programs and high schools. It’s some accomplishment. PS Rosie did some PG rated standup before the show started, and she ‘killed.’

‘I could stay on all night, I can still do it,’ O’Donnell roared. She sure can. Bravo!


You know Cat Stevens. He’s also known as Yusuf Islam. Well, he’s recorded a new album, a bonus single, and a stand alone video. He’s also about to make two ‘surprise’ appearance concerts, in New York and Los Angeles, to promote all of this.

Most interestingly, the single and the video directly address the incident in 2004 when Islam was detained by the TSA when he tried to enter the United States and was sent home. Later it turned out to be a case of mistaken identity. Since then, the Cat’who has numerous, hummable hits’has been in the U.S. many times.

The detainment song is called ‘Boots and Sand.’ It features vocal appearances by Dolly Parton and Alison Krauss, and more prominently by Paul McCartney. For some strange reason, the song is a bonus track only to Islam’s new album, ‘Roadsinger,’ which hits stores and computers on May 5th.

The video version of ‘Boots and Sand’ is available through ITunes and Best Buy. Islam says in a press release, ‘The song has an amazing story and background. I’ve made it comical, but it is, of course, the story about my ill-fated journey to Nashville in 2004, when I was confronted by seven tall FBI officers who stopped me and my daughter, interrogated me, and finally put me on another plane and sent me back to London. They kept on asking me to spell my name.’

Jesse Dylan, son of Bob, and once the victim of con artist Dana Giacchetto, directed the video. They filmed it in the California desert.

Meantime, Islam/Stevens makes his ‘surprise’ shows on May 3 in New York at the Highline Ballroom and May 11th in Los Angeles at the El Ray Theater.’ The single from ‘Roadsinger,’ called ‘Thinking ‘Bout You,’ was released yesterday and shot to the top of the Amazon.com Movers and Shakers chart. This isn’t surprising: it’s pretty damn good, very reminiscent of the best of Cat Stevens and still new enough sounding to attract interest.

By the way, did you know that Stevens wrote the classic, ‘The First Cut is the Deepest’? It’s the same song covered by Sheryl Crow, and earlier, by Rod Stewart. You can hear it on his website’www.catstevens.com’from his 1967 album, ‘New Masters.’ You can also hear another early hit, ‘Here Comes My Baby,’ from his first album, ‘Matthew and Son,’ also on the site.


Six of the top ten albums are from Universal Music. Two are from Disney. One is from EMI. And one, just one, is from the Warner M Group on Atlantic Records.

In fact, in all of the top 50, not once does the name Warner Records appear. Atlantic Records does, a total of five times. And Roadrunner, which had a deal with Warner that is now over, has two.

So how did Goldman Sachs’s Ingrid Chung arrive at her decision to make WMG ‘neutral’? That decision sent WMG stock soaring from below $2 to its present $4.63. Well, soaring is a bit much. But you get the idea. WMG is non existent on the charts. The stock price remains bafflement.

Well, the day of reckoning is coming fast: WMG’s next earnings call is May 7th. I’d like to hear one of those high paid analysts ask the WMG honchos just how it is they maintain a record company without any hits.

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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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