“Fela!” got rave reviews, even at almost three hours, when it premiered last night on Broadway. But the big move to attract celebrities fizzled. Jay Z showed up (no Beyonce). New co-producers Will and Jada Smith stayed in Los Angeles. Their excuse was that Will’s 16 year-old son Trey needed attention after a sports injury.
For a while, Alicia Keys was being touted for the guest list, but she, too, didn’t materialize. (Come on, she’s finishing her album ‘ it’s due in a couple of weeks!) Back to her in a minute.
The bold-faced names that did show were fine but not the dazzlement promised: Ben Stiller, legends Harry Belafonte and Judith Jamison, “Precious” director Lee Daniels, Gayle King,’ Lou Reed, and actor Bobby Cannavale. You know things are bad when the photographers are submitting pictures of the investors.
But then again, last night we had the Rosie thing, and Armani had a dinner party for Cate Blanchett’s “Streetcar Named Desire” cast. There was also a screening of a Zac Efron movie. And Robin Williams was raking in some big names over at Town Hall.
A lot of people I met during the day at a lunch for famed director Jim Sheridan and his movie, “Brothers,” had never even heard of “Fela!” Here was the funny story of the day. Actor-playwright Sam Shepard has a two-man play opening in Dublin called “Ages of the Moon.” He wrote it especially for Stephen Rea (”The Crying Game”) and Sean McGinley. Then he got word ‘ along with Irishmen Sheridan and director Terry George ‘‘that “Irish actor Sean McGinley was dead.”
“It’s not possible,” said Sheridan. “I just talked to him.”
“But they said he’s dead,” insisted Shepard.
So they called McGinley to make sure, and dammit, he’s alive!
“There must be some other actor in Dublin named Sean McGinley!” George exclaimed over the “Brothers” lunch at the Monkey Bar.
Imagine that: another Irish actor named Sean McGinley! Rest in peace. (In fact, it was a completely different man, a Sean McGinley very respected for Irish comedy and not the one in the Shepard play.)
As for “Fela!”: if they didn’t know about McGinley, don’t get them started. And to think, the publicist for the dance musical and all the producers kept insisting it was the hottest ticket in town. Oh well.
And then there was Elvis Duran and Nick Parker of Z100 radio. It’s the country’s number 1 pop station, on FM but like an old AM station of ‘Top 40 hits. Elvis is a famous deejay. Nick makes the station sound good. Elvis, a New York legend, is an old friend of Rosie O’Donnell’s. At the “Broadway Kids” after party, he told me the only current pop star he really liked listening to from the station’s playlist is Lady GaGa.
“She grew up in New York. When she came in to the studio she was so happy to hear her record on Z100. She said so,” Duran told me.
Elvis Duran also likes Alicia Keys a lot. He has a special version of her “Empire State of Mind” on his website.‘It’s really cool, a much better take than even the hit record. It shows why we feel Alicia is such a great artist. Check it out. You can actually hear the lyrics, and Alicia’s melody separated from Jay Z’s rap and the Moments sample. (There’s also a great take on Alicia’s new single, “Try Sleeping with a Broken Heart.”) “Empire” is the song and record of the year, certainly. Only problem is it missed the official Grammy deadline by a week. Hmmmm….
Elvis Duran doesn’t like the new Rihanna single too much, but they’re playing it anyway at Z100. He doesn’t have much control over the playlist. z100 is a Clear Channel station, which means a robot in Houston does the programming. We offered him a Rolex watch (just kidding!) to play Melinda Doolittle, but he didn’t bite. “Every once in a while I try to slip something interesting in,” he did say. Funny guy. I’m going to start paying closer attention to his show…