Who was missing from “We Are the World”? Lady Gaga.
“They literally begged her to come,” a source told me yesterday. “She turned them down. She didn’t get it.”
Jay Z and Beyonce had no excuses. They were in town. So was Alicia Keys, who spent the weekend with boyfriend Swizz Beatz at the home of Paradigm Talent Agency chief Sam Gores and his wife, former soap star Jensen Buchanan. Alicia may have felt spread too thin between the Haiti telethon and her own Keep a Child Alive charity.
Other people whose absence seemed conspicuous: Justin Timberlake. Jennifer Lopez. Madonna.
The artists who did come had a great time. Al Jardine approached Enrique Iglesias about singing a Spanish song on his new album. India Arie had just come off a three-month writing sabbatical and was happy to return to work. Akon’s mother, a fan of “American Idol,” got to meet Randy Jackson. And everyone was exposed to the brilliance of Patti Austin.
The rappers also got their due. Around 8:30 p.m., Quincy Jones sent them all into studio B to trade freestylin’. But there were some glitches to work out. Soon will.i.am and LL Cool J were called into the principal’s office.
“I’m counting eight bars in,” Will said. He was concerned that the overlaps weren’t working.
“I don’t count bars,” LL Cool J responded.
Jones refereed, with bemusement. It will be interesting to hear the final result of the rap section. Snoop Dogg is in there, too. This suggests that there will be a couple of different mixes released.
Meanwhile, I do hope Paul Haggis includes this on the documentary: a moment when several members of the big chorus broke out spontaneously singing Bill Withers’ “Lean on Me.” It looked like the “fire” started around Mary Mary and spread through the middle. Even Barbra Streisand joined in. Soon the whole room was clapping and singing along. Withers’ music publisher should waive their rights on this one so the song can be cleared and included. It was’one joyous moment on an afternoon of many.