Barbra Streisand and James Brolin were surprise guests last night at the Clinton Global Initiative’s annual dinner and awards event at the Sheraton. There were other Hollywood and A list types around–designer Donna Karan, Heather Graham, Jeffrey Wright, plus married actors Michael McKean and Annette O’Toole, who presented an award. But Streisand and Brolin packed the most punch, especially since she introduced honoree Sting before he performed an outstanding set with trumpetmeister Chris Botti on horn including “Englishman in New York,” and “Every Breath You Take.”
Morgan Freeman introduced both Sting and his activist/actress/producer wife Trudie Styler, as they were cited for 25 years of work on the greatly successful Rainforest Foundation. Styler, hot off a short run in the UK in a play, spoke eloquently about their experiences helping save indigenous peoples. Streisand was so wowed by the couple, particularly Sting, that she told me later she wants the British rocker on her next album of duets. “I think our voices would go well together,” Barbra said.
She’s currently on the charts with her magnificent album of Alan and Marilyn Bergman songs, called “What Matters Most.” But she’s so impressed with Tony Bennett‘s new “Duets II” album that she wants to do one of her own. (Barbra and Tony share a famous A&R man, Jay Landers.)
When I told Streisand she could have her current version of “Windmills of Your Mind” remixed for dance clubs by deejays like Mark Ronson, she narrowed her eyes and said, “Really?” Yes, really.
Brolin, meantime, one of the nicest guys in the world, told me he’s getting ready to direct an indie film in January.
But back to the Clinton Global Initiative Dinner–the other honorees were quite remarkable. One of the guests was Zimbabwe’s courageous prime minister, Morgan Tsvangirai. He’s the opposition leader, supposedly sharing power with the deranged dictator Robert Mugabe. Tsvangirai’s wife was killed in a suspicious car crash in 2009 soon after he was sworn in. Bill Clinton cited him at the end of last night’s dinner and show, assuring him that everyone is rooting for him.
Sting was not the only performer last night. K’naan, the remarkable performer from Somalia, did a knock out set. He also showed a video of returning to Mogadishu to help with the exruciating famine. K’naan came to prominence two summers ago with his World Soccer anthem, “Waving Flag.” His new album is due later this fall from James Diener‘s Octone/A&M Records. I wrote him about a year ago after seeing K’naan perform at a Haiti benefit hosted by Matt Damon. He’s only gotten better. Keep an eye out for K’naan.