What a night for the 20 plus year Rainforest Foundation: Trudie Styler produced her biennial all-star fundraiser at Carnegie Hall, probably the best ever with Sting, Elton John, James Taylor, Jennifer Hudson, Roseanne Cash, Esperanza Spaulding, Vince Gill, Bruno Mars, opera great Bryn Terfel, Rita Wilson, Meryl Streep, and Channing Tatum with his gorgeous dancer wife Jenna, and special guest Bill Clinton. They raised millions more for the preservation of the Rainforest and its indigenous people.
So many highlights but probably no one will ever forget Elton John singing ‘Diamonds Are a Girl’s Best Friend’ while Channing Tatum, wearing a vest and no shirt underneath, plus a black bowler, danced around him as if he were in the show, ‘Chicago’. It was hilarious. Jennifer Hudson, of course, blew the doors off the building singing ‘And I’m Telling You’ from ‘Dreamgirls’. It wasn’t so easy: sitting front and center were none other than Clive Davis and Aretha Franklin. Tom Hanks sat above everyone in a theater box, watching wife Rita belt out tunes. It turns she is a mighty fine singer; her album comes out in May from Decca. Tom was beaming, Later, at dinner at the Pierre Hotel, some paid $26,000 at auction for Hanks to record their voice mail messages.
Styler, who directed the show, spoke urgently and passionately about the needs of the people of the rainforest. The other key speaker was Bill Clinton, who can motivate any crowd. He told me that Hillary could be in the White House in 2016. ”I’m getting in trouble this week,” he laughed. Clinton stayed at the Pierre a long time, talked to everyone, and signed everything. He’s a charmer, that’s for sure.
But back to the show, called ”Songs of the Silver Screen”. Sting had a surprise hit with the dark theme from MASH, called ‘Suicide is Painless’. Steep was a standout on ‘When You Wish Upon A Star’ and the two performed a duet of ‘Let’s Call the Whole Thing Off’. During the intermission, Clinton told Trudie and Sting how much he loved Roseanne Cash’s version of ‘Ode t Billie Joe’. ”That song was a big deal when it was released,” he recalled. The hits just kept on coming all night, with each artist spot-on. You know that every two years Styler picks these people because their live performance skills are so exact. James Taylor’s voice soared the hall on ‘Shall We Dance’, and he twirled Rita Wilson around the stage. When Elton John sang ‘Rock Around the Clock’ and Bruno Mars did ‘Heartbreak Hotel’, the whole cast – from Sting to Streep to the dancing Tatums – did the Twist. The staging worked because all the performers sat in director’s chairs on stage through the three hour show.
Revlon chairman Ronald Perelman – who underwrote the night – came with his wife Anna and daughter Samantha, accepting kudos on the birth of his 8th child. Sting was happy to see his old record company boss, Jerry Moss. Aretha Franklin was tickled to meet Bryn Terfel, who praised her recording of ‘Nessum Dorma’. Famed New York Times photographer snapped some shots of Trudie Styler with actress daughter Mickey and actresss stepdaughter Kate, then asked me: ”Who were those girls with Trudie? Are they models?” Three more Sumner kids were on hand, as well, leaving just Sting’s eldest son Joe, who’s in LA awaiting the birth of his first child. Sting, 60, is about to become a grandfather. ”I didn’t think I was ready.” he told me before the show, ”but then they told me, and I am ready.”
Here’s the rundown of the show:
If I Only Had A Brain – Sir Elton John/Sting/Meryl Streep
Somewhere Over The Rainbow – James Taylor
I Can’t Stop Loving – Vince Gill
All I Have To Do Is Dream – Vince Gill/Rita Wilson
Dream The Impossible Dream – Bryn Terfel
Moon River – Sir Elton John
Ode To Billie Joe – Roseanne Cash
Unchained Melody – Bruno Mars/Sir Elton John
Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off – Meryl Streep/Sting
Ol’ Man River – James Taylor
Singing In The Rain – Sting
Speech – Trudie Styler
And I’m Telling You – Jennifer Hudson
When You Wish Upon A Star – Meryl Streep/Sting
Roxanne – Bryn Terfel/Channing Tatum/Jenna Tatum
Suicide Is Painless – Sting
Everybody’s Talkin’ – Roseanne Cash
Shall We Dance – James Taylor
Diamonds Are A Girl’s Best Friend – Sir Elton John
Pretty Woman – Vince Gill
The Weight – Jennifer Hudson
Be Bop A Lula – Sting
Rock Around The Clock – Sir Elton John
Jailhouse Rock – Bruno Mars
You Can’t Always Get What You Want – All