Thursday, May 30, 2024

A Classic NY Night: Seinfeld, Tony Bennett, Paul Simon, Sting and All Star Rockers


Thursday was the kind of classic night New York night you only get when the stars line up just right.

At the Cort Theater, Paul Rudd and Michael Shannon, with Kate Arrington and the great veteran actor Ed Asner opened in a new play called “Grace.” The theater was literally jammed, with plenty of stars who were friends of the stars. Among them Carla Gugino, and Steven van Zandt with beautiful wife Maureen. The performances in “Grace” are all A plus, but Michael Shannon is the standout this time. And Ed Asner remains a treasure.

Then: quick, uptown to the Beacon Theater for Jerry Seinfeld’s kick off show of his fall tour. Colin Quinn did ten minutes of opening act, very funny, of course, riffing on New York subjects. Then Jerry, The Master: standing ovation. His 90 minute or so show is brilliant, topical, fresh. Years ago Jerry said getting married and having kids wouldn’t become his material. Of course, it has–I do think he’s found his groove there marrying his observational humor with the pace and gentility of the late Alan King. When he gets to that area of the night, it’s a mature Jerry you could never have imagined from the old days.

This is still a PG rated show, too. No cursing, nothing coarse, totally sophisticated, hilarious. The writing and delivery are sharper than ever.

But I prefer the riffs on cell phones, modern communications, language. His opening bit about the audience getting ready for the show is terrific. Jerry mixes in some old routines–star 69, etc–and it all works. The amazing thing is you don’t get tired of hearing the greatest hits. Seinfeld is more fluid than ever on stage, more relaxed, completely at home. Why is he there? He has no place else to be, he jokes. He wants to be out. You think it’s a show about nothing but it’s about everything, deftly woven together. There needs to be a real recording of this show. It’s like medicine. Are there still comedy albums? Wherever Jerry is, don’t miss him.

And back to Radio City for Paul Simon‘s Children’s Heath Initiative 25th anniversary fundraiser. Star studded? Some couples performed together–Sting and Trudie Styler--she was very very cute and sexy in her singing debut–performed after making a pit stop at Tony Bennett’s fundraiser for his Exploring the Arts. Rita Wilson sang and let Tom Hanks accompany her. James Taylor performed with his wife, Caroline. Stevie Wonder pretty much stole the night singing three numbers with daughter Aisha Morris. They also did “Loves Me Like a Rock” with Paul Simon.

It was literally a night of 100 stars: Vince Gill, Amy Grant and their kids; Steve Martin on banjo; Ann & Nancy Wilson; PAul Simon with talented daughter Lulu (also daughter of Edie Brickell); Ruben Blades with wife Lulu Mason–who has an astonishing voice; lots of videos and presentations– Hillary Clinton, Spike Lee, Julianne Moore, Oprah, Tina Fey. Lorne Michaels was a guest. Aaron Neville sang with Sting and Allen Toussaint. What a night!

Now the weekend comes– Mary Wilson of the Supremes plays a show in Fairfield, Connecticut tonight at the Edgerton Center Trudie Styler is off to be part of the Hamptons Film Festival jury. David Chase premiers his “Not Fade Away” at the New York Film Festival on Saturday and Hamptons Film Festival on Sunday. Steven Spielberg‘s “Lincoln” is the surprise screening Monday night at the New York Film Festival.

Roger Friedman
Roger Friedman
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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