UPDATE SUNDAY 11/11 AM: Jimmy Fallon will not be attending. He’s in LA for the People’s Choice Awards. Alec Baldwin has dropped out because of his current legal problems.
EARLIER On Monday, the Friars Club will throw a blow out gala at the former Ziegfeld Theater to honor Billy Crystal. It’s highly unlikely they’ve told him what’s really going on at the club.
Club insiders say they will also honor, on the same program, a man named Rinaldo Nistico, who goes by the name “Ronnie Shoes” or “Ronnie Copa.” Nistico was indicted and settled a case in 2004 for assault. The NY Post reported then that Nistico had two prior arrests and convictions on weapons charges in 1990 and 1996.
Nistico is only a recent addition the Friars with less than a year at the club. No one I spoke to has any idea why he’s being honored as a Friars Icon. At the beginning of this year he was also named “Friar of the Year.” By coincidence, sources tell me that since Nistico’s appearance on the scene, so called open “town hall” type meetings at the Club now include “beefy looking security guards. Why? “In case something happens.”
One member joked that with an ongoing federal investigation (see further down), the Crystal gala could be like the wedding in “The Godfather.” “Remember all those agents taking down license plate numbers?” he joked.
Insiders are calling the event an “Analyze This/Analyze That” reunion as Billy played a shrink in the two comedies to Robert DeNiro’s gangster. DeNiro may attend the event to toast Crystal. If he does, it would be the height of irony.
The Friars Club, meanwhile, is said to be drowning in red ink while it awaits word on an ongoing investigation by the US Postal Inspection Service– aka the Feds– instigated by former US Attorney Preet Bharara. I’m told the Club recently secured a $2 million loan as membership fees keep rising and members keep leaving.
While all this is going on, Bruce Charet, who caused a sexual harassment suit at the club recently settled for at least a million dollars, is still on the scene. Charet, a close friend of ex CBS chief Les Moonves, was seen in the club last week. He may be organizing celebrities for Monday’s gala. The red carpet on Monday should be interesting. I’ve heard names like
Jimmy Fallon, Tony Bennett, Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese, and so on.
Meanwhile, the Friars– a registered tax free foundation– still hasn’t filed a new tax return Form 990 since 2015. Their last return covered July 2014 through July 2015. Since then, crickets. I queried Friars chief exec Michael Gyure by email for a copy of newer returns– required by law– but again, silence.