Thursday, May 30, 2024

Heard (Not Amber) Around Town: All About Johnny Depp, Downton Abbey, Garland Jeffreys, and Jada


Just thinking back over the last couple of months…

At a big premiere right after the Oscars, back in New York, I ran into Lin Manuel Miranda. I asked him if he’d heard that James Corden parodied his hit song as “We Don’t Talk About Bruno” as “We Don;t Talk About Jada” a day after the slapping incident? Miranda was stunned and laughed. “Already?” he said. “I heard about it. but I haven’t seen it…”

“Downtown Abbey: A New Era” had quite the premiere party at Tavern on the Green. Elizabeth McGovern told us that when the actor playing Dr. Clarkson had to give her character the news about her condition, he couldn’t say it. “There were a lot of takes and a lot of laughing over pernicious anemia,” she told me. And that’s strange because at the end of the TV series, another character, Lord Merton, suffered from the same malady, also diagnosed by Dr. Clarkson…

There were tears and cheers May 25th at Rockwood Music Club on the Bowery. Sting and Trudie Styler hosted a long overdue memorial gathering for their friend and Sting’s road manager of four decades, Billy Francis. Billy was a famous curmudgeon with a heart of gold who, Sting’s band members said in their speeches, scared them so much they showed up a half hour before each show. Styler opened the program with a beautiful poem, Sting sang his song, “The Empty Chair.” and everyone agreed that Billy would have “fucken hated this.” It was lovely…

Here’s a plot for a rock and roll sitcom: Todd Rundgren, induced into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame last year, is going on a David Bowie tribute tour. One of the other musicians is Royston Langdon, whose group Spacehog was a big hit in the 2000s. Now follow this: Langdon was married to and has a son with Liv Tyler, daughter of Steven Tyler and Bebe Buell. But Liv was raised til the age of 9 as Rundgren’s child, as Tyler was not available. Todd attended the couple’s wedding, which ended in divorce many years ago…

Garland Jeffreys is New York’s favorite rocker going back 40 years. One of Bruce Springsteen and Lou Reed‘s pals, Jeffreys recently retired from performing but his music, songs like “Wild in the Streets,” keeps being heard in movies and TV. Now his wife, Claire, has created a Kickstarter account to finish a long overdue documentary about Garland called “The King of In Between.”. You can find it here. Claire writes: “The film takes us through a panorama of New York: working as a “stock boy” in a Coney Island booth, sneaking into Manhattan to see Nina Simone and Miles Davis, befriending Lou Reed at Syracuse University, becoming an early disciple of Swami Satchidinanda in the East Village’s “peace and love” days, playing iconic clubs like Max’s Kansas City and Reno Sweeney, touring throughout Europe and releasing successful albums in the latter half of his career, and closing with his all-star tribute retirement shows at City Winery.

A personal memory of Johnny Depp: several years ago after the premiere “The Rum Diaries,” Depp played with his band at the club under the Maritime Hotel. It was very exciting because Keith Richards, then in “Pirates” movies with Depp, played with them. Even though the press was invited to the screening at the SVA Theater, we were not allowed to go inside and watch. “Johnny doesn’t want any press inside,” said the frustrated publicist. We were told we could watch through the Maritime’s basement windows. “The Rum Diaries” was a flop, by the way…

This Wednesday will offer two different chances for the A List to get COVID. Not satisfied with the Met Ball or White House Correspondent’s Dinner, the next opportunities include the Time 100 gala and the premiere of Jennifer Lopez‘s infomercial documentary at the Tribeca Festival. The latter will take place at the United Place Theater in Washington Heights, which is nowhere near Tribeca and seats 800 people. The Time gala will will include Apple CEO Tim Cook, Prime Minister Mia Mottley, filmmaker Taika Waititi, athlete Dwyane Wade, producer Mindy Kaling, former U.S. Senator John Kerry, musician Jon Batiste, and Bill Gates.

Luckily, Jon Batiste already got COVID when he performed at the Met Ball last month. The others are on their own!

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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