Saturday, February 24, 2024

Kevin Costner Kicks Off Clive Davis Glittering Night of Stars With Speech That Brings Himself and Audience to Tears


There have been 40 years of Clive Davis pre-Grammy parties but nothing like the one last night at the Beverly Hilton. It’s been three years since the last gala because of the pandemic, and 11 years since Whitney Houston died. Because of that, Clive emailed Kevin Costner, Whitney’s co-star in “The Bodyguard,” and asked if he’d come and introduce him and talk about the great singer.

No one could have predicted that Costner would give such an emotional speech about Clive and Whitney that the whole room of celebrities and A listers would fall silent and tear up. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house including Costner as the “Yellowstone” star when he said to Clive: “Neither of us could protect our beloved Whitney. Thank you for being her bodyguard. Everyone gets a mom, Not everyone has a Clive.”

As for the culture of pop music, Costner added: “Clive is the man who changed the times we live in.”

And so the night began with stunning performances by Jennifer Hudson, Elvis Costello and Juanes, Lizzo, Sheryl Crow, Maneskin, Lauren Daigle, Latto, Lil Wayne, Lil Baby, and ended with a sensational Myles Frost performing Michael Jackson hits from “MJ The Musical.” Wow!

JHud’s rendition of Whitney’s “The Greatest Love of All” was such a tribute to Houston, all of heaven was probably paying attention. I hope there’s video of it somewhere. Hudson told me backstage that when her hit talk show goes on summer vacation she’s going to make a Christmas album and a pop one. “I haven’t given up my recording career, don’t worry!”

But the other Big Moment was Frankie Valli bringing the crowd to their feet and singing along with him loudly on “Can’t Take My Eyes off of You.” He’s 88 years old and hasn’t lost a step! His gorgeous falsetto, accompanied Rickey Minor’s swinging band, was infectious. Hundreds of people in black tie were waving their hands in the air and singing “Oh pretty baby, if it’s quite alright” at the top of their lungs!

Oh yes and Lizzo — dressed better than ever– actually shook her tail feather. Great voice!

So who was there? Tables and tables of familiar faces. One group included Joni Mitchell, Judy Collins, Stephen Stills and Peter Asher. Verdine White of Earth Wind and Fire was there, so was — and here we go — Sharon Stone, Demi Lovato, Yolanda Adams, Apple’s Tim Cook, Netflix’s Ted Sarandos with wife Nicole Avant her famous father Clarence; plus Olivia Rodridgo, Diane Warren, Michele Lee, legendary Laugh In-creator George Schlatter, Janelle Monae, Richie Sambora, Lil Nas X, Nile Rodgers, Whitney’s producer Narada Michael Walden, Olivia Harrison, Rita Wilson and Tom Hanks, famed hit songwriter Max Martin, Brandi Carlile, the OG hit songwriter Valerie Simpson. Wait — I have to take a breath!

Did I mention that Sheryl Crow sat down at the piano and sang a tribute to Fleetwood Mac’s Christine McVie– two songs– “Songbird” and “Say That You Love Me”?

Biggest ovation of the night: for Nancy and Paul Pelosi. Huge standing ovation, and everyone came to their table to tell Nancy she’s their hero and express concern about Paul. But he’s okay. Amazing but true. Thank goodness!

More star names: HER Music aka Gabby Wilson, Jimmy Jam and Terry Lewis, Deborah Cox, Melissa Etheridge, Miranda Lambert, Denise Rich, Candy Spelling, Nikki Haskell. Somehow, Smokey Robinson and Motown’s Suzanne dePasse made it there after being up all the night before!

A fun moment: when Myles Frost took the stage singing “BIllie Jean,” Tony winner Adrienne Warren — who was so great as Tina Turner on Broadway — ran to the foot of the stage and started dancing up a storm. Very cute.

Swizz Beatz gave a wise and witty toast to the 50th anniversary of hip hop and rap. Cardi B, also very cute and very funny, toasted Atlantic Records’ Julie Greenwald and Craig Kallman on reinventing Atlantic Records. Other guests ranged from new mom Paris Hilton to Charlie Puth. There were hitmakers everywhere, as Clive pointed out, all joined by their love of music. I even met Machine Gun Kelly and Megan Fox. (They were very nice. She is sporting a splint on her hand from an on set accident.)

For many the night proceeded at the strike of midnight to the Polo Lounge at the Beverly Hills Hotel where Deborah Cox led a round table of around 20 people singing “Bohemian Rhapsody” and “Sweet Caroline.” They may still be there!

You can’t say enough about Clive Davis two months shy of 91 years young. His joie de vivre puts everyone to shame. His enthusiasm for the music biz, and for life, should be taught in schools!

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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