Friday, February 12, 2016

The big time

The Empire State Building. 4:00 PM. Photo: JH.
Friday, February 12, 2016. Very cold in New York, roadways white from the frost, and supposed to get colder this weekend.

I went down to Michael’s yesterday noontime and was surprised how many of the main thoroughfares were almost empty in midtown. My cab driver coming home told me it had been that way for the past day and night.  New Yorkers always complain about traffic, and now more than ever, but no traffic is weird in this town.

I missed Wednesday at Michael’s but went down there yesterday  for lunch yesterday with Patty Tang. It was busy, but quieter. Sigourney Weaver was lunching at the corner table.  Patty brought me a Cuban peso from her recent trip to Cuba. She said it was an interesting visit but the prices were surprisingly very high -- $200 for an ordinary lunch for four; and the food wasn’t very good. But Cuba is now a big draw and as she pointed out, it’s a beautiful country and will one day prosper. So bear that in mind if you’re going. But she loved it. I know the John Soane Foundation here in New York is making the voyage that several friends are going on the tour.

I got a look at the reservation list for Wednesday at Michael’s. Here’s part of the story: Joanne Danielides was hosting a birthday party for her friend Donna Hanover; Robi Levy was celebrating Courtney Hall going to L.A where it’s very warm these days; Steve Mosko, head of Sony Pictures; Susan Freedman with Vin Cipolla of the Municipal Art Society;  Tom Goodman of Goodman Media; Richard Gottlieb of Grey House Publishing; Sidney Shuman of Allen & Co.; Hugh Freund; George Green former Prez and CEO of Hearst Magazines; Dr. Imber & Co; Author Pamela Keogh;  philanthropist (Same Sky Jewelry),  Francine LeFrak; PR guru Lisa Linden of Linden, Atschuler & Kaplan, with Mary Murphy; Dan Lufkin, environmentalist supreme and investment banker; Quest  publisher Chris Meigher; Marc Rosen with Jessica Zahng; Jacqui Safra; Glenn Horowitz; Henry Schlieff, President and GM of the Disoovey Channel with Jeanine Pirro; Nick Verbitsky of United Stations; writer/producer Paul Blake; Barry Diller; Laurie Aronson of Haspel, her family’s label; Kim Light; Lynn Nesbit literary agent of Janklow & Nesbit; Liz Robbins with David Berg, David Alexander and Peter Duchin; Andrew Stein with Dana Hammond.

John Travolta in 2004 when we last saw him up close at the Museum of the Moving Image gala at the Waldorf.
Apropos of nothing. In yesterday’s Liz Smith column JH ran a photo of John Travolta as Robert Shapiro in the OJ Simpson “American Crime Story,” and I was reminded of the first time I saw him on screen (I never watched Welcome Back Kotter on television) in Saturday Night Fever.

It was in Stamford, Connecticut. I had houseguests for the weekend up there and on a Saturday night we all went down to the city center to see the picture. There were six or eight of us. We all knew the BeeGees’ music and owned their albums.

But Saturday Night Fever was a sensation, a wave inspiring energy. From the moment the picture started, through the credits to the very end, we were all ready to go. John Travolta was great as the kid from the boroughs looking toward the Big Apple for the big time, like the rest of us.

Afterwards we drove back up to my house in the hills north of the city, got out the album and danced the night away as if we were in the movie. That was almost forty years ago and at the time was the most natural reaction to the film.
Kelly Preston and John Travolta meeting and greeting friends and fans that night at the Waldorf.
Travolta posing with a fan while Kelly browses the evening's reading material.
Travolta captivated us all, New Yorkers all, either by birth or by choice. His character was a funny and curious and  engaging stereotype, someone to laugh at, but also to admire, and Travolta was totally believable.

But looking at that clip of him at the opening of the film and then at  him as Simpson’s lawyer Robert Shapiro, and then the photos JH took of him a few years ago (2004) here in New York at the Moving Image Gala. I was amazed to consider the breadth of the  man’s accomplishments and career. Forty years starring in film and still challenging himself as an actor, is an achievement. That’s not just luck. That’s the artist at work. Amazing.

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