Monday, June 13, 2022. Beautiful weather through the weekend in New York with temps in the low- to mid-70s and lots of sunshine yesterday.
The greenery all over the city looks richer, fuller, and more abundant this Springtime. I’m never quite sure if it’s my lack of memory or if indeed, it is greener. An abundance of it in my neighborhood because of the nearby park. It almost looks like there isn’t enough room for it all. Beautiful.
Last night was a big one in New York. Sunday night events in New York have a special quality to them. They usually don’t have any competition, and they bring out a notable audience attending — including all kinds of stars from the arts and entertainment. As well as the hoi polloi of whatever set they set. A New York night.
It’s a celebration of lasting good news for all of us. This year was the 75th Anniversary evening of the Tony Awards, and held at Radio City Music Hall. Whew, and we got here!
Also last night, was the premiere screening at the Beacon Theatre on Broadway and 74th of Hallelujah: Leonard Cohen, A Journey, A Song, a documentary film chronicling life of Leonard Cohen, poet, songwriter, musician.
The press releases all refer to him as legendary. He was a poet and it was the voice. I can still hear it in my head and he came along to these ears back in the early ’60s. He was representative of change to this listener’s generation. It was serious and it was beautiful. Or maybe the word is inwardly comforting.
The film’s co-directors and co-producers Dan Geller and Dayna Goldfine give us an “exploration of an artist and his process.” The story is told by those who knew him well and loved him including Clive Davis also a legend from that era to — amazingly — this world of ours; along with Judy Collins, a very close friend who was instrumentally helpful in Cohen’s career, as well as a brilliantly effective performer of his work. We learn about his beginnings as a child from a wealthy family in Montreal as well as his multi-year stint experience in a Zen monastery.
The film also focuses on the writing, recording and singing of the song “Hallelujah” with many artists performing including Bono, Rufus Wainwrights, Bob Dylan and k.d. lang.
The screening was held at 6 p.m. And then! There was a musical performance in tribute to Mr. Cohen on the stage of the Beacon with Judy Collins, Amanda Shires, Sharon Robinson and Daniel Seavey. Unfortunately I wasn’t there but our friend and contributor Paige Peterson filled us in.
Judy sang a perfect version of “Suzanne,” which was first published as a poem in 1966. Judy recorded it as a song the same year. Then Cohen recorded it for his 1967 album “Songs of Leonard Cohen” and on his debut single.
If you recall, Paige hosted her book party for Louis Nelson’s new book “MOSAIC” which we covered here last week. Coincidentally, Judy, who is married to Mr. Nelson, also performed a song at the piano at Paige’s.
I love her voice. I’ve got to know her a bit over the years. She’s one of those artists who is very much like her art. There’s a serenity, melodious that’s … comforting. This was the era of Liberations and the Vietnam War which divided this country mainly by generations. It was uprooting and upsetting and in many ways liberating after the fact. The voices and words and music of Judy Collins and Leonard Cohen were part of the mainstream. A comfort. Serious but also, a comfort.
I appreciate the fact that fate connected me with Judy Collins so that I could get to know her as a person. Although, her presence and her music are so closely related as to be one (in my imagination). I didn’t make the party for Louis Nelson but I did run into her at Michael’s this past Wednesday. Coincidentally JH was there also lunching with Lee Fryd who did a great piece on a concert and a gala benefit evening at St. Bartholomew’s Church with its monumental Pipe Organ (it has 12,422 pipes built into the Byzantine walls and domed ceiling!). Thanks to that JH got a shot of me … with Her.
The people you meet along the way. That’s New York for you. Getting back to last night in the big town. Saturday night I was invited dinner at Sette Mezzo by Alex Hitz who was hosting a foursome for Candy Spelling who was in town from Hollywood for the Tonys — along with Nikki Haskell, a longtime friend of Mrs. Spelling.
However, Alex was in Palm Beach last week was planning to fly back to New York Saturday morning but his flight was canceled.
So it was the three of us, Nikki, me and Candy Spelling. Mrs. Spelling is a longtime prominent member of the community I refer to as Hollywood. Her late husband Aaron Spelling was one of the most successful film and television producers in Hollywood history. In his day at those races he was Numero Uno in the mogul department. He was also known as a very nice man which is not always a quality regarded as “mogul.”
The Spellings were also famous for living in the largest and most spectacular mansion in Beverly Hills. 54,000 square feet for the residence and an additional 23,000 square feet for storage. She also had an English butler whom I knew because he had previously been the butler for Edie Goetz, the eldest daughter of Louis B. Mayer and widow of Bill Goetz (20th Century-Fox/Universal-International).
Why am I telling you all this? I ask myself. Because it comes naturally, so great was my fascination with the film colony and the characters who made it up into another world — a fabulous one for the center of the sunbeam — but descended from the the people next door (once upon a time). Except these people live in their version of castles and they reign, in the general atmosphere. I’m sure Hollywood today is not quite that place anymore — transformed as everything else has been transformed into a corporate system, devoid of the fun of it.
Mrs. Spelling, Candy, however, was a very nice woman to have dinner with. She off-handedly described herself as shy and in the course of the evening while Nikki and I talked ad infinitum, she mainly listened. She was here in town because she’s a major investor/producer on Broadway (Mr. Saturday Night and MJ were nominated for multiple Tony awards of which Candy is a producer; MJ won four awards last night!). I didn’t ask her about her business but she is a woman who likes challenges and building. She is also a mother to Tori (forever known as the beloved Donna Martin) and her son who lives in the northwest and has a serious occupation far from Show Business.
I told her that we actually sat at the same table at the 53rd birthday dinner for RJ Wagner which took place at his house in Mandeville Canyon that he shared with his wife Jill St. John. It was a big crowd. Even Fred Astaire was there. That was 37 years ago! Time flies when you’re in a hurry; or so it seems in retrospect.