Woody Allen

THE KOK --- Not only did Warner Bros., The Hangover Part II score the best opening of all time for a comedy at the box office, it grossed the most of any R-rated film in its first five days. Debuting last week on the eve of the long Memorial Day weekend, it earned $137.3 million through Monday; beating the $134.3 million earned by The Matrix Reloaded in its first five days. Here's one for the books: When music-producer Joel Diamond originally heard the "backer's audition" copy of “One Night In Bangkok” that was about to go into its Broadway production, he knew immediately that this was a #1 song. Without a moment's hesitation, he ran into the studio to cut a very contemporary recording with N.Y.'s top model at the time, Robey, and released it on his Silver Blue Records label; that went top 10 in Billboard. Says Diamond:“If I had known back then that Mike Tyson wanted to make his recording debut with this song (which he performs in the current Hangover 2 movie), my choice certainly would have been The Champ instead of the knockout.” Gotta love the Diamond-man! And, I'll say it again, Billy Joel's “The Downeaster Alexa” which figures prominently in the movie's soundtrack, is just a fabulous song; and, the third Hangover movie will be about the character Alan (Zach Galifianakis) and his upcoming nuptials … I'll bet the world on this one!


R.I.P. GIL SCOTT HERON --- Gil Scott-Heron, poet, songwriter, artist and really one of the first socially important artists ever, passed away last week at age 62. His struggles with drugs and illness and the law in recent years have been well documented, but he was one of those transformational artists whose efforts are still felt today. Truth be told; he probably did invent rap and world music. His song “In The Bottle” in 1974, was really a template for much of the r&b, and rap music that would follow. I was in college when I first heard the song and was amazed not only by the hypnotic music, but also the social-raising lyrics. Interesting too was the fact that the music was via Clive Davis' Arista Records. Say what you will about Clive … but, he was always ahead of the pack. Heron was also a columnist for the much-missed Crawdaddy magazine, mostly around the time of his brilliant “The Revolution Will Not Be Televised” album. He also penned a brilliant antinuclear epic “We Almost Lost Detroit” that remains relevant to this day. He also had a reasonably mainstream hit called “Johannesburg” which contained the memorable refrain: “Hey brother have you heard the word – Johannesburg.” He was an artist of the highest order; he will be missed.


MOVIES --- Over the long weekend we managed to catch two rather terrific movies; Woody Allen's latest Midnight in Paris; which accordingly to our colleague Roger Friedman is turning into the Woodman's biggest hit ever. “The time-travel comedy, perhaps the first film of the year to be a possible Best Picture nominee, is captivating audiences.” Midnight has made over $2.8 million in the U.S. on only 58 screens. The filmmakers last movie, the terrific “Vicki Cristina Barcelona” did an important $23 million. “Midnight” is just a sweet little movie; funny, intelligent, and smart … can I say that again? Smart. You've got to listen closely and to every word to get the full effect. No exploding CGI here … just terrific acting and writing. I've never ever seen Owen Wilson in anything better; and, truth be told, he seems creatively motivated by the role. I do believe a Best Actor Nomination is in his future. He's in virtually every scene and just terrific. If you liked Allen's “Hannah and her Sisters” and “Annie Hall,” you'll love this one. I saw this one at BAM in Brooklyn and when I turned around and looked at an audience … it looked like a Woody-audience … smartly-dressed and ready for an Allen-epic. Say what you will about the director, but at age 72, he's firing on all cylinders. The other terrific movie we caught was Matt Damon's “The Adjustment Bureau” from earlier this year. The film was adapted from the terrific novel from sci-fi wonder Philip K. Dick's “The Adjustment Team.” Several of the writer's novel have been very successfully adapted into films; among them, “Blade Runner,” “Total Recall” and “The Minority Report” which Spielberg developed into a very successful film with Tom Cruise and Colin Farrell. I love Damon and here he's a somewhat serious, brooding politician (with several saucy secrets in his toolbox) who meets sweet with Emily Blunt. If you don't care for this genre, this may not be for you. But, it's a dynamically spun yarn with terrific acting by the two, along with star turns by John Slattery (Mad Men) and Anthony Mackie. Director George Nolfi, who wrote the screenplay did just a stellar job; keeping the action and the narrative moving. And, the look of the film, mostly shot in New York City, is very cool. Great job! Me, I love the genre and really did embrace this movie; it wasn't a huge hit and that's a shame, really, because it captivated me for the entire run. Speaking of Mad Men, when it finally returns next year (!!!) none other than star Jon Hamm will be the director on the first episode. If his directing prowess if anything like his awesome acting … it should be most special!


Gay Talese

ENQUOTE ---"Most of the people here are seeing the last of one another," Gay Talese said of Elaine's closing last week. "We're at different points in our lives, different parts of the city. Our jobs are different, with actors, fashion models, police, political people, insurance salesmen. And with this dinner being terminated, so is the connection. Not only Elaine was lost."

Photos By: Walter McBride/Retna