THE GLORIOUS CORNER
Story By: G. H. HARDING
The Amy Winehouse Movie
CLASSIC END --- David Letterman’s final show Wednesday was stunningly classy . . . and funny! To the in-studio audience’s delight, the show’s final Top Ten List (Celebrity Top Ten Things I’ve Always Wanted to Say to David Letterman) was delivered in descending “10” to “1” order by: Alec Baldwin; Barbara Walters; Steve Martin; Jerry Seinfeld; a hilarious Jim Carrey; Chris Rock; Julia Louis-Dreyfus; Peyton Manning; Tina Fey; and Bill Murray. Everyone delivered their lines with precision and grace—it was just about perfect.
With some classic moments from their thirty-three years (!), including Andy Kaufman and Larry ”Bud” Melman reading Xmas carols to kids (still one of the funniest bits ever), the final show proved yet again how David Letterman not only changed the landscape of TV—he also smashed it to smithereens, just like that large TV he had his crew drop off the top of a nearby Manhattan building on one of his many memorable shows.
With some personal “Thank you”s (most notably to Paul Shaffer and his all-star band—one of the best ever!) and heartfelt comments near the end—even a rare on-air acknowledgement to wife Regina and son Harry, who were sitting front and center—Letterman’s last show was wonderfully moving in the humblest of ways.
Face it, kids, Letterman had a run even better than that of Johnny Carson—and we’re all so much better for it.
Last night at 11:35 PM, I had a dilemma . . . there was nothing on TV to watch. Guess it’s time to break out my Outer Limits DVDs . . .
AMY WINEHOUSE MOVIE --- Talk about a classic album: 2006’s Back to Black from Brit singer Amy Winehouse was near-perfection.
Conjuring up the best of Motown and introducing us to a new and terrific voice, Winehouse was a force of nature. It was all the more sad when she spiraled out of control and passed away back in 2011 at age 27 (which entered her into the tragic “27 Club” alongside fellow greats like Rolling Stones founding member Brian Jones; Janis Joplin; Jimi Hendrix; Doors singer Jim Morrison; and Nirvana frontman Kurt Cobain among others).
This year’s Cannes Film Festival has been going on, and our reports show that the #1 stunner of the festival so far is Amy, a new doc about the brilliant but troubled late singer.
In telling her life honestly, Amy is an unflinching portrait of how drug and alcohol addiction—combined with a series of enablers—led to the death of this great soul singer at such a young age. The film, directed by Asif Kapadia, was several years in the making after the singer’s 2011 death. It relies on audio interviews with Winehouse‘s closest friends and family— including her mother, her father, her managers, and her bodyguard. These on-camera reminiscences are juxtaposed with personal never-before-seen videos of Winehouse.
Here are nine of the project’s biggest revelations:
1. Winehouse suffered from depression and anorexia starting at a young age.
The film argues that Winehouse’s adolescence was influenced heavily by her parents’ divorce. (Her father, Mitchell, left her mom, Janis, after carrying out a long affair.) In an interview with the filmmaker, Janis admits that she wasn’t a disciplinarian and Amy could get away with whatever she wanted. Her teenager years were very troubled—she took antidepressants, and told her parents that she was anorexic. When she was about fifteen years old, we learn that she came to her mother with an indirect cry for help. “I got this great diet,” Janis recalls her saying. “I eat what I want and then I bring it up.” Neither of her parents got her medical help.
2. She didn’t want to be associated with the Spice Girls.
Amy was nineteen when manager Nick Godwyn, from Simon Fuller’s 19 Entertainment, took her on as a client. He eventually landed her a deal for her first record, Frank (2003), at Island/Universal. But she later left him, because she didn’t want to have the same management team as the one that handled Spice Girls and Pop Idol.
3. Amy had no desire to be famous.
She says, in an interview from October 2003 that is shown in this new film, “I don’t think I’m going to be at all famous. I don’t think I can handle it. I’ll probably go mad.”
4. Her dad missed an early chance to get his daughter clean.
Around 2005, Winehouse’s friends staged an intervention to get her into rehab following drug and alcohol abuse. In her most- famous song “Rehab,” Winehouse sings about how her father told her she didn’t need to go into rehab. Her father, Mitchell, gets to tell his side of the story in the film. “I said, ‘You don’t have to go to rehab,’” Mitchell recalls. “I think that’s the moment we lost a key opportunity. She’d have a chance to be dealt with by professionals before the world wanted a piece of her.”
5. Her husband, Blake Fielder-Civil, introduced her to crack cocaine.
Winehouse’s roller-coaster relationship with Fielder-Civil, whom she met when they were both dating other people, is detailed in the new film. Winehouse went into a spiraling depression after they first broke up, and they eventually reconciled and got married in 2007. After a honeymoon in Miami, they returned home to London’s Camden neighborhood, where he introduced her to crack cocaine for the first time. But the movie goes easy on Fielder-Civil, suggesting that he too was a troubled addict, which may be controversial to Winehouse fans who blame him for accelerating her drug use.
6. Her father tries to cash in on her fame.
The person who comes off the worst in this new doc is Amy’s father, Mitchell. After struggling to get clean—in 2007, she was taken to the hospital with cocaine, heroin, alcohol, and crack cocaine in her system—he pushes her to continue performing, so they don’t lose money on tour dates. In 2009, after Fielder-Civil is arrested on drug charges (and he and Winehouse divorce), we learn that Winehouse finally found some semblance of peace when she moves to St. Lucia and stops using drugs. But then Mitchell shows up with a camera crew for a reality show that he’s filming about being Amy’s dad. In one scene, with the cameras rolling, he starts to lecture his daughter about being more polite to her fans when they ask her for photos, which causes Winehouse to erupt in anger. “Dad, you don’t want to make a mug of me,” she says. “Be nice to me on camera.”
7. She dissed Justin Timberlake.
In 2008, Winehouse won the “Record of the Year” Grammy for “Rehab.” In the film, we see her in London on live feed when the category is announced—and she scowls when Justin Timberlake’s name is announced. “His [song] is called ‘What Goes Around . . . Comes Around?’ ” Winehouse asks in a mocking tone.
8. She almost stormed off a duet recording session with Tony Bennett.
Near the end of her life, she recorded the song “Body and Soul” with Bennett for his 2011 album of duets. Winehouse had grown up as a fan, and she makes nervous small talk with him when she enters the studio. But as soon as she starts singing with him, she stops mid-lyric and has a meltdown. “I was terrible! I was terrible!” she says, and tries to walk out. But Bennett calmly tells her to take her time, and they eventually finish the song.
9. The paparazzi wouldn’t stop stalking her.
One of Winehouse’s friends talks about how the Daily Mail would publish the most intimate conversations about her struggles with addiction, and suggests that they may even have been hacking her phone. But even if they weren’t, Winehouse’s invasion of privacy is documented with chilling precision throughout this new film. She’s shown stumbling through the streets of London in a zombie daze, as a parade of paparazzi trail her—a woeful byproduct of celebrity culture. Images of her in pain are juxtaposed with late-night comics like Jay Leno cracking jokes about her disease. At the end of the film, Winehouse says she’d give away all her success just to be anonymous again. It eventually became too much to handle, and on July 23, 2011, Winehouse was found dead in her bed from alcohol poisoning.
TOO LITTLE, TOO LATE? --- Eight months after causing a major rift with Neil Young when he labeled his girlfriend Daryl Hannah a "purely poisonous predator," David Crosby went on the Howard Stern Show and offered a heartfelt apology.
"I was completely out of line," he said. "I have screwed up massively. Daryl Hannah never wound up in a Texas prison. I'm screwed up way worse than that girl. Where do I get off criticizing her? She's making Neil happy. I love Neil and I want him happy."
Crosby said he believed the comments were off-the-record, but added, "That's neither here nor there." "Daryl, if you're out there, I apologize. Where do I get off criticizing you? There are people I can criticize: politicians, pond scum. Not other artists that have gone through a hard life, same as me. She hasn't had it easy, either."
Stern said he thought that Crosby made the comments out of love for his bandmate, and Crosby agreed. "I was worried that he was going to be taken advantage of," he said. "But the truth is that's not my place to judge. That's the bottom line. It's not my place to judge other human beings like that. That was judgmental and stupid and careless and I regret it a lot."
Crosby said that he did call Young shortly after the comments surfaced. "He wanted me to print a retraction," he said. "I said, 'I don't know about that.' The first thing that I did was apologize right away. I said, 'Neil, I shouldn't have shot my mouth off. I'm sorry.'" He went on to say that he never spoke directly to Hannah. "But I'm doing that right now," Crosby said. "Daryl, I apologize. I was wrong. I have no place to stand to do that. I have no right. I haven't earned that right. I'm the guy that wound up in prison, not her."
It's unclear how Young feels now about the situation. When he appeared on the Stern show last October, he was so angry at Crosby that he tried to avoid saying his name, referring to their group as "uh…Stills, Nash and Young." He also said that another CSNY reunion would never happen.
"We were together for a long time. We did some good work. Why should we get together and celebrate how great we were? What difference does it make?" Young said. "It's not for the audience. It's not for money, either. When you play music, you have to come from a certain place to do it and everything has to be clear and you don't want to disturb that. I like to keep the love there, and if the love isn't there, you don't want to do it."
CLOSING NOTES --- Jersey Boys’ Donnie Kehr caught The Who at Nassau Coliseum the other night in Long Island. Pete Townshend and Kehr (who worked on the stage production made from The Who’s Tommy) began the Rockers on Broadway event together . . .
This Saturday in NYC, May 23, legendary psychedelic pioneers The Blues Magoos will perform at The Bowery Electric in support of their recently-released new album Psychedelic Resurrection (Kayos).
Formed in the Bronx in 1964, The Blues Magoos were an integral component of New York’s Greenwich Village scene. Mainstays at the fabled Night Owl Club, the band jammed with such luminaries as Jimi Hendrix and Richie Havens. Their famed single, “We Ain’t Got Nothin’ Yet,” (which was recently featured on an episode of the Netflix television series Lilyhammer) from their hit album debut, Psychedelic Lollipop, went to #5 on the Billboard charts and became a ‘60s underground anthem. The band’s new studio album Psychedelic Resurrection –their first in over 40 years—celebrates and revitalizes the classic garage-rock sound that The Blues Magoos helped create.
Actress Gloria Reuben—whose new album Perchance to Dream (MCG Jazz) has become a fast hit that is being added to several key jazz stations while also generating some terrific reviews—is set to perform at Spaghettini and the Dave Koz Lounge in Beverly Hills on June 26. She’s also on USA’s new show, Mr. Robot, with Christian Slater, premiering on June 24th.
Having been to several of her recent NY shows at The Metropolitan Room, I can say that watching her live is like getting a master class in the art of performing. She’s awesome! …
Meghan Trainor kicked off Today’s 20th Summer Concert Series today … she was great, performing 4 songs; her “Like I'm Going To Lose You” a ballad, being the best … Now You See Me 2 out June 10th.