Sunday, July 23, 2006

A Star-ry Star-ry Night

Most Saturday nights I can barely make it through Weekend Update. Last night, however, I stayed up late and had tons of energy. No Red Bull required.

Mr. Minivan and I went to a very cool, very Hollywood, party held at producer and composer David Foster's estate in Malibu. David Foster has won 14 Grammys and written tons of songs you would know. He's worked with Celine Dion, Earth, Wind and Fire, Whitney Houston, Kenny Loggins, Kenny Rogers, and on and on and on. Oh, yeah, and Barbra Streisand. For those of you who watch such things, he was on American Idol this last season, too. Anyway, this event--A Starry Night -- was given by the Grammy Foundation, which Foster is very active in, honoring L.A. Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa for his work and commitment to youth and education.

We arrived at Foster's private street in Malibu and were directed to a large field where a valet took our car. Then we were quickly transported by shuttle bus past a guard gate and past other houses on the street. I wondered if he invited the neighbors--if that's considered proper etiquette in L.A. I sort of felt like we were on a tour as we entered his grounds. Lush foliage, beautiful flowers, long winding road. We were let off on his front lawn. The huge house loomed above us like a castle. Many stairs led up to the house but, of course, anyone going to the house did not have to take the stairs. A very fancy funicular was also available. We, however, were not going anywhere near the house. The cocktail part of the evening took place on the lawn. Bars were set up all over, and waiters strolled the grounds, offering hors d'ouerves. We chatted with a bunch of nice people, all in the music business. Lots of networking going on on the lawn.
We met Johnny and Laura, who are going to Tony Bennett's birthday party in a week or so. They were both lovely and very friendly. Laura gave me her card and said "Call me--you're new here." Note to self: I need cards.
We watched the red carpet area from a distance, and saw lots of stars arriving. Dionne Warwick got there at the same time we did. I didn't quite understand her outfit--pink jacket with subtle sequined stripes, red top underneath, pink pants with sequined flowers--but what do I know about music legends and their fashion choices? Donald Trump arrived in a huge limo. Too bad, I was expecting a helicopter just like in "The Apprentice." Melania wasn't with him. I guess she was at home changing diapers. During cocktails we mingled with Eric Benet, Josh Groban, and probably others I didn't recognize. You see what years of listening to talk radio does to you?

After a while we were led into the dining area--Foster's tennis courts. About 45 tables of 12 were squished together on the courts in front of a stage. We were two tables away from Foster's table where The Donald, Oprah (white pantsuit, white cami, verrrry curly hair), Steadman, and Oprah's friend Gayle King sat. Oh, then Quincy Jones and Babyface arrived and sat down at their table. One of the guys from ZZ Top--Billy Gibbons-- was there and so was Foster's neighbor, Dick Van Dyke.

Dinner was served around 9:00--a salad, some sort of chicken, mashed potaoes, and green beans all tied up in a little bunch. I asked our waiter if Oprah was eating the same food as everyone else. He said he'd check on it when he could. Soon the show began. David Foster welcomed everyone to his house, which, it turns out, is not his, or, at least, soon will not be his. He is going through or has just gone through a divorce (from his wife Linda Thompson Jenner, who was Elvis's girlfriend way back when and was married to Bruce Jenner before marrying Foster) and his wife is getting the house.

Comedian George Lopez opened the show and introduced the mayor. Antonio Villaraigosa is the first Hispanic mayor of L.A. in over one hundred years and all I can say is "Please, Mr. Mayor, stick to politics, and leave the comedy to trained professionals." Villaraigosa is a tiny little guy and is very commited to improving the lives of at-risk youth through after-school programs and other positive activities.

Then Foster came back out and introduced a group of very talented young people who had spent the summer at "Grammy camp". They played a jazzy number or two and were excellent. The oldest one was 19 and the drummer was 15.
Then the real show started. Natasha Bedingfield sang "Unwritten" and "Wild Horses". She was great. After she was done, she told Foster that she would love to be the next Mrs. Foster and didn't need a castle like this house. He asked her if she was single, which became a running joke during the evening. He told her he had a song for her and played a few bars of "Here Comes the Bride." The audience laughed. Those wild and crazy Hollywood folks, right?

Kenneth "Babyface" Edmunds performed and Oprah was rockin' out to his music. He was fantastic. I finally get why chicks dig singers. He sang three songs including a medley of Boyz II Men songs which he had written. Eric Benet really worked the crowd walking to the stage from the floor, stopping often to sing soulfully to different women and hold their hands. He sang "The Last Time" --with lyrics "This is the last time I'll fall in love."--which according to what we've all read, is not true. He was wearing a white sport coat.

Foster's young discovery Renee Olstead came out and was awesome. He asked her if she was single. Big laugh from the crowd. At some point Foster came out and said. "I took my stepson out to the back 40 (??) and said, "One day, son, this will all belong to your ex-wife." Ba-dum. Big laugh again. It is--was--his house. You have to be polite.

BeBe Winans and saxophonist Dave Koz came out and BeBe sang a song he wrote called "I Care". Dave Koz is a tiny little guy, too, but plays big on the sax. They were great. After the song Dave Koz told us that Foster (who I forgot to mention played piano for all the singers) had written "the best song ever for the sax", the theme from "St. Elmo's Fire" and that Koz had learned it when he was 15 and would love to play a little of it with Foster. So they did. It was great--everyone recognizes that song. BeBe Winans was also wearing a white sport coat. This could be a new trend. You heard it here first.

The waiter reported back to me that Oprah ate what everyone else did. That concerned me a little because I believe mashed potatoes are one of her trigger foods. I saw Gayle get up and figured she was going to the bathroom. So of course I got up, too. She stopped at another table to talk with someone and I went to the ladies' room. I figured I'd wait for her there. Oh--the bathrooms--The nicest. Port-a-potties. Ever. Stalls, running water, real soap, those helpful seat covers. Delightful. Of course, Gayle never showed so I headed back. I ran into BeBe Winans and told him he was fabulous. Our eyes met. For a minute we had a moment. He said thanks. I asked if he was from Chicago (He does know Oprah)--no, he's from Detroit. The moment was over.

One of the guys at our table, a very connected independent music promoter asked if there was anyone I wanted to meet. Of course, I said Oprah, but she was the only one he didn't know. I thought about meeting Trump, but I was afraid I'd be so mesmerized by that hair that I would embarrass myself. I also don't like to interrupt these people while they're eating. Besides, I didn't bring my camera. Next time I will.

Josh Groban--another small guy with a big big voice--got up to sing. Apparently Gayle King looooves Josh, so they had a little exchange before he began. He wore a black untucked shirt and jeans. And messy hair. I know he's a music guy and all, but would it have killed him to tuck in his shirt or maybe comb his hair? If I were his mother I wouldn't have let him go to a fancy party looking like this. I know this is evidence that I'm getting old, but I'm just saying....
His voice belongs to a much older, much bigger man. He started off with a beautiful song in Italian--maybe from an opera--I don't know. After that song he said with a wink, "Gayle, that was for you." Then he said "I had to sing this next one" and sang a beautiful version of "Starry Starry Night." What a great voice!

Dionne Warwick closed the show. And guess what? David Foster asked her if she was single. "Yes," she answered, "and I'm going to stay that way!" Now THAT was funny. She opened with "I Know I'll Never Love This Way Again" and then sang "What the World Needs Now is Love." Make up your mind, Dionne.

Then we grabbed our goody bags and caught the next shuttle back to the parking lot and back to real life. Just another day in La-La Land. Incredible evening. Even without the Red Bull.


Anonymous said...

how could you remember all that!!! You had to be taking notes!!! Why did the Donald get to drive in and you had to park far away???

Martwork said...

He's The Donald. He travels by limo. I drive a minivan. Any other questions?

The Big Squay said...

Okay, I've heard of some of the people at the party: Oprah, Trump, Jeffrey Dahmer but who is David Foster? Are you sure you haven't skipped right into a parallel dimension?

Josh Groban? That name is so made up! Likewise the other attendees, the food and, in fact, the party itself!

Dr Squay recommends some Haldol (100mg BID) to help her return to her originating zip code.

Anonymous said...

that would be Oprah's "friend" Gayle King

Anonymous said...

I'm stopping my subscription to People Magazine...this is too good!