Tag Archives: Manhattan

Cole Porter said it with music, but with all the attention he’s getting, is Justin Bieber ‘just one of those things”?

His new CD My World 2.0 debuted at the top of the Billboard 200 albums chart this week, making him the youngest male artist to hit #1 on Billboard since a 13-year-old Stevie Wonder in 1963.

To borrow a lyrical phrase from legendary songwriter Cole Porter, is Justin Bieber just ‘too hot not to cool down?’

The 16-year-old bubblegum popster from Stratford Ontario has been actively pursuing fame since he posted his homemade music videos on YouTube when he was 13.  As Internet success

BIEBER: YouTube baby

stories go, he’s no Susan Boyle – but he did attract the attention of, and subsequent offers of management from, both Usher and Justin Timberlake.  As you probably know (unless you’ve been in a convent,) he signed with Usher, who has become not only his mentor and shrewd in-house guru but has also appeared with him in music videos and on key TV talk shows (e,g., Ellen.) Usher, as if you didn’t know, is one smart, talented and uncommonly classy guy. Professionally, at least, young Justin is in very good company.

Bieber is the first artist to have seven songs from a debut album make it on Billboard’s Hot 100 chart and his new sizzling hot CD is his  first studio album. His first tour as a headliner, coming up this summer,includes gigs at the Air Canada center in Toronto on Aug. 21, the John Labatt Center

USHER: Atlanta mentor

in London, Ont. on Aug. 22, and Scotiabank Place in Kanata, Ont. on  Aug. 24. And as if those rooms aren’t large enough he’s already set to play Madison Square Garden on August 31.

His fans in Newfoundland will get to glimpse him even sooner. When CTV telecasts the 2010 Juno Awards from St. John’s on April 18, Bieber will share the spotlight with Billy Talent, Blue Rodeo, Classified, Drake, Great Lake Swimmer, Johnny Reid, K’Naan, Metric and another Madison Square Garden veteran, still new-ish old pro Michael Bublé.

Justin lives in Atlanta now – Usher’s home base – and is admittedly having the time of his

BUBLE: with Justin at Junos

life. He loves performing, he loves his fans, he loves making music.  It took Michael Bublé 10 years to get booked at Madison Square Garden, but 10 years from now he’ll still be playing the big rooms. Ten years from now Justin Bieber will be 26, his teen glory days far behind him. When full-bloom BieberMania ends – as it most certainly will — let’s hope Usher can help Bieber sidestep the showbiz traps and pitfalls that have crushed so many other meteoric shooting-star careers.

In the meantime, I won’t be one bit surprised if readership of this blog spikes today — not because I’m writing about Justin Bieber, but just because I mentioned his name.

Yes, folks, he really is that hot.

NEAL: New York honours (photo: David Shankbone)

TONY’S FIRST LADY: Do you know who won the very first Tony Award? Give up?  It was screen siren Patricia Neal for her performance as Regina Hubbard in Lillian Hellman‘s Another Part of the Forest in 1946.  Which is only one reason that the Peccadillo Theater Company will present An Evening with Patricia Neal at the Players Club in Manhattan on April 12. Neal, a director’s actor whose distinguished screen stints include The Fountainhead, A Face In The Crowd and Hud, will be presented with PTC’s Legends of the American Theater award, one more highlight in a long and illustrious career.

Happy long weekend. And remember, we all need to be in the light now and then. So don’t forget to soak up some sunshine!

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Curious about Eppie? Just ask Ann Landers. And, the Who’s Who who cheered Barbra in the village

Ms LONELYHEARTS: After a memorable guest spot as a dying nurse on the first season of Edie Falco’s hit series Nurse Jackie, veteran stage and screen charmer Judith Ivey opens tonight at Manhattan’s Cherry Lane Theater in a one-woman play about legendary lovelorn advice columnist Ann Landers called The Lady With All the Answers.

IVEY: as Ann Landers

IVEY: as Ann Landers

The last time I remember seeing Chicago’s queen of hearts, as Eppie Lederer (her real name) was called, was at Chaz & Roger Ebert’s wedding. Eppie and Brian Linehan were hot-footing it on the dance floor when it started to get a tad too hot for Eppie. “Tame it down, tame it down!” she protested, and Linehan graciously acquiesced.

After dispensing sage advice to thousands of grateful readers, by the end of her career Eppie was most famous for failing to save her own marriage. Also, much to her chagrin, her daughter Margo Howard, who eventually took over her column, would marry four times. But then, when has a daughter ever really listened to her mother?

I was much better acquainted with Eppie’s twin sister Pauline, who was equally famous as the Abigail Van Buren of Dear Abby. In the days when newspapers ruled, the sisters’ columns competed with each other in rival journals. Ann Landers was in the Toronto Star, so Dear Abby ran in The Toronto Telegram (and later the Toronto Sun.)

ABBY & ANN in their heyday (AP)

ABBY & ANN in their heyday (AP)

Eppie was a permanent fixture in Chicago. ‘Abby’ lived in California and enjoyed it. Like her sister, she was bright, vivacious and always good company. One day I walked into Norman Jewison’s beach house in Malibu and Norman, ‘Abby’ and Washington columnist Art Buchwald were all sitting in the living room, busy debating a burning issue of the day. As I approached them Abby looked up at me and beamed.

“We met in Toronto two weeks ago!” she proclaimed, struggling to remember my name. “I know you!”

“I don’t!” said Buchwald with a shrug, and returned to debating with Jewison.

CHANNING: "Absolutely not!"

CHANNING: "Absolutely not!"

Identical twins born 17 minutes apart, the sisters also got a kick out of teasing people when they were mistaken for each other. One night I bumped into Eppie in the bar at the Four Season in Hollywood and started talking about mutual friends in Chicago until I saw the twinkle in her eye.

“Yep,” she said, grinning – “I’m the other one!”

Manhattan gossip girl Liz Smith says that years ago Eppie’s good friend Carol Channing wanted her Hello, Dolly! composer Jerry Herman to make a musical for her to star as Eppie. “To which Eppie said, ‘Absolutely not!’ But now there is a two-time Tony winner channeling Ann Landers,” adds Liz – “and everybody just hopes Eppie approves.”

VILLAGE PEOPLE: Yes, Barbra Streisand really did return to the tiny Village Vanguard club in Manhattan to perform songs from her new album, Love

STREISAND: stage fright?

STREISAND: stage fright?

Is The Answer, with only a jazz quartet behind her. (Chalk it up to the influence of her album producer Diana Krall. Not that there would have been room for an orchestra, let alone a band. “It’s hard to have stage fright,” Streisand remarked, “when, like, there’s no stage!”) Her audience, comprised mainly of contest winners from around the world, were thrilled to find themselves squeezed against such devoted Barbra boosters as Hillary, Bill and Chelsea Clinton, Nicole Kidman, Sarah Jessica Parker, Donna Karan, Barry Diller, David Geffen and composers Marilyn & Alan Bergman. Streisand was reportedly in glorious voice, and in addition to tunes from her new CD, she also reprised a few of her classics, including Evergreen (which she dedicated to a misty-eyed Bill Clinton) and The Way We Were.

Apparently you had to be there to believe it. And don’t you wish you had been?

TOMORROW:

What Julie Stewart and Dan Aykroyd are up to in Toronto.