"F*CK 'EM if they can't take a joke."
Bette Midler immortalized that expression. And Tom Cruise must be muttering it himself this week. Although I had a feeling "Rock of Ages" wasn't going to be a smash, I did think enough people would appreciate this obvious parody of 1980s music, fashions and attitudes to give it some box-office bang. Apparently not! (It came in a weak third behind "Madagascar 3" and the bewildering sci-fi stunner "Prometheus." )
"ROA" is "Mamma Mia!" for metal heads--a thin story upon which to base one musical number after another. Of course, "Mamma Mia!" had the previous screen credentials of "Buona Sera, Mrs. Campbell" and the more inclusive pop melodies of ABBA, rather than Journey power ballads or the head-banging anthems of Def Leppard and Poison.
And, in time, it had Meryl Streep in the movie! But Tom is hilarious and disturbing as the dissolute rock star. Many reviewers cite him as the best thing in the film. Maybe everybody from the 1980s is dead or committed to asylums. Or, going to Broadway, where the stage
version of "Rock of Ages," is doing brisk business. Why is everybody being so serious about this movie?
On the up side, Tom's last "Mission Impossible" took in around $600 million. He has several movies in post-production, and one being readied. So, no weeping for him.
This was in the middle of the on-going controversy about whether or not, we New Yorkers, should be allowed to quaff huge sugary drinks. The Mayor says no and at his party, people sipped little glasses of white and red wine. (As I was wearing white, I opted for the Chardonnay.) I love the mayor and was flattered when Deputy Mayor Patti Harris whispered that I deserved big credit "for having started all this hoopla about the Mayor's Fund." She was wrong but it was nice. I have played only a small part in calling attention and raising money for Mike Bloomberg's discretionary public programs. Since 2002, this Fund has raised nearly $300 million for the City's good!
On this particular night, they raised $900,000 for New York! When we went across the roof to Mario Batali's Birreria restaurant, high above what is known as Eataly, there were the Fund leaders Rob Speyer and Megan Sheekey.
I saw many of the mayor's oldest pals --Jon and Susan Rotenstreich, Deborah and Peter Krulewitch (she's the Estee Lauder maven)...Mike's trusted aide Kevin Sheekey, shoe queen Tamara Mellon, fashion's Tory Burch, realtor Billy Rudin, acting's Ryan and Ethan Hawke, Macy's Terry Lundgren, and so many vibrant young people. Dinner was great and I sat with the Mayor's personal decorator, style czar Jamie Drake.
My thanks to Grace Meigher who let her husband, Chris, the Quest publisher, take me out. (Mr. Meigher and I like to run down the memory lane of our former days with Time, Inc.)
I also saw Grey Advertising's dynamo, Jennifer Landers, who once worked publicizing my memoir. Her title is great- "SVP Director Reputation Management." That's what everybody needs these days -- someone to manage their reputation. Or what may be left of it.
Luckily, I have now re-discovered the small but effective York Theater which is run by the dedicated Jim Morgan. And it's in St. Peter's Church, on Lexington Ave, entrance on the side at 54th St. The York gives us 40 readings a year of musicals in development and I note that two of my favorite ladies ever, Geraldine Stutz and Dorothy Strelsin, left the York endowments!
The other eve I saw a run-through of the lyricist Richard Maltby, Jr. and musician David Shire's work titled "Closer Than Ever." This is a revue of '80s songs and I just fell in love with it. In the first portion, the performers (Jenn Colella, George Dvorsky, Christiane Noll, Sal Viviano)
made me imagine being happily in love again with a double rainbow onstage -- in my mind. Each performer was terrific and Maltby's lyrics, as they descended into reality hell and in-laws and children, are in a class by themselves. The time is before I-phones, e-mail, apps, Twitter, Facebook, etc. I particularly loved a number "Miss Byrd" done by the magically comical Ms. Colella. Everything about this is first rate!
Maltby/Shire have been around for years but I feel -- much neglected. Their songs explore real romance and disappointments and hope. There is a metaphor onstage of doors opening and closing on love. This show is bigger than its four-person cast and we're closer than ever to believing in tomorrow because of it. It opens Thursday and runs till July 14. Call 212 - 935-5820 about the reasonably priced tickets.