Sharing Steve :: New Stuff
Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Old, but relevant

This is a 2 year old interview with Steve about Shopgirl, the movie. I know it's out of date, but I'm blogging it for two reasons: 1) I think of this blog as archival for the main site at, so everything relevant to that goes here, and 2) Steve is soon going to start filming Pink Panther 2, and what he says about his choice of material is relevant.

Besides, it's my blog and I want to.
By Devin Faraci

I made Steve Martin laugh.

There's no way I can get across to you how awesome that was, to say something (the second question in the following transcript) and to get a real, honest laugh out of Steve Martin, one of the comic geniuses of my lifetime. I should be able to walk into a bar, announce, "I have made Steve Martin laugh!" and walk out with armfuls of hotties.

Alas, life doesn't work that way. Actually, like works much more like Shopgirl, the new film based on Martin's wonderful novella. It's a film about the fragility of human relationships and the way that small moments mean everything. It's directed by Anand Tucker, the guy who is going to be doing His Dark Materials and it stars Martin as Ray Porter, a wealthy older man who gets involved with Mirabelle, a young clerk at Saks Fifth Avenue, played by Claire Danes.

I saw Shopgirl at the Toronto Film Festival, where Martin and Danes did some press. I wish that they had been separate, since poor Claire, who I loved so on My So-Called Life, got the short of the stick in questions. I mean, who wouldn't want to talk to Steve Martin more?

By the way, for the mental image of when Steve and Claire like my shirt, I was wearing a yellow t-shirt with a pen and ink drawing of a young Woody Allen on it. I'm at the point now where when I buy shirts I wonder which celebrities will like them (Tom Cruise dug my Paul Green's School of Rock shirt and Joss Whedon liked my Shaun of the Dead shirt). I think t-shirt recommendations will be part of a future contest.

Shopgirl opens this weekend.

Q: Do you believe that there’s an instant, true love, or do you need to work on it?

Martin: I know people who have had it both ways. But look, the question is, how many lovers do you have before you settle down?

Q: 24?

Martin: [laughs] Exactly. One night we were going around a table and somebody said, let’s tell how many lovers we’ve had. We’d come to one girl and she’d say four, and then another I should say woman would say six, and we came around to another girl and she said, ‘Fifty! I was in college, and you know.’ It’s everybody’s story, whether it’s one, two, three, ten, twenty or Magic Johnson. This story is about one of those episodes that gets a little out of control, or gets unable to break.

In fact I was rereading the book because I am supposed to read something from it and I’ve forgotten half of it, it says that Ray was about to enter into an addiction that he couldn’t break. Meaning sex with Mirabelle, because he found something beautiful in her.

Anyway, this is a slice of somebody’s life. Some of us, none of us, all of us.

Q: Do you think it’s important for us to not know why Ray was having problems with being able to love, because you didn’t give the backstory.

Martin: You know, I cringe at backstory, because it never quite explains, or it gets into some psychological thing that is never quite right and never quite the truth. Who knows why someone is some way? You can’t just say ‘And Ray’s dad never loved him.’ It doesn’t explain it. Yet we all know there are people like that, and we meet them and deal with them – and are them – and it’s never quite explained. But you never ask how can that person exist.

Q: One of the joys of reading the book is that there are these wonderful turns of phrase and wry bits of humor in the narration. When you were adapting the book, were you tempted to include a lot of that in a voice over?

Martin: I secretly wanted to, but I know how those things work. That’s why the voice csaovers – hey, Woody Allen.

Danes: Great shirt!

Martin: I thought it might be a pop star or something. But yeah, I did want some of that language in the film because it creates a tone, and that’s why it’s there. If you notice, all those voice overs are placed not as exposition, but as almost musical moments. Sometimes it’s at the end of a scene, it’s always over silence. It’s always over a static shot or at least a very, very still shot. I believe that when you have action going on and voice going on, music going on, it’s all lost. You really have to go, ‘Listen’ or look.

Danes: I think the voice over enhances things that are happening rather than compensates for something that’s lacking. Voice overs can be tricky, they can be dangerous because it’s overused or inappropriately used. But in this case I think it informs the story.

Q: Claire, you have to define your character in a lot of scenes where you’re alone, with no dialogue. Was that a challenge?

Danes: Anand was very careful to plot those moments. In the beginning he really wanted to emphasize my stillness. Which is scary. It’s hard to trust that that’s going to be enough, that the audience is going to remain engaged with her when it seems that she’s giving very little. I always want to tapdance! But no, I think it was important to show that she really starts to find joy, and that’s physically articulated at some point.

Q: One of the things that sets Shopgirl apart is that it doesn’t have a typical schlocky Hollywood story. Why do you think it’s so hard for Hollywood to make good love stories?

Martin: Good question. It all goes back to the – what do they call it? The meet-cute. I always feel like there’s the person with the inspiration, and then there’s the person who’s going, ‘No no no, this other movie had this, so we have to have this.’ It just starts getting wrenched out of its own heart. Our movie didn’t get wrenched. Basically the book is about small moments, and the movie is about small moments – which are the biggest.

Danes: It seems like the most successful, iconic love stories are not so easy or escapist. I think the ones that stay with us, that resonate, are full of conflict and discord and misunderstanding. That’s what makes drama happen.

But I think that people who make movies and invest a lot of money in them get frightened that if they challenge an audience they’re going to repel them. I think the opposite is really true, but it takes confidence and courage to know that and to commit to it.

Q: Have you known a Ray in your own life, someone who was incapable of connecting?

Danes: [dripping with sarcasm] I have never met anyone like that!

Q: Steve, as the writer and the star, how did you navigate the relationship with the director?

Martin: I just did. He’s a very gentle guy, he really understood the script for the movie. There was never any contention when we were shooting, so it was fine.

Q: Did you ever think of directing it yourself?

Martin: Not really. I have never directed.

Q: How do you balance the humor and the serious aspects?

Martin: In the book there’s a scene that’s directly translated in the movie, which is Mirabelle decides to phone Jeremy and he knocks the phone off the cradle and she embarrasses herself by yelling into the phone and then he decides to call her – you know the scene. There’s other comic things, but basically that’s not what the movie is about. Those are little stories that help us out in the tone poem aspect of it.

Q: In your career you seem to go between broader films and more cerebral films – you’ve been doing that since you started acting in films. How do you make thosecsa choices?

Martin: You’re implying that the choice is some kind of choice, that it’s deliberate. It’s not. It’s about where you’re going, where you’re headed, is it ready to go, do I like it, who’s in it – there are a million different things. There’s no Star Chamber somewhere trying to figure out the next move. I’m sure it works in some cases, but it doesn’t work for me.

Q: So it’s more organic for you. You don’t say, ‘I’ve done Cheaper by the Dozen and Bringing Down the House, time to do Shopgirl.’

Martin: Not at all.

Q: How about the choice of what you write to be prose as opposed to what becomes a screenplay?

Martin: That usually comes in a framework in your brain. You know that it’s sentence oriented or visual. You know somehow.

Q: How do you judge if a film is a success?

Martin: I would say that the three stages of making a film are the initial ‘Are we going to do this, how much will I be paid, where’s it going to be, are there a lot of nights?’ The second stage of making a film is how much fun is it while you’re doing it. There are fabulous scenes that are fun to play, it’s comic, blah blah blah. Third stage is, is it a hit?

Whether I’m involved in creating it or something, as a personal issue later, do I respect that thing, you only know that five or ten years later. The most immediate thing is, how is it received? You want it to happen. I don’t know anybody who says – unless you’re making excuses – ‘Yeah, it’s an art thing, they’re too stupid to get it, I’m confident even though it stiffed.’

Q: Do you have a more parental feeling about something you created, like Roxanne?

Martin: No. I was having a discussion with a friend years ago about psychiatry. They were comparing psychiatry to art and saying that being in psychotherapy was an artistic process. He said that there was a big difference between psychiatry and being an artist – as an artist you abandon what is made, while in psychiatry you try to retain your thoughts and feelings. That’s essentially what I do. Once it’s done it’s an accident if I see it again. Sometimes it’s a happy accident, sometimes it’s not.

Q: As you wrote it, did you expect to be playing Ray Porter one day?

Martin: I suspected it. The first person I asked was Tom Hanks. I thought he was really the perfect guy to play it.

Q: They say that everything you write is autobiographical. What is the autobiographical side of Ray Porter?

Martin: Your argument then applies to what is the autobiographical side to Mirabelle, since I wrote her too. Everything is culled from every source – my life, other people’s lives. I’m 60, and I’ve had sex since I was 18. There’s a lot of stuff going on.

So there’s a lot of experience, whether it’s my own or somebody else’s. I wrote a book subsequently about a guy who was agoraphobic. It doesn’t apply to me at all, but I can imagine it.

csaQ: Claire, were you surprised to be asked to play this part?

Danes: I was thrilled when the opportunity arose. I was really affected by it – I know a lot of people who were, I’m not very special for being moved by it. I loved Hillary and Jackie, so I felt confident that Anand would render the story with subtlety and depth and smarts. And Steve has been really a hero of mine forever.

Anyway, it was a total joy. And I felt really capable – sometimes I am more nervous than others about inhabiting a character, because sometimes they feel more inaccessible than others, but this one was vivid. I think it was because she was so well written. It wasn’t very effortful. I mean, it was an intense experience and I had to remain focused in order to do it as expressively as possible. But it was pretty easy. I had so much support.

Q: Steve, why Claire?

Martin: As soon as we had lunch, Claire didn’t have to speak before we knew she was exactly right for it. Claire is naturally beautiful as opposed to unnaturally beautiful in Hollywood. I always think in 20 years, where are the old actors going to come from? They all look like this! [stretches his face back] We need someone who looks 80, but there isn’t anyone! Or you’re doing a period film and there’s someone with fake breasts.

Danes: These are fake!

Martin: Claire just fit with her simplicity into this role. She had a quiet solitude, which we’ve seen before. There was something about the simplicity of Claire’s performance that was amazing.
Monday, May 21, 2007

Steve, the Poker King of NYC

Full Tilt Poker Blog
May 18 (2007)
#140 - The Full Tilt Poker Guide to Manhattan, Part III - Never Play Poker with a Man Named Steve Martin
Posted by Michael Craig

Let’s just cut to the chase here. Steve Martin is a superb poker player and a better con man. He operates under the cover that he knows nothing about the game, yet I saw him make an extremely canny play, then correct me when I didn’t get the percentages right.

Martin is a long time friend of Tina Brown and Harold Evens, and Tina was responsible for him becoming a writer. He wrote some short pieces for THE NEW YORKER when she was editor, and later published those as a collection. He’s since written a play and two novellas. So when he professed poker ignorance, it was easy to assume that his presence had nothing to do with the promise of a friendly game at the end of the night.

After speeches had been made, dinner had been cleared away, and dessert and coffee served, the hosts brought out some cards and chips.

There wasn’t a lot of time to play. Harry and Tina, Tony had told me, were not late-night types. Steve Martin announced he wasn’t playing because he knew nothing about the game.

Everyone sighed, and then groaned. “I’m leaving town,” he insisted. “I really can’t stay. Poker’s just not my thing.” There were some impassioned pleas. (I kept quiet, remembering my promise.)

Finally, he relented. “I have to go, so I can play only for 20 minutes. But I’m not a poker player.”

We took over one of the round dinner tables. I found myself plopping down to Martin’s immediate left, elbowing a couple other guests out of the way. No harm, no foul, right?

When a jacketed form over my right shoulder wedged in between me and Steve, my first instinct was to take a swing at the interloper. But it was Tony Holden, my good friend and the guest of honor. I cut him some slack.

At least I had the pleasure of sitting to the immediate right of Holden’s editor, the lovely Amanda Murray. And then Harold Evans squeezed in between us. Evans opened up his house to us, was a decades-long friend of Tony, and was nice enough to let the likes of me wander around unescorted, so all I could do is stew at the injustice of it all.

As we passed out chips, several people, Martin included, asked, “What are we playing for?”

Some dope said, “The right to say they beat Steve Martin at poker.” Unfortunately, that dope was me.

Steve noticed me for the first time and politely insisted, “That’s not worth anything. I don’t know the game.”

At least Steve Martin and I are now talking. (I had earlier talked with my lawyer and chum Kay about how to pitch Martin the idea she and I have been nurturing for two years, a movie we’ve been calling Apart from the total inappropriateness of bearding a celebrity guest in his friends’ home, the main character is a woman – the angry mom – and the only significant male role is that of the rotten husband.)

On the first hand, a number of players limped in, and Martin raised. Most called. I don’t remember the specific cards on the flop, but it was three low cards, two of them clubs – something like 9c-6d-2c.

Amanda Murray, who was in the big blind, led with a bet. It was folded to Martin and he moved all in, saying something like, “I need to get going.” (It was around this time I decided these protests were part of an act.) Amanda called, showing A-K.

Steve turned over Kc-3c, acting like he goofed. “Well, I guess I’m chasing a flush,” he said with resignation.

Some know-it-all chirped in, “That’s 9 outs. You’re 36% to win, but you had the fold-equity of raising all-in. It was a good play.”

Not taking his eyes off the board, he said to me (a/k/a Mr. Know-It-All), “I also win with a three."

Oops, 12 outs. Nearly a coin flip. Glad I didn’t add in, “I just wrote a book on these kinds of calculations.”

He hit his club on the river and won the giant pot. He won the next one, too, pushing all-in pre-flop with 4-4, and drawing a horde of callers, none of whom had a hand or hit one.

Amanda got her revenge but Martin made good on his plan to leave, taking the money and running. Tony Holden escorted him to the door and, because I busted with Kc-9c in his pocket-fours hand, I tagged along.

Tony signed a copy of BIGGER DEAL with Steve, who asked, “Could you sign one also for Warren Buffett? I’m playing poker with him in Las Vegas and I’m sure he’d enjoy a copy.”
Sunday, May 20, 2007

Who Done It?


Portrayed in a new book as a killer.

May 18, 2007 -- HUMORIST Robert Kaplow's celeb satire "Who's Killing the Great Writers of America" ain't funny to Steve Martin. The book deals with a demented killer out to slaughter the publishing world. Top writers such as Stephen King head his hit list. He puts others in situations like Danielle Steel trying to seduce Gérard Depardieu, and Tom Clancy, in black leather, handcuffed to a radiator.

Labeling it a kind of celebrity chic to be killed in his book, NPR's Kaplow says: "Some authors are begging me to kill them. They feel it might be the last hope for their careers. But I tell them, 'I'm only killing the A-list.' "

Ruffled by this exercise in literary absurdity is Steve Martin who, in the book, wants to be a big-time writer and, thus, is the one killing off all the others. His ICM agent Ed Limato is the one who unsuccessfully tried to kill off this book. Phoenix is marching it onto the bookshelves as we speak.

NY Post

Authors are dying for a shout-out in this novel

May 18, 2007, 06:00 PM | by Ken Tucker

So there’s this new novel being published June 1st called Who's Killing the Great Writers of America?, by Robert Kaplow, see? And in it, famous scribes, including EW columnist Stephen King (pictured) — as well as Tom Clancy, Danielle Steel, and Sue Grafton, among others — are offed violently. In the novel, the murderer turns out to be... comedian-writer Steve Martin. Cindy Adams is reporting in The New York Post that Martin is annoyed about being portrayed in this way.

Well, as EW’s unofficial Ancient Pop-Culture Guy on the staff, I can pull a tattered paperback off of my dusty shelves and remind you whippersnappers that way back in 1973, there was a novel called American Mischief, by one Alan Lelchuck. In it, the lead character shoots Norman Mailer at point-blank range and kills the famed author of The Naked and The Dead dead. And — well, whaddaya know? — at the time, Mailer, like Martin, was peeved at being portrayed fictionally.

But while Cindy Adams asserts that Steve Martin’s agent has tried unsuccessfully to prevent publication of Kaplow’s book, back in 1973, Mailer took matters into his own rough-knuckled hands. As Time magazine’s R.Z. Sheppard reported at the time, Mailer threatened to reduce Alan Lelchuck to "a hank of hair and some fillings." (Ancient Pop-Culture Guy is moved to remark with admiration: They don’t make threats like they used to, do they?) While Alan Lelchuk has published numerous books since American Mischief, none of them has brought him anywhere near the coverage and notoriety that Mischief did. And if I was Robert Kaplow, I wouldn’t have picked Stephen King as a victim no matter how much ink it got me. Gosh, I’d hate to see Kaplow reduced to a hank of hair and some fillings in a future King thriller...

So, given the fact that, despite having published a number of other novels, Robert Kaplow isn’t exactly a household name, do you think killing off "great writers" is: a publicity stunt? A rip-off of Alan Lelchuk’s idea? A chance for readers to discover a bold talent who hasn’t yet received the acclaim he deserves? Or some combination of all of these?


posted by KMT
Saturday, May 19, 2007

Steve's NY Abode

Celebrity Appeal
A Look at the San Remo
By Denton Tarver

Located on the luxurious Upper West Side along breathtaking Central Park West, the San Remo is one of the premier luxury apartment buildings in New York City. The first to incorporate the twin tower concept, this building’s addition to New York’s skyline added grace, beauty, and some interesting architecture along the west side of New York’s largest and most famous park.

Known as a building that has been (and still is) home to many artists and movie stars, the San Remo itself is something of a star, having appeared in several movies. Among those were Neil Simon’s The Odd Couple (Tony Randall, one of the stars, actually lived here for a time), and Ghostbusters, in which Sigourney Weaver climbed to one of the building’s rooftop “temple” cupolas as lightning struck and unearthly clouds swirled overhead.
Architecture and Design

The legendary Emery Roth, of Emery Roth and Sons, was the architect behind the design of more than 80 buildings in New York City, including the San Remo, according to Carter B. Horsley in The Upper West Side Book; The San Remo.

Its architecture is, in fact, the San Remo’s most noted feature. As construction began on the building in 1929—just weeks before the market crash that signaled the beginning of the Great Depression—the city enacted its Multiple Dwelling Act, which modified existing zoning laws to allow residential buildings to be built to greater heights, provided they included larger courts and yards.

Although the San Remo occupies the entire block of Central Park West between 74th and 75th Streets, it is actually a large U-shape, with its courtyard facing west, away from the park. According to Horsley, the building was set back from the street 70 feet on all sides, and the towers did not exceed 20 percent of the site, in accordance with the new zoning regulations. The main benefit of the twin-towered building format was the creation of more apartments with more access to light and air.

The spectacular view of the San Remo from Central Park first reveals the twin towers, each 10 stories tall, emerging from the lower 17 floors of apartments. A closer look reveals that the rectangular towers are not exactly symmetrical, but bulge a bit on their western face. The rectangular towers also ascend to two circular “temples” at each top. Even before Ghostbusters immortalized them on film, the Greek design of these temples added a somewhat mysterious, glowering air to the building, and can be traced to Roth’s studies of Greek architecture at the Chicago World’s Fair.

The Greek-inspired towers on the San Remo were no happy architectural accident. Pre-Depression-era developers such as the Bing Brothers and Harris H. Uris retained Roth to design medium-height structures that the architect dubbed “skyscratchers,” according to Barbaralee Diamonstein-Spielvogel, in her book The Landmarks of New York (The Monacelli Press, 2005). Originally designed to conceal water tanks, Roth’s towers eventually evolved into a major element of his designs. The San Remo was designated as a landmark on March 31, 1987. Roth also designed The Beresford, just two blocks south of the San Remo, and many other landmarked buildings.

According to Diamonstein-Spielvogel, “The building is executed in light brick over a three-story base of rusticated limestone. The architectural detailing in stone, terracotta, and metal is late Italian-Renaissance in character. Balustrades, pilasters, engaged columns, broken pediments, garlands, urns, cartouches, scrolls, consoles, and rondoles are all employed to highlight entrance and window configurations.”

The overall design of the San Remo speaks of classical themes, and none of the individual features detract from the composition of the building as a whole. The towers are set back nicely from the base of the building, including terraces that add value to the apartments and the building as a whole, but do not create visual interest of their own. The towers have no corner widows, which gives the building a sense of stoic permanence and majesty. The building seems to be speaking to that segment of the population who are looking for a residence that implies a strong sense of luxury living with an old-world glamour.

“Many of the apartments have had very few owners,” say Jeff Dyksterhouse and Fay Robin, brokers at Prudential Douglas Elliman’s Westside office, “and so they’ve retained a lot of the beautiful original details—such as Art Deco bathroom tiles in lovely colors, shower fixtures, and kitchen cabinets, countertops and sinks.”
Notable Residents

Many famous people have called the San Remo home. In 1982, Steve Jobs, the Apple computer co-founder and CEO bought an apartment occupying the top two floors of the north tower. Jobs spent years renovating the apartment, and after never actually moving in, sold the space to Bono, lead singer for the legendary rock band U2. Rita Hayworth also lived in the building before her death from Alzheimer’s disease, which she left to her daughter, Princess Yasmin Aga Khan.

Many other influential people have taken up residence in the San Remo. The list includes: Steve Spielberg, Donna Karan, Demi Moore, Dustin Hoffman, Steve Martin (who joined two separate apartments when he married actress Victoria Tennant, then separated them again with a soundproof wall after a bitter divorce). Bruce Willis, Eddie Cantor, Robert Stigwood, Zero Mostel, Barry Manilow (who subletted to Raquel Welch), Jack Dempsey, Mary Tyler Moore, Peter Allen, and others have all lived there as well. The San Remo has a long reputation for housing the politically progressive—indeed, it’s reputed to have been the one building whose residents donated the most money to the 2004 John Kerry presidential campaign, according to Glen Justice in a June 23, 2004 New York Times article.

It hasn’t always been about glamour and prestige for the San Remo, however. Shortly after its completion, the building fell victim to the economy of the time. The Great Depression left more than a quarter of the units unoccupied, sending the building into bankruptcy and the bank that held its mortgage out of business in one fell swoop. In 1940, both the San Remo and the Beresford were sold for $25,000—total—over their existing mortgages. Such moves were common in the wake of the Depression, but for two architecturally significant icons such as these, it was a bitter blow.
Location, Location, Location …

Those days, however, are long past. Today, apartment units in the San Remo are in great demand, for a host of reasons. One of the main benefits of a residence in the San Remo apartments—in addition to the obvious proximity to Central Park—is its neighborhood, the Upper West Side. One block away, on Columbus Avenue, residents can find a vast array of shopping and restaurants to choose from. Everything from designer jeans to high-end chocolate can be found along the busy shopping strip, along with Southeast Asian fusion cuisine, Greek food, and a dizzying array of other options.

A walker’s delight, strolling in any direction from the San Remo will lead through the carefully planned and artistic beauty of Central Park, or through a cityscape of shopping, restaurants, and residential homes. Leafy streets lined with brownstones surround the building and comprise the majority of the neighborhood, and the sidewalks are usually filled with families walking their dogs or urban professionals out for a run.

The Museum of Natural History is a short walk north of the San Remo, as is the New York Historical Society. The Rose Space Center, a recent addition to the museum boasts a NASA-quality computer system that powers the state-of-the-art Hayden planetarium. Walking south will shortly lead to Columbus Circle and the shops at Time Warner Center, another prime draw to the area.
Inside the San Remo

The building has been a privately owned co-op since 1972, and its board has a reputation for leniency—at least in comparison to its more conservative, Old Money counterparts across the park. That said, the board did turn down an application from Madonna in 1985—presumably because of her paparazzi following…though their decision also coincided with her “pictorial review” in two popular gentlemen’s magazines, according to Steven Gaines in his book, The Sky’s the Limit (Back Bay Books, 2005).

Gaines goes on to report that renovations have caused a bit of a stir at the San Remo. In addition to the Steve Jobs extravaganza, Donna Karan apparently employed a TV production designer, a lighting designer, and a group from her fashion studio, who completely redesigned the space—all for a two-year sublet.

The renovation obsession includes Bruce Willis and Demi Moore, who went through two years and three different contractors before they finished their revision of Eddie Cantor’s old apartment. Steven Spielberg took three years—two of which included jack-hammering to remove a marble floor. According to Gaines, to soothe relations with downstairs neighbors Marshall Brickman and Jackie Leo, Spielberg rented office space for them elsewhere in the building so they could work in peace. When the work was finally completed, Spielberg then offered to pay for more attractive housing for the rooftop water tank of a neighboring building, the Kenilworth, in order to renovate his view as well.

There are 138 apartments in the San Remo, although the number fluctuates as apartments are combined or split, a la Steve Martin. Units are in very high demand and generally cost no less than $2.5 million dollars. In August of 2005, the late Broadway lyricist Fred Ebb’s 14th floor apartment sold for $10.8 million, according to Dyksterhouse and Robin.

“As a landmark building, the San Remo has had no changes to its façade, but there is constant maintenance and upkeep,” says Dyksterhouse. “The lobbies, elevators, and other public areas underwent a major renovation/restoration in the mid-90’s. They are all imported Italian marble and are absolutely stunning.”

Elements such as those Dyksterhouse mentions, as well as the rich history, commanding views of Central Park, and surrounding Upper West Side atmosphere has made the San Remo a New York signature, and one of the most enviable residences in the city.

Denton Tarver is a freelance writer living in New York City.

Bono takes on G8 - and smoky neighbours

Campaigning rock star in spat over open fires in New York apartment block

Ed Pilkington in New York
Thursday May 17, 2007
The Guardian

The San Remo apartment building overlooking Central Park is one of new York's most expensive places to live. Photograph: Spencer Platt/Getty Images

On the world stage, the U2 frontman Bono is known as a tireless advocate for increasing aid to Africa. On the smaller stage of 145-6 Central Park West he has gained a different reputation: the man whose intervention has put a stop to open fires.

For a celebrity accustomed to publicity surrounding his campaign to get the G8 engaged in development, the details that emerged yesterday of a domestic squabble with neighbours in his apartment block on the upper west side in New York had a petty ring to them. He wanted to stop smoke from open fires in nearby apartments floating into his multi-million-pound penthouse; his neighbours countered that he was disrupting their enjoyment of log fires.

The spat, whose antagonists include fellow pop veteran Billy Squier, was revealed in a 1,200-word article in the New York Times, which was mischievous in plonking a cut-out of Bono's face on its front cover beside the catch-line Where There's Smoke. The paper said the dispute had rumbled on since Bono bought his penthouse for $15m (£7.6m) from the founder of Apple Computer, Steve Jobs. The apartment is in the San Remo, one of the most expensive landmarks of Manhattan, whose Depression-era 17-storey towers dominate the skyline over the west of central park.

Being the upper west side, and not the stuffier east, the San Remo is chock full of pop and Hollywood stars, including Steve Martin, Steven Spielberg and Demi Moore. In 2004 the New York Times did an analysis that showed that its residents contributed more campaign money to the Democratic presidential candidate John Kerry than any other building in the United States.

The residents, who have managed the building as a cooperative since 1970, also famously rejected Madonna as a tenant in 1985. The co-op board gave no explanation for that decision, though Madonna was appearing nude on the cover of Playboy at the time.

After Bono and his family moved into San Remo, he approached the board to complain that he had seen smoke from the open fires in some of the flats drifting towards his windows. Leni May, the chairwoman of the New York Jewish Museum, whose husband sits on the board, told the newspaper: "Bono was so nice. He said, 'Listen, whatever I can do to get these things working, but it's emptying into my apartment and I can't have smoke like that.'"

Mrs May said that Bono had told the board that one of his two daughters had asthma.

Following his approach to the cooperative, the board has banned all use of open fires in San Remo pending a report by experts called in to study what can be done to minimise the smoke from about a third of the building's 135 apartments that have open fires.

That has incensed some of the proud owners of the fireplaces, who have sent leaflets to their neighbours insisting that no harm was being done. One of the angry parties is Billy Squier, a pop icon of the 70s who, though by no means in the same league as Bono, was passingly successful with his 1981 hit The Stroke ("Everybody have you heard? If you're in the game / The stroke's the word").

Phyliss Koch, who has lived in the block for 30 years, told the Guardian that in her experience as an estate agent, petty disputes often erupted in cooperatives. "The power of being on the board can make people very important sometimes. Some co-ops bicker about the most nonsensical things."

As for Bono, his agents, Principle Management, said the argument was not about him but about health and safety issues.,,2081404,00.html
Thursday, May 17, 2007

Steve's life as a New Yorker

Life in the Big Apple and its literatti world produces some critics. Shall we pretend they do not exist? No, we will let them have their say. So don't blame me.
Leo Lerman's Book Party Attracts Socialities, Media Veterans And The Stars Of Yesteryear
— Tue, May 8, 2007 —

Yesterday, we had the pleasure of attending a high-end book party toasting the publication of "The Journals of Leo Lerman," the former Vanity Fair editor-in-chief (and Vogue features editor) best known for his dazzling connections, and for rejecting the romantic overtures of Yul Brynner. The fete was held at Lerman's legendary West Side apartment, a sprawling, high-ceilinged ornately decorated duplex located directly across from the Brooklyn Diner.

When we first arrived, we made several quick observations:

• Observation #1: We haven't seen this many old people since our grandmother dragged us to the Golden Girls reunion.
• Observation #2: Leo Lerman had many more media contacts than we have/ever will. And far more glass-encased pieces of art.
• Observation #3: It's easy to flirt with the hired help when you're one of the only people under 65.

After taking in the stuffed owl in the foyer and getting shoved aside by an old lady with a pointy-edged walker, we started roaming around the antique-filled apartment in search of the perky blond caterer with the Spanakopita tray. And though our camera broke almost immediately upon our arrival (thanks for roughly slapping it away, Steve Martin!) we did manage to spy an interesting assortment of boldfacers, both past and present. In addition to greeting Gray Foy—a celebrated painter and Lerman's dapper-haired longtime companion—we also observed (read: unsubtly stared at) Patricia Neal, Grace Mirabella and Studio 54 busboy-turned-writer David Noh.

While intermittently downing champagne (we may or may not have become BFF with Cody, the comely prosecco server and recent University of Michigan alum) and admiring Lerman's decorator's bow-tie, and his tiny dachshund—also named Leo Lerman!—we envisioned ourselves having hypothetical conversations with some of the elite guests/partygoers. And though we somehow resisted the urge to ask Amy Gross (editor of Oprah) for the scoop on next month's cover girl, we did make the acquaintance of Ron "Galleycat" Hogan, schmooze with Ben "Gatecrasher" Widdicombe and steer clear of Steve "He Broke Our Camera" Martin.

But it turns out befriending the hired help and holing up in the "Champagne Room" has its advantages. In fact, as we admired our peers from the New York Observer, Gawker and Women's Wear Daily scurrying around with their notebooks, little yellow pencils and tape recorders, it occurred to us that we probably ought to do some top-notch reporting of our own. So we gulped down our seventh glass of prosecco, held out our glass for a refill, and took the moment as an excellent opportunity to question our friendly neighborhood server.

Jossip: Are we the drunkest people here?
Server: Maybe. But there are a one or two other contenders.
Jossip: Like who, Steve Martin? We hear he's thrown back a few.
Server: (laughs) He's had a couple.
Jossip: Has he had as many glasses as we have?
Server: No.

And as we inhaled another round of Spanakopitas (thanks, Anna!) we turned to each other, smiled contentedly and thought, 'This must be how Truman Capote felt.' Except, he probably would have left with Steve Martin's phone number instead of a champagne hangover and a busted digital camera.
Wednesday, May 09, 2007

More Steve, More Rock Bottom Remainders

There has already been one post here about Steve's interviewing the all-author rock band, the Rock Bottom Remainders. I, of course, being the arbiter of all things Steve, bypassed the RBR's own publicity and blog and went right to their videos for your viewing enjoyment. However, Dave Barry, the spokeshumorist for the band (and a right fine spokeshumorist he is) has been parcelling out the videos in an effort to keep people coming back. PR is apparently in his blood -- blocking the arteries.

I am once again posting a page direct to the videos, including 12 new ones and Steve playing with the band. But taking pity on the RBRs, who are actually quite wonderful in an awful way, I'm including the links for them. Please give them some traffic, read about them, and support their tour if you happen to be somewhere other than in the middle of the country where they never ever come under any circumstances because we are too lowly to behold their magnificence.

The videos are here.

The RBR blog and youtube is here.

The ever funny worthwhile amusing blog of the fabulous Dave Barry, who always ignores my emails, and the truly fabulous Judi, and Walter, the walrus thing is here.
Tuesday, May 08, 2007

Art auction for opera
Met auction marries art, music in bid to fund future operas
Associated Press Writer

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May 7, 2007, 1:25 AM EDT
NEW YORK -- Soprano Renee Fleming appeared twice on the Met stage on Sunday _ but for once she didn't sing.

Two works displaying the diva's face were among the pieces for sale at a benefit auction of new art by major living artists _ part of an ongoing effort by the Metropolitan Opera's general manager, Peter Gelb, to combine the visual and vocal arts while keeping his house humming along financially.

The evening, dubbed "Art for Opera," was staged amid the sets of "Orfeo ed Euridice" and raised more than $1.8 million for future Met productions.

Also on the block was a William Wegman photograph of his famed Weimaraner hunting dogs dressed as Hansel and Gretel, in the costumes of next year's Met production of Engelbert Humperdinck's fairy tale opera. It was among a series of four Polaroids that fetched $50,000.

Two other offerings were ephemeral: the live voices of Italian tenor Salvatore Licitra and the Latvian soprano Maija Kovalevska, who entertained several hundred onstage dinner guests before the bidding.

"For someone who's never been on the Met stage, it's thrilling to be able to look into the audience and realize what it's like to be a singer here," Gelb said before the auction, which he believes is the first on the Met's massive main stage _ 54 feet wide and 80 feet deep, with a height of 110 feet from the floor to the rigging loft.

James G. Niven, vice-chairman of Sotheby's, offered his services as auctioneer for what he called "a noble experiment."

Most of the lots were specially commissioned, opera-themed works on the market for the first time, including pieces by artists John Chamberlain, Chuck Close, Barnaby Furnas, William Kentridge, Richard Prince and David Salle.

"You'd never in a million years say that this woman is an opera singer," Fleming said of her portrait by Close, using a cotton tapestry technique. "I'm in casual dress. It's just me. Real."

Two editions of the work went for $70,000 and $80,000 each.

By contrast, director Robert Wilson created a stylized video portrait of Fleming in the 19th-century operatic role of Thais, a beautiful courtesan with whom a monk falls in love. That piece sold for $130,000.

Wegman's work "is amusing and fanciful, and it captures the human emotions expressed in his model dog faces. They're great, organic works of art," Gelb said.

Another link to the Met's scenery for next season is an ink-on-paper birdcatcher by the South African artist William Kentridge, who will direct Russian composer Dmitri Shostakovich's opera "The Nose," a 2010 production about a government worker who wakes up to find his nose has departed and taken on a life of its own. That work fetched $110,000.

The sets of "Orfeo," designed by Allen Moyer, were chosen as the scene for the auction, Gelb said, "because it's very beautiful contemporary design _ a work of art in itself."

Attending the auction was Mark Morris, the dance choreographer who directed the new "Orfeo" production, as well as artist Jeff Koons, entertainer Steve Martin and tennis great John McEnroe.

Before the sale, for which tickets sold at $750 and $1,250 apiece, the works were exhibited in a new gallery the Met opened this season near the entrance of the house at Lincoln Center.

Through Friday, bids also were accepted by phone, or by downloading a form from the Met Web site.

The event was part of a larger institutional goal, Fleming said: "pulling the Met into the 21st century by making opera more relevant to younger audiences _ to a generation brought up on expectations that are visual, on TV and film."

She noted Gelb's introduction of live, high-definition broadcasts of Met productions in hundreds of movie theaters across the country _ many selling out.

"It's an outreach going out into the community and saying, 'Hello, we're here! Don't be afraid, come in'!" Fleming said, adding, "Opera is modern. The people on the stage are people you can relate to, and find intriguing."
Sunday, May 06, 2007

The Rock Bottom Remainders talk to Steve

A few years ago, The Rock Bottom Remainders, a musical group made up of best selling authors, went on tour and were interviewed by Steve. They're going on tour again, and so they're finally allowing us to see the Steve tapes as a come-on. That Dave Barry ...

You can go here to see the clips of Steve interviewing them.

Steve goes to the ballet with the other socialites

ignore the headline -- it was for the whole column. i include here only the steve related parts.

so this is steve's future -- "steve and every other socialite"
Comedian feels 'hurt' by Latin flubber Leno
New York Daily News online
Thursday, May 3rd 2007, 4:00 AM

Ann Bass has made her first public appearance since burglars invaded her Connecticut mansion on April 16. Bass and her beau, Julian Lethbridge, snuck into the New York City Ballet's spring gala on Tuesday. The couple declined to talk to reporters or pose for pictures. Bass, who came to support choreographer Peter Martins along with chairmen Agnes Gund and Daniel Shapiro, joined former President Bill Clinton, Anna Wintour, Steve Martin and every major socialite. Bass looked "chic, but frail and vulnerable," says one observer. Bass shot down talk that she's selling her 1,000-acre estate.

Steve at the PEN World Voices Festival

The PEN World Voices Festival held in New York City had Steve participating in Town Hall Readings: Writing Home, where different writers spoke about their writing about where they live. You can hear Steve's presentation of April 25, 2007 here.

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