Thursday, October 28, 2010

Famed Playwright Neil LaBute Battles Stage Fright

Playwright Neil LaBute spoke at Powerhouse Arena in Dumbo, Brooklyn.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images

"In the Company of Men" playwright Neil LaBute said he felt on edge about the Thursday night debut of his latest show starring David Duchovny and Amanda Peet.

"It is an exciting and horrifying thing," the famed scribe known for his dark and comedic explorations of morality told an intimate crowd at the Powerhouse Arena in Dumbo last night about the debut of his latest work, "The Break of Noon."

LaBute, whose "Reasons to be Pretty" was nominated for a Tony in 2009, read from the new work, which chronicles the life of an employee who claims to see the face of God following the worst office shooting in America. LaBute also read from past work and shared a short story he wrote just that morning for the event.

"I'm happy I still have a pleasure for writing," LaBute said. "I sit down and write things because I like it, not because it's for anything, but because it's a pleasure to do it."

LaBute also revealed why he tends to weave in corporate culture into his work. He said his fascination with business jargon developed when he worked for a software company while studying at NYU.

"I loved the sound of the foreign language that I didn't understand in the offices," LeBute said. "Nobody ever seemed to really be doing anything but would say, 'I have this meeting and I have to file a 507 later today.' I loved the banter and I've put that into the world of the offices I write about."

"The Break of Noon" is debuting at the MCC Theater in Manhattan tonight.

This story ran on's NiteSide.

Friday, October 22, 2010

Model Helena Christensen: My Bond With Naomi Campbell

Danish model Helena Christensen at the Boom Boom Room.
Photo by: Brooke Niemeyer

Model Helena Christensen said she and close pal Naomi Campbell have a bond built on their experiences during the early days of their forays into fashion.

"I shared a lot of unique moments with her," Christensen told NiteSide at the "Free the Slaves" benefit at the Boom Boom Room Wednesday night. "We were very young, and we stayed very close throughout all the years and had some really amazing times together."

She added, "It's very rare moments when we get to hang out again, but when we do, it's like we were never apart."

The Danish model said she is next off to Nepal with Oxfam.

"It's a really great organization," Christensen said. "I went to Peru to photograph the changes of the climate and the effect it had on the indigenous people it had in the mountains, and now we're going to Nepal to do the same because there's a big climate conference coming up next year."

This story ran on's NiteSide.

Monday, October 18, 2010

"What Not To Wear's" Clinton Kelly Reveals Secret to New Book: Tourists!


Fashion guru and "What Not to Wear" co-host Clinton Kelly told the crowd at 92nd Street Y last night that many of the style mistakes mentioned in his latest book came from an afternoon he spent sitting by the window at a Times Square Starbucks.

"I just watched all the tourists go by," Kelly said during the final stop on the tour for his new book, Oh No She Didn't: The Top 100 Style Mistakes Women Make and How to Avoid Them. "I kept writing down fashion mistake after fashion mistake after fashion mistake. In the time it took me to drink one tall latte, I had 85 of the 100 mistakes."

Kelly also addressed his relationship with "WNTW" co-host Stacy London.

"Stacy and I get along really well," Kelly said. "We are great friends at work and we make each other laugh every single day. I guess we're lucky like that."

Kelly divulged his fashion do's and don'ts, drawing on stories from the show as well as his latest tome.

"Sweat pants are the devil," Kelly said. "They will only make your life worse. Only wear sweat pants when you are sweating."

He also advised all women to only use fashion magazines as a tool to learn about the latest trends, not to define your personal style.

"Style is how you take fashion and make it your own."

This story ran on's NiteSide.

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Russell Brand: "I Am Excited About Getting Married"

Katy Perry and Russell Brand are expected to wed soon.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images


British comic Russell Brand said he was thrilled about his upcoming nuptials to pop starlet Katy Perry.

"I will say I am excited about getting married," Brand said Wednesday night at Barnes and Noble in Manhattan while promoting his new book "Booky Wook 2: This Time It's Personal."

"It's a lovely thing to get married. I think it's a peaceful thing and I'm very happy about it."

The couple got engaged last year, but Brand remained mum on the details and did not reveal a specific date or place for the wedding.

In lieu of a traditional reading, Brand interacted with the wall-to-wall crowd -- answering their questions and telling jokes. He humorously informed fans "that man on Facebook is not me."

While Brand's fiance is busy with her concert tour, the "Get Him to the Greek" star started a weekly radio show on the UK station talkSPORT earlier this month, which follows him on his book tour for the next 20 weeks.

Brand also revealed last night that before too long he will have another radio show to tune into -- this time it will be in the states.

"There will soon be a new radio show on Sirius," Brand said. "Look out for that."

This story ran on's NiteSide.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Comics Still Reeling From Loss of Greg Giraldo, Says Pal

Comedian Joe DeRosa at Comix.
Photo by: Brooke Niemeyer
The New York comedy community is still reeling from the shocking death of "Last Comic Standing" comedian Greg Giraldo, according to fellow comic and pal Joe DeRosa.

"It was a very hard thing to wrap your head around," DeRosa told NiteSide at Comix in Manhattan this weekend.

"He's definitely left a tremendous void in the business, and I think particularly in the New York comedy scene because he's here. I feel lucky to have known the guy in the way that I did."

He added, "He was the life of the party, would light up a room, always had a smile on his face, always funny, always charming, and one of the best comics ever to grace the business. He's very, very missed."

DeRosa met Geraldo, who passed away on Sept. 29 at age 44 of an accidental drug overdose, after he moved to New York from Philadelphia a few years ago to pursue a career in comedy. DeRosa said he stumbled into the business by accident when a club manager in Philly asked him to tell jokes during Monday Night football halftime breaks.

"I always enjoyed trying to be funny, and making people laugh is nice," DeRosa said. "But the thing to me that was always so incredible is that a group of people would listen to your thoughts and opinions."

He idolized the acts of men already in the industry, including Giraldo, and also George Carlin, who DeRosa had a brief phone conversation with a few years ago.

"When I tell you that is probably my most robust comedy memory, I'm not exaggerating," DeRosa said. "I just admired the man at such a level that even just to talk to him for five minutes ... that moved worlds for me."

Sunday, October 10, 2010

Ari Berman at the White Slab Palace Bar
Photo by: Brooke Niemeyer

Political journalist Ari Berman told NiteSide at "The Little Idea" rally last night that there is a core group he feels is being affected the most by the bad economy.

"The people who are really getting hurt by the economy are Obama's base -- young people, minorities to some extent, single women -- these are the ones who are really getting hit hard," Berman said at the White Slab Palace Bar in the Lower East Side. "They expected a change and now they're getting the short end of the stick with the economy."

Berman, a reporter for "The Nation" magazine, touches on this in his book, "Herding Donkeys: The Fight to Rebuild the Democratic Party and Reshape American Politics," which was released this month.

"Basically if you have a catchy title, you have to have a clunky, long subtitle," he joked. "But the subtitle is indicative because the book is about the evolution of the Democratic Party in American politics from Howard Dean to Barack Obama."

Dean, the former Governor of Vermont, was unsuccessful in his quest for the Democratic presidential nomination in 2004 and Berman felt this was an important story to include in his book.

"I wanted to tell the story of the grass roots political movement that propelled Barack Obama to the White House," Berman said. "I felt like a lot of the books about Barack Obama, while a lot of them were very good, were missing that story."

He also felt it was crucial to visit states such as Indiana, Colorado, and North Carolina for his research so he could see how campaigners "turned these red states blue."

"I felt like then I wouldn't just have a book about politics," Berman said. "I would also have a book about the broader view into what is happening in the country.

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Arianna Huffington: 9,000 Have Signed Up For Bus Ride to D.C. Rally

Arianna Huffington after speaking at the White Slab Palace.
Photo by: Brooke Niemeyer

Arianna Huffington said more than 9,000 have taken her up on her televised offer to bus anyone interested from New York to Jon Stewart's rally in D.C. later this month.

"I'm expecting more to join us," Huffington told NiteSide at "The Little Idea" rally at White Slab Palace in the Lower East Side Wednesday night. "I'm sure Jon Stewart will be there too but probably the day before."

Though the media maven shocked "The Daily Show" audience on Sept. 28 when she offered free buses from her offices in SoHo to the Oct. 30 "Rally to Restore Sanity" in D.C., she had an agenda of her own last night: promoting her latest book "Third World America."

"We aren't a third world yet but are an interjectory to be a third world because it gives it a sense of urgency," Huffington said. "I talk about what we need to do to revitalizing ourselves, the community, and the country."

She encourages everyone to remove funds from big-time banks and instead invest in their local counterparts as part of her Move Your Money campaign.

"While money controls politics, we are less in control than we should be," she said. "Ultimately, the ones who are in control are the ones who are giving the big donations and sending the lobbyists up on the Hill."

This story ran on's NiteSide.

Monday, October 4, 2010

"Girls to the Front" Author Sara Marcus Pushes Punk Rock and Lady Gaga

Sara Marcus at her book launch party in Williamsburg.
Photo by: Brooke Niemeyer

It is possible to be a fan of both subversive punk rock and pop music's biggest current star? Author Sara Marcus thinks so. She recently wrote "Girls to the Front: The True Story of the Riot Grrrl Revolution," the first book to document the history of the underground, feminist, punk music movement of the 1990s. Turns out, though, she now also admires Lady Gaga.

"I have to say, even though I'm not a fan at all of Lady Gaga's music, I really have a lot of respect for the way that she's using her celebrity as a platform to be a beacon of hope to the freaks and the misfits among today's teens and adolescents," Marcus said. "You don't see very many mainstream artists speaking specifically to those kids the way that she does."

Marcus celebrated the release of her book Saturday night at the Williamsburg venue and bar, Bruar Falls.

Growing up in the midst of this feminist punk scene inspired Marcus to write the book. Having the support of Riot Grrrl superstar and former Bikini Kill singer Kathleen Hanna (who is married to Beastie Boy Adam Horovitz) sure didn't hurt, either. 

"[Hanna] told me that she was really glad I was the one doing this," Marcus said. "So that was really helpful and really encouraging."

Marcus also said that while thousands of scholarly papers have been written about this generation of underground music, she wanted to be the first to write a narrative book about it, in order to make sure everything was captured correctly.

"It just seemed like if I didn't write it based on the experiences of me and the people that I knew, someone else was going to write the book," Marcus said. "And they would write it about this distorted idea and the real power of [the movement] was going to be lost."

While she had an array of legendary sources for her book, Marcus says her favorite was a woman connected to and a big fan of the Riot Grrrl scene, but whose name was never in the headlines. 

"Mary Margaret is in the book from the beginning right through the very end," Marcus said. "She let me into her life in this profound way that it influenced the way that I approached the book. She instilled me with this great sense of awe and humility and the responsibility I had to honor the lives and experiences of everyone in the book. It really set the tone for everything."

This story ran on's NiteSide.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Singer Brendan James: American Idol is "Not For Me"

Me and Brendan James backstage before his concert at the Highline Ballroom.

Singer-songwriter Brendan James, who released his self-titled album earlier this month, says he could never be a contestant on American Idol.

"It's just not in my blood to [have] that much enthusiasm to sing without an instrument and sing someone else's songs," James told NiteSide before his concert Wednesday night at the Highland Ballroom in Chelsea.

The Los Angeles-based crooner has had his music featured on popular television shows including "Private Practice," "Bones," and, most recently, "One Tree Hill."

"I was so glad they picked that song ("Your Beating Heart" for "One Tree Hill")" said James. "That ballad is a really broken down song on the album."

While James has performed with some top-shelf artists, including Carol King, The Frey, and a Cat Stevens-endorsed children's choir, there is someone he still hopes to collaborate with one day.

"I would like to sing with Sara Bareilles," said James, of the 30-year-old singer-songwriter and pianist. "I think it would be a cool duet. I just like her sensibility and she puts a lot of thought into her lyrics like I do."

This story ran on's NiteSide.