Monday, November 22, 2010

Robert DeNiro Is "Spiritual Magnet" of Tribeca Film Fest, Says Co-Founder

Tribeca Film Festival co-founder Craig Hatkoff.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images

Tribeca Film Festival co-founder Craig Hatkoff said fellow founder Robert DeNiro has unique pull when it comes to the 10-year-old film fest.

"Bob is the spiritual magnet of this project," Hatkoff said Friday at the 92 Street Y in Tribeca. "When Bob is in New York and not shooting a movie, he is at a lot of the events. He likes going and he goes quietly and often won't tell anyone he's coming. He just shows up and supports it."

Hatkoff, wife Jane Rosenthal, and DeNiro created the festival to help revitalize Lower Manhattan in the wake of the Sept. 11 terror attacks. The idea was conceived when Hatkoff and his wife were having dinner in Little Italy shortly after the attacks, he said.

"We originally projected it would be something small, maybe a couple dozen films," Hatkoff said. "We never imagined to have the 160 films like we did or the 150,000 people show up."

With the integration of "Tribeca Film on Demand" this year, Hatkoff says he is happy they had the opportunity to have the films seen by more people. But nothing can replace the experience of watching films in the theater, he said.

"Nothing will ever replace being in the room when the lights go down," Hatkoff said. "Watching the films at home can be inferior as long as it gets the job [of reaching more people] done."

The 2011 festival will run April 20 through May 1.

This story ran on's NiteSide.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Tim Gunn Defends Book's Unflattering Anna Wintour Depiction

"Project Runway" host Tim Gunn defended his decision to keep the controversial anecdote about Anna Wintour's diva behavior in his book during a talk in Manhattan last night.

"[It's in there] because of the aftermath," Gunn told the audience at 92nd Street Y in the Upper East Side Sunday evening. "There are three aspect to it: don't bully, don't threaten and accept responsibility."

In his tome "Gunn's Golden Rules: Life's Little Lessons for Making it Work," the fashion guru details how Wintour allegedly had her bodyguards carry her down the stairs rather than take the elevator following Peter Som's 2006 fashion show at the Metropolitan Pavilion.

Gunn also confessed he "never dreamed" he'd be part of the wildly successful fashion reality TV show in which his wry use of phrases such as "Carry on" and "Make it work" became part of the zeitgeist.

"I never dreamed that I would be part of it," Gunn said. "No one was more shocked about it than I."

He added, "I loved taping season one. It was entirely a new life experience for me. I had never been part of anything like that."

Gunn also said fashion reality TV contestants aren't guaranteed fame like many in the reality TV music industry.

"I don't for a moment want to trivialize 'American Idol,' so forgive me in advance," Gunn said. "If you are an alumnus or an alumna of 'American Idol' you could potentially hang your shingle outside, fill this beautiful auditorium and sing to them. For a fashion designer, it's much more complex. The designers who have been on the show can only achieve as much as their ambitions and their resources really allow them to."

This story ran on's NiteSide.

My story lead the NBC New York home page and was linked up in the celebrity entertainment section in the other nine NBC local-media markets: Miami, Washington DC, Chicago, Philadelphia, San Diego, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Connecticut, and Dallas-Fort Worth. 

Thursday, November 11, 2010

"West Side Story" Lyricist Stephen Sondheim Reveals His Showbiz Regret

The talented lyricist, Stephen Sondheim.
Photo courtesy of Getty Images

"West Side Story" and "Sweeney Todd" lyricist Stephen Sondheim confessed there is one musical he regrets not having a role in during his distinguished career.

Promoting his new tome "Finishing the Hat" at Barnes and Noble in Union Square last night, Sondheim said he wished he could have worked on the 1961 Broadway production "Carnival" starring Anna Marie Alberghetti.

"That is a show that really resonates with me," he said to the audience, "and I wish I could've had my hands on it."

The acclaimed 80-year-old lyricist also discussed his great mentors, such as iconic playwright Oscar Hammerstein II, and pointed out that his new book reveals some never-before-seen lyrics.

"I wanted to tell people my opinions on lyric writing and that's where this book came from," he said.

The hardest part of penning lyrics, he said, is encapsulating a sentiment in a concise way.

"When you're dealing with lyrics, less is more," Sondheim said. "I like to tell stories with my lyrics and you only have a short piece to do it with so you can't waste words."

He added, "One of the things people have a hard time with when writing lyrics is they repeat the same thought or concept instead of adding something new."

This story ran on's NiteSide.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Portia De Rossi: My Secrets Made Me Sick

Portia de Rossi speaks about her book "Unbearable Lightness."

Starlet Portia de Rossi said the burden of keeping her emotions bottled up and her eating disorder hidden made her ill.

"It's a classic, stupid thing to say, but the secrets make you sick," de Rossi said. "I had to come out as having eating disorders and only by doing that could I really, truly say that I'm fully recovered."

De Rossi, 37, promoting her memoir at an Upper East Side Barnes and Noble over the weekend, said she battled anorexia from the start of her career as a model at age 12 until the time she played Nell Porter on "Ally McBeal" in 1998.

"I became aware, by the end of the book, that while I was really talking about wasn't my eating disorder and it wasn't my sexuality, it was this struggle for self acceptance and to be able to just feel comfortable in my own skin," de Rossi said of her tome "Unbearable Lightness."

De Rossi, who came out in 2005, has credited wife Ellen DeGeneres with helping her come to terms with her identity and said Friday night she found writing the book to be cathartic.

"It sounds very selfish in a way, but I really wrote this book for myself," de Rossi said. "I wrote it for my teenage self. I wrote it thinking that it was the book I wished I could've had access to when I was suffering so deeply from the disorder and struggling with my sexuality."

She added, "When I first realized that what I was writing was going to be called a memoir, I thought, I'm only 37. It just sounded so grandiose ... Then I thought, I'm not going to write about the event that happened in my life, I'm going to talk about the events that happened in my head."

This story ran on's NiteSide.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Joel McHale "Excited" to See The Boss

Joel McHale on the red carpet at the New York Comedy Festival.


On the television sitcom "Community" Joel McHale plays the leader of a motley gang of community-college students, but in real life last night he was psyched to meet another top dog -- The Boss.

"I'm excited about seeing Bruce Springsteen," said "The Soup" host of one of the evening's performers at the fourth-annual Stand Up for Heroes benefit for American war veterans, kicking off this year's New York Comedy Festival. Jon Stewart, Jerry Seinfeld, Tony Bennett, and Rosie O'Donnell also appeared.

The Bob Woodruff Foundation partnered with the New York Comedy Festival to put on the event, held at the Beacon Theatre on the Upper East Side.

"I think any time you can get anyone out and laughing it's a good thing," McHale said.

While many major stars turned out, McHale said the ones who deserved the most attention were the veterans.

Injured troops need lifelong care and there needs to be awareness of that and more funding for that," McHale said. "They have made such an incredible sacrifice that it's the least we can do."

And to those who might wonder why it works to mix comedy with such a serious subject, McHale simply said, "Why not?"

This story ran on's NiteSide.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Comedian Tom Green Reveals 2011 Movie Release

Me with Tom Green at Comix on Friday night.

Tom Green hasn't disappeared, he's just been hanging out in his living room -- with thousands of fans.

The comedian and actor, who was briefly a tabloid fixture of 2001 for his short-lived marriage to Drew Barrymore, has in fact been very busy as of late. Green continues to host a popular internet show out of his house, he began a stand-up comedy world tour earlier this year, and on his stop in New York City this weekend, he told NiteSide that he just wrapped filming a movie, "Prankstar," which he wrote, directed, and stars in.

"It will be coming out in a year or so," Green said before his Friday night show at Comix Comedy Club in the Meatpacking District. "[Movies] have always been something that I enjoy doing, but it takes such a lot out of you when it comes to directing and writing a movie. It's a little bit too slow of a moving machine for my attention deficit disorder, so I think I'd like to do one every few years."

As for other people's pictures, Green said he would like to see the latest "Jackass" movie, but his tour schedule has prevented him from going.

"I like 'Jackass' and I know some of those guys," Green said. "I'm sure it's awesome."

In 2006, Green started an online talk show, "Tom Green's House Tonight," where he interviews celebrities at a studio he built in the living room of his Los Angeles home.

"It's the longest running online talk show in the history of the Internet and the highest rated," Green boasts. "I was the first one to do it and I'm still going."

Green starred in the MTV his series of the late 90's, "The Tom Green Show," which was well known for its shock humor, but was discontinued around the time that Green was diagnosed with (and later successfully treated for) cancer. Now he says that even though he enjoyed doing the show, he doesn't really miss TV.

"I get literally just as many viewers on the web show," Green said. "[Now] I have nobody really telling me what to do and I can basically do whatever I want creatively and that's a lot of fun. I'm really in control of my own little business."

This story ran on's NiteSide.