By Eileen Murphy
People sometimes refer to Paul McGuinness as the fifth member of U2, but the smart money’s on writer Salman Rushdie. The author of “The Satanic Verses,” who has lived under the threat of assassination by Iranian fundamentalists for the last decade, continues his long association with U2 by penning lyrics to a new song which they will include on their next album. Can’t get much chummier than that.
Rushdie wrote the lyrics as part of his new book, “The Ground Beneath her Feet.”
“I sent [Bono] the novel when I’d finished it, and he responded by coming up with this beautiful melody,” the Guardian newspaper quoted Rushdie as saying. “Simple as that, but of course very pleasurable.”
In more U2 news, we hear that Bono and the lads must feel vindicated by the recent Irish Supreme Court ruling that no planning permit is necessary for concerts at Lansdowne Road. Those of you with long memories will recall U2’s court fight back in 1997, when they were in danger of having to cancel the final concerts on their PopMart Tour. Four area residents citing fear of noise, trash, vomit and general inconvenience sued to prevent the concerts from taking place. U2 squeaked by, but 80,000 fans (and nervous promoters) were kept on tenterhooks for, like, weeks.
And just in case you thought making an album was all work and no play, we hear that Bono jetted off to gay Paree to attend the opening of Le Man Ray, a new nightspot owned by actors Johnny Depp, Sean Penn and Michael Keaton. The U2 frontman partied with the likes of newly rehabbed supermodel Kate Moss and Simply Red singer Mick Hucknall. One can only assume that the two guys bemoaned their failure to purchase their very own football team (Glasgow Celtic) while Kate bemoaned the absence of ex-boyfriend Depp (who skipped the party).
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Where everybody knew his name
One of our favorite local Irish rock bands is the Prodigals, who can be seen every weekend at Paddy Reilly’s Pub in New York City. The band has attracted a large, enthusiastic following, and we’ve heard whispers of supermodel types and assorted celebs packing into the bar that Black 47 built. But, this being New York, and the Prodigals being super hot, not even a famous face can guarantee its owner a few inches of bar space during their performances. Not even when the famous face belongs to the patron saint of pub dwellers, Cheers alum George Wendt.
Now, George, or “Norm!” as he’ll be known as long as “Cheers” lives on in syndication, is used to a chummy place where everybody knows his name. But when he and his brother Paul stopped by Reilly’s last weekend, they were turned away at the door, because there wasn’t another inch of space to be had.
Undeterred, the siblings wandered over to a neighboring bar, F_ilte, presumably for a few cold bevvies. They managed to make it into Reilly’s a while later, to catch the end of the Prodigals’ second set. So we’re assuming that this made Wendt, who’s in town starring in the Tony Award-winning Broadway play “Art,” glad he came.
It will come as a surprise to absolutely no one that “Riverdance,” the mother of all Irish dance shows, has topped Variety’s list of the top-grossing variety/family shows of 1998. The Celtic extravaganza, which has toured the known world (and, we suspect, some neighboring planets) was seen by 787,154 people last year.
Just behind RD was the other Celtic dance phenom, the flashy “Lord of the Dance,” which was led by the incredible Michael Flatley. Stumbling along in the wake of the g’l force were the Kings of Comedy, David Copperfield and, (believe it or not) the Ringling Bros. & Barnum & Bailey Circus.
By the way, the “Riverdance” mania shows no signs of stopping. Even as we speak, there are two touring companies tip-tapping their way across the United States, and a third group tripping through Euroland. The companies are booked way into the year 2000, and future destinations will include Japan, Mexico, Denmark and Norway.
The show, which was originally conceived as a seven-minute intermission diversion during the 1994 Eurovision Song Contest, made instant stars of Jean Butler, Michael Flately and composer Bill Whelan. The soundtrack album won a Grammy Award for best musical show album in 1997.
Everything’s comin’ up Rosie (not)
The outlook for the 1999 Tony Awards broadcast is looking decidedly un-rosy, or perhaps that should be un-Rosie. After two heady years of top ratings on CBS, which has been largely attributed to the popularity of hostess Rosie O’Donnell, producers are worried that they might be the only ones tuning in on the big night.
In an announcement that has sent shock waves along the great white way, O’Donnell has said that she will not host this year’s Tony Awards telecast.
Through a spokesperson, the Queen of Nice cited scheduling conflicts which would prevent her from spending time working on the show. Some of those conflicts include hosting duties on the 1999 Grammy Awards telecast, as well as the Kids’ Choice Awards. We also hear that O’Donnell’s decision is related to her talk show’s sagging ratings. In an effort to attract viewers, she’s taking her show on the road, and will broadcast from different cities throughout the U.S. She will also include a mud wrestling segment in each show, where she will square off with a different movie star as they chat about upcoming projects. Wellll, we’re just kidding, but tell us you wouldn’t tune in for that . . .
O’Donnell’s affinity for the roar of the greasepaint and the smell of the crowd is well known. A few years ago, she starred in the Broadway revival of “Grease,” and there were rumors that she would succeed Bernadette Peters in the Broadway revival of “Annie Get Your Gun.” She’s invited cast members from all the big musicals onto her show, giving Broadway its highest TV visibility since the days of Ed Sullivan.
Back talk at the Golden Globes
Jim Carrey, to no one’s great surprise, snagged the award for best actor in a drama at this year’s Golden Globe prize fest, beating out competition like Tom Hanks and XX. This was a shoo-in because the awards are given out by the Hollywood Foreign Press Association, and they’ll vote for the person who’s got the best hair and/or gives the most interviews to “Access Hollywood,” whining about how hard it is to play against type. (This explains Madonna winning the best actress award for “Evita” a few years back.)
Carrey’s win seems based on two things: “The Truman Show” made lotsa dough-re-mi money, and audiences finally decided that they liked Carrey as a serious character (can anybody say “Cable Guy”?).
What’s neat is that Jim, unlike, say, Gwyneth Paltrow (who cried — cried! — as she accepted her prize) hasn’t lost his perspective on the whole thing. In his acceptance speech, he noted wryly, “It’s going to be so hard to talk out of my ass after this.”
“But,” he added, “I’ll manage.”