Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Bradley Cooper Discusses De Niro, Sexiest Man Alive, and His New Movie

Rydal native Bradley Cooper, the A list star of the "Hangover," "A Team," and Limitless," was at the Four Seasons Hotel today after last night's Philadelphia premiere of his new movie, "The Words". The Sexiest Man Alive (according to People Magazine) did not disappoint. He is better looking than his pictures. If you are also in contention for the sexiest honor, you should know that the moniker has not boasted his career. Answering the reporter that had the temerity to ask, he said, "It is only made me the butt of the jokes."

In this movie, Cooper plays a struggling writer that becomes a best- selling author after he plagiarizes a manuscript that he found. Having been a struggling actor, he could relate to his character being a struggling writer except for one difference.

He said, "In the movie, Rory kept all his rejection letters. There must have been thousands. I would never been that masochist to keep them.

Cooper, who is an avid tennis player that had been been watching the US open between interviews, described the moral dilemma presented in the movie this way:  "Rory (his character) won because the other guy double faulted. I want to win because I won."

Jeremy Irons plays his father in the movie while Zoe Saldana is his supportive wife. Cooper got involved in the movie because his best friend, Brian Klugman, co-wrote the screenplay in 1999. The two friends still talk 5 times a day. 

Klugman, who is the nephew of actor Jack Klugman, co-wrote the screenplay and co - directed "The Words" with Lee Sternthal. Klugman and Sternthal met at Pine Forest Camp in the Poconos Mountains as young children. Cooper joked that being Italian he was not invited to the camp. 

Klugman nominated him for a more meaningful award - best friend of the year. 

Klugman said, "Bradley has been really great. He was cast in this film 4 years ago before the "Hangover" came out. He had a lot of opportunities after the success of the "Hangover," but he still found time to make the movie."

Critics have said that Cooper has turned in one of the best performances of his career in "The Words". He credited this to the trust that he had in the directors.

Cooper, who constantly deferred to his friends during the interview, said, "Making the movie was a dream come true. When we were kids hanging out at my house watching movies like "Apocalypse Now," this was our dream."

Even Cooper, who is now a big Hollywood star, admitted to still having a starstruck moment when he acted beside Jeremy Irons in the film.

Cooper said, "In the beginning, when you hear that voice you think wow this is Jeremy Irons. Then after a while, you get used to it. Robert De Niro (who he starred in "Limitless" with)  is Bob to me now. I never thought I would be calling Robert De Niro Bob."

He described acting with big stars as "effortless" because "you are both on the same team".

If you are looking for a sighting of Cooper this Labor Day Weekend, a good bet might be Brigantine. His family has owned a house there since 1960. 

Monday, August 27, 2012

The Eagles Hammed It Up at Flight Night

Everyone, including the players, the 26,000 fans, the Swoop, Eagles cheerleaders, grieving Andy Reid, and the newly divorced owners, had fun at Sunday's Philadelphia Eagles Flight Night. Only part of the fun was on the playing field. 

This year, the players hammed it up for the fans. Jason Kelce trotted on the field with a coonskin cap. Chad Hall break-danced and back flipped to win my vote for best touchdown dance. DeSean Jackson first posed with his bobble heads and then shook his bootie and everything else to the delight of the crowd to come in second in the touch dance competition. The night ended with a spectacular display of fireworks. 

Since Jason Kelce, who is from Ohio, was wearing a coonskin camp, I stupidly asked if he was  from the West. 

Julian Vandervele opened the festivities with a beautiful rendition of the Star Spangled Banner. He later said, "This was the biggest crowd that I have sung before. When Obama came through Iowa as a candidate, I sang for him. There were 7000 people there, which is a big deal for Iowa. I also got a chance to meet Hilary during the campaign."

Some players work hard on the field.

All of the proceeds from Flight Night go to the Eagles Youth Partnership. A $20 adult ticket underwrites the cost of eyeglasses for a kid who would otherwise not be able to afford them. The $12 child ticket price buys 5 books for a child; sometimes the first books he or she owns. 

One unique characteristic of the Eagles Youth Partnership is that they use children's love of football to help children help themselves. While a child might be reluctant to wear glasses because he thinks they will make him look nerdy, he will treasure the glasses                                                  
                                                                                    given to him by the Eagles. 

Owner Jeffrey Lurie threw mini footballs to the crowd. Young fans clamored for his autograph even taking off their shirts for him to sign. 

The team might be worth a billion dollars but Lurie can't throw for shit. 

In general, the Luries avoided each other on the sidelines. 

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Pictures from the Philly Naked Bike Ride

With my blog named Naked Philadelphian, I could not ignore the Philly Naked Bike Ride (PNBR). Thousands of riders participated. Many cheered them on while others acted blasé and did not even stop to look up as the naked riders rode by.

The PNBR says that it is organized to highlight fuel consumption, body image, and cycling. It also underscores the incredible freedoms that Americans enjoy, but often take for granted. Long live liberty and those that ride for it.

By the way, it looked like it was painful to ride naked up close. (I deliberately took blurry pictures so the naked bike riders could not be identified.)

Friday, August 24, 2012

Ed Snider Luring NBA Franchise to Virginia Beach

Ed Snider with daughter Lindy at the opening gala of the Barnes Collection
I have confirmed that Comcast-Spectacor is going to announce on Tuesday that he is building a new sports arena in Virginia Beach. They are in advanced negotiations to lure a NBA franchise there. Comcast-Spectacor CEO Ed Snider, who is 78 years old, has opened more businesses this year, including Xfinity Live, than most people do in a lifetime. Where does he got the energy?

There is no reason for Flyers fans to worry. Snider has no need to cut the Flyers payroll. He is got plenty of money. 

Virginia Beach sports fans are lucky to have Snider building in their town. He knows how to build a first class operation. 

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Casey,Meehan, Brady Performing Stand-up For A Good Cause

Senator Casey during his turn to solicit laughs from the audience. 

In this era of bitter partisan politics, Philadelphia Daily News columnist Stu Bykofsky achieves the impossible. For 22 years, he is organized a candidate's comedy night at Finnegan's Wake that is a must show for those running for political office in southeastern Pennsylvania. Throughout the years, the event, which is held at Finnegan's Wake has raised more than $475,000 for the Variety Club, a charity that helps disabled children. In a gracious gesture, Congressman Brady promised to solicit all the candidates to make sure this year's total would bump the event's total dollars raised to over $500,000.
Daily News columnist Stu Bykofsky

Senator Bob Casey, his challenger Tom Smith, Congressmen Mike Fitzpatrick and Robert Mansfield were among the politicos that performed stand up. Congressmen Jim Gerlach, Chakkah Fattah, and Allyson Schwartz, whose stand in said she could not come because she was busy getting a mani pedi with Nancy Pelosi and Deborah Wasserman Schultz, were the only candidates that did not to attend this year.

This year, I have to declare two winners for best stand-up routine. John Featherman, a Republican Congressional candidate running against incumbent Bob Brady, received the most laughs for his routine about his marriage to a Chinese woman. When he asked for a sexual position that slang users refer to by number on the night of his fourth wedding anniversary, he joked that "his wife asked why he wanted chicken and broccoli."

Bykofsky with congressional candidate Kathy Bookvar.
The award for the best G rated comedic routine goes to Republican Congressman Pat Meehan. He asked, "Why did Anthony Wiener have to apologize to Bill Clinton over a sex scandal? Was it patent infringement?"

He also good-naturedly ribbed his challenger George Badey, who is a proud Philadelphia Mummer, that J. Edgar Hoover has already done the men in "rouge, red lipstick and tight pants with sequins" dance.

Badey returned the favor by poking fun at Meehan's prep school education. He joked, "When Meehan graduated, he got a horse. When I got graduated, I got a picture of a horse."

Several of the candidates used props in their routine. The Republican candidate for Attorney General David Freed has been criticized for being too close to Governor Tom Corbett so naturally he "took" a call from the Governor during his routine. Republican Senatorial Candidate Tom Smith, who grew up on a farm, prepared an elaborate slide show to introduce himself to the audience. It included a photo-shopped picture of he and his wife in the famous Grant Wood painting "American Gothic". Indian American Manan Travedi, who described his sixth Congressional District as between Philadelphia and fracking, promised not to make any ethnic jokes and then proceeded to answer a call as if he was working at Dell customer service.

Professional comedian Joe Conklin suggested that the dancers from Club Revue were there so that "Congressman Brady would not have the biggest boobs in the room"

Despite his hard work to organize the night, Bykofsky, who is no spring chicken, was the butt of a few jokes. Congressional candidate Badey cracked, "Wasn't Bykofsky the reporter that broke the story about the crack in the Liberty Bell?"

For one night, it seemed that everyone forget the political issues that divide them and united to make the audience laugh. We need more nights like this.

Sunday, August 19, 2012

Under Registration in Center City Could Cause Obama Problems

I attended a meeting for volunteers that are helping registering voters today at the home of my neighbor. Steve Poses, the former proprietor of the Commissary and the Frog, bribed everyone to come by promising to bring his favorite carrot cakes. I dubbed it the carrot cake registration summit.
The cake was as good as I remembered
Poses, who has been working nonstop for the campaign, is an Organizing for American fellow. He has an active catering company based at the Franklin Institute, but his wife is running the day to day operations. Poses describes himself as "of counsel" to the business.

He said, "I did not want to wake up on the day after the election and realize that if he had worked a little harder Obama would have won."

One of the main reasons that Poses is supporting Obama is because he believes that everyone should have the right to healthcare. He told an emotional tale about the current plight of one of the elevator operators in his apartment building.

"When you live in a building, you become close to the elevator operators, or doorman for that matter," he said. "The elevator operator is in pain. He finally got insurance but it is not effective until September 1. The elevator operator had to cancel and reschedule his appointment until after September 1 so that he would be covered."

While Philadelphia will probably go 80% for Obama, it seems that under registration of potential voters could keep his vote tallies down. Poses wants to see a vigorous voter registration by an army of volunteers in order increase voter registration and to insure that Obama's margin in Center City and Philadelphia is enough to carry Pennsylvania's critical electoral votes. 

Parktown, 1500 Locust, the Dorchester, and Rittenhouse Claridge, in descending order, are the buildings with the least amount of registered voters. My source estimates that there are 1500 residents at Parktown, yet there is only 458 registered voters. At the 26 story Rittenhouse Claridge, there are only 159 registered voters out of a potential 650. Even allowing that there are foreign students living in the city, less than half of high rise residents are even registered to vote.

This election, Obama faces a double whammy in Philadelphia. The state's draconian voter id law, which was enacted by Republican Governor Corbett and the Republican legislature, could dramatically reduce the number of people actually able to vote on Election Day. Many center city residents do not have valid Penn Dot ids with updated addresses because they rarely need their licenses. They often walk not drive to work. Some students still have valid driver's licenses from the home state.

I helped out with voter registration today so that I could better understand the hurdles to voting. What I saw today was far worse than I imagined. The new law is so complicated that a recent graduate of Yale Law School stopped by because he was confused at what would be acceptable id for voting. Since he has a Connecticut driver's license, I had to check with someone to learn that his passport would suffice.

My voter id expert said, "The id has to establish who you are not where you are."

I also met today a frail 93 year old lady, who is very distressed that she does not have a proper id to vote. With only 49 days left to the election and so many voters to register, it is doubtful that anyone is going to be able to take her to Penn Dot to get a valid id.

Everyone is outraged that Russia's Putin has jailed the band Pussy Riot, who pushed the boundaries of decency to express dissent against his regime. Yet, no one seems to care that we have inhumanely stripped an elderly lady, who could be one of our bubbies, of her basic right of citizenship.

Pennsylvania is a must win state for Obama in this close election. This election could come down to a few thousand votes in the state. Organizing for American, Obama's get out the vote effort, is recruiting volunteers to register voters. If you want to help, the website for Obama 2012 Center City West Neighbors Campaign will be online in a few days.

It was great to see Steve Poses. Some of my best memories happened at his restaurant, The Frog. 

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

My Last Interview with Marvin Hamlisch

I interviewed pianist/composer Marvin Hamlisch last year before his appearance with performer Michael Feinstein at the Kimmel Center. One day, I picked up the phone and Marvin was on the other line from California. He died today at the aged of 68. To honor his memory, I repeat the interview here.

On December 26, Marvin Hamlisch, on the piano, will accompany five time Grammy nominated singer Michael Feinstein in a musical tour of Broadway, Hollywood, and Tin Pan Alley. Rarely has such a talented duo graced the stage at the Kimmel Center. They will perform songs from Hamlisch hits such as “Chorus Line,” “The Way We Were,” and “The Sting.”

With the exception of Richard Rodgers of Rodgers and Hammerstein, Marvin Hamlisch is the only person in the world to have all the major performing arts awards- Oscar, Emmy, Tony,
Grammy, and Pulitzer. In addition, he has won two Golden Globes.

The public listens to his music all the time without realizing it. If you love a movie, Hamlisch probably composed the score. His movie credits include “The Spy Who Loved Me,” “Frankie and Johnny,” and “Ordinary People.” Hamlisch also wrote the score for “Theme for Peabody” for the “David Letterman Show.”

Hamlisch has garnered two Emmy wins for his work as a musical director for Barbra Streisand. 

He says, “Barbra is brilliant. Her great instincts are spot on. Our collaboration works because it was two people working together who know what they are doing.”

Hamlisch, who recently wrote the music for “The Informant” starring Matt Damon, described how he got that job after not not composing movie themes for many years. 

“The director Steve Sonderbergh really enjoyed the score from Woody Allen’s “Bananas,” he said. "It apparently stuck with him all these years. He said get me the guy who did that,” said Hamlisch.

Hamlisch, in an attempt to explain his composing process, said, “When I am asked to write a score, I see the movie and feel for the characters and what they are doing on the screen. Other people will talk about their feelings in English. I will talk about them in the language of music."

Thanks to Dafni Comerota of the Kimmel Center for arranging the interview. 

Sunday, August 5, 2012

The 411 on Laurel House, Designated Charity for Garrett Reid

Eagles Coach Andy Reid and his wife Tammy have asked that donations be made to Laurel House in lieu of flowers. I thought that I would pass on this statement from Tina Reynolds, director of development and community affairs at Laurel House, so that something good could come out of the tragedy of Garrett Reid's death.

Laurel House is a comprehensive domestic violence agency in Montgomery County that has been around for over 32 years. Our services include a 24 hour hotline, emergency shelter for women and children, transitional housing, individual and group counseling, crisis response, and community education. The Reids have been involved and supporters of our agency for years. Tammy Reid has been an active member of Advisory Board for many years. They are great friends and we are heart broken at the news. We are humbled and honored that they have chosen Laurel House to receive donations in Garrett's memory.

Please feel free to visit our website at www.laurel-house.org.

Tina Reynolds
Director of Development & Community Relations

Saturday, August 4, 2012

Oprah's Stedman: I Am In The Oprah Box

Oprah Winfrey's beau, Stedman Graham, and his daughter Wendy were in Philadelphia for the family reunion of the Benjamin and Edith Spaulding Descendants Association.  Far from being a typical family reunion, where the relatives squabble, this reunion focused on entrepreneurship and empowerment.

Stedman gave an hour long inspirational talk based on his new book, "Identity:Your Passport to Success," which details 9 steps to success. Having attended many motivational talks as a broker on Wall Street, I can tell you that it was one of the best that I had heard.

"We were slaves," he said." "We are still slaves. I used to go into my gym in Chicago and black men that had Phd's were cleaning the toilets. Black men are still cleaning the toilets but now they do not have an education."

Stedman, who grew up in Whitesboro, New Jersey with two disabled brothers, was so angry as a teenager that he is surprised that he did not end up in prison. The army and playing basketball saved him.
Now he wants to help people to climb out of "their box". For many, the grinding daily routine of working $9 an hour jobs keeps them down. Even successful people are constrained by their boxes.

"I am in the race box," Stedman said. "I am in the Oprah box. It is a nice box to be in, but it is a box."

One of his secrets of success is to not let others define you. You have to respect yourself before others can. For that reason, he disdains use of the N word.

"When I was in Africa, someone called out the N word to me. I tried to tell him we don't use that word. He answered that all your songs use it. Rappers have marginalized our brand by using the N word."

Stedman suggests for the final step to success, commit to your vision, that you follow Oprah's advice-Be the best that you can be.

To highlight that point, he repeated Martin Luther King's "streetsweeper" speech.

If it falls your lot to be a street-sweeper, sweep streets like Michelangelo painted pictures. Sweep streets like Shakespeare wrote poetry. Sweep streets like Beethoven composed music. Sweep streets so well that all the hosts of heaven and earth will have to pause and say ‘Here lived a great street-sweeper who swept his job well."

By the time that he was done, I had chills down my spine. Oprah is one lucky lady.