Prince Makes Bold Move To Control His Song Catalog

In a move indicative of so much of the restructuring of the overall music biz, Prince has announced he’s taking full control of his staggering song catalog.

The artist formerly known as “The Artist Formerly Known As Prince” has just put his entire output under the control of his own newly formed NPG Music Publishing company. This, of course, includes inimitable classics like “1999”, “When Doves Cry” and “U Got The Look.” Prince himself humbly refers to the collection as “fit 4 eternal publication.”

And if anyone doubted his “cultural eternity”…when his latest single, “FALLINLOVE2NITE”, was featured (along with His Purpleness himself) on the February 2nd episode of the FOX hit program New Girl, the show scored record viewership.

Expect more news from the NPG camp to follow in 2014, with a  concerted effort kicking off to place his songs in film and television. Long live the Prince!

See more HERE.

NYC’S Rasa Rings in Lunar New Year to Benefit City Harvest

Clever restaurateurs have come up with some or other specialty menu for virtually every bloody so-called holiday (though we’d suggest hightailing it if a waiter hands you a Groundhog Day menu). But Camie and Tommy Lai’s buzzy new West Village Malaysian Rasa is giving the Lunar New Year celebration (it’s the Year of the Horse, btw) a tasty but poignant twist—with portions of the profits going to City Harvest. The three-course prix-fixe offerings will include such ambrosial delights as Malay Curried Wings, Beef Rendang and Crispy Flounder. The Lunar New Year begins today, January 31, but Rasa’s festive menu will be offered until February 9.

Lunar merrymakers can also head to Midtown’s glamorous Hakkasan, which is proffering special a la carte menu items through February 8—topped off with exclusive, horse-embossed macaroons. Angelenos can enjoy much the same at Hakkasan’s Beverly Hills outpost; or make for IDG’s super chic WeHo Chinese Chi Lin, where Tyson Wong’s ethereal creations can be indulged for 50% off regular prices. 新年好!!!

Duran Duran Shot By David Lynch

Styles change, style doesn’t. So goes the distinctly media-age-savvy credo of the still unstoppable phenomenon that is Duran Duran. Originating as five pirate-blouse-donning glam-progeny out of the Birmingham New Romantic underground, they would eventually leave a trail of screaming, fainting girls in their wake.

A few decades later, of course, it’s not quite as much about getting the ladies’ panties twisting. But their Warhol-like ability to always keep a foot always planted in the zeitgeist has found them trotting out headline grabbing collaborators these last several years, including Timbaland and Mark Ronson.

The latest is David Lynch, who, with a generous purse from the AMEX, agreed to film the boys in concert at LA’s Mayan Theater in 2011 and then appropriately weird it up. The end result was screened Monday night to open MoMA’s The Contenders film series. The remaining four band members were on hand to introduce Duran Duran: Unstaged, and a still exquisitely cheek-boned John Taylor enlightened that the museum was a place they, “always looked to for inspiration.”

And challenging the staid format of concert films, Lynch overlaid on the performance a barrage of freaky (and vey Lynchian) images of fire, dancing dolls, toy planes and dreary suburban homes—which, interestingly, give the proceedings a strange but palpable sort of energy. Meaning, the experiment actually worked—it literally reinvents the genre. Taylor was quick to point out that Lynch, “got complete creative control.” Who would have guessed?

It’s quite the all-star affair, too, with Ronson, Kelis, an exuberant Beth Ditto—just slightly out-singing a silver-voiced Simon LeBon–and My Chemical Romance’s Gerard Way (as a sort of Nick Rhodes doppelganger) joining the band on stage at various intervals. The latter’s exhilarating turn on “Planet Earth” is a genuine highlight. In fact, it is four songs from Duran Duran’s eponymous debut album that explode off the screen most viscerally. Their version of obscure early gem “Friends Of Mine”, which seamlessly name-checks Brit gangster George Davis (who says machine-guns and puffy blouses don’t go together?) virtually steals the film. And the closing encore of “Girls on Film” still seethes with subversive sexuality.

Band and friends partied it up at UES hotspot East Pole after the screening, and it says something that plates of exquisitely realized vegetable creations were being passed around. Were this 1987, those silver platters might have looked rather, um, different. Still, the Laurent Perrier flowed like it was 1983 all over again.





Photo credit: Kristin Burns

Prince Harry’s Pal Revamps London’s New No. 3 Cromwell

Prince Harry’s pal and all around glitterati-collector Howard Spooner has again decisively stolen the London nightlife conversation with this rather, well, glittering revamp of a legendary South Kensington nightspot. Once the playground of everyone from Jayne Mansfield to Sean Connery to Sir Elton (not to mention the site of a certain Jimi Hendrix’s London debut), the glamorous new incarnation of No. 3 Cromwell is now attracting supermodel sorts like David Gandy and Elle MacPherson. And no wonder. Taking up all three floors of a striking Georgian townhouse, the famous and fabulous could surely want for nothing here. 

True, the chandeliered, piano-equipped dining room (pardon, Drawing Room) is hardly a culinary game changer, dishing up a quite reasonably priced assortment of sliders and dips, aka "boozing food." But we do love that they’ve thought to have a dedicated "pudding" menu, complete with corresponding Ports and and Sauternes’. 

The Back Room cocktail bar, with its baroque trimmings and stately fireplaces, is a sure bet for tabloid-worthy celebrity snoggings (sample tipple titles: Threesome, Menage A Trois). But it’s The Basement nightclub–yes, it’s in the basement–which will be swinging in full until 3am every night. It’s got, um, padded walls…which we can only guess is intended for the safety of the royal habitués. 

Get the inside-scoop on No. 3 Cromwell.

Paris Opening: Prince de Galles Hotel

The feverish race to the top of the Parisian hotel scene can make the World Cup seem like a game of tiddlywinks. Since 2008, Le Bristol, Le Meurice, and Le Royal Monceau have all unveiled glittering new personalities, while Le Crillon and Le Ritz are currently and expensively under the knife. In the midst of it all, that paragon of swank, the Prince de Galles, has just taken the wraps off its own magnificent makeover to a chorus of oohs and aahs. A virtual landmark of the French art deco style, much care has been taken by ERTIM Architectes SA, in collaboration with Bruno Borrione and that most superstar of designers, Pierre-Yves Rochon, to preserve a genuine sense of its history. To be sure, the salon-like lobby has been made over not with postmodern cheek, but with a swish new collection of furnishings true to the period.

The 159 rooms, where everyone from Francois Truffaut to Fatboy Slim have nodded off, have been relieved of their former fustiness, now jazzed up with Delisle lighting, Pierre Frey fabrics and Craman Lagarde furniture. But of course, the most fervent face-offs amongst Paris’ five-stars are always les guerres des cuisines; and Prince de Galles has procured a high-profile chef to lead the charge to the culinary barricades. Stéphanie Le Quellec comes by way of Provence’s Terre Blanche to head up the, one guesses, rather portentously titled La Scène restaurant, where she will surely be dancing with the Michelin stars. The name of the hotel’s corresponding bar, Les Heures, translates as "The Hours,"so you’re obviously being invited to stay awhile. Which, we would guess, should not be a problem in the least.

[Related: BlackBook Paris Guide; Paris’ Palace Hotels Get a Royal Transformation; More by Ken Scrudato; Follow Ken on Twitter

Miami Opening: Cipriani Downtown

Italians, as we surely know, do love to carry on the family business. After all, selling out to the corporate powers would be just so…American. And so Giuseppe Cipriani’s boys, Maggio and Ignazio, are keeping it in the clan. And though it’s almost hard to believe, this is the brand’s debut entry into a city that seems so perfectly suited to their epicurean ethos. With aesthetic nods to that most famous Venice original, Harry’s Bar (here as well, the room’s energy radiates from the bar), the new Cipriani Downtown Miami exudes their signature low-key glamour. Michele Bonan’s design incorporates striped Venetian floors, Murano chandeliers and massive windows affording gorgeous aquatic views.

Naturally, you will not come here looking for culinary experimentation. As one would expect, it’s all prosciutto di parma, Carpaccio Alla Cipriani, risotto alla primavera and veal milanesine done to luxurious perfection, with a couple of endemic specialties (Florida stone crab salad) added to the mix. And several rounds of bellinis are as de rigueur here as back home in the Veneto. Expect the crowd to be as pretty as the setting.

Photo: Stephen Wolter

[Related: BlackBook Miami Guide; Listing for Cipriani Downtown Miami; More by Ken Scrudato; Follow Ken on Twitter]

London Opening: Oblix at The Shard

Ever since the minders at the Eiffel Tower sorted that there was serious dosh to be made feeding its swarms of oohing and aahing visitors, architecture and food have been making goo goo eyes at each other. And from its inauguration in summer 2012, Renzo Piano’s The Shard, in fact, has been as loved and hated by Londoners as was Gustave Eiffel’s shocking metal construction by 19th Century Parisians. But as the tallest building in Western Europe, the views are obviously rather gasp-inducing. And so while its first culinary venture, the sleek, dramatic new Oblix restaurant and lounge, could probably get away with serving sauteed cardboard, it genuinely does rise to the level of its surroundings.

The latest undertaking by Rainer Becker and Arjun Waney (whose Zuma is beloved of Kate, Gwyneth, Beyonce…), it boasts a chef, Fabien Beaufour, who has done time at French Laundry and Eleven Madison Park. But haute it is not. Serving classic American grill, you can dig into market salads, clam chowder, lambchops, wood-fired pizza, pork belly, assorted rotisserie fare…even New York-style cheesecake–which in London might just seem exotic. But who’s looking at the food?? Slotted into the 32nd floor of the striking 72-story concrete, glass and steel tower, and looking directly down on London Bridge, patrons can also gawk at the London Eye, the Houses of Parliament, and possibly even spot Pete Doherty stumbling out of a Soho boozer. 

[Related: The Shard: How to Plan a High-Class Date around London’s Highest Building; BlackBook London Guide; Listing for Oblix at the Shard; More by Ken Scrudato; Follow Ken on Twitter]

London Opening: Mr. Fogg’s

Now that humans travel at 600 mph and news travels in milliseconds, is it any wonder we find ourselves looking lovingly back to the less electronically-mediated adventures of the likes of Phileas T. Fogg? Mr. Fogg’s, an archly hip new Mayfair watering hole (Pippa Middleton and Princess Eugenie have already warmed its couches) indeed nicks its name from the larger-than-life protagonist of Jules Verne’s 1873 classic Around The World In 80 Days–and is correspondingly done up like his international-curiosity-filled drawing room.

For those grown intolerable of all that troublingly earnest and desperately over-flogged Prohibition chic, Mr. Fogg’s is a glorious riot of Victorian camp (it is Blighty, after all). Staff are decked in 19th Century inspired military uniforms by Gieves & Hawkes, and the doorman even pretends he’s Fogg’s valet Passerpartout (at least while he’s waiting for his big West End break). Scattered amongst the bric-a-brac are are old maps, stuffed Indian tigers and crocodiles and a portrait of the prim Queen Vic herself. A period cocktail selection–absinthe aperitifs, gin fizzes, grogs, stirrup cups,  pousse cafés–is served fireside in red indian’s heads and antique punch bowls. Best of all, a piano is on hand should tipplers be tempted to knock out a rousing version of "Daisy Bell".

[Related: BlackBook London Guide; Listing for Mr. Fogg’s; More by Ken Scrudato; Follow Ken on Twitter]

New York Opening: Refinery Hotel

Finally! After former prisons, nunneries, and army barracks have all been repurposed as designer hotels, at last we have the glorious conversion of a former millinery factory into the new Refinery Hotel. As you might guess, it’s located in the Garment District, which we’re exceedingly tempted to rechristen as Upper NoMad (Well, guess we just did.) And let’s face it, we accessorize with hats and boutique hotels for much the same reason: they make us seem just a little more sexy. But the design by Stonehill & Taylor (who have already left their mark on the Crosby Street Hotel and the NoMad Hotel) defers more to history than to fashion—a reasonable decision, considering the awesome neo-gothic framework of the Colony Arcade building into which the hotel was fitted.

Firstly, the intent to yank the “scene” northward from 29th Street (the demarcation line upon which the Eventi, the Gansevoort, the Ace, and the aforementioned NoMad already exist) is a determined one. The Refinery hosts the Parker & Quinn restaurant, which plays to theme with its Prohibition-era vibe, as well as a cozy lobby bar and tea lounge, Winnie’s, and the massive Rooftop Bar, with its neo-industrial style, complete with fountain, fireplace, and views of Empire State Building. The 197 rooms also get the endemic treatment, with millinery accents and massive ceiling heights. The coolest destination in Upper NoMad…for now.

[BlackBook New York Guide; Listings for the Refinery Hotel, Crosby Street Hotel, NoMad Hotel, Eventi Hotel, Gansevoort Park Hotel, Ace Hotel; More by Ken Scrudato; Follow Ken on Twitter]