Don’t Worry: We Will Get That Hurricane Sandy Benefit Concert We Deserve

What’s a national tragedy without an overlong, saccharine television program full of famous people looking sad about people less fortunate than them? While the lower half of Manhattan is still without power, parts of Staten Island and Queens are disaster areas, and the Jersey Shore is nearly washed away, there’s only one thing that will bring joy to the hearts of those affected by Hurricane Sandy: BILLY JOEL SINGING LIVE ON CAMERA. 

Everyone’s favorite frequent drunk-driving piano man will be just part of the celeb-heavy bill, produced by the good folks at NBC. Per the New York Times:

NBC Universal said on Thursday morning that it would show a one-hour telethon and concert on its broadcast network and cable television stations on Friday night to benefit Hurricane Sandy relief efforts. The telethon, “Hurricane Sandy: Coming Together,” will be held at NBC’s Rockefeller Plaza studios and hosted by Matt Lauer, the co-host of “Today.” Among the musicians who are scheduled to perform on the telethon are Bruce Springsteen, Billy Joel, Jon Bon Jovi, Sting and Christina Aguilera; Jimmy Fallon, the host of NBC’s “Late Night,” and Brian Williams, the anchor of “NBC Nightly News,” will also appear.

The telethon will be shown simultaneously on NBC, Bravo, CNBC, E!, G4, MSNBC, Style, Syfy and USA, and streamed live on the NBC.com Web site. It will be broadcast live from 8 p.m. to 9 p.m. Eastern time for the East Coast and on a tape delay for the West Coast. NBC said that money collected from the telethon would be donated to the American Red Cross.

Yes, that’s right: if you tune in to Syfy you can still see someone famous sing "God Bless America" while, I dunno, you could be lucky enough to pledge a donation to Julia Roberts on phone duty. EVERYTHING IS SUDDENLY BETTER. I guess it’s a bummer for the regular Syfy audience who’d rather see Tiffany and Deborah Gibson battle a mutant shark or something.

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Black Sabbath and Other Bands That Won’t Reunite Until They Do

After a series of contract disputes, Black Sabbath drummer Bill Ward has announced, via an incredibly long public letter posted on his website, that he will not join his old bandmates as the do their middle-aged rocker reunion thing at dates in May, June and August. The band was slated to play a series of shows as well as to record their first album with this line-up since 1978.

The reunion has been marked with troubles since the beginning. Ward has had a very public back and forth with the band about whether or not he would play, mostly centered around contract debates. Meanwhile, guitarist Tommy Iommi was dealing with lymphoma that should have put the squabbling into perspective but didn’t. Now the group is playing shows sans Ward and it seems as though things will stay that way. Still, we can’t help but think of all the bands that claimed they would never reunite and who did just that, sometimes even weeks after making the statement. Let’s take a look.

The Sex Pistols: After years of claiming his infamous punk band would never reunite, Johnny Rotten (who publicly trounced a Police reunion as “soggy old dead carcasses”) did indeed put his band back on the road—and in the studio to record tracks for video games—but at least was self-aware enough to call the comeback shows the Filthy Lucre World Tour.

The Police: Speaking of Sting and company, they’ve denied reunion rumors throughout the years—the Tantric One recently said, "People reacted to The Police coming back as if mum and dad had got together, you could see that emotion in the audience. But who really wants to go and live with the wife you divorced? I won’t do it again”—but in 2007 did reunite, an experience that reportedly left the old men even more bitter and hateful toward one another than they were before the shows.

Hole: Even though her former bandmates are some of the few people Courtney Love never publicly tussled with, after she toured in a band she called Hole in 2010, saying, "Nobody asks Trent: why Nine Inch Nails… I made the [band] name up,” it was assumed that she had moved beyond her old cohorts. Not so! Just last month Love teamed up with the version of Hole that played on the group’s last real album, Celebrity Skin, and did a secret show in Brooklyn.

Sting Opens Organic Shop in Tuscany

If every little thing he does is magic, Sting should have no concerns regarding his new venture in the Tuscan region of Italy. Last week, the iconic singer and his wife, Trudie Styler, just opened up a little shop on their 900-acre Tuscan estate called Tenuta il Palagio.

Part of a 16th-century villa, the farm—which they acquired in 1997—produces organic products such as olive oil, acacia honey, wine, and a special salami made from a local breed of pigs. “I came here and I decided to stay and be a farmer, also because I wanted to nourish my family with genuine quality products in a healthy environment,” he said. This isn’t unusual, considering the singer has a passion for environmental concerns. He also strives to spread knowledge of living a more organic lifestyle with sustainable food. In fact, he’s even producing a movie on vertical farming called, appropriately enough, The Vertical Farm.

The shop will sell his own branded products. However, after November 28, travelers will no longer need to make the trek to Tuscany to get a sample of his goodies in a bottle (although we’re sure a visit to Tuscany can’t be the worst situation). The Tenuta Il Palagio range will be sold exclusively at Harrod’s Food Halls.

Party Faces: Spring Beauty From This Week’s Best Parties

This week temps dipped a bit, but that didn’t stop partiers from putting on their best spring impressions. Posers were Patrickmcmullaned at top spots like the The Ace Hotel, for Ruffian’s party and the Hotel Griffou for the launch of the new fashion brand Porcelain for which Sting showed faced. Other faces from a week of parties after the jump.

image Fresh Face: Candice Swanepoel Event: Victoria’s Secret Celebrates the 15th Anniversary of the Swim Catalogue Venue: Trousdale, Los Angeles Notable Attendees: Paris Hilton, Miranda Kerr, Kat Von D. Look: Veronica Lake curls get extra points for standing up against LA humidity. Recommendation: Curls are just curls, but they get the Veronica Lake treatment with the side part. Get the curls to stay frizz-free with a moisture barrier finisher like John Freida Frizz-Ease Style Moisture Barrier Hairspray.

image image Fresh Face: Olivia Ma Corwin Event: Porcelain Launches in New York Venue: Hotel Griffou Notable Attendees: Trudie Styler, Amy Sacco, Arden Wohl, Genevieve Jones. Look: I’m obsessed with these how these braids bring a beachy look to an overall fancy get up. Recommendation: Oh, I have no idea how to get these braids. I’ve tried to french my own hair when that bang-braid was big last summer. I suck at it. But if you’re decent enough, I’d suggest a nice texturizing creme to make your hair more pliable. We here at BlackBook happen to be major consumers of Sebastian Microweb Fiber Flexible Elastic Texturizer. Work into hair before you attempt such a feat- and good luck.

image Fresh Face: Kelley Hoffman Event: Olivia Palermo and Roberta Freymann Celebrate the Launch of their necklace collection. Venue: Roberta Freymann Notable Attendees: Olivia Palermo, Kipton Cronkite, Jack Bryant. Look: Hoffman, usually seen with a heavy fringe, gets all springy with a sleek top knot. Recommendation: Gather dirty hair (second-day hair sounds so much more polite) into a haphazard top bun and keep the bangs slicked with a bit of strong-hold pomade like Umi Sitewax Styling Pomade.

image Fresh Face: Atarah Valentine, Jacob Troy, Anne Koch, Gavin Mcleod Event: Ruffian for Threads & Heirs launch hosted by Macy’s & Paper Magazine. Venue: The Ace Hotel Notable Attendees: Irena Shayk, Heidi Lindgren, Jessica White. Look: Four examples of how not to look contrived in nighttime headwear. Recommendation: Whether you’re in all black, or matching your floppy 80’s head scarf with your skirt, get playful with your toppers.

Sting on Why He No Longer Buys Springsteen B-Day Presents

Musician, actor, activist, philanthropist, tantric sex enthusiast and probably everything else you associate with being awesome, Sting has done it all. The man is simply put, a chameleon. But even for someone with his versatility, his current project sounds like a total mind trip. Twin Spirits is the re-imagining of one of German composer Robert Schumann’s most celebrated works. It’s Sting (a classical music enthusiast) and his wife Trudie Styler, onstage, together as Schumann and the piano prodigy Clara respectively, reenacting the process of falling in love. They’re backed by a group of musicians in in a production that’s part opera, part spoken-word, part play and all Sting. Here is the man and the myth on his winter fetish, shopping for the Boss and Obama

So why a winter album? I’ve always loved snow, and the winter time, for me, is such a creative time. It’s a time to reflect. It’s a miserable time for a lot of people with long hours of darkness and frost, but also it’s the season of the imagination. People sit around telling stories too. So I spent about six months researching the music of the winter season, from every available source: classical music, folk music, sacred music, secular music, pre-Christian ideas even. Also as global warming takes place, it’s flattening out the seasons. And that I find worrying because psychologically we need them.

This connection to winter, it’s not just an irrational love of big thick woolly jumpers? [Laughs]I think we are always rushing around and we naturally use winter as a time to slow down. Animals hibernate. We’re meant to reflect on the year before in order that we can move efficiently into the spring. It’s pretty simple psychology, but often now we are disconnected from the seasons because of air-conditioning or global warming. So we are losing that sense of a cycle that had been useful to us for thousands of years. I mourn the loss of winter. Without it I think we’re in a lot of trouble. I lived in a very gray, industrial town, but the snow would transform it into this magical landscape.

Your album Soul Cages deals with growing up in Newcastle and on the new record, If On A Winter’s Night, you return to this. And you sing about Soul Cakes! From Soul Cages to Soul Cakes – have you taken us all on a journey to look for the inner Geordie? [Ed note: Geordie is a British nickname for someone from Newcastle.] I don’t have to search very hard for the inner Geordie! I think he’s always been in there. I’m certainly still very connected to my roots. On Soul Cages I was trying to get over the death of my parents. Just trying to figure out how to deal with it. I think I did what most ‘modern’ people do, which is to try and ignore it, pretend it doesn’t affect you, so you just work. You go to work the next day. So when my parents died nearly 20 years ago I went on tour for nearly a year and then did a play straight afterward with no break. It was all designed to keep my mind off this terrible thing. But I don’t think this approach can ever possibly work, because you run away from it, but then it comes back and bites you in the leg. The big thing is it means that you’re next in line in a way. And you have to deal with that.

Do you think you’re extra aware of the winter as a Northerner? Oh yeah, we are proud of our toughness up there. That’s why when you watch my soccer team on a freezing cold day some of the fans will stand there half naked with no shirt on to demonstrate their hardness. They’re nuts!

Do you think there is a built-in craziness to Geordie behavior? Absolutely. And I do have that in abundance! Plus, as you point out correctly, I do like to wear a nice sweater.

You’ve come a long way from the bumble-bee t-shirt in The Police days to designer mohair… I have. Maturing. Slowly but surely!

You turn 60 in two years time. Thanks Andrew.

Hang on, I’m going somewhere with this. Did you call up your close friend Bruce Springsteen a couple of months ago when he hit the same milestone? I did indeed. I called him because I like to see how my elders are getting on!

What did you buy The Boss for his 60th? Actually we have an agreement now that we don’t get each other presents. It just became too stressful.

Will you be taking the new album our on the road? Absolutely, although it can only really be performed for a fairly short time. You couldn’t really perform these songs in the summertime. It needs the season of winter to support it.

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You’re also busy staging Twin Spirits, a theater piece about this really tragic love story. Tell me about that. It’s the story of the passionate romance and subsequent marriage between composer Robert Schumann and a piano prodigy, Clara, which her father tried to wreck. It eventually resulted in Robert’s attempted suicide and death in an asylum in 1856. I knew Schumann’s music, but I didn’t really know the story or Clara’s music, which we play side by side to great effect with his.

Your wife Trudie plays Clara in the piece—how is it performing it live? We’ve played it in total about six times, including one night on Broadway, but I found that it left the audiences kind of stunned. And crying! Which is kind of interesting! Some of the letters that Trudie as Clara reads out are very poignant. This love story provides a great introduction for people who don’t normally listen to classical music. The passion of Robert and Clara’s love is transcendent.

Does working with topics like suicide and winter depress you? I don’t think these topics are morbid or maudlin. I think mortality and madness are important topics to discuss!

Where do you go to escape winter? I’ve still got a very close affinity to Brazil, although I don’t go to the jungle as often these days. I think celebrity just gets in the way. So I limit my connection to fundraising rather than going out there to the Amazon. South America is just one of the most interesting places on the planet politically, religiously, economically and environmentally. A set of circumstances found me there 20 years ago and I don’t regret it for a second. I feel very at home there.

Are you still close friends with the old Indian chief? I haven’t seen him for a long time now but I know he’s safe in his jungle for now.

Did all the micky taking you received at the time for hanging around with the Indian chief get on your nerves? Er, well yeah it did slightly, but 20 years later I’m still fighting the same fight. And now people are agreeing with those things I was talking about. You can get rid of motor cars and plane travel tomorrow but if we don’t address chopping down the rain forests we are still fucked! And this is scientifically proven now. It’s not just a feeling. The biggest contribution to greenhouse gasses is deforestation. And unless we stop that nothing else matters.

What do you think about Brazil getting to host the World Cup and then the Olympics in Rio in 2016? Look they’ve got a long way to come before they host these events, but so has England, to be honest, before we host the Olympics.

Is there a charitable cause big enough for another Police reunion? [Laughing] You know the answer to that!!!

Never rule anything out. Last time we spoke you couldn’t have envisaged a black president in the USA. How do you think he’s doing? As right for the job as he is, Obama is facing enormous difficulties in moving the political system to his way of thinking. When I look at the health care crisis, it appalls that in a country like America you cannot get health insurance. Most people remain uncovered. And if you do get sick in America you could be left bankrupt no matter how much you are earning. It’s tragic. The logic of the people who were against health care reform I just fail to see.

What did you make of Obama winning the Nobel prize? I think he should really say, ‘Look, I’ll accept it, but in four years time when I’ve achieved something, but not until then.’ I think he basically said something like it should be considered a call to arms, which was very smart. And by the way I’m not personally losing any sleep over never getting nominated for a Nobel over the rainforest campaign, even though 20 years later, I’m still fighting the fight for what I’ve been bleating on about for two decades!

Holiday Music Must Haves

Thanksgiving is over and the month-long overdose of holiday jingles is upon us. If the traditional tunes bring back memories of past gift-giving disappointments (still waiting for that Barbie Ferrari?), or your sad encounter with mom and pops, boozed up late on Christmas Eve playing up their obligatory role as “Santa,” here are some current takes on the classics. They’re better than two quarts of Aunt Nora’s eggnog.

If On A Winter’s Night by Sting (2009) Sting gets more done by 9 am than most of us can accomplish in a month of to-do lists and post-it reminders. He can save the rainforest, have tantric sex with Trudie Styler, film a cameo of himself and record 15 tracks of meaningful Christmas tunes with his muscular, dominating voice, all while hand-delivering a fruit cake to your parent’s front door, even though you’ve been snowed in for three days.

Holiday Collection / Sounds of the Season by Taylor Swift (2008) It’s close to impossible to dislike Tay Tay. Those curly locks, her heartfelt teenage crooning about snagging another Jonas Brother Twilight heartthrob, her concrete country music morals… Fine, her holiday collection is no Mariah Carey Merry Christmas, but this girl’s still got soul!

A Cherry Cherry Christmas by Neil Diamond (2009) If you’re accustomed to spending the most wonderful time of the year on the casino floor, brazenly gambling away your holiday bonus, Neil Diamond’s holiday collection is the soundtrack to your life. The Jewish Elvis also pays tribute with “The Chanukah Song” (you know, the Adam Sandler one).

My Christmas by Andrea Bocelli (2009) The Italian tenor delivers an oddly varied but rewarding assortment of songs on his #1 Billboard Holiday Chart album. With guest appearances from Mary J. Blige, the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, The Muppets, Reba McEntire and Natalie Cole, the mix has a pretty universal appeal, even if it isn’t exactly cohesive. The Muppets/Bocelli mix is so weirdly satisfying you’ll put it on repeat real quick.

Gold and Green by Sugarland (2009) Part Adult Contemporary, part good ol’ country twang. Depending on what you’re into, you’ll be hitting the forward button on every other song. The track entitled “Nuttin’ for Christmas,” about being bad and stuff, is beyond catchy, while the more traditional “City of Silver Dreams” is beyond bland.

Links: Robert Pattinson + Zac Efron, Michelle Obama’s ‘Iron Chef’

● Bromance alert: Robert Pattinson says he was “star-struck” when he met Zac Efron and adds he was “a really cool guy.” [Showbizspy] ● Sting is no fan of top British show The X Factor, calling the Simon Cowell-judged program “t.v. karaoke”; furthermore, none of the kids featured on the show are “going to go anywhere.” [BBC] ● Despite playing a rocker in Jennifer’s Body, Adam Brody’s singing was rejected for the film; turns out he can only act like he is singing. [PA]

● First Lady Michelle Obama will host an episode of Iron Chef America at the White House with Mario Batali, Bobby Flay, and Emeril Lagasse, who will use vegetables found in the garden to create their meals. [MSNBC] ● The 2010 Golden Globes will honor Martin Scorsese with the Cecil B. DeMille award. [LAT] ● Guess what: the Monopoly film actually has a plot involving a loveable loser who works for a real estate company and falls into the Monopoly “world” — and this is the plot that got Ridley Scott involved. [LAT]

Sting: Smelly Neighbor?

imageOnce, when I refused to sleep for long periods of time, I had a neighbor named Gordon. He had a limp, but I think he faked it just for sympathy. And I wasn’t really convinced about his name, either — his mailbox read “Gordon Sumner,” which, oddly, is Sting’s real name. Gordo was a lousy neighbor. I never saw him. But I smelled him (he cooked cabbage 24/7). And I heard him. He played the flute, and that made me and my friends think, “Hey, maybe this really is Sting. He’s just laying low in a shitty walk-up, getting his wind chops and eating Rasta chow.” What a shock when I found out the truth.

It wasn’t Sting, obviously; it was just some lonely, smelly asshole shut-in with a flute. Sting prefers far finer confines — or at least he used to. He’s selling his four-bedroom, 6,600-square-foot Central Park West digs at 69th Street. Once owned by Billy Joel, the duplex was last listed for $26.5 million. Great little catch: The broker who had the listing for the last sale was former rocker rep Linda Stein, who was murdered by her own assistant in her Fifth Avenue apartment in October 2007. No bad karma there.

New York: Top 10 Celebrity-Owned Hotspots

Scott Weiland’s Snitch is now Citrine, Tim Robbins is no longer behind the Back Room, De Niro’s Ago was critically panned, cholesterol problems await at Justin Timberlake’s Southern Hospitality, and Arnold Schwarzenegger & co.’s Planet Hollywood is a tourist trap, all’s not lost — here’s a list of celeb-owned spots worth looking into.

10. Bowery Wine Company (Bruce Willis) – “All for wine, wine for all” — it’s their philosophy, and we agree. 9. Angels & Kings (Pete Wentz, Travis McCoy) – Not short on cheap thrills; sex in the bathroom is encouraged. 8. Michael Jordan’s The Steak House NYC (Michael Jordan) – Though business may temporally be cooling, it remains the quintessential rich man’s cafeteria. 7. Nobu (Robert De Niro) – We hear it’s a bargain compared to the Nobu’s London outpost. 6. Santos’ Party House (Andrew WK) – Music aficionados looking to pick up oddball scenesters, look no further. 5. Haven (Bershan Shaw) – Like an old rich man’s study cum cigar bar (minus the cigars, but with the scotch), the dimly lit spot is a welcome relief amidst the midtown beer-guzzler bars. 4. The Box (Jude Law, Rachel Weisz, Josh Lucas on the board) – Love it, hate it, or simply grossed out by it — there’s no experience quite like it. 3. Waverly Inn (Graydon Carter) – Given that you basically have to know the Vanity Fair editor to get a table, may we suggest brushing-up on your networking skills to avoid missing-out on a fireside truffle macaroni and cheese dinner? 2. 40/40 Club (Jay-Z) – Cigars, cognac, swinging leather chairs, 50-plus flatscreens, and VIP rooms aplenty — in other words, the swank hip-hop sports bar has Jay-Z written all over it. 1. Cutting Room (Chris Noth) – Sure, the crowd’s not the hottest, and the space could use a facelift, but catching at least one Joan Rivers performance should be considered a Manhattan must.