At least Crowe tried to be a contender – some educated observers around Table No. 18 commented aloud that Catherine Zeta-Jones appeared to be lip-synching her Chicago number – a Windy City song-scam that is widely forgivable – except in Federation space. “That’s not a good thing,” said Ehrlich, producer of 33 editions of the Grammys show. (He pointed out that the broadcast as a whole seem to take a long time to find its first standing ovation. “Not that I’m counting,” he said, checking the time. The Sunday event was the 21st edition of the party and benefits the Elton John AIDS Foundation, which has in that span surpassed $300 million for HIV prevention and treatment as well as advocacy and anti-stigma programs on all points of the compass.
The party attracts a lot of television stars as well (Jane Lynch led a Glee parade, while Anna Paquin, Ryan Kwanten, and Stephen Moyer represented True Blood), some reclamation projects (Chris Brown solo, Britney Spears de-blonded); and a rash of celebrity offspring who have dialed up on-air lives (Kim Kardashian, Miley Cyrus, Kelly Osbourne). The event was staged at the Pacific Design Center in West Hollywood (about four miles away from the Dolby Theatre), but the crowd cheered as if Ang Lee and Jennifer Lawrence were right there with them. There was no doubt which musical performance stirred the most anticipation. “Is that Adele?” It was Sir Elton that was craning his neck to see the screen where Halle Barry was sauntering to sound of a James Bond selection. “Oh no, that one is too skinny.”
Watch Catherine Zeta-Jones here:
There were sights and sounds off the screens, too, such as the gold lamé gown worn by Project Runway host Heidi Klum, which was clearly provocative and possibly dangerous – it inspired so many double-takes and craning necks that partygoers collided like bumper cars with bow ties. Only slightly more subtle was Jim Carrey, who arrived at the party wearing giant oversized plastic feet and wispy angel wings, which gave him the gait of a man wearing swim fins or the aura of a heavenly Hobbit dressed up (and pedi-waxed) for the Pearly Gates. “He’s says he’s a strangel – as in a strange-angel,” a woman sitting at Carrey’s table explained to a befuddled waiter.
When a partygoer praised the casting of Carrey in Kick-Ass 2, the sequel to the warped masked vigilante fantasy from 2010, the actor grinned. “It was a lot of fun and interesting. I’m done now. I’m not sure if they’re done, but my part is.” With that he turned his huge toenails toward his own table.
Also in attendance was Quincy Jones, who turns 80 next month and is scheduled to be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame this year. But it felt as if the fete had already begun on Sunday night when Bono sprung from his seat to pay his respects with head bowed to the man they call Q.
Watch Crowe here:
“One of a kind,” Bono said later when asked about Jones, who has won more Grammys (27) than any other living person and worked with Ray Charles, Frank Sinatra, Miles Davis, and was the producer on Michael Jackson’s three biggest albums (Off the Wall, Thriller, and Bad). He laughed on Sunday night when it was pointed out that he was the rare soul who had worked on projects with both Tommy Dorsey and Justin Bieber.
“Oh damn, I’m the first name and last name on that list, I promise you that,” said Jones, punctuating the pledge with a raised palm. Jones said he’s got a lot history with the night’s host, too. “You know I’ve known Elton since he was teenager. I was in England with Lesley Gore [the "It’s My Party" singer] in 1962 before the Beatles or the Stones and he was playing [in a band called Bluesology]. And I was at his first show at the Troubador [in West Hollywood] in 1969. I took my whole family to that show, in the mid-afternoon. It was unbelievable. It was vinyl back then. Do you remember that?” The vintage grooves felt like foreshadowing for later.
After the trophies were all handed out, the party plugged in its own music with a performance by young Scottish singer Emeli Sandé, who was most decidedly not lip synching. (You may know her as the “the voice of the London Olympics” as she became known after her closing ceremony triumph. Earlier, Bono had introduced her to a reporter with an expected flourish of Bono-speak.)
“Do you know this girl? I’m a big fan. There was a moment in London in the 1990s when [music was] going one way – grunge was happening, Zoo TV was happening—and out of nowhere there was Massive Attack and Soul II Soul and a revolution, a renaissance, it was very important. And as it happens she is bringing that with her now, that same sort of confidence, openness – I think that’s what it is, an openness, an open-faced soul without mannerisms. The mannerisms are dripping with insincerity,” Bono said. Sandé was sitting right there but didn’t seem to hear any of it, she was watching the confluence of celebrities pass by her table. “This is such an amazing night I just want to take it all in,” the 25-year-old Aberdeen native said with a bit of a flutter. Any nerves were gone when she reached the stage however – she knew exactly how to act when the music played.