Seth MacFarlane Does Sinatra as Rosenstein Names Favorite Songby
Concert raises $2.2 million for David Geffen Hall renovation
Alan Gilbert leads the band, Bob Rubin and Paul Taubman attend
Hedge fund manager Barry Rosenstein’s favorite Frank Sinatra song: "It Was a Very Good Year," he said Thursday night at a tribute to the entertainer organized by the New York Philharmonic and Lincoln Center.
"It’s beautiful," Rosenstein said. "You think about every stage of your life. You can identify with it."
And how was his year going? (Two of his main funds at Jana Partners declined last month.) "Every year is a very good year," he said.
Lincoln Center and the Philharmonic are hoping for a very good year, or a few. They used the evening to kick off a fundraising campaign seeking $500 million to renovate the former Avery Fisher Hall, recently renamed David Geffen Hall for the gift contributed by the music and film impresario. An architect will be in place in the next couple of weeks, said Peter May, vice chairman of the New York Philharmonic board and a director of Lincoln Center’s board.
The event raised $2.2 million, said Lincoln Center President Jed Bernstein.
Hours after President Obama raised the possibility that the San Bernardino shootings were related to terrorism, Frank and fundraising were not the only topics of conversation.
Bob Rubin, co-chairman of the Council on Foreign Relations and former treasury secretary, said he didn’t feel threatened by gun violence, “given the probability” that becoming a victim is unlikely. However, "we have a serious problem and we’ll find effective ways to deal with it," Rubin said.
"We need a national program, rather than do it state by state," Ray Kelly, former commissioner of the New York City Police Department, said of gun regulation.
"Too many lives are lost," said Joe Torre, Major League Baseball’s chief baseball officer. Unfortunately, what to do about it "is only obvious to some. It becomes political volleyball." Of the 2016 presidential candidates, Torre said, "I wish people would tell you what they can do, instead of what others can’t."
May, who is also president of Trian Partners, said he didn’t feel unsafe. "Vulnerable? No, I’m aware. The vulnerability is great, but at the same time we have to live our lives."
The concert offered a pleasant diversion from the concerns of the day ("I loved it, I thought it was the best," Paul Taubman told Morgan Stanley’s Joseph Eisler afterward).
Christina Aguilera, in her sole number, belted "New York, New York." Sting, in a suit and tie Sinatra would have approved of, performed "I’ve Got You Under My Skin" and "Witchcraft," accompanied by flirty dancers. The English musician was a member of an ensemble of Broadway greats including Bernadette Peters, Billy Porter, Sutton Foster, Kyle Dean Massey and Fantasia, as well as trumpeter Chris Botti. They all walked around conductor Alan Gilbert and the New York Philharmonic’s musicians during pauses in the songs, clearly enjoying having the orchestra right beside them instead of in the pit.
Seth MacFarlane, the creator of "Family Guy" who has recorded a few albums himself, served as host and was the singer most self-consciously mimicking the debonair, rich-voiced Sinatra. "Seth covered Sinatra brilliantly," said Tom Brokaw afterward.
MacFarlane was also the ultimate fanboy, telling the sold-out audience about key moments: Sinatra’s first gig, first hit, his marriages and movie roles. He peppered this narrative with some jokes, none too harsh.
Sinatra rose to fame "in an era when you had to sing -- music wasn’t just Swedish guys fooling around on laptops."
On a low point in Sinatra’s career, after his divorce from Ava Gardner: "Nowadays, he would have found a nice home on reality TV. But this was the 1950s.”
And on Sinatra’s ubiquity on the AM dial: "That was when AM radio was not people screaming about Obamacare."
The concert, which will air on Dec. 18, was filmed for PBS, likely prompting what could be counted as MacFarlane’s one zinger: "If Frank were alive today, he’d be just over 100, making him one of PBS’s younger viewers."
Other gala guests included Bennett Goodman (favorite song: "My Way"), Robert Kraft, Bill Rudin, Joshua Bell, Roy Zuckerberg, Ken Chenault (in a Zegna tuxedo) and Oscar Schafer, chairman of the New York Philharmonic, who got to see his orchestra shine from an aisle seat about 10 rows from the stage.