Friday, September 23, 2016

New York Evening Hours by Lieba Nesis

Friars Club Honors Scorsese With Star-Studded Tribute 

Robert De Niro Leonardo DiCaprio Jonah Hill. Harvey Keitel and Grace Hightower
Photo: Lieba Nesis - click image for full size view
The Friar's Icon Award was given to Martin Scorsese on Wednesday September 21st at Cipriani Wall Street with the show beginning at 7:00 PM. An A-list crowd including Robert De Niro, Jerry Lewis, Leonardo DiCaprio, Jonah Hill, Sacha Baron Cohen, Fifty Cent, and Regis Philbin paid homage to the 73-year-old director who has given us classics such as "Raging Bull", "Goodfellas" and "Casino." Scorsese joined previous illustrious recipients Tom Cruise, Robert De Niro, Douglas Fairbanks, Cary Grant, Tony Bennett and Frank Sinatra-he is the seventh winner in the Friar's 100-year history.

The venue

The night also honored famed real estate broker Kurt Rappaport and coffee producer Massimo Zanetti who were paid tribute to before the Scorsese festivities. Zanetti spoke in Italian with a translator present and said he loved America, explaining that fifty percent of his sales come from the United States. Rappaport was introduced by the ubiquitous Ryan Seacrest joking that he often sits in Rappaport's bathroom watching him apply creams and masks to his youthful looking face. Rappaport gave a gripping speech on his son's near-death brain injury telling us of the importance of devoting time and energy to charity endeavors.

After these heady speeches, we were treated to the entertainment portion of the evening with emcee Larry King joking that Scorsese was directing a new movie called "Woodfellas" about old men on Viagra and that when 100 women were asked if they would sleep with Bill Clinton 67 replied "Never Again." As the evening progressed, we were treated to entertainment by Steve Tyrell, David Sanborn, Kristin Chenoweth doing a moving version of Scorsese's favorite song "Smile", Soprano Anna Netrebko bringing down the house with her aria, and Diana Krall and Elvis Costello.

However the star of the evening, aside from Scorsese, was Sacha Baron Cohen whose hysterical routine made him the talk of the night. He started off by complaining about the length of the program imploring the organizers "to put the legendary film director [Scorsese] before the real estate broker [Rappaport] next time." He then stated that he was offered the part of "Wolf of Wall Street", a Leonardo DiCaprio biopic, but instead chose to star in the dud "Hugo"-a decision he now regrets. Cohen's timing and delivery were impeccable calling Scorsese one of the top directors of gangster films "excluding all the Godfather movies and Scarface" leading him to conclude that he was in at least the top thirty.

This engaging repertoire was hard to match with Olivia Wilde, Ellen Burstyn, and Juliette Lewis choosing a more serious path by extolling Scorsese for assigning them parts that women in Hollywood are often excluded from.  DiCaprio similarly praised Scorsese for being his "personal mentor" whose name was synonymous with master filmmaker. Watching DiCaprio and Jonah Hill conversing with De Niro and Keitel was one of those great Hollywood moments and the photographers went wild.

Finally, Robert De Niro paid tribute to his friend stating that the word "icon" has become meaningless due to its overuse and that Scorsese joins an illustrious group of three dead guys, two old guys and the Church of Scientology. De Niro joked that he and Scorsese were the token non-jews of the club and he was sick of being served whitefish salad. De Niro reminisced about his collaborative effort with Scorsese on eight movies lamenting that there were no new movies in the past 20 years because of DiCaprio.

At the late hour of 11:00 PM Scorsese received his award thanking the Friars club for recognizing him as an entertainer - the award was the Entertainment Icon Award. He joked that this was all an elaborate conversion ceremony to become Jewish and laughed enthusiastically while Larry King and De Niro stood on stage stone-faced. When Larry King asked all the night's performers to join him for one last encore most of them had left - 11:30 is way past any upstanding Friar member's bedtime.






- Lieba Nesis

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