'Girls Like Us' tells stories of classy survivors

MEDIA ALWAYS rolls “iffy” dice when it comes to the Sinatras. So it’s not a surprise to learn that Meredith Viera on the Today Show last week stunned Frank Jr. by asking him about his famous “kidnapping” back in 1963. Sinatra, the younger, had traveled to New York with his sister, Nancy, specifically to celebrate his late father’s being on the new U.S. postage stamp. He didn’t see the point of going into past history and he clammed up and never said another word. He is reported to be furious. He and Nancy left NYC and joined their sister Tina in Las Vegas. The Sinatra stamp, showing the greatest pop singer of our time, is expected to sell several hundred million. Its initial printing is 150 million. Lick a Sinatra today!

THEATER INSIDERS say the Tony awards were voted specifically against “Young Frankenstein” because the dynamic producer Robert F.X. Sillerman refused to give the Theater Wing facts and figures. Whatever you believe about the quality of this Mel Brooks’ musical — no one can gainsay what Brooks and Sillerman have done in giving The Great White Way a shot in the arm via popular and controversial productions of “The Producers” and “Young Frankenstein.”… Speaking of the “The Fabulous Invalid” that refuses to die, the Wing will honor the beloved “Hello, Dolly!”/”Mame” songwriter Jerry Herman at Cipriani 42 St. on Monday. Call 212-765-0606 ex 302.

I STARTED reading the new book “Girls Like Us: Carole King, Joni Mitchell, Carly Simon” and can see why it became a bestseller its first week out. We have all learned more than we needed to know about poor Britney, Lindsay and the troubled Amy Winehouse, but Carole, Joni, Carly are the real deal — classy survivors! Author Sheila Weller (Glamour/Vanity Fair) has given us a story of grown up women. They fell for wrong guys in their starry youth, but they took risks their mothers never dreamed of. Joni, a pregnant folksinger so destitute she lived on free apples, became a world-class talent. A widowed Carole King lived snowbound in an Idaho cabin with no electricity or plumbing, but rose to be the most important popular songwriter of the last century. Carly, caring for her ailing son, Ben, later battling breast cancer, fought depression by recording songs in her bedroom. She became a legend. These women learned lessons from adversity. They didn’t sink to self-destruction or self-pity. Don’t miss this wonderful book! The artists may seem passé to our young folks, but they remain giants.

TYNE DALY, the “Cagney & Lacey” star who once played Mama Rose in “Gypsy” on Broadway, has stepped into the cast of the New York Festival of Song, replacing Frederica von Stade. It happens with Susan Graham, Judy Kaye, Vince Giordano, Anna Christy, Darius de Haas, Bruce Adler, John Musto at Carnegie Hall on Wednesday. Call 212-247-7800.

Our favorite movie mogul, Harvey Weinstein, operates in the grand tradition of MGM’s Irving Thalberg and Louis B. Mayer. Harvey’s film studio, the Weinstein Company is still getting its sea legs, and great things are expected later this year from the World War II romance, “Shanghai,” starring John Cusack, Li Gong and Ken Watanabe. (I’ll still never get over the fact that Harvey was not allowed to take the name Miramx with him, when he split with Disney. For heaven’s sake, it was named for his mother and father, Miriam and Max.) But while Harvey waits for another “Shakespeare In Love” he’s got 20 Tony nominations to keep him warm. Harvey’s a big Broadway producer, too, and has fingers in hit pies like “Young Frankenstein, “Boeing-Boeing.” Rock n’Roll,” and “August: Osage County.” Don’t bother complimenting Harvey on his cleverness. He’ll just go on about the producers he works with — Jean Doumanian, Jerry Frankel, Jeffrey Richards, Steve Traxler, Mel Brooks, Bob Sillerman. And playwrights such as Tom Stoppard and Tracy Letts and directors like Anna D. Shapiro and Matthew Warcus. Why is Harvey Weinstein so successful? Sure, he’s got talent and smarts. He also has the ability to recognize the best in others; and how to shape it, use it, promote it, tend to it carefully. And a little humility now and then doesn’t hurt. As Catherine Zeta-Jones sang in Harvey’s hit screen musical, “Chicago”–“I Just Can’t Do it Alone.”

Filed Under:

Follow @Variety on Twitter for breaking news, reviews and more