Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg found more than a little encouragement for his potential run for president Thursday night when he attended Lincoln Center’s American Songbook tribute to Lorne Michaels.
Bloomberg nearly stole the show from the honoree at the after-party at Alice Tully Hall, when high-wattage fans including Steve Martin urged him to mount a run for the White House. Bloomberg confirmed earlier this month that he was considering jumping in to the 2016 presidential race as an independent.
Bloomberg wouldn’t say any more about where his deliberations stand or what timetable he’s set for making a decision, nor would he expand on his motivation for launching a third-party candidacy. When asked variations on all of those questions by Variety, Bloomberg had an answer ready. “No. I can confirm I am not going to see the Knicks tomorrow,” he said.
A second try at the will-you-or-won’t-you question elicited a slightly longer but still elusive answer.
“The discourse (in politics) is not very significant for the country,” he said. “We have to talk about the real issues. The world is complex. The world is changing. We need people in politics who are unafraid to talk about the real issues that will make a difference for our country.”
Bloomberg was flattered by the number of people who approached him to volunteer their services on the spot. “I’ll pass out leaflets in the subway,” promised one man.
Beyond the buzz around Bloomberg, attendees of the fundraiser that raised $2.1 million for Lincoln Center’s American Songbook series and other programs included a host of media and showbiz elite, among them Barry Diller, Diane von Furstenberg, Anna Wintour, Diane Sawyer, Candice Bergen and Marshall Rose, Steven Spielberg and Kate Capshaw, CNN’s Jeff Zucker, Discovery’s David Zaslav, Paramount’s Brad Grey, CAA’s Bryan Lourd and Richard Lovett and NBCUniversal’s Steve Burke, Bob Greenblatt and Ted Harbert.
|Jed Bernstein, Adrienne Arsht, Lorne Michaels, Katherine Farley and Bryan Lourd (Photo by Andrea Hanks/Variety/REX/Shutterstock)|
The musical salute to Michaels, spearheaded by Tina Fey and her husband Jeff Richmond, reflected the breadth of his influence as a producer and famously savvy nurturer of talent. “He’s launched more comedy careers than bad parenting,” Martin Short joked in his opening segment.
Fey and current “SNL” troupers Cecily Strong and Kate McKinnon performed a jazzy number dedicated to Michaels. Jimmy Fallon brought along his Barbershop Gals quartet to deliver a barbershop-sexy arrangement of R. Kelly’s “Ignition.” Fallon dubbed it “Songbook So White.”
“30 Rock” alums Tracy Morgan and Jane Krakowski offered a medley of “Embraceable You” and “I Got It Bad (And That Ain’t Good).” Steve Martin came out to deliver a bit about Michaels’ recording history in Canada in the early 1960s, with albums such as “Lorne Sings Cole Porter” and a selection of government-approved Canadian folk songs.
“SNL” players Taran Killam and Kenan Thompson dueted on “Guys and Dolls,” complete with soft-shoe action by Killam. “Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt’s” Tituss Burgess impressed with his vocal range on “On a Clear Day (You Can See Forever).”
Maya Rudolph gamely delivered a motley medley that started with “Saturday Night Is the Loneliest Night of the Week” and ended with “Ol’ Man River” — with “If I Were a Carpenter” and “(You Make Me Feel Like a) Natural Woman” in between.
Audra McDonald came out and volunteered that she’d never met Michaels. “You told me it was a benefit for Planned Parenthood,” the Broadway vet told Fey before belting out “Make Someone Happy.” Cheyenne Jackson delivered “I’m Feeling Good.”
“Portlandia” star Fred Armisen closed the show with an appearance as Michaels’ longtime doorman. He offered him the highest praise: “He doesn’t get a lot of catalogs.”
When Michaels was called to the stage to accept his kudo, the producer kept his remarks short and sweet. He expressed his gratitude for his long run in “one of the greatest jobs you could have in New York City.”
(Pictured: Lincoln Center’s Jed Bernstein, Adrienne Arsht, Lorne Michaels, Lincoln Center’s Katherine Farley and CAA’s Bryan Lourd)