The usual head-spinning Wednesday scene at Michael’s got an added boost of adrenaline today as Michael McCarty and his indefatigable staff presided over the jam-packed dining room while preparing for this evening’s main event. The famed eatery is celebrating 25 years in New York and to commemorate the impressive milestone, McCarty is throwing himself a party tonight. The guest list boasts 550 of his nearest and dearest A-list pals dropping by for air kisses and cocktails. We’ll be covering the festivities. (It’s a tough job, but somebody has to do it.) Look for a special “evening edition” of this column tomorrow.
I was joined today by Time magazine’s longtime theater critic and author Richard Zoglin, whose just-released book, Hope: Entertainer of the Century (Simon & Schuster), chronicling Bob Hope‘s 70-year career and extraordinary life, has garnered rave reviews. Kirkus Reviews heralds it as “the definitive biography” of the legendary comedian, People magazine recommended the 565-page tome as a must-read, and both Tom Brokaw and Dick Cavett have praised Richard’s exhaustive reporting. Our mutual friend, the tireless and terrific Cindy Lewis, introduced us and was the perfect hostess for today’s lunch. Fresh off his first author event last night, where he took questions from a “packed house” at his neighborhood Barnes & Noble on the West Side followed by a reception for friends and family at Martha Nelson‘s apartment, Richard told me he’s been heartened by the response the book has received from industry insiders and “civilians” alike. “I believe that Bob Hope was the most important entertainer of the 20th century,” he told me. “And I’m thrilled to see that there’s so much interest in his career now.” When I asked him why he decided to do a book on Hope, who, until now, had not been the subject of a major book, he explained: “When I did my last book [Comedy at the Edge: How Stand-up in the 1970s Changed America], I asked every comic from George Carlin to Jerry Seinfeld who influenced them and everyone mentioned lots of people like Lenny Bruce, but no one mentioned Bob Hope. He’d fallen off the radar. The generation who remembers Vietnam didn’t take him seriously as a comedian.” So why go against the grain? “My contention is Bob Hope invented modern stand-up comedy.”