October 30th, 2009
05:04 PM ET

Finding the good, two feet at a time

Anthony Edwards is committed to building the first public pediatric teaching hospital in Kenya ... indeed, in all of Africa.

How do I know?  Not just because he'll be running the New York City Marathon on Sunday, to raise money for the project, but because to promote it, the former "ER" star ventured out on a gloomy, rainy fall day in Manhattan to run around Central Park for our cameras.  Many celebrities who loudly proclaim their support for a cause would have taken one look at the weather and told their publicist to reschedule the whole thing.

But Edwards came out and stood in the rain with a smile, as he talked about how he wants to make a difference to thousands of kids.  It doesn't take a lot to make a big difference, he said: "All we have to do is shift a little bit to little places."

It makes sense that a man who walked away from a high-paying job on a hugely popular TV show would have his own unique ideas about life.  "There is so much excess in this country, said Edwards, who heard that "two thirds of the deaths of children [in Africa] are very preventable" and wanted to get involved.  He became the chairman of Shoe4Africa, an organization that started out donating shoes to African children who needed them, and is now trying to build that hospital.

To aid that cause, he's running New York, his fourth marathon, despite his promises to himself not to subject himself to another one.  So he's put in months of training runs, and now he's ready to go.  He doesn't want to predict his time, but allows that if he feels good, he may cover the 26.2 miles in under four hours.

When I asked him what he'll be doing the day after the race, his first response was simple and succinct - "moaning" - but then he laughed.  "Hopefully we'll be celebrating a really successful weekend and looking forward to the next thing."

October 30th, 2009
08:36 AM ET

Rock and Roll wrap up

Producer Doug Ganley blogging from backstage at Madison Square Garden where the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame concert took place Thursday night.

A long night at Madison Square Garden wrapped up close to 1:30 on Friday morning with Bruce Springsteen belting out "Born to Run" with Billy Joel.

The concert started late and the sets were pretty long.

Take Stevie Wonder who was on stage for more than an hour and told the crowd that he was there to “turn this mother out!”

There were some moments that definitely stood out for me at the end of the night.
Art Garfunkel and Paul Simon arm in arm performing some of their biggest hits. Garfunkel said backstage that he and Simon had “a lovely falling back together again,” after their long feud.
Stevie Wonder, John Legend, and BB King singing “The Thrill is Gone” definitely riled up the audience as well.
But Bruce Springsteen took the cake. He came out on stage just before midnight and played until well after 1 am.

This is not a young crowd, and I’m sure at least some of them had to be at work in the morning, but it looked like they kept the place pretty full through Bruce’s set.

They were flying when Bruce brought out Sam Moore to sing “Hold On I'm Coming.” You may not recognize Moore’s name (he's from the duo Sam & Dave) but you’ve heard his voice, which Bruce called “one of the best voices of all time.”

The crowd  got louder when the Boss was joined by John Fogerty for “Fortunate Son” and “Proud Mary.”

But the favorite moment for the New York audience came when Bruce discussed his theory of continental drift and how that separated Long Island and New Jersey.

To reunite the two, he held a “Bridge and Tunnel Summit,” with Long Island’s own Billy Joel. The term comes from how people, who live in New York City, disdainfully refer to their suburban neighbors. Everyone loved the pair singing Joel’s hit “New York State of Mind.”

As the concert wrapped up,  even the celebrities discovered that it can be tough to get out of the Garden. As I walked out I saw Shania Twain trying to get past some determined autograph seekers and into her car.

The concert will air on HBO November 29th, after it’s edited down and combined with another show starring Metallica and U2 scheduled for Friday night.

One of the persistent topics backstage was what bands will eventually wind up in the Rock Hall of Fame. So I’ll put it out to you, what acts do you think should be enshrined in the Cleveland museum?

October 30th, 2009
12:40 AM ET

Heavy hitters take the stage at Madison Square Garden

Producer Doug Ganley blogging from backstage at Madison Square Garden where the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame concert took place Thursday night.

The first highlight of the night came when Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel took the stage arm in arm. The audience loved renditions of "Sounds of Silence," "Mrs. Robinson" and "Bridge over Troubled Water."  They walked off to a standing ovation from the crowd and gave one last encore with "Cecelia."

Crosby, Stills and Nash followed with a good set and some assistance from Bonnie Raitt, Jackson Browne, and James Taylor. David Crosby told us backstage that they are able to keep their songs fresh because, "We don't remember how we did it last time."

The crowd is into it, but definitely skews a little older. With all of the grey hair out there, I bet this is one of the only nights at Madison Square Garden where the beer vendors haven't asked anyone to show an I.D.

Bonnie Raitt told us that she was having a ball. "The hallways are happening" she said, "I wish this could last a month."

Stevie Wonder just took the stage, and after battling technical problems started off with a cover of "Blowing in the Wind." Covers seem to be a theme tonight because Crosby Stills and Nash say they're going into the studio tomorrow to do an album of covers.

Which brings to mind the question what's your favorite cover?

October 29th, 2009
08:18 PM ET

Tom Hanks is rocking tonight

Tom Hanks is pumped! He's producing the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame concert at Madison Square Garden tonight. While backstage, he offered up more of the  "Bachelor Party" Tom than Academy Award winner Tom, jokingly calling the press "jaded sons of a b-tch" and making reference to a movie title that I cannot repeat on a family blog.

He struck a more serious note when talking about the line-up which includes Bruce Springsteen, Stevie Wonder, Crosby Stills and Nash, Bonnie Raitt, and Sting to name just a few. The concert is being filmed for a HBO special that will air Thanksgiving weekend. "I just did it for the all access pass," he joked. "I'm a fan, but I don't know what to say to these guys," he admitted.

The funniest moment of his quick press conference came when a reporter asked him about his favorite song of the year. He had to think about it for a second, but after his wife Rita Wilson helped him he said "ohhh Beyonce."  He couldn't remember the title, so he started flapping his hand and singing "Da da da da duh da da da" until someone helped him out by shouting "Put a Ring on It?" That was it, "and Kanye West had nothing to do with me picking that song," he concluded.

June 9th, 2009
01:22 AM ET

A Special Night in Harlem

Tonight the Apollo Theater celebrated its 75th anniversary and the common thread from all of the celebrities, as they walked on the red carpet, was that the Apollo has always had the toughest crowds.

As Ruby Dee, Quincy Jones, Bill Cosby, Paul Mooney and Phylicia Rashad worked an overly crowded and small red carpet, the story that got the most attention belonged to Jamie Foxx.

He recounted his first time appearing on stage and how the fans let him have it.

“I came out you know it was a whole LA thing. Well he’s from LA, boo boo boo. Man they booed me in opera.”

But no harm no foul according to Foxx, the tape of the event was never aired and even with the reaction, “It was my favorite time… you get booed it’s part of it.”

And with that Foxx walked in to present an award to Quincy Jones.

June 5th, 2009
01:00 AM ET

Mariah Carey and a high school prom

Mariah Carey wasn’t the only one hosting a party at Tavern on the Green Thursday night.

The Tavern was pulling double duty. In one area, Mariah and other celebrities like Michael Strahan, Michelle Williams and Anthony Edwards, raised money to send underprivileged kids to summer camp. In another some students who probably went to whatever camp they liked were celebrating their prom.

As Mariah and her husband Nick Cannon spoke to the press outside the fundraiser,  stretch limos pulled up continuously behind her with dozens of tuxedoed teenagers spilling out.

I told Mariah she should head into the prom, but I don’t know if she decided to make their night.

And while the kids may not have gotten any closer than flashbulb distance to the pop star, Nick Cannon was gracious enough to help a few of them get Mariah’s autograph before she went in.

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