Hitchcock is Demme’s leading man

By Mark Shanahan & Meredith Goldstein
Globe Staff / March 3, 2010

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Why did Robyn Hitchcock perform at this week’s screening at the Coolidge of Jonathan Demme’s documentary about Neil Young? It’s not clear, even to Hitchcock (above right, with Demme), but what difference does it make? “To a halibut in the late 20th century, there’s no difference between me and Neil Young - or Jim Morrison, for that matter,’’ said Hitchcock. (In fact, the British singer is a buddy of Demme’s, and has been in three of his movies, including the documentary “Storefront Hitchcock.’’) The screening was part of a two-day celebration of Demme, who’s the recipient of this year’s Coolidge Award. The audience was enthusiastic about the film, but some people griped that lights inside the cinema were not turned off, which spoiled the experience.

Leno still rates
Looks like the same-old same-old still sells in late night. Jay Leno’s return to NBC’s “The Tonight Show’’ was a ratings hit Monday night, leading the time slot over both CBS’s “The Late Show With David Letterman’’ and ABC’s “Nightline’’ and “Jimmy Kimmel Live.’’ According to preliminary Nielsen ratings, the Andover-bred Leno pulled in 6.6 million viewers for the East Coast time slot, compared to 4.1 million viewers for “Nightline,’’ and 3.8 million for Letterman. Translation, Leno done good - although, as we learned with Conan O’Brien, who did even better during his first “Tonight Show’’ episodes, the real test will be whether Jay can hold onto these numbers.

Geffen not so vain?
The one person who definitely knows who Carly Simon was singing about in “You’re So Vain’’ insists it is not David Geffen. NBC executive Dick Ebersol, who paid $50,000 at a charity auction a few years ago to learn the man’s identity, says that the British newspaper The Sun was incorrect last week when it suggested Simon was talking about Geffen. Simon re-recorded the hit on her latest LP, and when you play the new version backward, she can be heard whispering “David.’’ The Sun concluded Simon was referring to Geffen, who was the boss at Elektra back in the day. “I’ve never before spoken on this issue and I never will again. . . . but I can assure [you] the David is not David Geffen . . . a really good guy,’’ Ebersol told the New York Post. Ebersol said he’s a friend of Simon’s and bid because he wanted “to make sure Carly didn’t have to tell a total stranger.’’

Moon to rise near Ashmont Station
Five years ago, sculptor Joe Wheelwright entered a competition sponsored by the Dorchester Arts Collaborative to design a piece of public art for the redesigned Peabody Square near Ashmont Station. There were 19 entries, and Wheelwright won. Well, this week, the Dorchester artist is putting the finishing touches on his creation - a 9-foot-long sleeping moon, complete with craters, and molded from 600 pounds of Plasticine. The moon will be installed in the spring, across the street from the iron clock that is an Ashmont landmark. “I love the idea of having the moon looking at the clock and waiting for night to fall,’’ he said.

Rapper on the mend
Gang Starr rapper Guru is recuperating from a massive heart attack suffered last weekend. reports that Guru, who was known as Keith Elam as a kid in Dorchester, survived emergency surgery in New York. His music partner DJ Premier announced via Twitter that Guru’s surgery was a success: “Good news: guru surgery was successful, keep sending him love.’’

Foodies get festive
Locals from Duxbury’s Island Creek Oysters were in Miami over the weekend for the South Beach Food & Wine Festival. Their visit included a chef’s after-party at the Tides hotel where they mingled with cast members from the Food Network’s “Ace of Cakes,’’ the show that follows Duff Goldman’s quirky cake spot in Baltimore. As you can see, Island Creek director of business development Shore Gregory made fast friends with “Ace’’ office manager Mary Alice Yeskey. Also at the party were Boston-area chefs Ken Oringer, Ming Tsai, and Barry Maiden of Hungry Mother.

Higgins benefit
More than 1,700 people showed up at a fund-raiser for Donny Higgins the other night. The event at the Boston Teachers Union Hall in Dorchester was organized in part by Senator Jack Hart, who’s been friends with Higgins (center) since their days growing up in South Boston. Higgins, who’s married with four children, was diagnosed with stage four colon cancer last fall and needs a liver transplant. Among those at the party were city councilors Bill Linehan, Stephen Murphy, John Connolly, and Maureen Feeney, former councilor Michael Flaherty, Norfolk Treasurer Joe Connolly, state Representative Marty Walsh, state Senator Jim Timilty, and Worcester County Sheriff Guy Glodis.

Schilling honors a special group of ‘Brothers’
Sox pitcher Curt Schilling is hosting four of the original “Band of Brothers,’’ the World War II veterans made famous in the Stephen Ambrose book and HBO series. Saturday’s gathering at Schill’s Medfield home is a benefit for a new documentary by Tim Gray Media, a Rhode Island-based film company that makes movies about WWII vets. The latest film is based on Marcus Brotherton’s book, “We Who Are Alive and Remain.’’ The four who’ll be attending Curt and wife Shonda’s fund-raiser include Buck Compton, Don Malarkey, “Wild Bill’’ Guarnere, and Edward “Babe’’ Heffron. (Guarnere and Heffron are traveling here on a jet donated by Honor Flight New England.) Said Schill: “With 1,000 World War II veterans passing on each day - 30,000 a month - we’re running out of time to document all the stories of these great men and women who fought for our freedom.’’

Romney joins Team Edward
Following Paul Cellucci and Jane Swift is one thing. Following Robert Pattinson is another. Former Bay State governor and Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney got second billing on “The View’’ yesterday - meaning he had to wait to hype his new book “No Apology: The Case for American Greatness’’ until “Twilight’’ heartthrob Pattinson and “Lost’’ beauty Emilie de Ravin finished promoting their new movie “Remember Me’’ to an audience of screaming fans. Romney wasn’t oblivious to the importance of RPatz. Our former gov asked Pattinson to pose with him for this photo backstage, and apparently told the actor that he’s a big fan of Stephenie Meyer’s teen vampire series.

Local ‘Bachelorette’
Williamstown’s Ali Fedotowsky is the next star of “The Bachelorette.’’ The 25-year-old Facebook employee, who ditched Jake Pavelka on this season of “The Bachelor’’ to focus on her job, will begin her own on-air hunt for a soul mate on May 24. Fedotowsky lives in San Francisco, but we’ll count her as a local. She grew up in Western Mass. and is a graduate of Greylock Regional High School.

They have ‘Character’
USA Network, home of shows such as “Royal Pains’’ and “Burn Notice’’ (and the channel that airs more consecutive episodes of “NCIS’’ than anyone would ever want to watch in a day), has been running a nice feature about Alex Rigopulos and Eran Egozy, the two MIT Media Lab guys who founded the Cambridge company Harmonix, which makes the uber-popular game Guitar Hero. The flattering short doc about the businessmen is part of the network’s “Characters Approved’’ campaign. Rigopulos and Egozy join a list of 2010 “Character’’ honorees that includes Oscar-nominated “Hurt Locker’’ director Kathryn Bigelow, Wellesley College grad Nora Ephron, and sustainable architect Angela Brooks.

Party in the city
Woodward, the restaurant in the new Ames hotel, hosted a party to toast the March issue of Boston magazine the other night. Attendees included scene diva Marilyn Riseman and (from left) Ames boss Seth Greenberg, Channel 5’s Bianca de la Garza, and former “Project Runway’’ contestant Jonathan Joseph Peters.

Matthew Gilbert and Linda Matchan of the Globe staff contributed. Read the Names blog at Names can be reached at or at 617-929-8253.