Wednesday, April 10, 2013 | 11:58 p.m.
Michael Caine on BBC
There’s never been — and never will be — a double 80th birthday celebration like the Las Vegas-styled gala planned Friday and Saturday for “celestial twins” Quincy Jones and Sir Michael Caine. The celebration is what makes up the Keep Memory Alive “Power of Love” gala for the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health.
An ocean apart, Michael and Quincy were born within split seconds of each other eight decades ago in 1933. They discovered the coincidence when they worked on “The Italian Job” together in 1969 and have been the closest of friends ever since.
It’s a live, star-studded TV spectacular at MGM Grand Garden Arena, and a glittering lineup of superstars is flying in for the celebrations. Led by Bono and Stevie Wonder, in town last weekend for the 2013 Academy of Country Awards also at MGM Grand, performers and stars are expected to include (in order of appearance) Larry King, actress Rashida Jones (Quincy’s daughter), Chris Tucker, Jennifer Hudson, Will.I.Am, Jordin Sparks, Snoop Lion, Siedah Garrett, Arsenio Hall, Herbie Hancock, Carlos Santana, Terrence Howard, James Ingram and Patti Austin, Scarlett Johansson, Chaka Khan, Whoopi Goldberg, Amy Poehler and several last-minute surprise guests.
I have the honor and pleasure of being the emcee for the gala. The two nights of dinners and entertainment, organized by KMA founder Larry Ruvo, are a fundraiser for the Cleveland Clinic Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, named for his father. It will be shown live on AXS, a new channel led by Ryan Seacrest and Mark Cuban; DirecTV and Dish; and broadcast April 20 on Cox Channel 14.
For Quincy, it’s the first of four worldwide platinum parties, one of which he’ll share with Michael in the latter’s hometown of London. After this weekend at MGM Grand, Quincy celebrates in New York City, Switzerland and Japan. The two giants of the film and music world arrived on the Strip this week as guests of Steve and Andrea Wynn.
Today, Michael remains one of Britain’s most recognizable actors and, like me, has a true Cockney accent. Alongside Jack Nicholson, Michael is the only other actor nominated for an Academy Award in every decade from the 1960s into the 2000s. He has starred in more than 100 films, including “Zulu,” his first, and “The Dark Knight Rises,” released last summer. He has been nominated for Oscars six times; he won in 1987 for “Hannah and Her Sisters” and in 2000 for “The Cider House Rules.” Queen Elizabeth II knighted Michael in 2000.
I talked with my longtime pal Michael about his Las Vegas visit:
“It has been a long time since Quincy and I saw each other. It is really great because whenever we can, we celebrate (our birthday) together. This is a wonderful time in April in Las Vegas to not only celebrate together but also to celebrate an incredible charity and an incredible man, Larry Ruvo.
“Think about his determined vision to care for people suffering from Alzheimer’s and other brain-related problems. It is absolutely extraordinary. He did it because his father died of Alzheimer’s. Larry took it upon himself to build this clinic with charitable donations. The show that Quincy and I are a part of is the year’s largest fundraiser to keep the work going."
Michael Caine on Inside the Actors Studio
About Larry’s philosophy:
“It is really Larry who is this extraordinary man who has gone and created this whole clinic. He has raised millions of dollars, and the great thing about the clinic is the amount of care that it supplies. When you read about hospitals, very often you see criticism in the care. But the thing with Larry in this clinic, he is absolutely crazy to have everybody taken absolute care of all the time. So, the patient is at the center of everything that the clinic does, and they focus on caregivers and family support.
“There also are education programs, therapy sessions and social work activities. There is only one way for treatment for Alzheimer’s, and any other brain disorders, and that is through clinical trials. The Ruvo Center in Las Vegas is a global leader with nearly 30 trials of new therapies and new approaches for diagnosis of not only Alzheimer’s disease but also Parkinson’s disease and multiple sclerosis. All of these are being conducted right there in Las Vegas.
About Larry’s passion:
“It is quite extraordinary when you think that this is the dream of just one man who had a terrible experience. What he did was, with the money, build this building and use one of the greatest architects in the world, Frank Gehry. He has not only supplied a clinic, he supplied one of the most beautiful buildings, an architectural spectacular. The Cleveland Clinic is investigative; it goes on to discover new treatments and promote new ways of optimizing the care of patients with Alzheimer’s disease and other brain disorders.
“This time we can truly say that what happens in Vegas benefits the world, and Quincy and I are so happy to be a part of it. I can’t begin to tell you how proud we are for this weekend and to support Keep Memory Alive.”
Larry commented: “We are incredibly excited and humbled to honor these two men with an extraordinary birthday celebration at this year’s 'Power of Love' gala. They are both shining the light supporting the center’s continued work toward enhanced treatments and research.”
Quincy is proud to be associated with the brain center because long ago, he suffered two brain aneurysms that nearly killed him. One of the Los Angeles doctors who helped save his life during that complicated surgery will be at Saturday’s dinner. The musical legend has spent 60 years working with the country’s greatest musicians, including Frank Sinatra, Stevie Wonder and Michael Jackson. Quincy is one of the most decorated entertainers of this century, gathering a record 79 Grammy nominations, an Emmy and seven Oscar nods.
He admits that he wanted to be a gangster on Chicago’s South Side until he turned 11. “It was a daily life of gangs, stogies, dead bodies, guns and piles of money,” he said. “I would have been dead or in prison if we hadn’t moved to Seattle.
“My mother introduced me to music. There was a piano in our local recreation center. Thank God somebody up there said to me, ‘Go back in there, idiot.’ Then my body told me this is what I’d do for the rest of my life.” He joined a school choir and the school band and received a trumpet from his father. Quincy went on to work with every musical influence in America from Louis Armstrong to Tony Bennett. He will be inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame on Thursday.
“Music is the universal language that ties everyone together. There are only 12 notes, and until God gives us a 13th, everybody from Bach to Bo Diddley has the same number,” he said.
Human Nature, the Australian vocal group with the Motown sound who headline at the Venetian, will be the star entertainment for Quincy on Friday night. He also recruited some of his own newly discovered artists to join them in entertaining Michael and their families and friends. Saturday’s festivities begin with a Dom Perignon reception for 1,800 guests, and then chefs Wolfgang Puck and Gordon Ramsay have promised the “gourmet meal of a lifetime.”
There will be a silent and live onstage auction with incredible packages from George Clooney, Steven Spielberg, Cindy Crawford and Rande Gerber, Stefanie Graf and Andre Agassi, John Travolta and Kelly Preston, and surprises from Steve Wynn, Gordon Ramsay and the Bon Appetit Vegas Uncork’d chefs. A 2014 Jaguar, the successor to the legendary XKE, will be auctioned, with the winner flying to the English factory to oversee its manufacturing with the designer.
Past Keep Memory Alive galas with Muhammad Ali’s 70th birthday celebration, the final performance of illusionists Siegfried & Roy, and concerts with Celine Dion and Barry Manilow have raised more than $70 million for KMA.
Michael had the last word: “It will be a night like no other. Not many people know that, but, after this weekend, they will. This couldn’t be done anywhere else in the world but Las Vegas.”
Robin Leach has been a journalist for more than 50 years and has spent the past decade giving readers the inside scoop on Las Vegas, the world’s premier platinum playground.
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