Under Cover, Week of May 22, 2014

You awardin’ me?
We can all watch clips of our favorite movie stars any time we want, but watching the actors watch themselves is a rare treat, which is why our eyes were focused on Robert de Niro last week as he watched a long highlight reel of himself at the Borough of Manhattan Community College’s annual gala at 4 World Trade Center.

The college prepared films on all of the honorees, but we suspect they may have had the most fun putting together de Niro’s most memorable scenes.

The actor smiled fondly with the crowd as we watched clips of his early films like “Mean Streets” and “Goodfellas.” At a certain point the audience stayed interested, but de Niro seemed to tire from looking at himself. 

When we got to the event May 13 — the first gala in the building, which is not yet open for its commercial tenants — we had hopes of sitting at de Niro’s table since,  to our surprise, we were seated at Table 1. 

Actor Robert de Niro and Elizabeth Butson, two of the honorees at B.M.C.C.’s Reaching for the Stars gala last week.  Downtown Express photos by Josh Rogers

Actor Robert de Niro and Elizabeth Butson, two of the honorees at B.M.C.C.’s Reaching for the Stars gala last week.
Downtown Express photos by Josh Rogers

That was undoubtedly due to the fact that we were a guest of Elizabeth Margaritis Butson, a longtime board member and supporter of the college, and a former publisher of Downtown Express.

The non-celebrity conscious table seating gods put De Niro at Number 8, which was still close enough for us to gawk.

The ever gallant de Niro kissed Butson’s hand after meeting her at the event.

Jane Rosenthal, De Niro’s Tribeca Film Fest co-founder and former B.M.C.C. honoree,  said “on 9/11, Bob took it personally.”

At the time he was living in Tribeca, and he, Rosenthal, and her husband, Craig Hatkoff, put on the fest that spring. 

“We didn’t even think about it, we just didit” de Niro said. “It feels odd for getting an award for reacting — but don’t get me wrong, I’ll take it.”

Rosenthal said, “Bob you’re going to get this lovely award tonight, and B.M.C.C., you’re going to get the cash.”

Based on the draw of de Niro, Butson and the third honoree, Kurt Woetzel of BNY Mellon, the college took in about $1 million for it’s scholarship fund, which typically helps immigrant students who succeed despite overcoming incredible obstacles.

School president  Antonio Pérez had one piece of advice for us and we took it: “Get pictures of Bob.”

Rudy Giuliani at the 9/11 Memorial Museum last week.

Rudy Giuliani at the 9/11 Memorial Museum last week.

Brush With Rudy
We almost literally bumped into Rudy Giuliani at the 9/11 Memorial Museum last Wednesday.

He happened to be visiting at the tail end of the press preview event the day before he, President Barack Obama, Bill and Hillary Clinton, and other notables attended the opening ceremony.

Although the former mayor’s critics often accuse him of exploiting 9/11 for political gain, he had no apparent ulterior motives on this visit. 

One, he showed up after many of the bigger news outlets had already left. Two, he had little to say to the few members of the press on hand. He also seemed genuinely moved as he took it all in.  

“I was here before but it was not all filled up with exhibits,” he said.

Although we have no reason to think he was looking to score political points, we’re still quite certain politics was on his mind.

He stared for quite some time at a campaign poster of Fernando Ferrer, one of the Democratic candidates to succeed him in 2001.

Giuliani, a Republican, also looked very closely at the museum’s display of newspaper coverage the morning of Sept. 11, 2001, which was the big primary day. 

“Isn’t it interesting, no one was covering the Republicans,” he said.

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