July 17, 2019

Justin Timberlake, Halsey and Lizzo at Songwriters Hall of Fame

Justin Timberlake, Halsey and Lizzo at Songwriters Hall of Fame


Jessica Biel, the actress and activist, may not support compulsory vaccinations for children, but she at least managed to inoculate herself against reporters.

She attended the 50th annual Songwriters Hall of Fame Induction and Awards Dinner last Thursday night at the Marriott Marquis hotel in Times Square, where Justin Timberlake, her husband, was being honored.

Neither gave interviews, opting instead for herd immunity amid a glittering array of music luminaries including Bette Midler, Patti LaBelle, Lizzo, Da Brat, Bonnie Raitt, Queen Latifah, Clive Davis, Dave Matthews and Jermaine Dupri.

The songwriters Dallas Austin, Missy Elliott, Tom T. Hall, John Prine, Jack Tempchin and Yusuf Islam (formerly known as Cat Stevens) were inducted over a dinner of chicken breasts and Veramonte sauvignon blanc, served in bottles with a large gold sticker that read: “Best Value.”

“As a young man, my first search was for wealth and success, but I got almost dragged under after battles with fame and the Faustian demands of the music business,” Mr. Islam said from the stage, as a rapt crowd of 1,500 hung on his words. “But my real journey was a search for meaning.”

Awards also went to Carole Bayer Sager, the songwriter; Martin Bandier, a music publisher; Linda Moran, the organization’s chief executive; and Halsey, the multiplatinum pop artist.

“Songwriters are the unsung heroes of the music world,” Halsey said, without irony. “There are so many of them hiding in the wings who are responsible for the songs that have shaped our culture and society.”

By the time Mr. Timberlake took the stage to perform a medley of his hits, the four-hour show was already running an hour over. Accepting the contemporary icon award, he thanked his team, saying: “It does take a village to raise an icon.”

The crowd giggled nervously at his hubris.

“Sorry,” he said. “That was off the top of my head, and I immediately regret that.”

Charcoal skies and a chill wind provided a dramatic backdrop for a God’s Love We Deliver benefit party on Saturday, held on the grounds of the Samuel Parrish house in Southampton, N.Y.

While unsettled weather may have been the reason some high-profile guests like Aerin Lauder and Jerry Bruckheimer failed to materialize, the most notable absentee was Linda Fairstein, the former Manhattan prosecutor. She resigned from the charity’s board two weeks ago amid backlash in the wake of “When They See Us,” a Netflix drama that unfavorably portrays her role in the Central Park jogger case.

“Linda chose to resign because she was concerned that everything that was swirling around was potentially bad for God’s Love, and she didn’t want any harm to come to the organization,” said Karen Pearl, its chief executive.

And did she agree with that decision?

“It’s not for me to say,” Ms. Pearl said, as the first raindrops fell.

Those who fought the elements to enjoy a generously stocked bar and buffet of shrimp, oysters and clams included Tamara Tunie, the actress and a God’s Love trustee; Mark Brashear, the chief executive of John Varvatos Enterprises and a board member of God’s Love; and Terrence Meck, the chairman of the board of directors.

Fern Mallis, Louise Grunwald, Robert Zimmerman, Richard Mishaan and Margaret Russell gossiped beneath giant oak trees as buff waiters passed trays of tuna tartare and pigs in blankets. Jean Shafiroff, the noted non-recluse, arrived in an Alice & Olivia jumpsuit, sailing across the lawn like Venus in her clamshell.

Ms. Pearl estimated that the event raised $350,000 for the charity, which was founded in 1985 as a resource for people living with H.I.V., and currently delivers meals to about 8,000 homebound clients a year.

Although it now serves those afflicted with a range of illnesses, some traces of its origins as an L.G.B.T. organization are still discernible. When a gust of wind blew a vase of peonies to the ground, four male donors in blazers rushed to restore the arrangement.

A female guest looked on, impressed. “That wouldn’t happen at a straight party,” she said.



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