PLAYBILL ON OPENING NIGHT: In Mike Tyson: Undisputed Truth, the Champ Vamps

By Harry Haun
03 Aug 2012

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Helmets would have come in handy at Hurley's for those hoping for a private audience with the champ. His was the body well-guarded. A phalanx of bruisers ushered him and his wife up the stairs to the second floor and then quickly off to a pretty inaccessible table in a side room. Few fans made it beyond the velvet ropes.

After a respectable but not overly prolonged stay, the phalanx activated again and transported the couple down the stairs and into the street of lingering fans.

There were fans already forming by the time the Tysons reached the Longacre earlier in the evening, and he rewarded the faithful with autographs. They stuck around for more autographs when the paparazzi lined up to photograph the celebs.

Illusionist and endurance artist David Blaine (Nederlander calls him "the modern-day Houdini") arrived with his fiancée Alizee Guinochet, and "CBS This Morning" co-anchor Gayle King steadied her son, Will Bumpus, who came on crutches from a fresh basketball injury.

Shortstop Derek Jeter, who autographed a fan's baseball en route to the theatre lobby, led the pin-strip parade of Yankees, followed by outfielder Andruw Jones. Pitcher C.C. Sabathia, with wife Amber, didn't know what to expect from his first Broadway opening beyond "I expect Mike to be pretty funny." (He was.) And center fielder Curtis Granderson crowed that it was his second first-night and provided his own censor effects for the first: The Mother[beep] With the Hat. It was a word there'd be more of later.

Two from TV's "Third Watch" made separate entrances: Peter Schneider, just arriving in movie houses in "The Babymaker," and Nia Long, who just made a baby and is plotting her return to acting. She was escorted by her Sequoia guy, NBA basketball player Ime Udoka, and her poet-dad, Doughtry "Doc" Long. "I've known Mike forever," she relayed lightly — then: "I'm really proud of his transition, and I think that this is a really awesome way just to tell his story. I have no idea what to expect, but with Spike Lee it will be greatness."

Leon Robinson, who played Robin Givens' lover in "The Women of Brewster Place," found an old movie bro (from "The Five Heartbeats") in the lobby: Robert Townsend. "I know Mike and I know Spike, so I'm just here to support the show," said Townsend, who now only acts in a pinch. He last produced and directed "In the Hive," and "We're looking for our theatrical distribution now. It's based on a true story about some North Carolina teachers who turn some boys' lives around. It stars Michael Clarke Duncanand Loretta Devine."

Curtis Granderson
Photo by Joseph Marzullo/WENN

A self-professed, but bona fide, "Broadway Baby" (Baby It's You!, Aida, Sweet Charity), Kyra Da Costa glittered up the scene properly. "I'm about ready to do Flashdance," she said. "We start next week workshopping. Then I'll do Cotton Club Parade at City Center Nov. 14-18."

The 90-year-old Jake LaMotta and his seventh wife, Denise Baker, made a point to check "the uptown competition." Their clip-and-chat evening of "Raging Bull"-ring remembrances, Lady and the Champ, closed July 29 at Richmond Shepard's Off-Broadway theatre on the East Side.

Singer-pianist Peter Cincotti showed up with a smartly turned-out Tony Danza. "Tony, you're looking good," someone shouted from the crowd clustered about the theatre entrance. "Thanks, Mom," he shot back.

Danza said he has found, and staked out for himself, a 1992 movie that hasn't been musicalized by Alan Menken (Sister Act, Leap of Faith, Newsies). It's called "Honeymoon in Vegas," and he has the film's original writer-director Andrew Bergman at work on the Broadway version right now with songwriter Jason Robert Brown. Danza will wear two hats, smartly: he'll produce it and play the James Caan part. (A fall Toronto bow was canceled, it was announced this week, and we await word on when it will surface.)

Kenny Leon, who directed Denzel Washington and Viola Davis in Fences and Phylicia Rashad and Audra McDonald in A Raisin in the Sun — all of them to Tony Awards, said he showed up as a sign of respect for Spike Lee. "I've known Spike for a long time. We talked, and I told him I wanted to be here for his Broadway debut. It's very important as a Broadway director to support another Broadway director."

Leon expects to be back Broadway-directing next season. "We're working on Fatal Attraction, based on the Michael Douglas-Glenn Close film. James Dearden, who wrote the film, is preparing the play."

Also in attendance: Donald Trump, sportscaster Ahmad Rashad, "One Tough Cop" and media personality Bo Dietl, SPI Entertainment CEO Adam Steck, Hollywood's Meg Ryan with pop star John Mellencamp, and Tribeca Grill restaurateur Drew Nieporent.