“I’m just about defrosted, so forgive me if I hit a few wrong notes,” Sir Elton John said Wednesday night. “My hands are frozen.”
The singer sat at a piano a few hundred feet from the Hudson River in the outdoor plaza of the World Financial Center in Tribeca. Cameron Crowe’s documentary “The Union,” which details John’s musical kinship with Leon Russell, had just screened for a few hundred people to kick off the tenth annual Tribeca Film Festival. A smart phone reading put the temperature in the low fifties, but it felt colder. John wore a scarf. He began to play “Rocket Man” and the audience swayed approvingly.
As the singer’s short set came to a close, some of the crowd’s more VIP members made their way to P.J. Clarke’s in the north end of the plaza.
“My girlfriend and I are jurors this year for the festival,” said Paul Dano as he came in from the cold with Zoe Kazan and took a spot next to a table of chocolate-dipped matzo. “I mean, come on, it’s New York, we should have a bangin’ festival. It’s great. I’m excited to see some movies. Proud to be a part of it.”
The bar was filled with an assorted mix of New York film types including Dennis Leary, Zoe Kravitz, Bob Balaban and David O. Russell. Selita Ebanks sat a table in the bar’s back room. Surrounded by the film festival crowd, the model explained that she had recently made her television debut.
“Yesterday — the number one show of the time slot — I was on ‘Hawaii Five-0’ playing opposite Mr. P. Diddy,” she said. “I’m very proud. Even though I died before the credits ran, it was still a great experience.”
She laughed and turned to look over her shoulder at Jeffrey Wright, who she had been sitting next to.
“He was just giving me my critique,” she said. “He thought I was very natural, which I was very humbled by… I’ve been studying for a very long time with Susan Batson, Lesly Kahn in L.A., tons of people. I just always took my time because I never want to play a model. Those roles are always offered. They’re just lame. I’d rather play like a schizo or something.”