Ray Richmond is contributing to Deadline’s coverage of TCA.
Sir Paul McCartney paid a visit to TCA for a noontime discussion with critics via satellite from the Great American Ballpark in Cincinnati, where he was prepping for a concert tonight, to discuss his 10-year-old 9/11 benefit concert footage that’s been packaged into a Showtime feature-length documentary special. The Love We Make: The Concert For New York City premieres the evening of Sept. 10, the night before the 10th anniversary of 9/11. It’s a black-and-white, cinema-verite piece that looks a decade back in the rear-view mirror at how the star-studded show at Madison Square Garden came to be.
Relaxed, chatty and forthcoming and wearing a collarless jacket that would soon become part of the conversation, McCartney said it was the forthcoming 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks that spurred him to contact filmmaker Albert Maysles, who shot the footage and packaged with film in partnership with Bradley Kaplan. “It seemed like a good opportunity,” he said. “I called Albert up and ask if the footage was still around. He said, ‘Yeah,’ and I said, ‘OK, let’s do it then.’ (The project) was reawakened by the 10th anniversary.”
Back on the fateful day, McCartney reflected on how the original show came to be. It turns out he was nearly airborne in New York airspace himself. “I was on my way back to England, having just had a short visit to America. We were at JFK on the tarmac when the pilot said, ‘We can’t take off.’ And out of the window on the right side of the aircraft you could see the Twin Towers had this plume of smoke, and then a second shortly thereafter. I said, ‘That’s just an optical illusion. It’s some little fire or something.’ We looked at that for a while and one of the stewards came by and told me there was a real problem outside. We got off the plane and unloaded to Long Island, where we watched it all unfold along with the rest of the world. While I was sitting twiddling my thumbs, I got to wondering if there was any role I could play in this. And the idea came to me to do a concert. It grew from a conversation with Harvey Weinstein, and finally MTV.”
McCartney also discussed his current concert strategy with his latest band. “The proportion of Beatles songs (we do) has grown quite a lot,” he said. “We try to mix in a lot of stuff, from Wings, from my solo stuff. But the largest proportion these days is Beatles stuff, because I try to give audiences what they want. And a lot of that is Beatles stuff. It’s not bad music.”
There was finally a question about McCartney’s unique attire on this day. “What, this is what’s in fashion here in Cincinnati,” he insisted. “It hasn’t come to Los Angeles yet.” That led into a query about what he likes to watch on TV himself. Maybe American Idol or America’s Got Talent? Not so much. “I like to watch a lot of sports actually,” McCartney stressed. Then he admitted, “I sometimes get completely hooked on the shopping channels. Excuse me. Where do you think I got this collarless jacket?”