Names & Faces: Maxwell, Jeffrey Wright, Conan O'Brien, Cory Booker and More

Booker and O'Brien: Take that! And that! And that!
Booker and O'Brien: Take that! And that! And that! (By Mitchell Haaseth -- Nbc Universal)
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Saturday, October 3, 2009

Maxwell's Exit, Stage Left

Maxwell knows how to break hearts. Even ours.

At a packed fundraiser for actor Jeffrey Wright's Taia Peace Foundation on Friday afternoon at Oya, the neo-soul singer delivered a textbook celebrity-advocate performance: brief, and leave 'em wanting more. He said that he was "deeply honored" to be with the crowd and that he was speaking as "a simple man who grew up on public assistance," adding that he'll do what he can to support peace and "interconnectedness." A female attendee punctuated his remarks with a rowdy "Yeah!"

We wanted to ask him how he deals with that -- the passionate outbursts of fans who can't get enough -- but he was late for a sound check at Verizon Center, where he performed that night. We had to settle for the artful way his all-black outfit blurred past us while several handlers steered him toward the back door.

Luckily, Wright stuck around to chat. His foundation, which helps rural communities in Sierra Leone take control of their natural resources, is getting a boost from other famous friends -- Ben Stiller, Jessica Alba, Alicia Keys -- but he's a huge fan of Maxwell. The pair toured the White House together Friday: "I wanted to make sure he had an opportunity to experience this new era from the command center," Wright said. During the tour, they met Vice President Biden and chatted with several aides.

Conan's Civic Discourse

"Tonight Show" host Conan O'Brien and Newark Mayor Cory Booker are still at it. We'll keep tabs on their ongoing faux-feud so you don't have to!

-- Last week: O'Brien jokes that Newark's new health-care program consists of a bus ticket out of Newark. (Insert rimshot.)

-- Tuesday: Booker responds with a YouTube video, "banning" O'Brien from flying out of Newark Liberty International Airport. ("Try JFK, buddy," he suggests.)

-- Wednesday: O'Brien's show airs a two-minute segment on Newark, pretending to extol its virtues while showing images of urban neglect. (For example: Graffiti is shown while art is discussed.)

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