It’s no surprise that Alicia Keys and jazz trumpet master Arturo Sandoval got a standing ovation after playing her song “If I Ain’t Got You” at the Billboard Latin Music Awards last week – especially since their newfound friendship added to their onstage chemistry. Keys and Sandoval first met during the show’s rehearsal in Miami, then spent the following day together at Sandoval’s Coral Gables home, where his wife, Marianela, cooked traditional Cuban food for the singer-songwriter and her entourage, including black beans, rice, yucca, chicken, pork, mojitos and flan. Keys, who doesn’t eat chicken or pork, feasted on a plate of rice and beans and a tuna salad that Marianela prepared especially for her, then listened while Sandoval played piano. After the awards show, all went to dinner together at Nobu at the Shore Club in South Beach.
Yep, it’s good to be a celebrity – and, of course, being gorgeous can come in handy, too – if you want to meet a rock star. Just ask Gwyneth Paltrow. “When we did Shallow Hal, she was listening to Parachutes (by Coldplay), and I remember her saying, ‘Oh, I just love this album and I just love the lead singer,’ ” recalls Jack Black, 35, now costarring in the comedy Envy. “Then she found him and got him. You know why? She’s Gwyneth Paltrow. If you could just listen to an album and say, ‘Man, I’d like to marry that person,’ and then go and do it, that’s pretty powerful.”
Success hasn’t spoiled Whoopi Goldberg. The comedian, Oscar-winning actress and star of the NBC series Whoopi, who has helped raise millions for the homeless through Comic Relief, took time out to speak at Sunday’s Prudential Spirit of Community Awards, honoring the top two student volunteers from each state. “The fact that you’re doing good things is amazing. It’s so hard to get people to understand that it is the selfless things that make the nation great,” she told the winners. “When I was a kid the President was John Kennedy. And he instilled in young people that you could go out and make a difference. … I believe that when you come through the door, the first person through always sticks their hand back and pulls everybody forward. For me it’s just what I have to do, because I’m lucky. Nobody’s luckier than me. I am truly the American Hollywood story. Plucked out of nowhere. Poof! ‘You’re a star.’ ”
Martin Sheen doesn’t care much for baseball – he didn’t play while growing up in Ohio, nor has he ever followed a team. So he was at a disadvantage recently when he threw the first pitch at a Baltimore Orioles-Toronto Blue Jays game in Baltimore’s Camden Yards, in his capacity as President Josiah Bartlet on The West Wing. (The pitch will be shown during the show’s season finale May 11.) Though Sheen has played the President three times before, this was his first time throwing out the first pitch at a pro baseball game. He did practice beforehand – and he called son Charlie, the family baseball expert, for advice. “‘When you get out there,’ he told me, ‘the most important thing to do is stay calm, when your heart starts racing when you see all those people out there,'” Sheen told us. “Charlie was the baseball player, primarily a pitcher. I prefer basketball. I’m a big Lakers fan.”
• By ADRIANA CORDOVI, MICHAEL FLEEMAN, SUSAN MANDEL and ROBIN REID