For ‘One Last Time,’ Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga unite in concert

CBS special marks iconic Bennett's retirement from in-person performing

The new special “One Last Time: An Evening With Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga” airs Sunday on CBS.

Tony Bennett’s son is invested in the twilight of his father’s career not only as his child, but also as his manager.

Danny Bennett has had a pivotal role in his music-icon father’s professional life for four decades, encompassing the period when the elder Bennett and Lady Gaga became a surprising and hugely successful team. It was Danny’s idea to reunite them for two concerts staged last August at New York’s Radio City Music Hall, marking Tony’s 95th birthday and his retirement from live performing. Those sold-out shows form the CBS special “One Last Time: An Evening With Tony Bennett and Lady Gaga,” airing Sunday, Nov. 28.

The program’s song list draws from the duo’s latest tandem release, the Grammy Award-nominated “Love for Sale,” as well as their earlier album “Cheek to Cheek.” Individually, they perform such tunes as “Luck Be a Lady,” “New York, New York” and the Bennett standards “Steppin’ Out With My Baby” and “I Left My Heart in San Francisco.” Then together, they offer selections including “The Lady Is a Tramp” and “Anything Goes.”

Tony’s ability to retain his music memory while dealing with Alzheimer’s disease was a recent “60 Minutes” subject. “Even though we’d been dealing with the Alzheimer’s for a number of years,” Danny says, “when he was performing, it was clear that the synapses were still firing. When that audience is out there, he gives 100 percent and it all comes back. It’s amazing.”

Danny also deems Lady Gaga “amazing, in terms of being supportive. Honestly, we wouldn’t have been able to do this without her. I’m hugely respectful of her position in this, so I let her lead the way. If at any point she felt uncomfortable and was like, ‘I don’t want to do this,’ we would have not done it. But this is how I envisioned Tony in the final chapter. It embodies everything he is about, and she understands that. It’s the greatest gift she could give to him.”

A deal Danny struck with the ViacomCBS group of networks involves not only the CBS “One Last Time” special, but related programs to run on MTV and Paramount+ in 2022. “My whole career is about optimizing the sum of the parts,” Danny reasons, “so I just kind of pitched the idea. Viacom was a major part of Tony’s resurgence, with ‘MTV Unplugged’ and taking those chances in the ‘90s, so I love bringing the story full-circle.

“For Tony to still be performing the way he does, it’s pretty miraculous, so let’s go out swinging,” Danny concludes. “As he has said, ‘If you don’t take risks, you’re relegated to a life of mediocrity.’ You just have to trust that twinkle in his eye.”

Jay Bobbin

Jay Bobbin has decades of experience covering the television and movie businesses, winning Tribune Media Services’ Crown Jewel Award in 2008 for his performance in the company. Over those many years of interviewing and writing, he has spoken with everyone from Robert De Niro and John Travolta to Paul McCartney and Tony Bennett … from Meryl Streep and Julie Andrews to Taylor Swift and Carrie Underwood.

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