Mr. Big Has A Beef With Hunger In America

Chris Noth is sitting in a conference room about a third of the way up the Empire State Building, fidgeting with a paper in his lap. As it turns out, he's been trying to memorize his favorite wines since he's here to discuss his role as spokesperson for Beaulieu Vineyards' anti-hunger campaign Give & Give Back. "I love wine but I can never remember the names of the ones I like," he admits, holding up notes on his favorite BV wines. No matter, the famed star of Law & Order, Sex & The City and The Good Wife has plenty to say off the cuff on the subject at hand — hunger in America — as well as news about his about-to-reopen music venue The Cutting Room, where he dines out in New York and which member of S&TC could eat him under the table.

Oh, and a note on Give & Give Back: You can visit BV's Facebook page and nominate people in your community who are making an effort to fight hunger via the Give & Give Back tab. Between now and March 2013, BV will choose eight "Hometown Heroes" and donate $10,000 to the hunger relief option of their choice.

How'd you get involved in Give & Give Back?

It was a bit of an education for me to find out just how deep the problem is of hunger in America. You find out there are 16 million children who go to bed hungry. And one in six Americans go to bed hungry. Living in NYC and Los Angeles, it doesn't register. There is a vast array of problems facing humanity, but hunger in America shouldn't be one of them.

City Harvest has teamed up with BV on this as well?

Yes, and they're an extraordinary organization....Man, this city's all about food. When you look at this city and the amount of new restaurants and food trucks. There's food out there. There shouldn't be any hungry people in this city! A lot of it is the apparatus and the knowledge. Let's acknowledge the people that are out there and spread the word and get more people to do it.

I know you like wine. Did working with BV make it easier for you to get involved in this type of charity?

Yes and no. They alerted me. I didn't expect a company that sells great wine to tell me about hunger. But they did. The facts are out there and I didn't know about them. The program they set up is a no-brainer: it's almost like the Peace Corps for hunger. It encourages me and gives me hope that there are corporations like BV that say, we're all in this together, we've gotta solve it.

OK, let's talk about the The Cutting Room, which is about to open in a new location after being closed for several years, right?

Yes. We have a brand new space.

What's the vibe?

The vibe is the Cutting Room, which is unpretentious. We're gonna have live music, comfort food. Many different rooms for people to relax in. Nooks and crannies for the romanticists who want to make out while they listen to music. Great jukebox.

What about the live music?

Our philosophy of music: old acts, new acts, big acts who do stadiums and come to jam after. We get Broadway singers. We embrace it all. We don't do hip-hop or loud club music, because other people do that. Our philosophy is that we grew up at a time when music informed our lives and brought us together, and that's what we want the Cutting Room to do.

How does it feel to finally have it opening?

I'm excited about it because as you know Manhattan has been calcified by big money. A lot of the live music places are dead and gone. This used to be a really vibrant musical city and it's really been hit hard by money, believe it or not. The landlords want extraordinary amounts of money, and no one can afford it except a bank or a Duane Reade. We want to bring [the music] back to Manhattan, because it needs it.

You think it's tough for singer-songwriters these days?

There's nowhere for them to go. The Internet maybe. But I know there's a lot of good music out there that I don't know how to get to because I'm old-school, and I want to hear it and see it. There's tons of talent out there. And a lot of old school people. I think we're gonna get Billy Joel to play there. I happen to know Ron Wood. I want him to come to the opening night party and play (note: the New York Post reports that Wood will play an opening party next month). We have an open mic on Monday nights where people from the Letterman band come in and play.

Let's talk restaurants. I've seen you out at a few places in NYC—

Where have you seen me? Elio's? I tend to go to the same places.

Oh yeah? Why?

I'm not into trendy places. It's just too much and a lot of it is style over substance. A lot of the old joints are gone. I have a great neighborhood place that's also a social hangout for a lot of writers and artists, the Knickerbocker. That's my real go-to place. I used to go to Elaine's a lot but that's gone. The food was terrible but it was a great saloon. If you live in New York, you want to go where some people you know are. Because not a lot of people give dinner parties like they do out West, so the restaurant becomes your dinner party.

One last question: What was the craft services like on Sex & the City? Was it all salads?

Let me tell you something: There was never a better eater than Sarah Jessica Parker. She loves food. I didn't think our craft services on Sex & The City was anything special, and oddly enough, the craft service on The Good Wife is fantastic. But you've gotta be careful. If you're doing a 16-hour day, in the middle of it you have a big meal and you have a big scene coming up, so I try to eat lightly.

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