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My Dinners With David (Rosner)





It all began with a call…It was 1987 and I had just returned to New York from Los Angeles.  Michel Legrand had been hired the week before in LA to score the film SWITCHING CHANNELS. At a meeting with the film’s producer Martin Ransohoff he asked Michel to write an end-credit song for the film.  Michel immediately agreed and said “I’ll ask Alan and Marilyn”  (that would be Bergman).   Mr. Ransohoff then said, “would you consider writing it with Neil Diamond?”  “With pleasure!” responded the ever enthusiastic Michel.

A week later in NY I received a call, “my name is David Rosner” said a business-like but friendly man,  “I am Neil Diamond’s publisher and we will be working together on the business side of the song Neil and Michel will be writing for SWITCHING CHANNELS.” David then asked me if I knew Nat Shapiro (Michel’s late manager).  “Oh yes!” I responded “Nat was my dear friend!  I loved him  and miss him so much!”  David then told me that he had worked for Nat at Columbia Records publishing division in  NY and learned so much from him and was very fond of him. This was  music to my ears!

An hour after the call I received a call from Maeline in David’s office  who said she wanted to get the correct spelling of my name. That had never happened before nor since.  David was meticulous!

Michel and Neil wrote the song and David and I finished the deal, and thus the beautiful song IF THERE WERE NO DREAMS was born.

But rather than this being the end of our association it was the beginning of a beautiful friendship. On a subsequent trip to LA David invited me to stop by the office of his company, Bicycle Music, on West 3rd Street.  There I met David’s son Jon who worked for David. Jon would loom larger in my life much later on. On the next trip David invited me to join him and his wife Margo Guryan Rosner for dinner.   Margo it turned out was a highly acclaimed songwriter not to mention lovely person.  David and Margo became part of my small circle of much cherished LA friends.

If I’m not mistaken our first dinner was at an LA restaurant called Citrus.  I enjoyed our first dinner very much and I think  they did too.  The next time was a restaurant called, I believe, Muse.  David and Margo seemed to be on a first name basis with the entire staff.  My kind of people!  I soon learned that they dined out every Wednesday and Saturday at 7:45pm and 8:00pm respectively. Muse lasted a while as the Wednesday night spot then it closed.  After what I would imagine was some legwork they settled on Kate Mantilini at Wilshire and Doheny.  KM was a great place with delectable food at moderate prices and a really interesting mix of people.   

Over many years and many Wednesdays I dined here with the Rosners,  and sometimes just David.  They were on a first name basis with everyone on the staff and with many regular customers. Sometimes it was challenging to dine here because everyone there stopped by to say hello to David and Margo all night long!  The Rosners were royalty here.  Saturday night dinner was at Marino’s on Melrose and Wilcox.  Marino’s is an elegant Italian restaurant. It was more formal than KM

and of course all the staff knew the Rosners quite well; greetings were a bit more discreet and low-key than KM.  I  dined with the Rosners here less than KM , but it was always a treat as the setting was warm and cozy and the food delicious, and the company sublime. 

But everything comes to an end.  Because of a huge hike in the rent a few years ago KM announced  it was closing. Despite a heroic effort by regular Mel Brooks to save it KM closed.  A little while after it closed David and Margo did something so extraordinary and kind, they had a private dinner for the entire KM staff in the private dining room of  Marino’s.  Post KM David and Margo moved Wednesday night dinner to Ximara but it wasn’t the same.  But it was still David and Margo.  The last time I saw David was here.   Over the years I would usually invite myself to dinner, I would call David and ask him if he and Margo would like a third party to join them for dinner; David always said “Yes, if the third party is you Jim.”

For our NY dinners we usually chose different restaurants.  When we had our first NY dinner I was delighted to see David was as picky as I am about what table to sit at.  One time at a fine Italian restaurant in the east Fifties we changed tables four times!  David was also a perfectionist when it came to his martinis.  At this particular East Side restaurant he sent his martini back five times before they got it right!  I could tell right away David was a kindred spirit.

In addition to these wonderful dinners I called David once or twice a week to check in or to ask him a business question.  David couldn’t have been nicer or more generous with his time and knowledge.  The title of this article is a piece of help David gave me for a synch license. In fact it was David who told me what MFN meant!

In a nice twist of fate I work now with Jon  Rosner on a small music catalogue.

Jon is incredibly  smart, knowledgeable and creative about music publishing. He inherited David’s  high business standards too. The apple clearly  does not fall far from the tree! 

It goes without saying that I would rather be doing anything but writing about David

In the past tense.  Our 30 years of friendship was as good as it gets, but I would have liked many more years of knowing David.  I am heartbroken.

David was always “above board” and on the level  in his business dealings, along with being honest and meticulous, this in a business not known for these attributes.

He was a reserved person with a dry sense of humor, impeccable manners and a civilized interlocutor.  He had impeccable taste in music (I always thought if David were a songwriter himself he would be very much like his writer the great Dave Frishberg!).  Throw in his vast knowledge of the record business and publishing and for me, you have the perfect friend!

David will be sorely missed by everyone who knew him.

I was rarely happier in my life than when I was just sitting down to dinner with David and Margo at Kate Mantilini.  As Proust wrote, “the only true paradise is the paradise you’ve lost.” 

Jim DiGiovanni
June, 2017


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