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Jimmy Nederlander's Endless Run


"Everyone believed we were going to get somebody like our mother," Robert says. "The mother who catered to her kids -- nobody wanted to give her up. And we all expected for somebody to be like that for us, and sometimes we were disappointed."

Apple's sons have been difficult to please, perhaps because she was, too. She often spoke of keeping a notebook on her children's spouses in order to keep the names straight, and when she saw them last, and what her impressions had been.

Last month, Jimmy and his second wife, Charlene, celebrated their thirtieth anniversary with a big party at the St. Regis. Charlene looks to be a very young 60, with burnished red hair and a nice complexion. They met in a restaurant in Arizona, where he was visiting his father and she was in the process of a divorce. "I gave Jimmy his nudge," Charlene says. "When he bought the Palace, he said to me, 'Nobody knows who Nederlander is,' and I said, 'They will.' He said, 'I don't care,' and I said, 'But I do.' And I gave Jimmy Nederlander class. You don't know -- he used to wear short socks." The first trip to London for either of them was in 1969, the year they married. Alex Cohen remembers Charlene wearing a Chanel suit and "about $800,000 worth of diamonds and sapphires" for a drive in the country. When Cohen pointed out Buckingham Palace, Jimmy asked, "What's playing there?"

Jimmy and Charlene live at 510 Park Avenue but plan to move across the street within the year. Robert's wife, Gladys Nederlander, says this is the result of a turf war. A few years ago, when Gladys and Robert moved into 510 Park, one floor above Jimmy and Charlene, she says, her sister-in-law asked her not to take her husband's name. "She said she was the only Mrs. Nederlander in New York," says Gladys.

What Charlene says when Gladys's name comes up: "Oh, Gladdie? How's her mind? Because I heard she was forgetting things."

What Gladys says about Charlene: "If I produce something and Jimmy puts up money, her name has to go on it. You see, normally if Jimmy's involved, it's just his name. She likes to pretend she's a producer."

Stewart Lane, a producer who also owns half the Palace Theater in a partnership with the Nederlanders, visits Jimmy's lunch table. A former stage actor, he has a foppish streak, with a heavy mustache and French cuffs. He stopped by to talk about a show he's directing in the Berkshires this summer; he wants to get it in a Nederlander house come fall. He also is making his pitch to produce The Big Street. And there's the matter of Disney's impending production of Aida, for which the Palace will probably be rented.

"Jimmy?" Lane says. "How long's it gonna be until we get the deal signed on Aida?"

Jimmy doesn't look up from his Variety. This is an old negotiating tactic of his, Scandalios likes to explain (sometimes even explaining it to the victim while Jimmy is in the middle of pulling it off).

Charlene comes into the room, and she and Jimmy try to name all the homes they've lived in together.

"Three houses in Southampton," Charlene says. "Two in La Costa."

"Two in Arizona," Jimmy says.

"In L.A., you were in Bel Air once and Beverly Hills once," Nick Scandalios says.

"There was Henry Mancini's house," Jimmy says. "Holmby Hills."

"We're up to fifteen total," Charlene says.

"But if you count places you rented, it's eighteen or nineteen," Scandalios says.

"In New York, there's 510 Park Avenue," Jimmy says. "The whole time."

"No, originally, you were at 58 West 58th Street," Scandalios says.

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