Carly Simon reveals exclusive details on upcoming biopic, surprising theory about why she was long-snubbed by Rock Hall

Carly Simon in 1985. (Photo
Carly Simon in 1985. (Photo: Brownie Harris/Corbis via Getty Images)

The Rock & Roll Hall of Fame Class of 2022 was announced Wednesday, and among the inductees were several first-time nominees, including Carly Simon, who has actually been eligible since 1996. Shortly after hearing this exciting and long-overdue news, she spoke with Yahoo Entertainment/SiriusXM Volume — and incredibly, the legendary singer-songwriter, who won the Best New Artist Grammy in 1972 and an Oscar in 1989, seemed surprised to be receiving this particular honor. She even offered an intriguing theory, related to her cameo in the 1985 John Travolta/Jamie Lee Curtis fitness-craze movie Perfect, that might have alienated longtime Hall chairman Jann Wenner and caused her to be passed over by the Hall for a quarter-century.

But now Simon is finally entering the Rock Hall, and she will soon be represented onscreen in another way — and she might even add another Oscar to her mantel. Here, she exclusively reveals that a biopic, based in part on her 2015 memoir Boys in the Trees, is in the works, with hopes that it will be released in about a year. Read on for details about that; about her first meeting with new Rock Hall chairman John Sykes which to her being one of the first women ever played on MTV; and about what exactly happened with Wenner on the Perfect set.

Yahoo Entertainment: Congratulations on finally getting into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame! There are six women being inducted this year, which is an all-time high for the Rock Hall. You're being inducted alongside Pat Benatar, Eurythmics featuring Annie Lennox, Dolly Parton, Elizabeth Cotten, and Sylvia Robinson. So, this is a very special year for you to get in.

Carly Simon: Wow, I didn't even know about Elizabeth Cotten. I remember trying to play a guitar part that Elizabeth Cotten played on one of her records. I don't even know if it was a guitar; it might have been one of those old-fashioned-fangled instruments. … That's so far-out.

Another connection is the two first women solo artists ever played on MTV on the first day on the air, Aug. 1, 1981 were Pat Benatar and you.

We were the first — isn't that amazing? You know how I did it? I brazenly walked up to the 39th floor of MTV, and there was this really handsome guy. And I said, “Well, he must be the person to see.” And so, I walked into his office and it was [MTV co-founder and current Hall of Fame chairman] John Sykes. And I sat down and didn't even tell him I was a singer. I guess he knew he might have known…

He might have, yes.

So, then there was a fire alarm and [MTV’s CEO] Bob Pittman came running down the hall and said to John, “Quick, we gotta get outta here!” So, I ran downstairs, down 39 steps or something to the ground floor, with the tape under my arm. John went back up in the elevator, and I took a taxi home, but I gave John the tape — it was the video for “Vengeance.” Then he called me and I invited him out for coffee or something, and we met up, and he was so lovely. I can't believe that I've forgotten that he played it the first day!

Another connection I’ve noticed is the Class of 2022 has two James Bond theme singers: you, with “Nobody Does It Better” from The Spy Who Loved Me, and “A View to a Kill” by Duran Duran. I feel like there has be some sort of all-star Bond theme jam at the induction ceremony.

What an interesting idea. But I don't think “Nobody Does It Better” would be a good song for a large group of people to sing. It's so personal. It's so intimate. … You know, I had a dream last night that I went to the White House when George W. Bush was the president and he showed me his daughter's bedrooms, which were right next to each other, and then at night I sang “Nobody Does It Better” for the whole dinner audience at the White House and the mic was not on. And so it was terrible! And my voice was really husky and I couldn't really be heard. And Laura Bush came up to me afterward and said, “You know, I really liked the soft parts.” And I was so relieved. I knew she was probably lying, because she probably couldn't hear me, but what a good dream! And then you mention that song today! I salute my friends, Carole Bayer Sager and Marvin Hamlisch, for writing that song and for basically letting me have it.

You did a fantastic job with it. Are you going perform at the Rock Hall ceremony on Nov. 5?

I only perform in closets. No, this is not in the cards. I might sing along with somebody else or something like that. … But this is all so brand-new. It's like asking a baby if it's going to go to college! I just have to breathe in and breathe out and be very happy with myself today. I just found out. I mean, when I was nominated, I thought, “Well, that's for other people. Really, winning is for other people.” I didn't expect that I was going to be a part of this crowd.

I am shocked you would think that. You have literally won an Oscar and five Grammys. How can you be surprised that you would be inducted into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame?

Because I'd been passed by so many times. [Rock & Roll Hall of Fame co-founder/former Hall chairman and Rolling Stone magnate] Jann Wenner, I thought, was a friend of mine. And it got more and more awkward, every time I ran into him.

Really? What exactly was going on there?

Well, I put the blame on the fact that Jann and I were both in the same scene in a movie starring John Travolta called Perfect. And I had to throw a drink in John Travolta’s face, and it was a Bloody Mary. And then it was supposed to be followed up by a line that Jann Wenner was delivering, and Jann missed his line each time. So, John had to go back and change his white shirt many times, so that we had to redo it. And I think Jann just might have just been embarrassed about that. People have arranged their attitudes based on many things. And sometimes it's just something that they may have done that was embarrassing to them.

That seems like a weird reason to hold a grudge and not let someone so deserving get into the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame. But obviously you and John Sykes, who is now the Hall chairman, are more simpatico, going back to those MTV days.

Sykes also was my manager for a little while. He took over for Tommy Mottola at Champion Entertainment. … so, we got to know each other really well. We actually were talking about this the other day when he called me up: He said, “Do you remember when I had to actually bodily put you on the plane to go to L.A., because you had been nominated for an Oscar [for “Let the River Run” from Working Girl]?” He had to convince somebody, a higher-up, to get a private plane to take me out. Because I think private planes were just losing their chic then, where they were becoming like fur, you know. Fur and eggs.

Musician Carly Simon attends the 61st Annual Academy Awards on March 29, 1989 at Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)
Carly Simon attends the 61st Annual Academy Awards on March 29, 1989 in Los Angeles. (Photo: Ron Galella, Ltd./Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)

Well, since we're talking about movies, I know you've written two memoirs. Has there ever been any talk about doing a Carly Simon biopic?

Oh, yes, yes. Absolutely. I'm not supposed to talk about it. So, I'll just say yes.

Ooh. Can you at least give a timeframe of when we might see that on the screen?

Well, I'm hoping in about a year.

Who's gonna play you? Or who would you like to play you?

Would you like to do it?

Um, sure! But I can't sing.

Do you see anybody as me?

I feel it has to be someone who can sing and play, who wouldn't just be lip-synching. Someone who’s a double- or triple-threat. I think Miley Cyrus might be good for it.

Somebody else suggested that too. I think what the directors are planning on doing is using a combination of my voice and somebody else's voice — so that you'd get an amalgam of two voices. And somewhere in there, it would sound like me.

I'm super-excited about this. But back to the Hall of Fame ceremony, I know you said talking about this is like a baby talking about college, but have you thought about who might induct you at November's ceremony?

Well, since I've been looking at the list of the people who've been inducted through the years, and there are quite a few Sirs: Sir Paul McCartney, Sir Mick Jagger, Sir Rod Stewart, Sir Ringo Starr. Are there any ladies?

You mean like a grand dame?

Yeah. There's been no one comparable in the lady department. … Maybe Camilla Parker Bowles would do it.

Well, that would be a Rock & Roll Hall of Fame first, I have to say.

The above interview is taken from Carly Simon’s appearance on the SiriusXM show “Volume West.” Full audio of that conversation is available on the SiriusXM app.

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