NY Mirror

Faye said she felt Chinatown 'gave people something to put their dreams on.' (It's better than a wire hanger.)

Before the party for the watchable but extremely synthetic Playing by Heart("We're alldamaged goods!"), I got a PR call warning that Sean Connerywould only talk to a few press people there, and I was not one of them. Goshers, was it the wife-beating, the knighthood problem, The Avengers, or the fact that they cut him off at the last Tony Awards that they were afraid I'd bring up? Actually, I wouldn't have touched on any of those things— I hadn't even requestedan interview with Connery— which made this dissing even weirder than my usual ones. And things grew more surreal when the party turned out to be a dismally attended yawner with about 80 tray-carrying waiters per forlorn-looking guest. They should have paidme to talk to Connery— and to eat more fucking crab cakes.

Still, it was fun enough to watch the sibilant Scotsman and the two other stars in attendance be dragged around by publicists who kept hiding behind columns, hoping that I wouldn't catch their beady eyes. In a furtive moment, I grabbed Brenda Blethyn— who's not even in the movie— and sat her down for a nerve-rackingly quick Q&A before anyone official noticed. Brenda was nice enough to indulge my impression of her from Secrets and Lies("Whatbaby?") and even did it along withme, just for a larf. But she's way more elegant than the harridans she plays, and told me that if she ever saw her Little Voicecharacter coming, "I would cross the street!" Honey, I'd cross the country— especially if she reeked of the "demon drink" that Brenda says is the root of that lady's dizzying dysfunctions.

Completely boozeless, Brenda was going to cross the country— she was en route to the Palm Springs Film Festival ("There's lots of spas there, aren't there?"), where she was set to promote Night Train, starring herself and John Hurt. "It's quite different from Little Voice," she said. "My character is very quiet and she's a reader!" And then, even sooner than you could find the name of a model in Glamorama, she was ushered off into the night.

Further evidence that we're all damaged goods came at the screening of At First Sight— I'm a viewer— which proves that you don't haveto be blind to love Mira Sorvino, but it helps. Alas, the audience didn't quite digest the film's romantic message that the sightless see better than the sighted. In fact, when I accidentally bumped into a woman on the way out, she sensitively barked, "What are you, blind?"

Not to set my sights on Playing by Heartagain— I'm damaged goods— but it bizarrely has Ryan Phillippeas an HIV-positive guy who assures his lady love that, by way of intimate romance, they can just hug. It's the most out-there plotline since Phillippe bonded with the old bag in 54 when she paid for his gonorrhea medicine. Hand me some of that demon drink!

I guess movies ain't what they used to be, and that's why AMC revived Chinatownlast Wednesday at the Guild Theatre, and even got Faye Dunawayto make a live appearance— something she probably wouldn't have done for Mommie Dearestor Puzzle of a Downfall Child. Fortuitously, Faye is on people's minds again. She's the subject of a little chat in the car trunk between George Clooneyand Jennifer Lopezin Out of Sight. And the Museum of Television & Radio has been screening a '67 Woody Allenspecial in which Woody and Liza Minnellido a bangs-and-all spoof of Bonnie and Clyde.

Faye was certainly on Chinatowndirector Roman Polanski's mind in '74, when he said, "I find her tremendously temperamental. Off the stage, I find her impossible. It's hardly worth it, but it's worth it." At the AMC event, alas, I couldn't get Faye to snarl back, as she was exuding her most disappointingly charming behavior. Still, it was worth it. She told me— after publicists actually helped me get to her— that she and Polanski "certainly had our moments, which the world won't seem to forget about, but he's a very good filmmaker." Fixing me with the eyes of Laura Mars, she more topically revealed that her film version of Master Class is a go, and she's had a lot of input into the script. When I asked her what took so long, she looked baffled and said that it hasn't taken long at all. You don't argue with Faye Dunaway— especially about Maria Callas. And so it was back to Chinatown, and how Faye felt "it gave people something to put their dreams on." (It's better than a wire hanger.)

Her cohost for the night, designer Michael Kors, told me that to him, the flick represents "crepe de chine riding jodhpurs, nipples, and veils." "And that's just Jack Nicholson!" we said in unison. Faye was now telling a reporter that she likes "that Calista Flockhart show— I forget what it's called." (It's Ally Dearest, I think.) And then Faye gave the crowd an entertainingly rambling speech about the joys of moviemaking, in which she only emitted one unfortunate line: "When I was working with Peter Falk on a Columbo recently. . . . " That she remembered? Regardless, Faye Dunaway is the essence of Hollywood diva glamour. I love her so much I feel like she's my sister. My daughter. My sister. My daughter.

Our Canadian brothers came out for a panel discussion at the 92nd Street Y called "Why Are Canadians So Funny?" which efficiently covered every aspect of Canuck humor except for Celine Dion. The evening started with Canadian stand-up comic Sean Cullen tellingus, "As Sean Connery would say, 'Enjoy yourselves or I'll kill you.' " Connery never even said thatmuch to me. The panel— including Martin Short and Eugene Levy— then ambled out and agreed that Canada is a pretty sad but likable place with a proliferation of doughnut shops where they even sell the stuff you cut out to make the holes! Things got less funny afterward, when reporters craftily shifted the subject to panel moderator Michael J. Fox's Parkinson's disease. But Fox was astoundingly gracious and articulate about it, and when someone's cell phone rang, he even cracked, "That's my doctor!"

My love doctor has been recommending return visits to East Village pickup dives like Wonder Bar, Dick's Bar, the Bar, the Cock, and the Boiler Room, which are all hopping with those who are simply wild about penis. But farther west, I'm not so sure. I recently ventured into Florent for an early dinner and found that what was largely a drag queen and clubbie hangout has been taken over by the family crowd— you know, the "Honey, pass the mustard and tell your brother to shut up" bunch. Heeeelp!

I don't know who will swim to Float, but it's definitely a new, sleek, medium-sized hangout in the theater district, with lots of lit-up panels and soft blue rectangular shapes. It's all very Fahrenheit 451 meets My Geisha via James Bond (you know, Pierce Brosnan), and could be fiercely festive if it doesn't attract the wrong crowd— you know, the kind that can't pay for their gonorrhea medicine.

Speaking of powder blue spaces, if Toni Braxtonwas any more lightened on the Beauty and the Beast display outside the Palace Theatre, she'd look like Michael Jackson. But another poster— one at the TLA Video store— has been tampered with in a sort of amusing way. It's a promo placard for Halloween: H20, and they've charmingly inscribed on it, "Michael Myers has broken out of the insane asylum and is going to kill every hermaphrodite on the planet. First on his list— Jamie Lee Curtis!" Good— herpublicist hates me too.

Michael Musto can be e-mailed at musto@villagevoice.com.

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