By Jared Chausow
By Katie Toth
By Elizabeth Flock
By Albert Samaha
By Anna Merlan
By Jon Campbell
By Jon Campbell
By Albert Samaha
Older legends made themselves available when I finally got my waxen ass into Madame Tussaud's Wax Museum in Times Squareas a patronand schmoozed it up with multiple generations of famous stiffs. The replicas are so lifelike that I conscientiously skirted around a tourist taking a picture, only to realize it was just another dummy. (As for the real tourists, feel free to knock them over.) You can quibble with some of the details: Diana Ross's nose and Madonna's eyes seem a bit off; who the fuck is Huey from the "popular band" Fun Lovin' Criminals?; and how did Barbra Streisand end up looking like a bad drag queen? But who cares? There's tons of artistry on parade, with special fun coming via the (unintentionally) gay section, with Leonard Bernstein, Quentin Crisp, and Annie Leibovitz camping it up in the ghetto. Most enjoyable of all is the way you're totally allowed to touch the figures. (I'm not proud to say this, but I fingered Golda Meir's privates through her dress and am now mentally decorating what will certainly be an entire floor in hell.) Well, actually, you can touch most of the figuresLady Di is off-limits, carefully surrounded as she is by velvet ropes. Now they protect her!
Meanwhile, there's no rope that a rabid partygoer can't traverse, especially when there are some free medallions of beef on the other side of itand they're out there, honey. With the NASDAQ going up and down, nightspots have been aptly serving up the chow like there's no tomorrow, and the party crowd's sucking it down like wild boars on the verge of eternal hibernation. I got comped and fed at Divas Get Down at Studio 54, a benefit for the New York City Opera where a trio of opera starsAmy Burton, Elizabeth Futral, and Marquita Listerwas scheduled to switch genres and raise eyebrows over dessert. Everyone assumed this meant they were going to barrel into some Limp Bizkit tunes and maybe a little gangsta rap, but their idea of getting down actually involved numbers from My Fair Lady, Pal Joey, and The Wiz! Still, their throbbing voices applied to show tunes made for a culture clash as unexpectedly appetizing as the chicken potpie entrée applied to my exquisitely unaccustomed palate.
And there was some offstage entertainment when a fundraiser begged me to come see La Bohéme and chirped, "That's the show Rent is based on." How darling that he thought he had to invoke a current Broadway pop hit in order to discuss a serious opera with me. Please! I've heard of La Bohéme and even saw itwith Linda Ronstadt as Mimi! Even more dangerously, a TV crew was patronizing people with questions like "Don't you find it interesting that now even opera stars are considered divas?" As if VH1 coined the term and somehow it all started with Faith Hill. Oy! It started with Golda Meir!
But let's calm down and suck in some more food, two-three-four, shall we? I love Paris in the springtime, but I'll settle for the annual Gabriel's luncheon celebrating the "Rendez-Vous With French Cinema" series. The event always has a foreign feel for meit's above 59th Streetand authentically teems with Frenchies nibbling striped bass and waxing profound about Gallic moviemaking. But this time around, quirky director Chantal Akerman didn't feel like playing the glad game. When I asked Akermanwhose new film is La Captiveabout the state of French cinema, she cringed and said, "Don't ask me that kind of question. I'm not a sociologist!" I graciously reminded her that this was a press luncheon and Akerman suddenly put on a big smile and cooed, "Oh! French cinema is totally great! I have the feeling it's OK. A lot of women are doing movies there!"
Now that it was clear we were both put-ons who couldn't care less about the state of French cinema, Akerman and I were able to stop being held la captive by cross-purposes. Relaxing out of her mannequin mode for a second, the director admitted she only saw four films last year"otherwise I sit home and watch TV. What do you want me to say? I only hear Jewish jokes." She told one and it was way less offensive than the Cahiers du Cinéma talk across the room. Alas, when the conversation at the table turned to tabloid dish, Akerman got agitated again, saying, "You Americans are so loud! And you're talking about things I don't know!" By that point I was so entranced by the rambunctious auteur I would gladly even see one of her films.
But can we put that on hold for just le minute? More pressing was the chance to check out the state of American theater with Starmites 2001, the Off-Broadway revisal of the 1989 Broadway musical that became famous as a giant flop that somehow nabbed six Tony nominations. The millions of people who missed the culty comic-book pastiche the first time around have been desperate to catch the new version in order to restore their theater-queen credentials. The verdict? It still feels inconsequential and a bit lame, though it's generally good-natured, well sung, and even has a new Napster joke. But don't ask meI'm not a sociologist.
That other sci-fi toe-tapper, Bat Boy: The Musical, is feisty but rather bloodless, though at the opening night party at the W last week, guests like Monica Lewinsky and Woody Allen (separate) definitely brought my fangs out. I asked Woody if he was there because it's a scandal show and he's a scandal star. No, he said, "I'm a friend of Jean Doumanian [hisand Bat Boy'sproducer]. I had to speak against the building of a building tonight, but I'll see the show this weekend." Building a kinship with moi, actress J. Smith-Cameron murmured, "When Woody squints in the paparazzi's glare, he looks a little like Bat Boy." Her equally esteemed hubby, You Can Count On Me author Kenneth Lonergan, admitted he wasn't worried about Gladiator as a screenplay competitor for the Oscar (alas, they both lost) and also advised me on how to watch the awards show: "Throw balled socks at the screen when there's a moment you don't like." Honey, there aren't that many socks in the world!