By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
The best of New York? The fake flowers at the big 99-cent store in Corona (but the vase costs extra), the three-salad special at Michelle's Kitchen on Lexington Avenue (but a beverage isn't included), the multicolored hair clip-ons at Ricky's makeup store (but they're not for you, granny), the outdoor dining at Raffaella (but watch out for the stalkers, honey), the obscure fashion magazines at Hudson News (but it's not a library, people), and the fig cookies at Brooklyn's Villabate pastry shop (but they'll kill you, girlfriend!).
The best Miss America contestant by farand you know I'm rightwas Miss Nevada, the young lady who, in the talent competition, passionately acted out Matthew Shepard's father's speech at the hate crime trial! She lost!
The best appalling Web site anywhere is BobCrane.com, a tribute to the late star of Hogan's Heroes, run by his very own loving son, Scotty Crane. The site sells access to Bob's raunchy photos and videos of his famous hoagie getting serviced by big-titted blondesDad would have approved, claims Scottythough sonny's mad at the upcoming movie Auto Focus for disrespecting pops and portraying him as some kind of dark figure. And you thought being in a sitcom about a Nazi P.O.W. camp was embarrassing.
The scariest compliment I got from a celebrity relation last week came at the GQ Lounge at Pressure, where David Copperfield's mom gushed, "I recognize you! You're in magic!" Yeah, I guess my biggest trick has been making my journalistic reputation disappear.
The best life-imitates-art moment was at the Absolutely Fabulous party at Vue, where Joanna Lumley nursed champers while slapping performer Rob Roth's G-stringed butt. "I felt like I was in an episode of Ab Fab," says Roth, "and the next thing I knew, I was." Roth and Garrett Domina (a/k/a Deborah Harry's backup dancers, the Fishsticks) were promptly plucked by Jennifer Saunders to play stylists who make Edina's gay son, Sergeplayed by Josh Hamiltonlook even gayer. The big fish, Harry, got into the episode tooin fact, every visible downtowner landed a cameo except yours truly; I guess they didn't need a magician.
The nuttiest flick coming to your local cineplex is JonahA VeggieTales Movie, in which vegetablesyou must believe meact out a touching biblical story filled with heart and humor. I left midway, not wanting to be proselytized to by a piece of broccoli.
The cable show that most resembles overbaked beans is, you got it, Phil Donahue's on MSNBC. Perfectly lucid and in control half the timeand he's getting much betterPhil too often comes on with boundless, unnatural energy, like he's been told to do a lefty-liberal impression of Bill O'Reilly on crack. And his sensitivity meter seems a little off. Recently, he said to Katie Couric, in a bouncy voice, "Jay Monahan [Couric's husband] has been dead for four-and-a-half years now!" She looked ready to join him.
The best new talk show by far is Wayne Brady's; he's quick-witted, effortlessly energetic, and he sings! The best radical transformation has been Rosie O'Donnell's. Cracklin' Rosie's on a mesmerizing dyke rampage, and even if she confounds or offends people with it, she's finally doing what the fuck she believes in!
The book most anticipated by '80s nightlife survivors is Jennifer Goode's look back at Area, her brother Eric's impossibly fun space, where she worked on the monthly theme changes. The club's been dead for a decade and a half now!
My lousiest new scoop is that Steve Kmetkodidn't quit E! at all. After getting a biggie there mad, he was summarily fired. (I'm looking into the details.) What E!-ffrontery.
The week's most disappointing premiere was for Sweet Home Alabamaa more mechanical Green Acres, with a leaden, pseudo-homespun charm that's secretly stuffed with cynicism. At the after-party, I bonded with New York typesnamely Hairspray's Marissa Jaret Winokur (Tracy) and Matthew Morrison (Link), who told me they liked Alabama, though they don't see many movies these days. Actually, Winokur had just caught a bunch because she'd taken a few days off from her show on doctor's orders, "and I was going insane at home. Lots of rentals!" I murmured, with great concern, that I hoped her understudy wasn't overly good. "It wasn't the same for me," admitted Morrison, who obviously cares for his co-star. (Life imitates musical? No, says Hairspray's publicist, though Winokur does hand out "I Love Link" buttons with alacrity.) In any case, thank God the understudy's bound and gagged again and Winokur's not only back, she's accessorized with the key chains and fake wedding rings they were giving out at the Alabama party. ("We've been taking stuff!") The girl's gonna be fine.
By the way, backstage at Hairspray the other night, gay porn actor-director Blue Blake visited Harvey Fierstein, who blurted that his "wig bitch" (the person who applies his hairdos) is a big fan. Maybe the guy can make a merkin for Blue's gherkin.