By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
By Roy Edroso
By Jon Campbell
By Albert Samaha
By Zachary D. Roberts
It's fun to see drag queens grabbing the brass ring with their painted talons, especially since success seems to make their barbs more loving, their jewelry less dangerous. So thank goddess my sister Flotilla DeBarge has landed a part in HBO's upcoming version of Tony Kushner's Angels in America, co-starring gender-specific biggies like Al Pacino and Meryl Streep. The future oscar winner plays a cross-dressing gospel singerbasically herselflip-synching "I'm His Child" at a drag queen's funeral. (How Imitation of Life.) And Flo's deservedly kvelling so hard about this break, you could melt Land o' Lakes in her lacquered mouth.
After calming down, she told me, seriously, "They really wanted Jennifer Holliday to wear a fat suit and sing 'I Am Telling You I'm Not Going' from Dreamgirls. When they couldn't get her, they said, 'Scrap that and we'll just get a drag queen.' " ("I am telling you I'm not going to wear a fat suit," Jen must have shrieked on cue.)
They got several drag queens, it turns out; the funeralwhich wasn't in the playis also studded with Lypsinka and members of the Imperial Court. But it's all about DeBargethe former "empress of large"who tried out for director Mike Nichols in full getup and sensed she'd nabbed the gig when casting people started talking to her about wardrobe possibilities. "I said, 'Excuse me, but does that mean I have the job?' " relates Flo. "I had Cher tickets and I was like, 'Let's work around these Cher tickets.' They said, 'You don't have the job, but we're not seeing anybody else.' Then Jennifer fell through and I got it." And, more importantly, she still got to see Cher!
So what was it like going from fringe fabulosity to being directed by Nichols? "It was amazing," says Flo, who's Fez-bound again. "He sent me a gift package after the shooting, thanking me for my technical professionalism. It was a handwritten notenot by his secretary, by him. So take that with you, you bitches, to quote Cher!"
To quote a publicist, the Goo Goo Dolls' Johnny Rzeznik and Robby Takac are hitting the tube this week to co-host IFC's "Indie Rocks," a series that doesn't include Chershe's neither indie nor rockthough they will show culties like SLC Punk and Gimme Shelter. That last one, Takac told me in a phoner from Foxwoods Casinoyou heard me"is the greatest rock movie ever because it's so real." Admitting that's about the extent of his film critiquing, Takac said, "In my current twilight years of 38, I can barely make it through a fucking news broadcast anymore without falling asleep!" (Not mesnipers and Republican landslides tend to keep me fully conscious.)
His fave flick to stay up for? "E.T.! I was bawling like a CEO on audit day. When E.T.'s lying there looking like a dried-up dog turd, I was rolling on the floor, going through my second box of Kleenex." (Then whyif I may digresswon't anyone cry for poor, broken-down Winona Ryder? But don't get me started.)
Indie raps with the cannily made snow job 8 Mile, which has you weeping for downtrodden, troubled Eminem, who's notwell, his character is nota dried-up dog turd after all. In the flickwhich touchingly starts with the rapper vomiting from nervesit turns out the guy you mistook for a big bully is actually a victim of the bullies, who want to oppress his spunky spirit. And this version of Eminem is not a misogynistin fact, women are the abusers, one lying to him and another heathen harpy betraying his trust. What's more, EminemI mean "Rabbit"doesn't really want to dig a grave for his mama, he just wants her to lose her bully boyfriend, get focused, and stop talking about oral sex. (That's for him to rap aboutand he does, honey.) A hugger and a swell big brother, he's an underdog who hangs with a Fat Albert-style posse of lovable, angsty shnooks, flying into a rage mainly when it's called forlike when he nobly has to tell a bigot, "Enough with the gay jokes!" (Queer responses in the audience will range from "Thank you for throwing us a crumb, Eminem sirno, really" to "You patronizing motherfucker" to "Huh?")
And by the way, "Rabbit" hasn't appropriated anyone else's art form. Oh noooo, it's his black rap opponent who's unmaskedby himas a complete phony and not a real gangsta at all. Helping you buy all this hooey, Eminem has charisma to burn, along with an adorable, pouty side that you'll be attracted to even if it kills you. At the big screening last week, the Rocky-ness of it all made the crowd dish Stallonemovieslike his arm-wrestling opus Over the Top, about which Jimmy Fallon cracked to me, "Jim Carreyshould do the sequel and call it Really Over the Top!"
We were tasteful again at the Far From Heavenpremiereabout eight miles from 8 Milewhere co-star Patricia Clarkson and her new beau, Campbell Scott, generously appraised each other's films to me, on cue. "I think it's beautiful. When do we see shit like this?" Scott said about Heaven. And Clarkson returned the favor about Scott's Roger Dodger, gushing, "He's incredible. Please!" I need a lover like either of these.