By Jared Chausow
By Katie Toth
By Elizabeth Flock
By Albert Samaha
By Anna Merlan
By Jon Campbell
By Jon Campbell
By Albert Samaha
Angels and private parts still hovered when HBO premiered its version of Tony Kushner's Angels in Americaa sweeping, allegorical ride through Reagan-era AIDS denial, and well worth the long sit. Amazingly, Al Pacinoin the potentially scenery-chewing role of slimy Roy Cohnis subtle and almost seductive, director Mike Nichols no doubt having lorded over him with a stun gun. Also amazingly, at the Cipriani after-party, Pacino wouldn't even give me a "hoo ha" because his PMK flacks apparently dislike any press they can't control. (Who knew that the upshot of 20 years of AIDS would be that a gay journalist who rolled around in the streets for ACT UP and writes for Poz would get dissed at a fancy-buffet bash by an Oscar winner pretending to be sick in a movie? Actually three Oscar winners; Meryl Streep and Emma Thompson were off-limits too.)
But Justin Kirk, who plays the pivotal role of abandoned PWA Prior Walter, was willingand charmingwhen I asked him if taking on such a legendary part was daunting. "It was fucking daunting," Kirk admitted. "It was a daily struggle, and I never got over it till the last day of shooting. But now I just show up, people come up to me, I drink, and it's all good!" He even got a congratulatory message from the original Prior Walter, Stephen Spinella. But when I made the inevitable leap from Angels to CBS's scuttled Reagan TV movie, Kirk balked, "I don't like to talk politics. The more you identify yourself, the more you become a person people know, and you don't get as many jobs. That's all I care aboutgetting more jobs!" Still, after a few more cocktail sips, Kirk did say, "It's becoming more and more the red states versus the blue states. I live in California and I'm upset I didn't vote for Gallagher. This is how smart the people of California are: A guy named Schwartzman finished seventh! He insisted it was because of his heavy campaigning." (Pleaseit was because his name is so similar to Gallagher's.)
Looming nearby, the Food Network's Bobby Rivers spotted Kirk and murmured, "Wasn't he in Love! Valour! Compassion!? I recognized the dick." (Touch it! I'll close my eyes.) I also recognized author Kushner, who seemed thrilled that, after he spent years trying to drastically reinvent Angels for the screen, it got there so faithfully. But what about that Reagan thingy? Well, Kushner said, if CBS dumped it to cable because of the HIV-remark controversy, "shame on them, because the man behaved abominably and there's no way to erase that. His administration was barbarically callous to people with AIDS." (Sidebar: Reagan daughter Patti Davis, who's now ecstatic that the "idiotic" movie was pulled, once wrote a book about the hideous cruelty that plagued her unhealthy family. Furthermore, Ronnie also said, "Liars get cancer." No wait, that was Rosie O'Donnell.) On a lighter note, is Caroline, or ChangeKushner's new musical, written with Jeanine Tesoribasically Thoroughly Modern Millie with AIDS? "No, it has nothing to do with AIDS or flappers," he said, laughing. I'll go see it anyway.
And so much else too. The over-the-top revival of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof has characters running around a shuttered bedroom, yelling "mendacity!" "sodomy!" "poontang!" and "spastic colons!" (if not "love! valour! compassion!"). Still, I enjoyed Ashley Judd's frustrated shrew and loved Margo Martindale's Big Mama, who's like a drag queen out of Greater Tuna, but with suitable pathos. Not so great, as you've heard, was Mayor Bloomberg, who misquoted Williams's A Streetcar Named Desire to the opening night crowd of theater fanatics. Maybe he is straight.
Another three-hour throwback, The Caretaker, has a self-conscious opaqueness that seems fucking daunting to the three straining actors, until Patrick Stewart's feisty old codger rallies and gives us (Pinteresque) pause. But if you prefer the Felicity guy to the Star Trek man, The Violet Hour is the fascinating misfire for you. The play's about a printer that cranks out journalism from the future, and in a weirdly parallel twist, the Newsday review of the play was readable online a day early! But I couldn't have predicted that at the opening-night party at Supper Club, scene stealer Mario Cantone would be admiring Patricia Clarkson's figure and she'd be complimenting his nice ass. "I run," Catone explained, "so I can drink!"