By Steve Weinstein
By Devon Maloney
By Tessa Stuart
By Alison Flowers
By Albert Samaha
By Jesse Jarnow
By Eric Tsetsi
By Raillan Brooks
In a blatant bid to pull viewers away from that other Tony (Soprano), the Tony Awards trotted out fish-out-of-water folk like RENÉE ZELLWEGER, L.L. COOL J, and MARY J. BLIGE! Please, honeywhen I think Broadway, I think real theater thesps like SCARY SPICE, JOEY MCINTYRE, and KEVIN from the BACKSTREET BOYS. Keep it pure, people!
And another thing: In the wildly nostalgic 20034 season on the Great White Way, African Americans were represented by a maid, a slave, street urchins, a downtrodden ghetto family, and an ape. You've come a long way, baby! (Yes, I know these are well-meaning, beautiful portrayals of black rootsexcept for the apebut let's vary it up a bit, folks. At least throw in a modern servant once in a while, deal?)
But I've already digressed from the script several times. Back to the Tonys and the glory. Back to the pressroom and the pasta and my chronological observations of the dramatic, admittedly fun goings-on, which we watched on monitors in between interviewing presenters, winners, and whiners. And so: Freed of his flamingly gay Boy From Oz character, hunky HUGH JACKMAN starts the show high-kicking to "One Night Only" from Dreamgirls! Girlfriend! The first winner, ANIKA "My middle name, NONI, means God" ROSE, forgets to mention she was in From Justin to Kelly. God! Meanwhile, I deliriously thought director JACK O'BRIEN brought up Reagan in his speech, but in the pressroom, he smilingly tells me, "No, he was not in Henry IV." As for future presidents, BILLY"Where's my cue?" JOEL is saying that despite his name supposedly being used by some KERRY fundraiser invite, "I'm not gonna be playing like a trained monkey" (or even an ape).
But darling CAROL "C.LO" CHANNINGis bringing up Reagan and somberly telling us, "He was a great president . . . [titters in the room] . . . of SAG." Having just dizzily duetted with L.L. Cool J, she's also insisting, "Everybody loves rap. It's like being in lovewhich I am!" (with that old dress, I guess). Avenue Q book writer JEFF WHITTY tells me he loves dancing; in fact he was a go-go boy at the Park, "and I was working there one night when you walked under me." "Oh yes," I say, "I remember your scrotal sac." "I was wearing overalls!" he insists. Anyway, is he the first go-go boy to win a Tony? "No, I think ARTHUR LAURENTS," he says, laughing.
On the show, fab PHYLICIA RASHAD is go-going nuts, giving such a cuckoo grande-dame acceptance speech that her first name, clearly, is God. Joining her in the clouds, NICOLE KIDMAN, of all people, is making a joke about how LIZA marries gays. In the pressroom, SEAN COMBS is saying stuff like "Raisin in the Sun has been the most less stressful thing I've ever done." And about J.LO's newest marriage: "Congratulations to her, 'cause she's my friend. I'm just a supportive type of guy." (Another J.Lo query, though, and he snaps, "Next question.") And then, after many more shots of Hugh's wife, the Q gang victoriously takes the stageI guess the voters actually saw the shows this yearto which Combs admiringly says, "Broadway folk have entourages too, I see." Yeah, even the go-go boys.
And suddenly, after just three hours, it's overfuck! (Oh, sorry, MADONNA. The apology check is in the mail.) I'm going off to shove my hand up an Avenue Q stara human one.
Moving on to a past Tony nominee, I love me some MERYL STREEP because, if anyone could grandiosely intone self-serving stuff like "As an actor . . . " it's huh, and she never does! It's only people who were in That's So Raven or CSI: Hoboken that spew such flouncy crapola. Meryl always strikes the right witty, mildly self-deprecating pose, and in fact, at the New Dramatists lunch in her honor, as an official read the list of every single one of her credits and awards ("You started with a small role in the movie Julia. . . "), Meryl looked like she wanted to die, but managed to smile graciously as if it was the most less stressful thing she'd ever done. As an artist, I love her.
Another legend, multi-Tony-winning CHITA RIVERA, generously submitted to my interrogation at a LGBT Center Q&A, offering an interesting surprise: "I've never been all straight. Everyone has their curveballs." ¡Hola!
All gay, but not exactly award-ready is Adored: Diary of a Male Porn Star, about a smut phenomenon who opens minds (and legs) with his windswept charm. Alas, at the premiere, you could feel the energy in the room fizzle like a deflating hard-on when the Chelsea crowd realized the Italian film isn't a trashy romp at all, but an overly tasteful art-house entry! As such, the flick does achieve a sort of dreamy elegance, but it quickly descends into banal soap operatics, with characters sobbing as they say stuff like, "He represents things I considered disgusting and dirty, but now I realize I should embrace and accept him! He's a homosexual porn star!" (The flick, unsurprisingly, is wrapping up its limited run here. Fizzzzz.)