NY Mirror

Lately, it's been a World of Wonder world and we just ker-plotz on the couch watching it. The heady heads of that L.A.-based production company, my old cohorts RANDY BARBATO and FENTON BAILEY, seem to have developed a near monopoly on pop-culture cable shows that plumb the depths and heights of our childhood fixations and fears.

They recently served up The Hidden Führer for Cinemax, positing the thesis that Hitler may have killed gays, but hey, he fucked 'em too. ("We were expecting to show up at our building afterwards and find that it was bombed," Barbato tells me. "It provoked a great dialogue." And some twisted fantasies too—from, um, other people.) For Trio, they've produced Flops 101: Lessons From the Biz about real bombs to worry about. ("Cop Rock, Taboo, Seussical," says Barbato. "All our favorite things.") And they recently uncorked Showbiz Moms & Dads for Bravo, but Barbato swears the trip to Mama Rose-land wasn't terrifying, "it was delicious. I think it's better to pay lots of attention to your children than neglect them. It's better to feed your kids pixie sticks for breakfast than nothing at all!" Honey, feed me cut glass for all I care, just make me a li'l star already!

Feeding us pixie dust, the current gay media mania has helped propel World of Wonder (who last year brought you the feature film Party Monster) to even giddier levels of cable-box visibility. In the biz, says Barbato, "fears about the scary gays have transformed in their desire to exploit the scary gays, which is leading to other potential problems like that Fox reality show [the quickly canceled Seriously, Dude, I'm Gay]. But all in all it's a good thing and it taps into our natural sensibility." And my unnatural sensibility.

Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato (seated) in their World of Wonder
photo: World of Wonder
Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato (seated) in their World of Wonder

To help them with their scandal-soaked projects, the WOW-sers have hired lavender legends like STEPHEN SABAN, GABRIEL ROTELLO, and JAMES ST. JAMES, making their office, Barbato says, like a gigantic nightclub. An '80s one? "Yeah, instead of poppers, we have wheelchairs." Next up they'll produce Inside Deep Throat, a documentary about the ramifications of the 1972 porn flick in which Linda Lovelace found she had a clit (instead of a brain) in her mouth. And though WOW no longer manages velvet-throated RUPAUL—long story—Barbato's thrilled that Ru is poised for a musical comeback. Meanwhile, if they ever do Fops 101: Lessons From the Jizz, I'm ready for my close-up, kids.


I was braced for some real Norma Desmonds at the Sardi's party for the documentary Broadway: The Golden Age, where, to get a good table, I used musical star GRETCHEN WYLER's line from the movie, "Tell them who I used to be!" Sure enough, a parade of Poli-Gripped legends turned up, and finally I was the young one in the room again (and as awestruck as Hitler on Fire Island). BEN GAZZARA brazenly pushed past me at the bar, screeching "Gin! Gin!" Movie icon FARLEY GRANGER told me, "The first show I saw was Annie Get Your Gun. I went crazy. I couldn't believe it was going on in front of me." (He meant with Ethel Merman, not SUSAN LUCCI.) And relative newie PETER JACKSON told me, when asked, that he's not a Broadway queen, as it were: "I've never known much about it." I gleefully told Jackson (who's remaking King Kong) about Prymate, this year's bomb show about an AIDS-infected ape, and he looked mildly appalled. Sorry—I am a Broadway queen, as it were.

Best of all, Oscar winner CELESTE HOLM showed and was utterly delightful, but when I asked her if a gossip report that she fell ill during a screening of BERTO-LUCCI's raunchy The Dreamers was true, an oily DAVID GEST-type guy jumped in with, "Where are you from again? No, that's not true! That was bad journalism. That's all there is to be said about that." Well, couldn't the legendary Holm answer for herself? "I'm her husband and business partner," he shot back, ka-chinging. "Her health is fine. She's doing an autobiography, a cabaret act, and a children's book." Holm looked at me with pleading eyes and said, "He's smarter than I am." He's also a little younger—he's 41, she's 85. Watch out, ASHTON and DEMI!

Back in the current golden age of Broadway, I'm delighted that all four female acting categories at the Tonys were won by people of color (though, admittedly, one of them is green).


But a giant rainbow—and some gin! gin!—awaited when GRAHAM NORTON celebrated his Comedy Central chat show The Graham Norton Effect at Canal Room and was thrilled to see his image gracing large trays dotted with hors d'oeuvres. "They're eating off my face," the Brit kook exclaimed. (And they probably have clits in their mouths.) Norton and I promptly got to work dissecting all the important things, like what JULIA ROBERTS should name her twins. (I think Lemon and Lime, but Norton feels that, since their surname will be Moder, they should be Gas and Crank. I don't know; Crank sounds more like a WHITNEY HOUSTON kid.)

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