NY Mirror

The bard meets the buffet for the annual Shakespeare in Central Park gala, which gives you a spread, a play, and then another spread—the perfect cuisine-to-culture ratio for any sensible New York benefit queen. At the first pile of food, I asked outgoing—in every way—Public Theater head GEORGE C. WOLFE about his having gone Hollywood. (He plays an exasperated Vietnamese-restaurant manager—more food—in ZACH BRAFF's cutely quirky flick Garden State.) "I gave Zach his first job out of school in my production of Macbeth," Wolfe explained, having ingeniously paved the way from "Out, damned spot" to Scrubs. So how did Wolfe's first role out of school go? "My first two takes were all right," he said, "and by the third one I said, 'I'm in a state of misery and I want to go home' and I did it and Zach said, 'That's perfect!' He's a sweetheart."

I wasn't in a state of misery even though just then, MAYOR BLOOMBERG took the mic to announce that this night was so special, "It really is much ado about something!" The show turned out to be a mixed-to-good something (SAM WATERSTON and his daughter are the new SHIRLEY JONES and PATRICK CASSIDY), followed by buffet number two at the Belvedere Castle, where Queer Eye's design guy, THOM FILICIA, gushed, "I thought the set was incredible. I loved the chevron floor and the way the double doors were flush and then came forward to create three different environments. The two lanterns were a little small, but I liked the look of them. And the performances were amazing!" Oh yeah, that too. "And everybody was really cute," he added. "Something for everyone!"

But more to the point: Is KIRSTIE ALLEY ballooning up because Filicia replaced her as the Pier 1 spokesmodel? "I don't think it's related," he insisted. "These things happen. Don't we all do that? I just had fried chicken and I'm going to have to go on Atkins to go to the beach!" Honey, I'd just had approximately 12 entire chickens and as a result, I'm currently creating three different environments with my ass.


COME AND KNOCK ON OUR DOOR

Broadway baby MICHAEL MAYER has joined Wolfe in movieland, directing the sweetly sentimental love-trio film A Home at the End of the World, a sort of Jules et Gym Queen. Is he ditching the theater community? "That's what they say," Mayer incredulously told me at the premiere at the Maritime. " 'Are you ever gonna come back?' But I have After the Fall opening soon and then I'm doing 'night, Mother with EDIE FALCO and BRENDA BLETHYN!" Still, Mayer felt the cinema gig was a snug fit, and told me, "My version of obsessive-compulsive disorder is perfect for the job of movie director—the way I want to do everything right away!"

Faster than that, I hunted down DALLAS ROBERTS, the up-and-comer who plays the film's gay third wheel, and asked if he's ditching the theater community. "No," Roberts swore. "I just got a new lease in the East Village, I hope for 100 years. And it looks like I'll be in a CARYL CHURCHILL play with SAM SHEPARD." Well, I want to play with COLIN FARRELLHome's absent star—so I asked Roberts if the lusty Irish gnome's really as cantankerous and raucous yet utterly professional as they say. "Yes, he's all those things," he replied, "and generous and sweet." Eew, that's so not boyfriend material—I'm looking for someone more emotionally abusive.

(By the way, it's time to finally forgive Mayer for cutting Colin's penis shot; he also just sliced After the Fall by 80 minutes and even ARTHUR MILLER approved it.)


THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE FUGLY

But if I'm going to cut any-thing, it's the bullshit as I head into my new biannual list of Gotham bests and worsts: The best upcoming book is Lollipop Lounge, seminal rocker-producer GENYA RAVAN's mouthy memoir of several decades of drugs, cancer, bad record deals, and great performing despite it all. The best new development in pop is that BRITNEY SPEARS has been engaged for at least 20 minutes, and I just want to say, bravo, girl! (Oh, I'm sure it won't last through the year, but at least Brit's doing what she wants for a change, complete with Kirstie-style ballooning and dangerous nips of ginseng. Practically from birth, she's been squeezed dry by the people around her, who've never turned down a single appearance, tour, video, endorsement, or any other chance to make change pop out of her vagina. They've almost worked the girl to death and now she's finally breaking free, learning the hard way via her own rotten decisions.)

The best recent reaction, I hear, had STAR JONES being read aloud a Times article about her behaving like a prima donna at a Vietnamese restaurant (not managed by George C. Wolfe) and saying, "That's not bad, is it? It's good to be in the Times." (Of course the reader left out the part where Star's girlie-drink-imbibing fiancé grabbed her from behind and mimicked a sex act. Update: Sources tell me Star is sending her man to one of those make-'em-straighter groups. Maybe it's working!)

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