By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
The bard meets the buffet for the annual Shakespeare in Central Park gala, which gives you a spread, a play, and then another spreadthe perfect cuisine-to-culture ratio for any sensible New York benefit queen. At the first pile of food, I asked outgoingin every wayPublic Theater head GEORGE C. WOLFE about his having gone Hollywood. (He plays an exasperated Vietnamese-restaurant managermore foodin 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.
Nora Ephron's Lucky Guy Digests Its Drama for You; NAATCO's Strindberg Diminishes a Dream
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 directorthe 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 starso 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 materialI'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.)
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!)
The most fun I had on the worst club night of the week was on the Friday jaunt that brought me to Cunt in Crobar's Reed Room (the only time I've ever been to Cunt, I assure you. I'm ready, Star!); then to Quo (a/k/a Quo Bar) across the street, a chevron-floored mini-dome where doorman GILBERT STAFFORD cracks a whip with humor and style; and then, of all places, to Lotus, where safe in a back room, MICHAEL T plays kitsch nostalgia tunes for cracked straights as three baby drag queens host, proving once and for all that the cross-dressers are crossing over. The last stop was APT, where I got a great show just watching the inebriated parade of squalid wannabes being belittled by the charmless doorman who kept screaming, "Don't touch me!" I didn't envy anyoneexcept myself, when, unadmitted, I was in a state of misery and finally free to go home.
And finally, the worst overheard quote had a lily-white preppie telling a Sprint store worker, "I don't mind this phone being ghetto, as long as it works." Eewwhite guys using ghetto? Don't touch me!
Which has-been teen idol actually slept with one of his cousins andmore shockinglyit was a female one? Which showbiz tell-all nervously shredded a startling chapter on sexual harassment mere moments before going to press? Which publicist was reported in this column to be naked on bigmuscle.com and as a result took down his aroused wee-wee shot? (We've got power, folksbut not that much; he kept up all the other images.) Which downtown makeup artist's leap into the big time is so threatening to a more established compact wielder that the latter is pathetically trying voodoo techniques in revenge?
What did a source call to sincerely tell me when she first spotted that black mogul going out with the lady he later married? (Free answer: "[Mogul's] dating a trannie prostie.") Which drag queen turned down the chance to be on the pullout cover of a style magazine because they wouldn't give her retouching approval? Which other drag queen said of another drag queen, when the latter won a nightclub award, "But she's been fired from every single job she's had this year"? Which deposed reality-show personality goes to parties with a look-alike of that show's main star to remind people who he is/was? What play about the importance of being out-out-out starred someone who went in-in-in? What's MARTHA STEWART's wet dream come true? (Five months' home confinement.)
Web Exclusive, 7.16.04
In the boldest bid for a paycheck since two-time Oscar-winning Bette Davis took out a trade ad announcing her employment availability, Entertainment Weekly's recently dismissed "Hot Sheet" author Jim Mullen has sent out a semi-sardonic mass email pleading for cushy, lucrative work. In the cutely ballsy message, Mullen begs:
"Jim Mullen, late of Entertainment Weekly and author of the worst seller It Takes a Village Idiot is in desperate need of a highly paid, no-show job. Won't you please help? He is heavily in debt from gambling on bass fishing contests and the expense of being on a low carb diet for the past two years. God, have you seen the price of cheese? It's through the roof.
"Jim likes long walks on the beach, expense-paid travel to Cannes and Park City, shopping bags full of free PR swag, 'interviewing' supermodels, and being taken to lunch at expensive, trendy restaurants. You want creativity? You want humor? You want to push the envelope? Then call Joel Stein. But if you want this kind of crap, I'm at... [phone number withheld].
"P.S. If a guy named Nick 'The Shark' Rotowski asks about me, tell him I died."
Sadly, Nick just sent me an email toolooking for a job.
Web Exclusive, 7.19.04
The next kooky docu-show to hit cable will be Bravo's BackSpin, a celeb biography program that vaguely sounds like the E! True Hollywood Story meets Harold Pinter. BackSpin will cover entertainers' lives and careers, analyzing influences and obstacles along the way, but in reverse chronological order! Good very it's hope I.
Moving chronologically forward, the massively exposed Paris Hilton is complicating her simple life once again by posing, I hear, for the cover of Rolling Stone. Heatherette is dressing her for the shoot, David LaChapelle is photographing her, and the whole world is preparing for her inevitable BackSpin.