KATHY GRIFFIN is B-list, according to her mom, but the comic—who swears Mama's drunk—feels she's actually a rock-bottom D. In fact, she's doing a Bravo reality series called Kathy Griffin: My Life on the D-List premiering next month, and though the show could end up lifting her to a higher level, hopefully it won't or they'll have to change the title.

"Everything about me is not NICOLE," Griffin swore to me in a recent phone interview. "No one's ever taken my picture at the Ivy. I stand at the valet for half an hour saying, 'That's not my car,' and no one points a camera! And you see these celebrities with $5,000 hairdos and their latest feature film was 'a family experience.' Well, the most I usually do on a movie is two days, so it's not exactly a family." It's more like a drive-by shooting.

Actually, Griffin is in a comfortable place where she's neither a big-bucks-spending grande dame nor one of those stars who rebel against their entitlement by totally skanking out. "I'd never be on Fabulous Life of . . .,"she said, "and I'm also not on Celebrities Uncensored, hyped up on crack blowing somebody in a parking lot—and I'm not gonna say the name LINDSAY LOHAN!" No way—Lindsay is D-cup.

Whatever list Griffin's on, she chirped, "It's a very good one. You have Jeffrey Dahmer's parents and you have your DARVA CONGER, your COOLIO, your MARIO LOPEZ. And none of them know it!" López is so unwittingly triple-D he even "threw down" with Griffin over some remark she'd made about his ex-marriage to ALI LANDRY. López bristled when they ran into each other, so Griffin smirkingly countered, "Didn't you fuck a girl at your own bachelor party?" He looked hurt and said, "I thought we were homeys!" Griffin was haunted by the poignancy of that—or would have been if she weren't on the floor laughing her guts out.

She's certainly got a healthy B-plus mouth—and at least she's not on fame's dark trailer ride to heck, like my homey BRITNEY. "To me, Chaotic is like an America Undercover where they go into a crack den," Griffin observed. "Her skin is all fucked up! And I love when they admit that they're drunk. 'We had great sex today. Ecstasy! Ecstasy!' OK, you're taking Ecstasy too, good for you!"

Griffin's own reality foray? There's a gay decorator running around, like on ANNA NICOLE SMITH's show. ("But I hate BOBBY TRENDY, with his stapled furniture.") And various employees uncork their feelings to the camera, just like in Chasing Farrah. But Kathy's not a fat actress—though her husband did have a gigunda weight gain, which he valiantly deals with on the show, causing some continuity problems but much all-around delight.

Most originally, Griffin loves the gays so much she admits, "My high school prom date is now a choreographer at Disney World." A few weeks ago, she went with her multitude of gay friends (and her slimmed-down hubby) to check out the choreography in Vegas, but she found that "CELINE doesn't do free tickets—especially for me, because I once joked that she'd get a yeast infection from her white leather jumpsuit!" (I always thought it was white because of a yeast infection.) And forget about the Lycra-laden Cirque du Soleil, which Griffin thinks is total du-du. "I don't want to watch clowns roll a gigantic beach ball across the stage," she said. "And what is 'aye-aye-aye'?" It's the sound of me running for the exit and toward a better list.

Bye, Kathy. See ya when we're both A-minus.


DUCK, YOU SUCKER

I was high up on the guest list for the special screening of Hustle & Flow, the Sundance audience-pleaser about a non-jumpsuit-wearing pimp (played by Crash's TERRENCE HOWARD) and his quest for hip-hop stardom, with lots of skank and sass along the way. The flick makes Chaotic look like Saved by the Bell. Before the screening started, I was introduced to rising star Howard, but he became distracted by a New York Post lying nearby—with a headline saying the intoxicated plane stealer proved we're all still sitting ducks—and disgustedly blurted, "Ain't nobody a sitting duck! That's a whole bunch of bullshit!" Pleased to meet you too, sir. "I wish the American people would wake up," Howard continued, fuming, "and realize they have to take charge of their government rather than trust the people they've put in power." So he's not a huge fan of the war, I gathered? "I'm for peace, man," he responded. "Is America under attack? I don't think so. I think the Constitution is under attack right now, and it needs to be fixed ASAP!"

Hallelujah, baby—but on a lighter note, it's LUDACRIS who's under attack in the film—by Howard—the very same kickass trajectory that happened with their colliding characters in Crash. Does this make us all sitting ducks for a possible third screen tussle? "No, he put it in his contract that next time he's gotta beat me up," Howard jizz-oked, lightening up a lot.

Huzzahing Howard at the screening was JIM SHERIDAN, who's directing him in Get Rich or Die Tryin', about a dealer who strives to be a rap star. Crowed Sheridan, "He's quite a handful. He's not the kind of actor you can control. I'd love to put him in a cartoon, but he'd say, 'One arm's longer than the other.' " I hate when that happens. For a final flourish, Sheridan revealed that on the set, Howard "was very generous with 50 CENT." Now that's just good common sense, don't you think?


IN THE NAME OF THE FATHER

Rather than let you pause and ponder the fact that Jim "My Left Foot" Sheridan is doing a rap movie—hello!—let's quickly move on to another gritty premiere, the one for Crónicas, the Mexican-Ecuadoran charmer about a serial child killer and the sleazy journo who engages him in mind games. At the event at the Angelika—of course—I reminded mambo mouth JOHN LEGUIZAMO, who plays the reporter, that I recently saw him on a scooter with his daughter, looking ever so pastoral. Is he actually not a freak as advertised? "Not anymore," he laughed. "I'm a dad. A freaky dad!" "So how are the kids?" I asked wittily. "They call you on everything you do," said Leguizamo. "They mock you and have no respect. It's great! Little Mini-Mes telling you off." It's a whole bunch of bullshit! (But very cute, Papi.)

Far more ego-building was Leguizamo's trek to Cannes to promote Crónicas, an unforgettable voyage into self. "It was wild," he gushed. "Going up the red carpet with all the photographers yelling your name and saying, 'Look over here,' in five different languages!" As a D-lister, I'd settle for just one "Aquí, bitch!"


LITTER BOX
HUSTLE & FLO

Note to self: Lock and bolt the doors and hide all the pets and trinkets next April 23. Club-kid killer MICHAEL ALIG's telling friends he gets out of the big house on the 24th . . . Any news on the health of that other controversial Michael, Mr. Jackson? Has he been rushed to the hospital for any debilitating ailments since he was acquitted? No? He's feeling fine? Amazing!

Feeling uneasy, FLOTILLA DEBARGE thinks she was set to win Best Drag Queen at HX magazine's recent awards ceremony until she made remarks onstage criticizing the politics of Fire Island entertainment. (She told the crowd she was horrified when a booker notified her that since she was performing in the Grove, she couldn't work in the Pines.) Sure enough, Flo was later announced as the winner, but after much fumbling, the award went to HEDDA LETTUCE. Flo thinks there was a backup plaque ready in case of a controversial performance like hers, but HX's MATTHEW BANK responds, "Flotilla's name was announced in error. The awards had all been pre-printed before the ceremony and the Best Drag Queen award clearly said 'Hedda Lettuce' on it, so there was no way that Hedda's win could have been switched at the last moment." I just want peace, man.


WEB EXTRA

The American media are having a field day trashing the supposedly inept Aruban attempt to solve Natalee Holoway's disappearance, and it's all so patronizing I could scream. I guess they’re forgetting that even WITH bodies or remains, no justice was ever reached with American casualties like JonBenet Ramsey, Nicole Simpson, Ron Goldman, Chandra Levy, Bonnie Lee Bakley, and on and on.

Meanwhile, the saddest recent loss on our shores was the death of r&b king Luther Vandross, who had a voice like plush velvet. (His virtuoso version of "A House is Not a Home" is one of the must-have records of all time.) Interestingly, AP's obit called the late, great Luther a "lifetime bachelor." You know what that means--he was a giant queen. They tellingly added, "The entertainer said his busy lifestyle made marriage difficult; besides, it wasn't what he wanted." They got THAT right.


musto@villagevoice.com

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