La Dolce Musto

Last week's artistic journey took us from witch hunts to rabbit hutches, as I kept pace, applauding while subtly rolling my eyes. There were at least five events for Good Night, and Good Luck, GEORGE CLOONEY's superlative retelling of the war between newsman Edward R. Murrow (good) and commie-baiter Senator Joe McCarthy (bad). The biggest one was the New York Film Festival's opening night, where Clooney (good) avoided sanctimony, instead telling the crowd that his writing partner, GRANT HESLOV, once gave him $100 to get head shots for a Joanie Loves Chachi audition. (Fortunately, he didn't get the part.) In the audience, I spotted another auteur, TODD SOLONDZ, and in lieu of giving him money, I congratulated him on his rather distinguished look. "It's my one summer jacket," Solondz said, smiling. "What are you writing? You mock me!" (Honey, I never mock anyone I've done jury duty with or who included armless musical numbers in Palindromes.)

At the after-party, an Oscar voter was screaming to me that Cinderella Man would get lots of nominations, including one for RUSSELL CROWE—"and with the service at that hotel, you should throw phones." (Even if so, let's not forget that Crowe's lit fuse cost him an Oscar last time around. Combine that with Cinderella Man's failure to make it to the ball box office–wise, and he'll surely be snubbed in favor of some combination of HEATH LEDGER, CILLIAN MURPHY, PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN, and even some straight performances by JOAQUIN PHOENIX, TOMMY LEE JONES, DAVID STRATHAIRN,JAKE GYLLENHAAL, and SEAN PENN. Not that I care.)



THE GRUYÉRE OF LIVING DANGEROUSLY

Filled with Claymation characters even more determined than Joe McCarthy, Wallace & Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit had a plucky premiere with all kinds of pumpkin decorating and cotton candy eating, and some things for the kids to do too. The movie mixes wry humor with flat-out slapstick for an overextended sketch that's clever if ultimately a bit exhausting. Still, you have to submit to anything that features a jar of Middle Aged Spread and a shelf of cheesy books like Fromage to Eternity.

I was waiting for Gouda and bracing myself for something off-puttingly chic and pretentious when the Weimar-cabaret-influenced performance troupe the CITIZENS BAND mounted The Trepanning Opera—a razzmatazz medicine-and health-related revue, with old and original songs, at Deitch Projects. But it was totally gorgeous—a seam-less hour filled with acrobatics, war woes, fishnets, haunted eyes, and syphilis. KAREN ELSON, it turns out, is that rare model who can not only walk but can sing, and the whole cast threw itself into the thing with such a touching eagerness to grab you by the G-string that I now say, "Strike up the Band." My only complaint is that it could have been gayer—but then again, that's my only complaint about everything.

A spectacle without haunted eyes or syphilis, the LAByrinth Theater Company benefit was a rousing celebrity charades marathon that turned us all into big-mouthed party drunks. Before the games, a marching band filled the St. Patrick's Youth Center stage with exuberant noises, as ERIC BOGOSIAN dutifully took notes in the bleachers, preparing for his role. Would he be playing charades later? "No, I can't go onstage as myself," he told me, turning pale. "It's stage fright. These guys are very gutsy to be able to do that. I realized years ago that I can only be in character. So I'm going to be the principal." I waited to see just what kind of exotic principal he'd make up to get as far away from himself as possible, and was a little surprised when he told the crowd, "Hello, I'm Principal Bogosian." Oh, well, whatever works for you.

Anyway, after Principal B's opening remarks—which did actually involve STDs—a guy from Sotheby's flicked an orange pom-pom ("I always wanted to be a cheerleader!") and flamboyantly auctioned off various entertainment packages, including tickets for Miami Vice. ("It's for a premiere, girl"). Then on came the charades, with a lot of major thesps practically having to earn their award nominations all over again, girl. Most memorably, BOB BALABAN did some wonderfully obscene things on "Great Balls of Fire." Less successfully, someone acted out "No Woman, No Cry," only to reap a smirky guess of "Funky Cold Medina." But the theater group's co–artistic director, PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN, wearing a darling curly blond wig Capote would have loved, got his team to say Burn This in only five seconds. That should cement his Oscar nod.

And this blind-item break should cement your deep-seated affection for the way I perennially serve torturous innuendo and vagueness. It's a pileup of queries whose impenetrability you must embrace, lest it drive you to feats of phone throwing. And so: What star who married a Brit bizarrely—or maybe not so bizarrely—tells people, "Don't date British or Israeli guys"? What old-time performer says he married that singer-actress forever ago because "I've gotten many blowjobs in my life from both women and men, but no one sucks cock like her. So if you ever think of getting married, make sure it's to a singer"? Who turned up on one of those wannabe-famous reality shows but never mentioned his adult-film background?

What backup performer who screamed that he couldn't possibly be "that way" ended up moving to New York and setting up an account on a gay-sex site? What I'll-fuck-anything-hot actress certainly did so years ago when she was seen lesbianically canoodling with that sexy Eurasian model? What British daughter used to do coke with that ever snortin' mannequin? What newlywed also seems to have an eye for the ladies? What hot rumored boyfriend of that married star used to date that married mogul? What crazed indie artiste has been known to mistakenly walk into a building that's not his own before being alerted to the error? What power figure has a new girlfriend, to the consternation of wifey, who thinks if it blows up it could ruin her grander chances?



JACKIE OY

But back to the non-rhetorical sentences, and with names yet. I spotted funnyman JACKIE MASON (who recently starred in Freshly Squeezed: Just One Jew Talking) dining at Ben & Jack's Steakhouse, so I approached him and said, "Just one Jew eating?" He nodded. He said he remembered I'd written up another of his shows, Laughing Room Only. I beamed, faking appreciation. "That show was bad!" Jackie blurted. "But you were good," I insisted, still beaming. He asked if I was married to my female friend. "No, I'm a faygeleh," I said. He nodded. Still beaming, I moved on.

Another night, I was faygeleh-ing it up at the party for Off-Broadway'sFran's Bed, but I avoided trying to bother star MIA FARROW, because she'd graciously staved me off once before. (And all I wanted to ask was whatever happened to Rosemary's baby?) But Playbill's HARRY HAUN managed to corner the eternal gamine and ask what her next project will be. "A remake of The Omen," she replied, "with [her Fran's Bed daughter] JULIA STILES." Oh, good—I always suspected that Rosemary's Baby became Damien anyway.


Litter Box
ORANGE YOU AMAZED?

We always read about the debauched antics of sleazy, raunchy celebrities—and I love it, mind you—but I was never truly shocked until the depraved exchange I overheard in the West Village between SARAH JESSICA PARKER and her cute kid. "Can I have juice?" asked the boy, with an unheard-of-in-these-parts wholesomeness. "Sure, you can have orange juice," Sarah Jessica sweetly replied, gently leading him toward a juice bar. Sick and twisted, right? My eyes are popping out of my head from the sheer heathenish horror of it all.

Heartwarming stuff is happening across the pond too. Ex–John Lennon love (and jewelry designer) MAY PANG is in the U.K. to hang with ex–John Lennon wife CYNTHIA LENNON. No, they're not cooking up another jukebox musical, thank God. Pang is simply supporting Cynthia in ex-Johndom as the latter promotes her second tell-all book, aptly called John.(John once hit her, for one revelation.) Yoko, presumably, was not invited.

Luckily I was invited to ALAIN DUCASSE's autumn celebration at his restaurant at the Essex House, where I got to ask the restaurateur why his food is so darned expensive. "We use the best products we can find in the market," he said through a translator, "and the service and attention are the best." I knew that—I was just busting his veal chop.


musto@villagevoice.com

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