By Alex Distefano
By Scott Snowden
By Anna Merlan
By Steve Almond
By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
A passel of recent Broadway press events hinted at the next batch of theatrical comfort food aiming for our pricey delectation. As it turns out, Playbill collectors will soon enough own programs for an old-fashioned revival, another movie-to-stage adaptation, and yet one more jukebox compilationall slickly packaged nostalgia showcases that may have to make up in performance moxie what they lack in conceptual cojones.
Most cozily of all, The Pajama Game is the '50s pj-factory-set tuner getting the inevitable repeat visit. At a promotional meet and greet, I learned that the production will be as unrevisionist as professionally fitted jammies, and though the factory's boss character has been subtly transformed into a right-wing paranoiac, "he's redeemed," as co-star MICHAEL MCKEAN assured me. "This is a musical. You need to see him in his pajamas at the end!"
Leading man HARRY CONNICK JR. told me he gets to wear them too, but when I asked if the result will be anything like that head-spinning MICHAEL JACKSON courtroom look, he cringed and said, "I hope not!" More importantly, as it dresses up for its February opening, this Game has yet to detect any snags in its flannel. "We still haven't found the company asshole," said McKean, laughing. "There's always one!"
They're also looking for one over at The Wedding Singer, an attempt by New Line Cinema to strike '80s gold with another MARGO LIONproduced stage version of one of their hits. (The last onesomething called Hairsprayworked out pretty well.) "Yes, it's based on the movie," said the not-cowardly Lion at the Wedding Singer sneak peek, "but it's been reimagined." Judging from the highlights they trotted out, the show amiably mixes mildly insouciant shtick with far more romantic sentiment than you could get away with if you musicalized Billy Madison or The Waterboy. There's even a touching love song urging the leading man to "come out of the dumpster." KEVIN CAHOON (last seen catching childrenà la Jackoin Chitty Chitty Bang Bang) is playing the ALEXIS ARQUETTE role of the new wavey gay guy and laughingly told me, "My ballad is done at a bar mitzvah, if that tells you anything." Offstage, will he get a sex change like Arquette? "Most definitely not!" he said, grinning. "But I support those that do. Rock it out!" Which is a tourist-friendly way of saying "Chop it off!"
Finally, I crawled out of the dumpster and heard about Ring of Fire, the imminent Johnny Cash revue that wowed 'em in Buffalo. I can't wait to see the matinee ladies bopping their blue hair along to "Daddy Sang Bass."
While Broadway was busy touting its retro romps, the New York Film Critics Circle convened to honoramong other thingsthat other Cash cow, Walk the Line, giving Best Actress to REESE WITHERSPOON, who wound herself up and chirped, "I'm just so happy to meet all y'all!"
Before the ceremony, I was so happy to meet Capote director Bennett Miller so I could be the company asshole and ask, "Who's sexier, Truman Capote or the Bareback Mountain guys?" After mock strangling me and saying, "Bareback?" he replied, "Well, Truman certainly knew how to seduce better than those guys did. He was interested in straight guys. When he put his mind on somebody, it's seldom he didn't get that person. Sometimes some young beefcake would approach him and basically offer himself, and Truman shunned him. He wasn't into simple pretty faces. He was into substance."
Rather than ingest some, I hit PHILIP SEYMOUR HOFFMAN up with the same kooky query. "I haven't seen Bareback Mountain," he answered, sincerely. "It's actually Brokeback," I admitted. "I keep slipping. Well, on purpose." "Do you really keep saying that to get the people to say it?" he wanted to know. "Um, yes," I confessed. "But anyway, was Truman sexier than the Memoirs of a Geisha crew?" "I have no idea," Hoffman said, looking horrified.
Before I could torture WONG KAR-WAI with barebacking puns, the 2046 director told me, "To get the award is secondary. You feel good just being with so many other good foreign films that are out." "So in other words, you won't be accepting the award?" I smirked. "Yes, I will!" he blurted.
But by now I'd caused the biggest disruption since I got the Maria Full of Grace chick to admit the heroin pellets were made of marshmallow. A publicist was beside herself, scampering over to tsk-tsk, "Bad boy! Are you making people say Bareback Mountain?" Yes, and they're doing it! Call out the militia! Break out the condoms! Moving on, I only asked NOAH BAUMBACH if anyone's mistaken The Squid and the Whale for one of those cute wildlife documentaries. "I was warned not to use that title," he admitted, but he couldn't help it. At least it's not The March of the Squid and the Whale.
Noah's mom, film critic GEORGIA BROWNwho was not channeling DEBBIE REYNOLDSassured me that nothing in the movie really happened except for the divorce. "But Nico, my youngest son, has to answer to people who ask if he really spread his sperm around the school," she said. "Nobody believes him when he says no." I believe him, but I'd still like to make him say Bareback Mountain.