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.
Finally, I asked A History of Violence's superb MARIA BELLOthe Best Supporting Actress about her character's own bareback mountin'. Why does she get all hot for hubby when he's at his most crazed? "It shows her own shadow side," she said. "I think womenand this may not be politically correcthave an innate desire to surrender to something powerful, and at that moment she's able to do that." I can certainly relate, honey.
By the way, I'm glad Grizzly Manwhich isa wildlife documentarynabbed an honor; I loved the way it pitted Timothy Treadwell's loony grandiosity against that of director WERNER HERZOG, who sweepingly intoned narration like "It seems to me that this landscape in turmoil is a metaphor of his soul." But while Treadwell tried to act like a bear, I could swear he also tried to act like a hetero. Whatever he was, he redefined Bearback Mountain.
THE HEART IS DECEITFUL
As for bare-assed lyin', did you know that TV legend Raymond Burr was gay and fabricated a straight life for himself including two wives and a son, who never existed (though he was once briefly married)? He was into substance! This will all be in Post TV writer MICHAEL STARR's book, due next year from Applause Books. And wait, there's more tawdry deceit: Everyone's caught up with the JT LeRoy scam. But it was way back in June of 2001 that I reported that Vanity Fair may have been tricked by the composite creature. As I wrote, "LeRoy generally does interviews by phone and rarely allows himself to be photographed. That's why it was so startling when photographer MARY ELLEN MARK managed to capture him for the current Vanity Fairor seemed to. The problem is, LeRoy is telling folks that the person Mark shot is actually not him at all; it's a female friend of his who purposely showed up for the session in a wig and mask. (When contacted for comment, Mark said, 'It was JT. His saying it wasn't is just his humor.')" Obviously none of them were JT. Which would make a great musical!
I hear the El Mirage owner isn't happy with my recent column about the unappealing sex club. But it's not his faultit's the people in it! . . . At Happy Valley, I met a cute guy who said he was in the movie Slutty Summer, "but the Times review singled me out as really good!" And no, it wasn't written by JT LEROY . . . At the same club, photographer MARK REAYmurmured to me, "KATE MOSS will debut her new runway walk this season. The 12-step." . . . Nightlife comeback queen SUSANNE BARTSCH is being followed around by New York and WWD (and mefor years) . . . Help! I'm in love with someone from myspace.com who likes women and feels Jesus is his savior.
At Avalon's Kurfew party, someone with a "666" label on his chest told me his safe word is harder. . . BRAD and ANGELINA are getting a bed made of stingrays. Dead ones, I presume . . . Over at the Cubby Hole recently, as a Gawker item mentioned, LISA GASTINEAU was getting personal with a lady friend. Well, my sources confirm it was one of her reality show's editors, JULIE "BOB". . . But back to me: "Is there any channel you haven't appeared on?" people always wonder, impressed with my whorishness, I mean versatility. Well, yes, I had never been asked to show my pesky puss on BETuntil last week, that is, when they rang to enlist my on- camera charms for a show. True story!
But everyone please stop and go away. Come on, stop. Harder.
PHYLLIS GATESthe wife of closeted movie icon Rock Hudsonrecently died, and now BOB HOFFLER, who wrote The Man Who Invented Rock Hudson about agent HENRY WILLSON, has some juice to spill. As Hoffler tells me, "After their divorce, Gates, who was a lesbian, blackmailed Rock. In the book, I detail the story where Henry hired a hit from Las Vegas on two guys who were blackmailing Rock. Well, Gates put them up to it, and the hit also paid her a visit. Later, she tried again, but was quelled by photos take of her with other women. Rock had somehow acquired these photos."
The author adds: "Phyllis had told various people that marrying Rock 'would be fun.' She then became addicted to being the wife of a star, and didn't want the divorce. MARK MILLER, [movie star] GEORGE NADER's lover, told me that she had a double standard: Phyllis could play around with women but Rock had to remain faithful to her. In a way, she was just being pragmatic: she feared that Rock's exposure would ruin his fame, which was in turn her gravy train.
"By the way, Phyllis did not meet Rock at Henry Willson's office, as she claimed. She met Rock at Mark Miller and George Nader's home in Studio City. She had been out on a movie date with Rock Hudson's then-lover, JACK NAVAAR. So Phyllis knew the score. She met Rock in the company of gay men." And now it's gay men who are telling the truth about the whole situation.
Oh, one more thing: Says Hoffler, "In the last two years, Gates was actually mentioned as the correspondent in a divorce case in which a husband accused his wife of having an affair with Gates. I don't know how that case resolved."
The invite said "Paper and Mac celebrate ZAC POSEN at Village restaurant," so I went and dove into the pear crumble and special guest BRYCE DALLAS HOWARD, who was unspoiled and fun. Was she only there because she starred in The Village? "Yes," she played along, "I only go to restaurants named Village." (16-month-old spoiler alert: It's set in the present!) Of course she would also go to any restaurant named Manderlay; that's the title of the new LARS VON TRIER weirdie with Bryce as Dogville's Nicole Kidman character, this time stumbling upon slavery in the '30s. "It's an interesting film," she told me, wide-eyed. "Interesting is the operative word."
ANOTHER WEB EXCLUSIVE:
Golden Globes rundown:
8:20 SANDRA OH wins because she was dumped by ALEXANDER PAYNE (her own Sideways snub). She gives a crazy, hyperventilating, stuttery, giggly, overly grateful speech. No wonder he dumped her!
8:26 DREW BARRYMORE's pendulous green boobs will forever haunt my memory. Globes indeed.
8:31 The female President wins. HILLARY CLINTON must be secretly orgasming somewhere.
8:59 The clip of and all the talk about The Constant Gardener studiously avoid mentioning the fact that it's about, you know, AIDS. Don't want to scare potential DVD customers.
9:50 It's MEL BROOKS against ALANIS MORISSETTE for Best Song. Someone else wins.
10:20 JOAQUIN PHOENIX looks really fresh and rested and healthy, especially around the eyes and teeth. Kidding.
10:30 JANE SEYMOUR is sobbing hysterically, for I forget what reason, as the camera closes in on her. Dr. Quinn, PHONY woman! Meanwhile, RYAN PHILLIPPE is being cute and playful and trying every which way not to be the next CHAD LOWE. I give them two months.
10:40 DENNIS QUAID, talking about the gay cowboy epic, says the immortal sentence, "It rhymes with chick flick." The crowd is dumbfounded. The crass, vulgar, drunk, mercenary Golden Globes crowd is offended by a remark? Nah, they just didn't get it.