By Jena Ardell
By Jon Campbell
By Alan Scherstuhl
By Tessa Stuart
By Roy Edroso
By Jon Campbell
By Albert Samaha
By Zachary D. Roberts
Spunky little Daniel Radcliffe has gone on the record moaning about the fact that so many people are talking about Equus as if it were porn. The magic-wand wielder simply can't understand why there's so much fuss over the nudity, which after all is a relatively minor feature of the show, done at the very end, as it were. Well, my darling teen idol, maybe it's because for months we've been bombarded with promotional photos of your bare parts, pretty much selling the production on the shock value of seeing your tender taint!
And it's working—I'll be up close with binoculars—though maybe they should have instead gotten one of the old Harry Potter co-stars, Sean Biggerstaff, for the part? After all, Radcliffe just bravely told an interviewer that his penis gets smaller onstage. ("Good excuse!" I hear you all exclaiming. You people are evil!) Whatever the case, am I the only one who feels that an evening of gratuitous nudity combined with some serious animal abuse sounds like a visit with Sarah Palin's family? Hello? Hello?
Moving on to people abusing each other, there'll be more David Mamet on Broadway this season than there'll be religious paraphernalia hanging from Palin's daughter's maternity hooch dress. The American Buffalo revival will have Haley Joel Osment fully clothed in the story of thieves aiming for both a coin collection and the audience's purse strings. (Haley can look into the crowd and crow, "I see rich people.") And Speed-the-Plow has Entourage's Jeremy Piven, Mad Men's Elisabeth Moss, and everyone's Raul Esparza in a corrosively ambiguous tale whose motto is "Film is a collaborative business. Bend over."
Is Mamet the new Neil Simon? I don't know, but at a meet-and-greet last week, I talked to the searing Esparza about Broadway's propensity for the tried and true and asked why he's become the unofficial king of revivals. If so, he said, "it's not on purpose. It says more about the state of Broadway. When I was in Company, I thought, 'If this were written today, it would never have been produced.' " Unless they threw in some ABBA songs, I guess.
Or maybe Madonna numbers? When I told Esparza that I caught Madge in the Elisabeth Moss role years ago, he gushed, "I love her. She'd be perfect for this! The whore/virgin thing was perfect at that point in her career. Was she good?" "No," I blurted, bursting his Broadway bubble. "But she rocked in Evita."
I moved on to disturb Moss too, telling her I was at Plow when Madonna was rushed onstage by a crazed fan, only to have security speed the guy's plow right out of there. "I hope that doesn't happen to me," she said, laughing. "I don't think so!"
Another whore/virgin saga, The Duchess—with Keira Knightley as Georgiana, the scandalous Duchess of Devonshire—mixes arty aspirations with pretty costumes and lots of extramarital copulation. At a reception at novelist Danielle Ganek's Park Avenue apartment, the source book's author, Amanda Foreman, told me there's lots more stuff that couldn't be included for time's sake. "The movie takes one spaghetti strand and does great things with it," she said. "The book is 10 movies. For example, Georgiana was also bulimic, a drug addict, and a gambling addict." I guess if she were alive today, she'd be dating Samantha Ronson, ba dum pum.
Anxious to dig into some more spaghetti, Foreman is currently working on a book about British soldiers who fought in the American Civil War. "Wow," I said. "With your unearthing of forgotten historical details, you're basically becoming the British Spike Lee." "That's how I think of myself," she said, laughing. "I'm the British Spike Lee!"
Not quite Spike Lee–esque, Tyler Perry's The Family That Preys is like an extended Knots Landing via BET, but with lots of Perry's customary life-loving. If you want to see best friends Kathy Bates and Alfre Woodard listen to "I Hope You Dance" and look at the Grand Canyon before going back home to destroy their evil spawn, then line right up.
At the premiere, Sally Struthers arrived for unknown reasons, the TV star and children feeder announcing to the press, "Hi! I'm all sweaty!" Hi, sweaty Sally! "Would you take care of my chicken?" she chirped to an interviewer, handing over her poultry-shaped handbag and running off. This woman can feed my child any time!
Just then, Taraji P. Henson showed up, and for good reason—she's in the film as the good sister (though she wasn't perspiring). Henson told me she also plays Brad Pitt's mother in the upcoming The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. "He's aging backwards," she explained, "and he was dropped on my doorstep." Well, was the adult Brad as cute as a Button to work with? "Yes," she said, "he'll give you the shirt off his back"—hey, so will Daniel Radcliffe—"and he doesn't want all the publicity over it"—hey, neither does Daniel Radcliffe. Maybe Brad and Angelina can adopt her? "I wish!" Henson exclaimed, playing along. "I'm good. I told you I'm the good sister. I clean my room!"