By Jared Chausow
By Katie Toth
By Elizabeth Flock
By Albert Samaha
By Anna Merlan
By Jon Campbell
By Jon Campbell
By Albert Samaha
The day his daughter was hit with thievery charges, Michael Lohan was stealing her thunder by standing next to me with a huge, scary knife. But there was a perfectly delightful explanation for this, mind you.
We were slicing vegetables at God's Love We Deliver as part of the diciest celebrity volunteer group since Hands Across America, helping the homebound as I prayed to the big eggplant in the sky that Papa Lohan hadn't read some of my write-ups.
Lohan—who swears Lindsay didn't steal—was surprisingly good at chopping peppers, actually. "Well, my wife didn't cook for 19 years, so somebody had to!" he explained to me, still pissed.
The guy turned this into an athletic event, volleying some of the veggies across the table and even aggressively biting into one in between the furious slicing and dicing. Meanwhile, his chatter veered from twisted jokes like, "It's always the women who are late" to the angsty revelation, "When I turned 50, my kid said, 'You're not 50. You're a half-century!' "
At one point, another slicer slipped and ended a sentence with "for your age," so she started backtracking, but Lohan wasn't having it, responding, "You're putting your foot deeper and deeper into your mouth." She kept trying to pull it out as I uncomfortably looked away to the cauliflowers, hoping he wouldn't suddenly Google my work.
"I did HGH," continued Lohan, unfazed, "because I severed a nerve in my neck. It was that or surgery. Now I can pump way more weights. When you're 42, your testosterone level . . ."
That's where I went back to the peppers.
Before he could turn me into a vegetable, I returned to the fruits of Broadway, where the testosterone level is just where I like it. There was a Catch Me If You Can open rehearsal featuring a preview of numbers that were spectacularly smart, all done variety-show-style as the con man tells his twisty story.
Songwriters Marc Shaiman and Scott Wittman also happen to be scoring Smash, the "loosely based" NBC series about the making of a Broadway show. Wittman told me Smash's first season will focus on the creation of a musical about Marilyn Monroe (someone who never needed HGH). The casting? "Debra Messing plays me," he twinkled. "I wanted Justin Bieber."
As for a cast in a cast—ba-dum-pum—I asked Spider-Man's publicist if the critics who jumped the gun and reviewed that show will be invited to official press dates, where they can check it out again for free. "That's a good question," he replied. "Stay tuned!" I'll look for them at the "hopening."
In other violent news, a spy at the Berlin Film Festival told me, "Devil's Double is a fantastic gangster movie. There were walkouts over the intense scenes, like the disembowelment with a sword and the rape/murder of 14-year-old girls he would pluck off the street. 'I love cunt!' he cried several times." Even after chopping veggies with Michael Lohan, this sounded disturbing.
It's Like a Jungle Sometimes
From swords to scalpels: Off the Map is basically Grey's Anatomy with insect repellent and some light partying. As the doctors romp around the South American jungle, Dr. "Zee" Alvarez—played by Valerie Cruz—holds down the clinic and keeps things peppery. I love Cruz! I talked to her for some insight into this prime-time exercise in botanical medicine for the masses.
Me: Hi, Valerie. I have to admit that when I heard the premise for the show, it sounded like a comedy.
Cruz: I think they were trying to go after something more heavy than what happened, but I think it's a good segue for people to get a better understanding in the world.
Me: Well, things have certainly gotten more serious for you. You were bumped up from a nurse to a doctor.
Cruz: I went through medical school rather quickly. [Laughs.] It was better for the show.
Me: Do you feel weird shooting in a resort like Oahu and pretending it's a jungle?
Cruz: It's not a resort at all. You go home with welts and bites and scars. They're the biggest mosquitoes I've ever seen.
Me: The glamorous life of a TV star!
Cruz: It's not that glamorous at all. You get very dirty, actually. We used to clean off, but now it seems futile, so you don't wipe yourself down till you leave.
Me: Some of the reviews were pretty dirty, too, no?
Cruz: We were disappointed, but I don't think some of the things that were said were a compete shock. We're shooting a South America show, which puts it at an immediate disadvantage with critics. It's easier for people to lean toward the negative. Being Latin, I try to reconcile a show in South America where everyone's speaking English. But it's an American TV show and, also, it's affording a lot of opportunities for Latin American actors that we don't normally get.
Me: Have you ever gotten cast as a non-Latina?
Cruz: Yes. I did a great series called The Dresden Files, which had nothing to do with race. That's what you strive for as a Latin actor, to be seen as capable as any other actor to play anything. Twelve years ago, it was very different. I was offered wayward mothers and maids/nannies.