RUPERT EVERETT's new memoir Red Carpets and Other Banana Skins filled me with a burning rage. Reading it, I realized the British actor doubles as a sparkling social arbiter and ultra-literate gossip reporter, and as such he's clearly more astute an observer than even yours fucking truly! I absolutely hate him! (Though I'm a better actor, of course.)
Coming off smarter than everyone else who's ever set foot in Hollywood combined, Everett turns in spot-on portraits of radioactive stars like MADONNA, SHARON STONE, Done Fadeaway (a/k/a FAYE DUNAWAY), and even DANNY AIELLO, who gets a rollicking trashing he'd be advised not to read if he wants a nice '07.
As for the rest of the book, let me distill it down to its most prominent gossip points, seeing as how lesser scribes like to do that sort of thing. The interpersonal highlights include: Madonna making Everett snog her smoldering then-boyfrend TONY WARD (she didn't have to insist very hard); JULIA ROBERTS and newcomer CAMERON DIAZ experiencing a smidgen of tension on the set of My Best Friend's Wedding; Everett having to fight the powers that be to make his The Next Best Thing character have a gay sex life; John Schlesinger nodding off behind the camera of that same film; and most shockingly of all, Everett having a torrid affair with French sexpot BÉATRICE DALLE. His description of Dalle reveals his evocative skill, which, let me remind you, drives me mad with rage: "Her kind of beauty was definitely pre-Botox, much deeper than the cash-and-carry bargains of today. Its origins were the gaslit barmaids of Manet and the Parisian demimonde between the wars. She was jolie laidepretty and ugly. If you pulled back her hair, her head was the shape of a woodland elf . . . " Curses on you, Rupert Everett! You're too damned good!
The Saint at very large
Another talent I'm jealous of, the trés jolie JENNIFER HUDSON, made her New York concert debut at the Saint at Large party at the Hammerstein Ballroom, where the fates tried to put the nightmare back into Dreamgirls. There were some technical glitches, from no light on Hudson's entrance to our star wondering where the backup music was when she started her finale. Midway through the concert, Hudson left the stage to two mime types, coming back several minutes later in the same outfit! Where did she goanother club? Also, after her climactic number got applause, there was uncomfortable darkness and silence, which prompted someone official to take the mic and scream, "More Jennifer Hudson! More Jennifer Hudson!" But in pulling off this sort of mammoth endeavor, minor faux pas are to be expected, and Hudson was a pro in putting up with them, belting on cue, abetted by video screens, go-go-briefed dancers, and fab House of Aviance members. She veered between much of the Dreamgirls canon (the best was a soulful "One Night Only") and TV-style covers of Aretha and MANILOW hits, pausing to tell us how at one point the moviemakers wanted a thinner Effie, "but we like Effie big, don't we?"
Yes, we do! Alas, her repertoire seems to have shrunk. As I mentioned online last week, Hudson is shockingly not allowed to do her big number, "And I Am Telling You I'm Not Going," until after the Oscars for some strategic reason or another. Her not singing the song everyone came to hear was an elephant in the room, trampling a lot of people's hopes, dreams, and credit cards. Instead, she ended with a rather uninspired version of a disco song, parading through the front lines of the audience and letting them sing solos à la the original dreamgirl, DIANA ROSS. Overall, the uneven concert came off like that of a good American Idol contestant, not that of an Oscar front-runner. Hudson can't help but entertain, but right now that movie remains her best venue.
Hudson was honored at the New York Film Critics Circle Awards and was sobbing as she accepted, saying, "I'm so nervous! I did not expect this!" But it was announced a month ago. Oh, well, I also enjoyed HELEN MIRREN's telegram thanking "the knowing and beady-eyed New York film critics" and ROBIN WILLIAMS's in-person description of Happy Feet: "It's Riverdance meets March of the Penguins, with a gay agenda!" Some other actors had trotted out familiar-sounding feelings about "growing comfortable in my own skin" and "growing as a person and an artist," but Williams delightfully defused all the earnestness with zingers like "Hi, Marty [Scorsese]. I like the fact that Jack said, 'Fuck the accent!' " Even cuter was Dreamgirls director BILL CONDON telling me, "Have you noticed what perfect heads Matt and Leo have? That's what makes them so appealing!"
Beforehand, I chatted with PETER MORGAN, who has a lovely British accent and a nice head and who wrote The Queen and The Last King of Scotland, the year's two juiciest acting vehicles, not to mention two of three projects he's recently done about world leaders in crisis (along with the play Frost/Nixon). Is he getting a bit typed? "The thought has occurred to me," said Morgan. "Previous to this cycle, I'd been writing fiction, and I'll do so again. I've gotten into a rut doing this stuff, but people seem to like it, so I'd be a fool to stop." His next film is about the gruesomely executed Saddam Hussein, I mean Anne Boleyn.
The most deranged leaders of allthe church's pedophile apologistsstar in the Best Documentary winner, AMY BERG's Deliver Us From Evil, which chillingly details how Father Oliver O'Grady molested away as his beady-eyed higher-ups refused to read his (rosary) beads. How on earth did she get O'Grady to cooperate? Did she offer a chicken buffet? "It was another confession for him," she told me. "That's how he dealt with things all alonghe'd go into confession." Me too! It doesn't work!
New year's evil
New Year's Eve gets the award for the second-biggest amateur holiday after Halloween, so it was fun to spend it with the pros at the Hiro Ballroom's Cuckoo Club. There were go-go dancers with cock socks to protect them from poking my eyes out, a weird baldy who always zooms in on the only biological woman in the room and rubs against her behind, and LADYFAGa newish-on-the-scene Canadian cross between Frida Kahlo and Big Birdwho sparkled and high-kicked but mercifully didn't molt all over the dancefloor.
Earlier, at a civilized house party at star photographer HARRY KING's apartment, sitcom legend JOYCE DEWITT demonstrated the "chair dancing" she does at bars to convince people she's having a good time, even though she's shy and would often rather be relaxing home alone. I agreeone's company!
I had unwanted company last Tuesday at Room Service's "strip room" when a seductive female employee started stroking me and purring, clearly wanting to go further for tips. "Sorry, we take it up the ass," I genteelly informed her about me and my circle of friends. "I don't care," she countered, blithely. "Well, I do!" I replied, slinking back to the main room.
Back in the safety of my living room, I nodded off to the boring faux cynicism of Dirt, with shark-faced COURTENEY COX failing to convince as human, let alone inhuman. And though JEFFREY CARLSON once threw me a very fishy look when I was schmoozing with a Taboo co-star of his, I've always found him ultra-talented, so I tuned in to All My Children to see him as a transitioning rock star, thrilled that Erica Kane won't be the show's only tranny anymore. He's sensational, with taunting eyes, drop earrings, and an even deeper voice than FELICITY HUFFMAN's. He even managed to be so riveting while singing "Falling in Love Again" that you didn't stop to think it was a Hedwig rip-off. But now that Zarf/Zoe is being questioned about various murders, I pray this doesn't turn out to be another psycho-killer tranny for the public's delectation!
Perfectly sane drag queens entertained me, gossip queen CINDY ADAMS, and writer BEAUREGARD HOUSTON-MONTGOMERY at Lips, from ALL-BEEF PATTY belting the prison matron's song from Chicago (yes, she sang! A drag queen sang live!) to GINGER and owner YVON LAMÉ ripping into the crowd and each other during raucous rounds of Bitchy Bingo. It was all very hilariously no-holds-barred, but it took a lumpy audience member from Iowa to step to the mic and tell the night's best joke: "Why do women make bad carpenters? Because all their lives they've been told that this [she made a tiny-meat gesture with two adjacent fingers] is eight inches!" Top that, Rupert Everett.
Web extra: Tired of my constant whining and pleading for validation? Then come tell me off about it in person—please! This Friday, January 12, at 7:15 p.m, I'll be hanging out at Oscar Wilde bookshop (15 Christopher Street), where I'll making an in-store appearance to schmooze and/or peddle my new book. I need the attention!
Get the ICYMI: Today's Top Stories Newsletter
Catch up on the day's news and stay informed with our daily digest of the most popular news, music, food and arts stories in New York, delivered to your inbox.