Creep of the Week goes to gonzo bozo Matt Drudge, who owed me one after his cable TV show dicked me around with endlessly postponed and/or nonexistent bookings, even after I’d been pegged a “regular” and put through an unpaid “dress rehearsal.” Well, perhaps to make up for the screwups, Drudge—according to his handler—was going to agree to host a birthday dinner for me, and he’d even talked to Lucianne Goldberg about cohosting, if not agenting, the event. A few days later, though, the newsy twosome had decided not to do the gig after all, and once again I’d been subjected to a rudely canceled Drudge booking. And why? Because the Voice had just come out with a cover cartoon which–in only one panel, mind you–depicted Drudge as an ill-informed airhead, and this infuriated the guy so much that he was going to hold it against my innocent, pink ass.
So the free speech advocate who has single-handedly almost brought down the president is in reality a thin-skinned monument to keeping the press locked up in chains of politeness! The guy who runs through the streets screaming “The dress has stains on it!” and “She smoked a cigar with her pussy!” is actually a beacon of pride and sensitivity who believes in punishing the entire staff of an outlet for one frisky opinion! Gee, thanks, Matt–I’ve finally gotten fucked by somebody twice.
Creepo number two (but on a somewhat smaller scale) is Woody Allen, whose Celebrity— the New York Film Festival’s opening-night attraction–turned out to be a fairly leaden jumble in which Woody dumps truckloads of women, who are invariably suicidal over his rejection. He should work as a booker for the Fox News Channel. On the rebound, Woody swats off babes left and right, as Melanie Griffith, Charlize Theron, Winona Ryder, and other world-class lookers throw themselves on his scrawny crotch like schnauzers in heat. That Woody–or an uncanny facsimile of him–is actually played by Kenneth Branagh doesn’t make this bowl of narcissism go down any easier; in fact, the Woodman’s managed to find the one actor who hot babes would probably pant for less.
Instead of plugging in a younger proxy for himself, couldn’t Woody (who’s brought me so much joy in the past) have just reconceived his ratty persona already? His perception of women as high-strung neurotics who need to have sex with a shlub, any shlub, was out of date when pterodactyls ruled the earth, and the attacks on indiscriminate star worship aren’t exactly new potatoes either. He was probably lucky he wasn’t able to be at the festival to greet the underwhelmed response–he was busy filming his next opus in a railroad yard–and so was Gretchen Mol, who was also at the yard; after all that hype, her Celebrity role amounts to her being beaten, then banged by Leonardo DiCaprio in a four-way to which Branagh, natch, is invited. (Of course, Mol’s more visible in Rounders,but that movie failed to make poker into the next Macarena, and John Malkovich chewed so much scenery that it’s a wonder there were any card tables left.) All the gossip media cared about, though, was that Leonardo showed up to promote his performance as a reckless, destructive movie star–in the movie, that is–and so the evening quickly became more about celebrity than Celebrity.
Hot for some real star power, I yelled, “Gang way, world, get off of my runway” and raced to the railroad yard–well, actually the limo depot–where I was whooshed all the way to the Paper Mill Playhouse in Millburn, New Jersey, to see this year’s Gypsy. It was well worth the nosebleed. No, the production isn’t daringly revisionist–they didn’t set it on Mars or at Studio 54–and a lot of times it seems to slavishly echo past versions. But that’s just fine, since this is one show that, by law, should be recreated intact every single day of the year. (It’s a frothy vaudeville revue and a demented character study.) The evening is hugely enjoyable, and the commanding Betty Buckley injects raw, searing life into Mama Rose, the kind that gives you Mother Goosebumps. Mama’s gotta let go, but brave Betty should be allowed to hang on to this role forever.
Gypsy inevitably popped up again at the all-star Carnegie Hall concert called My Favorite Broadway–The Leading Ladies, when Liza Minnelli said that as a kid she’d planned to be a professional ice skater until she saw Gypsy with Ethel Merman and tossed her skates to the wind. (She’ll be sorry if they ever do Gypsy on Ice.) That anecdote launched Liza into a version of “Some People” that, unfortunately, some people like her were not quite strong enough to tackle. The poor thing sounded winded and scratchy and came off like Gloria Swanson doing an impression of a drag queen doing an impression of Liza–though you had to admire her spunky survival sense and dramatic arm gestures the likes of which I haven’t seen since the last time I got fisted.
The event– taped for PBS– was often like an extended lounge act, but when it clicked (like on a Three Sopranos mix of Audra McDonald, Marin Mazzie, and Judy Kuhn), it dazzlingly put the broad back in Broadway. Agreeably enough, the evening was aimed at real Broadway queens; the divas weren’t even announced, and you had to know that that was the second lead from Steel Pier or the original stars of the musical version of Some Like It Hot up there (and honey, I did). Jennifer Holliday, Dorothy Loudon, and Linda Eder (who did a bizarrely fabulous “I Am I, Don Quixote”) were among the audience favorites, and it was heartening to see that a grown-up Andrea McArdle didn’t have to amend her Annie lyric to “I just stick out my chins.” For me, though, the highlight was cute, little Anna Kendrick singing “Life Upon the Wicked Stage” backed by the Cabaret girls, who scratched their butts and spread their legs as Anna retained her dignity, for the most part.
Host Julie Andrews kept changing costumes and floating around saying, “What a lovely evening this is!” But the real diva turned out to be the sponsor, Continental Airlines, which–according to picketers outside–pays half of its pilots less than $15,000 a year and gives none of them pension benefits. Some people!
The Capeman was somehow omitted from the night’s illustrious lineup, and that show’s Marc Anthony mysteriously didn’t mention it at his Madison Square Garden concert last week either, but it still provides a subtext of crossover dreams gone awry whenever Anthony performs, or even shows up. The singing sensation will hopefully survive his next bid at mainstream celebrity–a record company push toward Top 40–but I’m glad to hear that he plans to keep one foot planted in la musica Latina, I guess in case the other one ends up planted in sludge.
In concert, Anthony proved to be a charismatic, powerful entertainer with perfect pitch and a very cute sense of showmanship. In between rendering love songs to his mother, he did some mock-fey dance moves, talked in funny voices, and put a rose in his mouth, then launched into a salsa version of “I Will Survive.” Girlfriend! A highlight had surprise guest star Jennifer Lopez prancing around and making “I’m not worthy” gestures in Anthony’s direction. I struck the same pose for a while, but since the woman next to me–one “Luba from Cuba”–kept drunkenly slapping me and insisting I stand up and dance, I feel Anthony sort of owes me one. Maybe he’ll host my birthday party?
Michael Musto can be e-mailed at firstname.lastname@example.org.