Spin City’s spunky Beth Littleford is moving to L.A. to become a series regular and spin that city upside its head. “I play the psycho girlfriend of Stuart [Alan Ruck], who’s a pig,” Beth told me at her refreshingly intimate bon voyage house party two weeks ago. “I’ve done a ‘Single White Female’ on Heather Locklear and I’ve sexually assaulted Michael J. Fox and Stuart’s gay roommate.” Even more psychotically, she’s looking forward to living in L.A.! “I’m ready,” she exulted. “As much as L.A. is an evil seductress, I’m psyched to have a pool, a yard, and that sun.” And she might even try to stop smoking there because, as she so charmingly put it, “I want to have kids! I wanna pop out the pups!”
Up to now, Beth has mostly popped out the laughs. She’s best known for her hilarious The Daily Show stint as a smilingly derisive celebrity interviewer—a tongue-in-cheek smarm queen rivaled only by Martin Short‘s Jiminy Glick character, the ineptly schmoozy king of La La Wood. Her most infamous interview was with David Cassidy, who seemed to want to be treated as a serious artiste, not a whimsical pop flibbertigibbet from a colorfully distant era. “I liked him,” Beth admitted to me. “I like them all. I have to. But people have said he deserved what happened during that interview.” As is seared in the collective cable-viewing consciousness, Beth dared to ask the former Keith Partridge about his supposedly gigantic pear tree, and he threatened to storm out in protest. “But David put that in his autobiography,” Beth griped to me. “He wrote, ‘People say I have an incredibly large penis.’ Though he didn’t say who said it.” Well, whoever said it—and if indeed there was more than one—it was a scream to watch Cassidy bristle bizarrely when called well-hung. What a dick!
Another sardonic TV diva, Morgan Fairchild, isn’t afraid of L.A. either (though I’m not sure how she feels about David Cassidy’s memoir or his member). “It’s not as cut off as it used to be,” Morgan told me (meaning L.A.) over lunch at Zen Palate, as I sliced into a particularly mutant mushroom. Fairchild, who’s best known for sassing and vamping on series like Flamingo Road and Falcon Crest, is actually an impassioned intellectual and adventurer beneath her cotton-candy hair, Barbie-doll nose, and impossibly sparkly blue eyes. She played a nun in Bosnia—”No, it wasn’t a slutty nun. I probably would have been lynched”—and remembers the crew losing sound takes because of shelling going on in the next village. She shot a film in Croatia and found herself wandering around a war zone where stunned generals and press said, “Morgan Fairchild, what are you doing here?” And in the same country, when the other actors were partying it up at casinos, she’d get down with war correspondents “and find out the stuff that wasn’t being printed.”
In her spare time, she does what we all do: “I read science journals and books on virology and emerging diseases. I’m not big on physics, but paleontology I like to read about.” (That’s the difference between her and me; I’m really big on physics.) Careerwise, she’s been undervalued and feels she should be getting cast as attorneys, doctors, or ambassadors, but she doesn’t let that eat away at her gloss. “It’s fun,” she conceded, “but it’s just acting. It’s only rock and roll!”
And with her dry delivery and makeup, Morgan’s always made it that much more of a wow. Currently, she’s “just acting” at the Promenade in High Infidelity, in which she plays the wife of senator-presidential hopeful John Davidson, who appears to have a wandering pear tree. “There’s no Gap dress,” she told me, “but I do eventually find out what I want to know.” Well, what I wanted to know was whether Fairchild—who goes through L’eggs like I do Brillo pads—is really a former shlubb, as her A&E Biography shockingly reported. Yes, she said, “Other kids called me Fatsy Patsy, which really hurt my feelings because I didn’t know I was fat!”
Naturally, that’s all changed now, though Morgan still wishes people would look beyond her fabulous facade. (I know how she feels!) These days, she has a nice boyfriend and told me, “I’m not friends with my ex. Of course he’s an incredibly jerko ex.” (Fortunately, they didn’t pop out any pups.) She also has an ex-costar—the actress who bolted out of High Infidelity last week, leaving Morgan to personally ask the audience to come back for a later performance, by which time the understudy would be ready to roll. “These are the things that make live theater exciting,” Morgan enthused. With that, this vampiest of academics sashayed back to rehearsal and I trudged back to my science journals.
Actually, I hit the road and learned that the jerko misnomer of all time is Intercourse, Pennsylvania—nobody has sex there! What they do instead is vamp around something called Kitchen Kettle Village—a quaintly upbeat assortment of 32 tourist shops—to revel in the consumeristic side of apple-blossom-laden Pennsylvania Dutch country. As the brochure puts it, “Stroll down Pepper Lane following your nose to any number of destinations. Does anything smell better than new leather boots?” Well, now we’re talking—but, alas, mostly we’re also talking fudge, potpourri, sawdust, and someone dressed as a giant gingerbread cookie trying to help the kids decorate desserts. It’s all desperately well-meaning, but you really start to feel for the families that booked three nights in the local Best Western, thinking they could get a full vacation out of this. Of course you can always board the horse-drawn wagon ride to gawk and point at the local Amish people, but they’re generally in their own wagons, feverishly riding away.
And so was I, screaming, “Give me New York! Give me pretension and excess and something that’s not cut off!” Give me the new Brasserie 8 1/2, which is not Fellini-esque at all, and that’s just fine if you want a relaxed night of chichi bonding with your stuffed squid, which I most decidedly did. In this uncommonly spacious joint, the tables are far apart from one another and you don’t even have to sit too close to your own tablemates. It’s all very sleekly non-claustro, and there was so much free food being thrown around on opening night that I ate and a half.
In another form of Chi Chi bonding, club diva Chi Chi Valenti—the empress of the just-closed Mother—blames “leechlike real estate developers” and other troublemakers for the demise of that bohemian boîte. But new life awaits. Shortly after Labor Day, the space will become Filter 14, run by DJ Tommy Frayne, who fully admits he’s part of the gentrification thing. “I’m not gonna fight the trend in the neighborhood,” Frayne told me. “But I think the A list is wrong in this city. Choosing young models and record company people doesn’t sell you drinks. You have underage problems and kids starting fights. The cops will be happy that there will be 35-year-olds at this club!” But pups and Bosnian nuns should probably stay home, under the supervision of that giant gingerbread cookie.