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Kate Hudson, the new Gwyneth and the millennial Goldie rolled into one big starlet du jour, put on a brave front at the Harper’s Bazaar Tao party for About Adam as press people lined up just to touch the hem of her Vera Wang. After relentless junkets, Oscar campaigning, and house hunting, Hudson looked ready to plotz, but strove to stay gracious as tape recorders were thrust into her face and lip imprints placed on her butt, all in the name of a casual photo op. “This place is so spacious,” she beamed, though even the humongous gold Buddha statue dominating the restaurant couldn’t dwarf her possibly premature nouveau superstar status. As for About Adam (a silly Irish comedy in which she’s a love-struck singing waitress), Hudson told me, “I did that two years ago!” Could the flick be getting a release now because she’s really—not almost—famous? “I don’t know!” Hudson exclaimed, smiling with her mother’s mouth, but her own spirit. One thing she’s sure of: Hudson’s finally learned the joys of star-67. The last time she called me to be interviewed, my Caller ID announced “Chris Robinson” (her rock star hubby), along with the full phone number. She told me that won’t happen again—and no, you can’t have the number.

Older legends made themselves available when I finally got my waxen ass into Madame Tussaud’s Wax Museum in Times Square—as a patron—and schmoozed it up with multiple generations of famous stiffs. The replicas are so lifelike that I conscientiously skirted around a tourist taking a picture, only to realize it was just another dummy. (As for the real tourists, feel free to knock them over.) You can quibble with some of the details: Diana Ross‘s nose and Madonna‘s eyes seem a bit off; who the fuck is Huey from the “popular band” Fun Lovin’ Criminals?; and how did Barbra Streisand end up looking like a bad drag queen? But who cares? There’s tons of artistry on parade, with special fun coming via the (unintentionally) gay section, with Leonard Bernstein, Quentin Crisp, and Annie Leibovitz camping it up in the ghetto. Most enjoyable of all is the way you’re totally allowed to touch the figures. (I’m not proud to say this, but I fingered Golda Meir’s privates through her dress and am now mentally decorating what will certainly be an entire floor in hell.) Well, actually, you can touch most of the figures—Lady Di is off-limits, carefully surrounded as she is by velvet ropes. Now they protect her!

Meanwhile, there’s no rope that a rabid partygoer can’t traverse, especially when there are some free medallions of beef on the other side of it—and they’re out there, honey. With the NASDAQ going up and down, nightspots have been aptly serving up the chow like there’s no tomorrow, and the party crowd’s sucking it down like wild boars on the verge of eternal hibernation. I got comped and fed at Divas Get Down at Studio 54, a benefit for the New York City Opera where a trio of opera stars—Amy Burton, Elizabeth Futral, and Marquita Lister—was scheduled to switch genres and raise eyebrows over dessert. Everyone assumed this meant they were going to barrel into some Limp Bizkit tunes and maybe a little gangsta rap, but their idea of getting down actually involved numbers from My Fair Lady, Pal Joey, and The Wiz! Still, their throbbing voices applied to show tunes made for a culture clash as unexpectedly appetizing as the chicken potpie entrée applied to my exquisitely unaccustomed palate.

And there was some offstage entertainment when a fundraiser begged me to come see La Bohéme and chirped, “That’s the show Rent is based on.” How darling that he thought he had to invoke a current Broadway pop hit in order to discuss a serious opera with me. Please! I’ve heard of La Bohéme and even saw it—with Linda Ronstadt as Mimi! Even more dangerously, a TV crew was patronizing people with questions like “Don’t you find it interesting that now even opera stars are considered divas?” As if VH1 coined the term and somehow it all started with Faith Hill. Oy! It started with Golda Meir!

But let’s calm down and suck in some more food, two-three-four, shall we? I love Paris in the springtime, but I’ll settle for the annual Gabriel’s luncheon celebrating the “Rendez-Vous With French Cinema” series. The event always has a foreign feel for me—it’s above 59th Street—and authentically teems with Frenchies nibbling striped bass and waxing profound about Gallic moviemaking. But this time around, quirky director Chantal Akerman didn’t feel like playing the glad game. When I asked Akerman—whose new film is La Captive—about the state of French cinema, she cringed and said, “Don’t ask me that kind of question. I’m not a sociologist!” I graciously reminded her that this was a press luncheon and Akerman suddenly put on a big smile and cooed, “Oh! French cinema is totally great! I have the feeling it’s OK. A lot of women are doing movies there!”

Now that it was clear we were both put-ons who couldn’t care less about the state of French cinema, Akerman and I were able to stop being held la captive by cross-purposes. Relaxing out of her mannequin mode for a second, the director admitted she only saw four films last year—”otherwise I sit home and watch TV. What do you want me to say? I only hear Jewish jokes.” She told one and it was way less offensive than the Cahiers du Cinéma talk across the room. Alas, when the conversation at the table turned to tabloid dish, Akerman got agitated again, saying, “You Americans are so loud! And you’re talking about things I don’t know!” By that point I was so entranced by the rambunctious auteur I would gladly even see one of her films.

But can we put that on hold for just le minute? More pressing was the chance to check out the state of American theater with Starmites 2001, the Off-Broadway revisal of the 1989 Broadway musical that became famous as a giant flop that somehow nabbed six Tony nominations. The millions of people who missed the culty comic-book pastiche the first time around have been desperate to catch the new version in order to restore their theater-queen credentials. The verdict? It still feels inconsequential and a bit lame, though it’s generally good-natured, well sung, and even has a new Napster joke. But don’t ask me—I’m not a sociologist.

That other sci-fi toe-tapper, Bat Boy: The Musical, is feisty but rather bloodless, though at the opening night party at the W last week, guests like Monica Lewinsky and Woody Allen (separate) definitely brought my fangs out. I asked Woody if he was there because it’s a scandal show and he’s a scandal star. No, he said, “I’m a friend of Jean Doumanian [his—and Bat Boy‘s—producer]. I had to speak against the building of a building tonight, but I’ll see the show this weekend.” Building a kinship with moi, actress J. Smith-Cameron murmured, “When Woody squints in the paparazzi’s glare, he looks a little like Bat Boy.” Her equally esteemed hubby, You Can Count On Me author Kenneth Lonergan, admitted he wasn’t worried about Gladiator as a screenplay competitor for the Oscar (alas, they both lost) and also advised me on how to watch the awards show: “Throw balled socks at the screen when there’s a moment you don’t like.” Honey, there aren’t that many socks in the world!

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