The Producers, The Producers, The Producers. Everybody shut the fuck up about the goddamned Producers!
Anyway, The Producers people were considering doing “Keep It Gay” as a Tony Awards telecast number, but I hear they nixed it, thinking it might not work out of context. (Besides, telling the Tonys to keep it gay is like telling Tom Stoppard to keep it abstruse.) In other news about that show, the theater manager was hoping to stop the outrageous ticket scalping happening on Ebay, but struck out, finding himself a prisoner of love for a smash. Why am I hearing strains of “Keep It Gay, but Keep It Off Ebay”?
They keep it fey over at 42nd Street, which is glitzy, brassy, lavish, smirky, declamatory, and lots of fun. The show’s all about a hooker — I mean a hoofer — who becomes a star, but it’s mainly about things like tapping, twirling, and swirling in front of a large mirror (sort of like the human swastika does in The… you know). At the opening-night party, TV personality? Revlon spokesmodel Karen Duffy told me the show was “the best antidepressant — it’s theatrical lithium.” Duffy’s written her own play that might have the same effect — a one-acter called The Importance of Being Ernest Borgnine, about the short-lived marriage of Borgnine and Ethel Merman. Duffy — who’s won Borgnine look-alike contests at Tortilla Flats — told me she learned that in the divorce proceedings, Merman revealed that Ernest gave her a Dutch oven (meaning he passed gas, then pulled the bedsheets over her head). “That’s what I’m looking for in a man,” said Duffy, who’ll have to fight me over the guy.
Everyone fought over eternal moppet Macaulay Culkin at the Madame Melville opening, but I went for guest Natasha Richardson, who told me she plans to return to Cabaret, but she won’t push Gina Gershon off the stage — “it’ll be much later than that.” Honey, I’ll be on Ebay looking for tix.
Another show that’s not The Producers — King Hedley II — is set in the Pittsburgh I only know from Queer as Folk and from being an extra in Dawn of the Dead. But it’s more dignified than all that. The contrived play has little forward motion and too much halo talk, but there’s undeniable power there, and lots of dirt. At the opening-night bash, costar Leslie Uggams told me it’s demanding “just maneuvering through the dirt onstage. Sometimes you’re walking and you find yourself sinking in a hole.” Well, I had the dirt on Leslie — in an outdoor televised concert that’s been making the rounds, she flubbed the lyrics to “June Is Busting Out All Over,” but didn’t sink in a hole at all; the resourceful diva cleverly made up some mesmerizing mumbo jumbo and got through the song alive. “I’ve become famous for that!” Uggams told me, fully aware that the video’s become a cult item. “The camera went this way, the lyrics went that way, and I made up a language!”
I went thataway to the Roundabout’s salute to Stephen Sondheim, who may not have written The Producers, but has made up a language that’s redefined the musical. (He should be knighted just for rhyming Loreleis and moralize.) But the Cipriani event unwittingly turned out to also be a tribute to presenter Elaine Stritch, who typically stole the night with her saucy talk. After being introduced by some theater personage, Stritch blurted, “If he just said I’m fearless, he’s full of shit” (he’d said “peerless”). In other highlights, Stritch declared, “I wish I was Bernadette Peters!” and blatantly begged for a job (“There must be something for me in Wise Guys!”).
Even beerless, Russell Crowe is a trip. A source from the set of A Beautiful Mind tells me that while shooting a wedding scene with Crowe and Jennifer Connelly, the extras threw rice, as directed, only to have Crowe crab, “How dare you throw rice at me! Who do you think you are?” He should have been relieved, for his career’s sake, that it wasn’t Minute Rice.
They threw wild rice at a special screening of last week’s Dawson’s Creek episode with the big gay kiss, the one you’ll see on my next Christmas card, wallpaper, and tie pattern. The lip-smacking turned out to be short and chaste, but rather important, as it was promoted as the first romantic prime-time smooch between two guys — i.e., the first time the characters actually meant it. “It’s gratuitous and groping,” David Monahan, who plays Kerr Smith‘s love interest, told me before the screening, but he was totally kidding; it was tasteful — maybe too much so — but still a landmark in that it was presented with an invigorating matter-of-factness. And the memories! Episode director Jason Moore said that as they approached the 2 a.m. shoot, Smith told him he had a problem. “Oh my God,” Moore remembers thinking, “my career is going down the toilet. He’s not going to do the kiss!” “No, the kiss is fine,” said Smith, “but I want to add a line — ‘I’m not afraid anymore.'” In other words, he’s fearless (but thankfully his character’s not pierless).
So am I, gleefully going along on a junket to check out that gigantic Mohegan Sun casino on the site of a reservation in Uncasville, Connecticut, maneuvering through the dirt in my apartment in search of some certified glamour that’s not The Producers. Well, I had no reservations, yuck yuck yuck, and was amazed to find a splash of Vegas in the middle of the Martha Stewart state, and one that makes the desert look deserted by comparison. The place is mobbed, with even barely mobile people in iron lung?looking contraptions managing to pull that damned lever.
The decor is elaborately executed in a Native American theme replete with four entrances based on the seasons, dreamed up by architect David Rockwell (who also did the more intentionally kitschy Rocky Horror Show set). Every beaver carpet has a meaning, and even the restaurants are themed — like Mohegan Territory, where the mixed drinks include the Muddy Paw, Indian Leap, and Flaming Arrow; and Chief’s Deli, where a corned beef and Swiss sandwich is intriguingly called the Chief Tantaquidgeon.
While waiting for the billion-dollar expansion that’ll include a Tree of Life and a Wombi Rock, there’s plenty to do in the casino besides ordering Tantaquidgeons on rye — like paying homage to the sculpture of a 102-year-old medicine woman holding an offering basket. Alas, the real-life lady is too frail to host a party in a drag restaurant in New York. (I asked.)
But other still-kicking luminaries, from Jerry Lee Lewis to Duran Duran, turn up in the Wolf Den, the Mohegan’s concert space that tribe members are guaranteed admission to. (As junketeering journo Mickey Boardman noted, “Preferred seating for Mickey Gilley is the least we can do in exchange for stealing away their land!”) After five more meals at the casino, we took in a performance in the Uncas Pavilion by Ray Romano, who said, “Nice to be here. Where am I?” Ray was surprisingly funny talking about everything from long-term companions to rectal leakage, one of which I think I have. (Either way, a Dutch oven’s out of the question.) What I don’t have? Tickets to The Producers. I wish I was Bernadette Peters!
Exclusive on Porn Star Sued by Tom Cruise
As you know, porn actor Kyle Bradford (a/k/a Chad Slater, a/k/a Phil Navarone) is being sued by Tom Cruise for allegedly saying he had an affair with the superstar. Well, Bradford’s ex-partner, Randall Kohl, just gave me his take on Kyle/Chad’s persona.
“I have great feelings for Chad,” said Randall, “but I think he’s an actor on the stage and doesn’t know when to get off. He reminds me of a little kid telling stories to get attention. He’d tell me that Tom gave him a watch and also offered to buy him a car. And on the CD that Chad did [a well-sung ditty called “Standing Here Alone”], it was his singing, but enhanced with computerization — he’s the new Milli Vanilli.
“I was with him almost a year, but I didn’t really know him until after about six months. I noticed his lying when he said he was going to appear on [the British music show] Top of the Pops and he didn’t — he actually went to Europe to wrestle. He said he did a Kentucky Fried Chicken commercial that I found out was not true. Also, I introduced him to the director of Days of Our Lives, who put him on. They called him to go on again, but Chad said he’s better than that and didn’t want to make just $600-700 for a part. Can you believe that?
“He wants to be like Tom Cruise. Deep down, Chad thought he was Tom in his mind. He thought he looked a lot like him — he told me he did.” Well, they’re both short.
“Chad’s family found out about his life as a result of this lawsuit,” added Randall (who markets Frixion lube, among other things). Meanwhile, Randall says that Cruise’s lawyer, Bert Fields, told him Kyle/Chad has faxed over a statement stating he’d never met Cruise. He may not have always sung that tune. According to Randall, the porn star gave a quite different interview to the London Daily Mail (it didn’t end up running that paper, which reportedly had doubts), though Kyle recently told me he never spoke to the French magazine that sparked the suit. The porn actor did not return a call for comment.
Kyle/Chad has appeared in movies like The Cockpit Club and Porn Star: The Joey Stefano Story. As for his CD, I’m thanked and pictured in it — maybe he likes press people — having met him several times through a friend. He seemed perfectly nice!
P.S. A tabloid will soon print an interview with Kyle’s ex-wife — yes, he has an ex-wife — giving her take on all the gossip and why they broke up.
“Cruise Control.” Why is Tom Cruise so quick to sue over gay rumors? Richard Goldstein looks at closets, lawsuits — and the scariest straight-male fantasy of all.