The kinetically fun Jimmy Fallon can’t help but be the center of attention in any room he stops by. He poses with a hunk of bread sticking out of his mouth and everyone within a mile guffaws their guts out. He dunks the bread in a water glass and they all go absolutely madcap. Of course what they’re really thinking is, “This little pixie is so sexy in a sweet, cuddly, puppy-dog way that I desperately want to strap him to a table and corrupt him as soon and as wantonly as possible, ha ha ha.”
At a Paper magazine dinner for the Saturday Night Live star at the Soho Grand, I found myself seated across from Fallon—by demand—and broke the ice by nervously leering and saying, “We’re gonna turn you gay tonight.” Ever the amenable one, he grinningly replied, “That would be cool!” Again: How can you not love this impish little dollface?
Working the room to nab other SNL cast members’ takes on Jimmy’s appeal only cemented my fervor. “Everyone loves Jimmy,” said Rachel Dratch, though when I asked her if he might go for me, she said, “I’m not going to touch that!” (Yeah, but I am.) “I think of him like my brother,” chimed in Tina Fey, “but those pictures of him in Paper are totally sexy. He’s so good looking and creamy skinned that if I was 14, he’d be right up my alley!”
I darted back to Jimmy before she got any ideas, and we talked, with great professional dignity, about his career highlights. He said the Jeffrey sketch is actually based on Barney’s. He also admitted that he never wanted to do “Weekend Update”—”I don’t know anything about the news”—but he was willing to try it if they brought in a co-anchor. SNL writer Fey got the job and the wry chemistry clicked, to my jealous dismay!
But Jimmy and I have chemistry; we both loved Ellen DeGeneres on the Emmys, though neither of us understood her reference to “Rita.” (Turns out she meant Tom Hanks‘s wife, who’s the object of his impossibly gushy awards speeches.) Everyone at this dinner wanted to be Jimmy’s Rita. In the meantime, my Maya Rudolph—another lovably wack SNL performer—told me that when Ellen talked to Steve Martin on the awards telecast, “all I could think of was, ‘They both dated Anne Heche and she’s fucking crazy!’ ”
Not crazily at all, Maya’s the daughter of the late legend Minnie Riperton, whose “Lovin’ You” is a sweet soul classic, the one with the high note that makes dogs orgasm. Having lost her mother so young, Maya said, bonds her with other such women. “I’ve always had a place in my heart for Madonna!” she exclaimed.
And no doubt for Mariah Carey‘s Glitter character—segue, segue—though she eventually reconnects with her crack-addict mommy, if not with the audience. Fortuitously enough, Glitter costar Ann Magnuson was at the Fallon fest—see, the segue paid off—and told me she hasn’t managed to see that prize work du cinéma. (“I’m waiting for the DVD,” she deadpanned.) Magnuson admitted that halfway through filming, the costume designer was replaced, and the ’80s looks were thrown out the wacky window. “I had to fight for my right to wear shoulder pads!” she said. “If they were really committed to the ’80s thing, they were assured a camp classic. Now it’s neither camp nor fowl—well, it might be foul, and I say that with a lot of love!”
As for my love of Jimmy Fallon, he hasn’t called—that much. Playing hard to get or just playing hard? I’m not going to touch that.
Meanwhile, I’m still a slave 4 Britney Spears, who looked all flirty and perky and driven at her record-release party at Centro-Fly. Earlier, while we hung out in anticipation of her presence, a press person quipped, “I don’t mind waiting. I’m a pedophile and I’m not going anywhere!” Well, Miss I’m-neither-a-child-nor-a-woman showed up and didn’t disappoint, bouncily telling us “I want everyone to dance and have fun tonight. I’m wearing my boots and I’m gonna dance!” I never saw her do so, but maybe that’s because for hours they played everyone’s records but her own—and by time they did play it, she was on to another VIP room.
Britney’s (and Maya Rudolph’s) spiritual great aunt, Madonna, is the subject of a dissecting new bio by Andrew Morton, who told me that the material one was forced to have sex at knifepoint many years ago, and ended up talking about it in the movie Dangerous Game. “See it again,” he urged. Um . . . busy.
Take-no-prisoners comic Joan Rivers turned lemons into lemonade at the Comedy Garden last week. Rivers said she actually wouldn’t mind a Taliban takeover because burkas are a good fashion idea. (“No more plastic surgery. No more waxing. So you have a wart? Who gives a shit!”) By the way, I noticed after the show that one of Joan’s cue cards misspelled vagina, but she explained to me, “I’m a speed reader!”
However you spell it, The Nualas is a goofy Irish Arts Center concert by a trio that claims to have formed in Dublin, though the act seems less like a comic Corrs than an Irish Spring commercial created by performance artists on the Lower East Side. All sporting clunky glasses and exaggerated accents, the gals—each one named Nuala, by the way—sing in crisp harmony about everything from Irish customs gone amok to the poignant plight of life’s most existential creatures. (“Look at the severed lips of the trumpet player who accidentally picked up a harp.”) They don’t shut up either, gently mocking audience members in between serving up revelations about sex (“Nuala’s bisexual.” “Yes, I’ve had sex twice”) and beauty (“We have stretch limos, stretch jeans, and stretch marks“). The show is impossible to categorize, which is one of many reasons it’s so feckin’ great.
At the Public, Elaine Stritch at Liberty gives us Stritch limos, Stritch jeans, and Stritch marks as it romps through the life, loves, and cocktails of Broadway’s greatest reigning broad. The script is a tad too pat, but Stritch—the male Charles Nelson Reilly—shines, even when revealing her deepest insecurities and messiest behavior. Her remembrances of chasing after Rock Hudson and Gig Young while running from Marlon Brando make you wonder about the lady. (You do the math.) But she’s a disarming kook, and you don’t even mind it when she wincingly recalls a production of The Women in which Gloria Swanson needed to have her lines fed, only to have the Public Theater stagehand call out cues when Stritch flubs. Even when doing wrong, Elaine Stritch can do no wrong. She’s every Sondheim diva ballad rolled into one leggy, foghorn-voiced legend.
They remember their lines in the new revival of The Women—perhaps a bit too aggressively so, thank you. In fact, though the scenery is sleek and pretty, it’s largely been chewed up by the end of the night. The production seems like the work of anxious drag queens—at least two of the leads are surely the male Elaine Stritch—and the kitsch effects are laid on so thick that the play sometimes seems like “a diamond-studded douche bag” (a phrase from the script). But amid all the italicized meowing, there can’t help but be some stylish diversions, especially from Jennifer Coolidge, who’s a riot—and not just because she once dated Chris Kattan, who’s on TV with Jimmy Fallon, OK?