In a blatant bid to pull viewers away from that other Tony (Soprano), the Tony Awards trotted out fish-out-of-water folk like RENÉE ZELLWEGER, L.L. COOL J, and MARY J. BLIGE! Please, honey—when I think Broadway, I think real theater thesps like SCARY SPICE, JOEY MCINTYRE, and KEVIN from the BACKSTREET BOYS. Keep it pure, people!
And another thing: In the wildly nostalgic 2003–4 season on the Great White Way, African Americans were represented by a maid, a slave, street urchins, a downtrodden ghetto family, and an ape. You’ve come a long way, baby! (Yes, I know these are well-meaning, beautiful portrayals of black roots—except for the ape—but let’s vary it up a bit, folks. At least throw in a modern servant once in a while, deal?)
But I’ve already digressed from the script several times. Back to the Tonys and the glory. Back to the pressroom and the pasta and my chronological observations of the dramatic, admittedly fun goings-on, which we watched on monitors in between interviewing presenters, winners, and whiners. And so: Freed of his flamingly gay Boy From Oz character, hunky HUGH JACKMAN starts the show high-kicking to “One Night Only” from Dreamgirls! Girlfriend! The first winner, ANIKA “My middle name, NONI, means God” ROSE, forgets to mention she was in From Justin to Kelly. God! Meanwhile, I deliriously thought director JACK O’BRIEN brought up Reagan in his speech, but in the pressroom, he smilingly tells me, “No, he was not in Henry IV.” As for future presidents, BILLY “Where’s my cue?” JOEL is saying that despite his name supposedly being used by some KERRY fundraiser invite, “I’m not gonna be playing like a trained monkey” (or even an ape).
But darling CAROL “C.LO” CHANNING is bringing up Reagan and somberly telling us, “He was a great president . . . [titters in the room] . . . of SAG.” Having just dizzily duetted with L.L. Cool J, she’s also insisting, “Everybody loves rap. It’s like being in love—which I am!” (with that old dress, I guess). Avenue Q book writer JEFF WHITTY tells me he loves dancing; in fact he was a go-go boy at the Park, “and I was working there one night when you walked under me.” “Oh yes,” I say, “I remember your scrotal sac.” “I was wearing overalls!” he insists. Anyway, is he the first go-go boy to win a Tony? “No, I think ARTHUR LAURENTS,” he says, laughing.
On the show, fab PHYLICIA RASHAD is go-going nuts, giving such a cuckoo grande-dame acceptance speech that her first name, clearly, is God. Joining her in the clouds, NICOLE KIDMAN, of all people, is making a joke about how LIZA marries gays. In the pressroom, SEAN COMBS is saying stuff like “Raisin in the Sun has been the most less stressful thing I’ve ever done.” And about J.LO‘s newest marriage: “Congratulations to her, ’cause she’s my friend. I’m just a supportive type of guy.” (Another J.Lo query, though, and he snaps, “Next question.”) And then, after many more shots of Hugh’s wife, the Q gang victoriously takes the stage—I guess the voters actually saw the shows this year—to which Combs admiringly says, “Broadway folk have entourages too, I see.” Yeah, even the go-go boys.
And suddenly, after just three hours, it’s over—fuck! (Oh, sorry, MADONNA. The apology check is in the mail.) I’m going off to shove my hand up an Avenue Q star—a human one.
Moving on to a past Tony nominee, I love me some MERYL STREEP because, if anyone could grandiosely intone self-serving stuff like “As an actor . . . ” it’s huh, and she never does! It’s only people who were in That’s So Raven or CSI: Hoboken that spew such flouncy crapola. Meryl always strikes the right witty, mildly self-deprecating pose, and in fact, at the New Dramatists lunch in her honor, as an official read the list of every single one of her credits and awards (“You started with a small role in the movie Julia . . . “), Meryl looked like she wanted to die, but managed to smile graciously as if it was the most less stressful thing she’d ever done. As an artist, I love her.
Another legend, multi-Tony-winning CHITA RIVERA, generously submitted to my interrogation at a LGBT Center Q&A, offering an interesting surprise: “I’ve never been all straight. Everyone has their curveballs.” ¡Hola!
All gay, but not exactly award-ready is Adored: Diary of a Male Porn Star, about a smut phenomenon who opens minds (and legs) with his windswept charm. Alas, at the premiere, you could feel the energy in the room fizzle like a deflating hard-on when the Chelsea crowd realized the Italian film isn’t a trashy romp at all, but an overly tasteful art-house entry! As such, the flick does achieve a sort of dreamy elegance, but it quickly descends into banal soap operatics, with characters sobbing as they say stuff like, “He represents things I considered disgusting and dirty, but now I realize I should embrace and accept him! He’s a homosexual porn star!” (The flick, unsurprisingly, is wrapping up its limited run here. Fizzzzz.)
I’m hoping for gayer gay treatment in The Stepford Wives, which equates homosexual Republicans with bad haircuts. (By the way, Reagan’s lucky he’s not heaven-bound, because he’d be greeted there by all my dead friends holding bloodstained axes. He was never the president of FAG.) The beleaguered Stepford‘s unfavorable gossip began with a Daily News item last year about naughty Nicole’s supposedly erratic on-set behavior. The upshot, I hear, was an internal memo from executive producer RON BOZMAN saying that whoever leaked the item is full of shit and “as a result of this unfortunate incident, we are closing this set and all future sets to outside visitors.” Fine—but now they’ve apparently closed the screenings to me too!
Finally, in other why-are-they-remaking-my-favorite-flicks? news, I’m told that PETER JACKSON desperately wants original King Kong star FAY WRAY to say the last line in his retread, but she’s not convinced. As for the title role, I’m not gonna be playing like a trained monkey—and kindly don’t get a black person either. Deal?
Dear JOHN KERRY: Keep on standing back all slack-jawed and vague-ish, kid. Let DUBYA self-destruct with his empty, Stepfordy ravings about making the world safe from terror—other people’s, that is. Let the revelations keep coming—like how we were the terrorists in Abu Ghraib and how our lamented hero Pat Tillman was actually killed by our own other heroes in inept, I mean friendly, fire, not to mention how all of this was provoked by nonexistent weapons! (No wonder GEORGE TENET was canned, I mean stepped down for personal reasons.) And let Dubya’s continued hate crusade against gay marriage take an interesting turn as cynics melt at the sight of perfectly nice queers hugging (and flirting with Hugh Jackman) on TV and wonder how stealth-bombing this would be consistent with our self-appointed role as fiery freedom fighters.
Best of all, John, rejoice that the Repubs are coming to New York to cash in on 9-11 sentiment, seemingly unaware that initial traumatized support for Dubya has eroded to the point of revulsion. So sit tight, John. Remember, you pretty much sealed the nomination because of HOWARD DEAN‘s screaming jag. You can get the top job by default too! (Even without Billy Joel.)
Web Bonus, 06.10.04
Spies tell me that Jonathan Demme has tapped Wyclef Jean—who did the music for Demme’s documentary The Agronomist—to score his upcoming remake of The Manchurian Candidate, starring Denzel Washington and Meryl Streep. The jury’s way out on the flick, but at least the music should be good.