Lately, it’s been a World of Wonder world and we just ker-plotz on the couch watching it. The heady heads of that L.A.-based production company, my old cohorts RANDY BARBATO and FENTON BAILEY, seem to have developed a near monopoly on pop-culture cable shows that plumb the depths and heights of our childhood fixations and fears.
They recently served up The Hidden Führer for Cinemax, positing the thesis that Hitler may have killed gays, but hey, he fucked ’em too. (“We were expecting to show up at our building afterwards and find that it was bombed,” Barbato tells me. “It provoked a great dialogue.” And some twisted fantasies too—from, um, other people.) For Trio, they’ve produced Flops 101: Lessons From the Biz about real bombs to worry about. (“Cop Rock, Taboo, Seussical,” says Barbato. “All our favorite things.”) And they recently uncorked Showbiz Moms & Dads for Bravo, but Barbato swears the trip to Mama Rose-land wasn’t terrifying, “it was delicious. I think it’s better to pay lots of attention to your children than neglect them. It’s better to feed your kids pixie sticks for breakfast than nothing at all!” Honey, feed me cut glass for all I care, just make me a li’l star already!
Feeding us pixie dust, the current gay media mania has helped propel World of Wonder (who last year brought you the feature film Party Monster) to even giddier levels of cable-box visibility. In the biz, says Barbato, “fears about the scary gays have transformed in their desire to exploit the scary gays, which is leading to other potential problems like that Fox reality show [the quickly canceled Seriously, Dude, I’m Gay]. But all in all it’s a good thing and it taps into our natural sensibility.” And my unnatural sensibility.
To help them with their scandal-soaked projects, the WOW-sers have hired lavender legends like STEPHEN SABAN, GABRIEL ROTELLO, and JAMES ST. JAMES, making their office, Barbato says, like a gigantic nightclub. An ’80s one? “Yeah, instead of poppers, we have wheelchairs.” Next up they’ll produce Inside Deep Throat, a documentary about the ramifications of the 1972 porn flick in which Linda Lovelace found she had a clit (instead of a brain) in her mouth. And though WOW no longer manages velvet-throated RUPAUL—long story—Barbato’s thrilled that Ru is poised for a musical comeback. Meanwhile, if they ever do Fops 101: Lessons From the Jizz, I’m ready for my close-up, kids.
BROADWAY’S GOLDEN SHOWER
I was braced for some real Norma Desmonds at the Sardi’s party for the documentary Broadway: The Golden Age, where, to get a good table, I used musical star GRETCHEN WYLER‘s line from the movie, “Tell them who I used to be!” Sure enough, a parade of Poli-Gripped legends turned up, and finally I was the young one in the room again (and as awestruck as Hitler on Fire Island). BEN GAZZARA brazenly pushed past me at the bar, screeching “Gin! Gin!” Movie icon FARLEY GRANGER told me, “The first show I saw was Annie Get Your Gun. I went crazy. I couldn’t believe it was going on in front of me.” (He meant with Ethel Merman, not SUSAN LUCCI.) And relative newie PETER JACKSON told me, when asked, that he’s not a Broadway queen, as it were: “I’ve never known much about it.” I gleefully told Jackson (who’s remaking King Kong) about Prymate, this year’s bomb show about an AIDS-infected ape, and he looked mildly appalled. Sorry—I am a Broadway queen, as it were.
Best of all, Oscar winner CELESTE HOLM showed and was utterly delightful, but when I asked her if a gossip report that she fell ill during a screening of BERTO-LUCCI‘s raunchy The Dreamers was true, an oily DAVID GEST-type guy jumped in with, “Where are you from again? No, that’s not true! That was bad journalism. That’s all there is to be said about that.” Well, couldn’t the legendary Holm answer for herself? “I’m her husband and business partner,” he shot back, ka-chinging. “Her health is fine. She’s doing an autobiography, a cabaret act, and a children’s book.” Holm looked at me with pleading eyes and said, “He’s smarter than I am.” He’s also a little younger—he’s 41, she’s 85. Watch out, ASHTON and DEMI!
Back in the current golden age of Broadway, I’m delighted that all four female acting categories at the Tonys were won by people of color (though, admittedly, one of them is green).
But a giant rainbow—and some gin! gin!—awaited when GRAHAM NORTON celebrated his Comedy Central chat show The Graham Norton Effect at Canal Room and was thrilled to see his image gracing large trays dotted with hors d’oeuvres. “They’re eating off my face,” the Brit kook exclaimed. (And they probably have clits in their mouths.) Norton and I promptly got to work dissecting all the important things, like what JULIA ROBERTS should name her twins. (I think Lemon and Lime, but Norton feels that, since their surname will be Moder, they should be Gas and Crank. I don’t know; Crank sounds more like a WHITNEY HOUSTON kid.)
As for JENNIFER LOPEZ NOA JUDD ANTHONY‘s shotgun wedding, he said, “Is MARC ANTHONY even the father of the baby? Well, in any case, at least he was there.” (My own viewpoint: The broad won’t abort the baby because she’s an old-fashioned Catholic girl? Yeah, an old-fashioned Catholic girl with a new husband every two weeks!) And moving from baby CULO to EMINEM‘s bare butt, Norton asked me, “Where have we seen that ass before?” I don’t know, but I love this datalounge.com post: “It’s tan, smooth, and hairless. What a total fag!” (Meanwhile, someone on the same site reports that COLIN FARRELL‘s dick shot has been cut from A Home at the End of the World. Too distracting, you know.)
Finally, the deadpan comedy Napoleon Dynamite celebrates dickheads, but within limits (spoiler ahead). A character who comes off like a total mincing queen and is even given several gay-subtext moments ends up finding complete happiness, natch, with his female chat room love! Chalk one up for the fears about the scary gays.
Rubenstein Associates’ 50th-anniversary party at Tavern on the Green proved that most publicists are way better connected than at least one columnist. At my own birthday bashes, I generally attract a few club nightmares, some sex offenders, and maybe a supporting actor from Cop Rock, Taboo, or Seussical. But spin chefs at Rubenstein drew our governor and mayor, a major cardinal, and HILLARY RODHAM CLINTON, who jauntily said, “I’m told that HOWARD RUBENSTEIN is a master at getting people out of personal problems in the media. I wouldn’t know anything about that!”
Moving on to one columnist who does count: I adore New York Times theater critic BEN BRANTLEY, but I must say the rapscallion can be a little predictable when he singles out one actor, usually female, and rhapsodizes over her for six lip-smacking graphs. He exults over her cough, her swoon, her lower lip, her scalp. He pants over her singular brilliance—and her knees—then claims that everything else in the show, and in fact the entire world, eats caca, especially when the aforementioned star is not onstage. But I repeat: I think Ben’s magical. I love his ankles! (Postscript: IDINA MENZEL‘s green copping of the Tony gold may have actually been fueled by sympathy that started when Ben dismissed her performance after multiple graphs orgasming over co-star KRISTIN CHENOWETH. Trust my unimportant opinion: They’re both amazing.)