Last week, I emceed the party for the 3,000th episode of The Jerry Springer Show—disclosure: I was remunerated in ego gratification—mainly because it was a chance to revel in the fact that, unlike most of the show’s guests and viewers, I live in a home that doesn’t move. Jerry and I had worked together before, at a promo event tied to that Off-Broadway trailer park musical that, no doubt thanks to our efforts, closed a week later. This time—at Home, aptly enough—we did much better, though Jerry was as self-deprecating as ever, telling the crowd of boozy miscreants, “First of all, I apologize. I ruined the culture. I hope hell isn’t too hot because that’s clearly where I’m going.” I’m actually looking forward to showing off my hot bod all year round. But how punishable should a show be that, however toilety, has inspired a full-scale opera and now a 3-D art piece, CHARLES FAZZINO‘s Jerry Springer’s Wacky World, which happened to be unveiled that very night? Not at all! “It really depicts my life,” said Springer as he admiringly surveyed the artwork’s panorama of figures from his show and experiences, “which is depressing.” But Jerry did finally concede that his mobile-friendly program has actually done a little good. “Now that it’s seen all around the world,” he said, beaming, “those countries don’t want to take us over anymore!”
(By the way, off camera, Jerry happens to be a total pussycat, and one with culture yet. He told me he loves the wit of Countdown With Keith Olbermann, a tidbit that certifies he’s got good taste; I’m a regular on the show, and in fact if it were The Love Boat, I’d be CHARO.)
BETH, YOU IS MY WOMAN
Alas, Jerry Springer the Opera never made it to our shores—it always sounded better than the reverse idea, a daytime talk show based on Turandot. But there’s The Drowsy Chaperone, about a rumpled queen who sits around playing his old record of Valley of the Dolls, which magically springs to life in his living room. No, wait, that’s my story. The Drowsy Chaperone has a rumpled queen playing his old record of a ’20s musical called The Drowsy Chaperone, which magically etc., etc. (though he also gushes over the movie of The Music Man and pervily admits, “I had a craving for a young RONNIE HOWARD“). The show—as well as the show within the show—is cute, clever, and blithely inconsequential, but again, very cute, especially when the record skips or they put on the wrong record. At the opening-night party, BETH LEAVEL—who’s a scream as the title character (or actually, as Dame Beatrice Stockwell playing the title character)—told me it’s fun to take on two divas. “I bet Beatrice decided the show had to be named The Drowsy Chaperone or she wouldn’t do it,” she said, laughing. But Leavel, God bless her, made no such ultimatum.
If Tarzan could talk except in ape yelps, he would have demanded the title Tarzan, but they named the new musical such anyway and even gave him star billing and dreadlocks. By any name, I expected to flee this thing midway on a large vine, but I ended up finding it quite watchable in a bizarre Lion King–meets–Cirque du Soleil–meets- Prymate sort of way, complete with shadow puppets, anthropomorphic psychobabble (“You need tough love”), and inter-ape flirtations (“I haven’t seen you around here in a while”). Yes, there’s a downside. Jane now says “homo erectus” very quickly, I guess so as not to elicit giggles, and her dad’s remark about how such an erectus creature would raise his temperature is now mysteriously bye-bye. Also, whenever Tarzan ( JARED LETO look-alike JOSH STRICKLAND) sings, you hear someone warbling harmony offstage—maybe the same guy behind the curtain over at Jersey Boys. And worst of all, this show is that rare bird—a kazillion-dollar please-buy-the-mug-in-the-lobby Disney musical that’s a treatise against “human greed”!
But—you knew there’d be a but, and not just Tarzan’s—it’s also an ode to unconventional families. (It’s about the glory of apes raising humans, but it could also be read to refer to gays, single parents, or anything I feel like.) Also, the ROSIE O’DONNELL role in the movie—Teak the dykey ape—is now played by a campy black guy! And the aforementioned Strickland does very well in the impossible task of veering between quadruped and American Idol finalist. You might not go apeshit over this Tarzan, but at least it isn’t apeshit.
Revival-wise, The Caine Mutiny Court-Martial—a/k/a 20 Angry Men—is about whether it’s OK to impeach a leader who seems nuts. (Gee, that’s not relevant, is it?) Getting fresh air at intermission, I was so delirious that I then went into the wrong theater, the one with JULIA ROBERTS in Three Days of Rain! But even with a Caine ticket stub, I was swept right in, and so was my friend, who couldn’t find her stub at all. Hottest ticket of the year indeed! (Fortunately, we realized our boo-boo and went back to the right place, rather than mutiny Mutiny, which actually started revving; even Ross from Friends got better.)
Another rescuscitated oldie, The Faith Healer, starts with RALPH FIENNES rattling off the names of Welsh and Scottish villages he’s toured to—”Aberarder, Aberayron, Llangranog”—which instantly brings to mind Johnny Cash’s version of “I’ve Been Everywhere” (“Chicago, Fargo, Minnesota . . . “) and how they ruined it in Ring of Fire.
I could rattle off the names of 60 publicists who deserved acting awards at the Drama Desk nominees’ reception at Arte Café just for pretending they didn’t see me. Even more disconcertingly, award rivals MICHAEL CERVERIS (Sweeney Todd’s butcher) and HARRY CONNICK JR. (The Pajama Game‘s dreamboat) were chatting and getting along. This wasn’t good copy! “We just do that for the cameras,” Cerveris joked to me when I begged for an explanation. “Actually, I keep offering him a shave. I’m just a giving guy.”
He truly is—he even gave me his take on The Lieutenant of Inishmore, that dark-red comedy about the futility of terrorism, with more severed body parts than Sweeney Todd or even Abu Ghraib. “I went to see it at MTC on my night off,” Cerveris said, grinning. “I thought, ‘This will be a nice break.’ Oh, how wrong I was!” Cheering him up, a busload of tourists from Virginia applauded when they saw Cerveris in the theater, having just caught him in Sweeney. Judging from their taste in dramaturgy, Virginia is for lovers—of dismemberment.
WHAT’S UP, DOC?
But let me slice you pieces of some more sedate happenings. At a special screening of Sketches of Frank Gehry, the audience cracked up every time JULIAN SCHNABEL appeared on-screen looking like a capital-A Artiste in a white robe and sunglasses, with a dangling cigarette and a glass of brandy, but that only added to the film’s appreciation of offbeat structure.
But back to the appreciation of young homo erecti. At the PM Lounge party for
Ivana Trump‘s reality show, Ivana Young Man, I leeringly asked the famed divorcée, “What’s so great about a young man—the stamina?” “Don’t start,” she warned, smiling. “They are flexible,” she went on. “They’re more willing and able and they don’t bitch if I make them get into a tuxedo. They don’t complain about bad backs or bad knees. And they don’t need Viagra!” Don’t start.
No, wait, let’s not finish yet either. Does anyone think it’s adorable that the KATIE HOLMES affair was unveiled right before Tom started promoting War of the Worlds and the baby popped out just as he needed publicity for M:i:III? And it all backfired? Does anyone think it’ll be interesting to see how The View will do with two JOY BEHARs? (By the way, my source swears STAR JONES isn’t being renewed, despite Baba’s claiming otherwise.) Is anyone devastated that, while the new Q TV folks said I was off base in writing up the doomy nature of their more-misbegotten-than-ever enterprise, now they’re out of work and dough too? Who else thinks it’s cute that MARC JACOBS‘s boyfriend says stuff like “I don’t know why people are writing about me” while he goes around with a big tattoo of Jacobs’s world-famous name and gives interviews to HX? (And by the way, it’s an exclusive relationship? Uh-huh. But I like the kid.) Don’t you just love it that, at MICHAEL LUCAS‘s office (don’t ask), CHAD HUNT told me that fellow porn star AIDEN SHAW was smitten with him and apparently wanted an exclusive relationship, but it wouldn’t have worked out? (Bicontinental, for one thing). And does anyone think it’s bizarre that ANDERSON COOPER will talk about his mom, his dead brother, and his hair products, but not you know what? If he’s stayed publicly closeted because he doesn’t want to become the story or detract from his objectivity, blah blah blah, then why write a memoir and pose for Vanity Fair? Should Jerry and I reserve another berth way down there?