Award–Winning Fishy Business
It’s all about awards lately!
To start, we hit the 15th Broadway Gypsy of the Year Competition at the Palace Theatre, benefiting Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, hosted by JULIE HALSTON and MARIO CANTONE. Members of Broadway shows battle it out––prancing, dancing, singing, and tossing barbs––for best presentation and which cast raises the most bucks during a six-week period. “It all began as a way for the chorus boys and girls to come out,” said Cantone of the competition. “It’s all about inclusion, unlike the St. Patrick’s Day Parade.”
Cantone also channeled Liza Minnelli, joking about the wedding to David Gest and that open-mouthed kiss. “I got sucked into his stomach, into his large intestine, and out of his asshole,” Minnelli/Cantone recalled, “looked up at the priest and said I do.”
ROSIE O’DONNELL, part of “Taboo”’s act, hurled insults from the audience at BOY GEORGE (decked out in a Marilyn Manson meets Shirley Temple ensemble), then got onstage. “What is this shit?” O’Donnell bellowed at O’Dowd. “Entice them! I have 17 fucking Emmy Awards, get off the stage. We need a show doctor.”
As for Taboo-hating Post critic MICHAEL REIDEL? “He can eat me.” Then she tossed free stuff into the audience. Nothing to eat––just T-shirts. “Screw the critics, we’re going to be here forever. It’s a very gay show, I’m a lesbian, you’ll love it. Come!”
One of the male puppets from “Avenue Q” joked about Hugh Jackman: “He gives me wood!” HARVEY FIERSTEIN was quite taken with Jackman as well, feeling him all over. Fellow award presenter BERNADETTE PETERS wanted a piece of the action: “It’s my turn,” and buried her curlicue head into Jackman’s chest. Jackman was a sport—though sexual harassment charges may surface later—and jumped on Harvey, wrapping his legs around his waist. When it was announced that “Boy from Oz” had come in first place with $638,998, Jackman joked that he didn’t have to work hard for it “apart from having sex with 30 women and 6 boys.” Altogether, a record $3,359,500 was raised.
Likely a Tony contender, “I Am My Own Wife,” opened at the Lyceum Theatre, a one-actor play based on the true life of “Berlin’s own Granny Tranny” CHARLOTTE VON MAHLSDORF, who survived the SS, the Stasi, skinheads, and managed to run a gay and lesbian bar/cabaret out of her home for 30 years beginning in the Weimar era. Written by DOUG WRIGHT (“Quills”) based on his interviews with the real McCoy, and directed by MOISES KAUFMAN, Charlotte and 30-some additional characters are all played superbly and seamlessly by JEFFERSON MAYS. At the Supper Club afterparty, we spotted MARTHA STEWART looking fab, RENEE FLEMING, beau FRANK LANGELLA, MIKE WALLACE, CINDY ADAMS, RICHARD TURLEY, and Centenarian society dame BROOKE ASTOR (the producer’s mum). Kaufman described Charlotta as “the story of the 20th century. How do we survive regimes that are oppressive? By maintaining our integrity.” Kaufman should know––“I grew up Jewish and gay in a Latino Catholic country!”
Eurovision Song Contest winner “Diva” DANA INTERNATIONAL became a transsexual superstar in Israel and is now touring the USA, and we caught her concert at the Beacon. She sang “Superman” and joked that she wished she had a real one to call on the phone and request that he catch Saddam and Bin Laden. She may be a prophet––or half a one at least––but she’s not living up to her closing song’s title, “I Am a Woman in Love.” “No, I wish I was, I have no time for a career and love.” Dana told us. “When I’m in love nothing else is important, I give up everything.” What would she like for Hanukkah? “I want to be healthy, I want G-d to guide me to be happy and satisfied with what I have.” Not a very diva-like answer, but she did admit to enjoying and wanting good books, good films, and good sex. Viva la Diva!
We’d like to bestow an award upon the “Big Fish” premiere party, which saw the Hammerstein Ballroom transformed into a grand circus-y spectacle. We filled up our plates with comfort foods––mac and cheese, roast beef, mashed potatoes, and even a hot dog or two (when a cute guy offers you a wiener with a wink and a smile, you don’t say no!). We spotted DANNY DEVITO, TIM BURTON, HELENA BONHAM CARTER, “X-Woman” FAMKE JANNSEN, STEVE BUSCEMI, and star EWAN MCGREGOR. Unfortunately, McGregor wasn’t chatting––“I’m here to enjoy myself,” he politely noted, blowing off a Us Magazine writer and clearly enjoying the sight of a lady in leather hot pants and half-halter literally whipping someone into shape (he made a gesture to her “assets”).
A handful of homos were behind this “Fish,” including Oscar-winning producer Bruce Cohen. So what sorts of things does Cohen like big? “My movies and stories, and my life,” he responded, forgoing our sordid bait. His next big project: “We’re shooting a Julianne Moore movie called ‘The Forgotten.’” Does Moore cry a lot in it? ‘She’s in a little peril,” he grinned. “But she doesn’t cry a LOT in this.”
Don’t cry for “Big Fish” screenwriter John August, who landed the plum job of script chores on the “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” project. Burton will direct and JOHNNY DEPP will star as Willy Wonka in. So what does August like big? “Oh––definitely big hearts. I found one! I’m happily settled down for three years.”
Eager for even more fish, we joined TONI COLLETTE for lunch at Blue Fin. Collette was in town promoting “Japanese Story,” a performance-driven piece in which she plays an Aussie geologist having an affair with a young Japanese businessman in the outback desert. Incidentally, Colette literally wears the pants in this sexual relationship. Asked if she felt “lost in translation” during production with her Japanese costar, Collette responded, “No, I don’t think I was. It was pretty intense. The film is emotionally driven. This was set in a very inspirational place, the desert. I thought this could be quite honest. Very subtle, intense emotions.” Not always subtle ourselves, we asked if Collette got a look at how “gifted” her male costar was. As in how “gifted” McGregor revealed himself to be in “Pillow Book” and “Velvet Goldmine”––if he’d gone buff in “Big Fish,” they probably could have used another noun after the Big. “I don&Mac226;t think I saw him naked,” she admitted after some blank stares, and then fled with her handsome hubby.
That evening, amidst a snowy blizzard, we visited a “House of Sand and Fog.” At the film’s pre-premiere reception––publicist JEFF HILL told us you don’t exactly feel like partying after this superb flick about an Iranian immigrant family and depressed American woman who come to blows over a house––we ran into star, SIR BEN KINGSLEY. “It’s quite wonderful how the film is like a Greek tragedy,” he opined. “Bringing people together through circumstances. A war under one roof.” Kingsley adds Iranian to the ethnicities and nationalities he’s played in films including “Gandhi” (Indian), “Schindler’s List” (Jewish European), and “Lenin: The Train” (Russkie). Describing himself as “a storyteller,” the English-born Kingsley responded to our question about which nationality he most enjoys playing. “British!” he grinned. That’s a Sir for you!
At the screening, which left audience members stunned in somber silence, we spotted star JENNIFER CONNELLY and hubby PAUL BETTANY holding their baby, MICHAEL MUSTO, Bruce Cohen, JAMES LIPTON, and BRYAN BANTRY. When asked if he liked fatherhood, Bettany replied “Yeah, I love it” with a huge grin as he paced the aisles, baby in arms. The kid howled each time he put his ass to the seat till mommy arrived—was it the calming scent of mother’s milk?
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