Banana-rama! No, we’re not talking about the 80’s girl group whose “Cruel Summer” will be dragged out any day now, nor late spring’s 1,000-calorie fruit smoothies. We’re simply trying to make some sense out of tonight’s fruity nightlife menu, beginning with a party for a book called Cranberry Queen, a novel by a lady named Kathleen DeMarco (see winsome photo), published by Talk Miramax Books. Ms. DeMarco’s day job? She’s John Leguizamo’s producing partner! That must be wacky! The plot: a thirtysomething professional woman faced with more than she can bear-boring dot-com job, boorish ex-boyfriend, relatives felled in car accident-flees to New Jersey’s Pine Barrens, where she finds respite amidst the cranberry bogs (squish, squash). Bonus excerpt: “Suddenly Jack crouches next to me. I hold my breath, he is so close. Then he puts his hand in the murky water and pulls out something wriggling, long, skinny, wet, flailing. Oh my God. He’s holding a snake.” How’s that for subtle Freudian symbolism? It’s no wonder they’re already calling Talk Miramax Books the “Knopf of the new millennium.” Meanwhile, in midtown, S.U.V. backlash continues apace with a benefit for the Rainforest Alliance. Fourteen-year-old California dreamer Sarah Yamina Ifrah will get a big, bulbous Green Globe award for persuading her family and friends to make donations to the Alliance for her bat mitzvah (a nice gesture that certainly won’t hurt the Brown application). Also getting a big, bulbous prize: Chiquita Brands International, for apparently making its banana farms kinder, gentler places to work. Bring a machete.
[Kathleen DeMarco, somewhere top-secret and high-ceilinged in Tribeca, 6:30 p.m., by invitation only, but just RSVP in a trembling voice to 641-3552 as "Harvey Weinstein's intern" and waltz right in; Rainforest Alliance, Cipriani 42nd Street, 110 East 42nd Street, 7 p.m., 677-1900.]
B.A.M.-arama? O.K., you’ve heard the expression “bridge-and-tunnel crowd”-but let’s take it to another level. What if you’re “bridge-and-tunnel” in the opposite direction? Like you’re a Manhattanite who ventures out to Williamsburg, Cobble Hill, Fort Greene, etc., for the occasional bit of “edgy culture” because, as you sniff, “Manhattan has gotten so sterile”? How do you think Brooklyn residents feel about going to their local Thai restaurant on a Saturday night, only to be confronted by long lines of the same fidgety, chain-smoking, crispy-haired strivers they moved to Brooklyn to flee? Anyway, tonight former firefighter Steve Buscemi, the Baldwin brother of the indie set (and who, bless him, has lived in Brooklyn for years), screens his most recent movie, Animal Factory. Afterward he fields questions with the film’s star, the thin-lipped Willem Dafoe. Meanwhile, a more conventional “bridge-and-tunnel” process is taking place back in Manhattan, as thinking woman’s sex object Jonathan Lethem (author, Motherless Brooklyn) hits Housing Works’ annual spring cocktail party; The Observer’s own Ron Rosenbaum is co-hosting! Cost of admission is a new or used book. Bring last night’s copy of Cranberry Queen-or, wait a sec, this just in: Esquire, which won a National Magazine Award but now seems to be desperately channeling Maxim, is having a party with Kim Cattrall and a bunch of sniggering ambisexual men for a new book called Esquire’s Things a Man Should Know About Sex! Hey, boys, if you have to ask ….
[Steve Buscemi and Willem Dafoe, B.A.M. Rose Cinemas, 30 Lafayette Avenue, Brooklyn, 6:30 p.m. screening, Q&A to follow, 718-832-3052; Housing Works, 126 Crosby Street, 6:30 p.m., by invitation only, 334-3324; Esquire, Man Ray, 147 West 15th Street, 7 p.m., by invitation only, 649-4169.]
If you crave the stale air, exorbitant two-drink minimum and trapped feeling of a comedy club, you’re in luck, baby! Today, the Toyota Comedy Festival-the “funny” version of last month’s New Yorker tour de torture-rolls into town with yuks for all, including the inevitable Janeane Garofalo and friends at Fez on the 5th, Mystery Science Theater and Al Franken panels on the 8th, culminating in a big Friars’ Club roast of Richard Belzer on the 9th. Get your tickets now …. Meanwhile, at the Film Forum, it’s a festival our big-cheese editor can live with: brazen female film stars of the 1930’s! (See photo still of Joan Crawford in Rain. Those were her sassy, pre–Mildred Pierce days, before she got all gloomy, shoulder-padded and melodramatic, proving once again that everyone prefers a hussy.)
[Comedy Festival, various times and venues, 888-33-TOYOTA; Pre-Code Festival, Film Forum, 209 West Houston Street, 727-8110.]
Stay home and stare, somewhat alarmed, at the garden your green-thumbed Precious planted on the fire escape before jetting off to Los Angeles (now brown and chewed up by the cat) …. Or, if you’re feeling brave, call up another fella (why not?) and take him to stop and smell the Bronx, where the New York Botanical Garden is kicking off Rose Week-kind of like if The New Yorker festival were all John Updike, all the time. There will be 2,700 rose plants of 250 cultivars in 83 beds, plus a gazebo with climbing roses. Petal pushers Michael Ruggiero and Ken Molinari will share rose-care tips! If you’re in the Hamptons trawling for goody bags, or just bags: Coach, the preferred line of purses for the would-be haute bourgeois, has lured Heidi Klum (model who likes to talk about her butt), sociable youngster Casey Johnson and Liev Schreiber to “kick off” summer (watch out for stray mules) at the house of some fellow named Rodney Propp. Brace yourself to fight for drinks with the entire staff of Gotham.
[Peggy Rockefeller Rose Garden, New York Botanical Garden, 10 a.m., 718-817-8700 for directions; Coach, Rodney Propp's house, somewhere in Bridgehampton, 917-351-8600.]
Two Tonies: Is Sunday the new Thursday? Only if you’re a) Jewish or b) in the thea-tuh. Get out your shawls and your big, jangly turquoise necklaces, because Native American jewelry collectors David and Chaya Saity are being honored by the Jewish National Fund for their contributions to not just jewelry, but Jewry. Somewhere, Gilda Radner is smiling. Your presenters: Lenny Kravitz (half-Jewish, favors chunky jewelry) and nubile ‘Cliffie Natalie Portman! Your host: the absolutely, positively indefatigable Tony Randall. Later, Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick preside over their own show’s sweep of the Tony Awards.
[David and Chaya Saity, Center for Jewish History, 15 West 16th Street, 5 p.m. reception, entertainment to follow, 879-9305, ext. 502; Tony Awards, Radio City Music Hall, stay home and watch them live on Channel 13 starting at 8 p.m., then switch to Channel 2 at 9.]
If the Met can show Jackie’s schmatte and call it art, why can’t Sotheby’s stage a special tribute to Ally McBeal’s costume designer? New York Women in Film & Television and Daily Variety throw a tribute to costume designers Carol Oditz, who came up with that big orange parka for the excellent 1997 movie version of the Rick Moody novel The Ice Storm (note a pre–West Wing Allison Janney in a superb supporting role), and Yana Syrkin, who just did her last episode of Ally McBeal. Ms. Syrkin, a Russian immigrant, called from Los Feliz. “David Kelley rocks!” she said between bites of leftover Indian food. “The girls and I have this amazing trust. I do everything for Lucy Liu. I met Sting on the Ally McBeal episode and he’s taken me in and I’m a part of the entourage. I am doing his tour, the concert, private styling, and I just did his video. Robert [Downey Jr.] and I became best friends with it! There’s not one actor that I don’t feel is a part of me. But the bottom line is that we’re a bunch of freaks with not enough circuses-it’s hard to find a circus for every freak.” Sing it, sister! “Party attire” is suggested: Go as your favorite anorexic. And then you won’t even have to change when you head to Tatler’s party for its new cover girl, Lauren Bush, a niece or something of W. We believe she’s a “category model,” kind of along the lines of Ivanka Trump. Hey, if Tatler comes here, does that mean we can get rid of Talk?
[Designing Hollywood, Sotheby's, 1334 York Avenue, 6:30 p.m., 679-0870; Lauren Bush, the Globe, 373 Park Avenue South, 7 p.m., by invitation only, 228-5555.]
Gala gridlock! On the West Side, the thinking Gen.-Yer’s performer, Macy Gray, joins non-thinking Gen. Y acts Destiny’s Child and ‘N Sync at a benefit for the Candie’s Foundation, hosted by Gen. X “funny” sex symbol Jenny McCarthy. What it’ll cost ya: $1,000 for complete access and the chance to bid on auction items donated by Mlle. Spears and the like. (We’ll go out on a limb and say there won’t be any truffle slicers.) P.S.: Does anyone else find it slightly odd that Candie’s, the company that makes those slutty clogs, has a foundation to educate teens about the consequences of teenage pregnancy? Just asking …. Meanwhile, on the East Side, there’s a benefit for the Bronx Museum of the Arts, co-chaired by the editors in chief of Smock and Vibe magazines-though they are chickening out and having it not in the actual Bronx, but rather the Sherry-Netherland Hotel. If you really want to work that reverse bridge-and-tunnel angle, girlfriend, head to the Queens Museum of Art Gala-in Queens-where there will be a surprise honoree (this is a big week for surprises!): a former player for the New York Mets. Bring Brendan Lemon.
[Candie's Foundation, Roseland, 239 West 52nd Street, 7 p.m., concert and after-party to follow, 532-1809; Bronx Museum of the Arts, Sherry-Netherland Hotel, 783 Fifth Avenue, 6 p.m., 718-681-6000, ext. 133; Queens Museum of Art, Terrace on the Park Penthouse, Flushing Meadows, 6:30 p.m., 718-592-9700.]
Al Roker eats! If you’re sick of Art Cooper and all those smoky nights at Elaine’s trying to recapture the smoky nights at Elaine’s in the 1970’s, try Al Roker at midday! (Just make sure you drink your coffee first.) Today, the cuddly weatherman and author of Don’t Make Me Stop This Car: Adventures in Fatherhood hits a lunch to celebrate his new gig as the monthly columnist for Parents magazine. Burp.
[Shelly's New York, Penthouse Ballroom, third floor, 104 West 57th Street, noon, by invitation only (but come dressed in a yellow slicker and red galoshes and squeak right by!), 499-1604.]