It’s still August?! We’re running out of anti-frizz hair product, running out of thirtysomething reruns, running out of patience with the epidemic of butt cleavage, and running out of the office promptly at 5:59 p.m. to fling ourselves into a big vat of frozen margaritas …. Which brings us to cleft-chinned actor Ben Affleck (hic!), who spends his 29th birthday today in rehab in Malibu, and jolly cooking personality Julia Child, who turns 89 today and still holds her liquor like a champ. Meanwhile, there’s the Barneys “warehouse” sale, with its many bins of sweaters, which opens officially to the public tomorrow morning-though we suspect there’s a secret pre-party for the sale tonight. If you can’t crash, you can still buy yourself a social life at the New York Junior Tennis League’s “Summer Gala with the Stars” (benefits itself, the Arthur Ashe Endowment and the Little League Baseball Emergency Fund) at the Central Park Boathouse, from which you’ll be able to overhear the distant strains of people whooping it up at The Seagull. Who are the “stars” of the gala? You got Pam Shriver (played tennis back when it was a sport and not an R-rated venue for midriff-exposing teenagers) and-this just in!-“Alec Baldwin is coming,” said a flack. “He plays some tennis.” Helps to work off the Chunky Monkey.
[Barneys warehouse sale, 255 West 17th Street, officially starts tomorrow at 8 a.m., 339-7300; Summer Gala with the Stars, the Boathouse in Central Park at 72nd Street, 7 p.m., 718-786-7110.]
Now we know why Knopf isn’t throwing any fancy book parties this summer-the party fund went toward the $10 million the publishing house is throwing at Bill Clinton’s memoir (which has already spawned two New York Times Op-Ed humor pieces: a good one by Maureen Dowd and a snoozy one by Christopher Buckley) …. But book-party crashers, take heart: Running Press is stepping up to the plate, forking up for one whole hour of free wine to fête Arcade Fever: The Fan’s Guide to the Golden Age of Video Games. “The research was awesome!” said author John Sellers (30 and single, “but not because of video games”) from Brooklyn. “It’s a nostalgic look back at games we used to play when we were kids, like Atari 2600. I would say that the Golden Age is technically 1978-83, but I expand it to the first Nintendo thing that came out. That was the beginning of the end; it just became, ‘Let’s eat Funyons and play in our living room.'” What have video games done for him? “I’m not going to analyze if I’ve become a better person, but I would guess that yes, I have. It was either going be that or playing baseball …. I can certainly kick anyone’s ass on Donkey Kong.” Beats us why you’re single!
[CBGB's downstairs lounge, 313 Bowery, 7 p.m., free wine stops at 8 p.m., by invitation only, 800-810-4145.]
You know that moviedom has reached a sad, sad state indeed when Ghost World is considered the genius indie masterpiece of the summer. Normally we can count on Woody Allen for succor (we’re not one of those annoying people who likes to say how he stopped making good movies in 1979), but this time, with The Curse of the Jade Scorpion, a 1940’s period piece about an insurance-claims investigator, he’s really testing our faith: Elizabeth Berkley, Charlize Theron and Helen Hunt in one film? That’s a lotta blonde … missing Mia, perhaps? And the fact that there isn’t a schmancy New Yorker–sponsored premiere (not that we’d be invited anyway, hel-lo) also gives one pause. Also the fact that-this just in-the release of the movie, which was supposed to happen today, has been put off till next week. But The Eight-Day Week caught a preview and, you know, it’s not bad!
Hamptons goes “Latin” … ¡Olé! But first, get out your big bats for the annual Artists & Writers Softball Game, that supposedly relaxed affair-watch Mort Zuckerman hop-hop-hop around the bases like a silly bunny!-which is really a damp, nervous outfield of ambition …. Like any Hamptons event, there are corporate sponsors-Details magazine (apparently still publishing; keep up the good work, ladies!) and French’s mustard-but at least the game benefits good causes: the Retreat shelter for battered women, the East End Hospice and the East Hampton Day Care Center. “So far confirmed are Ed Burns, Billy Baldwin, Chevy Chase, Mayor Giuliani,” said French’s spokeswoman Sharon Manuel. “And Chuck Schumer, George Plimpton, Lori Singer”-question: Does a celebrity still count as a celebrity when her last hit movie was Footloose?-“and a lot of people from NBC. We’re providing all the hot dogs, buns, as well as the mustard.” Keep Details editor Dan Peres away from the franks; he’s trying to lose a paunch … and if Billy’s older bro Alec stops by, for gosh sake someone turn off the fryer! Then it’s a nice hot shower, a dusting of powder and a choice between the Hamptons International Film Festival’s “Cuban Rhythm” benefit (watch sexy-sleazy Michael Douglas do the rumba!), or the Animal Rescue Fund (A.R.F.)’s “Bow Wow Brazil” benefit (watch socialite Aerin Lauder Zinterhofer samba!).
[Artists & Writers game, Herrick Field, East Hampton, warm-up starts at 3 p.m.; Cuban Rhythm, Nova Ark Project, Bridgehampton, 7 p.m., 946-4543; Bow Wow Brazil, at the home of Mrs. Neil McConnell, Southampton, 7 p.m., 631-537-0400, ext. 208.]
Picnic with Portnoy! The clock is ticking on our dream of stuffing a canvas duffel bag with gingham frocks and installing ourselves at the MacDowell Colony in New Hampshire, where, in between nibbling sweetmeats and furtive, sweaty embraces with our fellow artistes, we’d tap out a wee book of short stories about our fancy Ivy League education, be declared literature’s most promising new ingénue, and join the other ingénues who have turned up of late in Vaseline-lensed soft-core photos in The New Yorker …. But hey, we-and any other slob-can still take the train up to Peterborough, have some pasta salad and watch William Styron hand the reclusive Philip Roth the 2001 Edward MacDowell Medal in Literature. Bring Mr. Roth some homemade ice cream.
[Presentation ceremony, 12:15 p.m., the MacDowell Colony, 100 High Street, Peterborough, N.H., 800-308-3392.]
Condé Nast gamines fluff up their coiffures, sneak a few Rice Krispies treats and broken Xanax tablets into the pockets of their miniskirts, and go catch gamine Leslie Caron in the Bryant Park Film Festival’s last gasp of the season, the splendid 1951 Gene Kelly musical An American in Paris. Our big-cheese editor just sent the last summer intern out for “a baguette, a good Brie and a nice, heady Pouilly Fumé, but not one so precocious that I want to spank it.”
[43rd Street and Sixth Avenue, lawn opens at 5 p.m., 512-5700.]
“I was downsized!” said author Melissa de la Cruz, 29, former computer programmer. “It sucks. I worked through the ’92-’93 recession; I thought I was invincible.” Luckily, when she wasn’t computer programming, she banged out a novel, Cat’s Meow. “It’s a cross between Absolutely Fabulous and Eloise on speed. It’s about a wannabe socialite fashionista who’s perennially on the B-list and is trying to climb her way up New York’s social ladder by snagging the exiled, eyepatch-wearing prince of Estonia, and to do so she adopts a Chinese orphan, she tries to get a job at Vogue and fails, and she’s bankrupt. It’s like Bijou Phillips- like when she was doing all those crazy things like urinating on the dance floor-and the Hilton sisters. I just kind of stalk people! I went up to Jay McInerney once and told him he was the reason I moved to New York, and he kind of said, ‘Oh, that’s great-could you move over so I can take a picture of Irina?’ I am definitely the insider’s outsider. I am the most starstruck kind of celebrity addict.” Don’t knock yourself, kid, you probably made Mr. McInerney’s day-in fact, why not give him a call now and invite him to your book party tonight? He’s become quite the oenophile …. Or if you wanna stargaze, skip your own book party and crash the premiere of O, that modern adaptation of Othello with Mekhi Phifer, Josh Hartnett and moon-faced Julia Stiles from Save the Last Dance (not to be confused with look-alike Erika Christensen, the teenage drug addict in Traffic).
[Cat's Meow book party, Eugene, 27 West 24th Street, 6:30 p.m., by invitation only, 698-4665; O premiere, Union Square Theatre, 850 Broadway, 8 p.m., after-party to follow, the Park, 118 10th Avenue, by invitation only, 917-351-8615.]
Five short days until the U.S. Open, that big sporting event where David Dinkins whiled away the afternoons as Crown Heights burned, and where the current Mayor has never been, apparently because he thinks tennis is too prissy-but coming from an opera buff who gets off by dressing in women’s clothing, we think he’s one to talk! Let’s hope Jennifer Capriati gives everybody the whomping they deserve; we’re scrubbing out the thermos in plenty of time for our Precious to perfect his sangría recipe!