The skinny on Gwynnie? Welcome to Shallow Hal , a movie that purports to be a parable about how fat people should be accepted by our culture -but which ends up offending on two levels: first, by actually making sport of fat people; and second, by asserting that the true ideal of “inner beauty” is a spoiled, silly Spence girl (a.k.a. Gwyneth Paltrow ). Redeeming factors: The film’s other star , Jack Black , is an emerging comic force, and tonight’s screening and reception benefit the pediatric programs of St. Vincent’s, where Gwynnie apparently volunteers. Pull her aside and suggest that by showing her naked rump in Harper’s Bazaar and plowing through Hollywood’s B-list male thespians, she’s on the wobbly path to becoming the next Sally Kirkland.
[Screening, Chelsea West Cinema, 333 West 23rd Street, 7:30 p.m., reception follows, the Tonic, 108 West 18th Street, 10 p.m., 534-7290.]
You like Auster, I like oysters ! Wriggle into those $ 112 Earl Jean corduroys you bought in a mad rush to “stimulate the economy” and settle your fanny into the seats of the New School, where darklyhandsome(if slightlycrinkly) writer Paul Auster joins controversial lady intellectual Susan Sontag , thinking-woman’s sex object John Turturro and other New Yorkers who are very big in France as they tell New York stories. There will be big stacks of the new book Mr. Auster edited, a collection of stories from National Public Radio listeners titled I Thought My Father Was God and Other True Tales from NPR’s National Story Project . “It’s real life, isn’t it, presented in very raw, direct terms,” said Mr. Auster from the Park Slope love den he shares with babe novelist Siri Hustvedt and their perfect children. “As I’ve discovered, NPR reaches into almost every crevice of the United States … you have the back hills of Kentucky, rural, urban, old, young-most fairly well-educated, though I did get some stories that were illiterate.” Contrary to rumors, Mr. Auster will not be sharing how he watched the Twin Towers collapse from a Brooklyn stoop.
[Tishman Auditorium, the New School, 66 West 12th Street, 7 p.m., 800-709-4321.]
Remember canned food drives in your elementary school? Well, grown-ups do the same thing, they just have to be higher-concept about it-hence this evening’s “Canstruction” competition. The gist: People bring canned food, teams of architects and engineers will whip up impromptu canned-food structures, which will then be judged by the local-celebrity draw of Stanley Tucci ( Big Night ) and Steve Buscemi (actor whose lovable loser act -see Ghost World -was getting old … until it turned out he used to be a real firefighter and was down at ground zero helpin’ out, and not by just baking brownies); and then everything will be disassembled and distributed to the needy. Bring can openers. If you prefer platinum to aluminum , Samantha Boardman (nubile socialite, doctor and James Truman–dater ) and her rich pals on the council of the Museum of the City of New York co-chair a boozy bash and first viewing of the new second floor at Tiffany & Co. Watch with increasing horror as today’s strapping, aerobicized socialites try to act gamine and Audrey Hepburn–esque amid the Brazilian granite, African hardwood columns, beveled mirrors and piles of coldly glittering jewels.
[Canstruction, New York Design Center, 200 Lexington Avenue, 6 p.m., 679-9500, ext. 30; Cocktail party, Tiffany & Co., Fifth Avenue and 57th Street, 7 p.m., by invitation only, 230-6557.]
Knopf, Knopf: Who’s there? Tonight Sonny (“We Love Oprah”) Mehta , the poobah of the Knopf publishing house, clasps hands with original feminist temptress Gloria Steinem and welcomes guests at a soirée for former Smith College prez Jill Ker Conway , who has- brava! -polished off A Woman’s Education , the third volume of her absorbing memoirs.
[Cosmopolitan Club, 122 East 66th Street, 6:30 p.m., by invitation only, 617-772-9453.]
Tuleh, too late? If you’ve been dragged to the Upper West Side by one of those aggressive brunchers (truffle season starts tomorrow!), get your revenge by skipping out on the bill and buying up everything still remaining at Tuleh’s sample sale : frocks, trousers, separates, one-of-a-kind beaded items and a smattering of Manolos for those who feel it’s safe to walk in heels again.
[175 West 81st Street, No. 5C, noon, 595-3879.]
Everything went to hell in the late 1960’s, when white male writers began to think that their heroin addictions were pretty d*mned fascinating, don’t you think? You remember Jerry Stahl, who wrote a drug memoir called Permanent Midnight ? Or,if you’re like us, you remember how that wriggly little fellow Ben Stiller , trying to be a “serious actor” (mistake, though Zoolander may be more of a mistake), played Mr. Stahl in a movie? Well, now Mr. Stahl pops up again ( see brooding photo ) with a crime novel, Plainclothes Naked . First line: “Spongy buttocks exposed and wobbling …. ” Now that’s nice! Nevertheless, Benicio Del Toro (bad-boy actor), Anthony Bourdain (bad-boy chef), Nick Tosches (bad-boy biographer), Eric Bogosian (bad-boy performance artist) and Jonathan Ames (sex writer with strange prissy streak) all say they like it, so if you’re on the prowl for a black T-shirted, sideburned, scowling fellow, by all means go to Mr. Stahl’s reading tonight in the East Village.
[K.G.B., 85 East Fourth Street, 7 p.m., 505-3360.]
Docs go glam! The city’s doctors take their hands out of the buckets of ice water they’ve been submerging them in each night after a hard day of writing Cipro prescriptions and tighten their cummerbunds for a night of swank hobnobbing . Downtown at the Puck Building, it’s the Doctors of the World benefit, at which New York clinical psychologist Ian Miller gets a spiffy award. Uptown at the Pierre, it’s the American-Italian Cancer Foundation’s 20th-anniversary gala (best chance for white truffles ). A few blocks away at the Waldorf, Julie Andrews snaps up a medal of distinction at Lenox Hill Hospital’s Autumn Ball, which has a Gershwin theme.
[Doctors of the World, Puck Building, 295 Lafayette Street, 7:30 p.m., 226-9890, ext. 228; American-Italian Cancer Foundation, Pierre Hotel, Fifth Avenue and 61st Street, 7 p.m., 628-9090; Lenox Hill Autumn Ball, Waldorf-Astoria, 301 Park Avenue, 6:30 p.m., 434-2544.]
Sam, I am, Iman: It’s the eternal New York battle of the self-consciously low-key versus the unapologetically narcissistic ! Choice A: Astoria author Sam Lipsyte -whom we hear fronted a band called Dungbeetleat Brown University (but who didn’t, really?)-is fêted in a Chelsea gallery for his novel, The Subject Steve , about a guy with a mysterious terminal illness. Bonus dirty excerpt! “It felt good in my hand, throbbed there like some wounded bird you’ve just found in the woods.” John Cheever just wished he could write like that! Choice B: Proud hubby David Bowie hosts a party for his Somalian supermodel of a wife, Iman, who has written an homage to herself titled, naturally, I Am Iman . Bonus dirty excerpt: see photo.
[Sam Lipsyte, Greene Naftali Gallery, 526 West 26th Street, 6 p.m., by invitation only, 463-7770; Iman, Donna Karan New York, 819 Madison Avenue, 7 p.m., by invitation only, 564-6367, ext. 35.]
Sow some Oates: She writes about 27 novels a year -so it was only a matter of time before someone in this wacky “creative” town turned one of them into an opera . Black Water , based on the Joyce Carol Oates novella inspired by the Chappaquiddick scandal, opens tonight. Eight-Day Week intern Tamar Kaplan-Marans , who was bravely opening our mail with plastic gloves until her parents put a stop to the whole business, spoke to composer John Duffy , who said: “I had thought of doing an opera on Joe DiMaggio. I thought it would be like Othello . I tried to get writers, but they all wanted to do their own works. I lived on 70th Street at this time; it was a Saturday night, and I was reading The New York Times Book Review . I read a great review of Black Water , jumped out of bed and went to buy it. I wrote a letter to Joyce, and she also was not keen on the DiMaggio idea. She had a play about Thoreau and wanted it done, or wanted to take a Henry James work.” Oh, these damned intellectuals ! But she came to her senses and agreed that an opera about a political scandal was really the way to go-she even penned the libretto. “There are moments that sound like a Broadway show, and other moments that are very operatic,” said Mr. Duffy. “There is a chorus, a reggae dance, duets, trios, arias. It is not a very happy ending. But Butterfly, La Traviata and West Side Story don’t end happy, either.” Well, if it doesn’t work out, there’s always Thoreau.
[Cooper Union Great Hall, 7 East Seventh Street, 7:30 p.m. discussion with Ms. Oates,
performance to follow, 279-4200.]
It wouldn’t be autumn in New York without the warm, auburn-haired, politically palatable, sensibly-single-yet-solidly-attached, sexy-maternal presence of actress Susan Sarandon at a bazillion small-scale benefits in “hip” little pockets of town. Tonight she accepts an “Inspiration Award” from fellow Oscar winner Marcia Gay Harden at the Lower Eastside Girls Club’s Willow Awards ; admittance is a mere $85, and the dress code is “Hi-Lo Couture” -that means midriffs, sister girlfriends!
[Eyebeam Atelier, 540 West 21st Street, 7:30 p.m., 982-1633, more information on girlsclub.org.]