Sprrrring -a-ding-ding! Yep, ’tis the season when New Yorkers take to shivering at outdoor café tables, squeaky basketball starts to be edged out by sleepy baseball, and superannuated actors crawl out of hibernation to do charming local gigs …. Today, former Cybill Shepherd sidekick Christine Baranksi reads from two John Guare plays, The Loveliest Afternoon of the Year and A Day for Surprises , at the somewhat beleaguered National Arts Club . The playwright-practically the only living one we can stand -will be there, which almost makes up for the sad little buffet lunch they put out. Oops , breaking news! Ms. Baranski just got a “part in L.A.” (you go , sister girlfriend), or so a publicist told us, and will be replaced by either a) Kevin Bacon’s wife Kyra Sedgwick (like a sultry Julia Roberts ), or b) bulimia survivor Ally Sheedy ! Stay tuned . Later, fleshy actor Alec Baldwin opens a Selected Shorts short-story reading series at Symphony Space . Tonight’s theme: “New York Stories.” Low-level Thomas Beller–Parker Posey watch in effect ….
[Baranski’s replacement, National Arts Club, 15 Gramercy Park South, 12:45 p.m., 362-2560; Baldwin, Broadway at 95th Street, 8 p.m., 864-5400.]
He’s a gambler! Meet Andy Bellin : Vassar grad, Paris Review contributing editor and author of Poker Nation: A High-Stakes, Low-Life Adventure into the Heart of a Gambling Country (not to be confused with former Letterman writer Jill A. Davis ‘ recently published dirty novel, Girls’ Poker Night , nor Elizabeth Wurtzel’s Prozac Nation ). The new book is about Mr. Bellin’s total fixation with poker, which he learned on his mother’s knee at age 7 and which eventually led him to drop out of an astrophysics graduate program at Wesleyan. “My father is a reconstructive and plastic surgeon in New York, so he really dug the idea of me becoming a scientist,” said the author, 33, “and he took the news kind of hard. And even at the time I was working at the Paris Review , people would say, ‘Oh, what is Andy doing?’ and my dad would say, ‘He’s a failed astrophysicist.'” Well, you can’t really blame him-that’s what George Plimpton always tells people about himself! “When people ask about the book, I feel like such a fantastic fraud,” said Mr. Bellin. “I’m so bloody dyslexic, I’m like, ‘What am I doing here? Isn’t there someone more qualified?’ Then I realize that all I’m really talking about is poker and me .” Tonight he’ll be fêted at the Paris Review , where he was originally hired in 1995 to bring the magazine “into the 21st century.” Alas, we think they still have rotary phones.
[George Plimpton’s house, top-secret Upper East Side location, 6 p.m., by invitation only, 207-7590.]
Sex-in Soho? Don’t you feel that, more and more, Manhattan
resembles a sort of tittery 18th-century salon, with women yammering about their bra-cup sizes to all and sundry? Short-story writer and spiffy-looking freelance journalist EmilyWhite readstonight from hernewtome, FastGirls:TeenageTribes and the Myth of the Slut , part of a budding subgenre of bawdypersonal memoir/criticism/reportage that includes Leora Tanenbaum’s Slut! Growing Up Female with a Bad Reputation and, of course, the queasy Elizabeth Wurtzel “feminist classic,” Bitch . Meanwhile, a few blocks away, under the dull glare of those maudlin, energy-inefficient Towers of Light: doe-eyed author Ben Schrank celebrates his second novel, Consent , at the coyly named bar Happy Ending. Bonus dirty excerpt! “We kiss. It’s more like we’re licking each other. I have her hands pressed back, above that towel bar, up against the wall.” And that’s on page 16, folks! Later, this scene is re-enacted live and en masse as the “wild, downtown” sorts at Paper magazine-kind of like Talk , except still in business-celebrates its “Annual Beautiful People” issue, which has actor Billy Crudup on the cover because, as editor David Hershkovits explained to us, “He’s in something on Broadway.” (For those who are curious, he’s in The Elephant Man.)
[ Fast Girls reading, Housing Works Used Book Store Café, 126 Crosby Street, 7 p.m., 334-3324; Consent party, Happy Ending, 302 Broome Street, 6 p.m., by invitation only, 334-9676; Paper magazine party, Pressure, 110 University Place, 9 p.m., by invitation only, 226-4405.]
Wigged-out gent! Englishman-in-New-York Paul Huntley has been messing around with actors’ coiffures for 50 years! Yowza. A former actor, he learned his trade in London at a wig academy , was summoned here by Mike Nichols in the 1970’s to do the hair for Uncle Vanya with Julie Christie and has remained ever since, though he finds the apartments in New York City “overheated.” We asked for some “hair-raising” stories. ” I try very hard to be diplomatic, but there are moments when you want to, perhaps, kill someone-but in the nicest possible way,” he said. “I remember in a production of Lorelei , Carol Channing hadn’t actually pinned her wig on terribly well, and she came on and did a routine and suddenly it totally fell off. She didn’t care, bless her heart, she didn’t care, she was a trooper-she just left it lying there and continued her routine in a stocking cap.” What does he consider his”crowning”achievement? ” I adored Amadeus when I did it; I love 18th-century. And I suppose TheProducers , because that’s rather special-those wonderful chorus girls in it who look glorious.” Tonight, in the theater world’s last-ditch bid for attention before the Oscars on Sunday, Mr. Huntley receives the Theatre Development Fund’s Irene Sharaff Artisan Award.
[Marriott Marquis, 1535 Broadway, cocktails and ceremony, Astor Ballroom, 6 p.m., installation of original costumes, wigs, etc. to follow, Sky Lobby, 37th floor, 221-0885.]
Feeling puckish? Strap on your knee pads for a coed “Heroes in Uniforms” hockey charity tournament benefiting Sept. 11 charities, with the FDNY, NYPD and Port Authority teams going up against National Hockey League alumni plus a not-very-coed-sounding mix of famous people, like Alan Thicke ( Growing Pains ), 90210 refugee Jason Priestley and maybe tennis genius John McEnroe . Bring extra mouth guards.
[Chelsea Piers, 1 p.m., Pier 60, 888-430-5200.]
Oh, Oscie …. So we’re total red-carpet whores , but our Precious booked a ski trip to some remote part of Idaho, where we’re not even sure they have TV, for this weekend-nice going, baby ! Anyway, you can practically do the Oscar routine in your sleep: There’s a) Entertainment Weekly ‘s minor-celebrity-studded, cigar-waving party at Elaine’s , slightly more fraught this year because of all the loose talk that EW editor and thinking-woman’s sex symbol Jim Seymore is being kicked upstairs by those meanies at Time Inc., or b) the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences’ official, if slightly creaky, celebration, to be held this year at Le Cirque and hosted by movie-of-the-week veteran Dina Merrill . “Yesterday we had this wonderful tasting lunch,” said Ms. Merrill, who plans to wear a sequined evening coat atop a dress designed by Peggy Jennings. “The first course was a lobster dish, and it’s from In the Bedroom because the guy was a lobster fisherman; and then the main course was lamb, inspired from GosfordPark ,with golden onion rings; and then dessert was a chocolate thing that had to do with A Beautiful Mind -it’s something that reminds you of your youth.” Burp! P.S.: If Moulin Rouge sweeps, we’re gonna stay in Idaho and open a B&B.
[ Entertainment Weekly , Elaine’s, 1703 Second Avenue, 6 p.m., by invitation only, 957-3005; official Academy party, Le Cirque 2000, 455 Madison Avenue, 6 p.m., by invitation only, 388-1400.]
Two Davids: If you’re gay, but not in that fake-lesbian man-titillating way (see Once and Again , Kissing Jessica Stein , Ally McBeal ): straighten your shoulder pads and stride down to Washington Square for this year’s N.Y.U. Fales lecture, “Mommie Queerest: Joan Crawford and Gay Male Subjectivity,” delivered by University of Michigan English professor David Halperin -not to be confused with Ecco Press editorial director Daniel Halpern (although, coincidentally, it is Small Press Week). If you’re avowedly, insistently, almost-protesting-too-much straight : terse playwright David Mamet reads not-yet-published work at the 92nd Street Y. Don’t bring Granny if she’s not fond of four-letter words!
[Halperin, N.Y.U. Bobst Library, 70 Washington Square, 6:30 p.m., 998-2596; Mamet, 1395 Lexington Avenue, 8 p.m., 415-5500.]
Bam or vroom? Overheated celebrity “chef” Emeril Lagasse may have been kicked off NBC, but he’ll be a peacock tonight in Chelsea, where he and Child magazine are hosting a party for his new children’s book, There’s a Chef in My Soup! The man pushes spices pretty hard, so arm your tots with Ritalin and antacid …. Meanwhile, a bit farther uptown,
Rabelaisian society ladies like Marina Rust and Nathalie Gerschel Kaplan alight on the “steering committee” (get it?) for the New York International Auto Show’s gala preview; richer-than-G*d comedian Jerry Seinfeld is a sponsor, and wrap-dress queen Diane von Furstenberg one of the honorary chairs. What it benefits: the East Side House Settlement in the South Bronx, a region that would have much better air quality if they’d clear out all the cars.
[Emeril Lagasse book party, Chelsea Market, 75 Ninth Avenue, 7 p.m., by invitation only, 499-8149; New York International Auto Show, Jacob Javits Convention Center, 655 West 34th Street, 6:30 p.m., 718-292-7392.]
Hoary performers continue to spread their “spring wings ” as once-comedic actor Robin Williams , having successfully passed through the touchy-feely, sincere teddy-bear thespian phase (one can only hope) that perhaps reached its apogee in Good Will Hunting , returns for his first stand-up comedy gig in 15 years. Tonight, he tells lowbrow dirty jokes in highbrow Carnegie Hall-not bad for the former Mork from Ork, eh?
[57th Street and Seventh Avenue, 8 p.m., 247-7800.]