New feminist trend? We’ve noticed lately that Manhattan women, who used to be-let’s face it-rather lupine and self-absorbed , have been teaming up and cleaning up ! Take a) power hostesses Cynthia Rowley (clothing designer) and Ilene Rosenzweig (writer); b) nannies-turned-joint-authoresses Emma McLaughlin and Nicola Kraus ; and c) Heather Juergensen and Jennifer Westfeldt , who co-wrote and co-star in the motion picture Kissing Jessica Stein , which opens today sans fancy premiere because the skinflints at Fox wouldn’t fork up. The plot: Tired of the dating grind, a straight female New York journalist, played by Ms. Westfeldt, answers a personal ad from another damsel, played by Ms. Juergensen … va-va-va-voom! Ms. Westfeldt, the blond one , is from Connecticut ; Ms. Juergensen is a bonny brunette from Flatbush . They are “around 30″ and in committed heterosexual relationships. “My boyfriend recently asked me if I had any proposal fantasies,” said Heather. “He did ?” squealed Jennifer. How did H&J meet? “It was a theater workshop in the Catskills,” said Jennifer in breathy girlspeak, “a kind of camp, a lab. It was very, very by-the-seat-of-your-pants-it was a wonderful spontaneous environment-and we were bunkmates!” How does the collaboration work? Jennifer: “We kind of bounce off each other ; we like to embrace life and we’re both curious, and if we notice something that we’re both intrigued by, it’s like, ‘Wow, hmmm-look at that!’” Heather: “We really came at this with such naïveté that really served us well, because if we hadn’t been that way, we would’ve been so discouraged. I think the wide-eyed ‘why not?’ energy is helpful with filmmaking, because it’s so impossible .” What’s next? Jennifer: “We are actresses first. The dream would be that the Steven Soderberghs and Cameron Crowes and Ang Lees of this world would just want to cast us-that would be the ultimate crazy dream -but in lieu of that, we’ll just keep writing our own rules!” You go , sister girlfriend(s)!
Called to the carpet: If the shelter mags are to be believed, New Yorkers are responding to the terrorist incursion of Sept. 11 thusly: They’re gardening more, they’re eating great big piles of mashed potatoes, and they don’t like feeling the cold floor beneath their feet. Today, the Stark Carpet Corporation begins a warehouse sale: up to 80 percent off hand-knotted rugs, needlepoints, sisals, broadlooms, Orientals, Tibetan rugs, Berbers, Kilims, Dhurries, stair runners-personally, our Precious likes the feel of a nice white shag under his pedicured paws …. Later, if you’re in the mood for one of those “parties in a store,” where you go for the free plonk, never win the raffle, and have the unsettling feeling all night that you are part of a marketing strategy cooked up in some midtown boardroom: furniture manufacturer Mitchell Gold opens a “store-within-a store” at Stark rival ABC Carpet & Home.
[Sale, Metropolitan Pavilion, 125 West 18th Street, 10 a.m., 752-9000; Party, 888 Broadway, 6 p.m., by invitation only, 914-767-0964]
The sweet stench of success: O.K., so last night was also the posh opening night of Sweet Smell of Success on Broadway with John Lithgow , but we still don’t understand why anyone would monkey around with the movie, and we especially don’t see why they would put that chap from Third Rock in it, but this is revival city, honey! (See Oklahoma, The Crucible, Our Town , 42nd Street , I Love You, The Producers, etc.) Fortunately, the 1957 movie version of Sweet Smell , starring swish Tony Curtis , is beginning a two-week run tonight at the good old reliable Film Forum.
[ Sweet Smell of Success , play, Martin Beck Theatre, 302 West 45th Street, 8 p.m., 239-6200; movie, Film Forum, 209 West Houston Street, 727-8110.]
Be their Gest? Plucky little songbird Liza Minnelli weds manager-producer-studmuffin David Gest tonight in front of a guest list that could keep The National Enquirer busy for years: Michael Jackson, Mia Farrow, Liz Taylor …. Bring the happy couple a $475 punch ladle from Tiffany’s, then thwack her on the rump with it for good luck as she saunters down the aisle. Meanwhile, a mere half-mile south, the Empire State Pride Agenda hosts its “Night of 100 Parties” for lesbian and gay civil rights. Hey, they may not have Whitney Houston, but they do have D.J. David Knapp from Atlanta, back by popular demand! We’re betting Mr. Gest pops by for a post-nuptial cordial.
[Minnelli-Gest nuptials, Marble Collegiate Church, 1 West 29th Street, we can't say exactly when; Empire State Pride Agenda's "Night of 100 Parties" fund-raiser, Altman Building, 135 West 18th Street, 8 p.m., 627-0305.]
Byrne, baby, Byrne! So today is St. Patrick’s Day, and you were so caught up in the Minnelli-Gest affair yesterday that you totally spaced on the parade, which was held a day early this year because the holiday falls on a Sunday-but buck up , bronco, because New York’s Irish Arts Center and darkly handsome actor Gabriel Byrne are co-presenting The Kings of the Kilburn Road , a black comedy set in modern-day London. The plot: Six Irish blokes reunite in a pub for a wake. “This is about a rough, tough area in London which is so tragically close to Ireland, but so tragically removed,” said I.A.C. artistic director Pauline Turley in a charming semi-brogue. “The characters are all played by 50-year-old Irish men. We brought the entire cast over from Ireland; we have them in a hotel. Gabriel’s such an intellectual, such a passionate, wonderful person-he has really been our guardian angel. When we gave our dinner dance, he was physically on the phone saying, ‘You have to support this great institution.’ He wrote a letter, he gave us his whole Rolodex, he auctioned himself off.” So he’ll be there tonight? “Unfortunately, he’s in Australia filming right now.” Somebody tell Nicole Kidman!
[553 West 51st Street, 7 p.m., 206-1515.]
As we bear down on the Oscars next week, the Broadway people seem to be putting on even more “razzmatazz” than usual, don’t they? Tonight, increasingly ashen actor Matthew Broderick hosts a tribute to Julie Harris , veteran actress not to be confused with Julie Andrews . Meanwhile, in midtown, a pride of divas-Zoe Caldwell, Lea DeLaria, Sandy (“I can fly!”) Duncan, Rue McClanahan, Bebe Neuwirth, the un-diva-ish Cynthia Nixon, Bernadette Peters, the Rockettes, Chita Rivera, etc. -put on a big show: kicking and performing and singing and dancing. It’s called Nothing Like a Dame , and it benefits the Phyllis Newman Women’s Health Initiative of the Actors’ Fund of America. So far, this appears to be an Eve Ensler–free zone . (And no, Nathan Lane is not among these divas-like any true diva, he’s going to be at the Julie Harris thing.)
[Julie Harris tribute, Alice Tully Hall, Lincoln Center at 65th and Broadway, 7 p.m., 413-5101; Nothing Like a Dame , St. James Theater, 246 West 44th Street, 8 p.m., 840-0770.]
Grapes group grope! Three ways to be “lightweight literary” tonight: 1) don something burlap and hit the big P.E.N. American Center centennial tribute to John Steinbeck , with playwright Arthur Miller ( bonus points if you can spot his Raphaelite-tressed daughter Rebecca ), oral historian Studs Terkel and priapic Paris Review editor George Plimpton (he just never quits, does he?); 2) Alan Furst putters in from Sag Harbor to read from his new thriller, Kingdom of Shadows (“This will be a big event . Lots of free Absolut vodka on hand,” faxed a publicist); 3) authoress and blond babe Andes Hruby reads from her saucy new novel, The Trouble with Catherine , then relaxes at an exclusive, invitation-only book party at a bar around the corner. Bonus dirty excerpt (and more proof that those Penthouse “Forum” letters had a profound impact on 21st-century literature:) “I could feel him wanting me, pulling me tighter and starting to lust after me with his confidence. I surrendered, but as I slipped my tongue across his teeth I could feel my throat tighten …. He began cursing at me and then demanding to know if I was going to be his good little girl or just his fuck toy.”
[John Steinbeck tribute, Alice Tully Hall, Broadway at 65th Street, 8 p.m., 721-6500; Alan Furst, Lenox Hill Bookstore, Lexington Avenue at 73rd Street, 6:30 p.m., 472-7170; Andes Hruby reading, 600 Fifth Avenue at 48th Street, 6 p.m.; party, Jack Rose, 771 Eighth Avenue at 47th Street, 7:30 p.m., by invitation only, 366-2223.]
Call us cranks, but we feel rather venal about the vernal equinox , which occurs today at 2:16 p.m. The United Nations will ring a Peace Bell, school kids will try to balance eggs, and a sudden profusion of ladies in “fashionable” yet almost universally unflattering peasant blouses will promenade the avenues. It’s also Earth Day, which means that a certain strain of Manhattan man is going to decide it’s O.K. to expose his pasty legs in shorts and Birkenstocks , and bring a Frisbee to “toss around with the guys” at lunch time-and there’s always one “sporty,” tawny girl they invite along to join them, but it’s never the Eight-Day Week, even though we can secretly run a sub-seven-minute mile!