September 25 – October 2, 2002

Wednesday 25th

Cattrall … or culture? It’s a tricky call , because while it technically is autumn , mentally and sartorially we aren’t quite there yet, are we, sister girlfriends ? Big, blond HBO star Kim Cattrall -who essentially plays a wobbly, promiscuous gay man in drag on Sex and the City -hosts “a magical birthday bash” for plucky actor Christopher Reeve (proceeds go to his foundation). Also fêted will be Michael Douglas and wifey CatherineZeta-Jones , The View ‘sBarbara Walters and Universal honcho Ron Meyer -allof whom share a birthday! Coincidence ? “Onthestage, we’re having four giantbirthday cakesmadeof

orange, blue, pink and gold flowers,” said event planner Alyson Clark , “and every guest will be receivingamini– birthdaycake.” Meanwhile, ” New York Is Book Country ,” a five-day street festival (watch for head-on tweedy death-grip battle with The New Yorker ‘s own lit festival later in the week) starts tonight with “New York Is Cookbook Country”-think more little cakes , pastry chefs blanketing Barnes & Noble, Gourmet ‘s Ruth Reichl flouncing into a panel at the Mid-Manhattan Library, and a low-level watch going into effect for Nigella Lawson , whom The New York Times has hired as its own flouncy, Catherine Zeta-Jones–look-alike food columnist. Hmm … has she baked Times stick-man Howell Raines a blancmange yet?

[A Magical Birthday Bash, Marriott Marquis, 1535 Broadway, 6:30 p.m., 353-8200; New York Is Cookbook Country, includes Food for Thought panel with Ms. Reichl, Mid-Manhattan Library, 455 Fifth Avenue, sixth floor, 6:30 p.m., 340-0944.]

Thursday 26th

Young writers storm city! The Young Playwrights Festival, founded in a generous rash moment by Stephen Sondheim , starts today; also, six lucky young ladies get nice checks at the Rona Jaffe Foundation Writers’ Awards , to which we applied when we were still a winsome, hopeful young undergrad , to zero effect …. “We have more poets than fiction writers this year,” Ms. Jaffe told us after her morning Pilates class, “but I’m happy to say the poetry is accessible. They’re very vital and interesting; they really love the English language- they put their teeth in it .” Meanwhile, the good stuff flows at Knopf poobah Sonny Mehta’s Park Avenue pad, where he’s hosting a bash for New Yorker film critic Anthony Lane’s new book, Nobody’s Perfect . Here’s a bonus dirty excerpt from I Don’t Know How She Does It: The Life of Kate Reddy, Working Mother , the new Bridget Jones–meets–Anna Quindlen novel by Mr. Lane’s wife, Allison Pearson , who is also (ahem) published by Knopf: ” … I got up this morning and noticed that my inner thighs were lightly glued together with glacé icing.” Waiter, cancel that cake order ! We’re here all week, folks!

[Young Playwrights Festival, Alternative Space, Cherry Lane Theater, 38 Commerce Street, 279-4209; Rona Jaffe Awards, 30 Rockefeller Plaza, 6 p.m., by invitation only, 908-233-4107; Nobody's Perfect book party, Sonny Mehta's Park Avenue spread, 6 p.m., by invitation only, 572-2104.]

Friday 27th

New Yorker goes bananas! The tiny mummies of 4 Times Square fan out all over this town as The New Yorker ‘s extremely hyped literary festival gets off to a cross-marketing bang , with a fleet of shiny black and silver Eurovans provided by Banana Republic revving their engines and hauling festivalgoers around to book readings …. When those engines have cooled , things heat up in New Yorker literary editor Bill Buford’s Gramercy Park apartment , where he’s throwing an after-party (picture lots of nubile editorial assistants in barely-there camisoles, male editors sucking in their paunches and pocketing their weddingbands ,and Salman Rushdie squiring around his babe cookbook author Padma Lashki … ). Meanwhile, the freeloading showbiz press lines up for the New York Film Festival, and the macrobiotic crowd checks out a “Sound Vibration Healing” workshop with Tibetan bowls, gongs, yak bells and wind chimes, organized by a fellow named Gene Jones . “I just happened to stroll into a Tibetan store one day on the Upper West Side, and a lady hit a bowl and I got sucked in – I knew that was my bowl,” said Mr. Jones. “It’s a hands-on workshop, not didactic. It’s really a lot of fun. At the end of the class, each person gets a chance to lie down on the mat, and I place my bowl on the person wherever they request and it vibrates , and they get so relaxed and blissed out.” We think that’s called a “happy ending” ….

[ New Yorker festival, 877-847-TNYF;

Bill Buford party, somewhere in Gramercy Park, after all the readings, by invitation only, 286-5400; New York Film Festival, 875-5050; Tibetan bowls workshop, 211A West 61st Street, sixth floor, 7:30 p.m., 781-1440.]

Saturday 28th

Chevy Chase, chastened? Lovably vanilla but secretly dirty-mouthed comic actor Chevy Chase -who we feel is sorely overdue for some kind of highbrow “comeback” à la Steve Martin (see New Yorker festival, above)-gets roasted by the New York Friars Club tonight. The masses have to wait till December to see it on TV, but you’re there in your $29.99 designer dress from Loehmann’s , hangin’ out with power couples like Alex Witchel and Frank Rich and your snickering little male comedy friends who come up to your chest …. Friars’ dean Freddie Romans told us, “We’re finalizing the members of the dais. We have to fly some people in from California -there are logistics . Paul Schaeffer is the roastmaster. We have a band, but it’s not his.” What’s on the menu? “It’s usually 1,200 to 1,500 people in the ballroom, so whatever comes out warm. I want to find out who I have to sleep with to get out of this job . Only kidding.” No, it killed!

[New York Hilton Hotel, 1335 Avenue of the Americas, 6 p.m., 751-7272.]

Sunday 29th

New York is quiet except for the thump-thumps of the odd charity walkathon and the ruffle of pages as the literary festivals wrap things up …. Wacky pro-Palestinian Peter (“This is what America is all aboot “) Jennings clinks teacups at The New York Times ‘ literary brunch with pretty fiction writer Michael Chabon and lawyer-turned-novelist Scott Turow . Meanwhile, most of The New Yorker ‘s events are sold out, but you can crash the self-congratulatory bash that pooped staffers apparently are throwing at John’s Pizzeria on 44th Street around 8 p.m. There’s always someone at those things who thinks it’s cute and “literary” to order anchovies .

[Jennings' brunch, noon, Waldorf-Astoria, 301 Park Avenue, 888-NYT-1870.]

Monday 30th

“No leopard-skin couches!” said Julie Brown (the comedienne, not the former MTV V.J.-but hey, whatever happened to her ?), describing her Studio City, Calif., apartment where, “frustrated with all these L.A. morons,” she now lives with her husband of 10 years, a very tall computer-marketing guy named Ken, and their 8-year-old son, Walker , also tall. “He’s just so fantastic, just so cute and adorable and a maniac,” Ms. Brown told us. “He’s three inches from the top of my head; we wear the same shoe size. It’s really fun having a child who can knock you down.” We’ll bet! So we heard she’s working on a mockumentary about Britney Spears ? “It’s a little bit like Waiting for Guffman …. I play this determined, white-trash stage mother of the fat girl who’s very talented but trying to be Britney and doesn’t have the look -which is the whole comment of the thing. I honestly think Britney’s first two albums are really kind of catchy and she’s really kind of cute, but she’s so young that she doesn’t really understand the full implications of what she’s putting out there. She’s just like, ‘What?’-and yet she couldn’t be acting more like a nasty ho.” Me- ow ! Tonight, Ms. Brown is joined by peppy actress Kristin Chenoweth for a one-night-only stage version of her cult movie Earth Girls Are Easy , to benefit the Lark Theater Company. They’re also hoping that some big-bucks producers will get excited and make it the next Hairspray .

[Village Theater, 158 Bleecker Street, 8 p.m., 246-2676.]

Tuesday 1st

Battlin’ book parties! Yes, more literature; it’s October and that’s how we like it -all tweed, all the time! Farrar, Straus & Giroux throws a party on Spring Street for its poster boy of the season, the puckish-looking, unfortunately-facial-haired author Jeffrey Eugenides , who was born in Detroit and now lives, naturally, in Berlin . His big second book, Middlesex , is about a hermaphrodite , and that’s all we’re going to tell you; we haven’t read it yet and we fully intend to-even though our latest resolution is to read no more living authors , because when you meet them in real life they always disappoint you, which is why all these festivals with authors preening like movie stars are problematic … but we digress. The other book party, at the SpaceAge–meets–India restaurant Serena in Chelsea, is for Dawn Raffel , the executive articles editor for O, the Oprah Magazine . Her novel, Carrying the Body , is about a young woman with a mysteriously ill son-and all we can say is, good luck against the F.S.G. party juggernaut, honey.

[ Middlesex party, Fiamma Osteria, 206 Spring Street, 6 p.m., by invitation only, 741-6900, ext. 277; Carrying the Body party, Serena, 222 West 23rd Street, 6 p.m., by invitation only, 903-5188.]

Wednesday 2nd

B.A.M.! B.A.M.! Let them see cake! The Brooklyn Academy of Music is being renovated, and the Public Art Fund is hiding the construction mess by covering the building in a gigantic gingerbread house by artist Vik Muniz. “It basically looks just like the building, except you’re going to have pictures of two-foot jellybeans ,” said Mr. Muniz. “The effect from far away is of seeing an enormous gingerbread cake.” It slowly dawned on us that B.A.M. will not be covered by actual cake and huge jelly beans but by clever photographs, which are not edible, and so now the week is over and we’re still hungry ….

[30 Lafayette Avenue, Brooklyn.]