Is this diva Fuller herself? Us Weekly editor Bonnie Fuller, who has shown a whole generation of spoiled young magazine brats what it’s like to have a real job, hosts a book-launch bash in Chelsea for Planned Parenthood president Gloria Feldt’s new tome, Behind Every Choice Is a Story. Meanwhile, a few blocks away, Bessie Award–winning playwright Cynthia Oliver presents Afro Socialite Life Diva (one of those play/music/dance montages which tend to be lumped into the category of “apiece”). “There’s a character in the piece who’s often referred to as a bitch, so she decides to reconfigure the term ‘bitch,’ treat it like tobacco and roll it and smoke it,” Ms. Oliver said. Don’t tell the Mayor! As for the diva-versus-bitch debate, Ms. Oliver said, “A true diva doesn’t have to be a bitch, because she’s already empowered. Like Tina Turner, for instance. A bitch, on the other hand, has no power, and that’s why she has to go off on everyone all the time.”
[Book party, Ariel Meyerowitz Gallery, 120 11th Avenue, 6:30 p.m., by invitation only; Afro Socialite Life Diva, the Dance Theater Workshop's Bessie Schönberg Theater,
219 West 19th Street between Seventh and Eighth avenues, 7 p.m., 924-0077.]
Vanna buy a comeback? Are you a washed-up actor? Despair thee not! These days you have lots of options, starting with Broadway plays and celebrity reality-TV series. Take last year, when, in a stunning crescendo, Neil Patrick Harris-the kid from Doogie Howser (not to be confused with the kid from James at 15)-showed up in Proof, to critical acclaim. Now Mr. Harris has joined Molly Ringwald and the rest of the Cabaret cast to take over the role that John (“Have Mercy”) Stamos abandoned last fall. Mr. Harris called us on a break from taping voice-overs for MTV’s upcoming animated Spider-Man series. “Cabaret was a new experience for me,” he said. “Tattoos, track marks and glittery nipples-my parents would be so proud! It’s a very racy side of N.P.H.!” We know what you’re thinking-and, yes, he did. “It’s a new and strange feeling to be wearing a thong while having body makeup applied to my ass every day.” N.P.H. is out of control!
[Cabaret, Studio 54, 254 West 54th Street, 8 p.m., 239-6200.]
When we heard that Billy Bob Thornton has a fear of antiques, we developed a fear of Billy Bob Thornton. Luckily, he’s unlikely to be at the American Antiques Show as it celebrates “Americana Week.” Antiques Roadshow’s dusty appraiser, David Gallager, will be on hand for appraisals, followed by a chowtime lecture, “Digesting Antiques” (burp!). There’s also a tea-time talk and, later on, a cocktail hour(!) for the real ragers. Speaking of tea, Adaptation left us feeling like we’d taken a spin in the Disneyworld teacups. The antidote: In theaters everywhere tonight, Julia Stiles’ latest effort, entitled A Guy Thing. Mark our words: The only “guys” in the audience will be more whipped than a pack of Mexican burros …. Back to highbrow: Tonight, the New Opera Ball lands at the Plaza Hotel, with music by the
Vienna City Orchestra, as dancers from the Vienna City Ballet whirl and “wine experiences” are offered by someone called Alexander the Grape. Bring your tortoise-shell purse! (When we were growing up in the ‘burbs, we pretended we were Eloise and lived in the Plaza and had a turtle named Skipperdee. But Mama vetoed the whole turtle thing because they “smell to high Heaven.”) Insiders report that in customary Vienna tradition, tonight “the Goulaschsuppe will be served at the Würstel stand after the Quadrille.” Uh, we took Spanish.
[The American Antiques Show, the America Eats Café, Metropolitan Pavilion,
125 West 18th Street, 8:30 a.m., 977-7170;
777-FILM; New Opera Ball, Plaza Hotel, Central Park South at Fifth Avenue,
6:30 p.m., 792-4048.]
Moon over Cuba: After years of staring, we finally saw the man on the moon-he’s kind of hot. Check him out tonight when Donna Henes, who calls herself an “urban shaman,” hosts a drumming circle in celebration of the full moon. “The wolf moon, to be exact, and it’s a fiery one!” Ms. Henes said. “The ceremony is about drumming up energy and our spirit for inner healing. We’ll drum and, of course, there will be howling at the moon. It’s a very charging experience. People fly out the door when it’s over!” Meanwhile, on the Upper West Side, the Beacon Theatre hosts 70′s Soul Jam. Among the performers is Cuba Gooding Sr., the man responsible for Jr. and the singer behind the hit song “Everybody Plays the Fool” (which we once played on repeat for a week after a wrenching breakup). A very boisterous Mr. Gooding called to set the record straight on the pronunciation of his and his actor son’s first name. “People have incorrectly been saying ‘Coo-ba,’ using the Spanish pronunciation. People who say it like that just want you to think they speak more than one language!” He explained the origin of the name: His father, Dudley Gooding, was a slave in Barbados who fled to Cuba, where he lived for 17 years with the same woman but never married. Someone tried to shoot him for his political beliefs, but the bullet killed her instead. So Dudley Gooding came to the New York City and changed his name to
Cuba in her memory. “When I was born, he named me Cuba as well,” Mr. Gooding said. “Of course, my mother was not happy-she wanted me to be called ‘Eugene’ or some bullshit. And my wife was the same way-she wanted to name Cuba Jr. ‘Mark.’ But we’ve kept the tradition alive, and now we’ve got the Cuba rolling on up in here!” Don’t tell the ladies in the drumming circle!
[Drumming circle, Mama Donna's Tea Garden & Healing Haven, Old P.S. 9,
279 Vanderbilt Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-857-2247; Soul Jam, Beacon Theatre, 74th Street and Broadway, 11 p.m., 307-7171.]
Why didn’t Chekhov think of this? At the Freestyle Repertory Theatre’s show A Waiter’s Nightmare, the actors greet the incoming audience as if they’ve just entered a restaurant, and then “serve” them the play that they want to see. For appetizers, the audience chooses the characters; during the entree, they decide the story line and plot twists. “It’s a two-course dinner, and we’ll sometimes offer dessert in the form of an epilogue,” said “Head Waiter” Laura Livingston. “At the end, they should be satisfied.” We’ve heard that one before. Any disasters? “The craziest thing I’ve ever played was the time the audience told me that I had to be an inanimate object in a zoo. So I decided to be monkey poop. Needless to say, it was a non-speaking part-I just steamed, basically.” Waiter, cancel that order! And just when you thought it was safe to order “Democratic” again, Joe Lieberman hops into the 2004 Democratic primary soup, thereby bringing back the sour after taste of his and Al Gore’s uncooked 2000 bid. Tonight, Senator Lieberman and his wife Hadassah rehash the 2000 campaign at the 92nd Street Y. (Translation: How would you feel if you had to pretend to look up to Al Gore?)
[A Waiter's Nightmare, Trilogy Theater, 341 West 44th Street between Eighth and Ninth avenues, second floor, 7 p.m., 206-1515;
Joe and Hadassah Lieberman, 92nd Street Y, 1395 Lexington, 7:30 p.m., 415-5500.]
If it’s still too early for you to handle a Charlie Kaufman–style “play within a play” without taking a Percocet beforehand, you’ve been warned: In Robert Coles’ Nude Boys Prancing About, a gay playwright, Phil, is confronted by a character from one of his old plays who argues that the nude boys littering all of Phil’s plays detract from their artistic merit. “It contains heightened, pseudo-classical, Shakespeare-ish language, yet it’s a plot-driven potboiler,” Mr. Coles told us. Tell us, sir, what is the difference between prancing and skipping? “Actually, they debate that in the play!” he said. “You see, there’s really no hand movement in skipping, just leg movement. Once you add in the hand movement, then it’s prancing. Now cavorting is different. Prancing is focused purely on the self, while cavorting involves other people-like slapping someone on the butt or tweaking their nose. If you go beyond cavorting, then you’re just running amok.”
[Nude Boys Prancing About, Sanford Meisner Theater, 164 11th Avenue between 22nd and 23rd streets, 8 p.m., 5 p.m. on Sundays, no performances on Tuesdays, 206-1764.]
Just because Talk magazine was run out of town for being a pale imitation of Entertainment Weekly, you think Mr. Tina Brown (a.k.a. Harry Evans) is gonna pipe down? Today, Mr. Evans moderates a discussion, “Brand USA,” which looks at how foreigners see the U.S. right now. Simon Doonan, Matthew Freud and Diane von Furstenberg will sound off (though we’re a bit puzzled about the fashion bent of the panel-does Al Qaeda have beef with the wrap dress?) We caught Mr. Evans about to hop a plane for London, where most of his suits are made. “I share a tailor with Sonny Mehta, who manages to wear suits much better than I do,” he said, referring to the Alfred A. Knopf poobah. “We could wear the same suit and he’d get all the compliments, and people would say to me, ‘Why can’t you get yourself a decent suit?’” Ping-pong, anyone? “Oh, I’ll play ping-pong with anyone,” Mr. Evans said. “I play Marty Reisman, a former world champion-and at 72, he’s still fantastic and unbelievable. You could take a 25-year-old and he wouldn’t get 10 points against him.” How’s Tina these days? “She’s-well, I never can speak for her, but she’s writing a column in the [London] Times. It’s rather successful.”
[Brand USA, Michael Jordan's the Steakhouse, Grand Central Station, north balcony, 12:30 p.m., 917-250-4502.]
Breakfast with Atlantic Monthly editors-or roll over and hit “Snooze.” Your choice. Today, The Atlantic Monthly unveils its new issue, “Real State of the Union,” with a 7:30 a.m. breakfast at the W New York Times Square (think Shannon Brownlee, Jonathan Rauch and Michael Lind grumbling over croissants and mini-packets of Smuckers). Editor at large Michael Kelly hosts the event. We caught him at home as he was “putting something in the oven” (dinner-not his head), and he wasn’t thrilled about the 7:30 a.m. roll call. “Is that pre-dawn? Is the sun even up then?” He’s asking us? There are only two things we do that early, and both of them involve our bed. So how’s the issue? “It’s proudly wonkish,” he said. “These are essays for readers who pay attention to the way the world is run, and want to argue and debate about it and move that conversation forward.” For those who like to sleep in, tonight the winners of the 2002 National Book Awards will speak about “the writing life.” (Living in Queens,staring at computer screens, actually contemplating attending a drumming circle ….)
[The Atlantic Monthly breakfast, W New York Times Square, fifth floor, 1567 Broadway, 7:30 a.m., 646-695-8516, by invitation only; 2002 National Book Awards winners, the Celeste Bartos Forum of the New York Public Library, 42nd Street between Fifth and Sixth avenues, 6:30 p.m., 685-0261.]