We think hosting a breakfast to celebrate a new diet book is like holding an A.A. meeting at McSorley’s , but whadda we know ? This morning at Michael’s , Reader’s Digest and the ladies who lunch celebrate ChangeOne , the magazine’s first diet book, which encourages women to lose weight by changing one poor eating habit each day . Expect breakfast served according to the diet and many puns on the word “digest” by the mag’s honcho, Tom Ryder . We predict that the first sign of “change” will be the coins we use to buy some Krispy Kremes on the way to work …. Later, those for whom morning occurs at the end of the day head down to Irving Plaza to behold the ever-increasing phenomenon we like to call “Actresses: The New Strippers!” Tonight, the Pussycat Dolls perform a burlesque cabaret show which has toured the country featuring celebs like Gwen Stefani , Christina Applegate and tonight’s star, Carmen Electra . Somebody should really tell that girl that the exotic-dancing route could be damaging to her career. Oh, wait ….
[ ChangeOne breakfast, Michael’s, 24 West 55th Street, 8:30 a.m., 822-8181; Pussycat Dolls, Irving Plaza, 17 Irving Place between 15th and 16th streets, 8 p.m., 307-4100.]
Well, it’s official. NBC’s Friends has given up its chance to be the first TV show in history to go out on a high note , having signed on for yet another season . And since a new baby is always the death rattle of a sitcom (see: Growing Pains , Murphy Brow, don’t get us started on Roseanne ), the million-per-episode cast members are going to be dragging themselves, and us, across the finish line …. So, it looks like we’ll be venturing out on Thursday nights for the first time in a decade. Might as well start tonight by heading over to the Waldorf for cocktails on the “Starlight Roof” as the American Psychoanalytic Foundation hands its 2002 Human Spirit Award to a confounded Robert Mankoff, cartoon editor of The New Yorker. “My qualifications?” he said, laughing. “I don’t know how I qualify for my driver’s license! I guess it’s because of all the people I’ve prevented from going into therapy over the years.” Mr. Mankoff is the pen behind the famed sketch of the executive looking in his date book and saying, “No, Thursday’s out. How about never? Does never work for you?” He also has a master’s in psychology and was pursuing a Ph.D. when he left the field to become a cartoonist. “Cartoons help people deal with the difficult aspects of life, like death,” said Mr. Mankoff. “We’re the only creatures who really realize that we’re going to die. There’s no rational defense, and I feel like the best way to respond is with humor. One of my cartoons, for instance, showed the Grim Reaper dragging a woman’s husband away as she says to him, ‘Relax, Harvey. Change is good!’ “
[American Psychoanalytic Foundation Benefit, Starlight Roof, Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, 301 Park Avenue, 6:30 p.m., 752-0450, ext. 29.]
Britney Spears, N.Y.C.’s newest barfly, takes her chug-a-lug act to Miami for the launch party of Skybar at the Shore Club. Organized by plucky blond publicist Lara Shriftman – not the one who ran over all those people in the Hamptons, this is the other one -other expected guests include Owen and Luke Wilson . Crash strategy: Have a friend dress up as Justin , you dress up as Fred Durst and say you’re there for Britney. She’ll rescue one of you, but we’re not sure which one …. But what the hell are you doing in Miami, anyway?
[Skybar, the Shore Club, 1901 Collins Ave, Miami Beach, Fla., 9 p.m., 305-534-0008.]
“Hi, we’re the Radio City Rockettes and we get a kick out of riding in taxis, but we always buckle up for safety and so should you! ” You’d be concerned about safety, too, if you only had secure employment three months out of the year. So support a Rockette today by signing up for “The Rockette Experience” at Broadway Dance Center. Participants will learn the choreography from the Christmas Spectacular , and go on a mock audition before a panel of “distinguished judges” ( read : Rockettes trying to look serious by donning novelty eyeglasses ), and take the Radio City Stage Door Tour. Just don’t forget to get a receipt and gather your belongings when you leave …. Then hoof it on down to the Blue Heron Arts Center , because just when you thought it was socially unacceptable to use the word “Indian,” tonight Theater by the Blind re-enacts Agatha Christie’s famed mystery Ten Little Indians . After the plot unfolds and all the characters have been iced, the audience gets to try to identify the murderer. This is followed by a parlor game in which (if you had a problem with the Indian thing, do not pass go) audience members take turns guessing which actors are blind, visually impaired or sighted. “I’ve always wanted to make it a game where each person puts a dollar in a pot, and whoever guesses everyone correctly gets all the money,” said director Ike Schambelan . “But the company tells me that’s terminally tacky.” He swears that the latter guessing game is harder than the first. “This is a mother to do,” he said. “People guess incorrectly all the time. It’s very difficult to tell.”
[“The Rockette Experience,” Broadway Dance Center, 221 West 57th Street, fifth floor, 582-9304; the Blue Heron Arts Center, 123 East 24th Street between Park and Lexington, 7 p.m., 206-1515.]
Bone up for Valentine’s Day with a beginners’ tantric workshop -come with or without a partner …. The class goes from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (now that’s stamina), but we still don’t understand why anyone would have to go through a whole bunch of complex bindu-clenching, Sanskrit-chanting exercises just to make sex fun …. Anyone else hungry? We balked at news of the $50 burger by chef Daniel Boulud, but bargain-eating football fans can get “Super Bowlfuls” of tailgating food from celeb chefs today for just $60 at Blue Smoke restaurant. Watch the game while rubbing elbows with the Harrison’s Joey Campanaro, Pershing Square’s Wayne Harley Brachman and Union Square Café’s Michael Romano. Sponsored by Gourmet magazine, part of the proceeds benefit City Harvest. Watch for gamine Gourmet editors doing wine stands while a crowd chants “Sip! Sip! Sip!” … Meanwhile, now that every actress with the possible (and unfortunate) exception of Dame Edna has had her crack at doing The Vagina Monologues -the show that Vogue editors call “really, um, empowering” and which our parents back home in the South call ” unseemly” -the curtain comes down tonight. Howard Socol , the big shot at Barneys, teams up with fashion maven Eileen Fisher to host an after-party filled with “V-festivities,” the details of which we chose not to inquire about, but be our guest ….
[One-Day Beginners’ Tantra Workshop, New York Open Center, Spring Street between Broadway and Lafayette, 10 a.m., 219-2527, ext. 125; Super Sunday Bash, Blue Smoke, 116 East 27th Street, 4:30 p.m., tickets available at http://www.tickets.com; V-Day, Barneys New York, Madison Avenue and 61st Street, 8:30 p.m., 645-VDAY.]
Ahhh, January. Right about now, muddled Ivy League seniors are deciding to “give back” by joining Teach for America next year (translation: Morgan Stanley and Sotheby’s aren’t hiring). Tonight, the Harvard Club hosts a book basheroo for The Person Who Changed My Life , in which famous types recall favorite teachers and mentors. Matilda Cuomo, the book’s editor, called in on her way to baby-sit for son Andrew and daughter-in-law Kerry Kennedy Cuomo’s children. “Altogether, I have 10 granddaughters,” she said. “And we’re expecting another in March!” According to Mrs. Cuomo, the book includes “everyone from Maya Lin to Geraldo Rivera to the Baldwins-all of them, even the mother!” At tonight’s party, Senate Armed Services Committee member Hillary Rodham Clinton delivers a lecture on mentoring children at risk ( first lesson: show the tykes how to make billing records disappear before you can say “subpoena!” ). Meanwhile, the French take some time out from hating America to send over another film, He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not , starring Audrey Tautou , the goggle-eyedgamine anachronism of the silent-filmeraand star oflastyear’shit, Amélie . Advance screening cesoir . Plot: Angélique is an art student who’s fallen in love with Loïc, a cardiologist, who also happens to be married. It’s a love story. He’s a heart doctor. It will be released on Valentine’s Day . Subtlety, party of one? Though Ms. Tautou has been well-received by American critics, the French actress is less enamored of American culture. “I wouldn’t mind being in an American film for a laugh , but I certainly don’t want to be in Thingy Blah Blah 3 , if you know what I mean,” she told The Guardian . She loves us not.
[T he Person Who Changed My Life party, Harvard Club, 27 West 44th Street, 7 p.m., 779-3350, ext. 254; He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not , the Technicolor Screening Room, 321 West 44th Street, between Eighth and Ninth avenues, 2 p.m., 268-3075.]
There’s no place like Oz , and unfortunately there’s no place for Oz on HBO’s schedule next year. So enjoy it while you can (through the slits between your fingers) tonight with a special preview episode at the Museum of Television & Radio . After the screening, the show’s creators-along with actors J.K. Simmons (Prisoner No. 92S110, Vernon Schillinger) and Lee Tergesen (Prisoner No. 97B412, Tobias “Toby” Beecher)-will discuss the program and field questions. We called Mr. Tergesen and asked what it’s like being on the show. “It’s like being in f*cking high school!” he said. “We’re in the cafeteria-we’ve got our lunches, our trays and, well, our shanks.” How does he feel about the show ending? ” Aaauuuggghh ! Terrible! When we finished shooting the show over the summer, a lot of people were pretty emotional. It was a great group of people to work with, and we’re never going to get a chance to do a show like this again. I mean, how many times am I going to get to bite someone’s dick off?”
[“There’s No Place Like Oz ,” the Museum of Television & Radio, 25 West 52nd Street, 6:30 p.m., 621-6600.]
Don’t you always want to know what newscasters are saying when networks cut the sound at the end of the broadcast? Face the Nation host Bob Schieffer tells you in his new memoir, This Just In: What I Couldn’t Tell You on TV . “Basically, this is a book of the stories that reporters tell each other,” he said, telling us a story that involved the Pentagon, condoms in a septic tank and a fishing net. Tonight, Dan Rather and Andrew Heyward toast the CBS News chief Washington correspondent who nearly wasn’t. “My mother was dead set on my being a doctor,” Mr. Schieffer drawled, “but it wasn’t meant to be. To this day, when people ask me what led me to journalism, my response is always, ‘Comparative anatomy.’ And when they ask if I graduated with honors, I say, ‘No, I graduated barely -that’s what I did. Honors were out of the question!'” Speaking of television, Julia Sweeney’s whereabouts over the last few years are as ambiguous as her character Pat from her SNL days. No matter-she’s back and starring in an autobiographical play, Julia Sweeney: Guys & Babes, Sex & Gods , and she rang us at 9 in the friggin’ moanin’ to tell us about it. “It’s one of those ‘look at me’ shows where I talk about me and things that have happened to me !!! Me! Me! Me!” she said. Plot: She’s in her late 30’s, professional ambitions fulfilled, yet single and without children . She’s at the crossroads of her life as she realizes, “Oh my God-I forgot to have a family!”
[ This Just In , Blue Smoke, 116 East 27th Street, between Lexington and Park avenues, 7 p.m., 975-4296; Julia Sweeney: Guys & Babes, Sex & Gods , ARS, Nova Theater, 511 West 54th Street, 8 p.m., 206-1515.]