It felt like a Century City talent show at the Friars Club salute to singer/songwriter Neil (“Breaking Up Is Hard to Do”) Sedaka on the evening of March 31.
The event at the Lighthouse International Conference Center on East 59th Street was M.C.’d by The View ‘s buxom co-host Joy Behar, who killed the audience with her Viagra jokes and musings about whether her rear would look younger if it could smile.
“I love the way you talk about your ass, Joy. It’s really classy,” Regis Philbin told her in front of the crowd, before singing a razzmatazz version of the Sedaka-penned “Calendar Girl.”
Outside the auditorium before the show, the tension was thick as less tony guests mused about the pressure of being present at a reunion of Mr. Philbin and his former co-host, Kathie Lee Gifford.
But those who were expecting some kind of you-should-have-been-there onstage reunion with tears and badly concealed envy were disappointed. Though Mr. Philbin gave his former co-star a generous introduction and winking nod to Ms. Gifford’s cleavage-baring spaghetti-strap dress-”And I can see she’s really missed me,” he said-the two did not interact.
Making small talk with various Friars before the show, Ms. Gifford-who performed Mr. Sedaka’s nostalgic ballad, “The Hungry Years”-kept mentioning her “daddy” while Frank Gifford, ruddy-faced and large, toyed with the zipper on the back of her short, leopard-print Dolce and Gabbana outfit. She was overheard being asked if reuniting onstage with Mr. Philbin was as big as, say, a reunion of the remaining Beatles.
“This is bigger,” Ms. Gifford said. Then she told The Transom that she has never once watched Regis and Kelly . Her flack suddenly jumped to attention and asked that we change the subject. So Ms. Gifford began talking about Mr. Sedaka’s “roots” and “heart,” and how much he had meant to her through the years, and ….
“How old are you?” her husband suddenly asked The Transom with a silky voice. Ms. Gifford winced.
“What he’s trying to say is, ‘Neil’s been around so long, when did you discover him?’” she said.
That’s exactly what he was trying to say.
-Anna Jane Grossman
Eve of Reduction
On March 30, a week after actress Calista Flockhart reared up at the Oscars alongside her blissed-out-looking presenter/beau, Harrison Ford, the pair re-emerged at a reading of All About Eve benefiting the Actors’ Fund of America. Ms. Flockhart, surprisingly luminous in a gold silk surplice dress, played the title role at the Ahmanson Theater in the Music Center of Los Angeles County. Mr. Ford-who had bought the second-largest block of $1,000 “I’m so happy you’re happy” tickets-gazed up at her from a capacity audience that included comedy writer Bruce Vilanch and many natty gay male couples.
“Hollywood … you mustn’t stay there forever,” said Ms. Flockhart-as-Eve in one scene, to a hall full of knowing chuckles. “So few come back.”
Among the cast was Stockard Channing as Margo Channing, doing her rubbery best to reconfigure the immortal cadences of Bette Davis; 8 Simple Rules for Dating My Teenage Daughter star John Ritter as her director and love interest, Bill Sampson; and a shawl-swathed Blythe Danner, a.k.a. Gwyneth Paltrow’s mom, in the role originated by Celeste Holm (the benefit chair). During one monologue, Ms. Danner succumbed to a coughing fit. “Doggone it,” she said, breaking from the script. “Sorry.” On her next entrance, Ms. Channing brought her colleague a bottle of water, and the two women cozily embraced one another.
Angela Lansbury affected an Irish brogue as Margo’s assistant, Birdie; calcified sexpot Jennifer Tilly played ditzy starlet Claudia Caswell; and grizzled Tim Curry did a pitch-perfect Addison DeWitt. All drew prolonged applause and cheers from the crowd, but the wildest huzzahs were reserved for town patriarch Kirk Douglas, in the minor part of “distinguished actor,” who rallied gamely (“As I was saying …”) toward the end after trampling on some of Mr. Curry’s lines.
Mr. Ritter, an usher at the Music Center during his undergraduate days at the University of Southern California, pronounced himself surprised by the performance’s production values. “I thought it was gonna be a bunch of us in black turtlenecks sitting at a podium,” he told The Transom later.
The actor, who was nominated for an Emmy alongside Ms. Flockhart on the now-defunct series Ally McBeal , was one of the many people unable to penetrate the party after the performance. “It was so crowded,” he said. “It got a little crazy. I tried to find Calista, then gave up, got my wife and went home.” There, he said, unable to sleep, he popped in a DVD of the movie version of All About Eve -a gift from the benefit’s organizers-and watched the movie in its entirety for the first time in his career.
– Alexandra Jacobs
George W. wasn’t the only bush on the minds of the winners of the March 22 Independent Spirit Awards. Emily Mortimer won the Best Supporting Actress prize for her role as an extremely insecure actress in Lovely & Amazing , a film in which, during one uncomfortably drawn-out scene, she stands naked before an actor she’s just slept with and asks him to tell her everything that’s wrong with her body. Mr. Sensitive suggests, among other things, that her pubic hair is too voluminous and tells her, “You can trim the trim.”
Ms. Mortimer referred to the scene when she accepted her award, explaining that she’d earned it not just for what she’d endured on-camera, but off-screen as well. She recounted that, during a recent visit to the Hollywood YMCA, a woman had yelled across the pool at her: “You should fucking do something about that bush!”
Earlier in the afternoon, the event’s M.C., director John Waters, fixated on another actress’ nether regions when he imagined Jennifer Lopez starring in Secretary II .
“Whack!” Mr. Waters said. “Need I say more?”
And backstage, actor Patrick Swayze seemed to be getting in touch with his inner girlfriend. Near the end of the awards show, The Transom overheard the actor, who played the transvestite Miss Vida Boheme in the 1995 film To Wong Foo, Thanks for Everything! Julie Newmar , telling a member of the opposite sex: “I’ve been teaching women how to walk in high heels for a long time.”
The Bloomberg Effect
At 3 p.m. on April 1, a day as good for midday drinking as any other on the calendar, there were only five people in the normally packed Nancy Whiskey Pub on Lispenard Street.
But outside, the men-cigarettes and cigars in hand-swarmed.
James (Jimbo) Hodgdon, a jovial 63-year-old tattooed ex-trucker, biker and machine-shop manager currently of North Bergen, N.J., has been a Nancy Whiskey regular since 1975. He described the scene.
“When I got here today, there were 10 people outside. There were more people outside than inside, and the people inside were complaining that they had to go outside to smoke. And then the bartender, she comes out and says, ‘Somebody was smoking in the ladies’ room! Do you know they’re bringing in sniffers?’ And I said, ‘Sniffers? Listen, I’m the best panty-sniffer in town!’ And she said, ‘No! Sniffers for smoke in the bathroom!’ So people are out there smoking, freezing their asses off and getting wet. They’re thinking of getting awnings outside.”
Which means, potentially, a more comfy outdoor-congregating zone for the often loud regulars.
So, Tribeca ladies, watch out.
“People aren’t really catcalling yet, but they’re warming up,” said Mr. Hodgdon. “Hey, it’s a blue-collar bar. When you see a hot lady going by, you’re going to go, ‘Hello, hi there!”
The Transom Also Hears …
… That actor Aaron Eckhart, fresh from the premiere of his newest science-fiction thriller, The Core , was boning up on his fiction last week. The night before his March 28 interview with Regis Philbin, Mr. Eckhart was seen chatting into a cell phone with a friend at the Strand on Broadway and 12th Street, and wandering around the stacks clutching a paperback copy of Marianne Wiggins’ 1995 Eveless Eden , about a hard-hitting journalist who uncovers corruption in the Ceaucescu regime that implicates his romantic rival. “You’ve got real star quality!” Mr. Philbin told him the next morning. Guess that means it’s time to check out the Scientology section.
… Lizzie Grubman has a bodyguard-but she doesn’t do his publicity. Ms. Grubman’s public-relations firm has just taken on a new publicity campaign for the Royal Protection Group, a company that has provided security for Wesley Snipes, Laurence Fishburne, Michael Jordan, Diana Ross and Julio Iglesias, according to its brochure. “Instead of being a quiet company, which we’ve been in the past, now we’re bringing ourselves more into the public,” said chief executive Andrew Meyer. “We’re expanding into different fields in the protection agency-to people’s estates, yachts, and stalker work for celebrities,” he added. Ms. Grubman said she was eager to take on the security agency because of her celebrity clientele. “They really impressed us among many others,” said Ms. Grubman, “but my bodyguard is not affiliated with that company at all. He has his own company.”
– Alexandra Wolfe