“First off, I’d like to say a hello to MSNBC and Joe Scarborough, whose cameras seem to enjoy following me around,” said Janeane Garofalo during a Nov. 5 speech at the New School’s Tishman Auditorium to help promote Nation Books’ It’s a Free Country, which was edited by Artemis Records chief Danny Goldberg. “And I have to say, again: Joe, if you’d like to ask me out, you’re going to have to find more creative ways to do it.”
The line got a big laugh from the cable-news consumers in the audience. For months now, the conservative host of MSNBC’s Scarborough Country had been dunning the liberal, antiwar Ms. Garofalo on a regular basis.
The Tishman appearance would prove no different. Two days later, Mr. Scarborough played a tape of Ms. Garofalo’s greeting. But not only did he edit out Ms. Garofalo’s line about wanting to date her, he turned it inside out and used it himself.
“Clearly, Janeane wants me,” Mr. Scarborough said to his audience, before adding: “Young America may not want her.”
A spokesman for Mr. Scarborough shrugged off the on-air personality’s comments as a “long-standing joke” between partisans. But at the Nov. 5 discussion, Ms. Garofalo didn’t sound like she was engaging in a bit of friendly towel-snapping. “Speaking of right-wingers like Scarborough,” Ms. Garofalo drawled in her grainy alto, “a lot of people will say that dissent gives the terrorists heart, and I used to disagree. But I heard recently that Hezbollah was going to call it quits, and then they saw Sheryl Crow’s guitar strap at the Grammys”-for those who don’t remember, Ms. Crow’s strap was emblazoned with the words “No War”-“and they decided to stick together and give it another shot.”
Ms. Garofalo, who began speaking out against the war in Iraq before the first bombs even fell, was herself accused of giving the terrorists heart. During the spring, she caught so much flak from the media-and not necessarily the obviously right-leaning kind-that she might as well have been a Dixie Chick.
“I find it to be a useful trick that the conservatives use,” Ms. Garofalo said from her perch on the stage. She wore an electric pink hoodie, faded blue jeans and quasi-cat-eye glasses. “It’s like, ‘Here, look at this dumb actor so that you don’t look at that nude emperor. Don’t notice what’s going on around your world. Let’s all agree that aren’t those actors silly and stupid?”
And for a while, people did. Ms. Garofalo became the whipping girl of the conservative talk-show circuit. And in the spring, a group of viewers reportedly threatened to boycott ABC and its advertisers if they picked up a proposed Garofalo sitcom, Slice of Life. The show never went to pilot, and the right cried victory. But following her Nov. 5 appearance, Ms. Garofalo told The Transom: “The cancellation had nothing to do with [the boycott],” but rather creative differences. “I didn’t want a laugh track, and I wanted it shot documentary-style, but that’s not really what ABC wanted.
“Actually, some people at ABC offered to make statements,” she continued, “but MSNBC and Fox wouldn’t book them, because they wanted the myth to be perpetuated that here’s what happens if you say something nasty about George Bush. So it’s a useful, fake tabloid story.”
But that storm has passed. These days, Ms. Garofalo’s a popular speaker on the liberal circuit. At Tishman Auditorium, panelist Cornel West called her a “fearless sister,” and fans mobbed her for autographs.
“My 12-year-old loves you,” gushed a tall woman with soccer-mom hair. “She couldn’t make it, because she had too much homework. But will you sign this?”
As Ms. Garofalo signed away, an anxious middle-aged man sidled up to her. “Janeane, I just want you to know that everybody who works on the Joe Scarborough show doesn’t hate you,” he whispered. “I work on the Scarborough show, and I just want to say thank you. Thanks for what you said.”
All That Reagan Jazz
Barbra Streisand has some company. At the Nov. 10 Genie Awards at Tribeca Rooftop, Rob Marshall, director of the 2003 Oscar-winner for Best Picture, Chicago, stood up for The Reagans, the made-for-TV movie that CBS relegated to its sister pay-cable service, Showtime, when it dropped the politically controversial picture from its prime-time schedule.
A tanned Mr. Marshall, who was the evening’s guest of honor, told The Transom: “I think it’s really important that it’s seen. It’s their take on the situation and his life.” Mr. Marshall added that the picture’s executive producers, Neil Meron and Craig Zadan, were “disappointed” that the film was pulled, “specifically because a lot of people haven’t seen it,” which meant that a lot of people were making “judgments” about the film without seeing it first.
It turned out that Mr. Marshall hadn’t seen the film either, but only a promotional excerpt that the producers had sent him. “There are some great performances,” he said.
Mr. Marshall’s full support of The Reagans despite his partial viewing of the picture makes more sense when you consider that Messrs. Meron and Zadan were executive producers of both Chicago and Annie, the 1999 TV-movie adaptation of the musical that Mr. Marshall choreographed and directed. Messrs. Meron and Zadan also happen to be among the sponsors of the Genesius Theatre Guild, which presents the Genie Awards.
“I always find it funny with art, when people have problems with it,” he said. “It’s just an interpretation.”
-Alexandra Wolfe and Anna Jane Grossman
So Long, Schilly
On Nov. 11, they held a wake for Schilly at the bar of the American Hotel in Sag Harbor, N.Y. Schilly was the hotel’s mascot, half beagle and half Labrador retriever. After being diagnosed with terminal cancer, the 10-and-a-half-year-old dog was put to sleep on the afternoon of Nov. 11.
Named after the comedian Tom Schiller, Schilly was a fixture not only of the hotel but of the town’s main drag, Sag Harbor Main Street, where she spent the days popping in and out of the shops, visiting nearby neighbors and howling at the noon bell.
Schilly’s Sag Harbor celebrity spiked when, according to Mr. Conklin’s ex-wife, real-estate broker Tara Newman, the dog was briefly kidnapped. Ms. Newman said that a few years ago, Schilly disappeared, and Ms. Newman and her son took out ads in the paper and put up signs all around town seeking her return. “By the sheerest coincidence, I was at the vet with my cat, putting up a sign, and they said, ‘We think someone just came in here with her,'” said Ms. Newman. “There was no way you could mistake this dog for a stray. It was this crazy guy who owned a bar down the street, and he had renamed her Mama, gotten her new shots, all this other stuff. I called him and he started saying, ‘I didn’t steal your dog, lady.’ I told my then-husband to just go get her.”
Said Mr. Conklin: “She was a good mascot.”
New York City Schools Chancellor Joel Klein is a rocker. At the “Let It Glow” benefit for PENCIL (that’s Public Education Needs Civic Involvement in Learning) and the New York City public-school system that Arista Records co-sponsored on Nov. 10 at the Hammerstein Ballroom, The Transom asked Mr. Klein what kind of music he liked. The chancellor explained that he was really looking forward to the night’s performance by Sarah MacLachlan, but that the last time he’d been at the Hammerstein several years ago, he’d seen Radiohead perform. “I came with my daughter,” Mr. Klein said, adding that he eventually couldn’t keep up with her musical explorations. “She lost me at String Cheese Incident,” he said. Among those who saw Ms. MacLachlan and the evening’s opening act, Anthony Hamilton, perform were Arista Records chief Antonio (L.A.) Reid, restaurateur Steve Hanson, PENCIL chairman Lisa Belzberg, PENCIL president Ruth Cohen, Sex and the City co-star Cynthia Nixon (who M.C.’d the evening), and author Fran Lebowitz, who was one of several recipients of the PENCIL award for their support of public schools.
The Other Other White Meat
Either Martha Stewart has a good sense of humor or Conan O’Brien has no sense at all. Mr. O’Brien is among the guests scheduled for Ms. Stewart’s Thanksgiving series, Someone’s in the Kitchen with Martha, even though he has been razzing her pretty good since her legal troubles began. Mr. O’Brien-who’s already put in at least one previous (and hilarious) bit on Ms. Stewart’s show-is scheduled to do a “surprise segment” on the show that broadcasts Nov. 24, according to press materials. Let’s hope the surprise doesn’t involve a high-carbon steel blade pressed against Mr. O’Brien’s pale, freckled flesh while he renounces all previous jokes he’s told about Ms. Stewart. Such as:
· “Yesterday, due to her legal problems, Martha Stewart’s company’s stock fell to its lowest level since the stock went public. Pretty bad. The ironic part is, Stewart’s stock is finally cheap enough to be sold at Kmart.”
· “In New York the other day, there was a pro–Martha Stewart rally. This is true. Only four people showed up! Yeah, four people showed up, and three of them were made out of crêpe paper.”
· “Martha Stewart said that the insider-trading charges against her are ridiculous and that she will be cleared at any moment. That was her statement. Yeah, when asked how she could be so sure, Martha said, ‘I have inside information.'”
· “It was reported today that Martha Stewart is being investigated on possible insider-trading charges. I think Martha might be guilty because today on her program, she showed viewers how to make license plates.”
When asked what led to Mr. O’Brien appearing on the show, NBC spokesman Marc Liepis said, “There is nothing to discuss in this.”
Among Ms. Stewart’s other Thanksgiving-time guests will be actress Jennifer Garner, who’s scheduled to make turkey and stuffing on Nov. 18 and perhaps talk about her dog, which is named Martha Stewart. On Nov. 20, Sopranos star Lorraine Bracco-a staunch supporter of Ms. Stewart’s friend, former ImClone chief Sam Waksal-will be a guest. And on Nov. 17, look for Sesame Street Muppet Grover, who seems like a safe guest, save for the fact that he doesn’t have any veins or arteries.
A Martha Stewart Living spokesman said that Mr. O’Brien was scheduled for the show because it was sweeps week, which pretty much explains it all.
White Men Dancing
The silent auction for Joan’s Legacy, the Nov. 18 benefit for the Joan Scarangello Foundation to Conquer Lung Cancer, includes a behind-the-scenes tour of the NBC’s Nightly News with Tom Brokaw set (Scarangello was a news writer at NBC) and a cocktail party at Pop Burger. But for The Transom’s money, the real prize will be watching the evening’s co-chairs-tightly wound newscasters Tom Brokaw (NBC), Brian Williams (MSNBC), Barbara Walters (ABC) and Aaron Brown (CNN)-let their freak flags fly to the music of bare-knuckle bluesman Delbert McClinton. Insiders tell The Transom that Voice of the Yankees Charley Steiner may-and we stress may-bring Bronx Bomber Bernie Williams and his guitar to the fête, which will be held at Times Square Studios on Broadway at 44th Street, to jam with Mr. McClinton and his band.
The Transom Also Hears ….
We always knew Nan Kempner had a little hippie in her. When Ms. Kempner arrived at the Nov. 9 screening of The Cat in the Hat at the U.A. Cinema Theater, she spotted publicist Peggy Siegal wearing one of those tall red-and-white-striped stovepipe hats that the namesake cat wears in the Dr. Seuss book. “I want one of those,” Ms. Kempner said.