April showers bring May flowers, and what do May flowers bring? Pilgrims! And what do Pilgrims bring? Disease, rifles and casino contracts …. Speaking of British imports, premiering today at the Ziegfeld: What a Girl Wants , which is set in jolly ol’ London, starring Amanda Bynes ( who ?) and blokes Jonathan Pryce and ( Helen Fielding obsession) Colin Firth. In the role of the mother is lovely Kelly Preston , who could have had Meg Ryan’s career but gave it all up to be Mrs. John Travolta. “It’s got the whole British aspect to it,” publicist Daphne A. Shirley said of the film, “so I’m just calling all Anglophiles! There’s a silly line about Swedish fish and red M&M’s , so that’s what we’re serving for the movie snacks!” Hans Blix loves that stuff! There’s an after-party to follow: “The stars are going to be transported from the movie to the party in a London taxi,” said Ms. Shirley. The bash includes a silent auction of “British items” to raise money for the Rainforest Alliance. Meanwhile, in the desert (but far from the current bit of nastiness), Monty Python alumnus Michael Palin has been traveling with a BBC crew. Back in a room at the Mercer Hotel, he told us: “There we were in the desert, and here comes the personification of Lawrence of Arabia, with the turban, piercing eyes, hawk-like nose …. He offered assistance, and just before going he looked deep into my eyes and said, ‘I am a nomad. Here is my card.’ It was his business card! It was nomad.com@sahara or some such thing.” Today Mr. Palin is signing copies of Sahara , which chronicles his journey. Bonus Michael Palin anecdote: “I was in a club in Senegal, and the club manager came up with a wonderful Monty Python–like line which I still cherish. He told me, ‘I’ve managed many clubs throughout my life, but this one’s different.’ I asked him how it was different, and he said, ‘All the other clubs were rectangular.’ So I guess all the other ones were rectangular and this one was rhomboidal or something.” Hmmm. Anyone have Eric Idle’s number?
[ What a Girl Wants premiere, Ziegfeld Theater, 141 West 54th Street, 7 p.m., 646-452-1992, after-party at Osteria del Circo, by invitation only; Barnes & Noble Union Square, 33 East 17th Street, 7 p.m., 212-253-0810.]
Talk about a “coalition of the willing”: tonight Nicky Hilton, Elisabeth Kieselstein-Cord , Lydia (Hearst) Hearst, Denise (“Pardon me?”) Rich and others whoop it up at a benefit at the Plaza Hotel. Tickets range from $5,000 all the way down to $650 (bring your opera glasses!) More proof that 30 is the new 40: Those under 30 get a price break at $250. The money goes toward leukemia research, so bring your checkbook. Low-level Bill Clinton watch in effect.
[The Bill Bernach Memorial Dinner, the Plaza Hotel, Fifth Avenue at Central Park South, 7 p.m., 212-675-9474.]
If you read W magazine this month, you would have seen the photos of Madonna bent into twisty-and frankly freakish – yoga positions , in a sad attempt to wrest the fickle limelight back in her direction. Now, photographer Steven Klein and Madonna are taking things to the next level in their exhibit, X-STaTIC Pro=CeSS . “It’s based on the idea of a performance artist in her rehearsal space, where she brings her ideas to life or death,” Mr. Klein told us. What that means exactly, we’re not sure; we just work here. So what’s next for Ms. Ciccione? “I don’t think she reinvents herself,” said Mr. Klein. “I think she’s a highly intuitive person and very in tune with creative work …. From what I know, it’s not like she sits around and thinks, ‘Oh, God, what can be the new me ?’ It comes from deep within her. It’s not fabricated.” Neither is her British accent. Anyone else need a drink ? Then crash the Boys’ Towns of Italy ball and raise a glass of vino to Radio City Productions veep Edward Micone Jr. and wacky weather lady Janice Huff , who are being honored tonight along with Charles Evans , movie producer ( Tootsie, Showgirls ) and sibling of bad-boy movie producer Robert Evans. Right away, Mr. Evans put us on the spot. “Do you know how old Boys’ Town is?” he asked. Ummmm … ” I don’t either-ha!” he guffawed. “But I think it’s over 50 years old. It’s nonsectarian-Boys’ Town doesn’t only take care of Italians, and it’s not just about getting the boys clothes or taking care of their doctors. It’s spiritual as well.” Or maybe you’re a Westchester-commuting investment banker with a secret penchant for shadow puppets? (There’s always one!) Tell the wife and 2.3 kids you’re catching the late train home, but don’t tell them it’s because you caught the Greek festival’s shadow-puppet performance at Symphony Space. Bring your favorite wall-bunny.
[ X-STaTIC PRo=CeSS , Deitch Projects, 76 Grand Street, noon to 6 p.m., 212-343-7300; Ball of the Year, the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel, 301 Park Avenue, 7 p.m., 212-355-3000; Karaghiozis Shadow Puppet Theater, Symphony Space, 95th Street at Broadway, 8 p.m., 212-864-5400.]
In case you haven’t noticed, the U.K. and Bulgaria are pretty much our only allies in the Iraq war , so all things British and Bulgarian (to chat online with Bulgarians, go to http://www.bulgaria.com/chat/ ) will soon be very much in vogue. Fer starters , tak’ yersels to the National Tartan Day Parade and watch 2,500 bagpiping, kilt-wearing Scots trot up Sixth Avenue, led by Sean Connery ( Scottish ) and Mayor Michael Bloomberg ( not Scottish ). Or if it’s your weekend with the kids, there’s the Art rageous Carnival, to benefit Edwin Gould Services For Children and Families, a foster care agency. M.C.’d by MTV refugee and intermittent Nicky Hilton boyfriend Brian McFayden. Who you can challenge to a game of skeeball: Lauren Bush, Tommy Hilfiger muse and Presidential niece; actor Vincent D’Onofrio; the ever-cuddly Hilton sisters ; artist Jeff Koons; and Dylan (daughter of Ralph) Lauren. Ms. Lauren (the Manhattan Willy Wonka, with better clothes and hair) is, of course, the owner of Dylan’s Candy Bar. “I do a lot of art on the side,” she said. “I’m going to do a show in my store. I’d actually started a project with Eminem on a mosaic …. ” Eminem? “No! M&M’s! I do mosaics with them. I actually see candy as a kind of art.” Meanwhile, if you missed the first eight Avignon/New York Film Festivals, the ninth one starts today and continues for a week of 17 features and 26 shorts. Tatum O’Neill , Brooklyn-born former firefighter Steve Buscemi , Dominique ( Lolita remake) Swain and Christine Lahti are among those skulking around in baseball caps and sunglasses -the uniform of every New York celeb who wants very much to be noticed.
[National Tartan Day Parade, from West 44th Street up Sixth Avenue to Central Park South, 2 p.m., www.dewars.com/highlands/default.aspx; Children’s Day Artrageous Carnival, the Metropolitan Pavilion, 125 West 18th Street between Sixth and Seventh avenues, noon to 4 p.m.,
212-598-0050, ext. 233, tickets can also be purchased at door; Avignon/New York Film Festival, www.avignonfilmfest.com, 646-840-0644.]
It’s National Repot Your Plant Day. Do with this information what you will . It’s also daylight saving time, which we don’t really get , so we asked two fact-checkers to get to the bottom of it. What we got were conflicting answers and the two nearly coming to blows. One argued that the tradition began during World War I to conserve fuel; the other insisted it was started so that farmers could get more out of their workday. What ever . Today, sleep-deprived New Yorkers -have you noticed how everyone looks like hell recently?-take time from grumbling about that lost hour to partake in a worthy walkathon for multiple sclerosis. Participants have a choice of a 12.5-, 7.5- or 2.5-mile routes which wind their way around downtown. No smokers, please.
[Daylight saving time, spring forward at 2 a.m.; sixth annual M.S. Walk, South Street Seaport, 11 a.m., 212-463-9791.]
The Big Dance is ending, tonight’s the big climax-and no, we’re not talking about prom night. Tune in if you can take your boyfriend shouting at the television every time somebody fires a three-point brick, upsetting the cat and, occasionally, the furniture. No? Then hoof it on down to the trusty CUNY Graduate Center, where Phylicia (Mrs. Huxtable) Rashad, Danny Glover and tony Tony winner Jeffrey Wright will read from W.E.B. DuBois’ The Souls of Black Folk . Or if you prefer your martinis with a twist, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation honors ABC anchor Diane Sawyer -the network champion of moist-eyed empathy-and the not-so-happy Rosie O’Donnell (see her E! True Hollywood Stor y- if you dare ).
[NCAA Basketball Championship, WCBS 2, 9 p.m.; 100th-anniversary celebration of The Souls of Black Folk , Proshansky Auditorium, CUNY Graduate Center, 65 Fifth Avenue, 7:30 p.m., 212-817-8215; GLAAD Media Awards, Marriott Marquis, 1535 Broadway, 6 p.m., 212-629-3322.]
March’s National Women’s History Month stretches into April (do the folks over at National Poetry Month know about this?) as the Sheraton hosts a Winning Women’s Breakfast . Try a schmear with real-estate mogulette Barbara Corcoran, CNN’s senior financial correspondent Rhonda Schaffler, swimsuit designer Norma Kamali and restaurater B. Smith. The empowering meals continue tonight at a gala thrown by Dress for Success , which provides smart little suits and career advice to gals seeking employment. Dinner is hosted by ABC’s (and Al Roker’s) Deborah Roberts , with Lorraine Bracco in the role of presenter, getting more face time than Dr. Melfi did all last season. Makeup maven Bobbi Brown and supermodel Emme will accept awards and flash peace signs. The event is open to the public- if that public has $500 to blow .
[Winning Women’s Breakfast, Sheraton New York, 811 Seventh Avenue at 53rd Street, 7:30 a.m., 212-307-7171; Success Is Working 2003, the Grand Hyatt New York, Park Avenue at Grand Central Terminal, 6:30 p.m., 212-581-1400.]
The home of the five-figure scarf- a.k.a. the House of Hermès -sponsors the Tribeca Ball for yet another year, making us pray for goody bags. The press release promises “luminaries” but ain’t naming any names. “The celebrities usually don’t confirm until the last minute,” flackie Agnes Han told us, “but it always draws quite a few big names.” ( Translation: the cast of The Sopranos . ) Baz Luhrmann hosts, along with Academy Award–winning wife Catherine Martin. Meanwhile, Yale American Studies majors hop on le Metro-North and come down for the battle of the beloved American writers. In one corner: readings titled “Melville as Poet: On War, At Sea, In Love” at the South Street Seaport. In the other: actors read from Jack Kerouac’s Book of Haikus . Bonus haiku!
Close your eyes-
On the back door.
[Tribeca Ball, Gotham Hall, 36th Street and Broadway, 7 p.m.; Melville as Poet, Melville Gallery/Learning Center, 213 Water Street, 7:30 p.m., 212-748-8735; Jack Kerouac’s Book of Haikus event, the Poetry Project, St. Mark’s Church-in-the-Bowery, Second Avenue and 10th Street, 8 p.m., 212-674-0901.]