March 23, 1999
I'm setting romance aside this week to talk Oscars, baby, and fill you in on the celebrity orgy that has replaced my normal, humdrum existence (as if it's anything but humdrum, mes choux! Hah. Gregoire is being sarcastique, of course). I watched Sunday's Academy Award ceremony from the well-stocked HoJo cocktail bar, delighting in the madness with my bartender Vinnie, a middle-aged Italian couple celebrating their honeymoon and former "Match Game" star Nipsey Russell. (Well, he said he was Nipsey, though his rhymes were better and he had somewhere garnered a Scottish brogue.)
First, I'm trying to figure out how such a controversial and unpredictable evening ended up more boring than a Helen Hunt hairdo. There was no sizzle, no drunken Juliette Binoche dressed like the evil queen from Snow White, no Rob Lowe singing with Snow White. When a show only springs to life because an overexcited, unscripted Italian man tells a stunned audience he would like to "be Jupiter and kidnap everybody and lie down making love to everybody," it's time to get a new producer. How about Howard Stern?
Roberto Benigni's wins for Life Is Beautiful excited my Italian friends -- not to mention Breakup Girl, who is still blindly obsessed with all things Italian, especially Tuscan, especially one Tuscan thing, but you didn't hear it from Gregoire -- who felt he embodied the spirit of their country. I asked if this embodied spirit was popular at raves and how much it was an ounce. They criticized my appreciation for Benigni's classic comic homages to Charlie Chaplin. Personally, I believe that Benigni does the same thing that Jim Carrey does except that Italians give their clowns more freedom to develop; I say Jim should make a slapstick comedy about the Vietnam War, put it in subtitles for no good reason, and the Oscar is his.
Outside of Benigni's chair-destroying outbursts, we fans of Oscar travesties need only turn to whatever Debbie Allen happens to be choreographing that year. On Sunday, we got five Riverdancers interupting the five nominees for Best Dramatic Score with some highly inappropriate hoofing. One man even had his shirt off, as if he were truly "getting down" with the melancholy sounds from The Thin Red Line. Fewer people clapped for this debacle than they did for Elia Kazan, the lifetime achievement winner who cost many movie people their careers by ratting them out during the McCarthy Red Scare. I expected a dramatic protest, maybe even some thrown tomatoes or a protest song by the Communards; instead we get a fleeting shot of Ed Harris looking constipated and Martin Scorcese hoping to dodge a possible snipers bullet.
Even the fashions were dull, thanks to the turf war outside between foul-mouthed Joan Rivers and barely animated Geena Davis. Who dare wear anything risky these days? Let's face it, Celine Dion looked simply horrendous -- like Annie Hall in an ill-fitting zoot suit -- but at least she had guts to wear something unique. Faux pas: Helen Hunt (honey, did you run into a door?), Geoffrey Rush (mortician chic), Kathy Bates (I thought it was a choir robe from far away). Sparkly fab: Catherine Zeta-Jones (work the red, doll), Christina Ricci (though tighten up those straps), Cate Blanchett (her dress looked like the inside of a restroom of a really nice Chinese restaurant). And my opinion of Gwenyth? Hot pink, love, but a can of plastered pomade does not a hairstyle make.
Other Stars, Other Galaxies
Just call me the lamprey eel of fame. You know, those icky grey fish that stick to the sides of sharks and eat the leftover crumbs of bloody prey? Well, that's me. I cling to the simplest morsels of celebrity -- the "sighting" of seeing a famous person doing something ordinary -- and have managed to save a few eensy nibbles for you. Such as:
* A spy recently attended the Holyfield fight at Madison Square Garden a couple weeks ago and could not in the least be interested in the contest because she was too busy being smothered in stars! In addition to having dinner with Kevin Spacey (who's "really, really nice") and Edward Norton (who's "nice but not really nice"), she also spotted Jack Nicholson, Ben Affleck, Tia Carrere ("sweet and down-to-earth") and Liam Neeson with wife Natascha Richardson, who both got trashed but excused themselves gracefully before doing something foolish. Unlike Mark Wahlberg, who spent his time making out with women, chillin' with his homies and acting like "a rude pig." Later, she became the object of Geraldo Rivera's attention, and, so horrified, went home.
* When I'm not drinking at the Howard Johnson's, I live in New York's glamorous Lower East Side, part-ghetto, part-new bohemia. The rent is cheap and it's quickly becoming "hot property." Did Gregoire not call it? Should you need proof of the glamorous gentrification of my neighborhood, well: loaded up with groceries, I approached my apartment door, only to see a man and an unidentified woman studying a building two doors down, as though interested in either living there or admiring its historical importance. I hope they decide to move in for I would love to have Paul Rudd (The Object Of My Affection) for a neighbor! (Breakup Girl, as she reads these notes, is now no doubt considering a move. Rudd, she will tell you, has gone on record -- as he told BG herself at some MTV party-- as a big fan of BG's first book. Apparently, he read it cover to cover --howling with laughter -- with a mutual friend of BG's. Not that he needs it or anything, alas.)
* A gym friend of mine reports that current Clinton backstabber George Stephanopolous works out on a regular basis at a Chelsea gym in the heart of Gay U.S.A. I'm not saying that makes George a member of the lavender cabinet. Maybe he loves to feel self-conscious, working out next to hundreds of overpumped muscle men.
* Another gym, another star. Tina Louise, remember her? Ginger from Gilligan's Island? Anyway, she works out in a midtown gym, and sources say the former faux glamour gal looks better than ever. In a t-shirt and leggings, too. Better, even, than in Stepford Wives, if you can believe that. Take that, Mary Ann. And ask BG who she was for Halloween in 1986.
* I was sobering up with a latte down in a Chelsea coffee shop the other day when Campbell "The Spanish Prisoner" Scott popped by with some sort of exciting news that he's anxiously telling a friend. It sounded like a film project. Thank God he's still getting work.
* An extremely weird (and oddly true) story from Los Angeles. Seems a friend of mine on a press junket for the WB network (she interviewed Seth Green -- ah! another object of BG's objectification! What is it with this week's column?! -- chilled with Selma Blair, looked up Sarah Michelle Gellar's skirt from an unfortunate seat, blah blah blah) found herself in a mall food court. Fancying a "peanut-buster parfait," she found a Dairy Queen and got in line. A couple were bickering very loudly in front of her. Suddenly a man approached and asked if he could help. He pulls out a card and gives it to them. It says the "Love Connection." Yes, no lie, it was Chuck Woolery, and he said he had dealt with little quarrels like theirs and proceeded to give them advice. *In the line at Dairy Queen!* My friend thinks that Woolery may go to public places like this just to get noticed. (Hell, who can blame him?) Never mind that the Love Connection hasn't been on the air forever. She got her sundae and ... split.
Next week I'll finally run the rest of reader star sightings and gossip. Sorry it's taking so long, sweets. It involves computer problems out of Gregoire's earthly control.)
Until the word "understated" can be used to describe Roberto Begnini,
Breakup Girl created by Lynn Harris & Chris Kalb