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  Gossip with Gregoire!

Tuesday, May 11, 1999

I've got so much to cover this week, but I should preface with my sadness at hearing of the death of the much-beloved Dana Plato, who could drink me under the table and do so with the sort of charming alacrity you would never find in a Mindy Cohn or a Valerie Bertinelli. The girl lived hard, my friends, but at no point did she completely fade from obscurity, preferring that limbo of downfall that many held with shame, yet that she carried with a unique brand of unpretentious riot grrrl passion. I know she needed help, but if the press can proclaim Oliver Reed's demise by alcohol poisoning as truly "going out in style," can't we at least fool ourselves by saying Dana did the same, mixing her prescription drugs with the same dangerous abandon that she combined rich girl haughtiness and 70s street cred as Kimberly on Diff'rent Strokes? A toast to you, fallen angel, because the world don't move by the beat of just one drum ....

Liza Live

A performer who could have taught Dana a few lessons in shameless public displays of depravity -- Liza Minelli -- seems to have thankfully cleaned up and plumped out. She's been seen all over Manhattan in the past couple weeks, including a performance of "Do Re Mi," a musical revival starring Nathan Lane, and at a cabaret show starring hilarious lesbian comedienne Lea Delaria. She's definitely expanded those curves of hers but thank God she's alive. (Have I got Liza stories for you! This woman has skirted death more times than James Bond!) Personally, I think she looks great with a few extra pounds and apparently she's still got her voice, if anybody still wants to hear it.

Claire Sighting of The Week

So, readers, say it's last Friday and you're out in ultrahip NY's Lower East Side -- say, Luna Lounge, so dirty, so now -- absorbing the spirit of alternative rock while downing brewskys and dreaming of starting your own alt-rock band, preferably something with "star" or "head" in the name. The nine Schlitzes you just drained are hitting your bladder harder than a fierce snare drum. You snake through the crowded, ruffled group of elegantly scruffy young adults to stand in line for the women's room, where people are chatting, doing coke, signing recording contracts, whatever! And you need some inspiration, a muse to propel your rock dreams into high gear. Look in front of you in line, because there's Claire Danes, waiting with a female friend, because if you're a Golden Globe winner you don't go to the bathroom alone. Ever! She's smiling, she's cute, and you think, "If a Hollywood starlet is here listening to this, then maybe I might stand a chance!" And another rock dream blooms. [Based on the actual thought process of a actual person. No lie.]

On The Town: Adam, Jeremy, Julia

Here's a spotting to light Breakup Girl's gasket. Boss's obsession Adam Goldberg was seen basking in the glamour of the Roxy in L.A., with Frenchie Julie Delphy, who looked reportedly "fresh as a daisy." (Honey, tampons have been described that way in TV commercials; choose thy similes wisely.) By the way, as if you didn't need anymore reasons to love him, did you know he did a character voice in Babe: Pig In The City, that fabulous pork sequel that kept me bawling all this weekend. Rent it. (Or buy it like Breakup Mom.) Love it.

BG has supplied me with a very interesting spotting at NY's Surf Reality Comedy Festival, where Breakup Girl LIVE's musical maestro Rob Paravonian, among others, wowed the crowd. After several acts in the ultrapacked venue, BG tried to exit so she could perform some superheroic duties, when whom should she squeeze next to but Jeremy Piven (star of the late Cupid, and costar in Grosse Point Blank, among other gems), who was in a heated imbroglio with the doorman. Apparently Mssr. Piven wasn't on the list to get in, and the doorman was unaware of the actor's imminent (or dimishing?) celebrity status. Peeved, Piven proclaimed his sister was in one of the comedy acts Burn Manhattan and that he'd pay to get in and, well, he was Jeremy Piven.

He finally entered, though not without a disparaging word about the doorman's innumerables tattoos. Our hero chose this moment to approach Piven and proclaim "I was crazy about 'Cupid'!" to which he said thanks, but not very passionately, it seems. But here's the mystery, readers: Piven was there to see his sister perform, right? However, on that particular night -- according to BG's midnight-oil burning spy -- Burn Manhattan had no female members! You draw your own conclusions. Was he mistaken, was he trying to cop a free admission, or was he really there to see one of his "sisters"?

Hmmm, I'm sure this doesn't mean anything -- I mean, just take this with a grain of salt -- but Julia Roberts and her hunky beau Benjamin Bratt were spotted in SoHo at the Stork Club, a chic baby clothing boutique. They came out with several purchases. But, noooo, I'm not implying anything. Totally in love. Buying baby clothes. Nothing here. Go about your business, people.

Obsessive Convulsives

My call for your unusual celebrity obsessions filled my mailbag with fascinating responses, from the mundane (sorry, my mother's into Ricky Martin, so that's not so unusual, I'm afraid) to the truly bizarre. Thankfully, nobody said Leonardo DiCaprio; however, I do begin with a response regarding the proto-Leonardo, River Phoenix. Melia writes, "During my years at a prestigious Ivy League institution, I developed an unconquerable devotion to River Phoenix. I found myself driving 45 minutes at a go to view such lame creations as A Night In The Life Of Jimmy Reardon just to satisfy my need. The day I heard he died in front of some evil club, I have to admit I cried. Never again will I fall prey to celebrity adoration! Although I don't mind watching Johnny Depp."

Melia, you're a bit hard on the "evil club" The Viper Room -- which is owned by, ahem, Johnny Depp - but I can truly relate to your River obsession. I was so into this beautiful, tragic young actor that a friend and I actually traveled 800 miles to Gainesville, Florida, to visit the home of the Phoenix family and catch a glimpse of the actor or, I don't know, his mailman or radish garden. Later I found out that this trip was merely a guise for my companion to secretly buy several sheets of a substance we don' t mention in family gossip columns/restaurants -- a purpose for which I was blissfully unaware. Oh the innocence of college life! (I didn't find his house, either, but I did meet a lot of people who hated him.) On the night I found out about his death, I was at a Halloween party and got so wasted from grief that I actually forgot that he died, only to wake up the next morning, mourn again and call up my friends, who promptly hung up in disgust! So, Melia, what I'm saying is, you're not alone.

Others jumped upon my Ben Folds Five fascination. "I'm a HUGE Ben fan myself!" Jade proclaims, "I've tracked them since the first album and now my collection has 19 discs (and growing) along with videos and posters and shirts and magazine articles and just about everything you would ever want. I even keep receipts if they say Ben Folds Five on them!" Whoa there! Alicia divulges, "I worship Ben Folds Five; I've bought their last two albums the second they came out at midnight sales. I cried when my then-boyfriend met them, took pictures with them, and got their autographs and didn't bring me along. We didn't last too much longer." Honey, Breakup Girl could have told you that!

Celebrity obsessions work best when shared with a lover. Crystal reports a BFF passion herself, claiming she's "got the piano from 'Whatever and Ever Amen' tattooed" on her shoulder - though she harbors an even greater love for Bette Midler. "She's amazing. She's the performer's performer. I love her. I met her. I think I scared her." Bette excites me too! (Gee, what did you think the odds of that were?) Darling, Bette once brushed my butt in a crowd. I didn't sit down for a week!

Some obsessions appear to have larger pertinence to a person's sexual proclivities. Nick, who seems to fancy non-Calistas, declares "I have but two celebrity infatuations -- one is Christina Ricci, the other is Rose McGowan. Who can blame me on Ricci? Sure, a lot of people are saying that she's 'fat.' Yeah, right. Whatever. The less of you who are after her, the better. As for Rose McGowan, I find it a terrible shame that she's engaged to that scary, sad, psychotic hubby-to-be of hers, Marilyn 'Charlie' Manson." Ricci is a fantastic choice, and I happen to know she likes very "normal" guys who are not obsessed with fame. As for Ms. McGowan, if you think Marilyn is truly "scary" then I doubt you'd stand a chance with the freak-lovin' Rose, who likes her boys a little rough and tumble.

Another reader lusts for Eric Stoltz. "I adore him to no end. When he broke up with Bridget Fonda I actually thought, for a brief second, 'Oooh! Now I have a chance!!!' My other obsession is with Conan O'Brien. He's my ideal man--smart, funny, eight feet tall. Apparently I have a thing for redheads as well." Truly! Have you considered Ron Howard? Or my personal favorite redhead, Dash Mihok (from Dawson's Creek)? Or Breakup Girl?

80s icons like Stoltz were echoed in other response as well. "For several years I've been obsessed with Emilio Estevez." Katherine bravely admits. "Why? I'm not totally sure. But I do know that I will never understand why Andie McDowell's character didn't fall head over heals for Emilio in St. Elmo's Fire. Every time I watch that movie, I just scream 'You idiot!'" You really shouldn't be ashamed of this particular obsession, mon chere, because it could be worse, as in his brother Charlie Sheen!

Some of you were truly brave with your admissions, and you should be proud. "Peter Falk. Really." discloses one reader, who wishes to be named merely a 'Falk Fan', "I even sit through those horrible new Columbo specials just to get a fix. I've watched the first 10-15 minutes of The Princess Bride easily twenty times--and PF actually plays a grandfather there, so there's no room for clever denials of how very old he is. Despite my childhood obsession with the original Columbo series, it was Wings of Desire that clinched this whole thing for me. Most of my friends do already know about my twisted little secret. And yes, they tease me." Your friends are obviously jealous because your heart beats for an actor of international acclaim! I would hardly categorize Peter as a sex symbol , but whatever does ya, doll! Your secret's safe with me (and thousands of readers).

But just to reassure you readers that not all obsessions are healthy, Sarah writes, "I must admit, I've got a 'crush to make ya' blush' as well... It's sad, really, how much I absolutely ADORE Wilford Brimley. He's just the cutest little old man EVER. Oh, the shame. But, hey, I had to tell someone, and you're it, buddy." Sarah, rather you had told me you were bearing my child! Seriously, though, those cream of wheat commercials of his always creeped me out, but thank you for confessing. If you find yourself watching an excessive number of Our House reruns, however, please e-mail me immediately. I lost Dana this week; I will not lose you too.

Now, before I pass out, I have two clarifications. A reader responds to my Ozark lineage comment by saying that John Goodman is from suburban St. Louis, not "a product of the Ozark Mountains in the heart of hickland, southwest Missouri," as you so eloquently put it." True, he was not born there, but he did study acting at the Ozark center for intellectual thought Southwest Missouri State University, so obviously, we hicks have a stake in the actor. (He went to our churches. He drank in our pubs. He carries the Ozarkian joie de vivre in his stocky soul.)

Also, last week, I listed a bevy of beautiful actors who attended and performed in a tribute to playwrights Wendy Wasserstein, Christopher Durang and Terrance MacNally, but I didn't list the beneficiary of the $1,000-a-seat soiree. The fabulons were there to raise money for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, an extraordinary institution uniting the greatest actors, dancers and singers in the solar system to raise money for AIDS research Apparently, it was a job well done, as the fund raised scooped up $250,000 for the organization. Next time, I shan't forget to include such important information. (That'll teach me to use a stack of cocktail napkins as a reporter's notepad.)

Until Wilfred Brimley makes me some delicious cream of wheat,

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