Tuesday, October 5, 1999
As Garth Brooks currently has the hottest selling album in the country, I would like to thank his disembodied sentience for taking time out of his busy schedule to guest-host this column last week. Perhaps when Garth goes back to recording a album under his real moniker, we could have Chris Gaines come by and write a column. I mean, where do split personalities go after they've sold their last record?
Where, you ask, was I last week? Why wasn't I manning my post here in the corner booth of the Times Square HoJo? Well, I was visiting my relations in the warm, down-home community of Springfield, MO, Queen City Of The Ozarks. My French parents, descendants of royal lineage (read: inbreds), settled in this charming Midwestern "city" after international political scandal forced them to relocate. (I was but a wee li'l when we moved; all I remember is being pummeled by berets and croissants as we escaped in our horse-drawn carriage.) They quickly assimilated to the satellite-dish-and-six-pack culture that is the laid-back Midwestern existence, forgetting their heritage to eagerly embrace the Wal-Mart Super Centers, swap meets, gingham goose crafts, deep fried diets, and socially acceptable racism that is the very fabric of this "neck of the woods."
Yet despite my obvious disadvantage as a "city slicker" -- clad in velvet and silk shirts in such climates! -- I made my way quite successfully around this pleasant burg. I even spent a day in Branson, MO, the new country music capitol and home of such resident celebrities as Mel Tillis, Christy Lane, Englebert Humperdinck, and The Osmonds. Though I spotted no celebrities of this caliber, I did play indoor miniature golf behind a man that looked like Wilfred Brimley. I also shopped in many fine Branson shops that specialized in Beanie Babies, windchimes, and year-round Christmas supplies. Sadly, my plans to bring back gifts for Breakup Girl and crew were squelched when I was unable to find Branson-adorned martini glasses.
Did this excursion away from urban glamour clot my influx of entertainment gossip? As if! Springfield's other member of the glitterati is Brad Pitt, who went to my rival high school and frequently returns to visit his parents, who bask in their local fame. In fact, Bradley had a special movie premiere of "Meet Joe Black" in Springfield when it was released last year (which, if you ask me, should have given everyone advance notice of its flop status). Anyway, seems as if the sexy "Fight Club" star owns some property in the dowdy downtown section of town, and one of his buildings mysteriously burned down a few months ago. Pitt was quickly on the scene, according to reports, looking all distressed and cute. (It had been quickly rebuilt by the time I went to survey the area.) He was later seen eating out at one of Springfield's many dining establishments and his presence caused a stir in town on par with a bass-fishing tournament.
I also learned that one of my mother's close friends is the real mother of the late "Diff'rent Strokes" star Dana Plato, who claims that Dana was never once clean and sober and that her death was "most definitely" a suicide. Duh!
My aunt, an MCI employee specializing in cold-calls hocking their low-priced long distance rates, told me over a steaming hot dinner at seafood establishment Long John Silver's that she had just that week called a number which was the private number of Faye Dunaway and attempted to convince the feisty actress to switch her long-distance phone service. According to my related source, Faye demanded to know how a long distance company got her number and then spewed a series of obscenities at my aunt before hanging up. "But did she switch to MCI?" I inquired, touching a breaded fish plank to my lips. "Absolutely not," claimed my aunt. No wire hangers, and no MCI.
I was also told of a rather incriminating photograph of "Will And Grace" star Sean P. Hayes, proving a greater affinity for his television role than he cares to admit in magazine interviews. As I did not stick around long enough to inspect the photo closely, this is strictly hearsay and should be taken as such. But, honestly, is anybody actually surprised?
Once or twice a week, I get a letter from a disgruntled teen girl who's read a back installment of this column and chided me for my quick dismissal of the Five Messiahs, more commonly known as The Backstreet Boys. "Backstreet Boys don't act gay, OK," replied one perturbed reader. "I don't know how people can say something like that about someone when it's not true." Perhaps she's right. Synchronized dancing in all white is a very macho thing. Their very name solidifies an undeterred masculinity.
Anyway, to assuage so many of my disgruntled readers, I attended one stop of their Millennium tour prior to my Springfield excursion, and I found them to be likable, energetic entertainers, like young Siegfried and Roys. Greeted by thousands of eight and nine year old fans, the Boys were lifted to the stage on suspended "boogie" boards and met there with dancers, fireworks, laserlights, and pyrotechnics not seen since a Kiss concert. They proceeded to sift through their repertoire, thrilling the underage crowd with tight choreography, frequent costume changes, and stage demeanors that made you feel that the Boys were singing right to you. There was even a faked power outage during the encore, so that the thousands of girls in the audience could sing "I Want It That Way" back to the Boys. They all looked fantastic except for Nick Carter (the one that looks like Leonardo DiCaprio), who is developing into a thick broad-shouldered lad and beginning to resemble stuffed sausage in tight, monochromatic clothing.
While everyone has their real favorite Backstreet Boy, I have actually evaluated their strengths and weakness (based on talent, stage presence, personality, appearance and likelihood of a future problem with narcotics) and come up with a definitive ranking: 1) Brian 2) Howie 3) Kevin (Betsy's fave) 4) AJ and 5) Nick.
This just in! Seems that Laurence Fishburne had a Breakup Girl sighting in the bar of NYC's swanky Time Hotel. BG and pals were enjoying cocktails after a stunning performance of Death of a Salesman; Fishburne held court at the next table. As BG passed on her way to the ladies' room, Fishburne's eyes followed...her butt. Bette Midler once accidentally grazed my buttocks in a crowded room, and I once accidentally rubbed the rump of Jesse Jackson, but I have never had my derriere inspected by a famous pair of searching eyes. Any rear-end that holds the attention of an Oscar nominee should be, in my opinion, a butt of nobody's jokes. Way to go, boss!
Meanwhile, the ever-prescient BG and pals were engaged in the "Let's Cast The 'Death of a Salesman' TV Movie" Game. Results: One rundown included George Wendt, Victoria Principal, Scott Wolf, and Jason Bateman, though the names Ted Danson, Lorenzo Lamas, and Judd Nelson were also batted around, as were ideas such as an all Baldwin/Arquette version (and, of course, an all-Smurf version). Still, above all -- and subject to availability -- the clearest choice for Linda is, of course, Markie Post.
Next week we play The Sandra Bullock Game and speculate on the political careers of some of your favorite stars. Warren, Arnold, Cybill...could Michael J. Fox be next?
Until The Osmonds face The Backstreet Boys on the real backstreets of Branson,
Breakup Girl created by Lynn Harris & Chris Kalb