For those of us who know S. Epatha Merkerson as Law & Order’s tough-as-nails Lieutenant Anita Van Buren, witnessing her seamless transformation into a doting housewife swanning onstage in floral sundresses on Broadway can be a bit jarring.
When we caught up with Tina Brown at last night's Atlantic dinner and State of the Union–viewing session, we were curious as to what she thinks about Hillary Clinton lately. The senator, after all, is going to be one of the subjects of Brown's just-announced book, The Clinton Chronicles. "I think [her campaign so far] is a complete high-wire, absolutely astonishing, ever-changing drama," Brown explained. "I think a lot of it, too, is a construct as well. Whenever I see so-called Bill Clinton eruptions, they’re not eruptions at all." Man, she's already dissecting them like fetal pigs! Awesome. "I think that he will definitely recalibrate," Brown added. "I think you will probably see less of him in the next two weeks." Elsewhere at the party, Law & Order: SVU heroine Mariska Hargitay lounged with her husband, Peter Hermann, one of the male stars of Cashmere Mafia. So, Peter, what does Mariska think of your steamy Cashmere sex scenes? "We go do other things when it’s on, and then I rewind the DVR and watch them in private," Hermann explained carefully. "Then we talk it through and let it all subside a little bit and then we move on." He laughed then and showed his megawatt smile (Mariska has one, too, but she's not allowed to show it on TV). "We’re working through it." Good for them, but too bad for us. How great would it be if Mariska kicked down a studio door and shoved a 9mm in Miranda Otto's face? We love it when she does that. —Jada YuanGet more dirt from Andy Borowitz, Bronson van Wyck, and Rick Lazio at our complete coverage of the Atlantic's State of the Union Dinner. Earlier: Tina Brown to Publish a New ‘Chronicles’
Fred Thompson has dropped out of the presidential race. "Today, I have withdrawn my candidacy for president of the United States," the former Tennessee senator said in a statement that was just released. "I hope that my country and my party have benefited from our having made this effort." There was no announcement of whether he would be endorsing one of his former Republican rivals for the nomination. Thompson had said that he needed to win this weekend's South Carolina primary, in which he placed third, in order to continue the campaign. To which we say, good call. The odds of winning are much better on Law & Order, anyway.
Fred Thompson Quits Presidential Race [AP]
Jessica Simpson got totally pissed at Eva Longoria for hanging out with her ex John Mayer at GoldBar. MSNBC pundit Lawrence O'Donnell, who plays a lawyer on Big Love, bashed Mormonism on The McLaughlin Group on Sunday. Richard Belzer says he's "hurt" his role on Law & Order: SVU has been cut back. PETA has dubbed the Olsen twins the "Trollsen Twins" because of their affinity for fur. Among the items in J.Lo's gift registry for her twins are a Balmoral enameled black carriage for a $3,495 and a $289 suede play mat.
Mets pitcher John Maine asked an attractive clubgoer at Touch if he could try on her black dress in the bathroom. Sex and the City wrapped up shooting in New York with a party at the Royalton Hotel. Bill Clinton swapped seats with Oscar de la Renta so he could sit next to Penélope Cruz instead of Anna Wintour at the Spanish Institute Gold Medal Gala. Lame duck Brooklyn Borough President Marty Markowitz is annoyed that his name wasn't included in a recent Post article about 2009 gubernatorial contenders. Tommy Hilfiger made $8.5 million when he sold the East Hampton home he bought a year and a half ago for $26.5 million. Bobby Cannavale dropped his 47-year-old girlfriend for 22-year-old Alison Pill. Fans of Law & Order: SVU are annoyed that Richard Belzer doesn't have as much screen time as he once did.
When we Googled the name of Ralph Landi, the “Christian chef” who was accused of stealing a laptop and writing checks to himself at a soon-to-open midtown restaurant, we saw he had bounced around country and became immediately suspicious, as we always are of chefs who seek work outside of our fine city (especially in Vegas!). Sure enough, a former employer writes in with a bizarre tale about Landi that is best read in the voice of John Walsh.
Every time dudes we know get down about their male pattern baldness, we point them to Christopher Meloni of Law & Order: SVU. Meloni, one of People's Sexiest Men Alive, wears his baldness with confidence. He carries his bald head high, as though he sees his diminished pate not as a sign of depreciating masculinity, but as further proofof it. Baldness, we imagine he thinks, is the kind of thing that happens to a Real Man, a battle scar from the war that is life. And when we see Meloni do his squinty, angry, muscley, bald thing on L&O — well, our heart just goes pitter-patter. As it did when we ran into him at the Celebrity Charades event the other night. Although, much to our dismay, he did not look nearly as bald in person. In fact his head looked sort of weird. Like it was made of candy. He was quick to assure us. "I am balding!" he said. "I have makeup on because I’m coming from work, but I have a growing ozone hole here." As we imagined, Meloni was comfortable with the aging process. "You know, I actually feel like I’ve gotten better with age," he said. "I’ve kind of grown into it." We think so too! After all, we suggested, it's been said that balding men have more testosterone. "Nuff said," he said gruffly. "As my friend says, grass don’t grow on a busy highway. I’m a deep thinker." Swoon! —Jada YuanHear trash talk from Philip Seymour Hoffman, Bobby Cannavale, and others at the LAByrinth Theater Company’s Celebrity Charades.
B.D. Wong, of television's Law & Order, won't admit whether he thinks his co-star, hot bald cop Christopher Meloni, is hot. "That's a lame question," he groaned last night at a 25th-anniversary celebration for the Asian-American Arts Alliance at the Tribeca Rooftop. Really? Well, that's a lame answer. "He's one of those people that more people find attractive than not," he grudgingly admitted. Annoying! The correct answer is yes, he is. But we kind of think B.D. — what does that stand for? Wikipedia: Bradley Darryl — is hot, too, especially when he is diagnosing psychopaths on L&O and gets all passionate. So we stuck around. Whom was he voting for? Hillary? "I think so." Okay so if he and Hillary were stuck in an elevator together, and Hillary turned and said, "Aren't you B.D. Wong, of television's Law & Order?" would he acknowledge, in turn, that she was the big Hill? "Wouldn't that be interesting if I didn't?" Wong mused, suddenly mischievous. "I'm just pondering the idea of that…" He went coy again. We demanded an answer, just like Sam Waterston would. He finally broke: "As a human being, I'd want to ask her a lot of dumb personal questions about Monica. But that would be stupid." Hm. We don't know, doctor. We think you actually just tapped deep into America's psyche. Aren't those the questions everyone wants answered? —Tim Murphy
In tonight’s season premiere of Law & Order: Criminal Intent, Detective Eames revisits the murder of her late husband. Eames has a weakness for double-vodka martinis, but the actress who plays her, Kathryn Erbe, says her only remaining vices are sugar and caffeine. “I have a terrible sweet tooth,” she tells us. “I’m a cookie addict.” We suppose it’s better than being the sort of addict that she fights in CI she is a mom and all. So where does the Brooklynite feed her habit?
Oddly enough, the VIP tent at the Mercedes-Benz Polo Challenge in the Hamptons is probably the last place you'll find anyone actually interested in horses. Usually getting all the attention are the Champagne, hors d'oeuvre, and the genetic miracle that is Christie Brinkley's face. But this Saturday, Law & Order star Chris Meloni revealed that he actually uses his glutes for something other than making us swoon. "I used to ride, when I was in L.A.," he told Daily Intel. "[My friend had] one horse that was great, another horse that, you know, had a bad attitude, and he would intentionally run me into trees or under branches that were really low and would try to knock you off." Meloni's pal eventually sold the ornery horse, only to find out that "the whole time, he was blind." Guffaw! Shoulda saved that one for Leno, Chris. Elsewhere at the Mandy Moore–hosted event, a pregnant Jill Hennessy was probably the only star to avoid the booze. "I love watching people munching on little appetizers, salted nuts," she told us. Pregnant ladies rule. —Brett Amelkin
This week’s episode of The Closer finds Brenda Johnson and Co. settling into a good rhythm. At episode’s start, we learn that a girl has gone missing, and the department lays on the full-court press to track her down.
Last week, Vulture commanded you, the reader, to reach into the depths of your pop-cultural memories to come up with the nine television series that actor Richard Belzer's character Detective Munch has appeared on since his inception in 1993, as we could only come up with eight.
• So Mayor Mike struck out on his congestion-pricing deal as Albany ended the legislative session. But while that plan got all the attention, Bloomberg got a slew of other projects passed: a child-care tax credit, a corporate tax slash, and more state funds for public housing. Huh. [NYP]
• Dozens of pissed-off New Yorkers are being bussed to D.C. for a congressional hearing about the Feds’ performance monitoring air quality at ground zero. Jerry Nadler will be the congressman first to grill ex–EPA head Christine Todd Whitman. [amNY]
• What Sunday’s pride parade may have lacked in middle-aged, middle-class gays, it more than made up for in a newly prominent demographic: religious groups. Jews, Roman Catholics, Buddhists, and others came dangerously close, in the words of a reveler, to “hijacking the parade.” [WCBS]
• The weekend brought a mass gang arrest in Bushwick — 32 kids, the youngest 13 years old, collared on their way to attend a murdered friend’s wake. The gang is supposedly an offshoot of the Bloods, colorfully dubbed the Pretty Boy Family. [NYT]
• And now that Fred Thompson seems to be a viable presidential candidate, let’s get all our political advice from Law & Order cast members. Sam Waterston — a.k.a. A.D.A. Jack McCoy — is also the face of the libertarian-flavored online movement Unity08, and he's ready to vote Bloomberg. [NYDN]
Michael Moore's new documentary, Sicko, points out how much money Hillary Clinton raises from health-care companies, and Harvey Weinstein tried to get him to remove a scene about it. Angelina Jolie claimed she was sorry Fox News was banned from her A Mighty Heart premiere, but then she banned Us Weekly and Life & Style (but not People and OK!) from the print-press roundtables. Former New Jersey governor Jim McGreevey might adopt a kid with his partner. Rosie O'Donnell really wants to host The Price Is Right, but the show's producers may not be into it. Lindsay Lohan may spend her 21st-birthday party in rehab because she is taking it seriously this time. That, or because Pure won't host a party for her. Former senator Al D'Amato may play a judge on Law & Order.