Last night, at a benefit for Women's Expressive Theater, the cool old shul on the Lower East Side that's the Angel Orensanz cultural center hosted short plays about love or its complications by women playwrights like Brooke Berman and Jenny Lyn Bader. The plays starred folks like Gretchen Mol, Martha Plimpton, Josh Hamilton, and Michael Cerveris. After the shows, we asked Cerveris (star of Broadway masterpieces like Sweeney Todd, The Who's Tommy, and Titanic) what he's been up to lately. Apparently, he's been flying between here and New Orleans a lot to shoot the film Cirque du Freak, based on the popular young-adult Vampire Blood book trilogy ("It's like Harry Potter with vampires"). He's co-starring across from Willem Dafoe, Salma Hayek, and John C. Reilly. Since we don't know much about sucking blood, but we do know a little about sucking chest wounds, we asked him about Valentine's Day. Has he ever put himself out on a limb for love? "My whole life I've been making grand gestures," he said wearily. "And they meet with intermittent success, but often abject failure." Oh, no! "In the long-term, I'm still going home to my dog, Gibson." And his plans for Thursday, the 14th? "I'm flying back from New Orleans. Unless there's a particularly lonely stewardess, I'm probably looking at me and Gibson that night," he said. "She appreciates my presence in a consistent way. So maybe I'll get her a red...bone or something." —Tim Murphy
Ha-ha, Los Angeles! You see what happens when you threaten to take the Oscars away from the pretty people? They come here to New York to party! Okay, so maybe it's more that Madonna just invited them all to come to New York, and you can't say no to Her Madgesty (she clearly knows how to do that Famke Janssen kill move from Goldeneye, and she likes it). But still, her Gucci/Malawi party was on Wednesday, and according to PageSix.com and Us Weekly, many celebs stuck around last night to attend Ashton Kutcher's birthday party at Gemma. Kutcher claims it was his 30th birthday, and to celebrate, Salma Hayek, François-Henri Pinault, Lucy Liu, Bruce Willis, and Kate Hudson all showed up. Madonna even sang "Happy Birthday" (okay, for all our bitterness, we must admit that's pretty effing cool)! Later in the evening they went to Socialista, where they were joined by Roberto Cavalli, Rebecca Gayheart, Molly Sims, Liv Tyler, and Gwyneth Paltrow. Nice job, Ashton! Way to party like it's still 1999!
Demi Moore's A-List Birthday Bash for Ashton Kutcher [Us Weekly]
Ashton's A-List B-Day [PageSix.com]
We were delighted to discover when we arrived at Wednesday's Gucci party that we weren't the only ones totally awestruck in the presence of Madonna. As we interviewed Women's Murder Club star Angie Harmon, she became visibly nervous when Madonna walked up the red carpet behind her. "I've been running around Fashion Week," she stuttered, trying to stay on topic. Then she interrupted herself and burst out to her date, hairdresser Stephen Knoll, "Did you just say ‘Hi’ to Madonna?!" she gushed. "I'm totally freaking out! You said ‘Hi’ to Madonna!" Harmon turned back to us and admitted, "I can't handle it! I've never met her. Probably won't get up the nerve to do it tonight. Look at Lourdes! Look at how big she is! I bet she has a British accent." We bet she does, too. Most of the rest of the celebrities, who included Jennifer Lopez, Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes, Gwyneth Paltrow, Gwen Stefani, Salma Hayek, and Drew Barrymore, didn't stop to chat on the red carpet. But when we asked the hugely pregnant Lopez what she was wearing when she tottered by on four-inch heels, she replied, "Gucci Gucci Goo!"
Penélope Cruz and Salma Hayek had their camera and laptop, respectively, stolen while on vacation and are now worried about pictures getting out. In yet another Scientology video, Tom Cruise takes credit for saving the lives of fireman in the aftermath of 9/11. CNN's chief national correspondent, John King, is converting to Judaism to appease the father of bride-to-be, congressional correspondent Dana Bash. Michael Keaton's real name is Michael Douglas, but he changed his surname to Keaton to avoid confusion. Chris Martin attacked a paparazzo who was shooting him and Gwyneth Paltrow leaving Mount Sinai hospital.
Sex and the City producers have to reshoot the wedding sequence between Carrie Bradshaw and Mr. Big at the New York Public Library because they rushed through it the first time. (Also, Kim Cattrall shows up to work last every day.) ABC contacted Cosmo's hottest New York Bachelor of 2007, Patrick Clark, about staring in The Bachelor. Bonnie Evans, widow of Charles Evans (brother of producer Bob Evans), is putting up her Park Avenue triplex for sale for $30 million. Josh Hartnett claimed that "half–95%" of what is written about him is not true but declined to say whether his hooking up with Rihanna was included in that figure. The Autumn, the play starring Meryl Streep's daughter Mamie Gummer, is coming to Broadway. Law & Order: SVU star Richard Belzer spends a lot of time looking for UFOs. Cindy Adams discusses reruns on TV.
At the memorial service for former movie critic Joel Siegel, ABC anchor Charles Gibson noted that the Jewish Siegel sent the best Christmas cards. Gossip Girl star Chace Crawford got cozy with a "rude and nasty" Carrie Underwood at Marquee and a party at Soho Grand (not "Chance" Crawford, as reported by "Page Six"). Vanessa and Donald Trump Jr. dined at Gemma and drank at the Rose Bar in the Gramercy Park Hotel. Cindy Adams claims that members of John Edwards's camp are "profoundly worried" about the recent allegations that Edwards strayed on his wife. David Lauren and Lauren Bush arrived via motorcycle to the Domino Bazaar Saturday.
François Pinault, the owner of Gucci and Christie's, Forbes-approved Richest Person, and proud grandfather to Salma Hayek's newly birthed daughter, Valentina Paloma Pinault (if this kid lived in Zimbabwe, it would totally be called Set-for-Life Pinault), has paid $16.9 million for the top penthouse in Barbizon/63, the Gothic-looking former women's hotel on East 63rd Street and Lexington Avenue that was recently converted into super-fabulous condos for super-fabulous people. Amenities include...
Some Lower East Siders are trying to get the Box closed because it's more a nightclub and less the "cultural institution" its owners promised it would be. (And also, we presume, because it's utterly insufferable.) At the age of 50, Kelly Klein, ex of Calvin, is finally having a baby. Hillary Clinton raised $500,000 at a fund-raiser at Ted Danson's house on Martha's Vineyard. The beach is eroding in front of Tina Brown and Harry Evans's place in Quogue. John McEnroe is in talks with Larry Ellison to establish a tennis training center in Flushing Meadows. Andy Roddick had stage fright when asked to say a few words at a party in his honor at Tenjune. A bunch of guests got lost en route to Donna Karan's house in East Hampton. Tom Petty played two gigs in the Hamptons for $1.7 million. (Paul McCartney and Renée Zellweger were there.) Patrick Ewing and Alonzo Mourning looked for the entrance to La Esquina.
Supreme Court justice Antonin Scalia is, not surprisingly, a fan of Jack Bauer's 24 torture techniques. Mark Green is set to join Al D'Amato and Ed Koch on NY1's Inside City Hall program. Jeanine Pirro is set to star in a Judge Judy–esque show. Ellen Barkin and Ralph Fiennes have been canoodling. Knicks point guard Stephon Marbury gave $300 to a homeless man. The Olsen twins trekked to Atlantic City for a Bob Dylan concert. The late Kurt Vonnegut has a role in an upcoming DVD. A gay former CBS News producer filed a $10 million discrimination suit against his former employer because he felt the network didn't want his gay-bashing in St. Maarten to be publicized. Aussie golfer Greg Norman and his ex-wife-to-be have finally come to (undisclosed) terms on how to split up his $500 million fortune. Patti LaBelle didn't need a mike to wow a Carnegie Hall audience.