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  1. cultural capital
    Bill Clinton and the ‘25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee’ The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee is a fun and funny Broadway musical, but it’s been running for more than two years at the Circle in the Square theater after an Off Broadway run at Second Stages. So what brought Bill Clinton — who could presumably get tickets to the newest, most in-demand shows — to Friday night’s performance? “My mother-in-law — Hillary’s mother — wanted to see something uplifting,” the former president told us after the final curtain. “My daughter had already seen it, so she suggested we all go.” It was Dorothy Rodham’s 88th birthday, and she took in the show — about awkward teens competing for the spelling title — with her son-in-law, her granddaughter, and Chelsea’s boyfriend, Mark Mezvinsky.
  2. gossipmonger
    But Does Jerry Like Laura Bush’s Corn?Laura Bush and the First Twins saw Grey Gardens (the twins laughed; mom did not). Paula Abdul was caught on tape sobbing and complaining about her former publicist, Howard Bragman. (She also claimed she doesn’t get drunk or do drugs). Hedge-fund manager Scott Bessent bought the late Pat Kennedy Lawford’s co-op for $12 million. Lindsay Lohan is set to lose hundreds of thousands of dollars in 21st-birthday-party sponsorships because of her DUI arrest. A waiter head-butted a hostess at Alison in Bridgehampton. Mischa Barton called Cisco Adler after being rushed to the hospital for an allergic reaction, much to the dismay of her dad. A bunch of female celebrities, including Gabrielle Union and Erika Christensen, posed naked for a book. Michael Bublé tried hooking up with Emily Blunt at a hotel but failed. Red Eye contributor Rachel Marsden had to be escorted out of Fox News headquarters for “bizarre and erratic behavior.”
  3. in other news
    Metropolitan Diary Exclusive: ‘In the Heights’ Theatergoers Terrified By Ethnic HairThe Times’ crosstown-bus-riding Metropolitan Diary is a frequently mocked fount of quaintness, and this week, as they say, was no exception. What comical confusion befell women of a certain age? A terrifying one! It seems that during a recent performance of In the Heights, the entire front row “let out a shriek”: They thought they saw a filthy, furry rat scurry across the stage. But it wasn’t! It was merely the “bobbing black curls of the orchestra conductor at his subterranean podium.” Oh, dastardly non-blonde, non-straight hair. Next week in delightful urban misunderstandings: Fantasia briefly mistaken for a “giant panther” on the set of The Color Purple. Metropolitan Diary [NYT]
  4. gossipmonger
    De Niro and Bowie, Kushner and Trump, Wenner and Nye Make NiceRobert De Niro and David Bowie were cordial at Vanity Fair’s party for the Tribeca Film Festival, despite reports that De Niro is mad that Bowie’s High Line Festival comes right after Tribeca. Also at the party: “Friends” Jared Kushner and Ivanka Trump (as we told you yesterday). And Jann Wenner, with cuckolded boyfriend Matt Nye. Amy Sacco will open a hotel in the financial district. CBS’s Bob Schieffer and Lesley Stahl may have been behind a hit piece on Katie Couric in the Philadelphia Inquirer. Speaking of Couric, her cell phone ringtone is the Pussycat Dolls’s “Don’t Cha.” Bill Clinton is going to a party at Gabriel Byrne’s house to fundraise for Hillary. Les Moonves went to go see his son’s rock band play at the Plumm.
  5. the morning line
    Mike Goes Green • After a long and suspenseful run-up, Mayor Bloomberg finally revealed his 25-year plan for “the first environmentally sustainable 21st-century city.” On tap: enclosed highways, more green space, river cleanup — and $8 congestion charge. [NYT] • Four Brooklyn policewoman have filed complaints against three of their superiors for allegedly calling them — you’re not going to believe this — “nappy-headed ho’s.” (As in: “Don’t give me no lip before I have to call you [one].”) Great: postmodernist slur use. [NYDN] • A Mets fan is pleading not guilty to “interfering with a professional sporting event”; he has allegedly tried to blind two Atlanta Braves players with a flashlight. He’s represented by Legal Aid, which can always use a diversion, and faces a year in jail. [WNBC] • Dina Matos McGreevey claims she had learned of her husband’s sexuality early on, perhaps by 2000. Also: The Post should really stop calling McGreevey “McG” lest Charlie’s Angels director McG sue. [NYP] • And The Producers ended its Broadway run yesterday after 2,502 performances, leaving behind only fond memories. Well, and two movies. [amNY]
  6. gossipmonger
    Jack Donaghy Is an Angry FatherAlec Baldwin called his daughter “a rude, thoughtless little pig” after he phoned her and she didn’t pick up. Julianne Moore complained about the price of a bottle of water at the theater. Police think the Anne Bass robbery was an inside job. Neither Russell Simmons nor L.A. Reid attended Al Sharpton’s National Action Network dinner, although both were invited. Britney Spears fired her manager because she was mad he made her check into rehab, but her father stands by him. Rosie O’Donnell and Elizabeth Hasselbeck went to Radio City Music Hall together. Donald Trump and Barbara Walters avoided each other at Larry King’s party at the Four Seasons. Paris Hilton hooked up with James Blunt.
  7. obit
    Remembering Kitty Carlisle Hart, a Last Link to Glamorous New York Kitty Carlisle Hart belonged to the heyday of the ‘21’ Club and Sardi’s, of Harpo Marx acting up at parties where George Gershwin (who once proposed to her) played only his own songs. Her death today, at a vibrant 96, severs one of the last links to a New York that had more glamour than celebrity, more sophistication than wealth. In a newspaper interview a few years ago — between cabaret engagements, dates with beaux, and the other social commitments incumbent upon a “living landmark” of the city — she wondered what had happened to the place. Decades ago, she recalled, “we used to get all dressed up and go out dancing, then we’d go out for breakfast, and then we’d go to work the next day. I don’t know why they don’t do that anymore.”
  8. party lines
    The Night of Magical Thinking It’s probably for the best that we weren’t welcome at the after-party last night for The Year of Magical Thinking opening. After a 95-minute monologue about grief, death, and more grief, who’s in the mood for cocktails and schmoozing? The small, pre-curtain reception at Sardi’s was enough, with its parade of Serious Actresses (and a few others) bowing before the equally legendary Vanessa Redgrave, who stars, and Joan Didion, who adapted the play from her book: Stockard Channing, Marian Seldes, Christine Baranski, Claire Danes, Michael Cunningham. “I wore waterproof mascara,” said Danes, who admitted she owns but hasn’t read the book. “I’m taking a few of these cocktails napkins with me,” echoed Channing. “But I think we’ll all be okay.”
  9. cultural capital
    The Multitalented People of ‘Curtains’The just-opened Kander and Ebb musical Curtains is, as you know, the famed music-and-lyrics duo’s first collaboration with writer Rupert Holmes. (Fred Ebb died while working on the show, and Holmes helped John Kander finish it.) It’s also the first collaboration of stars David Hyde Pierce and Debra Monk, though not of Pierce and co-star Edward Hibbert, who both appeared on Frasier. And we noticed a funny thing flipping through our Playbill the other night: In an unexpected U.N.-McSweeney’s-Sopranos twist, Curtains is undoubtedly the first Broadway collaboration of credited company members John Bolton, David Eggers, and David Chase. A triple threat, indeed. Related: She’s a Man, Baby! [NYM]
  10. party lines
    Theater on the Radio Eric Bogosian’s Talk Radio is about a controversial and caustic radio host who’s forced to confront the hatred he’s engendered just as he’s about to get picked up for national syndication. A Broadway revival starring Liev Schreiber opened Sunday night, and the after-party seemed a good place to conduct an informal survey of actors’ listening habits. We learned that Chris Noth won’t listen to radio anymore, Stephanie March wants to be a customer-service avenger, and Bogosian only listens to classical. There’s a lot more, all after the jump.
  11. cultural capital
    ‘Putnam County’ Goes G-A-YIt is a question handed down since the time of the pharaohs, or at least since the time of Joseph: How is gay night at a Broadway musical different from all other nights? The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee — already a not-ungay show, featuring both a character with two dads and music and lyrics by William Finn, who wrote and composed the pioneering gay musical Falsettos — attempted to find out yesterday, with a special “gay night” performance.
  12. cultural capital
    ‘Grease’ Reality TV: There Are Worse Things They Could Do Grease is, of course, the word. It is also the raison d’être for a new reality show that premiered on NBC last night. In Grease: You’re the One That I Want, we the people, American Idol–ly assisted by three judges — one a well-known professional, one an industry insider, and one a producer with a cold manner and a British accent — will cast the roles of Danny and Sandy for a new Broadway revival of the Travolta–Newton-John musical. After the premiere ended last night, New York’s theater critic, Jeremy McCarter, and Daily Intel’s Jesse Oxfeld fired up the Instant Messenger to discuss the show, its stars, and whether this can possibly be a good way to pick two Broadway leads. Here, their Angus McIndoe–ready post-show banter: Oxfeld: Did you have chills? Oxfeld: Are they multiplying? Oxfeld: I presume, actually, that you’re indignant — as you are wont to be — about the Hollywoodization/populist-ization/etc. of the Great White Way. McCarter: Me, indignant? McCarter: Actually, I’m not. Not as much as many seem to be, anyway. Oxfeld: Do people seem to be? Oxfeld: I mean, after all, it’s, well, Grease. Oxfeld: It’s hard to get worked up about disrespecting its highbrow legacy. McCarter: That’s how I feel. But the general reaction seems to be that the Temple of the Muses is being desecrated by the barbarians, etc. Oxfeld: So, having now seen the premiere, is it more or less desecrating than you were expecting? McCarter: I don’t think it desecrates it at all, actually. It’s kind of tawdry and exhibitionistic, and I frequently wanted to look away. But, hey, it’s Broadway.
  13. intel
    ‘Little Dog’ to Stop LaughingThe pitch-black Hollywood satire The Little Dog Laughed opened in November to good reviews and raves for its star, the amazing Julie White, who gave one of the most memorable performances of the season — and, we should add, a pretty memorable interview to New York. (Her “sinfully funny turn as an amoral Hollywood agent,” merited an honorable mention from our Jeremy McCarter in the year-end Culture Awards.) It also played last week — the tourist-packed Christmas–to–New Year week — to the smallest capacity of any show on Broadway. And so today comes the unsurprising but vaguely saddening announcement that the show will be closing next month, with its final performance on February 18. The forgettable and superfluous Les Mis revival, however, continues to pack ‘em in. The Year in Theater [NYM] Agent Provocateur: Julie White [NYM] Earlier: One Day More Is the Bitch of Living
  14. cultural capital
    One Day More Is the Bitch of LivingDo you hear the people sing? Well, you’d better get used to it, because they’re going be singing “at least through the summer of 2007.” That’s right: The allegedly limited-run revival of Les Misérables has been extended, according to a press release out yesterday. The current production of the eighties megamusical opened at the beginning of November, a mere three years after closing its original sixteen-year Broadway run, and despite bad reviews it’s doing boffo box office: Last week it ran at 83 percent capacity. Meantime, Spring Awakening, the groundbreaking, enthralling, and critically adored new rock musical — “the new indie-rock treatment of Frank Wedekind’s play about hormonal adolescents has just about everything going for it,” says Jeremy McCarter— is freshly opened and has been struggling: Last week it only filled 60 percent of its house. (And that was an improvement.) Which means that shows about revolutions are bigger draws than revolutionary ones. Vive, it seems, l’ancien régime.
  15. 21 questions
    ‘Spring Awakening’ Choreographer Bill T. Jones Doesn’t Wear JeansName: Bill T. Jones Age: 54 Job: Dancer and choreographer; choreographer of Spring Awakening, which opened on Broadway Sunday to rave reviews Neighborhood: Rockland County Who’s your favorite New Yorker, living or dead, real or fictional? Ratso, the character Dustin Hoffman plays in Midnight Cowboy. What’s the best meal you’ve eaten in New York? Seafood sausage at Chanterelle. In one sentence, what do you actually do all day in your job? Thinking about dances, making dances, and figuring out how to pay for the making of dances.
  16. cultural capital
    ‘High Fidelity’ Breaks Up With BroadwayNews came late yesterday that High Fidelity, the unloved Broadway musical adapted from the loved John Cusack movie based on the loved Nick Hornby book, will be closing Sunday, after opening just last Thursday (“The score consisted of the vague Broadway-rock wash that sounds authentic only next to other pop musicals!” —New York’s Jeremy McCarter). That’s a total of only 14 performances, outdoing even this season’s painful Bob Dylan–Twyla Tharp musical, which lasted a whopping 28, and the spring’s David Schwimmer–led Caine Mutiny Court-Martial revival, which kept itself revived for 17 shows. A quick spin through the Internet Broadway Database — yes, we’ve also lost track of how many different kinds of geeky we are — proves that Fidelity is not, in fact, the shortest-running Broadway show of the young 21st century. A Macbeth starring Kelsey Grammer ran for 13 performances in 2000, Martha Plimpton’s Broadway debut, Sixteen Wounded, did a dozen in 2004, and the Suzanne Somers vehicle The Blonde in the Convertible stalled after just 9 last year. And then there’s Ellen Burstyn’s one-woman The Oldest Living Confederate Widow Tells All. It closed after opening night in 2003. Now It’s Die, Fidelity [NYP]
  17. party lines
    Theater People Celebrate an Institution, Complain About SexLast night was the fifth-anniversary celebration for Angus McIndoe’s, the theater-district hot spot popular before shows with tourists and after shows with actors and critics, and the party drew what one wag identified as the five sectors of the theatergoing population: gays, Jews, gay Jews, the WASPs who write about them, and the women who love them all. Much of the talk was about Spring Awakening, the exhilarating rock musical that opened Sunday night to amazing reviews in yesterday’s papers, and if you’re wondering why the show — about sexual discovery and repression among nineteenth-century teenagers — has struck such a chord with theater critics and reporters, you need only step into their world for a night to learn that this crowd knows more than a little about sexual frustration.
  18. intel
    Broadway Cares, But ‘The Color Purple’ Cares MostYesterday endeth the giving season on Broadway. Every year since 1988, Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS has asked the theater world to spend six weeks raising funds for the charity — hence all those post-ovation pleas for donations — and shows’ casts compete to raise the most dough. This year’s big winner was The Color Purple, which brought in $194,500 of the almost $3 million total. How do casts try to wring more money from their audiences? By offering for sale or auction all manner of services and tchotchkes. In 2003, most notably, Hugh Jackman, then in Boy From Oz, and Harvey Fierstein, then in Hairspray, faced off for the most coveted trinket: Jackman auctioned off his autographed, sweaty towel after each performance, while Fierstein promised to record an outgoing message for his highest bidder. (Jackman triumphed, bringing in more than $3 million.) Who was this year’s big draw?
  19. the morning line
    A Bad Day for All Things Trans • The Board of Health has backed off the much-publicized proposal to let people change the gender on their birth certificates nearly at will, without having necessarily gone under the knife. The ultraprogressive policy would run afoul of new federal regulations, due next year. Once again, being first doesn’t pay off. [NYT] • The Reverend Al Sharpton and other black and Latino leaders say they want to stage a pre-Christmas march down Fifth Avenue, from Plaza Hotel to Herald Square, to protest the 50-bullet police shooting of Sean Bell. Bell’s relatives will lead the procession. [NYDN] • Broadway’s James Barbour (Beauty and the Beast, Urinetown) is hauled in on sexual-assault charges. If nothing else, this easily trumps yesterday’s news that a guy with a Law & Order credit was sticking up drugstores. [NYP] • Eagle-eyed MTA budget-watchers noticed an odd expenditure: In the last four years, the authority has spent $102,009 on tailor’s bills. The culprit: a weirdly shaped armrest on LIRR and Metro-North trains, prone to ripping passengers’ pants. [AP via amNY] • And in what’s clearly the Times’ grossest “Metro” item of the day, a must-read local-color piece trails undiscriminating diners as they grapple with the Taco Bell E. coli scare. Money quote: “I ordered from the Pizza Hut side of the menu because I can’t take any chances.” [NYT]
  20. 21 questions
    ‘Company’ Star Raúl Esparza Spends His Days and Nights (Being Alive and) WorryingName: Raúl Esparza Age: 36 Job: Actor; Bobby in the Company revival that opened last night Lives: Upper West Side Who’s your favorite New Yorker, living or dead, real or fictional? Cynthia O’Neal, co-founder of Friends in Deed. What’s the best meal you’ve eaten in New York? Brunch at Norma’s. In one sentence, what do you actually do all day in your job? Worry.
  21. cultural capital
    Dogs Laugh, Stars Swap, and Keillor PeesThe Little Dog Laughed is freshly opened, well-reviewed, and its star — Julie White — delivers one of the best performances in recent Broadway memory. So it’s the sort of show at which you expect you’ll run into boldfaced sorts. That it’s about show business — if, yes, viciously satirically — only increases the likelihood you’ll see Hollywood types. And, sure enough, last night’s crowd murmured with quasi-interest at the sight of a black-knit-cap-wearing Woody Harrelson in one row and a still-recognizable-despite-possibly-having-had-work-done Steve Guttenberg across the theater. When intermission came, the two stars gravitated toward each other (some sort of Cheers–Ted Danson–Three Men and a Little Lady connection, perhaps?). At which point they decided to switch seats. And dates. Neither man was the night’s biggest star attraction, however. That honor belonged to Garrison Keillor, who politely and patiently received good wishes from fans — even one elderly man who, while Keillor was pinned in the Cort Theater’s tiny men’s room, face to face with a urinal, took the opportunity to lean in and tell him, “My wife and I spend every Saturday night listening to your show.” And the occasional Wednesday night, apparently, watching him do something else. — Adam Sternbergh
  22. cultural capital
    ‘Chicago’ Tenth Anniversary Razzles and Dazzles We have seen gay heaven — or, at least, the older gentleman sitting in front of us at the Ambassador Theater, prone to wild clapping, spontaneous standing ovations, and a few outbursts of “Oh, my God! It’s Chita Rivera! It’s Chita Rivera!” has — and it looks like last night’s tenth-anniversary performance of Chicago, a benefit for Safe Horizons, in which every person who’s been in the revival’s cast either made a cameo appearance or performed an entire number. Who was there?
  23. 21 questions
    Christine Ebersole Lives in the Suburbs (But Presumably Not in a Decrepit Mansion) Name: Christine Ebersole Age: 53 Job: Entertainer; Little Edie Beale in Grey Gardens, opening on Broadway tomorrow Neighborhood: I live at the Walter Kerr Theatre! Who’s your favorite New Yorker, living or dead, real or fictional? Jerry Gutierrez. What’s the best meal you’ve eaten in New York? La Masseria. In one sentence, what do you actually do all day in your job? I’m in my pajamas all day so I can entertain at night.
  24. cultural capital
    On Visiting Grey Gardens We recently saw the new Broadway production of Grey Gardens, which opens Thursday night, and, without stepping on the formidably critical toes of our esteemed colleague Jeremy McCarter, we should say we liked it quite a lot. But we’re also forced to confess we’d never seen the famous 1975 Maysles brothers documentary of the same name, which brought the detailed Hamptons Gothic of Big and Little Edie Beale’s existence to a popular audience, and which subsequently became a cult — and camp — classic. (We know; the omission surprises us as much as it does you.) That oversight, however, was finally rectified last night, when we noticed Turner Classics was broadcasting the Maysles film. Now, then, a public-service announcement: Go see the documentary before you see the show. It’s not that the Broadway Grey Gardens doesn’t stand on its own; it does. And it’s not that Christine Ebersole isn’t impressive as Little Edie; she is. But to see Little Edie in 1975, and to see how Ebersole channels her onstage — well, wow. It’s a revelation we wish we’d had last week at the Walter Kerr, not last night on the couch. (And it wouldn’t hurt to read Gail Sheehy’s “A Return to Grey Gardens” in this week’s magazine. Turns out Gail befriended Little Edie back in the old days, and the piece gives, among other things, a valuable window on what in the musical is true and what isn’t so much.) A Return to Grey Gardens [NYM]
  25. 21 questions
    All Charlotte d’Amboise Ever Needed Was the Music and the Mirror — and the Advil Name: Charlotte d’Amboise Age: 42 Job: Broadway dancer–actress–singer, currently Cassie in A Chorus Line Neighborhood: Harlem Who’s your favorite New Yorker, living or dead, real or fictional? Jacques and Carolyne d’Amboise. What’s the best meal you’ve eaten in New York? Vinnie’s Pizza. In one sentence, what do you actually do all day in your job? Dance and take a lot of Advil.