Martha Plimpton Will Believe AnythingBroadway’s newest rock musical, Passing Strange, is about leaving home and finding yourself. So after a recent performance, we asked audience member Martha Plimpton about a time when she tried to find herself. It turns out that in high school, she explained, she tried to do it through Jesus. “Instead of becoming a punk-rocker, I became a church lady,” she said. “I was baptized and everything, which in its own way was rebellious. But I was Episcopal, so it was only so rebellious. It’s not like I swore off sex and booze and all that. I just added church.” Lately, her spiritual quest took her to a two-hour stint in a Mexican sweat lodge. “I don’t think I discovered anything about myself, but I did learn quite a few things,” she said. “You’ll literally believe anything when you’re in a 500-degree stone igloo.” —Jada Yuan
Roger Stone’s Alibi: No ‘Frost/Nixon’ on Monday NightsEveryone agrees that, whatever else happened, the bizarre late-night phone call to Eliot Spitzer’s dad was made on the evening of August 6, a bit before 10 p.m. Bernard Spitzer’s lawyers says it came from Roger Stone, a Republican consultant; Stone says Democratic operatives broke into his Central Park South apartment and used his phone to frame him. He couldn’t have made the call, Stone said in a statement posted to his Website, because “[o]n the night this call was allegedly made, I was at the theater catching the play NIXON and FROST [sic].” We’ll ignore the ironies that Nixon is modern politics’ greatest dirty trickster, that Stone worked for Nixon, and that the fulcrum of Frost/Nixon is a (fictional) bizarre late-night phone call. We’ll just note this: August 6, 2007, was a Monday. And like many Broadway shows, the play, which closed this weekend, took that night off. “We were completely dark on Mondays,” a rep from its management company told us. —Geoffrey Gray
in the magazine
‘Hairspray’ Turns FiveHairspray — by which we mean the Broadway musical, which was inspired the Divine movie of the same name and in turn inspired the John Travolta movie of the same name — opened five years ago last night, and it’s still going strong. (Stunt casting helps, sure — hello, Lance Bass! — but selling 101 percent of capacity, as it did last week, ain’t bad.) A month before it opened, Susan Dominus previewed the show and essentially predicted a smash. “Everybody thought it was going to be the New York Times that would make it a hit,” recalls Richard Kornberg, the veteran theater publicist who reps the show. “But when the New York Magazine put out this piece, that is the one article that put it through the top and sold Hairspray.” To mark the anniversary, here’s “Hairspray It On,” from the July 22, 2002, issue of New York.
Hairspray It On [NYM]
Last Night at Rose’s Turn: Mama’s Gotta Let Go
The piano bar Rose’s Turn, a West Village institution for seventeen years, and for a lot longer before that when it was the first home of the Duplex, closed Sunday night, and New York contributor Tim Murphy was there with his microphone. He caught people singing, people playing, and people both having a lot of fun and being quite sad. (They were sorry-grateful, you might say.) Check out the video report for now-former owner Henry Pham’s rendition of “Don’t Let Me Be Lonely Tonight,” accompanied by our Tim, plus saxophonist Chuck Hancock’s explanation of what this all means. “This place has heart. These people have heart,” he said. “And the heart is being stolen from New York.”
Street Level: Rose’s Turn [NYM]
‘Hairspray’ Premieres, Cont’d.: Newark Loves Latifah
The marathon of Hairspray premieres ran on last night, stopping just over the Hudson in Newark, New Jersey — and, well, those Jerseyans took things seriously. Nearly 2,000 fans were gathered in front of the New Jersey Performing Arts Center as the celebrities arrived, and they were dolled up in their finest. (“I’m, like, the only underdressed person here,” moaned a jeans-clad teen outside the ladies’ room.) Hottie Zac Efron and lovable Nikki Blonsky were greeted with cheers as they entered the building, but Queen Latifah’s appearance drove the crowd to a frenzy. The Queen, a Newark native, broke past press lines to embrace fans who had waited hours to see her. “Go with your own path, stop following everybody else’s,” she told the crowd. “And go for your goal. You can accomplish it.”
Michael Fuchs Sees a Show, Gets a Toe JobLast night we saw Absinthe, one of this year’s shows at Spiegelworld, the campy, eroticized vaudeville that plays in a circus tent alongside South Street Seaport. (It’s sort of amazing. Go.) We had good seats, right in the front row, thanks to the charming fellow who brought us, and as the lights went down and the first number started, we noticed a man and his companion quietly ushered to front-row seats on the other side of the stage. It was Michael Fuchs, the ousted former HBO chief, now a professional rich guy and a bad speech-giver.
Now It’s Rose’s Turn to Cry — for $3.5 Million
Rose’s Turn, the Grove Street piano bar that’s been a West Village institution for seventeen years, will close Sunday after a last round of drinks and show tunes. Henry Pham, who owns the bar — his mother’s name is Rose — told Daily Intel that his family sold the building for $3.5 million. (The Observer’s the Real Estate blog reported the bar’s imminent demise yesterday.) “It’s time to move on,” he said. “There just isn’t much demand for this type of establishment anymore,” which would come as news to anyone who’s seen how packed it and its neighbors, like Marie’s Crisis next door, can be on a Saturday night. Renovation begins next week, he said; rumor is it will become a real-estate office.
Good Morning, Baltimore
If you’ll allow our cold, hard heart to be warmed for just a second: A little more than a year ago, Nikki Blonsky was serving ice cream on Long Island and preparing for her high-school musical; last night the movie she stars in — Hairspray, with John Travolta as her mother — premiered at the Ziegfeld, and she got to mug for photographers with Liza Minnelli. We’d be smiling that big, too. (Oh, and you’ve got to see Liza’s full outfit — those pants! — after the jump.)
Related: Big Girl Now [NYM]
Regan Outfoxes News Corp.?Judith Regan has secret tapes that may help her $20 million lawsuit against Rupert Murdoch. The Land Rovers and helicopters used to launch a new Ralph Lauren cologne may have disturbed a community of East Hampton piping plovers. Cindy Adams, who has a vendetta against Larry David because he dissed her once, claims that Laurie had been stepping out on him for quite some time (and that he’s being set up with Ellen Barkin). Olivia Newton-John really liked Xanadu. OK! dropped $400,000 on sex pics of Nick Lachey and Vanessa Minnillo, but the mag won’t publish them. Claire Danes may have landed the lead in the Pygmalion revival because the director directed her boyfriend in Journey’s End. Annie Leibowitz angered the Queen of England by asking her to remove her crown during a photo shoot.
At ‘Xanadu’ Opening Night, Disaster Is Only Narrowly AvertedIt was opening night last night for Xanadu, the Broadway musical based on what’s one of the most disastrously bad movies of all time. So it was only appropriate that the big night teetered on the edge of its own disasters. Things started badly when the NYPD showed up late with the crowd-control railings for the red carpet, prompting three suit-clad PR boys to wrestle the bulky barriers into place just before Olivia Newton-John — who starred in the original movie — stepped out of her limo. She was wearing an off-the-shoulder top that threatened to cause a disastrous nip-slip at any moment. Newton-John laughed through the performance, but she admitted that it brought back bad memories.
Guv Love?The “tall and attractive” 25-year-old aide whom Jon Corzine may have been sitting next to at the time of his car crash was reassigned last month because she and the governor were allegedly getting too close. Larry and Laurie David may have split because Laurie had an affair with a married man on Martha’s Vineyard. Some Columbia Records staffers are worried that producer Rick Rubin has been named co-head of the label, given that he has no executive experience. Richie Sambora dumped Denise Richards during a Hawaii vacation a few months ago; she’d been expecting him to propose. Michael Jackson placed a number of odd, ill-timed room-service orders at an inn in Maryland, but he did bless the manager. Oliver Platt is an ardent supporter of the business tactics of George Steinbrenner, whom he plays in The Bronx Is Burning. Lindsay Lohan is dropping booze for bottled water.
McCarter on Pogue: He Went Out There a Tech Columnist…
Yesterday we happened across — okay, we were urged by our father to happen across — Times tech columnist David Pogue’s song-and-dance ode to the wonders of the iPhone, titled “iPhone: The Musical.” We argued it was more of a karaoke number, but they’re calling it a musical, and if it’s a musical, then it must be reviewed. Here’s New York’s theater critic, Jeremy McCarter, on the latest production to open on 43rd Street Eighth Avenue:
Tech journalism hasn’t heretofore struck me as a hotbed of lyrical craftsmanship, but after watching David Pogue’s mini-musical about the iPhone, I stand extremely corrected. The video is, as Daily Intel pointed out yesterday, hilarious. If you listen closely, it’s also pretty impressively put together. (And I’d listen now if I were you — spoilers abound below.)
it just happened
London Bomb Plot Foiled, Mildly Terrifying
We’ve been avoiding reading the article about the foiled bomb plot in London, because we suspected we’d find it troubling. We finally read it, and we did. A car packed with gasoline and nails was left parked in the West End, London’s theater district. (It was even, you’ll note from one of the pictures on the Times site, parked in front of a restaurant called Angus. No offense, Mr. McIndoe, but we’re now thinking tonight’s a Joe Allen night.) It was found not by cops who suspected something was afoot; rather, ambulance workers, en route to aid a sick nightclub patron, happened to notice smoke inside the car and alerted police. “There could have been significant injury or loss of life,” Britain’s top counterterrorism official said, because the bomb was in a busy entertainment district. Oh, and there was no prior intelligence about this; no “chatter” or whatever. See? It’s scary — and also sort of a Giuliani campaign ad.
Explosive Device Found in London, Police Say [NYT]
Shakespeare in the Park: Wet and WildThe first bad sign at last night’s opening performance of Romeo and Juliet at Shakespeare in the Park came when the lighting operators suddenly descended from their rigs in the middle of Juliet’s sleeping-potion soliloquy. Lauren Ambrose as Juliet collapsed on her bed, and then, le deluge. Cut to a thousand-odd slow-moving theater folk, stuck in the open-air Delacorte, trying to flee a downpour in their gala finery. Shakespeare’s wasn’t the only tragedy on display. Outside, huddled six-deep under the theater’s awning and waiting to find out if we’d head back for the big finish, Allison Janney told us that when she’d done Taming of the Shrew in the park, the cast had prayed for rain because it was so hot. (Be careful what you pray for, as they say.) Then Oskar Eustis, the Public’s creative director, made a decree: “God decided that tonight Romeo and Juliet will live!” There would be no death-scene finale. But the party was still on.
How Did David Hyde Pierce Win Best Actor, and Other Unanswered Questions
HBO wasn’t the only source of unanswered questions last night. There were plenty from CBS, too. A few: Did “Being Alive” make any sense to viewers who hadn’t seen the rest of Company? Why was “Revolutionary Costume for Today” so good onstage but so lousy onscreen? How did David Hyde Pierce (whom we love, but still) beat Raúl Esparza? (Also: Esparza was sitting next to a woman, so is he straight again now? And should we be impressed that Hyde Pierce thanked his partner “of twenty-four years” or a little disgusted that he did so only at the Tonys, never at the Emmys?) Doesn’t “Please welcome Chorus Line composer Marvin Hamlisch and CSI star Marg Helgenberger” sound like a Family Guy joke? And, perhaps of the gravest concern to us, what exploded on Marcia Gay Harden, and did that explosion also blind Judd Hirsch (or somehow turn him into Richard Belzer)? We expected at least some of these questions to be answered on Vulture today. No luck. Guess The Sopranos got in the way. Tomorrow? (We do, after all, love ya, tomorrow.)
Zach Braff Skips ‘Sopranos’ for Tonys, Doesn’t CareZach Braff introduced the show-stopping Spring Awakening performance near the end of the Tony Awards last night — apparently the guy from My Name Is Earl was unavailable — but as he told us in the gift lounge backstage at Radio City Musical Hall last night, he wasn’t too upset to be missing the big Sopranos finale. “I haven’t seen any of the last four episodes,” he said, “and my buddy last night at a bar decided to tell me what I’d missed and ruined everything for me.” Jane Krakowski — TV star and actual Broadway actress! — was less sanguine.
This Week Is All About TonyNo, no, silly. Not Tony Soprano. (We’ll always have TiVo.) Antoinette Perry! In the sort of brilliant marketing move that could only come from the industry that thought a Bob Dylan dance play was a good idea, Broadway’s biggest honors will be presented Sunday night, opposite Tony Soprano’s final stroll through the tomato patch. While everyone else is desperately building excitement for the HBO juggernaut, the good folks are Vulture are looking ahead toward CBS’s annual ratings flop. They’ve got Tony-award news, Tony-award drawings, and, perhaps best of all, Tony-award picks from real-life Tony voters. It’s all at Vulture.
Tony-awards coverage [Vulture]
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.
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.”
Don’t Get Martha Plimpton Started on Duane ReadeName: Martha Plimpton
Job: Actress; Tony nominee for The Coast of Utopia; host of the 826 NYC fund-raising concert, Tiny Smooshy Sunday On Fire, on June 3.
Neighborhood: Upper West Side
Who’s your favorite New Yorker, living or dead, real or fictional?
Quentin Crisp and Holden Caulfield.
What’s the best meal you’ve eaten in New York?
It’s a tie, I think, between anything at Peter Luger and the insanely delish bacon death at Gramercy Tavern.
In one sentence, what do you actually do all day in your job?
I put dead people’s hair on my head and speak loudly in front of hundreds of strangers while pretending they are not there.
Comic Mo Rocca Makes Oatmeal But Not DinnerName: Mo Rocca
Job: Imp; currently appearing in The 25th Annual Putnam County Spelling Bee
Who’s your favorite New Yorker, living or dead, real or fictional?
Isidore Itzkowitz, a.k.a. Eddie Cantor.
What’s the best meal you’ve eaten in New York?
Currently I’m in love with the buttermilk fried chicken at Dirty Bird on 14th Street.
In one sentence, what do you actually do all day in your job?
Bite my nails and try to think of funny things.
Cautious CooperAnderson Cooper showers in his underwear at the gym to ward off camera-phone-wielding fans. Tyra Banks and Russell Simmons dined-and-dashed at the Brooklyn Diner. Robert De Niro may be mad at David Bowie because the rock star is kicking off his High Line Festival three days after Tribeca ends. (As New York’s Vulture reported yesterday.) LL Cool J may star in a revival of Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. Taki Theodoroacpulos won the U.S. National Judo Championship in 70-to-75 age bracket. In his upcoming tell-all, Michael Strahan compares playing pro football to being stabbed repeatedly. Former O.C. stars Adam Brody and Benjamin McKenzie witnessed a fight at Gold Bar. Susan Sarandon’s daughter, Eva Amuri, is pleased with her two sex scenes in Fred Durst’s directorial debut, The Education of Charlie Banks.