“There Are Worse Things I Could Do”
Ladies and gents,
I am here to report that I am two degrees of separation from Stockard Channing. A certain Danny Zuko is the link – I can’t explain the details. This isn’t mere personal trivia – I was asked to figure this out the other night at the “Six Degrees of Stockard Channing” party at the Lodge at Gallow Green at the McKittrick Hotel at West Chelsea at Manhattan at New York at the United States of America at North America at Earth. Everyone at this bash was connected to Stockard in some way, and once we had figured the number of degrees separating us, we posed with signs touting our personal proximity. “I am 2 degrees from Stockard!” boasted my sign. So, why throw a “Six Degrees of Stockard Channing” party? Well, first of all, why the hell not? But more importantly, it was Ms. Channing who created the role of Ouisa Kittredge in John Guare’s masterwork, Six Degrees of Separation – first Off Broadway (she snagged an Obie), then on Broadway (she was robbed of the Tony), and then on film (she snagged an Oscar nomination). In other words, her name was already synonymous with “Six Degrees” when Kevin Bacon was still filming Flatliners! So the Broadway community took the opportunity of having her back on Broadway (as she is currently giving a truly hilarious turn in It’s Only A Play) to celebrate her legacy.
The starrier set at the party tended to claim a separation of a single degree, including current co-stars Matthew Broderick, Martin Short, and F. Murray Abraham, to name a few. Even Tony nominated force-of-nature Tracie Bennett – who wowed audiences by channeling Judy Garland in End of the Rainbow a couple seasons back but has been working in London ever since – turned up and posed with a “1 Degree…” sign. (They appeared together on NY1, a press agent explained.) In all, seventeen currently running Broadway productions were represented, from Alex Sharp in The Curious Incident of the Dog in the Night-Time (3 degrees), to a pregnant Anika Larsen from Beautiful (6 degrees).
The night flew by in a flash, fueled by mixed drinks named in Stockard’s honor. My poison for the evening: The Rizzo. Guests lucky enough to snag a ticket to the opening of Scott Rudin’s latest Broadway smash, Fish in the Dark, may have also found themselves playing that parlor game in their heads as they scanned the star-studded crowd. Among those in attendance, who may or may not be directly connected to the show’s playwright and star Larry David, included Rob Reiner, Tom Hanks, James Franco, Bernadette Peters, David Steinberg, Ron Perelman (he of Ellen Barkin Revlon fame, not “Sons of Anarchy” fame), Joy Behar, Whoopi Goldberg, Ron Howard, and Bob Balaban. The show deals heavily in the theme of death, and let me tell you, there wasn’t a dry eye in the house. I’m talking about tears of laughter, you fools! This is Larry David – not exactly the king of sentiment. But what he lacks in warm, mushy feeling, he more than makes up for in laugh lines. He is perhaps, after Lorne Michaels and Woody Allen, the most influential living figure in American comedy, and anyone who is a fan of his work (and, let’s face it, between “Seinfeld” and “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” that’s quite a large segment of the population) will have a blast…if they can score a ticket.
Tidbits from around town…
Spotted a bundled up Cynthia Nixon trudging through snow on West 39th Street.
Overheard Darren Criss giggling like a schoolgirl throughout a recent performance of Honeymoon in Vegas.
Caught It Shoulda Been You star Tyne Daly stepping right into a puddle in Times Square.
And, finally, the theater community is bidding a fond farewell to Patrick Healy, who is leaving his post at the New York Times theater desk, to go back to reporting on the wild world of politics. During his tenure in the theaterworld, he got to break news on some of the mostly widely discussed stories in Broadway history, including his breathless dissection of the SPIDER-MAN Turn Off The Dark saga. Did it cause any bad blood between he and that production’s main players? Not a chance! I saw Patrick and producer, Michael Cohl, in a warm embrace at a recent cocktail mixer.
As always, a toast of something sparkling to you and yours!