''Desperate' for the 'Housewives'
Emmy weekend began in earnest Friday night. Three of the "Desperate Housewives" were supposed to show up at an elegant rooftop anniversary party for the tony L'Hermitage Hotel, owned by the Raffles company. They didn't.
"Any sign of a desperate housewife?" I asked the photographers stationed at the ready.
"Real or fictional?" asked one. And that was a pretty witty reply for Los Angeles.
No Teri Hatcher, Marcia Cross or the ubiquitous Eva Longoria. The clock ticked at a party that began at 7 p.m. By 9 p.m., it was pretty clear they weren't coming.
Not that the party was celebrity-free. Just before it began, hotel guests and a few early partygoers were surprised to see Eddie Murphy strolling through the lobby, playing a guitar. He's been living there since the breakup of his marriage.
There were some TV stars on the roof. Jane Kaczmarek, from "Malcolm in the Middle," was the focus. (Her husband, Bradley Whitford, of "The West Wing" was a no-show. "He had to work," a publicist confided.)
The evening was to benefit her charity, Clothes Off Our Back, which sends its proceeds to children‘s organizations. She's been nominated for the Emmy for best actress six times in a row without a win.
My guess is she'll divide up the three "Desperate Housewives" votes and take home the statue this year. Otherwise, DH's Felicity Huffman will win, which should make things interesting. Huffman's also thought to be a coming Oscar contender in February for a movie called "TransAmerica."
Eric McCormack, who plays Will on "Will and Grace," chatted amiably with guests. Denis Leary, the hard-smoking comedian, didn't know there was a party but came anyway after sneaking through a side door. He wasn't dressed properly and wanted to avoid the mini red carpet set up inside the lobby.
I spotted Maria Conchita Alonzo, too. The beautiful Bai Ling, still most famous for appearing in "Red Corner" and dating her director, was the knockout of the night.
At the buffet table, I ran into lawyer-advocate Gloria Allred. She'd just come in from New York after attending the verdict in a transgender murder trial. Some people go to ball games. Not Gloria.
Downstairs, publicists grilled each approaching guest outside the hotel before they entered. The hotel's dinner guests were required to prove they had reservations while outside or call their companions on a cell phone so they could be retrieved because the hotel was ostensibly closed to all strangers for the duration of the party.
If you were there for an illicit rendezvous, you were out of luck.
A parade of fancy cars pulled up like you've never seen: Everyone had a Mercedes, Bentley, BMW, Range Rover, etc. Not a single Maxima. Each person was interrogated sweetly by young women with clipboards dressed in black.
Some of them were famous from New York gossip columns: Brandon Davis, the grandson of the late oil tycoon Marvin Davis, for example. He came with a girl who was not Mischa Barton from "The O.C."
There were a couple of actors from new TV shows and one from "24" named Roger Cross. There are so many TV shows here that even the most remote person on a cast list is considered a star.
That's when Adrien Grenier from HBO's "Entourage" turned up. The lobby photogs went crazy. I had to explain to the publicists that a Grenier sighting in New York is about as common as a pigeon appearance. It didn't matter; they were thrilled.
Crossing the lobby, I was relieved to see Revolution Films' Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas, the woman behind Julia Roberts' many successes, and her attorney husband, Dan Thomas, had managed to get through the phalanx of publicists at the front door to the hotel so they could go to their room.
Elaine, one of our favorite people, is in town prepping a movie called "Perfect Stranger" with Halle Berry and Bruce Willis, to be directed by James Foley. It was supposed to shoot in New Orleans, but it's been moved to drier environs and will start soon.
As usual, it took a New Yorker to brighten an evening because in Hollywood, you never get the sense of anything moving forward or getting done. With Goldsmith-Thomas, you know that good movies are being made and it's not just talk. That's when it's time to leave the party.
The dreadful Broadway musical about John Lennon, called "Lennon," will close on Sept. 24 after two horrible months. It's been playing to less than half-full houses. Last week it was at 39.4 percent and took in $230,775. Why they're waiting 'til the 24th is beyond me. I say, get out while the going's good.
My friend, the famous photographer Bob Gruen, who's a longtime friend of Yoko Ono, is cross at me for criticizing this show. Gruen was with Lennon and Ono early in the evening before Lennon was murdered on Dec. 8, 1980.
He knew the couple's relationship and defends it to people who like to hate Yoko "because she broke up the Beatles," or stuff like that. He recently sent me a book of Lennon's last interviews in which he talked about his love for Ono. It's a good read.
The closing of "Lennon" is not an anti-Yoko thing. In her own way, Ono has been a devoted widow. She's been charitable, articulated her and Lennon's admirable peace agenda and lived a mostly quiet life.
It was not a bad idea to promote Lennon's post-Beatles song catalog and to tell the story of how he lived the decade after the group broke up. But it was a bad idea to rewrite the basic history, to ignore the Beatles completely, to erase "The Lost Weekend" Lennon lived with his girlfriend May Pang and to force a complicated scenario on a simple story.
It's too bad. A real "Lennon" musical would have been most welcome. Just tell the story, warts and all. But the critics knew the sanitized version wouldn't fly, and audiences — I'm sorry — were not interested in hearing "Woman is the N-gger of the World" again in any form. It would have been like a Paul McCartney musical called "Wings." It ain't gonna fly.
One of my favorite films from this year's Sundance Film Festival, "Thumbsucker," opened Friday in New York and Los Angeles. Next week it goes "wide" to other cities. Don't miss it.
"Thumbsucker" is directed by Mike Mills, not the one from REM but a very good director of music videos. It stars 20-year-old Lou Pucci, the find of the season. He's supported by an all-star cast including Tilda Swinton, Keanu Reeves, Benjamin Bratt, Vincent D'Onofrio and the always-amusing Vince Vaughn.
Tom Cruise should love this movie because it's about a kid who gets off Ritalin and finds happiness. But if you liked "Rushmore," "Igby Goes Down" or "Garden State," this one's for you.
I told you that the Weinstein Company's logo — which you can see at the start of its first release, "Proof," was designed by Pixar. Specifically, though, the creator is John Lasseter, who directed "Toy Story" and the upcoming "Cars." You can't do better than that …
Procter & Gamble may soon get its wish to cancel the longest running soap, "Guiding Light." After years of disrespect from the company, the show's most senior actor, Jerry ver Dorn, has decamped for "One Life to Live."
One of the few really good actors on soaps (he has no taste for the scenery), ver Dorn had been with "Guiding Light" since 1979 as attorney Ross Marler …
Enrich America is running a 48-hour comedy "Webathon" this weekend to raise money for Hurricane Katrina survivors. Famous comics will be performing live from New York's 26 + Helen Mills Theater and the Comic Strip. Proceeds will go to the American Red Cross.