After seeing Madonna's "Re-Invention" tour on both coasts — New York and L.A. — I'm looking for ways to re-invent my job so FOX News will fly me to other locales along "Esther's" tour route. (I mean, is a quick hop across the pond for a Paris show really too much to ask?)
Whatever your feelings about Madonna (given name), Madge (nickname) or Esther (kooky Kabbala name) — and let's face it, all three can be irritating — "Re-Invention" is simply one of the best stadium shows I've ever seen. It works on every level: 20-odd years of hit songs (some with terrific new arrangements), innovative choreography (not the same tired moves you see from Britney, Janet, etc.), creative costuming (from Scottish kilts to flapper girl skivvies), cutting-edge videography and perfect pacing.
There was only one difference between the New York and L.A. shows I saw — in the land of fair-haired hotties, Madonna made like a blonde and forgot the words to John Lennon's "Imagine." Oh, the musical sacrilege! What made it especially amusing was that she mentioned before she started the song that the lyrics are wonderful, important, timely — blah blah blah — so much so that she wished she had written it — and then, mid-song, she drew a blank! To be fair, she had been ill, and had canceled the previous show. But let me tell you, the face value on my ticket was $300, and if I'd had actually paid for that ticket (rather than shamelessly accepting a complimentary one), I would have wanted every darn word of every song. (I did pay in New York, where my ticket price was a "cheap" $105.)
It's funny, only Madonna could put together a show in which one minute she's singing, "Imagine no possessions, I wonder if you can" (words she actually remembered) and in the next she's belting out the virtues of being a Material Girl!
How about this summer's ultimate Material Boy: Bill Clinton? The $12 million dollar man had his book party in New York on Monday. My FOXnews.com colleague Roger Friedman wrote a terrific assessment about the odd location of the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the surprisingly dim star-wattage, particularly in terms of the show business community. The buzz I heard was that the publisher, Knopf, dropped the ball in this regard. I'm told some invitations went out late and that some stars — who Knopf had thought were coming — didn't even know they'd been invited as of a few days before.
Anyhow, the former president and his wife Sen. Hillary Clinton shook hands with folks — his is a rather soft hand for a man, and please don't read anything into that! Daughter Chelsea Clinton was gracious and all smiles.
I asked Chelsea if she read her dad's book "My Life" while it was being written, and she replied, "I don't speak on the record about my father's book — but, yes, I did."
Afterward Chelsea's boyfriend Ian Klaus (who seems like a lovely guy) and about eight of their friends had dinner in a trendy Italian restaurant downtown. All accomplished kids, in medical school, business school, etc. Chelsea seems remarkably bright, kind and together.
Having given my Chelsea endorsement (not that she's running for office — at least not yet), here's a few other things I'm stumping for. This Saturday night, HBO premieres a movie called "Everyday People." It's a slice-of-life film focusing on the employees and patrons of a fictitious landmark New York restaurant.
Directed by Jim McKay, and produced by, among others, noted writer Nelson George and R.E.M. lead singer Michael Stipe, the film has some great performances from newcomers Billoah Greene and Bridget Barkan, and more seasoned stage and film actors like Reg E. Cathey.
HBO premiered the film on Wednesday, with an after-party at the new New York nightclub Marquee. The film is slow in parts, but the complexity of the characters is thought-provoking. It's bleak, but not without optimism. I mention this largely because, surprisingly, the party was one of the more joyous media events I've attended. A kickin' DJ (excuse the lingo) had many party-goers — including cast-members — on the dance floor for hours. This rarely happens, as many of these events feature jaded stars and haggard journalists, both mainly looking to eat, drink and run.
If you're going to be in New York before July 11, a terrific show to check out is "Afterbirth: Kathy and Mo's Greatest Hits," at the Second Stage Theater. This sketch comedy team resurrects many hilarious bits done from their stage shows and TV specials from the '80s and '90s. You know Kathy Najimy as the voice of Peggy Hill on FOX's "King of the Hill" and from many films, including "Sister Act," "The Wedding Planner" and "Rat Race." She was also a regular on Kirstie Alley's late-'90s TV series, "Veronica's Closet." Mo Gaffney has also done several films, but is best known for terrific recurring roles on "That '70s Show" and "Mad About You." Recently she's been in the chips on "Celebrity Poker Showdown."
Anyway, I think the two of them are best together, inhabiting the skin of myriad characters: teenage girls watching "West Side Story," over-the-top feminists, a drunk cowboy and a lonely wannabe singer. But this isn't just chick stuff. Laughing in the audience Thursday night was Tate Donovan, who plays Jimmy Cooper, Marissa's (Mischa Barton) dad on Fox's "The O.C." — looking younger, scruffier and cuter than his onscreen fatherly self.
If you're a fan of classic Hollywood films, you'll want to check out Bernard F. Dick's new biography on legendary producer Hal Wallis. Wallis produced such films as "Yankee Doodle Dandy," "True Grit" and "Casablanca." He was known as a star-maker, having helped launch the careers of Kirk Douglas, Burt Lancaster and Charlton Heston, among others. Lots of great photos, including several of Wallis with a young Ronald Reagan.
Speaking of Reagan, one bizarre anecdote, which we can look at humorously now that we have a bit of distance from the very moving services for the former president. The terrific actress Jane Kaczmarek, who plays mom Lois on Fox's "Malcolm in the Middle," was in-studio at FOX News this past week, talking about, among other things, a group called Angel Soft Angels in Action, which teaches kids about doing volunteer work. Off-camera, Jane talked about news coverage, which led her to comment about car chases and how prevalent they are, particularly in California, where she lives most of the year. She said that a couple of weeks ago, having not heard the news of Reagan's death, she turned on the television to see the name "Reagan" scrawled across the bottom of her screen and video showing a procession of cars. Said Kaczmarek, "I thought, who's chasing Reagan?" Only in America.