Are you ready for the first fictionalized version of the Anna Nicole Smith story on TV? It's coming this May.
Sources at last night's premiere of "Talk Radio" on Broadway say that the whole demented saga will be filmed shortly for "Law & Order: Criminal Intent." (See below for the connection between "Talk Radio"/"Law & Order.")
The "Criminal Intent" version of Anna Nicole's life and death will feature Kristy Swanson, the actress who played Buffy the Vampire Slayer in the movie (before Sarah Michelle Gellar did the TV series).
Howard K. Stern, they say, could be played by none other than Jon Lovitz. The "CI" writers have excised Larry Birkhead from their story, even though Kato Kaelin would have been a perfect choice. A combined character based loosely on Anna Nicole's mother and sister is also being contemplated.
Swanson is an inspired choice to play Anna Nicole. She had a baby three weeks ago with Lloyd Eisler, her partner on "Skating With Celebrities." He's still married to the mother of his two very young children. She should get the tabloid scandal part of it just right.
Meanwhile, "CI" will also do a take on loony astronaut Lisa Nowak and her attempted kidnapping of a romantic rival. Casting hasn't been completed yet, but at least the show is keeping up executive producer Dick Wolf's legacy of doing episodes "ripped from the headlines."
Which lead detective will do what show is also undetermined. Vincent D'Onofrio and Chris Noth alternate as the stars of "CI" episodes. And we did hear last night that if the show is picked up for another season — and it should be — mercurial D'Onofrio will be back.
The other big "Law & Order" news? We told you last winter that NBC played hardball with Chris Meloni and Mariska Hargitay of "SVU," and almost replaced them even though they are irreplaceable. Talk at last night's shindig was that the pair got what they wanted, and they are in for two more seasons.
It's a good thing, too, since "Studio 60" is about to bite the dust at NBC. The big question is whether the network will order more episodes of Paul Haggis' excellent "Black Donnellys" or just send it into oblivion.
Last night it felt like there was a new edition of "Law & Order" — call it "TR" for "Talk Radio."
That's because the author of the revived 20-year-old hit play of that name, Eric Bogosian, plays the captain on "Law & Order: Criminal Intent."
Both Peter Hermann and Stephanie March, who appear in the play that opened last night to rave reviews, have each appeared in one of the "Law & Order" shows. Not only that: Hermann's wife, Mariska Hargitay, is the co-star of "SVU."
And then there was the party for "Talk Radio," which took place at Bobby Flay's Bar Americain, just a few blocks from the theater. Flay is married to March. Can it get any more incestuous?
And still, among the celebrity guests at the premiere were Chris Noth, Vincent D'Onofrio, Kathryn Erbe, "SVU" star Chris Meloni, "SVU" cast members Tamara Tunie and Richard Belzer and so forth.
Throw in Cynthia Nixon and Kristin Davis from "Sex and the City," plus Bernadette Peters, Natalie Portman, Anna Paquin and some Broadway types — say, 700 of them into the Bar Americain's allotted space for 450 — and you've got a party.
Luckily, we knew one of the play's producers, since the publicist for the show — regularly lampooned in the old Boldface Names column in the New York Times — had told us on Friday, "They don't care about you. They only care about Ben Brantley from the New York Times."
Oh well, it turns out she was wrong.
Liev Schreiber stars in "Talk Radio" and is phenomenal. Brantley says in today's Times that he's the finest theater actor of his generation. That's an understatement. Anyone who's seen Liev on stage as Hamlet, in "Glengarry Glen Ross" or in "Betrayal" could tell you that. But in "Talk Radio," he really gets to do a star turn of a huge magnitude.
As Barry Champlain, the incendiary host of a 1987 Cleveland talk radio show, he sets the stage not only for Howard Stern, but for Jerry Springer, Maury Povich and all the bottom-feeding, voyeuristic media maitre d's who followed.
"Talk Radio" — the play, not the movie — was inspired by the murder of Denver radio talk-show host Alan Berg. The play never shows the murder; it's just a slice of what Bogosian imagined as Berg's life, and that's for the best.
Schreiber gives enough of a textured performance during Champlain's many rants that you get the whole picture. Even though his fictional show is set for syndication the following week, Champlain's future is bleak. He could get shot, as Berg did in real life, or worse: go on to TV stardom in the '90s and mine the trash of America. Either way, it's a tragedy.
By now everyone knows that Rudy Giuliani's kids are unhappy with him for one reason or another — something to do with his marriage to Judi Nathan and his lack of parental attention.
But flashback to April 27, 1995, to a story this reporter wrote for New York magazine's late, lamented Intelligencer. If the kids are unhappy now, maybe it's because they know they were used by their dad and his former rumored girlfriend for publicity purposes when they were toddlers.
As I wrote a dozen years ago: Caroline Giuliani, then 6, was brought to New York City's morning budget presentation session for bankers. There was no press. Caroline sat beside then Giuliani aide and rumored girlfriend Cristyne Lategano (Lategano and Giuliani denied that they had a romantic relationship).
After the mayor finished his introduction, Lategano, according to my sources then and they remember it well now, "whispered in Caroline's ear," and up the little girl went to the podium, where she disrupted the presentation.
Giuliani quipped, "You must have learned this from Andrew," a reference to a previous such intrusion by her older brother at a prior press conference. The audience chuckled. The whole thing seemed so cute.
That wasn't all: The skit went so well that at a press presentation the same afternoon, Giuliani and Lategano evidently decided to try it again. Caroline returned, this time accompanied by Lategano's secretary, Beth Petrone.
Just as the mayor began talking about grim welfare cuts, Caroline broke loose and skipped up to the stage again. The mayor repeated his joke from the morning: "She learned this from Andrew." The audience applauded and chuckled. It seemed so spontaneous.
It was only a few days later, in the magazine, that they learned it had all happened twice, and it was orchestrated each time.
Justin Timberlake has a song about all this on the charts right now. It's called "What Goes Around ... Comes Around."