Rosie O'Donnell and Roseanne Barr made a little history Tuesday night. They performed together at Lincoln Center’s famed Avery Fisher Hall to launch Comedy Festival Week in New York.
And guess what? Hilarious as their material was, no one will really get in trouble for anything that was said. Granted, neither of the women is a wallflower or shrinks from controversy. There was plenty of talk against President Bush and some mention of impeachment that drew laughs and applause from the sold-out audience.
But what O’Donnell didn’t do — and I think this was smart — she avoided almost all mention of "The View," Barbara Walters and Elisabeth Hasselbeck.
Instead, Rosie, who said this was her first stand-up routine in five years, held the stage with ease for an hour in front of fans and famous folk such as Edie Falco, Sandra Bernhardt and partner Kelli Carpenter O'Donnell.
Her set actually was quite brilliant, as she sent up Kabbalah, her social interest in being Jewish and talked about her obsession with Britney Spears and a little about being a gay mom.
She also hinted loudly at the impending show she's working on for MSBC without mentioning the network or any specifics.
"The one thing you can’t do is tell me what not to talk about," Rosie said, and that was the theme of the night in a show that was so well-written it could easily be the basis for a one-woman act on Broadway.
The set was so well-rounded that Rosie didn’t even mention her current bestseller, "Celebrity Detox." Instead she recalled her first book, "Find Me," which was met with applause.
She did reference two minor incidents from her "View" period: Danny DeVito’s appearance while apparently hung over, if not intoxicated, after a night of drinking with George Clooney, and Rosie’s politically incorrect mimicry of Chinese Americans.
Each was handled with aplomb, although Rosie did say, "Danny DeVito was s----faced." She welcomed the realness of it, she said.
As for Kabbalah, which Rosie’s studied for five years thanks to Madonna, at least she has a sense of humor about it. She got a lot of mileage from the group’s famous red string bracelet that sells for $32. "As a Jew, I’m offended," she laughed.
But the best was yet to come: a surprise guest in Barr, who looked like a million bucks and concluded the night with Rosie in a funny duet satire song called "I Got You, Bitch."
At first Barr had trouble settling down, but after a few minutes, her half-hour set hit a welcome groove. It made you remember that she was a hit stand-up comic before her sitcom.
She joked about hating Kirstie Alley for winning the Emmy so many times for "Cheers" while she was on the air, then lampooned Alley for her Jenny Craig commercials.
Roseanne, also a good comedy writer, got off a few memorable lines, too. She called Baby Boomers "Casket Patch Kids" and said of her lifetime of dieting, "I support a woman’s right to chew."
What to do about Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes?
In person they are cool cucumbers, professional movie stars, unflappable. At Tuesday night’s annual swanky black-tie dinner for the American Museum of the Moving Image, the star couple seemed like they had been beamed in for the festivities.
It would help if they seemed less humorless and more relaxed. The rest of the crowd for the AMMI dinner was pretty fun, too: Julianne Moore, Ellen Barkin, Ron Howard, Oliver Stone, Brian Grazer, Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon, Kenneth Branagh, Universal Pictures’ Ron Meyer, Michael Pena and Barry Levinson all were on hand, ready for a good time.
Walters, perhaps waiting for a bolt of lightning from Rosie’s show uptown, arrived with little fanfare. Also present were Cruise associates such as Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder, who brought a table marked "Dick Clark Productions" — Snyder’s new acquisition.
Heavy-hitting Scientologist Sky Dayton, founder of Earthlink, also was at Tom’s table. Tom’s mom, Mary Lee South, was seated at the next table.
But there was no sign of anyone from Katie’s family, no other Cruises or Mapothers (Tom’s family name) and no appearance by his "Lions for Lambs" co-stars Robert Redford and Meryl Streep.
The latter seemed curious, since they are both in town. Also missing was Cruise’s best pal through the 1980s into the 1990s, Rolling Stone publisher Jann Wenner.
It was an awkward dinner. Where previous honorees such as Will Smith, Mel Gibson, Steven Spielberg, et al have instigated ribald roasts from the dais and much laughter, this night was somber and straightforward.
All the speeches were testimonials. If anyone has an anecdote about Cruise, they must be keeping it for their memoirs. When Cruise finally took the stage, his speech was so full of platitudes and clichés that it read like a politician’s remarks from a generic movie.
He talked about his childhood struggles, but as if from a distance. At the end of it, he thanked Holmes. He did not mention any of his three kids.
As for Holmes, she looked beautiful in a backless black gown. At one point after the program, she stood by herself and watched clips of Cruise from his movies on a huge overhead screen as if she’d never seen them before. She was literally transfixed while everyone around her was busy chatting.
And the clips were sanitized so none of them included Nicole Kidman. Meanwhile, her bodyguard, standing 16 inches behind her, talked nervously into a mini-mike on his left forefinger lest Holmes get too near a cupcake.
When Table 22 was later empty, it was clear that no one at it had eaten anything. It was the only table in the large banquet hall with pristine table settings.
I don’t know whether Paul McCartney is "in love" or has had one date with new friend Nancy Shevell. But one thing is certain: This new woman is way more like the late Linda McCartney than Heather Mills ever was.
Indeed, Shevell, according to published reports, graduated from Arizona State University. Ironically, Arizona is where Linda lived before she met Paul, and it’s also possibly where she died of cancer in 1998. (It’s always been unclear where that occurred.)
Shevell, like Linda, is from a wealthy family and is capable of holding her own job. She would not be dependent on McCartney to make her into a star. She’s already one in her circle of society friends.
Even better: She’s 47 and no threat to McCartney’s children, who are all younger.
Meanwhile, Mills refuses to put a sock in it. She’s not getting the big picture. In fact, she may be "Gaslighting" herself, which would be a first.
Mills still is doing interviews in Britain claiming that McCartney is the devil, that she has secret proof of his misdeeds and that she fears she’ll either commit suicide or be killed. What she doesn’t realize is that people are starting to root for one of those things to happen.
Her incessant blathering about McCartney is doing her no good. And now the ex-Beatle is said to be thinking about full custody of their child.
McCartney’s silence, in essence, is driving Mills crazy. It’s a brilliant plan. If only Heather would try it, too.
Can Puerto Rican Spanish be considered a foreign language, and can a film from our 51st state be nominated for an Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film? The answers are yes and yes.
"Maldeamores" — directed by Carlos Ruiz Ruiz and Mariem Perez Riera — has been submitted by Puerto Rico to the Academy for consideration. This marvelous little gem will be released by Maya Films early next year. But right now, if you vote in the Academy, you must get a DVD from them. (PR firm 42 West is handling it, too.)
What can I say? "Maldeamores" is a delight, a real find and a charmer. It’s the kind of film that serious cineastes should see and that broad audiences will love if they get the chance.
It’s certainly one of the Best Foreign Films of 2007 and should be on top-10 lists right along with France’s "Persepolis," Romania’s "Four Months, Three Weeks and Two Days," Israel’s "The Band’s Visit" and Germany’s "The Edge of Heaven."