Leo's Girl in Margaritaville

Gisele Bundchen | Saturday Night Live | Soap Operas

Leo's Girl in Margaritaville

Gisele Bundchen, the beauteous Victoria's Secret model who can't stay out of the gossip pages, likes her margaritas. With or without salt.

At the taping of last night's Tonight Show with Jay Leno, Gisele (she prefers to go by one name, like Cher) crammed her entourage of ladies into a tiny dressing room and turned it into a girl- fest.

Gisele, the maybe-who-knows-on-again-off-again girlfriend of Leonardo DiCaprio, slipped into a scarf of a dress and high, high heels and made her way onto the stage when called.

On the air, Jay asked Gisele, "How's margaritaville?"

The model replied, "I only had half a drink." And she was right.

Backstage at the Tonight Show -- an unglamorous warren of worn out dressing rooms with mostly broken down furniture -- Gisele and the night's main guest, Keanu Reeves, were attended to by the crack staff.

In fact, what the Tonight Show doesn't have in physical amenities is made up for by a group of producers, assistants and pages who couldn't be more helpful or professional. The show runs like a well-trained military effort with no weak links along the chain.

Reeves took the room next to Gisele's, but the two had no contact other than on stage. As much as Gisele's group was a traveling party, Reeves' was the complete opposite -- organized, quiet, and earnest. And no partying. When Keanu came off stage, he asked a couple of strangers hanging around the hallway: "Was that OK?"

He did say, as we made small talk, that he was very happy with The Matrix Reloaded. He also said he had no immediate plans for other films (the third Matrix also comes out in November) other than a romantic comedy now filming with Jack Nicholson and Diane Keaton. "It's a supporting role," he said matter-of-factly.

"Why did you take a supporting role?" I asked, considering that he's about to open in what may be the biggest movie of all time.

"It was a good script," he said, simply.

Leno himself clearly sets the tone of The Tonight Show, and it's a much different atmosphere than the days of Johnny Carson. One of Leno's many classic cars sits in the parking lot by the artists' entrance -- on this day, a sleek 30-year-old Citroen that is more a work of art than an automobile. Then Leno appears, wearing jeans, and pops into the dressing rooms and green rooms to meet and greet his guests. He is the same teddy bear you see on TV, and throughout the build-up to the show he is an affable, accessible backstage presence. He is no Larry Sanders.

If all the Tonight Show staff is easygoing, their leader in this area is probably Kevin Eubanks. The smiley, talented guitarist fronts the Tonight Show's tight band of musicians. During rehearsals with Sam Moore and Isaac Hayes, Eubanks took pictures of the R&B legends with his own digital camera and joked around about some of the show's past musical acts who have been younger and shall we say, less … musical.

No sign, by the way, of any NBC stars in the fabled commissary, although our day in Hollywood ended last night at Kate Mantilini's Wilshire Boulevard restaurant where director John Landis (Animal House, Blues Brothers) was dining with his wife and his mother.

"I'm off to Memphis to shoot a documentary about a used car dealer," he told us.

A used car dealer?

"You'll see," he promised.

We'll take his word for it. Personally, I think Landis just wanted to be in Memphis for their annual May music festival, which is now in full swing. It's a better celebration than even the Toga party in Animal House!

Saturday Night Live Defections Continue

Earlier this week I told you that Jimmy Fallon was getting ready to bolt from Saturday Night Live after this season ends. In the last few days it's also been revealed that Chris Kattan and Tracy Morgan are more likely done as well.

Will this exodus turn into a stampede? The cast may sense that there's no upside to sticking around since the show has just been awful this year. Maybe Lorne Michaels can start from scratch (which rhymes with Dratch, as in Rachel, who has turned out to be a modern-day Gilda Radner) and re-build the show. Otherwise, it may finally be time to rethink the whole format.

Soap Operas in their Own Soap Opera

The new ratings are out for daytime dramas, and the news is very dire. Nearly five million members of the audience have now decamped since 1994, leaving the No. 1 rated show -- The Young and the Restless -- with a 4.2 rating. Yikes!

The soaps that remain on the air are by and large badly written, and missing both logic and continuity. Were they always this bad? Maybe. But in comparison with all the other choices on TV now, their problems are glaring. Vampires populate one town, while another has a witch. Every show has blindness, amnesia and surprise children. But every show also has rafts of untalented young actors who look good but can't speak properly. There's nothing for the viewer to hold onto.

Over at the most troubled older show, Guiding Light, the most senior members of the cast (and these are people not quite 50) are being put out to pasture in favor of a lot of nonsense. Guiding Light's ratings are plummeting, but the people in charge seem none the wiser.

Soap opera management is a lot like the great comedy, Soapdish, which 10 years ago seemed like a farce, but in retrospect was an omen. In that movie Whoopi Goldberg's big moment came when she exclaimed she couldn't write for a previously decapitated character.

"He has no head!" she complained. It was a hoot.

These days, almost none of the characters have brains, but that hasn't stopped them from talking. It has just kept the audience from listening.