Evan Handler | Steely Dan | Eddie Furlong | Tom Cruise
Sex Star's Survival Story: A Bestseller
On Monday morning the New York Post featured Sex and the City on its front page. Actor Evan Handler, who wowed viewers on Sunday night as Harry Goldenblatt, the disarmingly menschy Jewish attorney boyfriend of Charlotte (Kristin Davis), was a little sorry he didn't make the front page too.
"It would have been my second New York Post cover," Handler told me at the packed-to-the-rafters Entertainment Weekly "It List" party.
Several years ago he was on the Broadway stage in a play with British actor Nicol Williamson when the latter quite famously snapped like a twig during the show. He wound up chasing Handler off the stage at sword point, much to the surprise of the audience.
And no, that sort of thing does not happen often on Broadway or off Broadway. Not even in the alleyways.
New York audiences have known Handler for a long time. When he was 24 years old, Handler had to drop out of the Broadway show Biloxi Blues — he was Matthew Broderick's understudy — to fight leukemia.
The story of his determination to beat cancer — and his ultimate victory — made for some of the terrific material in his one-man show and 1995 memoir, Time on Fire: My Comedy of Terrors. The book is currently out of print, but as it turns out a new printing might be easier than anyone knew. The hardcover publisher of Time on Fire was Little, Brown — which like HBO is part of the Time Warner corporate family.
Handler told me Monday night that he'd love to see the book reprinted now as he is signed to be part of Sex until the show goes off the air next year.
Not only that, he's working on a new book, updating his experiences. (Handler's brother, Lowell, by the way, was the photographer whose Tourette's syndrome was documented in the excellent film, Twitch and Shout, 10 years ago.)
Meanwhile, people are still recovering from the EW party, which was quite a bit out of hand and over the top at the Roxy Disco. Caroline Rhea joked as we surveyed the chaos that she's on the "It List" herself. "Just the b-u-l-l-s-h are silent," she said.
Elsewhere in the madness we discovered few actual celebrities but many unorthodox fans of Snoop Dogg, who was scheduled to serenade the overflowing crowd around midnight. Three white-as-Wonder-Bread, preppie-looking yuppie types — one in a seersucker jacket — told me, "We've been with him since the beginning! Ever since Dr. Dre introduced him on Chronic!"
Luther's No. 1, but Steely Dan Reels
Yesterday I told you that J Records would have three albums in the top 5 this week. Well, it was the top 6, as it turns out according to hitsdailydouble.com. But Luther Vandross pulled it out in the last round and wound up eclipsing Monica to make No. 1 for the second week in a row. Monica got No. 2, and Annie Lennox was No. 6.
The big, unexplained story of the charts, though, is what has happened to Steely Dan's Everything Must Go. Warner/Reprise, the Bermuda Triangle of the record business, has not just fumbled the ball on this one. They've also given up the game.
A couple of weeks ago I tried calling the Warner publicity department to get a copy of this CD. Three calls in I was told that Everything Must Go was a Reprise CD. "Isn't this Warner/Reprise?" I asked. The girl I spoke to didn't know how to get an advance review copy.
Like a few people, I purchased Everything Must Go when it was released two weeks ago. It's a mini-masterpiece, quite a bit better than the Grammy-winning Two Against Nature. Donald Fagen and Walter Becker have really outdone themselves by composing real jazz — no fooling, either, it stands up by any standards. They have then laid down their usual enigmatic and literary lyrics against magnificent melodies.
The theme of Everything Must Go is not so mysterious though: it's corporate greed. "The Last Mall," "Things I Miss the Most," and the title track address the issue head on. In "Things," the narrator — a jailed inside trader? — fries up his "sad cuisine," gets in bed with girlie magazines, and recalls fondly his Audi TT, house on the Vineyard, house on the Gulf Coast. Now he's learning to meditate and build the Andrea Doria out of balsam wood in his spare time.
The latter song, which closes the album, would be a Grammy-winning Song of the Year in a perfect world. Opening with a wild Walt Weiskopf sax solo recalling great film noir scores (the kind that portend ominous outcomes), the song pulls no punches. "It's high time for a walk on the real side/Let's admit the bastards beat us/I move to dissolve the corporation/In a pool of margaritas."
From Enron to Tyco to Dana Giacchetto and Martha Stewart, the targets are hit with a bull's-eye. Why Warner Music can't sell the follow-up album to a Grammy winner by a legendary group, though, may be more of a scandal than anything those other people were involved in.
Furlong's Affair Causes Censorship
The strange story of young actor Eddie Furlong grew another branch yesterday. Turns out that — shades of Jerry Springer — a high-school-aged Furlong had an affair with one of his teachers years ago. The teacher is still teaching at Venice High School in California. (How is that possible, you might ask? It's California!) A couple of enterprising kids on the school newspaper decided to investigate the several-years-old story, according to the Los Angeles Times. The result was a killed article and a freedom of speech fight at the school.
From the Times:
"In the court records the students collected, [Jacqueline] Domac stated that she had started living with Furlong in 1993, the year he turned 17 and she turned 29. In a 1999 lawsuit, that Domac filed against Furlong for breach of contract, she described her relationship with the young actor as 'quasi spousal.'
"Domac met Furlong on the set of Terminator 2, where she worked as his stand-in, according to articles published about them. Domac said in court records that she later worked as his manager until he fired her in 1998. She sought $110,000 — 15 percent of his earnings between 1995 and 1998, the years she said she managed him. It's unclear from court documents whether Domac received a financial settlement."
I can sympathize with these kids since — some 25 years ago or so — my friends and I faced the same sort of problems on a high school paper. We were actually forced to start our own newspaper. But it's also a little alarming that the teacher is still plying her trade — as a health instructor, of all things — at the same school. Furlong, meantime, had to be replaced by actor Nick Stahl in the new Terminator movie because of his — Furlong's — well-documented problems with substance abuse. Apparently, his high school health teacher didn't warn him about those dangers because she was too busy ... oh, never mind!
Cruise Gets Hyper About Ritalin
I see that Tom Cruise has picked up the argument advanced by Scientology against psychiatry in general and psychotropic drugs in particular. He now joins all his Scientology celeb friends in this misguided and potentially destructive cause.
Cruise visited Washington last week, according to published reports, and lobbied Congress to stop the use of Ritalin and other drugs for kids with ADHD. Scientology is waging a war against these drugs and all prescriptive medicines used for mental health including the Zoloft/Paxil family, which has helped so many people.
Why? Scientology would prefer that alienated, frustrated, depressed folk turn to them for help. But like me I'm sure you've known your share of bright-seeming children who were unable to do their schoolwork until they were given the right drugs. There is no shame in having ADHD or any other learning disability. The shame is in being so blinded by one's fierce devotion to a group that you would let a child suffer rather than get him the proper treatment.
Maybe Tom, Kirstie Alley, John Travolta, Juliette Lewis and all the other celeb Scientologists should be worrying about the environment or freedom of speech. Leave the medical work to real doctors, please.