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Cosby accused of groping. Celebs flock to Trump wedding. Fierstein's reviews roll in.

By Salon Staff
January 21, 2005 7:57PM (UTC)
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Turn On:
Tony Shalhoub is back with the "Monk" season premiere on Friday at 10 p.m. EST on USA. Now that his assistant, Sharona, has gotten back together with her husband and moved to New Jersey, Adrian Monk gets a new right-hand woman ... and love interest.

Morning Briefing:
Since you won't be able to watch it on TV ... Who's coming to Donald Trump and Melania Knauss' wedding at Bethesda-by-the-Sea Episcopal Church -- followed by a lavish reception at his Mar-a-Lago estate-turned-resort -- in Palm Beach, Fla., this Saturday? Well, far fewer people than Trump had for his wedding to Marla Maples back in 1993, to which 2,000 people were invited. According to USA Today, Arnold Schwarzenegger and Maria Shriver, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Douglas, Bruce Willis, Prince Charles, Clint Eastwood, Oprah Winfrey, David Letterman, Kelly Ripa, Vic Damone, Liza Minnelli, Usher, Elton John, Billy Joel and Luciano Pavarotti are all expected to be among the couple's 350 guests, as are Shaquille O'Neal, Derek Jeter, Muhammad Ali, Larry King, Howard Stern, Page Six's Richard Johnson, "The Insider"'s Pat O'Brien, New York Gov. George Pataki, Henry and Nancy Kissinger, Russell Simmons, Katie Couric, Vogue fashion director Sally Singer (who wrote the magazine's current cover story about Knauss' wedding dress), and yes, Trump's ever-loyal "Apprentice" sidekick Carolyn Kepcher. (No word as to whether his other sidekick, George Ross, will be there to offer last-minute input.) The wedding party will consist of Knauss' sister and maid of honor, Ines, and Trump's two grown sons, Donald Jr. and Eric, as best men. The groom's daughter Ivanka has been asked to read, though it's not clear if his other daughter (by Maples), Tiffany, will even attend. Neither Maples nor Trump's other ex, Ivana Trump, is planning to make the trip, though both were invited. Too bad for them because they might have gotten a kick out of the fact that Knauss' $100,000-$200,000 Dior wedding gown (for which Trump is believed to have paid a discounted price) is so huge (300 feet of satin weighing 50 pounds, and including a 13-foot train, a 16-foot veil and 1,500 crystal rhinestones) that the bride won't be able to fit into a chair at dinner and instead will have to perch on a stool until she changes -- after the first dance -- into a lighter Vera Wang number. But though there will be stars aplenty at the wedding, there will be no fireworks: The town of Palm Beach has blocked a proposed mid-reception display. Boom ... thud. (USA Today, N.Y. Daily News, N.Y. Times)


Not funny allegations: Bill Cosby is being accused of drugging and groping a woman who was an employee of the athletic department of his alma mater, Temple University, at his Philadelphia home one year ago. The woman, now living in Canada, says Cosby slipped her a drug that knocked her out and then touched her breasts and put her hand on his crotch (how she'd remember this part if she was knocked out is not clear from current reports). She says she then woke up to find her bra unclasped. Police are said to be investigating the comedian, who has been married to the same woman for 41 years (they have five children) and who, a few years back, successfully fought off claims by another young woman that she was his illegitimate daughter. Cosby's lawyer calls these new allegations "truly bizarre," "false" and "utterly preposterous." Cosby himself has not yet commented, but he has canceled several scheduled appearances this week. (N.Y. Daily News, BBC News, NewsNet5)

Rich man? Poor man? Harvey Fierstein has made his much-heralded debut as Tevye in the current Broadway revival of "Fiddler on the Roof" -- and the reviews are rolling in. So is it time to break out the violins for him or can he do a joyful dance? The New York critics do not necessarily agree. A few excepts from their reviews:

Ben Brantley, N.Y. Times: "To see the gray-bearded, bright-eyed Mr. Fierstein pulling a horseless milk cart with sardonic resignation is, you may well think, to look upon the image of the Tevye of the Sholem Aleichem stories that inspired the show.


"It is Mr. Fierstein's greatest asset as a performer, that unmistakable voice, that perversely shatters this illusion. Theatergoers who saw -- or more to the point heard -- this actor in 'Hairspray' will require at least 10 minutes to banish echoes of Edna. But even audience members unfamiliar with Mr. Fierstein may find him a slightly jarring presence.

"Tevye must to some degree be an everyman, albeit in exaggerated, crowd-pleasing form. And Mr. Fierstein, bless him, shakes off any semblance of ordinariness as soon as he opens his mouth. Every phrase he speaks or sings, as he shifts uncannily among registers, becomes an event. And the effect is rather as if Ms. [Carol] Channing were playing one of Rodgers and Hammerstein's simple, all-American heroines in 'Oklahoma!' or 'Carousel.'"

Howard Kissell, N. Y. Daily News: "What makes Fierstein's performance unsatisfying is that he doesn't project any of the depth of Tevye's dilemma. He sees it as a series of comic turns.


"At times, in fact, I wondered if [director David] Leveaux had come back to direct him or whether the task had been entrusted to Gerard Alessandrini, who does 'Forbidden Broadway.' Too often it seems like a parody of 'Fiddler, ' rather than the real thing.

"At first, I thought I might find Fierstein appealing because that famous gravel voice suddenly conjured up my cousin Chaike, whom I had not thought about in nearly 50 years, but the 'family resemblance' was not enough to sustain interest.


"Although Fierstein gets most of the music, the voice itself eventually becomes, like any running gag, tiresome."

Clive Barnes, N.Y. Post: "Now we have a gay Tevye, with the uncloseted Harvey Fierstein ... Yet right from the start, Fierstein is a splendid, dominating Tevye, from his Falstaffian girth to his untamed forest of a beard -- and he grabs control of the musical with both hands.

"While he doesn't overact, he's occasionally overly roguish, his eyes glinting a tad too mischievously at his happily complaisant audience. There's a certain lack of that patriarchal gravitas, which even the wonderfully outrageous Mostel conveyed.


"Fierstein's singing, pure gravel and honey, is as effective as it is personalized. And his nimbly elephantine dancing is the best I have seen from any Tevye -- Robbins himself would have been enchanted."

Gordon Cox, Newsday: "Even with his big, bulky frame, his deep croak of a voice and a new beard, Fierstein can be decidedly fey. He may throw up his palms and shrug with an expert air of good-humored, long-suffering resignation, but his Tevye still evinces some vestiges of his last, Tony-winning Broadway role, the plus-size hausfrau Edna from 'Hairspray.' Many of his comic impulses -- precisely timed double-takes, the slow-burn glare, the knowing twinkle in his eye -- seem better suited to a silent movie diva than to a humble milkman from Anatevka.

"On the other hand, as Tevye would say, Fierstein's friendly, roly-poly presence softens the edges of director David Leveaux's austere production, with its autumnal mood and lonely bare-branched trees. The entire show feels warmer than it did a year ago."


Also: When Jenna Bush saluted the crowd at the Texas State Society's Black Tie & Boots Ball on Wednesday night, she lifted her pinky and index finger as a show of support for the University of Texas Longhorns, but in American Sign Language, that sign means "bulls-!" (Lloyd Grove's Lowdown) ... Dianne Von Furstenberg and Barry Diller are reportedly on a campaign to get Oprah Winfrey to run for public office, something she has said she will "never" do. (Rush and Molloy) ... Dennis Quaid and his wife, Kimberly, have been spotted at two NYC strip clubs in the last few days. (Page Six)

Money Quotes
Peggy Noonan on President Bush's inauguration speech: "It left me with a bad feeling, and reluctant dislike ... [He] left this Bush supporter yearning for something she does not normally yearn for, and that is: nuance." (Wall Street Journal)

"NYPD Blue" cocreator Steven Bochco on the state of TV today: "The medium has become increasingly conservative ... I don't think today we could launch or sell a show like 'NYPD Blue.'" (Reuters/Hollywood Reporter)

-- Amy Reiter


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