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Star Search

I don’t like to brag, but I’m quite a gifted psychic. Really. And I’m not talking cheesy tabloid predictions, either. You won’t find me predicting that an earthquake will sink California, or that President Clinton will marry Budd, or even that Burt Reynolds will run off with Starr Jones. See, unlike tabloid psychics who (like weather forecasters) are never held accountable for their predictions, I stand by mine.

If I’m wrong I will punish myself in the worst way possible. I will become an intern at the White House. Here, then, my predictions for ’99 and into the next millennium.

1. Liddy Dole Becomes President Only To Be Impeached in a Sex Scandal. No, it’s not that she gropes staffers while solving world problems, it’s that First Man and Viagra spokesman Bob Dole becomes such a pop-up pill junkie that he thinks he’s the president, and gropes everyone, including his own wife— an unheard-of move in the White House.

2. Betsy McCaughey Ross Marries Johnny Tree. Hey, her last campaign-marriage taught her that it’s better to marry a professional campaign contributor than one who needs coaxing. She is a genius.

3. Yogi and George Have Another Fight. It’s déjà vu all over again, and in the words of a great man, “It ain’t over ’til it’s over.” This time Yogi’s mad that George won’t fire someone— the mayor.

4. Rudy Giuliani Runs for Everything on a Platform of Stopping Everyone From Doing Anything. The mayor, who will be saved from third-term­itis (wherein voters who loved you yesterday turn on you today) by term limits, will run for governor, president, and senator all at the same time. He will stand on his accomplishments: lower crime (except among police) and crushing the little guy (cabbies, artists, and protesters). After his success with jaywalkers, he will promise to prosecute anyone found even standing still.

5. Bill Clinton Dies in Office. Not of embarrassment, but of old age. It proves tougher to get him to leave the White House than it was to remove Nancy Reagan. The police try fire hoses, and even shooting him with tranquilizer darts from the street— nothing works. Eventually, we’re forced to move the capitol to Baghdad, because it’s easier to oust Saddam.

6. Hillary Runs Unsuccessfully for Senator. In New York, Vermont, New Hampshire, Hawaii, Georgia, Iowa, West Virginia, and any other state she can think of that she’s not from.

7. Greyhound Strike. No, not the bus
drivers, the dogs. The racing dogs are really ticked (no pun intended) because they are the only professional athletes who haven’t gone
on strike. The strike ends in a lockout at the
kennel, and the dogs are replaced by scabs—
professional basketball players. The NBA-ers need the extra money now that they’re stuck with $14 million­a-year salary caps.

8. Cher Marries Mary. It’s the only thing that stops the widows Bono from talking incessantly and publicly about the men— and the lack thereof— in their lives.

9. Prince Edward Marries Sophie Rhys-Jones or Mandy Rice Davies or Donna Rice or Whoever She Is— proving once and for all that he is not, despite rumors and tabloid gossip, the man who would be queen.

10. Ron Perelman Gets Married. The world’s most competitive man refuses to let anyone beat him at anything, and therefore marries 136 more times in an attempt to best all marriage junkies, up to and including Mickey Rooney and Elizabeth Taylor. Fortunately, he can afford it. But not forever. Because he has married every single woman in New York, he is forced to marry Patricia “I marry well for a living” Duff again. Their second divorce ends in an ugly battle for custody of their 67-year-old daughter from their first marriage. The New York Post pleads for dignity.

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We’ve Got You, Babe

It’s not the fear of nuclear meltdown, germ warfare, Saddam Hussein, terrorists, STDs, UVBs, L.A., the FBI, CIA, PLO, nor even global warming, neo-Nazis, skinheads, cloning, Cuba, Commies, nor being trapped inside a Mandy Patinkin concert that’s keeping me up nights. These demons we live with.

What frightens me is the terror of knowing that the fate of the world (or at least life as we know it) is now resting in the hands of “politicians” like Mrs. Sonny Bono. As you may recall, Congresswoman Bono brings a broad range of experience to the task of presidential impeachment— such as listening to her late husband sing, and harboring illusions that she makes sense.

OK, that’s not fair— Bono is more than just the widow of half of Sonny and Cher. She made this abundantly clear recently when she took time out from the impeachment hearings to tell the press she’d just had a date with a country-and-western drummer. For reasons too frightening to contemplate she assumed the world would be interested in this information. She also let us know that he makes her feel like she’s “in high school.” When someone is deciding the fate of the presidency, the last thing we want to hear is that she has the judgment of a high schooler. As soon as she said it out loud she proved that if nothing else her judgment— at least about herself— is right on point.

Just when we thought it was safe to go back into the hearings, she decided to give an interview— to TV Guide yet— in which she told the world that Sonny was a pillhead and that’s why he slammed into the tree, killing himself. Why do I need to know this? Why is she acting like she’s just slammed into a tree herself?

But Mary Bono isn’t the only politician awaiting a brain transplant. There’s Staten Island’s own congressman, Vito Fossella. Hard as it is to believe, he said proudly at the congressional hearing on impeachment: “[G]enerations of Americans yet unborn must look back on this day, in this matter, in this situation, and see this is our finest hour upholding what our founding fathers and every generation since have looked for and yearned for.” What?

Vito, Vito, Vito. First off, I didn’t— ever— yearn for this. And secondly, don’t you remember? The reason our founding fathers didn’t fool around with interns is that they were too busy raping their slaves! Can you imagine those impeachment hearings? The founders would have been so busy with their lawyers they would never have gotten around to writing the Declaration of Independence— let alone thinking up clever platform slogans like “No Taxation Without Representation.”

After listening to Bono and Fossella, I’m sure it’s time to bring this always appropriate slogan back to billboards across America. You need only look at Congress to see how far we haven’t come since 1776. The country says it doesn’t want impeachment, so Congress goes ahead full bore with the hearings. And watching the racial-gender-ethnic divisions between the Dems and the GOP is equally telling: they look like the House of Commons and the House of Lords.

Then there’s the issue itself: The charges against the president— lying under Monica Lewinsky— are even dumber than the nitwits deciding the issue. First off, even Dan Quayle could figure out that if you’re going to appoint someone to investigate sex (and let’s face it, that’s what this investigation is really about), you should pick someone who has actually had some since Eisenhower left the White House. And how about that interview Ken Starr gave Diane Sawyer? His warm, fuzzy side was like a scene from Orwell’s 1984— even more brain-numbing than Fossella and Bono.

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NY Mirror – 6/9/98

It’s too soon for me to say anything qualitative about writer-director-star Vincent Gallo’s Buffalo ’66, but I can report that, while in some ways the film makes Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas look like Bedknobs and Broomsticks, it ultimately succeeds in disproving that gibe from A Chorus Line, “Suicide in Buffalo is redundant.”After a Directors Guild of America screening two weeks ago, the scruffy, contentious Gallo spoke to the crowd, radiating auteur charisma while mouthing off in a seemingly antipromotional way that actually ends up creating a buzz around the movie. Some find the guy overly control-freaky, his self-deprecation shtick often flipping over to comically irritable egomania, but one does listen when he serves up all that hostile good copy. To pick two typical comments, he said that “Godard is more exciting for people like [an indie rival],who take a lot of drugs and make their little films” and he referred to “those miserable pricks in Cannes who dumped me so they could make room for Godzilla and Primary Colors and other abortions.” But tell us what you really think, Vincent.

As for Buffalo ’66, Gallo said that originally, Monte Hellman (Two-Lane Blacktop)was set to direct, “but I realized my hero had become miserable, stubborn, and out of touch. He thought the cinematography should be invisible. We parted ways.” Even after Hellman became invisible, Gallo wasn’t too thrilled with his partners in cinema crime. “They should have stopped Hitler in Austria when they had a chance,” he said. “When I had the chance, I stopped the 10 Hitlers on my set. I was very strict, especially with Ben Gazzara.”

He actually ended up loving Gazzara, who plays his dad, but mom, Anjelica Huston, makes Gallo feel less than filial. “She fucked me so bad,” he claimed, “with the conniving manipulation of her agent. It’s not enough that she’s getting a quarter of a million dollars for three days–the great Anjelica Huston! Suddenly, she has to have her own hair person and a $20,000 wig, which basically came out of my money. And God forbid she should have a job where she works.” He said that Huston refused to shoot on Easter, but then that very day she had her people ask if Gallo would rehearse with her. “I said, ‘You tell that vicious cunt to get the fuck off my set,’ ” he related, triumphantly. “She looked at me and started bawling–because that’s how the girls get you. Then, of course, she became an angel–‘What can I do for you?’ ” What Huston ultimately did for him, Gallo added, was say she loved Buffalo ’66 until it left the parents’ house–in other words, until the end of pretty much her last scene, long before the movie’s over. “You throw these monkeys a bone,” winced Gallo, “and they come back and attack you!”

To toss the Oscar-winning primate something more substantial to chew on, I asked Toni Howard, Anjelica’s agent at ICM, for a response to Gallo’s cantankerous claims. She told me, “Vincent was kissing the ground she walked on the day Anjelica said yes. Afterwards, he said stuff to me like, ‘It was the greatest experience I ever had. I wish you were my agent.’ Anjelica couldn’t have been more cooperative.” Buffalo‘s producer, Chris Hanley, then called in to say that Anjelica’s name and rep are what got the film green-lighted, “plus the wig actually cost $5000 and I paid for it–and I’m not complaining.” Well, the esteemed Ms. Huston is certainly worth flipping over a wig–and flipping a wig–for. But I’ll stay out of this or there’ll have to be more interventions than in Lorna Luft‘s book (albeit of a presumably less toxic sort).

While all the above were clawing each other’s eyebrows out, I wrapped a festive turban around my wig ($20, and I paid for it) and opted for a serene spirituality far from the mundanities of Buffalo or indie filmmaking. Looking quite fierce, I contacted the guy who contacted Sonny Bono after Cher contacted him–I’m talking about medium to the stars James Van Praagh, who’s apparently better at, um, contacting the dead than Gallo is at contracting the living. In a phone interview, Van Praagh insisted to me that he’s no gypsy, tramp, or thief–he’s for real, so contact this! Cher learned of Van Praagh when her mother gave her his book, Talking to Heaven,though the singer-actress later told the psychic, “I don’t read that much.” That’s not surprising since she once thought Mount Rushmore was carved by nature, but, hey, we love the lady and all her heavy headwear.

Cher met with the guy anyway, and the beat went on when he reached Sonny–collect. “There was such a strong love bond,” said Van Praagh. “You felt the connection.” And what did that gnomelike Svengali have to say for himself? “He was surprised about what happened to him [the skiing accident, not the Cher TV special]. It was like a blank, a dream. But he’s going to be around, helping everyone. He still loves Cher and is very proud of her.” I.e., she’s got him, babe.

Van Praagh said his otherworldly connections are something like long-distance calls–just dial 1–but he admitted he wasn’t always such a smooth operator. He worked at William Morris “pulling staples out of contracts in the basement,” while dreaming not of dialing deadheads, but of writing sitcoms. Everything changed when a medium told him he has a gift of spirit, and he’s been pretty much gabbing to heaven ever since. Now he claims he has a three-year waiting list–screw sitcoms–and is tapping into afterlife obsessions so well that I suggested he work in tandem with Dr.Kevorkian, who can off ’em, after which Van Praagh can get ’em on the line.

His most successful star trips? He reached Marilyn Monroe, who said, “I wish they’d all pay homage to themselves instead of me.” He got Audrey Meadows in touch with Jackie Gleason, who told her, “Get it right”–meaning Meadows’s book should correct the myth that he was an alcoholic. And while Van Praagh says Barry Manilow wanted to contact Judy Garland–quelle surprise–“I told him, ‘What makes you think Judy’s around you?’ You have to have a link with that person.” That must be why I can’t seem to get my agent on the phone.

Over at Pieces–“where every year is 1979”–brilliant impressionist Jimmy James‘s act last Wednesday seemed to reach every deceased diva we’ve longed to hear from, on a big, fab conference call. “So many people have died this year–lots of new material for me,” said Jimmy, sardonically. He did a dead-on Tammy Wynette, Karen Carpenter, Judy, Billie, and even a flawless Sonny and Cher, but that last one came only after an assurance that Ms. Sarkisian Bono Allman Whatever will never die. “Long after the nuclear holocaust,” he cracked, “there will be two things left–cockroaches and Cher.” Doesn’t quite have the ring of Sonny and Cher.

Finally, Jocelyne Wildenstein and I–now that has a ring to it–commingled at Life’s “Get a Life” party the next night, where I presented the beleaguered, but very alive fabulosity with a NightLIFE Achievement Award in lieu of cash or freedom. Before a crowd consisting only of photographers, I read a dazzling tribute poem to Wildenstein (“Your husband’s a pig/But your celebrity’s so big . . . “), as she–looking thrilled (I think)–took the plaque with one hand and slipped me her purse with the other. A fair exchange–and hey, it matches my face!