Huffman hot on ‘Transamerica’

FELICITY HUFFMAN’S fictional character on “Desperate Housewives” is usually described as the “normal one.” She is often described privately in that manner, too. Now Huffman simply appears to be grateful, stunned and “blissed out” by her luck over the past two years — a pop culture TV hit, and an underground indie film about a transsexual. Felicity’s performance in “Transamerica” maintains a delicate balance — not a drag-queenish caricature, no winks to the audience that she is really a woman. She says her director, Duncan Tucker, told her simply — when motivation and characterization became dicey — “just act the moment.” … Felicity says it was “about 150 degrees where we shot, and Kevin Zegers (who plays Bree’s hustler/druggie son) and I had to spend a lot of time in a steaming-hot station wagon. It was low budget, actors held lights, made sandwiches for the crew. But that just ramped-up the intensity and our commitment.” … Of her Oscar chances, Felicity hoots, “Listen, I’m thrilled with my Golden Globe nomination. Believe me when I tell you I think all the time now that I am Cinderella and the clock’s about to strike midnight and the coach turns back into a pumpkin.” Has she chosen a gown for the Jan. 16 Golden Globes? Yes, something beautiful from Marquesa — should I say that? You know, I’m a terrible celebrity. I’m always ready to throw something on, and I’ll be stopped by people who say, ‘Dear, that doesn’t look very nice’ or ‘You’ve worn it three times already!’ To me, the public part of the life is where I think somebody is going to come up and say, ‘Fraud!’ This is only for beautiful people!”

JAMIE FOXX almost missed New Year’s in Miami, at the Delano Hotel. The Oscar winner’s chartered plane was stalled for hours in L.A., after a bird crashed through a window. Also celebrating 2006 at the Delano were Snoop Dog, Billy Joel and Lindsay Lohan, who arrived in Miami with her mom, brother and posse. Lohan presided over Prive’s New Year’s party, just down the street from the Delano. … The Venetian honeymoon of Elton John and David Furnish has been blissfully extended. They are enjoying the romantic canals and gondolas and staying at the Hotel Danieli. (All newlyweds love the sexy mystery of Venice.) It is reported the happy couple were spotted at Harry’s Bar with their dog, Arthur. A waiter tied a napkin around Arthur’s neck and he was allowed to eat at the table. … Philip Seymour Hoffman says “no one who knew Truman Capote sought me out to say, ‘What did you do? My memory of him is now tainted.” Hoffman is among those at the annual Arts & Leisure series of discussions benefiting the Actors’ Fund of America. Happening in NYC today to Sunday, you can see and hear Philip, Robert Redford, Larry David, Deborah Voigt, Harry Connick Jr., Jim Jarmusch, Viggo Mortensen, the casts of “Entourage,” “The Sopranos,” and more. Call (888) 698-1870.

“GOSSIP CAN alleviate depression by making people feel connected with the larger world. Studies at the U. of Wisconsin and at Yale found that water cooler and backyard-fence chatter actually serves several useful purposes.” So write the editors of the Week magazine in their sum-up of American health issues at year’s end. Well, they are essentially saying what I’ve been saying for years. I wrote in two books about how gossip helps us form our opinions, helps us come to moral conclusions, entertains us, is cathartic in the manner of Greek tragedy and comedy. Studies at Princeton and Cornell also show gossip as an important means of making us more interesting and entertaining. Sometimes gossip also exposes deceptive, self-serving souls and creates a sense of unity for those trying to do the right thing!

E-mail Liz Smith at MES3838@aol.com

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