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‘Little Dog’ elicits legit laughs

IF YOU LIKE to laugh, if you like outrageous satire, if you love incredible performers and a brilliantly paced show with a fantastic set by Allen Moyer, don’t miss “The Little Dog Laughed” at Second Stage until Feb. 26. The play is about — making a movie. It’s about a killer agent and her star client, but I don’t want to tell you a thing about the plot. Zoe Lister-Jones is hilarious as “the girlfriend”; Neal Huff is the ambiguously sexual star; and Johnny Galecki is the appealing, un-typical hustler. I have left for last the “take-no-prisoners” agent, played by Julie White. We will be hearing lots more about this talented performer. This may be the best play about movies since David Rabe’s “Hurlyburly.” Bernadette Peters, Elizabeth Berkley, Phil Collins and Nicole Kidman have all seen it.

DIRECTOR DAVID Cronenberg is receiving fresh kudos for his “A History of Violence” feature. Cronenberg’s work is famously intense. But what affected him as a young movie-goer? “When I was a kid, I would go to cowboy and pirate movies … then I would see people coming out of the Italian cinema across the street. Adults were crying. I was intrigued by what kind of film could have the power to make grown-ups weep. It was Fellini’s ‘La Strada.’ When I saw it later, I was the one weeping!” … Julianna Margulies is about to appear on the Great White Way for the very first time, signing for the drama, “Fester.” “I’ve done off-Broadway, but never the big deal itself!” she said. … Maria Conchita Alonso is the latest addition to ABC’s “Desperate Housewives.” She will play Eva Longoria’s mother.

GET THEE to the Rainbow Room on Monday for the cozy intimate cabaret of Broadway stars performing close enough to be touched. This will be the Manhattan Theater Club’s posh, glam and tony party with Donna McKechnie, Brian Stokes Mitchell, and Penny Fuller doing their stuff. They’ll raise dough so inner-city kids can experience the theater. I am one of the co-chairs, along with Kitty Carlisle Hart. Call (212) 399-3000, Ext. 146. … But Cynthia and Dan Lufkin are finding time away from their 3-month-old Aster to plan the April 3 Centennial Gala for Julliard. That night, school alums including Renee Fleming, Wynton Marsalis, Leontyne Price and John Williams will broadcast “Live from Lincoln Center.” And Town & Country magazine is putting individual and corporate sponsors in print in their spring issue to celebrate Julliard’s 100th year. They already have signed up Harry Winston, Tiffany, Mish, Steinway, Waterford/Wedgwood, Eric Javits and the Carlyle Hotel. Interested? Call (212) 573-6933.

THE RECENTLY deceased Phyllis Gates, the only woman ever to be Mrs. Rock Hudson, was the secretary to agent Henry Wilson, the rather underhanded guy who arranged a wife for his super-famous leading man. Years after Rock and Phyllis had divorced, the star came to tell me his troubles. He was being threatened with blackmail and wondered what he should do to avoid the destruction of his career. The former Mrs. Hudson, it turns out, was the threatening blackmailer. … I wrote the story in my memoir “Natural Blonde” without naming the would-be blackmailer. Though I disapproved of Phyllis’ attempts to get money in this underhanded manner, I realized I had been somewhat “underhanded” as well. Yet I didn’t want to name her while she was alive; that would have been fatal for her and for Rock. Ultimately, Gates did not extract money from her ex.

E-mail Liz Smith at MES3838@aol.com

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