JIMINY GLICK, the Martin Short character that pulls audience members onstage for an interview during “Martin Short: Fame Becomes Me,” brought up Bette Midler recently. Bette hasn’t been on the Broadway stage since she was in the original production of “Fiddler on the Roof.” But she has known Marty, the show’s composer Marc Shaiman and the director Scott Wittman for years. The Jiminy interview lasted twice as long as usual — the audience literally refused to let her leave the stage. When the cast asked the audience for donations to benefit Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS, Shaiman asked Bette to give them a song. She was reluctant but finally did after asking for generous donations. She brought the house down with “The Rose.”
OH, HOW well I remember the 1950s when New York, recovering from World War II, was still young and how my pals and I tried constantly to be admitted to “21,” which was the place to go. Keepers on the door used to wave us away saying, “86 — no way!” (They knew hicks when they saw them.) The venerable restaurant, once a speakeasy in the days of prohibition, is still going strong and now they greet me with open arms not even bothering to give me a coat check. Recently, financier John Coleman gave a birthday dinner at “21” for his friend, the writer Dominick Dunne. A charmed crew was led through “21’s” main room into the kitchen and down some steep steps into a basement. Here a long wire key unlocked a massive two-ton door made up to resemble a brick wall. Through this vast unwieldy opening we stepped further down into the private wine cellar dining room where “21” once hid its booze from the feds. .. We had a six-course dinner just as in the old days when people ate a lot. Lots of famous wines were served and I felt compelled to drink for two because my pal Dominick no longer imbibes. The guest list included Carolina and Reinaldo Herrera and Peter Brown; Dominick sat between his famous sister-in-law, Joan Didion, and his good-looking son, Griffin Dunne. … Griffin will receive on Nov. 15 the Real Deal Award from Scenarios USA. He just wound up directing Diane Lane in “Fierce People” and is ready to helm Uma Thurman and Colin Firth in “The Accidental Husband.” … Dominick is mostly in Connecticut winding up his novel, to be called “A Solo Act,” due next spring. I gave him a New Yorker cartoon of two bikini clad beauties dashing along a beach with one of them saying, “I never thought turning 80 would be so much fun!”
FROM HIS stormy marriage to Dyan Cannon, the film icon Cary Grant had one child — Jennifer — born in 1966, the year Cary retired from movies. Now Jennifer is shopping a book about her dad and — no, it’s not “Daddy Dearest.” The title is “Good Stuff,” which is what Jennifer says she and her dad had. So it’s a tribute with loads of unpublished photos and documents. Even Sophia Loren is contributing to this book and that’s notable. She and Grant fell in love while making “Houseboat” and she seriously considered marrying him. In the end, she stayed with her longtime husband Carlo Ponti.
“HAIR” co-author James Rado has fashioned a ‘Hair” sequel, with the help of his brother, Ted Rado. It is called, for now, “Billy Earth,” and is said to take up where “Hair” ended — with the death of the main character Berger in Vietnam. This new 38-song proposal is already in the hands of a Broadway producer. … Will Smith, is in NYC filming “I Am Legend.” … And Ridley Scott is filming here for the said-to-be funny “American Gangster” with Russell Crowe and Denzel Washington … I’ve recorded the phone turn off announcement for the hilarious play “The Little Dog Laughed” opening at the Cort on Nov. 13. This sardonic comedy, set in New York but telling all we need to know about Hollywood, has two important cast members from off-B’way — Julie White and Johnny Galecki.
THE FEISTY Feminist Press group laid on some high level awards recently at Tavern on the Green and despite a quirky sound system, big names sparked by Jane Fonda and Gloria Steinem got their points across. These women have high expectations for the coming elections. They are, one and all, devout, dedicated, adamant and yes, sentimental. The best talkers were Jane, Planned Parenthood’s dynamic Cecile Richards, Amy Goodman of “Democracy Now!” and playwright Eve Ensler. Some poems were read by appealing Grace Paley. But … Waiters that night were ruthless; they tromped all over us. Once, I wouldn’t mind — but it was an evening of being pushed, stepped on and bullied out of the way by men with trays. I want to keep going to Tavern on the Green, but this place has to change its ways when it comes to service and how its help treats customers.
(E-mail Liz Smith at MES3838@aol.com)