Hollywood Squared

Edited by Kateri Butler

Though he now occupies the Bitter Queen box on the new Hollywood Squares, a jovial BRUCE VILANCH (pictured) proved he is no Paul Lynde at the opening of Bruce! A Month of Mondays at the CANON THEATER in Beverly Hills. The larger-than-life performer/ comedy scribe sashayed onstage wearing an eye patch (in deference to a detached retina, which postponed the original opening) and a gaudy sequined T-shirt — which he ripped off, revealing yet another T-shirt, this one black with the legend “Sick Puppy” in red. Paying homage to the “queens behind the scenes” and “fairies scribbling in the wings,” Vilanch, a veteran writer of numerous televised awards shows, regaled the audience, including Golden Girl RUE McCLANAHAN and songbird CAROLE COOK with husband TOM TROUPE, with material deemed a bit too risqué for prime time. (For instance, Oscar host Billy Crystal never announced that Fievel, the animated mouse from An American Tail, “backed out” of his agreement to present a statue with Richard Gere.) Despite some de rigueur tales of backstage bitchiness and a poke at Scientology, Vilanch has his claws out, but not his fangs — even Donny Osmond gets off lightly in an anecdote about planeloads of Hollywood Jews airlifted to Provo to write for the faltering Donny & Marie show. Though disappointed to be excised from the recent TV movie Inside the Osmonds, Vilanch is secure in the knowledge that he’ll always be remembered for helping pen the notorious Rob Lowe/Snow White opening number for the 1989 Academy Awards. But the multiple-Emmy-award-winning Vilanch deserves a special nomination for this performance: Worst Judy Garland Impression by a Non-Relative.

—Sandra Ross

Burnt Offerings

Ganja lovers sporting faux-pot-leaf leis swarmed around vendors hawking everything from hemp clothing to a new confection called Chronic Candy (“Every lick is like taking a hit”) to bongs and pipes at the 20th annual BOB MARLEY DAY CELEBRATION/RAGGA MUFFINS FESTIVAL at the LONG BEACH ARENA. Naturally, those smoking instruments were being put to immediate use — even if you forgot your stash, you could still get a contact high. Of course, the real action was at the food stands, where there were tons o’ munchies to be had, or “cotton-mouth delights” as one booth advertised. Spotted amid the linty dreadlocked neo-Rasta hipsters and a sprinkling of placid Long Beach police officers (perhaps they’d tried the Chronic Candy) were rappers COOLIO and WARREN G. and actor STEVEN SEAGAL, groovin’ to Bob’s son KY-MANI MARLEY, who, in the pungent clouds that filled the arena, seemed possessed by his pops, and MARCIA GRIFFITHS and JUDY MOWATT, members of the Wailers’ I-Threes chorus. New-school reggae star SHAGGY (direct from his Saturday Night Live appearance the night before) rocked a hip-hop and dancehall vibe, although attempts to make the mellow toker crowd flail and wave proved fruitless. Evidently, the herbologists hit burnout by the time BUNNY WAILER took the stage, at which point the arena was half-empty. The show was running so late that the lights were turned on during the revered Rastaman’s set, and the plug pulled just after his smokin’ version of Peter Tosh’s “Legalize It.” Doobie doobie do.

—Lina Lecaro

Fashion Bashin’

Is there anybody out there who actually pays to be on a VIP list? That $50 would have gotten you the same lukewarm beers everyone else at ARCADIA was sipping, and the same hour-and-a-half wait for the start of FASHIONABLY MOXIE!, a fund-raiser for the Santa Monica International Film Festival, the Musicians’ Assistance Program and the Cancer Research Institute. But happiness reigned once NIK FROST took the stage. He says he’s bridging the gap between rock and electronica, we say it’s great, great glam rock — lipstick wishes and cocaine dreams. Many a celeb was promised, but we couldn’t even spot our friends, so we settled for Frost’s friends, everyone’s favorite SUPREME BEINGS OF LEISURE, who played as models vamped across a stage hung with tent-size white paper lanterns. L.A. designers JOSH and HE YANG sent out crazy rag-and-yarn creations, and design house MAD-DAM did itself proud, but we couldn’t have been the only ones confused by the “feature” designers, XR COLLECTION (RICHARD BOWMAN and XAVIER OTHON). Iridescent ’90s club-wear fabrics recast in late-’80s cuts don’t look good on anyone — not even the male models that were sent out in bikini underwear, which just seemed rather cruel.

—Jade Chang

The Final Frontier

What are the everyday joys that make life worth living? It was a question pondered by the LIZ LERMAN DANCE EXCHANGE (pictured) in Stones Will Float, Leaves Will Sink, Paths Will Cross, a utopian portrait of the City of Angels that featured taiko drumming, a gospel choir, chamber music and Native American flutes, but was curiously lacking in anything Latin-flavored. The work — which included performers of every size, race, age and shape, a hallmark of the acclaimed choreographers’ company — launched the latest addition to L.A.’s culture gulch, the SKIRBALL CULTURAL CENTER’s Cotsen Auditorium in Ahamanson Hall, designed by architect Moshe Safdie. Some of the costumes appeared to be straight out of an early Star Trek episode, which was particularly appropriate, as the auditorium feels like a spacecraft (it also smelled a bit like a new pair of shoes). Aboard Starship Cotsen for its maiden voyage were Highways co-founder LINDA FRYE BURNHAM, director STEVEN KENT, UCLA department of world arts and cultures professor JUDY MITOMA, American Festival Project director MICHAEL HUNT, choreographer VICTORIA MARKS and performance artist DAN FROOT, while at the helm were Skirball associate program director JORDAN PEIMER, newly appointed Skirball communications officer LORI STARR and Skirball director URI HERSCHER. Evidently it’s bright-red lipstick that makes life worth living for guest dancer and choreographer CID PEARLMAN. She sported it proudly among an otherwise makeup-free and white-clad cast. “Well, they didn’t ask me to take it off,” said Cid, “plus it does make me happy.” Mazel tov!

—Marcus Kuiland-Nazario Photo by Lise Metzger

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