HAPPINESS IS having a large, loving, caring, close-knit family in another city," said George Burns.
Well, our friend Whoopi Goldberg has knocked the Broadway musical Xanadu up several big notches. It is finally getting the responsive audiences it deserves. Even Variety took notice last week of how the Whoop put the whoopee into this Tony-nominated, but sometimes neglected and enjoyable, romp. She'll be rolling around onstage at the Helen Hayes Theatre through Sept. 7.
I ran into the genial, good-hearted Drew Nieporent - restaurateur extraordinary - while sitting on a park bench waiting to enter Mayor Michael Bloomberg's party for Sen. Hillary Clinton.
This great guy tells me he is reopening his much-missed elegant cafe Montrachet, closed last summer in Tribeca. This happens any minute and is good news for gourmands worldwide.
Speaking of restaurants, let's not ignore the praise that Vanity Fair's Doug McGrath has just paid to the best French cafe extant - La Grenouille, for six decades at East 52nd Street off Fifth Avenue. This is the most deserving success story in the old Henri Soule tradition. (Mr. Soule introduced French cuisine to America at the World's Fair in 1939.) A big French kiss to Charles Masson, who has carried on the legacy of his famous and handsome father for all these years. He currently spends $250,000 annually on the most beautiful flowers in New York. This is truly the last great authentic French restaurant in the city.
You may as well know this, you who aspires back to the dawning of the age of Aquarius: The current production of Hair - a smash hit if ever there was one - is mirrored by the sun in the Leo-Aquarius rising chart of Barack Obama. Or so says Shelley Ackerman, stargazer of the stars. She sees dire portents for the Olympics in Beijing, saying that the opening ceremony "left much to be desired."
I guess Shelley is voting for Obama. She says the "victimhood and suffering" of the Bush years indicate the end of the spectrum of the outgoing age of Pisces. She adds, "Good riddance!"
Get ready for another look at the versatile Tovah Feldshuh. This fine actress opens Sept. 7 in Irena's Vow, written by Dan Gordon. It traces the story of the Polish Christian rescuer Irena Gut Opdyke, who saved many Jews from certain death during World War II.
Theatermania.com will tell you how to go to the Nagelberg Theater at Baruch Performing Arts Center in New York.
I asked Tovah, who gave us the ultimate Jewish heroine when she played Golda Meir, how it will feel playing a gentile, for a change. "L'chaim," she said, laughing.
'Hats' off to title
Recently it appeared that Martha Frankel's book Hats & Eyeglasses would opt for a new title in the paperback. But no, now Penguin decided to stick with this powerful writer's original stuff. I worked with this paragon many years ago when we were lowly producers of the first Tonight Show. Stanley Flink immortalized us in a book called But Will They Get It in Des Moines.