Jewish World Review May 28, 2004 / 8 Sivan, 5764

Lloyd Grove

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"Sly Fox" outwits New York Times review; talk to the animals; Can't this man be stopped?; more | NEW YORK — NEW YORK — Richard Dreyfuss is gloating — and with good reason.

Seven weeks after New York Times theater critic Ben Brantley administered a severe thrashing to the Dreyfuss-led revival of "Sly Fox," the Larry Gelbart comedy at the Ethel Barrymore, the show is raking in nearly $400,000 a week.

"Historically, if you got a bad review from the Times, under certain circumstances that would simply close the show," Dreyfuss told me, a few days after I enjoyed the show. "But it didn't in this case. We have maintained upwards of 80-percent capacity for the entire time we've been up and running. And more often than not, at the end, the audience gets up on its feet and goes nuts."

That certainly happened when I was there — never mind that Brantley claimed in his April 2 review that the production lacked "sweeping comic confidence" and "anarchic energy" and "feel(s) like such a relic."

"And so that says to me we beat The New York Times — which is a story unto itself," Dreyfuss went on. "I'm very proud of that. We were able to overcome and go right on, and the word of mouth was fabulous."

Brantley responded: "I'm delighted that Mr. Dreyfuss' show is doing well, but it's an old story. Shows like 'Abie's Irish Rose,' which no critic liked, was a huge hit. And 'Cats,' which certainly didn't get great reviews, was the longest-running show on Broadway. Go figure. Especially now that Broadway theater is supported largely by tourists, a big-name star like Mr. Dreyfuss is going to do pretty well."

Dreyfuss — whose fellow cast-members include Eric Stoltz, Rene Auberjonois, Bronson Pinchot and Elizabeth Berkley — said the newspaper's power was bound to wane with the proliferation of the Internet and other media and sources of information.

But he added: "I don't think a critic has made a real critical difference since Walter Kerr. Frank Rich, as many others did, chose to be as vicious as he could, and unnecessarily so. . . . If I was a young journalist, you know how I would make my mark and become a star? I would be not vicious. I would be humorous and insightful."

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TALK TO THE ANIMALS Call it a rumble in the jungle with a publishing twist.

At Wednesday night's posh party for the Wildlife Conservation Society at the Central Park Zoo, Ford model and Italian Vogue cover girl Lydia Hearst-Shaw, the 19-year-old daughter of newspaper heiress Patty Hearst, apparently had a tiff with ex-boyfriend Oliver Hammond, the 20-year-old scion of the Annenberg media empire.

This column hears that after Hammond crashed the party and made a surprise cameo appearance, Hearst-Shaw, in an enticing peacock dress, was spotted near the dance floor around 11 p.m. She was crying. A pair of girlfriends ushered her away.

The buzz was that Hammond — an alpha male of the species, Manhattanus preppies — was marking his territory among the twenty-something rich kids who were guzzling Dewar's and dancing to A Flock of Seagulls.

A rep for the model declined to comment Thursday, and Hammond couldn't be reached.

The evening's excitement continued around midnight when Ivanka Trump came running from the bar, complaining loudly about some drunken idiot who had spilled red wine on her virginal white gown.

By then the skies had opened, the rain came pouring down, and the pastel-clad funseekers fled into the night.


CAN'T THIS MAN BE STOPPED?: Apparently taking a break from his ongoing search for the real killers, O.J. Simpson is hoping to mark the 10th anniversary of wife Nicole's savage murder June 12 — along with the fatal knifing of unlucky waiter Ron Goldman — by cashing in big-time. Star Magazine reports that Simpson's attorney, Yale Galanter, has been shopping his client around for paid interviews. "It will be expensive," the mag quotes Galanter. "TV rights are going for $100,000. For print rights, between $20,000 and $25,000." Nothing if not classy, Galanter adds that O.J. might even be willing to do a photo shoot at the Brentwood crime scene and at Nicole's gravesite — if the price is right. "It would have to be a multimillion-type deal," Galanter says. A gravesite photo would be "worth $500,000. . . . Our preference is a standard interview . . . but it's just money."

THE RELUCTANT FAREWELL: All this week, "60 Minutes" executive producer Don Hewitt, who launched the CBS News megahit 36 years ago, has been coping with goodbye parties celebrating his successful reign. But Hewitt, at 81, isn't retiring. Instead he's launching "30 Minutes," a zippy, local version of "60 Minutes" with the content tailored to each television market. "But I still don't understand why I'm leaving '60 Minutes' — we're having one of our best seasons ever," Hewitt mused at Wednesday night's Wildlife Conservation Society gala at the Central Park Zoo. "The show has earned $2 billion for CBS. So what needs fixing?"

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02/13/04: John & Carolyn, redux; Zell Miller shows the flag; kill Quentin?; more
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© 2003, Creators Syndicate