The Observer stood in front of a less-than-generous red carpet on Monday—more of a red doormat, really—flanked by photographers and awaiting the arrival of fashionably late Broadway dancers, choreographers and filmmakers.
We were at NYU’s Skirball Center for the Performing Arts for the 30th annual Fred and Adele Astaire Awards, which recognizes outstanding achievement in dance on Broadway and film each season—the only award show of its kind, so they advertise.
What allows reality TV to exist so plentifully, and to be so successfully engineered, is perhaps our human tendency to experience the same event different ways. Liquoring up scared, fame-hungry young people gets you most of the way there, but it’s the producer-prodded endless parsing of what historian Daniel J. Boorstin termed “pseudo-events” that fill the hours and hours of cable programming we so happily consume: fights over who is a drunk, fights over who said who is a drunk, fights over what actually happened when everyone was drunk, and so on. (Mr. Boorstin also gave us a handy phrasing for the contemporary definition of a celebrity: “a person who is known for his well-knownness.”)
To test these theories, on Monday, The Observer embraced a full evening’s schedule of pseudo-events featuring celebrities and took a Rashomonic approach to the premiere of the fifth season of the wildly, bafflingly successful reality show, The Real Housewives of New York City. We sent three correspondents with varying degrees of RHONY knowledge to three premiere parties hosted by Housewives, and asked them to write honestly of their experiences.
What we learned: Despite perhaps being unwelcome, ex-Housewife Jill Zarin made the rounds. A couple of the Housewives will really miss their extra-large Diet Cokes (thanks a lot, Mayor Bloomberg). If you hang around with a Housewife long enough, you might run into someone actually famous (Liza Minnelli!?). And the show, when viewed with the celebrity cast members present, is even more uncomfortably hyperreal.
Thus we present: the Occasional Viewer’s Story, the Fanboy’s Story, and the Party Crasher’s Story.
the eight-day week
Though we last saw Liza Minnelli in Sex and the City 2—come back to the stage, Liza!—Judy Garland’s most lasting contribution to culture is still going strong. She’s releasing a live album of her January 1974 Live at the Winter Garden concert, which we can only hope will add a Grammy to her overburdened trophy Read More
In an anteroom outside the Tribeca Grand screening room before the screening of Robert DeNiro‘s new movie Being Flynn, a publicist pointed out the posters for Mean Streets and Taxi Driver hanging on the wall. “These classic DeNiro films,” said the flack, “and if Liza [Minnelli] shows up like she’s supposed to–well, there’s the Cabaret poster.”