The Insider

Feb 24, 2003  •  Post A Comment

If the response at a “Six Feet Under” screening is any barometer, the third season is going to be the best-received yet for the HBO hit set in a family-owned funeral home, which returns to the lineup at 9 p.m. (ET) on Sunday.
In the first two episodes-don’t worry, The Insider will not give away any plot twists, except to say there is a wee bit of star-quality, full-frontal male nudity-everything is, especially for this perversely dysfunctional clan, weirdly normal. But not at all dull. The audience howled appreciatively at the unexpected comedy rampant in the absurd humdrummedness of it all.
The evening started late-it takes time to crawl over the 6-foot walls of slush that were everywhere in New York last week-but the theater was eventually populated with the usual crowd, from professional guest Sylvia Miles to representatives of HBO’s lineup, including “The Sopranos”’ Robert Iler with a couple of lanky acne-demographic pals whose baseball caps were carefully askew, and the core cast of “Six Feet”-even Rachel Griffiths, whose character, Brenda, is only briefly and surreally represented in the first two episodes, and a luminous Lauren Ambrose. Stanley Tucci was there, too, happily munching on the free popcorn.
In the very long line for the ladies’ room afterward, The Insider found herself behind Annabella Sciorra, Tony Soprano’s short-lived bedmate, who had slipped out of her boots and into strippy silver sandals before exiting her car at the theater, and in front of Aida Turturro, who, like most of the crowd, stuck with sensible and waterproof boots.
The Insider found herself waiting in another line to get a word with Alan Ball, the Oscar-winning creator and executive producer and writer, who started the evening with a charming tribute to his partner Peter and who afterward was besieged by people raving about what they’d just seen.
What is the theme for the season? “Choices,” replied Mr. Ball. And all about how making the right ones doesn’t necessarily make for happiness.
The Insider, who needs at least one night of reasonable sleep between a 19-hour work day and a late-starting party, knows just what Mr. Ball means. She opted to skip the “Six Feet” party at Capitale in the Bowery and walked home. And she is never happy when forced to make a sensible choice.
Tempest in a B-cup
Speaking of absurdity, it turns out you can’t say “tits” on MTV. The word was bleeped multiple times in a discussion of said body parts on a recent installment of “The Osbournes.”
A spokesman soberly explained that the mandate of the improbable hit about this generation’s drug-addled Ozzie and his Harriet, “was never to push the language boundary. It’s a family sitcom with a family that happens to swear a lot.”
Somehow The Insider is amused that it is OK to run racy videos and teach our children, well, how to dress like Christina Aguilera, who apparently doesn’t feel dressed if her practically everything isn’t on almost full display. “Well,” said someone to whom The Insider was sputtering, “Christina has her issues.” “Well,” The Insider replied, “We can see those issues, we just can’t identify them.”
In other words, you can see (bleep) but you can’t say (bleep). Is this why we want our MTV?
A (bleeping) A-plus for Cannavale
What we want and what we can’t say brings us to Bobby Cannavale, the only cast member to emerge from “Kingpin,” in which he played volatile, macho brother Chato, with his star in full blaze.
After years of being cast as just another cutie-patootie, as Rosie O’Donnell put it when she’d gush about Mr. Cannavale on “Third Watch,” Mr. Cannavale is on a showy-role roll.
He co-stars with Oscar-nominated Patricia Clarkson and Peter Dinklage in “The Station Agent,” which was one of the hits at Sundance and is scheduled for release later in the year by Miramax.
He sashayed into Em City on the penultimate episode of Tom Fontana’s “Oz”-a series on which, by the way, the T-word doesn’t always refer to body parts-as a club creature in a bleached buzz cut, a ruffled midnight blue satin suit and in a hurry to take control of inmates at the prison that is losing population faster than you can say “solitary.” (He also is seen briefly in “The Guru.”)
And he’s in rehearsals for the Public Theater production of a play by Suzan Lori Parks, who gave it a title The Insider can’t print. His co-stars in “[Bleeping] A” include “Law & Order’s” S. Epatha Merkerson and Mos Def. When it opens is still not known, but it will keep Mr. Cannavale on the stage through April.
Meanwhile, until NBC Entertainment President Jeff Zucker decides whether “Kingpin” will return, there’s no exploring other TV options for Mr. Cannavale, who also appeared on “Ally McBeal,” “100 Centre Street” and “Sex and the City.”
So, said his manager David Ginsberg of Turnpike Entertainment, “He’s meeting on a lot of films with great directors. He’s got a big case of the movies.”
The Insider has a big case of the fan flutters for Mr. Cannavale, whose “Station Agent” co-star Patricia Clarkson has a marvelous arc of scenes with Kathy Bates and Frances Conroy in the March 9 episode of “Six Feet Under.”
Which brings us full circle, over and out.