By Eileen Murphy
If you’ve been kicking yourself for having missed Conor McPherson’s play "The Good Thief" during its recent run at the Jose Quintero Theater in NYC, we’ve got some good news for you. Due to popular demand, the entire Keen Company production, starring Brian d’Arcy James, has been extended through May 26 by the Culture Project, 45 Bleecker St., NYC. Performances are Wednesday through Saturday at 8 p.m., Saturday at 5 p.m. and Sunday at 4 p.m. For tickets and information, call (212) 529-4530.
Big Tom’s back onstage
We must confess to harboring a secret love of Irish showband and country and western music, probably due to our early exposure to Larry Cunningham records. Which is why we’re happy to report that one of the genre’s best-loved stars, Big Tom, is on the mend after being sidelined for 18 months by throat problems.
The big man is back in the saddle and rarin’ to croon his big hits like "Gentle Mother," which he’ll do at the "Big Tom Welcome Back" festival in Bundoran during the May bank holiday weekend.
Big Tom, who underwent throat surgery last year, says that he was touched by the cards and letters the received while he under the weather.
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"The postman didn’t know what was up," he said, chuckling.
But though he missed being onstage, the tall singer doesn’t miss traveling around the country.
"I did it week after week for nearly 35 years,’ he told the Sunday World.
"You can get enough of it."
Shane makes room for vroom-vroom
Geez, if Shane Lynch’s next job is astronaut, he’ll have lived every adolescent boy’s fantasy before he’s 30. The ex-Boyzone star is best known for his eclectic fashion choices, decorative facial hair and his almost-but-not-quite fight with Puff Daddy (whoops! That’s P. Diddy to you) at the MTV Europe Awards. Since Boyzone went on "hiatus" a couple of years ago, Shane’s been spending his time driving race cars.
Now we hear that Lynch and his shaved eyebrow has become a member of the Eclipse Motorsport team, which competed in the GT racing at Silverstones in the British Championships last weekend. And, in case you’re wondering, we have no idea what any of that means, except that Lynch has found something to occupy his days as he and the rest of the world wait for that long-promised Boyzone reunion tour.
Irish DJ David Holmes has been tapped to compose the music for the soundtrack of "Ocean’s Eleven," a remake of the classic Rat Pack film romp set in Las Vegas. The movie will star Brad Pitt, George Clooney and Julia Roberts, who will probably be nominated for another Oscar for her uncanny resemblance to Frank Sinatra.
Westlife manager Louis Walsh never misses an opportunity for a bit of cross-promotion. His new boy band, InFocus, was the opening act for Westlife at the Point last weekend, much to the delight of the audience of screaming (and record-buying) girls.
George Clooney and the Oasis connection
File this one under "information we didn’t need to know." We hear that George Clooney — he of the chiseled jaw and the bedroom eyes — has something in common with the Gallagher brothers of Oasis fame.
[Now, if the preceding sentence looks just plain wrong to you, feel free to skip to the next item. If you’re made of sterner stuff, read on.]
It seems that Swoony Clooney suffers from — horrors! — that dreaded malady: mono brow. And so, girls, the dreamy former "ER" doc is forced to shave the space between his eyebrows.
"I’m just too hairy," admitted George recently.
We’ve got two words for him: hot wax.
Speaking of Oasis, we hear that Noel Gallagher, who recently split with his wife, Meg, is not letting the grass grow under his feet. The rock star has reportedly found true luuuv with a British public relations rep, Sara McDonald, who, despite her bleached blond hair and belly shirts, is just an old-fashioned girl at heart. Or so she says.
"I’d wait until [Noel] gets his divorce through before getting married," she gushed to the News of the World.
"Call me old fashioned!" she giggled.
Well, strictly speaking, we’d call that "following the law," but maybe that is a bit old-fashioned these days.
Not that Sara’s rushing into anything, mind you, but she has started making plans for her walk down the aisle.
"It would be great if our wedding took place somewhere in Scotland," she chirped.
No matter where the ceremony is held, Sara seems determined to enforce a dress code.
"I’d like to see my dad in a kilt, in the MacDonald tartan," she said. However, she’s "not too sure" about having Noel strut around in a skirt.
"I don’t think I’d like to see him in one," she admitted.
Hmmm . . . does Noel have scabby knees or hairy gams? The Good Lord willing, the rest of us will never know.
Bertie bops to the boy band beat
Irish Taoiseach Bertie Ahern endeared himself to 6,000 future voters over the weekend when he took time out from prime ministering to catch the Westlife show at the Point Depot.
The boys rallied after bandmate Kian got into a scuffle with some locals the night before the concert. But apart from two black eyes, the blond singer was fine and ready to shake his moneymaker in front of the screaming throng of prepubescent fans.
"Kian was fine on the night," said Westie Nicky Byrne. "But we were all looking out for him when we went out on stage." You know how tough those 10-year old girls can be.
Westlife got the Irish equivalent of a presidential seal of approval as Bertie bopped to the beat. He was there with his daughter Georgina, who’s doing a line with Nicky (No, no, no! They swear they’re not engaged.) The taoiseach was reportedly impressed when the guys flew off the stage and across the auditorium at the end of the show.
"I was dying for him to see the show because I had been telling him so much about it," gushed Georgina.
"We were leaving at the end when the boys fly over the audience," she said. "But he said, ‘I want to see this!’ "
"He thought it was spectacular."
Backstage, Bertie offered his congratulations to the lads, including his maybe-someday future son-in-law (No, no, no! Stop saying they’re engaged!).
Nicky, recalled the events of the night in his Sunday World column.
"Georgina told me that he was in awe as he looked around at the crowd and at the action that was taking place onstage," wrote Nicky.
"He had two Special Branch detectives with him and they enjoyed themselves as well." That is, when they weren’t protecting him from those excitable teenyboppers.
Foot and mouth: the sequel
We hear that the atmosphere got a little frosty at the recent Friendly Sons of St. Patrick dinner on St. Patrick’s Day — at least, when the O’Reilly factor came into play.
Bill O’Reilly, the star of Fox’s cable hit "The O’Reilly Factor" and currently a best-selling author, was tapped to address a crowd that included New York’s Gov. George Pataki, NYC’s Mayor Rudy Giuliani and freshly minted Cardinal Edward Egan. So far, so good; the famously conservative political commentator was, if you’ll pardon the expression, preaching to the choir.
During the course of his speech, O’Reilly took a few shots at his favorite targets, the "elitists" who criticized him because of his "working-class" roots. Things got a little uncomfortable, however, when O’Reilly used the expression "goddamn." In front of the cardinal, no less.
One Friendly Son who witnessed the faux pas told New York Magazine, "We’re not prudes, but you don’t blaspheme in front of the cardinal." Like, duh.
O’Reilly’s spokesperson played down the incident. Apparently, he was merely quoting a line from the Mel Gibson movie "Braveheart," in which the English king complains about the "goddamn Irish." Hey, Bill, it’s OK; we’ve got Mel Gibson on the brain all the time, too.