Nearly 6,000 people gathered Tuesday night at L.A. Live's Nokia Theatre for what can only be described as a "comedy happening." The event — Tina Fey in conversation with Steve Martin about her new book, "Bossypants" — promised to showcase two great comedic wits sparring with each other on topics ranging from sexism in comedy and Fey's rise through the ranks of Second City, "Saturday Night Live" and her hit NBC show, "30 Rock," to cruise ship disasters and 1950s-style maxi-pad belts — all topics riffed on in her book.
So somehow it made sense that early on, the literary tailgate-like scene in the Nokia lobby felt more pregame than preshow. Rowdy fans of the comedian-authors streamed through with beers in hand; concession vendors hawked peanuts and candy; Martin's new banjo CD, "Rare Bird Alert," played on the PA system while books were rung up at cash register stations. More than 1,500 books were sold that night, more than some authors' entire print runs.
"It was our biggest event yet," said Ted Habte-Gabr, producer of Live Talks LA, which put on the event. It was sponsored by KCET and KPCC.
During the program, Martin questioned Fey affectionately, interspersing his characteristically dry asides. In one highlight, he read aloud from the book — Fey's email responses to Internet hate mail.
When, during the audience Q&A, Fey was asked who she'd like to work with that she hasn't been paired with yet, she quickly answered, "Catherine O'Hara."
"That'd be so cool," O'Hara said after the show — she happened to be in attendance. "I wish!"
Turner gets closing notice
Proving once again how difficult it is for a nonmusical play to make it on Broadway these days, even with a recognizable star, producers of the drama "High," with Kathleen Turner, announced Wednesday that the play will close Sunday, after just eight regular performances.
"High," written by Matthew Lombardo, tells the story of a hard-bitten nun (Turner) who works as an addiction counselor. The production, directed by Rob Ruggiero, opened Tuesday at the Booth Theatre in New York.
This is the second Broadway flop in a row for Lombardo. His comedy "Looped," starring Valerie Harper as an alcoholic Tallulah Bankhead, opened last season and ran for only 33 regular performances.
A strong week for the Foos
Paul Simon and Alison Krauss posted some of their best first-week sales ever, but it was the Foo Fighters who captured the No. 1 spot on the U.S. charts last week, Billboard reported Wednesday.
The band sold 235,000 copies of "Wasting Light" during the week ended Sunday, the trade publication said, citing figures from Nielsen SoundScan.
Adele's "21," which was first the previous week, dropped to No. 2, while Alison Krauss & Union Station's "Paper Airplane" captured third place with 83,000 copies sold. Krauss' only higher showing was with "Rising Sand," her Grammy-winning collaboration with Robert Plant.
Simon, meanwhile, sold 68,000 copies of "So Beautiful or So What" to finish fourth. Billboard said it was the singer-songwriter's best sales week since SoundScan began tracking data in 1991.
—From a Times staff writer
Da Vinci 'Lady' will travel
It's finally been decided: Poland's most precious painting, "Lady With an Ermine" by Leonardo da Vinci, will be allowed to travel to Spain, Germany and Britain.
Wednesday's decision came after almost a year of discussion by art experts and Poland's Culture Ministry about whether the 15th century work should be allowed to leave the country.
Last week, art conservationists warned the Renaissance masterpiece of a graceful female figure could be damaged in transit.
But Deputy Culture Minister Piotr Zuchowski said the masterpiece will be shown at three foreign sites for three months each: Madrid's Palacio Real, starting in May, Berlin's Gemaeldegalerie, starting in August and London's National Gallery, starting in November.
Uncasting: Lindsay Lohan is no longer being considered to play a mob wife in an independent movie about crime boss John Gotti, producer Marc Fiore told People magazine. No explanation was offered.