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Friday Potpourri: Hannibal..More Pompeii...Terrence McNally's New Play...Late Night With -- Almost Everybody! And Why Is Justin Bieber Such a Bad Boy?

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"Rain is a 'coming which has the natives twitching with excitement, like kids who have to pee!"

This, a report out of Santa Monica from one of the many New Yorkers gone out to cover the Academy Awards this coming Sunday.

•We are still under siege for mentioning Downton Abbey and various restaurants in Palm Beach. Here's one e-mail from Don Sugar that combines both elements of the two:

"Try the warm steak salad at Ta-boo on Worth Avenue. Mmmmm -- I give it 5 m's...And, my favorite part of Downton Abbey are the clothes. It's textile porn!"

•Before I forget, I want to highly recommend this Friday night at 10 (EST) on NBC- the premiere of the 2nd season of the series Hannibal.

One critic terms it "serenely unlike anything else on TV or anything that has ever been on TV." Yes, it continues with Thomas Harris' great character Hannibal Lecter.

•Went to see Pompeii the movie and loved it as you know if you've been reading me. Went to see it again with the Greek/Roman archaeologist Iris Love, who usually sniffs at such popular looks back at history.

But she mostly loved the movie, although she insisted there was never a tsunami accompanying the 79 A.D. explosion of Vesuvius. Says Iris: "It was an irresistible urge for a special effect to add a tsunami. But the scene of the big boat crashing in the streets of Pompeii is ridiculous.

"However, there are great scenes in the streets of Pompeii which was a little fishing village on the Bay of Naples. And most of the people there escaped early on so that few were killed. It was the people in nearby Herculaneum who died of gas poisoning from Vesuvius. That was the
resort city with expensive houses and villas surrounding it."

•Thrilled to see that my friend Terrence McNally of Corpus Christi, Texas has a new play titled Mothers and Sons, which will bring the fine actress Tyne Daly to the John Golden Theatre, opening March 24th. Drama Desk winner Frederick Weller joins her, along with Tony nominee Bobby Steggert and Grayson Taylor.

This is the playwright's 20th Broadway show. He has done Frankie and Johnny in the Clair de Lune...Master Class...Ragtime...Love! Valour! Compassion!...Kiss of the Spider Woman...The Rink...The Ritz... The Full Monty...and Bad Habits, among many others.

And to think, this guy started out as a tutor for author John Steinbeck's children!

•MAYBE SEEING Pompeii twice made me too hyped-up to sleep the other night. So I found myself determined to catch as many of the late night talk-shows as possible -- this entails a deliberately short attention span and lots of channel surfing!

I saw Jimmy Kimmel with Oscar-hostess Ellen DeGeneres (wry and quietly amusing as ever.) Kimmel, also had a beautiful-looking but highly uncomfortable Tom Ford on the couch. The designer/filmmaker just couldn't seem to relax.

Jimmy Fallon, the new Tonight Show host presented Drew Barrymore and Adam Sandler promoting their fourth movie together, Blended. Both actors looked lumpy, rumpled and as if they had just rolled out of bed or off a 20 hour flight from Australia. (Sandler also looked like he had a black eye.)

Sarah Michelle Gellar was the main attraction on Conan O 'Brien and she clearly wants to make an impression. She told of filming the pilot of her new series while breastfeeding (many allusions to the varying size of her bosoms) and then a graphic tale of her female dog's first period and how she tried to devise homemade Tampons for the pup!

Finally, before visions of volcanic ash were finally wiped from my head, I watched bits of Craig Ferguson. He's my favorite. Hilarious and irreverent and quite sexy! I'm not crazy about Jeff, the talking metal skeleton, but everybody else seems to love it/him. Craig had on two beautiful blonde actresses, whose names I didn't get (I was switching channels when each was introduced) I didn't recognize them, either, though both have movies or TV shows to promote. Not that guests who sit with Craig have much opportunity for self-promotion. Conversation veers off hilariously, and it is much more fun than "and then the director told me this...etc."

•"OH, MISS Smith, can I please see the cover?" That's what a waitress at my downstairs Tex Mex spot, El Rio Grande asked, as I chowed down on a chicken wing and read the latest issue of Rolling Stone. So I showed the cover -- Justin Bieber, shirtless. With a microphone in one hand and his crotch in the other. "Bad Boy: Why Justin Bieber Just Won't Behave" shouts the cover line.

My waitress gave a little sigh: "He's so cute, why does he have to be such an asshole?"

That's the $64,000 question and while Rolling Stone attempts to put a perspective on Bieber, there are as many reasons/excuses for his behavior as there are tattoos on his body. His mother, his father, his youth, his ex, Selena Gomez, the thuggy company he keeps. The truth probably rests uneasily between these.

What's fascinating is that for all his fame, and now infamy, I don't think I've ever heard a Justin Bieber song. And no smart remarks about my great age! Even I have heard Miley Cyrus' "Wrecking Ball" and back in the day, I certainly knew Madonna's hits and Michael Jackson's. But Justin's career seems a YouTube/Twitter/social media phenomenon, managing to attract many fans and fill concerts, but with little impact on the culture. And he desperately wants to make his mark as a cultural force.

I guess we'll just have to cross our fingers and wait this one out. As RS Claire Hoffman writer observes: "The problem is, besides the justice system, no one can exert any power over Justin Bieber." And one person is quoted thus: "Twitter is going to be his lifeline. He is above the media."

Please -- nobody is above the media. Often they are buried by it.