Really though, “it must be love.” (Photo by Benjamin Snyder)
If you’re not a New Yorker then chances are you aren’t familiar with the brilliance that is New York magazine. Yes, it has a good national presence, so perhaps you’ve at least heard of these folks. But they have a running feature in their mag that is called “Encounter.” For each “Encounter,” the interviewer documents how many minutes they spend time with their subject, which is then the lead-in to the story itself. So, it could be “86 minutes with” (Gavin Newsom). Or “59 minutes with” (Elizabeth Berkley). You get it.
Yesterday I got the chance to hop over to Times Square on one of those gorgeous, sunny, unobtrusive New York days. The sky was bluer than blue and people were just walking about, as if summer was this sort of trance that made everything else in the world OK. People didn’t to seem to know it was Monday. And — perhaps I was in a little bit of my own tennis geek world — I forgot for a minute that I was in Times Square, that godforsaken place that oozes grossness and I avoid at all costs 99 percent of my time in New York.
But, I was there to meet Kristin Chenoweth — you know, the Broadway name of Wicked slash Glee slash dating Aaron Sorkin slash Promises, Promises fame. Sure, John McEnroe would be there too, and Judah Friedlander even made a sort of surprise appearance (at least in my book). But it was Kristin I was after and I was determined to have my “__ minutes with” … Kristin Chenoweth. How many did I get? Well, six to be exact, but we’ll get to that in a second.
The USTA was putting on this event to kick off its sales of tickets for the 2011 tournament. It was a great gathering on an already-mentioned gorgeous day. There were living legend statues (that’s Francesca Schiavone, right?), as well as tennis players on stilts, the USO trophy to pose with and a 10 & Under tennis court for thrill seekers to hit as many targets in 30 seconds as possible. | Buy: US Open tickets
Johnny Mac was there first (more on that in a second, too!) and he hit for a bit before he was joined by Kristin, who was half his size (while wearing Polo Ralph Lauren heels) and the two chatted and posed and hugged and hit and chatted and posed. It was just what the tennis gods (does Don Budge hold the lightning rod these days?) ordered.
But then it was time for Q&A and I finally got my chance with KC. She’s tiny and cute and stood there in front of the “It must be love” tag line for almost an hour, going through interview after interview, weathering the tennis questions with class and sometimes absent-mindedly playing with the USO trophy lid — you know, the one that fell on Maria Sharapova’s head. But it was Sharapova that we would eventually talk about, because I had overheard that Kristin had had a bit of a wardrobe malfunction on her way to Times Square (hence Mac getting there first), and it was the perfect way to open my TSF-esque line of questions in…
Six minutes with … Kristin Chenoweth
TSF: Wardrobe malfunction on your way here. Tell me about it.
Kristin Chenoweth: Well Ralph Lauren sent me this shirt and it was down to my knees. So I cut it off.
TSF: In the car?
KC: Actually my assistant cut it. Her name is Julie Trussell. She cut it.
TSF: You trust her with scissors?
KC: Well, not anymore because she cut it too short. [Motioning toward a sliver of exposed belly.]
TSF: No, I think it looks great.
KC: Is it OK? And Ralph Lauren sent me these shoes [showing me her white heels], but I had to play tennis in them. That was hard.
TSF: But I think Serena would approve.
KC: Serena would approve!
TSF: Who would you go for fashion advice from? Serena or Maria Sharapova?
KC: I would go for Maria.
TSF: You would? Have you seen her Cole Haan ballet flats? They’re best sellers.
KC: Which, by the way, makes me want to get them. But, I only wear size four and a half or five. So…
TSF: We’ll send her a memo.
TSF: If a tennis player or fan came to you for restaurant advice in NYC, where would you send them?
KC: Well there are plenty of well-known restaurants in the theatre community. And then I would want them to come and see shows.
TSF: So John’s Pizza?
KC: Yes! John’s Pizza. I like Joe Allen’s or Cafe Luxembourg on the Upper West Side. Very classy, but not overdone.
TSF: Say you get to go to the US Open for one day and do anything you want — I mean be a player or a line judge or a ball person or be selling beer. What would you want to do?
KC: Oh definitely a ball kid. First of I would never judge. I would be like: ‘Oh my god! You did good! Oh my god I love that shirt!’ [She makes flirty eyes.] I would be the worst judge ever.
TSF: But Johnny Mac would love you.
KC: Right? If I had on my cute heels. And [being a ball kid is] great cardio.
TSF: And you have the size down.
KC: You think I do?
TSF: But at the US Open they’re not ball kids, they’re ball persons.
KC: Well I’m a person of a certain age.
TSF: Who would you rather play mixed doubles with: Johnny Mac or Judah?
TSF: What about Judah’s beard?
KC: I don’t care. John would carry me through it. I just died a thousand deaths [playing with McEnroe]. I was like, ‘You can make a fool of yourself, A. Or you can make a fool of yourself, B.’ But he gave me great tips. I was holding my racquet too far up and he showed me how to hold it correctly. I think that [oversized racquet] is bigger than me.
TSF: Really? If you took your heels off, could you see over the net?
KC: I’d say there’s half of me that could see over the net. I’m 4 foot 11! That whole court [the 10 & Under court] was built for me. Glorified ping pong.
TSF: It’s a 10 & under court.
KC: Shut up.
TSF: OK. We’ll just call it the 4’11 and under court. If you could pick one Broadway star to play doubles with, who would it be?
KC: I’m going to go with Donna Murphy. Here’s why: she’s competitive and she’s usually really good at stuff. I’m going with a woman. We don’t whine and we get shit done.
TSF: What are your plans for the Open? Are you going to go out?
KC: I’m going to go out. I have to bring my mom. She’s a huge tennis fan. Playing with [John McEnroe] is her Barbara Streisand moment. I’m a huge fan of [Patty Smyth].
TSF: How many people can say they got to play tennis with John McEnroe?
KC: That poor man.
TSF: You let him though, right?
KC: Yes, I let him win.
TSF: I’ll see you out at the Open.
KC: I’ll be there!
(Secondary images by TSF)