Plus, Garland tapes serve as Broadway fodder

By Chris Willman
Updated April 04, 2001 at 04:00 AM EDT
Sean P. Diddy Combs
Credit: Sean Combs illustration: Thomas Fuchs

WHO BE AMIYUMI? You’ve probably heard about Puffy’s big courtroom victory, but the acquitted hip hopper has also triumphed in another legal dispute, this time with a pair of unassuming female Japanese pop stars who had been recording under the name Puffy. According to Puffy (the girls), attorneys for Puffy (the Bad Boy) caught wind of Puffy (the girls) following their first American performance in Austin last March. Soon after, Puffy (the girls) received a cease and desist letter insisting they change their moniker.

Now Puffy (the girls) — currently preparing for the May 1 release of their debut U.S. album, ”Spike” — have acquiesced, resulting in the somewhat ridiculous name Puffy AmiYumi. ”It doesn’t bother us at all,” insists Puffy AmiYumi’s Yumi Yoshimura, who says she’s never heard any music by Puffy (the Bad Boy). ”We respect the fact that Puff Daddy is Puffy in the U.S.” So which Puffy is, in fact, more puffy? ”The bottom line is that we don’t know what puffy means,” says Puffy AmiYumi’s Ami Onuki. ”We were given our name by somebody else six years ago, and we really don’t have a clue.” –Rob Brunner

THAT’S ENTERTAINMENT In a recent review of ”Judy Garland Speaks!,” a two CD collection of private tapes Garland recorded late in her life, EW wrote that the bitter, funny, druggy monologues ”feel like a great one woman Off Off Broadway show.” Someone else thought so, too. Actress Mary Birdsong, of the CBS sitcom ”Welcome to New York,” has created a piece around the soliloquies, titled ”Judy Speaks! (Gumm’s Last Tape),” which she’s just started workshopping at the PSNBC@HERE theater in Manhattan. ”This show is unusual, for starters, in that it’s a woman doing Judy,” she laughs, noting that some drag queens have already worked excerpts from the tapes into their acts.

Why the ongoing fascination? ”She failed so hugely, over and over, and then came right back — to me, it’s very comforting,” says Birdsong. ”Today an icon of a similar stature is Madonna, but she rarely screws up. She doesn’t appear at a concert half tanked and embarrass herself in front of an entire country and then sing and we forgive her because she’s so brilliant.” No, but Maddy’s not too old to try.