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ACTOR TAKES SHOW ON THE ROAD

"If I don't want to wear clothes, I don't have to, you know? It feels better that way. I ain't harmin' nobody!"

So says Matthew McConaughey in the April issue of Details.

Matthew, whom I always consider my "discovery," since I wrote about him first, is on the cover (dressed) and inside (mostly dressed). The actor, as per Details, "drinks tequila for breakfast." And why not? (As long as it gets him out of his clothes.) Of his friendship with Penelope Cruz, he says he took her on the road for barbecue and "meeting up with odd characters." Writer David Amsden seemed unsure about the elegant Cruz touring trailer parks, but Matthew insists, "Oh, she loves it! You can't not love it!"

So now we know what Penelope didn't get from Tom Cruise -- trailer parks.

"I'm really not the drag-queen type, Clive," said HarperCollins executive editor Maureen O'Brien to Clive Barker.

"Read this book," he replied, "you'll be the type!"

Maureen read the book, "I Am Not Myself," by Josh Kilmer-Purcell, loved it, acquired it for her company, and now she is, well, the drag-queen type. "I Am Not Myself" is the true-life tale of a young New York City man -- an ambitious ad executive by day, a delicious downtown drag queen and beauty pageant winner by night, who went by the name Aquadisiac. The book is said to be witty, surreal, trenchant, dark, funny -- sort of a "Bright Lights, Big City" in high heels and falsies, with a big dollop of Nair. It arrives in February.

And clever Barker, the novelist, illustrator and filmmaker who pushed the book on Maureen, has optioned it for his Seraphim Films.

The author, a Wisconsin boy, began his advertising career in Atlanta, which is also where he applied his first set of individual lashes. But he was moved to New York and there began his nighttime career in earnest. He still lives in Manhattan, but has put Aquadisiac to rest. For now.

Here's another winner from HarperCollins and O'Brien: "Emily's Reasons Why Not: A Memoir," a semifiction about the delights of public relations work by PR dynamo Carrie Gerlach, has been snapped up by ABC as a sitcom for Heather Graham. The book was a hardcover hit last summer and will be an Avon trade paperback this summer.

Mae West said, "Keep a diary and someday it will keep you." Wise woman, Miss West.

There have been so many screen versions of Oscar Wilde's cautionary tale "The Picture of Dorian Gray." The central character -- dewy, depraved Dorian -- has been everything from a woman to a vampire to a rock star. But the 1945 MGM version starring Hurd Hatfield as Dorian and Angela Lansbury as Sibyl Vane, the innocent singer Dorian spoils and abandons, is still best remembered.

Wilde's tale of vanity "rewarded" remains potent. Two new versions of "Dorian Gray" are on the drawing board. One will star Ryan Phillippe; the other, a British production, will be directed by Duncan Roy and star David Gallagher of TV's "7th Heaven." Duncan reveals his version will update the story, putting it in New York's art scene. He says Stephen Fry and Nastassja Kinski have said yes to his film, and he's trying to get Marianne Faithfull. It will be "truer to the book ... much more homoerotic."

The Phillippe version will also be set in modern times, and the actor himself is producing. Eva Herzigova is attached as co-star. No word on eroticism, homo or otherwise. But we know Ryan can play rich and decadent. He did it convincingly in "Cruel Intentions," the 20th-century twist on "Dangerous Liaisons."

Hatfield, the first Dorian, once said, "I was never a great beauty as Dorian and I never understood why I was cast, and I've spent my life regretting it." Actually, Hurd grew handsomer as he aged and worked until his death in 1998. But he never shook off "Dorian Gray."

Last fall Regis Philbin stopped by the Walter Reed Hospital to greet wounded soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan. He tells me he was terribly moved not only by the military men but the caregivers. Now Regis will emcee the American Veterans Disabled for Life Awards at the Pierre Hotel April 19. He jumped at the chance: "We can never repay these veterans for their sacrifices."

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