TOWN CRIERS It used to be that The Simpsons’ hometown of Springfield was the cartoon village with celebrity cachet. Now Hollywood is heading to South Park. Comedy Central’s construction-paper comedy hit not only is the network’s biggest success — Park’s recent Halloween episode was the cable channel’s highest-rated program in its history — but is also attracting a growing star following eager to lend their voices to the cult show. George Clooney recently did a voice-over, panting and whimpering as Stan’s gay dog, Sparky. Meanwhile, Jay Leno has recorded a cameo as ”Kitty” for a soon-to-be-aired episode. (The late-night host also had Park’s animators create a special segment for an upcoming Tonight Show in which a cartoon Leno takes it on the chin about his chin from Park’s potty-mouthed tykes.) Others interested in getting animated include Jason Priestley, John Cusack, and David Caruso. So what makes Park such a cool celebrity hangout? Jokes the show’s cocreator Trey Parker, ”I think they’d rather be on the show than have us rip on them.”
PIANO BARRED Note to all you Billy Joel impersonators out there: The party’s off. To be more precise, the Allentown party, a big bash that was to be held in the Pennsylvania steel town and timed to the 15th anniversary of Joel’s bleak 1982 hit ”Allentown,” has been canceled. City officials had planned on holding a civic celebration in November to prove that conditions have changed since Joel put the rust-belt burg on the pop-cultural map. But the festivities — which were to have included a Joel look-alike contest judged by the piano man himself — have been put on hold because of the singer’s upcoming European tour. ”We did have extensive conversations with Billy, but he was unable to come,” says Sara Greer of the Lehigh Valley Economic Development Corp. ”We decided to hold off on everything. Of course, the invitation [for a visit from Joel] still stands.” And Allentown may get its public due yet. Filming on executive producer Francis Ford Coppola’s The Florentine, a drama about a group of friends trying to save their favorite bar, has just begun near the steel town. Presumably, it’s no longer getting very hard to stay-ay-aay….