Friday, May 25, 2012

LIZ SMITH: The Men of "Magic Mike" ...

The Men of "Magic Mike" — They Work Hard for the Money. (But at Least They Don't Have to Wear Suits.)
Tom Cruise Talks to Playboy — We Think ... New Yorkers Recall Donna Summer's Disco Nights ... Jane Fonda, "Crushing" on Jennifer Lopez.
by Liz Smith
Friday, May 25, 2012

“I WAS running around with no shirt long before anyone was taking pictures of me. And I’ll keep running around with no shirt on long after.”

That’s Matthew McConaughey, one of the four hot leading men who’ll take it all (mostly) off in this summer’s male-stripper movie — Steven Soderbergh’s Magic Mike. The movie is based loosely on the early experiences of actor Channing Tatum, who bumps and grinds in Magic Mike, along with Matt Bomer and Joe Manganiello. (The latter two guys are best known from their TV shows — Bomer’s Blue Collar and Joe’s True Blood.)

Everybody involved with Magic Mike is at pains to insist it is not a male version of Showgirls. It’s intentionally funny.

Oh, come on. You’re not going to tell me anyone was supposed to take Showgirls seriously. That was meant to be the big camp-fest it was. Gina Gershon’s character, Crystal, was practically a drag-queen. The only person who wasn’t in on the joke was the star, Elizabeth Berkley. And she ended up suffering the most when the film failed. Movies are a director’s medium, they control the how it all turns out. Miss Berkley learned that the hard way.

Entertainment Weekly pointed out to Channing Tatum that Hollywood “seemed okay” with his once having been a stripper. Would the reaction be the same if he were a woman? The actor said: “It would depend on how good an actress I was. I think if it turned out that Meryl Streep had been a stripper, nobody would care.”

Oh, I don’t know. I think we’d care. At the very least we’d want to know her stripper name.
ISRAEL IS braced. On Monday, Madonna launches her “MDNA” concert tour. Rumor has it that this is the most ambitious and physically daunting show Madonna has ever attempted. Nerves are frayed. Bodies are worked to the limit. But if her life depended on it, Madonna would never take the easy way. Testing herself — and her audience — is what drives her.
Rehearsing for the "MDNA " tour.
TOM CRUISE gives a fascinating interview in the June issue of Playboy. It’s not fascinating because Tom says anything eyebrow-raising. No, the fascinating aspect is that Tom talks a lot but kind of says nothing to writer Michael Fleming.

This is one of the most controlled, impersonal Q&As I have ever read. But ... it’s not unfriendly or obviously withholding. Tom talks about his childhood, his family — how his goal was always to take care of them ... about his need for speed (motorcycles, racing, doing his own stunts) ... about inhabiting the skin of a rock ‘n roll star in his soon-due Rock of Ages ... and confronting the resistance to his casting as Lee Child’s hero, Jack Reacher in One Shot.

It’s just that Cruise’s answers are almost too perfect, too complete, too beginning/middle/end. It reminded me of Princess Diana’s infamous TV sit-down with Martin Bashir — perfect soundbites — except Diana was deliberately playing the victim. Tom is no victim.

Tom Cruise is the master of his universe and securely comfortable with where he is, what he’s done, what he will do. He appears to be impressively centered.

He’s a great movie star, and an underrated actor. (I happened to catch Born on the Fourth of July the other night on cable. His desperate, drunken scene with his parents is so stunning. He deserved an Oscar, hands down. No offense to the winner, Daniel Day-Lewis.)

Perhaps I’ve simply become too familiar with loosey-goosey interviews in which actors tell all, use profanity and don’t think before they speak. Tom Cruise thinks. He thinks a lot. That’s why he’s Tom Cruise.
LOVED Jacob Bernstein’s article in last Sunday’s New York Times, recalling the super-sensual disco era, epitomized by the late Donna Summer.

Donna Summer in 1978. Michael Ochs Archives/Getty Images.
Lot’s of music types, from publicist Liz Rosenberg to icon Deborah Harry, looked back with fondness on Donna’s music and those wild times.

The most moving and trenchant remark came from designer Diane von Furstenberg: “’Last Dance" was the song of that era, and of course it actually was the last dance. It was a moment of freedom that was never to be repeated again because there was no AIDS, and that makes all the difference.”

I’m glad Diane said “makes” instead of “made” emphasizing that AIDS is still an issue — around the world and here in the U.S. Nobody should be cavalier because drugs have extended and improved the quality of life for people who can afford  those drugs.

The careless party days of the 1970s and early 1980s can never return. And they shouldn’t. For those of us old enough, let’s just remember the good times, listen to the music, and express caution.
SPEAKING OF music, good news for fans of vinyl — it’s really coming back. Last year vinyl sales were higher than at any time since 1992. And, according to Rolling Stone, there’s new life in turntables, too. The least expensive record player (ah, that old phrase!) runs about $150. Something deluxe is in the $6,000 area. 

So, even though programs like Hoarders encourage us to throw everything out, keep your vinyl. It’s classic, it’s worth something, if you want to sell. And I don’t care what anybody says about the miracles of digitalized music, vinyl sounds better, it just does.
ENDQUOTE: “I like American Idol, and a lot of why I like it is because I like looking at Jennifer Lopez, if you really wanna know.” That’s Jane Fonda, admitting her “girl crush” on Ms. Lopez. Jane and Jennifer worked together memorably in Monster-In-Law.

Jane recalls one day “We were sitting across from each other at a table and I said, ‘I just have to tell you something: It’s like looking at a perfect piece of Mayan sculpture.’” Fonda adds, as if we didn’t get it: “She is really, seriously beautiful.”

I agree. A few years back, Jennifer attended the Time 100 gala in New York. She was still with Marc Anthony. She was, without question, the most gorgeous woman in the room. Men — and women — were tripping over themselves to get a better look.

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