LIZ SMITH: DROPPING THE BASKETBALL ...

CHINA'S ENDLESS TURMOIL ... AN ACTRESS SPEAKS UP FOR OSCAR NIGHT ... DENNIS RODMAN — HE GOT DOWN WITH DICTATOR  KIM JONG UN — WHO CARES HOW HE DRESSED OR WHAT HE THOUGHT ABOUT KIM?  THE STATE DEPT. DROPPED THE BASKETBALL ON THIS ONE!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013
by Liz Smith

“I HATE social networking media even more than yucca fries! ... I communicate every day with dozens of people I’ve never met. Meanwhile, real friends never call…People beg you to ‘like’ their page, as if that will somehow add substance to their yearning existence.”

So writes my friend Michael Musto who sounds a teeny tiny bit disillusioned with the Internet.
GETTING SERIOUS: The best, the finest, the smartest TV reporter in the world is Lesley Stahl of “60 Minutes.” Show me anybody else on the air who can match her these days.

In a time of “reality programming mania” ... drones and vampires and the undead ... talking heads aimlessly nattering on — Lesley still goes out to get the really big true story.

So, if you missed her last Sunday outing where she showed the building boom in China about to go bust, you really missed something. China has thrown its all into building Manhattan-type high-rise cities where people paid their entire life savings to buy space, but nobody can afford to live there — and nobody does. Miles of high-rise buildings with empty lobbies and empty streets around them. These incredible clusters of buildings stand now still empty.

Zhang Xin and Lesley Stahl.
Peasants and really poor people are seen gathering the crushed bricks, stones and sticks discarded when their villages were torn down to make room for an architectural tomorrow that seems now not to be coming.

Thinking this was the basis of a beginning building boom and the economy of a future modern China, many of these clusters display “signs” in their empty lobbies for the popular U.S. retail stores, cafes, fast-food and health obsessions that we see in almost every American city.

But such “stores” are just Chinese wishful thinking; they don’t even exist.

This revelatory outing on CBS-News has to be seen to be believed. Two days after Lesley aired this story, headlines yesterday read: “Chinese Stocks Plunge on Plan to Tax Home Sales 20%.”

The Chinese are going crazy over this development, a bubble burst like none other in all the history of modern construction and economics.

Also, China’s billionaire real estate mogul, Zhang Xin, interviewed by Lesley for this story, told the CBS correspondent that she believes China’s inevitable shift to democracy will come within — perhaps even before, the next twenty years!

But, first — utter turmoil?
DO YOU think the participants themselves enjoy or detest the Academy Awards? (We’re not speaking of the winners; they always enjoy themselves.)

Following, I am going to offer something that might hit a few entertainment nerves, but is absolutely authentic, even though I’m not going to name the person who wrote it. She has to keep working in show business.

She has walked the red carpet, attended the Oscar parties before and after, and is someone who once won an Academy award herself. Here she goes:

Craig Zadan and Neil Meron.
The cast of ‘Les Miz.’
“I was proud of my pals Craig Zadan and Neil Meron who produced this year. It seems folks tuned in and approved more than not. It was a wonderful experience to be in the audience; such fun to see so many talented folks show off the goods ... to see Charlize dancing, Catherine hoofing and singing, Meryl and Daniel together onstage, Jane Fonda and Michael Douglas looking splendid, the ‘Les Miz’ cast singing, Barbra/Adele/Shirley all so out of this world. It was a treat!

“But for some of the rest of it, from the un-natural nature of putting on a big gown — as if you are an arcade duck — to parade in front of the armed carnival gamers.

“One is smiling at the red carpet photogs who, on any other day, hunt and harass in order to contrive moments of humiliation on which to profit. In an age where cruel, quick, unfounded presumptions become irrefutable truth — well, I get nervous sometimes and stumble. We all do. So that is unfortunate for a gal in a culture that sees humanity-in-celebrity as buffoonery.

“Alas — snark after the Oscars is like traffic in L.A.

"There’s no use reacting to it, because it’s inevitable. You have to expect it and enjoy the ride anyway!”

And here, you thought most actors were stupid.
BASKETBALL show-off Dennis Rodman revealed that he was not only naïve but downright ignorant of the realities of North Korean human-rights offenses. But this guy, with more piercings even than Mrs. Lincoln’s dressmaker, his dark glasses, his usual outrageous attire — did this make him a bad person?

No matter. Both the TV and writing press and those Harvard-Yale guys at the State Department have reacted as if Dennis Rodman slapped the Queen. (Even the perspicacious Cokie Roberts bothered to comment on his dress on the air instead of ignoring it.)

Still and all, Dennis Rodman is the only American who has been allowed to get near the young dictator Kim Jong Un. So wouldn’t it have been wiser for State to quietly meet with Dennis, explain things to him, ask him questions in person about this unusual event, maybe prep him for more visits and further info about the leader of a country threatening nuclear mayhem? What did they have to lose?

And who really cares about correcting Dennis Rodman’s idea of Kim as “good guy.” I’m asking you?

Instead, they all reacted with supreme superior Anglo-Saxon, Latino and African-American culture shock, exclaiming at how dumb he is. The press in print and on TV and later on the networks, on MSNBC and on Fox. It was more important to “correct” Mr. Rodman than to use him.

Instead of talking to Dennis about his message that the President should call Kim, they have tried to kill the only messenger we have ever had from and about North Korea.

But then, I am not supposed to have opinions about serious things either.

Contact Liz Smith here.

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