Friday, November 8, 2013

LIZ SMITH: Philanthropist Deluxe! ...

Bette Midler with Mardi Gras Indian Show at New York Restoration Project's Hulaween gala (Photo: Mia McDonald ).
Will "Thor" Hammer The U.S. Box-Office? ... Bette Midler — Philanthropist Deluxe!
Friday, November 8, 2013
by Liz Smith

“WOULD YOU rather have a real drink?”

“Uh, sure. A screwdriver.”

“Fine. Go get him a screwdriver.”

Besides screwdrivers .... guests drank Qui Tequila cocktails, named Thor and Loki.
That was an exchange at the special screening of “Thor: The Dark World” the other night at The Crosby Hotel. (The bar was only serving water and popcorn.)

A few minutes later the helpful bartender appeared with ... a Phillips screwdriver. “Will this do?”

The thirsty patron, his friends, and The Cinema Society’s Andrew Saffir fell about laughing hysterically. The bartender, blushed furiously, but he too laughed.

“Okay, I guess I’ll have to watch Chris Hemsworth completely sober!” said the vodka and orange juice man.

THE SCREENING room at the Crosby is one of the most comfortable and intimate in the city. Perfect for a non-hysterical event, which this was. Only one of the stars, Natalie Portman, appeared. She arrived at the Crosby, posed on the red carpet and then went to the opera. (She showed up later for more photo-taking at the after-party.)

Some people were annoyed that it wasn’t specified on the invite that this was a 3-D screening. Nobody stormed out, but there was some bitching about how uncomfortable the 3-D glasses are. (They really are!)
Nina Garcia, Natalie Portman, and Anne Fulenwider at a special screening of “Thor: The Dark World” at The Crosby Hotel.
SO HOW about “Thor: The Dark World?” It has made at least $120 million overseas. It will probably be a smash in the U.S., too, despite some scathing reviews. I wonder what people expect from a movie based on a Marvel comic book character who carries a big hammer, and whose storyline is an amalgam of Norse mythology, science fiction and modern-day irreverence?

There’s always “12 Years a Slave” if you want gut-wrenching realism and dramatics.
Mighty Hemsworth.
This sequel to the first “Thor” and “The Avengers” concerns itself with the evil Dark Elves who want to destroy the universe (but not themselves) with some super-powerful agent called The Ether. The Ether has found itself into the lissome body of Thor’s mortal ladyfriend, scientist Jane Foster. Thor must save the world, save Jane, collaborate with his enjoyably evil brother Loki, battle villain Malekith (Christopher Eccleston) and maneuver around all the spectacular CGI.

I found the movie generally quite engaging. And much funnier than I expected. A good deal of this humor is provided by Tom Hiddleston as Loki. He drips with acid insincerity. (“Oh, dear, is she dead?” he inquires laconically as Natalie Portman’s Jane collapses again.) Hiddleston is sleekly sexy. The bad boy most women can’t resist. He’s not onscreen enough to suit me! And Kat Dennings as Portman’s assistant is very lively. Anthony Hopkins as Odin is not funny. He’s not meant to be. (He wears an eyepatch. Rarely amusing.)
Tom Hiddleston as Loki.
Chris Hemsworth as Thor is every muscled inch a charismatic movie star and a super-hero. But Thor, as written isn’t a ball of fire, except when he’s slamming that hammer. Miss Portman, as Jane, fares worse. She is required to swoon and look distressed — a lot. Although she has a few hearty face-slapping scenes early on. The “romance” between Jane and Thor doesn’t ring true. But in a movie like this, maybe it’s not supposed to?

I think this film would satisfy even those who don’t know the entire story. (I do, and it’s still confusing!) It’s fun. And it will be just as much fun in 2-D, too!
THE AFTER party at The Marlton Hotel on West 8th Street, attracted the likes of Howard and Beth Stern ... Marie Claire editor in chief Anne Fulenwider ... singer Peter Cincotti ... Cosmo and Marie Claire scribe Sergio Kletnoy ... Hearst’s Nathan Christopher ... designer Nicole Miller ... Tony Danza ... and fashion’s Nina Garcia. (Nina was asked “Are you going to be nicer on ‘Project Runway?’ She laughed and gasped: “But I AM nice! I think I should be bitchier!”)
The after party at the Marlton.
Dior Beauty co-hosted the event. Guests drank Qui Tequila cocktails, named Thor and Loki. The Marlton is brand new, not even open yet. It’s so new you could smell the fresh paint and the unvarnished wood of some of the booths. Andrew Saffir said, “Liz, you know, being here means you are really on the cutting edge!”

“Oh, thank you. Especially considering that the other day’s column devoted a good deal of space to Gloria Swanson and Ann Dvorak.


Sigh! I love children. And I enjoyed “Thor.”
Clockwise from top left: Peter Cincotti; Natalie Portman; Beth and Howard Stern; Tony Danza and Peter Berg; Nigel and Cristen Barker.
THE one and only Bette Midler raised $1.8 million taking advantage of Halloween for her annual bash that builds, creates, and keeps up parks in New York and cleans up the city’s garbage.

This is for her New York Restoration Project and this year Bette had The Mardi Gras Indian Show at the Waldorf making lots of noise, dropping feathers, masks, and generally making the wearing of costumes an art.

People love this charity and it is proof that Bette deserves to be on the recent list of top women philanthropists. She is the only “singer” on the list and is also cited as “a humanitarian.” There is one other show biz person on the list — Oprah! The rest are all brilliant “civilians.”

The Restoration Project has two new parks opening near the East River Drive — one is dedicated to the late Governor Ann Richards who made NYC a second home. And the other is a bequest from the estate of the late Geraldine Stutz who ran Henri Bendel at the height of the '70’s fashion revolution.
I PARTICIPATED in a memorial recently that was one of the classiest and most touching because it happened to a select audience invited to the Carlyle Hotel in the very room made famous by the late Bobby Short.

Two late greats: Jean Bach and Bobby Short.
It was for Jean Bach, a jazz expert who produced wonderful TV shows and was the force behind the popularity of the late Arlene Francis.

This charming salute to the lovable and beautiful Jean was put on by Carol Friedman of Dominick Films. Carol showed film clips of Jean cracking wise and maybe it will soon become a documentary for everybody.

Performing were world class musicians like Bill Charlap and Sandy Stewart ... Annie Ross ... Jimmy Heath on the tenor sax ... Barbara Carroll on piano ... Joe Temperley of Jazz at Lincoln Center on the bass clarinet ... Barry Harris, the greatest living bebop pianist ... and Jessye Norman closed accompanying her operatic self with “Amazing Grace.” Everybody joined in. This event was as chic, elegant and smart as the woman it honored.

I was thrilled to say a few words about Jean Bach.
Jean Bach, Liz Smith, and Bobby Short.
FANNIE FLAGG, the “Fried Green Tomatoes” girl, has a new book coming titled “All-Girl Filling Station’s Last Reunion.” How cool is that title?

Jackie Jones told me this and added that we can all try writing a novel in the NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month.) See if you can do finished fiction in 30 days. This is a fun website. It encourages all you would-be best-selling authors out there to do your best.
PEOPLE are still talking about producer Ted Hartley of RKO Pictures (wed to the famous Dina Merrill) and how he fell down going up the steps for the presentation of the Olivier Award for Best Stage Musical in London recently.

This honor is the equivalent of the Tonys. Ted missed the last of 8 steps up to accept the award but he did a quick rise and then imitated the Fred Astaire two-step and bowed. The audience applauded.

Ted is happy to have been joined by Jennifer Lawrence who tripped receiving her Oscar.
On solid ground: Ted and Dina.

Contact Liz Smith here.

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