Thursday, May 23, 2013

LIZ SMITH: Two Great Talents ...

What shoulda been at this year's Tony Awards.
Bette Midler and Martin von Haselberg — Two Great Talents, Married, Happy, Productive ... Weird, Witty, Crazy: The New "Iron Man" Blows Me Away ... Beautiful Authors at Literacy Gala ... Charles Busch, One Night Only in NYC!
Thursday, May 23, 2013
by Liz Smith

“WHAT a rage for fame attends both great and small! Better be damned than mentioned not at all!” wrote Peter Pindar.
I WAS in Orso, the under-stated theatre cafĂ© on West 44th Street the other night, and there was music tycoon Clive Davis with his entire family. I asked why they seemed so excited? “Why, because we are going on to see Bette Midler’s show over on 45th Street at the Booth!” I told them, with all the authority I possess, that I’d already seen Bette play the Hollywood agent, Sue Mengers, twice!

Bette and hubby, Martin von Haselberg.
Bette is going strong and I still think that although the Tony Awards neglected her, they should have asked her to emcee the Tony theater show with Neil Patrick Harris on June 9th. I’ll bet Bette would have accepted the challenge just for the hell of it.

While all the hoopla surrounds Bette on Broadway, let’s not forget her husband of a lifetime, 29 years this December — Martin von Haselberg, who has his own show going on.

“Paintings and Works On Paper” can be seen at the Rose Burlingham Gallery, 2 West 123rd Street (between Lenox and Mt. Morris Park) or at the Martin von Hasselberg Studio 165 Lenox Avenue in Harlem. The website is

Let’s not forget that Martin is a true performance artist and no “Mr. Midler.” I personally think he is a genius and I’m not surprised that he is thriving in the hottest art form extant today — drawings and paintings!
From Martin von Haselberg's “Paintings and Works On Paper."
REGARDING “Iron Man 3,”the Robert Downey, Jr. crash-bang movie in the weird and crazy “Iron Man” sequels: This super explosive action film didn’t get the rave reviews expected, but I saw it again this week and had a wonderful time.

Its sarcastic and witty star is irresistible (again) as he battles evil with the help of his pal, played by White House military Colonel actor Don Cheadle. (You can also see Don in the Showtime TV series “House of Lies.”)

As the “Iron Man” tries out his “sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t” futuristic inventions, he remains the emotionally dependent adolescent to his chilly super woman executive girlfriend, played here by Gwyneth Paltrow. He is forever asking her “Are you mad at me?” after he has done something stupid.

He is forever trying to save the world from a truly evil international terrorist, who appears to resemble Osama bin Laden, and this provides a great comic turn for an unknown failed actor! 

In the end, the “Iron Man” naturally triumphs and even Miss Paltrow warms up and looks truly sexy and disheveled by the end.

The plot, if there is one, is that the famous shouldn’t always ignore their fans, and admirers, and refuse to hear them out, because in the end, the latter can turn very dangerous. But what more can one want from two hectic hours of slash/bang/crash action? This is all accompanied by an almost knowing wink of the eye, as if the director, screenwriter, etc, are saying: “We know this is crap, but look what we’ve done with it!”

Robert Downey, Jr. is a simply super tongue-in-cheek hero. A great actor!
ON THE night of the recent Literacy Partners gala in Cipriani 42 Street, I was approached by two beautiful human beings who are famous writers. It is always a delight to see them, together or separately, as they represent (1) women who have done it themselves and risen to the top (2) generous souls with senses of humor
and a great deal of talent.

Barbara Taylor Bradford
Mary Higgins Clark and Liz.
They were, of course, Barbara Taylor Bradford who has now written 27 international bestsellers and is offering us her latest "Secrets from the Past" from St. Martin's Press. Barbara is a genial blonde bombshell who has been given the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth. It is always a delight to run into her.

The second sweetheart is Mary Higgins Clark who is offering "Daddy's Gone A Hunting," another mystery from Simon & Schuster. This little darling has been described as "The mistress of high tension!" by none other than The New Yorker. I always tell the story how this petite and pretty lady invented a writing career for herself. If memory serves, nobody helped her and she became a bestselling success all by herself. She is not only now rich, famous, well-wed to John Conheeney and has produced another writer, her daughter Carol Higgins Clark.

It was delightful on literacy night to be hugged, kissed, cosseted by these successful writing stars. I will always be grateful for their support in fighting for the 2 million adults in NYC who need to learn to read at the 5th grade level.

And if you couldn't read and were grown up, you'd have trouble getting a job, keeping it, reading your Rx bottles, following signs and simply surviving. So if we could solve the problems of literacy, we'd be solving a lot for 2 million or so adults. Thank heaven for the generosities of Barbara and Mary!
DON’T MISS it! I do mean the fabulous playwright/actor/icon Charles Busch, performing one night only (May 29th) at Manhattan’s hot spot, 54 Below. Call 646-476-3551 for ticket info.

I’ve loved Charles since his old “Psycho Beach Party” days right up to his brilliant “straight” prize-winning comedy, “The Tale of the Allergist’s Wife.”

The amazing thing about Charles is that despite the wild situations he puts himself in onstage, (or what insane get-up he’s wearing) he’s actually subtle.

A little Norma Shearer, a little Joan Crawford, a bit of Bette Davis. It’s the throw-away gestures and vocal mannerisms that are paralyzingly funny. Anyway: May 29th, 54 Below. One night of sheer genius.
TONIGHT, don't miss Michael Landes and Anne Heche in their terrific new series "Save Me," from 8 to 9 on NBC.

It's a big deal for the next four Thursdays.  Mr. Landes is the son-in-law of our photo friends, Gigi and Harry Benson.

Ms. Heche is a talented pal of mine from the past.  This is a good tip in spite of the "friendship" angle.
Michael Landes and Anne Heche in "Save Me."

Contact Liz Smith here.

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