Wednesday, May 20, 2015

LIZ SMITH: On Fire!

Jonathan Rhys-Meyers — The sexiest Henry VIII ever!
Wednesday, May 20, 2015
by Liz Smith

Elizabeth Warren on Fire — Can Hillary Douse Her Flame? ... More on NYC’s “King of Ming” ... Oleg Frish Entertains ... Parker Posey Oscar-Bound? ... Patti LuPone Casts a Spell ... Good Wishes for Jonathan Rhys-Meyers.

“I AM ready to fight!” exploded Senator Elizabeth Warren in her amazing address to the members of the Democratic Party, which met this week in California.

Senator Warren, of all the “true” candidates for President in 2016, was over-the-top enthusiastic, bombastic and unique in her passion. She beat every would-be nominated Republican (and there are now well over a dozen of them.) And Warren beat the Democratic sure-fire Hillary Clinton with her frank, appealingly energetic, “go get ‘em” style.

If Hillary drops out, or is forced out, Senator Warren proves again that she is a ready-made liberal candidate, going left against the GOP’s deal to keep representing the moneyed 1%.
YOU are probably weary of reading about the death last August of the “King of Ming” — Robert Ellsworth, who left a $100,000 bequest to the wonderful women of Donohue’s bar and restaurant at Lex and 64th Street here in New York.
Robert Ellsworth with various Ming dynasty pieces in the living room of his Fifth Avenue apartment in 1980. Photo: Gene Maggio/The New York Times
But I have something to add. Donohue’s is a No. 2 favorite of mine, as most people who read me know. And the Veau d’Or French bistro at 60th near Bloomingdale’s is my No. 1. And what should I see at Veau the other night but a photograph of the rich, rich, rich Mr. Ellsworth in a 2005 pose with café owner, the late Robert Treboux. With them in this picture is the actual real love of Ellsworth’s life, Emma, his dog. Ellsworth brought Emma to the Veau every Valentine’s Day, her birthday. And this guy would often quote his mother: “Mom advised me ‘Richard, the last bitch that sleeps in your bed — give her everything!’” ( Emma died about 3 years ago so Ellsworth couldn’t comply with his mother’s estate advice in that regard.)
The late cafe owner, Robert Treboux and "the King of Ming," Robert Ellsworth with his love "Emma" at the Veau d'Or Restaurant.
Most people don’t realize that Ellsworth, who sold to and worked with David Rockefeller on art treasures, was himself a painter. He didn’t collect Chinese paintings so much as furniture and artifacts, which made him very wealthy indeed. Ellsworth’s own paintings were often seen by my gang, down in Barbados at the home of the late actress Claudette Colbert. (He said he didn’t paint in an Oriental style because he wouldn’t do justice to Asian art. His prize possession at this time was a cigarette lighter that Claudette had given him. It had belonged to Frank Sinatra when he was honeymooning with Mia Farrow at Claudette’s estate.)

As you may have read, Ellsworth left most of his considerable fortune to the Metropolitan Museum and Harvard University. His companion when he died, Masahiro Hashiguchi, is suing because he was left only $10 million. (We don’t know if Mr. Hashiguchi was “the last bitch to sleep” in the Ellsworth bed!)
THE unusual Russian interviewer of U.S. musical show biz — one Oleg Frish — is entertaining tonight at the Russian Consulate in NYC from 5:30 to 8 p.m. He is celebrating the release of his latest CD, “Oleg Frish-Duets With My American Idols.”

Mr. Frish knows more about American music than most of us everyday U.S. mortals.

He says he is celebrating with — maybe (it isn’t safe to make predictions) — Geraldo Rivera, Rita Cosby, Roseanna Scotto, Charles Strouse, Helen Merrill, Curtis Sliwa, etc. They have all been heard the world over being interviewed by Frish on his TV show. Some of the American Idols who duet with Oleg are Bobby Rydell, Tony Orlando, Lainie Kazan, Melissa Manchester, B.J. Thomas, and the late Ben E. King. (It was Ben E. King’s last recording.)

When I sat down for a Q & A with Oleg, he was plenty disappointed that I couldn’t sing. But he went on anyway to publicize me in places the world over.

What a character!
Liz appearing for Oleg.
NEVER EVER too early to begin making Oscar predictions. I have heard it quite a few times that the brilliant and quirky (brilliantly quirky?) Parker Posey will most assuredly be nominated for Woody Allen’s “Irrational Man.” This recently screened in Cannes. It’s not a typical Woody comedy — it’s dark, much like his “Match Point,” which was Allen’s homage to “A Place in the Sun.” This Woody effort apparently has some elements of Hitchcock’s “Strangers on a Train,” but it’s even crazier. (I love serious Woody, because it’s really serious.)
Joaquin Phoenix and Parker Posey in “Irrational Man.”
Joaquin Phoenix also stars, and he is said to be remarkable, but it is Parker Posey who really dominates. She is an actress who was once known as “Queen of the Indies” — Posey appeared in more than 30 such films, including “Party Girl,” House of Yes,” and “Clockwatchers.” She has taken her off-beat persona, and slowly matured it. Parker seems primed, and in her prime, now. (She was a big hit on the Cannes red carpet, vamping in a turban and what looked like a retro '70s gown — a disco Norma Desmond.)

I saw Posey onstage a few years back in a revival of David Rabe’s “Hurlyburly.” She was brilliant.
Parker on the Cannes red carpet.
Jonathan: The way he was, and hopefully, will be again. (He was wearing a shirt like this when I interviewed him. Only ... it was even more low cut!)
SPEAKING OF the above-mentioned “Match Point” I want to send good wishes and thoughts to the beautiful male star of that film, Jonathan Rhys-Meyers. He was photographed in London the other day, in total disarray, almost unrecognizable and apparently under the influence. He has struggled with addiction.

I interviewed Jonathan during the time he played Henry VIII on “The Tudors.” I’ll never forget him, those eyes, those lips and the shirt he was almost wearing. He was sexy and charming.

Get well soon, Jonathan.
WELL, Patti LuPone was as intense as expected in Showtime’s “Penny Dreadful” last Sunday night. (She played a witch.) But I think it was a one-shot deal, unless she’s a witch who can survive being covered in tar and burned at the stake. Maybe. This is a show, after all, that brings together Dorian Gray, Dr. Frankenstein, his Creature and Bride, the Wolfman, vampires and an ersatz version of blood-bathing real-life 17th century serial killer, Elizabeth Bathory. Not to mention the star, Eva Green, who plays the perennially haunted and tormented Vanessa Ives. It would be great to see more of LuPone performing her witchy rites. (She was basically a good witch, although hardly glamorous like Oz’s Glinda.)
The Cut-Wife (Patti LuPone) and Vanessa Ives (Eva Green) discuss the darkness within Ms. Ives.

Contact Liz Smith here.