Tuesday, October 18, 2016

LIZ SMITH: Dreams and air castles

Mae West as the "The Statue of Libido."
by Liz Smith & Denis Ferrara

Monday Mix: Veronica Falcon ... "The Bodyguard" musical ... P.S. To Tallu and Marlene ... Jackie Bisset ... Steven Van Zandt Joins Chita Rivera!  Is Donald Channeling Mae West?

“EVEN THOUGH I was born in Mexico City, I always loved New York. I found my mentor there. That city changed my life.”

This is part of a lovely note we received from actress Veronica Falcon.

She is currently a strong, sexy, compelling character on the TV series “Queen of the South.” Although Ms. Falcon studied in the U.S. and has been a major name in Mexico as an actress and choreographer, it is only recently that she made the move to seek work in Hollywood. 
We noticed the show, and wrote of Veronica. Her character, Camila Vargas, is a ruthless drug cartel overlord, whose way of doing things makes a deep impression on Alice Braga, who plays victim of circumstance Teresa Mendoza. Perhaps next season, Teresa transitions into a ruthless drug cartel overlord herself. (Braga is, in fact, the “queen” of the title.  The series is loosely based on true events.)

Ms. Falcon also wrote that she has followed this column “since I was a hopeful and hopeless actress in New York.”  (Clearly, the lady was never “hopeless.”)
And, she also remembered and took to heart one of the thousands of quotes we have placed on top of this column over the decades.  In her career, Veronica has worked by the dictum of Henry Ford: “You can’t build a reputation on what you are going to do.” 

Dreams and air castles are all fine and well.  But what matters is what you do about those mansions in the sky. Veronica Falcon — I, and Henry Ford, and now Hollywood — salutes you.
MORE MAIL:  I was not surprised to see a lot of reaction to our stroll down memory lane with Tallulah Bankhead and Marlene Dietrich last week.

Bob Schulenberg reminded me that Tallu’s musical director was the estimable Meredith Wilson, whom Bankhead often referred to on air. Bob says that some of the musical themes he used on “The Big Show” also came in handy when he later composed the Broadway smash “The Music Man.” (He also did “The Unsinkable Molly Brown.”)
Tallu with Meredith Wilson (left)
And David Cuthbert recalled that it was Goodman Ace who wrote most of Tallulah’s material for “The Big Show,” including one skit that became particularly famous — Tallu trying to find the kitchen — in her own apartment!   (This leads me to recall the great remark made about Tallulah’s vaunted helplessness:  “She dropped an egg and stood aside.”  I think that was Dorothy Parker.  My intelligent readers can enlighten me, if I’m wrong on that one.)

I REMEMBER quite some time ago hearing (and writing) about a stage version — a musical — based on the 1992 movie “The Bodyguard,” which starred Kevin Costner and a dazzling, young Whitney Houston.  It’s finally happening, and at one of my favorite venues — The Paper Mill Playhouse in Milburn, N.J. (I should say, it’s finally happening here — the show has already played London, Ireland, the Netherlands and Germany.)  
Performances begin November 25, and carry on through January 1st.  Then comes a national tour, and, I’m sure everybody hopes, Broadway. Deborah Cox and Judson Mills will play the spoiled movie queen and her protector.  Alexander Dinelaris has written the book (based on Lawrence Kasdan’s script), Thea Shamrock directs, and Karen Bruce handles choreography.  The music?  It’ll be Ms. Cox singing Whitney’s hits from the movie soundtrack, including her monster cover of  Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You.”  Unless I’ve missed something, the fearless bodyguard himself will be musically mute.  For tix info visit www.papermill.org
... ON OCTOBER 22, our good friend Jacqueline Bisset receives a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Santa Fe Independent Film Festival. Although Jackie retains all the lush accoutrements of a glamorous goddess, bustin’ her bodice, she has indeed contributed to many interesting indies. (Not to mention a lot of delectable TV, such as PBS’s “Dancing on the Edge” for which she received a Golden Globe.)

Jackie’s award, which will be presented by Ali MacGraw coincides with the release of director Linda Yellen’s labor of love, “The Last Film Festival” in which Jackie stars with Dennis Hopper. 
Jackie and Dennis in “The Last Film Festival."
Linda and Jackie.
This is an indie if there ever was one! It became a passion of Yellen's to complete the film after the sudden death of Hopper.

(The tale of finally getting the movie done and financed for release is a movie in itself.  It’s also a wake-up call to those who think filmmaking is in any way “glamorous.”)

“The Last Film Festival,” in which Jackie gives a remarkably funny performance, is in limited theatrical release. It is also available on VOD, via virtually every major cable system. 

I tip my hat to Linda, Jackie and all of Miss Yellen’s incredible staff who have worked tirelessly for a number of years, in service to making sure that Dennis Hopper’s very last performance on the big screen was not lost.
The cast of “The Last Film Festival."
THE STARS keep jumping on board Chita Rivera’s big night at Carnegie Hall on November 7th. Steven Van Zandt — songwriter, producer, actor, singer and E Street Band member — is the latest.  He’ll join Alan Cumming, Andy Karl, Javier Munoz, Brandon Victor Dixon and the New York City Gay Men’s Chorus. More to come, no doubt. “Chita: Nowadays” is one night only. Tix are vanishing. Go to www.ChitaInConcert.com
Laura Marie Duncan
JUST ran across this photo of Donald Trump and yours truly in my 1980s files.  And thought I might as well add-it to the mix. Don’t we look friendly? (I was blonde then.  Donald was less orange.)

Please don’t be silly enough to ask if I ever suffered from Donald Trump’s “attentions” when over-covering this giant narcissist back in the day

All he wanted from me was press attention, as long as it was flattering. And as we know, even when the attention is not flattering, it’s still pleasurable to Trump — criticism confirms that he is so important, everybody is plotting against him!   

I was already far too old for Donald — too asexual, too jaded, too cynical, and too avid for “access.”

Plus, too flat chested.
P.S.  I hadn’t thought of it till now, but Donald’s extreme narcissism rather reminds me of Mae West.  She lived — and very happily — in a great self-involved bubble, never allowing reality to enter her existence.  To her dying day she believed the myth she created about her desirability, her prowess as a writer of all those immortal one-liners, her ability to compete with any woman, no matter how young or attractive. And of course, all other sex-symbols copied her, because she was the greatest! 
Put Trump in a Mae West-style corset and have him sing “I’m No Angel.”  If he doesn’t win the election, Broadway could always use a revival of “Diamond Lil.”
"I have never loved a man as much as I loved myself."

Contact Liz here.