Monday, February 29, 2016

LIZ SMITH: Forever Young

Ingrid Bergman and her children (Isotta, Pia, Robertino and Isabella) in Santa Marinella, Italy, 1957.
by Liz Smith

Forever Young in the Surgical Shangri-La of Hollywood ... Charles Busch's "Cleopatra" Vamps Into New York ... "Deadpool" heats Up Ryan Reynolds' Career  and his Wallet.

NOW, looking cut or pulled is the opposite of desirable. You just want to look like the clock stopped.”

Even Venus feels the need of a touch up before Oscar-night!  
That’s what Hollywood dermatologist Harold Lancer says about the current faces of show biz.  I like that — you “just” want to look like the clock stopped.  That’s all. Nothing major, just stopping time!

Well, how many people did you see at the Academy Awards last night who were stopping the clock?  Quite a few, most likely. Nowadays, stars begin their “procedures” earlier, and keep ‘em going 24/7.  Last week’s Hollywood Reporter, devoted entirely to Oscar, ran several pages on all the latest in surgeries and non-invasive fiddling that most actors, and many “real” people, increasingly rely on. (Coconut compresses ... collagen beds ... LED lights ... microdermabrasion ... lavender acid peels ... string facelifts ... and that old favorite, Preparation H — a dab on the lips will plump them temporarily, without going into, as THR scribe Merle Ginsberg notes, “trout mouth territory.”)

Nobody wants to look a day older than 35, and that’s when they’re 50.  And, nobody wants to look at anybody who appears to be older than 35. Especially if those “anybody’s” are women.
For example, The March 7th issue of People magazine put Elizabeth Taylor on its cover, celebrating Firooz Zahedi’s big new book on La Liz.  However, the cover photo was a heavily retouched vintage shot of the actress when she was around 25 years old. (God forbid we should even see Taylor’s freckles.)  Firooz met ET when she was 44, and he knew her until her death at age 79. Along the way, he took some extraordinary glamorous photos of his friend (and wonderful candids.)  
But even 44 is apparently too old for the new generation of People magazine readers to contemplate.  And how ironic — Taylor was People’s very first cover woman, on the prototype issue of the magazine in 1973. She was 41. (Mia Farrow, all done up for her role in “The Great Gatsby” is generally credited with being People’s first cover, but it really was Liz.)
Oh, in the same issue of The Hollywood Reporter there is an article about the children of Oscar winners and what they have done with their parents’ awards. One of Ingrid Bergman’s daughters, Pia Lindstrom, is shown holding her mother’s 1944 Best Actress Oscar for “Gaslight.”  Pia, a great beauty, looks about — 35!  She’s actually, well — never mind, but WOW!
P.S. Ingrid Bergman would win two more Oscars. Another best actress statuette for “Anastasia” (Hollywood “forgave” her after a decade of being essentially banned from America — Bergman had made the mistake of straying, in real life, from her exalted, saintly, screen image.) And she also won a Best Supporting award for her brief role in “Murder On the Orient Express” in 1975.  Bergman was stunned by her win, and said, onstage, “Please forgive me Valentina, I didn’t mean to!” She had wanted her friend and fellow nominee Valentina Cortese to win.  It was a very “Ingrid” moment.  The Swedish star was quite spontaneous and open and honest.  Qualities that all of her beautiful children — Pia, Isabella, Ingrid and Robertino — inherited.
RYAN REYNOLDS’ “Deadpool” movie has already crossed the $500 million mark in worldwide grosses. Reynolds, who was also the executive producer of the movie, took a modest $2 million paycheck with an agreement for percentages.  As it stands now, he’ll likely make over $10 million for his efforts. 

The actor, who was not exactly red-hot before “Deadpool” will appear in a  sequel (for more money upfront and probably more of a backend deal.) Surprisingly, however, the movie’s director, Tim Miller, hasn’t been signed to do the second “Deadpool” feature.
Ryan Reynolds and Tim Miller on the set of "Deadpool."
I’m sure his people are talking to the studio’s people about a more equitable salary.  He was paid $250,000, for what was his first big screen helming.

I know, I know. I too recall when a movie star making $100,000 per picture was considered “pampered.”  Times change and money simply isn’t worth what it once was.
Ginger Rogers (and her famous legs) earned $124,770 in 1937.
THE GREAT playwright and actor Charles Busch has put the finishing touches to the cast of his forthcoming latest stage extravaganza, “Charles Busch’s Cleopatra.”  Busch — whose credits as a writer and performer stretch from “Psycho Beach Party” to “The Tale of the Allergists Wife” — will put his own inimitable stamp on the Serpent of The Nile. 

Mr. Busch has written the show, Carl Andress will direct and Lawrence Bullock, Jennifer Cody, Andy Halliday, Ashley Austin Morris, Tony Sheldon, Jennifer Van Dyck and Joe Zaso will assist Busch in making this “Cleopatra” one for the ages. (Tallulah Bankhead’s interpretation of Shakespeare’s Cleo was not widely admired back in 1937. And while Charles Busch is much too young to have ever seen that production, I have a feeling Tallu’s vibe will be all over the place.)

This is a limited run, at Theater for the New City  (155 First Avenue.) Performances are being added as we speak. Opening night is Friday, March 25th. Call 212-868-4444. All tix are $25.
"As far as I'm concerned Shakespeare should have left Anthony and Cleopatra in Plutrach, where he found them."
MADONNA made two surprise visits to children’s shelters in Manila last week, as she wrapped up her “Rebel Heart” concert stop in that country.  The kids — orphans and “street” children — were thrilled, the officials at the shelters were thrilled.  Madonna was not so thrilled about the many tales of child abuse and child sex-trafficking she heard. But, who wants a positive Madonna story?
This reminds me of a famous Judy Garland tale. After an especially good concert, Judy was surrounded by congratulatory notes, telegrams, flowers, admirers. She exclaimed, “Oh, I’m so happy!” Then she paused, grinned and said: “Eh, who wants a happy Judy Garland?”
TOMORROW, if you are not already Oscared-out, we’ll give you our take on Hollywood’s biggest night. We’ll be as kind as possible. Because, after all, we do want happy Oscar-winners, yes?

With Denis Ferrara

Contact Liz here.