Friday, March 25, 2016

LIZ SMITH: Friday's Frying Pan

by Liz Smith

Friday's Frying Pan: Joan Rivers ... "Batman v Superman" ... the "Roman Holiday" musical ... the vastly ineffectual war on drugs ... Lindsey Graham ... and what's doin' at the 92nd Street Y.

"SURPRISE me!" Supposedly, that's what Bob Hope — on his deathbed — said when asked by his wife what he wanted done with him after he passed on.
THIS N' THAT: "Batman v Superman" opens today but advance reviews have been excoriating — just brutal! Oh, please — most of these comic-book action films are critic-proof and likely this one will be no exception. (Okay, there was "Ant-Man" and "Green Lantern" but usually, fans flock. Then they go to IMDB and complain bitterly. Anyway, I know I will go!)
... FANS of the late Joan Rivers are looking forward to the April 1st PBS documentary, "Joan Rivers: Exit Laughing." This is the first film done about the comic since her untimely death in 2014. Don Rickles, Kathy Griffin, Lily Tomlin, Sarah Silverman, Marlo Thomas and others chime in, recalling Rivers' career and impact. Check your local listings.
... THE guests and conversations at New York's 92nd Street Y are invariably some of the funniest, most civilized, intelligent and startling entertainment in the city. The following is just a partial list of the Y's guests in April — Cameron Diaz with Rachael Ray ... those adorable "Property Brothers," Jonathan and Drew Scott ... Lesley Stahl and Tom Brokaw ... Anderson Cooper and his mom, Gloria Vanderbilt ... David Duchovny ... Michael Strahan and Jonathan Tisch ... Paul Krugman (he'll be chatting on the economy, natch.) There's more, more, more. Go to
... NOT surprisingly, young Seth Sikes' show singing the songs of Liza Minnelli went over so well that he's been booked at 54 Below at least twice again in the spring. (Maybe next time he'll do a one-man recreation of Judy and Liza at the Palladium in 1964? Although he might not survive such an endeavor!) Call 646-476-3551.

... THIS is interesting. Next year, from May 24 to June 28th at San Francisco's Golden Gate Theater, there will be a pre-Broadway try-out of "Roman Holiday — The Cole Porter Musical." This show is based on the 1953 movie starring Audrey Hepburn as a runaway princess and Gregory Peck as the cynical reporter who against his better judgment, falls for her.
Gregory Peck and Audrey Hepburn in "Roman Holiday — The Cole Porter Musical."
Now, it's being taken to the stage — book by Kathy Speer, Terry Grossman and Paul Blake — and gussied up with great Cole Porter tunes such a "Night and Day" ... "Easy to Love" and "Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye." One of the producers is Mike Bosner, who has "Beautiful — The Carole King Musical" to his credit. So, "Roman Holiday" might be a big winner in NYC. I just hate that we have to wait so long! (Interesting about the film; it was Audrey's first major role — she was all but unknown in the U.S. But not only did Audrey appear on screen as a fully-formed, original personality, she won the Oscar, too. After several more hit movies, director Billy Wilder declared, "This girl is going to single-handedly put bosoms out of business!" She didn't, but she was a unique, elfin contrast to the cleavage and obvious sex-images of Liz, Marilyn, Gina Lollobrigida and other 1950s favorites.)
Gina Lollobrigida, Billy Wilder, and Audrey Hepburn.
... HAPPY Happy Easter! Looking for something special for this Sunday? Go to a store on New York's Christopher Street, called Sockerbit and look at their beautiful Easter eggs full of candy that is alternately one piece sweet and another piece sour. Or, in other words in Sockerbit's world "Sweet & Swedish." (They also have a store in L.A.) You can also go to their website at
WE recently saw an anti-drug plan offered by the mayor of Ithaca, New York. He wanted to open a safe place for addicted people to shoot heroin. Mayor Svante Myrick seems to have been suggesting something that has happened once before in America — the end of Prohibition.

This month, Harper's magazine presents an article by Dan Baum that posits the legalizing of drugs and making addiction strictly a medical problem, not a criminal one, is the solution to winning the war on drugs. Addiction is considered a medical problem, but as drugs are illegal, well — there's no winning. (It was stunning, but came really as no surprise — the revelations that Richard Nixon's much-vaunted "war on drugs" specifically targeted African-Americans and "anti-war hippies." Certainly African-Americans remain targeted and jailed excessively for minor drug infractions.)

Baum's plan is what many free thinkers believe is the only solution to rampant drugs, which have taken over many American towns and cities. The title of Mr. Baum's piece is: "Legalize It All: How to win the war on drugs." He writes "Nixon's invention of the war on drugs as a political tool was cynical, but every president since — Democrat and Republican alike — has found it equally useful for one reason or another."
A patient drinks a dose of methadone at the Taipas rehabilitation clinic in Lisbon, Portugal © Rafael Marchante/Reuters
Before you go crazy, read this article on page 22 in Harper's and consider how much we have made drug phobia exactly like The Prohibition law enforcement against liquor back in 1920. Prohibition had to be repealed in 1933. Baum adds "the growing cost of the drug war is now impossible to ignore: billions of dollars wasted, bloodshed in Latin America and on the streets of our own cities, and millions of lives destroyed by draconian punishment that doesn't end at the prison gate."
A poster showing how to use a syringe at Insite, a safe-injection site for drug addicts in Vancouver, British Columbia © Andy Clark/Reuters
H.L. Mencken said in 1949 "Some Americans have the haunting fear that someone, somewhere, may be happy."

Please examine whether the Puritan need to criminalize people's inclinations makes any real sense. Read this important magazine article.
ENDQUOTE: From reader John Peters Irelan, reacting to our story about rumors of unrest at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Forget the internal squabbles at the Metropolitan Museum. But it was a dumb move to re-brand it THE MET — The Met is the Metropolitan Opera, the public's nickname for years. For the Museum to assume that name is totally wrong, confusing, presumptuous and unnecessary. The old name and logo were just fine, it said it all. Someone got nervous and started thinking — very stupidly."
The museum's classic Luca Pacioli-designed logo.
ENDTHOUGHT: I sure wish Lindsey Graham was a Democrat. I don't think I enjoy watching any politician as much as I do Graham, who is very funny, very honest — about active candidates for the presidency and his own failed run — and generally a breath of fresh air. I might be wrong, but Lindsay seems like somebody open to negotiation, or at least he doesn't appear to be a mean-spirited lunatic. (Maybe negotiation wouldn't work, but you'd still want to go to dinner with him!) He's fun, which is more than I can say for any of the current candidates, on either side.

With Denis Ferrara

Contact Liz here.