Friday, May 27, 2016

LIZ SMITH: Hold The Door!

Barbara Cook in Leonard Bernstein's Candide, which opened in 1956. On January 6th, 2016, New York City Opera and Harold Prince will be staging a brand-new revival of Candide.
by Liz Smith

"Hold The Door," Hodor — and don't let it hit you in the ass on the way out!   Also — "Candide" Returns to New York ... Jake Gyllenhaal Sings Again ... Jessica Rovello and Kenny Rosenblatt, media site moguls. 

"WE FORGOT how annoying people can be — that's our bad!"

So said David Benioff one of the executive producers of HBO's "Game of Thrones." He and his fellow producer D.B. Weiss gave an interview in which they kind of "apologized" for killing off one of the series best-known characters, Hodor. (Look, the show aired Sunday, the passing of Hodor has been big news, please don't send me irritating e-mails about "spoiling." Or, if you must, CC them to the "GOT" guys, too.)
Non-apologists — DB Weiss and David Benioff.
Anyway, Benioff and Weiss are not feeling bad they killed off Hodor. "GOT" is famous for its shock demises. No, they dislike the "idiots" who are now using the manner of Hodor's death as a joke. I won't give up much, except that Hodor and "hold the door" are now forever linked.

I have no idea if this plot device was in George R.R. Martin's books. Maybe it read better than it played on screen, but even I had to laugh when it became clear why Hodor was Hodor. It was absurd. For those who watch the series, that entire storyline, with crippled Bran (Isaac Hempstead) being dragged around for years, was a bore anyway.

Memo to Benioff and Weiss: those "annoying" people, those "idiots" are your viewers, who can't help reacting to something so ridiculous.
"Hodor. Hold the door. Hold door. Hodor."

GREAT news from the people at New York City Opera. On January 6th, at the Rose Theater, a brand-new revival of Leonard Bernstein's famous operetta "Candide" will debut, staged by Harold Prince, of "Cabaret," "A Little Night Music," Sweeney Todd," "Follies, "Company," etc. fame. This, hopefully, will be the beginning of a revival for City Opera, which had recently fallen into bankruptcy.

"Candide" is based on Voltaire's novella which humorously addresses optimism, good, evil, religion, romance wars and even earthquakes. It boasts music by Bernstein, a libretto by Lillian Hellman and Hugh Wheeler, and lyrics by — among others — Bernstein, Hellman, Stephen Sondheim and Dorothy Parker.
Stephen Sondheim, Arthur Laurents, Hal Prince, Robert Griffith, Leonard Bernstein, and Jerome Robbins during rehearsal for the stage production of "West Side Story," 1957.
It was not a success when it opened in 1956 — despite the presence of stage divinity Barbara Cook, trilling the delicious "Glitter and be Gay." But over the years, and numerous revivals — including several by Harold Prince — critical reaction turned and the show became extraordinarily popular.

January 6th — this will be a night to remember in New York! Thank you Harold Prince and City Opera.
Max Adrian, Louis Edmonds, Barbara Cook and Robert Rounseville in a scene from the 1956 Broadway production of Candide.
... ONE NIGHT only! Movie star Jake Gyllenhaal can sing, and very well, too — just in case you missed him last year at the Encores! production of "Little Shop of Horrors." Well, you'll have another chance to bask in Jake's good looks and big notes on October 24th, when he'll star in the Stephen Sondheim/James Lapine musical "Sunday In the Park with George." No other cast members have been announced. Jeanine Tesori produces. For tix info go to
The New York Daily News columnist, the perspicacious Linda Stasi has been bragging about her daughter Jessica Rovello again. And who wouldn't? Jessica is the CEO and co-founder with her husband, Kenny Rosenblatt, of and she's on the cover of INC Magazine, which is online now and will be on newsstands in May 30th.

Jessica's company was chosen as one of the 50 best places to work in the USA. (Arkadium makes standalone digital online games — such as the delightfully old-fashioned mahjong — and creates interactive portals for more than 400 media sites.)

Ms. Stasi who is no slouch herself, says she is so proud of Jessica, "I'm fainting in my shoes — if I were wearing any." Linda, who has her finger in many pies and many eyes, says she had nothing to do with Jessica and Kenny's success.
ENDTHOUGHT: The more I think about Ellis Cashmore's references to me in his new book about Elizabeth Taylor, the more pissed-off I get.

In the matter of Elizabeth's wedding to Larry Fortensky, People magazine paid for my trip to Los Angeles, and my article on the nuptials was sold worldwide to benefit Taylor's AIDS foundation and AmFar. Herb Ritts' photos were used for the same cause.
Larry Fortensky and Elizabeth Taylor on their wedding day. Photo: HERB RITTS for People Magazine.
I was, in fact, surprised that I'd been invited, because several months prior to that waltz down the aisle, I'd mentioned the fact — with some good-natured cynical eye-rolling — that Elizabeth's wedding was coinciding cleverly with her perfume launch. I knew that Liz n' Larry were deeply and soberly in love at that point, but I also knew La Liz was a shrewd businesswoman. And really — a wedding at Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch, outdoors? She was hot for the attention she did receive — a dozen helicopters flying overhead, drowning out the wedding vows.
Elizabeth Taylor a few weeks later at the launch of White Diamonds.
Why was I invited? Taylor's super-devoted press rep Chen Sam told me: "Elizabeth trusts you, she knows you, and you've been so good to Larry, you've never made fun of him, or their relationship." Then she added: "You were writing about AIDS almost before anybody. Elizabeth remembers that. This is her wedding, and it is an AIDS fundraiser. You need to be here." After the wedding, after her charities had been enriched, Elizabeth would don her mask of great lady faux indignation over the "paparazzi intrusions." Had the headlines not screamed out the news of her eighth "I do," had helicopters not been there, we would have had one unhappy Miss Taylor!
Halston feeding a piece of cake to Elizabeth Taylor on the occasion of her 46th birthday party at Studio 54. Thar's Elizabeth's formidable press rep, Chen Sam, who is probably screaming, "Don't do that in front of the cameras!"
About a year later, Elizabeth asked me to "emcee" the press launch of another of her fragrances. I was somewhat embarrassed to be in that position, but she had asked — for whatever reason — and I did it. As well as I could. (All I recall is that she was gorgeous but a bit heavier, swathed in white silk, and accompanied by her beloved pooch, Sugar.)

I got nothing from it, except some bitchy write-ups from people who hadn't ever been asked to do Elizabeth Taylor a favor.

With Denis Ferrara

Contact Liz here.