Friday, August 19, 2016

LIZ SMITH: Mixed Media

Liz and Warner, hot and heavy dating in the summer of 1976.
by Liz Smith & Denis Ferrara

Mixed Media: Nick Jonas ... Paul McCartney ... "Star Trek" ... Diane Lane ... Liev Schreiber ... Marlon Brando ... "The Twilight Zone" and Elizabeth Taylor's Virginia Farm!


“LET’S FACE it, the lady needed a home.”

That’s what Elizabeth Taylor’s remarkable press rep, Chen Sam said, not long after the marriage of Miss Taylor and John Warner in December of 1976.

La Liz and (peeking over her shoulder) the star's devoted "dragon at the gate," Chen Sam.
La Liz had been living like a fly on a griddle for years, with and without Richard Burton, mostly in Europe.

Taylor herself said she had fallen in love with John Warner’s Atoka, Virginia farm, as much as she’d fallen in love with the handsome ex Secretary of the Navy himself.

(One week before announcing her engagement to Warner, on the set of “A Little Night Music” in Vienna, Taylor had become hysterical at the news that Burton, whom she had married and divorced twice, had up and wed tall, blonde Suzy Hunt. But within days, she was telling the press “I love John 100%!” Nobody really believed it, especially as ET began an epic eating binge at exactly the same time.)

I was reminded of the late Chen’s remark when I heard that Warner’s farm has just been sold, for $7.17 million.

Nice. But John Warner has always been a lucky guy. His first wife was banking heiress Catherine Mellon. He almost married Barbara Walters. His marriage to Elizabeth elevated him to national prominence and eventually to the United States Senate. (Liz campaigned for him like a trouper. She was unprepared, however, for marriage to a man whose job took him away from her. A new experience, and one that she could not accept. In time she returned to her career, rehabbed herself and emerged as a front-line soldier in the battle against AIDS.)
Kiss off. Warner congratulates his wife on the Broadway triumph of "The Little Foxes" in 1981. Within months, they had separated.
Biographers tend to dismiss Taylor’s Virginia and Washington years because of all the negative publicity about her weight. But she was as vital and famous as ever during that era. And her exposure to the public on behalf of Warner, prepared the cosseted star for her AIDS crusade.

It was an interesting time in her life. And for sure she’d be amused that the sale of Atoka was trumpeted as “Elizabeth Taylor’s Farm Sold.” John Warner, like all her men — even Todd and Burton — were a side dish. She was the inescapable main course.
"Hello? Hello? Yeah, he's senator now. I've got the cat and a lot of time on my hands. Let's hit Studio 54."
THIS N’ THAT:

... BRACE yourselves. On August 28th, Nick Jonas, pop star and young-man-without-a-shirt, will “hit the streets.”

Mind out of gutter, now! He’ll be performing — singing — as part of MTV’s Video Music Awards. Nick will be joined with Ty Dolla $ign for what is being described as an “epic” performance from Nick’s “Last Year Was Complicated” album. (Nope, haven’t a clue who Mr. $ign is. There’s keeping up, and then there’s being ridiculous.) MTV’s Video Music Awards will air live from Madison Square Garden. Be there. Or be on the street Mr. Jonas hits.
Nick Jonas to hit the streets. It will be "epic." I don't doubt it.
... PAUL McCartney, back where it all began! Sir Paul gave millions of fans a pang of nostalgia when the news came that he had signed up with his old Beatles label, Capitol Records. Capitol was initially not terribly interested in John, Paul, George and Ringo, but hysterical public reaction schooled the label in the error of disregarding changing times. At 74, Paul is still going strong. A film-director friend of mine just saw McCartney in concert, and said: “Time fell away. I don’t know how he does it, but there is an ageless quality to his voice, his music, his being.” This McCartney item was for those of you don’t know Ty Dolla $ign or Nick Jonas!
... FROM September 16th to the 25th, Manhattan’s Paley Center For Media will celebrate the 50th anniversary of “Star Trek” with a series of special events and screenings — art exhibits,“Trek”-themed cocktail parties, a Captain Kirk impersonation contest and much more. Call 212-621-6600 or Click here for info.
... MAKE haste to snap up tickets for the coming Roundabout Theater production of Anton Chekhov’s “The Cherry Orchard” starring the luminous Diane Lane. This is a limited engagement. Previews begin September 15. Miss Lane will be joined by, among others, Joel Grey, Chuck Cooper, John Glover and Kyle Beltran. Call 212-719-1300 for ticket info.
... ON October 11th, CBS Home Entertainment and Paramount Media Distribution will release “The Twilight Zone: The Complete Series” on DVD. All five seasons, all 156 episodes. One of the great things about this show — really, and so much of early TV — is finding young up and comers in early roles — Robert Redford, Dennis Hopper, Burt Reynolds, Jack Klugman, etc.
Robert Redford in season 3 of “The Twilight Zone."
I wish more of the old black-and-white series’ were available, in good condition, on DVD. Fascinating entries such as “Suspicion” ... “The Eleventh Hour” ... “Kraft Theater” ... “Lux Video Theater” ... “Playhouse 90” ... “Matinee Theater” ... “Play of the Week.” I know I’ve forgotten many. There were a lot of ambitious, daring productions, and marvelous acting. Technically creaky at times, but impressive in what was being accomplished, what the public saw, in TV’s infancy and adolescence.
Keenan Wynn, Linda Evans, and Jack Ging in "The Eleventh Hour," 1963.
... ”DO you binge watch documentaries?” I was online, looking something up, when I saw that question, the title of an article I hadn’t intended to read. I stopped because I do indeed binge-watch documentaries. Or, at least, I make a point of watching many. In fact, on Netflix, I recently went through quite a few episodes of David Attenborough’s “Life on Earth” and all of “Mysteries of Irish Castles.” (I love ruins. But say this too often at dinner parties and you’ll find your companions checking their compacts for signs of decay.)
A scene from David Attenborough’s “Life on Earth.”
Anyway, if you do enjoy real-life programming, something called Curiosity Stream is available. Joined with The Discovery Channel, they are offering upwards of 600 documentaries! It’s $2.99 a month or $5.99 in H-D. (Normally, I disdain the mania for high-definition. Must we see every pore and pimple and the line of makeup demarcation? But on a documentary, I’d spring for the extra detail.)

Not signing on to Curiosity Stream yet. I’ve still got all of “The Cosmos” to get through. Not to mention a truly addictive Chinese series, “Empresses in The Palace.” (Clashing concubines during China’s Qing Dynasty; soapy, but also rather poignant.)
ENDQUOTE: “They say how great Brando was in ‘Streetcar.’ He ruined the fucking play. It became about a beautiful animal, a sexy beast. That’s not what the play was about. But he’s such a wonderful actor that it became a play about his sexuality.”

That’s Liev Schreiber, in the August issue of Esquire.
The Esquire writer, Ariel Leve, interviewing the actor, notes: “Being sure of yourself elevates the possibility to offend. Having an opinion is risky.” Ariel then remarks to Liev: “You can’t denigrate Brando’s work in that. He was stunning.”

Schreiber counters: “But you miss the play.”

Interesting, and I tend to agree with Mr. Schreiber. “Streetcar” was Blanche DuBois’s tale, but Brando, in the greatest performance of his career, dominates to an extreme degree.
I’d suggest that the very talented Liev take on the role of Stanley Kowalski, but Schreiber is a pretty sexy beast himself. Also, he’ll soon be on Broadway in “Les Liaisons Dangereuses.” (However, never say never. At a strapping age 48, he would be a fine Stanley, if a tad less Brando’s “beautiful animal.”)

I am looking forward to “Liaisons” because I have grown weary of where his show “Ray Donovan” has gone. It has become an exercise in unending misery and darkness for every character. Sometimes, I think the weariness and wretchedness of Ray Donovan is partly Schreiber’s own weariness playing such a man. It has to get to you!

Contact Liz here.