Monday, April 11, 2016

LIZ SMITH: Monday's Mad Mash

"... After that, they start to look like those girls dressed up in Texan parades."
by Liz Smith

Monday's Mad Mash: Digital Diddling in the Movies ... Barbra Sriesand ... Cary Grant ... Sharon Jones ... Peter Beard ... Madonna.

"WHEN STARS look like they've had work done, it's often hard to tell if that work is surgical, cosmetic or digital. So firms present three options to a director: low, medium or high retouching ... these options are described as 'slightly retouched, quite retouched, or full-on taxidermy. After that, they start to look like those girls dressed up in Texan parades.'"

This is from writer Logan Hill's amazing piece in New York magazine, "The Biggest Cheats in Show Business," which is all about how sophisticated and undetectable digital fussing with faces, bodies and even performances has become on the big screen. You might not look at the current crop of movie actors the same way ever again.

It's come a long away from throwing some shadows on a crepey neck, or using a lot of "fill light" or Vaseline on the lens or a big purse to hide an expectant tummy.

Nothing, apparently, is what it seems!
"I could have had a face-lift and we would have saved $2 million."
SPOTTED at dinnertime at New York's swank eatery Primola: the comic David Steinberg ... writer Mark Seal and photographer Jonathan Becker of Vanity Fair fame ... Joe Torre of sports and Billy Crystal of the movies. Also enjoying Primola's Italian delights, the fabled Irish author Edna O' Brien. (Aside from O'Brien's great works, such as "The Country Girls,"she also wrote the screenplay to one of Elizabeth Taylor's most fabulous — in my opinion — movies, "X Y and Zee.")
THIS N' THAT: ON April 17th the acclaimed and apparently often outrageous comedy/variety revue "The Meeting" will celebrate Barbra Streisand at Joe's Pub in NYC. (425 Lafayette Street) I've never seen any of the previous tributes but subjects have included Diana Ross ... Dolly Parton ... Bette Midler's movie "Beaches" ... Molly Ringwald ... Bea Arthur ... John Waters ... Tennessee Williams and "Valley of the Dolls." The guy behind this is Justin Sayre, who has been called "a cross between Oscar Wilde and Whoopi Goldberg." He is also in charge of the upcoming "Night of a Thousand Judys." So, you know Barbra's big night at Joe's Pub will be in good-natured campy fun. (No, La Streisand herself will not attend.) For tickets call 212-967-7555.
... the life, career and indomitable spirit of beloved R&B/funk/soul singer Sharon Jones is chronicled in a new documentary, "Miss Sharon Jones!' airing on the USA network, April 22. Directed by Oscar-winning filmmaker Barbara Kopple, this tells Sharon's story from South Carolina church singing, to tumultuous concerts at Manhattan's Beacon Theater. Her tale is made even more powerful with the knowledge that Jones is battling pancreatic cancer. But, that can't stop her from raising the roof and thrilling her audiences.
... I thought I'd seen almost all of Cary Grant's movies, from his early efforts with Mae West — "She Done Him Wrong" and "I'm No Angel" — right through to his last, "Walk, Don't Run," in 1966. (Grant, still handsome and agile, retired after that one, and never seemed to regret it, either.) But on May 6th, getTV will air "When You're In Love," a musical starring Grant and Grace Moore. Grant plays an impoverished artist, Moore an Australian opera singer. Both are stranded in Mexico. A marriage of convenience follows, but love rears its complicated head. Directed by Frank Capra with a score composed by Jerome Kern and Dorothy Fields, this film has been freshly restored and never before aired in its pristine new condition — not even on Turner Classic Movies! Go to www.get.tv/schedule.
P.S. The next time you catch either of Grant's films with Mae West, be aware that he looks like he'd rather be on Mars than pretending to romance the matronly Miss West. She would later claim to have "discovered" Cary, which wasn't true, but Mae and the truth had a complicated relationship. Grant always spoke ... politely about the astonishing woman whose first two films did indeed "save" Paramount Pictures. (Mae thought she was the world's most desirable woman, and never wavered in that belief. It made for her a very happy, if somewhat insular, life.)
... Bernadette Peters, that most adorable Broadway star, will receive The John Willis Award for Lifetime Achievement on May 23rd at the 72nd Annual Theater World Awards at Circle in the Square Theatre. This is great news and few are more deserving. Bernadette's achievements are far from over. However, as Ruth Gordon remarked upon receiving her Oscar in 1969: "I can't tell ya how encouraging a thing like this is!"
... Photographer/artist Peter Beard's first U.S. solo museum exhibition in 15 years happens June 18 to July 31 at Guild Hall Museum in East Hampton. It is titled "Last Word From Paradise" and showcases Beard's iconic work in Africa and on the East End of Long Island. Aside from photos, the exhibition includes artwork consisting of feathers, dried leaves, newspaper clippings, insects, found objects, quotes, old sepia-toned photos and blood. Call 631-324-0806.
"I'll Write Whenever I Can…" by Peter Beard. ©Peter Beard, Courtesy of Peter Beard Studio.
... Madonna, the eternally "over" pop goddess, is the highest grossing solo artist in Billboard Boxscore history. With $170 million earned on her recent "Rebel Heart" tour, Madonna has garnered $1.31 billion since 1990. Only the Rolling Stones and U2 are ahead of her, and she is the lone woman out of six artists on the Billboard billion-plus list. Madonna has remained the highest-grossing female concert artist for the past 12 years. Haters gonna hate, but Madonna is still the Queen.
ENDQUOTE: We received a number of e-mails about our take on Katharine Hepburn's first movie, "A Bill of Divorcement." Most seemed to agree it was a creaky thing indeed and how Hepburn survived it to have one of the greatest careers ever was a miracle. I liked this note the best: "I, too, saw the film. I was dumbstruck. I couldn't believe the dialogue, the emotion, the overacting. I kept telling myself that it was filmed in the early '30s and things would improve. Thank God they did! The film was a hoot, but I don't think it was meant to be."
I can't recall if Miss Hepburn herself ever commented on the film. She must have, because she was very much interested in everything concerning herself. (Kate's autobiography wasn't titled "Me" for nuttin'.) She likely thought it was pretty bad, too. Hepburn enjoyed her legend and being a great star (batting away the paparazzi simply ensured her more publicity) but I don't think she was over-impressed by a lot of her work. Not that it mattered — she had, as she said, "star quality." And incredible bone-structure.

With Denis Ferrara

Contact Liz here.