Friday, April 8, 2016

LIZ SMITH: Nothing Left Unsaid

Gloria with the man that "rescued" her, Frank Sinatra.
by Liz Smith

Gloria and Anderson Leave "Nothing Left Unsaid." Also — "Cleopatra" Again ... Ryan Reynolds Again ... Al Sharpton, for the Very First Time.

"YOU STARTED dating a guy who was a gambler and rumored to have killed someone. Didn't you think that was someone you should probably stay away from?"

"I was mesmerized. Pat DeCicco was forceful, domineering, and supremely sure of himself. When you have low self-esteem, as I did, those qualities are attractive ... I really got the power to leave when I met Frank Sinatra. He was a knight in shining armor who rescued me. I never expected we would stay together long, and we didn't; only about three weeks — but it gave me a gigantic boost. Of course today I could rescue myself. I wouldn't need a knight."
Gloria with her first husband, Pat DiCicco.
That is an excerpt from the joint memoir written by Anderson Cooper and his mom, the fabulous — and always candid — Gloria Vanderbilt. The book, titled "The Rainbow Comes and Goes," led to an already acclaimed HBO documentary, "Nothing Left Unsaid" airing tomorrow night.

Click to order "The Rainbow Comes and Goes."
The bulk of the book, was a long series of e-mail exchanges between Cooper and Vanderbilt in which neither held back.

I am very much looking forward to this film. Gloria is a remarkable woman, an icon of sorts, who has lived and suffered and survived and evolved. Anderson Cooper is a survivor as well, and he has evolved too. More gravitas, less Andy Cohen. (I've actually come to enjoy Cooper's annual New Years Eve stint with Kathy Griffin — who doesn't need a giddy break once every 12 months?)

I love Gloria's description of Sinatra, by the way. He did have that quality within him. He could be all those rough and negative things that justifiably (and sometimes not) made the news and were the most colorful part of his various biographies.

But he could be a supreme gentleman, a gracious, concerned and sensitive savior, particularly in his younger days. He was pretty vulnerable, under the mask. Rosalind Russell, a lady if there ever was one, adored Frank and would never hear a word against him. And he did as much as he possibly could for Marilyn Monroe, going so far as to contemplate marriage, in an effort to "save" her. (His inner circle dissuaded him, and she wasn't inclined, anyway.)
Rosalind Russell with "her" Frank.
Frank tried to "save" Marilyn.
I've always believed that it was Frank who "persuaded" Dean Martin to withdraw from "Something's Got to Give" after MM was fired, leaving 20th Century Fox without a leading lady or leading man. Frank knew if Dean accepted another star — Lee Remick was hired to replace Marilyn, that it would be the end of Monroe. Dean was fond of MM, but not so fond as to forfeit a salary — willingly.
Dean Dumps 20th Century Fox for Marilyn — Frank Made Sure he Did.
Liz as Cleo — Cleo as Liz?
SONY PICTURES is once again reviving their long a 'borning "Cleopatra" epic, about the lively times of Egypt's last ruler. This will (if it ever comes to fruition) be written by David Scarpa, based on the marvelous bio of Cleopatra written by Stacy Schiff.

A few years back, Angelina Jolie was up for the role, but her opportunity to barge down the Nile has come and gone. Cleopatra was only about 18 years old when she met Julius Caesar. Hollywood's never gotten it quite right about the so-called "Serpent of the Nile," although Claudette Colbert, Vivien Leigh and Elizabeth Taylor all had their particular charms. It was only Miss Leigh, however, who managed to convey the young, kittenish Cleo in a 1945 adaptation of George Bernard Shaw's "Caesar and Cleopatra." Colbert was marvelously witty and modern and Taylor was, well — Taylor. There seemed to be little distance to 1963 moviegoers between the heavily painted femme fatale of antiquity and the real-life heavily painted home-wrecker of the fan magazines and newspaper headlines. Taylor's often sensitive efforts look much better now than they did in the heat of "Le Scandale." But, none of these ladies were teenagers.
Claudette Colbert — witty and modern as the "Serpent of the Nile."
Miss Leigh conveying the young, kittenish Cleo.
So, I am going to make a suggestion that will, as the youngsters say, get me "flamed." How about ... Selena Gomez? She is beautiful, she can act (she was charming in Disney's "Wizards of Waverly Place" anyway) and she is a youthful 23, who could easily pass for 18. Gomez can sing and dance, too. Although I don't know if either of those talents would be necessary. Well, maybe a sexy dance or two, in her seduction of Caesar.
Selena Gomez — the next best Cleopatra?
Gomez is also Latina, which might tamp down the inevitable controversy and complaints that all the Cleopatra's are "too white." Even though we don't know what Cleo actually looked like and she was Greek, not Egyptian, or Nubian. But people love their fake outrage. I know Gomez seems a lightweight name for a huge historical epic, but ... why not give a girl an audition?

Maybe Justin Bieber can play Octavian? Don't laugh, read your history. Octavian was considered a nasty, immature pisher before he betrayed Marc Anthony, defeated him, drove Cleo to suicide (or maybe murdered her) and then cloaked himself in the divine name of Augustus, and became a big moralist — and emperor.
RYAN REYNOLDS will do a sequel to his very well-reviewed and massively successful "Deadpool." (You know, the comic-book action "hero" movie that is not for kids or the faint of heart.) No word yet on how much newly-shiny star Reynolds will receive for the second film, but if it's less than $15 million, I'd be very surprised.
"I expect no less than 15 mil."
Sharpton at preaching age seven.
From The New York Times/Redux.
ENDQUOTE: The Rev. Al Sharpton has never been one of my favorite people, but if somebody — even the Rev — makes a wise remark, I try to get over my dislike. After all, Sharpton's never done anything to me.

In the new issue of Vanity Fair, Sharpton is profiled by Suzanna Andrews. At the end of the piece, the controversial activist says: "If we get the wrong Supreme Court justice, and the wrong president to stack the court — voting rights, affirmative action, the criminal justice reform ... all that is gone! Roe v Wade? Same-sex marriage? Gone. This is a real moment. This is time to put on your big-boy, big-girl pants, cuz you're dealing with some craziness ... I get up in the morning worried about that, I go to sleep at night worried."

I couldn't agree more, which is why I urge a stunningly complacent and perhaps depressed Democratic voting base to get up off their backsides, and get busy. And if your candidate isn't chosen to be the nominee, vote for the other Dem guy or gal. Don't cut off your nose to spite your face.
The Reverend Al Sharpton in his office at the National Action Network's House of Justice, in Harlem.
Photograph by Jonathan Becker.

With Denis Ferrara

Contact Liz here.