Wednesday, January 27, 2016

LIZ SMITH: On the Mend!

The first real “scream queen” Fay Wray in 1933's "King Kong."
by Liz Smith

Our Liz is on The Mend! Also — Glenda Jackson ... Kayne West ... Brie Larson and King Kong.

“SEX TIPS So Hot You’ll Get Turned on Just Reading Them!”

That’s a cover tease for an article in the current issue of Cosmopolitan magazine. When I saw it, I had to smile, because it reminded me that some things do remain the same.

Inside, there are the familiar Cosmo topics — “The Swinging Set” ... ”Look Hotter Naked” ... ”Stop Stressing About What You Eat” and “Love Letter to My Labia.” Oddly, I found no “better orgasm” stories, but they might have been hidden, between the sex Q & As and the beauty hints. 

I was particularly amused as it put me in mind of the good old days when I used to read Cosmo — for the celebrity interviews!  (Okay, and some of the beauty tips, I had bad skin.)  Particularly, those interviews done by my boss, Liz Smith.  It was Liz’s frequent articles on Elizabeth Taylor that hyped my interest in Taylor and that curiosity/obsession eventually led to meeting Miss Smith herself and to my job.  But that’s another story.   

Speaking of Liz (Smith) I feel we should give you an update.  Especially as I am beginning to receive notes asking after Liz, with an unmistakable subtext — “what have you done with her?!”  Like an old Daphne Du Maurier novel.

So let me assure you, she’s very comfy in the attic.  (“But ya are in the attic, Liz, ya are!”) Kidding!

Liz is on the mend. We (myself and the invaluable Mary Jo McDonough) have spoken with her, and she sounds good, still full of piss and vinegar, which is comforting.  If she told us, in cuddly terms, how much she loved us, then we’d worry!   Liz will outlive me, speak at my funeral and write my life story — one page on a memo pad!

She’s Texas-born and a New Yorker in her soul.  That combination is tough to beat, impossible to defeat.
This painted lady — via many Cosmopolitan articles — eventually led me to my boss, Liz Smith.
IT WAS mighty fine to read Entertainment Weekly’s interview with the great Glenda Jackson, who is still retired from acting (the two-time Oscar-winner quit 24 years ago to become a member of the British Parliament.)  But, now that she is out of politics: “If something were to press my button ...”

Please, Hollywood, press Glenda Jackson’s button! 

The actress — even if she never comes back, and despite her parliamentary decades, Jackson will always be an actress to me — also remarked to EW’s Joe McGovern:

“I did nothing apart from the job I was given,” when the writer ventured that some of her roles were groundbreaking and changed social mores?

“Prove it!” Jackson retorts. “How can you say that ’12 Years a Slave’ or ‘Selma’ has caused a fundamental cultural shift? ... It doesn’t work like that. Would that the Oscars could change the world but, I’m sorry, it just ain’t true.” 
KANYE West says his new album, “Swish” is “the greatest musical achievement by anyone ... ever ... so happy to be finished with the best album of all time.” (Has anyone ever seen Kanye and Donald Trump in the same room?  And if they have, just remember how realistic holograms can be!)

I wonder if Kim Kardashian’s hubby  realizes that “Swish” — aside from being an old-fashioned derogatory term for homosexuals — is an acronym for “Straight Women In Support of Homos.” (“homos” also used to be a derogatory term, but I guess it all depends on context?) 
"So happy to be finished with the best album of all time."
This is an organization founded in 2003.  Since its inception “Swish” has changed and grown.  It currently provides opportunities for all women and men, gay and straight alike, to engage in the LGBT civil rights movement.  Their slogan is “Pride, it’s not just for gay people anymore.”

Now Swish is embarking on a new venture to expand its mission to more communities around the world.  Swish is launching the Swish Ally Fund at The Stonewall Community Foundation — the first of its kind — to fund grassroots organizations so that they can engage straight allies in the fight for love and equality. For more information go to

Shall we put Kanye on the spot and suggest he throw a little cash toward this organization?  Yes, lets.  I mean, not only does he make the greatest records on earth, he is married to the world’s most beautiful woman of all time, and he, himself has no peer as an all-around superior human, who loves to prove it by giving to charity. Right?
ENDQUOUTE:  “She’s a woman.” That’s all Oscar nominee (“Room”) Brie Larson has to say about her role as the beloved of a big ape, in Universal’s remake or reboot or whatever, of the King Kong legend.

This one is called “Kong: Skull Island” and the budget is reportedly in the $125 million neighborhood.  Apparently Miss Larson’s lips are contractually sealed on the matter of this film. 
Brie Larson with her crew.
As far as I am concerned, nothing compares to the 1933 original, with the first real “scream queen” Fay Wray. The 2005 version with Naomi Watts as the girl in the paw, was okay but it didn’t much stir me.

But, I really do have a great affection for the much-detested 1976 version, with Jeff Bridges (sporting a horrible Grizzly Adams beard) and a young gorgeous, Jessica Lange.  It didn’t receive good reviews upon its release, and since 9/11 the film is rarely shown on TV. (Instead of the Empire State Building, Kong climbs one of the World Trade Center towers.) 
Jeff Bridges, Jessica Lange, and Charles Grodin in the 1976 version.
It is Lange, freshly discovered, who dominates the film with her languid, vulnerable, provoking sexuality.  There was always an innocence, a tentative quality, at odds with the bombshell body (If anybody ever should have, could have, played Marilyn, it should have been Lange!)
It is the final scene that really gets me.  Lange as Dwan (what was with that name?) down from the tower, standing by the body of Kong, enveloped by a screaming, intrusive, insensitive mob of paparazzi.  She weeps, realizing life as she knew it, is over, forever.

Forget the dead ape, the moment is quite a metaphor for show business and stardom.  Maybe Miss Lange made the connection. She has led, for the most part, a famously private, private life. 
Oh, and on that, the last word goes to Brie Larson: “When I leave an interview I learn whether I feel, oh, that was nice, or that made me feel like a little piece of me was taken. It’s a line that is always on the edge of being crossed, and once you cross it, what’s next?”
Contact Liz Smith here.