Thursday, September 29, 2016

LIZ SMITH: Playing the game correctly

by Liz Smith & Denis Ferrara

Who is "The King of Liechtenstein"? — Kurt Russell? Lin-Manuel Miranda? James Marsden? Joe Scarborough? Donald Trump? Justin Bieber?

“THERE ARE some specific reasons for that ‘under-appreciation’ thing. And I’m responsible for them. Did I play the game correctly? You bet I didn’t! I did not. I didn’t go to the right events. I didn’t say the right things to the right people. I said the wrong things to the right people!”
That’s Kurt Russell, an excellent, indelible actor and star, if not a particularly honored one.

He’s talking to Chris Heath in the current issue of GQ magazine. It’s a terrific piece and captures Kurt’s easy, appealing quality, and his sense of contentment with his career, his woman (Goldie Hawn), his children, his vineyard. (Kurt is next up in “Fast 8” and “Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol 2.”)
I recalled — while reading this — my own interview with Kurt, years ago.  He was so un-actory and normal I was almost embarrassed to ask him about whatever film he was doing — which was the reason for our sit-down.  He laughed when I finally said — after a lot of lively, non-business chat, “I really have to ask about the movie!”  He was a doll. 
This issue of GQ also includes three other amazing profiles. Michael Paterniti interviewing cover guy Lin-Manuel Miranda — now free of his “Hamilton” pony-tail and shooting the remake of “Mary Poppins.” 
Also there’s a marvelous take on James Marsden by Anna Peele. Marsden has made 43 movies and is well-known if not red-hot.  But the coming HBO series “Westworld” might change his career temperature. (Although the impossibly handsome actor seems truly content, and highly amused, at being “famous enough.’)
The third interview/profile is Jason Zengerle’s look at MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough.  Here, among other things, we learn that Joe — a musical type who plays guitar — is writing, so he says, a musical about friend-turned-foe Donald Trump. (If Trump wins in November, Joe will joyfully pucker up again.)

This piece is not a hit job — although former Congressman Joe will likely see it otherwise.  It simply exists as Scarborough exists.  But this is required reading for everybody, for the multitudes, who find Scarborough’s a.m. ego unbearable. (Not to mention his unpalatable sockless ankles.) Much of the piece can be summed up in an executive’s remark about Scarborough’s entourage. “It’s like he’s the King of Liechtenstein.”
Scarborough’s “Morning Joe” is as popular as anything on MSNBC can be — and that’s not too popular. He is very well-paid.   He appears to be powerful if not entirely beloved within his fiefdom. (Except by his co-host, the recently divorced Mika Brzezinski.)  Eh, as long as people do as you want, who needs to be beloved?

He is, however, adored by those who use his show as a drinking game.  One shot for every time Scarborough says, “When I was in Congress.” 

Blackouts, crippling hangovers, and the actual funding of new alcohol rehab centers have been the result. 
NEWS FOR Justin Bieber fans.  Nope, sorry, no new nudes. Although that is surely happening as we type.

The hot stuff is that Justin’s classic Christmas album, ‘Under the Mistletoe’ is now available on vinyl for the first time.”  (Vinyl is back, in case you haven’t noticed.)
I’ll be honest — I had no idea Justin Bieber even had a “classic Christmas album.” But he did and it was a big hit in 2011.  Well, he was only 17 then, so I guess he wasn’t on our radar yet.  The album also features special appearances by Usher, The Band Perry, Busta Rhymes, Boys II Men and Mariah Carey.

Ah, Mariah!  She, of course put out one of the greatest holiday discs of all-time in 1994.  That and 1963’s "Phil Spector's Christmas Album" get plenty of play all through December.
Well, my iPod Christmas playlist consists of 62 songs and runs four hours and 20 minutes — everything from Ella to Judy, to Bruce Springsteen, Sting, Mahalia Jackson, Joan Baez, Whitney Houston, Michael Buble, John Mellencamp, Barbra Streisand, Brenda Lee, Kay Starr, the Eurythmics and of course, both the Eartha Kitt and Madonna versions of “Santa Baby.” (When Eartha was asked what she thought about Madonna’s “Santa Baby,” Miss Kitt paused and said, utterly deadpan in that inimitable voice, “What is there to think?”)

Anyway, it’s refreshing to report something about Justin Bieber that doesn’t require a black band over his private parts.
MAIL!  We tried to be reasonably even handed the other day in ruminating on the Clinton-Trump debate, even though we are unapologetically Team Hillary.  We wanted to avoid casting Mr. Trump into hell, and indicated that his childish, insecure nature was his most dangerous quality — certainly in anyone seeking the presidency.

But attempting to tip-toe through the windmills of Donald’s mind wasn’t enough for some people. We received an email insisting we were “soft on the bum Trump because you know him and he has provided stuff for your column.” This gent also called Donald “the personification of evil!”
Hmmm!  We referred to Trump not long ago as “a national nightmare.”  I guess that wasn’t enough.  As for “providing stuff,” most of what Donald provided was this space reporting on his various shenanigans.  That reporting led him to declare he was going to buy the Daily News, where I worked at the time, just for the pleasure of firing me.  He didn’t of course, and we “made up.”  I considered him always a comic figure, but newsworthy.

I no longer consider him comic, at all.

Contact Liz here.