Friday, May 20, 2016

LIZ SMITH: Rules Don't Apply

by Liz Smith

Warren Beatty's "Rules Don't Apply" Will Finally Apply — Just in Time for Oscar Consideration. Dueling Documentaries Battle For The Life and Death of Whitney Houston. Also — Literacy Partners ... The Lilly Awards ... and Hollywood Remembers Doris Roberts.

"WE SOMETIMES complain of the levity of our friends to justify our own by anticipation," said Francois de La Rochefoucauld.
IT SEEMS ages ago that I mentioned Warren Beatty's "top secret" movie about Howard Hughes. But it was only February of 2014. Come to think of it, that is "ages" ago!
Warren Beatty in "Rules Don't Apply."
Particularly because the film — which Beatty directed and stars in — had already been completed when we wrote of it. It had been filmed swiftly, in 74 days; an amazing feat, considering Warren's notorious penchant for detail and re-takes and all sorts of other things that make mere mortals in the movie industry go mad. (Maureen Stapleton, who won an Oscar under Beatty's direction in "Reds" was driven insane during the making of that film, after he asked this super-professional actress for an unprecedented 80th take one long afternoon.
Maureen Stapleton, Reds (1981)
Just a teensy bit irritated, she said something along the lines of "Are you out of your fucking mind?!" Maureen always got right to the point. She was probably just as concise when she thanked him, later.)
"You'll thank me later."
Anyway, Warren's movie is finally ready to go. FOX will release "Rules Don't Apply" (the romantic comedy-drama was without a title for some time) on November 11th, which seems to indicate somebody thinks it is an award-worthy effort.

Warren plays — surprise! — the reclusive billionaire, circa 1958. The rest of the cast includes Lily Collins, Alden Ehrenreich, Alec Baldwin, Candice Bergen, Matthew Broderick, Steve Coogan and Annette Bening. Ms. Bening of course is also Mrs. Beatty, the woman who tamed and domesticated Hollywood's most charming lothario. It is said that in doing so, Annette performed the only genuine miracle ever to occur in Hollywood or its environs. Bernadette of Lourdes has nothing on Annette!

So, at long last, a new Warren Beatty movie. Such fun, I hope. Hell, even if it's not fun, by November, we will certainly need as much escapism as possible!
AS IF Whitney Houston's life wasn't dramatic enough, in death her legacy is still being disputed and pulled this way that that. Two new documentaries are in the works about the singer who died in 2012. One is being put together by director Kevin Macdonald, from Altitude Films (they produced the acclaimed Amy Winehouse doc.) The other is being assembled by Showtime, under the aegis of Nick Broomfield.
However, Houston's estate wants nothing to do with the Broomfield movie. They have given their all to Kevin Macdonald, and consider his effort to be the "official" word on Whitney. Clive Davis, Houston's friend and mentor agreed to speak to MacDonald, and the star's catalogue has been made available. The Macdonald film will "not shy away from the darker parts of Whitney's life" stated a press squib. As if the dark side of this tragic woman's life could somehow be ignored or even toned down?
Nick Broomfield is said to be "struggling" to snare interviews. I have no idea whether or not there's a particular reason for this — I've never seen Broomfield's documentary on Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love — but in a vacuum created by no access, wild and wooly seeds of conjecture and rumor can be sown. Or it might be the more interesting project simply because it is unauthorized.

Both films are set for release sometime next year. Eh, I think perhaps I'd rather just pop in a CD of Whitney's greatest hits. Or recall her as she was the first time we met — still fresh, vibrant, full of fun, and so beautiful.
THE LILLY Awards — celebrating Women of Distinction in The American Theater — happens on Monday, May 23rd at NYC's Signature Theater. Kathy Najimy and Jessie Mueller are among those being honored. (Jessie won the Tony award for "Beautiful: The Carole King Musical.") Presenters include movie star Lupita Nyong'o and the empress of the feminist movement, Gloria Steinem. Rebecca Naomi Jones performs. For info go to www.thelillyawards.org.
ON WEDNESDAY, May 25th at the DGA Theater in Hollywood (7920 Sunset Blvd) the life and career of the late Doris Roberts will be celebrated. Tales will be told, snacks will be gobbled, champagne will flow. Call 323-465-4398.
Always a fabulous event! Arnold Scassi and Hillary Clinton at 2004 Literacy Partners Gala (Photo: Patrick McMullan)
CIPRIANI 42nd Street will be Manhattan's smartest spot on June 7th, when Literacy Partners holds its annual Evening of Readings Gala. Norman Pearlstine, of Time, Inc, is to be honored. Among the readers are designer Tommy Hilfiger and author Jacqueline Woodson. (Hilfiger will read from his book, "Bite Me" co-authored with his daughter, Ally. It's about the trauma of Lyme Disease.)

And of course there are always one or more eager readers, someone for whom the entire world has just opened up, through books.

Aside from the glamour and the good food and the drinks, this is always one of the most inspiring and soul-fulfilling evenings on the crowded New York social calendar. I have never left this event feeling less than uplifted and so thankful for my education and my love of reading. Even today — perhaps today more than ever — I find so much escape and knowledge and power in reading everything I can get my hands on.

For tix info call 914-579-1000.
ENDQUOTE: "Thanks for thinking of me, hope you are well and happy. As for me I continue to move forward despite as Jimmy Durante said, 'I am surrounded by assassins.' Woody."

If you have to ask "Woody who?" you are reading the wrong column.

With Denis Ferrara

Contact Liz here.