Wednesday, September 21, 2016

LIZ SMITH: Rules Don’t Apply

Warren Beatty on the set of “Rules Don’t Apply.”
by Liz Smith & Denis Ferrara

Wednesday's Rap:  Warren Beatty ... Bette Midler ... Stevie Nicks ... Mariah Carey ... Rosie's Theater Kids and more "Eternity" Musings.

“I WOULD say the biggest change the world is going through is the liberation of women.”

That’s what Warren Beatty said recently, during an interview with Associated Press reporter Jack Coyle. The famously elusive Warren was chatting with media at a screening of his long-awaited movie — his first in 15 years — “Rules Don’t Apply.” 

Warren was referring to the increasing higher profile of women in the industry.  (It’s not great, but it’s getting better.)   Of course, Warren has always been interested in women; once he was Hollywood’s most famous Lothario, unmarried and likely to remain so, it was assumed.
Then along came Annette Bening. “Women” became “woman” and family — four children — bested the glittering fun of his long-running la dolce vita.

The Oscar-winning actor says family life is “far more interesting to me than movies.” And, also:  “The idea of divorce appalled me and still does.”  I suppose that’s why he waited so long to settle down — to be with a woman he’d never think of divorcing.
“Rules Don’t Apply” is often referred to as “the Howard Hughes movie.”  And indeed Warren, who has directed the film and written the screenplay, does appear as the aviator/movie mogul, circa 1958.   But it’s not a bio-pic. (And Warren, who’s met everyone, never encountered HH.) 
The story is really about two innocents (Lily Collins and Alden Ehrenreich) put under contract by Hughes, and how they navigate the possibilities, potentials and — surely — the inevitable disappointments of promised stardom. AP writer Coyle describes the movie as “snappy and vibrant.” He also notes, “Sex plays a significant role.” It opens on November 23rd.
In an eye-roll and a helpless nod to our current super self-absorbed culture, Warren said, ruefully, when he looked over the select audience at this screening of his movie: “You’re all on your iPhones!”

P.S. On December 1st Warren receives the Kirk Douglas Award at the Santa Barbara Film Festival. It is rumored that Warren will be handed the honor from Kirk himself, who turns 100 years old on December 9th.
BY NOW it’s not “news” per se, but we still have to scream out our congratulations to the divine, one-and-only Bette Midler.  The first-day ticket sales to her coming “Hello, Dolly!” revival shattered Broadway records, at an eye-popping nine million dollars!!  

There are a number of events I’m looking forward to, things that will surely lift me up and away from the relentlessly worrying news cycles: the opening night of “The Front Page” on October 20th ... Chita Rivera’s Carnegie Hall debut on November 7th and this, Bette Midler’s “Dolly” which bows on April 20th. 
I’m calling it now.  Midler’s opening night at the Shubert Theater, will be historic.  One of those mass love, mass hysteria, “Day of the Locust” (minus the fatal trampling), events that will be talked about for decades to come. 
PEOPLE ARE still raving about Stevie Nicks’ amazing performance of “Landslide” on “America’s Got Talent” last week — a lady, a simple black gown, a microphone, a spare guitar backup, and that unmistakable voice. No bells, no whistles, no distractions. The years have gifted Ms. Nicks with an even more evocative, soulful, intimate sound.  If you’re a fan, watch this!
I HAD to giggle a little when this press release popped up on my computer screen: “Global Icon Mariah Carey Announces Final Shows of Her Two-Year Las Vegas Residency at Caesars Palace.”  I guess Mariah is a global icon, but I never think of her that way.  In any case, Miss Carey’s au revoir happens on May 13th, so you have plenty of time to call 866-320-9763 for tix to this show, or the eight preceding it. 
Perhaps I don’t think of Mariah in daunting global terms because she’s always doing cute things like “relaxing” after a strenuous recording session by taking long steamy bubble baths, wearing a full face of makeup and diamonds at her neck, wrists and ears. We know that’s how Mariah relaxes because she sends the bubbly photos out on Instagram. It’s a new world, but Mariah channels the best of old-world publicity and joyfully narcissistic self-promotion. Florenz Ziegfeld, P.T. Barnum and Mike Todd would have loved her. (Ziegfeld and Todd would have married her!)
ROSIE'S Theater Kids, which is Rosie O’Donnell’s terrific arts education organization dedicated to enriching the lives of children through the arts, holds its annual Gala honoring Margo and John Catsimatidis (with a little help from Tony Danza) and Gloria Estefan on September 28th. 

I’ve been to this gala. It is an inspiring night of talented kids singing, dancing and celebrating the arts.  You can get tickets at www.rosiestheaterkids.org
In addition to the gala, they are offering a variety of fun auction packages at charitybuzz.com/rtkids. My favorite is lunch with the legendary fashion and design icon Iris Apfel at Barney’s New York Madison.  You can pick her brain during lunch and then use a $500 gift card and a personal shopper to help you update your wardrobe.  And all for a good cause.

So bid soon and often!
“I’M NO good to you.  I’m no good to anyone.  Armies have marched over me.”

That was a sad-eyed, exhausted Rita Hayworth to Jack Lemmon in 1957’s “Fire Down Below.” I was reminded of this movie moment when I received a note from one of our constant readers, Rick Gould.  He chimed in on our re-examining of the famous Oscar-winning film “From Here to Eternity.” 
“I'm no good to you. I’m no good to anyone. Armies have marched over me.”
Jack and Rita cooling down on the set of "Fire Down Below," 1957.
Rick: “While I think ‘Eternity’ is a memorable movie, I too was struck but how off the casting of the leads seemed, especially the two femme stars. I’ve wondered why Columbia’s Harry Cohn didn’t insist his once-top star Rita Hayworth play Karen, the unhappy hotsy-totsy wife ... Rita was still sexy, but sad and weary, much like ‘Eternity’s Karen. Hayworth would have been touching.”
Indeed, Rita — in her latter-day mode of disconnected suffering — would have been excellent. The young Rita was extraordinarily vivacious and lively. But something happened during her marriage to Prince Aly Khan. (Prior to Aly, she was abused by her first husband, manager Edward Judson, and intimidated by the genius of her second spouse, Orson Welles.)  Then came an ominously grim wedlock to the singer Dick Haymes. (“Mr. Evil” as he was known in Hollywood.)
Hayworth, while still a great beauty, and an excellent actress, seemed drained of the powerful energy that had fueled films such as “Cover Girl” “You Were Never Lovelier” “Tonight and Every Night” “The Loves of Carmen” and of course, “Gilda.”  What emerged and remained after the Aly and Haymes marriages was an air of fragile, brittle disappointment, a woman having seen too much, and gained too little. She would have been ideal in “Eternity.” (Of course, doing anything Harry Cohn might have suggested was almost sure to result in Rita rebelling.  He was obsessed with her.  She loathed him — as did most of his contemporaries.)
Rick Gould also pointed out that Joan Crawford was originally supposed to star as Karen. We are second to none in admiration of Crawford’s star quality. But Joan of the 1950’s — aggressive lips, terrifying eyebrows, butch haircut — would have turned love scenes with Burt Lancaster into broad-shouldered wrestling matches, sponsored by Athletic Model Guild. (One might call these her dominatrix years — “Queen Bee” ... ”Female on the Beach” ... ”Torch Song” ... ”Johnny Guitar.”)

So, in thinking on that possibility, Deborah Kerr was just fine!

Contact Liz here.