Friday, June 17, 2016

LIZ SMITH: Strong Women and Great Showmen

Helen MIrren as Lady Macbeth in the Royal Shakespeare Company's 1974 production of "Macbeth."
by Liz Smith & Denis Ferrara

Friday's Fry-Up: Helen Mirren ... Hugh Jackman and Zac Efron ... The Happiness of Ellen ... "Hamilton" Tix Hit the Heights. ... Farewell to Yetta ... It's NOT Liz in the Nude!

"I'M ONE of those guys who believes that you need a strong woman in your life," says Pierce Brosnan.
HELEN MIRREN is a strong woman and a strong actress, and she is one who doesn't feel the need to reserve her strength and power always playing serious strong ladies, such as Queen Elizabeth I and II, or Lady Macbeth or a tough police detective. Helen likes to mix and mash her strength, dramatic genius and her formidable sex-appeal.
Helen Mirren as Queen Elizabeth I.
As Queen Elizabeth II.
I loved Mirren in the two "Reds" movies with Bruce Willis, shouldering great big guns, defeating bad guys while wearing heels and evening gowns, generally being a hot bad-ass.
In "Red."
Now she is going to take her hot badness one step further. She's signed on for "Fast 8" the 8th installment of the wildly successful "Fast and Furious" movie franchise. Some people thought after Paul Walker's tragic death, the series would end, but as sad as everybody is about Walker's passing, sentiment doesn't rule Hollywood, money does.

Anyway, Dame Mirren likes to "have fun and be serious" in her still vibrant career. Before she films "Fast 8" with Vin Diesel you can see her in the current military thriller, "Eye in the Sky" with Aaron Paul and the late very much lamented Alan Rickman.
In "Eye in the Sky."
INTERESTING news about Australia's great star, Hugh Jackman who is planning to make a film about the legendary 1800s showman, circus-master and perpetrator of hoaxes, P.T. Barnum. It is tentatively — and obviously — titled "The Greatest Showman on Earth."

As an extra added attraction, Zac Efron is also being courted to appear in the film. Wow, Hugh Jackman and Zac Efron, together again for the first time. This is the kind of super-duper attraction that P.T. himself would appreciate.
Hugh Jackman and Zac Efron during the 81st Annual Academy Awards.
Zac is a good actor, but seems to have settled into a career in which his thesping comes second to his more obvious negotiable asset — his exquisitely proportioned body. It is often on display in his "Neighbors" movies, the upcoming "Baywatch", etc. (Seth Rogen, Zac's co-star in "Neighbors" 1 and 2, admitted that during the filming of the first movie he was almost hypnotized by Zac's beauty, "I had to restrain myself from actually touching him all the time!" We know, Seth, we know.)

Don't know what Zac's role in the P.T. Barnum movie will be, but it is likely he'll take his shirt off, at least once. Never waste biceps, triceps or abs, I always say.
The Greatest Showmen on Earth!
THE FIRST time I ever saw Ellen DeGeneres live, doing her comedy act — at NYC's Beacon Theater — I was so impressed at how amusing she was, without one scintilla of meanness. It was gentle comedy, smart and to the point, but avoiding the nastiness that consumes many comics. I was charmed. (I met her after the show, and was even more charmed.)

In the latest issue of Parade magazine, Ellen says: "I never want to hurt anybody. I want to make people laugh. I didn't think it was ever funny to make fun of people. There is so much to laugh at without it being at someone else's expense."

As to the eternally happy, optimistic vibe of her long-running talk show, Ellen remarks: "It is a happy show, on purpose. I think a lot of station managers thought I would have an agenda to try to somehow turn the world gay. People DID worry. But our only agenda is to make people feel good. It's an hour of joy."
LAST WEEK the New York Times reported that premium seats for Broadway's super-smash "Hamilton" had reached an unprecedented peak cost of $849! That was before the show won 11 Tony Awards. What now, $1,000 seats? The higher prices are supposed to be an effort to thwart scalpers, but that is unlikely; people seem willing to sell their entire families and throw in the neighbors, for a ticket to "Hamilton."
YETTA is dead! I do mean the wonderful actress Ann Morgan Guilbert, who died age 87 several days ago. Ann first came to fame as Millie Helper in "The Dick Van Dyke Show." She was a perpetually busy journeyman character actress, whose pliable face was known to millions, even if her name was not. She worked to the very end, last seen in the TV series "Life in Pieces" this year.
Ann Morgan Guilbert as Millie Helper, with Mary Tyler Moore, in "The Dick Van Dyke Show."
But perhaps her most treasured performances were her appearances on "The Nanny" playing, Yetta, the sly but slightly "off" grandma of Fran Drescher. She was a scream, and along with Drescher and Renee Taylor, elevated the absurdity of the sitcom into something quite divine.

Ann Morgan Guilbert, you were a great talent, a real professional and you will be missed. RIP.
Ann Morgan Guilbert in "The Nanny."
IT'S a fake! I do mean the re-appearance of a nude photo that purports to be 24-year-old Elizabeth Taylor, posing for her friend Roddy McDowall. Britain's Daily Mail insists that this picture was an "engagement present" for her third hubby, Mike Todd. Please! ET was still under ironclad contract by MGM, and would not ever have posed nude, in those days, under any circumstance. Also, the body is all wrong. La Liz never had a "pert" bosom, and by the age of 24 had given birth to two children and was already pregnant with her third (Todd's) before they tied the knot.

Taylor was not shy, not modest, and did love to show off what the good Lord gave her — and he gave her quite a lot — but posing totally nude? Nope.
ET? I don't think so ...

Contact Liz here.