Wednesday, October 26, 2016

LIZ SMITH: Taking Our Advice

Liz and old pal Matthew Broderick meet up at the big opening night of "the Front Page." (Matthew's wonderful wife, Sarah Jessica Parker was flying in from filming in San Francisco.) Liz and Matthew are flanked by actor/writer Jason Sudeikis and his beautiful multi-tasking wife Olivia Wilde (actor, model, producer, activist, entrepreneur, director.)
by Liz Smith & Denis Ferrara

Did Somebody Take Our Advice? Will 2017 Be The Year of Zelda Fitzgerald? Also — Dan Florek ... David Schwimmer ... and Holland Taylor's Hat!!

“PREDICTIONS ARE preposterous,” said the great comic Jackie Mason.

I tend to agree with this cautionary statement. 

On the other hand, divine coincidence is something else.
A LITTLE while back I wrote up my re-reading of Nancy Milford’s “Zelda” about the tragic life of Zelda Fitzgerald, wife to the great Jazz Age writer F. Scott Fitzgerald.  I noted no movie had yet been made from the 1970 book, which was ripe for adaptation. 

Then I learned of the Amazon series about Zelda, “Z — The Beginning of Everything” which will soon debut, based on Therese Anne Fowler’s novelization of Zelda’s life. (Christina Ricci is Zelda.)
Christina Ricci as Zelda.
But now, director Ron Howard has announced that he has optioned Nancy Milford’s biography, and intends to star Oscar-winner Jennifer Lawrence as the bedeviled Mrs. Fitzgerald. (The screenplay will be done by Emma Frost, who wrote one of my favorite TV miniseries, the bloody medieval saga, “The White Queen.” Well, there was no lack of drama and madness in Zelda’s life!)

Ron Howard is not yet sure he’ll direct Zelda’s story, but the producer is the well-established Allison Shearmur, so the “unfulfilled female” aspect of Zelda’s life is apt to be highlighted — her endless competiveness with her husband, and her lifelong search to be herself, aside from him, while greatly depending on her power as his muse. (I say, get a woman to direct.)
Soon-to-be Zelda, Jennifer Lawrence.
Fitzgerald himself shamelessly used Zelda’s personality and her own writing in his books, which led to considerable strain on both ends. 

We’re not taking credit for this. But, we’re happy to imagine somebody saw our items about Milford’s book and the TV miniseries and a light went off.  (Listen we get mail from places as varied as Berlin, Australia and Montreal, high on the column. Maybe somebody in L.A. pays attention?) 2017 will be the year of Zelda!
I MET two very sweet actors at the jam-packed after party for Broadway’s smash hit revival “The Front Page.” 

One was Dann Florek, who plays the mayor in the show.  He was one of hundreds, it seemed, who made their way to pay homage to the divine Holland Taylor, who also appears in the classic play. (Holland, looking so very glamorous, was with her beautiful lady, Sarah Paulson of “American Horror Story” and “The People v. O.J. Simpson” fame.)  
Dann Florek on lockdown.
Dan just seemed so thrilled to be a part of the show, and though he was the soul of not dissing, his expression indicated he wasn’t mourning the loss of his “Law and Order” captain’s badge.  He also felt Holland had helped him a lot. He was modest and adorable.
Sarah Paulson and Holland Taylor on opening night.
The other sweetie at Holland’s table was actor David Schwimmer, who for better or worse, will forever be associated with the famous sitcom “Friends.” (He recently played Robert Kardashian to fine effect in “The People Vs. O.J. Simpson” and is in the TV series “Feed The Beast.”

David Schwimmer on opening night photographed by celebrity photojournalist Walter McBride.
But for millions, he’ll always be Ross Geller, who didn’t understand what “being on a break” from Rachel — Jennifer Anistonreally meant!)

I noticed Schwimmer first in the small Sardi’s bar downstairs. The bartender was assiduously mashing something up in his drink — which I later learned was an old-fashioned. His one libation of the evening.  What struck me were his youthful looks.  He has barely changed since his old “Friends” days. He does have a leaner, more handsome air now.

I took the opportunity to compliment his enduring looks, and noted that during the run of “Friends” he and Jennifer Aniston were the only cast members who did not alter drastically during the run. (Although Aniston became too thin at one point.) 

I admitted our column had once taken the cast’s fluctuating appearances to task, excluding David.  He laughed and said, “I think I remember that!  I have great genes. My parents look amazing. I don’t drink much,” gesturing to his lone Old Fashioned, “and just stay healthy.”  I suggested David front a skin-care line.  He laughed again, “Hmmm.  Maybe like celebrities who only do product advertising in Japan?”
David Schwimmer with Zoe Buckman.
David was accompanied by his current flame, the beautiful and vivacious sculptress, photographer and embroidery designer, Zoe Buckman. She was delightful. And tall!  They make a striking couple.

Oh, there’s one particularly hilarious line Nathan Lane utters in “The Front Page.” (One of dozens.) It’s when he’s obligated to describe Miss Taylor, who has been brusquely kidnapped and carried away.
Nathan Lane, Danny Mastrogiorgio, Michael X. Martin and Holland Taylor in "The Front Page." Sara Krulwich/The New York Times
Lane, as Walter Burns, inventories her hair, dress, stockings and adds, “Oh, and she’s wearing a hat from the Revolutionary War!”  This brings down the house. Not simply because of Nathan’s delivery, or that it’s actually true — the chapeau does look like that! But according to Taylor, it’s an ad lib. Lane took one look at Holland’s Ann Roth hat, and couldn’t restrain himself.

By the way, this party started off fairly sensationally for me.  I found myself alone in an elevator with John Hamm. He was busy on his iPhone and didn't look up.  He was terribly handsome and more closely shaved than he often is.  Nice!
Mad Men John Slattery and John Hamm.
LAST week we told you we couldn’t bear to read or see another word about either presidential candidate — this in the wake of their last debate in Las Vegas. Or listen to surrogates and family members or cable news pundits vomit out their opinions.  But, even as I was writing that, I confess I was finishing up a book about Trump.  I thought for a minute I might not cover it. For the greater good, I shall.

So, If you want, even now, to know more about Donald Trump, king of his “brand,” you would be well advised to read “Trump Revealed: An American Journey of Ambition, Ego, Money and Power.”

This was written by the excellent Washington Post journalists Michael Kranish and Marc Fisher and their teams of ardent researchers.

I know, I know — you’ve likely read more than you ever wanted to about the star of his own life. You have had it up to here and probably think you know all there is to know about the destroyer of the Republican Party. Perhaps you have never read parts of this particular work, or have had dollops of it thrown at you by the desperate, flailing, complicit media.

I, Liz, have known Donald Trump since the early '80s and became one of the “players” in the drama of his first divorce. I don’t particularly like myself in this historical record, but that’s not the point. Although I have fussed, fumed and fulminated, I see that I have, frankly, not understood all there is understand about Mr. Trump.

I picked up the aforementioned book, looking for my name in the index. I had no need, no interest in reading any of the pages.

But what was just a peek became readable and unbelievable history that I’ll bet very few people have read. This work is like an astounding novel. It is hard to believe that the Donald Trump in this book actually exists. But it’s convincing; it really has already happened. It is like reading about unbelievable characters in history (Napoleon, let’s say, and others whose lives and actions confound us.)

I won’t belabor the intricacies but I guarantee that reading about this particular life is incredible. It has taken genuine intelligent research to realize it. Page after page, it’s all convincing. I think you’ll be startled by the cumulate facts. All this happened in your lifetime.

You don’t have to read the whole book. You can stop reading after Trump decides to run for president. You know all that only too well. What this book really is, it’s an astounding “case study.” I guarantee you won’t put it down. I wish I had read it before, but I simply didn’t know the half of it.

I don’t think Donald Trump is going to disappear. Don’t you want to know how he came to be, who he is and will be? I do. I say we all must.

I am struck dumb by the facts and the unfaltering research. I have never had an experience like it.

And here, I thought I knew everything!
P.S. a memo, a suggestion for one of my friends at MSNBC — so intelligent and caring, and so seriously assured of Donald Trump’s defeat — every night, so very assured.  Please stop being SO assured. It makes voters complacent.

This person is also convinced that Trump’s daily exhortations to his fans that everything is rigged — that if he loses it will literally be an illegal seizure — won’t have any effect; that everybody will accept Clinton’s win and go on with their lives.

From your mouth to God’s ears. I do not want to see the look of shock and dismay on your face if human beings, riled to the point they’ve been over the past year, perhaps behave accordingly.

Contact Liz here.