Monday, May 16, 2016

LIZ SMITH: The Feminine Element

by Liz Smith

Lupita Nyong'o is Just Too "Marvel"-ous for words! Also — Prince ... Doris Roberts ... A Musical "Hamlet" ... John Oliver Rules!

"WE'RE IN the feminine element now. That's where society is. You're gonna get a woman president soon. Men have gone as far as they can, right?"

That's the late pop/rock/soul/funk idol, Prince, talking to Rolling Stone's Brian Hiatt, in the magazine's new issue, which is very much devoted to the singer.

I say, from your mouth to God's ear, Prince. And now that you are, alas, closer to Him far sooner than we expected, nudge him (or her) a bit!
Prince held forth on sex, religion, conspiracy and much more during an in-depth 2014 interview at Paisley Park. Patrick Kovarik/Getty
Hiatt's interview, which was conducted in 2014, is fascinating and kind of all over the place, or to be more precise, Prince is all over the place. He muses semi-mystically on this and that, at one point referencing "The Matrix" to attempt to explain what he's talking about. (As might be expected, going to "The Matrix" assures confusion!)

Prince was a bit of a conspiracy theorist, a complete slave to his art, and he didn't like it much when Hiatt let out a spontaneous curse word — but forgave him for the slip immediately. Prodded by the writer, Prince spoke, briefly, about self-destructiveness. "Self-destructive? I mean, do I look self-destructive?" (The classic non-answer.)

As for ever retiring, Prince said: "I don't know what that is. There's always some way to serve. It feels like I'm teaching at a school but also a student at one. I never felt like I had a job — does that make sense? So, those words, job and retire ..."

Prince did retire, simply not as we would have wished it. On the other hand, considering the thousands of unreleased songs he recorded, locked away in vaults at Paisley Park, his career and legend is bound to continue — that extraordinary, unusual genius will be felt for a long time, and unlike most of those who go too early, it won't simply be based on memories of what was; he'll remain current.
Prince at the Hollywood Palladium on March 7th, 2014. Jeff Kravitz/Getty
JUST THE other day we told you about Sharon Stone being cast in a new Marvel super-hero movie. Now comes word that gorgeous Lupita Nyong'o is "in talks" to star with Chadwick Boseman in yet another Marvel epic, "Black Panther." Boseman will reprise the character — African prince T'Challa — that he introduced in the current smash hit, "Captain America: Civil War."
Chadwick Boseman as Black Panther.
The script, being worked on by director Ryan Coogler and Joe Robert Cole, has yet to identify Lupita's role.

Nyong'o, an Oscar winner for "12 Years a Slave" will soon be seen in "Queen of Katwe" as a chess champ, and is currently filming "Star Wars: Episode VIII." 

Lupita Nyong'o in Disney's "Queen of Katwe."
THINGS TO KNOW (And possibly do):

Today, at the Ambassador Theatre (219 West 49th Street), a public memorial tribute for actress Doris Roberts happens. Doris, who died on April 17th will be remembered by friends and co-workers. Barbara Cook performs and Ray Romano, who played Doris' son for nine seasons on "Everybody Loves Raymond" will host the event. General seating is available on a first come, first serve basis. Doors open at 11:30.
... Kiefer Sutherland actor and red-hot singer, has added 11 new tour dates in Canada. He's been traveling around the country promoting his excellent "Down In A Hole" CD. (The first single was the appetizing "Not Enough Whiskey.) Keep up with Kiefer on the road by visiting
... THEATER IN New York is always interesting! From June 13 to July 10, Planet Connections Theater Festivity will present "NIX — A Contemporary Musical Adaptation of Hamlet (with a nod to Erin Brockovich.)" Come on, the title alone should be enough to get you to the Upstairs Theater on 64th East 4th Street. If that's not enough, the press release describes the concept as "driven by a muscular, vulnerable heroine, putting herself in harm's way for justice." I don't know where The Melancholy Dane wanders in, but the music by Massimo Malavasi contains elements of rap, Latin and rock. Why not? It runs a mercifully brief 90 minutes, no intermission. Call 866-811-4111. 

ENDQUOTE: "Long gone are the days when Johnny Carson's America drank itself to sleep in front of his monologues. Now that we're sampling from the menus of different shows after they air, according to our own whims and on our own schedules, the pressure is on hosts to generate buzz in an overcrowded field of contenders ... suddenly the most sluggish and complacent of the TV formats is getting forced to innovate just to keep up with its audience."
That's Rob Sheffield, in Rolling Stone, writing about the new (and oldish) faces on the talk show scene — Samantha Bee and James Corden are the newest wave, and Ms. Bee is the only woman standing among the men. (Although Chelsea Handler's unorthodox chatter show just debuted on Netflix.)
Stephen Colbert is still "struggling" with his new late night format ... Trevor Noah remains unfunny and uncomfortable sitting in for Jon Stewart on "The Daily Show." But Sheffield rightly praises HBO's John Oliver and his "Last Week Tonight" half-hour Sunday night show, calling it "a concentrated blast of brilliance."

I couldn't agree more. Oliver can do more in a half hour than others attempt in 90 minutes. For all the irreverence — and an unnecessary plethora of F-words — he tackles real stories, real issues, and can make you understand exactly what those issues are. He is the master of laser-beam brevity.
Of all the "talkers" cluttering TV Oliver does the best in the least amount of time. Getting to the point is not to be despised.

I won't name names, but several of my favorite cable news hosts, become more labored and repetitive in their presentations. Not less smart or concerned, but frustratingly self-amused, and eating up valuable airtime showing us how clever they are. And they laugh. Please. Stop. Laughing.

Nothing in politics is funny.

With Denis Ferrara

Contact Liz here.