Tuesday, February 9, 2016

LIZ SMITH: Tuesday's Touchdown

La Liz and David Bowie in 1975, photographed by Terry O'Neill.
by Liz Smith

Tuesday's Touchdown — Beyonce and Bruno Mars "tackle" Coldplay ... "Downton Abbey" — jumping sharks? ... "The Fantasticks" — the real "Now and Forever" ... Seal and his "Passion" ... La Liz and David Bowie — Did They?

"WITHOUT FOOTBALL, my life is worth nothing," says Cristiano Ronaldo.

Ronaldo, looking mighty fine on the cover of GQ, is actually a soccer player, but they do call it football, although soccer bears little resemblance to American football, at least so far as I can tell.

If I was told I had to watch a sport, or, you know — die — I'd choose soccer because a lot happens, as opposed to football, where it seems to me, not much happens.

Also, soccer players wear those sexy shorts. Obviously, sports are really not my métier. Shorts, however, are.

My boss, Liz Smith, loves football, and told me she thought this game was "overpowering" and "thrilling." Liz likens football to ballet. Which I have always found amusing, because in general Liz loathes "the dance."
A GOOD show, on the other hand, is right up my alley, and while I didn't watch a moment of the Super Bowl, I naturally tuned into the halftime show.

As opposed to most critics, I liked Coldplay's appearance, and was entertained by the band. Critics have said they were "overshadowed" by the other acts.
Where's Waldo Chris?
Hey — Coldplay knew Beyonce and Bruno Mars were to follow them, so Chris Martin and his mates surely also knew that most of the attention would center on those performers, especially Beyonce. Mrs. Jay Z was terrific as usual, mighty fierce, and Bruno Mars was also hot. But the show lacked cohesion. Everybody was doing their own thing. Sometimes that works. Not always, though. It might have been better to just have Coldplay or just Beyonce or just Bruno.
Three's a crowd.
Or just Lady Gaga, who offered a great big version of the national anthem. (Her genuinely strong voice is undeniable, and although she hardly looked like your average chanteuse — red Gucci pants suit, platform heels, red glitter eye-shadow, blue nails and a ratted-up-hairdo that would have done Ann-Margret circa 1968 proud — this is considerably toned down from the old meat-dress and egg/embryo get-ups.)
Anyway, in the heat of this election year, I'd say the entire game and the half-time show seemed less-than-vital viewing. But that's just because I allow myself to be made crazy by the so-called political process, the candidates on both sides, and the cable news pundits who don't know what they are talking about half the time.

For most of America, I'm sure Super Bowl 50 was vital viewing.
I WAS considerably more involved in "Downton Abbey" where writer/creator Julian Fellowes has made certain characters go insane. If "DA" had another season, I'd be compelled to use the perennial phrase "jumped the shark" in the matter of having Maggie Smith's Dowager Countess make an enraged spectacle of herself in front of "commoners" visiting the estate. But as this is the final season I suppose it's simply something to liven up characters as we bid them farewell. Not that Violet ever needed livening up!
Also, Fellowes has turned kitchen maid Daisy (Sophie McShera) into the most detestable and detested character on the show. Daisy, who always seemed as if she'd been dropped on her head at an early age, and exhibited a bit of a stubborn edge, has morphed into an unbearable snot, who got a little education that has clearly gone awry.

I've often said that I thought Bates (Brendan Coyle) seemed like a serial killer. Offing Miss Daisy would be a fine re-entry to the profession.
YESTERDAY, in New York, off-Broadway's "The Fantasticks" reached a record-breaking 21,000 performances. The show — created by Liz Smith's old college chums Harvey Schmidt and Tom Jones — has run for 56 years, and it is the longest-running musical in the world! The current cast includes Michael Halling as the Narrator, Daniel Berryman as The Boy and Samantha Bruce as The Girl.

"The Fantasticks" plays at the Jerry Orbach Theater (210 West 50th Street) Call 212-921-7862. And yes, Jerry Orbach, who died in 2004 was one of the original cast members of "The Fantasticks" back when everybody thought it was a charming little show that with luck might run a season or two.

It's so fitting that this legendary musical appears in a theater named for Orbach — a Broadway and TV legend still very much missed. (He's a continuous presence in the never-ending repeats of "Law & Order." That just makes me miss him more.)
FOR THOSE wanting some religiosity along with diverse casting, you'll be interested to know that the Grammy-winning singer/songwriter Seal has been cast to play Pontius Pilate in a two-hour musical event, "The Passion." This will air on FOX, live from New Orleans on March 20th, Palm Sunday.
Other cast members — Jencarlos Canela (Jesus) ... Chris Daughtry (Judas) ... Prince Royce (the apostle Peter) ... Trisha Yearwood (Mary) and Tyler Perry as host and narrator.

This "Passion" written by Peter Barsocchini will tell the story of Jesus' final hours set in modern times with contemporary music. Of course if you prefer your "Passion" ancient, torturously graphic, and perceived by some as anti-Semitic, there is always Mel Gibson's 2004 movie version, "The Passion of The Christ."
I'M LOVING the recent speculation that David Bowie and Elizabeth Taylor engaged in an "amorous friendship" at one point in their lives. (Now that Bowie is gone, we'll have the usual spate of tell-all books and recollections.)

I wonder what "amorous friendship" means? Did they simply flirt or do the deed?

Taylor and Bowie met in 1974, when La Liz was considering him for a role in her next film "The Bluebird." Taylor, for once, was on time, and Bowie was hours late. ET was annoyed, but stuck around long enough to pose with Bowie for a few pictures. Terry O'Neill, the photographer, recalls that Elizabeth was great with the rock star — fun and funny and down to earth, but she left as soon as the picture-taking was over, leaving Bowie somewhat nonplussed. Taylor knew how to stay in the news — the resulting photos were published worldwide — but you just DON'T keep Elizabeth Taylor waiting!
"You are a very interesting young man, David. But don't ever keep me waiting again. For anything!"
Bowie didn't appear in "The Bluebird." It's too bad Elizabeth had to. (The movie, filmed with great fanfare in Russia, and costing a then-whopping $20 million, ended up looking like it had been made on a deserted parking lot in New Jersey.)

As to anything else, Taylor was single at the time, and she was a truly sensuous woman, who had endured some tough times toward the end of her first marriage to Richard Burton — drink had lessened his desire. Taylor never liked to be denied anything — food, jewels, other women's husbands and certainly not sex! She made up for lost time for several years, before re-marrying and then divorcing Burton again. Bowie might have been a part of her swinging single era.

When legends meet and the talk runs out — why not?

Liz Smith is still recuperating. Denis Ferrara is still pinch-hitting.

Contact Liz here.