Tuesday, May 9, 2017

LIZ SMITH: Happenings

Edith Wharton, 1906. Courtesy of the Beinecke Rare Book & Manuscript Library, Yale University.
by Liz Smith & Denis Ferrara

It Happens In The Hamptons With Holly Peterson ... The Return of Debra Winger ... The Red Hot Finale of "Billions."

“THE ONLY way not to think about money is to have a great deal of it,” said Edith Wharton.
Ms. Peterson's newest sport. Click to order.
LOOMING over us is a new and sexy work from the prolific and unfettered Holly Peterson. Her first book, “The Manny”, shocked the unshockable Hamptons of Long Island with its story of male nannies for rich kids. (It all seems reasonable these days!)

Ms. Peterson has now made eyebrows rise with her further look at nouveau and nouveau-risers, plus the sexual antics of the wealthy. The book is also a mystery tale.

I admire the cover of this fiction, “It Happens in the Hamptons.” There is our dramatic heroine, on the book jacket, rising in bikini splendor up from the Atlantic Ocean. The author, herself a devotee of surfing all over the world, uses the “sport” as a character in the story. It gives her a poetic chance to embrace the waters around Long Island. 

All aspects of the now popular newly rich living among the rising landowners, now rich themselves, are covered expertly in Holly’s tale. This is a story of an outsider confronted by the sexy rich and the non-sexy “socially” entrenched Old Guard. All are trying to make sense and use of the scene covered here.

Holly with her three beautiful children.
The mysteries of the plot join falling in love and falling in “like.” It discovers the secrets of the rugged oceanic baby-sitters. And everyone’s place in the “country club” setting. This blends in with the author’s mastery of sex.

Holly Peterson is the daughter in real-life of Nixon cabinet member Pete Peterson, co-creator of Blackstone. He is a man noted for his generosity in giving vast sums of his money away for the common good.

Holly has benefitted by traveling the world over with her father, absorbing his noted generosity. She has had best sellers, worked at Newsweek and Talk magazines and was an Emmy-award winning producer at ABC News. She is divorced with three glorious children. Holly is the driving force behind the current “media-bitches” of NYC and Washington. Her recent hosting talents produced a bar-b-que book that is regulation for Hamptons outdoor parties.

We will leave you not revealing more about the sexy plot of “It Happens in the Hamptons.” But take this hint, for far-reaching definitive descriptive sexual writing in a beautiful setting, well — it happens in the Hamptons.
IT’S fabulous recently, all the coverage of the very independent actress Debra Winger. She was/is attractive now that she has emerged from a self-imposed “drop-out” mode and is omnipresent promoting her new movie “The Lovers.” And she was attractive in the Bad Old Days when she seemed to be fleeing from fame. (Debra did manage to earn three Oscar nominations. And she has the classic movie “Terms of Endearment” to her credit.)
Debra Winger and Tracy Letts in The Lovers.
Yes, years ago I had predicted in print and on TV that she’d grow up to become a big movie star-beauty like Ava Gardner. So I always had a special feeling for Debra even when I was working for WNBC’s “Live at Five” in the 1970’s. Back then, a certain taxi driver had called her to my attention, asking me to print and say positive things about his daughter. Her dad never stopped calling me, singing praises about her talent. (Well, “Daddy” wasn’t wrong. Debra succeeded and his urgent pleas for my coverage had an effect on me — not that she seemed to care.) And I’ve come to think her self-imposed immunity to Hollywood type fame, indicated her own caution and independence. (She did it her way!)

She is now recognized by most people in “the business” as an early renegade free thinker. She has survived her own myths.
And I , for one, take credit for listening to her “Daddy” and for having an ever-so-small role toward her success.

I never saw Debra again after the early years when she was grown up and filming in Texas. But at a recent happening in New York, I was on a program honoring Sheila Nevins. Debra was also there and when she exited the stage I was standing waiting to go on! I moved aside to let her pass. She stopped and planted a big kiss on me. We hadn’t exchanged a word. She moved on.

And I say thanks to “Daddy” for his insistence. I always feel possessive about Debra Winger and as if I had a small part in her great success.
Daddy's little "Wonder" girl.

... FINAL thoughts from our coverage of the memorial/celebration for Robert Osborne last week.  It was interesting that almost all the film clips Robert had pre-selected, were musical numbers. Several things in particular struck me.  One — I was glad to see Betty Grable get her due in the “Springtime in the Rockies” number.  Grable was a huge star — the biggest box-office attraction 20th Century Fox ever had — and that includes her successor, Marilyn Monroe. But she is somewhat forgotten today. She was never mythic or dramatic or tragic or sensational enough for canonization.  Good to see her up there, with Carmen Miranda, Charlotte Greenwood and Cesar Romero, shimmying in their best 1940’s style. 
Also, in the Fred Astaire/Rita Hayworth number from “You’ll Never Get Rich” it is noteworthy that this gorgeous dance was done in one seamless take! 
And, finally, the “Moses Supposes” romp from “Singing in the Rain” with Gene Kelly and Donald O’Connor. Kelly was not without ego, and could be difficult to work with — as all perfectionists are — but he sort of hands this number to O’Connor who was a simply brilliant performer. In fact, O’Connor dominates not just in terms of moves, but Kelly allows Donald a vibrant green sweater, as opposed to his own rather drab brown one.  You can’t look away from O’Connor in this scene.
... IT’S taken me a while to really get into Showtime’s “Billions” with Damien Lewis and Paul Giamatti (Lewis is a ruthless financier, Giamatti is a ruthless New York attorney.)  Part of the problem was the sheer unlikeability of every single character, with the possible exception of the kids who play Lewis’ young sons. The vileness, craven ambition, backstabbing and self interest of each and every character is almost operatic.  It can make the head hurt. One becomes desperate for ... a musical number!  But “Billions” grew on me. And this gripping season led to a finale on Sunday night that was by any account one of the most punch-in-the-gut of any series, ever.

Kudos to every actor, but most of all to Lewis and Giamatti, who have put mutual loathing and ruinous one-upsmanship into a whole new category.  It’s gonna be a long wait for season three.
NEW YORK'S Samuel Peabody has died peacefully at age 92 and will be missed by Manhattan's East Side and the active charity circuit. The funeral is planned for 4pm on Saturday the 13th at St. James, 71st and Madison. The handsome, composed widower of Judith Peabody was a fixture of uptown elegance. He tried valiantly to carry on the work of his popular wife, who led the AIDS fight and adored the ballet. She died seven years ago, leaving Sam and their daughter Elizabeth, to carry on. Sam came from a distinguished family of leading New England public servants; his father started Groton. (His sister, Marietta Tree was known as a great hostess and Democratic supporter.) Sam and his sartorial elegance and civilized manner will be missed.

Contact Liz here.