Thursday, August 24, 2017

LIZ SMITH: Mother ships and music

The matriarch of the Kardashian/Jenner clan in 2002.
by Liz Smith & Denis Ferrara

Kardashians Continue to Flourish ... 3-D Finally Falters ... Dolly Parton and Ricky Martin Do Good Deeds.

“YOU LEARN things about yourself that hopefully can make you better.  I look at it like a mirror.”

That is Kris Jenner, the often mocked, sometimes despised — but just as often envied and admired — matriarch of the Kardashian/Jenner clan.

"It always occurs to me, ‘Maybe this should be left out, maybe this is too much,’ ” says Kris. “Every time, I catch myself and I say, ‘No, this is what everyone who’s watched since day one deserves to see.’ We signed up for this ....”
Photographed by Miller Mobley.
Kris was speaking to The Hollywood Reporter’s Kareem-Abdul Jabbar, as part of THR’s cover story on the decade-long Kardashian empire of reality TV and all its profitable off-shoots.

Kareem’s profile is intelligent and even-handed, as to Kris Jenner’s motivations and what the Kardashians have wrought as a cultural force.

The “mother ship” of the empire, “Keeping Up With the Kardashians” is by no means the worst of reality TV.  Andy Cohen’s “Housewives” shows, and myriad others, promote far more loathsome behavior.  Yet the artificiality and cynicism inherent in the genre,  still stupefies the brain, even with comparatively “likeable” participants such as the Kardashian/Jenner women.

Kareem concludes: “What makes ‘Keeping Up With the Kardashians’ unique is its ability, whether deliberate or not, to evoke discussions about feminism, racism, cultural appropriation, parenting and so much more. It’s a show that, like Kris Jenner, is more than the sum of its parts.” 

I don’t know if I entirely agree with all of that. However, as to Kris Jenner, one must never forget that this woman survived marriages to the foolishly, perhaps criminally loyal Robert Kardashian of O.J. Simpson infamy, and Bruce Jenner, now known as Caitlyn Jenner; the latter has revealed unparalleled stupidity and insensitivity in almost every area of her existence.

So, one is more or less inclined to give Kris a pass. At least I am. Leave her to heaven. She’s likely had enough hell.  It’s not your family she exploited, nor is anybody forced to watch the shows or follow any of them on social media.  This is a vast aspect of the culture and show biz in the 21st century.  The genie can’t and won’t be bottled up again.

As E! network exec Ted Harbert remarks: “You can decide if you’re not a fan ... but as far as I can tell, the republic is still standing, and we’ve got bigger problems than the Kardashians.”

... MUSIC to my eyes: The news that 3-D, which made such a big return about ten years ago, is fast losing its popularity. Just as it did back in the 1950s when it was first conceived as a gimmick to lure people away from “I Love Lucy” and Milton Berle on TV, and get them back in the movie theaters.  I’ve seen very few films that genuinely benefit from 3-D.  But what is next for studio moguls and the film industry?  The small screen is once again overwhelming the multi-plex, thanks to Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and other streaming services.  My suggestion?  Forget 3-D and serve margaritas.
... WITH everything Dolly Parton has achieved over the many years of her career, it came as quite a surprise to learn that she has never released a children’s album.  But she’ll cross that professional threshold in October when “I Believe In You” will be available to children and the young at heart. All the songs are written — naturally — by Parton, and there is even a new musical version of her  “Coat of Many Colors” and a bonus spoken version of that classic. Released by Dolly Records/RCA , Parton says  the proceeds of this album will go to her Benefit Imagination Library, an endeavor that has put books into the hands of millions of children.  I have always admired Dolly’s efforts in getting children to read.  My dream is to have her at a Literacy Partners event someday!  For more information about the star’s Imagination Library, visit or email
... WOULD you like to live La Vida Loca and also do a good deed in a naughty world?   I knew you would.  If you donate ten dollars to the Ricky Martin Foundation, which battles the horrors of human trafficking worldwide, you will also enter yourself into a contest.  The grand prize winner — plus one — will be flown to Las Vegas to see Martin perform on September 19th.  Martin has been in residence at the Monte Carlo Resort and Casino since April. Even if you don’t win, it is ten dollars well spent. (Read up on human trafficking — it’s more than a melodramatic Lifetime movie.)
If you do win, well, Martin is a phenomenon. I’ll never forget his Grammy Awards appearance in 1999.  I’d never heard of him, and many others in the audience were only somewhat aware of his popularly overseas as part of the boy band Menudo or his appearance on Broadway in “Les Miserables.” (In fact, I was attending that Grammy event mainly to see Madonna perform “Nothing Really Matters” and hopefully collect some awards for her “Ray of Light” album — which she did.) 

But it ended up as Martin’s night.  He blasted out “Cup of Life” and the entire place knew they were seeing a star born; genuinely thrilling and worthy of the stupendous standing ovation he received.  The years since have done nothing to lessen his impact and energy. In fact, he’s better now.  So, go to
Contact Liz here.