Monday, October 16, 2017

LIZ SMITH: The Fascinating and Contradictory

by Liz Smith & Denis Ferrara

A New Book Celebrates the "Fascinating and Contradictory" Elizabeth Taylor ... The Harvey Weinstein Aftermath: It's Scummy and — it's Us!

“I DON’T have a short temper.  I just have a quick reaction to bullshit,” said Elizabeth Taylor, the greatest star, by far.
Click to order Elizabeth Taylor: Tribute to a Legend.
OKAY — let’s begin here today with something kinda glamorous. (Because the rest is rather grim.)
On October 20th, Boze Hadleigh will release his latest book, “Elizabeth Taylor: Tribute to a Legend.”

Hadleigh’s books tend to be heavily gay-flavored — who’s in or out or what gossip there was or is about certain celebrities. 

But Boze says: “The book comprises celeb quotes, and gives a rounded portrait of this fascinating and often contradictory woman.  The focus is not gay, but there is obviously considerable gay content, in that she was pro-gay but enabled the election of then-husband John Warner, where for 35 years he consistently voted anti-gay, women’s rights — a real troglodyte. Also, although she encouraged actors to exit the closet, she was fierce against the outing of friends like Malcolm Forbes and Michael Jackson.” 
La Liz — Defender of Malcolm and Michael.
(On the latter, I say — are we really sure what Michael’s deal was sexually?  I don’t think so.) 

Elizabeth was always attracted to wounded, vulnerable, beleaguered people. (Monty Clift, James Dean, and many who were not famous at all.)
Dining with Dean.
As much as she loved Richard Burton for his intelligence, passion, talent, she also connected to his “dark Welsh moods” his insecurities. Every bird with a wing down had a place in the aviary of La Liz’s big heart. (It is unfortunate that for all her love and commitment to Burton, she could not accept her own addictions and how they affected the relationship. She would finally enter rehab, but too late. He was by then married to another, and would die only months after she had begun to stun the world anew with her attitude, slim figure and sobered-up vitality.)

In any case, we look forward, hopefully to some new photos in this tome.
“YOU are total scum” ... “That you insist on separating his movie prowess from his personal life is ghastly” ... “You protect Harvey Weinstein to cover you own gross violations of human decency” ... Sick f+++ing liberal c***!” ... “Scum Liz, you swim in it and you ARE it!” ... “Once people like you and your generation die, Hollywood will be better” ... “Shut up. Go home. Puke on yourself” ... “Yes, I will pin the blame and guilt on you. Accept that which you now own.”

Those are a selection of the printable emails we’ve received, in this vein, concerning our thoughts about the fall and fall of Harvey Weinstein. We were being hammered in the days prior to writing about him, because we hadn’t.  Then we did, and it just wasn’t enough condemnation for many, obviously. 

But to Tim, Susan, Russell, Thomas, Jordan, Guy, Michael, Max, Bill, Jack and so many others who wrote in similarly — and even more colorfully — you are entitled to your strong opinions. But I am surprised that you’d be reading the entertainment column of such scummy types as we are, in the first place.

We’re very big here on the power of reading and literacy. Suggestion?  Forget movies and movie stars and TV. And so-called gossip columns, for sure. Read good books. But for heaven’s sake, don’t delve too deeply into the private lives and predilections of some of the great authors of all time. Then you’d have to stop. In reading or appreciating the works of deeply troubled, sometimes mean, abusive, unfaithful, drug-addicted and drunken writers, you’d be complicit in the ugliness of their lives.
BUT there were readers who didn’t go down the road of “scum.” We are tempted to reprint all of their agreeable and intelligent comments, but why bother?  Will it change the minds of those who sent the charming remarks above?  Hardly.

Okay, just one, from a gent named Christopher: “Thanks for being grown up and clear minded.” 

Thank you, Christopher, for your civility.

We’re not shattered by the unpleasant mail.  And though grateful, we are not puffed up by positive feedback.  In life, opinions are as stable as mercury.  We accept both sides as well as the middle.  

Let me say it again — I do not believe Harvey — unlike Bill Clinton or currently Bill O’Reilly — can have a second act. (We’ll never know if Roger Ailes could have managed that, either.)   He’s toast.  A lifetime of this behavior, caught/exposed now at age 65; I can’t imagine any therapy correcting his patterns. And how does one survive that Time magazine cover?! 

But I also believe there is far more to this story than people in his organization suddenly becoming aware of his behavior, and acting on this “new” information.  We lunched at that hotbed of smart chat, Michael’s restaurant on West 55th Street last week. More than one person remarked, “They wanted him out, for a variety of reasons.  This was the only way.”  Stay tuned.

And thanks to those who recently caught, in the column, the misuse of a word: emersion rather than immersion. Of course those who did catch it, weighed in like this: “Not only are you a filthy degenerate, you can’t write, either!” 

But don’t get me wrong, I love show business.
Contact Liz here.