Wednesday, November 29, 2017

The Night Harry Proposed

Engaged to be married!
Harry and Meghan ... Timothee and Armie ... Chita Rivera, The Rolling Stones and Duran Duran. Also, Uma Thurman, that “Parisian Woman” with a bullet
by Denis Ferrara

“WE were roasting a chicken ...”

It’s already legendary, Meghan Markel’s capon-infused tale of the Night Harry Proposed.

I’m so glad he popped the question. Not because I have a great passion for the adventures of Britain’s royals. That ebbed with the passing of Diana. (She was the only interesting character anyway, in that cauldron of stultifying posers.) I was “meh” on William and Kate, but happy that they were all adjusted and ready for wedlock, after years of cohabitating.
I’m upbeat on Harry’s proposal because it’s a genuine “entertainment” story. Not a whiff of politics — I hope! No harassments. Just ... fun. We need it desperately.

For me, this relationship will be a bit more exciting than the William/Kate nuptials because, well, Harry is officially the “sexy” one. (Hot Prince Ginge, as our friends at D-Listed refer to him.) And Meghan is an actress! They’ve never had an actress before. Okay, it’s not exactly a Grace Kelly scenario, but that’s probably to the good. Grace left enormous Hollywood fame and popularity to help Prince Rainier preside over minuscule Monaco. (She didn’t deserve the Oscar for “The Country Girl” but that’s all another-devastating-blow-to-Judy Garland under the bridge.) It was a difficult transition.
Prince Rainier and Grace Kelly in London circa 1960. (Photo by Keystone-France/Gamma-Keystone via Getty Images)
Meghan Markel leaves ... “Suits.” She’s gorgeous, but I bet a lot of people weren’t that aware of her until the romance with Harry began. When Harry and Meghan argue, pulling an “I gave up ‘Suits’ for you!” it won’t be a deal-breaker.

Still, her transition to duty-bound royal and tabloid object will not be a cakewalk. She has lived and worked quietly, up till now.

She is also a divorcee and biracial. Meghan, honey — if at any point you see a ghostly apparition that bears some skinny, bitter resemblance to The Duchess of Windsor, hit the road!

Kidding aside, Harry and Meghan were charming in their engagement announcement chat. (And she couldn’t keep her eyes off him!) They are fully formed adults. They share humanitarian interests. They appear to be lovely young people. Mazel tov!
Prince Harry and Meghan Markle's engagement interview on BBC.
“I HOPE I have not spoken out of turn.” This remark comes toward the end of Michael Stuhlbarg’s speech to his son (Timothee Chalamet) in “Call Me By Your Name,” director Luca Guadagnino’s emotion-drenched tale of a summer romance between 17-year-old Elio (Chalamet) and 24-year-old Oliver (Armie Hammer) a student who arrives in Northern Italy to work with Professor Perlman (Stulbarg).

By the time Stuhlbarg is ladling out supportive, empowering advice to his son — who is suffering wretchedly the effects of first love — the Cinema Society screening audience I saw it with two weeks ago was hushed, and tear-stained. The speech lasts no longer than five minutes. Five Oscar-worthy minutes.
Timothee Chalamet and Michael Stuhlbarg in “Call Me By Your Name."
“Call Me By Your Name” — set in 1983 — is a resplendent ode to love, loss and coming to terms with yourself — and others. The movie has been extravagantly praised, and while I feel almost all that praise is deserved, one wishes to have had the strength of character to avoid the majority of reviews, interviews and critiques from friends who had already seen it. To go into a film everybody tells you is a masterwork, you feel duty-bound to agree. (I struggled similarly with “La La Land.”)
Timothee Chalamet and Armie Hammer in “Call Me By Your Name."
The movie is ravishing to look at, and the subject matter — boys in love — is neither exploitive nor particularly explicit. The first kiss doesn’t come for about 45 minutes, and by then, believe me, you are more than primed for it.

Timothee Chalamet, already being covered in awards, is every marvelous thing that every reviewer has cited. (His long final close-up has become an acting touchstone — dozens of emotions ebb and flow hypnotically across his face!) Whether this is the beginning of a great new career for the 21-year-old, it’s hard to say — show biz success is a crapshoot. He was almost equally compelling in a little indie last year titled “Miss Stevens” so this performance in “CMBYN,” while astonishing, is not entirely formed by director Guadagnino. That is a promising sign!
As mentioned, Mr. Stuhlbarg is brilliant. There are also very effective turns by Amira Casar as Elio’s mother and Esther Garrel as the young woman who hopes to capture Elio.

Which leads us to the tall and beautiful Armie Hammer. He has, actually, the movie’s most difficult and eventually ambiguous role. Hammer is better than he has ever been — which is very good indeed! — and if he doesn’t seem (to me, at least) quite on the level of his castmates, it is the role itself that might be separating me from appreciating him fully. I have been advised to see the movie again. I will. In doing so I might find more to Armie’s performance than I caught initially. The movie, so overflowing with passion and movement, is also rife with small subtle moments, eager to be savored, in a long, languid second look.
P.S. on Armie Hammer. He is a terrific interview. I just read a wonderful profile of him in The Hollywood Reporter by Seth Abramovitch. It’s not the first good Hammer interview I’ve come across, but it is possibly the best.

He appeared also on Andy Cohen’s Sirius XM channel, Radio Andy, along with Timothee, Michael Stuhlbarg and Luca Guadagnino. Hammer mentioned that his mother is likely not to see his new movie, because of the content — gay love. He explained she was rather conservative. To me, this seemed a full explanation.
But Mr. Cohen pushed, “Are you ever going to have a ‘conversation’ with her about it?” Cohen asked, although it seemed clear Hammer and his mom had already had that convo — and assuredly others. Finally, after annoying persistence by Cohen, Hammer said, “My mother has the right to feel as she does and see or not see what she wants. And I have the right to make, appear in and support any movies I want to do.” He shrugged, with gentle, adult realization that we are not all the same: “We’re just on different ends of this.”

I have a feeling holidays at the Hammer home are quite affectionate and civilized.
Armie with his mom and wife. Civilized indeed!

Save the date: On December 4th, the great Chita Rivera will headline “An Evening of Song to Benefit The Art Attack Foundation.” (AFF assists, educates and encourages young artists to find and develop the best in themselves.) This happens at Birdland (315 West 44th Street). This one-night-only event will combine original songs and pop standards. Among those participating: Jessie Mueller ... Christy Altomare ... Anika Larsen ... Jim Caruso ... Chris McCarrell ... Bonnie Milligan ... Michael Patrick Walker and at least a dozen more well-known Broadway and cabaret names. And “special guests” too. Call 212-581-3080 or visit
... ON December 1st Polydor Records/Ume will release "The Rolling Stones: On Air in the Sixties." This is a collection of rarely heard recordings from the groups early years, recordings that were broadcast originally on BBC programs between 1963 and ’65. I love this sort of stuff. There’s a double CD deluxe edition and a special limited vinyl edition—the vinyl is colored, if that makes a difference in choosing. Thirty-two tracks in all. Go to for more info.
... AND on December 9th, if you happen to find yourself in Miami Beach, you could make your way to the Faena Theater to see the classic pop band Duran Duran perform a special show for SiriusXM. Go to for info about attending. To hear the show as it happens, visit As for me, as much as I’d love to visit Miami in December, I think I’ll stick to re-watching all those sumptuous, sexy Duran Duran videos — “Come Undone,” “Reflex,” “Rio,” “Hungry Like the Wolf,” etc.
ENDTHOUGHT: Memo to Uma Thurman. Look, you either have something concrete to say about Harvey Weinstein, or you don’t. First it was the dramatically restrained “I’m too angry to speak now” statement. Then, over Thanksgiving there was your Turkey Day greeting to fans, except for HW, of whom you declared “I’m glad it’s coming slowly. You don’t deserve a bullet.” Really?

First of all no matter what, please don’t use the word “bullet” in a condemning remark, unless you’d like to take responsibility for the actions of some nut out there. Second — this is not an Oscar campaign. Nobody is going to give you an award as Most Outraged Actress Who Ever Worked A Lot For The Weinstein Company.

No more “Stay tuned.” Spit it out, don’t talk about any kind of weaponry, and don’t use a still of yourself from the Weinstein movie “Kill Bill” when you release your online statements — you’re not The Bride. Move on to constructive ways of helping women. As a great actress and a fabulous star, you have many positive avenues to explore in our current expose-the-harassers climate.

P.S. Just caught up to your small but colorful role as Medusa in 2010’s “Percy Jackson and the Olympians.” Very funny! And you are certain to be fascinating on Broadway, in Beau Willimon’s politically-charged “The Parisian Woman,” which opens tomorrow at The Hudson Theater.
ENDQUOTE: Watching the 45th president of the United States use an event supposedly honoring Navajo Indian veterans to attack and slur Senator Elizabeth Warren, spurred my fabulous friend and former co-worker, Mary Jo McDonough, to fire off this email: “Denis, how can you POSSIBLY stay away from politics?! He is like the drunk uncle who causes everybody to cringe at family gatherings. What makes it so much worse is that he doesn’t drink!”

Yes, and this is why I take extremely serious stock in the old adage of never trusting a man who doesn’t drink.
Contact Denis here.