|Bravo to "The Best Man" and a great woman — Candice Bergen! ... Manhattanites Weep — Jennifer Aniston Leaves New York. (But She's Still Got Justin Theroux.) ... Harvey Weinstein is Most Influential ... Diane Sawyer, Joan and Pete, The Muppets and Me!
by Liz Smith
Monday, April 23, 2012
“I AM ashamed that women are so simple,” goes the lyric from a song in Cole Porter's Kiss Me Kate. (Porter actually lifted that one straight from Shakespeare.)
Occasionally, I am ashamed that I am so simple.
In the matter of the revival of Gore Vidal’s astonishingly prescient play, The Best Man, I was unable to go to it until recently and what got to me after the fact, was that I had been totally taken in by some of the tepid reviews. Boy! Was I wrong and were these critics wrong, in my humble opinion.
|The revival of Gore Vidal’s The Best Man at Gerald Schoenfeld Theater.||The Best Man 1960 Playbill.|
|First I was dreading sitting through the play and two intermissions. That seemed so old-fashioned. Most offerings nowadays, there is only one intermission, or none at all. But the night I went, the audience was SRO and the time simply flew by.
Gore’s play about a liberal and a conservative vying in Philadelphia for their party’s nomination for President is as fresh as a daisy, even though it harks back to the days of black and white TV when things were much simpler than now. And it’s a cautionary tale about being unprincipled and unethical and making sacrifices and killing off your enemies with rumor and scandal.
|Kerry Butler, Angela Lansbury, and Candice Bergen in Gore Vidal's The Best Man. Photographer: Joan Marcus/Jeffrey Richards Assoc. via Bloomberg.|
|Sound familiar? It is. If you have been fascinated and dismayed by the current political carryings-on, you will be enthralled at this backward look at how it began. (Vidal’s play, which debuted on Broadway in 1960. In 1964 it was made into a movie starring Henry Fonda and Cliff Robertson.)
I was unhappy when I read one critic who said that my pal Candice Bergen as the unhappy wife of the liberal aspirant was “miscast.” (I suppose this is a critic who won’t allow Ms. Bergen to act her age and is still insisting that she flaunt her considerable good looks and feisty manner as “Murphy Brown,” instead of letting her exercise the right to be another type of character.)
I thought she was absolutely perfect as “the wife” and I call THAT simply “good acting.”
|James Earl Jones in The Best Man.|
|Eric McCormack and John Larroquette in The Best Man. Photo: Broadway.com.|
|Every single cast member in this play is great and doing their damndest with Gore’s writing brilliance and his perspicacity SP? as a political seer. It is especially thrilling to see the great, great James Earl Jones as a cynical heartfelt pragmatist of a president about to leave office.
The protagonists John Larroquette and Eric McCormack reflect onstage most of the demeanor and calculation that is going on now as we struggle through an election year. They are both perfect! Believe me, you will LOVE “The Best Man.” Buy your ticket and cast your vote!
|I KIND of took credit for Jennifer Aniston moving to Manhattan about a year ago. I suggested in this space that Miss Aniston pull up stakes in paparazzi-infested L.A., come to New York and begin a new life. Maybe even try her hand onstage?
Shortly after that, the popular star did pull up stakes and moved to a nifty West Village condo. I felt positively psychic. She began dating hunky Justin Theroux (I couldn’t really take credit for that), and any minute I expected her to announce she was stepping into some high-profile role on Broadway, while the regular star was on vacation. But is has not come to pass. Jennifer’s sold her condo, preferring to live in Hollywood with Justin.
She found, to her disappointment, the paparazzi are as intrusive in NYC as in L.A. Oh, well. I still think she should try her hand onstage. I continue to stir the tea leaves.
|Jennifer and Justin say goodbye to New York. Photo: Terry Richardson.|
|I SEE I have homework to do. Just started reading about Time’s picks as “The 100 Most Influential People in the World.”
Never thought I’d see a list like that without Oprah even on it. But I was happy to see my movie pal Harvey Weinstein named and written about by the star Johnny Depp who says, “He can be your most frightening nightmare and your closest friend. He is a producer.”
Now I have to get busy reading because I never even heard of some these “most influential” ones.
|The New York Public Library was a beautiful setting for the Municipal Art Society of New York to give their Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis medals to two of New
York’s finest citizens.
Joan Ganz Cooney, one of the inventors of Sesame Street and her husband of 32 years, Pete Peterson, the finance genius who has been warning us for years to do better on entitlements — were the recipients of these handsome trophies. (Mr. Peterson is a true philanthropist who to my mind outranks even Warren Buffett.)
|MAS Honors Peter G. Peterson and Joan Ganz Cooney|
|What’s more, there were some of The Muppets onstage and Diane Sawyer, rushing from ABC’s World News as the capable emcee.
Lesley Stahl and I appeared as part of the gang “singing” the song “As Time Goes By.” (When you sing onstage with The Muppets, you don’t have to do anything much and we didn’t!)
|Lesley Stahl, Joel Shumacher, Liz Smith and Diane Sawyer singing "As Time Goes By."
Photo: Amanda Gordon/Bloomberg.
|Mayor Bloomberg appeared at the beginning and he got big, big laughs in his opening speech, but all we could hear offstage were the laughs. I did hear him say as he exited: “Once again, I did not get dinner tonight.”
Somebody buy that poor guy a hot dog!
Contact Liz Smith here.
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