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LIZ SMITH: Turn Up The Radio! ...

Turn Up The Radio! Rita Wilson Covers AM/FM Classics in Her New CD.
Also — Liz Says: Come To My Party for Literacy on May 21st, and stop by Mayor Bloomberg's Fete, While Your 're At It .... Remembering cabaret's devoted Donald Smith.
by Liz Smith
Monday, May 14, 2012


“THE WORLD has treated me very well; but then I haven’t treated it so badly, either.” — Noel Coward.
RITA WILSON is the beautiful wife of movie star Tom Hanks. She is an excellent actress. She is also a surprisingly expert singer. Recently, Rita performed an exclusive gig at the Troubadour Club in West Hollywood. (This famous spot has seen Linda Rondstadt, The Eagles and Elton John, back in the day.) The crowd loved her.

Rita Wilson at The Troubadour (photo: Kevin Winter, Getty Image).
Rita also has a CD, titled “AM/FM” which is a tribute to '60’s and '70’s tunes, with a little twist. The other day Rita was just finishing up her salad at L.A.’s Cabbage Patch when she ran into our favorite music maven, Hal Lifson, who reps all those sexy long-distance runners.
 
Rita said she took the title of her album from her years listening to the radio: “I used to put my transistor radio under my pillow at night so I could listen to all my favorites—The Beatles, Diana Ross, Carly Simon, everybody. I just loved that music. It was really the most prolific decade in music in the 20th century, and the 70’s was the singer/songwriter era.”
 
Among the songs Rita covers are “Never My Love,” “Come See About Me” and the melancholy Merrilee Rush classic, “Angel of the Morning.”
 
Rita says she still listens to the radio. “I hear the current sounds on FM and XM Satellite.”
  
For a little history—and more!--on Mrs. Hanks, keep reading.
WHEN my pet charity Literacy Partners bows at Rose Hall of Jazz@LincolnCenter on May 21, I will be getting “The Lizzie Award” (something other people drummed up as an excuse for this black tie event) and none other than my controversial and highly effective friend Bill Maher will open the show for us.

Bill has to rush right back to LA to his own HBO hit, Real Time. But then, those literary and TV lights – the talented Sally Bedell Smith and the perspicacious CNN legal eagle Jeffrey Toobin will read. The real honoree of the night will be publishing king Harold McGraw III of McGraw-Hill.
L. to r.: Sally Bedell Smith, Bill Maher, Jeffrey Toobin, and Harold McGraw III.
We are so lucky.

The director of the acclaimed The Help, one Tate Taylor, will accept the “Face of Literacy” award from our favorite movie guy Jeff Sharp.

Tate Taylor and Jeff Sharp
As usual, our graduating students will most likely break our hearts with their personal stories and then we’ll go to dinner and everybody can eat and some of them will bid on precious things at auction. (I always eat; I’m not the auction type!)

So many generous souls helped us with this – the Mayor’s office, Roger Ailes of Fox News, Les Moonves and Julie Chen of CBS, the Donald Marrons, Joan Ganz Cooney and Pete Peterson, Mary Wells Lawrence, Joni Evans, the Hearst organization, Phil Tracey of Home Goods, Jackie Weld Drake, hit novelists Mary Higgins Clark and Barbara Taylor Bradford, plus her hubby Bob — too many to mention all of Literacy’s supporters.

But my favorite unexpected gift came from Rita Wilson and Tom Hanks. Back in 1981, a budding actor (Tom) wrote a thank you for my raves about his new TV series Bosom Buddies.

Tom Hanks and Peter Scolari in Bosom Buddies.
Tom said: “If your words have shaken just one network honcho out of his suit at lunch I will gladly send you a dollar a day for the rest of your life!”

This or that DID happen and years passed. Recently, I sent Tom a silly note saying that by my calculations, he owed me $11,315.

Lo and behold, Tom has typed his own note on one of the many vintage typewriters he collects and has sent $12,000 for Literacy as “payment.”

This Oscar-winner and first citizen of Hollywood also wanted to remind that he met the love of his life, Rita, while making Bosom Buddies.

So, there’s a nice story for you. Call 1-914-579-1000 if you’d like to know more about our efforts to teach a million adults to read and write. Scrape up your dough and come to this party on May 21st.
Liz with Don Smith.
NEW YORKERS have always loved cabaret although in this day and age, there is precious little of it. The man who always nurtured this city’s cabaret legacy
was Donald Smith, who left us recently.

Don, single-handedly kept the legacy of the great singer Mabel Mercer alive. She went on to influence Frank Sinatra and Tony Bennett. The late Donald himself will be remembered at Town Hall at 6 p.m. on May 22.

Other happenings?

The Mayor’s Fund to Advance New York City will hold its annual get-together on June 11 at 200 Fifth Avenue at 23rd Street. One enters via the Grey Group Building. You can call 212-788-7794 if you want to be clear about this.

The names are top drawer and the live auction will be also — with once-in-a-lifetime experiences in sports, entertainment and dining. The Mayor might even mention your name if you are generous and lucky!
OH, PRAISE the Lord! We printed with some skepticism a rumor that came our way that Barbra Streisand would be re-recording songs from Funny Girl. Our source said she would collaborate with Harry Connick Jr. to give the songs a 21st century “oomph.” Not so, says Barbra’s rep. Well, what could improve on her brilliant original renditions?

It’s always an honor to make a correction for Barbra. Getting some exclusive news about her would even be better. (That upcoming Brooklyn concert, for example.) But we take what can get.

Contact Liz Smith here.

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© 2013 David Patrick Columbia & Jeffrey Hirsch/NewYorkSocialDiary.com