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LIZ SMITH: Celebrity 2012

Greta Garbo in “Grand Hotel.”
Celebrity 2012 — Don't Trust Anyone. Gag Your Friends.  And For Heaven's Sake, Take Away Everybody's Cell Phone!
Michael Childers New Photo Book, "Icons and Legends" — a Ravishing Tribute to Real Stars .... IL Volo Continues to Climb The Charts. 
by Liz Smith
Monday, October 29, 2012

“I NEVER said ‘I want to be alone.’ I said “I want to be let alone.’ There is a difference.” So remarked Greta Garbo.

But GG did actually utter “I want to be alone” in the movie “Grand Hotel.” Twice.
PEOPLE ARE trying to make a big thing out of the “gag order” imposed on guests who attended the quiet, low-key wedding of Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel in Italy.

Oh, please, this is a common practice these days. You really can’t trust anybody, especially your “pals” with cell-phone cameras. This fact is rather sad.

Back in 2000 when Madonna married Guy Ritchie, not only was everybody sworn to secrecy, but not one shot of her in her wedding gown ever escaped.

She was really serious about that marriage. Now she’s really serious about writing songs about how they both f**ked up. (Naturally, from her point of view, he was more at fault than she. But that’s human nature.)
A NEW book appeared in my office the other day, “Icons and Legends: The Photography of Michael Childers.” (Published by Palm Springs Art Museum.)

I was immediately struck, and touched by the cover, a ravishing 1974 portrait of Natalie Wood. I’m glad Childers chose Natalie as his cover girl. She needs to be remembered more for her fine acting, and not just the sensational, pointless speculation about her tragic death.

Click to order “Icons and Legends: The Photography of Michael Childers."
Childers’ work is lovely. It’s candid, intimate, but never graphic. He tells the story of his subjects without resorting to warts-and-all glare. There is a gentle elegance to his photographs of stars such as Demi Moore, Andy Warhol, Lily Tomlin, Bernadette Peters, Bette Midler, Christopher Isherwood, John Travolta, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Mel Gibson.

Rex Reed provides a comment at the end of the book, in which he sums up Childers' style — “When he clicks, you stay clicked.” And Franco Zeffirelli writes, “Every page is a revelation, like leafing through a sketchbook of Michelangelo or Da Vinci.”

Childers was one of the last — perhaps the very last — to photograph Natalie Wood professionally. (He was a longtime pal.) It is a haunting, dramatic portrait that was intended for use during Natalie’s planned stage debut in “Anastasia.” She never lived to do that. She stares out at us from Childers’ picture. Tense, pensive, but ready for what she hoped the future held. How lovely that Mr. Childers caught her at this penultimate moment.

“Icons and Legends” — a great coffee table gift book for celeb and photography lovers.
FOR THOSE who can tear their eyes (and ears) away from Barbra Striesand on her current tour, you are surely aware of the superb support she receives from the fabulously popular Italian trio, IL Volo.

They are all still teenagers, but comport themselves like seasoned troupers. (Barbra adores them, and vice versa.) Their PBS special, “Live from the Detroit Opera House” was one of the highest rated and pledged in PBS history.

IL Volo’s second album “We Are Love,” will be released November 19th. It includes guest appearances by Placido Domingo and Eros Ramazzotti. These attractive boys are scheduled to appear at the big Christmas Tree Lighting at Rockefeller Center on November 28th.

P.S. Speaking of Barbra, despite persistent naysayers, she seems determined to bring “Gypsy” to the screen again. When the star recently appeared at Barclays in Brooklyn, “Gypsy’s” producer Joel Silver showed up backstage with an enormous bouquet of red roses. He was with his son, Sam. It was the boy’s birthday. Streisand sweetly wished him a happy natal day and then whisked Mr. Silver off for some business chat.

Hollywood insiders still say “don’t dress” for this movie revival. But I say, keep that formal wear handy. This is Streisand we’re talking about.
ENDQUOTE: Here is the big gripe of the moment from Richard Ford in the Financial Times.

“Of all things spinning out of control in the U.S., packaging is clearly the most dire. It’s impossible now to get anything you buy in America (ital) open. A package of chewing gum. A vacuum-sealed, clear plastic cardboard sleeve, inside of which is a shiny socket wrench. A bright Mylar packet containing 14 lightly salted peanuts and openable only with my teeth — like a chimp. I had to use a box cutter to stab my way through the tungsten-steel plastic encasing a padlock I’d bought, and created numerous edges so sharp that I sliced deep into my finger. Security, I suppose, is the theory. Not my security, but the retailers — from, I guess, theft? I’d gladly sign a waiver if I can just get into my Ibuprofen PM bottle at 2 a.m.”

The Week magazine, my all-time favorite weekly read, reprinted the above but I am imagining that it will resonate on and on.

For instance, about those Half & Half cartons of coffee and tea additive. Just to jerk the sealed “easy-opener” out of them always creates a fountain of half-and- half over the counter. Child-proof Rx are also adult proof! It’s a regular epidemic. If one lives alone, you could starve to death or die from not taking prescriptions without resorting to a neighbor. I usually just get on the elevator in my building with the sealed item. Eventually, some strong young person gets on who can help.

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