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LIZ SMITH: "The Best Movie Ever Made?" ...

Albert Dieudonné as Napoleon in Abel Gances's Napoléon, 1927.
Steven Spielberg's "Napoleon" — Shall We Get Ready For "The Best Movie Ever Made?" ... The History Channel Offers Vikings and The Bible — for Those Who Don't Take Things Too Literally. ... "Girl Rising" Attracts NYC VIPS ... A Wedding for Jazz Genius Barbara Carroll — Congrats!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013
by Liz Smith

JUST consider it your Moon Shot!"

This is the advice offered by stunning actress Stockard Channing to her longtime friend, the gifted Holland Taylor, as the latter preps to portray the late Ann Richards at Lincoln Center this coming Thursday, March 7.
THE LATE director Stanley Kubrick was once talking about his plans to make a film about Napoleon. “It’s impossible to tell you what I’m going to do, except to say that I expect to make the best movie ever made.”

Kubrick never made this film, but now that Steven Spielberg has optioned Kubrick’s original screenplay and announced his own ideas to make a mini-series on the man his soldiers called “The Little Corporal,” I suppose we might expect this version to be “the best mini-series ever.”

Unlike Abraham Lincoln, Bonaparte wasn’t a terribly likeable guy. It will be fascinating to see how Spielberg treats another real-life figure. Who will be cast? Will the series cover Napoleon’s entire life or one vital crisis? (As the movie, “Lincoln,” did)

It wasn’t a terribly successful interpretation, but one can’t help but recall Marlon Brando as Napoleon in the 1954 film, “Desiree.” This starred Brando with Jean Simmons and Merle Oberon as Bonaparte’s great love, Empress Josephine. He was rather silly.
Not so silly was the epic 1927 French silent film “Napoleon, which ran about five hours! It was directed by Abel Gance. In 1980, restored by film historian Kevin Brownlow, and with a new score composed by Carmine Coppola, Gance’s “Napoleon” had a much acclaimed revival. For some “sophisticated” New Yorkers, it was the in thing to do, going to see this mammoth work. Many were just interested in seeing if they could actually sit through the film without a cocktail, a snack, or a trip to the bathroom. It was an entitled endurance trial.

Of course, true cinema fans were enraptured. They didn’t need snacks. But for a while, what you heard most at gatherings was “Have you seen ‘Napoleon?’ The hours flew like minutes.” (This wasn’t a patch on the 1967 Russian version of “War and Peace.” That ran eight hours!)
SOME PEOPLE are yukking it up over Charlie Sheen’s offer to become a “mentor” to Lindsay Lohan. Charlie has already helped the troubled actress out with cash — her tax situation is simply a mess! But I think Sheen is serious. And he couldn’t be more correct that the only way for Lindsay to pull herself together is to separate herself from her hard-partying friends and the nightlife she is obsessively, self-destructively drawn to.

I know Charlie has said and done some crazy things. Maybe he will again. But at heart, I believe Charlie is a good guy.
WELL, THE History Channel is certainly awash in history (kind of) and religion (kind of) with the debuts on Sunday of their two new series, “The Vikings” and “The Bible.”

“The Vikings” has that gritty “Pillars of the Earth” or “Spartacus, Blood and Sand” vibe (though not nearly so violent or graphic) and the first episode of the ten-week “The Bible” looks like it might be a chore.

Clearly, a lot of money has gone into it.

For my money nothing will top John Huston’s campy version of “The Bible” back in 1966, with its all-star cameos, including Michael Parks and Ulla Bergryd as the safely-Aryan Adam and Eve. (Their semi-nudity was super-shocking at the time) ... Peter O’Toole as The Three Angels ... Richard Harris as Cain ... George C. Scott as Abraham ... Huston himself, a rather jolly Noah, and the movie’s one poignant offering — Ava Gardner as Abraham’s wife, Sarah, who gives birth to a child long after her body is capable of such a thing. She is lovely.

(Not so lovely was the affair that sprung up between Ava and the volatile Mr. Scott. There were Biblical aspects to it, but nothing you’d read to the children. There was a lot of chili — and punches! — thrown in real life.)
One of the "Girls": WADLEY | HAITI

"I will come back every day until I can stay." Wadley is just 7 when the world comes crashing down around her. Haiti's catastrophic earthquake destroys her home and school, but it cannot break her irrepressible spirit nor extinguish her thirst to learn, even as she's turned away from the schoolhouse day after day.
TOMORROW NIGHT at the Paris Theater, a clutch of very important people will gather for the premiere of Richard Robbins’ movie “Girl Rising.” This tells the story of nine girls from nine countries; how they overcome daunting circumstances, raise themselves up, and shine in the brightest light.

The movie is narrated by women such as Cate Blanchett, Selena Gomez, Freida Pinto, Anne Hathaway, Salma Hayek, and even one man — Liam Neeson.

The event is hosted by, among others, Julie Taymor, Gina Gershon, Erin Burnett and Anderson Cooper.

Speaking of Mr. Cooper, he will receive the prestigious Vito Russo award at the GLAAD ceremony, in Manhattan on March 16th. Madonna, who was doing and saying and singing what Lady Gaga does, says and sings today, will hand Anderson his award.

I am proud of Anderson Cooper. I just happen to have the Vito Russo Award myself. (Bragging!)
OVER the weekend in Swifty’s, everybody was talking about the sainted and super-talented Barbara Carroll, jazz and popular music’s greatest pianist. She is in her 80s.

It seems the divine Babs has married her longtime guy, Mark Stroock of the ad world. He is 90.

Barbara has been missed since the Algonquin closed for renovations and for years she was the reason to go to the Bemelmans Bar of the Carlyle Hotel. When they stopped featuring Barbara, I never went inside that Bar again. I think Tony Bennett and I were/are her greatest fans!

We wish this couple much happiness.

Contact Liz Smith here.

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