Guest Diary

LIZ SMITH: Ready to Dazzle ...

Katie Couric, Billy Crystal, and Bette Midler at New York Restoration Project's 2013 Annual 'Hulaween (in the Big Easy).'
Thursday, October 30, 2014
by Liz Smith

Bette Midler's "Hulaween" Is Ready to Dazzle Manhattan ... Darlene Love Will Sing "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" again ... Daniel Radcliffe's Rap Alphabet ... Discovering Cameron Diaz in "The Counselor"

“I HAVE behind me not only the splendid traditions and annals of more than a thousand years but the living strength and Majesty of the Commonwealth and Empire; of societies old and new; of lands and races different in history and origins, but all, by God’s will, united in spirit and in aim.”

That’s Queen Elizabeth, who takes her duties very seriously. Still, fancy words don’t answer the timeless query — what’s in the damn purse?!
WHILE WE have traditions and great women on our mind, don’t be too distressed to learn that Darlene Love will “retire” her classic song, “Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)” after David Letterman ends his nighttime run on CBS. Every year, for the past 28 years, Darlene has appeared on Letterman to belt out this Ellie Greenwich/Jeff Barry/Phil Spector evergreen. She has credited those appearances with helping her, career-wise.
Darlene and Dave.
Some people have taken Darlene to mean she’ll never sing the tune again. Silly! She’s grateful to David Letterman, but she’s more conscious of, well, tradition.

Somewhere, someplace, come the holidays, Darlene Love will be singing, with soulful, raucous urgency, “I remember when you were hear, and all the fun we had last year/Won’t you please come home for Christmas.”

(The song debuted on 1963’s fabulous album, “A Christmas Gift For You From Philles Records.” It included Love, The Ronettes, The Crystals, Bob. B Soxx and the Blue Jeans and even Phil Spector himself!)
I DOUBT it but maybe you think Bette Midler and I are just sitting around (as in this recent picture) waiting for Halloween to envelope us. But, no! We are busy readying our costumes for Bette's annual blast — the Restoration Project's annual "Hulaween" at the Waldorf, where fashion's Michael Kors will judge hundreds of costumes for his choice as "the best."
The Empire State Building dressed in the colors of the New York Restoration Project.
This year, Bette's money-raising to make NYC and environs more beautiful, cleaner, and pleasant (as worthy of a great city) has the honorees Tony and Shelly Malkin. They actually ownthe Empire State Buildingand are big environmentalists and the night will also honor boardmember Sarah Nash. Earth Wind & Fire is to blastaway entertaining us.

I understand that this almost-sold-out party has a few reasonable seats left in the balcony for those dedicated to Hulaween, Halloween, Bette Midler and/or getting into costume. Call 914-579-1000.
Or click here to buy tickets onlne.
NEWLYWEDS Linda Fairstein, the alumni of the N.Y. District Attoney’s office and the mystery writer, plus her brand new husband, attorney/businessman Michael Goldberg were at Primola on 2nd Avenue. (She has written 16 smash hits since inspiring “Law & Order: Special Victims Unit” on TV.)

Also, there you might see former U.S. Rep. Mark Foley ... the Jared Kushners of The New York Observer (she’s Ivanka Trump) ... TV’s Bill Boggs and Jane Rothschild ... Beverly Hills attorney Stuart Korshak ... Former Ambassador Ken Taylor of Canada who was portrayed by Victor Garber in “Argo” ... and people like that!
Newlyweds Linda Fairstein and Michael Goldberg.
THERE WAS a movie-star charm overload the other night on the various nighttime chat shows — Letterman with Taylor Swift (pushing her “1989” album and her “Welcome Ambassador to New York” designation) ... Jimmy Kimmel with Nicole Kidman (touting her new thriller “Before I Go to Sleep”) and Jimmy Fallon with Daniel Radcliffe, who was promoting his “Horns” movie. Radcliffe also engaged in one of those well-known Fallon stunts. The actor did a rap "Alphabet Aerobics" thing that was amazing. (The audience went justifiably wild when he finished!)
The ladies — Swift and Kidman were lovely and relaxed. Miss Swift seemed to genuinely charm Letterman. He didn’t condescend to her once.
British actress Liz Smith hogging the stage!
MANY years ago the great director Mike Nichols offered to buy me the rights to the name Liz Smith, but I said foolishly, “Don’t bother!”

Later, when the Internet began to expand, I tried to buy my name and it already belonged to someone else.

Now a friend tells me she just had a run-in with a British employment agency calling itself the same. I’m told they sometimes try to extort money from “rich and famous clients.”

Well, I was always flattered to be mixed up with the famous British actress named Liz Smith who appeared in "The French Lieutenant’s Woman" with Meryl Streep and with English fashion maven Liz Smith, as well as with New York’s speech therapist of the same name. Also the former president of Avon, named Liz Smith.

But none of those are me and none were born in Fort Worth, Texas as “Mary Elizabeth.”

P.S. However, Sissy Spacek was born in Texas. And her birthname? Mary Elizabeth.
CHANNEL-SURFING I happened across a movie titled “The Counselor.” It came out last year, starring Michael Fassbender, Penelope Cruz, Cameron Diaz, Brad Pitt, Javier Bardem, Rosie Perez. Directed by Ridley Scott, it’s one of those sometimes incomprehensible drug-cartel tales. (Fassbender is a lawyer who falls in with the wrong crowd.)

It didn’t do well, and I recall fairly negative reviews. But watching it on TV, I stayed with it until the end. I don’t know if it’s good — apparently the final edit did not please director Scott — but it held my attention. And most of my attention was held by Cameron Diaz in a drastically change-of-pace role. She’s ... not nice. That is putting it mildly. Diaz received some blistering notices for this, and most everybody suggested she return to “what she knows” — rom-coms. I have to place myself in the minority. I thought she held up very well as a criminal woman without a conscience, without a soul.

It was a brave choice on Ridley Scott’s part to cast her, and it is a brave performance by Cameron. She can’t do the kind of roles that made her famous forever. It’s called expanding your range and extending your career.

I have a feeling “The Counselor” and Miss Diaz will enjoy cult status in years to come.
Cameron Diaz in “The Counselor.”

Contact Liz Smith here.