"If you're thin and rich and fun, everyone will want to dance with you!" said the late Brooke Astor. She always believed in dressing up to give people their money's worth!
GREAT ACTRESSES are not always back-biting and jealous of one another. Many times they like to cheer each other on. This was certainly the case late last week when actress Holland Taylor opened her one-woman play about the late governor of Texas, Ann Richards, at the Vivian Beaumont Theatre. Gifted stars turned out to cheer Holland on her opening night.
They were -- just to name the ones I glimpsed -- Oscar winner Anne Hathaway, the understated talented Laura Linney, my pet, New York's own Judith Light, the one and only Elaine Stritch, the husky-voiced Tony winner Kathleen Turner, the perennially young Lily Tomlin and the brilliant Linda Lavin. Holding up the men's side were Tony Lo Bianco and Ben Vereen.
Also on hand were two "leading ladies" of women's rights -- Gloria Steinem, the great and modest seer, and the handsome daughter of Gov. Richards', Cecile, the nationwide leader of Planned Parenthood. My pal, PR queen Peggy Siegal, took me over to see Anne Hathaway in the flesh. Later, Peggy insisted, "Do you think she is pregnant? Did you look at her waist?"
I had to confess, I again failed the celebrity observation test. I was busy talking to Ann's young mother, Kate McCauley.
Oh yes, back to the night and the SRO crowd in the party after "Ann" at The Plaza Ballroom. Everybody behind the scenes in theater was there and they are a mighty force, even if I can't call up all their names. At least 10 people came to tell me they were "producers" connected with Holland's play. I enjoyed sitting for a while with attorney Mark Sendroff because I had known his late partner Harold Schiff. The latter was a dignified guy who had endured repping the tempestuous Bette Davis in her later years. Mark now reps Holland Taylor and a clutch of other wonderful women stars! (One way to make being a lawyer fun is to round up a clutch of would-be actors and stars and work in show biz!)
My own date for the evening was fashion's Billy Norwich. Knowing that his friend Liz is a flop when it comes to his business, he introduced me to Julie Weiss. She has been nominated for an Oscar for her costumes for the movie "Frida" and has also scored in the Tony and Emmy sweepstakes. It was a real privilege to meet this genius.
I hope you will go see my friend Holland doing my friend Ann Richards. But I won't write a lot more about it because I think I've used up my raves.
MOTOWN RECORDS will be releasing a deluxe tribute set of two of Stevie Wonder's groundbreaking album's from the 1970s -- "Talking Book" and "Innervisions." Stevie took a long time to complete these albums, but they ended up being released less than a year apart, cementing his transition from pop star to serious, innovative artist. To celebrate the 40th anniversary of these works, extensive liner notes will be included along with an in-depth interview with Wonder himself.
And, separate from this project, Stevie's Motown pal Smokey Robinson is producing a TV special on Mr. Wonder.
OPINIONS and off-the-top-of-the-head exclamations are never going to go out of style. But I am not sure that real writers, ace reporters and smart columnists covering "the news" are in that category. They are disappearing right and left. The New York Times story last week about how the titles New York Herald Tribune -- and even the Tribune, as it was published in Paris -- are going, going, gone.
This makes me think how I will miss the historic Tribune. When I first came to Manhattan in 1949, fresh from the University of Texas, I was greener than a gourd. The most attractive target for me was the New York Herald Tribune over on 230 West 41st Street. The newspaper was then owned by the fabled Jock Whitney, the man who had provided the backup money for David O. Selznick's movie "Gone with the Wind." So Mr. Whitney was glamour-plus for me.
A little later, in this same neighborhood, I once worked weekends at Newsweek magazine, proofreading, which was done "out loud" one live person to another. It's hard to imagine that now, but then, also we didn't make mistakes on an all-important weekly news magazine.
The old Metropolitan Opera was near this address and I had actually been there and seen Leontyne Price sing "Aida." Nearby was Bleek's Saloon (pronounced Blake's). At the bar you'd see opera singers and reporters, gossiping with the drinking literati -- people who had actually worked for Stanley Walker, who was first at the Tribune and had written a book called "Mrs. Astor's Horse." Here one might glimpse in person, James Thurber, Homer Bigart, the young Don Forst and society's Lucius Beebe in a top hat and tails. Soon to come along was someone named Clay Felker and most historians forget that he invented "the new journalism" and even though in the '60s the paper had changed its name to the World Journal Tribune -- I wrote my first New York story for a magazine named by Clay -- New York!
Goodbye to all that! To being in a no-Tribune NYC; to being in Europe with no Paris Tribune. But I can't say "Goodbye and good riddance!" because it's never good to lose something of value.
ENDQUOTE: "What is happening to Justin Bieber? He is either turning into a male version of Lindsay Lohan or a female version of Michael Jackson!" So said a music industry wag, commenting on the increasingly strange behavior of teen sensation Justin Bieber. (Bieber's unusually delicate features and slim build have always been fodder for comment; that could explain his recent running around without his shirt, showing that he's developing, at 19. But for heaven's sake, who needs to see underwear?!)
But the rest of it -- his snarky tweeting, aggressive entourage, late appearances at shows, collapses, oxygen tanks, belligerent acceptances of awards, high-speed driving and perhaps a taste for an illegal substance or two seem to spell danger, heartbreak dead ahead! I hope not. I have no idea if he's talented. But he's awfully young.
He's pretty smart, too, in some ways. After his collapse last week he tweeted a photo of himself, shirtless in his hospital bed, his pajama bottoms slipping off his hip. He looked quite healthy. Fans were relieved and -- excited.
(E-mail Liz Smith at MES3838@aol.com.)