By Liz Smith, Tribune Media Services
9:30 AM EDT, September 30, 2013
"SOMETHING COMING back from the dead was always bad news. Movies taught me that. For every one Jesus you get a million zombies," says writer David Wong.
THE world did not end on Dec. 22, 2012, as some insisted it would, because of the ancient Mayan calendar. So, I figured we'd be relieved of the glut of apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic movies we've been treated to for the past five or six years.
But, noooo! Now we have to brace ourselves for Brad Pitt's "World War Z," which is an end-of-the-world zombie movie. (You'd think zombies had worn out their welcome as well, but, like vampire movies and TV shows, they live on. Unless you shoot them in the head, stake them through the heart or leave 'em outside in the sunlight.)
"World War Z" was what they call in the industry "a troubled production" from day one. There were numerous script revisions, budgets that ran away and the hope that this would not be "just another zombie" movie, especially with Brad Pitt as star and producer. (There were rumors of "artistic differences" between Brad and director Marc Forster. What? Should the zombies run fast or shuffle as they approach for the kill?)
The film cost, according to some sources, a whopping $200 to $400 million. If that doesn't raise the dead -- at least in Hollywood -- I don't know what can. First reactions after the London premiere were negative. But as has been proved time and again, critics don't always have the last laugh. Movie audiences decide for themselves, unlike many theatergoers who are swayed, sheep-like, by critique.
Oh, but who cares really, about the fate of this movie? At the premiere, Angelina Jolie made her first public appearance since her double mastectomy. She looked radiant and so did Brad. Zombies come and go. And some loves are true and endure through any adversity.
Two years ago, when the action movie "Red" came out, I wrote, "You haven't lived until you've seen Helen Mirren brandishing an AK-47, dressed in an evening gown, mowing down the bad guys!"
Well, "Red" was a big hit, and now we've got "Red 2" coming soon to a Cineplex near you. Some of the original cast is back, including Ms. Mirren, Bruce Willis, Mary-Louise Parker and John Malkovich. Adding to the fun of actors of a certain age indulging in all sorts of screen violence are Anthony Hopkins and Catherine Zeta-Jones. This time the elite group of retired black-ops agents and assassins run all over the world trying to track down a missing nuclear device. Well, those things are so easily mislaid.
I'm really looking forward to this movie because it stars people I adore, personally and professionally. I am only sad that Ernest Borgnine died last year and could not be in the sequel. He was so vital, funny and optimistic right to the end.
As for Helen Mirren -- who has played everything from the queens of England to a Nevada brothel owner -- I hope she's given bigger guns, even snarkier dialogue and takes down criminals with the same cool efficiency as in "The Queen" when she informed the British prime minister: "We don't make a public display of our emotions. That is the way we were brought up." It must be nice to let loose lobbing a grenade harmlessly onscreen now and then.
TOMOROW is Joan Rivers' birthday! But she doesn't even care, not even when astrologists are saying we all have to watch our step and be careful on June 8, or make a regretful mistake.
If you think you don't like Joan Rivers, then you aren't carefully evaluating what a dynamite lady she really is. She flares up now and then and let's somebody have it, but she is smart and dedicated and loyal to her pals. One of my constant readers Bill Biss has done an interview with her on the eve of her birthday that already ran in the glossy gay entertainment monthly, Rage. But as nobody can keep up with everything being flung, without much of it sticking to the wall, I don't imagine everybody will have seen it:
Here's the ever-ready Bill:
BB: You shared your philosophy about five years ago in London. You said you gotta work hard, none of this nine to five stuff. None of this 'I'm tired!'
JOAN: Absolutely right ... and you listened to me!
JOAN; You're a fool. (Laughter all around)
BB: But a happy one.
JOAN: OK, that's good; that's good then.
BB: Do you have plans for your birthday?
JOAN: Nothing. I'm working at QVC and also at E!, which I love. I'm busy. That's how I like to spend a birthday.
I'm not a great one for 'Oooh it's my birthday. Everyone stop.' Let's everyone keep going.'
BB: I'd love to get in bed with you but I've already come out of the closet. Please share some news about your latest creation "In Bed with Joan."
JOAN: It is on the Internet and no commercials. I do it out of Melissa's house. I get people I like and I'm interviewing people I like. I'm having the BEST time in the world. There's no studio head, there's no network to say, "You can't say that" or "We'd prefer you didn't talk about that." It's just doing a show and it's a great success and so much fun. I've had everybody from Sarah Silverman to RuPaul to Penn and Teller to Gary Busey. My god, they're all coming on. It's just wonderful.
BB: I've seen a few shows and it makes me want to come back for more.
JOAN: It's just sit back and I ask them questions and they are so relaxed ... 'cause they're in bed. It's another project and I think that's great.
BB: Have you ever thought of doing an episode on E! that looks back at your fashion "dos and don'ts?"
JOAN: Yeah, they would be all "don't." You look back and you go "How insane was I to wear that?!" You know what, that's what fashion should be ... it should be fun.
BB: About Anna Wintour; didn't you say the F word?
JOAN: That was taken out of context ... but she is such a cold fish. She takes it all sooooo seriously. You wanna go, "Calm down, comedy is funny. Just relax."
BB: Did you ever rebel?
JOAN: My whole life is rebelling ... even if there is nothing to rebel about (laughter). I get onstage, I yell and scream and it's rebelling. It's all there.
BB: Thank you and I'm looking forward to your show.
(E-mail Liz Smith at MES3838@aol.com.)
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