Liz Smith is on vacation. Her column returns Jan. 3.
MARY-LOUISE PARKER is trying to show some compassion to Billy Crudup as he copes with his ailing father.
But she still finds it hard to forgive him or Claire Danes, the actress he left Parker for when she was seven months pregnant. Parker doesn't want Danes coming anywhere near her 11-month-old son, William, we hear.
Crudup, who fell for Danes when they were making Stage Beauty, recently threatened to take Parker to court if she didn't let him see his baby, a source tells us.
"[Mary-Louise] finally backed down and entered into arbitration with Billy," says the source. "[Mary-Louise] got to choose the arbitrator, so Billy and Claire are freaking out."
Crudup has been begging Parker to let him bring young William to see his grandfather Thomas Crudup, who is in ill health.
Despite her heartache, she's agreed to accompany William and Billy Crudup on a trip after she ends her Broadway run in Reckless.
"It's been unbelievably hard," says a friend of Parker. "But she offered to take the baby down herself because she feels for Billy and she wants his father to see his grandson."
Turn off your TVs if you want your kid to be a top movie director by age 35.
Swiss-bred Marc Forster, whose dreamy Johnny Depp movie Finding Neverland -- about Peter Pan creator J.M. Barrie -- was just named Best Film by the National Board of Review, didn't have a TV in his house until he was 12.
"And then, in the '80s, there were only two channels in Switzerland," he told us at Peggy Siegal's elegant celebration inside the New York Yacht Club. "So I played and pretended a lot."
With Monster's Ball and Neverland under his belt, the New York University Film School grad says he has Davos, Switzerland, dweller Robert Louis-Dreyfus, uncle of Julia, to thank.
"I read in a paper in Switzerland that NYU was a good film school, so I only applied there, and I never thought I'd get in, but I did. My parents couldn't afford it, so I wrote to lots of rich people in Switzerland."
There are a lot of those, we offered.
"Yes, but Louis-Dreyfus is the one who agreed [and ponied up the tuition]."