Liz Smith: Ana Alexander — Has A New Star Been Born?








"Chemistry" star Ana Alexander







And more from our Gossip Girl: Is New York now the city that always sleeps? … Helen Mirren … Angie Harmon … Twiggy, Tommy, and “The Boy Friend”

“I WANT to wake up in the City that doesn’t sleep…”

Fred Ebb wrote these words, in a song made famous by both Liza Minnelli and Frank Sinatra. (But, as all Liza fans will tell you, the song was written for Miss Minnelli, music by John Kander.)

Unfortunately, the lyric no longer applies. A recent survey by reveals that New York has fallen to a miserable number 32 in the list of the world’s 24  greatest “stay up late” cities. The world’s top five towns to go out and raise hell at night are: Cairo, Montevideo, Beirut, Malaga, and Zaragoza. It must be the hot climates of Egypt, Uruguay, Lebanon and Spain.

So this town is no longer “the city that doesn’t sleep,” even during the current heat wave. And actually, if you’re out until ten in Manhattan these nights, you often find shuttered store and café fronts and dark, dark streets.

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SPEAKING OF sleepy old Manhattan, here’s something I don’t want to miss. Starting August 1st, Rudy Giuliani, the former Mayor of New York, will host AMC’s “Mob Movies” festival on TV.

I couldn’t disagree more with Mr. Giuliani ideologically — but the 9/11 mayor is one of the most cordial and amusing guys to ever enter politics and public life. He is a fabulous talker and companion, and for this effort, I give him my blessing. His sense of humor must be fully engaged to agree to host this TV “tribute.”

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A PR GUY whose good taste I admire is L.A.’s Dick Guttman. He has repped Elizabeth Taylor, and still does good work for Jackie Bisset, Janet Jackson and the one and only Barbra Streisand, among others.

So, when Dick speaks, I listen. Mr. Guttman called to rave about his latest client, Ana Alexander, a raven-haired Serbian beauty who will be seen in a good deal of her glory on the new Cinemax series, “Chemistry.” This show promises “action and romance.” Ana plays a tough cop with a complicated private life.

I had never heard of Miss Alexander, but Mr. Guttman kindly sent us a photo. So, here she is, the woman Cinemax is touting as the next “It” girl of show biz. “Chemistry” airs on August 16th.

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AND WHILE I have great brunette beauties on my mind —last year I gave a big shout-out to my friend Angie Harmon’s new series “Rizzoli and Isles,” which co-stars the excellent Sasha Alexander. Well, the show came back for a second season, better than ever, and Miss Harmon remains one of the most compelling women on television. She has an electric presence and is, if anything, more beautiful than in her old “Law & Order” days. Even when she is guzzling beer!

I wondered, last year, how such a vibrant personality could have escaped the attentions of movie moguls? Maybe she is just too powerful a personality? Or, perhaps her conservative views got in the way. In any case, TV has been very good to Angie. I believe “Rizzoli and Isles” is one of the really big hits on the tube.

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JUST IN case you can’t get enough of Helen Mirren, Acorn Media is releasing “Prime Suspect, Series 1 and 2” as individual DVD sets on August 23rd. “Prime Suspect” was the PBS series that vaulted Dame Helen to international acclaim, playing the driven Detective Jane Tennison.

Mirren’s fabulous performance arrives just a month before the new American version of “Prime Suspect” airs on NBC, with Maria Bello. Comparisons are odious but inevitable. Ms. Bello is a fine actress and will surely put her own stamp on Tennison, but Helen Mirren will never be equaled. For more info log onto

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ATTENTION FILM fans, Tommy Tune fans, Twiggy fans and all those who worship the over-the-top director Ken Russell!

Russell’s 1971 masterpiece, his perverse movie version of Sandy Wilson’s Broadway musical, “The Boy Friend,” is on DVD at last! It’s the tale of a musical star (Glenda Jackson in a hilarious cameo) who breaks her ankle, leaving little Polly Browne (Twiggy) to carry on with the show. Tommy Tune plays Twiggy’s dancing and romancing partner. (A role he assumed for a while in real life, too.)

Ken Russell turned the familiar tale — remember Ruby Keeler and Dick Powell in “42nd Street”? —into a slightly ratty pastiche of the old Busby Berkeley musicals. As with much of Russell’s work, some people didn’t get it, but “The Boyfriend” became an instant cult classic. (Twiggy is especially charming — up to this point, nobody even knew she could sing!)

Now it has been re-mastered, restored to its original length, letter-boxed and ready for cinema addicts to drool over once again, or discover for the first time. You can order it from

2 Responses so far.

  1. avatar Jay Gentile says:

    I remember seeing “The Boyfriend” on a plane to Spain in 1972. I didn’t quite know what to make of it. Maybe seeing it again with more mature eyes will make the difference.