Liz Smith: “Wicked” Idina Menzel Says — Don’t Put Your Daughter on the Stage — Quite Yet!

Idina Menzel

And more from our Gossip Girl:  Gwyneth and Cameron dazzle Queen Liz’s hubby .. London Film Fest heats up

“I STEAL!” those were actor Paul Muni’s famous final words in the 1932 movie “I Am a Fugitive from a Chain Gang.” He was admitting to his former girlfriend that he’d fallen into a life of crime.

Many people “steal” from many others in this day and age of the Internet. Usually it’s not a crime.

Personally, I love to read the British newspapers; they are so saucy. One of my favorites is Tim Walker of the Mandrake column. Here’s his take on Rebekah Brooks, the ousted Murdoch chief of News International.

Mandrake claims that one of retired Baroness Thatcher’s “most trusted allies” is the Lord Bell P.R. Firm, Bell Pottinger. The columnist claims this company, which ran the successful Thatcher general election campaigns, now represents Ms. Brooks and he implies that they are repping the curly-haired redhead gratis, or on a pro-bono basis.

“They must see Rebekah as a good long-term bet.” Mandrake also believes Ms. Brooks is still on Rupert Murdoch’s payroll and that “he told her to travel the world on him for a year and then he will find a job for her.”

* * *

ALSO, President Jimmy Carter, the famous peanut farmer, has been in London lately saying he told former P.M. Tony Blair that “Iraq was not a good idea.” But President Carter did say the best relationship he’d had with other U.S. Presidents was the one with the elder President Bush.

* * *

I WAS interested to read the other day that the Broadway show cherished most by young girls is “Wicked,” the anti-Oz musical at the Gershwin Theater. This has had several successful versions on the road.

Then I see in the London Daily Telegraph that the original wicked witch of “Wicked — one Idina Menzel is questioning her dedication to success. She says: “I wish I had read more and majored in literature, rather than theater, at New York University. I think I would have been a better artist for it. I am trying to play catch-up now. As I get older,” says the 40-year-old, “I realize all I’ve done is sing and act and hone those skills. There are lots of things I’m acquainting myself with now to be a more well-rounded person.”

Idina’s advice to the young: “If you’re too focused at an early age, you lose sight of all the other wonderful aspects of life.”

* * *

YOU probably saw the sexy photo of Gwyneth Paltrow and Cameron Diaz posing in their short short skirts and high high heels the other day, like blonde goddesses in London.

But did you know they were entertaining the 90-year-old consort, the Duke of Edinburgh — Prince Philip to you all — at a dinner in fashionable Mayfair at the Arts Club? (The club, 148 years old, has been refurbished lately and the Duke made a brief speech.) He dined with the two actresses and is reported to have stayed on, with a real twinkle in his eye, for the Gwyneth concert downstairs.

The Oscar-winning actress came onstage with The Knights Below, the late Amy Winehouse backup group, where she sang “Forget You” by Cee Lo Green. However, she sang the original version of the song which is “**** You.”

Before hitting it, Gwyneth addressed the Duke: “I hope you don’t mind the lyrics — don’t tell the Queen!”

* * *

VANESSA Redgrave and James Earl Jones are driving them crazy at Wyndham’s theater in London, where they are repeating their Broadway smash “Driving Miss Daisy.” Onlookers expected the English critics to give this all-American-Southern-white-racist-exercise-into-devoted-friendship play a drubbing. Instead, they seem to like Alfred Uhry’s drama all over again.

* * *

On October 11, the BFI London Film Festival kicks off, showing the best new movies from all over the world. This used to be a mild, low-key affair when Sandra Hebron first took over as artistic director. She is ending her reign on a high note. This get together, its 55th as a Festival, is now packed with glamour and stars flock to it — even Hollywood stars.

You do realize why film festivals are so much more than they used to be. In the so-called “good old days” there were studios that made movies and advertised and promoted them. Now there are very few studios, so the ubiquitous film festivals of the world are where independent film-makers (and dependent ones as well) go for their product to be seen.

Opening at BFI will be Brazilian director Fernando Meirelles’ “360,” a rework of “La Ronde” starring Anthony Hopkins and Rachel Weisz. The closing film is “The Deep Blue Sea,” adapted from Terence Rattigan’s postwar play and Rachel acts in this one too, co-starring Tom Hiddleston.

The first title film to sell out has been “Shame,” director Steve McQueen’s (not the late actor) take on a New York sex addict, Michael Fassbender.

BFI head woman Hebron also says: “Two nights of George Clooney” (“The Ides of March” and “The Descendants” … “Coriolanus,” starring Ralph Fiennes, also making his debut as a director … British favorites Lynne Ramsay — “We Need to Talk About Kevin” with Oscar winner Tilda Swinton; Andrea Arnold with “Wuthering Heights” and Michael Winterbottom “Trishna.” Then there is “Take Shelter” by the “Revolutionary Road” and “Boardwalk Empire” director Michael Shannon “The Kid With a Bike” from Belgium’s Dardenne brothers … and the French-made silent movie homage to early Hollywood, “The Artist.”

6 Responses so far.

  1. avatar Aline says:

    I do not get the appeal of Gwyneth Paltrow or Cameron Diaz. Two skinny blonde airheads. Boring.

    • avatar LandofLove says:

      However, she sang the original version of the song which is “**** You.”

      Wow, I thought Ms. Paltrow had more class than singing something like that, especially in front of a 90-year-old royal.

      I guess not.   

      • avatar B.eadle says:

        Indeed! Classless song “sung” by a classless person.

      • avatar Baby Snooks says:

        The Duke of Edinburgh has said far worse. No one has dared print any of it. So forget anyone shocking him. And as for “**** you” I suspect he has heard it many times. From the Queen.

  2. avatar Lila says:

    Re: Idina’s observations: yes, it can be very limiting to be TOO focused, but I have the opposite problem – I’m a bit TOO eclectic and that made it very hard for me to choose a career I thought I would enjoy (the Army turned out to be perfect, since they change your job every year or two). I have often been a bit jealous of those who knew exactly what they wanted to do, from an early age. I’m still changing my mind!