Liz Smith: Charlize Theron’s “Young Adult” Tour de Force

And more from our Gossip Girl: money changes everything, says Lawrence O’Donnell … “Hugo” charms George and Barbara Bush

THE CONSERVATIVE David Frum, after being fired: “The great thing about an experience like this is that you learn who your friends really are.”

His wife: “I was happier when I didn’t know.”

* * *

MR. FRUM’S perspicacious article in New York magazine for Nov. 28th, was titled “When Did The GOP Lose Touch With Reality?” It is one of the best political examinations ever, and was followed by another remarkable piece from Jonathan Chait, asking: “When Did Liberals Become So Unreasonable?”

This issue of a magazine that appeals specifically to New Yorkers should be “must” reading for the nation.

And I hope you didn’t miss the same issue’s take on Arianna Huffington, written by Vanessa Grigoriadis. It covered the dynamic one in detail, both good and bad. What’s more, it says that in the Internet world, Arianna will win the last toss over her partner AOL.

* * *

“I DO it for the money!” So says MSNBC’s Lawrence O’Donnell.

This is what O’Donnell wanted his initial promo for MSNBC to declare on his own show “The Last Word.”

Lawrence, who served many years in Congress, relayed this anecdote at a Rouge Tomate lunch celebrating the Oscar-winning actress Charlize Theron. It was PR for her new Jason Reitman-directed/Diablo Cody-written movie, “Young Adult,” which also stars Patton Oswalt and Patrick Wilson.

Lawrence said: “You know, we’re all held up as these big liberal heroes. And we are liberal, and we try to do our best to serve that ideology. We all believe we’re working for the correct solution. But let’s face it; we are on the air for attention and money. Just like they are over at CNN and Fox. I thought it would be funny, when I first came on as a regular, to address that. But the powers that be were horrified. It didn’t fly.”

Mr. O’Donnell is the lunch companion you dream of — wry, funny, ridiculously smart and onto everything, including himself. “I’m just as big an egomaniac as anybody else who has a show. Maybe I’m more upfront.”

* * *

MOST OF the conversation with Lawrence couldn’t be printed. Let’s say this; I eagerly await his inevitable memoir.

We did speak of his recent cameo appearance on Showtime’s sensational TV series, “Homeland,” in which he plays himself. How did it happen? He says, “It happened because I am desperately available! Also, the script had lines like ‘Lawrence O’Donnell’s ten million viewers.’ I figure if that is repeated enough, it might even happen.”

“Homeland” stars Claire Danes as a neurotic, pill-popping, promiscuous CIA agent, frantically trying to find out if a returned American POW has gone over to “the other side.” The show started off great but now seems to have jumped the shark, as they say. Season two will be a challenge for the writers and the viewers.

One more thing about Lawrence O’Donnell. He thinks he’d enjoy a one-on-one with Fox News emperor Bill O’Reilly. He imagines he and Bill, whose “moxie” he respects, could have a reasonable back-and-forth.

“To be honest, I wouldn’t mind, in fact I’d love to shoot the breeze with Bill, privately. Just get down about the business we’re in — the egos, the craziness. We are all in the same boat, on different seas.”

* * *

MY AIDE Denis Ferrara was on hand, sitting three tables away from Charlize Theron. She had arrived with her beautiful mother. Denis spoke briefly with her about their last meeting with the press rep Joe Quenqua, now of the Walt Disney Company, then of PMK.

Back then, Charlize had been dutifully plugging the movie “Mighty Joe Young.” They’d all met at the Four Seasons in New York, along with co-star Bill Paxton. Denis recalled Charlize ate and drank “with lusty abandon … it was thrilling to see a star so without vanity or pretension. I tried to engage her about her “Young Adult” character — Mavis Gray — but she seemed fatigued.

“Well, she is probably still recovering from portraying Mavis, a burnt-out, haggard 37-year-old writer who returns to her dinky hometown with plans to lure an ex-lover away from his wife and new baby. It’s like a twisted version of ‘My Best Friend’s Wedding.’

“Charlize Theron is one hell of a brave actress. Her character here is more monstrous even than that of serial killer Aileen Wuornos in ‘Monster.’ She doesn’t kill anybody in ‘Young Adult,’ but Mavis has no soul; she is a bottomless sea of self-pity and denial, a vapid teenager, trapped in a middle-aged body. It is an unrelenting, unforgiving performance. The movie itself is pretty unforgiving — all that dark Diablo Cody humor.

“Watching Charlize pack on her make-up with a trowel, in a grim attempt to convince her old schoolmates that she is unchanged; this is strong stuff. Miss Theron allows herself to look underweight, wasted, ruined, and she allows the camera to capture all her character’s despair and sad superficiality. She also has a drunken crack-up scene for the ages — a five minute outburst of the kind that makes Academy voters sit up and take notice.”

* * *

OH, THE things one learns at a Peggy Siegal event. We ran into press rep Kathie Berlin. She often sends movies to George Bush, the elder, 41st President of the U.S. He was quite the film fan during his days in the White House and so he remains.

Kathie recently provided the Bushes with Martin Scorsese’s 3-D epic “Hugo.” George and Barbara Bush invited all available family, pals, and everyone who works for them, plus children, to see it. Everybody loved “Hugo.”

However, in this recent back and forth between Ms. Berlin and the Bushes, she asked about the e-mail she had used in the past. It went PapaBushFLFW. She asked, “I’ve always wondered, what did the FLFW stand for?”

“Oh, that! It meant Former Leader of the Free World.”

7 Responses so far.

  1. avatar French Heart says:

    Love Charlize Theron–a complete doll.

    ‘Hugo’ is OUTSTANDING, fantastic, gripping, so polished…..very smart.

  2. avatar Belinda Joy says:

    Charlize Theron – Hands down one of my favorite actresses.  She has true talent, beauty and from what I can see (if I can trust her public image) a down to Earth and real persona.  Her new Dior commercial in which master minds brought Marilyn Monroe, Grace Kelly and Marlene Dietrich back to life, she is yet again steamy, sexy and looks drop dead gorgeous!

    Lawrence O’Donnell  – Lawrence O’Donnell is to liberals what Bill O’Reilly is to conservatives. I watch Last Word each night to listen to his perspective on current political news but I have to be honest, sometimes….sometimes it is really hard.  He is SO LIBERAL it’s to the point sometimes where I just want to scream at my TV. :o)    I know I am constantly invoking Tim Russert on this site, but when I watch those like O’Donnell I long for Tim’s broad mind and ability to show perspective.  He had the ability to step outside his political leaning and see both sides of an argument.

    Bill O’Reilly and Lawrence O’Donnell don’t and won’t do that. They are each so enmeshed in their respective party ideology, they speak as if they have tunnel vision.  If you look up Bleeding Heart Liberal in the  dictionary, chances are you will see O’Donnell’s face. He often reminds me of the insulting White liberal that speaks to my race from a place of demeaning masked in support.  “How dare you complain about Blacks selling drugs, given their communities, that is the only real manner they have to earn a living – Thanks to rich Whites who don’t want to hire them!”    Lord I hate that! No, it can’t be that those that commit the crime of selling drugs are simply wrong!  No, we have to give them a pass because they are Black and therefore less educated and don’t have the ability to live straight and honest lives.

    O’Donnell needs to read and listen to Dr. King’s teachings again. Blacks want equality, just as every other ethnicity, women, disabled and Gays want. No more, no less. And sometimes….sometimes….democrats are wrong and don’t have all the answers, just like right wing republicans don’t always have the answers.  In my opinion, the truth can always be found somewhere down the middle.


  3. avatar Lila says:

    That is a very interesting pair of articles you cite at the top of your article, Liz. I generally agree with the thrust of both of them, but find it intriguing that what’s wrong with conservatives is blamed mainly on the politicians and government officials, while what’s wrong with liberals is blamed mainly on the unreasonable expectations of the voters.

    At any rate, I do think we have reached a point of critical mass with our two-party meltdown, I mean, “system.” No, meltdown is a better description for the mindless partisanism that ignores the needs of the country. The only way to clean house is to vote them ALL out, and that means we all need to pull together to vote for ANYONE other than a Dem or Repub in coming Congressional elections. That’s the only wake-up call they will hear at this point, and I would recommend that Occupy America should take that up as their clarion call, since they need one.

  4. avatar David Bolton says:

    Looking forward to this movie. The previews are quite funny.

  5. avatar Rho says:

    I also look forward to seeing the movie.  I don’t like to talk politics these days.


  6. avatar Aline says:

    Lawrence O’Donnell is a lowlife. His interview with Herman Cain about 3 months ago was mean-spirited, rude and insulting.