Liz Smith: Vanity Fair’s “Ten Best” Hollywood Scandals

And more from our Liz: who do you trust to cook your dinner? … Patricia Cornwell’s new thriller … Daniel Craig — hot, but non-competitive

“THE MODERN Hollywood scandal has developed its own set of rituals: steeped in history, accessorized with contemporary flair, and in the end as tightly scripted as any blockbuster sequel or red-carpet processional,” writes editor Graydon Carter in a special edition of Vanity Fair.

His handsome magazine is 128 pages of the “Ten Best” scandals already illuminated by the famous Conde Nast magazine — ten classics. (I told you some time ago we were going to get a part of this, including the story of the night Natalie Wood drowned. And, lo and behold, suddenly the California cops revived interest in the case, although I don’t personally believe anything will ever come of that.)

Here are the rest, with dazzling, fantastic photographs of the famed personalities — L.A. in the Age of O.J. (how pleased the columnist Dominick Dunne must be up in heaven) … The Miranda Obsession, which I confess I don’t remember from the past, but now I will never forget it … The Warren Report, or the famed Norman Mailer examining of Mr. Beatty and Annette Bening … Those twin queens, Jackie and Joan Collins, again by Dominick Dunne … Michael Cimino and the final cut … Patty Bosworth on Lana, Cheryl and the gangster … Pat Dollard’s War on Hollywood … the one and only Robert Evans and his celebrity life … and, of course,“When Liz Met Dick.”

Vanity Fair gives us also more historical, less imperative scandals which never means they weren’t important and didn’t make headlines. Ingrid Bergman and Roberto Rossellini Fatty Arbuckle Thomas Ince and William Randolph Hearst Jean Harlow and Paul Bern Errol Flynn … the death of Marilyn Monroe Roman Polanski Sean Young and James Wood Phil Spector — and like that!

Pick this up on the newsstands because it’s only available for a limited time, and it belongs in the celeb “immortals” portion of your library.

This kind of collection pretty much puts the Lindsay Lohans and Paris Hiltons in their place.

* * *

PHIL TRACEY, one of the good guys who works for the HomeGoods of TJX, sends me a list asking Americans which celebrity chef they would want to cook their Christmas dinner,

The votes are for Gordon Ramsay, 20%; Martha Stewart, 14%; Giada De Laurentiis, 10%; Tom Colicchio from Top Chef, 10%; and Anthony Bourdain from No Reservations, 9%.

But the all-American winner comes up Paula Deen, at 37%.

I would have voted for her anyway, because she believes in butter and sugar and all those nifty Southern things that we can’t eat all the time but we can eat at Christmas. Paula Deen — the greatest!

* * *

SIXTY major names, thinkers and celebrities — including seven former U.S. presidents, 12 Nobel Prize winners and six British MP’s — have called on the leader of Great Britain, David Cameron, to begin a dialogue about legalizing drug use.

They argue that the illicit drug industry is worth over $300 billion a year, and ask that a public conversation be started between governments and the 250 million drug users of the world. They argue also that “drug use” should be treated as a medical problem, and they believe if PM Cameron started it, this might develop into progress with other world leaders.

These distinguished people say tens of thousands die in the drug war each year. “Corruption among law enforcers and politicians, especially in producer and transit countries, has spread as never before, endangering democracy and civil society.”

* * *

THE 19TH Kay Scarpetta book is here from Patricia Cornwell and it is titled Red Mist. This will move her over the 100 million copy mark — and also be the first of her novels to be converted to a movie. (Angelina Jolie will play Scarpetta, the former chief medical examiner of Virginia and a forensic consultant.)

The character, Dr. Scarpetta, created by Cornwell as a frustrated amateur Italian chef and major worrier about the people in her life (her disappearing detective friend lover, her irritating, selfish sister, her weird technocrat niece, and her on-and-off-again gruff detective aide) can take a lot of credit for having inflated young people’s interest in forensics.

I can’t wait to imagine the feisty author Patsy Cornwell meeting up with her international star Angelina Jolie. Both women like to put out those “I’m naughty vibes,” so it should be interesting.

* * *

The Vatican made waves again bothering itself by pronouncing that yoga is “Satanic” because it leads to the worship of Hinduism. The Church went on the claim that all “All Eastern religions are based on a false belief in reincarnation.”

But ignoring such as that, there are many many good and great people in Catholic charities. I just read a book titled Raised by the Church — Growing up in New York City’s Catholic Orphanages. Edward Rohs, the author, speaks as a special child of the Church, and the talented Judith Estrine helped him bring this wonderful book to life. It will inspire and refresh you. A few caring adults can make all the difference. This is a Fordham University Press issue.

* * *

Everybody who meets Daniel Craig, who is now filming the 23rd installment of the Ian Fleming-created James Bond movies, remarks on what a downright upright good guy he is.

But Craig himself told GQ magazine that he lacks the competitive spirit.“I’m one of the least competitive people you’ll ever meet — except with myself.”

11 Responses so far.

  1. avatar Lila says:

    Interesting about Jolie being chosen to play Kay Scarpetta. I have only read a couple of the books and maybe Scarpetta could be played by a Jolie type – but Scarpetta herself was inspired by the real-life first female Chief Medical Examiner in Virginia, Dr. Marcella Fierro… who would be better represented by a Tyne Daly type. Wonder why we always seem to need to “glam up” the real people, who were after all, brilliant and exciting enough in their own right to inspire these characters?

  2. avatar sevillomatic says:

    While I certainly never pictured Tyne Daly as Kay Scarpetta, I never thought of Angelina, either.

    I think I pictured someone like Annette Bening…

    • avatar Lila says:

      Well, being from Virginia, I read about Dr. Fierro before reading any Cornwell novels… So my default image for Scarpetta actally became Fierro as I was reading. Actually, it was news stories of Fierro’s retirement and the mention of her connection to the novels that led me to the novels in the first place.

    • avatar Aline says:

      Annette Bening would be a good choice. Please, please, NOT Angelina. I will not waste my money to see that emaciated, tattooed freak in any movie.

  3. avatar raringtogo says:

    Cornwell had initially wanted Jodie Foster to play Scarpetta which most fans thought a good choice. However, “allegedly” Cornwell was a bit too obsessive and Foster bowed out. Me thinks Jolie an odd choice too, however, who else is there really to play a strong powerful female type these days? I think the role needs a more mature women. Jolie can do those sort of physical roles, but not sure about the emotional ones.

  4. avatar Karen Ferguson says:

    I’d always pictured Patricia Cornwell herself as Kay S. She has the look of a lovely but cerebral and no-nonsense professional. Possibly because I’d read that she modeled the character on many of her own traits and biographical info, I thought she’d gotten the idea when she herself worked as a reporter for the Chief Medical Examiner in Virginia. Angelina Jolie in the role doesn’t interest me at all. I keep thinking of how Kathy Bates in the Broadway original of Frankie and Johnnie was replaced in the film with Michelle Pfeiffer. Nothing to do with the character.

  5. avatar Grace OMalley says:

    I think Glenn Close would have been perfect in the role of Kay Scarpetta.  Jolie is too frail and thin looking.  I just can’t see her having enough strength to roll over a dead body or the look of someone who enjoys eating her own Italian cooking.

  6. avatar Dan Patterson says:

    The Vatican made no such pronouncements about Yoga. A rambling, paranoid quote to this effect was obtained from a probably senile former exorcist. He did not speak for the Church or the Pope. The babblings of one priest carry no such weight.

  7. avatar Mr. Wow says:

    Well, as if we didn’t already guess, now we know why the Natalie Wood case was “reopened.”  La Publicite.

    Too bad.  Natalie’s death deserves another (genuine) look-see.

    Yes, this from Mr. Spare-Me-The-Conspiracy Theory.   Marilyn was a suicide.  Oswald was alone…Diana was the victim of a drunk driver and  a careless lover. 

    Natalie?  I look askance.

    • avatar Baby Snooks says:

      Oh, please.  Marilyn was murdered.   As was Dorothy Kilgallen. As was John F Kennedy Jr. And who knows who else who knew somethiing or knew something they didn’t know but someone thought they did. Oswald was alone in that buidling. But the real assassin was on the grassy knoll. Princess Diana’s car was sideswiped by a white Fiat that everyone saw speeding away but no one ever found and the car would have careened into the pillar and flipped regardless of whether the driver was drunk or not. She was on her way to announce her engagement at the house where the Duke and Duchess of Windsor lived in exile. Which pushed someone over the edge. Which Diana intended. Diana just didn’t think anyone would murder her when they went over the edge.  Has nothing to do with conspiracy. Has everything to do with how some can cover up things. Particularly in “official” findings.

      Natalie Wood was drunk. They were all drunk.  Rather than risk another altercation with RJ she decided to go secure the dinghy. And fell into the water.  RJ and Christopher Walken and that moron who decided after 30 years to “tell the truth” were drunk and couldn’t rmember what exactly happened when. So they made up a story.  In the end, no matter what the story, Natalie was drunk and fell into the water.  And drowned.  People who are drowning do not scream for help. They literally become frozen with fear. A fact that everyone overlooks when they claim she was screaming for help. And she drowned quickly. She couldn’t swim.  So she couldn’t tread water.  Lana Wood doesn’t like RJ. Despite her claiing she loves him. So maybe you don’t like RJ? A lot of people don’t.  But not everyone believes he would have allowed her to drown.  And certainly wouldn’t have pushed her into the water knowing she would drown. Now Christopher Walken he might have.  But not Natalie.  Lana Wood needs to get drunk and stay drunk and “shut the f**k up” finally.

  8. avatar Briana Baran says:

    Kay Scarpetta, as described in the books by Patricia Cornwell (of which I have read many), is about 5’2″, blonde, blue-eyed (and yes, Northern Italian people are fair), slight, but not emaciated, and not terribly strong, muscled or macho. She has a diener, or morgue assistant, to help her with heavy lifting in her coroner’s job indoors, and others to help at crime scenes. She will be in her late forties, if I am not mistaken, according to the chronology of the series, in the new book.

    She is in no way exotic, or glamorous. She dresses rather sensibly, though with classic good taste. She is a professional…but fretful and sometimes extremely emotional, occasionally to the point of making very poor decisions.

    Glenn Close would be completely wrong if one was trying to come close to the character…but Angelina Jolie? WTH? Why does everyone think that the woman is perfect for any role…o, that’s right…her last few efforts have been bombs, so giving her the lead role in a film based on a book by a respected author featuring a capable, intelligent, sometimes vulnerable, short, pretty, classy, professional woman will pump up her failing acting credits.

    Wrong on so many levels. Why DO we have to glam up every character in films? Some of us would like to see quality acting based on the actual characters…not skeletons with inflated…egos…and knees bigger than their thighs trying to be taken seriously while making a hundred costume changes.