Liz Smith: Chaz Bono Has to Man Up on a Broken Engagment

Chaz Bono and ex-fiancee Jennifer Elia

And more from our Gossip Girl: Tom Cruise soars in the latest “Mission Impossible” … will Woody Allen’s “Midnight In Paris” make the Academy scream “Oui! Oui?!” 

“THE MORE I see of men, the more I like dogs,” said Madame de Stael.

* * *

THERE WAS little surprise in Hollywood when Chaz Bono’s girlfriend, Jennifer Elia, returned his engagement ring and the pair then announced that they are “no longer a couple.” Chaz had proposed to Jennifer several weeks ago atop Seattle’s Space Needle. It was a special segment of the “Being Chaz” series. Chaz did the traditional down on one knee thing. Jennifer’s acceptance was awkward.

This split has been a long time coming, and anybody who had seen the documentary “Becoming Chaz” would have noted the signs and portents. As devoted and stand-by-your-sudden-man as Jennifer was — all through Chaz’s decision to self-identify as a male, have his breasts removed and be legally cited as male — Jennifer was clearly struggling and suffering.

Jennifer is a lesbian. Her relationship with Chaz — once known as Chastity — began as an affair between two women. Chaz was a big, butch woman, but still claimed a female identity. To turn around and declare a total gender switch, take testosterone to grow a beard and remove breasts, was a lot to adjust to. Jennifer did her best, though it was clear that the testosterone was not simply altering Chaz’s physical self, but had some affect on Chaz’s personality. There’s a difference between a butch woman and a man — a man treats a woman differently. Jennifer wasn’t loving that difference.

I think Chaz has been brave throughout this public transition. Some say it has been unnecessarily public, but Chaz marched to his own beat, much as his parents, Sonny and Cher did. But his bravery has come at a price, and perhaps he expected this ending. Chaz is not stupid. Though he is certainly very male in his expectations of what women should put up with. That was the impression I got from “Becoming Chaz” and several interviews he did with Jennifer.

This was a real relationship and the breakup has to be painful for both. I wish them happiness in future romantic endeavors. For Chaz — who has not had any below-the-waist surgery — I will only advise that he take better care of himself. Everyone close to him — especially his mother — had hoped his stint on “Dancing With the Stars” would jump-start a diet and exercise regimen, a la Kirstie Alley’s fabulous transformation. That did not occur.

Chaz, we have but one life to live — be whatever you want to be. But most of all, be healthy.

* * *

TOM CRUISE says he “falls more in love with Katie Holmes every day.” That’s nice. I mean it. I’m not being bitchy. As far as I know they are both happy, despite the media insistence that they can’t be or shouldn’t be.

But love aside, the big news for Tom is that his latest “Mission Impossible” movie has garnered excellent reviews, with many stating that this fourth installment is the best yet — at the very least, the most action-packed. One critic carped a little, saying the film was less adult-themed than past “MI” flicks, and aimed more at teens. Well —why not? At 47, Tom is staying current. He has the time, money and power to do adult-themed character roles anytime he wants. (Although, with Hollywood so oddly resistant to awarding him an Oscar, he might figure, why bother with adult movies?)

I hope “Mission Impossible: “Ghost Protocol” is a huge hit. I like Tom. I don’t care what he believes spiritually. He’s a movie star, an excellent actor and to be honest, aside from those who criticize Scientology, or those who want to speculate pointlessly about his sexuality, I’ve never heard a harsh word about him. His co-stars and directors always come away with high praise for his talent, passion and commitment. He’s a driven type-A personality. That’s no crime. And if it is, it’s one offense most of us would like to commit. Then we, too, would have something like $500 million dollars.

* * *

GREAT PIECE in Sunday’s New York Times on the already-legendary Elizabeth Taylor auction at Christie’s. I bet the final tally will be near or over $200 million. Nice for everybody — her estate, her family, Christie’s and the IRS.

I was particularly amused by writer Charles Isherwood’s conclusion: “As I left the auction I had visions of a Russian tycoon’s wife or a Wall Street banker’s mistress greedily ogling her acquisition and thinking, ‘Once Liz’s, now —mine!’” Somehow it wasn’t a cheering image.”

Oh, but you see, without Elizabeth Taylor’s opulent energy, the jewels are just shiny stones, with no inner life, the clothes and accessories simply things owned by a dead person. (I say it again: the clothes should have gone to a fashion museum.) It was La Liz’s lusty appreciation of her goodies that gave them that special sparkle and flair. She always insisted, “I’m just borrowing them.” That’s true. But I have a feeling she knew the other truth — that when she was gone, they’d never look the same on another woman. And that every woman who wore them, would know it too.

* * *

HAD A chat with a well-connected Hollywood insider over the weekend. We discussed which movie might take Best Picture at the Oscars.

My friend said: “The Help” and “War Horse” are too saccharine, “The Artist” is too self-conscious — a silent film in 2011, how arty!, “Tree of Life” and “Moneyball” might have some chance. But if you ask me, it’ll be “Midnight In Paris.” It’s the best thing Woody Allen has done in years. And you know what — I have not spoken to one person who’s seen it who didn’t love it! And I speak to a lot of people.”

Well, I, too, loved “Midnight In Paris” — I’ve seen it three times! — and if it wins the Academy Award, I won’t feel it an undeserved honor.

12 Responses so far.

  1. avatar JCF4612 says:

    Wish more theaters would screen Midnight in Paris.

  2. avatar rick gould says:

    Oh, Liz…I think the other Liz knew full well that she gave her jewels their added luster.
    But those paying exorbitant prices for them? Sure some of them are hoping the magic rubs off on them…Kim Kar-Tra$h-ian is quoted as saying Liz’ jade bracelets has ET’s energy coming through them…yeah, to wring her neck!

    As for Chaz, I feel he is continually looking for his happy ending. I hope he finds it. As for Chaz having unfair male expectations placed on his woman…well, so did his father.

    • avatar O E says:

      I don’t know how I feel about Chaz Bono, but I know at least I feel compassion. To have lived so many years with such wrenching feelings of inadequacy, wondering what or who to be, must be devastating; and yet he/she marches on doing it under public scrutiny by choice. Living a public life, Chaz gets the attention he/she craves, regardless of how pitiful it could be. Chaz may be honest in his purpose of “helping others” like him, but to what extent? Is Chaz risking becoming the subject of ridicule? Or pity (Inaba cried every week after he struggled dancing in “Dancing With the Stars” to the point that her tears were expected). Is Chaz really inspiring other people with gender identification problems? And if so, inspiring them to do what, since his change from female to male isn’t even physically complete?

  3. avatar Paul Smith says:

    The Kardashians are famous for nothing. So is Chaz. You ridicule one but praise the other. Dreadful. The best movie of the year is “Melancholia” in all its existential glory, and Charlotte Rampling’s steely contempt.

  4. avatar Baby Snooks says:

    Oh I suspect she will live on through some of the jewels. I suspect the emeralds will be referred to as the Taylor emeralds if not, more fittingly, the Burton emeralds. Someone got a little carried away with the “naming” of things and of all the pieces that should have been “named” those emeralds above all else should have been. If I recall correctly the pendant/brooch was the first he gave her. While they were “living in sin” and the rest, well, apparently he liked to give her things that went with other things he gave her. Or others had given her. The pendant/brooch went with the necklace which if I recall correctnly Eddie Fisher had given her which was I guess the last thing he gave her beside a monumental headache.  And so she ended up with a brooch/pendant, a necklace to hang it on, earrings and a fabulous ring. And probably worth every penny of the $20 million. The emeralds themselves almost as spectacular as the woman who wore them for over 40 years. The Krupp/Krupp-Taylor/Elizabeth Taylor diamond will always carry a “mystique” because of its previous two owners. The wife of one of Nazi Germany’s “war profiteers” and, as she herself often put it, the “nice Jewish girl” who ended up with “the Baron’s rock.”  And of course La Peregrina. Owned through the centuries by royalty. And by Elizabeth Taylor who returned it to its previous splendor with a little help from the designers at Cartier. Rumor has it there’s lots more. This is just all what Christie’s wanted. So there probably will be another auction.  I was told the Lalique fishes were not in the auction. But they were. Part of a lot of Lalique “smalls” as they are called. Well, I am beside myself. I’ve never given anyone anything that ended up in a Christies auction! As for the clothes, well, I suspect we will be treated soon to photos of someone wearing one of the “Elizabeth Taylor” caftans. Many of them as spectacular as the jewels she wore with them. I think she would have loved other women enjoying them. And men enjoying them as well. 

    And, ah, yes, the IRS.. No doubt standing around at Christie’s last week. Calculator in hand…

  5. avatar Jan Hall says:

    There aren’t too many movies about which I can say that I love it, but Midnight in Paris is one of those.  I was on a long cruise recently, and it was on the in-room TV a few times every week, and I must have watched it every time it was on at night. 

  6. avatar O E says:

    We don’t get movies for grownups in the theaters within 40 miles from were I live, so I order movies through Netflix. “Midnight in Paris” arrives today and I’m looking forward to treating myself to a Christmas Day viewing in the comfort of my own home.

    As for the Oscar nominees, I watched “The Tree of Life” twice and I still don’t get it. A psychotherapist friend of mine watched it twice also and didn’t get it either, so I know I’m not alone on this. My take on this nomination is that a lot of people didn’t get it, but they don’t want to appear dumb. My reaction at the end of the movie, was, “What the hell?” So to see it nominated for an Oscar baffles me.

    I don’t see “The Help” as saccharine. I read the book an and the movie focuses on the most poignant aspects of the story. It is about black and white women in the South, about the events of the sixties that shaped politics and the American society somewhat. I believe “The Help” deserves the Oscar, but then I haven’t seen the other nominees…

  7. avatar maytaguide says:

    Regarding Oscar predictions, I, too, loved “Midnight in Paris” and, in fact, grinned from ear to ear throughout the whole film, except for the moments I was laughing out loud, but I found all the contemporary characters lacking depth, which does not take away anything from the actors. For me “The Artist” was a greater achievement in motion picture art, in characterization, in nuance. “The Ides of March”, which judging from your column is not in the running for major awards, had me on the edge of my seat throughout. On its own merits “The Tree of Life” is in a class by itself but maybe too great for a Hollywood prize.

  8. avatar Wiley Canuck says:

    I just can’t stomach Woody Allen. Ever since reading about Mia Farrow’s experience with him it has completely turned me off. I know everybody raves about his directorial skills, how wonderful it is to work for him, etc., etc. I just will not go to his movies.

    As far as Liz is concerned, yes, the jewels will never look as good on anyone else as they did on her.

    • avatar Baby Snooks says:

      Reality is Hollywood loves to forgve itself of all sins and that is no more true than with Woody Allen. But reality also is that he married his son’s step-sister and she became his son’s step-mother. I suppose some believe that since she wasn’t his actual sister that it was alright. It was not. And is not.  Certainly not the step-mother part. Why even bother with the allegations of molestation? That alone is sufficient reason to avoid him. And his movies. And her as well. Most things in life are lovely shades of grey. Those two are black and white. And disgusting.

    • avatar Erika Muller says:

      I’m in agreement with you. I haven’t been able to watch a Woody Allen movie – the old or the new – since that whole disgusting thing hit the news. And I never will. He is and always will be a child molester to me. The fact that he married his victim just makes it worse.