Liz Smith: Gossips "Hunger" For a Tasty Triangle — Jennifer Lawrence, Miley Cyrus and Liam Hemsworth?

And more from our Liz: Lily Tomlin and Jane Wagner get their stars … the blame game plays out in Whitney Houston’s death

“BEING ALIVE. Those words indicate the most youthful state of mind a person can have. But paradoxically, after we lost the ability to be vividly, unreservedly alive (which small children have), it takes getting older to regain that capacity.”

That’s Dominique Browning, writing about “Why I Like Getting Older” in the April issue of Harpers Bazaar. Ms. Browning’s motto for maturity is “Go where the love is.”

Somebody said this to her years ago, when she was in career crisis, and the advice stuck. Dominique adds that the person who gave her advice might actually have said, “Go where the work is. But that’s not what I heard.”

* * *

“THE HUNGER GAMES” hysteria was expected to peak over the weekend, wiping out all competition at the box office and securing steady work for everybody who survived the “games” in the first movie. Prior to the weekend opening, “The Hunger Games” was much discussed by all the cable news stations. Was it too intense? Too violent? Was it suitable for children? Was the female lead, played by Jennifer Lawrence, the new heroine for young women? Would archery make a comeback? (Miss Lawrence’s character is a whiz with the bow and arrow.)

Conclusions were mixed. Many knew of the Suzanne Collins trilogy upon which the film is based — because their tweens or teens had read them. Some thought the violence was too graphic; others felt it suited a visualization of the story and made a point about survival and choices, good and bad. Almost everybody agreed parents should accompany their children to the movie, and discuss before and after. All very nice. But the bottom line is “The Hunger Games” was expected to be a “behemoth” at the box office and shatter every existing opening weekend record. The Loews movie house on 34th street in New York City scheduled 14 — count ‘em — 14 showtimes for the movie.

The discussions in Hollywood today are being conducted over bottles of Cristal and plenty of backslapping. The kids are alright, they figure.

* * *

P.S. And, but of course, now that the phenomenon is beginning, the rumor mill grinds with new determination. “Hunger” hunk Liam Hemsworth has been dating Miley Cyrus for about three years. But Miley — according to “inside sources” — is suddenly all “jealous” of Jennifer Lawrence, refers to her as “Angelina” and is so “desperate” to hang onto Mr. Hemsworth that she is hinting she might want to begin knitting tiny booties, the better to cement the relationship and keep Jennifer at bay.

In a recent interview, Miss Lawrence said she was enjoying what she considered to be her “last moments of freedom” — going out shopping anonymously, in sloppy clothes, unbothered by paparazzi, etc. She said she had a feeling nothing would ever be the same after “The Hunger Games” was released. How right you were, my dear.

* * *

LAST MONTH, Lily Tomlin showed up to host the premiere of the Dori Berinstein documentary, “Carol Channing: Larger Than Life,” at the Paley Center in Beverly Hills.

Last week, Carol returned the favor and attended Lily Tomlin’s event — receiving her star on the Palm Springs Walk of Fame. Carol said: “I was thrilled for Lily. She is such a great artist. I just love her and Jane Wagner.” Ms. Wagner, Lily’s longtime partner/writer, also received a star. The ladies join such legends as Frank Sinatra, Cary Grant, Sammy Davis Jr., Dinah Shore, Kitty Carlisle, Elizabeth Taylor, Marilyn Monroe and … Albert Einstein. (Einstein was one of Miss Monroe’s idols. The great scientist and the sex-symbol were rumored to have even met at some point. I hope their stars are close together.)

* * *

I HOPED in vain that when the final results came regarding the tragic death of Whitney Houston, it would be found that she’d died of a simple heart attack. But, that was not to be. Drugs — cocaine specifically — were involved. Though her heart itself appeared to have been damaged by years of abuse.

There are a lot of fingers being pointed, and some people close to Whitney are being referred to as “enablers.” Yes and no. Try stopping an addicted adult who is also a privileged person, a star, from over-indulging. It is next to impossible. (Try stopping a normal person!)

Whitney — like Judy and Marilyn and Michael Jackson and Jimi Hendrix and Janis and Jim Morrison and John Belushi and Heath Ledger, etc. — was a grownup who made her choices, ignored good advice when it was offered, and (as with Monroe, Garland and Mr. Jackson) played the victim card to the hilt.

We are left with Miss Houston’s magnificent voice, a few excellent movie performances and a lot of “what-ifs.” The blame game is pointless. Enabling goes both ways.

* * *

SCARY: Kim Kardashian says of her family: “We are exactly who we are whether the cameras are on or off.” But who are you all, exactly? On second thought — don’t tell me.

* * *

ENDQUOTE: While going through stacks of old magazine articles I’d written — putting together things to send to the University of Texas — I came across an article I did in 1989 for a now defunct magazine, Special Report. I wrote of the particular stress placed on female stars, and specifically of three supernovas — Cher, Madonna and Elizabeth Taylor.

Madonna and Cher are still very much with us. But last Friday marked the one year anniversary of Miss Taylor’s death. I still find it hard to accept a celebrity world without La Liz.

In summing up Elizabeth, I wrote: “Taylor no longer has to do anything to maintain her status. She is Fame. Period.” True then. True now.

6 Responses so far.

  1. avatar mickie1 says:

    thanks liz for the Elizabeth Taylor remembrance. one year has passed and i still miss her. knowing she’s not on this world of ours anymore still makes me sad. she was the last true “STAR” . her films will always be with us so we can remember what a true “STAR” was. I still love you Elizabeth Taylor.

    • avatar Dan Patterson says:

      Amen! Ditto, word for word.

      • avatar rick gould says:

        Yes, indeed… celebrity watching has devolved in the last decade or two…and when ET went home a year ago…sigh, it ain’t ever gonna be the same.

        And if Scorsese actually does the “serious” movie about Elizabeth, I hope he picks Lily Collins, who is about to star as Snow White opposite Julia Roberts. There’s definitely a resemblance. FYI, she’s also Phil’s daughter.

  2. avatar Lila says:

    On the violence of The Hunger Games – sometimes I think adults completely forget what they themselves were like as children, and totally miss the boat on how children’s psyches are fragile, and how they are most definitely not. We are moral beings in a violent, unjust world, and violence in stories – starting right with the fairy tales that older generations grew up on – attempts to make sense of it.

    The general formula is that our hero / heroine suffers terrible injustice or violence at the hands of the villain, but in the end the hero is restored or elevated to their rightful place, and the villain is punished – generally with more violence. Cinderella’s stepsisters? Birds peck their eyes out. Hansel and Gretel’s witch? Burned to death in an oven. Snow White’s witch? Has to put on red-hot iron shoes and dance until she falls down dead. The moral message is that when you do bad things to people, bad things will happen to you. Good triumphs in the end, even if things look dark in the beginning.

    A lot of this has gotten cleaned up and glossed over, but only from the 20th c. onwards.

    • avatar Baby Snooks says:

      The general formula is that our hero / heroine suffers terrible injustice or violence at the hands of the villain, but in the end the hero is restored or elevated to their rightful place, and the villain is punished – generally with more violence.


      Reality is we are innately evil, and very violent, creatures.  As reflected by our “fairy tales” including our “modern” ones.  The late Steve Allen attempted to address it but of course the almighty dollar spoke louder than any common sense not to mention any common morality. Our children are becoming more violent and becoming more violent at younger ages. The reason is obvious. It’s the “fairy tales.”

  3. avatar Baby Snooks says:

    I don’t think anyone will ever be able to explain the phenomenon of Elizabeth Taylor except to say she defied the odds even with fame itself.  Maybe it was the Earth Mother thing. 

    Her legacy is really her foundation.  I was surprised by the number of people who didn’t even know about it.  But quite a few organizations that didn’t have the “connections” others did to garner the funding knew about it. And of her incredible heart.  I hope her children keep the legacy alive and the foundation finally comes into its own as the source of funding for a cure. I would fax things from time to time about “obscure” research. At one point they added “research” to the “activites’ of the foundation. Then dropped it inexplicably. I suspect a “conflict” somewhere. She gave an interview about ten years ago mentioning the “million dollar salaries” at amfAR. But it wasn’t just amfAR.  And I noticed through the years she was focusing on these smaller organizations that nonetheless had incredible impact on their communities they served. Mainly because there weren’t all the million dollar salaries.  Not my place to tell anyone anything other than they hopefully will keep that in mind as well with regard to her legacy.  Reality is she raised and gave less than 10% of what amfAR did.  And yet what she gave made a far greater impact for those with AIDS. Not sure those who knew about the foundation knew that. Or that her children did. They do now.