Liz Smith: Aglow in The Candelabra

1206_douglas_640“THIS IS one of the wonderful things about this business. There are still parts for old people. I never think about retirement.”

That’s Michael Douglas in the latest issue of Entertainment Weekly. Michael and Matt Damon sat down to talk to EW about their hotly awaited HBO film “Behind the Candelabra.” This tells the story of entertainer deluxe Liberace and Scott Thorson, his much younger lover.

liberaceWhat touched me about Michael’s quote is that it reminded me of the premiere of “Wall Street 2” several years back, when Michael was battling cancer. The supermarket tabloids had written his death sentence — and they are usually 90% correct, unfortunately. Michael himself appeared frail and ravaged by the illness and his treatments.

This was especially so in contrast to his gorgeous wife, Catherine Zeta-Jones. She was more subdued than usual the night of the premiere, but Zeta-Jones, even worried, can’t ever look too subdued.

I recall it was one of the most tense, over-crowded and unruly film openings I’d ever attended. I knew why. Everybody thought it would be Michael’s last film, perhaps his last appearance in public.

But, he recovered. And like his remarkable father, Kirk Douglas, adversity and age have given Michael a better appreciation for his life and his gifts.

At the recent Academy Awards, he was positively ebullient, escorting Zeta-Jones into the ceremony; proud of her, glad to be alive, and not ever retiring, thank you very much.

The funniest part of the EW interview was Matt Damon telling how he had to be spray-tanned all over for his role as Liberace’s lover. This tanning included his backside. After the first treatment he woke up to find his pajama bottoms had turned brown. When his wife noticed, she screamed, “What the **** happened to your ass?!!” Matt continued, “We’ve had three children, we’ve been in the trenches, there are no secrets. But I really wish she didn’t see that!”

“Behind the Candelabra” airs on May 26. And a great big bravo to HBO. They were the only entity brave enough to tackle this story.

hollywood_reporter_cover_11_charlize_theron_stylists_300MAYBE you read my praise here for the statuesque beauty, composure and poise of movie queen Charlize Theron. (I don’t mean to make her stuffy; she isn’t. She is daring and intelligent and a great actor. She won an Oscar when she set everything aside  — vanity mainly — and played a murderous serial killer in “Monster.”)

She is also — despite her goddess-like gliding on various red-carpets — an earthy woman, with a frank vocabulary and an amazing appetitive.

I interviewed Charlize and Bill Paxton some time ago, when they were promoting “Mighty Joe Young.” We were at the Four Seasons and she ate.

But the Hollywood Reporter is telling us how practical Charlize is. She and stylist Leslie Fremar have an idea for “Theron Jeans” to be sold in mass market stories.

SPEAKING OF the Reporter, they had great Oscar coverage last week, fabulous photos. Including one of Barbra Streisand, Shirley Bassey and Adele, all of whom performed memorably on the telecast. The three ladies had changed their gowns for the Governor’s Ball. And the party gowns were prettier than what they wore on the show.

Barbra, in particular looks great. She changed her hair slightly and it made all the difference.


WELL, I’m not going to say “I told you so,” because I was a bit cautious predicting that “Oz the Great and Powerful” would be a hit. I wrote last week that I thought it would be. (I had pointed out, along with many compliments, a few shortcomings.) But despite a lot of lukewarm reviews, audiences apparently cannot get enough of any version of the Oz fable. The movie is, so far, a very big hit, with a worldwide gross nearing $200 million.

This is good news for Disney, for 3-D and for the stars James Franco, Michelle Williams, Rachel Weisz and Mila Kunis. I think Miss Kunis will get the most out of the success of “Oz.” I found her performance; the transition of innocent to embittered to eventually terrifying, very good indeed. She has come a long way from the 14-year-old beauty who lied about her age to land her role on “That 70s Show.”


THE HISTORY Channel took a daring and interesting turn on episode 2 of their mammoth mini-series, “The Bible.” They cast, as Samson, the actor Nonso Anozie, a towering dreadlocked African American. He was not in any way, similar to Victor Mature in Cecil B. DeMille’s high-camp “Samson and Delilah.” But it was fascinating casting — I thought of Jonathan Rhys Meyers in “The Tudors,” who looked nothing at all like the real Henry VIII. That worked quite well.


Of course, the blogs were alive with controversy, accusing The History Channel of “political correctness.”

hedyAhhh, get over it. They went ahead and cast a hunky Caucasian-looking fellow as Jesus, when we all know (as much as we can know about anything Biblical) that Jesus, who was  Jewish, was probably a short, swarthy guy, with a full beard, not the neatly buzzed scruff that is so much more popular and pretty to look at.

So they made up for that with Samson. Big deal. Remember, it’s only a mini-series.

I have to admit, I did miss Hedy Lamarr, who co-stared with Victor Mature in the big screen version. Hedy was possibly the most beautiful woman onscreen — ever.

But she was rather bland. In the role of Delilah, however, she livened up. Just before the Philistines blind Samson — after Hedy has cut his long locks — she saunters up to him, and in breathtaking Technicolor close-up whispers malevolently, “Nobody leaves Delilah.” The Bible brings out the best in some actors.

Remember Anne Baxter in “The Ten Commandments,” moaning orgasmically to Chuck Heston, “Oh, Moses, Moses, Moses!”

This column originally appeared on on 3/12/13

2 Responses so far.

  1. avatar Manuel and Teresa Da Silva says:

    Wonderful, just wonderful! No need for other words.

  2. avatar jjfnygrl says:

    Glad to hear Oz is good!
    My grandmother went to grade school with Liberace in Wisconsin. She said he was a nice kid. Many of the other kids thought him odd and picked on him because he didn’t want to join sports, but there was no denying his magnificent talent.