“THERE IS only one thing in the world worse than being talked about, and that is not being talked about.”
So said Oscar Wilde. But I believe he said it before his own life was ruined by scandal.
* * *
ONE HAS to wonder what Beyonce and Jay-Z feel about Mr. Wilde’s observation? On the one hand, they are blissful about the birth their first child, arriving over last weekend in New York, blanketed by a security team that would have done a president proud. In fact, the protection of the beautiful pop diva’s delivery and initial recovery was so stringent that there were complaints made about Lenox Hill Hospital preventing ordinary parents from visiting their own newborns. Not even Mariah Carey — who cheerfully admits to loving the perks her stardom brings — generated such negative press when her twins were born.
On top of all this was the wild, improbable rumor that dogged Beyonce from the day she made her coyly dramatic “baby bump” reveal on the red carpet of the MTV Music Awards. The Internet gossip websites and hundreds of blogs kept insisting that Beyonce, for some reason nobody cares to explain, “faked” her pregnancy with a variety of increasingly large prosthetic tummies. When she gave birth Saturday, and the tales of the high security measures were made public, Internet scandal-mongers went berserk.
In my entire life covering stars, I only ever heard this “she faked a pregnancy” just once before. That was with Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise — a tale also born of the Internet. Of course, their Suri has turned out to look so much like both Tom and Katie, that the rumor faded fast.
What is it with people?! If Beyonce was faking anything, I doubt she’d choose New York City to try to pull it off. She’d have given birth “suddenly” and well away from the ravening media horde. It’s absurd. The high security business didn’t help matters — on any level. But I’m certain the pop icons will apologize for any inconvenience suffered by regular Joes and Janes.
Blue Ivy Carter is the name chosen for by Beyonce and Jay-Z. She will grow up as the daughter of two multimillionaires. Nobody will be making fun of her at school. Oh, and speaking of money, Lenox Hill denies that the power couple paid $1.3 million to take an entire floor of the hospital. “Exaggerated!” says a spokesperson for Lenox Hill.
Anyway, welcome to the world, Blue Ivy. I hope by the time you can read, it’ll be a kinder, gentler cyberspace.
* * *
LEAVE IT to Charlie Sheen — whom I can’t help liking despite some awful behavior — to cut to the chase. On Sunday, he spoke to the press, promoting his new show, “Anger Management.” He said, bluntly, “I’m not crazy anymore.” The former star of “Two and a Half Men” went on to say his current existence is “more mellow and focused and rooted in reality.” I hope so. Lots of smart, loving people really care about this guy.
* * *
FAREWELL TO the great Magnum photojournalist Eve Arnold, who died last week at age 99.
Arnold photographed everybody from Queen Elizabeth to Malcolm X and published great books on China, Russia and America. But despite her varied, serious, award-winning accomplishments, Eve became best known as one of the most loyal and affectionate chroniclers of Marilyn Monroe. And she was secure enough to embrace that.
Eve met Marilyn in 1955, during the star’s year-long strike against her studio, 20th Century Fox. Marilyn, who preferred to connect to male photographers, unexpectedly clicked with Arnold. Perhaps Eve was one of the many mother substitutes the actress looked for in her few female friends.
The pair would have half a dozen memorable photo sessions, right up until 1961 — including a trip to Bement, Illinois, where Marilyn gave a speech about her idol, Abraham Lincoln. She also visited a local art gallery and judged a bearded men contest. Arnold recalled that no matter how frantic and hysterical the Midwest crowds became, Marilyn remained utterly calm. (Monroe asked Eve to accompany her to JFK’s infamous birthday celebration in the spring of ’62. Eve, in Europe and exhausted, declined. She later said she regretted it: “I’d love to have seen her in that incredible dress, doing her little parody of herself.”)
Arnold really loved Monroe, and respected her as an unusually gifted camera subject and as a smart, sensitive woman. In a PBS documentary, “Eve and Marilyn,” Arnold — in the nicest way possible — took a swipe at fellow photographer Bert Stern. She objected to Stern’s publishing so many unflattering shots of Monroe. Even those that MM had X-ed out as “kills.” (Marilyn was dead before she could review all of Stern’s 3,000-plus pics, many of which showed her to be clearly inebriated and revealed too much of a body that was now thin, still beautiful, but inexorably maturing.)
Arnold took many candid shots of Marilyn on the ill-fated set of “The Misfits.” After the shoot was over, Monroe asked Eve to photograph her in a studio. Although Arnold preferred candid work, she agreed. The results were charming and fun — “she just wanted to camp it up” said Eve, who captured Marilyn wearing the expensive Jean-Louis bikini and lingerie from the movie, lounging on plush pillows, nude in bed, with the white silk sheets always a millimeter shy of full disclosure.
Eve recalled that as her friend sat down to begin the process of transforming pretty little Norma Jeane into the fabulous Marilyn, she turned to her longtime makeup man Whitey Snyder and said, “Isn’t this great? Just like at the beginning.” Then she paused and said “But back then, we had hope.”
When Eve published her book about Marilyn, she said: “I suppose you could say I’m exploiting her, like all the rest. And I suppose that’s true. But I did want people to know something more about her, and realize how much she was loved by those who really knew her.”
I feel certain Marilyn was the first to greet Eve, in that big darkroom in the sky.