Liz Smith: Can Paul and Ringo “Reboot” the Beatles One Last Time?

And more from our Liz: Jennifer Aniston and Bradley Cooper, don’t cry for her! … Madonna says she “feels fat.” Don’t cry for her either!

“THE BEATLES are not merely awful … they are so unbelievably horrible … so appallingly unmusical, so dogmatically opposed to the magic of the art, they qualify as the crowned heads of anti-music.”

That was William F. Buckley, weighing in on the Liverpool boys early during their reign. History has proven Mr. Buckley wrong, but he probably never changed his original opinion.

* * *

SINCE THE deaths of John Lennon and George Harrison, Paul McCartney has stated, and quite correctly, that there can never really be a “Beatles reunion,” even though the redoubtable and oft-underrated Ringo is still among us. Just forget it, Paul has said.

But maybe on this point he is mellowing a bit. I hear from several highly placed music sources in Los Angeles, that Paul has mused, more than once, on some kind of “Beatles re-boot.” Even those to whom he has mentioned this possibility aren’t sure if he’s just throwing the idea around to make people crazy. But he has gone so far as to say the band would comprise him (naturally!), Ringo, Ringo’s son, Zak Starkey, Julian Lennon (John’s son by first wife Cynthia), Sean Lennon (John and Yoko Ono’s son), and Dhani Harrison, the son of George. Paul’s son James might also pitch in.

The “plan,” such as it has been loosely laid out by Paul, is that it would be just a few performances in London, for charity — the guys all singing Beatles songs from every era — from the “I Wanna Hold Your Hand” pop stuff to the  groundbreaking sounds of “Sgt. Pepper”, “The White Album” “Let In Be” and “Abbey Road.”

One of my sources on this story is Bay area musician and journalist Steve Escobar. He says he has heard the rumor so often lately he feels sure there has to be merit to it. Also, he adds that both of Lennon’s sons have remained friendly with McCartney. As have the kids of Ringo and George.

So, tragically, though it can’t be a full reunion, if it happens it will be one that’s pure, with plenty of heart, and still starring two of the finest musicians in the world. They were part of one of the great bands of all time — the greatest, according to many.

Fingers crossed.

* * *

THE LAST time I thought about Bradley Cooper was when I saw his terrific movie, “Limitless.” It did occur to me, after I left the theater, that he was publicly squiring my friend Renee Zelwegger. When I saw her in Texas, I had forgotten to ask about her three-year “romance” with Bradley. We had eventually found ourselves in much more serious and interesting talk — about the Internet, the universe, the absurdities of stardom. Well, maybe it was a good thing I didn’t mention Mr. Cooper, because within days of handing Renee her Austin Film Society Hall of Fame award, it was announced that Miss Z. and Mr. C had parted.

Now comes word — via the ever reliable weekly glossies — that Mr. Bradley has moved on to another lovely blonde star. I do mean Jennifer Aniston.

Naturally, because we are talking about Jennifer, the magazines have to make her out to be some kind of romantic victim — she is “in over her head”….”fantasizes about having a baby with Bradley”… “she feels he could be the one.” But, these insiders insist Bradley is “a known fame-seeker, using his charm and good looks to get close to the A-list.”

Really? Since at least the release of “The Hangover” Mr. Cooper hardly needs to hang around with famous women to “get close to the A-list.” He is the A-list.

As for Miss Aniston, what the hell is the matter with being forty and single, looking great, having a nice career and not moaning publicly about your “biological clock?”  Jennifer never seems at a loss for male admirers.

In these tabloid articles, friends “always fear” for Miss Aniston. If these “friends” exist, I’d advise them to look to their own lives. Jennifer Aniston seems just fine.

* * *

I COULD wring the neck of my old pal Madonna. She looked spectacular at the Alexander McQueen tribute at the Metropolitan Museum of Art the other evening. The iconic star wore a gorgeous blue gown that fit her like a glove and was in every way suitable to her alluring maturity and her soon-to-be lauded efforts as the director of “W.E.”

But what did M have to say when asked how she felt? “I feel fat in this dress!” she said. I’m sure designer Stella McCartney loved that!

La Ciccone looked in fact, healthy, trim, but rounded in all the right places. She even cut her hair a few inches which makes a big (positive) difference.

I wish she’d stop this foolishness. If she gained twenty pounds she wouldn’t be fat. It’s okay to be a little voluptuous.

Indeed, I caught Madonna and Warren Beatty in their 1990 film “Dick Tracy” the other night. He insisted she put on weight. She did (they were romancing at the time) and she has rarely looked better onscreen. And she’s terrif in that movie too. My favorite scene is when Warren (as Dick) goes backstage to visit M (cabaret singer Breathless Mahoney) whose gangster lover, Lips, has just been killed.

“No tears for Lips?” asks Tracy

“I’m wearing black underwear.”

“I wonder whose side you’re on” Tracy presses.

“”The side I’m always on,” replies Breathless, “Mine!

I recall when I saw this movie at an early screening, the audience went wild over that line; it seemed to confirm and conform to her public image — the ruthless, ambitious, sexually predatory diva.

She was some of that, but less than she led people to believe. She’s quite different now. But she still has a fine, sane, disregard for public opinion. And she’s still much nicer than she lets on.


19 Responses so far.

  1. avatar Barbara says:

    “Beatles” reunion? I was interested in the thought of hearing the children of those late greats together until the bit about doing all the old songs. Not interested. I’d rather listen to the originals. Now if this group of people want to get together and create some new music, then I’m interested. McCartney is supposed to be the creative genius. Surely he can write some new music for them rather than rehashing 40 year old stuff.

  2. avatar Anais P says:

    It would be great to hear this Beatles reboot. That they will perform for charity makes the proposal even sweeter, and the group would go a long way to mending fences. Saw McCartney last year and he sounded as great as he ever did — after 50 years! Ringo always kept impeccable time on drums. I hope it happens.

  3. avatar Richard Bassett says:

    Unlike The Supremes, who were constantly changing characters throughout the 1970’s…and no one knew the difference, The Beatles just can’t do that and call it a reunion. God only knows what we were listening to regarding The Supremes in 1976 opposed to the Supreme hits of 1965, but in 1976 they were The Supremes in name only. They could have been anyone in the end. Having a guitar plucking Paul, and the drums of Ringo, who looked perpetually bored in the day…with a few of John and George’s kids calling themselves a Beatles ‘reunion’ (no less) is akin to the ambiguous three ladies picked from anywhere, and calling themselves The Supremes. No one but diehard fans stopped listening after Diana Ross left. Maybe ‘some’ kind of group can be formed with these men in their 30’s and 60’s but they’ll never be The Beatles. It would Paul singing with some backup. I doubt that he (or Ringo) yearn for a life on the road for fifty weeks a year. They appear to be satisfied with their lives the that way they are now. Now, Jennifer Aniston is currently living a life under the microscope. Her every date captures: ‘Will this be the one? Will she marry him? Will she become pregnant right away? Time is ticking.’ And then she moves on, anyway. She doesn’t come across as an unstable crazed 40 year old movie star relentlessly looking for love. She is having, OMG, fun. Madonna, the stick figure who thinks that she is fat, borders on body dysmorphic disorder. At 52, one would think that she’s got in together right now. And she probably does. I don’t think her meals are consisting of celery and carrot sticks, so why come out with such a disturbing statement? Maybe she was caught off guard. She’ll never be obese but she will get older, as her body is beginning to tell her.

    • avatar Mr. Wow says:

       The Supremes after Diana Ross sounded pretty damn good–Jean Terell was the lead singer, and they had at least four hits, including “Up The ladder to the Roof” and Stoned Love.” 

      Miss Ross struggled a bit with her solo career at first.  She wasn’t giddy with joy that Terell, Mary Wilson and Cindy Birdsong were kinda thriving.  Suddenly, they stopped thriving.  Berry Gordy had no time for The Supremes.  All his energy went into Miss Ross. (As when did it not?)

      After Terell left, Mary Wilson struggled on with virtually no support from Motown–a bitter tale, oft-told by both Mary and Diana, from opposite ends of their own egos.

      As for the Beatles thing, if it comes to pass, it will be more of a tribute than a reunion–obviously.  But the possibility of Paul and Ringo on hand certainly takes the curse off it as some kind cheap trick pulled by the kids.  A couple of concerts, for charity?  I think it sounds rather nice.

      • avatar Richard Bassett says:

        I would NEVER see a Beatles reunion/ tribute with actually just Paul on vocals. The Beatles children all tried to get away from that image. I know Julian and Sean each had 15 minutes of fame, and then they were gone. There are plenty of charity event acts that I would pay to see, and some (a Beatles tribute) I would watch on television. As Diana Ross’s career was slumping, she agreed to do something she never have dreamed of doing in her heyday. A Supremes reunion, not even with the original three but Cindy Birdsong was accepted as a verified Supreme, though she came in 1967…as the Supremes were still a major act. No one really noticed the switch from Florence Ballard. Of course, Diana Ross wanted millions of dollars more for her appearance than the background girls and that didn’t make for a cheerful reunion and ticket sales were dismal (at best). I’ll give you 1970 and Jean Terrell. Motown wanted a sound ‘similar’ to Ross’s or Mary (who had the least talent) would have taken over as lead singer. In 1970, the Supremes played off the coat tails of the successful group that they once recently were. Terrell couldn’t pull of being a Diana Ross. If these Supremes were making money, Gordy would have given them his attention but they just didn’t have a unique ‘sound’. He kept them on as an aftermath of the great group that they once were. After 1970, the music was rubbish and they died a slow death. Terrell left, and Wilson still couldn’t quite cut it as the lead. It was then Gordy gave up. Wilson was a second rate singer who never experienced a major Billboard hit (as lead or solo). She wasn’t good enough. She brought in girl after girl after girl. No one knew them. No one cared and Mary had to finally realize her own mediocrity. As did most dying singers, she went to Europe where (at least) she could be booked. No one spoke English there. They liked the gowns. Ross had “Reach out and Touch” and “Ain’t no Mountain High Enough” as well as signed on for being lead female for the major motion picture “Lady Sings the Blues” in which she earned an Academy Award nomination. That was the first year of her career as a solo artist. Her disco sound was popular and profitable. She continued to be a major force in the vocal industry well into the 1980’s, with film roles here and there. From 1960, Gordy knew that she had the talent. The sound. It was unique and contemporary and stellar. The Supremes didn’t fade away because Gordy didn’t promote them; they faded away from lack of interest and Mary Wilson failing at keeping them relevant. Whatever their sound was, no one cared to listen to it. Mary continued as a solo act with the same disastrous results, singing only in Europe. She never let go of the 1965 Supreme image…decades after that image had faded.

        • avatar Mr. Wow says:

          Dear Richard…but Mary always speaks quite well of you!

          Miss Ross was and is a great and unique star.  However, I am older than you, and I remember how good those post-Diana Supremes songs were. Certainly they sounded terrific.  Terell didn’t have Diana’s magic onstage. Few did.  Or do.   With the exception of Diana, I don’t think Gordy treated any of his stars especially well.  And Diana eventually had to fight to escape his control. 
          The Supremes couldn’t have happened without Diana Ross.  Diana Ross couldn’t have happened without, well, frankly–sleeping with her boss. Indeed having his child and passing it off as the offspring of her first husband. 

          The late Flo Ballard and Miss Mary Wilson were bitter.  The true source of their bitterness and how much or how little Diana Ross cared, exists somewhere in between the tales told on both sides. 

          I always thought Diana Ross got a kind of raw deal, reputation-wise.  She did what was best for herself.  I think she probably hoped others were doing the same.  When you are young and ambitious and somebody like Berry Gordy is offering you the world, it’s hard to say, “Oh, but what about the girls?!”  

          • avatar Paul Smith says:

            Young, ambitious and lest we forget, poor. In government housing. During the period of racial segregation.  It wasn’t an ordinary rise to success; it was meteoric and stunning. I always admired her naked ambition, with the goods to back it course.

          • avatar Richard Bassett says:

            In the 1960’s/1970’s all black performers came from humble backgrounds. And especially at Motown (which was located in Detroit). All of their beginnings came from playing on the streets, forming vocal groups and abandoning them just as quickly, and forming more, poverty, talent shows, church choirs, government housing. There were whites who lived like that as well but, now, in two salary households there are child care centers, pre-school and pre-arranged play dates based on very busy schedules, dropping off and picking up their children from school, designator drivers. This is occurring primarily in white communities now. None of that happened when I was a child. We played on the streets and walked to school. Black vocalists and singing groups were always popular in the music industry (Gospel, Jazz, R &B), dating back to the early 1940’s. They could sing, they could move, they had soul. Mr. WoW, I am very close to your age and remember the downfall of the Supremes. Having teen sisters exposed to the successful years of the group. Terrell, with her higher pitch squeaky voice but more soulful, was more black oriented that Ross’s. Terrell was a good lead. Ross’s voice was popular (with white’s) because she didn’t sound gospel and as soulful as Aretha Franklin. Originally, it was Flo Ballard who was The Supremes lead. Her voice was deep, soulful, limited and couldn’t pull off being lead for the songs Gordy wanted the Supremes to sing. Flo’s had a common black voice. And forget Mary, who was happy just to be in the background singing, “Do La La” and “Think it over”. You are right. These girls were only 22 years old. I believe that Gordy recognized the unique quality in Diana’s voice before he started to sleep with her. Flo resented the fact that she was not lead material for ‘The Supremes’ successful songs and at 24, was called an alcoholic and had to leave the group. She died at age 32, and was penniless. Despite the Supremes success, she never got her mind out of the ghetto. Diana wanted her out. Mary said nothing, of course, and aligned herself to whoever would keep her on stage…never expressing a creative side or making waves. Diana was smart enough to know that it was her voice that resulted in the hits. So, I’m sure she (and Gordy) asked themselves: “Why were they carrying the other two?” The post successful Supremes songs had an appeal for a year, and then were out of style, (“Automatic Sunshine”)? Mary kept it all on life support for seven more years. Gordy, always thinking Wilson was second rate, had to deal with her as little as possible. He really never respected her as an artist. Neither did I. In the end, The Supremes consisted of Mary Wilson and who knows who. For decades, in concerts, Ross had countless background singers (who might as well have been The Supremes. Interchangeable and accomplishing nothing). In Mary Wilson’s autobiographies, she was too interested in her personal life and singing her “la la la’s” on stage to offer an opinion (regarding anything group oriented) one way or another. It is also that Mary kept this relationship with Ross alive (friends or enemies), long after they parted ways. Mary knew buttered bread when she saw it, and it was advantageous to keep Ross in her life (making Ross the Godmother of her children). If Ross thought that Mary was keeping this relationship alive due to this, then she never sunk so low to reveal that. She kept her sence of style, even during the later difficult years.

          • avatar Count Snarkula says:

            Miss Ross in indeed a great and unique star. She played here on 2/27 right after she did Oprah. An hour and a half. Eight gowns. No intermission. I was on the front row. She looks good. The extra pounds work with the mature Miss Ross. I think she has mellowed some. On Oprah they showed a segment with her playing around with her Grandkids. One hopes we all mature.

          • avatar Mr. Wow says:

            Dear Count…I saw Miss Ross a couple of years ago here in NYC.  What a show!  This woman knows what the fans want.

          • avatar Count Snarkula says:

            and delivers! I wish we had seen her together. What a fun night that would have been! ! !

          • avatar Baby Snooks says:

            I think the reality is Diana Ross was merely trying to get out of the ghetto and stay out of the ghetto and made decisions that later would haunt her but I really don’t think she was as “calculating” as everyone would like to believe.  Just determined.

            Her values in the end are reflected best by her children. Divas don’t make good mothers. And she is a wonderful mother.  And always has been.

            She decided to do the “lecture” circuit not that long ago. She arrived in Texas and found the rules had been changed.  And was labeled a diva when she made it clear she played by the rules she agreed to.  That was the end of the “lecture” circuit.

            Unlike so many she drew a very distinct line between the “public” and the “private” life and most who have labeled her a diva simply crossed the line. At their own peril I might add.

          • avatar Mr. Wow says:

            Dear Baby…I agree. 

            And Diana’s  saga of moving up, even when she didn’t say “thanks” or supposedly used people, etc, looks awfully like Madonna and Barbra and Monroe.  (Though Monroe was too desperately damaged to be tough and survive.)

          • avatar Baby Snooks says:

            I think Barbra Streisand drew a very distinct line as well and also was labeled a diva when someone crossed it.  At their own peril. Still, she developed a rather “imperious” attitude which Diana Ross never did.

            Madonna and Marilyn Monroe drew a line and then invariably crossed it themselves when they needed a little attention. 

  4. avatar Deirdre Cerasa says:

    I would love to hear how the kids would sound doing their dads music and then as suggested, some of their own. And again as suggested, for charity it would be just wonderful! I still listen to the original Beatles every day and love it. Hope this idea comes to pass and is recorded. I think it would be FAB!

  5. avatar rick gould says:

    I’d say Madonna has some body issues…anybody who has had a live-in trainer and exercises 4 hours a day needs to lighten up…and I don’t mean weight-wise.

    Honestly, those pix of Madge at the Met showed her looking the best she’s looked in ages: an age-appropriate yet body hugging gown, trim but without sinewy Popeye arms, a ’40s-esque Rita hairdo instead of stringy, grunge locks, great makeup plus whatever other tricks she employs.

    • avatar Mr. Wow says:

      Madonna looked mighty fine at the Met.   I hope she makes more music, but honestly, as a major fan, I could live  a million years without seeing her in concert again.

      At least not in her dance-till-you-drop-I’m-still-doing-what-I-did-at-25 mode.  We know she can do it.  But the effort shows. 

  6. avatar flyonthewall says:

    “Beatles Reunion” – no with George and John dead it just can’t happen. Now, if Mr. McCartney wanted to form a new group comprised of the surviving Beatles and sons, he could give the band a new name and new material based on the workings of the old. I might go for that, but to package the new group strictly as the old I say nay.

    I don’t know why everyone’s so surprised that Madonna has body issues. She’s always had them. There have been many interviews where she’s always had something negative to say about large people and how she never ever ever wants to have a fat a$$. Hearing these comments from her over the years, I have always wondered how she has managed to be friends with Rosie O’Donnell.

  7. avatar Bonnie O says:

    Paul and Ringo … together again?  I know of some fans who would pay to attend the concert and I know others who would purchase the CD of the event.  As for me, I don’t think so.  I purchased Paul’s book of poetry Blackbird Singing and I purchased the Anthology CD when previously unrecorded (professionally) songs of John Lennon were harmonized with the living Beatles voices.  The Beatles are the past …. and some of that past was filled with such creative music and lyric that it will last at least through a couple more generations.

    If I want to hear Yesterday or Something in the way he/she Moves Me or Penny Lane then I prefer to hear the orginal soundtrack.  However, for those who want to hear the old songs by new voices, and that includes both Paul and Ringo, then I hope you are able to sing and sway at the live event.  Enjoy!