Liz Smith: Drew Barrymore Converts Some New “Angels”

And more from our Gossip Girl: the Redgrave family fights back … hello to “Howling Hilda” and goodbye to Oprah!

“IN HEAVEN an angel is nobody in particular,” said George Bernard Shaw.

* * *

WELL, HERE on earth, angels tend to be somebodies of significance. The late Farrah Fawcett, Jaclyn Smith, Kate Jackson, Cheryl Ladd, Tanya Roberts, Shelly Hack, Drew Barrymore, Lucy Liu, and Cameron Diaz.

Miss Barrymore, who also produced the big screen version of “Charlie’s Angels” a few years back, will do the same for the coming TV reboot of the three crime-fighting femmes. The new girls will be Minka Kelly, Rachael Taylor, and Annie Ilonzen. The role of Bosley, originally played by the somewhat sexless teddy-bear actor David Doyle, has been updated. The girls will now be protected by studly actor Ramon Rodriguez.

There has been a rumor that the voice of the unseen “Charlie” (John Forsythe in his pre-“Dynasty” days) will be taken by Robert “RJ” Wagner, who has a similarly distinct voice. My sources say RJ said no. But the creators, Ivan Goff and Ben Roberts really want him. And so does Drew. So we shall see. (Who can refuse Miss Barrymore?)

Over at CBS, the new “Hawaii Five-O” has enjoyed a great success. Now, ABC is hoping TV audiences will once again flock to their network to watch three gorgeous girls fight, shoot, and connive their way out of trouble. With standards far looser than back in the innocent 1970’s, Minka, Rachael and Annie are going to look hotter and talk tougher. (Have you ever watched a re-run of the old “Charlie’s Angels?” Girls on Disney shows appear more provocative today!)

Marcos Siega directs, and the trailer is already causing considerable excitement. It’s glamour, sex and women beating up anybody who looks shifty. What more can you ask for something that isn’t a reality show?

* * *

THERE’S A battle royal gearing up in Britain, but it has nothing to do with those people in Buckingham Palace.

The enraged “royals” are actress Joely Richardson and her mother, the great Vanessa Redgrave. They have read excerpts from a new book on the family, “The House of Redgrave: The Secret Lives of the Theatrical Dynasty.”

Joely is especially incensed, and calls the portraits of her mother and father, Tony Richardson “caricatures.”  She says when author Tim Adler approached the family, he assured them he was “embarking on this project because of my admiration for Tony.”  However, the late Natasha Richardson “smelled a rat” and after her death, Joely and others in the family said they began to receive calls from Adler, who had changed the thrust of his book from a tribute to Tony Richardson to a tell-all about the entire family. Cooperation ceased.

Joely says the work appears to be a lot of “he said/she said of which the large percentage of the people are now dead. A useful tool in his case.” Further, on the subtext of her parents, she says, “The articles reduced my parents to the labels of ‘Bixsexual Father and Marxist Mother.’ Myopic to say the least. My mother for the last twenty years of her life would not call herself a Marxist but a human rights activist. In fact she has not been a member of any political party for decades. In the last two general elections she has voted Liberal Democrat. For the past 16 years she has been a Global Goodwill Ambassador for UNICEF. I am trying to ignore the emotional argument which I suppose could be purely personal. Does a woman who lost her eldest daughter, sister and brother within a year need to be reminded how she might have failed loved ones 30 years ago? Love her or loathe her, she is one of the greatest actresses of all time. My father’s bisexuality is a footnote, if anything. Not a headline of what defined his great contribution to the arts.”

Joely and Vanessa were also reeling from the insensitivity of the author’s claims that as her daughter Natasha lay in an irreversible coma, after a fall while skiing, that Vanessa sat by her bedside and sang “Edelweiss” to her. Joely says, “I asked my mother if this was true, as I had no memory of it, and it seemed a bizarre choice on every level. She said, ‘Darling, I don’t even know the words to it!’’

In any case, this not just angry talk. “As a family, we are taking legal action. To newspapers and publishing houses I urge the use of fact over fiction, freedom of the press, and responsibility at all times.”

* * *

FREE THEATER: I wrote here at length about my prizewinning friend, Anne Berlin, who has won many awards in the difficult business of musical comedy writing. For instance, she came in first when her “Charlie Chang and the Giant Salami” catapulted her to off-Broadway fame.

Anne has written another incipient hit which you can go see on June 16 at New York City’s Robert Moss Theater, 440 Lafayette Street (between Astor Place and 4th Street; across from the Public Theater.) Free tickets can be secured here or call 1-866 –811-4111.

None other than twice-nominated Tony actress Mary Testa is going to star in a staged reading of Anne and her partner Andrew Bleckner’s “Howling Hilda,” a musical about baseball to end all. It has been directed by the divine taskmaster, Valentina Fratti. This is a true story about the Brooklyn Dodgers’ greatest real-life fan, Hilda Chester, set in the time of the Dodgers’ historic last season in New York . This is part of the Planet Connections Theater Festivity. There’ll be a wine reception after the reading to recognize the All-American Girls Professional Baseball League; former player Gene Visich of the Rockford Peaches will be there to share her baseball stories.

* * *

Goodbye, our darling Oprah! Congratulations to you for changing so many lives for the better and becoming the greatest phenomenon on television.

As for the fact that her new creation, OWN, has not yet hit its stride and gloom and doom are projected, let’s just wait a minute and let Oprah catch her breath. I’m predicting OWN will become another Oprah hit! You don’t know how to find the new cable site on your TV? Just wait. Oprah will be telling you.

She has not yet begun to fight!

12 Responses so far.

  1. avatar Baby Snooks says:

    Margo Howard and Kitty Kelley are probably the only ones who will join me in saying “good riddance” to Oprah but I’ll say it just he same. Good riddance. Although she is coming back soon to cable. Hopefully she will not be part of “basic cable” packages but I suspect  her ego will demand inclusion in “premium” packages so I will  never be tempted to “click on” out of curiosity.   Which I did occasionally. Just to see who the latest “guru” was.   I grew up with two of them. And all I can say is they obviously had good publicists.

    There is chicken soup for the soul. And snake oil for the soul. And Oprah peddles the snake oil.

    • avatar Maizie James says:

      Baby Snooks,

      Yes. I agree. Good riddance.

      I’m thrilled the great ladies on wOw’s production team avoided over-the-top media coverage of Oprah’s exit from broadcast television. I never cared for Oprah, or the other ladies of blah, blah, blah who emerged during the heyday of tabloid television journalism – Sally Jessy Raphael among them. I probably should not critique Oprah too harshly because I rarely watched her show during her 25 year reign. It was not only the content of her some of her shows that disinterested me, but also her stark [pathological] narcissism and exploitation of unfortunate circumstance of individuals, which repulse me.

      That said, my being a woman of color, I absolutely applaud her phenomenal business/financial success even though I disagree with how she attained her wealth. Frankly, moving to cable was a smart/savvy business move, now that most people subscribe to cable. And given Oprah’s assertiveness/competition/vanity, I’m sure she intends to work tirelessly/aggressively to make her cable network a huge success.

      Think of it. She [probably] has the power to coerce/lure today’s new stars and popular artists to become part of her cable programing. Yet, if I were into betting, I suspect that Oprah’s vanity and media greed has fired her desire to become the first woman media mogul who might have to power/moxie to compete with Ted Turner. After all, both have huge egos, and thus will make great competitors.

      Yep. Oprah has outgrown network television. Now she longs/lusts to reign as queen of the cable empire … her, OWN!


      • avatar Baby Snooks says:

        I think Oprah at least in the beginning was a wonderful role model for all women and she rose above both circumstance and station and succeeded in a “man’s world” but the problem is she rose above everything except her ego and her ego grew along with her bank account. The main focus of Oprah from the point the money really started rolling in and she became a “phenomenon” has been Oprah.  She the biggest “guru” of all. 

        I will say I have always enjoyed the grocery store check-out which is usually where you find her magazine. Next to the tabloids. Where it belongs. 

  2. avatar Richard Bassett says:

    Another “Charlie’s Angels”. It was inevitable. I’m not sure about the demographics of the first series. I was only 18 at the time…and engaged to be married; the show was in direct competition with my hourly phone calls to my fiancé. It was light weight back then, it should be a feather this time…created for 30 to 60 year old men who can cover their macho zest for a police series (but to really see these bouncy Angels), lt was the same reason for the 1975 original series. But now it will really stand out as there have been many very good police drama’s since the 1970’s with actual ‘acting’. Oh, and why does it have to be a celebrity to play Charlie? As he is never seen, it could be anyone. Anyway, it will not be Emmy material and a lot of skin will be shown. “Sex and The City” with ladies who have guns. Nothing new. This ‘good-bye to Oprah’ saga would hold more weight with me if I were never to see Oprah again but she’ll be back in a matter of moments on ‘OWN’, her own television channel. And I still see her as a talk show host. Desilu did the same thing in 1960. “I Love Lucy” was gone. Very sad. But she owned part of the production company, which she eventually bought in 1967, and we saw her back on television in 1962…for the next dozen years. She, like Oprah, didn’t stray very far away from her median. To be honest, whenever there was time, I watched “Judge Judy”….here, in Boston, her competition. So all the crying and carrying on just didn’t rise on my emotion meter. She’s just around the corner.

  3. avatar Deirdre Cerasa says:

    After all the drama over Arnold comments this past week; I have realized that I probably am not all that deep a thinker about some of these things. Regarding Oprah. There were times when I was home in the afternoon and watched a show; sometimes interesting sometimes not. I have never felt her a guru. I do think she has helped many people because they feel she has helped them. Was the send off over the top? Sure but it is her show and those who love her wanted to have it that way! I watched a bit of Monday and Tuesday and got a kick out of it. I haven’t wasted one second wondering if it was staged surprise or real. If it was right or wrong. If it was outrageously expensive and the money should have been donated to charity. I am sure there are those who will say all of these things and more. One thing I do know is with about 500 channels to watch, if I don’t like what’s on, I change the channel. So simple. And to be really honest, there is so much on that in my opinion is awful that I change the channel a lot!! Thank heaven for Turner Classic Movies!

  4. avatar crystalclear says:

    I read where OWN’s ratings are not healthy.   I haven’t watched Oprah in years.   I honestly tired of listening to every other show be about incest/child molesters.   It was also difficult, for me personally, to gain enormous weight and then lose down to a size 5.   It didn’t seem natural for anyone to go from one extreme to another.   I thought her to be unbalanced because of it.  Most of us have lost and gained weight and then settled on a weight that was persistent in making its number known LOL!   And, of course, I thought she was a phony and didn’t really seem to care about her guests.   I also read something about that “how she was in person.”

    Like everyone, she has her good points….giving away gifts and such but even that was taken too far.    I believe Oprah got caught up in believing she was an angel missing from heaven by the giving away “Oprah’s Favorite Things”  which stated if “Oprah likes it it’s gotta be good.”  All she was doing was promoting that product whether she liked it or not.

    Sorry to be so down on Oprah.   I’ve never been drawn to her.   I also believe she is a terribly unhappy woman.   So, wherever she can find success she will be there.   I also read somewhere that when she endorsed Barack Obama her ratings took a big hit.   I haven’t read anymore about that.   If that info is incorrect, I always welcome being corrected.   But really it doesn’t matter as that was a long time ago.   Things change.

    Love, love love DREW BARRYMORE!!

    • avatar crystalclear says:

      “difficult for me to watch her gain enormous weight”   left that out in editing…why do we not have an edit button wow?

      • avatar TheTexasMom says:

        Once upon a time in a land far away, I use to enjoy watching the Oprah Windfrey Show.  Then it became just Oprah, all Operah, all the time.  Then there was the show  she called viewers who did not like her movie, Beloved, uninformed (read that as stupid)  Really?   I realized then that was the day she out Oprah-ed herself and lost me as a viewer.

  5. avatar Laura Ward says:

    Charley’s Angels should use Rob Lowe’s voice imitating Robert Wagner if they can’t get the real thing. He was quite good in Austin Powers.

  6. avatar Bonnie O says:

    Someone mentioned in the last few days that Oprah’s book programs brought many viewers back to reading and added even more.  It is also my understanding that Oprah’s book list was a major success and that authors were relishing the thought that their newest novel might be included on that list.   For her dedication to the reading public in America, both readers and writers, I thank Oprah very much.