Liz Smith: Hollywood Loves to Suffer — Ricky Gervais is Back as Host of the Golden Globes

And more from our Liz: Jackie DeShannon’s new CD … Playboy magazine salutes Jean Harlow … Michael Buble confesses

“THE ONLY way to find true happiness is to risk being completely cut open,” wrote journalist Chuck Palahniuk.

* * *

I GUESS people in Hollywood are really seeking true happiness. How else to explain the return of Ricky Gervais to his hosting duties at the Golden Globes ceremony in January?

You do recall that Ricky, with his trademark undone shirt and glass of beer, balanced on the podium, eviscerated all and sundry at his last GG appearance, including gay-baiting such powerful players as John Travolta and Tom Cruise. But hordes of politically incorrect types loved his jabs at the audience of the privileged. The show received good ratings and a barrage of publicity. Even people who didn’t know of Gervais from “The Office” were suddenly aware of him. So, gird your loins, Hollywood.

I just hope in the inevitable wake of his appearance, with people all so offended — or at least pretending to be offended — Gervais won’t go on another tour of talk shows and magazines, insisting he is not at all mean-spirited, saying that he’s a good and wonderful guy who would never ever hurt anybody’s feelings.

To paraphrase what was sometimes shouted at Frank Sinatra — “Ricky! Just shut up, and insult!”

* * *

MUSIC FANS rejoice! The great singer/songwriter Jackie DeShannon (“Put a Little Love in Your Heart,” “What the World Needs Now is Love”) is back. Jackie, who also wrote “Bette Davis Eyes” for Kim Carnes, has just released a new album of greatest hits and favorites she has recorded over a career that spans almost 50 years.

Jackie pioneered the female “concept album” with 1968’s “Laurel Canyon” and worked with everybody from Randy Newman to Van Morrison to Lesley Gore and Marianne Faithfull. Her new album is titled “When You Walk In The Room” which was a hit she wrote for the British pop group The Searchers, back in 1964. Well, Miss DeShannon has walked back into the room, and her fans couldn’t be happier. (A great Herb Ritts photo of Jackie, taken a few years ago for Vanity Fair, is the cover of the CD.)

Jackie, long-married to film composer Randy Edelman, was recently honored by The Society of Singers for her lifetime achievements in music.

* * *

PLAYBOY MAGAZINE devotes many pages in its December issue to iconic blondes. Lots of photos of Marilyn, Jayne, Bo Derek, Sharon Stone — all the usual suspects, and a few nice vintage shots of blonde stars such as Madeleine Carroll, Marlene Dietrich and Alice Faye. (Hugh Hefner had admitted to finding the smoky-voiced Miss Faye unusually attractive.) In fact, Neal Gabler has written a good piece on the original blonde bombshell, a girl whose tragic life and premature death make Marilyn Monroe’s problems seem like a Sunday picnic — I do mean Jean Harlow. (She survived one of Hollywood’s greatest scandals — the suicide of her impotent second husband, MGM exec Paul Bern.)

Harlow, star of such classics as “Dinner at Eight,” “Red Dust” and “Libeled Lady,” died at 26, from kidney failure. At the time, before dialysis and organ transplants, no power on earth could have saved her. (The oft-told tale of her mother turning away medical help because of her Christian Science beliefs is a myth.)

The real horror of Harlow’s death is that movie fans actually watched her sicken film by film, without realizing what was happening to her — the deepening shadows under her eyes, the bloat from fluid retention. Harlow’s audience was actually seeing her die. She collapsed on the set of “Saratoga,” died soon after, and the film was completed with a double in long shots. She hoped she was the verge of great personal happiness with the urbane actor William Powell.

Upon learning of her death, the writer Graham Greene paid tribute to the eternally un-brassiered actress’s tough but loveable persona — “Her technique was a gangster’s technique. She toted a breast like a man totes a gun.”

I did find it odd that with all with blonde worship inside, Playboy put a brunette on the cover, Leeann Tweeden, who has something to do with poker-playing. Go figure!

* * *

MICHAEL BUBLE’S “Christmas” CD is already out, and selling briskly. But if you need more of a Buble fix this holiday season — or know a fan who does — then pick up a handsome new book devoted to the singer. It is titled Michael Buble: Onstage, Offstage. It is a glossy tome, big enough for a small coffee table and packed with great photos by Dean Freeman. (The cover is a moody black and white shot of a serious-looking Michael, unshaven — there’s a touch of gray in his scruff, and it’s quite attractive.)

Michael has written an intro to the book. Actually, it’s more like a mini-autobiography in which he tells the tale of his rise to the top of the heap. (He leaves out the part about singing at my 80th birthday party — an event that made him an overnight sensation. Well, not quite.)

He’s honest about himself, and admits to a problem he still struggles with: “I am unable to censor myself in interviews. Maybe it’s because I don’t realize that not all reporters are my friends. I can say stupid things, but please don’t hold me to it. I’m only human. But as a result of several interviews coming back to haunt me, I no longer read anything that’s written about me. I just don’t have the stomach for it.”

Smart idea. I’ve always thought that the most well-adjusted actors don’t read their interviews, rarely see their own films and, these days, don’t go online and start browsing websites and blogs. Of course, there’s always a “friend” around who slips you the latest tabloid or weekly magazine or mentions casually that you are being dissed on TMZ.

Fame can be like the proverbial car crash. You don’t want to look, but you can’t help it.

7 Responses so far.

  1. avatar rick gould says:

    Well, it doesn’t really matter whether Hollywood finds Ricky Gervais funny…he laughs enough at his own jokes for everybody.

  2. avatar Tracey Duffy says:

    I for one thoroughly enjoyed Gervais this year and am looking forward to next years show now! I love his irreverent since of humor.

  3. avatar Lisa Bonnice says:

    Am I the only woman who wishes Playboy magazine would just go away?

  4. avatar Elizabeth L says:

    the Golden Globes think people they are awarding Globes to need to be verbally abused so they got Gervais again the least funny person in Hollywood.

  5. avatar LuckyLady n/a says:

    Reverance is highly overused and overstated.

  6. avatar Belinda Joy says:

    Michael Buble’ – Oh Michael, how I agree with you when it comes to reporters. I wrote a controversial letter a few years ago that received a flurry of attention in my community. Reporters contacted me left and right. And in each instance, each and every interview, the reporters twisted my words and comments to fit the narrative they were trying to define. They weren’t interested in reporting the facts, they were interested in sensationalizing the story, no more, no less.

    I keep that in mind when I read certain interviews about celebrities. I am a nobody. An insignificant woman from the Midwest and reporters did a hatchet job on me. So I can only imagine all the manipulation stars like Buble must indure. I love Michael Buble’s voice and for anyone who hasn’t seen his show live… need to add it to your bucket list. You will be blown away!

    Ricky Gervais – I am not surprised in the least that he is being invited back to host. He was controversial and if there is one thing I have learned about watching Hollywood it is this…. The Golden Globes received a butt load of advertisement following his hosting. Weeks and months after the show people were still talking about Ricky and the hatchet job he did on different stars.

    The Golden Globes wants that again.  “What will Ricky say next year?”   That is what the Golden Globe hope everyone will be saying.