Liz Smith: Liz, Ann, and Tom

“IT’S USELESS to hold a person to anything he says while he’s in love … drunk … or running for office!” says Shirley MacLaine.

And James Wood tells us this: “Hug your mother often and tell her how much you love her … Cherish the dead you once loved so carelessly. They still live in our heart.”

WATCHING WOMEN at awards shows — the Emmy red-carpet being the height in tackiness–is depressing. They check off “who” they are wearing, what jewels they have borrowed for the night, in a manner indicating they have no idea what they are actually talking about.

Enduring this, I was reminded of the last time Elizabeth Taylor appeared at the Oscars, in 1993, to receive the Jean Hersholt Humanitarian Award. The business of “who are you wearing, etc” was just taking hold.

Elizabeth, clutching her honorary Oscar, went to the press room for a few words with the media. She was a bit distant, perhaps keeping in tone with her award, which was not for her career as an actress, rather her great work in the AIDS fight. She wore a gorgeous yellow Valentino gown. We knew that because there had been an old-fashioned press release about the dress. (She certainly did not walk the red carpet and chat about her clothes.)

But just before she left the press room, she turned and touched the massive Van Cleef & Arpels necklace blazing around her neck. “Oh, and in case you’re wondering, this is mine.”

And that, baby, was a star.

SPEAKING OF Miss Taylor, the trailers for Lifetime’s “Liz and Dick” movie, starring Lindsay Lohan are beginning to air. What is there to say? I still hold out some hope for Lindsay, despite her inability to stay out of trouble. (I think her mother, Dina’s interview with Dr. Phil really said it all!) “Liz and Dick” looks like it might be grisly fun — so bad it’s good. Along the lines of “Valley of the Dolls” or “Showgirls.” On the other hand, we could be pleasantly surprised. Anyway, it airs in November.

I WROTE recently about my favorite literary hero, Jack Reacher, created by author Lee Child. The latest Reacher book, A Wanted Man, hasn’t received terrific reviews. Many fans are disappointed. But I thought it was pretty darn good! Maybe there wasn’t enough action or killing (although naturally there is enough of that!) It is perhaps a quieter adventure.

And more than ever, Reacher’s super-minimalist life on the road, came through, and seemed even more appealing. He kept challenging people to assess their own lives, chock full of possessions and mortgages and other such worries. Nobody had a good response. Despite some fan griping, A Wanted Man is yet another big bestseller for Lee Child and Delacorte.

P.S. Paramount is a wee bit nervous over Tom Cruise’s coming “Jack Reacher” movie. The studio is worried that unending, negative Scientology publicity — accelerated by the Katie Holmes divorce — could finally do him in. There are even suggestions that Tom will have to choose between his religion or his career! (The Hollywood Reporter has a fascinating take on all this.) You know what? I think Tom will keep both. He doesn’t strike me as a man who compromises easily — or at all. He’s on the current cover of People — “Tom, His Life Alone.” Not for long, I’d wager.

I WENT to a Plaza Hotel gala for the American Theatre Wing as a guest of the Dorothy Strelsin Foundation. (Ms. Strelsin was a denizen of the first celebrated revue titled “New Faces” and she was a Broadway lover to the end of her life. I always like to celebrate her.)

This was a big event. Lots of the famous showed up to honor The Redgrave Family: Harold Prince, Mary Rodgers Guettel, William Ivey Long, Daryl Roth and her son Jordan Roth of Jujamcyn, John Benjamin Hickey, Willa Kim, Morley Safer, and many more VIPs I probably did not see. Theodore S. Chapin also received a tribute.

I particularly loved Alan Cumming who sung from “Cabaret” in honor of the late Natasha Richardson. This guy is one talented stand-out in honoring his fellows. (You also love him on TV in “The Good Wife.”)

I enjoyed the two men on my left and right — Richard Falcone, married to the chef of chefs Mimi Sheraton, sitting across from us, and former Timesman Larry Van Gelder — a rare journalist who did his apprenticeship on the tabloid New York Daily Mirror. (I told him I came along in NYC in the ’50s and he said that Walter Winchell was already a joke to other journalists, even in those days!)

My escort for the night was the handsomest and most entertaining man in the room, actor Michael Thomas. But our hostess, Enid Nemy, separated the two of us.

Vanessa Redgrave — who spoke for Liam Neeson and her dearly departed Lynn and Natasha — was amazing, as she always is. She looks better and better. My only carp was that they had the beautiful ball room so dark, you could hardly tell who was who at the next table. They could use a spotlight specialist and a sound expert. Light it up and show it off! And make us hear it!

The food brilliantly passed muster, which is so unusual for a charity event that it deserves mention.

SPEAKING of theater, I am showing my friends a drawing by the late Gov. Ann Richards of Texas who opined, “The only one with sense enough to leave the Alamo was a woman!”

This was in Ann’s repertoire of advice such as: “You don’t have to do it just because he says so … Can’t wait to get this girdle off” … Vote early and often … Don’t put my Social Security into the stock market … Vote … Quit whining.”

We now know that the Emmy-winning actress Holland Taylor will definitely open in her one-woman show, “Ann,” on March 7 at the Vivian Beaumont of Lincoln Center. (I already saw this winner of a play, written by Holland herself, at the Kennedy Center and it’s great.)

Missing from this election year, to my dismay, was/is the great American Ann Richards! Let Holland bring a little of Ann back to us.

This column originally appeared on on 9/27/12

2 Responses so far.

  1. avatar jadez says:

    i never thought i would use liz smith and the word naive in the same sentence.

    but unless she really doesnt care about the damage scientology and tom cruise have done to people she should stop hiding behind “isnt tom still cute” BS and learn what is going on.

    less she be thought as shallow and Nothing else.

  2. avatar Briana Baran says:

    The latest Jack Reacher is not a disappointment because of a lack of violence…but because of the gratuitous nature and bland, robotic nature of the violence, the manner in which Reacher is mechanically engaged and moved to the violence and killing by the singularly useless death of a cardboard character, the over-all plastic nature of most of the characters…oddly enough including Jack Reacher….his easy capitulation to governmental powers-that-be, and one of the most anticlimactic, WTF deus ex machina saves I’ve ever read in any modern “thriller”. Even the Bad Guys are sad and pathetic. And poor old Jack has suddenly developed a punk’s smart-ass attitude, and radically different speech patterns and vocabulary…almost as if Lee Childs was setting up the character for, wait for it, a smarmy, self-satisfied bratty punk like Tom Cruise.

    And Liz, I hate to be the one to tell you this, but Scientology is exceedingly dangerous, on the Just Regular Folks level. The organization treats Exceedingly Wealthy Celebutards with kid gloves…that’s their Public Happy Face. What they do and have done to the average person is disgusting, more vile than the average organized religion (I am speaking as a certified cynical iconoclast who loathes religion and considers all of them to be institutions based in power and wealth mongering, the implementation of fear, ignorance, divisiveness and primitive tribal thinking), destructive, and sometimes lethal. I am speaking from very ugly personal experience that doesn’t need to be exaggerated to be frightening and sad.

    Stop defending Tom Cruise. Please. I do not avoid the films, music etc. of many performers for religious or political reasons (to each their own). There are exceptions, and Scientologists are among them. Along with Roman Polanski…because drugging 13 year old girls and then sodomizing them while they cry and beg a man to stop is RAPE no matter how talented that man happens to be. At things other than rape, that is…we already know he can do that. Scientology was created (originally as Dianetics) by L Ron Hubbard only to make money. It drove Hubbard insane in the end…and I think that’s really all that needs to be said.