And more from our Gossip Girl: The bravery and heartbreak of “Becoming Chaz”… the royal honeymooners’ escape!
“I DON’T want to be knocked over by a car and have my obituary only talk about ‘Prime Suspect.’”
That was Helen Mirren back when her sizzling BBC police drama was first taking off. She’d yet to play Queen Elizabeth I, Queen Elizabeth II, not to forget her great turn in “The Madness of King George,” as Queen Charlotte. She was famous in Britain and well known to discerning American theater-goers, but she had yet to ripen fully.
Now, of course, she is Dame Helen Mirren, and her mere presence in a movie assures the audience of at least that pleasure.
But “Prime Suspect” is coming back. No, no … Helen is finally done with detective Jane Tennison! But there’s an American version of the series in the works, from NBC, and Maria Bello will tackle the role of Tennison. (“ER” fans know Bello as Dr. Anna del Amico.)
The remake won’t be totally Americanized. Toby Stevens, the son of the great Maggie Smith, will play Jane Tennison’s “guy at home.” Tom Wilkinson did this role opposite Mirren in the Brit version.
As for Helen herself, I haven’t quite recovered from the fun of her as a madam in “Love Ranch.” Or a gun-toting gangstress in “Red.” And if she didn’t erase the original memory of Sir John Gielgud as caretaker to the dipsomaniacal millionaire in the recent remake of “Arthur,” she did manage to make Russell Brand seem almost palatable.
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WELL, IT was fascinating to watch “Becoming Chaz” the other night, with a special interview and question and answer session with Rosie O’Donnell after the movie aired on Oprah’s OWN Network. (I guess this is a kind of dry run for Rosie’s new talk show, which will come to Own later this year. Rosie was tapped by Oprah after Ms. Winfrey herself opined that Rosie has always been her nemesis competitor and “the only one I was ever worried might best me!”)
But back to Chaz: the tale of Chastity Bono, daughter of Sonny and Cher. Transitioning to manhood is a powerful testament to Chaz’s determination. Chaz felt he had to put this need first, above society’s attitudes, public comment, his family. He is one hell of a brave guy. But there’s heartbreak as well. Chaz’s beautiful and intelligent girlfriend, Jen, who fell in love with Chasity the lesbian, now has to cope with Chaz the guy, and all his male energy, testosterone and perhaps some masculine insensitivity — “that great, open smile is gone, some of the things I fell in love with, are gone, or changed so much. The male aspect is now sometimes difficult to adjust to,” said Jen, who has struggled with a drinking problem. Indeed, she announced to Chaz, “I can’t do this sober!” when Chaz began the transition, which included removal of his breasts.
And Cher? She is honest. She had a hard time with a gay daughter and is still struggling with a second son. (Her other boy is Elijah, born from her brief marriage to Greg Allman.) You can see Cher’s pain when faced with Chaz’s insistence that he doesn’t recall much of his childhood, that he was never happy. Cher’s mother, her sister, Chaz’s stepmother, Mary Bono, and his half-brother and half-sister from Bono’s marriage to Mary, are much less conflicted than Cher. “We’re Bonos!” they all say, explaining their relaxed attitudes.
It was especially heartbreaking to hear Cher tell of calling Chaz’s phone and listening to a recorded message. She realized it was the last time she would hear Chastity’s voice (testosterone injections have deepened Chaz’s vocal tone.) “Can’t I save that? Can’t I keep it?” she asked. (Cher admits that Sonny handled Chasity’s coming out as a lesbian better than she did, and probably would have handled this transition with similar aplomb.)
But, Chaz has charted his course and he seems pretty sure that in time his mother will be totally accepting.
Oh, and as for Rosie O’Donnell, she was very good interviewing Chaz and Jen, and it was bracing to see her on TV again. She seemed super-relaxed, looked well and eager to be back, connecting again with a live audience.
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INSIDERS thought the brand new Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (William and Kate) would probably select the isle of Mustique in the Caribbean for their honeymoon. (Mustique is a favorite for Britons, having been put on the map by the late Princess Margaret, the Queen’s younger sister.)
But these young royals fooled them all and selected a $6000-a-night private island in the Seychelles where each villa has its own chef and butler. (The Seychelles are islands with white beaches in the Indian Ocean archipelago. Gamblers who selected the Seychelles as a honeymoon destination over Mustique and Necker islands, or Lizard Island off Australia, had the Ladbroke people paying 33 to 1 odds.)
The 155 islands of the Seychelles were under British control for more than 160 years before becoming independent and joining the Commonwealth in 1976. These islands have had many mysteries fomented upon them. There is said to be almost 200 million dollars buried somewhere there by the 18th century French pirate Oliver Levasseur. And some gullible Frenchies still believe that the Dauphin, son of Louis XVI and Marie Antoinette fled the guillotine by running off to the Seychelles.
The late James Bond creator Ian Fleming stayed in the Seychelles while writing “For Your Eyes Only.” Prince William had been in the Seychelles before, dubbing the islands “the best holiday I had ever had!”