Liz Smith: Reese Witherspoon Takes A Poke at Reality Shows, Sex Tapes, and Trash

Oscar winner Reese Witherspoon


And more from our Gossip Girl: Daniel Craig to return as 007 … Joyce DeWitt is “Miss Abigail” off-Broadway

“I MUST be dreaming!”

That’s what Sean Connery as James Bond uttered as he regained consciousness to find Honor Blackman leaning over him, and announcing with no irony or innuendo, “My name is Pussy Galore.”

Well, I felt I was dreaming while semi-watching the MTV Movie Awards. I couldn’t find HBO’s fabulous “Game of Thrones” and just happened to come across the awards show while flipping channels.

And what was the first thing I saw? Justin Timberlake with his hands on Mila Kunis‘ breasts and her hand grabbing his crotch. No, this was not a scene from a movie. They were up there on stage in front of thousands —millions, actually. Was I really seeing this? (And I’m a fan of both Mr. Timberlake and Miss Kunis — the latter should have been Oscar-nominated for her great work in “Black Swan” opposite Natalie Portman.)

I know the MTV Movie Awards are not to be taken seriously and it is definitively for the younger crowd, and it’s cable. But it is at times like this I feel like Bette Davis in “Where Love Has Gone,” putting down her teacup and declaring, “Somewhere along the line the world has lost all its standards and all its taste.” That Miss Davis delivered this line in one of the more tasteless movies of its time is beside the point.

I popped in and out of the show, each time finding somebody saying or doing something gross that naturally the audience screamed over. I did see Reese Witherspoon receive an MTV-style life achievement award. She was vulgarly “honored” from the stage by Patrick Dempsey, Robert Pattinson (the “Twilight” vampire heartthrob) and comedienne Chelsea Handler. Reese, who is one of the genuine role models for women in Hollywood, did feel compelled to accept her award in much the same spirit, though I don’t think her heart was in it.

However, she did say something significant as she wound up her remarks. She addressed herself to young women: “You don’t have to do a reality show to make it in Hollywood. You don’t have to make a sex tape. And, if you take naked pictures of yourself, hide your face!”

The audience seemed less enthusiastic about this message — though she delivered it cheerfully — than they had moments previously, when Reese had tossed off the F-word in response to a raunchy aspect of Mr. Pattinson’s introduction.

The powers at MTV probably weren’t thrilled either. Having invented the genre with “The Real World” the network is awash in reality programming and its “stars” —“Jersey Shore” and “16 and Pregnant” being the most currently notorious.

Even though she had to make her point in a kind of jokey way, I admire Miss Witherspoon for doing it at all. I’d like to see more of her on magazine covers and less of the dreadful, various “Housewives” “Bachelorettes” or the omnipresent Kardashians.

* * *

SPEAKING OF James Bond — well, we were, all the way at the top of the column — I’m happy to hear that Daniel Craig will play 007 for the third time, now that Sony and MGM have ironed out their difficulties. The 23rd Bond film is titled, for now, “Bond 23.” (Why not keep it? It’s better than “The Quantum of Solace.”) Casting continues, with a girl named Naomie Harris in talks as one of Bond’s conquests and maybe Javier Bardem or Ralph Fiennes as the villain.

Although I must say, Javier pretty much wrapped up villainy and tied it in a bloody bow as the remorseless killer of  “No Country for Old Men.” He needs a nice comedy. Or maybe he’ll be a funny villain, like Mike Myers‘ Dr. Evil.
* * *

SCARLETT Johansson and Sean Penn looked friendly at something called “The Guys’ Choice Awards” over the weekend, less than 48 hours after People magazine reported they were no longer dating. She looked sexy, he looked saturnine (I think it was the deep tan.) Both were smiling broadly. So maybe they made up, were never split or — let’s think outside the box — maybe they were never dating in the first place?

* * *

TV FANS! Remember Joyce DeWitt? Sure you do. She was the perky brunette member of the “Three’s Company” cast. She rarely got as much attention as Suzanne Somers (while Suzanne lasted) — which was a pity, because she was considerably more talented than Somers. Though nobody was as talented as the late John Ritter, who simply was the show.

Since “Three’s Company” went off the air, DeWitt traveled under the radar, but she traveled extensively, mostly on stage, and her credits are amazing — everything from “Macbeth” to “Anything Goes.” Recently she starred in the Canadian premiere of the Donald Margulies‘ Pultizer Prize drama “Dinner with Friends” and in Alfred Uhry’s Tony winning “The Last Night of Ballyhoo.”

Now DeWitt has come back to her theater roots, taking the starring role in the hit off-Broadway comedy “Miss Abigail’s Guide to Dating, Mating and Marriage.” She replaced Eve Plumb, another TV icon. Written by Ken Davenport (“Altar Boyz”) and Sarah Saltzberg (“The 25th Annual Putman County Spelling Bee,”) the show promises “classic advice for contemporary dilemmas” delivered by the all-knowing Miss Abigail.

You can see Miss DeWitt, who still looks remarkably like her 1970’s TV self, at The Downstairs Cabaret Theater at Sofia’s (221 West 46th Street. It’s next to the Lunt-Fontanne in Times Square.)  Call 1-877-9-MISS-ABIGAIL.

14 Responses so far.

  1. avatar Richard Bassett says:

    I think that Reese Witherspoon came bouncing on the screen in “Legally Blond” and I think that is the reputation that surrounds her, despite her Oscar nominated performance as June Carter in “Walk the Line” so I think she needs a few less daffy films roles under her belt before people take her a bit more seriously. I do not know what happened when the MTV award was accepted but her rant about creating sex tapes was a bit overblown (pardon the fun). No one twisted her arms to attend the event…so she was there on her own accord. Always a chance to get made up! And it was a ‘lighten up’ kinda show to begin with. Next time, don’t show up! Joyce DeWitt brings back memories for me while I was I very good friend of her manager. We’ll call him S. There was some scandal about Summers breaking her ribs (by skiing) to get out of her contract. I x-rayed her, was involved in this conspiracy which sent DeWitt becoming addicted to astrologists. She spent thousands to glance into the future. What could S do? A bit powerless. DeWitt just wanted to know if her career would continue after “3’s Company” (there was a big rumors that it would fall apart when Summers left. The Sheen effect)”. Well, her career did continue. The show was cancelled in 1983, I think, and S worked with her before moving on to bigger and better things…and Dewitt’s career did continue, thirty years later (maybe she should have asked more specifically). Eve Plumb, an icon? I think, Liz, that you are throwing that term around a bit too loosely. I guess this means that Daniel Craig won’t be playing Richard Burton in “Furious Love”. I want a good Elizabeth! Even if they have to exhume her. There are dozens of biographies floating around to find correct information. I so want this film made correctly. Russell Crow anyone? He’s got the name and has already been involved in the Meg Ryan and Dennis Quaid mess so he is familiar with the territory.

    • avatar Mr. Wow says:

      Dear Richard…

      Reese is taken very seriously in Hollywood.  She is nothing like her “Legally Blonde” roles.  Most of her movies—even the comedies–show her as a reasonably empowered woman.  In fact, she stated early on she would never played victimized women.  Her personal life appears quiet and respectable.  She doesn’t do nude scenes.  She doesn’t suffer fools gladly.  I know.  I interviewed her once and she did not suffer me.  She was impressive. Formidable.

      Russell Crowe is too fat and a bit old.  I’d say Colin Farrell.  Elizabeth liked him.  The film won’t be made correcly.  If it ever happens.  And there will never be a “right” Elizabeth.   They could get a gorgeous girl, but she wouldn’t be ET. 

      And yes, to a generation who grew up on “The Brady Bunch” Eve Plumb is an iconic figure in TV history. 

      • avatar rick gould says:

        I am not even going to think about who could play either Burton, or especially ET. The prospect is dismal. It’s like all these actresses they get to play Marilyn Monroe in some various revisionist take on her life… the latest two Naomi Watts and Michelle Williams. Good actresses both… but barely an ounce of Marilyn’s one of a kind charisma.

        I will make one comparison though. Reese Witherspoon has always reminded me of a young Debbie Reynolds, with her pert, petite looks, big blue eyes and perky on the outside, steel on the inside personality.

        • avatar Mr. Wow says:

          Dear Rick…

          You are SO spot on about Reese.  Not even steel–titanium, which is as strong as steel but 45% lighter. 

          Yeah, if anybody had ever been interested in doing “The Debbie Reynolds Story” Reese would have been perfect.

          The thing about anybody “doing” Elizabeth is that aside from her great beauty, there is not much to imitate or parody.  She wasn’t like MM or Bette or K. Hepburn.  Taylor onscreen did have her little mannerisms (especially later on!)  But not of the sort that can be used to impersonate her in telling her real story. 

          With MM, they  turn her into a drag queen, having her speak and behave in real life as she did onscreen.  The truth is, she was unrecognizable as her screen self when she was just  being  herself.  She spoke in  a normal voice and looked like some young awkward blonde babysitter. 

          So what to do with ET?!  She was bawdy and profane and funny in real life, “the salt of the earth and higher than high” as Shirley MacLaine put it.    Good luck in  trying to re-create her. 

          • avatar rick gould says:

            Catherine O’ Hara of SCTV fame used to do a hysterical imitation of the latter day Liz 😉

            But yes, ET in her heyday was typically naturalistic onscreen which set her apart from the “charm school” mannerisms of most starlets at the time.
            Her strength was always in her eyes and many co-stars commented on how Taylor was one of the few actors who looked them in the eye during scenes and not their foreheads (less double chin… ironic since Liz possessed a soft jawline early on).

            So what possible actress can duplicate Taylor’s beautiful and expressive eyes?

            Again, I am both hoping and predicting this project will fade away.

          • avatar Mr. Wow says:

            Dear Rick…

            Directors loved to photograph her in profile, but they would always instruct: “look up.”   Later she knew this instinctively.  Later still, she just didn’t give a damn.  (“Everybody knows I have a double chin—fuck it”)

            I do not think this movie will happen. 

            Then again—I didn’t think Elizabeth was really going to die.

  2. avatar Baby Snooks says:

    Pussy Galore arrived to usher in the sexual revolution about the time Bette Davis delivered that line. Presciently I might add. Hollywood lost its morals. Then it lost its mind.

  3. avatar Count Snarkula says:

    I SO see Daniel Craig as Burton should that film be made. I am with Richard on ET. I have thought and thought (no, I really don’t have that much time on my hands, but the mind will do what it will) as to who could play ET in Furious Love. I can sort of see Angelina, but then again no. Scarlett Johansson has proven that she can disappear into a role, but again I don’t know. Nicole? Katie? Maybe Marion Cotillard (!!!). What does everyone else here think? ? ?

  4. avatar Mr. Wow says:

    Dear Count…

    Let’s try to think of an actress, a brunette, 25 to 32  (ET celebrated her 30th birthday on the Rome set of “Cleopatra”) who has to somewhat resemble Taylor (Jolie does not at all)

    I’m stumped.  It will be ridiculous. 

    Remember how absurd Sherilyn Fenn was, in the TV movie Elizabeth couldn’t stop?  (She did sue and win back in 1982, to prevent a movie from being made of her life.  “I am not she, she will not be me!”  Taylor remarked on any actress who attempted to play her.) 

    • avatar Paul Smith says:

      “I’m stunped. It will be ridiculous.”  Honest words.  The older fans will not be happy with any actress (yes, not even Ms. Streep, who fails at nothing so they say).  And the young won’t care who plays Ms. Taylor, even if its an impersonator.

  5. avatar Richard Bassett says:

    That is true, Paul. We are SO the experts on ET. As I said, anyone younger than 60 will not remember being made “Cleopatra”. Don’t underestimate Jolie. In the past ten years she’s played all kinds of action figures or spies but I remember, “Girl, Interrupted” her Oscar winning performance. She is skillful, I would rather see her in “Furious Love” than her interpretation of yet, another, Cleopatra. If only Megan Fox could act… Streep could pull it off but she’s too old. She has all the ordinary qualities. She knows how to play “ordinary”. Physically, Liz will be easier to cast than for her persona, so Mr. WoW is right. John Belushi was the only skit impersonator I’ve seen in the past 30 years (LOL)…but he’s gone too. Maybe the iconic Eve Plumb can attempt the role! I may have not given Reese enough credit, but her seriousness was only amplified at the wacky MTV movie awards.

  6. avatar Count Snarkula says:

    So nobody but me thinks that Marion Cotillard could possibly pull ET off? I mean only if she was with paired with Daniel Craig. Damn, that would at least be some chemistry.

    • avatar Mr. Wow says:

      Dear Count…Marion is a fabulous actress.  And a mighty attractive woman.  To play Elizabeth Taylor you have to be drop dead gorgeous.  Perhaps even more gorgeous than ET herself was. (Onscreen that is–in person she was always more beautiful.)

      Also…Marion has already done Edith Piaf.  Nobody wants to get into the rut of impersonating other people.

      • avatar Count Snarkula says:

        Well that’s true. I guess what made me think of her is that she is such an incredible actress, and in Nine, the wistful smiles sort of reminded me of ET.