Liz Smith: The Big “Meh?” Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony Split

J. Lo and Marc Anthony: splitsville

And more from our Liz: Woody’s “Midnight in Paris” is his biggest hit … will “Harry Potter” nab a best picture nomination? … Elizabeth Taylor goes to a spa, has a blast, circa 1979

“I DON’T see any reason for marriage when there is divorce,” said the divine French movie star Catherine Deneuve.

Miss Deneuve was as good as her word, almost! She married at age 21. The marriage lasted seven years. She never did it again.

* * *

AND HERE was the general reaction to last Friday’s announcement that Jennifer Lopez and her third hubby, Marc Anthony, are splitting after seven years: “Meh.”

I’d heard no scandal about the pair, and almost to the very end, Miss Lopez was saying lovely things about the father of her twins. But they were not an “on-fire” couple. Miss Lopez had calmed down since her Sean Combs/P.Diddy and Ben Affleck days. (The terrible legacy of Lopez and Affleck was the beginning of the press joining people’s names for tabloid use — remember, they were “Bennifer?”)

Today it all seems nice and civilized between Jennifer and Marc, and he was quite chipper at a concert on Saturday night, flirting onstage with his female fans. And Lopez and Anthony will go ahead as joint hosts of a South American talent show for TV. It’s terribly Noel Coward-ish of them, though probably neither ever heard of Sir Noel!

Jennifer Lopez will find new life for herself on the pages of the weekly glossies. However, she’ll be competing for space with that other Jennifer, Miss Aniston.  (I just read several stories on Aniston — one ordering her “not to blow it” and marry her latest beau, Justin Theroux; the other insisting that Angelina Jolie had “set her sights” on Mr. Theroux, leading Jen to despair. It is all very funny.)

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WORD OF mouth—it’s not a myth.

Woody Allen had made many fine films. But only a few have been big box-office. He has his audience and the studios budget accordingly. What a surprise then, that at this period in his life, Woody’s latest movie, “Midnight In Paris,” would turn out to be his biggest American hit —ever. It has grossed more than $40 million dollars, outdistancing “Hannah and Her Sisters.” Worldwide, “Midnight In Paris” has  topped the $70 million mark, making it the second highest earner for Sony Classics, after “Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon.”

“Midnight In Paris” has been driven by word of mouth.  The reviews were terrific, but a lot Woody’s movie have had terrific reviews and then sunk. Not this one. At every recent event, party, during every phone call, whatever, this film has been discussed. I chatted the movie up to dozens of friends, and have written about it several times. The most unlikely people said to me, “Have you seen ‘Midnight In Paris?’”

This one goes right up there with “Manhattan” and Annie Hall” as a great popular hit. Bravo to the director/actor/comic/writer/jazz musican, Woody. “What’s New Pussycat?” as his first film asked. It’s you, Woody — you are eternally new.

“Midnight In Paris” is ravishing and evocative and moving. I hope the Academy of Arts and Sciences sees it that way, when nomination time arrives. They probably won’t!

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SPEAKING OF Oscar, the buzz is high and the push is heavy for the current and final “Harry Potter” movie to nab a Best Picture nod. The reviews have been superior and the film seems about to make more money than any movie has — ever. But will Oscar give in and allow “Harry” the ultimate kudos? Insiders say, “The Academy doesn’t take the franchise seriously.” I say — don’t bet the rent they won’t take it seriously, now that it’s over. Perversity, thy name is Hollywood.

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FOR THOSE of you who don’t always know what’s going on in the new world of e-books and e-magazine articles, you probably missed Vanity Fair’s special little article and fabulous online slideshow of Elizabeth Taylor and her friend Maury Hopson. Back in 1979, Maury accompanied Elizabeth — then an unhappy Senator’s wife — to an exclusive spa in Florida, to take off weight, and “refresh” herself. (No drinking.) It worked. La Liz lost 22 pounds and never again became the obese woman of the infamous Studio 54 evening — squeezed into a limo with Steve Rubell. (Two years later, she would take off another ten and conquer Broadway in “The Little Foxes.”)

Maury Hopson took pictures of Elizabeth, and one of the staff members also took pictures of the two of them engaged in various spa-like activities. VF published 16 of the shots and they are the most adorable, natural pictures of Elizabeth you’ll ever see. Wrapped in a towel … swimming … exercising … and totally camping it up. She is also shown proudly displaying her sexy, shapely legs in a pair of inexpensive Candies backless high heels. Richard Burton used to like to call attention to Elizabeth’s flaws —her double chin and “stumpy” legs, but it was he who always encouraged her to wear her mini-skirts mini-er and her hot-pants, hotter. These candid shots of the 48-year-old star show just why Richard wanted to see more, more, more of his wife’s gams.

The photographs also convey the real-life Elizabeth’s humor and sense of reality. I wouldn’t say she was “down to earth,” really — I mean, she was Elizabeth Taylor. But considering her life from the age of nine, she was a damn fine example of getting over yourself, in an atmosphere that encouraged total narcissism and vanity.

Elizabeth played the game of stardom, but she always knew it was just a game.

20 Responses so far.

  1. avatar Paul Smith says:

    “Midnight In Paris” is a yawn. Francophiles would do better elsewhere. Don’t count on too many laughs either.

  2. avatar Karen Ferguson says:

    Love that Deneuve quote about the point of marriage, given the possibility of divorce. What is known today as getting married was, back in my day, called getting lavaliered — it came after going steady. After the whole Casey Anthony Internet brouhaha I was left befuddled by one unnoticed remark of one of her acquaintances. He said that after they’d had sex, he wanted to take it up a notch and become friends.

  3. avatar CatA says:

    Liz, you made me curious about the VF photos of Elizabeth Taylor at the “fat farm” in 1979.  So I looked on the VF website, found Maury Hoppson’s article and the slideshow.  Here is the link: 
    Elizabeth looked fabulous and, most importantly, like she was enjoying herself there. And she does indeed have beautiful legs.  Note to Mr. WoW:  did you see these photos? 

  4. avatar Barbara says:

    Paul, I don’t agree with your assessment of Midnight in Paris. I thoroughly enjoyed it. Afterward I re-read A Moveable Feast. I thought the photography was evocative and the story line interesting. So far, my favorite movie of the year.

  5. avatar J G says:

    Hi Liz,
    I agree regarding: Meh. Meh. Meh again. Note to self; use the word meh more often.

    I also loved Midnight in Paris. Loved it.

    Meh. I don’t have anything clever or useful to add. Just, I love your columns and read them daily.


  6. avatar Laura Ward says:

    “Midnight in Paris” was a wonderful “if only…” fantasy film. I guess Paul wants reality only. I go to the movies to escape from life. That’s why I hate depressing movies which is what the Academy seems to nominate.

    Barbara Sinatra has a cute story in her book “Lady Blue Eyes” about Elizabeth Taylor’s stumpy legs and stumpy fingers that Richard Burton complained about outloud to Barbara and Frank. Burton had to buy Elizabeth a fantastic expensive ring to put on her finger to make up for the public insult. And now, after Elizabeth got her years of pleasure from her jewelry, some charity is benefiting via the Burton and Taylor saga.

    • avatar Mr. Wow says:

      Dear Laura…

      “Stumpy” or not, her legs were really quite well-shaped.  And she liked showing them off, no matter what the style mavens at WWD ever said.  (Even when she was heavy, she adored evening gowns cut way up high–you could see all the way to Virginia.)

      Her hands were bad though.  But she always joked about that, too. 

      • avatar rick gould says:

        I thought those pix of her were adorable at the spa… even going to a fat farm, she looked like she was having fun…

        ET, when she was in good shape, had a great ’50s figure: petite, curvy. Not so much for ’60s Twiggy fashions…but Liz never let a thing like good taste stop her 😉
        And Burton loved to tease her about her figure “flaws” but was the first to admit that her figure reminded him of all those Welsh girls he used to chase… and didn’t Richard once refer to her breasts as the 7th and 8th wonders of the world?

        Poor girl. ET seemed to get by 😉

        • avatar Mr. Wow says:

          Dear Rick…

          Of her breasts, Burton said,   “Empires will die before they wither!”

          ET had remarkably good tone–remember, this was a woman who’d had three children before the age of 25.   La Liz’s 1973-76 flame Henry Wynberg took some amazing pix of her just before they broke up.  There she is, in a teeny red bikini, looking damn fine and doing her best MM poses. 

          Men loved her because she really loved sex.  There were other qualities, but her appeal on that level was potent. 

      • avatar Bethany Christian says:

        A friend once told me that no one will notice your hands if they’re adorned with beautiful jewelry.

  7. avatar Richard Bassett says:

    These are not the first time that these photos were printed publically. I remember seeing those photos ten – fifteen years ago and I have always wondered if these spas’s still exist. Twenty to fifty years ago everyone was going to the ‘spa’ for four or five days. These photos look like a fun filled trip but I am sure that some hard work had to have taken place to lose that much weight in such a short amount of time. I think that there were several visits to the spas. Throughout The Warner years. Somehow, they morphed into what we call ‘rehab”. Private, of course. But in 1979, she needed motivation. She wasn’t getting it in Washington. Once trimmed down, she went back to Hollywood to star in “The Mirror Crack’d”, then the theatrical “The Little Foxes”. It would take a few years but the ‘sequel’ was abounding; just a slight detour. We’ve all been there.
    I once read, after Jennifer married Marc but right after her engagement with Ben, and that Jennifer will, most likely, be a serial monogamist. Many marriages. This marriage lasted a relatively long union when you consider the previous three and “Marc and Jennifer” together are going to be a hard act to follow. I saw her on “Will and Grace” once. Someone enquired that the couple had only married twenty minutes ago and are now apart. And Jennifer replied:” Is that a long time?” I wish her many husbands, hit records (great new one out now), successful movies and, yes, even more babies
    I know nothing about “Harry Potter”. He could be a clown or a coal miner for all I know. I will abide by the Academies decision to stay away from the endless sequels and look for something that has a start, medium and finish…so you can walk away with adequate closure, Now, there are so many Award Ceremonies every winner that some of these films are bound to win something. As for actors, Daniel Radcliffe needs some major character roles so his devoted fans are not seeing “Harry Potter” in subsequent films. Ten years of the same characters, especially one so young, is a hard mold to break.
    I will only see “Midnight in Paris” in Paris. That or On Demand….what do you think my chances will be?

  8. avatar Belinda Joy says:

    So far…..Jennifer and Marc are handling their divorce in the right way. No drama. No gossip. No financial (public) swabbles. Simply two people that realize they are better apart then together. Why can’t all Hollywood splits happen like this?

    I am SHOCKED that Midnight in Paris has grossed that amount of money worldwide….Woody Allen’s movies have always been ahem….an acquired taste….   I personally don’t like his films, yet I always see them hoping for that first feeling of “Wow, that was good”  30+ years and I’m still waiting……

  9. avatar Alice Darr says:

     I was listening to one of the entertainment shows last night and there was a big piece on the Jennifer and Marc Anthony breakup.   Apparently, Jennifer thinks Marc was cheating on her?! And this was one reason she decided to leave. 

    I think that is a hoot!   Marc Anthony was married to another woman and had three kids with this woman, when he left his family to be with Jennifer Lopez.   Jennifer is a homewrecker if there ever was one.   She needs to stop all this marriage stuff and just be single as she doesn’t seem to know how to make it work or she just chooses the wrong men for the wrong reasons.   We really do not need another Elizabeth Taylor type who marries almost every man she dates.

    • avatar Mr. Wow says:

      Dear Alice…

      Let me assure you, Miss Taylor did NOT marry every man she “dated.”   The marital record would have been quite beyond ordinary mathematics. 

      God love her!

      Miss Lopez and Mr. A have been married seven years–an eternity in show biz life.  And, frankly, these days, in normal life!

      • avatar Baby Snooks says:

        Once upon a time here and there on the campaign trail Elizabeth Taylor did claim she did marry every man she slept with. Which in itself raised some eyebrows in Virginia. But she smiled, waved the bejeweled hand at the masses who turned out, and cackled.  And was forgiven the little lie.  Personally I think it was the cackle more than anything else.

  10. avatar Alldogs says:

    To Mr. Bassett,
    You are mistaken about having seen the Vanity Fair photos of Elizabeth Taylor
    before.This is the first time they have ever been in print. Others from that same trip
    appeared in Interview magazine celebrating her 75th birthday… probably the reason for your confusion. The Vanity Fair images are completely exclusive.
    The remarkable change that Elizabeth accomplished at the spa was the result of a very strenuous exercise and diet regime lasting over three weeks, not “four or five days” and she had never been there before.
    Maury Hopson

    • avatar Richard Bassett says:

      If I remember correctly, the story which contained that photos was originated by you a few decades ago. Why else take them? I remember seeing a photo of Elizabeth jogging. She wasn’t against going to the spa in 1979, she just wanted someone to come with her, like a cheerleader (as you certainly didn’t need that intervention) but I clearly remember seeing all of them before. To wait for her death to release them makes sense? It was good PR for her, after being the brunt of everyones jokes and being at her heavist. The article mentioned that she went to others during that period too, getting ready for “The Mirror Crack’d” and eventually “Little Foxes”. Years ago they called rehab’s …spa’s, catered for the very rich. They were all privately funded. They only consisted of an amount of time of abstance. The psychological aspect (CBT or DBT) were included in the 1970’s. Elizabeth had been addicted to drugs and alcohol for years before 1983 Betty Ford’s. I wouldn’t have commented on seeing the photos taken thirty years ago before actually seeing the photos before but, as you say, I am sure that they were admitted for a long period of time. I would have no motive to.

  11. avatar Alldogs says:

    Sir, you do not remember correctly. As I said, different photos from that trip were
    published in the Interview Magazine devoted to Elizabeth on her 75th birthday. And there was one of her jogging. If you read my article, you would know that the spa visit was my idea, hot hers. I went as a supportive friend, hardly a cheerleader. If you think you have seen these images before, I am sorry to tell you, you have not. You are confusing the Interview Magazine from nearly 5 years ago with other things having nothing to do with me or these photographs.
    (Note to the Editor: Bassett apologized to me by email for his misunderstanding)

  12. avatar Bethany Christian says:

    CatA — Thank you thank you for the feed to the ET photos!!!