Liz Smith: The Mass Media

“THE REPORTS that I drank heavily [after my diagnosis] are an exaggeration.  The trouble is, once one article said it, others copied, because it made a good story.  Anything that has appeared in print so many times has to be right, right?”

That is the brilliant theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, in Playboy magazine for October. He is suffering from ALS.  Even an intellectual guy like Mr. Hawking knows that once the mass media gets hold of a “hook,” they are loathe to let it go.  It’s so much easier not to correct.

AFTER seeing Taylor Swift interviewed by “Nightline’s” Cynthia McFadden and then reading about this singer cover girl in the on-the-stands Glamour magazine — I found myself wondering why more of these multi-millionaire singers of our modern times can’t be more like Taylor?

She is charm personified.  Sort of half innocent, half smart, philosophically looking at her success and not believing it or being taken in by it.  Don’t know when I have been so impressed  by a personality I don’t even know and will probably never meet.  And she can really sing.

I WISH more young people who are obsessed by “fashion” and busy creating their own styles would just calmly sit down and read Tim Gunn’s new Fashion Bible.

It starts with the fig leaf and the toga but runs through all sorts of antique fashion items right up to skinny jeans, graphic tees and the sexy slippers that are hurting your feet right this minute.

The dignified Tim, star and serious teacher on “Project Runway,” has produced a most readable work that gently advises and points the way for you to wear your own ideas without coming across as crazy.

Tim covers the waterfront explaining how the Sixties ruined underwear for Americans … how Beau Brummell created a way of evening dress that men have worn for more than a century (the black tie and tuxedo look) … the way cargo and capri pants are a plague and unnecessary to everyday living, etc.

The last time I saw Tim Gunn, he and I were pretending to be at a cocktail party on a roof garden for “The Smurfs” movie.  I am still getting tiny tiny residuals for that but I’ll bet Tim is rich. He oughta be; he deserves it!

AM I imitating the New York Times or vice versa?

I NO more than commented on everybody on TV wearing sleeveless dresses in frigid air-conditioned  studios (see Gayle King, for instance, and Mika Brzezinski on their shows) than the Times does a big take on women admiring Michelle Obama’s well-toned arms and showing them off.

Then I wrote defending Elizabeth Warren (of Massachusetts) for saying she had Native American bloodlines from her Oklahoma forebears because most people believe their ancestors in the Southwest and still brag about such  myths.

Then David Treuer does a big piece for the Times on this same idea. It tells “how Americans adopted the mythic virtues of Native Americans as their own.”  (That’s just what I was saying in defending Elizabeth Warren!)

WE HOPE pop star Justin Bieber is feeling better, after throwing up on stage the other night.  He handled it smoothly, asking his fans, “Do you still love me, even though I’ve just thrown up?”   Of course they did.  And even loved him while he was upchucking. (The sound of his singing voice continued to be heard clearly through the speakers. Ooops!)

Well, that’s the way it’s done these days, especially in gigantic stadiums.  Most singers perform “live” to their back-up tapes, just in case they’re not feeling up to hitting those high notes.  Or any notes.

In the old Judy Garland days, when the great singer’s voice was wavering, she’d say, “Oh, don’t worry, I’ll just scream the last note, the orchestra will play louder and I’ll throw my hands up in the air, a big ‘Judy’ gesture.”

And it worked, too!

WOW! The names hosting the screening of Warner and GK Films’ hot one, “Argo” are the biggest in the business and when it’s all over next week,  Ben Affleck’s redemption will be complete.

“Argo” is the film you’ve been hearing about concerning the Iranian Revolution in 1979 and its boiling point when 52 American hostages were being held by anti-Americans.  It is based on a true declassified CIA story.  Affleck, an Oscar-winning writer, producer, actor — directs and stars. His co-producers are Grant Heslov and George Clooney. The screenplay was done by Chris Terrio.

So about the party they are giving for this incredible movie on October 9th?  Let’s just name a few hosts: Christiane Amanpour, Anderson Cooper, Ted Koppel, Steve Kroft, Cynthia McFadden, Diane Sawyer, George Stephanopoulos, Brian Williams, Bryan Cranston, Alan Arkin, John Goodman.

And the whole thing is a Peggy Siegal P.R. production, which means lots of heat and light!

This column originally appeared on on 10/3/12

3 Responses so far.

  1. avatar Rho says:

    G-d bless Stephen Hawking.

  2. avatar Jay Gentile says:

    REAL singers on Broadway sing live eight times a week. Manufactured pseudo singers perform to taped version of their autotuned ditties. A few years ago I spent top dollar for Christina Aguilera concert, only to have her lip sync. I could have listened to a CD at home and saved a lot of money. But good for them that the rubes will pay to watch Britney proudly lip-sync like a drag queen or Bieber puking while his fake songs play.

    In the name of truth in advertising, performers should be forced to state that taped music will be used so that consumers can make a choice about whether it’s worth the price.

  3. avatar jadez says:

    the point i think is that people like justin bieber can not sing.
    not even a tiny bit.
    not even a single line of a single song.

    12 year old girls think he is cute so he became a product like coke or pepsi.
    thats the way its done now.

    ALL the tv shows searching for musical “talent” are only searching for a product.

    Judy in this clip is struggling yes, but still is light years ahead of what passes for singing these days.

    i guess its a generational thing and a technological thing that separates great singers like Judy and bieber.

    but i dont see the point of enabling it by accepting it and hoping the poor bieber is feeling better so his next fraud isnt obvious too.