Liz Smith: The Stars Turn Out

main“IF you’re thin and rich and fun, everyone will want to dance with you!” said the late Brooke Astor.

She always believed in dressing up to give people their money’s worth!


GREAT ACTRESSES are not always back-biting and jealous of one another. Many times they like to cheer each other on. This was certainly the case late last week when actress Holland Taylor opened her one-woman play about the late Gov. of Texas, Ann Richards, at the Vivian Beaumont. Gifted stars turned out to cheer Holland on her opening night.

annloveThey were  — just to name the ones I glimpsed — Oscar-winner Anne Hathaway … the understated talented Laura Linney … my pet, New York’s own Judith Light … the one and only Elaine Stritch … the husky-voiced Tony winner Kathleen Turner … the perennially young Lily Tomlin … the brilliant Linda Lavin. Holding up the men’s side were Tony Lo Bianco and Ben Vereen.

Also on hand, two “leading ladies” of women’s rights  — Gloria Steinem the great and modest seer and the handsome daughter of Gov. Richards’ Cecile, nation-wide leader of Planned Parenthood. My pal, PR queen Peggy Siegal, took me over to see Anne Hathaway in the flesh. Later, Peggy insisted, “Do you think she is pregnant? Did you look at her waist?”

I had to confess, I again failed the celebrity observation test. I was busy talking to Ann’s young mother, Kate McCauley.


OH YES,  back to the night and the SRO crowd in the party after “Ann” at The Plaza Ballroom. Everybody behind the scenes in theater was there and they are a mighty force, even if I can’t call up all their names. At least ten people came to tell me they were “producers” connected with Holland’s play

markI enjoyed sitting for a while with the attorney Mark Sendroff because I had known his late partner Harold Schiff. The latter was a dignified guy who had endured repping the tempestuous Bette Davis in her later years. Mark now reps Holland Taylor and a clutch of other wonderful women stars! (One way to make being a lawyer fun, is to round up a clutch of would-be actors and stars and work in show biz!)

My own date for the evening was fashion’s Billy Norwich. Knowing that his friend Liz is a flop when it comes to his business, he introduced me to Julie Weiss. She has been Oscar-nominated for costumes for movies like “Frida” and has scored also in the Tony and Emmy sweepstakes. It was a real privilege to meet this genius.

I hope you will go see my friend Holland doing my friend Ann Richards. But I won’t write a lot more about it because I think I’ve used up my raves.

stevieMOTOWN RECORDS will be releasing a deluxe tribute set of two of Stevie Wonder’s groundbreaking album’s from the 1970s — “Talking Book” and “Innervisions.”

Stevie took a long time to complete these albums, but they ended up being released less than a year apart, cementing his transition from pop star to serious, innovative artist. To celebrate the 40th anniversary of these works, extensive liner notes will be included and an in-depth interview with Wonder himself.

And, separate from this project, Stevie’s Motown pal Smoky Robinson is producing a TV special on Mr. Wonder.

OPINIONS and off-the-top-of-the-head exclamations are never going to go out of style. But I am not sure that real writers, ace reporters, smart columnists covering “the news” are in that category. They are disappearing right and left. The New York Times story last week about how the titles New York Herald Tribune —  and even the Tribune as it was published in Paris — are going, going, gone.

UntitledThis makes me think how I will miss the historic Tribune. When I first came to Manhattan in 1949, fresh from the University of Texas, I was greener than a gourd. The most attractive target for me was the New York Herald Tribune over on 230 West 41st Street. The newspaper was then owned by the fabled Jock Whitney, the man who had provided the backup money for David O. Selznick‘s movie of “Gone With the Wind.” So Mr. Whitney was glamour-plus for me.

A little later, in this same neighborhood, I once worked weekends at Newsweek magazine, proofreading which was done “out loud,” one live person to another. It’s hard to imagine that now, but then, also we didn’t make mistakes on an all-important weekly news magazine.

The old Metropolitan Opera was near this address and I had actually been there and seen Leontyne Price sing “Aida.” Nearby was Bleek’s Saloon (pronounced Blake’s). At the bar you’d see opera singers and reporters, gossiping with the drinking literati — people who had actually worked for Stanley Walker, who was first at the Tribune and had written a book called “Mrs. Astor’s Horse.” Here one might glimpse in person, James Thurber, Homer Bigart, the young Don Forst, society’s Lucius Beebe in a top hat and tails.

Soon to come along was someone named Cay Felker and most historians forget that he invented “the new journalism” and even though in the sixties the paper had changed its name to the World Journal Tribune  — I wrote my first New York story for a magazine named by Clay just that — New York!

Goodbye to all that! To being in a no-Tribune NYC; to being in Europe with no Paris Tribune. But I can’t say “Goodbye and good riddance!” because it’s never good to lose something of value.


justin-bieber-shirtless-birthday“WHAT is happening to Justin Bieber? He is either turning into a male version of Lindsay Lohan or a female version of Michael Jackson!” So said a music industry wag, commenting on the increasingly strange behavior of teen sensation Justin Bieber.

(Bieber’s unusually delicate features and slim build have always been fodder for comment; that could explain his recent running around without his shirt, showing that he’s developing, at 19. But for heaven’s sake, who needs to see underwear?!)

But the rest of it — his snarky tweeting, aggressive entourage, late appearances at shows, collapses, oxygen tanks, belligerent acceptances of awards, high speed driving and perhaps a taste for an illegal substance or two seem to spell danger, heartbreak dead ahead! I hope not. I have no idea if he’s talented. But he’s awfully young.

He’s pretty smart, too, in some ways. After his collapse last week he tweeted a photo of himself, shirtless in his hospital bed, his pajama bottoms slipping off his hip. He looked quite healthy. Fans were relieved and — excited.


This column originally appeared on on 3/11/13

One Response so far.

  1. avatar janie k says:

    With all of his stupid stunts, Bieber’s behavior is starting to resemble a less talented Michael Jackson. And we all know what happened to him. Bieber needs to pull up his pants, put on his shirt, stop surrounding himself with yes men, stop smoking pot, stop trying to be a rapper and maybe go away for awhile. I think people may be beginning to tire of him.