“WHO’S STONED? I am merely traveling incognito!”
That was but one of Patty Duke’s many incredible lines of dialogue in the 1967 movie version of Jacqueline Susann‘s “Valley of the Dolls.” (As Neely O’Hara, a character not-so-loosely based on the uppers and downers of Judy Garland, Duke received the lion’s share of over-the-top screen time.)
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“VALLEY OF the Dolls” was a novel, a feature film, a mini-series, a nighttime soap opera. It was a huge hit on bookshelves and in movie theaters, but the tale of three girls struggling through the swamp of show biz never clicked on the small screen.
For the record, the girls in the movie were Miss Duke as the out-of-control movie star, Barbara Parkins as the moralizing fashion model Anne Welles, and the late Sharon Tate as the victimized sex-symbol, Jennifer North. (And Miss Susan Hayward as the coarse, aging, dipsomaniacal stage legend, Helen Lawson.)
But with the 1960s back in a big way on the small screen via “Pan Am,” “The Playboy Club” and of course, “Mad Men,” TV is looking once again at “Valley of the Dolls.” It is NBC’s creators (they already have “The Playboy Club”) who are re-thinking “Dolls” and mulling its possibilities. What lurid possibilities! The language and sexual situations that could only be hinted at in previous filmed incarnations, would be allowed full flower now. (Although the frequent use of “fag” and “faggot” — which did get a lot of play in the movie — would likely be excised in these politically correct times.)
But if “Valley of the Dolls” goes on at 10:00 p.m., audiences would be guaranteed a lot of flesh and a lot of flash.
In keeping with the retro rage, a new version of “Dolls” would probably be set back in the sixties, the era in which the novel ended and the movie was made — lots of mammoth hairpieces, extended eyeliner, mini-skirts and frosted lips.
As for casting, there are dozens of nubile TV actresses ready to jump in, many of them pristine Disney princesses, such as Selena Gomez. (She could play against type as Jennifer North, the sex-bomb.)
But discussing this project among a few industry types the other day, only one name came up on the casting of 50-ish Helen Lawson — Lindsay Lohan. Hey, this girl is only 25! I tried to look surprised and tut-tut this clearly jocular suggestion, but nobody was having it. The feeling against her is strong. Lindsay’s recent reported shenanigans at Fashion Week seem to have sealed her fate.
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MICK JAGGER used to sing, “I Can’t Get No Satisfaction,” and Bon Jovi is singing “I can’t get no respect!” Once again, the gazillion-selling New Jersey rock band was snubbed at being inducted into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. (Bon Jovi has been eligible for two years.) Despite the band’s many hits and ability to pack stadiums with appreciative fans, the Bon Jovi band has never been a critical darling. In fact, most “serious” music critics are apoplectic when Bon Jovi is mentioned.
The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame people don’t always get it. They don’t care much for hip-hop or electronic music. I don’t either, but you can’t deny their great influence.
And, though it is not exactly a reason to be inducted, Jon Bon Jovi is, to this day, one of the sexiest, most charismatic, energetic lead-singers/front-men in rock history. And also one of the most philanthropic. So, I think, for the fit of his jeans alone, Jon deserves to be honored.
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SPEAKING OF music icons, one of my favorites, Debbie Harry is back. Blondie is releasing its first album in a few years, “Panic of Girls.” Debbie, who still looks very much like the goddess of her early “Dreaming” and “Rapture” days, tells Parade magazine that her sex-symbol status has always been a help, and she can’t deny it. “It’s a showbiz thing. Most performers and artists count on a strong visual image … being sexy and hot never hurts!”
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I AM assuming that the recent rumors floated about Ashton Kutcher and Demi Moore splitting are just that — rumors based on baseless gossip. The story, a spawn of Britain’s Daily Mail, received a lot of traction online — that Ashton cheated on Demi during their sixth anniversary weekend — but so far no word from Kutcher, 33, or Moore, 48.
I met this couple once, at a premiere of one of Demi’s films, shortly before they were married. They were charming to everybody, and charming with each other. She was serene and glowing and he appeared far more mature than his years. Simpatico to the max.
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CHAZ BONO continues doing his best on “Dancing With the Stars.” He has admitted his weight and general poor condition has been a hindrance, and is performing with badly swollen knees. (Mom Cher is terribly worried.) But he’s still in there and giving his all.
I’m rooting for him, on this show, and in general. I am so shocked by the hate being directed at this guy — yes, I’m going to refer to him as a guy. That’s what he feels he is, that’s how he identifies himself, that’s what he went through medical procedures to achieve. And what the hell does it cost me or anybody to accept that? Transgender people are not monsters or freaks. One of the reasons Chaz has been so open and “out there” is that he wants to show others like him that you don’t have to live on the fringes of society. This is where many transgenders end up, ostracized by family, and fighting for survival in an often ugly world.
And as an aside, I wonder how much the hate would have been moderated had Chaz been slim and trim? Just as male to female transsexuals are always far more accepted when they look truly feminine and “real.” Externals count, even among those who say the whole business is “sick,” etc. Yeah, but it’s less sick when everybody’s conventionally pretty and good-looking, right?
Dance on, Chaz Bono!