“BEWARE OF young girls who come to the door, wistful and pale of twenty and four/delivering daisies with delicate hands.”
So wrote (and sang) composer Dory Previn in the dreamily bitter “Beware of Young Girls,” a thinly-veiled allusion to Mia Farrow and Dory’s ex-husband, Andre. “You were my friend, my friend, my friend, you were invited to my house” went the singsong accusation in Dory’s first album — after years of collaborative work with Andre. It was titled “On My Way to Where” and became quite the little sensation at the time, back in 1970.
Andre fought back against being viewed as a heartless betrayer, mentioning Dory’s fragile state of mind — she was hospitalized for schizophrenia treatment. Theirs was a tumultuous marriage. Mia said nothing. (Years later, during her relationship with Woody Allen, Mia had reason to recall Dory’s dreamy warning lyrics.)
Dory Previn died on Tuesday in Massachusetts at age 86. Her work with Andre Previn included such well-known works as “The Theme from the Valley of the Dolls.” But after the divorce and Dory’s breakdown, she became a highly acclaimed solo composer/performer, well-loved for the intimacy and quirkiness of her themes and lyrics. These are reflected in the titles of her early albums — “Mythical Kings & Iguanas,” “Reflections in a Mud Puddle,” “Marcy C. Brown and the Hollywood Sign.”
Three of her major themes were Jesus, the male ego and Hollywood — the industry’s treatment of women. Marilyn Monroe’s name often floated through her work. One of her greatest songs was “Starlet, Starlet, On the Screen, Who Will Follow Norma Jeane?” The big lyric was “Who do you have F**K to get into this movie?” Dory sings it in babyish voice that roughens and toughens as the song goes on; it is a savage indictment of Hollywood flesh-peddling and casting couches.
Amazon will probably not be inundated, as it has been for Whitney Houston’s CD’s. But I predict an online surge for Ms. Previn, one of the unique and brilliant artists of her time.
* * *
CHANNEL SURFING, I came across Oprah Winfrey’s Oscar special. She interviewed Jonah Hill, nominated for his best supporting role in Bennett Miller’s baseball movie, “Moneyball” (starring Brad Pitt.)
Hill was sweet, and discussed, among other things, why at 28, he wanted to begin to trim down, and ease himself out of his profitable movie image as the overweight sidekick. He brought Oprah to his favorite diner, and paid — “This is the most exciting day of my life, paying for Oprah Winfrey’s lunch!” he said. (Oprah had a simple omelet, because — “An omelet looks more substantial than scrambled.” She declined the biscuits.)
Oprah also chatted with Octavia Spencer and Viola Davis, both nominated for their work in “The Help.” Spencer is an adorable person. But Viola Davis is intense, powerful and vulnerable. Her emotions are so close to the surface. Viola unveiled her short reddish, natural-looking hair. And what a difference it makes. She looks heroic. The actress said she was “living too much in wigs and weaves, though I’ll probably do my hair back, for certain roles.” There were many revelations of her impoverished childhood, her long apprenticeship as an actress, her doubts, and her midlife crisis, which occurred after her first Oscar nomination for “Doubt.” She said, “Here I was working with Meryl Streep, feeling I deserved to be working with Meryl Streep, nominated for an Academy Award. I kept thinking, ‘shouldn’t you be happier?’ Don’t you have everything you want?’”
This was one of the best sit-downs I’ve ever seen with an actor. Oprah allowed Viola to open up beautifully, showing her strength and her fragility. Catch a re-run of this on the OWN network if you can.
* * *
CHART-TOPPING pop star Yoko Ono celebrates her 79th birthday on Saturday in New York City. (I’m not being tongue-in-cheek, Yoko actually is a chart-topping pop star. She is the proof that if you hang in with dignity long enough, people come around and appreciate you anew.)
Yoko will not just party at Le Poisson Rouge, she’ll take the stage with her famous Plastic Ono Band. What a woman!
* * *
ONE WONDERS what miracles of photo-shopping and double-stick tape went into the new cover of Entertainment Weekly magazine. There are the three stars of “The Vampire Diaries” — Paul Wesley, Nina Dobrev and Ian Somerhalder — wrapped in a blood-red satin sheet. Mr. Somerhalder appears to be on the brink of showing more than EW could get away with. One millimeter more and they’d have had to run a cautionary banner across his loins.
Inside the issue there’s more flesh. This time the vampires are naked under white sheets. I’ve never seen “The Vampire Diaries,” but I imagine people watch it for the same reason they “read” Playboy — uh, you know, for the scripts.
* * *
I GUESS we have to hand it to The Hollywood Reporter for its restraint. The new issue contains a full-page tribute to Whitney Houston from powerhouse publicity firm PMK-BNC, and five pages more: an article about Whitney’s comeback plans, written by Kim Masters. But it has George Clooney on the cover, handsome as ever. With the Academy Awards upon us any minute, and Clooney nominated for two Oscars, THR made an industry-wise choice: Keep Clooney on the cover. Oh, and the story claims: “Clooney, Complicated.”
I don’t think so. Quite the opposite. That’s the reason he remains so popular. Serious, yes. Complicated? Well, maybe if I lived with him, I could better say. I am personally crazy about this great guy.