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Category Archives: Film Industry

People Like to Stop and Stare

So hungry are tourists and locals for some proof of A+ quality celebrity sightings, that they want to know more about Look at the ridiculous state of my tee shirt: so here we are.

© Russell Smith, 2011

There might be some hope. I got rejected from the peer-reviewed art show run by Rex Bruce via his gallery downtown, LACDA- Los Angeles Center for Digital Art. DAH? LACK DAH!


R.I.P. Farley Granger

Cropped screenshot of Farley Granger from the ...

Image via Wikipedia

Who will be three?

Everyone knows the adage “Bad things come in threes.” Well, poor Liz Taylor passed away just six days ago. Now Farley Granger has gone to that big movie lot in the sky. Just yesterday, Granger died at the age of 85 “from natural causes,” according to Wikipedia. Between Wikipedia and IMDB, one can put together a pretty good bio in five hundred words or less. He was born on the best coast, San José, California in 1925. Best remembered for his collaborations with Alfred Hitchcock: Rope (1948) and Strangers on a Train (1951).

Immediately after graduating from high school, Granger caught the eye of Sam Goldwyn. (I wonder how that worked.) He was cast in a few small roles, but then joined the Army and served his country in World War II. His longtime partner (since 1963), Robert Calhoun, collaborated with Farley on his 2007 memoir “Include Me Out: My Life from Goldwyn to Broadway“. Granger worked with many great actors and actresses during a long career that didn’t end until 2001. From David Niven to Anne Bancroft, Granger worked with a host of old timey, great performers. He also managed carve out a career in the Italian movie industry. While he never broke out into superstar status, his resumé is one that any parent would be proud of.

I don’t know if he ever weighed in on the gays in the military. The fact that I’ve never heard of Granger’s involvement in any kind of gay rights activism seems to say more about the era in which he was born and raised, rather than about him. Like Rock Hudson, he was a heart-throb whose career was dependent on something of a macho image. Unlike Hudson, Granger could act. He scored a brief career comeback with Ira Levin’s “Deathtrap,” in 1980. He is quoted as saying that he enjoyed watching movies, but didn’t like making them. That’s a sad statement. Maybe he would have been better off as a Catholic priest?

I have never felt the need to belong to any exclusive, self-defining or special group. I find it difficult to answer questions about ‘gay life’ in Hollywood when I was living and working there. There were, of course, gay cliques, but I had no close friends who belonged to any of them, and I had no desire to become involved with any of them … I was never ashamed, and I never felt the need to explain or apologize for my relationships to anyone. –Farley Granger

Arrivederci, Farley. It sounds as though you may have had a touch of self-loathing going on. I can’t say that I’m going to run to the nearest book store to buy your memoirs, but I’ve provided a link to Amazon, where you can buy a copy, if you are so inclined. I hope your passing was easy. Now we are all left with the question, “Who will be number three?” Because bad things always, always come in three’s.

Hitchcock directed Granger in two movies

Below: His star on Vine, on the east side across from the Hollywood Plaza Hotel.

R.I.P. Elizabeth Taylor

It is a sad day indeed here in Hollywood. An icon of epic proportions just died. I am speaking of Elizabeth Taylor. I heard the news on the Washington Post’s web site. It appears she left her body some time around 11 a.m. Pacific time. The cause of death is listed as complications of congestive heart failure. She’d been in hospital for a couple of weeks at Cedars Sinai, celebrating her birthday there on February 27. Her four children were with her when she died according to IMDB. As the peons and praises pour in, let my add my weak voice to the chorus. An Oscar laureate two times over, she never really garnered the acclaim as an actress that she deserved. She was accused of dragging down Richard Burton, ruining his career and making him a lap poodle. Let’s remember that Sir Richard was an alcoholic of raging proportions, that he remarried her just for the sadistic pleasure of leaving her again.

Why should we care about the passing of Liz Taylor? Because it marks the end of an era. A child actress, she made her fame in Lassie (the movie) and National Velvet. As an adult, her list of credits is endless. She worked hard for the money, yet according to all reports, she was a gracious lady to all comers, hence the Larry Fortensky fiasco. With Ms. Taylor’s passing, gone is a woman who turned all heads, world round, not just with her beauty but also her very public private life. She is one of the last of a dying breed- a real actor who put herself into a role without losing herself in that role. An actor who took her work more seriously than public persona. We could use more Liz Taylor’s and less Angelina Jolie’s in the movie business, that’s for sure. Despite her strange proclivities, such as her friendship with Michael Jackson, she did her best to leave the world a better place than when she found it, especially her groundbreaking work on the part of victims of AIDS. She’s probably done more single-handedly to humanize the plight of these people, and to encourage research and development of therapies to treat HIV/AIDS. God Bless her. She will be missed by generations of fans.

What are my favorite movies by Liz? You may ask. Here’s a short list: Cleopatra, Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?, Butterfield 8 (a campy romp that landed her first Oscar). Virginia Wolfe was Oscar number 2. She did her share of stinkers- remember the Sandpipers? On the whole, her career was lengthy and full of well-deserved plaudits. She was a ground breaker in many ways. Did you know that she was the first actor to be paid a cool million for a role? That was back in 1963. Can you imagine Angelina Jolie condescending to take a role for only one million? Never!

Cropped screenshot of Richard Burton and Eliza...

Image via Wikipedia- Taylor & Burton in Cleopatra (1963)

Remember when she became the official vamp/femme fatale when she “stole” Eddie Fisher from poor little Debbie Reynolds? Nothing like that could ever happen again in this jaded world in which we live. The whole Angelina Jolie-Brad Pitt-Jennifer Aniston affair was like a puff of smoke compared to the media explosion caused by the Reynolds-Fisher breakup and Liz’s role in it. Liz was a mirror of our society in many ways, from her mixed up marital shenanigans, to her charity and finally in her passing. According to sources, she went gently into that goodnight, to paraphrase a Welsh poet. Good bye, Liz. This is one blogger who will mourn you deeply. Speaking of bloggers, I stumbled across a great blog that has tons of beautiful pictures of the former Queen of Glamour. Please allow me to treat you to a couple.

Below is a more down to earth image of Liz, from the filming of Suddenly Last Summer, another great Taylor vehicle. When she is standing on the catwalk above the “insane” people, her facial expressions are amazing and real. Those smoldering glances and piercing eyes captured my heart when I was a little boy. I’ll never stop loving you, Liz! You will live forever in the hearts of your fans and in the body of work that you’ve left behind.

Smoldering in Suddenly Last Summer

Liz in 1964, photographed by Avedon

I didn’t like True Grit

True Grit. The much-talked about remake of the John Wayne classic by the much-beloved Coen Brothers was about as stale and lifeless as the rolls you take home from the restaurant and then throw away a few days later. All these people are jumping on me about it but I thought Matt Damon reached new, unparalleled heights of wooden acting. Jeff Bridges was pretty good, much better than John Wayne ever was, interestingly enough. The plot is plodding. We stayed for over an hour before we finally gave up and left. Neither of us were having a good time. Oh, yeah, the girl. I don’t know who played her and I don’t want to know. There! I said it!

Here’s the trailer anyways. Say Hi to Mr. Cogburn!

You know, I didn’t like the original, so what were the odds I’d like the remake? If you’re gonna remake something, pick something more interesting.

106 and Park (on BET)

That’s right! Yesterday your intrepid videographer and reporter stumbled upon the filming of a show called 106 and Park. It was a celebration of 10 years on the air. Who knew? And I was participating in a big affair being held simultaneously in NYC and Charlotte as well as Los Angeles. Wow! I should have filmed longer, but I didn’t know where I was at. I asked security guards, police, audience members, “What’s the name of the band playing?” Finally, an extremely good looking Black couple came to my assistance. God, they were good looking. They MUST have been models. I felt like a slug in their presence and became quite tongue-tied. They told me the name of the show, but it just wasn’t registering and I’m not really sure, but I think it’s like American Bandstand or Soul Train. According to Wikipedia

106 & Park is an American music video show, set up in a countdown format, that airs weekdays 6 p.m. on BET and weekdays 7 p.m. on BET UK. Since its inception, it has been the network’s number one rated show.

Stop the Presses!

Zsa Zsa Gabor Breaks Hip

As we remember her

Even as I type, Zsa Zsa Gabor may be undergoing hip replacement surgery, according to her daughter, Constance Francesca Hilton. The 93-year-old actress broke her right hip Saturday after she fell out of bed while reaching for a ringing telephone at her Bel-Air home, said John Blanchette, Gabor’s publicist.

My question is, where was her lousy husband, the so-called Prince of Anhalt – a meaningless title? Why wasn’t he bedside? Was/IS there a home healthcare worker there to help Zsa Zsa with the tasks of daily living? When she was in a coma after her car accident in 1993, her husband sold pictures of her in this sad state to the German rag, Das Spiegel. The ones who bought the bogus Hitler diaries back in the long forgotten Eighties. Her husband, Freddy, found her supine on the floor and called an ambulance. I’m sure after he had a cigar and some cognac.

“My mother is not in critical condition or at death’s door,” said daughter Constance Francesca Hilton in a statement. She was on the phone in the hospital today while having lunch.” Zsa Zsa loves to chatter, doesn’t she? I wish she’d give me a call. I’d make an excellent personal assistant and treat her with the devotion that is her due.

Some may remember Gabor as a regular on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson, as well as numerous game shows throughout the Sixties and Seventies. The last time I ever saw her on television was in the very early Nineties, just before her car accident, when she appeared on shock jock Howard Stern’s show. He tried all these secret camera tricks with Stuttering John and a midget in the Green Room. She was the very portrait of courtesy to them both, doing her best to take their direction before going on the air. I think even Howard was impressed. I know Stuttering John and the midget appreciated not being cussed out. When she got on the show, Stern tried to gross her out by displaying various sex toys to her. She knows how to handle men.

“Oh, Howvuhd!” She gushed in her heavy Hungarian accent. “You are zee most talented man on television! That’s the only reason I appeared on your show!” She then denounced Jay Leno (hooray) for calling her a Nazi. She referred to him as “that horrible man with that jaw!” She was right too. Jay Leno sucks.

Please click on the tiny link below. It will open up an hilarious YouTube video of Zsa Zsa making an appearance on What’s my line? Please watch it. It is SEVEN MINUTES LONG. My screen saver came on while I was watching it. LOL. It gives you younger folk a good look at what entertainment was like back in the day. People had to be quick on their feet. Nothing was scripted. Please, please watch it. Even if it IS so terribly, terribly long. Just check out Zsa Zsa’s hair.

Hollywood is about filming

Sign, sign, everywhere a sign!

You’ve been given full warning!

Security is tight!

Just how many NCIS’s are there?

And then one more video, if you please.

Then Bob’s your uncle!