Liz Smith: 2012 Arriving … Get Ready To Vote or Prepare For The Apocalypse (Perhaps It’s the Same Thing?)

Santorum surges. Is the end at hand?!

And more from our Liz: the “real” tragedy of Natalie Wood? … the end of celluloid … Katy Perry and Russell Brand are apart — we must pretend to care

“A PERFECT poem is impossible. Once it had been written, the world would end,” said Robert Graves.

Well, right now, or soon, the perfect poem has been written or will be written. That is, if you believe the Mayan calendar stuff — the world will experience apocalypse on Dec 23rd, 2012. Lights out, folks.

Perhaps because the political scene is heating up to what soon will be a continuous boil — we are just days away from the Iowa caucus — media hasn’t paid nearly as much attention to the Mayans and their dire prediction as they did during the early part of this year. Could be, as the Republicans slug it out and somebody is chosen to combat President Obama, we’ll have more End of Days articles.

Thousands of people believe this. They are in a big hurry, for one reason or another, to see the earth destroyed. I think many of them are simply hoping they won’t have to go Christmas shopping next year.

Last time I looked at the Iowa polls, Rick Santorum was suddenly surging. Maybe those Mayans were onto something.

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OUR THOUGHTS are with the remarkable and beloved Carol Channing who suffered the loss of her husband, Harry Kullijian, on Monday. Carol and Harry were old friends from middle school who reunited 70 years after their initial acquaintance. They romanced and married in 2003.

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INTERESTING quote from Joan Rivers regarding the death of Natalie Wood and the (pointless) reopening of the investigation surrounding her drowning in 1981. Joan told Daily Beast writer Nancy Collins: “Nobody really believes that R.J. consciously had anything to do with Natalie’s death. But something happened that night on that boat. It wasn’t just a sweet, sad, accident.”

Collins goes over much that we already know — or think we know — about Natalie’s death. But she titles her piece “The Real Tragedy of Natalie Wood” — and in Collins’ opinion, Natalie’s true nightmare was “the treachery of growing old in Hollywood.”

It is true that Natalie’s peak years had come and gone. But she was only 43 at the time of her death in 1981, still beautiful and still working. She had been much inspired by her friend Elizabeth Taylor’s great comeback on Broadway that very year in “The Little Foxes.” (Wood, who had always idolized Taylor, was so upset when they saw each other in 1978 — Taylor was in Hollywood making a TV movie — that Natalie left the party and burst into tears, shocked by Elizabeth’s bloated appearance.)

Encouraged by a revitalized Elizabeth, Natalie was preparing her own stage debut, playing the title role in “Anastasia.” This appealed to her dramatically — Ingrid Bergman had won the Oscar for the screen version of the Guy Bolton/Marcelle Maurette play. And Natalie’s own Russian heritage was another incentive. (Anastasia believes she is the surviving member of the Romanoff royal family.) The tragic irony is that Natalie died at the exact point when mature women were making a big resurgence in Hollywood, led by the improbable ascension of Joan Collins in “Dynasty” at the age of 49.

For certain, Natalie would have joined the ranks of TV femme fatales, possibly with her own series. As an admirer of Natalie remarked to me, “If Natalie hadn’t died, quite a number of other actresses wouldn’t have worked as much on television as they did. Natalie was a perfect fit for the era of the miniseries and those special made-for-TV movies.”

In fact, Natalie had already begun her transition. She was a knockout in the small-screen version of “From Here to Eternity” and gave the greatest dramatic performance of her life in a TV film, “The Cracker Factory,” playing a woman who drinks too much and has serious issues with her mother. (The “difficult mother” was also a theme in “Splendor In The Grass,” “Gypsy” and “This Property is Condemned.” Given her dicey relationship with her own overpowering mother, Natalie clearly used her art as therapy and release.)

Not a thing will come of the new “investigation.” We will soon see a little squib in the paper that “no new evidence can be found” and the case will be closed, for good. I prefer to remember Natalie as she was in life — a truly good person, always trying to better herself, understand herself and her circumstances. And onscreen, absolutely exquisite; at her best a lyric talent. A fitting epitaph to Natalie is her final words in “Splendor In the Grass”: “Though nothing can bring back the hour of splendor in the grass, of glory in the flower/We will grieve not, rather find strength in what remains behind.”

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SPEAKING OF movies, I suffered a pang of nostalgic regret when I read that celluloid is well and truly a thing of the past. Next year digital projection will take over as the most common method for showing films. Celluloid will become a “curiosity.” There are monetary reasons for the change — a digital tape or recording card can last 90 minutes, as opposed to the nine and a half minutes of a 1,000 foot roll of celluloid.

But I’m with actor Keanu Reeves, who recently remarked: “I will miss walking onto a photochemical film set. It has a magic to me. When the director says ‘action’ and the film is rolling it feels like something is at stake.”

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OH, DARN! As if things hadn’t been bad enough this year in celebrityland — Cheetah died, for heaven’s sake! — now comes word that pop star Katy Perry and her hubby, comedian/actor Russell Brand are “spending time apart.” They have problems. Tragic. Or perhaps not. Married people don’t have to spend every second together.

No offense, but unless Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes split, what the stars do in 2012 won’t hold my attention nearly as much as will the brutal battle for the White House.

Happy New Year, you all, and hold onto your hats — it’s gonna be twelve frantic, flip-flopping, hypocritical, sanctimonious, promise-us-the-moon months. I can’t wait!

4 comments so far.

  1. avatar Sharon Belko says:

    Happiest of New Years to you Ms. Liz – although, like you, I am fearful of the political mongering that is to come. Your column is the last e-mail I receive before bedtime and I usually have a smile on my face after reading your delightful (or not) news. Let’s all find something joyous to celebrate in the new year – and hopefully some peace along the way!!

  2. avatar Jay Gentile says:

    If any of the other Republican clown college candidates talked about heterosexual fornication as much as Rick Santorum talks about homosexual sex, that person would rightly be dubbed a pervert and not taken seriously by anyone. But Rick cannot stop talking about gay sex. It possesses him completely and represents his over-riding passion. How creepy is that?

  3. avatar JCF4612 says:

    Hopefully Liz’s prediction of a quiet, quick closure into the Wood re-investigtion will come to pass. The yammering boat captain, the simpering sister, and other opportunists stirring up trouble and tripe need to be permanently put in their place.

  4. avatar Rho says:

    Happy New Year all.