Liz Smith: Tom Cruise and Rosie O’Donnell — Stars on the Rise Again!

 And more from our Liz: Shirley MacLaine honored by the American Film Institute

“NEED. GOODWILL. Adaptability. Commitment.”

Those are the four vital qualities that Hollywood appreciates in Tom Cruise. And that’s why, at 49, the actor has four big studio films arriving over the next 18 months, including his latest “Mission: Impossible” and the musical, “Rock of Ages.” (He’s also in talks with Warner Brothers for a sci-fi flick, “We Are Mortals.”)

The Hollywood Reporter declares that Cruise “still matters” to the industry. You bet he does! Even those of his films that are considered “minor,” like “Knight and Day,” turn out with a $200 million worldwide gross.

He is considered “flexible” in his negotiations, realistic (he took only $5 million for “Rock of Ages”), is still a charmer, personally, and as THR points out: “Cruise has always understood what a movie star is and how he is supposed to play that role … he is a constant, enthusiastic campaigner for his own stardom.”

Oh, and before you say, “How egocentric and unattractive that sounds!” let me assure you, that was as good a description of … Katharine Hepburn as I’ve ever read. Of all the great, long-lasting ones. What — you think it’s an accident that careers go on and on? Elizabeth Taylor might have had an inherent, inborn sense of drama, but she also knew how to keep herself in the public eye, make smart deals, and remain “Elizabeth Taylor” for as long as she could.

And macho John Wayne loved being a star, and he knew how to remain a star. It’s hard work, for the star and for those who work behind the scenes, burnishing the image.

* * *

SHIRLEY MACLAINE (speaking of somebody who knows how to stretch out a career) will be the 40th recipient of the AFI Life Achievement Award. A gala event in June, at the Beverly Hilton in Hollywood, will fete this Oscar-winning actress, bestselling author, perennial free spirit and a woman who is sure her past lives were just as interesting as the current one.

In accepting her AFI honor, Miss MacLaine joins the likes of Fred Astaire, Bette Davis, Billy Wilder, Lillian Gish, Morgan Freeman, Meryl Streep, Robert DeNiro, Elizabeth Taylor, Alfred Hitchcock, Mike Nichols, Barbara Stanwyck and Shirley’s very own baby brother, Warren Beatty.

* * *

I am all for the Wall Street — and other similarly-named protestors — who are complaining about the entitled 99% and the rest of us 1%-ers!

But they desperately need a leader, a theme that is exact, and some kind of forward-thinking statement about what they are hoping to accomplish.

And, I am wondering where they are going to gather when the November weather turns into — well, yes, November weather?

I did get a kick out of Glenn Beck saying such protestors would come and drag him and his betters out in the street and kill them! (I guess he was thinking of the French revolution, but even totally disaffected and disillusioned Americans haven’t quite perfected the guillotine yet. And we are mostly still law-abiding.)

* * *

Loved loved loved my pal Linda Stasi and her review of “The Rosie Show.” If you’re not reading the New York Post, here’s Linda, who welcomed Rosie back on the air and spoke frankly. Linda reminded us of how Rosie more or less was hoist by her own petard in the past: “It didn’t even matter that Rosie O’Donnell, once TV’s reigning Queen of Nice, had publicly morphed into the Queen of Seriously Nasty and probably should have been fitted for a plus-size straight-jacket at her wildest.”

Linda went on to say: “But I, for one, am tired of the same middle-aged smug men and 30-something skinny women who think that saying four-letter words means they’re hilarious, dominating talk shows. When Rosie’s on, she actually is hilarious. Welcome back.”

The interview that “Nightline’s” Cynthia McFadden did with Rosie just before the new show bowed took things even further. The network anchor wanted to know if Oprah had come to see Rosie to check on the “crazy” factor. Rosie said she guessed so and that she had passed the test. She even evidenced love for Barbara Walters after she screwed up the latter’s property “The View.”

Rosie is unpredictable and all too human. She’s a star who had twinkled, gone out and been relit by the passage of years. Very talented and smart on her feet. I loved “The Rosie Show.”

I would never have personally selected the British weirdo Russell Brand as my one and only opening guest. But even he redeemed himself on this outing by offering roundabout humane philosophies that sound right in the end and showing himself to be a mensch and human being working with older women recovering from addictions.

I see, once again, we have to trust Rosie O’Donnell to do the right thing! She is all too human and riveting not to go along with.

9 comments so far.

  1. avatar Lila says:

    Liz, very good observation / prediction on your part, questioning what will happen to the protests when bitter weather sets in. It is just amazing how much weather affects even the most long-standing, bitter conflicts. There was a very predictable annual cycle to the India-Pak conflict in Kashmir; there is a very predictable annual cycle to the Taliban’s efforts against the US in Afghanistan.

    On a larger scale – interestingly – climate cycles like El Nino are correlated with upticks in regional violence when the temperatures rise and rainfall declines.

    • avatar Baby Snooks says:

      Maybe climate change explains Rick Perry. Not that anything really could. I must say he has proven once again that even if you really don’t believe in astrology you still should pay attention to Mercury retrograde. Not a good time to repair anything, which is challenging since most everything seems to stop working during Mercury retrograde, and definitely not a good time to announce your candidacy for president.  But, well, he’s at least adding some entertainment to the primary campaign. He and Sarah Palin should just forget politics and try stand-up comedy.  Or hit the real big time of television with a reprisal of “Hee-Haw.”

  2. avatar Count Snarkula says:

    I liked Rosie’s talk show.  I didn’t like her on The View, but I can’t stand that show anyway.  Really liked her radio show on Sirius/XM and miss that.  New show?  I think it’s too soon to tell.  Wasn’t overwhelmed with it.  Didn’t like the “opening number”, and I don’t think she has settled well into her “groove” yet.  But I think she will.  So I will keep up with it for another couple of weeks and see what happens. 

  3. avatar Barbara says:

    The Wall Street protesters had better figure out exactly what they want before they lose their 15 minutes of attention. I’m not sure what dressing like zombies has to do with Wall Street reform or fixing our budget problems.

    Never was a Rosie fan, even when she was in the Flintstones. She always reminded me of my old great-aunt. Everyone exclaimed how sweet and nice she was, how she loved children. She greated kids with a “kiss” but in reality she would get a good pinch of cheek and twist hard. For some reason that’s what Rosie’s “queen of nice” always looked like to me – a veneer that only a few who crossed her saw through.

  4. avatar Belinda Joy says:

    I had the recent pleasure of attending a taping of Rosie’s new show in Chicago (they did test tapings in September) and I laughed my head off! She was wonderful!

    Her new show, with the right promotions, will be a success.  

    • avatar chipgiii says:

      Rosie’s mistake in the past was taking a fun filled entertainment show and turning it into her personal political platform.  That gains you some audience, but also risks as much as 50% of your audience.  I’m not a Rosie fan, but it will be interesting to see what direction this show goes in: her advertisments say it is all about “fun.”  We shall see.

  5. avatar rick gould says:

    Shirley MacLaine, long overdue to join the AFI pantheon. I have found her an increasingly annoying in interviews over the years, but no denying she’s had a great career. Shirley’s latter day career is actually far more substantial than her first flush of stardom, who says there are no second acts in life?

    As for Tom Cruise, he will not be playing leading man parts like Harrison Ford until he is in his 60s. I know that anything is possible in Hollywood, but it is just a gut feeling–that his glory days as THE #1 leading man–is over. There is a whole group of top stars–Julia, Johnny and Brad–that the next few years will be interesting to see what direction their careers head into…

    Rosie? Wish her no ill, but Ellen won’t be losing any sleep over what she does…

  6. avatar mary burdt says:

    I love Rosie. Always did, always will. Her new show is just getting off the ground and I am sure Rosie will find her niche and be a huge success. I thought Russel Brand was a scream…love his weird humor. Saluting Friendly House (a Los Angeles based Women’s recovery home) has a special place in my heart and I will forever be grateful for their help in a time of need. A correction to Liz. Friendly House helps and supports women of all ages- the young and the older.

    A little aside, I named my cat after Rosie and she was the best friend ever. Unfortunately, she died last year and I miss her frisky personality, but there is still Rosie O’Donnell.

  7. avatar Aline says:

    I agree that Russell Brand was an extremely bad choice for Rosie’s first guest on her new show. I had taped the show and fast forwarded through the entire interview with this unfunny, unkempt and grotesquely ugly (can’t stand to look at his face) man. I enjoyed the first Rosie show. This new Rosie show needs to be revamped. They can start with replacing the lady announcer with the annoying, high pitched voice.