“GOSSIP is the price we pay for peace!”
That giant talent Nora Ephron comments in her author’s notes in the November Vanity Fair that this is something I said to her on a panel five decades ago. It’s much too funny. I fully believe that Nora was the one who said it. Anyway, don’t miss Vanity Fair for November. Johnny Depp may be on the cover, but yours truly is also included.
Incidentally, in writer Nick Tosches’ examination of his famous friend Mr. Depp, he writes how intelligent the actor is. Then he recalls Johnny in the old days, filling up gas tanks at the local station, a cigarette dangling from his lips.
If true, it’s a wonder that Johnny Depp is still alive and still with us. I guess he likes to take chances.
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“What becomes a legend most?” This is the immortal phrase that accompanies the still-going-despite-PETA ads for Blackglama luxury mink.
Created back in the mid-sixties by adman Peter Rogers, this campaign retains some of its fabled lure. In the days when Rogers of the Jane Trahey ad agency asked for and won every star from Judy Garland to Marlene Dietrich to Lauren Bacall to Diana Ross to Bettie Davis to Barbra Streisand to Rudolf Nureyev and Elizabeth Taylor, the ads have continued.
I was amazed to find the latest one, of Janet Jackson having her own private wardrobe malfunction, in the new pages of W and of Vanity Fair. This marks the second time Janet has done the “legend” ad. In the first, she was wrapped in mink up to her beaming face. Now, she has unwrapped. She is wearing skintight leather pants and knee-high boots, with a long fur vest thrown over her lean, taunt, naked torso. Janet has one hand hooked into her pants, pulling them down provocatively.
Her expression is stunning. Her short hair is wind-swept and she sports a challenging “Look, but don’t touch!” expression. I liked this ad very much, because I admire the one Jackson member who hasn’t traded solely on her famous brother’s fame.
I have admired her strength in breaking away from the dysfunction of her family and forging her own career. Yet she hasn’t abandoned family ties; I recall her standing behind Michael’s heartbroken little girl at his funeral, looking so concerned for the child. (Now, Paris looks almost as grown-up as Aunt Janet, and is nearly as self-composed.)
I have always thought Janet might someday make her mark, bigtime, on the screen or on the legit stage. For the time being, she sings, dances, takes an occasional role in a small movie and is fabulous to look at. And, the advertising “Mad Men” of today — who continue the Blackglama shoots — evidently think so too.
But when I telephoned my friend Peter Rogers, who dreamed it all up, he snorted that Janet can’t compare with his stars of yesterday and he thinks the ad is terrible, cheap and trashy. “She is the difference between celebrity and legend.” (Sigh! What do I know?)
I asked Peter if he gets paid for his brilliant original creation of asking “What becomes a legend most?” He went back to portrait painting down in New Orleans, saying, “No, of course not!”
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IF YOU happen to be in Hollywood this Friday, you still might be able to score a ticket for “An Evening Honoring an Extraordinary Artist” at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.
We do mean the Comeback Kid himself, Robert Downey Jr. Robert will receive the 25th Annual American Cinematheque Award. It’s going to be one of “those” nights in L.A. — paying homage to Robert will be Michael Douglas (readying his Liberace movie, with Matt Damon) … Jodie Foster … Garry Shandling … Robin Wright … Joel Silver … Anthony Michael Hall … Jennifer Aniston (surely accompanied by her hunky Justin Theroux!) … and Jack Black. Samuel L. Jackson, Stephen Fry and Ben Stiller offer pre-taped tributes.
Robert is the go-to star when you explain that even the most reckless celebrity can teeter at the abyss and be declared a lost cause. But that it is possible to save oneself — with lots of help from friends and family who really care.
A minimum of self-pity and a soupcon of smarts doesn’t hurt either.