And more from our Gossip Girl : Natalie Portman knows why men love “Black Swan” … artist Tommy Thomas feted … and a great review of a great book on Frank Sinatra
“SERIOUS SPORT has nothing to do with fair play. It is bound up hatred, jealousy, boastfulness, disregard of rules and sadistic pleasure in witnessing violence. In other words — war without guns,” said George Orwell.
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I carefully taped and watched the Jets and the Steelers game last Sunday night and I’ve seldom seen such violent clashes on the football field.
I assume most everyone thinks this is swell and as it “should be” in contact sports. (The continuous screams of the crowd pretty much drowned out everything the CBS commentators were saying in any case.)
But as one after the other of men from these teams were carried off or limped off the field, it seemed to me that violence reigned rather than any sportsmanship. Pretty much I guess like the Romans cheering on as the gladiators killed one another.
Need more on this? Read the Jan. 31 issue of The New Yorker, with a piece titled “Does Football Have a Future?” by Ben McGrath.
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USA TODAY, one of my favorite print newspapers, has the best entertainment coverage of anybody left in that field. (Add the new version of The Hollywood Reporter to that kind of reportage! But the latter is a trade paper and quite expensive on an annual basis.)
Anyway, USA Today covers Natalie Portman in their January 24th edition, citing “The Year of Women.” And this is what they printed: “’The Hurt Locker’s’ Kathryn Bigelow might have made history last year by becoming the first female director to win an Oscar. But the feminine touch is likely to feel more like a punch when the names for this year’s Academy Awards are revealed Tuesday. From a ballet film that men will actually see to a dramedy about lesbian parents. From fresh-faced newcomers dominating their films to over-40 stalwarts gaining recognition.”
I found these comments kind of funny. The reason the star of “Black Swan,” the fabulous Natalie Portman, cites her movie as making men come to see it are the explicit lesbian love scenes and seductions that interrupt the beautiful ballet stuff.
And Annette Bening and Julianne Moore as “old married” lesbians in “The Kids Are All Right” has also won a big following. (Both Portman and Bening are nominated for “best actress” Oscars.)
It certainly is a new day for active lesbians on film. And not just “lipstick lesbians.”
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At a 90th birthday party in Broadway’s Joe Allen café the other night, the “found” artist Tommy Thomas was feted by none other than Frank Rich of The New York Times. And when I spoke, I recalled that another Timesman, the late art critic John Russell, had also saluted Tommy’s talent and given her raves. Both Gloria Vanderbilt and Liza Minnelli were there, charming her.
But the evening’s funniest moment was offered up by the comic actress Anne Meara, a woman who doesn’t care that her own fame has been eclipsed by her famous and popular son, Ben Stiller. Annie rose up and recalled her early days with Tommy, adding that to put things in perspective, “I believe I was ovulating at the time.”
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Several weeks ago, this column gave a rave to James Kaplan’s Frank: The Voice, a different kind of pageturner in the sweepstakes of celebrity biography. We knew the minute we read it that this take on Frank Sinatra was a work of honest evaluation in a class by itself.
Now, none other than the distinguished New York Review of Books has topped us in a rave from writer Geoffrey O’Brien. His analysis of the book entailing Sinatra’s rise, fall and rise has been brilliantly offered up. Even if you never read the Doubleday book, you might want to delve into Mr. O’Brien’s masterful take on it in the February 10th issue of the New York Review. (I sent my copy off to Tina Sinatra, since I know Sinatra’s children are ever-vigilant about his reputation and these recent works enhance and analyze that in distinct truthfulness.)
Here’s a sample: “If Sinatra, despite many striking screen performances, from ‘Eternity’s’ Maggio to ‘The Manchurian Candidate,’ never quite created a movie persona equal to his gifts, it was because his real movie was his life, a spectacle whose excesses, emotional swings, casual cruelties, and hair-trigger outbursts went well beyond anything Hollywood was likely to attempt.
“And he did not live it alone; while the book’s central focus might be taken as the difficulty of being Frank Sinatra, it was, by Kaplan’s reckoning, clearly not much easier being Tommy Dorsey (“ever restless, insatiably ambitious”) or Buddy Rich (“volatile, egomaniacal”) or Lana Turner (“an empty shell of a human being”) or Nelson Riddle (“a dour, caustic, buttoned-up Lutheran”) or Jimmy Van Heusen (“foul-mouthed, obsessed with sex and alcohol”) or least of all, Ava Gardner, who when she enters the scene takes over the book pretty much the way she seems to have taken over Sinatra’s psyche.”
Buy the book, read it, then read the review of it.
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THEY DO say that at the recent dinner Mayor Bloomberg gave in his Manhattan townhouse for the departing School Chancellor Joel Klein, the latte rose after the Mayor and made a fascinating and charming departing speech.
Then, Cathie Black, the somewhat controversial new School Chancellor rose and made a few remarks. When she finished, the Mayor piped up, heard by all … “And don’t screw up!” said he. Cathie laughed and said, “I won’t!”
This was a very posh crowd and the Mayor didn’t really use the word “screw.”