Liz Smith: Demi Moore — She Gets Thinner as the Plot Thickens

Demi Mourns, Carol Soars

And more from our Gossip Girl: “Citizen Kane” — facts or fictions? … Carol Channing really is “Larger Than Life”

“TURNING ONE’S back on stardom might be the highest form of common sense,” says Sean Penn.

Sean wasn’t referring to his own stardom or common sense. He remains a working actor and tireless humanitarian. But his coming movie, “This Must Be the Place,” concerns a famous star who eventually withdraws from the hurly-burly of show-biz. Apparently, Sean finds his character’s choice appealing.

He always has. Sean hated his life with Madonna, a woman who — despite her insistence that she was “gobsmacked” by fame — loves the limelight.

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THE DEMI Moore/Ashton Kutcher tale has devolved into a he-said, she-sniffed front page scandal. (And here we thought it was just another Hollywood divorce.) One New York tabloid insists that Miss Moore’s prescription drug abuse and other strange habits — sniffing nitrous oxide, aka “whipits” — were the final straw for Ashton, who was really terribly concerned about his mate.

The other paper claims it was Ashton’s behavior with other women, and his generally careless, callous attitude that drove the actress to exhaustion, anorexia and perhaps some flirtation with drugs as a balm to her wounded heart.

I won’t ask the old Ladies Home Journal question, “Can This Marriage be Saved?” It can’t and shouldn’t be. And not because of the age difference. Demi, the child of alcoholics, needs stability in her relationship. Ashton — the creator of the juvenile (and potentially dangerous!) MTV program “Punk’ed” — just can’t give her that. For a few years, apparently he gave her back her girlhood. Well, that’s okay, but Demi is a woman. And still a young one, as far as I am concerned — forty-nine? She’s in her prime, as Miss Jean Brodie would insist.

She needs to get well, get over Mr. Kutcher, and move on. As for Ashton, I really don’t care. From what I hear, he’s gotten over it, moved on and — hey, Ashton, stay out Bruce Willis’ way. He has always been quite protective of his ex of eleven years and the mother of his three daughters.

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Oh, how the mighty often fall! Seven decades ago, moviegoers were diverted by the great movie that had been made by Orson Welles — “Citizen Kane.” The Hearst newspaper family went crazy after the film was released in 1941 because it had been inspired by the life of mogul William Randolph Hearst.

Hearst newspapers were forbidden to mention it. Old W.R. himself tried to get a studio chief to buy the original and burn it. Now reporter Nick Allen says that Hearst’s great grandson, Steve, has given his backing to a screening of “Citizen Kane,” happening at the San Luis Obispo International Film Festival in March. Steve Hearst says, “It is time for an informed assessment of ‘Citizen Kane.’ It is a classic American film, but is in no way a historically accurate depiction of William Randolph Hearst or his favorite place in the world, his ranch.” He adds that the film of his great-grandfather’s life was “drawn with considerable artistic license.”

One of the “stars” of “Citizen Kane” is the Hearst Castle, which sits overlooking the Pacific Ocean and once had 56 bedrooms and 61 baths. It also had the world’s largest private zoo and an authentic Roman temple. During the 1920s and 1930s, Hearst entertained Hollywood’s elite here. Now it has been donated to California and is a state park visited by a million tourists a year.

So, the feud ends. Art prevails. Too bad Orson Welles did not live to see this. “Citizen Kane” did not win the Oscar in the year of its release. That honor went to “How Green Was My Valley?.” How many people even remember that?

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Evidently we missed one of the legit show biz parties of the year honoring one of the last of the greats — Carol Channing — at the Paley Center in L.A. recently. The occasion? A film titled “Carol Channing: Larger Than Life” (you can also see it, as it opened in select cities on Jan. 20). Also it will come out on DVD in April. Or you can always go to the Paley Center’s media archive to see Carol’s specials and appearances.

Lily Tomlin was host of the event, and so many celebrities attended that I won’t attempt to name them all. JoAnne Worley, Carole Cook, Bruce Vilanch appeared, along with a host of Oscar, Emmy and Golden Globes celebrities. They came away saying of Miss Channing’s life and art that they’d never seen anything like it. “It was so inspiring for all of us over fifty who have so few decent role models left. What a gift, what a queen she is,” came from the beautiful lips of none other than Julie Newmar.

Carol Channing in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” was the first musical comedy I had ever seen when I first came to New York. I recall the ticket cost $2.50, and I was seated in the Ziegfeld balcony from whence Mr. Ziegfeld himself used to peep down onto the stage. Carol and I became friends soon after, thanks to the agent Gus Schirmer, Jr. I can’t wait to see this documentary of her life.

7 comments so far.

  1. avatar D C says:

    I don’t like to speculate on what Demi is going through.  I’ve always been one to say you can’t really understand a person until you’ve walked in their shoes… while they’re wearing them… and that’s pretty hard to do.  I don’t know anyone that’s done it. 

    I’m just really glad that I never fallen in fame, or even had the opportunity to step in it.

  2. avatar O E says:

    About Demi Moore: Her plight brings up some thoughts. It is true that many artists suffer torment from their past family ties, from which they’re unable or incapable of detaching to bring themselves out of the depth of misery in their mature years. It is also sad that the public has grown used to speculation and many “fans” take their idol’s misfortune as their own, condemn or forgive, justify or accuse, without ever even having met the subject of their adoration. Even sadder that the misery of artists takes front page. The truth is that artists are as flawed human beings as the rest of us. They compensate by their ability to hide their true selves behind characters, or other forms of expression. Meanwhile, some of them continue to either punish themselves, improve their condition through others, or blame others for their own shortcomings. Some of them will go to any length to get attention and sympathy. Some expose themselves to scrutiny privately and publicly in a vicious circle. Demi Moore is the subject of the day’s headlines. Tomorrow there’ll be some other name in its place, some other sin to highlight; maybe a divorce or an unlawful act, whatever will allow the pure and unblemished to point a finger and judge, or shed a tear for the stranger’s misfortune. That’s the world we live in, looking outward, when what we need to do is to look inward.

  3. avatar rick gould says:

    Doesn’t it seem like there’s bigger than usual bevy of celebrity breakups and breakdowns of late?

  4. avatar Mew says:

    I HAVE NEVER BEEN A FAN OF DEMI MOORE,NEVER CARED FOR HER CHOICE OF PICTURES. I WILL TELL YOU YHAT I AM VERY SORRY FOR HER,I HOPE SHE GETS WELL AND STAYS THAT WAY.ASHTON IS NOT WORTH HER RUINING HER LIFE. I ALWAYS FELT HE WAS OVERATED AS AN ACTOR. OF COURSE WHEN YOU TRY AND HAVE A RELATIONSHIP WITH A KID YOUR CHILDRENS AGE, THATS WHAT YOU GET. SO, SO, SAD!!!!

    GET WELL DEMI AND MAKE SOME GOOD HEALTHY MOVIES,NOT THE FILTH OF THE PAST.   

  5. avatar JCF4612 says:

    Hopefully Demi’s daughters and Bruce Willis will be able to help her see the light and knock off this destructive behavior pattern. Apart from her emotional turmoil, she’s wrecking herself physically.  

  6. avatar Katharine Gray says:

    From what I have read about Demi Moore (and who knows how much of it is true), she had an unfortunate and dysfunctional childhood as have at least 15% of the population and that is an underestimate of those who didn’t grow up in Norman Rockwell land.  She also has had great fame and fortune come her way on a small amount of talent (Meryl Streep she is not).  And, she was purpotedly a coke addict and alchoholic in her early years.  She recovered, married Bruce Willis whose star was rising as hers was falling as the brat pack was declining in fame, then hooked herself to Patrick Swayze’s star,  shaved her head to be a seal and then  and stripped and got a bunch of money for it.  Then she turned to plastic surgery addiction and found a *boy toy*.  I do not know if Ashton Kutcher is a saint or a devil but did it ever occur to anyone that being married to an anorexic, self-destructive  and perpetually insecure woman may have taken a toll on his patience? 

     

  7. avatar sheezcrazy says:

    C’mon Liz, “who even remembers” “How Green Was My Valley”? It was a beautiful movie; a classic. I hope that your comment makes people curious enough to watch it. I also wish that it was in color. Color would make the contrast of Wales before it was ravaged by extensive coal mining have even more impact.
    And yes, “Citizen Kane” is a great movie, too.