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.