Liz Smith: A Good Day

“NOTHING succeeds like excess,” Hollywood always murmurs to itself.

But there were perils galore in the recently mounted ”comeback” films of Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger. The public just didn’t seem to care. And even Tom Cruise’s “Jack Reacher” came and went with only middling results.   (So the experts said maybe middle-aged action stars are on the way out!)

Thus, I am gloriously thrilled that my pal Bruce Willis knocked box office socks off with his fifth “Die Hard” film  — “A Good Day to Die Hard.”

Costing $90 million to make, it scored $25 million on its first weekend. I’m betting the final tally will be spectacular.

WHEN you see photographs of Gov. Andrew Cuomo, he is often shown with a fierce aggressive look on his face. In person, he is genial, has a nice relaxed sense of humor and the other night, when I sat one away from him at the Bowery Mission dinner dance, he seemed to be enjoying himself hugely. (If you pay any attention to the tabloids, he is forever shown on the verge of a meltdown.)

The Gov. of New York State was with his astoundingly attractive one and only, the famous Sandra Lee, who was honoree of the night for the Mission’s 14th year Valentine celebration at the Plaza Ballroom. Ms. Lee, Emmy winner and food famous, is quite something and we quickly understood why they’d chosen to honor her  — she never leaves a loaf of bread uncut and unbuttered when it comes to the helpless and hungry.

The Mission itself, has been aiding New Yorkers for 133 years and is busy now outfitting two townhouses in Harlem for further recovery programs. The Mission on the Bowery, with its famous red door, was beset and flooded from Hurricane Sandy. But the night before, they had organized for the needs of the aftermath. The morning after, they served hundreds of meals to the displaced and even provided kosher food for those who needed it.

Although the hostess of the Mission’s big night, one Veronica Kelly, was ill from dehydration in the hospital, her famous husband ( and hero in my book) Police Commissioner Ray Kelly, ably took her place. We were quite a table: Ray, the Guv, Sandra, Liz, Arianna Huffington, the Guv’s sister-in-law Cristina, Scott Leurquin of the Landmarks Conservancy, Bowery head Ed Morgan, actress Judith Light. And I got a big kiss from Mayor Mike Bloomberg as I entered and he departed the Plaza.

Both Judith and Arianna went to the podium and spoke lovingly of their friend Sandra and were ably assisted by a ravishingly scarlet clad Maria Bartiromo who emceed with plenty of glamour. (She was wearing some fabulous jewelry!)

The Bowery Mission, which does more for New Yorkers than I ever even began to know, raised almost $800,000 on this night and was full of revelations at the generosity of people like Joel and Stacy Hock, John and Margo Catsimatidis, John and Susan Goetz, Suzanne Mados, Jan and Nancy Nagel, etc. Glimpsed in the crowd  — Martha Stewart, Arlene Dahl and Marc Rosen, Liliane Montevecchi.

A WORD about my lucky choice seatmate, actress Judith Light. For years she has been the “go to” star of dynamic women in “One Life to Live” or “Who’s the Boss?” or “Ugly Betty” or “Law & Order: SVU.”
And now she is having a ball on “Dallas” in its second revived season.

But for the beloved Larry Hagman dying recently, Judith is having a good time ranging between Broadway and Texas. She says acting on “Dallas” is like eating ice cream with caramel sauce.

In spite of her long TV exposure, Judith often goes unrecognized because she will appear as she did recently as the disheveled unattractive sister of someone like Stockard Channing in the play “Other Desert Cities.” Never mind, she won a Tony for that performance as an acrobatic alcoholic.

This New Jersey girl is happy now to be a bonfide New Yorker. She will be seen at the Manhattan Theater Club, opening April 17 in “The Assembled Parties.”

THE ITALIANS just adore Al Pacino and they proved it last Sunday when he received The Jack Valenti-L.A. Italia Legend Award at the Chinese Theater in Hollywood.

This was all announced some time ago in Rome by internationally known film maker Lina Wertmuller. The prize is given each year to the outstanding Italian-American in film.

Ms. Wertmuller has called Pacino “One of the greatest actors in all of film history!” Larry King presented him the award.

I wish I had seen this because Pacino always makes interesting acceptance speeches and never seems prepared. So, he is the perfect honoree!

WE’VE been raving here about how excellent The Hollywood Reporter is in its re-birth under former Us Weekly editor Janice Min. The New York Times finally got around to noticing this phenomenon and last Sunday they compared the rise to that of Vanity Fair’s influence around the world.

Hmmm, well, Conde Nast and Graydon Carter’s magazine are much more far-reaching but it is nice to note that The Reporter is so doing well and might just stick around. It certainly booted Variety out of the ring.

This column originally appeared on NYSocialDiary.com on 2/19/13

One comment so far.

  1. avatar saps says:

    Re: The Hollywood Reporter. Who the hell needs another lifestyle/celeb magazine? We’re already saturated. Give me hard-news Variety any day, and with its recent puchase by the Deadline.com people, Variety has hardly been booted out of the ring.  I expect big things will continue during its next 108 years.