Liz Smith: Back Where She Belongs

“THE THING women have yet to understand is nobody gives you power. You just take it,” said Roseanne Barr as she climbed the heights in Hollywood, taking power, and not apologizing.

PEOPLE ARE again talking about: Rosanne Barr’s return to network TV in a series for NBC. This is good news for those of us who still like to watch real television.

“Rosanne,” the groundbreaking sitcom than ran for nine seasons, was not only one of the best and funniest, it was a fascinating journey into Rosanne’s own mind, as she morphed, emotionally and physically. She brought her volatile personal issues to the set and into the scripts. It was like watching somebody go a little mad, season by season.

Roseanne — with the help of her brilliant co-stars John Goodman, Laurie Metcalf and Rosanne’s TV “children” — developed into a fabulous comedienne. She wasn’t in the beginning. In the first couple of seasons, when Rosanne and her family were at their most blue-collar and normal, Rosanne often seemed to be laughing at her own jokes. Later, she was more in control of her talent, but the series spun slowly off into outer space, and into the tortured — often hilarious — inner workings of Ms. Barr’s mind.

Most die-hard “Rosanne” fans refuse to acknowledge the show’s last season, after the Connor family wins the lottery. And they hate the final episode. I won’t repeat it here. A younger generation is watching “Rosanne” again, and let them decide and be pleased, or horrified.

But the show had so many remarkable elements, even as the star took more and more control and completely altered some of the situations and characters. And, of course, Roseanne herself was a mass of contradictions, anger, accusations and surprising vulnerability.

I interviewed her once, not long after the series ended. She looked lovely (all that extreme plastic surgery had relaxed) and was surprisingly serious, meditative, but edgy, too, on guard — though our column had been extremely supportive of her over the years. She seemed to be struggling still with who she was, publicly and privately. It was one of the most fascinating sit-downs I ever had, and I’m sorry I haven’t seen her recently. (Although, after reading her in Rolling Stone recently, maybe not right now!)

Still, I will be looking forward to Roseanne’s return to TV.

PEOPLE ARE talking about Prince’s new CD, now in its planning stages. Prince is a great fan of the 1960’s group Love. This band — headed by Arthur Lee and Bryan MacLean — was the first racially mixed rock band. They mixed a lot of styles — classical, flamenco guitar, blues and hard-driving rock. Some feel Love was the forerunner of the much more successful The Doors. There were dramatic problems within the band, and the original group broke up in 1968. Their three albums are cherished by music aficionados.

Now, Prince wants to cover all of Love’s great songs in a tribute album. Well, it would a profitable, smart way to introduce it all to a new generation that seems completely in the dark about the pleasures of Love.

PEOPLE ARE talking about Adelaide Mestre’s one-woman show “Top Drawer” to NYC’s Stage 72. Mestre’s family once occupied the highest social rungs of Chicago, Havana and New York. It’s a tale of secrets and privilege — and apparently gives new meaning to “dysfunction.” Adelaide evokes the ghosts of art patrons, debutantes, high society, low society, merchant kings, suicide, sexual peccadilloes of every variety. Her family tree included Marshall Field (founder of the famous stores), Marshall Field III (founder of the Chicago Sun-Times), Cornelius Bliss (Executive Director of the Metropolitan Opera), Aliza Bliss (co-founder of MOMA), and many more too famous and neurotic to mention. “Top Drawer” began on Feb 5th, and runs through the 27th. It is supposed to be one of the more fascinating events in Manhattan right now. Call 212-362-2590.

PEOPLE ARE Talking About: Rihanna and Chris Brown. Oh, Enough! Horrible as that four-year-old beating event was, she has moved on, and she’s moving with Mr. Brown. She sounds more than together and realistic in her Rolling Stone interview. She wants to be happy, and though she’s thankful that people worry so much, she can’t worry about their worry or allow it to affect her choices.

Isn’t it a funny thing. We are supposed to be living in this new era of growing acceptance, but I find celebrities in particular on the receiving end of far more judgment than ever. Consider this — Lana Turner, already a much-married woman, invited a sleazy mobster into the home she shared with her teenage daughter, Cheryl. He beat Lana. He threatened her. Finally, in defense of her mother, Cheryl plunged a steak knife into his stomach, killing him instantly.

Cheryl suffered for many years. Lana went right ahead with her career, making some of her most successful films. In time, the name of the mobster never appeared in print with Lana’s. This adult star was forgiven. Rihanna, age 24, is called “a disgrace to women!”

Let’s give it rest with “advising” Rihanna. If she’s making a mistake, she’ll know and we’ll know it soon enough. I get the feeling sometimes the media is just waiting for Chris to hit her again, so they can say ‘told you so!”

Not a pleasant way for Rihanna or Chris to live.

This column originally appeared on NYSocialDiary.com on 2/8/13

2 comments so far.

  1. avatar central coast cabin home says:

    He will hit her again, it is a given for his type and she may forgive again, most likely. But, one day something will rise up from her inside deep and she will cry NO MORE! She may even hit him which may be a momentary unbelief to her and she will never do it again, but he will to someone else after she has left his sorry abusing ass. Stand up now! Stand up before you really get hurt…..

  2. avatar Linda says:

    Roseanne, was and is real in the form she chooses to be. That in itself has made her unique. I did not care for the final season either, reality seemed gone from the show. She lives her life with little regard to whether she is correct or incorrect in comparison, though I have to admit – she is not material for 1600 Penn Ave. Could you imagine? :-) Stay real with the macadamia’s for now Roseanne!