Liz Smith: Bo Derek and John Corbett’s Oscar Night Oscar Anniversary

And more from our Gossip Girl: Harvey Weinstein strikes back, big time! … Lindsay Lohan, cleaned up and ready to play La Liz?

“SHE WILL not be me, I will not be she!” said Elizabeth Taylor back in 1982, referring to any actress who might portray her. This was when La Liz battled with NBC-TV to keep the network from producing a miniseries based on her life.

Elizabeth claimed any such movie would hamper her own career. “My livelihood is based on how I look, how I sound.” Then she paused. “Also — and please don’t laugh — my acting!” Elizabeth broke herself up and the room applauded.

Elizabeth won that battle. She was still a power to be reckoned with. Ten years later, ailing, she didn’t even attempt to stop ABC-TV from airing a movie about her. By then, it didn’t seem very important to her.

Now, it looks like there will be another Taylor tale on TV. The Lifetime Channel has hired — her name is on the dotted line — Lindsay Lohan to play Miss Taylor. The movie will focus, mainly, on the star’s fabled romance with Richard Burton. I reported this as an “iffy” item sometime back, but Miss Lohan has apparently convinced Lifetime that she is finally on the straight and narrow and is up to the challenge.

Lindsay will also appear soon on “Saturday Night Live.” They say LL herself phoned “SNL” producer Lorne Michaels to ask him to give her a chance. (She’s been on the show before, and performed quite well.)

I’m looking forward to Lindsay on “SNL.” I will be fascinated to see what she does with Elizabeth. I am glad that this talented young woman appears to be under control and somehow got some sense shaken into her. As much sense as can be shaken into any star. (What? You think Elizabeth — an actress since the age of nine — ever really behaved “normally?”)

In the wake of Whitney Houston’s premature death, I believe anybody with a heart should be pleased that Lindsay might be straightening out. You don’t have to be a fan, and you sure don’t have to think she’s an appropriate choice to portray Elizabeth Taylor. You just need to remember that she is only human.

* * *

BO DEREK — eternally immortalized in slow-mo, running on the beach in the movie “10” — and actor John Corbett have been together for a decade. They’ll celebrate their anniversary on Feb 26th, Oscar night. Indeed, the pair was set up on a blind date ten Academy Awards nights ago by producer Norby Walters, famous for his “Night of 100 Stars” gala at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

Miss Derek was sitting at home, all alone, undoing her cornrows. She was still depressed over the death of her husband, John Derek, several years before. She wasn’t dating. Norby invited her out. She wasn’t having it. But Mr. Walters persisted, “Oh, come on, Bo. You’re a young, beautiful woman. It’s Oscar night. Have some fun. And I know somebody very nice who would love to meet you.” Miss Derek rolled her eyes — she’d never heard that one before. Still, it was Oscar night, and she’d finally unstrung her hair. Why not? The “very nice” somebody was John Corbett of “Northern Exposure,” “Sex and the City” and (currently) “United States of Tara” fame.

Miss Derek and Mr. Corbett will attend Norby’s party Sunday night. This is one of Oscar’s more star-packed events. And amusingly relaxed, too.

Those expected at this year’s party include Anne Heche Joey Pantoliano Matthew Modine Traci Lords Ed Asner Jason Alexander Powers Boothe Kevin DillonJoely Fisher Bryan Cranston Sean Patrick Flanery LeAnn Rimes Carla Gugino Marilu HennerGeorge Segal Fred Savage Sean Astin Toni Braxton, etc. And in memory of Anna Nicole Smith – who never missed any Oscar gala, including Norby’s — Hugh Hefner is sending a swarm of Playboy playmates to liven things up.

* * *

NEWSWEEK magazine has an interesting take on Harvey Weinstein. It is titled “The Mogul Strikes Back” and tells of Harvey’s rise, fall and the great pinnacle he stands at today. He is looking at the strong possibility that his film, “The Artist,” will walk away with Best Picture, and that Meryl Streep takes Best Actress for “The Iron Lady.” This would follow last year’s triumph, “The King’s Speech,” which won four Oscars including Best Picture.

Harvey tells Newsweek something he often told me over the years, or possibly, I told him: “They want me to be Harry Cohn!” (Harry was the fearsome, despotic head of Columbia Pictures) “But if I have to model myself on somebody, it’s either Irving Thalberg or David Selznick.”

Harvey’s back, as I always knew he would be.

* * *

SPEAKING of the clever Mr. Weinstein: when he threw his pre-Oscar party at the Chateau Marmont recently, celebrating the silent film, “The Artist,” he pointedly invited Carmen and Dolores Chaplin, the beautiful granddaughters of silent screen icon Charlie Chaplin.

The place was swarming with stars, including the cast members of “The Artist.” But the Chaplin girls got the big rush.

Harvey was advised, “If either of these girls have even a smidgen of talent, make them stars!” Oh, like Harvey hasn’t already thought of that? Please. He’s not Harvey Weinstein for nuttin’.

* * *

RECENTLY I told you about a charming new book, The Persian Room Presents. This is a history of the legendary nightclub where anybody who was anybody who could hold a tune — or wear a fabulous next-to-nothing gown — appeared. On March 6th, the author Patty Farmer and celebrity chef Todd English hold a party at The Plaza, for some of those who appeared at The Persian Room in its glittery heyday. Among those on hand will be Arlene DahlLeslie UggamsCeleste HolmMarge ChampionLesley Gore Lainie Kazan.

A portion of the proceeds from The Persian Room Presents goes to Childhelp.  This organization deals with the prevention and treatment of child abuse. Call 626-296-3757.

19 comments so far.

  1. avatar rick gould says:

    I am actually very empathetic toward Lindsay Lohan.
    I think she is talented and appealing.
    But she does not have Elizabeth Taylor’s fabled beauty. Lohan, who looks very rough and artificial, is the same age as Taylor when she played Maggie the Cat.
    Does she have to work out her therapy issues out on a legend’s memory?
    There is actually an up-and-coming young actress named Lily Collins who actually resembles Elizabeth. She is on the cover of Vanity Fair’s Hollywood issue, done up like ET. Go to Google images and click Lily Collins as Elizabeth Taylor and see several lovely images.
    Of course, Collins doesn’t have the tacky tabloid rep that apparently Lifetime seems to be looking for. And the fact that they are calling it “Liz and Dick,” nicknames that both hated, is very telling of the respect that will be paid with this flick.
    I’m sure the ET haters are gonna love Lindsay as Liz…

    • avatar Mr. Wow says:

      Dear Rick…

      Beauty plays a very small part in who might portray Miz Liz.  In person, she was fantastic-looking.  And quite strange-looking, too!  (Those odd proportions.)    But photographically she was no more beautiful than–Eleanor Parker, Vivien Leigh, Ava Gardner, on and on. 

      The problem is that Elizabeth didn’t have a lot of easily imitated quirks and mannerisms.  Not early on, anyway.  And even later it never got to Bette D. or K. Hepburn territory.   So how do you play her?   Elizabeth, after a certain point, dragged her history into the room with her.  All of  her many eras and faces and triumphs and tragedies.   She embodied a certain over-the-top aspect of stardom.   But you couldn’t really pin-point her quality.  She just WAS. 

      I don’t think Lohan looks anything like ET, but she might be able to act out the personal emotionalism that marked Elizabeth’s life.   And if not, so what?  It’s a Lifetime movie. 

      • avatar Baby Snooks says:

        She was sort of this divine pygmy. I think that’s how Burton described her. And she was stunning in person. Even when she was fat.  Far more so than any camera captured. Or any “photo-shop” even attempted to. But it was something “inside” somehow that gave her that look no one else ever really had. On or off camera. Burton also once said she was really very ordinary looking. I encountered her once without the wig and the make-up. He must have needed glasses. Or needed new ones.  She was not ordinary looking. Even when she tried to be.  Although she was her own best disguise.  She did look different in person without the wig and the make-up. Although the eyes, and then the cackle, always gave her away.

      • avatar Mr. Wow says:

        Dear Baby…

        She wasn’t ordinary looking even when she looked her worst. Because of the size of head, the shoulders and bosom, there was something startlingly odd about her in person.

        When she was in form, it was fantastic.  When she wasn’t you still couldn’t look away. 

        I know she wore wigs, and pieces, but she had plenty of hair, unlike Miss Collins.  Or Miss Loren.  And how La Liz kept such a thick mane is a miracle.  She’d been dyeing it since her mis 20′s when she first started to go gray.

    • avatar Anais P says:

      You’re right: Lily Collins really does resemble Taylor, much more than Lohan. Lohan has that hard edge that Liz could sometimes employ, though. I’m not sure Lily Collins does.

  2. avatar lisakitty says:

    A great column again, Liz!

    RE:  Lohan.    I wish her to recover, but find the ET project for her to be highly inappropriate.  First of all, while La Liz had her issues, she never conducted herself in public the way that Lohan has.  Liz Taylor was a lady, Lohan is, well, not a lady.  Having Lohan play Liz Taylor is like having Mel Gibson play Eli Wiesel.

    A more appropriate prooject for Lohan (and one that would be more advantagous for her career) would for her to play a “bad girl” (Courtney Love?  hersefl even?) or something else that plays more with her “type”.  I commend her for pulling her life together and wish her the best.

    And yes, I will watch her do SNL:  she’s brilliant on that show.       

  3. avatar Baby Snooks says:

    An actress has to be able to handle the “nuances” of a character and quite honestly I suspect Lindsay Lohan can indeed capture the “nuances” of Elizabeth Taylor who while maintaining the “star” persona nonetheless allowed the more “earthy” side its moments.  Particularly in Washington. It shocked quite a few. But also endeared her to quite a few. Which I really don’t think she ever realized. I use the word “crap” quite often because of her. Why not?

    And Liz not all of her critics will be disappointed. I gave up on her a long time ago. But maybe a little light bulb finally went off inside her head. It does happen. And if it happened, well, good for her. And all of us.  She may end up being one of our more heralded actresses. And like the “character” she is about to play, a survivor.  I have some “issues” with “Elizabeth Taylor” but in the end, well, she meant well.  So many don’t.  But most of all, well, she was a survivor. Mainly of herself. And Lindsay may prove to be a survivor of herself as well.

    Odd about the “power” and how it can suddenly just vanish overnight. A mutual friend, long absent from the scene, went back to work about 15 years ago and would have continued working had she not made some “demands” that in the words of someone I talked to who observed the situation made the comment “She thinks she’s Elizabeth Taylor but doesn’t realize Elizabeth Taylor is no longer Elizabeth Taylor.” Power is related to how much you “produce” for the producers. And few continue to be “big box office” once they get too old to work so much, and it is hard work and when the studios ruled it really was like working in a factory with 12 hour days and no “overtime,”and not much better even today which few realize, and particularly when they stop working and then decide to go back to work. Elizabeth Taylor had to go into television when she went back to work and for far less than what she commanded when she worked in film and with less demands simply because she was no longer in the position to make the demands. She got lucky. Someone came along with the idea of the perfumes. Otherwise, well, she may have ended up on a soap opera like so many others did who simply had to pay the bills.

  4. avatar Baby Snooks says:

    And I have to laugh, forgive me, about the comment that Elizabeth Taylor was a lady. As I said, she allowed the “earthy” side its moments. And, well, no lady talks like that. She truly could make a sailor blush when she “had at it.” 

    • avatar lisakitty says:

      I’m glad I provided you with a laugh, BS, but please indulge me as I explain why I think ET was a lady.

      Did she use profanity?  Sure… and she was about the most honest out there person on the planet in her day.  BUT… did Liz steal jewelry (and not even very expensive jewels at that) and then try to weasel her way out of it?  No.  Did Liz ever refuse to take responsibility for her actions?  No.  Liz EMBRACED her issues and put them out there in a way we as a country had never seen before from image conscience (sp?) Hollywood.  She was “earthy”….  but that does not exclude her from being a lady.   

      I guess it depends on your definition of being a lady, and mine seems to be different than yours.  To me, a “lady” is a woman who is GENUINE… it’s not about not swearing, having high teas, etc.  And Liz was genuine…. Lohan is not.  She has a long long way to go to rehab her image, and that doesn’t have anything to do with the drugs, IMO.  It has a LOT to do with her CHARACTER which I find to be extremely lacking. 

            

       

      • avatar Baby Snooks says:

        The media in the 70s and 80s was a little more cautious with the “Kodak Moments” of certain “stars” like Elizabeth Taylor. Our ”Mr. Wow” has alluded to those “moments” of Elizabeth Taylor. I will definitely take the “Aretha Amendment” and say nothing because it really isn’t my place to say anything. But only because I, too, was often “four sheets to the wind.” But be assured if even the tabloids had caught some of those moments even today in our “libertine times” Elizabetth Taylor would truly shock and awe. But, well, again, she never claimed to be “Little Miss Goody Two-Shoes.”

      • avatar rick gould says:

        Compared to the way “celebrities” like Kim Kardashian, Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan base their fame on sex tapes, va-jay-jay flashing, hit and runs, and community service, they make Elizabeth Taylor look like Queen Victoria!

      • avatar Baby Snooks says:

        Elizabeth had some “hit and runs” as well. Hers, however, were always in the bedroom. In between husbands and Henry Wynberg she and Chen Sam would, well, hit the bars. Those two were really a sight to behold. “Girls just wanna have fun.” And they did. But, well, they were different times. Even when the media saw, they didn’t report.  And suddenly, in the 80′s, things began to change. And not just in the media. One “golden girl” who everyone knew had a little “problem” was truly shocked when they threw her in the back seat of a patrol car and took her to jail. For years she was thrown in the back seat of a patrol car and taken home. Occasionally another officer would drive her car home.  The judge was not kind. To her. Or to anyone else. He probably wanted to send all the cops who drove her home all those years to jail. She got probation. They probably got a nasty phone call.

    • avatar Lila says:

      Snooks, if profanity and earthiness disqualify one for the title of “lady,” then I am very, very disqualified. Then again, I never aspired to be a lady. Too many people in my formative years confounded “ladylike” with “meek and subordinate.”

      • avatar Baby Snooks says:

        Honestly I suspect she would laugh as well.  And lauged at the “double entendre” when she became a Dame. “Honey,” she would probably say, and probably did, “I was always a dame…”

  5. avatar D C says:

    Liz, I know you have a soft spot for LiLo, but I cannot even imagine who someone would cast her to play Elizabeth Taylor.  Ms Taylor was a peerless beauty.  LiLo is, at best, an average-cute girl.  I don’t care HOW good an actress there might be hiding underneath all the crapola of her life.  No way I see her for a even a second as believable in that role. 

  6. avatar Jay Gentile says:

    I could vomit at the thought of Lohan trying to play Elizabeth Taylor. Meeting Ms. Taylor once ever-so briefly remains a highlight of my life. She crackled with energy, life and sex appeal — and she was past 60 at the time. Excluding all of Lohan’s personal issues (which I hope she conquers), I’ve seen no evidence that she has the dramatic chops to be half of the 20th century’s greatest celebrity romance. But then it’s Lifetime, where quality is optional as long as the story is sensational.

  7. avatar rick gould says:

    Lindsay as Liz going to just be another lightweight playing a legend along the lines of…
    Sherlyn Fenn as Liz
    Cheryl Ladd as Grace Kelly
    Lynda Carter as Rita Hayworth
    Jennifer Love Hewitt as Audrey Hepburn.
    I get it. A highly publicized, dopey, disposable TV movie.
    But I don’t think Lindsay as Liz is going to do Lohan herself any favors. Lifetime is just using her rep as a tabloid trainwreck to draw publicity.
    I can see Lindsay demonstrating her being “back” by signing on to do “30 Rock” with Tina Fey, who wrote “Mean Girls.” Or on “True Blood.” Or dare I say as Jesse Pinkman’s latest girl on “Breaking Bad”?
    I think Elizabeth Taylor deserves better, too. But this is Hollywood we’re talking about. So, a big sigh from one person who will NOT be tuning in…

    • avatar Mr. Wow says:

      Dear Rick…

      IF it happens, it will come and go in a minute.  In fact it’ll only enhance La Liz’s legendary lure. 

      I’ll tune in out of sheer curiosity.  I love camp.  Even low camp.

  8. avatar Marknfl12345 says:

    Funny how we each qualify the Lindsay Lohan/Elizabeth Taylor movie as “well, it is for Lifetime” as though we already expect it to be tacky… Ha ha ha.
    One of my Mom’s friends was well connected with Elizabeth Taylor and mentioned that her body was oddly out of porportion with those short little legs. I had never noticed, but apparently several of you did know that.