Liz Smith: Hold On To Your Ice Picks

lede“THERE’S NO smoking in this building, ma’am.”

“What are you going to do, arrest me for smoking?”

So it went between murder suspect Sharon Stone and the detectives grilling her in 1992’s “Basic Instinct.” Moments later Sharon briefly uncrossed her legs and made movie history. (“I forgot my panties that day,” Stone would later complain about the angle of Paul Verhoeven’s camera.)

stoneThat movie was a smash, and briefly lifted Stone’s career to the heights. A few years ago, she reprised the character of Catherine Tramell in “Basic Instinct 2.” It was unintentionally hilarious and not a success.

And yet, now we hear that Miss Stone is ready, “eager” even, to give the Tramell character one more go-around! I don’t know if anybody else is, but Sharon is a determined woman. And, she looks fabulous in her fifties. She might have learned from the mistakes of the second “Basic Instinct.” Supposedly, the idea she’s cooked up is for Tramell to somehow be involved with the lucrative and ever-growing online porn sites. More than anything else, she wants “closure” for her character and Michael Douglas’ character — he was the detective so enslaved by Stone’s ambiguous, deadly, sexuality.

As far as I can see on a cloudy day, I doubt this will happen, even if my source on this rumor is correct. Still, anything can happen. And with Hollywood suffering such a dearth of originality these days … maybe. Not that Sharon is scratching for work. She has three films in post-production and three in the planning stages.

Sharon is often a better actress than she is given credit for. I saw, again, on cable, the 2006 movie, “Bobby.” Stone is terrific, and one scene between her and Demi Moore presents both women at their very best. (Lindsay Lohan is also in “Bobby.” This was during the era that Lohan was still just a “wild child” with promise. The good old days!)

YOU have only about one more month to see “The Scottish Play” starring the powerful Tony-winner Alan Cumming, playing most of the parts, as a crazy man in an asylum or recovery situation. And he is impressive as Shakespeare’s own crazy man Macbeth!

I asked Alan after the curtain came down on his incredible performance, how he does it, including drowning on stage before our very eyes? He laughs and says, “I don’t know how I do it!”

If you can get a ticket for this at the Barrymore Theatre on W. 47th Street, I’d advise you to re-read “Macbeth” before you go.

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CBS’ “60 Minutes” take on the aftermath of the trial of Michael Jackson’s mother vs. his last concert managers, is fascinating. Everyone recalls that there was the huge scandal not only of Michael’s untimely death, but of the fact that he left financial chaos behind him and owed hundreds of millions of dollars in debt.

60minsLara Logan’s story on this popular program, one of the only real analytical news shows still left on Primetime, established an amazing array of positive facts.

Michael’s will, much contested and wondered at, is offered as remaining just the way he wanted it — with equitable parts for charity, for his mother, his children and eventually his brothers and sisters.

Lifelong friends and devoted associates have taken over Michael’s chaotic financial problems and now they say almost all of Michael’s debts have been settled in the millions of dollars. His archives are vast and a treasure trove of cars and limousines, his clothes and costumes, and his multiplicity of art and gifts signed by people like Elizabeth Taylor. As well as his estate owning much valuable film, records, music and The Beatles priceless music collection. “60 Minutes” says Michael Jackson will go down in history as the greatest money-making star of all time. The Michael Jackson “Immortal” show put on by Cirque du Soleil has taken in $300 million. And he has 60 million Facebook friends!

Many people analyzed Michael Jackson as a child molester and drug addict. Be that as it may, he was a shrewd collector and talent and remains a money maker.

His children seem to be emerging from his odd sense of over protection and some of them seem to have reconciled with their birth mother, Debbie Rowe,once a medical aide to controversial Dr. Arnie Klein.

liz and michael

I knew Debbie slightly and although she always refused to give me an interview, I found her pleasant, non avaricious and cordial. Here is a letter she wrote me in 1999: “Dear Miss Smith — I usually stay away from most articles written about me and/or my husband and child. Dr. Klein brought me your article from today’s L.A. Times. I just wanted you to know how much I appreciate your comments. I wish the rest of the world would back off and just believe the truth that we tell them. Thanks again — Debbie Rowe Jackson.” 

19911021-750-0And twice, in his professional career, I had occasion to meet and know Michael a little bit. The first time was when Michael was 16 years old and filming with Diana Ross in “The Wiz.” DirectorSidney Lumet and Lena Horneboth invited me to come watch some of the filming in New York.

Michael seemed to be a shy teenager with little to say. He was obviously impressed by his co-stars and director.

The other time I met Michael was at The Neverland Ranch when he was “giving away” the bride Elizabeth Taylor and hosting her wedding to Larry Fortensky. I divided my time between examining Michael’s domain and running outside the Ranch to the Fox News trailer where I was reporting to New York.

At one point I ran into the rich and famous Dr. Mathilde Krim, co-founder of AmFAR. The mortals guarding the door refused to let her in; she lacked i.d. After convincing these men that Ms. Taylor would want Dr. Krim inside we joined for the belated appearance of the bride in her yellow Valentino gown on Michael’s arm. (She looked more tan than he did.)

The ceremony proceeded with a paparazzi leaping out of a helicopter under a parachute landing into brutal arms of the Secret Service and hustling the intruder away, as Nancy Reaganwas sitting in the front row.

At the wedding dinner, I was asked to join Michael and Elizabeth sitting together while bridegroom Fortensky sat with his many relatives at another table.

Michael, as sweet as always, flustered and softspoken told me he and Elizabeth were so close because they shared the horror of being “child stars!” (With abusive fathers.)

I later wrote quite a story of this wedding but I didn’t make a dime out of it. My fee went lock, stock and barrel to Elizabeth’s AIDS charities.

Michael Jackson, often beleaguered, perhaps misunderstood in life, seems to have redeemed himself in death!

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This column originally appeared on NYSocialDiary.com on 5/22/13

2 comments so far.

  1. avatar JERILYN says:

    Beautiful story on MJ once again proving to me why Dame Elizabeth trusted you and called you “friend.” MJ was a loving, loyal friend just like Dame Elizabeth & of all his friends only Dame Elizabeth seemed to be by his side in good times and bad. I pray his children have a better fate then their beloved Dad. Thank you Liz Smith.

  2. avatar Dan Patterson says:

    I enjoyed very much seeing CLEOPATRA on the big screen again, looking brand-spanking-new and, I think, a much better movie than it’s given credit for being. It’s a visual feast, first of all, and the script is quite literate (though one feels things are missing at times). Miss Taylor is gorgeous to look at, stunningly costumed and acquits herself well in the role. Mr. Harrison is splendid and Mr. Burton is unfailingly interesting. The supporting cast is excellent, Alex North’s score is supberb, and all in all, it was a most enjoyable four hours.