Liz Smith: Hollywood’s New Child Star Phenom

chinagirl“HEARSAY … blabbermouth … chatter … rumour … natter … scoop … chin-wag … catchin gapseed … play telephone … grapevine … buzz … pickmouth … the low down … babble … talk dirt … broadcast … report … gossip … prate … blab  … tattle … scuttlebutt!”

So go the slogans on T shirts at the famed Sip Sip restaurant on Harbour Island in the Exumas.

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ONE  of the stars of Disney’s “Oz the Great and Powerful” hit is charming little Joey King whose name you may not place right away, but you’ll ever forget her as the crippled girl in the black and white beginning of the new “Oz” film. She’s the one the country crowd demands that traveling magician, Oz, make her get up and walk. James Franco, our unlikely hero, escapes in a balloon to a place later to be named Oz, after him.

kingAnd later, Joey herself appears in Oz, walking, smiling, dancing and singing along with the residents of Oz and the Munchkins. More importantly and poignantly, she is the voice of the delicate and wounded China Girl, who is rescued and put back together by Mr. Franco.

I was sitting in one of the green rooms of the massive Prudential Center in Newark last week when in waltzed Joey, her mother, Jane, and her sister Kelli, who is a journalism student. We were all there to see Taylor Swift who is on her “Red” world tour. Joey, particularly, was there because Taylor had telephoned her personally and invited her. Says Joey, now 14, “I about fainted. I fell down when I went to the phone and heard Taylor’s actual voice, inviting me and my family to Newark and also asking me to be in her next video! She had seen me in “Ramona and Beezus” and thought I was good. Imagine it!”

Joey and her family had been on tour for “Oz” in London and they returned to the U.S. they thought, in time to catch the cherry blossoms in Washington, D.C. (Alas, the weather didn’t cooperate and they were on their way home to Simi Valley in California when they found they were invited to a night of the incredible Taylor’s “Red” evening.)

Joey King started acting when she was four. She says she inherited acting from her grandmother who had worked in theater.

She has appeared on “CSI” … “Entourage” … “Medium” … “The Haunting Hour” … “Avenging Angel” and she has completed three pilots. She was a series regular on “Bent” where she says “Jeffrey Tambor, made me laugh every day.”

She was only nine when Taylor caught her in “Ramona and Beezus.”

Joey has had some prestigious directors telling her what to do — Christopher Nolan in “The Dark Knight Rises” and Roland Emmerich in “White House Down,” plus Sam Raimi who captured her heart, says she, with his gentle patient demeanor in “Oz.”

I was quite impressed with Joey. And later when we were all sitting in the high reserved seats right after Taylor Swift’s stage, I got a big kick watching young girls come up to pose for telephone cameras with Joey King.

If Taylor was the Queen, Joey was the Princess of the night!

P.S. Joey has three more big-screen movies upcoming — “The Conjuring” … ”White House Down” and “Family Weekend.” On TV there’s “R.L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour.”

Untitled-13THOSE of you trying, with me, to teach several million New York City adults how to read and write at the 5th grade level, might want to drop by Michael’s popular cafe tomorrow, Wednesday, from 6 to 8 as we begin our kickoff for the grand Literacy Partners night at Cipriani on May 1.

At that time, we will have such stars as the best-selling Bill O’Reilly, who will have 3 books on the list in 2013 … Pulitzer Prize winners Jon Meacham and Elizabeth Strout … honorees Tatiana von Furstenberg and thriller writer Patricia Cornwell. Jackie Weld Drake will also be honored with the Lizzie Award.

Call Buckley-Hall at 212-573-6933.

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INCIDENTALLY, my new friend, Taylor Swift, will be appearing as a guest star on Fox’s Season 2 finale of “New Girl” come May 14. She will join Zooey Deschanel and the gang as Elaine, an “important guest” at Cece and Shivrang’s wedding. Ok, Ok, so Entertainment Weekly got this story first. But maybe this is time to remind you young ‘uns to jot down the date!

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MY longtime friend Holland Taylor, of “Two and a Half Men” fame, is going to play the late Governor of Texas, the popular and dynamic Ann Richards, through September 1st at the Vivian Beaumont Theater in Lincoln Center in an extended run through what would have been Ann’s 80th birthday! Be sure you see this show.

I just last week recorded an interview for a documentary on Ann that the wonderful Sheila Nevins is over-seeing for HBO. But I know I will never do Ann Richards justice.

SUNDAY NIGHT’S season premiere of HBO’s dazzling “Game of Thrones” was predictably low-key — sort of re-establishing the character’s motivations. Of course, there were unexpected moments of gore and one especially well-acted scene by Emmy-winner Peter Dinklage as the justifiably embittered Tyrion Lannister. Though scarred in battle, threatened by his evil sister (Lena Headey) and cruelly dismissed by his father (Charles Dance), Tyrion hasn’t lost his fabled wit.

And the luscious Natalie Dormer, so well-remembered as Anne Boleyn in “The Tudors,” is coming into her own, married off to the half-mad Joffrey (played with delicious, mounting instability by Jack Gleeson), but with a clear agenda of her own. There’s a lot going on in “Game of Thrones” but it remains a fascinating adventure. With dragons!

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This column originally appeared on NYSocialDiary.com on 4/2/13

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