And more from our Gossip Girl: Remembering the great Arthur Laurents … the Pope’s blessed gondola
“NO CULTURE can live if it attempts to be exclusive,” said Gandhi.
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WELL, the fabled culture of Florence wants to live. It wants to live so much that it has decided to become very exclusive indeed.
Authorities in the ancient city have pulled permits for the cast of MTV’s “Jersey Shore.” MTV wanted to film at the Uffizi art gallery, the Boboli Gardens and the Palazzo Vecchio. The cast of “Jersey Shore” has become infamous for its drinking, carousing and general stupidity on this wildly popular reality show. (Herein, the foolishness is edited to maximum lurid effect.)
The cast was packed and ready to go when the permits were pulled. MTV is mulling its options and trying to persuade the Florentines that the cast consists of really nice kids, who won’t knock over any artwork, or graffiti any frescoes, or throw up in the exquisitely manicured Boboli Garden.
Oh, come on. Like the “JS” cast would even appreciate the paintings and sculpture at the Uffizi. As Joan Crawford snapped at a hapless, culture-challenged co-star in the movie “Torch Song,”—“Your idea of art is the fruit in the slot machine!”
Let the cast go to Florence and wander the lush countryside while they call each other names. Or perhaps Rome would be less snooty? Hey, the Romans allowed Anita Ekberg and Marcello Mastroianni to cavort in the famous Trevi Fountain.
Why not Snooki and The Situation?
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IT’S AWFULLY hard to imagine the great genius of theater – Arthur Laurents – dead.
At 93, he was still skiing, surfing, playing tennis and knocking people out with his physical and verbal exercises.
He was a formidable enemy, quarreling with almost every single person he ever met over this and that. He embodied the competitive side of theater, but he often forgave if he did not forget. And – in the last ten years – he was the biggest hit in musical theater on Broadway, with smash revivals of “Gypsy” and “West Side Story” to his credit. But pneumonia took Arthur away, as incredible as that seems to me. Knowing him so well for so long, through ups and downs, I thought Arthur could have delivered a knock-out, even to Death itself. But maybe he didn’t want to.
I met Arthur late in the Fifties when I lived in a house next to his in Quogue on the outskirts of Westhampton in Long Island. At that time, believe it or not, Arthur enjoyed something of a reputation as a rebellious “switch hitter,” having just ended his “ladies man” phase. I was always told of his romance with Nora Kaye, the great ballerina … and then his love affair with singer Anita Ellis (she was the voice of Rita Hayworth in the movie “Gilda”) … and there was a dalliance with the one and only Lena Horne.
Shortly after these bisexual stories, Arthur met the handsome Tom Hatcher and lived with him until Tom’s death only a few years ago. Arthur missed Tom so vividly that perhaps that was the reason he was ready to go? I am left with no one now even to receive a sympathy note. Maybe I should write Scott Rudin and Patti LuPone. They deserve a nod from Arthur’s considerable legacy.
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SPEAKING OF Italy — as we were in the first item — somehow it seemed just a bit unusual that the Pope was in a gondola the other day going down the Grand Canal. Benedict XVI had addressed 300,000 Venetians at an outdoor mass and the 84-year-old Pontiff lectured them about not giving in to “fear of the others, of foreigners, of people who come from far away.” (He could visit the United States and make the same argument here!)
He blessed right and left down the Grand Canal, but all I could think of was that the average gondola rider is furious as heck over the sky-high fees and looking around for the Peggy Guggenheim Museum, and the notorious Marino Marini sculpture of man-on-a-horse, with a human penis attached. Or failing that, the average gondola rider is waiting to get off and find a great restaurant.
The Pope, however, lectured the Venetians that they should not oppose the Bible’s message: “We have to testify about Christian hope to modern man, who is often beset with vast and worrying problems!”