Liz Smith: “Titanic” Sails Into China … Will the Cast of “The Hunger Games” Mutiny? … Dueling Egos — Joe Eszterhas and Mel Gibson …
“WE DO look very different; we’re older. Leo’s 37, I’m 36. We were 21 and 22 when we made that film. You know, he’s fatter now — I’m thinner.”
So says Kate Winslet, who disdains Titanic sentimentality.
IN THE United States, the 3-D re-release of James Cameron’s Titanic is doing okay. It has picked up a nice $20 million or so. However, the big ship has been overshadowed by the daunting box-office “iceberg” called The Hunger Games. Perhaps Mr. Cameron is a wee bit disappointed, but he has his millions to cry on — remember, he did Avatar, too.
Over in China, things are different for Titanic. The movie opened to record numbers there. Only Michael Bay’s Transformers: Dark of the Moon has ever had better box-office right out of the gate. One reason for Chinese interest in Titanic is that the populace was probably not inundated with endless TV specials about the doomed liner—its final hours…its big mystery … the water-logged artifacts, etc. Many people here were Titanic-ed out by the time the 3-D version opened. Not to mention that the original, “flat” version of the movie is shown constantly on television.
Speaking of Hunger Games, the big shock out of Hollywood last week was that Gary Ross opted out of directing the sequel, titled Catching Fire. He cited time issues — not enough time to prepare the film properly. Ross got on well with his young actors. He even went so far to say he thinks of Jennifer Lawrence like a daughter. The big speculation now is will Miss Lawrence, Liam Hemsworth and Josh Hutcherson accept another director? Hutcherson has gone on record saying “Gary is the only one who could ever direct the second movie.” Miss Lawrence now literally owes her career to him. (Yes, I know she was Oscar-nominated for Winter’s Bone, but that was small potatoes compared to her stint as Katniss, the bow and arrow girl.)
Is mutiny in the air? Will Catching Fire go up in smoke? Stay tuned.
JOE Eszterhas vs. Mel Gibson. And the winner is — nobody. Mel Gibson is popularly known as a volatile anti-Semite and an all-round crazy guy. Still, Mr. Eszterhas, of Showgirls, Basic Instinct and Music Box fame — who moved out of Hollywood to Ohio and got religion — agreed to write the script for Mel’s proposed film on Maccabee Jewish heroes.
Joe now says Mel was anti-Semitic from day one, and prone to violent, profane outbursts — against Jews, the Vatican and his ex-girlfriend. Yet Joe continued to work on the script, get paid and even exposed his wife and one of his teenage sons to the terrible Mr. Gibson. Both Mel and Warner Bros. rejected Joe’s script.
Only then did Joe feel the need to write a nine page letter about the horrors of working with Mel, allowing it to be leaked online. If Mel had loved Joe’s treatment, I guess the screenwriter/producer would still be scribbling and enduring the terrors? (Actor/director Gibson says Joe’s work was sub-par, often late, and his accusations are “exaggerated.”)
A tortured, bedeviled man, an ego-heavy screenwriter scorned. Not a great combo. Not a comforting peek into either man’s soul. Although I’d take Joe any day over Mel. I absolutely loved the Eszterhas independence.
LAST WEEK there was some self-satisfied, snarky reporting that Madonna’s new MDNA album had taken a terrific fall after debuting at # 1. And it did. Delight was in the air. Knives were out. If hating for no reason was a meal to be eagerly consumed, Madonna would be the all-you-can-eat buffet.
And yet, everybody rejoicing over Madonna’s “fail” seemed to forget that when Lady Gaga’s album, Born This Way debuted at #1 last year, it suffered a stunning 85% sales drop the following week. Now, I’m not here to get into a Madonna vs. Gaga thing, dissing Lady G, whom I admire. She is talented, amusing and touching.
But this is the way it is in the music industry. The big money is in touring. iTunes and iPods and digital downloads have affected sales disastrously. Radio play is still important, but Madonna can’t get much of a break on radio. Ageism is alive and well. (Ironically, her next single is … ”Turn Up The Radio.”)
One more thing. Lady Gaga is 26. Madonna is 53. If Gaga suffers tremendous sales drops at her age, in this current climate, what will be happening when she’s 53?
Madonna looked spectacular in sheer black lace at the Macy’s event for her fragrance, last week. Like an elegant woman. One can sing songs like “Girl Gone Wild” and still be elegant, you know.
“Pluto and Mars both changed direction this very week and celestially speaking, that’s BIG news!” writes my astrology pal Shelley Ackerman in The Aesthete.
Shelley is one of the two astrologers I love to read, whether I believe in astrology or not. The other is the brilliant Michael Lutin who used to add so much to Vanity Fair. (Michael, get in touch — what’s going on with you?)
Shelley writes: “With a cycle of 249 years, Pluto moves slowly and is now hovering around a sensitive point in New York City’s chart. It will remain in and around that point for the next three years or so, suggesting that we must tend to our infrastructure, be hyper-alert in the subways and take to heart that new old-adage ‘If you see something, say something.’
Only problem? With Pluto you don’t necessarily see anything, but we do sense when there’s something amiss like the benign manifestation of Pluto as prankster, evidenced at eight subway stations the last week of March when ‘a group of masked individuals tampered with entrance equipment with the aim of letting commuters in Manhattan and Brooklyn ride free. Pluto does have a sense of humor.”
Shelley now deals with Mars — “The planet of action, drive, motion and physical mojo has been in reverse since January 23rd. It’s been three months of holding back, and minutes before midnight on Friday, April 13th, the red planet will stand still for a moment and begin to move forward again.
In the days and weeks ahead, much of the frustrating energy that characterized early 2012 will dissipate and green lights will start to reappear in place of the red and yellow ones that have delayed so much for so many …. communication is king … you’ll breathe easier as Mars stops in his tracks, switches direction, and ever-so-slowly begins to inch forward. The past three months have been frustrating as all hell, so with the waiting game over … which of your brilliant ideas will you act on first?”
Wow! That all makes me feel better! I think ….
This column originally appeared on NYSocialDiary.com on 4/16/12