Liz Smith: Who Is Rich?

“WHO IS rich? He who rejoices in his portion,” said Benjamin Franklin.

MAYBE you saw Secretary of State Hillary Clinton last week talking about how the world is full of rich people, very rich people who aren’t pulling their weight for the lesser folks in their countries. She was emphasizing that there is a lot of money “out there.”

And I just want to remind my readers of something Joe Nocera wrote in the Times recently about this subject. He really made me think. Here’s Joe:

“Thirty years ago, when Forbes published its first Forbes 400, a net worth of $75 million would get you on the list. Today it takes $1.1 billion. In the last year alone, the cumulative net worth of the wealthiest 400 people, by Forbes calculation, rose by $200 billion.

“That compares with a 4% drop in median household income last year, according to the Census Bureau. One would be hard pressed to find a clearer example of how powerfully income inequality has taken root.”

WANT TO take your teenager to an acceptable adult-parent-growing child movie that will warm your heart but not present you with the usual “squirming” reactions delivered by the screen these days.

Grown-ups and teens can experience some recent historical moments in a movie called “The Perks of Being a Wallflower” with magnificent performances from the flowering Emma Watson (yes, of “Harry Potter” fame) — as well as from the boy who doesn’t quite fit in, Logan Lerman and Ezra Miller as an unrepressed gay misfit friend.

This is from writer director Stephen Chbosky and it is charming with Dylan McDermott and Kate Walsh as the middle-class parents (this is all more realistic and touching than TV’s “Modern Family”). But it has plenty of laughs of its own.

If you survived teen-age, then there is more than a little remembrance and looking back at what it was like to be a lonely naive high school freshman. Yet this story is about such a person being befriended and taken over by disgruntled seniors who have their own problems.

I just loved this movie.

HERE’S SOMETHING I wrote about ten years ago: “She is a child star who has blossomed into a voluptuous teen-age vixen. She is beautiful. She is talented. She has an inherently dramatic nature. I don’t ever compare or think of ‘the next so-and-so’ but I do see Lindsay Lohan worthy of inheriting at least the hem of Elizabeth Taylor’s garment.”

Who the hell knew?! Shortly after I wrote this, I reported that Lindsay had been spotted flirting with Colin Farrell. Her then press rep called to berate me and told me if I didn’t retract, I had “effectively destroyed Lindsay’s career at Disney.” I didn’t retract, but I noted all denied that Lindsay flirted with Colin. (What was the crime? Who wouldn’t flirt with Colin Farrell?) I then sent a note to this press rep relaying all I had already heard about Lindsay, at the innocent age of 16. “I could have printed all that, couched in rumor and been totally safe — and correct — in doing so.” No response, naturally.

Well, that was then and this is now. I have seen a lot of show biz tragedy in my long career — “train wrecks” as they are known now. But nothing on this earth compares to Lindsay Lohan. She is 26. At 26, Marilyn Monroe was at the pinnacle starring in “Gentlemen Prefer Blondes” … at 26, Rita Hayworth was immortalized as “Gilda” … at 26, Elizabeth Taylor was the world’s most revered young widow (that would soon change, but … La Liz just couldn’t sleep alone.) At 26, Whitney Houston had yet to show any ill effects of her personal life. She was still a goddess of song.

Lindsay at 26? A shattered career and a wasteland of sordid publicity and unbelievably bad choices and “bad luck” — thefts, DUI’s, car accidents, public brawling, drinks, drugs and endless, nearly pathological partying that always, always leads to some wretched little disaster. The latest being her contretemps with a man she invited to her NYC hotel room at 6:00 a.m. He took pictures. He wasn’t allowed to. They fought over the camera. He attacked her, she claims. She pulled the fire alarm and reported him to the cops. The police have declined to prosecute.

It’s front page news but of the lowest, least glamorous, anti-star variety. She has become a byword for impending disaster; a dirty joke about Hollywood excess. Her obit is ready at the fingertips of every newspaper and gossip site in the country.

I met this girl at the Vanity Fair Oscar party. She was still fresh. Charming. Sober. (Certainly she seemed to be.) She embraced me and said, “You are the only person who ever writes anything nice about me.” I have tried since to keep to that. I haven’t made excuses but always wished her the best. I saw that she had no help. Her parents are simply incapable. (They make the family of Michael Jackson look like The Waltons.)

I can’t trash her even now. I can only beg somebody to step in and take action before the next headline is “Lindsay Dead.” I have this awful creepy feeling that she is going to join the 27 Club — all those stars like Janis and Jimi and Jim Morrison, Kurt Cobain, Amy Winehouse, etc., who passed at that age. (Heath Ledger was 28. Close enough.)

And my column is open to Lindsay Lohan any time she wants to tell her story — any story. I do think she is taken advantage of at times, but she puts herself in those situations. (Why drive yourself around? Why party till dawn? Why invite strangers to your hotel room?) It’s as if she has a terrible, driving need to self-destruct.

A guy called Steve Honig is her current rep. Steve, when you’ve filled your next Xanax prescription have your client give me a call.

This column originally appeared on NYSocialDiary.com on 10/2/12

4 comments so far.

  1. avatar Rho says:

    Wish I were rich, but I’m not.

  2. avatar jadez says:

    lol..liz is the best but isnt here career built on telling everyone about the great events of the rich she is just so privileged to attend?

    and while She may have envisioned lohan the next elizabeth taylor the young lady hasnt failed to live up to my expectations.

    because i never had any.

    and isnt That the point?

  3. avatar Baby Snooks says:

    The difference between Elizabeth Taylor and Lindsay Lohan is that Elizabeth always made the best out of the worst of what life handed her while Lindsay seems to make the worst out of the best life hands her. 

  4. avatar Marknfl12345 says:

    On Lindsay, it is hard to know what to think or say. Hopefully, she will rise above all of these troubles – the real ones and the alleged ones. Nowadays, you only have to claim she bumped you with a Bentley and you can also be in the news!