Liz Smith: Wide Awake

einstein-albert-blackboard-1931-sizedMARRIAGE is the unsuccessful attempt to make something lasting out of an incident,” said Albert Einstein.

And here I thought he was always thinking about the universe. But then we are ever surprised by what the famous say. For instance, Lenin‘s last words were “Good dog!”

EVERYBODY I meet, just about, talks to me about movies or a television series. They have in mind a story, or a plot, or a title, or an adaptation from a book, and they all seem to think their idea will be quickly recognized in Hollywood. In their heads, they have already cast it and gone to the Academy Awards or won an Emmy.  Believe me, it’s not that simple. It never was … but nowadays? Incredible.

stripSo now, a real pro — Lynda Obst — has written a realistic book about making film into reality in these days of extremes. You remember Lynda, friend of the late Nora Ephron, associated with the hits “Flashdance” and “Sleepless in Seattle” and about 16 other films and TV series. But as her son tells her today, “Mom, nobody makes a movie now just because it’s ‘good’!”

One of the greatest editors in all of publishing, Alice Mayhew of Simon & Shuster, is behind Lynda’s new work. The title is Sleepless in Hollywood: Tales from the New Abnormal in the Movie Business.

While you were dreaming of Kristin Stewart with flowing hair, starring in your movie, “… audiences were getting their first exposure to the brave new world of breakthrough special effects, and what was becoming possible in animation.” Lynda goes on:  ”It was a weird changing Darwinian time. Conditions were changing as fast as I could figure them out and then would change again. Movies are now an endangered species in the very place that makes them.”

Lynda doesn’t just preach here. She gives examples and this book is full of anecdotes about those we know and love and despise. She analyzes China’s developing international movie empire,  advising that with our popcorn, we might well take a pair of chopsticks.

She describes what might, may, will happen. James Cameron and his triumphs are detailed.  This is a wonderful text book full of mysteries, loss and longing.  I just couldn’t stop reading it, even though I have never had movie-making impulses.

But it might discourage you from becoming a film backer or producer or even a part-owner of something on the screen, big or little. There’s always that.

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adIT’S BEEN FUN TO have Peter Rogers visiting New York since his big move to New Orleans for good.  And you can see in Architectural Digest his new French Quarter antebellum house all decorated in green and full of those good old Peter Rogers touches, like his framed photos of all the famous women he put in his “What Becomes a Legend Most” advertisements  many moons ago.

The magazine is a wonder for the month of May with its dazzling homes around the world.  (Peter can be seen during this Manhattan visit, in the flesh, at things like best musical multiple nominee “Kinky Boots.” But he is more often seen in the famous down home Irish bar, Donohue’s on Lexington Ave in the 60s.)

Speaking of gorgeous places to live, don’t miss New York mag this week. We’ve been writing here about the late C.Z. Guest and her inherited chic and there is her heir, the beautiful Cornelia, showing how she has taken a lot of mama’s great treasures to make herself a spanking New York apartment.

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TONIGHT, Literacy Partners has its 29th birthday with real writing- reading stars at Cipriani 42nd Street. (Actually, it’s been helping the illiterate for 40 years!)

savethedate32713-1Bill O’Reilly, the maestro history writer of the best seller lists … Pulitzer winner Elizabeth Strout and Jon Meacham … will read from their own works.  Patricia Cornwell and Tatiana von Furstenberg are our distinguished honorees and Jackie Weld Drake will take home the second-ever “Lizzie Award” for all her work with fighting illiteracy in the Spanish community. And the rest of what she does for books and authors and publishers.

You could help us teach hundreds of adults how to read and write. Send a check to Literacy Partners, 30 East 33rd St. 6th floor New York, N.Y. 10016. You can also donate here.

Or spend your money to reserve at Café Carlisle on East 76th Street in the spotlighted hotel where the delectable Yanna Avis opens May 9th and 16th and May 10th and 17th at 10 p.m. Reservations, 212-744-1600.

Yanna-Avis

julie harrisA CORRECTION: So sorry, but the other day, writing about super agent Sue Mengers, as assayed onstage by Bette Midler, I mistakenly used the name of Oscar-winner Eva Marie Saint in an anecdote.

I said she was one of the first clients Sue had really and truly adored.  I meant to write Julie Harris!

This reminded me of a real Julie Harris story.  When the great actress was playing Joan of Arc in “The Lark” on Broadway, the costume designer Alvin Colt met a friend on the street.

The friend said, “Terrible thing! … You know the part where Julie Harris jumps over a big rock, waving her sword? Well, last night she fell on her knee and they had to take 18 stitches …!”

Alvin Colt gasped and asked, “In her costume!”

This column originally appeared on NYSocialDiary.com on 5/1/13

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