Liz Smith: Will “John Carter” (And Taylor Kitsch) Muscle To The Top?

Taylor Kitsch, star of Disney's upcoming "John Carter"

And more from our Gossip Girl: Oscar aftermath — stylists cringe or kvell … Woody Allen brings “Broadway” to Broadway … and happy birthday, Elizabeth!

“I DON’T want to judge people for using a stylist, but when people say that I’m just a dumb stripper, I can’t help but think ‘Wow, you really give accolades to these hair and makeup people and stylists?’ I’m holding my own up there. I don’t have a stylist and I do my own hair and makeup. That counts, even though it’s not always appreciated.” So says burlesque artiste Dita Von Teese.

I’ve seen Miss Von Teese, in and out of her act. She does know how to pull herself together beautifully — and take it off with class, too. Shades of Gypsy Rose Lee!

Speaking of stylists, dozens — perhaps hundreds of them — are anxiously awaiting the critiques of their efforts last night. For these men and women, the annual Academy Awards extravaganza is worth a fortune in clients and reputation.

Often, however, they are dismayed when they see their “star” on the red carpet. Suddenly Miss So-and-So decided to wear her hair up rather than down or put the damn dress on backwards. Too much jewelry, too little jewelry. And as we discussed here last week, perhaps preferring to nix the Spanx.

It ain’t easy, keeping the stars looking good. It’s a surprise more stylists aren’t in rehab themselves.

* * *

WOODY ALLEN’S movie career has always been an on and off thing. He is an auteur and a genuine cult figure, but long periods can pass between successful Woody films — even if the hardcore fans love all things Allen. In recent years, Woody, the quintessential quirky New Yorker, has made a significant comeback by moving his films to Europe– even making a London-based thriller, “Match Point” which borrowed a bit from Hitchcock and a bit from “A Place In The Sun.” (Or more precisely, the source was Theodore Dreiser’s An American Tragedy.) Last year’s “Midnight In Paris” seemed to be everybody’s favorite romantic movie.

But back in 1994, when Woody was still Manhattan-bound, he made the delicious “Bullets Over Broadway,” set in the 1920’s theater world. The movie earned seven Oscar nominations and won a little golden guy for Dianne Wiest, who played the often-tipsy stage diva Helen Sinclair. (“Don’t speak, don’t speak!” she would famously utter whenever John Cusack, playing a young playwright, tried to talk a little sober sense into her.)

Now Woody is taking “Bullets Over Broadway” and putting it on Broadway. With music. Allen is writing the book, and the songs will be genuine 1920’s ditties. At least that’s the plan so far. But I can’t see how they can avoid giving Helen Sinclair an original number. Likewise the chorus girl character played onscreen by Jennifer Tilly. We shall see.

Letty Aronson and Julian Schlossberg are producing this show for spring 2013. One more reason the Mayan calendar just has to be wrong. Fate surely wouldn’t be so cruel as to make us miss a Woody Allen Broadway musical!

* * *

YIKES! Hollywood doesn’t kid around when it smells a flop. Disney’s sci-fi thriller “John Carter” is getting all sorts of bad advance word-of-mouth.

Newsweek’s Chris Lee‘s article asks a penetrating question: will the film, reportedly budgeted at $250 million, be the next “Waterworld?” (“Waterworld” was Kevin Costner’s epic about, well — a world covered in water. Although always referred to as a “bomb,” Costner’s movie took in about $300 million worldwide. Ah, but the budget was $175 mil.)

Apparently “John Carter,” which stars the handsome but not wildly well-known Taylor Kitsch, is expected to meet a similar fate. It might do well, it might do very well. People could love it despite bad reviews. But can it gross at least $400 million? There’s the rub.

Writer Lee states: “Heads have already started to roll right out of the Team Disney Building and onto Dopey Drive in Burbank … meanwhile, at studio commissaries around town, the long steak knives are already out for Disney Studios chairman Rich Ross.”

Well, it’s gleeful inside-track writing like this that makes me want to go see “John Carter.” Especially when the movie is described as “Gladiator” meets “Clash of the Titans” meets “Star Wars.” Sounds pretty good, actually — even though I’m sure it was meant as a “diss.” I say, use that sentence right on top of the first newspaper ad!

* * *

LAST YEAR, Feb 27th fell on a Sunday, Oscar night. Elizabeth Taylor, weak but valiant, watched the show from her hospital bed. It was her 79th birthday. Despite grim news stories, most people expected Elizabeth to eventually leave the hospital. In a wheelchair, waving and smiling bravely as she had in recent years — frail, but not down for the count!

It was not to be. Elizabeth died at Cedars-Sinai Hospital less than a month later. Today would have been her 80th birthday. In all the years I’ve written this column, I’ve always wished Miss Taylor a happy birthday on Feb 27th. So, happy 80th my dear. I know you are having a hell of a party up there, healthy and strong again, surrounded by those you loved and lost.

And even Eddie Fisher. Come on, Elizabeth, you know you had some good times with him!

17 comments so far.

  1. avatar rick gould says:

    Elizabeth reached out and gave Eddie a jingle on the phone via Carrie Fisher, she told Entertainment Tonight.

    As for the Oscars. Yeah, despite the fact that it was Taylor’s birthday, that she had won her first Oscar 50 years ago, and that it was reported that she was watching from a hospital bed…no acknowledgement from the Academy…a get well wish…a birthday greeting? Zip.
    Yeah, good luck with Doris Day getting an honorary award out of them!

    I changed my avatar in honor Taylor. That famous candid photo of Elizabeth by her great pal Roddy in Mexico is probably my favorite snap of her.
    Happy 80th wherever you are, E.T!

    • avatar Mr. Wow says:

      Dear Rick…

      Love the new avatar.  The famous 1964  Roddy McDowell “no makeup” pic. 

      Well, whatever…Roddy was a bitch to persuade her to try to do it again in 1992.  And she was foolish to allow it.  By then every feature had been altered.   It has become a popular camp postcard, one image against the other. 

      He really was an evil little sycophant. 

  2. avatar David Bolton says:

    “Bullets”—looking forward to it and hope it does well. Absolutely LOVE this movie.

    Taylor (Kitsch, not Elizabeth)—I don’t get his appeal, at all. “John Carter” will tank, and so will “Battleship.”

    Taylor (Elizabeth, not Kitsch)—was sad to see her farewell at the Oscars last night. I’ll never forget her on “Lucy.”

  3. avatar sheezcrazy says:

    I cherish my classic Disney animated movies, but that studio had been bleeding fans with their ridiculously priced reissues shamefully. Oh, I buy them all. Have to have the restored versions! But $30 (or more) a pop? In today’s economy? Walt must be spinning in his grave. I won’t shed a tear if they lose money on flop.

  4. avatar Baby Snooks says:

    I don’t think anyone thought Elizabeth Taylor would die. She had died so many times before in so many tabloid headlines and didn’t.  And then she did.   The way we all do.  And *poof* we’re gone.   But hopefully fondly remembered. She certainly will be.  And always on February 27th.  She loved the birthday parties. So maybe everyone should have a birthday party for her. And send a check to her foundation!

    • avatar Jay Gentile says:

      I’m convinced that there will ALWAYS be news about Elizabeth Taylor — almost a year after she passed, she was in the news because of the auctions in December. Then in January she was in the news again for the Rose Parade float honoring her. Then in February, she was in the news again when her art sold in London for another $20 million.

      • avatar Baby Snooks says:

        There will always be news about Elizabeth Taylor the activist/humanitarian/Earth Mother but in terms of Elizabeth Taylor “the star” she will fade into the memories like everyone else.  We fade with age as someone once put it. Even she did.

  5. avatar Lila says:

    Curious to see how they render John Carter of Mars. The series by Edgar Rice Burroughs was one of my earliest reads as a child.

  6. avatar Rick S says:

    I loved Elizabeth Taylor almost as much as my mother. 
    My mom’s birthday was February 28th.  she passed away in 2006. 
    Who knows, maybe they’ll see each other in heaven.

  7. avatar omasan says:

    The Academy Awards are so lame–that’s why I will never watch the whole show–I just catch bits of it. The last great movie star of all time passes and all she gets is a lame five seconds, lumped in with other actors and directors and technicians? Give me a break. All they care about is what is hot now and what their ratings will be.

    • avatar rick gould says:

      It could have been a very moving moment LAST year if they had done a collage of some of E.T.’s most memorable Oscar moments…like when Elizabeth was pre-empted by a streaker, the bi-centennial year with her looking blazing hot in red Halston tryin to lead the national anthem, or her and Paul Newman awesomely reunited as presenters, or the year her and Mike Todd were the IT couple, capped with her dramatic acceptance for “Butterfield 8″ 50 years before… but no.

      Instead, the Oscar show desperately grasps at straws for a “fresh” spin instead of allowing for genuine moments…

      • avatar Mr. Wow says:

        Dear Rick..

        OMG!   You recall the ’76 Oscars?  “Please, let’s all sing ‘America the Beautiful!”  Hello, in  strapless red  Halston and big arms and bouncing bosoms!    What a woman. 

        Then she went off and and carried on in New York and DC for months, settling on Mr. Warner.

      • avatar Dan Patterson says:

        I was glad that the Oscar telecast at least gave Miss Taylor pride of place (last) in its “in memoriam” lineup. It’s amazing how she’s still generating news. In honor of her birthday, I watched IVANHOE (when she was so young and lovely) and SUDDENLY LAST SUMMER (when her beauty had become voluptuous, and she gave a riveting performance). Elizabeth forever!

  8. avatar irishspike says:

    Mr. Wow’s comments on Roddy Mc Dowall hit a nerve with me. Years ago, I wrote a book on Judy Garland titled, “Rainbow’s End.” He and I shared the same editor at William Morrow. I wanted to interview Roddy for the book, as he often photographed Garland (to great effect) and was a close friend of hers. When I called him on the phone, he was rude and bitchy, first saying, “When my house was robbed in Malibu, Judy and Rock showed up with furniture and a new TV to help me start over again.” Then he said, “I can’t possibly talk to you about Judy Garland for publication,” knowing I would ask him about their shared managers, Freddie Fields and David Begelman (who allegedly siphoned off a great deal of her money for his own personal use). Roddy continued, “I loved Judy but if I speak on the record, I’m afraid it would hurt my career.” I wanted to ask, WHAT career. Then when I said I had hoped to use one of his Garland photographs for the book cover (the rights paid for my the publisher), he sneered, “You couldn’t afford one of my pictures.” After Roddy died, I happened to meet an old flame of Roddy, who told me how mean-spirited and terrible he had been during the course of their relationship. In conducting nearly 100 interviews for my book, Roddy — and David Begelman — were the only two people to turn me down for interviews. The difference was that Begelman was her manager, Roddy was (supposedly) her great good friend. My book vindicated Garland in contrast to what had been written before about her and her television series. It would have been the perfect platform for Roddy to speak up about Garland and, in his way, help set the record straight. I came away with little respect for him, just another mean-spirited, two-faced Hollywood opportunist.

    • avatar Baby Snooks says:

      …just another mean-spirited, two-faced Hollywood opportunist.

      They all are when you look beyond the masks they all wear.  I had this intriguing watercolor of a mask surrounded by other masks. It was titled “Devoured.”  I felt quite “devoured” when I bought it. I also retitled it “Hollywood.”