Liz Smith:The franchise is still hot …

Ian Fleming“IF LOVE is the answer, could you please rephrase the question,” asked Lily Tomlin.

IN RECENT days, we’ve reminisced quite a bit about those who have shuffled off their mortal coil.

But life goes on, even if it is unhappy or embarrassing.

For instance, the Kristen Stewart/Robert Pattinson/Rupert Sanders affair. Miss Stewart is said to be so distraught about her indiscretion with the married director Hughes that she has stopped showering.

Kristen's Unshowered and Rob's laying lowMr. Hughes’ wife, the slim and stylish Liberty Ross, has stopped wearing her wedding ring. Mr. Pattinson U-Hauled himself away from all that and has been “lying low.” But he’ll have to appear soon to promote his movie “Cosmopolis.”

I pity the press reps working on this film, as well as Pattinson’s own handler. They are going to have to repeat endlessly, “No personal questions. No talk about Kristen Stewart!” Huge arguments will ensue with various morning, afternoon, evening shows and column writers. Interviewers will be aggrieved; scream about being censored and lectured. But they’ll eventually promise to obey. And at least one of them will break their promise, causing Mr. Pattinson to clam up or walk off out of the interview.

Then comes the moment we’ve all encountered, one way or another — the press rep descends in a fury and vows “my client will never appear on your show, this network, in this column, ever, ever again. You betrayed me and I won’t forget it.”

P.S. They always do forget it. In show biz, one hand is perpetually washing the other. Although for all the scrubbing, both hands remain rather grimy.

Oh, Pattinson appears next Monday, on “The Daily Show.” Well, Stephen Colbert is going to have fun, at least.

I AM going to miss Steven Tyler on “American Idol.” Not that I have anything against the also-departed Jennifer Lopez, but there’s just something about Steven. To me, he really embodies that over-used word, “cute.”

But we have Mariah Carey to look forward to. I’ve always simply loved Mariah, who has never put on one whiff of a diva air with me. She’s just a big girl (she’s tall!) with a big voice and, judging by her charity efforts, a big heart, too.

And how can you not love a woman who wears towering high-heels everywhere — including during snowstorms, torrential downpours, and while she was pregnant with twins. And unlike Lindsay Lohan or Snookie, Mariah to my knowledge, has never taken a spike-heeled tumble. Even if she couldn’t sing, that’s a real talent right there!

In the new issue of Entertainment Weekly, columnist Mark Harris ponders the past 11 seasons of “AI” and how Mariah will conduct herself as a judge? Upbeat to the point of craziness? (Paula Abdul) Bitchy to the point of sadism? (Simon Cowell) or somewhere in-between?

Harris hopes that Mariah will actually tell it like it is: “If she has to serve as a role model, I hope the example she offers is about the value of high standards. And if that seems too scary for her, she should just channel Ms. Weiss, the character she played in ‘Precious.’ A woman unafraid to tell off Mo’Nique, is not going to sugarcoat things.”

The latest issue of EW is also significant in that it pays lush tribute to 50 years of James Bond onscreen. Sean Connery, the first (and most iconic 007) is on the cover, shown at his peak. Maybe he wasn’t always the world’s most enlightened male, or terribly polite to gossip columnists, but there’s no denying that his films and image changed the movie industry.

Also included in this issue is a batch of photos from the coming-in-November Bond film, “Skyfall” with Daniel Craig, who really gives Connery a run for his martini in the “best Bond” sweepstakes. (No offense to Roger Moore, Timothy Dalton, Pierce Brosnan and one-time-only, George Lazenby.)

“Skyfall” director Sam Mendes is interviewed. EW’s Clark Collis asks at one point if Craig is presented as a “hot individual” in the latest Bond entry? Mendes says: “How can you not present him as a hot individual? He is a hot individual. Do you mean, are there any body shots?”

Never try to soft-peddle a salacious question with a smart director. Just say, “Do we get to see him naked?”

It’s okay to objectify men now. Most of them don’t mind. Except for all that gym time they have to put in. Well, now they know what women went through for eons, staying attractive while their men turned into slobs. These days, everybody stays attractive!

Or, the obesity problem being what it is in the U.S., lots of men and women simply stay slobs.

P.S. TO James Bond!

The man credited for 007 is always Ian Fleming but then, the writer never gets mentioned enough. I want to tell about the miracle of making the fictional Bond into an on-going never-ending movie hero.

One of the many who helped put James Bond on the screen was a man whose immigrant ancestors were from Calabria. Here, a South Italian family began raising broccoli. It was such a success they took the vegetable for their name.

So, it came to be that one Cubby Broccoli was working for Howard Hughes back in 1941 and his first job was to take an unknown receptionist named Jane Russell on a train to Flagstaff, Arizona where she was to star in “The Outlaw.” Cubby’s orders from Howard were “to keep all the characters away from her.”

Cubby, as Hughes’ underling, was then privy to the outrageous filming (Sometimes Howard would waste time with over 100 takes.) Cubby watched Hughes wring world PR out of designing a special bra for Jane. (Writer Craig Brown tells all about this in his new book “Hello Goodbye Hello,” which we recommended to readers weeks ago.)

So, Cubby Broccoli learned the ropes about producing and getting publicity, which served him later when he became rich and famous as the man behind the Bond films with his partner Harry Saltzman. Their heirs are still inheriting.

Author Brown says it is estimated James Bond has killed more than 150 enemies and slept with over 44 women, three quarters of whom have tried to kill him.

Ian Fleming on the "Goldfinger" movie set with Sean Connery and Shirley Eaton

This column originally appeared on NYSocialDiary.com on 8/10/12

One comment so far.

  1. avatar Lila says:

    Howard Hughes “wasted time with over 100 takes”? OMG, you know who else does that? Stanley Kubrick! It’s no wonder the kid from The Shining teaches college-level science now…