And more from our Gossip Girl: Cocktails celebrate Jerry Weintraub … would Elizabeth Taylor have lived her life differently, if she’d had the chance?
“THE GOD I believe in is a god of second chances,” said Bill Clinton.
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SHORTLY BEFORE Elizabeth Taylor’s 79th birthday, the Daily Mail in London contacted me to write a tribute to the great star, who was by then hospitalized with the congestive heart failure that ultimately took her life. I was glad to do it, naturally. And although the Mail hinted they were seeing it as an obit, I preferred not to dwell much on that.
However, at the end of the piece, I did speculate that if Elizabeth was to be given a “second chance” by Him — a life of sensible decisions and moderate passions, this is how it would go:
“You mean I can’t drink?”
“Well, not so much, Elizabeth.”
“And I always have to watch my weight?”
“Again, it’s a matter of balance, dear.”
“Oh, Elizabeth, all those marriages, all that unhappiness?”
“And in return I get…?”
“You’ll never be sick a day in your life.”
(Pause.) “Sorry, buster,” our girl would say, clinking her cocktail, eating her bangers and mash, eyeing her next conquest, “That’s not living to me!”
And it wouldn’t have been. Elizabeth soaked up life passionately, and enjoyed all the pleasures that could be had. And then, she gave back, just as passionately.
Elizabeth’s family is said to be “devastated.” Her life force was so strong they did not believe it could fade. At least not yet. (Dying as she did on the 53rd anniversary of Mike Todd’s death does give her passing an eerie significance. Her marriage to Todd, had he lived, was the one she could insist “would have lasted forever.” That possibility offered her comfort and a terrible poignant regret.)
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THE LEGITIMATE theater world is a small one, but its cultural fallout is large. Recently, the producer Scott Rudin, who is a larger-than-life size guy in every aspect, laid on a lunch at the Four Seasons Pool Room — and if a bomb had dropped, I don’t think Ben Brantley of the Times would have had anything more to write about.
Mr. Rudin had everybody’s favorite, Mike Nichols, as a co-host for this fabulous lunch for “The Book of Mormon” writers, creators and producers. These are the men who made such a splash with television’s “South Park” outrages. No wonder people find them irresistibly funny.
I haven’t had time to see this musical yet, and so I won’t offer any critical comments here. But my table was great and so was the food. I sat with the New York Post’s outrageous reporter Michael Riedel who I know, in olden times, would have outdone Walter Winchell. He, however, confines himself to deathless delving into the pros and cons of theater production and he is feared, fearsome and fearless. He is the one who is the hound of heaven about the quaking production of “Spiderman” and he has made himself a neat little reputation in New York circles though he claims his influence is minimal. (Michael is also very cute and his nature belies his results.)
I also had the veteran Manny Eisenberg on the other side of me. He is a legit theater veteran who knows every joke, quip and anecdote about the stars of yesterday. Manny produced the plays of the great Neil Simon and says he has about given up on a future in drama. Or comedy. I know Manny is just kidding and if someone brings him a new project, he’ll jump. (But he had a lot to say about the real estate business — which, to his way of thinking, vitiates the lure of real theater business.)
Well, when you rub shoulders with the likes of Mike Nichols, Elaine May, Angela Lansbury, Nora Ephron, Lawrence O’Donnell, you know you are experiencing something special. I had a delightful chat also with the adorable reporter Jacob Bernstein of The Daily Beast.
The “Book of Mormon” creators all seemed young, fresh, outrageous, willing, eager, able to join the New York theater ensemble. I guess they were wearing their Mormon underwear because they seemed very authentic, even if they did just get here from California. And something led me to think that these guys aren’t really religious. We’ll see.
Not to be cavalier about their names: they are Matt Stone, Trey Parker, Casey Nicholaw and Robert Lopez.
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THE BACKERS of the film “His Way,” a portrait of Hollywood legend Jerry Weintraub, are going their merry way for the March 30th cocktails, reception at Time Warner and the dinner at Porter House New York to follow.
These VIPs are “very important” indeed being none other than Graydon Carter of Vanity Fair … the agents Kevin Huvane and Bryan Lourd … plus HBO’s titans Michael Lombardo and Richard Plepler.
Now you may not think you know who the honoree, Mr. Weintraub, is, but this Brooklyn born/Bronx-raised guy is truly famous in show biz. He produced the “Oceans” films which were such big hits, and those are only some of his more recent accomplishments. (He was a big deal promoting and producing concerts back in the day for the likes of Elvis, Sinatra and Led Zeppelin.) Jerry was/is a best friend to former President Bush the Elder. His autobiography was a smash. He is an icon in Hollywood.
“His Way” will air on HBO come April 4th, at 9th p.m. Put it in your calendar. How can you get invited to this private insider March 30th party? The heck if I know.