"I'M SO the phoenix!"
That's what the one and only and eternal Cher tells AARP magazine this month.
The star, who will return to New York with her "Dressed To Kill" concert later this month, tells writer Alanna Nash: "I'm not a confident person, and I'm really not a 'Cher' fan. But I want to make sure I'll do a great job. So I go balls to the wall and try to do every single thing I can."
As to when we can expect Cher to hang up her baubles bangles and beads, here's this: "I don't intend to step aside. This is the first generation that's said, 'We're not going to roll over and play dead because we're a certain age. It's like saying to the Rolling Stones, 'OK, you've had your time in the sun. Now go put on some plaid shorts and play golf!'"
Cher -- she really is so the phoenix! Long may she rise again and again.
The other day I was chatting with Bette Midler and I said to her, "You are the only person I can think of who became a big star all over again in another medium -- from singer to movie star." Bette laughed and said, "Well, what about Cher?" Bette was correct -- and how often does one great star acknowledge another in that way? Any other two-career perennials out there you can think of?
•WE ARE inundated with contributions on my friend Joan Rivers. Here a typical example:
Zack Herman writes: "I've met Joan on several occasions and she lives up to her reputation as being one of the nicest people in showbiz. When you speak with her, she actually listens and cares no matter how exhausted she is. This is a truly terrible time for comedy. I hope she pulls through, she is the most amazing comedienne and humanitarian."
Everybody I know -- even those who suffered Joan's humor -- is hoping she'll recover/ seldom have I seen such an outpouring of love and concern for a public figure.
•I read in The New Yorker a quaint story about preparation of starting stage effects for Jeff Richards' production of the Kaufman-Hart comic hit play, You Can't Take It With You. (Mainly, in this new production, the plot use is for making fireworks in a basement! Not a good practical idea.)
The revival of the 1936 comedy hit is already in previews and opens on September 28th at the Longacre with the wonderful Elizabeth Ashley, James Earl Jones and Rose Byrne in the leads.
Someone remarked then that "the last time this play was done on Broadway was 30 years ago." And that startled me, because at the time, me, myself and I, appeared in this hit onstage. I was enacting a dead body that had been hidden in the basement. And I wore a man's suit and a felt fedora hat which I tipped to the audience at the curtain call. Granted, I wasn't exactly "acting" in the play but appearing with about a dozen other journalists in a promotion gimmick.
Nevertheless, I was brilliant when I took off my hat and the audience went wild. Afterwards, when I tried to get an Equity membership card for this dramatic adventure, the publicity-mad producer shook his head sadly. "Liz, you have to do more than this to get in Equity!"
It was still a unique night on-stage in a Broadway hit. I was a dead body but standing at the curtain. I think after all I've done for the theater I deserve a little respect!
•The Fern Mallis hit of the Fashion Week year was the style maven quizzing the photo icon Bill Cunningham live and onstage at the Y this week.
Cunningham, now in his youthful 80's and hard-to-get, is still the star reporter in photos for The New York Times and although he denies it, he is a great talker on the history of fashion. Everybody looks for his or her photos on weekends to see if they are in them.
Ms. Mallis scored a big hit with a sold-out young audience that gave Bill Cunningham a standing ovation!
•SEVERAL WEEKS ago I wrote about the latest book about Marilyn Monroe, the late C. David Heymann's Joe and Marilyn. I indicated I found the book "problematic" and wondered where and how so many of the interviews were conducted? (Heymann died in 2012.) I did think there was some fresh material, and said so.
However, Newsweek magazine has now come out with a blistering expose on all of C. David Heymann's tell-all bios, including Joe and Marilyn. Maybe that "fresh material" was stale, or -- more likely -- made up from whole cloth.
Heymann seemed to be a volatile, unhappy man, even attempting suicide when he got into trouble with Random House over one of his books. There was trouble of one sort or another with all his books, however.
Heymann's work can be summed up in one sentence in David Cay Johnston's Newsweek article: "Heymann invented so many people and events for his books, he wasn't able to keep them straight."
I suppose this is a good thing to remember if you come across one of Heymann's old books about Robert Kennedy, Elizabeth Taylor, Jackie Onassis, Barbara Hutton.
"Bevare!" as Bela Lugosi used to intone.
•I WAS watching Jon Stewart the other night; he was as trenchant and funny as ever, giving his comic skewering of the news. (Many people, especially young people, go to Stewart rather than "real" newscasts to find out what's up. I don't blame them. Except for the BBC and PBS, most of what passes for newscasts and news people -- especially on cable -- is embarrassing to behold.)
Stewart's guest that night was author Ramita Navai. She discussed her new book, City of Lies: Love, Sex, Death and the Search for Truth in Tehran. It sounds fascinating. Navai says that for all of the restrictions put upon Iranians, there is a "generational" awakening that is slowly making inroads. There is also a lot of hypocrisy, especially among the wealthier inhabitants of Tehran, who give lip service only to strict Muslim codes of behavior.
I'll read this book. I was also much impressed by Miss Navai herself -- beautiful, lively, clever. Hope to see more of her. (Apparently, she has appeared on Jon Stewart's show before. I can't seem to watch it regularly, so Ramita was new to me.)
•BETTE MIDLER'S New York Restoration Project will give you a free tree, tomorrow, Saturday, at forty give-away locations. For info on this go to www.nyrp.org