Saturday, March 26, 2011


Although feeling very sad about the passing of Elizabeth Taylor, I know she had a wonderful sense of humor – so I think she would enjoy reading about my fantasy dinner with her.

Back in 2001, my husband and I had big plans to participate in the Taos Talking Picture Festival because we would be meeting Elizabeth, who was that year’s Maverick Award winner. Unfortunately, those plans fell flat. Actually, I’m the one who took the fall by tripping over a rug in the bathroom, then ending up with head and arm injuries. When I broke the news about not being able to cover the festival because of this clumsy accident, one of my editors said, “Just make something up!” So I did, and here’s an excerpt from the article I submitted:

Never underestimate the power of imagination. That’s how, while recuperating from injuries, I took a magic carpet ride to Taos, New Mexico, for the April film festivities there. Of course, dinner with a Hollywood legend emerged as the highlight of this trip. Everyone knows Elizabeth Taylor is the last of the Great Movie Stars, so it was a thrill to see her receive a tribute for her incredible acting career. Although Liz already has two Oscars (one for Butterfield 8 and the other for Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf?) and was dubbed Dame Elizabeth by Queen Elizabeth, she deserves as many awards as she can get after over fifty years as a Hollywood leading lady.

Immediately following her Festival tribute, Larry and I joined Liz for dinner at the Holiday Inn Don Fernando. She looked lovely in a white jacket that contrasted dramatically with her dark hair and famous violet eyes. After congratulating her on such an amazing film career, I told her about what my mother did when MGM was searching for a child to star in National Velvet. "She sent the studio a picture of me riding a horse," I said.

"Hmm. I wonder how many other mothers did the same thing?" Liz mused. "But I think you’re lucky you didn’t get the part. I hurt my back during filming National Velvet, and that was probably the beginning of all my health problems."

Larry pointed to my cast and added, "Betty Jo has had her share of those too. Looks like both of you are real survivors."

"And YOU are a real sweetheart," Liz tossed back at him flirtatiously.

Suddenly it dawned on me that Liz is between husbands now. No wonder I breathed a sigh of relief when dinner was over. After all, this is my fantasy, not Larry’s.

Rest in peace, dear Elizabeth. Your fans all over the world will miss you. Thanks for leaving us so many terrific performances to enjoy!

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Saturday, March 19, 2011

Workers and Unions: Film Treatment

How have workers and unions been treated in the movies? Host Vicki Nikolaidis has invited me to join the discussion about this timely topic on her "Talking Progressive Politics" radio show scheduled for Sunday, May 20, at noon Eastern Time, on BlogTalkRadio.

We will be covering such serious dramas as Norma Rae, On the Waterfront, Matewan, FIST, Silkwood and Salt of the Earth, plus some comedies like Office Space and 9 to 5 as well as The Pajama Game musical and Charlie Chaplin's classic Modern Times.

Click on the link below to listen live or to the archives after the broadcast.

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Thursday, March 10, 2011

'Water for Elephants' Preview

On April 22, Water for Elephants parades into our nation’s multiplexes. Based on Sara Gruen’s wonderful novel, this film boasts a star-studded cast including Reese Witherspoon, Robert Pattinson, and Christoph Waltz. If ever a book cried out for filming, it’s this one. In fact, not since my husband and I read the first Harry Potter book have we been so eager to see the movie version of an author’s work. We were not disappointed with Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone -- and we hope the film treatment of Water for Elephants does justice to this exciting and romantic story set in the circus world of the 1930s.

The story contains lots of cinematic potential, especially considering its colorful characters -- including a brave and long-suffering elephant named Rosie -- as well as suspenseful situations in the big tent and on trains as the circus travels from town to town. Pattinson (the guy from “Twilight” movies) portrays Jacob, a young veterinarian student who drops out of college after his parents die in a tragic accident. When Jacob finds himself signed on as a circus veterinarian, he falls deeply in love with Marlena (Witherspoon), the gorgeous lady who performs with the circus horses. Marlena’s sadistic hubby (Waltz, the ruthless Nazi colonel in Inglorious Basterds ) stands in the way of true love, so the plot thickens.

Be sure to mark your calendar for Water for Elephants. It’s probably the kind of film you must see on the big screen.

Thanks to Nikki Starr for recommending Sara Gruen's book to me -- and to Diana Saenger for mentioning it on our Movie Addict Headquarters "Page to Screen" episode.

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Thursday, March 03, 2011

Derek Hough on Big Screen!

My disappointment about Derek Hough leaving "Dancing with the Stars" this season is somewhat lessened after learning that he's working on a movie musical to be released in 2012. As the world's most avid fan of both Derek and film musicals, how can I complain?

Derek will be co-starring with lovely South Korean singer/dancer/actress BoA in Cobu 3D , which tells the story of two star-crossed dancers in New York who become involved in a rivalry between their brothers' undergroud dance clubs. Duane Adler, director of the Step Up and Save the Last Dance flicks is helming this film, so there should be plenty of dancing -- and I can hardly wait to see it!

Still, with the world's greatest dancer missing from "Dancing with the Stars," that show just won't be the same this year.

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