Liz Smith: Anne Rice, Post-Election Memos and More
Anne Rice … Tom Hiddleston … Indira Varma … Polly Walker … Billboard’s Kevan Kenney … and how Mariah Carey “festivizes” the holidays (Cleavage and diamonds — everyday’s a holiday for Mariah.)
by Liz Smith & Denis Ferrara
“I TRY to write books without him, but I can’t get away from him. He’s the way I talk about what really matters to me, the indispensable ingredient.”
That is the prolific author Anne Rice, telling Out magazine’s Brian Schaefer why she just can’t get away from her famous anti-hero, the vampire Lestat.
Lestat was featured in all of Rice’s Vampire Chronicle books, as well as several films (“Interview with the Vampire,” “Queen of the Damned.”) Then Anne, whose work, even at its most vampiric and/or witchy was struck through with religious themes and philosophies, declared herself free of the dark side and went to Jesus. Sort of.
But somebody removed the stake from her heart and last year Ms. Rice returned Lestat in all his gory, brooding glory in “Prince Lestat.” Soon, she’ll have another neck-biter with “Prince Lestat and the Realms of Atlantis.”
And if that’s not undead enough for you, Rice is now planning to bring her “Vampire Chronicles” to television. The rights to her works — previously held by Universal and Imagine Entertainment — are hers again, and she is hot to create a series around her beloved, always conflicted characters — Lestat, Louis, Armand, etc.
Why not? The vampire genre seems as eternal as the immortals themselves. TV has been good to those who “don’t drink … wine.” (There was the long-running “Vampire Diaries” and its tasty spin-off “The Originals.”)
During her hiatus from the supernatural, Anne Rice did enjoy TV shows show such as HBO’s “True Blood.” She liked the “Twilight” movies “somewhat.” (I think Anne is being kind to that tepid series of vampy teen-angst.) She says “I didn’t think I was going to write about Lestat anymore, so I didn’t have to protect the purity of my imagination. I could just go to the theater, eat popcorn. It was a lot of fun.”
“Are you sure you don’t want to be a vampire? Okay, here’s what living has in store for you — Angelina Jolie and six kids. But I don’t want to meddle.”
THINGS I discovered over the holidays.
On Amazon I finally caught up with Tom Hiddleston and Hugh Laurie in the limited series “The Night Manager.” Six episodes of high tension and high style, based on the John le Carre book. Superb! And now I see why Hiddleston was talked up as the new James Bond. That is likely not happening (Daniel Craig couldn’t say no to a salary that could feed a small country.) but if it had, Mr. Hiddleston would have been a fine 007.
Tom Hiddleston and Hugh Laurie in “The Night Manager.”
I so hope to see more of the beautiful, unabashedly statuesque Elizabeth Debicki, the object of Mr. Laurie’s and Mr. Hiddleston’s affections in “The Night Manager.” She stands a shade over 6 ft 2 in her stocking feet, and neither of her tall leading men minded looking up, just a little bit.
Elizabeth Debicki and Tom Hiddleston.
On Netflix I came across another British crime series (there are millions of them!) titled “Paranoid.” This starred Indira Varma as a (of course!) screwed up cop. The divine Polly Walker also appeared as the selfish, hard-drinking, therapy-prone mother of Varma’s attractive partner, Robert Glenister. I checked this out because I like these actresses, and recalled they had both been in the late and still-much-lamented HBO series “Rome.”
Polly Walker in “Paranoid.”
Miss Walker was terrific — dissolute to the max. But the star, Miss Varma, although very good, was done in by the most absurdly written character she has likely ever portrayed — immature beyond all suspension of disbelief. I’d try this again, if a second season arrives, but for heaven’s sake, you writing guys, there’s “quirky” and then there’s let’s toss her off a building. Indira deserves better.
CONGRATULATIONS to our old friend, young Kevan Kenney. Kevan (We call him “Kev”) is the son of Mary Jo McDonough, who worked for this column tirelessly and brilliantly for 18 years. (Secretary, editor, archivist, almost-invariably-correct-Jill-of-all-trades.)
Kevan is now the New York host of Billboard News. (Chelsea Briggs is on board in Los Angeles.)
Here’s what Kev has to say — via his Facebook page — about his new gig: “I’ll be coming to you multiple times a day covering the biggest names and stories in the world of music! The show is available right now on all your favorite platforms, including Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and Twitter, plus Billboard.com. This global conversation we’ve started about music we love and share means so much to me and just keeps getting bigger and better. When you have time, come say hi over @Billboard and let me know what you think. Talk to ya soon!”
We are totally prejudiced here, having known Kevan since he was, literally, a little boy; a wildly precocious little boy whose mom was always proud and always spoiling him, more than a little bit. (Of course he didn’t see it that way — children never do. But now that he is a young man, he likely appreciates his mom more. That’s generally what happens.)
We always thought Kevan would be a writer or an artist, having gifts in both areas, and he might well find himself there in time. Or he will simply become a great, well regarded arbiter and influence in what’s what in the music biz. We send our love and good thoughts.
As for you, Miss McDonough, we’d love to be a fly on the wall, when one week after you set foot inside your next employer’s office, that person exclaims, “How the hell did I do this without her?!” Our love and good thoughts to you, too, honey.
MEMOS: To Jill Stein — you were an absurd candidate and your call for a vote recount renders you moreso. You are not helping.
To the Clinton camp — don’t encourage Ms. Stein. You won the popular vote, by a lot. Take solace in that and work toward rebuilding the Democratic Party.
To Kellyanne Conway — the campaign is over. You won. Go away.
To CNN — the campaign is over. Make Kellyanne Conway go away. (Haven’t you guys done enough?!)
To MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough and Mika Brzezinski — you were intolerable during the campaign. Now your friend is the president elect. Good work. No need to be deplorable, now.
ENDQUOTE: “I’m here to celebrate!” said Mariah Carey to Ellen DeGeneres last week.
“Celebrate what?” asked Ellen.
Every day is Christmas for Mariah.
“Um, life. And wearing diamonds! I’m festive. I festivize a lot!”
“Yeah” said Ellen, indicating Mariah’s fabled, eternally exposed cleavage, upon which jewels dangled precariously, “Lots of festivity going on there!”
Ah, how do you not love a girl like Mariah, who seems to live — or at least dress — like every day is Christmas? (Ellen had a big glittery Christmas tree on her set, hovering near Miss Carey, but it was fighting for attention in the presence of the flamboyant pop icon.)
Yeah, all things Christmas begin now. Too soon, I say. There seemed to be dozens of Christmas themed movies scheduled on TV the very day after Thanksgiving. By the time the day arrives we’ve been exhausted. I seem to recall — back in cave dwelling times — that TV and even stores, held off for about two weeks after Thanksgiving before inundating us with Christmas movies and advertisements. Ah, well, this is what it is now. I haven’t been back to cave in ages, anyway.
Speaking of Ellen DeGeneres, the “comic” Kathy Griffin has a new book out, in which she reveals she doesn’t care for Ellen. Ellen was mean to her. Not supportive, she insists. This, of course, changes my feelings about Ms. DeGeneres, recently one of the recipients of a Medal of Freedom from President Obama.
I like Ellen even more now.