"George Washington and Thomas Jefferson and the founders were almost to a man isolationists. We had a big country, it was new. We had a lot to do. We have no business fighting a war. It's none of our business..."The word democracy is never mentioned in the
Constitution of the United States, or the Declaration of Independence. We are not a democracy. The founders hated democracy. We are a republic. And the only thing the founding fathers hated worse than democracy was majority rule, and tyranny and so everything we have is calculated to be anti-democratic...We have more fools, of course, today. We must bring democracy to the Middle East. And what about the Eskimo? Are we going to leave them out? Don't they want to have the politics of Cook County, Illinois? Don't they want the fake balloting machines, we're now specializing in, the ones that are rigged. We have a real mess on our hands at home and foreign wars are not the way to solve it." These are the words of the late intellectual writer Gore Vidal, celebrated last week at the Gerald Schoenfeld Theatre on Broadway, with people reading from his works. Gore's remarks were offered to us by none other than the fabled talent Elaine May. She said at first when she came backstage, "....I thought this was just another tribute to Mike Nichols."
Elaine startled the audience by her opening. They burst into laughter when she said, "I only recently found out that my speech could only be two minutes long. I'm not even going to try to keep track of it. I'll just know my time is up when I hear the music...I met Gore Vidal many years ago under the most shocking never-before-told , circumstances - which, unfortunately, I still can't tell...because of the time...and what a hoot."
The excerpts Elaine May did read were from an interview Gore Vidal gave a few years ago from a show titled "Witnesses." It hasn't aired yet. All the mostly-famous readers were funny, sane and intelligent. They seemed appreciative to be appearing in the Jeff Richards-produced tribute at the same theater where Gore's play "The Best Man" is set to close on September 9. It is still a big hit but theater space is scarce.
This letters reads, as follows: "Dear Miss Smith: Mr. William Buckley, who has very good connections up here, has interceded in your behalf. Your sentence is reduced to a mere 100,000 years. That won't begin for decades. (signed) Love, Saint Peter." My word - the famous men I have known are really something and I miss them all these days.
To celebrate this, The Hollywood Reporter put her on its front and back cover, along with a six-page story inside. Ellen tells writer Lacey Rose how she thought she might never work again, the incredible hate mail, the death threats. But, she won, simply by being herself--a woman who just happened to be gay. Activists at times criticized her for not being "gay enough." But when something is known and admitted, why talk about it every second?
She is exactly who she is. Ellen says, "I know that every time I list something that I am, I am potentially alienating a whole group of people. Publicists and managers will encourage you not to say what political party you belong to, what you eat, what you don't eat, who you sleep with. I just think it's dangerous. People need to have all kinds of examples and heroes who stand for something."