THE BLOG

Featuring fresh takes and real-time analysis from HuffPost's signature lineup of contributors

Liz Smith Headshot

Marlo Triumphs.. "Sex Tape" Flaccid...Ann-Margret Still Sizzles...Patti LuPone Signs On...Art Garfunkel Returns Home..."True Blood" Gets a Healthy Last-Season Transfusion.

Posted: Updated:

"SEX IS emotion in motion," said Mae West.

• SPEAKING OF sex, movies centering on that theme can be fun or frolicsome or tiresome or unpalatable. But like vampires, super-intelligent apes or (more recently) zombies, the sex-comedy genre never grows old. Although now they are often referred to as "rom-coms" (romantic comedies).

However, even the best laid (pun intended) plans of studio and stars can mis-align. This weekend's disappointing box-office on the Jason Segel/Cameron Diaz Sex Tape movie being a prime example. It's not as flat-out awful as the box-office and some of the more dismal reviews suggest, it just doesn't know to what it aspires. Whether to be utterly gross, or amusingly accessible slapstick. It ends up being nothing much at all. Mr. Segel and Miss Diaz are appealing, but can't save a shaky basically unfunny premise. Not even with the presence of Rob Lowe, inescapably and deliberately evoking his own sex-tape scandal way back when such things were shocking.

I know Miss Diaz wants to be a good sport, and participate in these types of movies -- showing that women can and do say all the crude things men do -- and she's done several (Bad Teacher being one of the most recent, also with Jason Segel. That was a hit. ) But Diaz is actually a good actress, wasting her time, I think, and for all her good looks, making herself appear older than 41, because the public expects 21-year-olds in these films. (Even though the point of Sex Tape is that they are a couple in early middle-age, "experimenting" to rekindle the old spark.)

• MAYBE her Miss Hannigan in the upcoming re-make of Annie will turn things around for Diaz. Not that I think she is particularly worried about her career, one way or another. She seems refreshingly free of actressy anxiety. She certainly works enough! And she was charming with Conan O'Brien the other night. If she had any misgivings about her movie, they didn't surface.

But you know, I wouldn't mind seeing her tackle... Jane Austen material. Not kidding. Go against the grain of her outdoorsy, beachy beauty. I still remember the thrill of seeing her for the first time, almost stealing My Best Friend's Wedding right out from under Julia Roberts'
nose. Or how effective Diaz was in Gangs of New York and In Her Shoes.

• I keep telling you that our longtime friend Marlo Thomas is a largely unsung wonderful actress!

Besides creating just about the first independent female on television in That Girl long ago, she was the best thing seen on Broadway in 2012, enacting a selfish know-it-all in Elaine May's little one-act titled George Is Dead. (Let's not bother here to go into all her good works keeping St. Jude's Children's Research Hospital raising millions for sick children in Memphis.)

• Well, over last weekend she scored again at Guild Hall in East Hampton in Joe DiPietro's comedy Clever Little Lies. She simply slays audiences in this hilarious play, which also offers another fabulous actor Greg Mullavey and two fine young performers Jim Stanek and Kate Wetherhead.

The plays until August 3 it will go off-Broadway. Names galore galvanized to this opening including Barbara Walters and Sandy Gallin.

Direction by David Saint was flawless. Quick! Somebody, at least, make a movie of this sardonic comedy about being unfaithful in marriage and be sure to star Marlo and Greg Mullavey.

Two of the best!

• ONE NIGHT only! Art Garfunkel at the Queens Theater in Flushing, NY on July 24 Garfunkel returns home for An Intimate Evening With Art Garfunkel -- songs, anecdotes, reading and Q&A. Tix are very limited. Call right now! 718-423-8394.

• GOOD NEWS for Patti LuPone fans (are we not legion?

)The great Tony-winning Broadway star has signed to appear twice a year at the increasingly popular club 54 Below (the site of the old Studio 54 on West 54th. Her agreement runs through 2016. Patti is the first artist to sign a long-term contract with 54 Below. I hope the brilliant Charles Busch is next. He has appeared there often. I became acquainted with the delights of 54 Below when I first saw Mr. Busch at that spot last year.

• GREAT TO see a great-looking Ann-Margret guest-starring on Showtime's series Ray Donovan. She was instantly recognizable, physically and vocally (that unmistakably sexy voice!) Her one scene with star Liev. And if there's any justice. Born in Forest Hills, Street.) Schreiber sizzled. Hope there's more to come.

Oh, and Jon Voight continues to perform brilliantly on this show as one of the most loathsome/appealing characters on TV -- ever.

• NOW THAT HBO's True Blood is winding up, this final season is turning into one of the most entertaining of the six-year run. Everybody seems energized, extraneous plots (fairies, werewolves) have been disposed of. Particular kudos to star Anna Paquin, whose character, Sookie, has tempted so many of the "undead," and also the delicious Kristin Bauer van Straten as tough-talking vampire Pam.

P.S. Kristin and her onscreen "maker" Alexander Skarsgard (aka vampire Eric Northman) could easily have their own spin-off series. They are without a doubt the most popular and appealing of all the TB characters.