"IF YOU cannot get rid of the family skeleton, you might as well make it dance," said George Bernard Shaw.
- SOME PEOPLE have said, "Michael Jackson must be spinning in his grave!" what with the recent, tawdry/mysterious incidents surrounding his children, his "kidnapped" mother, and his contentious siblings. I beg to disagree. If you have ever wondered why Michael turned out the way he did, take note of what has been happening over the past several weeks. Or, better yet, look at the past fortysomething years, ever since Joe Jackson put little Michael--the really talented Jackson--out front and made him the golden goose, the cash cow, the one without whom the other Jacksons would have long ago been obliged to get real jobs. Michael knew the score. He didn't want to appear hard, but was, had to be. He hid behind the Bambi persona and whispery voice.
I have always tried to separate Janet from this. She had talent. She made her own very successful career. She didn't appear to be taking from Michael. But Janet's part in the lawsuit to overturn Michael's will--the better to get a bigger piece of the pie--hasn't put her in the best light. Not to mention the sensational tale--perhaps exaggerated--of Michael's daughter, Paris, and Janet, having a nasty, face-slapping, expletive-laced showdown. The money-fueled saga appears to be morphing every day--for the worse. But one industry insider did say this to me: "Janet should back away right now. Her record-selling career is iffy, just like that of many artists her age. But she is still a draw. She could ruin herself if this goes on much further. Michael's fans are shocked. Let the brothers 'handle' it. It is expected of them." My one question--where is the usually heat-seeking La Toya Jackson? Has she turned into the only sensible Jackson? (Aside from Paris, who is apparently one tough cookie, and nobody's victim.)
- EARLY THIS week, the Cinema Society and Bally hosted William Friedkin's new movie "Killer Joe." This stars Matthew McConaughey, Gina Gershon, William Haden Church, Juno Temple and Emile Hirsch. Everybody in this sordid tale of hateful mothers, stupid assassins, dim sluts, tough sluts, lethal cops, and blood money gone awry are awful people. But they are played by great actors. (I was thrilled to see Miss Gershon back so vividly on the big screen, though what she is compelled to do had some audiences members squeamish to the max--
and these were sophisticated Manhattanites!)
Recently, I told you how Matthew McConaughey neatly stole "Magic Mike" away from Channing Tatum. Well, he doesn't steal anything here. "Killer Joe" belongs to him. He is in the first flush of the renaissance of a career that seemed stalled by ridiculous romantic comedies, and his own casual, running-bare-chested-on-beaches persona. He didn't seem to care very much. He appeared bored onscreen. And so were audiences. Well, if Matthew keeps this up, nobody will ever be bored again. As with "Magic Mike," McConaughey uses some aspects of his image to his advantage, turning them darker, more interesting, downright scary. He's not a kid anymore, and it shows in the loss of the youthful flesh from his face, revealing a still handsome, but much more intriguing visage. It is the best performance of his career; one that many of his admirers always felt was lurking just below the sexy, hard-bodied surface.
Some people will say "Killer Joe" is a black comedy. Others will find it simply revolting. Actually it's both--a revolting black comedy. But nobody will be able to walk away from this movie dismissing Mr. McConauhey as just another bronzed six-pack. Never thought I'd say it, but someday he is going to be up at the podium at the Kodak Theater, accepting one of those little golden guys. Just so long as he never looks back. No more "The Wedding Planner" or "Failure to Launch" or "How To Lose a Guy in Ten Days." Stay all grown up, Matthew. This is your moment.
- AFTER THE Tribeca Grand screening, which left many people speechless with shock, there was a party at No. 8. Most often heard remark was "I need a drink!" The crowd was supplied with endless DeLeon tequila cocktails. But not even that could shake some of "Killer Joe's" most disturbing scenes from these delicate types. P.S. I won't give it away, but "Killer Joe" will make you re-evaluate a chicken leg. Pro or con--depending on your point of view. I can say no more.
- THE OTHER day we told you about actress/animal rights activist Tippi Hedren and her ongoing battle to protect big cats--despite some scary death threats. Tippi will appear
before Congress again in September, for the hearing on "Big Cats, Public Safety Protection Act."
In recapping Tippi's unfortunately brief onscreen career, I noted that Alfred Hitchcock, who starred her in "The Birds" and "Marnie"--after Princess Grace, under pressure from her subjects, quit the film--had sabotaged and shortened Miss Hedren's career. She would not acquiesce to his obsessive interest in her, and kept her chained to a long contract, without ever putting her to work, or allowing her to work for anybody else. She was ruined. I mused that perhaps Tippi hadn't cared too much about that career, as she appeared to slide so easily into her work with animals?
But Tippi wanted us to know that her movie efforts indeed meant a lot to her. She was devastated at what Hitch did to her--especially as it was her only means of supporting her daughter, Melanie, at that time. Still, Tippi has not been forgotten by movie fans. She will be feted by the British Film Institute on August 16th in London. The following night there will be a gala screening of "The Birds" at Somerset House. This movie, and "Marnie" seem to have a life of their own. Both of these look better now than at the time of their initial release, and Tippi's performances have been re-evaluated, to her benefit.