"THE film, Gone With the Wind, remains (with its receipts adjusted for inflation) the highest-grossing movie of all time," writes keen-eyed Michael's restaurant observer, Diane Clehane on her FishbowlNY site this week.
This statistic comes at a time when GWTW is being called "racist" by people who prefer 12 Years a Slave, as the truer, more graphic, story of America's worst historical moment.
12 Years... could win the Academy Award for best picture at the Oscars in this same year that GWTW is observing its 75th anniversary.
You probably know that everything to do with GWTW resides in the Harry Ransom Center at the University of Texas in Austin. They boast all of producer David O. Selznick's film and his papers. And the Ransom Center's own "Gone With the Wind" will be seen from Sept 9th to Jan 2015, in a year of great controversy over this film's worth.
Diane Clehane reminds us that the late gossip columnist Hedda Hopper was so inundated with letters about the Selznick search for an actress to play Scarlett O'Hara that she resorted to throwing bags of mail away without reading the suggestions. Luckily, 300 of those letters remain and will be part of the Exhibition.
Romantic and sympathetic to the South as is GWTW, nevertheless, it is a great movie classic and the Harry Ransom Çenter will make the most of it this year!
•AVOIDING the chill, ice and cold, there has been a great run of prominent New Yorkers dining at KITCHEN, the 3-month old restaurant in West Palm Beach (NOT on "the Island") It is owned by the husband and wife team Aliza and Matthew Byrne.
Aliza, the chatty blonde, runs the front; Matthew, her husband was Tiger Woods' private chef and is a master! Rudy and Judy Giuliani dined three weeks in a row; Stevie Van Zandt (sans bandana) of E Street Band and The Sopranos; dining al fresco (because you can when it's 70 degrees at night!) New York Mets owner Fred Wilpon; Mets Hall of Famer Rusty Staub; Weather Channel hunk Jim Cantore (taking a break from wearing his parka 24/7 and he looked great in khakis and a polo shirt); plus local area-celeb couple Amy and John Lagae. She is editor-in-chief of the newly launched Muses & Visionaries Magazine, which boasts CBS' Lesley Stahl, on its current cover.
•LETTERS, WE get letters. Here's one from Brenda Moskovic: "LOVE your column! Always interesting -- enjoy anything about Elizabeth Taylor. I've been watching her movies this cold, snowy winter. ( I'm on the ones with Montgomery Clift presently. What a gorgeous tortured soul, the misery practically drips off of him. Did you know him?)
There's not a single star today who compares to Elizabeth's beauty. I can't think of one. Thanks again for your column."
• Well, we fans of E.T. are legion. Thank you. I didn't know Montgomery Çlift but when I was a young movie magazine editor for something called Modern Screen I often begged the editor-in-chief to write about him. I knew he was talented. But the editors stuck with Tony Curtis.
I went on to know more about Çlift because my straight brother, Bobby, worked as a waiter in a gay cafe on Christopher Street. He often served Çlift and always told me after about how unhappy he seemed. "He gave big tips!" said Bobby, who even then had a live-and-let-live attitude.
I finally saw Montgomery Clift in person, with Marilyn Monroe, at the New York premiere of The Misfits. They sat right in front of me, enjoying each other like real friends. I was mostly stunned by how gorgeous she looked in a black fox fur. It was a privilege to see them even once.
As you know, Elizabeth Taylor, too, loved Monty and took a lot of care of him through their experiences on A Place in The Sun, Raintree County (she saved his life after his terrible car accident) and Suddenly Last Summer. Elizabeth also put up the insurance money for Monty to co-star with her in Reflections In a Golden Eye But he died just before production began. (Marlon Brando, in all his mannered glory, took the role.)
However, after working with Monroe in The Misfits Monty declared, "I would rather work with Marilyn than any other actress."
•ENDQUOTE: "I stand by every mistake I've ever made, so judge away!" That's actress Kristen Stewart, best known for her role as Bella in the Twilight series. She's also known as a young woman who tends to look rather mopey and depressed everywhere she goes. And then there were some personal issues -- that affair with her married director.
But you know what, I find her attitude here refreshing. I am so tired of the culture of endless apologies. Kristin's smart enough to know that no matter what she says, she'll be judged for something. Why defend yourself against a mass of bored, faceless (and probably jealous) Twitterers?
I wish Miss Stewart looked like she was enjoying her fame more, but maybe she is -- her "fame face" is perhaps simply different -- and more honest -- than the endless grinning and posturing of her peers. Being chased down and shouted at by photographers isn't really much fun. Honest.