"THE VIRTUE of Selfishness." That's the title of one of author Ayn Rand's controversial books. It urges us to practice "rational self interest" and not be seduced by self-sacrifice.
The icy capitalist philosophies of Ms. Rand very much influenced Paul Ryan, the man presidential candidate Mitt Romney has chosen as his running mate. That is to say, up until about six or seven months ago. Then, he reportedly turned his back on Rand because he found out she was an atheist. "Found out?" Good grief, Rand's lack of religiosity was as famous as all her other philosophies. This vice-presidential hopeful is 42 years old. Please don't try to make me believe he didn't know Ayn Rand was a godless woman.
I'm telling you, if the Democrats can't devise some scathing ads on this flip-flop, they deserve to lose. Certainly anything they do on Rand/Ryan will be better than that absurd "Romney killed my wife" TV ad, which blamed him for a woman's death from cancer. I don't agree with the Obama adviser who likened Paul Ryan to Sarah Palin. Ryan is a much smarter cookie, though, like Palin, his good looks are an asset. Not that Mitt Romney isn't a handsome man, but he's like a giant Ken Doll who never comes to life, rather muting his attractiveness. Ryan is livelier. And apparently has a wicked six-pack under his crisp dress shirts. I know, so superficial--but visuals count. In any case, I'm glad Ryan is in because the campaign can begin in earnest. Up to this point it hasn't been really bloody. Mostly petty, even downright silly. Now, with two against two, the long knives are out.
- PROVING THAT movie stars over the age of 50 can still draw a movie audience, the Meryl Streep/Tommy Lee Jones comedy/drama about a couple in crisis, "Hope Springs," did remarkably well over the weekend. It couldn't beat Jeremy Renner and "The Bourne Legacy" but it exceeded expectations. I'm so pleased. And I think both Jones and Streep might cop Oscar nods, as well. Speaking of Mr. Renner, what a voyage he has taken-- from unusual-looking Oscar-nominated character actor to the sexy action star of an established franchise. Now that Renner's a hit, the next film will probably ditch the name Bourne altogether. His character's name is Aaron Cross, and that would look good on a marquee. As for Jason Bourne himself, Matt Damon--who has not been killed off, so don't be surprised if he pops up again, teamed with Renner--he is busy shooting "Behind the Candelabra" for HBO. This is the tale of Liberace and his much younger lover Scott Thorson. Liberace--Lee to all his friends--is played by Michael Douglas. I have to admit, I never thought this project would get off the ground, especially when it was originally being shopped as a big-screen feature film. But on HBO? It'll go over like gangbusters.
- TONIGHT a gaggle of New Yorkers will be the first to see Whitney Houston's last film performance in "Sparkle." This is the remake of the 1976 film based loosely on the rise of the Supremes. (A worthy forerunner to "Dreamgirls.") The Cinema Society will host the special screening event, along with Circa and Alice & Oliva--of jewelry and fashion fame. But I can't say where the event is. I will however, tell all, later this week.
- I WATCHED the wonderful Sigourney Weaver with Piers Morgan the other night. The star of the current USA network soap opera "Political Animals" is such an intelligent, no-nonsense woman. However, I had to snicker a bit when she said, "I admire Hillary Clinton so much. I hope she's not irritated by the show, which really isn't about her!" Oh, Miss Weaver. Stop. I have to admit that the lurid nature of this limited series has its charms. Especially when put side-by-side with HBO's "The Newsroom," which purports to be a serious look at TV journalism---an oxymoron for the ages! "The Newsroom" has improved but remains as pompous and self-important as "Political Animals" remains "Dynasty" in D.C. Both shows feature strong performances (and some wretched ones, but that's fun too). Jane Fonda and Sam Waterston had a nifty confrontation on Sunday night's "The Newsroom." Listen, nothing's perfect. But both shows are preferable to watching the "real" news, most of the time.
- Miley Cyrus has cut her hair short and bleached it an aggressive shade of blonde. She looks like 1960s/70s sex-kitten entertainer Joey Heatherton now. That's not a bad thing.
- "I HAVE so long and so often seen the evil effects of the presidential fever upon my associates and friends that I am determined it shall not seize me. In almost every case it impairs if it does not destroy the usefulness of its victim." Does this quote seem to refer to the presidential fever of our times? It was said actually back in 1879 by James Garfield, an exemplary soldier of the Civil War who wanted to avoid "the grasp of other men's ambitions, and to be given a chance to (as he termed it) "wait for the future." When Garfield "accidentally" won the presidency, he shunned the whole idea and this great and good man was shot only months later by an obsessed crazy person. So much of the recent book "Destiny of the Republic" by Candice Millard resonates with us today. Garfield was a prominent Abolitionist, fighting for rights for whites and blacks alike. The subtitle of this Random House/Anchor Press book, now out in soft cover, is "A Tale of Madness, Medicine and the Murder of a President." Would that this Civil War hero had been permitted to serve. Chaos followed his death. We could use his like today. He has been called "one of the most extraordinary men ever elected president. The Garfield story would make a great movie, especially with the true story elements of the ignorant doctors who really killed him by torturing him for months without antiseptics.