09/18/2013 10:12 am ET Updated Nov 18, 2013

How and Why Hollywood Pays Its Stars -- Who's Worth it, and Why?

"It's one of the curious paradoxes of contemporary Hollywood: The more it searches for the next big talent, the more it relies on the tried and true to generate box office."

So writes Stephen Galloway and Tatiana Siegel in The Hollywood Reporter.

Their article, "The New A-List" is a fascinating glimpse at the new, old and middle-aged of show biz; how they make their they are viewed by producers and well their films do overseas. Who can command $5 million? (Jennifer Aniston, but only in comedies.) Who can command $15 million (Dwayne Johnson, but only in action films.) Who can command $20 million (Angelina Jolie, but only if she agrees to a "Salt" sequel. Without a gun, she's worth much less.)

And who scored a whopping $42 million for a film? Cameron Diaz in "Bad Teacher." (But that was because she cleverly agreed to a paltry one million against a percentage of the gross.)

And even though stars such as Leonardo DiCaprio and Will Smith have been around for ages, they can demand and receive $ 20 million, because although they have their share of flops, the hits make up for that. (Daniel Craig is expected to join the $20 mil neighborhood when he films his next 007 movie. Maybe even more, as "Skyfall" has grossed a billion dollars! Craig is 45.)

This is a fascinating article--and there are also separate profiles of Matthew McConaughey and Sandra Bullock, tracking their box office standing and the clever managing of their careers. (Matthew, after a long, distressing fallow period, is now a full-fledged sexy character actor, with unlimited possibilities.)

This article gives a terrific insight to how stars stay on top, or even in the profitable middle. And also how youth, precious as it is, isn't always what brings in the big bucks.

• By the way, hope you didn't miss Forbes magazine dated September. This boasts on the cover that voice from the past, Ross Perot, Sr., plus Ross Perot Jr. who are said to be "Reinventing America."

And you must read and learn about Jr. himself, who is erecting his own not-so-little Fort Worth-Dallas world. It is called "Inland Port" and has created the family's third billion-dollar fortune.

No wonder a lot of people who want to forget all about would-be presidential candidates like Gov. Rick Perry and Senator Ted Cruz, are ignoring ideology altogether and moving to the Lone Star State in order to get even an underpaying

• After the Times raves about the following book and the following off-Broadway show--you just know that one is going on the best-seller list and the other -well, you will be lucky to get into "Buyers and Cellar" at the Barrow Street Theater.

First, the book. It is by former NFL pro Nate Jackson who can really write and has done so for Harper with his "Slow Getting Up" story that is a cautionary tale if you are one of those dreaming of your son becoming a football star. Within the true pages of the price paid in pain and "mostly empty sex," Mr. Jackson has some things to say that are probably really important.

He cites a natural and organic pain reliever: "The NFL should remove marijuana from their banned substances list. Don't tell anyone about it; just stop testing for it. Pain is a big problem in the NFL...No one ever overdoses from weed. The problem is pills and booze. A joint can alleviate the need for either..." Author Jackson says he saw no evidence of steroid use in the N.F.L. at the time he was playing.

As for the comic show at the Barrow Street-- "Buyer and Cellar" - it has grossed a million bucks and it "stars" Barbra Streisand, in a manner of speaking. I am sorry I haven't already gone to this, but I hear it is phenomenal and Barbra and I can both see it if we wait until it turns up in L.A. A palpable hit for star Michael Urie and writer Jonathan Tolins, directed by Stephen Brackett. It won the Drama Desk award already. So what are you waiting for?

• END FACT: Because of all the Marilyn Monroe anniversary coverage this year, we are now informed via The Huffington Post, that September 15th marks the 59th anniversary of Monroe's famous "Seven Year Itch" skirt-blowing scene on Manhattan's Lexington Avenue. (Any excuse to show pictures of the world's most enduring movie icon.)

MM, wearing two pair of panties--to try to avoid what the strong klieg lights might reveal--stood for hours in front of a screaming crowd of fans and reporters, as director Billy Wilder had her repeat her little moment over and over. It was all for publicity, as the scene that eventually appeared in the movie was filmed on the 20th Century Fox lot. And it was much more decorous than the candid press shots.

It seems innocent now, but in 1954, a woman exulting in exposing her legs and the area above was rather shocking. The most shocked was then-husband Joe DiMaggio who watched her briefly and then fled back to their hotel, enraged. (Walter Winchell, ever the troublemaker looking for a story, had prodded DiMaggio to see what his wife was up to.) Sounds of screaming, scuffling and crying were later heard by other hotel guests. The couple filed for divorce shortly after. ("Who did he think he married, when he married me?" MM remarked bitterly to a friend after Joe's violent reaction.)

By the way, despite Monroe's attempt to be discreet, not even two pair of panties could conceal the fact that MM did not bleach her pubic hair.