"HE WHO is fixed to a star, does not change his mind," said Leonardo da Vinci.
•THERE once were two movie stars. There also were two gossip entertainment columnists! One of them, me -- Liz -- fell in love with an actor and star -- Alec Baldwin. The other one, Denis Ferrara, fell in love with a very young and promising Lindsay Lohan. We've remained enamored of our chosen, against all odds.
I love Alec Baldwin -- his ballsy maleness and good acting and I took his side when he was fighting with wife Kim Basinger for control of their daughter. Now he battles for his right to privacy even though he has become a bigger and bigger star. He is invested in invasions of his infant baby's rights. There are the issues of his "gay bashing" (which I don't believe he means.) I see that all this has now culminated in one of those "Do you know who I am?" absurdities. (Horrible question!) The loss of his MSNBC talk show almost before it started, loss of ad jobs, were also blows. He is never out of the news now.
I confess I always leaned toward Alec, even during his rocky marriage to Kim. He was sweet, smart, reasonable and treated me like a nice informal friend. He was polite and intelligent.
Kim was more withdrawn. Beautiful, gifted as an actress and considered a little weird. She didn't defend herself and didn't fight back publicly for their daughter too often. She just ignored the opinions of others and stuck to her personal quest, which included winning the Oscar for LA Confidential. And then she behaved modestly, as if it didn't mean a thing. I don't know the current wife, Hilaria.
•NOW I spend more and more time defending Alec -- despite his intelligence, civic and charity mindedness, his devoted fatherliness, before and after his scolding of his older daughter, Ireland, on a cell phone which became public, for everyone to hear.
•AS for Lindsay Lohan, when she was making her mark as a rising teen actress, adult success seemed inevitable. (I remember an Oscar weekend in L.A. when, at the home of agent Bryan Lourd, I was able to proudly bring her across the room to meet Barbara Walters.)
Denis especially, but Liz as well thought Lindsay one of the best young things around. And Denis has always been busy forgiving her for drugs, car accidents, jail time and repeat rehabs.
"There's a Liz Taylor quality to her," he remarked, back when she blossomed almost alarmingly into adolescence. "And not just because she has big breasts!" he added.
Once, her mother Dina called in screaming that we had put foul words in her daughter's mouth. "Uh, that's what she says in Rolling Stone," countered Denis. "Do you want to complain to them? I have the number right here." Mrs. Lohan declined. (Doesn't this story tell you a lot?) At about the same time Lindsay's rep phoned hysterically. We had printed a little item about 16-year-old Lindsay flirting with Colin Farrell. "You have destroyed her career at Disney! You must retract!"
"What's wrong with flirting with Colin Farrell?" said Denis. "I should be so lucky." Much back and forth. We did print that Lindsay's rep said we were wrong. Denis then sent the press rep an e-mail cataloging all of young Lindsay's under-the-radar misbehaviors and rumors, with this salient P.S.: "Not that we'd ever print any of this. Isn't it nice we're so nice?"
And, in all the years we've defended Lindsay -- sometimes laced with advice or exasperation -- she has never contacted this office to say, "Thanks for the support." (On the above mentioned Oscar night, she did say, "You are the only one who says anything good about me." But that was really early in her decline. Since then, nothing.
•EVEN THOUGH Alec was reported to berate cops who don't know who he is, or know only too well, he still appeals to me. I admire his ardent political leanings, and the fact that he is a leading man who can also play character roles. (And he does say "thanks for the support.")
• LINDSAY has a ridiculous set of parents who didn't seem to do her any favors -- and time is running out, Lindsay is 27. Most people feel for her over drug addictions and her trying to quit. And even over her sense of entitlement, which seems more of an addiction than anything else. (But surely this girl ought to have her driver's license taken away from her.)
But that's not the point. Where does being a rabid fan of people you are covering stop short of suicide, as Sinclair Lewis asked about Love?
Has the moment come for Denis and me to move on and abandon Alec Baldwin and Lindsay Lohan???
•ARE we just a couple of influenced observers and saps wanting to give big talents the benefit of the doubt about their losing battles?
Lindsay is the bete noir of Denis! Alec is mine. He seems to lose his temper over and over, like the men in my family often did. (Maybe this is all Freudian.) Now, he is so over-observed it's easy to nab him.
Maybe Alec and Lindsay should make a movie together, sober, serious and not played to type.
Then Denis and I can get together and feel vindicated.
•EVERYBODY in the New York world turned up on a traffic-clogged night celebrating Barbara Walters at the Four Seasons on 52nd Street Wednesday night.
The President of the U.S. may not have meant to, but he turned Manhattan into a nightmare by just being in town.
Nevertheless, Barbara had a great party, made a great speech and was greeted by hordes of friends, co-workers and admirers.
People keep asking me to evaluate Barbara for interviews. I have been her fan for years, since the 60's. She has always helped others. She is generous to a fault. She did what no other public personality could -- over and over. We all owe her a lot. She is the one and only Barbara Walters. Long may she continue to flourish.
I am just waiting to see what this incredibly dynamic woman will do next?
Oh, winding up her remarks, Barbara said: "I'll now have time to get Botox. The bad news is that now that I have the time I won't need Botox!"