02/27/2014 11:45 am ET Updated Apr 29, 2014

Happy Birthday Liz Taylor

"I THINK America's too sensitive about everything. When you consider America was made because some Puritans left England because it WASN'T puritanical enough, that puts things in perspective," says the fabulous actor Alan Cumming to New York magazine.

Incidentally, people are still talking about the Alan Cumming version of Stephen Sondheim's song "Ladies Who Lunch." Hope I get to see him do this sometime or other.

•NEWS FLASH on our friend the actress Elaine Stritch. She is said to be resting comfortably at the Beaumont Hospital in Royal Oak, Michigan after an operation which removed about 2/3rds of her lower stomach. Out of ICU. Vitals good. Elaine is described as "a little confused which is to be expected, also more alert and a little feisty!"

•OUR remarks on the character of Bates in TV's Downton Abbey, where we described him as "brooding" with "a serious serial killer vibe," created a tiny firestorm of his defenders.

V. Lynch writes:

Lord Grantham and John Bates had a close working relationship prior to Bates being hired as a valet. I believe they have a deep friendship...Anna was brutally raped by Mr. Green and Bates [possibly] throwing him under the bus was horribly extreme. But many believe Green had this coming. In 1914 Anna Bates would not report this incident to the police for fear of possibly losing her position and her reputation. To imagine a young woman in this situation looking at it in 2014 is appalling. Yes, he may be creepy but does he deserve to die? He loves his wife. I never fully understood the circumstances surrounding the death of Bates' first wife, Vera. He does have a frightful temper. Could he have 86-ed her as well?

We won't go further condemning Mr. Bates. He has many admirers out there. He has not been killed off. But I always assume when someone important gets killed on TV, it actually means the actor playing the part got a better job. Or asked for a raise.

•Here's a joke from Sheldon Roskin:

An Englishman,a Brazilian, a Jew, a Scotsman, an Irishman, a Welshman,a Latvian, a Çhinese, a Turk, a German, an Indian, several Americans including a
Hawaiian and an Alaskan, an Argentinean, a Dane, an Australian, a Slovak, an Egyptian, a Japanese, a Moroccan, a Frenchman, a New Zealander, a Spaniard,
a Russian, a Guatemalan, a Colombian, a Pakistan, a Maylaysian, a Croatian, an Uzbek, a Cypriot, a Pole, a Lithuanian, a Chinese, a Sri Lankin, a Lebanese, a Cayman
Islander, an Ugandan, a Vietnamese, a Korean, an Uruguayan, a Czech, an Icelander, a Mexican, a Finn, an Honduran, a Panamanian, an Andorran, an Israeli, a
Venezuelan, an Iranian, a Fijian, a Peruvian, an Estonian, a Syrian, a Brazilian, a Portuguese, a Liechtenstein, a Mongolian, a Hungarian, a Caadian, a Moldovan, a
Haitian, a Norfolk Islander, a Macedonian, a Bolivia, a Cook Islander, a Tajikistani, a Samoan, an Armenian, an Åran, an Albanian, a Greenlander, a Micronesia, a Virgin
Isander, a Georgian, a Bahaman, a Belarusian, a Cuban, a Tongan, a Cambodian, a Canadian, a Qatari, an Azerbaijani, a Romanian, a Chilean, a Jamaican, a Filipino, a Ukrainian, a Dutchman, a Ecuadorian, a Costa Rican, a Swede, a Bulgarian, a Serb, a Swiss, a Greek, a Belgian, a Singaporean, an Italian, a Norwegian and 2 Africans...
walk into a fine restaurant.

"I'm sorry," says the maitre d' after scrutinizing the group. "You can't come in here without a Thai !"

•PUT MARCH 8th down in your calendar. Or, set your DVR. That is the date Girls creator and star Lena Dunham guest hosts Saturday Night Live. Celebrities usually lampoon themselves on this venerable show, so I wonder if the writers and Lena will plan a skit around her ubiquitous nudity on Girls? (She, and the shows other producers, have jumped on all criticism of Lena's flesh-baring as misogynist and objectifying her in a negative manner. This is because she does not fit a standard mold of the type of women who usually undress a lot onscreen.)

Anyway, Lena is a talented girl. Looking forward to her SNL appearance.

•WHAT CAN we say today, Feb 27 about Elizabeth Taylor? This: I want to wish her well on what would have been the star of stars 82nd birthday, wherever her spirit may be. (Tonight is the big fundraiser/auction in L.A. for The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation. The great endeavor of her life continues.)

•ENDQUOTE: "When I am at home with my kids, I'm still just Academy Award winner Gwyneth Paltrow!" That was the much-criticized Miss P. having some fun with her icy image on the Ellen show. Paltrow probably is a lot nicer than her reputation. I have to hand it to her for sticking to things she's so often slammed over -- offering advice on health and beauty treatments, etc. These days it's so much easier to give in, apologize and pretend you've "learned your lesson." Everybody wants celebrities to learn by their mistakes and prostrate themselves before the public.

I liked it better when stars behaved badly and...went on behaving badly; as long as it was only their own livers or lives or marriages that were at risk. Today, you'd think the world should be comprised of saints, the way people carry on.

Where would we all be if we didn't make mistakes sometimes, say things we shouldn't say, attack, fall back and be allowed to learn the occasional lesson?

And in that vein -- would the New York Post's headline calling Alec Baldwin a "DRAMA QUEEN" sort of be a tit for tat for his angry name-calling which they say they deplore? I concur with Jimmy Durante: "Why can't everybody leave everybody else the hell alone!"