SMITH PASSES — The doyenne of gossip, Liz Smith, passed last night at 94. I don’t know if there’s any other way to say it, but Liz Smith defined modern-day gossip news. Sure, there was Louella Parsons, Hedda Hopper and Earl Wilson back in the day (and, boy, I sure loved Wilson), but Smith’s daily column contained more good dish than all the others combined. The canny thing was that along with Liz’s column, there was also the occasional stroke of social consciousness and political direction. Smith was to gossip, what Billie Jean King was to tennis and beyond. As a novice PR-person back in the day, I well remember the first time I had Smith run one of my items. Ecstatic didn’t quite cut it; it was almost like I had officially arrived. Imagine my surprise when I got to meet her and eventually to hang out with her and her confidants. And, what an array of confidants, from Iris Love to her friends from her hometown of Texas, including Governor Ann Richards. Smith also vigorously pursued raising money for her Literacy Partners and many other causes. She was terrifically socially minded.
Her columns for the New York Daily news are legendary. She was over there and at the New York Post for a combined run of almost 30 years. She was the first gossip columnist to get a million dollars a year. She deserved it. The great Hary Haun, now over at Playbill, was reportedly her cousin. I actually met Harry back in the day and remain close to him even now. Denis Ferrara and Diane Judge were among her writers as well.
Nowadays, gossip reporting to me doesn’t even come close to watch she did. A true legend has passed.
ELTON’S DIAMONDS — Elton John and his longtime songwriting partner Bernie Taupin will commemorate the 50th anniversary of their wildly successful union with the release of Diamonds, a new career-spanning box billed as John’s “ultimate” greatest hits compilation.
Released last week, Diamonds will be released in multiple formats — in addition to streaming and digital download options, fans can choose between a double-disc standard edition, two-LP gatefold, or a limited run triple-disc box that adds “personal favorites curated by Elton himself,” a 72-page hardcover book containing the stories behind the songs and five postcard illustrations of John.
“We are at 50 years, and our relationship is healthier than it’s ever been,” says John in a press release. “There have been times in our relationship when we’ve written with other people, but it still didn’t stop the love. I love Bernie more than I’ve ever done and I think he probably feels the same way about me, because we’ve both led separate lives; we both write in separate rooms. We have an amazing respect and love for each other that’s only grown.”
“We still get a kick out of what we do; it’s what we do – when we come together and write something, it still has that magical quality to it – it doesn’t get any better than that,” adds Taupin. “That feeling hasn’t aged.”
Elton John, ‘Diamonds’ Deluxe Edition Track Listing
“Rocket Man (I Think It’s Going To Be A Long, Long Time)”
“Saturday Night’s Alright (For Fighting)”
“Goodbye Yellow Brick Road”
“Candle In The Wind”
“Bennie And The Jets”
“The Bitch Is Back”
“Someone Saved My Life Tonight”
“Don’t Go Breaking My Heart” [Elton John and Kiki Dee]
“Sorry Seems To Be The Hardest Word”
“Song For Guy”
“I’m Still Standing”
“I Guess That’s Why They Call It The Blues”
“Sad Songs (Say So Much)”
“I Don’t Wanna Go On With You Like That”
“Don’t Let The Sun Go Down On Me” [George Michael and Elton John]
“Something About The Way You Look Tonight”
“I Want Love”
“Can You Feel The Love Tonight”
“Are You Ready For Love?”
“Circle Of Life”
“Lucy In The Sky With Diamonds”
“Mama Can’t Buy You Love”
“Victim of Love”
“Empty Garden (Hey Hey Johnny)”
“Kiss The Bride”
“That’s What Friends Are For” [Dionne Warwick with Elton John, Gladys Knight & Stevie Wonder]
“True Love” [Elton John and Kiki Dee]
“Live Like Horses” [Elton John and Luciano Pavarotti]
“Written In The Stars” [Elton John and LeAnn Rimes]
“This Train Don’t Stop There Anymore”
“Good Morning To The Night” [Elton vs PNAU]
“Step Into Christmas”
SHORT TAKES — Well, it was destined to happen; an in-house familial fight at the Palm. Check out the story from Crain’s last week: http://www.crainsnewyork.com/article/20171110/HOSPITALITY_TOURISM/171119987/palm-steakhouse-embroiled-in-family-feud#utm_medium=email&utm_source=cnyb-dailyalert&utm_campaign=cnyb-dailyalert-20171110 …Tonight is Donnie Kehr and Cori Gardner’s 24 edition of their Rockers On Broadway show, entitled Legends Live On! In addition to some great performances, expect Robert Funaro (The Sopranos; The Irishman); Morgan Spurlock (Super Size Me); Simon Kirke (Bad Company) and Gene Cornish (The Rascals) toattend. Cornish, btw performed last year and was terrific. Details Wednesday … Check out the Times Square Chronicles video-interview with songsmith Mike Greenly: http://t2conline.com/t2c-talks-to-mike-greenly/ … November 21 is Bob Dylan at NYC’s Beacon Theatre … can’t wait. Hope it’s one of the master’s classic shows … Do you know how Radhika Jones is? She’s the new editor of Vanity Fair … replacing Graydon Carter. She was formerly in charge of the books at the New York Times. A very odd choice indeed …Sighting at NYC’s Atlantic Grill: MASH’s Alan Alda sitting at Table # 1 and PR-pasha David Salidor …Author Mark Bego will do two in stores (at Barnes and Noble) in New Jersey (12/9 and 10) for his Top Ten-selling book Eat Like A Rock Star … We started compiling our Best Of list for 2017: So far: Best Shows – Honey West at NYC’s Bowery Electric, and the Jimmy Webb celebration at Carnegie Hall; Tyce at the Metropolitan Room. Biggest Disappointments: Long Island’s Non Stop To Cairo who had one of the best debut albums of the year (Dabble Heavy), but due to poor representation, it went nowhere; and, Randy Jones’ comeback “Hard Times.” Best Books: Jimmy Webb’s The Cake and the Rain and Anthony DeCurtis’ Lou Reed: A Life. More to come … Lastly, a new album, Truth Is A Beautiful Thing, from my favorite new group of last year and this year: London Grammar, featuring the majestic vocals of Hannah Reid. The current single, “Oh Woman Oh Man” is simply stunning. Check it out here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FgrwgGIdoOo.
Till next time…