OUR FAVORITE singing/dancing/glamour-puss/Oscar-winner/survivor and genuinely nice human being, Cher, has been lying low recently.
One of the things I love about Cher - and miss when she's out of touch - is that she speaks spontaneously and truthfully, but never tells too much. She's so appealingly earthy, frank and funny you think you're seeing her soul. But you're only seeing what she allows. The real woman is far more interesting and complex.
Anyway, soon fans of Cher will have one, perhaps two offerings. There's a book coming next fall, Cher: The Television Series, which is an exhaustively researched, highly entertaining look at the star's sensational 1975-1976 solo variety hour. This was after The Sonny & Cher Comedy Hour show dissolved and their marriage came screeching to a halt. It's a labor of love from writer Josiah Howard.
There's also a rumor that has Cher thinking about doing a Duets type album, recording her classic Sonny & Cher hits with new singers. Interesting idea! I suppose it'll depend on how sentimental Cher is about those old songs.
On the subject of Sonny, one thing for sure, his sudden death in 1998 offered up the one true glimpse of Cher's inner self, unvarnished and unprotected. Her funeral eulogy stands as the star's most emotional public appearance - though she did not realize it would be made public - real and raw. It rose above the voyeurism of watching a famous person undone by grief.
But I prefer to think of Cher as she was during the three years of her famously extended "Farewell Tour" from 2003-2005. There she was full of fun, ironic, laid back, giving 1,000 percent and never seeming to break a sweat. Her apparent nonchalance always reminds me of ... Fred Astaire! Really. She makes grueling hard work look easy. And, unlike some pop divas, she gives fans what they want - the hits, the hits, the hits. No deep thoughts. And plenty of sequins. Everybody goes home happy. Cher is a star who knows her audience and her stuff.
Mining the past
Billy Zane is perhaps still best known as the villain of Titanic, trying to come between Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet. Now he is said to be on NBC's short list of actors to star in a TV re-do of the old Robert Loggia series, T.H.E. Cat. (Zane's not formally on board, but he is honcho Ben Silverman's top pick.) Well, since NBC has had a nice recent success with Bionic Woman, why not continue mining the past?
We told you a month ago that the eternally gleaming matinee idol George Hamilton would be writing his memoirs. We knew because he told us so. But now it's official.
Hamilton's book will arrive late next year from the Touchstone imprint of Simon & Schuster. He is receiving help dotting i's, crossing t's and paring down his innumerable anecdotes from William Stadiem of Marilyn Monroe: Confidential and the Frank Sinatra bio Mr. S. Both were incredibly juicy reads.
I doubt that there will be anything in George's book of which he won't approve. His storytelling skills are superb and based in witty, wise understanding of his own and others' foibles.