Maybe Miley Cyrus was behaving just like a typical 15-year-old

CELEBRITY NEWS

April 30, 2008|By LIZ SMITH | LIZ SMITH,Tribune Media Services

I'M EMBARRASSED!"

That's 15-year old Hannah Montana star Miley Cyrus, denying responsibility for a provocative Annie Leibovitz photo that appears in the June issue of Vanity Fair.

Perhaps Miley should be embarrassed about acting the victim, blaming VF, for her own choices. Miley is still smarting from the release of private MySpace pictures that showed her playing peek-a-boo with her blouse (nice green bra underneath) and cozy with a boy. I thought the "scandal" over that was ridiculous. Fifteen-year-old girls like to show off, and they do flirt and kiss. I don't think her Disney-created image suffers from the reality of her age and the times we live in.

Ms. Leibovitz is famously persuasive. She talked Debra Winger into posing in bed with a dog and Norman Mailer into standing half-nude in the ocean. Still, Miley's family and entourage were on hand, and saw the various digital poses. It's not like the old days, when one had to wait for the film to be developed. And what is so shocking?! Miley is wrapped in satin. Her back is bare. I've seen more skin on a million red carpets. In fact, you see more skin on a hot day in August on Fifth Avenue.

I'd say the shot of Miley draped across her father, Billy Ray Cyrus' lap, with her T-shirt riding up her belly, is the pic to give pause.

Madonna's movie

"Still, someone said `she's sincere' so I'm heeerrree!" This is the famous lyric in Stephen Sondheim's showstopper, "I'm Still Here" from Follies.

That stuck in my mind last week at the Tribeca Film Festival premiere of Madonna's documentary on the AIDS-ravaged African country of Malawi, I Am Because We Are. (Madonna's adopted son, David, is a Malawi native.)

The day after the premiere, I read a scathing online criticism of her documentary, which is directed by Nathan Rissman. (Madonna wrote and produced.)

The movie itself? Beautiful and powerful. It is not without flaw. There is some heavy-handedness, and wayward straying from the point. But I find it hard to critique anything so passionately well-meaning. For the most part, Rissman and Madonna allow the people of Malawi to speak for themselves.

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