Streisand discusses the 'isms' surrounding presidential politics


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

I WANT to believe that our country can see beyond race as a factor in voting for a presidential candidate ... but on some level, it would be naive to think that race will not be a factor. I do believe, however, that there is much less racism, sexism and homophobia among the younger generation and that we have come a long way."

That's Barbra Streisand, talking to The Oscar/Emmy/Grammy/Tony winner concedes that in the matter of stars speaking out on anything other their latest film, there is resistance: "On a very basic level, many people think celebrities have so much already, so we shouldn't be entitled to political opinions." Barbra does not agree.

And she was true to herself when Politico asked her if she'd met with and had a conversation with Barack Obama. "I have met and spoken to Senator Obama, but I don't discuss my personal conversations with the media." You know what, in this era of careless stellar chat, I appreciate some restraint. Especially as I don't think celeb endorsements for political figures are positive.

Oh, and on the matter of Barbra possibly appearing on American Idol. Her people discussed it again amongst themselves after our item ran, and got back to me with a definite NO. Oh, well. Barbra went from ICM to the Endeavor agency in an effort to secure more movie work, so maybe an Idol gig wouldn't do the trick.

The other piano man

Elton John talked to Entertainment Weekly recently, reminiscing on his decades of live performing - he has played in all 50 states of the U.S. of A. And when speaking of his Dodger Stadium gig in 1975 he said, "That was the height of my career. Cary Grant came; I'll never forget that. And Charles Nelson Reilly was behind the bar, serving drinks." What struck me was the phrase, "the height of my career." Very few still-active performers ever use such words. This would imply that they had passed some peak, that time and tide are inexorable.

Palm reading

Actor, legend, painter and our favorite unabashed egoist Tony Curtis was spotted recently dining quietly at The Palm Restaurant in Las Vegas. He had veal Parmesan and pasta. But he declined when the waitress asked if he'd like to sample a new Palm cocktail. The still-vigorous Tony stuck to water.

I think of Tony often. Right on my desk is a sensational 8-by-10, black-and-white portrait of the bare-shouldered sexy star at the, uh ... the height of his career. He inscribed it as: "Relaxing at home." And in the note he wrote to me, "I thought you'd like it for your purse!"

We once had a little public dust-up at New York's posh Le Cirque, but we reconciled (at the Oscars!) and I have adored him ever since.

End thought

And I don't care if you care or not. The ageist, misogynistic beating up that Madonna is taking at the moment appalls me. The media wants to bring her down - a woman of 50 as a pop star -disgraceful! (Take a good look at 65-year-old Mick Jagger - everybody thinks his eternal hip shaking is just fine.) The press wants Madonna to collapse, confess her "sins," ask for forgiveness and beg to be loved. Because I know Madonna and I like Madonna, I hope I am correct in assuming it will be a freezing day in hell before that happens. That said: Gain a pound or 10, honey.

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