Morgan makes a ‘Friend’ in Gotham

I WAS DAWDLING over a cocktail in the Regency Hotel library dreading doing another interview with a movie star when a handsome guy came, bent over, gave me a big kiss and stole my heart. Worried about dealing with his stardom, grandeur and fame, melted and decided Morgan Freeman is one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met. Morgan was wearing a blue shirt, a grey jacket and had a lovely little earring. He sat down and took my hand and ordered a martini straight up. When Harvey Weinstein happened by 45 minutes later, we were hip deep in Morgan’s life story – and a tempestuous unusual one it is. … It seems this guy has lived the gamut of actor’s uphill battles. “Of the thousands of people who have acting aspirations, only 2% are destined to make it. That percent went drastically down if you were black. But I did whatever was necessary. I played a street singer in the ‘Three Penny Opera.’ Then I got to play an Indian in ‘Little Mary Sunshine.’ I worked for a while at the post office. In 1966 I had a chorus job in a touring company of ‘The Royal Hunt to the Sun.’ I concentrated on dancing until 1965. Then in 1967 I got my first off-Broadway play and from that, went into ‘Hello, Dolly!’ with Pearl Bailey. Pearl gave me great lessons in professionalism. I played Brecht in Boston and finally got good reviews from the Manhattan Theater Club when James Lipton put on ‘The Last Street Play.’ I got a Tony nomination for that and in 1978 I was back at the Public Theater doing black and Hispanic Shakespeare. I worked on a soap opera. And all the people who have ever helped me have been women!” … We were meeting because he has done a book called “Morgan Freeman & Friends: Caribbean Cooking for a Cause.” Morgan has talked with stars like Michael Douglas, Alicia Keyes, Terrence Howard, Kevin Bacon, Tim Robbins, Katie Couric, Tom Hanks and chefs all over the Caribbean offering their regional recipes. All proceeds going to the Grenada Relief Fund.

I SPENT SOME time this week with two of New York’s most interesting citizens — Norris Church and Norman Mailer, those old marrieds who have remained in wedlock for 26 years! They are down from Provincetown, which pleases Norris a lot (she’s a city kind of girl) and displeases Norman who no longer adores living in the city where he once tried to be mayor. … The Mailers, with their handsome son John and assorted pals came to that grand saloon on the upper east side, Elaine’s, for the New York Conservancy’s “Living Landmarks” kickoff. They were joined by Amy and Howard Rubenstein and former governor of New York, Mario Cuomo and his wife, Matilda. These three couples, plus Barry Diller, Diane von Furstenberg and Tom and Meredith Brokaw will become “Living Landmarks” at Cipriani 42nd Street on Oct. 31. … The Mailers each have brand new books coming any minute — hers is “Cheap Diamonds,” all about modeling in the ’70s. His is a consideration of Hitler as a youth, titled “The Castle in the Forrest.” If you want to see how New Yorkers behave when they become “Landmarks,” call 212-995-5260.

THE BRITISH papers say Sir Ben Kingsley has a new enthusiasm other than Daniela Lavender, his 33-year-old girlfriend who showed him how to love again. Sir Ben’s new passion is Gen. Pervez Musharraf, the president of Pakistan, of whom the actor says, “If he were an animal, he would be a leopard.” “I have huge admiration for the military. There is something that appeals to me enormously about the purity and discipline involved in that kind of life.” … People are now talking about the famous Sophie Dahl, model and sometime actor, who has written her first novel at age 27. Her agent, Ed Victor, has in his hands the manuscript of “Playing With the Grown-Ups” and it is said to be a revelation from the grandchild of the late and famous author Roald Dahl. … Kirsten Dunst is seriously mulling the possibility of appearing as Deborah Harry of Blondie fame, in a movie about Harry and her iconic band.

(E-mail Liz Smith at

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