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Songster salutes Ol’ Blue Eyes

WHEN FRANK Sinatra sings ballads, the tough guy disappears. It was in these moments that he gave himself permission to be publicly tender and vulnerable. He was a kid who wanted to sing. He became a teenager who knew he would sing. In many ways, that’s my story.” That’s Michael Bolton, talking about the master to whom he pays tribute in his new album, “Bolton Swings Sinatra.” … Was he intimidated singing “Night and Day,” “That’s Life” “Summer Wind,” “Fly Me to the Moon,” etc. — songs so closely associated with Sinatra? “I wouldn’t say intimidated. Respectfully daunted with a responsibility to the material. You can’t get too caught up in feeling that you must not re-interpret the giants. All the great songs I love, they’ve been recorded over and over again by people who are singer’s singers — Billie Holiday, Ella Fitzgerald, Mel Torme, on and on. Each is different, each is valid, though some might prefer this to that, you know?” … Bolton wonders if the songs being written today will be re-recorded and remembered 40 or 50 years from now. “Songwriters used to write, well, I won’t say for the ages — I mean there were plenty of silly songs — but the culture was different, people paid attention, had a regard for and understanding of lyrics. For whatever reason, there was a more lasting, emotional connection.”

FOCUS FEATURES will bring forth in September “Hollywoodland,” starring Diane Lane, Adrien Brody, Bob Hoskins and Robin Tunney. The movie is about George Reeves, who began his career in “Gone With the Wind” as one of the red-headed Tarlton twins, but achieved immortality as TV’s “Superman” in the 1950s. In the role as Reeves, we’ll see Ben Affleck. … On what would have been Marilyn Monroe’s 80th birthday I received a marvelous photo of her glorious backside as she sang “Happy Birthday” to President Kennedy. This is a real collector’s item by Bill Ray. Bill worked for Life magazine during its heyday and photographed every great celebrity from Woody Allen to Marlon Brando to Natalie Wood to you name them. He captured Elvis departing to serve in the Army and recorded Jackie’s marriage to Ari Onassis. These days Bill takes corporate tycoons in their natural habitats — including Bob Wright of NBC and Rupert Murdoch. There will be a retrospective of Bill’s work at the Leica Gallery (670 Broadway) Friday unitl Aug. 5.

SATURDAY NIGHT at Carnegie Hall, the Judy Garland postage stamp will be unveiled. Attendees will include Lorna and Joe Luft, Michael Feinstein, Diane Schuur, Rufus Wainwright (who’ll soon perform his recreation of Garland’s famous 1961 Carnegie concert), Garland historian John Fricke, Dick Cavett, Terrence McNally and Robert Osborne. Liza Minnelli has sent a filmed tribute … Southern charmer, Julia Roberts who is still the world’s biggest female box-office star, has been treated by some dolts in the theater community as being worse than bird flu and all because she dared to stop making hit movies, had babies, selected a difficult play that was questionable by any popular notion, refused to come onstage looking like “Erin Brockovich” and tried her hand at “acting,” according to the playwright and the directors’ point of view. But who is turning up as a presenter Sunday at the Tony Awards, providing a ratings draw for the very theater community that has treated her so shabbily? Why, Julia Roberts.

THE BRITISH show “Jerry Springer – The Opera” has been causing controversy ever since it opened back in 2004. Now it is moving on to Cardiff, where the Archbishop of Wales, Barry Morgan, is raising old Billy about it. “What they say about Jesus is blasphemous and gratuitously offensive. They’d never get away with saying the same things about Mohammed.” Hmmm, well, perhaps that in itself says something about the Christian religion.

Email Liz Smith at MES3838@aol.com

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