Veteran actresses in pursuit of lead role

Nothings would have pleased Brooke Astor more than the Marine Honor Guard at her funeral last week. (Her father had been an exemplary Marine and she never forgot it. In fact, during the Reagan-Bush years at the time of the Iran-Contra scandal, I remember Mrs. Astor was up in arms over the public testimony of Lt. Col. Oliver North. She dismissed him as “an upstart; nothing like what a Marine should be.”) This was unusual for Mrs. Astor who seldom uttered a discouraging word publicly about anyone. And so, nothing would have upset this model citizen and philanthropist more than an atmosphere where many of her closest friends were uncomfortable in the presence and aftermath of the tabloid scandals that involved her son, Tony and his wife Charlene. Many of the elite stayed away from the St. Thomas Church funeral for just this reason. … I was personally comforted and interested in the Charlie Rose TV special over last weekend, which offered up an excerpt from Mrs. Astor with Mike Wallace on “60 Minutes” and an interview with close friend David Rockefeller. Also, a talk Charlie had with Brooke when she was only 92. That showed her at her best. I was struck again with her down-to-earth philosophies, her total lack of snobbism and her view that it’s better to be nice to people and “get along” than to make waves and enemies.

DO YOU believe what you read in the English papers? If so, you’ll believe that Glenn Close, Barbra Streisand and Meryl Streep are all elbowing and shoving in order to win the coveted role of a lifetime. That is to play the silent screen actress Norma Desmond in the eventual movie version of the musical “Sunset Boulevard.” In this triumvirate, multiple-Oscar-winner Streep is the youngest contender — she’s 58. Close is 60 and Streisand is 65. I don’t think any of our Big Three is elbowing or even jockeying. I suppose this friendly “contest” has more or less been going on for the 14 years since the l993 musical version of the famed Billy Wilder film noir opened. Producer-composer Andrew Lloyd Webber, plus his book writers, Don Black and Christopher Hampton, say that Glenn, Barbra and Meryl are on their list. It is believed that Paramount, which owns the rights to the original 1950 film, favors Streep. Her recent successes, including “The Devil Wears Prada,” have been at this studio.

(Email Liz Smith at MES3838@aol.com)

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