Soderbergh, Douglas do Liberace

Bob Schieffer celebrates release of 'America'

STEVEN SODERBERGH, recently announced that he is in talks to cast Michael Douglas, as well as Matt Damon, in a film about the one and only Liberace. Michael would play the man who did his flamboyant piano-best surrounded by candelabras. Matt would play Scott Thorson, the lover who later sued Liberace for palimony back in 1982–even in the face of that scandal the entertainer denied he was gay. (Liberace died of AIDS in 1987.)

This all reminds me of visiting Liberace in his Las Vegas ranch house. It was ornate inside with lots of choice bric a brac, but had rather low ceilings. One such was painted to resemble the Sistine Chapel. That was a bit much, but then Liberace had insisted on hanging a big crystal chandelier over a coffee table. The chandelier, obviously meant for a much higher ceiling, was hanging only a few feet above the coffee table surface. It was quite disconcerting.

AT THE HILL COUNTRY barbecue joint on West 26th street there was the CBS veteran Bob Schieffer in his big white Stetson and boots. He looked great. “Cowboy casual” read the invite to celebrate a book of fabulous essays Bob has rendered over the years at CBS. The title? “Bob Schieffer’s America.” Television’s elite poured in to decide between the moist and the dry barbecue and whether or not they’d take white bread, corn bread, pickles, pinto beans, cole slaw or macaroni and cheese with that. And you thought Bob Schieffer and Katie Couric of CBS were mortal enemies? That’s the story that’s gone around. But there was that good sport, Katie, getting ready to go downstairs to applaud Bob’s country western band. (Katie said her only problem is that one of her daughters is already worrying about college and that is killing her — the mother.) It was quite a night — even if every single person I encountered, stopped dead in their tracks and asked me, pointedly, “What do you think about Sarah Palin?”

THE FALL’S sizzler is the Nov. 10 bash that N.Y. Stage & Film does for their not-for-profit company. They’ll have Kyra Sedgwick and Kevin Bacon, plus Douglas Harmon. He’s the producer who turned out Frank Langella’s little gem movie “Starting Out in the Evening.” So call 212-736-4240 if you want to rub elbows with “The Closer” and Mr. Six Degrees of Separation… On Monday The Friends of the Upper East Side will honor yours truly with an “Ambassador” award. My pal, the writer Marie Brenner, will do her stuff introducing. Call 212-535-2526 if you’d like to join us. It’s informal business attire, not that many of us are still in business after this tormented week!

I TUNED INTO LIFETIME’S “Coco Chanel” Barbora Bobulova who appeared as young Chanel was excellent, reminding me quite a lot of Oscar-winning Marion Cottilard, who played Edith Piaf last year. And then there was Shirley MacLaine, popping up every 15 minutes as middle-aged Chanel. This is the enjoyably off-key performance of the year and of Miss MacLaine’s usually brilliant career. I adored that she didn’t even attempt a French accent! And she uttered every over-the-top line of dialogue with breathtaking conviction. Survive long enough and you can do anything and make it look good. Or at least fun.