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News Columnists Monday, November 15, 2004
Liz Smith Liz Smith
Much ado about knitting

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November 15, 2004

'I don't want to be normal. Who wants to be normal?"

So said super-producer David O. Selznick. David gave us "Gone With the Wind."

OK, HERE ARE a couple of "celebrities are just real people" items. "Normal" if you will.

Ravishing, glamorous, luxury-loving Catherine Zeta- Jones is said to be knitting Christmas present ponchos between takes on the set of the "Zorro" sequel, filming in Mexico. Mrs. Michael Douglas has finished 15 of them, with 20 more to go! (Moviemaking is a tedious business, folks.) Each is an original and she has even had special labels inserted, "personally made by CZJ." Well, ponchos have made a big comeback. And, we'll see "the new CZJ" on the cover of the December Harper's Bazaar. What do they mean by "new"?

AND THIS: Justin

Timberlake was playing pool with buddies when one of them swallowed a handful of peanuts. Too many lodged in his throat, and Justin's pal couldn't catch his breath. As his friend began to go purple, Justin, without any experience in such matters, gave with the Heimlich maneuver.

It worked.

And here you thought Justin's life was all singing, dancing, acting, exposing Janet Jackson and keeping Cameron Diaz away from paparazzi.

I WENT TO SEE my friend Barry Humphries cavorting onstage at the Music Box as "Dame Edna." I took along former Texas governor Ann Richards. The hilarity onstage was matched by the hilarity in our row, leading me to believe that the old saying must be true - Australians and Texans have a lot in common when it comes to rugged humor.

The dame tears things up once again with her lavender wig, big glasses and fabulous size 12 pumps. She is sequined to the max and throws herself all over the place letting off little nuanced asides about Americans, their re-elected president and the audience's need for her brand of psychiatry. The people down front who were enticed onstage seemed to be having a ball. Masochism has its day - or night - at the Music Box.

There really is no describing the phenomenon of Dame Edna. She has to be seen to be believed. This is not a drag show; it's a psychotic extravaganza. Don't miss Humphries, a real guy with a beautiful wife who just accidentally hit on his one- woman career. (He devised Edna for the great actress Zoe Caldwell, but ended up playing the role himself when Zoe went from Australia to the United States. The rest is history.)

"Dame Edna" is lots and lots of fun, provided you are sitting well back and don't mind being hit by gladioli. Welcome back to Broadway, Barry!

THE TALK OF THE TOWN is Annie Gilbar, host of the new HSN program "Annie's Eye." This girl is one of the founding editors of InStyle magazine, and her mentor is the great Martha Nelson of People. Annie has published 18 books and headed two Internet companies.

But her launch on Home Shopping last month was the biggest in the network's history. She designs handbags and jewelry with partner Susan Dolgen, and celebs from Kate Bosworth to Sharon Stone to Mariska Hargitay are carrying her handmade croc bags.

In spite of Annie's keeping an eye on fashion, maybe next spring she'd like to put on her show an old girl who is bringing out what she hopes will be a funny book on food and a little celebrity, titled "Dishing."

Yes, it's me. I have no shame.

JERRY HERMAN'S great musical "La Cage aux Folles" gets revived on Broadway Dec. 9. Tomorrow night, at Moët M Lounge, the cast and crew

of the show celebrate this born-again classic. The creative team of Herman, Harvey

Fierstein, Jerry Zaks and Jerry Mitchell join current cast members Gary Beach, Daniel Davis and Gavin Creel, and lots of Broadway luminaries. All intend to party, sipping Moët & Chandon. Then everybody will get up to sing "I Am What I Am." Like we don't already know what they am!

CHANTEUSE SUPREME Patti La Belle, Viacom's Sumner Redstone and Bristol-Myers Squibb's Peter Dolan are to be honored Nov. 30 by the American Foundation for AIDS Research. Each will receive the Award of Courage for their fight against the global pandemic of AIDS. (It's not over, folks. The expensive drugs available in the United States have lulled many into a false sense that the crisis has passed. Millions still die worldwide.) This event happens at the Pierre. Jamie Cullum performs. Call 212-806-1636.

TONIGHT Louise and Henry Grunwald host the first of several parties celebrating the publication of "De Kooning: An American Master" by Mark Stevens and Annalyn Swan. Willem de Kooning - seductive, fascinating, handsome as a movie star and a giant talent - is almost every painter's hero. When he wasn't whipping up fantastic canvases, he was living it up as part of the hard-drinking Cedar Bar scene. They say once begun, this book can't be closed until the last work of art and the final adventure.

Copyright © 2004, Newsday, Inc.


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