"AND DON'T kid yourself, you ain't heard the last of me yet!"
That was Lesley Ann Warren in the 1982 movie "Victor/Victoria" comically shrieking out her frustration after James Garner dumps her for cross-dressing Julie Andrews. Lesley is a riot in "VV" and rightly Oscar-nominated.
And that line pretty much sums up her career longevity, having shot to prominence back in 1965 in the Rodgers and Hammerstein TV musical of "Cinderella," Lesley has survived every twist and turn, changing times and styles, to become one of the most welcome additions to screens large and small, in drama or in comedy. When she pops up, you always know something special will happen. She is currently seen as Mary McCormack's fragile mother, Jinx, in the USA Network hit, "In Plain Sight." (Lesley projects a lot of vulnerability, a cross between Natalie Wood and Marilyn Monroe.)
When I sat down with Lesley -- pale and slim and girlish -- about a year ago, she talked about returning to her musical roots. Now that plan is a little closer to fruition. The actress is putting together a nightclub revue, a musical journey of her life (she was once married to Jon Peters, later of Barbra Streisand fame) and her career (she once played Scarlett O'Hara in a musical version of "Gone with the Wind" that never made it to Broadway!)
The revue will be titled "In My Own Little Corner" -- she'll dance, she'll sing, she'll look back and ahead. She says. "I'm truly excited about this. In these challenging times it is very gratifying to be in control of my destiny, just a little bit more."
SPEAKING OF musicals, we all know Andrew Lloyd Webber's "Evita," which tells the tale of Argentina's ambitious first lady, Eva Peron. But here's something new, though in a similar vein. Sept. 22 through Oct. 18, the Pan Asian Repertory Theatre will showcase "Imelda, A New Musical." It unfurls at the Julia Miles Theatre, on West 55th Street in New York City.
This will be a portrait of Imelda Marcos the controversial wife and widow of Philippine president Ferdinand Marcos. Imelda became known as "The Steel Butterfly," as her political influence ebbed and flowed. She has been admired, exiled, welcomed home, sued, been acquitted, and had George Hamilton testify on her behalf. Half glamour girl, half dragon lady, hers is assuredly a life meant to be put to music! The book is by Sachi Oyama, music and lyrics by Nathan Wang and Aaron Coleman. Jaygee Macapugay will play Imelda, from the '40s to the scandal-ridden '80s.
This will probably be worth a curious look if only for the inevitable showstopper centered around her infamous shoe collection!
MORE MUSIC: My old friend Marvin Hamlisch is still in there and kicking. On Sept. 18, the new Matt Damon movie "The Informant" opens. We love Mr. Damon, but my first interest here is the soundtrack, created by Marvin. Will it be great? Will it enhance the talents of Mr. Damon and director Steven Soderbergh? Well, Marvin has won four Emmys, four Grammys, three Golden Globes, three Oscars, one Tony and the Pulitzer Prize.
What do you think?
I DON'T know if Oscar Wilde's famous book, "The Picture of Dorian Gray" has ever been a musical. I wouldn't be surprised. Ever since the Hurd Hatfield/Angela Lansbury 1945 movie version of Wilde's terrible fable about eternal youth, the basic idea has been re-played many times. (Actually, there were even two silent versions.) At least once Dorian was a woman. And I think we had a vampire Dorian Gray as well. But there has been no serious contender to the famous black and white classic. Until now.
This year we will see, "Dorian Gray" directed by Oliver Parker and starring Ben Barnes as the vain, good-looking man who wishes he would remain young, while his portrait ages and dissipates. Rachel Hurd-Wood will play Sybil Vane the innocent maiden corrupted and abandoned by Dorian. (Remember Angela Lansbury, singing "Goodbye Little Yellow Bird" as paper snowflakes are sprinkled over her? One of the most famous scenes in movie history.) Colin Firth is on hand as Lord Henry Wotton, who encourages Dorian in his debauchery.
The movie is being called "Dorian Gray" rather than "The Picture of..." because this one will focus on Dorian, as a person, rather than the gradual ruin of his painted image. However it turns out, it's always good to hear snippets of Wilde's dialogue, such as this gem, first uttered onscreen by George Sanders at Lord Wotton:
"If I could get back my youth I'd do anything in the world except get up early, take exercise or be respectable!"
(E-mail Liz Smith at MES3838@aol.com, or write to her c/o Tribune Media Services, 2225 Kenmore Ave., Suite 114, Buffalo, NY 14207.)