Tag Archives: Gene Simmons

Linda Gray Has a Blast With Fellow Stars of a Certain Age in Big Screen ‘Expecting Mary’

Linda Gray tells us she had a blast making the big-screen “Expecting Mary,” which has an anticipated fall release.  The indie film has a pregnant teen – Oleysa Rulin of “High School Musical” fame – running away and winding up in a trailer park, the denizens of which are a colorful assortment of crazies in their AARP years.  Linda Stars with Elliott Gould, Lanie Kazan, Cybill Shepherd, Cloris Leachman, Della Reese, Fred Willard and Gene Simmons.

“We shot it in 18 days.  Because everybody loved their role, we all came together quickly.  It was like going to party you can’t wait to go to,” says the actress who reigned over the TV scene as Sue Ellen Ewing on “Dallas” back in the 80s.  Gray plays a former Vegas showgirl “whose last gig was in New Mexico.  She’s funny and pathetic – and still can be glamorous.”

Linda Gray

Linda was also instrumental in getting “Expecting Mary” made.  She’d gotten to know screenwriter Dan Gordon when “we both bought the rights to ‘Terms of Endearment’ as a play, which I did in London about eight years ago.  During that time we talked about what fun it would be to come up with something more comedic than Sue Ellen or Aurora, the part I played in ‘Terms,’ and we started throwing out ideas.”

Gordon eventually wrote “this miraculous screenplay” for “Expecting Mary” as a result.  The fact that the movie put so many talents of a certain age to work is, of course, one of Gray’s favorite parts of the enterprise, since all of her cast mates – save Olesya, of course – have had to face unapologetic Hollywood ageism.  “We approached it with a lot of humor.  We made a pact: Nobody under 50 allowed.:”

MEANWHILE:  Asked about the chances of any more on-camera “Dallas” reunions, Gray is quick to respond, “Oh, God no.  Unless something very classy came along, we’re through.”

That’s not to say, however, that the “Dallas” cast is through getting together on their own.  Linda says that she and Larry Hagman and Patrick Duffy got together just a matter of weeks ago when Duffy was in town from his Oregon home for a “Bold and the Beautiful” appearance, and it’s not unusual that they and other former cast mates meet for “long lunches or dinners.  One of the joys of doing ‘Dallas’ was the enduring friendships.  We’ve known each other 33 years.  We text each other now.  Our kids have us all using iPhones.”

MAKING ADJUSTMENTS:  Terry Crews admits that having his and his family’s lives opened for the world to see on their “The Family Crews” reality show has been an adjustment for everyone.  With Season 2 of the BET show now in production, he recalls that when the first season began to air, “We got off Facebook and all that stuff.  We retreated.  We felt like, ‘Hey, if you want to know something about us, watch the show.’  There has to be a boundary, a limit.  You start to feel like you don’t have any privacy at all.”

According to him, they have bumped into “a couple of people” who’ve been negative.  “And you’re like, ‘Eh!  They don’t like me.’  But the thing is, most of the people we encounter are fans and they’re nice.  It’s fun to talk to them.”

Crews, who’s also starring in the series version of TNT’s “Are We There Yet?” says “We’re pretty excited about Season 2” of the reality skein.  “On our show, the drama doesn’t come from me versus my wife, or us versus the kids.  We’ve decided we’re going to stick together, to have each other’s back.  When my daughter announced she was pregnant, that was a really big family issue.”  Obviously, baby on board will be a theme this coming season.

THE BECK/SMITH VAULT: Diana Ross In the Driver’s Seat

Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, 1981 American Music Awards

Diana Ross, Michael Jackson, 1981 American Music Awards

…Her choices for guest stars began with long-time buddy Michael Jackson.  “To me, he’s like a child of mine. ..”

February 25, 1981

Diana Ross In the Driver’s Seat

By Stacy Jenel Smith

HOLLYWOOD – As the song says, “I’m Comin’ Out.”

For the first time in her professional life, Diana Ross is sitting in the driver’s seat – and she makes it clear, “I really like that position.”

Her hotel bungalow has the look of a command post: table tops littered with coffee cups, stacks of papers and slides taken at her recent Los Angeles Forum concert, recording and video equipment, a projector and screen dominate the living room.

After a late night of watching the editing of her CBS March 2 “Diana” special – the first of her TV outings that Diana has produced herself – she walks through the morning light into the room looking wide awake and full of bubbling energy, smartly attired in an electric purple blouse and jacket with black pants tucked into studded black suede boots.

Asked about her new executive producer title, she looks toward the ceiling with a wide grin and chuckles, “Ohhh yes.  A – it’s real exciting.

“It just means I’m the one who make the decisions, that I’m responsible for whatever happens.  I feel like I’m learning a lot about TV this way.  It’s an important position.  For the last 15 years, I haven’t been in that position.  I haven’t taken the responsibility.  I felt there was a reason for this – that I’m starting to be more responsible.

“I think if you’re going to hand over control of something to someone else, you should be willing to hand it over completely.  If you’re going to complain about how they’re handling it, maybe you should be doing it yourself.”

As for Diana, “I’m taking my life and handling it.”

For the last 15 years, the singing superstar’s name has seemed inextricably linked with those of the Motown record company and of its founder – her “Henry Higgins” – Berry Gordy.  From the days when she and her fellow Supremes became the No. 2 record-selling group of the ’60s (behind The Beatles), through her first solo successes, her acclaimed acting debut in “Lady Sings the Blues,” her marriage to and divorce from Bob Silberstein, Diana has been protected, cared for and – to an ever decreasing degree – had her decisions made by Gordy’s Motown.

Now, “I’m not under contract with anyone,” she says.  And as to whether she’s re-sign with the company, she shrugs and smiles.  A beat passes.  “I don’t know.”

Diana spent her Christmas vacation working on preparations for her special.  “I went to Aspen with the kids (daughters Rhonda, 9, Tracee, 8, and Chudney, 5).  While they were skiing, I was staying in making  a lot of notes and calls.  You see, this time I had to worry about making the business deals too.”

Her new managerial outlook extended into the production of the show.  “When we were going overtime, a part of me was thinking in terms of, ‘How much is this costing?’  The executive producer was thinking in numbers.  The other part of me was thinking, ‘Isn’t it wonderful to be in a position where I can help employ all these people?’

“I took a lot of time deciding on the people I wanted to work with,” she continues, quickly ebulliently.  “See that stack of tapes over there?  I watched them all to help me decide.  I called a lot of people to ask who they thought a good director would be and Steve Binder’s name came up a lot.  He sent me a tape with some of his things and in the middle of it I saw this FACE and these TEETH coming at me.  I said, ‘Hey!  Those are my teeth!’  I hadn’t realized it, but we’d worked together years ago on the ‘Tammy’ show.  He put that on the tape to see if I’d remember.  Do you remember that show?  It was the start of rock ‘n’ roll.  The Beach Boys were on, the Rolling Stones when Mick Jagger was just starting his…(she does a silent imitation of Jagger jiggle)…thing.”

Her choices for guest stars began with long-time buddy Michael Jackson.  “To me, he’s like a child of mine.  I feel the same way about Stevie Wonder.  As soon as I found out about the special I asked Michael if he’d be on and he said yes.  He just sent me six platinum records of his, with a note that says, ‘To my inspiration.’

“I’d like the young kids in the TV audience to understand that we really do have a close relationship.  The young kids don’t know how I started them (The Jackson 5) in the business, brought them out here and that they lived with me for awhile.

“Michael and Quincy (Jones, who’s also featured on the special) and I did ‘The Wiz’ together.  Quincy also produced Michael’s latest album which is such a success.  We’re trying to figure out how Michael, Quincy and I could do an album together.  I think that’s a very good idea.  I want to push that one through.”

She’d also like to push through a film project.  “I’d love to do a movie right away.  I have three or four things in the air, but have no idea at all what I’ll be doing next.  I feel I can take the time to pick and choose something I really care about, because I have my career of recording, concerts and TV, but I’d like to do a movie soon.  ‘Tough Customers’ (in which she’d play the girlfriend of gangster Dutch Schultz) is in the works and the idea of my doing a movie about Josephine Baker is still very much alive. But you can’t just zap out a movie like in the old days.  It costs too much.”

Discussing plans of a more personal sort, Diana laughs at reports of her marriage plans to KISS singer Gene Simmons.  “No, no.  It’s not that kind of relationship between Gene and I.  He’s a very special person, but – no.

“I realized about five years ago,” she adds, “that you have to give up a lot in order to be in this business.  One of the things is privacy.  You find yourself fighting that, but it’s something people expect – to know what’s happening in your life.  I don’t mind talking about myself.  I have nothing to hide.  It’s when people will take something that’s very important and treat it without regard for its importance that I mind.  I think it’s the responsibility of the press and others to consider how important what they’re writing about really is.”

She’s thinking of her children especially, she says.  “You see so many stories about performers’ children getting so messed up by being exposed to the press, to the world.  I try to shield mine from that.  It was easier when they were younger.  Now that they’re getting bigger, they can see what’s going on – see me on TV, see the people I work with , see what it all means.  I’ve decided to send them to boarding school when they’re a little older, where they’ll have lives apart from all this.

“We have a lot of honesty – no lies.  Now and then they’ll ask me, ‘Mommy, why can’t you stay home?’  And I tell them, ‘Because I don’t want to stay home.  I love what I do and I’m not going to feel guilty about it.’

“I do know my girls will all probably go into show business.  That’s O.K.  I think it’s the best game in town.  I mean, what would I have done if I hadn’t gone into show business?”

She starts enumerating the possibilities, counting on her fingers as she goes.  “Well, I took design, so I might have designed clothes.  I went to beauty school, so I might have done your hair.  I bussed dishes for awhile.  Did you know that?  Back in Detroit I was a bus girl.  We wore little green and white dresses and nets on our hair and we couldn’t lean against the wall.”  The room chimes with her laughter at the recollection.

She continues, more seriously, that her childhood didn’t offer much exposure to showbiz, with the exception of music.  “My mother did have a job in a theater – cleaning,” she smiles.  “I remember listening to radio shows.  I was five or six when we got our first TV.  I know when TV started, the rich people got it first and it came to the ghetto a while later.”  She smiles and leans back.  “The only star I knew of to look up to was Lena Horne, and I didn’t look up to her as a movie star.  I knew her as a singing star.”

Now, countless little girls are looking up to Diana Ross, who seems to have done it all.  What’s left to conquer?

“Oh, God!  What’s so amazing is – that’s life out there!  There’s so much more for me to learn.  I’m always learning new things through my kids.  I feel my move to New York has taught me so much.  I discovered so much.  I met doctors, lawyers.  I now have girlfriends who are NOT involved with show business.

“I don’t want to get into making comparisons between New York and Los Angeles.  I love California and I’d never give it up.  But I’d gone through my divorce and I wanted to be in a place where I could be busy all the time and I moved.  I go to the theater now, and I take the kids to museums and galleries.  I met a guy who knows all about modern art.  I didn’t know anything about modern art.  I’ve known people who bought it as an investment, that’s all.  But now I’ve found out about it.”

She nods emphatically that the divorce and the move have “opened me up.”  And that they’re partly responsible for her new feelings of responsibility.

“If something’s successful, then it’s wonderful.  If not, well … Do you know the poem, ‘If’?  I always like to remember a line from that: ‘If you can treat those two imposters, success and failure, the same …’  I do the best I can, and whatever happens, try to treat it the same.  This business can sweep you away.  Look at this.”  She holds up a slide of the masses of people engulfing the Forum, with herself in the center of it all bathed in the spotlight.

“But what helps me to keep it in perspective is the fact I left that and went home to bed alone.”

Chlumsky Enjoys Playing Politics

Anna Chlumsky "In the Loop"

Anna Chlumsky "In the Loop"

Well after other stars of TV pilots for this coming season have either started ramping up for production and promotion — or folded their tents and gone home – Anna Chlumsky is still awaiting word on the fate of her “House Rules” pilot for CBS.  With its cast options extended last week, the series that follows the freshman class of Congress as they begin their careers in Washington, D.C., might become a midseason replacement show.  Or not.

“I would love to hear that it has a future,” she tells us.  But either way, the 28-year-old actress, who rose to fame in the “My Girl” movies is going to be busy.  She has a movie for Lifetime with Kristin Chenoweth shooting this summer.  She’s talking theater projects – “It’s been a year since I’ve done a play” – and she has the U.S. release of the BBC Films-IFC Films political satire, “In the Loop.”

Chlumsky costars with Simon Foster, James Gandolfini, David Rasche, Mimi Kennedy and others in Armando Iannucci’s farcical flick in which a slip of the lip by a British official has the country hurtling toward war.

“I LOVE this kind of humor.  I’m so grateful and blessed to be part of this awesome British comedic tradition.  I’ve long been a fan of it.  Monty Python is mother’s milk to me,” she declares.

Having back-to-back projects that have her politically involved, albeit on two sides of the Atlantic, works for Chlumsky.  “I actually studied international relations in school,” notes the University of Chicago grad.

Chlumsky is aware that political satire is a tough genre to pull off in films, but believes “In the Loop” – beginning its limited release July 24 – has an advantage in its roots.  “I think in the grand scheme of things, Europeans have been around so much longer than we have – they’ve gone through more revolutions, civil wars, regime changes and paradigm shifts — they’re in a cultural position of not taking themselves as seriously as we do,” she opines.  “They’re not terribly precious about themselves and the world at large.  You have to take a step back and not take yourselves too seriously.”

ON THE OTHER HAND: England’s top-rated sitcom, “My Family” – which is seen here via BBC America – is the only TV show in the U.K. that uses an American-style writing team concept.  Not only is the show a ratings winner.  It’s also a finalist in the Best Comedy category for the third time in England’s upcoming “TVQuick & TVChoice” Awards, having already won twice.  The awards are voted on by viewers.  “My Family,” produced by Don Taffner, Jr., is about a dentist (Robert Lindsay), husband and father in a bit of a mid-life crisis.  It’s from DLT Entertainment, an American company, which also produced Dame Judi Dench’s delightful “As Time Goes By” series, seen here on PBS, in addition to having been responsible for “Three’s Company” and “Too Close for Comfort.”

TOO BAD:  Disappointing, the comments KISS frontman Gene Simmons made to AOL’s Katy Kroll, saying that “American Idol’s” Adam Lambert had “killed his career” by coming out as gay, that now the focus would be on Adam’s sexuality rather than his music — this coming from a man who wears makeup and platform shoes.  We’ve always liked Gene, but such running off at the mouth seems more about self-promotion via being provocative than anything else.  Like the bisexuality stuff killed Mick Jagger’s and David Bowie’s careers, right, Gene?  And we forgot all about Freddie Mercury’s music because he was gay?  Time to shut it, Gene.  Just shut it.

With reports by Emily-Fortune Feimster