Tag Archives: True Grit

Even Whiplash Won’t Stop Sheryl Lee Ralph From Oscar Duty

Sheryl Lee Ralph

Sheryl Lee Ralph admits her first reaction to being asked to host pre-and post-Oscar coverage for CNN and HLN wasn’t what one might expect.  “I was so scared I cried,” says the actress and singer.

That’s because she had just been in an automobile accident, “and I had the worst whiplash ever.  I was sitting there in my brand-new, no license plates Prius at Sunset and Highland, and I got hit from behind.  It was awful.”

But she didn’t want to turn down the choice assignment.  “It’s like, God puts these things in your path and I just thought, ‘I know you didn’t bring me this for me not to make it work out.’  The next day, I found the therapist who could help me, Dr. Craig Liebenson” of L.A. Sports and Spine, a chiropractor who’s worked with dozens of elite athletes.  “I thought, if he could get Kobe through a championship, he can get me through the Oscars.”

Over the past couple of weeks, she’s since been through a battery of tests and adhered to a recovery regime including hot packs, cold packs, breathing exercises, lots of rest — she’s been sitting out Academy Awards parties — and more.  What it hasn’t included is “prescribed pain medication.  Another doctor prescribed some, but I said, ‘Look, I can’t think with pain medication.  I have to be sharp.  I have to be clear.  My brain has to take in information about quite a few people.'”  Learning about all the nominees is, as she notes, “like a college course.  You have to be able to recognize people, know what they’re wearing, what their process was.”

We caught up with Ralph, a.k.a. the tireless AIDS-HIV advocate, a.k.a. the wife of Pennsylvania State Senator Vincent Hughes, while she was getting some Oscar-time pampering.  That included a massage, a pedicure, and application of Long Mi eyelashes — at Beverly Hills’ L’Ermitage Hotel.  The hotel also is hosting Academy Awards time gifting suites, so there is certainly no shortage of stars on hand to collect everything from designer clothing and jewelry, to trips, to “fabulous barbeque sauce” to “crushed ruby lipstick from Holland.”  That’s Sheryl Lee’s favorite item at the gifting suites so far.  “I love it.  I’ve always loved red lipstick.  And this has real rubies in it.  I’ll have a million dollar smile for real.”

She tells us that Steven Tyler was “coming out just as I was going in.  I’m sure he was collecting some things for his daughters.”   Of  course.

MEANWHILE:  Ralph, who shares hosting duties with HLN anchor A.J. Hammer, will definitely be on the lookout for 14-year-old “True Grit” nominee Hailee Steinfeld come Sunday (2/27) night.  The Best Supporting Actress hopeful has one of Ralph’s favorite stories.  “‘True Grit’ is such a young woman’s movie; it’s about a little girl’s true grit.  How does a little girl overcome what was expected of women in the 1800s — which was nothing.  And if they dared fight, it was okay to beat them.  But this film wasn’t marketed to young women at all.  They left Hailee out of all those ads, even though she was so deserving of attention,” the performer points out.  But Hailee is getting plenty of attention now.  Says Sheryl Lee, “Whatever is for you can’t not be for you.”

Lily Tomlin Feeling Fulfilled in Work and Love

Lily TomlinLily Tomlin is heading to New York to shoot the 11th episode of this season’s “Damages,” and says, “I can’t wait to learn what my character is up to.”
As fans of the hit FX series know, Lily is playing the wife of a man whose exploits bring to mind Bernie Madoff and his billion-dollar ponzi scheme, and she reveals, “I haven’t seen the script for any of the segments we’ll be shooting. I probably won’t until the last minute. None of us in the cast ever knows what the writers will do. They’re following an arc, but watch to see how the actors react to the scripts.

“I always want to leave the impression they can expect anything of my character. I just hope they don’t allow her to be a long-suffering wife. I want her to have a bad streak.”

Lily says she’s lucky. “I never invested with Bernie Madoff, never even knew who he was until the scandal broke. But, I have a couple of friends, a husband and wife who are writers, not people who had a lot of money, who lost everything to Madoff.”

Lily also feels lucky in love. In March, she’ll be celebrating her 39th anniversary of togetherness with her partner in life and career, writer Jane Wagner. Although they’ve reportedly only been open about the relationship for the last few years, Tomlin notes, “I never called a press confernece or anything like that, but in the industry, Jane and I always lived very openly. If people were oppressive of us, I wasn’t conscious of it or don’t remember if I was. Funny thing about me, I’m not too long on hard feelings.”

Lily says that she and Jane have no wish to marry. “We’ve been together too long, And, we’re not religious, not that you have to be, but it’s important to people who want to marry in church. The truth is that rituals don’t mean a lot to us, just the ones we invent. Besides, if we did stage a wedding, I don’t think Jane would get there on time. We call her Maybe Jane, maybe she’ll show up if we’re going someplace. I give her that flexibility.”

Cristian de la Fuente

TWO STARS IN ONE: “In Plain Sight” actor Cristian de la Fuente is shuttling between his USA Network series shooting in Albuquerque, and work on his “Corazon Salvaje” Univision series in Mexico City — “which is exhausting, but also great, you know? When you’re exhausted because you’re working, it’s better than when you’re exhausted from finding work. So, I can’t complain.

“Things have been very good. I have a show in Spanish and a show in English,” notes the hot Chilean actor, who is also remembered for his fancy footwork on “Dancing With the Stars.”

In “Corazon,” de la Fuente is barely recognizable as the same actor who plays Mary McCormack’s ex-baseball player fiance in “In Plain Sight.” He sports long hair and sideburns for his role as a wealthy 1880’s land owner who rides around on horseback looking dashing in the romantic period piece.

What de la Fuente doesn’t have time for right now is a book tour, despite the fact he has a book coming out — “Hot, Passionate and Illegal? Why (Almost) Everything You Thought About Latinos Just May Be True.” He wrote it with Federico Larino, a buddy who’s head writer for a late-night comedy show in Mexico.

“We had this idea to write a book about Latinos in the States, how things have happened to him and to me. Most Americans think we are all from the same place. Everybody thinks we are all from Mexico, or all from the south and it’s like Latinolandia — where Latinos come from,” he observes. “There are even those who don’t know people from Brazil speak Portuguese, and there’s this confusion.”

Yes, embarrassingly enough, that is true. Adds de La Fuente (who is also a member of the Chilean Air Force Reserves’ aerobatic squadron), “The book is facts, like a manual, mixed with humor and life experiences.”

CAN’T DUCK THE REDUX: Not that Hollywood ever stops dusting off its more successful fare and remaking it, but we’re in the thick of a veritable remakathon right now.

On the big-screen side, there’s “True Grit,” as in the remake of John Wayne’s 1969 Western, only this time it’s Jeff Bridges as Rooster Cogburn, with a cast also including Matt Damon and Josh Brolin for Joel and Ethan Coen. That flick that rolls next month.

Also being remade is “The Thing,” as in the 1951 and 1982 creature features. You can’t keep a good thing down, after all.

On the small-screen side — good grief — in addition to the new “Rockford Files” that is on the way, CBS is doing a new “Hawaii Five-0” (will McGarrett still be the only guy on the islands wearing a suit and tie wherever he goes?). There’s also a new “Nikita” — as in La Femme Nikita — in the works. And Universal is finally doing their series version of England’s beloved “Prime Suspect.”

Seems like old times, all right.

With reports by Emily-Fortune Feimster