Here's the thing about gossip doyenne Liz Smith: She's 85 and really, really tried of the gossip scene, despite being paid to write a column on the topic. Hey, fair enough, she's earned her disillusionment. But Smith can't stop with the complaining! "There are very few really big stars these days, and that makes everything truly dull," she wrote in March. And a few weeks later: "There is already an absolute plethora of bullshit, manufactured photography, and speculation passing for gossip, and it will probably increase." New York magazine caught up with Smith for its 40th anniversary issue, and if anything she's grown even more dismissive of the whole scene, and even some of her own older work:
“In retrospect,” she says now, “[Ivana and Donald Trump coverage] was a story about rich people getting a divorce. It had absolutely no other significance or meaning whatsoever... can’t believe I took it all so seriously."
...There’s no more Wasp society. Just like the derision with which British royalty is held, it’s just gone steadily downhill... I think what’s different is that celebrities are different now. There are some big stars, but they are very few. And they’re totally unapproachable, for the most part, except by the people they’ve chosen.
But there are some gossip subjects Smith approves of:
Anna Wintour, she says, is “about as near as we come to a really mysterious, glamorous person, a woman whom either you don’t understand or you aspire to be like … She has become like Hillary Clinton or Madonna, people who just transcend criticism.” Also on the list are Oscar and Annette de la Renta, “elegant people with money who live very tastefully and try to stay out of the papers. There is a crowd … Barry Diller and Diane Von Furstenberg, Reinaldo and Carolina Herrera. These are all really nice people who are civilized, know how to act, have actually read a book. And the big thing is for them to go on boats. To go on Barry Diller’s or David Geffen’s yacht. They get away from the great unwashed and they can do as they please.”
Still, such a short list does not a gossip column make. Prediction: When Smith's contract with the Post is up, she switched to writing full-time for her WowOWow.com, where she can move beyond gossip to such preferred topics as sex after 80, sleeping naked and slamming cheesy memorials to British royalty.