Published April 07, 2008
Has it really been almost seven years since Mariah Carey’s tragic film debut in “Glitter”? Even now, nothing can erase the memory of the unintentional hilarity of that misbegotten project. That is, almost nothing.
A year after “Glitter,” Carey co-starred with Mira Sorvino in “Wise Girls,” a Mafia comedy that debuted on Showtime. That film showed Mariah could do comedy. She was actually funny when not saddled with having to be "Mariah Carey" in a film.
Now comes “Tennessee,” a mixed-bag drama that will open during next week’s Tribeca Film Festival. If you remember an old Kevin Costner movie called “American Flyer,” this is a similar idea: two brothers, one of them is terminally ill, on a road trip to find their missing father. Along the way, they meet Mariah, an aspiring singer, who joins them for a while on their mission.
This is what you want to know: Carey is very good in the role as Krystal, even though I think it’s the wrong part for her. She should be doing comedy.
To her immense credit, she somehow relaxes her naturally cherubic face to portray an abused wife who has a dream. “Tennessee” is full of clichés, but Mariah provides the least of them. She hangs in there even when the drama is more contrived than real.
And she does sing, just a little bit, but that’s what almost undoes the film. Mariah Carey cannot play a wannabe. She opens her mouth and The Voice comes out.
Luckily, in “Tennessee,” it’s just one song. But as in “Wise Girls,” she’s better off not playing a singer unless the character is a star, a la “The Bodyguard.”
Mariah’s two co-stars are Adam Rothenberg and Ethan Peck, two actors who seem to be having a good time with her. No one is embarrassed here, and there’s no invocation of “Glitter.”
Still, the director and screenwriter are treading in really derivative territory, making “Tennessee” more likely to join “Wise Girls” on cable and video.
A lot of famous singers over the years have dabbed in films, from the successful (Barbra Streisand) to the failed (Madonna). Mariah falls somewhere in between. At least she doesn’t have to quit her day job. Her new album, “E=MC2,” is out next week and poised to be a huge hit.
In her 19th year working in the public spotlight, Carey could be doing a hell of a lot worse!
Real movie stars are a dying breed. With the deaths in the last couple of weeks of legends like Richard Widmark, Charlton Heston and director Jules Dassin, it seems like a good time to take a look at who’s left from genuine Hollywood.
The plus-85 crowd includes Gloria Stuart who was nominated for an Oscar for “Titanic” a decade ago. Stuart is 97.
In descending order comes award winner Karl Malden, 96; opera star/actress Rise Stevens, 94; “Days of our Lives” matriarch Frances Reid, 94; Song and dance man Tony Martin, who’s still performing at 94; and a bunch more 94 year olds — Kevin McCarthy (whose sister was the late legendary writer Mary McCarthy); playwright Budd Schulberg; “Professor” Irwin Corey; “St. Elsewhere” star Norman Lloyd; and “Dragnet” and “MASH” good guy Harry Morgan.
Here in New York, guitar great Les Paul is still gigging at 92. Also 92: the great Eli Wallach (his wife, actress Anne Jackson, is a decade younger); and “Leave It to Beaver” mom Barbara Billingsley.
Some true Hollywood stars are 91 right now. Van Johnson lives in New York but has refused to give interviews for about 20 years. Friends say he’s very deaf. “Baby” June Havoc, who with her mother and sister inspired the musical hit “Gypsy” is also 91. (The musical’s director, Arthur Laurents, is only 90.) Olivia de Havilland is 91 and her sister Joan Fontaine, is a year younger.
Kirk Douglas, Ernest Borgnine, Phyllis Diller and Zsa Zsa Gabor are all 91.
There’s a big group that’s just rounded 90: Lena Horne, George Gaynes (of "Punky Brewster" and "Police Academy" fame), Mel Ferrer, John Forsythe, Allan Arbus (the shrink from "MASH" and ex-husband of famed photographer Diane Arbus), and two great singers: Patty Andrews of the Andrews Sisters, and the wonderful Jo Stafford, whose “You Belong to Me” (“see the pyramids along the Nile”) is a classic.
In the 89-year-old category, two soap opera stars: Helen Wagner (“As the World Turns”) and Larry Haines (“Search for Tomorrow”). Danny Thomas' TV wife Marjorie Lord, Efrem Zimbalist Jr., Betty Garrett, Louis Jourdan, “Happy Days” and “Odd Couple” star Al Molinaro, producer Dino De Laurentiis, and dashing Gene Barry, who had a cameo at the end of “War of the Worlds,” as an ode to his original role.
Who’s 88? “Mister Ed” buddy Wilbur, Alan Young; “All My Children” star James Mitchell; and one of my favorite character actors, Sid Melton, who played Danny Thomas’ press agent on “Make Room for Daddy.”
In the 87 group, some of Hollywood’s greats: Mickey Rooney, Maureen O’Hara, Nanette Fabray, Jayne Meadows, Rose Marie (Sally, the first TV career woman, from “Dick Van Dyke”), Ricardo Montalban, perennially joked about Abe Vigoda, Carol Channing, Noel Neill (Lois Lane, to you), Irene Dailey (of the late soap “Another World”), and Mr. Longevity himself, Hugh Downs.
And then there are the youngsters: 86 years young includes Barbara Hale of “Perry Mason” fame, Jane Russell, Esther Williams, Monty Hall, Cyd Charisse (still married to the aforementioned Tony Martin), James Whitmore, Phyllis Thaxter, Deana Durbin, Betty White, Dick Martin, Kathryn Grayson, Steven Hill (the original “Law & Order” DA), Carl Reiner, Gale Storm (“My Little Margie) and Patrick MacNee (of “The Avengers”).
Finally, celebrating their 85th birthdays: Jack Klugman, Bea Arthur, her TV husband Bill Macy, director Blake Edwards, Norman Lear, comedy pioneer Sid Caesar, Patty Duke’s dad William Schallert, Jackie Cooper, comic Carl Ballantine, Jean Stapleton, Fyvush Finkel, Ed McMahon, and, unbelievably, our pal Liz Smith.
And to think: Doris Day is only 84. The Academy can still give her an honorary Oscar!