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A big rivalry in the Big Apple - THE COMMENTARY

By Joseph Planta

VANCOUVER -- I once read that gossip, ďis the price we pay for freedom.Ē This column has never been a place to dish, but at times a bully pulpit on issues political, where also I can tell a good yarn or two once in a while. Allow me to do the latter and share an entertaining tidbit Iíve come across in my reading recently. (By the way, anyone who doesnít do extracurricular reading is an intellectual boob.)

Suzy Knickerbocker, was one of the gossip columnistís who dished in the Ď60s in New York City. Actually, ďSuzyĒ was one Aileen Mehle. She was a columnist syndicated with the Hearst newspapers, who went on to the New York Daily News. ďSuzyĒ got to rub shoulders and schmooze and booze with the best of them like the Martin Gableís and the Bennett Cerfís at some of the parties that came before the drugged out orgies of the 1970s. She also got to hang out with Frank Sinatra and Gianni Agnelli (of Fiat fame) on the Mediterranean for sure. She was well connected and treated her subjects fairly.

One of the books Iíve read this past summer is Liz Smithís memoir, Natural Blonde. Smith, is one of the premier columnists in the Big Apple as of the moment. Neal Travis died a couple of weeks back and so itís just Smith and the ultra classy Cindy Adams left. Suzyís still around, but sheís over at W, a fashion mag. Anyways, in her book Smith has a tidbit on one Suzy. Seems while Smith was trying to break into the biz of watching showbiz, Mehle tried to have Liz ďerased.Ē

So itís probably with a bit of pleasure on the part of Smith that she recounts a tale that took place in 1988 that had something to do with Suzy. James Revson, a columnist with New York Newsday had written that Suzy had made up some of the names that were supposedly at a party. There had been a party at the Metropolitan Museum of Art and Suzy had dropped a number of names in a column. Revson claimed some listed hadnít actually been there. Smith writes that she was somewhat gleefully pleased by the imbroglio surrounding Suzy. Smith even spoke out in the media on the feud between Revson and Mehle. However, Smith says, Suzy didnít need any help. Seems she had penned her own tribute: ďI have survived as a star all these long years . . . because in my field I am the best and the brightest there is . . . a class act loaded with prestige . . . Mount Rushmore, just as majestic. They (my rivals) will be left squirming on the ground.Ē

My, oh my. To be so filled with ego, one hopes, one day.

Rivalries in the media are pretty fun to look at. So those in politics. Admit it, the whole Jean Chrťtien-Paul Martin squabble is pretty fun. Or that of Rupert Murdoch and his rivalry with Conrad Black in Blighty. How about the dumping of Philip Owen by Jennifer Clarke for the NPA nomination for mayoralty candidate in this town? Thatís what drives news really. Gossip makes us realise how vulnerable we are; more importantly the important people who make news daily. People withhold and donít go public with something that inevitably prevents the truth. I guess the truth hurts.

(For the past couple of months, Iíve been sitting on a column on the subject of gossip and how some bigwigs in politics and show business have formed some outfit to try and stamp out gossip from the press and such. Itís like farting against thunder, and totally absurd, but naturally itís good to dish on whoís actually backing this mindless effort at self-promotion and self-preservation. Hopefully Iíll get around to posting that tome some time soon.)

I donít know if Miss Suzy and La Liz have patched things up, or if the battle continues. Liz, for whatever itís worth, writes in the book that sheís in admiration of Suzy, though they ainít pals. Debutantes donít easily forget I guess. Whatever the case, it is fun to know that even the rich, famous and well-connected can succumb to lowly traits like a healthy ego.

As my favourite gossip monger Cindy Adams would say: Only in New York, kids, only in New York.

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