I've been watching a new series called "Smash," which chronicles the progress of putting together a musical on Broadway about the life of Marilyn Monroe. Along the way we see the foibles of the playwright, Debra Messing, as she wrecks her marriage through an affair and the lengths to which the producer, played by Anjelica Huston, will go to get the money to put the show on.
Huston's character tries to cash in on fine art belonging to her husband and by whatever means, come up with the hundreds of thousands it takes to put on a major production on Broadway.
Back when I was trying to break into the Broadway play scene I worked at Columbus Restaurant, which was located on Columbus and 76th Street, very close to Central Park. One of my regular customers there was Anjelica Huston and her then-boyfriend Robert who was an artist. A painter, I think.
Anyway, they came in every weekend at the celebrity table, which was table 5A, where she would hang out with the likes of Dennis Hopper, Julia Roberts, Raul Julia and many others. Drew Barrymore was around there too, with her parents, because she was only about 7 back then. She used to follow me around and begged to wait on tables and hold my tray as she followed me around. She got a real kick out of it, but did nothing but slow me down.
Children weren't allowed in the kitchen so after I took an order she would have to go back to her table as I went to the kitchen with the dupes to give the chef.
Bottom line is, time was money back then, and the more I turned tables the more money I made.
Anjelica carried that air of celebrity wherever she went as she meandered from table to table as she met with other celebrities and "A listers."
Of course, Drew's grandfather was John Barrymore, one of the most celebrated actors of his time. And Drew is following in his footsteps these days.
One of the owners, Paul Herman, commonly known as Pauly, was greatly responsible for all the hubbub of celebrities who showed up there, partly due to his schmoozing them. But the restaurant itself was very understated. I never saw a limo pull up there. Celebrities would slip in incognito. It was a place for working dinners, where deals were put together for shows.
"Smash" shows off those behind-the-scenes everyday things actors and show people do to make ends meet and try to get a successful show on with good reviews.
It's nice to see a show that realistically portrays what happens to the people who may or may not become stars in their chosen profession. And it's nice to see that Anjelica can still put in a good performance.
Kathryn Spira, a native of Cleveland who pursued an acting career in New York City and Los Angeles, now pursues freelance writing from Caroga Lake in Fulton County. Previous columns and contact information may be accessed at her website at www.kathrynskorner.com