March 24th, 2011
09:00 AM ET

Letters to the President: #794 'The fading spotlight'

Tom Foreman | BIO
AC360° Correspondent

Reporter's Note: Hollywood is marking the passing of a legend, just as I am in my daily letter to the White House.

Dear Mr. President,

I was quite surprised by the news of Elizabeth Taylor’s death. Surprised because I had no idea it was imminent despite some of her health problems in recent years, and because, to be frank, I really haven’t thought of her in some time.

I mean no disrespect. To the contrary, I’ve enjoyed many of her films. The way she could tilt her head and flash those eyes at the camera, hurl a vicious line, or coo a soft one was true art. She was a bona fide movie star from an era when there really were such people, and keeping up such a career for so many years is an impressive feat.

But these days we just have so many entertainers competing for our attention it’s hard to keep track of even the legends. The limelight has become a wrestlemania of the good, the bad, and the ugly all screaming for 15 minutes of fame, and I fear sometimes that deeper talent stands little chance of proving its worth in that arena. There is always some new face, some new personality, or some new kid in town elbowing to the footlights.

Mind you, I’m not opposed to pretty faces, nor to newcomers. I just feel as if we’re often seeing a lot of marketing based on nothing but attractive haircuts and good skin, with precious little of the actual talent that ought to come with those attributes. It’s like we’re being sold shiny cars with no engines.

Good acting, I believe, is a subtle thing, and it is the rare soul who can develop the essential skills while simultaneously satisfying the instant-profit-give-me-a-blockbuster-right-now mentality of moviemakers…and sadly, too many moviegoers.

In short, we call too many people stars, who really aren’t; who are essentially no talent hacks - flashes in the pan. Liz Taylor? She was a genuine star. Not because she won awards and appeared on magazines, not because she scandalized us from time to time, but because for decades she captured the interest and hearts of Americans with her ability to walk into a scene and electrify it.

As they say, “that’s entertainment,” and I’ll miss her part of it. It’s late and I’m going to shut down the computer. Hope all is well with you.


Follow Tom on Twitter @tomforemancnn.

Find more of the Foreman Letters here.

soundoff (One Response)
  1. Ronnie

    Thanks Tom – I'll miss Elizabeth Taylor – so glad that in spite of her many health problems etc., she was able to deal with them ALL – and not leave us the same way Marilyn, Michael, elvis and all the rest did.

    March 24, 2011 at 10:41 am |