“Forever Marilyn”

By Tony Rizzo
HOLLYWOOD — Aug. 5 marks 50 years since the strange and curious death of Marilyn Monroe. The former Norma Jean Baker is still one of the highest-earning and recognizable images from Hollywood’s history. Today many people believe her supposed suicide was a carefully orchestrated murder to keep her from exposing Kennedy secrets.

Some of her personal effects were sold recently for more than $6 million at auction, and in May, a 25-foot statue of MM by artist Stewart Johnson was erected in Palm Springs, Calif. It’s the scene from “The Seven Year Itch” of her standing on the subway grating with her dress blowing up. “Forever Marilyn” weighs 34,300 pounds, has legs 14 feet high and a head-and-torso section 10 feet high and 7 feet wide. It’s on display for a year where PS Resorts plans the Desert Fashion Plaza revitalization. The statue cost $78,000 in private donations to assemble, insure and transport from Chicago, where it was formally displayed.

There’s controversy already: Is it art, an eyesore or too big for its space? The Palm Springs Chamber of Commerce hopes it’ll draw more tourists to Palm Springs. The real question is: Why are we still so obsessed with everything Marilyn Monroe, Elvis Presley and “The Wizard of Oz”?
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The recent Tom Selleck TV movie, “Jesse Stone: Benefit of the Doubt,” the eighth in the series, brought in more than 13 million viewers, won its night and beat the pants off the “Billboard Music Awards.” Yet CBS announced that this would be the last one. Why would it kill a ratings grabber like that? For the same reason given by NBC when it canceled Kathy Bates’ “Harry’s Law.” While both grabbed high ratings overall, they were lower in the 18-49 demographic needed to attract high-paying sponsors. When will networks learn that older folk have money and buy lots of products too? If you want more Jesse Stone movies, write to CBS.
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Are movie studios with blockbuster films running scared? Given the low box-office performances of “John Carter,” “Battleship” and “Dark Shadows,” Paramount Pictures moved the release of “G.I. Joe: Retaliation” from June 29 to March 2013. It removed all the merchandise from stores and lost its hefty investment in Super Bowl ads. Paramount says it wants to turn it into a 3D movie and build up Channing Tatum’s part now that he’s a star. A nice trick, since he died in the first “G.I. Joe” film.

Meanwhile, Brad Pitt’s film “World War Z” has been moved from December to June 2013, and Jeremy Renner’s action-adventure film “Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters” was pulled last March and will now open in January. See what happens when you cater to the 18-49 demographic? I rest my case!

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© 2012 King Features Synd., Inc.