Liz Smith is angry but not very surprised that the New York Post fired her. She said she saw it coming: She didn’t drink enough.
“They are going to save the New York Post by firing me,” the 86-year-old columnist deadpanned in an interview with me today. “They’ll save my salary. It’ll put them right in the black. They’re only losing $30 million a year. So they can economize.”
How much? Smith makes $125,000 a year with the Post column, she said.
Smith had been butting heads with Post editor Col Allan for a year. Her style – more celebrity back-slapping than back-stabbing – didn’t mesh with his.
“I wasn’t sensational enough,” Smith said. “I didn’t hang around at the Post and drink.” Smith has been an icon in gossip column lore for more than three decades.The Texas-born social writer has made close friends with the bold face names she writes about, while always tweaking them.
But she just ain’t mean. A few years back, Larry King gave a luncheon in honor of her last book, “Dishing,” at the Bel-Air hotel, and the place was cheek-by-jowl with famous cheeks and jowls. When King got up to to leave early with his wife Shawn, Smith – speaking from the podium – asked him to take care with his daughter.
So, despite the apparent demise of Defamer this week, mean has become the way to go in the world of gossip. Perez Hilton, with his graffiti-laden celebs, rules. The days of genteel party chatter are over.
Meanwhile, Smith will continue to write at other print publications that syndicate her work, including Daily Variety. And she writes at the site www.wowOwow.com, which she co-founded with Joni Evans, Candace Bergen, Lesley Stahl and a bunch of other bold face names.
Cathy Griffin, who is Smith’s west coast legwoman, said she was sure someone else would pick Liz Smith up. “She’s very distinct and different. Nobody humanizes celebrities like Liz Smith. She taught me how to tell a story without sensationalizing or exploiting.”
Apparently that talent has gone out of style. Asked if she was angry, Smith said: “I’ve gotten over it. I’ve been dealing with him for a year. This guy, Col Allan, I’m just not his cup of tea, I never was. He’s the boss. He’s entitled to not want me if he doesn’t.”
“But I am surprised they let me go. I don’t think it’s in their best interest.”