Judi Dench -- Phenomenal in "Philomena" -- Joel Grey -- A Living Landmarks' New Photo Book...Mandela Song a Smash on YouTube -- Will Oscar Finally Visit Amy Adams?

Dec 10, 2013 | Updated Feb 09, 2014

"Christmas Gift suggestions: To your Enemy - Forgiveness!...To an Opponent - Tolerance!
...To a Friend - Your Heart!...To a Customer -
Service!...To All - Charity!...To Every Child - A Good Example!...To Yourself - Respect!" wrote Oren Arnold of Texas.

Thanks to Leonard Marinello for this.

And then there is the famous quote from W. H. Auden: "We are all here on Earth to help others. What on Earth the others are here for, I don't know!"

• Well, I see my suggestion that columnist Richard Cohen should be the one to write Nora Ephron's biography has already been acted on and he is the one who will do it. Good!

• TODAY, at 639 Washington Street (at Barrow) in Manhattan -- the likes of Agnes Gund, Gay Talese, Ross Bleckner and Suzanne Slesin invite us all to come see a new book of fabulous photographs taken by the Oscar-Tony-winning actor Joel Grey. It is titled "The Billboard Papers." This happens 6 to 8.

The New York Landmarks Conservancy recently named Joel a "Living Landmark" and he is certainly that! You can get his book from Pointed Leaf Press.

• THE ARTIST EMIN recorded a song, titled "Hope" for the 2014 World Peace Day event. It was co-written by none other than Nelson Mandela. Now, it has been rushed into release in the wake of Mandela's death. In the first six hours of release it received over half a million views on YouTube. Proceeds go to the Mandela Children's Fund.

• New York's Mayor Michael Bloomberg isn't finished with and for this City yet, and the new Manhattan Family Justice Center opens Friday, December 20th. The Mayor always promised he'd open three Centers for victims of domestic violence and their families; I worked on some of these.

Soon we will far exceed the Mayor's promise and have a Center in each of the five boroughs; Staten Island's location is underway.

These Centers offer police protection, legal advice, shelter, children's care and various other helps to the needy. They are one of Mayor Bloomberg's greatest legacies to New York!

• ON THE day of Paul Walker's tragic death, a CNN anchor who shall remain nameless was reporting the story and then turned, with a chuckle of sloppy informality to an entertainment reporter, and indicated that Paul Walker wasn't that well-known, please explain him and his career? (The chuckle was cringe-inducing.)

Well, nobody needed to explain Paul to over 8,000 people who attended a memorial gathering over the weekend at the site where Walker and his friend Roger Rodas lost their lives.

The more CNN tries to lift itself up, the more it seems to sink. I find myself turning increasingly to BBC where personality is nonexistent, but news is primary. Come back to CNN, Ted Turner, Ted Turner!

• On one of the coldest days in NYC in years, I recently stood in line all the block back to Avenue of the Americas to get into the famed Paris Theater in Manhattan to see the film "Philomena" starring Dame Judi Dench.

She has been a favorite of mine since before she was so honored by the Queen, before her Oscar win for eight or nine minutes in "Shakespeare in Love" and when she was just a garden variety great actress from London. (She gained many fans in the U.S. through her Brit series, "As Time Goes By.")

I emerged from "Philomena" in a stupor of surprise and emotion. I had met the marvelous Judi way back when, via my old friend George Trescher, a man who knew where all the bodies were buried and what one should do about life.

The movie is directed by Stephen Frears of "The Queen" and "Dangerous Liaisons" and "The Grifters" fame. ("Philomena" reunites Frears with Harvey Weinstein, for whom he made the three above mentioned hits.)

Dame Judi Dench is now always on the minds of moviegoers, especially after she made herself so loved as M in the James Bond films. She has played the role since 1995's "Goldeneye" opposite Pierce Brosnan. But I thought her chemistry with the current Bond, Daniel Craig was the best. (I couldn't get over that "Skyfall" didn't emphasize 007's sexy girlfriends and instead had the international man-against-terror really loving the dying M.)

And as an Irish orphaned-old lady, in "Philomena," Judi is at the top of her game. But don't read anymore about this movie. Don't let people tell you about it. Just go. She and her co-star Steve Coogan are simply superb. (He plays a disenchanted, disfranchised journalist.) I say again -- GO!

• I KNOW "12 Years a Slave" is thought to have a lock on many Oscar wins next year, but don't count out David O. Russell's "American Hustle" with its tale of con men and FBI agents in the 1970s. If nothing else, the industry is anxious to give the brilliant, oft-nominated Amy Adams a little golden guy at last. And Bradley Cooper's stock has risen so high Academy voters might think this is his year as well. (Bradley still has those killer blue eyes, but he's come a long way from "The Hangover" movies.)

• In closing today, I want to thank thriller fictionalist Patricia Cornwell for her kind words thanking me for my review of her new hit "Dust". She added that there was "...The difference you make for all artists and humankind."