"Sorry, Beyonce, but you've got nothing on this one. We'll give you about 35 more years and then we'll talk. Cher knows how to do this diva thing right."

So writes Angelica Leicht, in the Houston Press, reviewing Cher's second stop on her absolutely, final, forever and ever and ever "farewell" tour, "Dressed to Kill."

RECENTLY, I received an e-mail asking, "Why do you keep writing about old people like Cher and others nobody cares about?"

Well, partly because other people write about Cher in the same kind of language we use. We are not alone. A lot of people care.

Also, I love to keep track of great true talents. If you want a daily dose of the young and restless, you must read elsewhere.

I haven't seen Cher's show yet. It arrives in New York in May. But I know it'll be great, and not simply based on the rave reviews Cher is already garnering. I've seen Cher in concert, and to see her is to -- as her greatest hit proclaims -- "Believe."

Cher's greatest talent is the ability to connect with her audiences, despites dozens of wigs and costumes and the nonstop extravaganza with which she surrounds herself. She is funny; she is self-deprecating; she GETS herself. She doesn't exist to challenge her fans or make them "think," or indulge in "irony" (Madonna's favorite overused word). Cher knows herself and her fans. She is a genuinely, likeable, loveable "character" on the American scene, very smart and with it! And she doesn't take herself seriously. The girl just wants to have fun, and she wants us to have fun, too.

The month of May can't come soon enough.

SPEAKING OF extravaganzas, pop icon Lady Gaga seems to be increasingly disappearing into her various over-the-top stage personas. One admirer, who wishes she would just stand onstage and sing, is the great Joni Mitchell. The usually reclusive Joni reportedly phoned Gaga, and said, "You have major talent as a singer and songwriter, don't let that voice get subdued by marketing tools, like music videos."

Even more surprising, Joni, known for her contemplative and heartfelt lyrics, suggested collaborating with Gaga on songwriting! No word on how Gaga took this advice, but even if she continues to vomit on stage and otherwise divert us from her genuine talents, Lady G. should take Joni Mitchell up on her offer! That's an once-in-a-lifetime opportunity. (And Joni Mitchell doesn't even think her greatest talent is songwriting or singing. She's an accomplished painter, and feels she expresses herself best through that aspect of her art.)

NO SURPRISE that the news of the impending divorce of Gwyneth Paltrow and Coldplay frontman Chris Martin would generate an unsympathetic outpouring on social media. But nothing Paltrow does can escape mockery. She is, for whatever reason, the star people love to hate -- or at least heartily dislike. But, hey, Paltrow and Martin were married 11 years, have two children and while critics found her webpage announcement of the split pretentious, it's her life to try to manage as she sees fit.

Who are we to really judge? Until we've walked a mile on her yoga mat...

I had to laugh over reader Cat Jagger-Pollon who wrote me this:

"Two trashiest people making the cover of Vogue because I was totally bummed out by it. You said, 'Get over it...' And, of course, you are right. On the list of what is important in the world, Vogue, Mme. Nuclear Wintour and the Kim/Kanyes of the world are next to zero. But I do feel sad that, a long time beautiful magazine, which has always been a standard bearer of taste and elegance is stooping this low. If anyone can make a silk purse out of a sow's ear, it's Anna Wintour but who in the world of Kanye West/Kardashian fandom reads Vogue? Or more importantly, buys the products which are advertised therein? OK, this, too, shall pass but I am canceling my subscription. These two people are ugly in every way possible. Now, I will get over it. Meow!"

I just loved this letter.

The New York Times noted this week that Sean Combs, the rapper and producer known since 2001 as P. Diddy -- with minor variations along the way, just plain Diddy for example -- has now returned to his original alias, Puff Daddy...

"For the record, I did not change my name. I always have been and always will be PUFF DADDY!

Actually, for the record, Mr. Combs told MTV in 2001: "I am definitely changing my name. No more Puff Daddy." After toying for a moment with names he might adopt, including Bill Clinton. "It is going to be changed to straight P. Diddy. You could call me P. or Diddy, or P. Diddy."

Personally, I don't care if he's Daddy, Puff, P. Diddy or Sean Combs. He was the single most irritating person on Oscar Night, hogging the camera and his come-on for his tequila is boring. He vies to be front and center in a business, movies, where he is nobody. But he is the guy who long ago almost ruined the talented Jennifer Lopez when they narrowly avoided gun charges in a nightclub -- and then reportedly ran six red lights trying to escape.

Put this in your datebook. The paintings of Sallie Benton will go on display at First Street Gallery in Chelsea, April 1 through 26.

Sallie Benton is a talented girl who married the movie screenwriter-fixer-director Bob Benton, famed in movie circles for co-writing "Bonnie and Clyde" and scoring an Oscar for directing "Kramer vs. Kramer," which was a great first try.

I went to the University of Texas with this guy and always was furious that he married Sallie instead of me.

But eventually I forgave her and she has become a wonderful artist.

(E-mail Liz Smith at MES3838@aol.com.)

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