The Gossip Queen, Still On The Scene

Gossip columnist Liz Smith got laid off too—and she's 86. She spoke to Ramin Setoodeh about life before and after print.

Why did the New York Post fire you?
I don't think they liked me. I didn't suit their standards.

What standards?
That's a good question. What standards—question mark!

Did they offer you a buyout?
No, they just said get out! But losing being in print kind of liberated me. In fact, getting fired at 86 was really exciting.

You've got a column now on Do you write differently for the Internet?
I don't consciously do anything different. People tell me it's more immediate and fun.

Your "Hot, Younger Sex Partners" got a lot of hits.
Well, OK. I haven't had a hot, younger sex partner in quite a few years. But I'm still looking. I would like to get married again.

Where are you looking?
Hither and there. Listen, kid, I'm not too serious about this. I already failed being the perfect wife twice.

You were the first to report that Natasha Richardson was taken off life support.
I don't think it was such a worthy scoop. The story was so tragic, I wish I had been wrong.

How did you learn about it?
Would I tell you a source? Don't be silly. She's gone and the awful thing is that. You know, actresses have horrible reputations. She was in a class by herself. She had the best reputation. Maybe that's why people cared so much.

How did you feel about those outlets that announced information prematurely?
These rushes to judgment are typical when people are so desperate for the latest news. People abandon their journalistic standards of being sure. We all have to be more careful.

Do you use Wikipedia?
It's a useful tool, though I was a little dismayed when they had me married for a while to someone I'd never heard of.

Really? Who?
I've forgotten the name. We finally got it corrected after months of torture.

Has celebrity culture changed?
Our economic problems have forced us to concentrate on important things. I hope we've given up our demonic interest in people emerging from Starbucks with their coffee and they're supposed to be famous and they're not. Fame to me is somebody with some worth.

Is Paris Hilton famous?
She's definitely known. And I liked her hamburger commercial. But I don't think she's a talented person.