JUMPING TO CONCLUSIONS

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Wednesday, December 11, 2002
 
Family Feud

Today's New York Times fronts a story about a $15 billion family fortune, family strife, and a lawsuit by one of the family's youngest members to get what she believe to be her fair share. That 11 cousins are planning to collect $1.4 billion each, it's safe to say this share is quite substantial.

The battle is over the Pritzker fortune. I'd heard the name before -- the Pritzkers control, among other things, the Hyatt Hotel chain. However, I do not know much about the legal battles other than what I read in today's article. It's their business, and I can't say that I care that much.

What really caught my eye though, is the identity of the young cousin who filed suit. The Times identifies her as Liesel Pritzker, although I believe her birth name is Liesel A. Pritzker-Bagley. Her stage name is Liesel Matthews, and she was just brilliant in "A Little Princess." It's a remarkable movie, and as an 11 year old actress, Matthews made Sara Crewe come alive with all the kindness and magic that the extraordinarily demanding role required. Her performance of Sara's speech to Miss Minchin ("I am a Princess. All girls are. Even if they live in tiny old attics. Even if they live in rags. Even if they aren't pretty, or young, or smart, they're still princesses. All of us! Didn't your father ever tell you that? Didn't he?") more indignant and yet still genuine than most actors three times her age can manage.

I later saw Matthews playing as Harrison Ford's daughter in Air Force One. It was a smaller role, but there, too, she excelled.

I hope that no matter how this legal battle works out and after she gets whatever money is coming to her (and I have a feeling that even if she loses, she'll still win), that she returns to acting. She has a gift, and it would be remarkable to see it on the big screen again.

And, if you haven't yet seen "A Little Princess," you must. You can buy it here or here.

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