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Kim Novak Tells All

October 19th, 2012 by under elsewhere writings. No Comments.

In the passenger seat of a topless mini Jeep, I’m clinging on for dear life as Kim Novak, star of Vertigo, chuckles with delight. We’re careening across her sprawling 240-acre ranch in southern Oregon in the open-roof 4×4, bounding off-road over hillocks, crashing through the rushing river that runs through her property and swerving to avoid a llama sitting in the road.

In 1965, Kim Novak left Hollywood. A venerated screen siren of the Fifties and Sixties, she was stung by bad parts and bad reviews, including the tepid response to her performance in Vertigo. Recently voted the greatest film of all time, back in 1958 Vertigo was widely regarded as a Hitchcock misfire. Less than a decade after starring in one of history’s most beloved films, Novak had had enough and said goodbye to Hollywood.

Novak, 79, lives on the ranch with her husband of 36 years, Dr Robert Malloy, a retired veterinarian. Not forgetting their five horses and the herd of llamas. “When Bob and I were dating, I had one llama, and whenever we’d walk around [the llama would] come and walk between us,” she says, her voice retaining its unmistakable husky tones. “So Bob said, ‘You’ve got to get rid of that thing!’ And I told him, ‘You’re bringing two kids into the relationship. I get to bring one llama.’ So he said, ‘All right, then we better get another one.’”

Though Kim Novak is now a woman of the outdoors, her “Hitchcock blonde” glamour is very much intact. With those long, golden tresses flowing down her shoulders, she is dressed in jeans, a loose embroidered blouse and large round purple-tinted glasses. She looks decades less than her age and carries herself, zipping around the ranch, with a vigour that would leave most 30 year-olds in her dust.

read the rest at The Telegraph

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Tom Cruise Was Supposed to Save Scientology, But Will He Bring About Its Downfall?

July 18th, 2012 by under News. No Comments.

The Church of Scientology has awarded just 80 people their coveted Freedom Medal, which recognizes “exemplary courage and determination…for bringinggreater freedom to mankind.” But only one person in the Church’s 60-year existence has ever won their Freedom Medal of Valor award: Tom Cruise, the Church’s Golden Boy, who was recruited in the eighties and groomed to be Scientology’s best advertisement. And so it proves ironic that the religion, which has historically been so adept at squashing bad press through lawsuits and intimidation, now finds itself under an onslaught of negative scrutiny — and it’s largely thanks to Cruise. Once the Church’s most treasured member, he may now prove to be its greatest liability.

Tom Cruise joined Scientology under the tutelage of his then-wife, actress Mimi Rogers, herself raised in the Church. (Rogers is rumored to have left the Churchafter her divorce from Cruise.) Then, in his mid-twenties, Cruise was enjoying the most successful period of his career, as he transitioned from teen heartthrob to Serious Dramatic Actor with roles in The Color of Money andRain Man. According to Janet Reitman’s acclaimed book Inside Scientology, Cruise initially attended the Church’s auditing sessions (the process through which Church members push through their layers of emotional baggage and become “clear”) quietly and secretly, under his birth name Thomas Mapother. As he warmed to the procedures, he was turned over to the Church’s Celebrity Center and eventually formed a deep bond with David Miscavige, the Church’s controversial leader who took over following the 1986 death of its founder, L. Ron Hubbard. Miscavige, according to Reitman, told staff members that Cruise’s recruitment could “change the face of Scientology forever.” The actor was escorted out to the Church’s secret desert oasis in Gilman Springs, California, a place where he could immerse himself in the Church away from prying eyes.

Read the rest at Vulture

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LA Weekly: Trapped in Men’s Central Jail

April 21st, 2012 by under News. No Comments.

Director Duncan Roy casts a courtly image of a baronial figure as he sits in his home atop Las Flores Canyon, a modernist, Bohemian hideaway with a jaw-dropping view of the Pacific. His surroundings project an image of California’s creative lifestyle at its most alluring. But in February, Roy found himself standing alone outside Los Angeles County Men’s Central Jail, released after three months of harrowing and wrongful incarceration.

During his ordeal, he learned to dodge angry Los Angeles County Sheriff’s jailers and to trade with fellow prisoners for dried ramen toppings. He was helplessly trapped in a Kafka-esque corner of America’s immigration war, where he disappeared into the bowels of the system without explanation or apparent legal recourse.

In 2006, Roy was an up-and-coming star of the British independent-film community. His first picture, AKA, had received notice and awards around the world, and he followed the well-worn path to Hollywood in search of a bigger canvas — in particular, a film adaptation of The Picture ofDorian Gray, to which he was attached to direct. He purchased the Las Flores house with the help of his then-boyfriend, a Malibu real estate agent who later would be featured on Bravo‘s Million Dollar Listing.

Five years later, the dream had fizzled. The relationship with his partner had ended. TheDorian Gray film hadn’t materialized. Roy even sought counsel from Dr. Drew on his show Sex Rehab, where the director’s outspoken manner made him a reality-TV cause célèbre. A bout with cancer led to the removal of one of Roy’s testicles. With his visa due to expire in December 2011, he prepared a move to his apartment in Berlin.

But in Los Angeles, the most tangled dramas ultimately come back to real estate. Selling the house was proving thorny. Once it was on the market, geological issues arose, dramatically lowering its value. Then, Roy says, he received a middle-of-the-night phone call from someone claiming to be the geologist who had worked on the house’s assessment. He told Roy that he had been pressured to cover up problems in the foundation but, having become a born-again Christian, felt obliged to come clean.

 Read the rest at the LA Weekly
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How George Clooney Lost the Oscar Race

February 24th, 2012 by under elsewhere writings. No Comments.

George Clooney has lost Oscar races before. In the past decade, he’s been passed over four times (twice for Best Actor and once apiece for Best Director and Best Screenplay). While he has reigned atop the pyramid of Hollywood glamour as perhaps the most critically praised, most well-liked mainstream actor currently working, Clooney’s trophy case boasts a lone statuette in the leading man’s consolation prize category of Best Supporting Actor (for Syriana).

This year, however, was to have been his. Clooney’s rich and nuanced performance in the critically-lauded film The Descendants earned him raves across the board. Not only that, at the race’s open, the Best Actor field was seen as the weakest of the major categories. Fellow It’s-Their-Turners were up for parts in movies that were perceived as either too light (Moneyball for Brad Pit) or outright disasters (J. Edgar for Leonardo DiCaprio). And so, by Christmas, a consensus had settled among the Oscar punditry that the prize was Clooney’s for the asking–game over, hand the Oscar to George.

A month and a half later, Clooney is the odds on favorite to lose. To a Frenchman whose name even now is unknown to most of Earth, who gave a mannered, non-vocal performance. As the Oscar ballots are being counted, Jean Dujardin is the heavy favorite to win the Best Actor prize. Clooney’s sensitive, complex performance seems like to join his growing list of also-rans in Oscar’s eyes.

Read the rest at The Daily Beast

 

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Woody Harrelson on The Edge

January 15th, 2012 by under elsewhere writings. No Comments.

In his three decades of acting, Woody Harrelson has gleefully taken on the roles of serial killers, psychopathic zombie hunters, and criminally stupid bartenders, but in his 50th year of life, he finally took a role that forced him to exhibit his greatest demons: a uniformed officer of the LAPD.

And not only a police officer, but a very, very bad one, teetering on the edge of sanity and lawlessness in Rampart, a new movie by director Oren Moverman. The film is a rematch for Harrelson and Moverman, who previously took the actor to other dark places in The Messenger. In that 2009 film, Harrelson—often thought of as a comic talent because of his Cheers beginnings—showed again he could be a Serious Actor, as a soldier who brings the news to families that their son or husband has been killed in combat. “He said he never wanted to play a soldier and he never wanted to play a cop,” said Moverman in an interview. “So I cast him as a soldier and now I’ve cast him as a cop.”

The Messenger earned Harrelson a Best Supporting Actor Oscar nomination and there is a chance his performance in Rampart could bring another nod (he has already been nominated for Best Actor, in 1996’s The People vs. Larry Flynt). Moverman said, “I knew he would be uncomfortable playing a cop, and I thought that would be great to get him out of his comfort zone. And when Woody’s out of his comfort zone, he works harder to convince himself that he’s true to the part.”

Moverman’s plans for him aside, Harrelson initially recoiled at such a step. An outspoken marijuana-rights activist with at least three arrests to his name, Harrelson’s easy Texas drawl becomes sharp and hard when he recalls his first reaction to the character upon reading the script, “I thought he was an asshole,” he said. “And I was like, Jesus. I don’t want to play this guy.”

Read the rest at The Daily Beast.

 

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Patton Oswalt: Serious Oscar Contender

December 15th, 2011 by under News. No Comments.

Of all the wacky stories in this year’s Oscar race, perhaps none is more unlikely than the fact that America’s bard of nerddom, comedian Patton Oswalt, finds himself a very serious contender to earn an Academy Award nomination for Best Supporting Actor—one of this year’s most competitive categories—for his role in Young Adult, the new film from the Juno duo, director Jason Reitman and screenwriter Diablo Cody. But after years of mocking Hollywood’s foibles as a stand-up, and leading a band of ill-shapen misfits from the sidelines, Oswalt, the cherub-faced comic, may very well have earned himself a seat at the Oscars ceremony against other possible contenders no less notable than Christopher Plummer, Max Von Sydow, Nick Nolte, Ben Kingsley, and Kenneth Branagh.

Before an audience of his friends, fellow comedians, and family in a screening room on the Paramount lot for a first peek at Young Adult, a humbled Oswalt stood in front of the assembled to introduce this major leap into the world of Serious Acting. Addressing the crowd, he said, “Young Adult will open nationwide on Dec. 9. Tonight sit back and enjoy Human Centipede.” Pause. “I need you to see the film the way I saw it.”

The character in question may go down as the most nuanced and heartbreaking portrayal of the nerd dilemma ever committed to film. Oswalt plays Matt Freehauf, a man festering in the literal and psychic wounds of high school, an experience that ended with his being beaten by a group of jocks, leaving him permanently disabled. Wallowing in his resentments while living within sight of his tragedy, Oswalt slams into Mavis Gary (Charlize Theron), his high school’s former prom queen and doyen of his tormentors. As obsessed by her youth, in her way, as Matt is, Mavis has returned home to reclaim her now happily married high school boyfriend.

Read the rest at The Daily Beast

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The Rough Post-Friends Path for its Once Mighty Writers Room Alums

December 15th, 2011 by under News. No Comments.

ext month, a new sitcom called “Work It,” about two out-of-work salesmen who dress up as women to get jobs, will make its debut on ABC. There’s nothing new about the premise — Tom Hanks and Peter Scolari covered the same ground on the early-80s sitcom “Bosom Buddies” — and the tone isn’t exactly novel either. The stars of the show, Ben Koldyke and Amaury Nolasco, are operating in the prevailing frat-boy mode perfected by Bradley Cooper and Seann William Scott.

In May, an 84-second trailer of “Work It” hit the Internet, instantly attracting more blogger rage than most shows accumulate over the course of several seasons. Gobsmacked by the very fact that “This got made! And is going to series!”, The Futon Critic lambasted the show’s “limp attempts at misogyny,” “groan worthy madcappery” and “Mrs. Doubtfire hijinx.”

The Best Week Ever blog took special umbrage at the network’s attempt to position the series as “high concept”: “Holy moly, ABC. If you’re going to put a terrible show on the air, the least you could do is not try to make two bumbling fools dressed up like women for cheap laughs a ‘high concept’ in which the guys become moral compasses. It’s not the iconic Louie poker scene, for heavens sake.” The Dallas Transgender Activists Alliance launched a petition to keep “Work It” off the air, and a blogger for the Gay Voices section of The Huffington Post predicted that the series would face summary cancelation, “not because the content is offensive to queers, but because the show itself is just bad.” (ABC did not respond to requests for comment.)

(Read the rest at Huffington Post entertainment)

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The Greatness of the X Factor

November 5th, 2011 by under News. No Comments.

For The X Factor, tonight’s U.S. debut on Fox comes at the end of the longest, rockiest development road perhaps ever faced by a television show. It has been eight years since Simon Cowell, then a judge on the fledging American Idol, dreamed it up as the next iteration of the singing-contest format. He wanted a show with no age limits—young or old—for the contestants, where not only individual singers but groups would be allowed to perform, and where the judges don’t just preside from Mount Olympus but get down into the weeds, actually managing the contestants and battling against each other.

In enacting this vision, Cowell set himself in direct conflict with the show his electrifying presence had helped turn into a colossus. Two lawsuits, a prolonged negotiated peace, and a painful breakup with Idol later, The X Factor finally arrived on American airwaves Wednesday.

The talent-contest marketplace has gotten a lot more crowded, however. Once, Idol stood alone on American networks as the show that had managed to achieve major success. In the interim, the TV schedule has been flooded with musical competitions, from the dance genre—led by Dancing With the Stars and So You Think You Can Dance—to shows like Cowell’s own America’s Got Talent. Now the launch of X Factor comes not only three months after the mega-finale of Idol’s 10th season, but also after the conclusion of the first singing contest to give Idol a run for its money, Mark Burnett’s The Voice, which attracted very respectable numbers in its debut season on NBC.

Read the rest at The Daily Beast.

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The Horror of the Charlie Sheen Roast

September 19th, 2011 by under News. No Comments.

In the Golden Age, when Hollywood was one vast fraternity, when everyone knew everyone, when the fan magazines printed what they were told and not a letter more, the Friars Club was the frat house of the campus’s more rambunctious element; the enclave where madcap cut-ups liable to set a studio chief’s wastebasket on fire took refuge from the stuffy world of showbiz. And in that cozy little fraternity, the Friars Club Roasts functioned as something akin to wedding banquets: occasions for the brotherhood to show their love to their most celebrated brethren in the only way wiseacres know how, by teasing them within an inch of their lives.

Sixty some years later, a panel of seemingly randomly selected comedians and tabloid fodder convened in a cavernous sound stage to rake over the coals a man known as America’s most horrific open wound with the Comedy Central Roast of Charlie Sheen, the latest installment of the network’s salute to the nation’s greatest train wrecks.

The spectacle descends from the Friars Club Roasts of old in the same way Jersey Shore descends from On the Waterfront; the setting may be similar, but all that’s missing from the original is every bit of its humanity. And therein lies the story of much of our culture during the past decades.

Read the rest at The Daily Beast

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Matt Damon: The Anti-Glam Leading Man

September 14th, 2011 by under News. No Comments.

A decade and a half after he burst into public consciousness with one of the most obnoxious debuts of modern times, Matt Damon has quietly, almost underneath the radar, transformed himself into one of the most effective actors of our day. While others of his generation have soaked up the acclaim and the trophies, Damon has turned in a string of flawless performances that have suddenly turned him into the archetype for a new breed of screen masculinity.

Looking back on the Matt Damon who stampeded onto the scene in 1997, there was little evidence to suggest the material of greatness. First appearing as half of a buddy act with fellow Bostonian Ben Affleck, the testosterone-fueled duo personified Hollywood’s cigar-lounge era. The image was capped by the pair’s fist-pumping Oscar-acceptance speech after winning the screenplay award for Good Will Hunting when Damon was the appalling age of 27.

But since that night, Damon has traveled almost in the exact opposite direction from the frat-boy trail, settling down to a series of non-showy, journeymen performances onscreen, and a reticence toward the spotlight offscreen that has, years later, transformed him into something no one could have foreseen: our most admirable of young actors.

Read the rest at The Daily Beast.

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