Archive for 'elsewhere writings'

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


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



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.




Alien Concept: Another Spielberg Invasion Scenario

June 17th, 2011 by under elsewhere writings, the cinema. No Comments.

For some reason, aliens are still invading Steven Spielberg’s Planet Earth.

Throughout his career, America’s foremost filmmaker has allowed his native soil to be conquered — and reconquered — so many times that you’d think word would’ve gotten out across deep space that it’s not worth the trip.

But yet they keep coming.

This Sunday, the latest horde of marauding spacemen touches down in “Falling Skies,” an eight-part series executive-produced by Spielberg for TNT. Not all aliens have been equal in the Spielberg canon, however. His visitors have ranged from the cuddly (“ET,” “Gremlins”) to the serene (“Close Encounters of the Third Kind,” “Indiana Jones”), and from the robotic (“Transformers”) to the comical (“Men in Black”) to the slithering (“War of the Worlds”).

Read the rest right here.


TV’s Forgotten Reality Show

April 20th, 2011 by under elsewhere writings. No Comments.

Before there was JWoww or Omarosa or Survivor, in the winter of 1973, America was introduced to the concept of reality television by a soft-spoken upper-middle-class family, who, for 12 weeks, the nation watched eating dinner, sunbathing by their pool, and, before our very eyes, slowly disintegrating.

Called An American Family, the PBS documentary series mesmerized the nation with a peek into the lives of the Loud family of Santa Barbara, California. The show became the centerpiece of a three-month-long national conversation, with viewers first engrossed in and then horrified by the charming family who became a symbol for all that had gone wrong with the country.

Nearly 40 years later, the Louds are back, this time as docudrama, in Cinema Verite, a made-for-HBO-movie that restages the filming of An American Family. Starring Diane Lane and Tim Robbins as Pat and Bill Loud, the clan’s matriarch and patriarch, and James Gandolfini as Craig Gilbert—the series’ producer whose insertion of himself into the family’s story off the cameras would be the subject of controversy for years to come—the film purports to tell the real tale of manipulation behind the series.

Read the rest at The Daily Beast

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Robert Redford and the Burden of a Pretty Face

April 18th, 2011 by under elsewhere writings. No Comments.

In another age, it might have been a great thing to be Robert Redford.

Unfortunately for him, however, Robert Redford arrived at the precise moment in history when being a handsome, soft-spoken leading man went out of fashion. While he might once have had the world without apologies, Redford’s career has been a struggle against his chiseled features, to prove he is not just a haircut. That struggle seemed to reach its sputtering conclusion this weekend with the release of The Conspirator, the latest in Redford’s long string of somber, self-serious, hectoring films.

Seeing the earnest director and the guarded, gloomy festival kingpin of today, it’s hard to picture the charismatic young Redford whose career once seemed headed in a very different direction. But that was before the star ran headlong into a little event known as the 1970s, from which his balance has never quite recovered.

A gifted actor with a touch for light comedy, with a dose of melancholy behind the perfectly sculpted features, Redford began his acting career on Broadway, winning rave notices as the uptight newlywed in Neil Simon’s Barefoot in the Park. He rode the part to the big screen, appearing opposite Jane Fonda, and a star was born that still dazzles half a century later.

Read the rest at The Daily Beast

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Paula Abdul’s Live To Dance Comeback

January 5th, 2011 by under elsewhere writings. No Comments.

America’s Joan of Arc returned to the airwaves Tuesday night, this time not as a bumbling sideshow, but with her stake aflame as the main attraction on center stage.

After a near decade long trial by fire as Simon Cowell’s hapless sparring partner on American Idol, Paula Abdul stepped into the limelight on her own as the chief jurist of Live To Dance, CBS’s new competition show and the latest entry into the surprisingly durable TV dance genre. Since her exit from Idol, the question has loomed, after walking away from the biggest show on television, the show which gave her one of the greatest career second acts in recent memory, what would Paula next do with herself? Would she try to reinvent herself for a third time in her career—showing up the ditsy reputation she earned on Idol? Or would she go in a completely new direction, leaving the whole mean judge/nice judge dynamic behind.

As of last night the answer seems to be, Paula has decided to double down on being Paula—hyper-dramatic, gushy, tongue-tied Paula, staging a house to house battle with emotions at every turn.

Read the rest at The Daily Beast.


Handicapping the Grammys: Best New Age Album

December 3rd, 2010 by under elsewhere writings. No Comments.

The nominees are in. And at first glance, the overwhelming, almost prohibitive favorite here in the “Best New Age Album” category has to be considered Zamora’s “Instrumental Oasis Vol. 4,” which is astonishing considering where we’ve been with him. After “Instrumental Oasis Vol. 3,” there were many, myself included, who felt that with that bone crunch of an album, the Magical Places genre had nowhere else to go. I mean, not to get fanboyish, but six years later, every time I play the “Midnight Mystery” track (for the thousandth or two-thousandth time), I still find new things in it. That an artist working in Magical could at once repel and delight, horrify, enrage, captivate and caress was something no one saw coming. After that, I think it’s safe to say, the music world, public and critics alike, just threw up their hands and said, that is it. Like, the end.

Right? Take me to environmental, take me to soft jazz, take me to harmonium, because there is no way another Magical track is going to come along and slug me in the solar plexus and have me doubled over spitting up blood like that again. That’s what I said.

Read the rest at theawl


Bill Carter’s ‘The War for Late Night’ — Book Review

November 9th, 2010 by under book review, elsewhere writings. No Comments.

Brought to power on a wave of impossibly high expectations and then judged an abject failure at their first stumble, their every utterance picked over by an unforgiving 24/7 media and blogosphere while their fate is toyed with by dark, shadowy powers beyond their control.

What kind of lunatic would want to be a late-night talk-show host, that crucible of fire in which mighty careers are brought to ruin?

The answer, as portrayed in New York Times reporter Bill Carter’s The War for Late Night: When Leno Went Early and Television Went Crazy, is the sort of lunatic with a lot of unresolved emotional issues that he (almost always he) channels into the pursuit of that mythic grail: the Carson legacy.

Read the rest at


BBC Interview on the Future of Celebrity

January 1st, 2010 by under elsewhere writings. No Comments.

Here’s a link to a round table discussion I did with the BBC on the decade in celebrity along with a British publicist and author, and an Indian reporter. The discussion comes at about 50 minutes into this clip.