By Emily Senger - Monday, February 18, 2013 - 0 Comments
A roommate crisis for the Vancouver Canucks, a new home for Richard III, and Mandela granddaughters hit reality TV
Far from the tree
Anti-apartheid activist Nelson Mandela was famously South Africa’s first black president, and now his granddaughters are seeking fame of their own as stars of a new reality-TV series. Being Mandela follows Zaziwe Dlamini-Manaway and Swati Dlamini, granddaughters of the Nobel Peace Prize winner and his ex-wife, Winnie Madikizela-Mandela. During the 13-episode first season, Swati and Zaziwe launch their own clothing line, which shares a name with their grandfather’s autobiography—Long Walk to Freedom. The two insist they aren’t tarnishing the family name; Mandela “loves Toddlers and Tiaras,” Swati told the Associated Press. He won’t be appearing on the show—although Winnie will.
Kapow! A breakthrough.
Batman is now more than 70 years old—and last year, Montreal-based comic artist Becky Cloonan became the first woman ever to draw him for DC Comics, according to a recent profile in O, The Oprah Magazine. Batman isn’t the only character Cloonan, 32, brings to life: she also draws Conan the Barbarian for Dark Horse Comics, and Swamp Thing for DC and is credited for breaking new ground for women in the comics world. When she first got the Batman gig, “I was just excited,” she told the magazine. “I’m drawing Batman!”
By Jen Cutts - Friday, November 23, 2012 at 10:25 AM - 0 Comments
Some questions are inherently annoying: are we there yet? Is that seat taken? Are…
Some questions are inherently annoying: are we there yet? Is that seat taken? Are women funny? But is it better to ignore or engage with the children/moviegoers/magazine columnists who ask them? Marie Claire’s Kohen could not resist the urge to take on that last one, infamously explored by Christopher Hitchens in a 2007 Vanity Fair essay. Or rather, Kohen lets the women (and their male colleagues) answer.
We Killed, billed as a “very oral history,” stitches together interviews with comedians like Phyllis Diller (among the first funny ladies who wasn’t expected to also sing and dance) and closes with comics like Sarah Silverman (whose pretty-faced dirty talk has inspired a glut of copycats), and documents the highs and lows of the 60-odd years in between. When Saturday Night Live debuted in 1975, it created some of the earliest spots for female performers and writers on a sketch comedy program, but was considered an incorrigible boys’ club for decades (Molly Shannon’s armpit-smelling Mary Katherine Gallagher character was the beginning of the end of that). Merrill Markoe was one of the first female head writers on a late-night show, inventing the “Stupid Pet Tricks” segment for David Letterman. After their romantic relationship ended in the friction of working together, she left the show. And so on. Continue…
By Emma Teitel - Tuesday, July 17, 2012 at 3:03 PM - 0 Comments
Remember Sarah Silverman’s Great Schlep? It was the year 2008 and the Jewish comedian implored her people—the American ones, anyway—to prove that Jews are in fact, the “scrappy, civil-rightsy” types they claim to be, by making the schlep to Florida (where old Jewish people are known to hibernate) and convincing their grandparents to vote for Barack Obama.
Apparently it worked. In 2008, Obama won Florida 51-48 per cent against Republican hopeful John McCain.
But things are different this time around. Obama is currently trailing competitor Mitt Romney by three per cent in the Sunshine State. And there’s a substantial amount of Republican politicking going in Florida Senior —Israel—a country with an American expat community roughly the size of Fort Lauderdale. The Republican Jewish Coalition has been very busy in the Holy Land, most likely trying to convince its brethren that the man who orchestrated the murder of Osama Bin Laden is soft on foreign policy, especially when it comes to Israel. No doubt Zionist casino magnate and Republican Daddy Warbucks, Sheldon Adelson feels this way: the eighth richest man in America has pledged to shell out $100 million to the Romney campaign.
Which means his grandchildren must have already made the Great Schlep and failed, because Silverman has ditched the schlep strategy in favour of another one: offering Mr. Adelson her body (though not all of it, she’s a “good girl”) in exchange for a $100-million donation to Obama instead of Romney…
So what’ll it be, Sheldon? Protect the Jewish state from neighbouring terrorists and a socialist president, or be the only major Republican donor to get scissored by a bikini-clad Jewess with big naturals?
It turns out not even billionaires can have it all.
By Brian D. Johnson - Friday, June 29, 2012 at 1:40 PM - 0 Comments
I’ve seen Take This Waltz twice, first at the Toronto International Film Festival last fall, and more recently while preparing a feature, Marriage Polley Style, on writer-director Sarah Polley. Between TIFF coverage and writing that feature, I feel a bit Waltzed-out. But I haven’t actually weighed in with a review, until now. Today the film finally opens, nine months after its festival premiere.
People often ask me if I see movies more than once before reviewing them. The answer: if necessary. When months elapse between the premiere and the commercial release, you need to refresh your memory. The thing is, a movie inevitably changes on second viewing. They get better or worse. I had mixed feelings about Take This Waltz on first viewing, and still do. But the second time around, I liked it a whole lot better.
Here’s the deliberately non-committal capsule review I wrote during TIFF: “Sarah Polley’s second feature marks a bold departure. It’s as expansive, reckless and flamboyant as her debut feature (Away From Her) was intimate, restrained and sombre. Michelle Williams stars as Margot, a Toronto woman whose cozy marriage to Mr. Nice Guy—a cookbook author played with stoic sincerity by Seth Rogen—is threatened as Margo tiptoes into a slow-burn summer romance with the dreamboat next door (Luke Kirby). With its giddy spirit of hometown rapture—throwing Sarah Silverman into an aquafit class scored by the Parachute Club—Take This Waltz lacks the discipline of her Alice Munro adaptation. But Polley braves some highly charged personal terrain, plunging into the deep end of marital angst, as her heroine is torn between domestic comfort and adulterous fantasy.”
On first viewing, I felt the movie was too long and discursive. And the story arc of Sarah Silverman’s character—Lou’s alcoholic sister—seemed too tangential. Also, as a tale of romantic frustration, Take This Waltz can be frustrating. As Margot is torn between her stolid husband and her fantasy suitor, I found it hard to root for either alternative. You almost wish someone else would come along. Continue…
By Martin Patriquin - Monday, April 30, 2012 at 1:51 AM - 0 Comments
John Edwards heads to court, St. John’s mayor takes on Harper, and Lindsay Lohan returns to the big screen
After years of tawdry headlines, tarnished Democratic Party golden boy John Edwards is going to court. The former senator and presidential candidate is accused of diverting $900,000 in contributions to his 2008 presidential campaign to cover up an affair with videographer Rielle Hunter, as well as the birth of their child. Edwards, whose wife, Elizabeth, died of cancer in 2010, contends that the funds weren’t campaign contributions; rather, the lawyers for the North Carolina politician say, the money was a gift from friends to help him out in his time of need. If convicted, he faces up to 30 years in prison and $1.5 million in fines.
The final frontier
After having a go at astrophysics, academia and the world of high tech, Cheick Modibo Diarra has moved on to something far more complicated: governing an African nation. Between 1989 and 2002, the Mali-born Diarra oversaw unmanned NASA missions to Mars, Venus, Jupiter and the sun. He then became president of one African university and co-founded another, before becoming head of Microsoft Africa in 2006. After launching a political party last year, Diarra was recently appointed interim prime minister of Mali following a coup d’état. His first challenge: quelling rebel uprisings in the country’s north. Getting a spacecraft to Mars may be simpler by comparison.
By Andrew Tolson - Wednesday, September 14, 2011 at 1:20 PM - 2 Comments
Movie stars don’t have a lot of time.
When you’re photographing them, there’s no asking about their Aunt Phyllis or how their golf swing is progressing. Yes, there’s small talk of the ‘How are you liking Toronto?’ variety, but really, they just want you to get the shot and move on. They have a red carpet to walk, scripts to read, multi-million dollar deals to sign, and, presumably, eating and sleeping to do. For the Movie Star, this is all part of their job; the promoting, the glad-handing and the quickie hotel room portraits. It’s all business.
Which is why you only have one minute to take the photograph.
For the Movie Star, there are varying degrees of involvement in the shoot. Most endure it like a grumpy kid having their picture taken with Santa Claus. Some enjoy the exercise, such as David Cronenberg, who cordially offered me his very effective Death Stare. Sarah Silverman had fun posing as if she were cramped into a photo booth. For some Movie Stars of a certain vintage, it’s about controlling their image: Juliette Binoche insisted on critiquing every frame and pronounced I “had the shot,” when I wasn’t sure I did.
(She was right. I did.)
But during that single minute I have with the Movie Star, it’s always an odd sensation, being so close to someone who is normally forty feet tall. Because after you’ve been face to face with them, in some anonymous hotel room or bland boardroom, you can’t help but feel the Movie Star seems, well, kind of normal.
Follow me: @andrewtolson @macleansphoto
By Brian D. Johnson - Monday, September 12, 2011 at 12:14 AM - 2 Comments
My left foot has been a preoccupation at TIFF, or more precisely my big toe, which I fractured on the eve of the festival in a guilty flurry of domesticity—yanking the green bin out to the garbage in the dark while forgetting about the jagged flagstone that sits on the lid to keep out raccoons. I’m not looking for sympathy here. Any journalist “doing” the festival talks about as a physical endurance test, a sleepless marathon of movies, interviews, parties and writing. It’s not a war, but we act like it is.
That notion of TIFF being a hardship assignment was put into sobering perspective when I ran into a couple of bored photographers heading off to shoot actors in hotel rooms: one was just back from Afghanistan, the other was going off to cover child soldiers in Africa. Still, I like to think my raccoon-related injury makes me a casualty of something. And wading into the Blackberry-blinded mobs at TIFF wearing sandals (shoes are too painful) does makes one paranoid. I try not to talk about the Toe any more—every second person you meet has a broken toe story. But assiduously avoiding contact, I stubbed it on someone’s luggage in a hotel lobby, two minutes before interviewing Sarah Silverman for her role in Sarah Polley’s Take This Waltz. I had to share my pain.
Silverman, who is 40 but looks like a teenager, didn’t have a toe story. But she held out her hands, which looked small and fragile, and pointed out where she had broken two of her fingers—on the treadmill. The treadmill? She mimed the movement of an over-zealous jogger, arms flying akimbo. “I hit them on the sides of the machine.”
I began our interview with a riddle: “What do Psycho and Take This Waltz have in common?”
The answer: “Everyone wants to talk about the shower scene.” Continue…
By Brian D. Johnson - Friday, September 9, 2011 at 10:57 AM - 0 Comments
Brian D. Johnson interviews the Canadian actor
By macleans.ca - Friday, September 24, 2010 at 8:00 AM - 0 Comments
Hilary Swank cleans up for the cameras, the Boss is still working, and the FUBAR guys have some advice for the PM
Sarah Silverman’s amazing week
She was at TIFF promoting Peep Show, but Sarah Silverman has been in town shooting Take This Waltz with director Sarah Polley. “Sarah is so supportive,” she told Maclean’s. “After my first take on my first day, she came up to me and said, ‘That was amazing!’ Then someone brought her a cup of coffee and she said, ‘This coffee is amazing!’ ” As for her Waltz co-star, Seth Rogen, she says, “He’s the least neurotic Jew I’ve ever met.”
Hosers to Harper: live a little
Just when you thought the hoser comedy had reached the end of its evolutionary rope, along comes FUBAR 2. David Lawrence and Paul Spence showed up in character to their red-carpet premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival—as Alberta metalheads Terry and Dean. Michael Dowse’s sequel to his 2002 mockumentary cult hit boasts a fatter budget and a sweeter story—an oil sands bromance that takes the moronic duo to the pipelines and peeler bars of Fort McMurray. Environmental rape and testicular cancer has never been funnier. Talking to Maclean’s, Dean (Spence) said Laureen Harper was an old hunting buddy of his father’s, prompting Terry (Lawrence) to suggest the Prime Minister should “make things cheaper, like 1984,” and “party with Laureen a little more.”
By Jaime Weinman - Wednesday, March 17, 2010 at 1:00 AM - 11 Comments
Women are a big part of the audience, so why don’t hosts like Jay Leno hire any as writers?
Jay Leno is back on The Tonight Show, Conan O’Brien is gone, and fans are arguing over which version of the show is better. But no matter how often the host changes, one thing never seems to change: Leno currently has no women on his writing staff—when Sarah Palin performed a stand-up routine for him, her jokes were written by men—and neither did O’Brien during his Tonight Show tenure. In late-night comedy, shows can go years without a woman in the writers’ room, and things have gotten worse in recent years: David Letterman’s first head writer was a woman (Merrill Markoe), but he didn’t have any female writers last year. Markoe told Maclean’s that when she started in the business, “everyone made fun of ‘tokenism.’ Every show had its token one to two women.” In today’s late-night world, she’s starting to “look back at tokenism fondly as a time of enlightenment.”
Why don’t late-night shows hire women to write for them? The simplest reason is that most of the writers who apply for the job are men: “When I started the show with Dave in the early ’80s, very few women submitted work,” Markoe says. But even today, when there are more female stand-up comics and other women who Markoe describes as “very familiar with the general sensibility” of late-night comedy, things haven’t been any better. “Women are equal watchers of those shows,” fumes Melissa Silverstein, blogger and founder of womenandhollywood.com, “yet are somehow not thought of as capable of contributing behind the scenes.”
If hosts do hire a woman, it’s often because they knew her already. Craig Ferguson, who hosts The Late Late Show, has one female staff writer: his sister Lynn, a respected comedian in her own right. Markoe was romantically involved with Letterman at one point, and when Jimmy Kimmel broke up with Sarah Silverman, tabloids reported that he was dating his writer Molly McNearney. Without a prior relationship, it can take a long time for a woman to win the trust of the people who do the hiring; Jill Goodwin, who got a job last month as Letterman’s first female writer in years, was an assistant on the show for almost a decade. “People hire people they’re comfortable with,” says Silverstein, and in practice, it seems like hosts aren’t comfortable with women they haven’t met repeatedly.
By Luiza Ch. Savage - Thursday, September 25, 2008 at 11:55 AM - 4 Comments
I’m just back from a trip where I was talking to swing voters in a swing county in a key swing state. It was enlightening. Yes, Virginia, there are real people out there who are casting their vote in this momentous presidential election based on a candidate’s middle name. More on that later…
Now that I’m back in the parallel universe known as Washington, it occurs to me that when I wrote the Maclean’s cover story about the many ways the Bush administration has broken with small-c conservatism (the Washington Post recently noticed his “broad ideological transformation” too), I was obviously was too hasty. Had I waited a few weeks, I could have written about his embrace of what some Republicans are calling “financial socialism.” Continue…