September 4th, 2013
25 Celebrities When They Were Young.
Some of these you've probably seen before. Most of them (IMHO) would be perfectly recognisable even if the pictures weren't labelled. I'd say that Charlize Theron, Sean Connery, Clint Eastwood, Helen Mirren, Steve Jobs, Michael Stipe and Steven Tyler's lips fall into that category.
A few are US-only celebrities like Ryan Seacrest and Martha Stewart; I've heard of them and am vaguely aware of what they do, but I've never seen them on-screen and couldn't pick out of a line-up at any age.
Some, like Bruce Willis and Steve Carell, have pretty much the same face, albeit a lot younger, but very different hair styles. (Or at least a different facial hair style in Carell's case).
All pretty routine, you might think, and I probably wouldn't have posted this link. But then there's the one that Blew My Mind.
Unless you're already familiar with the picture, I defy you to guess who that is.
February 11th, 2012
Sometimes I think Marina Hyde is wasted on the Guardian's Lost in Showbiz column. Then she writes a piece like Abu Qatada's weight and the showbizification of terror and I realise she's exactly where she needs to be, doing $DEITY's work:
[The Daily Mail...] is distressed the corporation should regard "extremist" as a value judgment best avoided in news reports, where "radical" would do. But more than that, it seems, they are incensed at the Beeb's guidance on Qatada's present dimensions, despite the fact it was clearly only given to ensure current rather than out-of-date stock pictures are used. "BBC staff have also been advised against using images of the preacher looking fat," the paper shrieks to its readers. "He is apparently now much slimmer than he used to be."
"Apparently"? Now come, come, Daily Mail. This disingenuity does not become you. I put it to you that you knew very well indeed that Qatada had slimmed down – just as you are aware of even minuscule cellular changes in the adipose layers of everyone from Cheryl Cole to third-tier government ministers to babies such as Harper Beckham, who are only one whitewashed inquiry into press standards away from being described as "pouring their curves" into romper-suits and the like.
January 24th, 2012
Paging through Old Love is positively hypnotic, and even more so once you give in to the temptation to start clicking on tags to follow particular names across the years.
[Via This Recording (Recommends... sidebar)]
November 11th, 2011
Andrew Collins, having been invited to appear on Celebrity Mastermind this Xmas, ponders the downside of being the sort of 'celebrity' whose face rarely ends up on our TV screens:
The car firm that is being sent to pick me up from Piccadilly Station on Tuesday is called Star In A Car. What if they operate on the basis that if you are a star, the driver will recognise you and pick you up? If mine doesn't – and unless he records and keeps every edition of What The Dickens? on SkyArts, or he watches 6 Music on the webcam when one of the regular daytime presenters is ill, he seriously might not – I may have to pay for my own cab to the studio.
July 11th, 2011
Historical Meet-Ups is like Awesome People Hanging Out Together, but with the stories behind the meetings added.
Take, for example, Ingmar Bergman's encounter with Charles Bronson:
The meeting between Bergman and Bronson was facilitated by the Swedish auteur's unlikely connection to the coriaceous action star. The two men shared the same agent and publicist. They met once, during Bergman's first visit to Los Angeles in the late 1970s. Bronson was filming one of his trademark shoot 'em ups at the time. Bergman visited him at the studio at their agent's behest. After they exchanged pleasantries, Bergman became entranced by the squibs that were placed on Bronson's body to simulate blood-spattering gunshot wounds. "Fascinating," Bergman marveled. "I never knew how they did that!" "You mean you don't use machine guns in your movies?" Bronson replied.
June 11th, 2011
Molly Lambert's debut piece at Grantland introduces us to Alec Baldwin: Social networking master…
Some people are just naturals at holding court. Alec Baldwin definitely qualifies there, which is why he was always such a great Saturday Night Live host and why his monologue in Glengarry Glen Ross remains the gold standard for holding public attention. The thing about people who are good at holding court is that once they start holding court it can be impossible to make them stop. And not always, but sometimes they say something that makes their audience facepalm.
Here are a few of the things Alec Baldwin enjoys: party games, Pilates, what Alec Baldwin is eating, cryptic jokes with the Baldwin siblings in a private brother language, the Rolling Stones, getting stranded on boats, tweeting like he's somewhere deep in thought and is providing you a small opening through which to see into his brain – Being John Malkovich-style, politics, asking rhetorical questions, faux-slang, and Fort Lauderdale.
Given the number of terrific pieces Molly Lambert contributed at This Recording, I'm looking forward to seeing what she brings us at Grantland.
March 13th, 2011
A little bit of nostalgia: Rick Wakeman's memorable appearance on Danny Baker's short-lived BBC1 chat show Danny Baker After All, in two parts.
[Via DogFacedBoy, posting at Word Magazine Blog]
December 31st, 2010
David Hepworth has posted my favourite comment on Elton John and David Furnish having adopted a baby.
May 30th, 2010
The Russian city of Kaliningrad is proposing to erect a statue honouring Woody Allen:
Allen, 74, has been approached by a young film-maker, Masha Vasyukova, a native of the Russian exclave that borders Poland and Lithuania, with a choice of designs for this new work of public art. Allen's favourite tribute is a pair of his trademark glasses, mounted at the height of his forehead â€“ 157cms.
Other designs included a reel of film topped by Allen's glasses and a life-size statue of the auteur dwarfed beside an existing statue of the city's most famous son, philosopher Immanuel Kant. Vasyukova was too embarrassed to show Allen a design that styled him as a human sperm, a reference to his 1972 film Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex, but was delighted by his enthusiasm.
May 22nd, 2010
Caitlin Moran prefaces her account of an epic interview-cum-night on the town in Berlin with Lady Gaga with an explanation of how she became a fan:
Since [seeing Lady Gaga perform at Glastonbury last year], I have followed Gaga's career like boys follow sports teams. As a cultural icon, she does an incredible service for women: after all, it will be hard to oppress a generation who've been brought up on pop stars with fire coming out of their tits.
She's clearly smart and clearly hilarious â€“ she pitched up at the Royal Variety Performance on a 16ft-high piano, modelled on DalÃ's spider-legged elephants â€“ but has never ruined the fun by going, "Actually, I'm smart and hilarious," like, say, Bono would.
And, most importantly of all, she clearly couldn't give a f*** what anyone says about her. When she appeared on The X Factor, it was the week after Simon Cowell had said that he was, "Looking for the new Lady Gaga." She performed Bad Romance in an 18ft-long bathtub with six dancers â€“ then played a piano solo on a keyboard hidden in a pretend sink, while sitting on a pretend toilet. Clearly, Simon Cowell would never sign up anything like that in a million, billion years. It was very much in his face.
[Via No Rock and Roll Fun]
February 16th, 2010
Beware: you may have trouble sleeping after viewing this gallery of Celebrities with Upside Down faces.
Barbra Streisand and Evangeline Lilly actually look pretty good. The upside-down look clearly suits Michael Douglas. Skin from Skunk Anansie almost pulls it off.
Then there are the horrors, destined to haunt your dreams tonight: Billy Idol, Thora Birch and … scariest of all … Tom Cruise!
January 10th, 2010
The Times Archive Blog relates a corny-yet-funny letter from a reader, remembering the year Elvis Presley became a star:
From Mrs Joel Hurstfield
Sir, In 1956, the year when Elvis Presley's extraordinary talent burst upon the world, I started to teach in a large mixed comprehensive in north-west London. I shall never forget the elderly senior mistress coming into the staff room one morning and saying sternly, "I must speak to a boy called Elvis Presley because he has carved his name on every desk in the school".
September 4th, 2009
Marina Hyde's take on the burning question of whether Madonna can fulfil her promise and become the Oprah of the Middle East is a delicious, deeply sarcastic treat:
The last time Madonna visited Israel in a self-styled envoy capacity, she and her ex-husband Guy Ritchie spent Rosh Hashanah with that arch star-strucker Shimon Peres. On that occasion, Madonna and the Israeli president exchanged presents. He gave her a copy of the Hebrew Bible, and she gave him a copy of her cult's sacred text the Zohar, inscribed with the words "To Shimon Peres, the man I admire and love." She also informed him: "I am an ambassador for Judaism." I do hope that when Shimon stared at himself in his bathroom mirror later, the words "I am such a coward for not calling her out on that" crossed his mind.
May 12th, 2009
Nick Hornby on being less famous than you'd imagine:
[The...] films of 'High Fidelity', 'Fever Pitch' and 'About A Boy' haven't helped slake my unquenchable thirst for global recognition. Indeed, I once found myself involved in a mortifyingly undignified argument with the person sitting next to me on a plane, who disputed my claim that I'd written 'High Fidelity'. 'I've watched that movie loads of times,' she said. 'If it was a book, I'd have noticed on the credits.' I am used to anonymity; being called a fantasist was a new low.
January 4th, 2009
I just knew how this story about the money spent on celebrity participation in public sector health campaigns would end long before I got to the end:
[The Department of Health...], which increasingly uses actors, singers, television stars and sports personalities to convince the nation to adopt healthier habits, refuses to admit how much it spends on celebrity campaigns. Now critics have accused the government of "unacceptable secrecy" following speculation that stars are being paid up to £10,000 a day for their appearances.
Officials confirmed that [Jenny] Frost, of the band Atomic Kitten, worked on the campaign for eight days and was "paid for public relations work, including interviews and personal appearances, as well as the use of her image on the pack sent out to young mums who sign up for Breast Buddy". But the DoH refused to reveal how much the singer received, citing "commercial interests" as the reason. Disclosure of the amount would deter other celebrities from fronting such campaigns in the future, it said. One official working inside the department said Frost had received £10,000 a day for her work, but the Observer has been unable to verify that figure. [...]
At this juncture, it's important not to get too caught up in speculation about precisely how much a given celebrity may (or may not) have been paid for a given campaign, or to get worked up about the notion that having a celebrity's image associated with a given project will make it more effective; those are valid issues, but of secondary importance. The major issue is that this is yet more evidence of the shockingly common attitude among government departments that "commercial interests" (whatever that means) justify hiding information from the taxpayers about how the government spends money. As far as I'm concerned, if you take money from the public purse then you should not expect to be able to keep the amounts involved or the terms of your contract secret.
As to the argument that revealing the amounts paid would deter celebrities from participating in such public-spirited activities in future, in the absence of hard information about the amounts involved it's difficult to avoid one simple, damning conclusion: the celebrities involved are worried that their adoring public would be much less impressed with their idols' public-spiritedness if they knew that they'd received a good fraction of the national average salary for what may amount to a few days' modelling work or a couple of days learning a script to deliver to camera.
December 9th, 2008
Carrie Fisher remembers making Star Wars:
Even now, many years later, people are still asking me if I knew Star Wars was going to be that big a hit. Yes, of course I knew. We all knew.
The only one who didn't was the director, George Lucas. We kept it from him because we wanted to see what his face looked like when it changed expression.
Not only was he virtually expressionless in those days, but he also hardly talked at all. His only two directions in the first film were 'faster' and 'more intense'.
Shortly after I arrived, he gave me this unbelievably idiotic hairstyle. He said in his little voice: 'Well, what do you think of it?'
I was terrified I was going to be fired for being too fat, so I said: 'I love it.' Yeah, right.
I weighed about 105lb at the time but carried about 50 of those in my face.
So you know what a good idea would be? Give me a hairstyle that further widens my already wide face.
Her anecdotes in the same extract about growing up as the offspring of celebrity parents are really funny; I might have to keep an eye out for her new autobiography when it comes out in paperback.
September 2nd, 2008
The New Yorker profiles Alec Baldwin:
"Forever Lulu," Baldwin's first film, in 1987, was bad. But within a couple of years he had played six memorable supporting roles in six better-than-average movies – "She's Having a Baby," "Beetlejuice," "Married to the Mob," "Working Girl," "Talk Radio," and "Great Balls of Fire!" – with some beguiling note of severity, even cruelty, in each. Baldwin had a precise, self-contained style: his performances suggested that although he might accept an audience's attention, he cared little for its approval. Even in "Beetlejuice," some inner killjoy seemed to pull against the innocent, newlywed scampering required of Baldwin's character. This was the last time a director asked Baldwin to play a blameless square – a Darrin Stephens – and one can survey Baldwin's twenty-odd-year film career without finding a fully persuasive rendering of happiness. One has to be satisfied with flared nostrils and a dangerous flash of teeth.