Cathleen McGuigan

Stories by Cathleen McGuigan

  • Back On Broadway

    Talk about a time warp. Here we are in the new millenium, taking a jump to the left and a step to the right, and doing "The Time Warp" again-25 years after "The Rocky Horror Picture Show" began its rocky climb to cult movie status. This time the film has come to earth as a Broadway musical, which is how it all began.Richard O'Brien's twisted send-up of cheesy sci-fi flicks hit was born on the London stage and reached Broadway once before, in the early '70s, where it quickly closed-one critic dubbed it "the fiasco at the Belasco." This time, it's likely to be a runaway hit. You remember the story: wholesome teens Brad and Janet are stranded on a dark and stormy night and seek shelter at the scary castle of Frank 'N' Furter, a high-stepping transsexual from Transylvania.Today, the gender-bending antics seem fairly tame, and we're all so steeped in "Rocky's" knowing irony that this show-so bad it's good-is finally ready for prime-time Broadway packaging, nicely wrapped in a red feather...
  • Almost Famous: Dish Queen Liz Smith

    Don't read Liz Smith's memoir, "Natural Blonde," for dish. She's already printed her scoops--Jackie marrying Ari, the Donald leaving Ivana--in her gossip column. Instead, think of being at the next table at 21, catching bits of her chats with the famous. Liz is the good ole Texas gal who started partying hard in the '50s, meeting stars like Lena Horne. But about her own life she's quite discreet--except for a poignant account of a love affair with a woman after Liz's first marriage ended. Always nice, she gets close to her subjects, sometimes too close: she once ran a press conference for Liz Taylor rather than join in asking the questions. Early on a reporter warned her, "Don't become one of them!" But, of course, that's just what happened.
  • Buildings That Are Huggable

    I was in a funk for six weeks," Frank Gehry was saying recently, sitting at a little cafe table in front of the Guggenheim museum in Bilbao, Spain. Behind Gehry, shimmering in the sunshine, are the gorgeous titanium curves of the building that has made him the most famous architect in the world. He was talking about the low point in his design of the Experience Music Project when his client, Paul Allen, didn't like the way the scheme was shaping up. The California-based architect had taken three wildly curvy forms and begun to "mush them together." Allen liked it better when the shapes were discrete. Making a radical brand of architecture isn't easy, but Gehry, 71, feeds on the challenge: "I only work out of a lot of insecurity."EMP is the first major public building of Gehry's to open since the Bilbao museum nearly three years ago. Gehry has said that the pressure to top Bilbao didn't really affect EMP--he'd started designing it long before the Guggenheim even opened. And despite...
  • Reinventing Sydney

    Around the sprawling new Olympic Park in Sydney are scattered four humble buildings, dwarfed by the sports complexes that will be home to the Games that begin in September. The little structures are identical except for the color of their fat steel arches, each a different hue plucked from a kid's crayon box. At first it's hard to figure out what the buildings are: they look like giant caterpillars, their puffy, twisting white fabric roofs stretched over the bright steel ribs. At night, lit from inside, they look like glowworms. OK, they're the bathrooms--but they couldn't be further from the dank cinderblock public loos you usually find at sports arenas. They look so cool and the concept is so witty that the toilets are upstaging the multimillion-dollar structures.That's not quite what was intended. Cities fight to host the Olympics because they're desperate to show their face to the world, and for Sydney, the stakes are enormous. It's remote: 14 air hours from Los Angeles and nine...
  • The Good, The Bad, The Boring

    Around the vast new Olympic Park in Sydney, Australia, there are four humble buildings scattered like dice, dwarfed by the sports complexes that will be home to the Games that begin in September. The little structures are identical except for the color of their fat steel arches, each a different hue plucked from a kid's crayon box. At first it's hard to figure out what the buildings are: they look like giant caterpillars, their puffy, twisting white fabric roofs stretched over the bright steel ribs. At night, lit from inside, they look like glowworms. OK, they're the bathrooms--but they couldn't be farther from the dank cinder-block public loos you usually find at sports arenas. They look so cool and the concept is so witty that the toilets are upstaging the multimillion-dollar structures.Cities fight to host the Olympics because they're desperate to show their face to the world, and for Sydney, the stakes are enormous. It's remote: 14 air hours from Los Angeles and nine from Hong...
  • Ruling The Waters

    The sun had set on the empire bar, and for many of the French, Japanese and American sailors hoisting Steinlager beers in the old Auckland saloon one evening last week, the sun had set on their hopes of taking home the America's Cup. They had been eliminated from the Louis Vuitton semifinals, which determine who challenges the New Zealanders for the Cup. Now left floating were two formidable yachts that will begin to battle in the fluky breezes off Auckland this week: AmericaOne from San Francisco, skippered by sailing's rising superstar, Paul Cayard, and Prada, underwritten by the Italian fashion tycoon Patrizio Bertelli (his wife is designer Muiccia Prada). The winner will meet Team New Zealand for the Cup in February. Both Prada and AmericaOne are so sleekly designed that Bill Koch, who successfully defended the Cup in 1992, predicts their duel will be "one of the closest finals in history."The America's Cup is the Academy Awards of sailing, with big boats, big money and some of...
  • Everyone Will Want A Bilbao

    You're going to be hearing a lot about the "Bilbao effect." No, it's not some puzzling new strain of virus, or a rare psychological condition first identified in the Basque country. What people are going to be talking about is that Frank Gehry's shiny, sexy Guggenheim museum in Bilbao, Spain, wasn't only the most important building of the end of the century. It has also inspired an amazing new faith in the power of architecture, rarely seen since the builders of Gothic cathedrals figured out that flocks of worshipers would be awestruck by their soaring vaulted interiors. Gehry's museum has held out the possibility (more closely allied to marketing than religion) that a single, beautifully designed building could wake up a snooze of a town and draw a million tourists and new business to a place nobody wanted to go before.Cities around the world suddenly want a Bilbao museum of their very own. "We've had calls from China, from Brazil, from Belgium," says Gehry. "These are well-meaning...
  • A Fiennes Romance This Is

    Ralph Fiennes had already been nominated for one Oscar when he got a second nomination for "The English Patient." But he also got something else with the role: the kind of idolatry that women usually reserve for screen heroes with abashed grins, who save the leading lady, if not the entire planet. Instead, the count in "The English Patient" was a mysterious loner, kind of an oddball. But he was also a guy so madly in love with Kristin Scott Thomas that he ripped her dress off in a fit of passion, and later quietly sewed it up. Now he's once again playing a complex romantic lead in Neil Jordan's hauntingly beautiful adaptation of "The End of the Affair," Graham Greene's novel of passion and faith. "I've always sort of hankered to play a Greene character," said Fiennes recently. "They seem very real, not simplistically heroic. In fact, often they're antiheroic."The film, which opens this week, is set in London during World War II. Fiennes plays a moody novelist, Maurice Bendrix,...
  • Renaissance On The River

    Where will you be popping your Dom Perignon at midnight on Dec. 31? If you're anywhere near London, the hot spots for ringing in the next thousand years are the Millennium Wheel and the Millennium Dome. The huge wheel of steel--450 feet high--that sits on the far side of Westminster Bridge across from Parliament is visible these days from most of central London, and would be the perfect vehicle to swing up in for a spectacular view of fireworks over the Thames--if you could get a ticket. A New Year's Eve invitation to the wildly controversial Millennium Dome at Greenwich--at 1,100 feet across, it's the world's biggest big top (and yes, there'll be a trapeze act)--will be just as tough to snag. That's where the queen will party on. All the millennial hoopla is focused on these two circular symbols of the future, but what will be more significant is what's going on between them, along those four winding miles of the River Thames: a huge revitalization of a dreary stretch of the city,...
  • Mann Is In The Details

    Over a piece of broiled fish and a cup of coffee, Michael Mann is talking about a smudge on Jeffrey Wigand's eyeglasses. The smudge, visible in a key scene in "The Insider" between Wigand and the wife he is losing, is of course deliberate--there are rarely accidents in the movies of this brilliant perfectionist. "The smudge helps me feel the awkwardness of the man. My heart goes out to him," explains Mann, 56, in a voice that's never shed the accent of his Chicago boyhood. "I was reacting against the airbrushed perfection of characters we see all the time in the media. Jeffrey and Lowell [Bergman] are so complex and edgy." More than the saga of the tobacco wars, it was the characters of the whistle-blower Wigand and the TV journalist Bergman that drew Mann to the project. "I felt a strong identity with them, they were so human and flawed."Mann does exhaustive research at the beginning of a project (he can still detail the sociology of Iroquois families, which he explored for the...
  • Flashbulbs And Flashbacks

    It's not easy to conjure up the spirit of the '60s--look at this year's loveless Woodstock--but Richard Avedon's new book bottles the era's essence. It's not just his elegant, telling portraits (many of them familiar) of figures from Bob Dylan to the Chicago Seven to Veruschka that resonate in "The Sixties" (RandomHouse). It's a remarkable series of previously unpublished oral histories that thread through the book. Thirty years ago Avedon began taking photos for this project, carting his 8x10 camera and roll of white paper for his stark backdrops to the South, to campuses, to Vietnam. He tapped writer Doon Arbus (daughter of photographer Diane Arbus) to interview many of his subjects.You know you're in the '60s when you hear these voices: there's wit but no irony; there's hopelessness but not jadedness. People talk about dying, going to jail, fighting injustice, smoking pot. (And--back to the pictures--a lot of people get naked.) There are free spirits in the book--a guy splashing...
  • A Shock Grows In Brooklyn

    Arnold Lehman, director of the Brooklyn Museum, was recalling his last meeting with New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani. It took place in July at City Hall, where the two bantered about baseball--Giuliani's a well-known Yankees fan, while Lehman has never stopped cheering the Dodgers--and discussed capital improvements for the city-owned museum building. "It was a wonderful meeting," said Lehman wistfully. "The mayor asked great questions. He was funny."But the two men haven't been laughing--or even talking--since the mayor blew up three weeks ago over the controversial exhibition, "Sensation: Young British Artists From the Saatchi Collection." Giuliani threatened to cut all city funding to the museum--$7 million a year, about one third of its operating budget--unless the show was canceled. The mayor was especially outraged by "The Holy Virgin Mary," a painting by Chris Ofili, who used, among other materials, elephant dung. "This is sick stuff," Giuliani said.Lehman had been hoping...
  • This Time, A ‘Backlash’ For Guys

    A Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist, Susan Faludi emerged as a cultural troublemaker in 1991 with "Backlash: The Undeclared War Against American Women," which set off a political firestorm by documenting what she called men's subtle and not-so-subtle resistance to feminist progress. "Stiffed" promises to stir similarly hot emotions. For six years she reported from the front lines of male anxiety: the Tailhook scandal, the Citadel, the porn industry, the sports world and the hot spots of corporate downsizing. After The New Yorker magazine published her brutal chapter on the Citadel military academy, Faludi says, she received a letter from a cadet's girlfriend. "It began, 'Dear f---ing bitch,' and ended with a happy face... I also got letters from men who had been cadets who wrote to say, 'Yes, this is really how it is'." Now age 40, she recently became a contributing editor at NEWSWEEK. She spoke with NEWSWEEK's Cathleen McGuigan.McGuigan: Why a book on men?Faludi: The idea emerged...
  • The 'Talk' Of The Town

    In media circles, when people say "Tina," they never mean Turner, Marie or Louise. For a year now, everyone's been talking about Tina Brown and her new magazine--which is titled Talk but might as well be called "Tina." Ever since she left The New Yorker to take up Harvey Weinstein's offer to start her own magazine, there's been talk about the deal: the new monthly is part of Weinstein's Miramax movie company, which in turn is owned by Disney. (Hearst came in later as a partner and will print and distribute the magazine.) There's been talk about synergy: that the magazine would be a spawning ground for Talk Books and Miramax movies. And there's been a looming question: how would such a magazine, devoted to both serious journalism and celebrity fluff, fly in a crowded market?This week, the first issue of Talk will be launched, with fireworks from the Statue of Liberty, no less. The rumor that Hillary Clinton would be the first cover girl turns out to be true, but she shares the honor...
  • Burning Down The House

    When Dorothy, desperate to get back to Kansas, clicked her heels three times and said, "There's no place like home," she was striking a powerful chord. At the heart of the American dream is home sweet home--the private sanctuary of the family, the fortress against the outside world. Though the 20th century has seen houses mushroom in size (the average new house now sprawls over 2,300 square feet, up from 1,700 square feet in 1970), the basic scheme remains the same: living room, formal dining room (nowadays rarely dined in), kitchen (bigger than ever, though fewer people cook) and three or four bedrooms tucked away. Are houses still going to be built like this a hundred years from now?No way, according to a provocative new show at The Museum of Modern Art in New York called "The Un-Private House." Not that any of the 26 avant-garde designs at MoMA--some built, some not--are likely to become a suburban developer's blueprint. What's significant, says curator Terence Riley, is that...
  • Second Helping

    Don't expect to see Thomas Harris on "Oprah." Or grilled on his taste for the grisly by Katie Couric at breakfast time. On June 8, when "Hannibal," the sequel to "The Silence of the Lambs," hits the nation's bookstores, its author will be as invisible as he can get. Harris has become one of the most famous resisters of fame. He won't give interviews, he won't do bookstore signings. "When I asked him why he wanted to avoid the press, he said that all he has to say is through his books," explained Carole Baron, who until last week was editor in chief of Harris's publisher, Delacorte. But there's one way to hear Harris firsthand: buy the audiobook. There you'll hear his gentle, Mississippi-bred voice reading his own crisp prose--and some of the most gruesome plot points in popular fiction. ...
  • You Look Marvelous, Baby!

    There's practically no piece of furniture you could own today that's as cool as an original Eames chair--say, the wooden lounge chair, made of two molded-plywood "potato chips," linked by a curvy spine. Vintage specimens, which cost as much as $3,000, turn up as the perfect accessory in fashionably minimalist interiors. But Charles and Ray Eames, who designed the chair in 1946, would probably be appalled to see it turned into an object of fetishism. They were modernists in ideology as well as in style and believed in mass production, "the simple thing of getting the most of the best to the greatest number of people for the least," said Charles. And though they were hugely influential in bringing a spare look to corporate offices and public spaces like airports, they didn't believe in living a pared-down life themselves. Their famous modern house in Pacific Palisades, Calif.--a steel and glass box--was chockablock with handicrafts and trinkets, bright rugs and cushions.The first...
  • Whose Life Is It Anyway?

    Say you're a very famous writer and also a very famous recluse. You refuse to publish your stories anymore, and you live way up in New Hampshire in a lonely house and it's very tough to meet--well, girls. What do you do? You write letters, sometimes to strangers. You become pen pals. In 1972 J. D. Salinger, then 53, wrote a fan's note to a Yale freshman, Joyce Maynard, after she published a precocious article in The New York Times called "An 18-Year-Old Looks Back on Life." He praised her writing--and begged her to guard his privacy. Now, 27 years later, "Miss Maynard," as he addressed her, is putting that letter and 13 others up for public auction next month at Sotheby's in New York. The letters detail a courtship that culminated in Maynard's dropping out of college to share Salinger's hermitic life for 10 months, until he kicked her out. So rare are Salinger letters--and so notorious is their romance--that Sotheby's estimates they will sell (as a group) for $60,000 to $80,000.To...
  • Vision Of The Capital

    In the summer of 1961, director Billy Wilder went to Berlin to make his famous cold-war comedy, "One, Two, Three." While he was filming the high-speed romp, with its scenes of James Cagney's limo careering down the boulevards and through the Brandenburg Gate to East Berlin, the wall went up. Wilder had to leave Splitsville, as he called it, for a sound stage in Munich, where he faked pieces of Berlin's cityscape. Still, the movie, with its footage of both real places and re-created sets, captured the disjointed energy of the postwar, pre-wall city, with its sleek new buildings and its tattered old grandeur, its modern aspirations and its scars of horrific conflict.Now, 10 years after the wall came down, you can once again drive through the Brandenburg Gate. And Berlin is still buzzing with disjointed energy--no longer because it's the weirdly bifurcated locus of international tension but because it's a city in the throes of a world-class identity crisis. Nowhere is this more obvious...
  • A Place In The Sun

    IF YOU'VE DRIVEN UP THE 405 through the Sepulveda pass in Los Angeles in recent years, you've seen the Getty Center taking shape. High on a hill above the whizzing traffic, battalions of giant cranes were silhouetted against the brilliant California sky. The six buildings in the complex gradually materialized. Bulldozers moved tons of dirt; a tram rail was laid to bring visitors from the 1,200-car garage at the foot of the hill to the complex at the top; 4,000 live oaks were planted to dress up the slope. Now, nearly $1 billion later, the Getty is finally ready for its opening this December. With a major museum and various allied facilities, it's the costliest art institution ever built in America. The Getty is bound to give a huge boost to L.A.'s cultural aspirations; already it has become a key symbol for a city bouncing back from riots, an earthquake, fires, mudslides and O.J.A project this vast and this visible prompts some grousing, too. Locals wonder if the Getty will be an...
  • Basque-Ing In Glory

    FRANK GEHRY IS SITTING IN front of a funky riverside hangout called the Cafe Mississippi in Bilbao, Spain, philosophizing about art museums. The architect is railing against the dumb white modern boxes that house so much contemporary art today. Artists, he argues, want to be in great buildings; they want to be in the Louvre, for Pete's sake. "The trick is to make galleries where the art looks good," he says, balancing a cup of espresso, "which is to say, not on a pedestal." Or, as he once put it, to design a landmark building, but one that doesn't detract from the art, "that doesn't use up all the oxygen." Gehry, 67, gets up and leans on a rail along the river's edge. There, beached on the opposite bank, is his example of how to do this, the Guggenheim Museum Bilbao. It's an extraordinary sight: a vast, exuberant mElange of angles and curves, shimmering in silvery titanium, glass and pale limestone, a fantastic vessel somehow run aground in this sober industrial city.The museum, not...
  • Portrait Of The Artist

    IF JULIAN SCHNABEL HADN'T MADE Basquiat, someone else would have had to do it. All the ingredients for a classic doomed-by-overnight-success movie can be found in the trajectory of Jean Michel Basquiat's short, sad life. A kid who'd lived in a cardboard box on the fringe of SoHo in New York, he became one of the biggest art stars of the '80s, but was dead of a heroin overdose at 27. After he died, the value of his paintings reached as high as $500,000 at auction; in 1992 the Whitney Museum mounted a retrospective. But whether his paintings are the work of a genius is still a controversial subject among critics. ...
  • Stone, Steel And Cyberspace

    DlGlTAL TECHNOLOGY IS POISED TO have a huge impact on the way architects practice--and ultimately, it could put many of them put of business. After all, argues William Mitchell, dean of architecture at MIT, the more time we spend in cyberspace, the less need we'll have for nice real space. In the meantime, computers have become as ubiquitous as T squares in architects' offices, though CAD--computer-aided design--is used mainly as a high-speed drafting tool. What computers haven't yet done is change the way most architects create. ...
  • Gehry With A French Twist

    AMERICA MAY HAVE GIVEN FRANCE Mickey Rourke, but cultural relations between the two countries are still pretty strained. The French are freaked out about the pollution of pop culture from the United States. First there was the GATT flap over Hollywood movies (60 percent of the French box office). Now a new law will make it a crime to use a foreign expression -- e.g., le cash flow -- in advertising if there's a French equiva-lent, and quotas will be imposed on foreign-language music on French TV and radio. But maybe France will see the new American Center in Paris, opening this week, as a cultural olive branch. After all, Frank Gehry, perhaps our best architect, has made a building as wild as a Jerry Lewis comedy and as sophisticated as jazz. ...
  • A SENSE OF PLACE

    When Frank Lloyd Wright dreamed up Broadacre City-his utopian idea for semirural metropolises--he declared the architecture of each should grow out of the character of its region. America had once looked that logical, but 20th-century mass culture changed all that. We have Cape Cod cottages in Kansas, Mediterranean villas in Michigan, and glass-and-steel boxes everywhere. But looking around in the '90s, the most provocative emerging architects are drawing inspiration from their immediate surroundings. They hate being tagged "regionalists"-it sounds provincial and too cute, when there's nothing imitative about their work. They're originals who pay attention to land and climate; they use local materials, juxtaposed in a rich way; they're tuned in to the quirks of local culture. Here are three of the best. ...
  • He Built A Space Of Terrible Beauty

    Architect James Ingo Freed, a Jewish refugee, was 9 years old when he escaped from Germany with his 4-year-old sister in 1939. His parents fled three years later, and though most of his mother's family who stayed behind died, he grew up learning little about the Holocaust. When he first began working on a design for the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum, he was stymied. He read extensively about Hitler's extermination of the Jews, but in three months came up empty. "I couldn't get it," he says. Finally, in 1986, he packed his bags and went to the camps -Auschwitz, Birkenau, Dachau, Treblinka and others. ...
  • The Future, Italian Style

    Renzo Piano is a tough architect to pigeonhole-which is why he's so right for the end of the millennium. He takes a thoughtful, idiosyncratic approach to all kinds of projects, then expresses the beauty of technology through craftsmanship-crisp metal trusses, elegant joints or handsome panels of brick. His firm, the Renzo Piano Building Workshop, based in Genoa, Italy, designs everything from cities to nuts. Piano's current projects range from the giant $2 billion Kansai airport in Japan to the Potsdamer Platz in the heart of Berlin, to a small arts center on the Pacific island of New Caledonia. His architecture isn't well known in the United States (he's built just one project here, the Menil Collection in Houston), but now an exhibition of his work has opened at The Architectural League in New York (through Jan. 30, traveling to the Menil Collection, March 11-30). ...
  • Remembering The Witch Hunt's Victims

    Cemeteries are irresistibly spooky places. The one on Charter Street in Salem Mass., is a classic-small and moody, some of its weather-beaten headstones dating back to the 17th century. But don't expect to come upon the ghosts of witches here. The 20 people executed for witchcraft in the summer of 1692 didn't have a Christian burial; most of their bodies were pitched into an unmarked mass grave. So as part of the Tercentenary commemoration, the city of Salem decided to build a memorial to them. The competition to design it was flooded with 246 proposals, from as far away as Czechoslovakia. Earlier this month, the winning project, by architect James Cutler and artist Maggie Smith, of Bainbridge Island, Wash., was dedicated. Cutler-known for Pacific Northwest houses that are sensitive to the environment-has been designing with architect Peter Bohlin a gargantuan, multimillion-dollar residence near Seattle for Microsoft wunderkind Bill Gates. For Cutler, the Salem memorial was a modest...
  • Do The Wright Thing

    Five months after Hiroshima, Frank Lloyd Wright was explaining his concept for the yet-to-be-built Guggenheim Museum to some reporters. The building was to be a spiral, coiled " like a spring," the ramp one continuous ribbon from top to bottom. " When the first atomic bomb lands on New York," he said, "it will not be destroyed. It may be blown a few miles up into the air, but when it comes down it will bounce!" ...