Devin Gordon

Stories by Devin Gordon

  • TV Review: 'Damages' and 'Saving Grace'

    There is something broken about an industry that can't find good work for actresses like Glenn Close and Holly Hunter. No one wants to hear another pious rant about the film business's allergy to women over the age of 40, because, for one thing, it's not entirely true, and for another, enough already. But even granting that such venality exists in Hollywood, Close and Hunter, who have one Oscar and eight nominations between them, are the kinds of talents who still should be getting by just fine. Close, now 60, is like a poor man's Meryl Streep, which may sound like an insult, but come on—we should all be so lucky. Like Streep, Close's career hasn't depended on sex appeal for decades, and she's blessed with a regal, imperious quality that never gets old. Hunter, meanwhile, is one of the most fearless actresses alive. The same woman who won an Oscar for a silent role in "The Piano" also starred in the Coen brothers' screwball classic "Raising Arizona" and David Cronenberg's freaky...
  • ESPN: Worldwide Cheerleader?

    Throughout July, ESPN's award-winning flagship news hour "SportsCenter" is devoting a chunk of every broadcast to a segment called "Who's Now." It's an elimination tournament, purely theoretical, to determine which current athlete is the most "now"—although two weeks into the competition, it's still anyone's guess what exactly "now" means. A panel of experts, including ex-NFL diva Keyshawn Johnson, debate whether, say, the NBA's Dwyane Wade or snowboarder Shaun White is more "now." Viewers vote online, and the winner moves on to face Tiger Woods in the next round. And so on. Everything about the segment is so artificial, from concept to execution, that watching it is like chewing Styrofoam.Lots of people in the sports world took shots at "Who's Now" last week, including ESPN's own star columnist Bill Simmons. It was just another wound in what turned out be an unexpectedly untriumphant stretch for "the worldwide leader in sports." Monday's Home Run Derby on ESPN, minus slugger Barry...
  • Emmy Noms: Why 'Lost' Got Overlooked

    The two most talked-about television events of the past year were the final season of "The Sopranos," during which Tony Soprano either did or didn't die in the final seconds of the last episode, and the season finale of "Lost," which blew its audience's collective mind with (spoiler coming, sorry) a pre-crash, pre-island flashback that was actually—gotcha!—a post-crash, post-rescue flash-forward. When the 2007 Emmy nominations were announced at 5:30 a.m. in Los Angeles on Thursday morning, one of these shows was rewarded lavishly by the television academy, earning more nominations—15—than any other series, and the other show got snubbed, big time. The reasons why this happened reveal a lot about how the Emmys work, and a lot more about how they don't.The Emmys have always had a soft spot for nominating programs in their swan-song season, so no one was surprised when "The Sopranos" came up the big winner this year, earning nods for best drama series, best lead actor (James Gandolfini...
  • The Men of Summer

    Is it weird that television's best new drama of the summer is on a channel called American Movie Classics? No more peculiar than MTV's thriving for years without playing much music, right? Besides, in the era of "The Sopranos," TV has revolutionized itself by often feeling more movie-ish than the movies. AMC, which reaches into more than 91 million homes, has never created its own scripted TV series. That'll change with the July 19 debut of "Mad Men," a stinging drama set in 1960 about Madison Avenue advertising executives that is so sumptuously filmed, you could turn down the volume and just watch the suits. But then you'd miss series creator Matthew Weiner's crackling dialogue, soaked with casual bigotry and sexism, evoking, he says, "this textured world where Kerouac and Ginsberg are writing while Eisenhower is in the White House." Weiner wrote the "Mad Men" pilot seven years ago, and it helped land him a gig on—whaddya know?—"The Sopranos." "It was my writing sample," he says....
  • After 'The Sopranos', HBO's Next Act

    To help remodel the house that Tony Soprano built, HBO will unveil five original series over the next year, including a show about a combustible family of California surfers, a broad satire of filthy-rich Friends of Dubya set deep in the heart of Texas and a relationship drama with scenes of raw sexuality between four different couples, among them a pair of white-haired sixtysomethings. That last show is called "Tell Me You Love Me," and it could lead to a revision of HBO's time-honored slogan: it's not TV, it's an old man's butt. Yet HBO's most radical new show might turn out to be "In Treatment," debuting this fall and starring Gabriel Byrne. It's about a therapist who talks to his patients about their problems. "I know. Yawn," says Carolyn Strauss, HBO's president of original programming. But just as "The Sopranos" was no ordinary Mafia tale, "In Treatment" is not your average show about a shrink. It's a half-hour drama—a rarity in itself—and it will air five nights a week for...
  • 'Waitress': Filmmaker’s Sad Goodbye

    Adrienne Shelly wrote, directed, co-set-designed, co-costume-designed and costars in the new film "Waitress." She also composed a song for the soundtrack and gave her 3-year-old daughter, Sophie, a cameo in the final scene. The movie is a serene comedy about an unhappily married—and even more unhappily pregnant—woman named Jenna (Keri Russell of "Felicity") who finds refuge from her stifling life by baking exquisite pies with names like "Pregnant Miserable Self-Pitying Loser Pie." (It's made with lumpy oatmeal and fruitcake, then flambéed.) More simply, though, "Waitress" is about a gifted woman finding her place in the world, and in that regard it is a metaphor for Shelly's own life. In the 1990s, Shelly was a pixie-faced ingénue who starred in a pair of films by the auteurist director Hal Hartley. But she resisted the lure of Hollywood and stayed put in New York, writing her own scripts and immersing herself in the city's close-knit indie-film world. She made two films that got...
  • Controversial PBS Series: 'America at a Crossroads'

    In "The Case for War," the third installment of PBS's sprawling, 11-part, $20 million documentary series "America at a Crossroads," former Bush administration adviser Richard Perle spends the better part of an hour explaining why going to war in Iraq was the right thing to do. "The Case for War" has infuriated many public broadcasters and media watchdogs from the moment that plans for it, and for "America at a Crossroads," were announced in March 2004. Its critics accused the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, the federal entity that helps fund PBS, of letting the Bush team hijack public television for its own ends. And they attacked Perle for pushing a neoconservative agenda with taxpayer money.But when I watched "The Case for War," mostly I just felt bad for the guy. At one point, Perle wades into an antiwar rally in Washington, D.C., and is immediately swarmed. "It got pretty vicious," he tells NEWSWEEK. "When someone shouts, 'You're a weapon of mass destruction' or 'You're...
  • TV: When No News Is Not Good News

    If you were looking to build a case for the sheer pointlessness of 24-hour cable-news networks, Monday afternoon’s coverage of the mass shooting at Virginia Tech would’ve been a great place to start. It was excruciating to watch the afternoon cable-news coverage for much more than an hour, and not just because what happened in Blacksburg, Va., was so nightmarish. Any sane person would quickly feel the need to look away. But any sane person would also want answers, and within minutes of turning on CNN, MSNBC or Fox News, it was clear that no one had any. No one knew who the killer was. No one knew who the victims were. No one knew why the shootings happened. No one knew how the gunfire ended or why it went on so long. But that didn’t stop any of the three cable networks from repeating, ad nauseum, just how much they didn’t know. When that got old, they filled in the dead air with empty speculation, hearsay and unconfirmed half-truths. They all showed the same stock photos of parked...
  • Horror No Longer Scares Hollywood

    The medical photographs on Robert Rodriguez's laptop are, in a word, disgusting. They show real, live human beings afflicted with ... actually, Robert, why don't you explain? "It's this thing called 'necrotizing fasciitis.' It's basically a flesh-eating virus," he says, giggling. "Pretty nasty, huh?" The 38-year-old director ("Sin City") borrowed the photos from a doctor pal and used them to inspire the look of the zombies in "Planet Terror," an 85-minute splatterfest that kicks off "Grindhouse," the outrageous horror-flick double feature that Rodriguez made in tandem with longtime pal Quentin Tarantino. (Tarantino's portion is a chase movie called "Death Proof" about a stuntman with a killer car.) The twin billing is a perverse homage to the craptastic, low-budget exploitation flicks that Rodriguez and Tarantino used to sneak in to in the late 1970s. "These movies couldn't get big stars, so they had to have what they called 'exploitable' elements, lurid material that Hollywood...
  • Q & A: Quentin Tarantino

    People are always eating and drinking in Quentin Tarantino's films, and he always makes sure to give them cool places to do it. The 44-year-old filmmaker loves colorful banter, and restaurants and bars are the ideal setting. Over the course of his career, he's given us the diner at the beginning of "Reservoir Dogs," Jack Rabbit Slim's and Big Kahuna Burger in "Pulp Fiction" and the glamorously serene House of Blue Leaves in "Kill Bill, Volume 1." He gives us two more hip establishments in his new movie, "Death Proof": a Tex-Mex joint named Guero's and a dumpy roadhouse bar called the Texas Chili Parlor. So frankly, it's a little disappointing when Tarantino asks a NEWSWEEK reporter to meet him for an interview at his local Starbucks. It's just down the street from his apartment in New York's West Village, but still. Fortunately, when Tarantino shows up, he's exactly the guy fans have come to expect: a manic, mile-a-minute talker in blue jeans and a vintage T shirt. For his latest...
  • TV Preview: How Will 'The Sopranos' End?

    In the opening moments of the April 8 season premiere of “The Sopranos,” a loud knock at the front door startles Tony and Carmela out of sleep. “Is this it?” she asks, with a flash of panic. Well, Carmela, yes and no. No, the FBI agents at her door are not there to drag Tony away for good. (He spends only a night in jail on a minor charge.) But the larger answer really is yes, this is it: HBO’s celebrated drama will finish for good in June after only eight more episodes. It’s clear that David Chase, the mordantly funny creator of “The Sopranos,” is just having a laugh over all the hoopla about how his show will end. But maybe it’s also a hint: if you chose “Tony goes to prison” in your office pool, it looks you’re going to lose. Chase appears to be telling us that a jail cell is way too mild for this guy. If the season premiere is a kind of prologue, there’s a message here about the final hours of “The Sopranos”: this is gonna get ugly.And yet the beauty of the episode (which was...
  • TV: A Radio Classic Gets a Look

    Last summer, the Chicago Tribune printed a peculiar story about the nationally syndicated public-radio show “This American Life.” The story wasn’t so much about the show, which has a loyal weekly following of 1.7 million listeners, so much as it was about the show’s staff and their struggles to get situated in their new home, New York City, after a decade of happy times in Chicago, where “This American Life” got its start. It contained anecdotes about braving the New York real-estate market, good-natured grumbling about cockroaches and nostalgic sighs over beloved cafes and doggy-care centers that had been left behind in the Windy City. In short, the story had no journalistic merit whatsoever. “What’s funny is, while the guy was writing it, I kept asking him, ‘Why is this a story for a newspaper?’” says Ira Glass, the geek-chic host of “This American Life,” whose clever-but-not-too-clever, folksy-but-not-too-folksy stories about ordinary Americans with extraordinary tales have...
  • HBO's Hard Look at Addiction

    What happens to drug addicts who don't get the help that they need? Forget for a moment whether you believe the prevailing science that addiction is a disease, or that proper medical care—and not willpower alone—is required to overcome it. Forget your own feelings about the morality of drug use and about who's to blame when use erupts into full-blown abuse. Just for now, forget questions of right versus wrong, and focus on cold, hard reality. What happens to drug addicts who don't recover? Do they vanish, like ghosts, and take their problems along with them when they evaporate into the ether? Do they slink into darkened corners, hating and hurting only themselves? Do they die quietly and harmlessly, without disturbing the rest of us?Of course not. Drug addicts who don't get the help they need get worse, and their addictions grow and grow, until their compulsion has consumed everyone and everything around them. They destroy families. They turn to crime. They put other people in...
  • TV: Wedding Bell Blues

    David E. Kelley’s new hourlong comedy for Fox, “The Wedding Bells,” about three sisters (named, tah-dah, Bell) who run a fancy, full-service wedding parlor, is dreadful in a multitude of ways, but at least it clarified for me how important I’ll be at my own wedding in two months: not at all. So unimportant, in fact, that apparently all I really need to do between now and then is remember to show up. I am a prop with a pulse. It doesn’t matter what I think because that would imply that I exist, which I don’t, until I’m absolutely necessary. During the pilot episode of “The Wedding Bells,” which premiered last night in the sweet spot after “American Idol,” the groom doesn’t utter a single line. Heck, he doesn’t even appear on screen until the show’s closing moments. Throughout the preceding 55 minutes, his fiancée and her mother say and do a number of predictably awful things. The bride picks a fight with the wedding singer and briefly calls off the whole shebang. Her mother bribes...
  • Why Tv Is Better Than The Movies

    Denis Leary remembers the exact moment when all his notions about what television could be got blown to smithereens. It came during the first season of "The Sopranos." "It was the episode where Tony Soprano is driving Meadow to visit colleges and he runs into the snitch along the way," says Leary, the star and co-creator of FX's firefighter dramedy "Rescue Me." Tony (James Gandolfini) happens upon the turncoat, who'd been placed in witness protection, at a gas station on some leafy country road. The next day, after dropping off his daughter for a campus interview, Tony tracks down the snitch and brutally strangles him to death with a coil of wire. "I remember watching that and thinking, 'Oh, my God ... '," Leary says. "I don't think I blinked that entire episode. The show ended at 10 o'clock, and at 10:05 the phone in my apartment started ringing off the hook. That's when I thought, 'If they can do this , you can do anything in this format'."For other people, maybe it was another...
  • Beliefs: When Not All Publicity Is Good Publicity

    In late October 2006, Alexandra Pelosi turned over to HBO her finished documentary, “Friends of God,” a two-years-in-the-making road-trip tour of the country’s massive evangelical Christian community. Then two major events occurred that utterly transformed her documentary, even though she hadn’t touched a frame of it. First, her self-described “tour guide” throughout the journey, Rev. Ted Haggard, the former president of the 30-million-strong National Association of Evangelicals, resigned in a scandal over his relationship with a male prostitute. Then, a week later, the mid-term election gave Democrats control of both houses of Congress—an outcome that made Pelosi’s mother, Nancy, the country’s first-ever female Speaker of the House. (And a few weeks after that , Pelosi, 36, gave birth to her first child.) Suddenly, her modest one-hour film had become scandalized and politicized. With “Friends of God” premiering on HBO on Thursday, Pelosi spoke with NEWSWEEK’S Devin Gordon about her...
  • Stop Or They'll Shoot!

    Armed & famous," CBS's new reality series about celebrities turned cops in Muncie, Ind., is one of those abominations that get people moaning about the plight of American culture, but if nothing else, the show justifies its existence by giving us scenes where someone can utter the phrase "Officer La Toya Jackson." The seven-episode series is like a cross between "Cops" and "Scooby-Doo," only instead of Shaggy, the team doofus is 4-foot-7 Jason (Wee-Man) Acuña of "Jackass" fame. (WWE wrestler Trish Stratus, Erik Estrada of TV's "CHiPs" and Jack Osbourne, son of Ozzy, round out the show's crack crimefighting unit.) In recent years, the citizens of Minnesota and California have put celebrities in the governor's mansion, so maybe it's not such a leap to give them live ammunition. Still, even the show's executive producer Tom Forman sounds surprised that his idea made it onto network television. "When you condense this show down to one line," Forman says, "it does sound like a joke....
  • Smashing Your 'Idols'

    Since “American Idol” has helped make this country into a place where we bare our souls, no matter the price, here’s my confession: last night’s season premiere was the first time I’d ever watched an entire episode of it. I've caught glimpses of the show—usually the last minute or two, clipped by my TiVo before a new episode of “24”—but that’s all. I’ve only been NEWSWEEK’s television critic for six weeks now, so prior to last night, “American Idol” was someone else’s job. And if I didn’t have to watch a reality show where people sing painful versions of Top 40 pop songs and worn-out Broadway numbers, then I’d pass, thanks. But now duty calls. Plus, my editors thought it would be fun to read what the show looks like through the eyes of a complete newbie, like a bargain-basement Alexis de Tocqueville planted on a couch and handed a remote. So now that I’ve finally had my first true “Idol” experience, I find myself plagued by one nagging question: what in God’s name is wrong with...
  • The Final Hunt

    From his hotel bed in Cairns, Australia, John Stainton stared at the ceiling and waited for sleep to take him. 1 a.m. ... 2 a.m. ... 3 a.m. ... But it never came. His best friend and filmmaking partner of 15 years, Steve Irwin, had been dead for less than a day, the victim of a shocking stingray attack, and Stainton couldn't cry anymore, and he couldn't sleep. So at 5 a.m., he picked up the phone and began calling friends. Not to reminisce, but to ask them to come back to work. The Sept. 4, 2006, accident on the Great Barrier Reef occurred during a break in the production of "Ocean's Deadliest," an Animal Planet documentary that Irwin was to host alongside Philippe Cousteau, grandson of the fabled oceanographer. (Never one to waste a day, Irwin, who was 44, was killed while pitching in on his 8-year-old daughter Bindi's nature show.) Suddenly, "Ocean's Deadliest" had become the Crocodile Hunter's last film, and it wasn't quite finished. Lying in bed, Stainton says, "I realized that...
  • The Arctic Adventurer

    On an unseasonably warm day just south of the Arctic circle, the star of "The Golden Compass" flops into a chair near a snowdrift and braces herself for an onslaught of questions. She's bundled up, but since this is actually just a soundstage outside London--the Arctic will be digitally added later--she's shedding layers. She has been coached, surely, about how to handle this moment, but just in case, her mother sits beside her, and a publicist hovers nearby like a bee. The fuss is understandable. "The Golden Compass" is next autumn's $150 million film version of the first book in Philip Pullman's critically revered fantasy trilogy "His Dark Materials"--the next "Lord of the Rings," if you're into breathless hype--and its star, Dakota Blue Richards, is just 12 years old and about to give the first press interview of her young life. She's nervous for a minute, but soon she's racing through the story of how she landed the part. She was grumpy from a bad day at school when the director...
  • Olympics: America's Top Ski Bum

    Even now, Bode Miller insists he had a blast at February's Winter Olympics in Torino, Italy. He hung out with his pals, ate good food and partied till he dropped. He even got in a little skiing. So what if he entered five events and didn't medal in any of them? That's skiing, dude. And in skiing, as Miller told me when we met for NEWSWEEK's January cover story about him, "s--t happens." Which is true, as far as it goes. Bad luck could well be the reason Miller was the U.S. goat of these Games--there was actually quite a competition for that honor--but it wasn't bad luck that he showed up in Italy out of shape and uninterested.The real explanation for Miller's meltdown might be this: Bode just plain doesn't like the Olympics. The parties? Sure. The Games? Not a bit. When we spoke, Miller made it clear that he felt cornered into going and would stay home "if it wasn't such a clusterf--- for me to pull out." He's long believed that the Olympics are too medal-obsessed (arguably true),...
  • Sarah Silverman

    At two minutes past 3 o'clock, Sarah Silverman calls and the first thing she says is, "I am so sorry." She is exactly two minutes late. That's the real Sarah Silverman. Then there's "Sarah Silverman," the star of Comedy Central's rudely funny "Sarah Silverman Program," which debuts Feb. 1. On the show, when her friend Natalie calls, Sarah asks, "Tall, thin Natalie? Or Natalie Bishop?" It is Natalie Bishop. TV Sarah never apologizes, but if her lips are moving, she probably should.Silverman (the real one) is famous for a stand-up act that flirts openly with racism, sexism and every other ism. Being a pretty Jewish girl from New Hampshire only adds to the shock value. Her show is an unholy union of "Pee-Wee's Playhouse" absurdism and "Curb Your Enthusiasm" 's acidity. But Silverman's spin is the way she spews bile with a smile. "A happy-go-lucky douche bag," she says. But people are bound to wonder where the TV Sarah ends and the real one begins. "She's definitely a part of me,"...
  • Attack of the Killer Basketball!

    Of all the complaints that that NBA players have lodged about the new "microfiber composite" basketball in use this year, this one is surely the most bizarre: apparently, players are suffering cuts on their fingers from it. Yes, it's just a ball. No, it is not coated in shards of glass. Still, during a game earlier this month, Phoenix Suns MVP point guard Steve Nash had to wear bandages on his fingers from nicks caused by the ball. New Jersey Nets point guard Jason Kidd says his fingers have been cut, too. According to Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, this isn't a case of rich guys whining. "There's lots of little particles from the composite materials [on the ball]," Cuban wrote in an e-mail to NEWSWEEK. "You should see the hands of the coaches who work with the players. They are far, far worse." In peewee sports, the coaches always say, "Don't be afraid of the ball." Well, not anymore. Be afraid of the ball. Be very afraid.After the league spent 35 years using the same classic...
  • Newsmakers: Ricky Gervais, Pam, Kid, Paris, Lindsay and a Haiku

    The British comedian stars in the new family flick "A Night at the Museum," which is set in New York's American Museum of Natural History. He spoke with Nicki Gostin.Yeah, they do look a bit like lost souls staring back at you. I think the best stuffed animals are the ones just curled up asleep.It was the first one I did. We filmed in Vancouver. They put us up in this lovely five-star hotel. I got to the set and the trailer was huge, and the director bounced up to me and asked if everything was OK. I said, "The trailer's bigger than my hotel room," and he said, "Do you want a bigger hotel room?"Well, I found out that Ben Stiller's trailer was bigger than mine and I stormed off. The director made us swap.Well, no. I tried to distance myself. The show has had time to grow and find its own feet. Rather like America being part of England. We started it off, and now they're doing well without us.Exactly. It's like a son you didn't think would amount to anything. You don't like the way he...
  • Revisiting the Tsunami

    The opening sequence of “Tsunami: The Aftermath,” HBO’s noble new mini-series about the minutes, hours and days following the December 2004 disaster in south Asia, has the bewildering power of a nightmare. A scuba diver in the open ocean bursts to the surface. She finds that she’s alone, and all is silent. Yards away, she spots someone floating peculiarly in the water, and cries out when she realizes that he’s dead. Then she sees another body, and then another one. What in God’s name has happened? The filmmaking in these early moments is beautiful and menacing, with each successive shot revealing some horrible new disturbance in the natural order of things. Eventually the woman, Susie (Sophie Okonedo), finds her tour boat, and she returns to shore with the other divers, where they discover that their massive, idyllic resort has been smashed to bits. Everyone races onto solid ground, searching in a panic for the loved ones who stayed behind. That includes Susie’s husband and 6-year...
  • Attack of the Killer Basketball!

    Of all the complaints that NBA players have lodged about the new “microfibre composite” basketball in use during league play this year, this one is surely the most bizarre: apparently, players are suffering cuts on their fingers from it. Really? How? It’s a ball. It’s round. It is spherical. It is not, to anyone’s knowledge, coated in steel wool or shards of glass. But during a game last week, Phoenix Suns MVP point guard Steve Nash had to wear bandages on his fingers from cuts caused by the ball. (Though he did hand out a league-high 20 assists in a game this week. Guess the wounds healed.) New Jersey Nets point guard Jason Kidd says his fingers have been cut, too. Same with Dallas Mavericks superstar Dirk Nowitzki and teammate Jason Terry. As kids playing Pee Wee sports, the coaches always told us, “Don’t be afraid of the ball.” Well, not anymore. Be afraid of the ball. Be very afraid.According to the guy who signs Nowitzki’s and Terry’s paychecks, Mavericks owner Mark Cuban, the...
  • 2006: A Space Oddity

    Darren Aronofsky's "The Fountain" stars Hugh Jackman and Rachel Weisz in a time-tripping, psychedelic love story set in three different centuries. The story of how it got made is either (a) the story of a gifted director who refused to quit on an idea and bet his career on the movie of his dreams, or it's (b) a folly about a myopic talent who set out to make an Important Film and ended up delivering a silly one. Case in point: this story's author loved the movie; this magazine's film critic called it "a ludicrous farrago" in these pages. Strong words, but Aronofsky ("Pi," "Requiem for a Dream") doesn't flinch. "I grew up in Brooklyn," he says in his chummy Coney Island accent. "I can take it. The fact that the movie is so divisive--that's what I've always done. And I made the film I wanted to make. It's out there in the world.""The Fountain" began shortly after Aronofsky turned 30 and his parents were diagnosed with cancer just weeks apart. They both recovered, but it got him...
  • Newsmakers: Oscar and Divorce, Emma Thompson

    Is it Oscar's fault that yet another Hollywood marriage has gone kaput? Reese Witherspoon won her statue this year; now she and hubby, Ryan Phillippe, are splitting. We smell a trend:Won her second Oscar, for "Million Dollar Baby," in 2005; divorced Chad Lowe in 2006.Oscar for "Monster's Ball" in 2002; divorced from Eric Benet in 2004.Oscar for "Cabaret" in 1973; divorced from Peter Allen in 1974.Oscar for "Klute" in 1972; divorced from Roger Vadim in 1973.Oscar for "Funny Girl" in 1969; divorced from Elliott Gould in 1971.Oscar for "Butterfield 8" in 1961; divorced from Eddie Fisher 1964.In her new film "stranger Than Fiction," the British actress stars as a famous writer with a horrid case of writer's block. Thompson spoke with Nicki Gostin.What I tend to do is lie in a fetal position under my desk and weep for a while. Then I get bored with that and I write something.I'm in big with my daughter. In fact, I'm taking her to the set at half term. So I'm in with her and her friends...
  • The Brain Behind Borat

    For a brief moment in December 2004, the "Borat" movie was on the brink of collapse. The original director had left--"creative differences" with the star, the usual stuff--and the studio was getting twitchy. "We were officially a problem project at that point," recalls producer Jay Roach, who directed "Austin Powers." Leading man Sacha Baron Cohen's choice to take over was "Seinfeld" veteran Larry Charles--but there was a problem. "I had hair down to my a--, a beard down to my waist and I was wearing pajamas a lot," says Charles. Baron Cohen was worried that the shaggy look might tip off Borat's unwitting interview subjects that something was fishy. "So Sacha gingerly said to me, 'Would you be willing to possibly, maybe trim your hair?' I said, 'Of course!' I had to look exactly right so he could do his job."Britain's Sacha Baron Cohen is about to become famous here in "U.S. and A.," as Borat calls it, and very wealthy to boot. His movie is a chattering-class sensation, and the...
  • Back to the Future

    You can always tell the precise moment when a big movie franchise goes completely off the rails. It's never subtle. When George Clooney showed up with nipples on his Batsuit, it was all over. Or when Rocky settled the cold war. Or when Superman established world peace. Once Hannibal Lecter cut off the top of Ray Liotta's head and fed him his own brains, was there anything left to say? (Besides "eww.") In the James Bond series, Hollywood's longest-running franchise, Denise Richards was once cast as a nuclear physicist, and without just the right eyeglasses she never would've pulled it off. But the saga's tipping point, says Bond coproducer Michael Wilson, came during 2002's "Die Another Day," when Agent 007 got behind the wheel of an invisible car. "You tend to start drifting," he says. "We got a little too fantastical. We needed to re-engage the audience." But after 44 years, 20 films, five different Bonds and countless juvenile sexual puns--how? By pushing the reboot button on the...