Devin Gordon

Stories by Devin Gordon

  • Chronicle of a Death Foretold

    Director Gabriel Range’s faux-documentary “Death of a President” was a scandal before anyone even saw it. Set a year from now, the film is an investigation into the shooting “assassination” of President George W. Bush outside a Chicago hotel following a speech and an analysis of how the American psyche has been affected by the war on terror and the war in Iraq. By the time “Death of a President” arrived at the Toronto Film Festival in September, Range, an award-winning English filmmaker, was Public Enemy No. 1 for simply daring to make the film at all. It was labeled sick, disgusting, immoral, unthinkable, almost always by people who hadn’t seen it. After the festival—at which, incidentally, the film received positive reviews—numerous American theater chains refused to book the movie. This week, CNN, Fox and NPR refused to accept paid advertisements for it. Nonetheless, it opens Friday in 100 theaters nationwide, finally giving people a chance to decide for themselves whether “Death...
  • Behind the Schemes

    He arrives at the very last second for his interviews, and he doesn't stick around afterward for small talk. As soon as the camera's off, he vanishes. "His crew wouldn't let anybody near the guy," says Jim Sell, a car salesman at the Criswell Dealership in Gaithersburg, Md. About 18 months ago, Borat Sagdiyev, a "TV journalist from Kazakhstan" who's actually an English guerrilla comedian named Sacha Baron Cohen, visited Sell to buy a vehicle for a "documentary" he was making about his experiences driving across America. "We had to move to a remote area on the lot," says Sell, "and now I understand why." After a few hours, during which Borat, cameras rolling, requested a car with a "p---y magnet" and tried to buy a $70,000 Hummer for $600, the strange visitor was gone. Later, while Sell shared the story with his co-workers, one woman rushed off to print out a photo from HBO's Web site. "It was Borat," he says. "I got set up pretty good, and I'm not real happy about it. For $150, I...
  • A Pitcher’s Last Flight

    Like many of his former teammates on the Philadelphia Phillies this summer, Arthur Rhodes was angry with Cory Lidle. After Lidle was traded to the New York Yankees as part of a blockbuster deal Aug. 3, the outspoken 34-year-old veteran pitcher blasted his old teammates for lacking passion and a commitment to winning. The next day, Rhodes blasted back. Surrounded by reporters, he first called Lidle a scab, reopening an old wound from more than a decade ago when Lidle crossed the picket line during the tail end of the 1994-95 player’s strike. And then he took a dig at Lidle’s favorite off-the-field pastime. “All that guy wants to do,” Rhodes said, “is fly around in his airplane.”This afternoon in New York, Lidle was doing just that, but at 2:42 p.m. something went terribly wrong. He crashed his four-seat Cirrus SR20 aircraft into a high-rise apartment building in Manhattan’s Upper East Side neighborhood, killing him and one other passenger. Lidle’s passport was found at the crash...
  • Newsmakers

    The camera loves Cameron Diaz, but that doesn't mean that she cares much for cameramen. Last week Diaz filed a police report accusing a paparazzo of assault with a deadly weapon--the weapon being his car. Diaz claims that the photographer tried to run her over, along with boyfriend Justin Timberlake, on a street in Hollywood after the couple spotted the photographer in the bushes and chased him away. For his part, the photographer says that he was trying to drive around the couple and their entourage, but that Diaz actually stood in the street to stop him from fleeing. (No accusations were made by either party as to why Diaz's hair has suddenly turned dark brown.)It's not the first time Diaz and Timberlake have snapped at a photographer. Two years ago a man accused the power couple of chasing him and snatching his camera, though no criminal charges were ever filed. And earlier this year Diaz won a civil suit she'd filed against a guy who had taken topless photos of her when she was...
  • Documentaries: Money for Nothing

    Depending on whom you ask, filmmaker Robert Greenwald is either a fearless chronicler of corporate greed or a lefty propagandist--Michael Moore with better manners. One thing's for sure: he's got guts. After making exposés about Fox News and Wal-Mart, Greenwald, 61, takes on Halliburton and big-ticket war contractors in his unsettling new film, "Iraq for Sale: The War Profiteers." He spoke with Devin Gordon.No. But they're truthful. Do I have to show a side that isn't truthful--that doesn't have the facts behind it--in order to create balance? I argue no.Watch through the end credits. There's three minutes of footage showing our 25 to 30 phone calls trying to reach these guys.Because it's not very interesting. The movie's first goal is to grab you emotionally.They'd say that it's war-time, and they're doing an important job. And then I'd say, "Yes, but should the head of Halliburton have made $42 million last year?" The thing about corporate culture is that an attitude permeates...
  • Movies: Ball Blunders

    Sony's upcoming teens-in-juvy saga "Gridiron Gang," based on a 1993 documentary, is a quality flick. But how's the football ? "Gridiron Gang" is tripped up late by a series of gaffes that no serious sports fan would miss. (Sony declined to comment.) What does "Gridiron Gang" get wrong? PERI plays referee and throws the flags: ...
  • Q & A Jack Black

    The actor-rocker will host the MTV Video Music Awards on Aug. 31. He spoke with Devin Gordon about the gig, his upcoming Tenacious D movie and his new son.Well, I am little zombiefied right now.Yeah. I know.Awesome. Samuel's very squishy and pink. Just a very fleshy boy. I love him.The first one that comes to mind is Julio and Enrique Iglesias. I know they had a very fiery, contentious relationship. I hope me and Samuel can rise above that.I don't think of it so much as a feather in my cap as a fiery hoop that I must dive through.Oh, yeah. [ Laughs ] Oh, God. That was embarrassing--but, in retrospect, hilarious. There was also the time when the dude from Rage Against the Machine climbed up the scaffolding and refused to come down. Remember? They had to cut to commercial and call in the funny-farm guys.Oh, yeah. I mean, it rocks me . I can't promise you're gonna love it as much as I do. But I anticipate that the unveiling will be my proudest moment.No. You're right. Goddang it. You...
  • The NASCAR Network

    There are three notable differences between watching a NASCAR race from the grandstands and watching it in the Fox Sports production truck parked just beyond the speedway. In the truck, it's a crispy 60 degrees Fahrenheit, not surface-of-the-sun hot. In the truck, you can hear yourself think and even, on occasion, speak. And in the truck, thanks to a bank of TV screens carrying feeds from 25 cameras, you can see just about everything. Otherwise, a race feels much the same. It's intense and exhilarating, even if you're not an expert on auto racing. Which brings up another difference: in the truck, someone can explain it to you.Take this moment from the Neighborhood Excellence 400, run in June at the Monster Mile in Dover, Delaware. Lap 273. A mild collision forces ace driver Jimmie Johnson into the pit. Watching the action from Fox's pre-race-show studio on the speedway infield, Jeff Hammond, a NASCAR crew chief turned TV analyst, notices a member of Johnson's pit crew scrambling...
  • Armistead And 'Tony'

    In 1993, author Armistead Maupin befriended, via telephone, a 14-year-old boy named Tony who'd written a memoir about being sexually abused. Gradually, however, Maupin began to suspect that "Tony" was the woman who was claiming to be the boy's foster mother. (He was right.) In 2001, he wrote a novel about the experience called "The Night Listener." The film, starring Robin Williams, hits theaters this week. Maupin spoke with Devin Gordon.I felt a certain--I don't know what to call it--smug satisfaction when all those other writers were bamboozled by JT Leroy. Because I thought, "Well, if they'd just read my damn novel ... "It's strange in every direction. A lot of people will assume the facts of the movie are the facts of my life, which they are not. I didn't take off on an adventure to find this kid. I never got off my a-- in San Francisco. That's what writers do: we imagine where life might take us if we ever actually acted on it.I continue to feel a certain affection for that...
  • Movies: 'Superman II': Take II

    The off-screen saga of 1980's "Superman II" is as memorable in Hollywood as the film itself. After a bitter feud with his producers, director Richard Donner, who piloted the 1978 "Superman" into movie history, was booted off the sequel halfway through shooting. The finished film, credited to director Richard Lester, was a smash hit. But ever since, fans have itched to see Donner's version. Their wait is almost over. At the behest of Warner Brothers, the franchise's longtime studio home, Donner is now piecing together the film he shot before the ax fell nearly 30 years ago; his cut of "Superman II" will be released on DVD in November. "It was the love of my life," says Donner. "I never thought it would see the light of day."Donner says he plans to weed out the camp elements from Lester's "Superman II" and restore part one's tone of "verisimilitude." He's especially jazzed about resurrecting his planned opening for the film: a scene at the Daily Planet in which Lois Lane realizes who...
  • Fast Chat: Imaginary Friend

    In 1993, author Armistead Maupin befriended, via telephone, a 14-year-old boy named Tony who'd written a memoir about being sexually abused. Gradually, however, Maupin began to suspect that "Tony" was the woman who was claiming to be the boy's foster mother. (He was right.) In 2001 he wrote a novel about the experience called "The Night Listener." The film, starring Robin Williams, hits theaters this week. Maupin spoke with Devin Gordon.I felt a certain--I don't know what to call it--smug satisfaction when all those other writers were bamboozled by JT Leroy. Because I thought, Well, if they'd just read my damn novel ...It's strange in every direction. A lot of people will assume the facts of the movie are the facts of my life, which they are not. I didn't take off on an adventure to find this kid. I never got off my a-- in San Francisco. That's what writers do: we imagine where life might take us if we ever actually acted on it.I continue to feel a certain affection for that person...
  • The First Time Is The Charm

    Three years ago, before the ink was dry on Gil Kenan's UCLA film-school diploma, industry titans Robert Zemeckis and Steven Spielberg chose him to direct an animated family movie they were producing called "Monster House"--instantly making him the luckiest 26-year-old in Hollywood. But don't hate him: 12 years ago Kenan was perhaps the unluckiest high-school senior in Reseda, Calif. He clawed his way up the social hierarchy: from new kid to fat kid to funny kid before topping out at drama nerd. Finally he got his big break--a chance to direct his school's spring theater production. "I was feeling clever," he recalls, "so I decided to import an English sex farce. I built the set, cast it, rehearsed it. It was all going amazing. And then the day before it opened, the ground opened up and swallowed the entire auditorium. It was the Northridge earthquake." So forgive Kenan if he's still nervous about "Monster House." Opening day isn't until Friday, and California hasn't had a big one in...
  • The NASCAR Network

    There are three notable differences between watching a NASCAR race from the grandstands and watching it in the Fox Sports production truck parked just beyond the speedway. In the truck, it's a crispy 60 degrees, not surface-of-the-sun hot. In the truck, you can hear yourself think and even, on occasion, speak. And in the truck, thanks to a bank of TV screens carrying feeds from 25 cameras, you can see just about everything. Otherwise, a race feels much the same. It's intense and exhilarating, even if you're not an expert on auto racing. Which brings up another difference: in the truck, someone can explain it to you.Take this moment from the Neighborhood Excellence 400, run in June at the Monster Mile in Dover, Dela. Lap 273. A mild collision forces ace driver Jimmie Johnson into the pit. Watching the action from Fox's pre race-show studio on the speedway infield, Jeff Hammond, a NASCAR crew chief turned TV analyst, notices a member of Johnson's pit crew scrambling around the car...
  • Movies: Don't Look So Puzzled

    Documentary film has always been a noble little corner of the movie industry, but it's still a business, and every business has its recipes for success. Hollywood has superheroes. Documentaries have supergeeks. The formula goes like this: find a motley crew of regular folks training for a decidedly unhip competition, then build to a "Rocky"-style showdown. The spelling-bee doc "Spellbound" set the standard in 2002, grossing $5.7 million. Next came "Word Wars" (Scrabble), "Mad Hot Ballroom" (ballroom dancing) and "Murderball" (Paralympics). The newest entry is "Wordplay," director Patrick Creadon's genial look at New York Times crossword-puzzle editor Will Shortz and his annual puzzle tournament. "Nothing against celebrities," says Creadon, "but I'd rather watch people I don't know anything about." His film actually has a few celebs--Bill Clinton and Jon Stewart pop in to hail Shortz's handiwork--but they're sifted in with the average Joes. "Surveys show that 50 million people solve...
  • Newsmakers: Woody Harrelson, National Spelling Bee

    Woody Harrelson plays a singing cowboy in Robert Altman's "Prairie Home Companion." Awaiting the imminent birth of his third child, he spoke with NEWSWEEK's Nicki Gostin.That's what we thought. It was between Italy and Ireland. I was pulling for Ireland, but Laura preferred Italy, so that was that.I always liked him, but it wasn't like I listened every week. But I've heard him enough times. I've always loved his stories.I kind of like that vibe. Most of the times you're shooting a movie, if you make just the slightest sound when someone else is talking, you get chastised.What's that got to do with anything?I don't want to talk about it.I'm not highlighting the use of marijuana. I think hemp is important as a sustainable crop, to be used in clothing and paper and all kinds of different things. Marijuana, I just believe I should be free to smoke it in a free country.Yeah, a six-foot, round beach towel. The idea being when the sun moves, your towel doesn't have to.Well, yeah. It's...
  • Rosemary's Babies

    If you're a parent hoping to break your little boy or girl into movie acting, start by asking yourself the following questions: Does my child look at all like evil incarnate? Does he (or she) have translucent skin? Big, marble eyes? Is my tiny bundle of joy, light of my life, kinda, in a word, creepy? If the answer's yes, get thee to Hollywood.Lately, the "creepy kid" has become the most abundant acting gig in town. It's the wisecracking sidekick of horror movies, as essential to the hit-making formula as the killer rising from the dead at the end. "It seems to be a mainstay of these movies because, for whatever reason, it works well. It's jarring. It disturbs you," says producer Joel Silver ("The Matrix"), whose Biblical spookfest "The Reaping," due out this fall and starring Hilary Swank, will feature a blond female tyke who freaks out an entire Southern town. On June 6, 2006--or "6/6/06," if you prefer--Twentieth Century Fox will release "The Omen," starring Liev Schreiber, Julia...
  • Red Carpet Burn

    Did you hear about the "Break-Up" premiere last week? No? What a night. A red carpet was involved. City blocks were closed off. Jennifer Aniston looked ravishing--or, at least, as ravishing as a woman can look when she's surrounded by a hulking security team shielding her from a pack of teenage girls. Jen and her costar, Vince Vaughn, arrived separately, posed for photos separately and left separately, which was widely interpreted as evidence that they are so sleeping together. Four days later, it was party time again. Disney and Pixar shelled out $1.5 million to rent out a North Carolina racetrack for their premiere of "Cars." The animated film, which opens on June 9, is principally for young children, an audience for whom a red carpet isn't a big deal, just one more place you absolutely cannot pee.Once upon a time, the classic Hollywood premiere--red carpet, flashbulbs, stars galore--was a sparkling symbol of the industry's glamour and exclusivity. Now they're publicity stunts, no...
  • Movies: 'District' Derring-Do

    David Belle has starred in just one film, a French urban action thriller called "District B13" that won't open on U.S. soil until next month. But during a preview screening last week at New York's Tribeca Grand Hotel, he was mobbed by 100 awestruck fans who greeted him as if he were Brad Pitt. Fifteen years ago, in his hometown of Lisses, just south of Paris, Belle invented a sport called parkour (rough translation: "free running"), in which participants dart up, around and over the obstacles of urban life: walls, staircases, rooftops and anything else between them and where they want to go. It spread fast, first via ad campaigns for Nike and the BBC, then by viral videos on the Web. Now Madonna has made it her new Kabbalah, adding elements of it to her stage show. The next James Bond movie will feature it in fight scenes.Belle, however, remains the prophet of parkour, and "District B13" is his Sermon on the Mount. The movie is a formulaic cops-versus-thugs flick set in a Paris...
  • Hair Apparent

    Is Michael Portman crazy? Two years ago, he had a solid, well-paying job and a comfortable pad in Los Angeles that he shared with his lovely new wife, Erin. Just 29, he was living the good life. And bored silly. He was sick of writing speeches for executives at the Walt Disney Company, sick of working for an enormous conglomerate, and really sick of Los Angeles. So he quit. He and the wife, a pair of music-lovers, moved to the alternative-rock capital of America: Austin, Texas. Eager to indulge his entrepreneurial spirit and inspired by his new city's anti-chain store ethos, Michael immediately began ginning up business ideas. One day, just three months after the Portmans arrived in Austin, Michael turned to Erin and said something that perhaps no other 29-year-old living in a big city has said aloud in decades: "Let's open a barbershop."For decades, barbershops were a safe, dependable and consistently profitable business. "You didn't have to worry about the plant closing, you didn...
  • Bonds: Tough Call

    As Barry Bonds nears Babe Ruth's career total of 714 home runs, play-by-play announcers are facing an awkward first: how do you call a jubilant moment that many people believe is, on some level, a fraud? "We've talked about it at length," says Vince Doria, news director for ESPN, which plans to air the eclipsing homer live. "It needs to be a call that recognizes the achievement, but tempers the moment." Adding to the complexity is that Bonds could be under federal indictment for perjury when his history-making shot occurs. When it does, the man in the booth will likely be Jon Miller, ESPN's top announcer, and, while the network is calling the shots, says Doria, "we're not going to put a script into his hands." (Miller could not be reached for comment.) But what about the local San Francisco broadcasts, which are controlled by the Giants franchise? Will their announcers be free to call it as they see it? The team didn't return calls from NEWSWEEK. In the end, the tone of the play-by...
  • Movies: Snakes on A What?

    The script is pure Hollywood schlock. A witness under FBI protection is flying from Hawaii to Los Angeles. A mobster wants him dead before he can testify. But how can the bad guy get to him? A selection from the script: "Hundreds of oxygen masks DEPLOY, dangling over the seats--but it's not just oxygen masks. IT'S SNAKES."Forget Cruise. Forget Hanks. The summer's most buzzed-about movie is a grade-C thriller about passengers besieged by a plane full of snakes, and it's called ... wait for it ... "Snakes on a Plane." Thanks to its ingeniously stupid title, the film, starring Samuel L. Jackson, is already a cult classic five months before it hits theaters. On the Web, fans have made their own "Snakes on a Plane" (or "SoaP") T shirts, cut their own trailers, even filmed their own raps. The ringleader: Brian Finkelstein, a Georgetown law student who hosts an all-"SoaP," all-the-time blog called ... wait for it ... Snakes on a Blog. "My goal was to get invited to the premiere, but it...
  • Horror Show

    Once the credits roll and the theater empties, movie marketers go to the same place as the rest of us: the bathroom. Only they go to eavesdrop. "That's where you hear the good s--t," says Tim Palen, co-president of marketing for Lions Gate Films. Four years ago, after a test screening of a nasty little horror movie called "Cabin Fever," Palen was lingering in the men's room when he heard two pals dissecting the film. "I liked it," one said. "I just wish it was bloodier. " Palen made a mental note: gore is good. He played up the carnage in his ad campaign, and "Cabin Fever," about a flesh-eating virus that chews through a group of friends, earned 15 times its budget and put first-time director Eli Roth on the map. When Roth finished his next film, about a pair of sex-starved American backpackers in Europe who wind up in a torture chamber, Palen didn't blink. "Hostel," starring no one you've heard of and featuring some of the most brutal violence in any mainstream film, debuted atop...
  • Newsmakers: Hugo Weaving, Teri Hatcher

    This must be Weaving week. The Nigerian-born actor stars in both the new film "V for Vendetta" and a new production of "Hedda Gabler." He talked with NEWSWEEK's Nicki Gostin.In "V," you filled in at the last minute. ...
  • Why Bode’s Been a Nobody

    Four months ago, Bode Miller sat across from me in the bar of a New York City hotel and shared his idea of what a perfect two weeks in Torino would look like. “For me,” he said, “the ideal Olympics would be to go in with all that pressure, all that attention and have performances that are literally tear-jerking, that make people put their heads down because they’re embarrassed at how emotional they’re getting, that make people want to try sports, talk to their kids, call their f---ing ex-wives—and come away with no medals. I think that would be epic. That would be the perfect thing.”In one respect, at least, Miller might get his wish. He’ll very likely come away from these Olympics with no medals. He has one event remaining, Saturday’s slalom, and fortunately for his dream of going home medal-free, it’s the alpine discipline that has vexed him the most of late. He has finished a slalom race only twice in seven World Cup tries this season. As for the rest of Bode’s Olympic dream, his...
  • Torino By the Numbers

    If you love sports, chances are you love statistics, too. Stats are, unscientifically speaking, 56 percent of the fun of sports. So let's take a look inside the numbers of these Torino games so far. Most of these numbers are genuine, bona fide facts. Others, where noted, are guesses and suppositions. Either way, I'm betting this will be your No. 1 fastest Olympic read all day. Let's bring on the digits.Total number of American medals won, through Wednesday afternoon: 18Number of American medals won in "traditional" Winter Olympic sports: 7Total number of German medals won, through Wednesday afternoon: 22Number of German medals won in "traditional" Winter Olympic sports: 22Number of American athletes with multiple medals: 3Number of American athletes with multiple medals who aren't long-track speed skaters: 0Number of pre-Olympic major magazine covers featuring Bode Miller: 4 (NEWSWEEK, Time, Men's Journal, Sports Illustrated)Number of medals won by Bode Miller, through four of five...
  • Hedrick vs. Davis

    It isn't easy to put a jolt into long-track speed skating. Let's risk a few letters to the editor and be blunt: it's a boring sport to watch. Admirably challenging, yes. Supremely athletic, yes. Fun for casual observer? No way. The skaters' strides are languorous and repetitive, like a metronome tick-tocking back and forth. Even when the racers are clipping along at 30 mph, they look like they're moving in slow motion.But tonight's 1500-meter race at the Oval Lingotto in Torino actually had people fired up because it offered something these Olympics have otherwise lacked: star power, melodrama and a bristling rivalry. In this corner, Chad Hedrick, the smooth-talking Texan, gold-medalist in the 5,000 meters and reputed "team" guy, so labeled because he participated in last week's team-pursuit event to give his less-gifted countrymen a shot at a medal -- and to give himself a shot at matching Eric Heiden's mark of five golds in a single Olympics. In that corner, Shani Davis, the black...
  • The Americans: Burning Up the Ice

    Even in Torino, thousands of miles from the Lone Star State, you don't mess with Texas. The U.S. team, aiming to top its record-setting medal haul at the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City, got down to business in a hurry on Saturday afternoon when long-track speed skater Chad Hedrick won the first American gold of these Games in the 5000 meters. Check that--Hedrick didn't just win. The Houston native smashed the field, finishing nearly two full seconds ahead of Dutch silver medalist Sven Kramer as First Lady--and fellow Texan--Laura Bush rooted from the stands. Hedrick, a former in-line skating champion, has been racing on ice for only two years, but he's already charmed the media with his big smile and even bigger promises: he arrived in Torino vowing to make a run at Eric Heiden's record of five gold medals. One down, four to go. Another fast start on the ice: the women's hockey team took the first step toward a gold-medal showdown with rival Canada by pounding Switzerland, 6-0....
  • Day of Reckoning

    With six days of the Torino Olympics in the books, here's a trivia question: which country has collected the most gold medals so far? Answer: the United States of America, with six. It's a slim lead, and it might be gone by the time you read this, but to date, no national anthem has been played more often. So why does it feel so gloomy around here? It's like waking up on a beach in Maui with a bad mood. Sure, your luggage got lost. OK, your hotel room doesn't face the water. And yeah, you got a bit of a sunburn yesterday. But you're still on a beach in Maui, right?That's the U.S. team this week. Six gold medals, yes, but Kwan's gone, Apolo got polished off way too early and so far the alpine skiing tally is Nobodies, 2; Bode, 0. It hasn't helped America's collective mood that several American athletes, including some big names, have shown a flair for flaming out in the most soul-sapping, gut-wrenching, borderline-sadistic fashion imaginable. Apolo Anton Ohno stunned the world by...
  • The Slowrino Games

    Perhaps it's fitting, in the region where the "slow food" movement began, that the Winter Olympics in Torino are suffering on all fronts from a dearth of speed. The competitions are slow. The transportation is slower. The crowds are sluggish. The organizers and assorted helpers, though unfailingly polite, are in no rush to help or organize. And if you're in a hurry to pay your lunch tab, well, I suggest you consider saying "quanto" as soon as your secondi dish arrives.It's not necessarily a bad thing -- Americans have a reputation for being twitchy, and I've witnessed more than a few journalists here who could certainly benefit from chilling out a bit. But the Olympics are all about energy and excitement, and nothing spikes interest like speed. We want to see world records smashed. We want to see first-place times beaten and beaten again so that the leader's podium resembles a fashion runway. And we want to get where we're going as quickly as possible, because we don't have long in...
  • DVDS: Let's Keep This Short

    The author Dave Eggers and his pal Brent Hoff, an editor for Eggers's humor journal McSweeney's, are big fans of short films. Alas, says Hoff, "they're too short to show on TV, and they don't play in theaters because they'd rather show some great trivia about Adam Sandler." The two men had an idea: what if they launched a DVD "magazine," in which each new "issue" was a disc of short films? The concept became a new quarterly called Wholphin. That's "whale" crossed with "dolphin." Don't ask why. Focus instead on the first issue, which features a potent Iraq-war documentary by David O. Russell ("Three Kings") and a hilarious short starring John C. Reilly, plus goofy stuff like "a dude singing 'Stairway to Heaven' backwards. It's awesome," says Hoff. He's right. It is. But the jewel is a 1999 documentary about Al Gore by director Spike Jonze. Screened publicly only once--on a lazy afternoon at the 2000 Democratic convention--the film shows a hidden side of Gore: funny, warm and relaxed....