Devin Gordon

Stories by Devin Gordon

  • SPAMISH INQUISITION

    Broadway critics have not yet weighed in on "Monty Python's Spamalot," a new musical based on the classic 1975 film "Monty Python and the Holy Grail," but by the time they do, a great many audiences will have delivered their own verdict. After a five-week run in Chicago, the warm, hilarious, profoundly silly show is receiving rapturous applause in previews on Broadway. Yet the director, the legendary Mike Nichols, and the show's creator, Eric Idle, an original Python, are still tweaking it. Nichols, 73, and Idle, 61, sat down with NEWSWEEK to explain why. Idle arrived first. He was ready to talk.NEWSWEEK: Surely you could've found someone more distinguished to direct this.IDLE: It's funny, we had to give a little speech before the first show on Monday, so I was just rude. When they asked me who I initially thought of to direct, I said I went straight for the top--but Susan Stroman wasn't available. Seriously, Mike is so good for this. He keeps it from going over the top, so it doesn...
  • Off to the Races

    Still, predictable as it was, the announcement of 2005 Oscar nominees had a few things worth noting. Here are the eight most interesting things about this year's list--or, at least, the most interesting things to me:1. There wasn't a single obvious travesty in the bunch.I love Paul Giamatti, and I thought he deserved a best-actor nomination for "Sideways," but it's hard to make the case that his absence is as great an oversight as, say, Bill Murray's for "Rushmore" in 1998. I love "Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind," and I think it might be the only future classic released in 2004, but I can't say I'm surprised the Academy passed over such a quirky, complicated film. (And they did honor Kate Winslet and the film's ingenious screenwriter Charlie Kaufman.) So whose omission am I supposed to get worked up about? Julie Delpy for "Before Sunset"? Liam Neeson for "Kinsey"? Uma Thurman for "Kill Bill Vol. 2"? "Hotel Rwanda"? "SpongeBob SquarePants"? All great, sure. But there's nothing...
  • IS 'NUMBERS' PRIME? DO THE MATH!

    With "CSI," "CSI: Miami," "CSI: New York," "Law & Order," "Law & Order: Special Victims Unit," "Law & Order: Criminal Intent," "Without a Trace," "Navy NCIS" and "Medical Investigation" currently parked on prime-time TV, it tickles me to think that someone at CBS woke up in the middle of the night and cried out, "I know what this network needs! Another show about people solving grisly crimes in 60 minutes or less!" Television these days is lousy with copycats, and "Numbers," a new CBS drama (Fridays at 10 p.m. ET) about an FBI agent whose math-genius brother helps him solve crimes, is a rip-off of a spinoff of a clone. Except that it's a good one. Starring Rob Morrow (the Fed), David Krumholtz (the geek) and Judd Hirsch (their dad), "Numbers" is a gripping hour of TV, with unexpected shades of character, crisp acting and enough gee-wizardry to excite anyone with even a quark of scientific curiosity.In the pilot episode, written by creators Cheryl Heuton and Nick Falacci,...
  • NEWSMAKERS

    Q&A: Jamie Lynn SpearsBritney's kid sister, 13-year-old Jamie Lynn Spears, now has her own sitcom, "Zoey 101," on Nickelodeon. (Her character's a girl at a previously all-boys school.) More than a million-and-a-half kids watched the premiere. She spoke to NEWSWEEK's Nicki Gostin.What's all that noise? Where are you?I'm at a ball game. I'm a cheerleader.Are you one of those cheerleaders who get thrown up in the air?No, I'm a base. I lift them up.You go to regular school. Do the kids treat you differently?No, ma'am. Not at all. I've grown up with these people all my life, so they don't really treat me different. I've taken some of my friends on the set. They get to be extras, so they like it a lot.What is your best and worst subject?My best is probably history and my worst is algebra. My teacher is awesome--she's the best teacher in algebra--but I just don't get it.What else do you do?Softball. I play outfield.Not to sound mean, but isn't that where they stick bad players?That's...
  • THANKS FOR THE ANGST

    The 24-year-old singer-songwriter Conor Oberst, who records with a rotating cast of players under the name Bright Eyes, inspires one of two emotions among indie-rock fans: reverence or disdain. There's no middle ground on the guy. To loyalists, he is the second coming of Dylan--a shy Midwestern kid who's been playing in bands since he was 14, who built an exciting, tightknit music scene in his hometown of Omaha, Neb., and who writes folk-troubadour tunes with lyrics so naked that they approach poetry. To detractors, he's a whiny stiff. After hearing his band's last CD, 2002's "Lifted, or The Story Is in the Soil, Keep Your Ear to the Ground," which was every bit as bloated as its title, I was firmly in the whiny-stiff camp. Though obviously talented, Oberst was like an unguided missile. Songs wandered on for six, eight, 10 minutes, as if he had no say in the matter. But now he's releasing two new CDs on the same day--quite the chest-pounding move for a vegan. And one of them is so...
  • STATE OF GRACE

    Someday soon, Topher Grace will be an award-winning actor. He will be a movie star, one of those guys about whom directors and producers and studio chiefs say fondly, "He can do anything." If every planet aligns, he'll inherit American cinema's Everyman throne passed down from Jimmy Stewart to Jack Lemmon to Tom Hanks--actors whom Grace, 26, has long revered. But in the meantime, he'll have to settle for this: according to Scarlett Johansson, his radiant costar in the workplace comedy "In Good Company," Grace plants upon her ample lips the best on-screen kiss she's ever received. Way to go, stud. "During shooting," says Grace, "I asked her as a joke, [in a lascivious voice] 'So, who's your best movie kiss ever?' And she says, 'Oh, definitely you.' I was, like, 'Uh, what?' And then I told everyone on the set. I think I actually made an announcement."Not to rain on Grace's parade, but Johansson, 20, hasn't gotten much action on screen. It was basically him versus Bill Murray. Still,...
  • HOLLYWOOD UNPLUGGED

    Since we're all still a bit warm and fuzzy from the holidays, let's start with a charitable take on "Unscripted," the new, documentary-style HBO series about struggling actors in Hollywood from director George Clooney and producer Steven Soderbergh: it's better than "K Street." The duo's disastrously received 2003 show about political consultants--which, like "Unscripted," featured real people improvising fake story lines--was a classic case of two well-meaning naifs wandering into foreign turf and getting slaughtered. They've corrected that error this time: whatever riches Clooney and Soderbergh have enjoyed of late, they know a lot more about struggling in showbiz than, say, Lindsay Lohan.As long as we're being charitable, it says a lot about the two men that they would use their considerable clout to shine a light on the industry's far less fortunate and, in the process, give the opportunity of a lifetime to a trio of actors (Krista Allen, Bryan Greenberg and Jennifer Hall) who...
  • THE FARMER'S DAUGHTER

    The town of Winthrop, Iowa, a tiny farming nook in the state's northeast corner, has a population of 772. In high school, Michelle Monaghan, now 27, was voted class president, a credential that's diminished slightly by the fact that a majority required just 18 votes. But just because Monaghan is a genuine Iowa farm girl, it doesn't mean she's just some farm girl from Iowa. In next fall's comic noir "Kiss Kiss Bang Bang," she'll get her first starring role, playing a fierce, frisky, struggling actress who's wrapped up in a murder. The role includes a brief nude scene and enough four-letter words to scorch a harvest. Monaghan was more than game. "You might be surprised if you go to Iowa," she says. "The Bible belt is a bit further south.""Kiss Kiss Bang Bang" also stars Robert Downey Jr. and Val Kilmer, two of the most notorious handfuls in Hollywood, and is produced by Joel Silver, who made the "Matrix" films and will never, ever be confused with a shrinking violet. If Monaghan...
  • MOVIES: INDECENT PROPOSALS

    "Van Helsing" aside, movies today could be worse. Much worse. In October an anonymous Hollywood talent manager decided it was wrong to throw away the hilariously awful script pitches he reads weekly. So he built queryletters.blogspot.com to showcase the very best of the very worst. PERI's favorites:ROMANTIC COMEDY "When a deer crashes a wedding, a... New York advertising executive must go into the Connecticut woods and retrieve her wedding ring (which is around its antler). With her womanizing sports-agent fiance in traction and 48 hours until deer-hunting season begins, she turns to a bumbling local policeman for help. Title: 'Deerly Beloved'."SPIRITUAL DRAMA "A black guard coaches a prison basketball team and finds the strength and motivation he needs in a crippled white inmate who shoots three-point baskets better than anyone he's ever seen."THRILLER "A black professor and a beautiful Polynesian oceanographer struggle to halt the deadly invasion of 200-foot-long, mutant yellow...
  • Oscar's Burning Questions

    If you're like most moviegoers, meaning you don't live in a big city and you don't get to the art-house theater every month, you're probably wondering one thing this week: what the heck is so great about this "Sideways" movie? It's an understandable question. This is a film about two middle-aged bozos--the guy who played Pig Vomit in that Howard Stern movie and the guy who was on the show after "Cheers," like, last century--who yap about wine and their dead-end lives. Neither of the guys is particularly handsome. Neither is particularly likeable. But trust me on this: if "Sideways" isn't quite as good as advertised, it's close. It's sweeping the critics awards and it racked up seven Golden Globe nominations this week, including best picture (musical or comedy), and it will probably win. So in a down year for movies, this tiny film about two drunken schlubs is suddenly an Oscar front runner.Or is it? So far, only the critics have spoken. The Golden Globes are handed out at a lavish...
  • BOOKS: POP GOES THE POSTER

    Concert posters, as any rockologist will tell you, are the Van Goghs and Matisses of the music scene. And in 1987, author Paul Grushkin cobbled together an encyclopedia of the genre's best in an eight-pound hernia of a book called "The Art of Rock." In the 17 years since, the rise of graphic-art technology, digital music and local indie-rock scenes has sparked a second wave of eye-popping posters. So Grushkin and collector Dennis King teamed up for a sequel. "When you've got the Bible," says Grushkin, "there's gotta be a New Testament, right?" Hence, "The Art of Modern Rock": an exhilarating volume of 1,800 posters from grass-roots artists hyping local shows by bands like the Beastie Boys, the Flaming Lips--and many more no one's heard of. Like its older sibling, it flat-out rocks.
  • LEAPIN' WIZARDS!

    Is there anyone in the world more psyched about "The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King" extended edition than Christopher Lee? The only sour moment in the trilogy's public run came when Lee, who plays the turncoat wizard Saruman, blasted director Peter Jackson for cutting him out of the theatrical version of "ROTK." Lee, now 82 and a cult figure among horror fans, felt he'd earned his gory swansong in "ROTK." Now thanks to the DVD, he's got it back. And he was right all along. In the original, Saruman's death is explained away off-screen, as if he were lint flicked from Gandalf's cloak. In the 250-minute DVD version, out on Dec. 14, he gives the movie an early jolt of peril by foreshadowing the mayhem to come. When Lee snarls "you're all going to die," brother, you believe it.Like the first two "Rings" DVDs, the extended "ROTK" isn't just for obsessives. It's a flat-out better movie than the one that swept the Oscars. It's more emotionally generous and, despite the extra...
  • CRACKING THE 'CODE'

    One of the virtues of "The Da Vinci Code," author Dan Brown's gajillion-selling thriller about a Harvard symbologist in hot pursuit of the Holy Grail, is its breathlessness. The novel unfolds over the course of 12 hours, and that's about how long it takes to read. It's fitting, then, that the man spearheading the movie version, producer Brian Grazer, first got wind of the book from the creator of his company's acclaimed TV series "24"--itself an adrenaline rush of real-time pulp fiction. Early in 2003, Joel Surnow read the book, which was popular but not yet a worldwide phenomenon, and thought it would make a terrific story line for "24's" third season. So he asked his boss to look into acquiring the rights. "It quickly became clear that we had no chance," Grazer says. Brown had no intention of handing over his book to a mere TV show. Wise move. A few months later Sony paid $6 million for the movie rights--and hired Grazer to produce it. One of Hollywood's shrewdest operators,...
  • POLAR EXPEDITION

    Director Robert Zemeckis and a team of 500 visual-effects specialists at Sony Imageworks have been working on the computer-generated family-film "The Polar Express" for three years, but only recently did they make a perilous discovery: Tom Hanks has fat fingers. Not the real, flesh-and-blood, Oscar-winning Tom Hanks--his fingers are lovely. It's the digital Hanks who's got the fatty digits. "We got back this one shot where Tom is playing the train conductor," Zemeckis says. "He wipes his brow, and we were, like, 'Whoa! Geez, look at those things!' "In the $165 million film, based on Chris Van Allsburg's best seller about a young boy's Christmas journey to the North Pole, Hanks plays five different roles. To pull it off, Zemeckis's team pioneered a technique called performance capture. Hanks's face and body were covered with 194 plastic "jewels," which guided 72 cameras capturing his movements from all angles. Then, depending on whom Hanks was playing, animators wrapped digital faces...
  • AN 'OFFICE' FAREWELL PARTY

    The good folks at the BBC have performed twin acts of kindness for U.S. viewers over the last two years. First, via BBC America, they exported their marvelous faux documentary series "The Office." And now--the second act--they've killed it off. Whereas quality shows here go on and on until they inevitably nose-dive, "The Office" will bow out with a two-hour finale on Oct. 21, having clocked just 10 hours in its entire life span. And thanks to a finale that is, by turns, hysterical, excruciating and even poignant, this series--about a blowhard branch manager (Ricky Gervais) who gets sacked from his job at a struggling paper company--gets to quit while it's way, way ahead.As the finale opens, we are told that three years have passed. The "documentary" has aired in England and Gervais's David Brent is now a national joke. David, of course, assures us that he's been unfairly cast as "the biggest plonker of the year." He pauses. "I am not a plonker." (The slang is new to me, but nothing...
  • MOVIES: CHEERING FOR 'VERA'

    The last three women to win best-actress Oscars did it by playing a suicidal author, a dirt-poor mother grieving for her dead son and a serial-killing prostitute. So surely Imelda Staunton, star of next week's New York Film Festival favorite "Vera Drake," is well positioned for a statue: she plays a 1950s working-class East Londoner arrested for performing living-room abortions. Beat that, Gwyneth. Admittedly, apart from playing a woman in crisis, Staunton has little in common with recent winners Nicole Kidman, Halle Berry and Charlize Theron. She's 48, barely known outside the London-theater world and doesn't have a single modeling contract. Yet in this year's wide-open race for best actress, Staunton is the category's first near-lock nominee. Just don't tell her that. "Well, it's very worrying, isn't it? The pressure!" Staunton says, laughing. "Truly, though, without sounding ungrateful, I've had my prize. Making this film was the biggest thrill of my life."How very British. But...
  • Fast Chat: Writing From The 'Hip'

    Did you know that the term "hip" comes from a West African Wolof tribal word meaning "to see"? That Charlie Parker so adored Woody Woodpecker that Bird mimicked the bird's laugh in his sax solos? New York Times reporter (and ex-NEWSWEEK scribe) John Leland covers it all in his essential book, "Hip: The History." He spoke with Peri's Devin Gordon:NEWSWEEK: How come no one had written this book yet?LELAND: Hip is something we don't think much about, even though it affects our lives every day. I wanted to draw new connections between Walt Whitman and Miles and Beck.You seemed particularly energized writing about jazz.It takes people from the bottom of society and puts them at the top. What else in our culture has produced a character like Thelonious Monk?An easy one: what is hip?It's an enlightenment that crosses cultural lines--understanding the other guy's game without giving up who you are.So is the author hip himself?I wish. I'm the only person in history who has published a Times...
  • Newsmakers

    Q&A: Tracey UllmanShe's played a lot of kooks in her career, but never one quite like this: in director John Waters's latest film "A Dirty Shame," Tracey Ullman plays an uptight mom who gets conked on the head and becomes a sex addict. She spoke with NEWSWEEK's Nicki Gostin.NEWSWEEK: Why take this part?I love John Waters. There's stuff in it that's beyond the boundaries of my taste, but his movies have always been like that. And my son wanted me to meet Johnny Knoxville.What TV shows do you watch?Jon Stewart. "The Office." I like infomercials. The Jack La Lanne juicing show. But as I get older, I just prefer to knit.When did you start doing impressions?From an early age. I used to dress up and impersonate our next-door neighbor, Miss Cox. She wore rubber boots, a wool hat, and her nose always dripped. My father died when I was 6 and we were really sad, so I put on a show for my mum. [In a mocking American accent] Looking back now, it was a kind of therapy.Did you get into...
  • GOLD RUSH

    At 7:52 p.m., 19-year-old Michael Phelps touched the wall after the 200-meter butterfly final last week, then looked up and found the familiar "1" next to his name on the scoreboard. He pumped his fist twice and climbed out of the water. He didn't smile. He didn't have time. A minute before 8, he got his earlobe pricked for a blood lactate test to determine how fast his fatigued muscles were recovering--an on-the-fly checkup. Next he hit the warm-down pool for 17 minutes, coasting about 1,200 meters to keep his muscles loose. He toweled off at 8:20, changed from his short-leg swimsuit to the long legs--a superstition--and re-emerged for the gold-medal ceremony. At 8:27, as Phelps waited behind the podium for his name to be announced, he did something we may never see again at the Olympics: he started stretching. In 13 minutes, Phelps had to get back in the pool for the lead leg of the 4x200m freestyle relay. He swam fast, handing off a big lead, and then watched nervously as relay...
  • FINALLY, THE OLYMPICS MAKE IT BACK TO THE LAND WHERE THEY BEGAN

    "Don't worry," the Greeks kept saying, again and again, as the weeks and months ticked by, "we'll be ready." It was a gasping, feverish race to the finish, and the edges were left plenty rough, but when the curtain went up on the 2004 Summer Olympics last Friday night, the people of Athens made believers out of the world. They were ready. The opening ceremonies at Panathinaiko Stadium began with the image of a sprinter and the sound of a thumping heartbeat--a respectful nod to the ancient Games and, just maybe, a sly wink of the eye to an embattled people. So forgive us, Greece, but you did give us cause to doubt. The condition just six months ago of the very stadium that hosted the most spellbinding opening ceremonies in years was--well, suffice it to say, it didn't look anything like this.Four memorable hours was all it took to hush the doubters, at least for now, and to rescue a week of prologue that seemed to be marred by one Greek tragedy after another. First, a young Athenian...
  • OF GODS AND GAMES

    Before Sydney in 2000, the world was dazzled by the city's harbor with its soaring opera house. But the run-up to the Athens Olympics has been relentlessly bleak. While the hosts have extolled their heritage, the rest of the world has obsessed about terrorist threats. Safety concerns, coupled with major construction delays, gave rise to a global fret: Athens might never be ready. Greece worried about the dismal prospect of empty hotels, quiet taverns and no lines at the Acropolis. But this week, just a few shot puts and discus throws from where the modern Games were born more than a century ago, a record 202 nations will unite beneath the Olympic flame--and consternation has already given way to celebration. Last week the Iraqi soccer team thrilled their war-torn country with a victory over star-studded Portugal. And over the weekend U.S. swimmer Michael Phelps began his quest for a record eight golds with one in the individual medley, while Japanese judo champ Tadahiro Nomura won a...
  • ANOTHER TO WATCH: NATALIE COUGHLIN: SWIMMING

    If you want to get off to a bad start with Natalie Coughlin, just compare her to Michael Phelps. "It's so uncreative! The one commonality we have is that we both swim several strokes," she says, "but they're not even the same strokes! Also, he's skyrocketed to success, and"--she laughs--"I've had a lot of ups and downs." As a high-school senior, Coughlin, now 21, was so tormented by a nagging shoulder injury that she grew to hate her sport. She left for college at UC Berkeley, believing her career was over. But a new coach and teammates re-ignited her passion. Coughlin, who at 5 feet 8 is small for an elite swimmer but technically flawless, will chase five gold medals in Athens. Not Spitz's seven? She's happy to leave that for what's-his-name.
  • Call the Lifeguard

    As the U.S. swimming team's Olympic fortnight got rolling over the weekend, heat was the overriding theme in all of the media accounts and on everybody's minds. The sun over the pool in Athens: hot. The water: hot. Michael Phelps: hot. Amanda Beard's photos in FHM magazine: hot. The U.S. team's overall gold medal prospects: red hot.So maybe, in retrospect, it should've been seen as a bad omen that the conditions at the Olympic Aquatic Centre last night were surprisingly chilly. A stiff wind whistled through the open arena throughout the evening session, churning up a pool surface that is usually as calm as a pond. Athletes who dressed light borrowed jackets from their teammates. And by the time racing ended for the night, the expressions on the faces of American swimmers were frozen--in shock, in disgust, in confusion, in dejection. A team that was supposed to set this pool on fire had instead, through two days, gotten a cold shower. Were it not for Michael Phelps's dominant, and...
  • MIGHTY MICHAEL

    When Michael Phelps was 16, he struck a deal with his mother. An endorsement contract with Speedo had made him a good bit wealthier than the average Baltimore teenager, and Debbie Phelps wanted to instill a sense of fiscal prudence in her son. The young swimmer had just bought himself a gray 2000 Cadillac Escalade SUV--used, not new--and now he wanted to trick it up in the style of the hip-hop M.C.s he idolized. Debbie didn't object, but she had terms: for every world recordMichael broke, he could add one outrageously unnecessary accouterment to his car. It seemed like a smart bargain. After all, it's hard to break world records. Isn't it?In three years, the car has become a thumping, blinging, eight-cylinder monument to Phelps's dominance in the water. On a chilly March morning, he is driving to breakfast and trying to recall which toy was purchased on the heels of which record. It's tough keeping all 11 of them straight. "OK," he says, "the front TV"--the flat screen above the...
  • Seventh Heaven?

    If Michael Phelps's pursuit next week of seven gold medals and beyond were a Hollywood movie, it would go something like this:His easy events--the 200-meter and 400-meter individual medley, the 200-meter butterfly--would come early. Boom! Three gold medals. Then things would get slightly harder. He'd get a scare in a few relays--the 4x100m medley and the 4x100m freestyle--but escape with golds for him and his U.S. teammates. At the midway point, he'd face his first big challenge: the 100m butterfly, against world-record holder American Ian Crocker. He'd win that by a hair and then, at the very end of the week, the climax of the movie, with the entire world glued to their TV sets, he'd get his shot at Mark Spitz's record in the two toughest events on his calendar: the 4x200m freestyle relay against the mighty Australians and the 200m freestyle against Dutch sprinter Peter van den Hoogenband (what a movie name!) and the Aussie archvillain Ian Thorpe. Boo! Hiss! (This is Hollywood,...
  • NEWSMAKERS

    Q&A: Kathy BatesKathy Bates scared the bejesus out of us in "Misery" and transfixed us in "About Schmidt." Now she's playing a fallen talk-show host in "Little Black Book," with Brittany Murphy. She spoke with NEWSWEEK's Nicki Gostin.Your character is a talk-show host. Did you research by watching a lot of daytime TV?I confess to having watched a lot of daytime TV over the years--so I felt like I'd done my research.Who's your favorite?I love Oprah. She's my favorite, although I've sort of got a little bit hooked on Dr. Phil. I love it when he gets p.o.'d.Is it true that you're a voice in a "Popeye" car- toon movie?My manager calls me and says, "You get to play a sea siren," and I said, "That's great! Send me the script." So I'm reading it, and it's not a sea siren. It's a sea-hag siren, which means she's mainly a hag but she impersonates a siren every once in a while. I was absolutely crushed because do I have to be typecast in cartoons? I mean, really.How did your life change...
  • WANT TO DIRECT?

    Kevin Hickman was going to be the next Spielberg. After film school at the North Carolina School of the Arts, he'd direct a few blockbusters, then win an Oscar or two. Once he arrived at NCSA in 1995, though, Hickman noticed that all his fellow students were going to be the next Spielberg. A year later he got married. He still wanted to direct. But what he really needed to do was pay the rent. "I was going to be a starving artist or I was going to make a living," he concluded.Now, thanks to his film-editing degree, Hickman, 33, works as an assistant editor on such major Hollywood productions as "Seabiscuit." It's not glamorous work: he spends most of his long days in a very dark room. But he loves it. Also, the pay's good and his name is always in the credits. Even people who run film schools will tell you attending one isn't a prerequisite for a movie career. "If you're talented, you don't need four years," says Jerry Sherlock, founder of the New York Film Academy. "If you're not,...
  • BAT OUT OF HELL

    The only major cast member on the set of the new "Batman" movie who doesn't have his own private trailer with his name on the door is Batman himself, actor Christian Bale. Michael Caine, who plays Batman's trusted butler, Alfred, has one, as does Katie Holmes, who plays love interest Rachel Dodson. But what about Bale? If you're looking for him, try knocking on the trailer door with a sign that reads BRUCE WAYNE. (That's Batman's alter ego. But you knew that.) If it all sounds a bit Method-actor fussy, well, it is. But Bale doesn't come across that way. Between takes of a scene in the dank, monstrous Batcave--erected on a soundstage at Shepperton Studios outside London and complete with lagoon, waterfall and subterranean bachelor pad--Holmes tries to engage Bale, 30, in a quick rehearsal. "Is Sergeant Gordon your friend?" she asks, running one of her lines. "Yes," a fully costumed Bale answers in his thick, icy baritone. "He's very warm, very comforting. I like to be held." Later,...
  • NEWSMAKERS

    Curb Your Disbelief ...
  • Rock's Big Bounce

    Have you ever been outside in 41-degree heat? The air is crushing. You dehydrate instantly. You fantasize about cooler places, like Arizona. In 41-degree heat, the average indie-rock fan--thin, brittle, white as chalk--will spontaneously burst into flames. So it was a shock when 60,000 of them braved the elements recently for the Coachella music festival outside Los Angeles. Two days, all outdoors, all to see 82 bands with names that sound like parodies of band names: Death Cab for Cutie, Broken Social Scene, the Flaming Lips and one that could've been the festival's motto:... And You Will Know Us By the Trail of Dead. (Yes, that's a real band. And yes, they're good.) Two years ago, the indie-rock scene was sputtering. Coachella was a quirky, decently attended event. And now? "I had no idea it was such a big deal," says Death Cab frontman Ben Gibbard. "We were touring in Japan beforehand and people kept telling us they were flying from Japan to be at Coachella."After a grim decade,...