Devin Gordon

Stories by Devin Gordon

  • A Phatty Boom Batty Flick

    The first person you meet on the set of Kevin Smith's new movie, "Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back," is a guy named Ratface. He is Smith's production designer, a job usually held by extravagant Italians or tasteful women. Ratface, ne Robert Holtzman, is just an old buddy of Smith's. Like everybody else here. In today's scene our heroes, played by Smith ("Chasing Amy," "Dogma") and childhood pal Jason Mewes, learn that a comic book based on their lives is being made into a movie--and the boys aren't seeing a dime. At the moment, the crew is on a break. Producer Scott Mosier (a film-school classmate) sips coffee while Smith smokes a cigarette and gripes about a nasty post he got on his Web site. Some guy blasted him for failing to include an actress from "Clerks," his cult-classic debut, in the cameo-heavy new film. Smith, his accuser claimed, was forgetting his roots. "Come on," says the director, 31. "You can say a lot of s--t about me, but that's gotta be the last thing. I mean, look...
  • Coming Distractions

    When was the last time you came out of the movie theater and said, "Wow, that was really good"--and you weren't talking about the popcorn? It's been a disgraceful summer so far. By my count, I've seen 30 movies since May and I would strongly recommend ... wait, lemme count again ... four. (I'd tell you which four, but since I had to sit through the other 26, you should at least have to guess.)Here's some more bad news: the worst is yet to come. Late August and early September is a cinematic Sahara rivaled only by April, which is all post-Oscar, presummer junk. This time of year, everyone's in transit--returning to school, on family vacation, passing into the hereafter after too many terrible summer movies.There is, however, one redeeming feature about strolling into the local cineplex this weekend. Well, two: the air conditioning is nice. The other is the trailers--those brief, teasing snips that movie studios provide of the (hopefully) really good movies they've got coming out this...
  • The Age Of Navel Gazing

    Close your eyes and try to picture Britney Spears with her navel covered. Can't do it, right? That's because you've never seen it covered. That's because it never has been. Say this much for the young siren, though: she has helped liberate that six-inch swath of skin below the bra and above the belt for every X-chromosomal American, no matter how old, no matter what shape.Navels are nothing new--scientists say we've had them at least since Madonna's "Like a Virgin" world tour--but this summer they're everywhere. On billboards. In the workplace. Singing in a commercial for Levi's. "Isn't it nice?" says Daniella Clark, founder of the high-end Los Angeles boutique Frankie B., whose "low-cut" jeans sales have jumped from $1.5 million last year to $7 million so far in 2001. "We get tons of e-mails from boyfriends and husbands thanking us." There's even a hot accessory called the Bel-ly Light that blinks red or green, depending on your mood. High schools are starting to institute "no...
  • She's Getting The Royal Treatment

    Shy, frizzy-haired Mia Thermopolis (Anne Hathaway) is struggling through teendom in San Francisco when her grandmother (Julie Andrews) shows up and spills a family secret: Mia is the princess of a tiny country named Genovia. ("Shut up!" cries Mia.) Should she inherit the throne or stay in school? Mia's happy being a nothingburger, and she's not sure she's ready for royalty. "I'm still waiting for normal body parts to arrive," she moans.Hathaway, the buoyant star of "The Princess Diaries," felt Mia's pain. Growing up in New Jersey, the 18-year-old didn't exactly tear through adolescence. "It wasn't quite so dramatic for me, but it was definitely a low point," she says, laughing. At 16, Hathaway landed a part on Fox's short-lived series "Get Real." "If you watch that show, I go through so many physical changes it's ridiculous." Now an assured college student, Hathaway hardly says hello before zooming into opinions on early American Gothicism (love it) and her state's environmental...
  • High Infidelity

    Katie Carr is a good person. She's a doctor--she cures people--and that should count for something. Yes, she's having an affair. Yes, this could wreck her family. And yes, that's very bad. But, listen, her husband David's an ogre: he writes a column titled "The Angriest Man in Holloway," and blasts old people for paying too slowly on the bus. Katie just wants a nice guy. So David visits a loopy faith healer, and suddenly he's an ultra-do-gooder. But Katie's still miserable. Now she's wondering if maybe she's the awful one."How to Be Good" is British author Nick Hornby's third novel and, like his best work, "High Fidelity," it's stuffed with the kind of relationship nuance that can make him such a zip to read. But "How to Be Good" is a joyless book, and it's the protagonists who drag it down. Katie is just a rewrite of Hornby's charmingly adrift men--she's the earner, she has the affair, she moves out--only without the charm. David, meanwhile, is just a prop to set Katie's identity...
  • Movies: Vin-Dicated

    Vin Diesel is a very large man with several amusing little tics. When he answers a question he mashes his eyes shut, looking almost pained, as though if he doesn't get this sentence out, it'll eat his brain. He has 17 different laughs, including one growling, bombastic laugh-kind of like Gomez Addams-that comes out not when something is funny but rather when the time seems right for a loud noise.He also can't sit still. Diesel has chosen a chair in the back corner of a Manhattan hotel restaurant (in part, he confesses, so he can survey the area and take note of any attractive women who might enter the room), and during our 60-minute interview, he will explore every possible way to sit in this chair. Arms splayed out against wall. Right arm cradling large, bald head against wall. One leg up, braced by wall. Leg crossed over knee. Leaning forward, elbow resting on knee. Repeat.All of this is a long way of explaining that Vin Diesel, the muscular star of the summer's first true sleeper...
  • The Dominator

    The world's greatest golfer seems to get better and better. How does he do it? Newsweek asked other greats like Montana, Gretzky, Navratilova and Jordan about what it takes to be on top of the world.
  • Arts Extra: Big In Japan

    I am a proud, arrogant New Yorker. I am the kind of New Yorker you probably hate-you know, the kind that believes the world plunges into a rocky, smoky abyss at the borders of Manhattan (and, OK, four or five neighborhoods in Brooklyn). By virtue of my comfort here, I have always considered myself impossible to overwhelm. Bring on your puny city, with its puny buildings and easily navigable streets, for I am from New York!And then I went to Tokyo.I don't have the exact figures on hand, but something like seven zillion people live in Tokyo, and they all cross the street at the same time. Since I returned home, I've been telling all my friends that the single most astounding thing I saw in Japan was-seriously-the sight of Japanese people crossing the street in Tokyo's Shibuya district at 6 p.m. on a Saturday night. Like two marathons starting simultaneously on opposite sides of the block. Like Moses putting the sea back together. It ain't like Times Square, where jaywalkers break rank...
  • Questions &Amp; Answers: Wayne Gretzky

    Wayne Gretzky was hockey's most legendary scorer. He won four Stanley Cups in the 1980s with the Edmonton Oilers and retired in 1999 holding nearly every scoring record the NHL keeps track of. Gretzky is the league's all-time leader in points, goals and assists-in the regular season and in the playoffs. No wonder he's known as "The Great One." NEWSWEEK's Devin Gordon spoke with Gretzky:NEWSWEEK: Did you get nervous in big-game situations?Wayne Gretzky: No. I never did. It's amazing now, because as a player, of course I'd be excited, but I never got nervous. But now as an owner [of the NHL's Phoenix Coyotes], I sit up there, and I sweat every game, every minute. I'm truly nervous now. Because you really don't have a lot of control over what happens on the ice. But when you're playing, when they drop the puck, that's right where you want to be. I never got nervous.Did you simply not get nervous or did you get even more calm?I got more calm, believe it or not. I remember the very first...
  • Questions &Amp; Answers: Martina Navratilova

    For almost a decade, no tennis player, male or female, dominated the sport as thoroughly as Martina Navratilova. Powerful and relentless, Navratilova peaked in pressure situations, winning a record nine Wimbledon singles titles as part of her 167 career wins. At one point in her career, she spent nearly seven straight years ranked as the No. 1 tennis player in the world. Navratilova spoke with NEWSWEEK's Devin Gordon about hard work, being clueless to her own intimidation tactics-and the one match that got away.NEWSWEEK: How much of dominance is a mental thing as opposed to a talent thing?Martina Navratilova: Well, at this level, talent is a given. But I know Tiger [Woods] works harder than anyone out there, and that's why he's kicking butt. It's not an accident when you hit a great shot, because you've done it in practice. You've put in the work. It doesn't just happen. Every great shot you hit, you've already hit a bunch of times in practice. That's how it works.There are a lot of...
  • Questions &Amp; Answers: Bob Gibson

    Bob Gibson was one of the most intimidating starting pitchers in baseball history. He won two Cy Young Awards and two World Series tiles with the St. Louis Cardinals in the 1960s, and, in 1968, he had what many consider to be the most dominant season ever by a pitcher: 23 wins, 7 losses, with a 1.12 earned-run average. He was so overpowering that the league lowered the pitcher's mound the following year in an attempt to slow him down. It didn't work. NEWSWEEK's Devin Gordon spoke with Gibson:NEWSWEEK: Did you develop your level of intensity or was it something you were born with?Bob Gibson: Pretty much from the time I was a kid, I've been very intense. I never had peaks and valleys. I was always on the same line. I was intense, and today I'm still intense, and I don't even play.How does it come out now? Do you play golf?Oh I try to play golf. Golf pisses me off. I don't play it that much.Were you ever satisfied with what you accomplished in the major leagues?No, I always thought I...
  • Questions &Amp; Answers: Michael Johnson

    Of all his accomplishments-Olympic wins, world records and so on-sprinter Michael Johnson is most proud of one thing: "All gold," he likes to say, his shorthand for the fact that he has never finished anywhere but first in a major competition. Johnson won the gold medal in the 200- and 400-meter dashes at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics, then successfully defended the 400-meters-his favorite event-at the 2000 Olympics in Sydney. He spoke with NEWSWEEK's Devin Gordon about his toughest competitor: himself.NEWSWEEK: How did you motivate yourself when you were so far above the competition?Michael Johnson: For myself, knowing that I'm physically gifted, I never wanted that to go to waste. The only way to do that is to go out and use it. The other thing is, once you become great or you show the potential to be great, that pressure is there to continue that. So I would never accept anything less. I know I'm capable of running 43 seconds every time I run 400 meters. So running a 44.2 and still...
  • Ten Reasons To Stay Inside

    Watch closely during the jousting scenes in Sony's medieval fantasy starring Heath Ledger, and you'll notice something odd amid all that wood from the shattering lances. "Linguine," says writer-director Brian Helgeland. "It looked good." After an awful experience directing "Payback" for Mel Gibson, Helgeland itched for some big-screen payback. So he wrote a flick about knocking a guy off his (high) horse. Anyone in particular? Helgeland laughs. "Oh, you know. The Man." Very diplomatic, good sir. MAY 11Another "X-File" for David Duchovny? Nope. This one's a sci-fi comedy from Ivan Reitman ("Ghostbusters"), starring Duchovny and Orlando Jones (Mr. 7Up) as professors who meet some way-out-of-towners. The aliens start as amebas. In two weeks they're eight feet tall and, uh, oddly equipped. "We were taken with their genitalia," Duchovny says. "It looked hermaphroditic. So [costar] Julianne [Moore] came up with the wonderful nomenclature of 'testina'." JUNE 8In auto-racing scenes, cameras...
  • Arts Extra: Digital Dependency

    It is a terrible thing when a suggestion you make ends the lives of three decent, hard-working people. In my case, it is particularly awful because one of those lives happens to be my own. "Gentlemen," I said to my two roommates about a month ago, when everything was so much simpler, "I think it's time for us to get digital cable." The living room fell silent. Excitement lapped up against dread. It was as if I'd said I thought we should adopt a child. Jesse looked down and nodded. Adam said softly, "I just don't know if I'm ready for this." This was going to require a Big Talk. ...
  • A True Maverick

    Were it not for Michael Jordan's partial stake in the Washington Wizards, there would be no doubt about it: Mark Cuban has the best jump shot of any owner in the NBA. It's three hours before the opening tip of tonight's Mavericks game at Reunion Arena in Dallas, and Cuban has the court all to himself--a billionaire's version of a hoop over the garage. You are watching from the sideline when a rebound caroms your way and Cuban waves you onto the court. You gulp hard and dribble carefully, taking pains to look nonchalant. "Now, watch the depth perception," Cuban warns. "Hoop's never as close as you think." You look up. He's right: with the Plexiglas backboard and 40 rows of open space behind it, the hoop looks like a tiny ring floating in the air. You adjust, then shoot. Air ball. Cuban smiles. "See? Gets you every time." He tosses the ball back, and this time you really focus, getting off a shot that feels... just... riii... Air ball. Now you are utterly humiliated. "First time I...
  • Arts Extra: Midnight Cowboy

    In the world of television, we're in the midst of midseason-replacements month. It's a time when the major networks cut the dead weight in their programming lineups and try out a few new shows that weren't ready in time for the fall schedule. Maybe, they hope, something will catch on and become a hit. ...
  • A Close-Up Before Dying

    Meet dawn, our reigning champion. She is dropping by the house of one of her opponents, a religious 57-year-old nurse named Connie. The two have never met and Dawn, late 20s, single, eight months pregnant, has decided it's time to introduce herself. From her cab, as the TV cameraman beside her rolls tape, she calls Connie on her mobile phone to see if she's home. "Hi, Connie? I just wanted to tell you there's a bomb in your house, and it's going off in five, four, three, two..." As Connie bursts out the front door, Dawn draws her 9mm pistol and opens fire. She misses. Connie, startled, scrambles back inside her house. Dawn speeds off. Hey, at least now they've met. ...
  • C'mon And Feel Free 2 Be Dmb

    Fans of the Dave Matthews Band, like me, hated doing the "Hokey Pokey" as kids. We were graceless creatures, and we'd rather have died than shake it all around. But Matthews, our platinum-selling soul man, turned us loose. Critics hated all of it--the populism of Matthews's appeal and the fan population itself. Which explains, at least in part, why his albums always take a critical thwacking: it's payback. The singer can't get any love for his ravishing voice--even though he can fill a simple chorus, like "our love is so right," on the band's new CD, "Everyday," with such passion it'll make your toes curl. Such moments are DMB (as fans call 'em) in classic form.Alas, the rest of "Everyday" is not, and if Matthews gets another critical thwacking, at least this time he deserves it. Of the CD's 12 tracks, only a handful makes a deep impression. "I Did It," the first single, is a total dud: all swagger, no heart. And devotees will be mortified to hear 16 minutes pass before LeRoi Moore...
  • Hunting Oscar, Raking Cash: A Martial-Arts Monste

    Back in November, one month before "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" began its steady blaze across the country, Sony Pictures Classics president Tom Bernard waxed optimistic about the film's prospects. "If everything breaks right," he said, "we'll be north of $50 million [at the box office] and we'll win the Oscar for best picture. That's if every cylinder hits." One pipe dream down, one to go. The Chinese-language martial-arts sensation remains a dark horse to win best picture, but hopes are riding high for a nomination this Tuesday morning. And last weekend "Dragon" soared past Roberto Benigni's "Life Is Beautiful" and its $57.6 million total to become the top-grossing foreign-language film ever. Arrive-derci Principessa!
  • The War On Drugs Goes To The Air

    Anybody who's turned on a television in the past 14 years has seen the work of the Partnership for a Drug-Free America. Remember these? A girl jackknifes off a diving board into an empty pool. Another bashes a kitchen to smithereens with a cast-iron pan. And, of course, a man fries an egg on a stove and explains--all together now--that this is your brain on drugs. And yet, if you ask parents and kids just who exactly the Partnership is, most of them say... nothing. "The usual response is 'Don't know'," says executive vice president Steve Dnistrian, smiling. "That's intentional. We don't bother with brand identity. The message is our brand."The message is also hitting its mark. A report released last week by the National Institute on Drug Abuse found that anti-marijuana advertising has helped cut teen use by 26.7 percent. Earlier studies by the University of Michigan, New York University and Johns Hopkins each concluded that anti-drug messages have significantly reduced usage among...
  • 'Traffic's' Top Cop Feels The Heat

    Benicio del Toro is so cool he even knows how to catch a fly the right way. Resting his unlit Marlboro on a table in Manhattan's Mercer Hotel lobby, the "Traffic" star demonstrates: proper form is backhanded and quick, like the Karate Kid doing wax-on, wax-off. Never, ever swat frantically. Not cool. Del Toro says he learned it from one of the first books he can recall reading: "Rockin' Steady" by New York Knicks legend Walt (Clyde) Frazier, the actor's boyhood hero. "You gotta find it," he says in his wild, sandy voice, the one he slurred into an unintelligible mumble for his breakout role as Fenster in 1995's "The Usual Suspects." "It was like a guide to being cool. An absolute classic. Really." Then he laughs, making it clear he knows both how ridiculous and how deeply, deeply important all of this is.Now, with his simmering performance--almost entirely in Spanish--as a cartel-chasing Tijuana cop in "Traffic," Del Toro's coolness quotient is on the rise again. Already up for a...
  • Climbing Up The Ladder

    For a guy who moments ago had a tiny camera jammed up his nose and down his throat, David Gray sure is in a cheerful mood. It's early afternoon at "Saturday Night Live's" Manhattan studios, and this week's musical guest, the 32-year-old English folk troubadour, has just bounded in from a trip to the doctor's office. All year Gray has been playing show upon show. And now, with his addictive CD, "White Ladder," selling like Razor scooters and with gigs at "SNL" and David Letterman coming up, his throat feels like it's on fire. Gray's camp had been fearing permanent damage. But after two hours of probing, the throat specialist gave him a clean bill of health. And photos. "Wanna see my vocal cords?!" Gray says, pulling an envelope out of his coat pocket. "See, in this shot I'm actually using 'em! Hellew!!"As rewarding as it is to look at David Gray's vocal cords, listening to them is even better. His tough, reedy voice has a gorgeous buzz to it, like Van Morrison singing through two...
  • It's The Year Of The Dragon

    The man in the white baseball cap is getting anxious. "Tickets?" he hollers over the throng of people. "Anybody selling tickets?" It's Saturday evening in October, and the first pitch of the Subway Series is just a few moments off. But the young man couldn't care less about some baseball game 300 miles away. Here in Hanover, N.H., on the leafy campus of Dartmouth College, about 1,000 students have been waiting in line two hours--for a movie: the first public screening on U.S. soil of "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," acclaimed director Ang Lee's first foray into martial arts, shot entirely in mainland China. And Lee himself is in town to introduce the film. As the audience pours into the theater, our friend in the baseball cap gives up. Sorry, pal. At least there's a game on tonight."Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," starring Asian movie idols Michelle Yeoh and Chow Yun Fat, is an epic blend of Eastern serenity and Western adrenaline. Set in ancient China, the film begins with...
  • Mind Your Own Mascot

    Life in our schools and communities would go so much more smoothly if we all followed one golden rule: never mess with another man's mascot. Particularly if that mascot is an Indian, a Chief, a Redskin, an Aztec or any other homage to Native Americans. Earlier this year in Boiceville, N.Y., home of the Onteora Indian high-school teams, school-board member Margaret Carey helped lead the charge against her district's tomahawk-wielding mascot during a loud, contentious meeting. Afterward she found a nail plunged into one of her car's tires. "I was appalled," Carey says, "but I can't say I was totally surprised." Fellow board member Joseph Doan, who voted to keep the Indian, had his truck scraped with a key. The Feds camped around town could do nothing to stop the madness. Yes, the federal Department of Justice. In tiny Boiceville. To mediate a dispute over a mascot.Such shenanigans are nothing new. The winds of political correctness toward Native Americans have been causing local dust...
  • To Hell And Back--Twice

    The race begins with a one-mile ocean swim off the coast of Maui. Piece of cake. But everything changes when you get to the bike: 18 killer miles, almost entirely off-road. Uphill, downhill, over dirt paths, dry lava and tree roots, at speeds topping 30mph. Crashes are de rigueur; if your bike--or your neck--isn't broken, you get up and keep going. "It's like riding on ball bearings," says Canadian triathlete Peter Reid, 31. "I've got a death grip on those handlebars." The race ends with a 6.7-mile run, first on sand, which is like sprinting up a scalding escalator, then on 400 yards of softball-size coral. Says Wendy Ingraham, 36: "We call it 'Ankle Snapper Beach'."Hard to imagine? It's crazier than you think: for a few elite athletes, that ordeal--Sunday's Xterra World Championship--will be their second bonecrusher in eight days. Last weekend they tore through the Hawaii Ironman--nine hours of swimming (2.4 miles), biking (112 miles) and running (marathon)--then crossed the finish...
  • Laughing Until It Hurts

    For some people, there is nothing funnier in this world than the sight of a man getting hoofed in the privates. Among such people--and no matter how sophisticated you may be, you are probably, secretly, one of them--Johnny Knoxville is your new king. The road to the throne began in 1996 when Knoxville, while being videotaped by a friend, had another pal shoot him in the eyes with pepper spray, then once in the chest with a 120,000-volt stun gun, then repeatedly with a 50,000-volt Taser. (The pepper spray was by far the worst, says Knoxville: "You physically cannot open your eyes. It took me 15 minutes to recover.") When Knoxville showed the tape to his parents, his mother cried. You will too. It's that funny.The exercise was originally intended as research for an article on self-defense equipment for skateboarding magazine Big Brother, but after Knoxville's editor saw the footage, he included it in a compilation of similarly idiotic stunts. Now, cult following in tow, Knoxville has...
  • A Dash For The Exit

    Last week's most startling off-the-field news: France's Marie-Jose Perec, the 1996 gold medalist in the 200- and 400-meter dashes, dropped out of the Games and flew to Singapore, claiming that an Australian man had forced his way into her hotel room, then pushed and threatened her. (A hotel spokesman said Perec had not registered a complaint.) Perec, long known for her eccentricity, was considered the chief threat to Australia's popular Cathy Freeman in the 400.
  • Loud And Everclear

    Art Alexakis is getting this rock-star thing all wrong. For starters, he's a morning person. "Ever since my daughter was born"--that was eight years ago--"I just can't sleep past six," says the Everclear front man at 8 a.m. on a recent Los Angeles morning, the barest hint of early-hour rust still clinging to his voice. Alexakis, who is the band's chief spokesman and sole songwriter, has had some ugly moments--cocaine addiction, fights with girlfriends--but all of that was before he became a rock star. His hard-rock trio arrived in 1995 with the power-chord hit song "Santa Monica," then watched their even noisier album "So Much for the Afterglow" sell like Pokemon cards. All along, right up through Everclear's surprisingly light-footed new CD, "Songs From an American Movie, Vol. One: Learning How to Smile," Alexakis has been calm as a pond. There was one hint of turmoil last year, a divorce, but Alexakis claims the split was amicable. "Yeah," the singer admits, "there's a lot of...
  • The X-Men Cometh

    Cyberfan Devil0509 is so angry he could scream. The source of his ire: a nanosecond snippet from a preview for this Friday's "X-Men" movie. In it, a good-guy mutant named Wolverine (Hugh Jackman) is holding a man at bay with some nasty-looking claws. (They come out whenever he gets mad; Wolverine is always mad.) "Wait wait wait," Mr. 0509 writes. "He's got two claws straddling a guy's NECK? That makes NO sense. Wolvie's claws should come out between the knuckles of his fist. The distance between the lateral and medial claws should be 2 inches, maybe 3 tops!"Let's not beat around the bush: people like Devil0509 are geeks. But they're also money in the bank. No matter how much they complain, the diehards will still be first in line the day the movie opens. The dilemma for director Bryan Singer ("The Usual Suspects") and Twentieth Century Fox, which has sunk $75 million into its adaptation of the best-selling comic book in history: how do you make a movie that satisfies the militant...