Ramin Setoodeh

Stories by Ramin Setoodeh

  • Lindsay Lohan, Rehab and Oscar

    With all the problems in her life lately, it's easy to forget: Lindsay Lohan was once a terrific actress. For proof, look no further than her first starring role, in "The Parent Trap." Lindsay was 12. Director Nancy Meyers ("Something's Gotta Give") auditioned many young girls in search of "a little Diane Keaton ... so alive on the screen," she later said. She handpicked Lohan, who gave not one but two flawless performances as identical twins Hallie Parker and Annie James. Audiences loved her, so did critics. "She has the same kind of sunny charm Hayley Mills projected," wrote Roger Ebert, when the movie opened in 1998.Today, audiences have become familiar with a different Lindsay Lohan—and it has nothing to do with her acting. Sure, she's still making movies, but she's getting a lot more attention for her role as a tabloid star. Newspapers splash their headlines with her latest partying misadventures. Hooks ups! Break ups! Family feuds! But despite her trip to rehab this year,...
  • Listening In: American Idol Smackdown

    Who will take home the coveted 'American Idol' trophy: Jordin or Blake? The cases for and against—and a thorough debunking of the myth that kids today don't vote.
  • Trump: Who's the Boss at Home?

    He's a real-estate developer, a reality-TV star and a published author. But the job that Donald Trump doesn't talk much about? Being a dad. After raising four children from two previous marriages—Donald Jr., 29; Ivanka, 25; Eric, 23, and Tiffany, 13—the 60-year-old Trump is changing diapers again (OK, we mean that metaphorically). Last year, his wife, Melania, gave birth to a son, Barron William. Trump spoke to NEWSWEEK about the ups and downs of fatherhood. ...
  • Law: Paris Hilton's Appeal? Unlikely

    Last week, a judge ruled that Paris Hilton was going to jail for 45 days, after violating her probation on a previous DUI-related conviction. She couldn't use a work permit to postpone her day behind bars, scheduled for June 5. She couldn't pay extra, as some are allowed to, for a nicer jail cell. She probably couldn't even pass Go or collect $200. But then again, this is Paris Hilton—she can do whatever she wants. Right?She sure talks a good game. Over the weekend, she said to photographers camped outside her house: "I feel that I was treated unfairly and that the sentence is both cruel and unwarranted and I don't deserve this." But then the earth seemed to shift. This week, Hilton added DUI lawyer Richard Hutton to her legal defense team, and she came out with a new statement: "I am ready to face the consequences of violating probation."What happened to that petulant defiance? Apparently, Hilton finally woke up and heard what the judge said: it will be virtually impossible for her...
  • TV: An Identity Crisis at the New CW Network

    Teen sleuth Veronica Mars knows how to crack a murder. Now she's fighting for her own life. "Mars" is among five or so series being considered for cancellation by the CW, the network launched this past fall with the merger of Warner Bros.'s WB network and CBS Corp.'s UPN. This week, series creator Rob Thomas will plead with network executives for a stay of execution. Veronica can be rehabilitated, he'll argue. If you don't like her Nancy Drew college act, we can tart her up in a "sexy pantsuit" and make her four years older, with a career as an FBI agent. Thomas hopes this new Veronica will appeal to network bosses who want a cop series as part of their lineup. "I'd be thrilled for her to come back in any incarnation," he says.Veronica's identity crisis mirrors the network's own. The CW borrowed most of its lineup from the WB, home of "Dawson's Creek" and "Felicity," and UPN, which counted African-Americans and women as its core audience. It was supposed to be the best of both...
  • Sanjaya: The Interview

    He couldn't carry a tune, but that didn't stop millions from tuning in—transfixed. Hillary Clinton was even grilled about Sanjaya Malakar on the radio. "That's the best question I've been asked in a long time," she said, of her thoughts on the "Idol" candidate. "People can vote for whomever they want." Well, the votes are in and Sanjaya is out, finally. He spoke to Ramin Setoodeh. ...
  • Geico's Cavemen: Ready for Prime Time?

    Comedian John Lehr is a famous man, though you probably wouldn't recognize him on the street. But trick him out with a sloping latex forehead, decaying brown teeth and nearly as much chest hair as Alec Baldwin, and he's unmistakable. Yes, Lehr is the Geico caveman. Actually, he's one of three post-, post-ironic Neanderthals who sigh and snipe their way through the insurance company's hilarious and unavoidable television ads—a campaign that has helped make Geico, which is owned by Berkshire Hathaway, the fastest-growing major car-insurance company in the nation. Since 1998, sales have jumped to $11 billion from $2.8 billion. (Berkshire CEO Warren Buffett sits on the board of The Washington Post Company, which owns NEWSWEEK.)Geico is known as much for its offbeat ads as it is for its discount auto insurance. It targets older customers with campy spots featuring aging stars—Little Richard, Charo—who knowingly play off their washed-up status. Geico's other mascot, that maddeningly...
  • Newsmakers Q&A: Celine Dion

    She's leaving Las Vegas to sing at the Oscars, but Dion took time to chat with Ramin Setoodeh.Oh, I'm not sure about that. I've been to the Oscars five times.It was definitely very different. For me, it was glamorous. A lot of people hated it.Of course not. This year, my husband, Rene, is going to wear the white hat.The first year, I did 200 shows, five nights a week. I couldn't talk to my husband or son. Two days of taking a break vocally.I don't talk at all. My husband and I communicate on the phone without me talking. [ She starts tapping the phone .] Did you hear that? How many hits mean different things. One means yes, two means no. But I'm not going to tell you all our secret things.I finish the show at 10:30 at night. By the time I take a shower, I have my little snack, I do my drive back home, I never arrive before midnight. I love to sleep late. I can go to bed at 5 a.m. and wake up at 2 p.m.Actually, my 6-year-old son has the same hours as us. Isn't that amazing?He's home...
  • Guys, Need a Lift?

    Arnie Bautista buys designer underwear by the bunch. "For me, it's an investment," says the 31-year-old advertising executive from New York. "I like to look really good out of my clothes." He spends up to $350 a season on expensive stretchy shorts from brands like 2xist ("to exist"), Calvin Klein and Ginch Gonch, a Canadian retailer that sells little briefs with prints of stars and firetrucks. He has 50 or 60 pairs—so many, that he's run out of shelf space for all those drawers. About the only kind of undies he doesn't own? "I don't wear Fruit of the Loom," he says.It wasn't long ago that guys had only two choices in the morning: boxers or briefs, usually both in white. But in a metrosexual age, sexy skivvies in a rainbow of colors have become the hot new fashion accessory. Much like Victoria's Secret and Frederick's of Hollywood did with women's lingerie in the '80s, upstart companies like 2xist and C-in2, along with stalwarts like Jockey and Calvin Klein, are selling designer ...
  • Fame Junkies

    Troy sawyer first auditioned for "American Idol" in 2002. He drove from his home in Kansas City, Mo., to Detroit, where he performed the country ballad "Tonight I Want to Be Your Man." A producer rejected him, but Sawyer wasn't about to give up. "I saw a lot of gimmicks people used to make it," he says. In 2003, he trekked to Houston to perform "Rockin' Robin." Rejected again. In 2004, he dressed in Pillsbury Doughboy pajamas--"I figured I needed to stick out"--and crooned "Soul Man" in St. Louis. "I was told I had a really good voice, but I should take it more seriously and not dress up," he says. That same year, with money he raised washing cars and selling bubble gum and taffy, he hit Washington, D.C., Las Vegas and San Francisco. No luck. The next two seasons are a bit of a blur, but they included stops in Austin, Denver, Chicago, Las Vegas and, finally last summer, Memphis. In case you've lost count, that's a total of 11 auditions . "I don't have the Justin Timberlake or...
  • Silly Prizes, Major Fun

    The Hollywood Foreign Press Association really is the most ridiculous little club in Hollywood. If you had any doubts, they should have been put to rest last night at the Golden Globes when the organization's president, Philip Berk, took the podium. A correspondent for FilmInk (Australia) and Galaxie (Malaysia), Berk, who looked like he'd borrowed his glasses from Martin Scorsese, rattled on wildly about Meryl Streep, Clint Eastwood and Jack Nicholson, before offering a quote I can't find on Google today.The rest of the show was equally wobbly. Why, for example, is the award for best actress in a TV comedy presented after the award for best TV comedy? Still, no matter how dubious the distinction (only 80 or so journalists pick the winners), the show is still tons more entertaining than the Oscars. Here's our rundown:Acceptance speechesThe Good: Meryl Streep. Maybe she's nominated for every award because she's also the best at accepting them. That's all. Runner-up: Sacha Baron Cohen,...
  • Newsmakers

    Zellweger's back with another British accent, as author Beatrix Potter in "Miss Potter." The actress spoke to Ramin Setoodeh.A little bit. But I don't want to talk about it. Otherwise, I'm going to talk about my weight every single day for the rest of my life.I was aware of a couple of her stories. I read Peter Rabbit and I remember Jeremy Fisher. But I have a Norwegian mother, so there was more Hans Christian Andersen.Oh, good god--that's an exaggeration. I've written children's short stories, poetry and prose. But they're for me. They're on different computers that I've closed because they've gotten different viruses.My computer got the "love" virus when I went over to make the first "Bridget Jones" and I had the beginning of two books on that. I did without a computer for five years.Lucky me.Oh, that's funny, isn't it? Maybe I bring out the boring in him. We're saving the nude scene for the "Miss Potter" sequel.I called the sources close to the sources and they say it's not true...
  • Get Ready to Rumble

    For each of the past 47 years, Barbie has traded in her most prized accessories for something new, depending on the fad of the moment: one season, it's cowgirl boots; another, leg warmers. Next year she's trading up to an iPod--just plug her in, and she becomes a karaoke singer, belting out whatever songs you've downloaded. Mattel's top-selling brand has been remade before, but now she's going positively bionic: the Fairytopia Magic of the Rainbow Barbie has an infrared transmitter embedded in her torso that allows her to double as a TV remote. Wedding Bride Barbie has a rock on her finger that sparkles brighter than a Tiffany, thanks to a light bulb. My Scene RollerGirl, a member of the Barbie family, electronically performs splits on giant purple skates.If Barbie seems to be turning into RoboDoll, that's because she's preparing for the battle of her life. Her opponents? The Bratz dolls--Yasmin, Cloe, Sasha and Jade--midriff-baring girls who flaunt their "passion for fashion" with...
  • Behind the Scenes: At the Caption Contest

    Seated in a small cubicle 20 floors above Times Square, a 23-year-old Harvard graduate named Zachary Kanin sifts through submissions for The New Yorker's caption contest. The latest cartoon, depicting an Indian shooting a bow and missile, has generated 4,516 responses. Only about 50 are good enough to make it to the next round. Kanin looks at a sample entry: "Howwww much I want to destroy the building." "This," he says, "is weird," discarding it.Since it debuted 78 cartoons ago, in the issue of April 25, 2005, The New Yorker's back-page contest, which asks readers to write the caption for a cartoon, has attracted a storm of entries--525,000--along with plenty of protests from rejected would-be writers. There's now a board game, which sold 23,000 copies last month, and even an anti-caption contest, at Radosh.net, for bad quips. "Originally there were all sorts of conspiracy theories, like we wouldn't let anyone from New York win," says Bob Mankoff, the magazine's cartoon editor. "But...
  • Behind the Scenes: At the Caption Contest

    Seated in a small cubicle 20 floors above Times Square, a 23-year-old Harvard graduate named Zachary Kanin sifts through submissions for The New Yorker's caption contest. The latest cartoon, depicting an Indian shooting a bow and missile, has generated 4,516 responses. Only about 50 are good enough to make it to the next round. Kanin looks at a sample entry: "Howwww much I want to destroy the building." "This," he says, "is weird," discarding it.Since it debuted 78 cartoons ago, in the issue of April 25, 2005, The New Yorker's back-page contest, which asks readers to write the caption for a cartoon, has attracted a storm of entries--525,000--along with plenty of protests from rejected would-be writers. There's now a board game, which sold 23,000 copies last month, and even an anti-caption contest, at Radosh.net, for bad quips. "Originally there were all sorts of conspiracy theories, like we wouldn't let anyone from New York win," says Bob Mankoff, the magazine's cartoon editor. "But...
  • This is Only A Test

    But relax--it's not from the Emergency Broadcast System. Put down the remote and see how well you score when it comes to boomer TV triva. Ah, those were the days.
  • Close Call

    In a normal year, someone like Christopher Shays—a well-liked moderate Republican and a nine-term incumbent with a loyal base—would not have been sweating on election night. But dissatisfaction with the Iraq war in Connecticut’s Fourth Congressional District was a big reason why Shays found himself trailing Democratic challenger Dianne Farrell by a 51-44 margin in a Zogby/Reuters poll released Monday. Still, as Tuesday night became Wednesday morning, Shays appeared to narrowly retained his seat."We want Shays! We want Shays!" screamed his supporters late Tuesday at his Election Day headquarters, a hotel in Norwalk, Conn., as the incumbent declared victory, with roughly 51 percent to 48 percent of the vote. (His opponent, Democrat Diane Farrell, said, "We're not there yet," asking that all the votes be counted before she conceded.) Blowing kisses to his supporters, Shays's acceptance speech humbly referenced what many considered his biggest weakness: his support for the war in Iraq....
  • Newsmakers

    Q&A: ROD STEWARTRod Stewart has a new album called "Still the Same ... Great Rock Classics of All Time." He spoke with Nicki Gostin.I am lazy. I've admitted that since 1971. I made my name as an interpreter of songs and I get great pleasure from it.I don't think people buy my records because I've got good hair! People love my voice--although it is a very good head of hair.Yeah, one. I'd been nominated 15 times. I was actually enjoying not winning. It felt like the martyr on the cross.My very good friend Long John Baldry, who died last year, gave it to me. He was a wonderfully funny homosexual.I don't mind. I've got very effeminate ways, and my hair was like Dusty Springfield's.Next year.Yes, we have a date, thank you very much. Nice try!I sort of played on it 20 years ago. Not anymore--anyone who knows me knows I'm a very generous person.I wouldn't allow you. You'd be surprised how many dinners I buy for people. When you've got some money and you've got friends who haven't done...
  • Technology: Kickin' and Streaming

    Let's say you missed Thursday's episode of "Ugly Betty" because you were too busy watching "Survivor." (Dumb move, but who are we to judge?) In the olden days--i.e., last year--your best shot, after TiVo, would have been to buy the episode for $1.99 on iTunes. But now you can get it online, legally, free. Networks spent all summer revamping their Web sites, rolling out full streaming episodes of their hit shows. You'd think this might chip at the number of people who watch their TV on actual sets. But Jeff Gaspin, president of NBC's digital content, says the reverse is true: "Streaming our shows online absolutely promotes back to the original series and increases viewership."A few caveats, though, before you jump on your computer to look for Teri Hatcher. Since nothing is really free in TV land, the streaming episodes come with mandatory commercials. Still, they're much shorter than regular TV commercials: usually less than two minutes per 40 minutes of content. The episodes don't...
  • Ask Tip Sheet

    --Carolyn Johnson, Rehoboth Beach, Del.
  • Travel: Packing Light

    Breathe a sigh of relief: your shampoo and mouthwash are legal again. Last week the Transportation Security Administration loosened its carry-on ban on liquids, allowing travelers to bring some toiletries on domestic flights. (International policies vary, so check with your airline.) But here's the catch: you've got to pack the toiletries in a clear plastic one-quart zip-lock bag. If your bag is too big, or if you have more than one, you'll likely be sent back to the checked-luggage counter. Also, remember that none of your toiletries can be stored in containers larger than three ounces--including aerosol cans, which are allowed now, too. The restrictions don't apply to baby formula or prescription medicine. For a complete list of what you can and cannot pack, see tsa.gov . Or just ship your luggage ahead.
  • Harvard Opts Out

    While many educators fretted over Harvard's announcement last week that it was rescinding its Early Admissions policy, Azusa Pacific University stood firm. It will not end Early Action. But wait. The small Christian college near Los Angeles let in 2,300 of 3,100 freshman applicants for this fall. That's a 74 percent acceptance rate. Why does it even need Early Action to attract applicants? "Students kept asking us if we had Early Action," says Deana Porterfield, vice president for enrollment management. When the school finally enacted the policy in 2001, the number of applications jumped 13 percent.The big question now is whether Harvard's unique position as arguably the most prestigious brand in American higher education could make getting in early seem as obsolete as a 2005 iPod. Starting in 2007, applicants to Harvard will no longer receive a slight edge by ranking the college as their No. 1 choice and mailing their applications before the regular deadline. Of all the students...
  • Newsmakers: Lionel Richie, Katie Couric, Ivanka Trump

    He's a chart topper again with his new CD, "Coming Home"--and not just because he's Nicole Richie's father. He spoke with Nicki Gostin.Excuse me, hands down Lionel Richie. If it comes down to making love, Barry's got that covered, but I travel the country and people say, "Lionel, you were part of the engagement, the wedding and the child." In some cases I've done four to five children.Let me just get really bold. Chicago? Are you kidding me? I've knocked up the world.Absolutely.Why do you think that when someone says Nicole went shopping, I don't flinch that much? God always gives you a great equalizer. He gives you "Dancing on the Ceiling," and then he gives you Nicole.Yes--and thank God. There was a moment there where I was going down fast. ...
  • Movies: Hot Feet (And Abs)

    Of the top 10 most searched actors on Yahoo last week, a new guy busted a move. Channing Tatum, star of the upcoming dance movie "Step Up," has developed a cult following--even though he has yet to open a movie (he's had supporting roles in "Coach Carter" and "She's the Man"). Coming from the pages of Abercrombie & Fitch, he's the first male model turned actor to generate Hollywood heat since Ashton Kutcher. "Tons of crazy girls have said to me, 'Channing Tatum is in your movie? Oh, my God, he's so hot!' " says "Step Up" director Anne Fletcher. "When you go onto MySpace, it's insane how many people love this boy." In the movie, he carries the screen opposite a cast of professional dancers, even though he's never trained. "I definitely had my days when my s--t was not working, but everyone was understanding," says Tatum, who is about to start filming the new Kimberly Peirce ("Boys Don't Cry") movie, where he plays a sergeant back from Iraq. "We just wrapped six days of boot camp....
  • Newsmakers: Hasselhoff, Kevin Smith

    The Hoff is back, as a judge on the summer hit "America's Got Talent." The "Baywatch" star spoke to NEWSWEEK's Ramin Setoodeh.Yesterday I Googled my name. There were 7.9 million references. There's so much crap out there about me being the Antichrist.I don't know. This is not my cup of tea. I signed on for one season, and Simon Cowell conned me into it: "Here's a lot of money, and it's like 'The Gong Show'." I'm trying to get on a sitcom or maybe even my own show, "Travels With the Hoff."It's about growing up since I was 7 and realizing a dream. But when I was out trying to save the world, I forgot to save myself.I was in London, shaving. I guess the hotel was built for short people. I lifted my head, and broke the lamp. One piece sliced my hand like beef. So I went into Mitch Buchannon rescue mode, "What's the number for 911 in London?" The tabloids make so much stuff up. I was at Wimbledon, and they said I was escorted out drunk.Absolutely not. I don't drink anymore. Right now I'm...
  • Newsmakers: Heidi Klum, Wynonna Judd

    The German supermodel is back as host of "Project Runway," which enters its third season this week. She spoke to Ramin Setoodeh.I don't really crave stuff. My favorite snack is Big Mac and fries. I also cook meatballs with cucumber salad, tomatoes and steamed artichoke. Have you ever eaten an artichoke?We have them in the backyard. A lot of them. If you let them flower, they turn into a beautiful blue.We have a great villain. You always hope for something like that. I want the show to go on forever, until everyone in America has become a designer.We've never discussed that. Our concept is really about women's clothes.It was not appropriate. The Emmys are a very big event, and it was Halloween-costumey. You do have to think a little bit about yourself when you go. It would not have been good for him, either.I have. I do "Germany's Next Top Model." We have millions and millions of viewers.No, I don't have them. How sad. I want them!You should call the head of Victoria's Secret and...
  • The Design Dozen

    Minneapolis: Design CityMinneapolis took root on the Mississippi where St. Anthony's Falls powered the city's early industries. A French missionary had named the falls after his favorite saint--and now another Frenchman has laid claim to the riverbank with the spectacular Guthrie Theater. Thanks to that and other stunning new buildings, the city's become a design boomtown. ...
  • Newsmakers: Adrian Grenier, Cate Blanchett

    He's returning for a third season of "Entourage" and will appear in "The Devil Wears Prada." Grenier spoke to Ramin Setoodeh.Adrian Grenier: I'm getting out of my car. I'm packing to move to another location in L.A. I have a lot of stuff--couches, TV, papers.I'm moving in with a buddy of mine. My friend and I both want to play music but we didn't have any place to play.Yes, the Honey Brothers. It's been difficult since I started the show. We're kind of on a virtual hiatus.Vince is famous. He's an A-list celebrity. I'm a B-list celebrity.My advice to Vince would be, like, "Look, it's over. You can try again, but once you get rejected, it's over."People are hooking up everywhere. I've never put too much importance on my love life. I like to stay focused on work and have fun.It's hard to date. It's hard to get along with people. It's hard to be in any relationship, friendship or otherwise.It's a coming-of-age dark comedy about two girls who cross roads with a family friend and have a...