Ramin Setoodeh

Stories by Ramin Setoodeh

  • Here’s That Girl

    Marlo Thomas broke ground in the 1966 television series "That Girl." As the first to feature a single woman lead character, it helped pave the way for Mary Tyler Moore and a new generation of woman stars on the small screen. With the first season "That Girl" DVDs coming out this week, Thomas spoke to NEWSWEEK's Ramin Setoodeh.NEWSWEEK: Hi Marlo. What are you up to these days?Marlo Thomas: I have a new book out called "The Right Words at the Right Time, Volume 2." It's only been out for a week and it's already on The New York Times best seller list. It's a follow up to my first book, called "The Right Words at the Right Time.""That Girl" was revolutionary in that it was the first show about a single woman. Did it feel that way at the time?I knew that we were breaking ground, because there hadn't been one. All the women on television were the wife of somebody or the daughter of somebody. But there was nobody who was just a somebody. I wanted to do a show about a young woman who has a...
  • Travel: A Vacation Well Spent

    The average American will take eight vacation days this summer--and spend several hundred dollars to get there. To help you plan ahead, we asked the editors of Budget Travel for advice on how to save some change. Here are their top tips. ...
  • He's Goode to Go

    When Matthew Goode first starred in "Chasing Liberty," opposite Mandy Moore, he was called the next Brad Pitt. But now, a few roles later, he's beginning to seem more like the next Hugh Grant. (Maybe it's the British accent.) In Woody Allen's "Match Point," Goode plays a wealthy Englishman who dates Scarlett Johansson's Nola Rice before she sleeps with a married tennis instructor (Jonathan Rhys Meyers). With the DVD coming out this week, Goode spoke to NEWSWEEK's Ramin Setoodeh. Excerpts: NEWSWEEK: Did you take the subway here?Matthew Goode: Yes, I did this time. The other day, I had an interview with Scarlett Johansson for Interview magazine. I had to get to midtown, and there were no cabs. I was like, "I can't be late, I can't not go." My girlfriend Sophie said, "Get on the subway—it's really easy."How long have you and she been together?Six, seven months. Long enough to make the commitment. We met brilliantly randomly. She works for a fashion house, with really high-end knitwear....
  • Theater: It Sure Beats 'Mona Lisa Smile 2'

    It's Julia Roberts's first night on Broadway, and her most loyal 1,074 fans have sold out the Bernard Jacobs Theatre. When she finally appears onstage, there's hearty applause followed by flashing cameras. But at intermission the audience is underwhelmed: We can't hear Julia Roberts. Why isn't she projecting her voice? At the next day's matinee, the audience is still tepid. By Saturday, her seventh preview performance, Roberts is sounding better. But there's a new problem: her groupies have grown at the stage door, crowding both ends of the sidewalk. "It's a mob scene," screams 20-year-old Alissa Portet into her cell phone, adding, "This is the best day of my life!" As Roberts makes her way to a chauffeured van, the crowd floods the street. A police officer--there are five--shoves them back. "He scraped my arm," says Robert Certilman, who is contesting a ticket he got for blocking traffic. (The officer said "no comment" when approached by a reporter.)This Broadway season includes...
  • Home: Don't Let Them Bite!

    If you think bedbugs are nibbling you in the night, you're not alone. Calls to specialists about the bloodsuckers have increased 63 percent since 2000. How to get rid of them: Zap! You'll need a pest-control company to identify the problem. But if they say you have bedbugs, ask to see eggs (smaller than a piece of rice) or shed skin to make sure they exist. "If they can't show them to you, you shouldn't have treatment," says Cindy Mannes of the National Pest Management Association. Sleep easy. You only need to throw away your bed if it has visible tears. Otherwise, vacuum your mattress, floors and furniture. Toss the bag, so the bedbugs don't come back. Nothing to wear? You can dry-clean, but that might not kill the eggs, which are "surrounded by a mucus material," says Frank Meek at Orkin. He recommends washing in water 135 degrees Fahrenheit or higher.Ramin Setoodeh
  • Food: Bean There, Done That

    Jelly beans are known for their fruity flavors. But now they're starting to taste like other kinds of candy, too. We investigate (each bag costs $2 to $4): Life Savers jelly beans arrive in classic and pastel flavors, like cotton candy and banana. But our tasters sensed a hint of toothpaste. We prefer the candy rolled up. Starburst beans fared better. They had a nice balance of sweetness. Still, one taster complained that they were "not crunchy enough." Jolly Rancher, in blue raspberry and apple, is slightly tart--but not in a unpleasant way. Our favorite flavor: watermelon. Crayola has a line, too, but "they should stick to crayons." Russell Stover 's beans don't come with any flavor gimmicks. Maybe they should. They taste exactly like gummy bears--especially the red ones.
  • Technology: Pink Hang-Up

    After Motorola's RAZR phone sold 12 million units, it went pretty in pink. Now each provider has its own shade. How to stay connected: (T-Mobile, magenta, Verizon, orchid pink, Cingular, V3 pink)(graphic omitted)
  • Where’s the Artistic Freedom?

    Hollywood legend Mel Brooks has too many credits to name, but here goes. He directed 1968's "The Producers" and was the producer of the 2005 remake. He was creator of the 1965 series "Get Smart" and returned to TV in a recurring part on "Mad About You." His films are classics: "Blazing Saddles," "High Anxiety," "The Twelve Chairs," "To Be Or Not To Be," "Young Frankenstein," "Spaceballs," "History of the World: Part I" and "Robin Hood: Men In Tights." With the Mel Brooks DVD boxed set coming to stores this week, he spoke to NEWSWEEK's Ramin Setoodeh. Excerpts: NEWSWEEK: Hi Mel. Where are you today?Mel Brooks: You're talking to me from sunny Southern California. This is where my office is, in Culver City. This is where I make my movies, develop my Broadway shows. This is good territory—just a few blocks away from the old MGM.What are you working on now?I'm working on a Broadway show. It's called "Young Frankenstein." I'm writing the songs for it and a new sparkling book based on the...
  • From Silly to Serious

    One of today's most serious twentysomething actors started out on a silly sitcom about aliens: Joseph Gordon-Levitt, who played the teenage earthling Tommy Sullivan on "3rd Rock From the Sun," has transitioned—very nicely, thank you—into edgy independent-film roles. He followed his supporting turn as a homophobic Mormon in 2003's "Latter Days" with a starring role as a gay hustler in last year's "Mysterious Skin." Gordon-Levitt's latest film, "Brick," is set in a California high school. But this is so not your typical teen movie. It's more like film noir meets "Sin City." Gordon-Levitt plays the lead, a thoughtful, lanky student named Brendan Frye, who's searching for his missing girlfriend. With the movie just opening in limited release, he spoke to NEWSWEEK's Ramin Setoodeh. Excerpts:NEWSWEEK: Wow. You're wearing a suit. At most interviews, celebrities dress down.Joseph Gordon-Levitt: Celebrity? I hate that word.But aren't you a celebrity?No, sir. I'm an actor. Actors didn't use...
  • Oscars: 'Brokeback' Heartbreak

    Most Oscar ads end on Oscar night. But fans of "Brokeback Mountain" are so heartbroken their movie lost the best-picture award to "Crash" they've launched a new campaign. Last week blogger Dave Cullen collected $26,000 from at least 600 people for an ad that ran in Friday's Daily Variety. It subtly suggests that "Brokeback," which was named best picture through "unprecedented consensus" in other awards circles, should have won the Oscar too. The group is now looking into placing similar ads in Entertainment Weekly or The New York Times. (A more negative campaign was considered and dropped, after the group feared it would look bitter.) But these aren't your everyday film buffs. Most of the donors are gay men who saw a "Brokeback" win as a step forward in the fight for equality. "Members of our community feel so compelled by their disappointment they want to share it with others," says GLAAD president Neil Giuliano. And many believe that homophobia cost "Brokeback" the Oscar. "We want...
  • Fashion: Who's Wearing Short Shorts?

    At beaches across the country, a few brave men may soon be wearing their underwear in public. Or maybe it will just seem that way. Take a look at the square-cut swimsuit. Inspired by the retro trunks of the 1950s, but in stretchier fabrics, these shorts cling to your body like a pair of boxer briefs. Fashion experts say they're a compromise between the boring board short and the too-skimpy Speedo. "We've lost the two ends of the spectrum," says Simon Southwood, owner of Sauvage Swimwear in San Diego. "It's a little more flattering than either." Ah, for some, perhaps. Just remember: you've got to provide the abs. If you think you're buff enough, "square" choices include the orange and spotted shorts pictured ($48 each; sauvage wear.com ). Other designers offering the style include Hugo Boss, Calvin Klein and Diesel (the blue and green shorts below are available at Saks Fifth Avenue for $50 each). But you'd better hurry. The department store reports a camouflage suit from Michael Kors...
  • At Home: American Masala

    At 21, Amit Sharma has a resume that would impress most parents--just not his own. After graduating as the valedictorian of his high school in Carbondale, Ill., he entered the University of Chicago, where he majored in biology. His college years were, in many ways, typical: he joined a fraternity, played intramural football and spent summers in a lab. But earlier this year, he rocked his parents' world. He decided he wanted to go into business, not medicine, and this summer will start work at JP Morgan as an investment banker. His parents are disappointed; they had groomed him to be a doctor since he was a child. But "I grew up in a town where every Indian was a doctor or a professor," Sharma says. "There is so much more out there."Raised in America by Indian-born parents, many of today's twentysomething "Desis," as they call themselves, are doing more--and less--than what's expected of them. They're moving beyond science and engineering into fields like business, journalism,...
  • Lost in Translation

    The audience for foreign films is a loyal and passionate one. It is also increasingly embattled, prone to nostalgia and regret. "When I was an undergraduate, I lived for foreign films," says producer Mark Johnson ("Narnia"), who chairs the Oscar committee that selects foreign-language films. "In fact, it's where you took girls to impress them with how smart you were. Now the number of theaters that show foreign films is down to very few. My children, 17 and 18, have no interest in subtitled films. It's a cultural thing. Our interests get narrower and narrower."For hard-core fans who love world cinema, who are exhilarated by glimpses of other lands and other visions, 2005 was a terrific year, full of stunning work from Germany ("Head-On"), France ("Cache"), Hong Kong ("2046"), Kurdistan ("Turtles Can Fly") and Italy ("The Best of Youth"). Commercially, however, it was the worst of times. The most successful foreign film of the year was "Kung Fu Hustle" at $17.1 million--making it the...
  • ‘I Got Paid a Lot’

    Bruce Vilanch is back writing again for this year's Oscars ceremony—making it his 16th telecast. The comedian also launched a reality TV career on VH1's "Celebrity Fit Club" (Sunday at 9 p.m.) He spoke to Newsweek's Ramin Setoodeh about the upcoming awards show. Excerpts:NEWSWEEK: How much of the Oscars are scripted?Bruce Vilanch: Everything is scripted and it changes as we go along. The writers are in the wings with the host and they are watching the show as it progresses and adapting, rewriting, until the very last hunk of gold is dropped. The only truly unscripted parts are the winner. They dictate how the show will go. They'll execute maneuvers you can use later on, they'll get political, they'll be wearing something. They'll show up dressed up as a swan.Will there be song-and-dance numbers?There'll be songs. But no dance numbers.What else is going to be different with Jon Stewart?Well, it's Jon's first time. I expect it will be political. He'll probably use a couple elements...
  • Toys: To Infinity and Beyond

    The biggest surprise at the American International Toy Fair in New York last week: the famous redhead never showed up. Fisher-Price announced its new TMX (short for Tickle Me Elmo Extreme) that will hit stores in September, but only unveiled the packaging, a briefcase of sorts with the words top secret. Our best guess: Elmo will be fully loaded with revamped gadgetry for a bigger laugh and, maybe, even some new grooves. That should keep moms around the country in long lines next Christmas.
  • Newsmakers

    Mary Tyler Moore returns to TV as a bitchy talk-show host on "That '70s Show." She spoke to NEWSWEEK's Ramin Setoodeh. ...
  • Television: Whoa. It's the Revenge of the Nerds!

    Ah, high school. how we miss you so... little. But fans who teared up over the death of the TV show "Freaks and Geeks" are getting a break. Those awkward kids on the series have grown up to be Hollywood stars. That's unexpected, because, creator Paul Feig says, "I wasn't looking for movie stars. We wanted a real show [with actors] who were rough around the edges." That presence translates well on the big screen. Take Seth Rogen, who played Ken and was later cast in "The 40-Year-Old Virgin." Now he's getting his first star vehicle, "Knocked Up," which is like the bookend to "Virgin": a guy impregnates a girl on their first date. Jason Segel, also from the show, will costar. Judd Apatow, a "Freaks" scribe who's directing, says, "I'm always looking for opportunities for the cast." Long live dorkhood.
  • Unknown to Hit

    Ben McKenzie was an unknown when he was cast in "The O.C." But after the show became an overnight hit, so did the actor--especially with the program's female viewers. The 27-year-old McKenzie recently made his film debut in the independent film "Junebug." McKenzie plays Johnny, a struggling young man who lives in North Carolina with his parents and pregnant wife (Amy Adams), and receives a visit from his Chicago brother (Alessandro Nivola) and wife (Embeth Davidtz). With the "Junebug" DVD coming out this week, McKenzie spoke to NEWSWEEK's Ramin Setoodeh. Excerpts: ...
  • Fast Chat: Jake Gyllenhaal

    Jake Gyllenhaal is Hollywood's sexiest man--despite what the editors at People say. The actor took a break from his heartthrob duties to speak with Ramin Setoodeh.Honestly, I'm feeling more like maybe we should.I don't think I could give you a coherent reason. Ultimately, the movie is about the struggle of love--with a new way of looking at it. Whether it will change minds is not something you can know in the present moment.I respect that people are interested in that. I'm flattered by it. But I hope there are more important things in the stories that they're moved by.Are you kidding me? It's none of my business. They're both wonderful people.You're pinning me against him? I have no hard feelings. But I'll challenge Matthew McConaughey in the kitchen any time.After a 14-week trial that included lurid testimony, a jury cleared Jackson of charges that he tried to get a teen drunk and sexually molest him. Fans outside the courthouse in Santa Maria, Calif., rejoiced; one released a dove...
  • Television: Comin' To Town

    'The Santa Clause' (Thursday, ABC, 8 p.m., ET). Just don't ask to sit on Tim Allen's lap. 'Frosty the Snowman' (Saturday, CBS, 8 p.m., ET). The cool 1969 cartoon. 'National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation' (Sunday, NBC, 9 p.m., ET). Or, Chevy's guide on how not to hang your lights. 'Jingle All the Way' (Dec. 24, ABC Family, noon, ET). See Arnold run for something other than office. Sinbad costars. 'It's a Wonderful Life' (Dec. 24, NBC, 8 p.m.,ET). James Stewart in the 1946 chestnut. Can we open our presents now?
  • Style: 'Geisha's' Gone Wild

    Arthur Golden's 1997 best-seller "Memoirs of a Geisha" opened our eyes to a secret society. Now Rob Marshall's new film, based on the novel, wants us to open our wallets, too. Store shelves are packed with a blizzard of tie-ins, including books, posters, makeup--even Banana Republic clothes. Of course, you probably wouldn't want to wear an authentic kimono to work. But the brand offers some colorful geisha-inspired satin dresses ($168; bananarepublic.com ), purses ($38 to $58) and necklaces ($38). The cosmetics company Fresh has unveiled its own "Memoirs of a Geisha" line (all products at fresh.com ). Our testers thought the fragrance ($48 for 75ml) with jasmine flower was "too sweet." And they weren't crazy about the rice face wash ($32), with peach and green-tea extracts, or the shimmer powder with crushed pearl ($38), either. But they did like the texture of the flower-petal mask ($35 for 50ml), which contains crushed hibiscus. Finally, one tester thought the bath with sake ($42...
  • Music: An 'Idol' at The Movies

    Will Young is making his big-screen debut. That, of course, means zilch to most of us. But Young is the Kelly Clarkson of British pop music. As the winner of the first "Pop Idol" in 2002 (the U.K.'s version of "American Idol"), he topped the charts with his single "Anything Is Possible/Evergreen," and his second album sold 1.6 million copies. ...
  • Technology: Time To Get Plugged In

    Hard-core gamers lined up around the block last week for the new $400 Xbox. But the toy industry is targeting the rest of us--children, tweens and adults--through a more primitive technology: plug and play. These games come with a joystick and connect directly into your TV, banking on the idea that you don't need an expensive console to be hooked on Ms. Pac-Man.That sounds about right. The gadgets have brought in $40 million in sales through October of this year, up 150 percent over the same period in 2004, reports the NPD Group. The draw: prices starting at about $20, and the fact that the controllers are easy enough for parents and younger kids.Toy stores have spent the past few years pushing retro titles, like Centipede and Mortal Kombat, which have a vintage appeal for older gamers. The new Wheel of Fortune ($19.99; amazon.com ) is a perfect illustration of why the category has its fans. The game offers fewer bells and whistles than the outdated Nintendo 64 edition, but its...
  • A Slippery Snowy Slope for Marketing

    In "First Descent," a new snowboarding documentary that opens in limited release this week, mountains are everywhere. You'll have to look a little harder to spot the Mountain Dew.But not too hard. Mountain Dew, after all, didn't just pay to have the soft drink in the movie. It financed the entire project, which follows five snowboarding icons. (A rep won't comment on the budget.) Experts call it "branded entertainment." How better to control screen time for a product?But John Galloway, VP of sports and media for Pepsi-Cola, says that less is more in this film. Pepsi-Cola, which owns Mountain Dew, wants to build buzz by association. "Our goal is for this to be the seminal movie of snowboarding--we didn't want to go overboard with the product,'' he says. Product shots are subtle--a snowboarder's helmet, for example, shows the logo.Marketers say Mountain Dew made a smart move, because audiences are turned off by blatant product placement. Jeff Greenfield, a product-placement expert,...
  • Cheat Sheet: To Save The Day

    If you think of Donatello as an Italian sculptor--and not a purple Ninja Turtle--you'll need help sorting through the action figures this Christmas. Here are our picks for the boys (and tomboys) on your list. B-Daman: These new marble shooters are based on a Japanese animated series. What to buy: The tournament set ($16.99; toysrus.com ) lets you play 10 games. King Kong: They'll go bananas for this line that drops with the Peter Jackson remake. What to buy: Hear the roar of the 14-inch figure ($24.99; toysrus.com ). It also pounds its chest. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: The pizza-loving '80s heroes are back; a CGI movie is scheduled for '07. What to buy: The sewer spewer tank ($29.99; kbtoys.com ) oozes slime. Power Rangers: They guard our planet from evil space aliens--and have sold 80 million figures since 1993. What to buy: Look for a five-inch figure of the rarer Omega (white) ranger ($9.99; toysrus.com ).
  • Collecting: Falling From The Sky

    Chicken Little is arriving at McDonald's this month, and (good news) he won't be served as a McNugget. The Happy Meal, born in 1979, has found some of its hungriest fans in Disney collectibles ("DuckTales" in 1988; "The Little Mermaid" in 1989). Joyce Losonsky, coauthor of "McDonald's Happy Meal Toys in the USA," says even the earliest toys don't fetch more than a few dollars. But diehards scour eBay for complete sets to display in their homes. As of last week, a "Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs" collection was up for grabs with a starting bid of $9. Movie characters, like Bambi, are rarer--and more sought after--than Mickeys and Minnies. See kathysfastfoodtoys.com for some of the older toys and photos.Ready to supersize your hobby? The McDonald's Collectors Club ( mcdclub .com ) holds a convention in May--where you can buy, sell or trade your toys. Don't expect fries with that.
  • Music: Strumming Right Along

    With "Walk the Line," the Johnny Cash biopic that's about to open, it's time to brush up on the Man in Black. We asked the legend's son--John Carter Cash--for some help. Download these hits to stay ahead (the film's versions are sung by Joaquin Phoenix): 'Cry, Cry, Cry': The song "brings back memories of my father's early career. I hear his youth." 'I Walk the Line': "I believe it's one of his greatest compositions. The spirit of the song is unique--the chord progression, the modulations, is not something you hear." 'Get Rhythm': "I love the energy of the song. It puts me in the ' 50s in the streets of Memphis." 'Ring of Fire': Co-written by June Carter (Reese Witherspoon in the film), "it reminds me of my parents' love affair. It touches my heart every time." 'It Ain't Me, Babe': A duet with Carter. "I think of my mother, tossing the microphone." 'Cocaine Blues': "Brings to mind some of the great murder ballads--hard-core country songs."
  • Travel: Leave The Snow Back Home

    Airplanes are fully loaded around Thanksgiving and Christmas. But (shhh!) here's a little secret: hardly anyone travels between the two holidays. Use that time to cash in your remaining vacation days. "The Monday after Thanksgiving up until around Dec. 12 is really the hot spot," says Barbara Messing, of hotwire.com . A round-trip flight from San Francisco to Chicago in early December is $215--40 percent less than flying later in the month. A four-night package to Hawaii is only $779 per person (compared with $1,894 right after Christmas). Overseas fares are friendly, too. A four-night trip, with hotel, from New York to Los Cabos, Mexico, is yours for $785 per person (versus $2,155). Priceline .com is offering round-trip flights from New York to Paris for $429 and to London for $460. Another steal: a round-trip flight from New York to San Juan for $204. Consider it an early Christmas present to yourself.
  • DVD's: Spending the Night

    This week, HBO is releasing a pink velvet binder with 20 discs (that's 94 episodes) of "Sex and the City." The collection includes all six seasons now sold in separate boxed sets, in addition to a batch of extra extras. (How do you get to Manhattan's Magnolia Bakery? Pop in disc 20--or look in the Yellow Pages.) Sofia Chang, HBO Video's vice president of marketing, calls the new collection a "coffee-table DVD." But given its $300 price tag, you might need to sell your coffee table to afford it.The latest trend in TV-to-DVD: lavish boxed sets that include every episode, not just a single season, of long-running shows. In November Warner Home Video drops a $300 "Friends" collection with 10 seasons in a wooden box. Fox Home Entertainment is putting out a collector's "Buffy the Vampire Slayer," with 40 discs that include all 144 episodes and a letter from creator Joss Whedon. (The price: $200.) "We still get requests for something new on 'Buffy'," says Fox's Steve Feldstein.Studios hope...
  • Fruit: Freshly Picked

    Fall fruit is at its peak. TIP SHEET asked James Parker, a Whole Foods Market produce expert, for advice. Pear: Feel them out. "If it's got a little give, it's ready to be eaten."Top pick: Asian pears are "a little juicier, not too sweet and very crisp." Persimmon: Look for ripeness in a "darker orange pumpkin color."Top pick: The Fuyu, shaped like a tomato, can be eaten firm. Pomegranate: "If the crown is broken, that's a sign the fruit is old."Top pick: The Wonderful variety lives up to its name: it's "quite sweet." Apple: Don't worry about color. It should be firm with "some weight."Top pick: Honeycrisp, "the new Cadillac apple," is spicy like a cider.