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  • Letters: Stephen Colbert, Guest Editor (Seriously)

    Too bad Stephen Colbert wasn't around for Vietnam. He might have made some sense of why we were there.Jack Dubose (Chief Master Sgt., USAF, Ret.), Conway, Ariz.The Colbert issue arrived on the one-year anniversary of my son's deployment to Iraq. Thank you for remembering. Others like me—parents, friends, relatives—have not forgotten. We worry, feel helpless, wait for phone calls or any kind of contact, but we do not forget.Cookie Nokes, Huntington Beach, Calif.I don't enjoy your guest editor's humor, nor do I watch his TV programs. It serves him well that he goes to Iraq, but I still don't find him funny.Gilda Taylor, Portland, Ore.I'm a 40-year-old woman headed to medical school, and to save money I decided to cancel my cable television. I knew the only part I'd miss is having Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert to keep me sane each night. Thanks to NEWSWEEK for giving me my fix! It was a great issue—fun, interesting and for a great cause.Julie Coyle, South Bend, Ind.Thank you for...
  • Meacham: The Micawbers and Mrs. Roosevelt

    The numbers are, by and large, pretty good. In the Gallup poll, President Obama's job-approval rating in May averaged 65 percent, a figure that puts him in good company. Only three other presidents elected to their first terms—Eisenhower, Kennedy and Reagan—have scored higher, and Obama's average tops those of his most recent predecessors: the two Bushes and Clinton. But while 55 percent have a favorable view of his stewardship of the economy in general, there are two troubling figures that foreshadow political problems for the president and, more important, intractable problems for all of us: 48 percent disapprove of his handling of the federal budget deficit, and 51 percent are unhappy with his control of federal spending. (Or, as Republicans would say, his lack thereof.)Research by Bill McInturff and Peter Hart cited by the Peter G. Peterson Foundation puts the matter in even more telling perspective: 66 percent of registered voters say the deficit and debt pose a "very big...
  • A Filipino Director Dares Viewers Not to Look Away

    Brillante Mendoza's film Kinatay(Slaughtered) is so grim and gruesome that it didn't even divide audiences and critics when it screened at Cannes last month; it united them in hatred and disgust. Shot on film and video, the Philippine director's latest offering is about a young police cadet who finds himself participating in the grisly murder of a prostitute. Stark and unrelenting, it presents torture, rape and mutilation in a manner reminiscent of snuff movies. Viewers booed it and reviewers described it as "horrible"; the American critic Roger Ebert pronounced it the worst film ever to screen at the festival.The furor only grew after Mendoza won the festival's best-director award. Jury member Nuri Bilge Ceylan called it "one of the most powerful, original films in the competition." For all its nastiness, Kinatay is a fiercely moral condemnation of corruption, brutality and indifference. Filipinos felt deeply conflicted; on the one hand, the prize represented an honor for their...
  • Ray Romano's Favorite Shows Ever

    You remember Ray Romano as the whiny guy at the dysfunctional center of Everybody Loves Raymond. Your kids remember him as the equally whiny Manny in the Ice Age movies (the third one, Dawn of the Dinosaurs, comes out next month, so consider yourself warned). And Romano remembers?.?.?.?well, we asked him what he remembers most fondly from TV land: THE SHOW THAT MADE ME WANT TO BE A COMIC Johnny Carson's Tonight Show
  • 'Do The Right Thing' Turns 20

    Considering all the effort put into shrouding Barack Obama in swarthy otherness during the election, it's a wonder that one biographical factoid went without much scrutiny. On their first date, he took Michelle to see Spike Lee's Do the Right Thing, the dystopian meditation on race relations that, a full 20 years after its release, remains the hottest firebomb in Lee's provocative filmography. Never mind Jeremiah Wright and Michelle's Princeton thesis; if anything would have given "hardworking white Americans" pause, it's the thought of their president and first lady courting at a film that features a black mob gleefully torching a white man's business. There's even a recitation of a Louis Farrakhan quote about how the black man will one day "rise and rule the earth as we did in our glorious past," but Obama wasn't asked to reject or denounce his choice of date movie. (Story continued below...)That the film never came up is more surprising considering that the two decades since Do...
  • Kevin Smith Plays Carnegie Hall

    Kevin Smith has been performing a sort of unplugged stand-up act since his movie Clerks came out in 1994. He started by traveling to college campuses to talk about the movie. That evolved into a verbal burlesque where he'd stand onstage answering anything and everything, even if it took eight hours. "The caliber of questions starts sucking at hour six," Smith says, "when people are going, boxers or briefs? Batman or Superman? It sounds kind of staid and dry, but it doesn't feel like a normal Q&A." At a Vancouver event recently, a guy got up with a bucket list of 100 things he had to do before he died, including getting naked in front of a large audience. "I was like, 'Get the f--k up here now'," Smith says. "The audience went crazy." The act has taken him as far as London's Piccadilly Circus and sold-out Canadian opera houses. And on June 17 he's playing Carnegie Hall. That's right, Carnegie Hall—and you're not the only one who's shocked. "I don't even know how it happened,"...
  • Jada Pinkett Smith Plays Nurse

    On a set in Inglewood, Calif., will Smith busts out of his trailer door and yells at the top of his lungs, "Woman, come rub my feet!" He's speaking, loudly and in jest, to his dynamo of a wife, Jada Pinkett Smith, who proceeds to dismiss him by saying, "Don't pay that fool any attention—he has no sense." She should know. She is his boss. In a bit of role reversal, Smith is working on the set of his wife's new project, Hawthorne, a TNT drama about a nurse in your typically (make that stereotypically) chaotic urban hospital. Pinkett Smith, 37, is both the show's star and co–executive producer (along with Will). If the show succeeds, she will arguably become the most powerful black woman in prime-time TV. Before Hawthorne and HBO's The No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency debuted a few months ago (starring Jill Scott), it had been 35 years since an African-American woman was the lead in a TV drama (Teresa Graves in Get Christie Love!). (Story continued below...)None of this history is lost...
  • Julia Reed on Summer Cocktails

    The summers of my youth were spent largely at the house of our neighbors, who had six children (including three good-looking, much older and very funny boys) and a playroom with a pool table, card table, stereo and ancient refrigerator. Depending on the summer, I was invariably in love with one of the brothers or their friends, and it was in their company that I picked up the skills that have contributed to my good health and happiness ever since: how to kiss, play poker, hold my beer—and hum along to pretty much every song on a nonstop vinyl soundtrack that included, but was not limited to, the Allman Brothers, the Rolling Stones and the Sir Douglas Quintet.The most memorable summer was marked by the introduction of the Yucca Flats—not the nuke site, but a passion-inducing concoction mixed in metal trash cans with floating handfuls of squeezed citrus, and I've always wondered what else, exactly, was in there.The good (and scary) thing about the Internet is that you can locate not...
  • My Turn: A Nanny's Diary

    Taking care of another woman's child was supposed to be a temporary situation as I figured out my next career move. But have I found a calling?
  • Chuck Barris: Confessions of a Dangerous Novelist

    Barris created The Dating Game, The Newlywed Game and The Gong Show. But since his retirement he's become a writer best known for Confessions of a Dangerous Mind. His novel Who Killed Art Deco just came out in -paperback. He spoke with Nicki Gostin.
  • Consumerism: It's An Evolutionary Urge

    Marketers understand that humans, like other animals, have evolved finely tuned mechanisms for competing for status—and that our choice of a consumer brand is less about the material item itself and more about advertising our wealth, beauty and power to (hopefully jealous) onlookers. But in his new book, Spent, evolutionary psychologist Geoffrey Miller argues that our species is also driven to show off such characteristics as agreeableness (see Whole Foods and Fair Trade coffee) and conscientiousness (see a well-maintained lawn). While Miller thinks it's improbable that humans will ever give up "their runaway quest for self-display," he notes that our instincts to show off, say, kindness and intelligence can privilege different forms of consumption. For example, we're already seeing a shift away from items that scream "I can afford to waste outlandish amounts of resources!" (big yachts, caviar-and-champagne blowouts) to items that trumpet "I'm ecoconscious!" (electric cars, organic...
  • A Note From Stephen Colbert

    NEWSWEEK has bestowed upon me the honor of choosing this week's letters—huge mistake! Because now I'm just going to print all the letters I sent that the magazine didn't run. In your face, Other Letters!
  • A Tourbook Written in Crayon

    For a child, a box of Crayola crayons can be a wondrous thing. When I was in elementary school, I was particularly taken with burnt sienna. It was neither brown nor red, but seemed taken from the earth, and it had the most beautiful name. I was reminded of my early curiosity and respect for that color recently, as I stood on top of the walls of Siena's Museo dell'Opera, high above the Piazza del Duomo, and looked out over the city spread below. At first, all I saw was a dull sea of brown, but then it began to take shape and gain heft. The brown became warmer, redder, and splintered into dozens of tones. I thought of burnt sienna, and suddenly the association between a crayon and a city did not seem silly or strange. Afterward, walking through the cramped streets of the town's historic center, I saw echoes of the color everywhere. There were the brick-red chevrons of the sloping Piazza del Campo, the town's spectacular medieval square, and the Palazzo Pubblico, burnished in afternoon...
  • Why I Took This Crummy Job

    No, your eyes aren't deceiving you. You're reading Stephen Colbert. And for that I apologize. The last thing I want is to contribute to the corrosive influence of the print media. I prefer to yell my opinions at you in person.But I can't do that this week, because I am in Iraq. I've brought my hit TV broadcast over there to support our troops. I figure if I do this, I can finally take that yellow- ribbon magnet off my Audi without looking like a jerk. God knows what it did to my paint job.I know what you're thinking: "Isn't the Iraq War over?" That's what I thought, too. I hadn't seen it in the media for a while, and when I don't see something, I assume it's vanished forever, like in that terrifying game peekaboo. We stopped seeing much coverage of the Iraq War back in September when the economy tanked, and I just figured the insurgents were wiped out because they were heavily invested in Lehman Brothers.Turns out there are still 135,000 troops in Iraq, which I don't understand...