The iconic filmmaker refuses to abandon the Knicks, and discusses his new film ‘Oldboy,’ his HBO project with Mike Tyson, and diversity in the Oscars. And blackface.
Lillian Gish, who’s been called the First Lady of American Cinema, was probably born in 1896. Yet it is customary to dial back the date three years to coincide with the showing of William K.L. Dickson’s Blacksmith Scene, considered the first “film” ever shown in public. “She was the same age as film,” James Frasher, Gish’s manager, simply insisted. “They both came into the world in 1893.” When Gish died in 1993, it was as if the world’s last connection to the origin of film itself was severed. She had some roles in the sound era, including a memorable turn in Charles Laughton’s The Night of the Hunter (1955). But her legend will always be pinned to her roles in The Birth of a Nation (1915), Intolerance (1916), and Broken Blossoms (1919), the films by D.W. Griffith that have come to constitute the cradle of cinema as art.
Film Director Spike Lee looks on during the game between the New York Knicks and the Boston Celtics during Game five of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals of the 2013 NBA Playoffs at Madison Square Garden on May 1, 2013 in New York City. (Al Bello/Getty)
The inconvenience is that arguably the greatest and certainly the first of this trio, The Birth of a Nation, is a momentous work that’s also a racist polemic, like the first modern toilet, revolutionary but disgusting. You simply can’t avoid that it is nostalgic for slavery, paints blacks as lazy and sexually aggressive, and declares that the KKK was formed by Southern whites out to defend their women and manhood—and the stability of America. It is therefore a further inconvenience that Gish, in her well-meaning and affectionate memoir The Movies, Mr. Griffith, and Me, denied that Griffith was racist against black men. “To say that is like saying I am against children, as they were our children, whom we loved and cared for all of our lives.” Gish quoted Griffith, who no doubt called them all “son.”
Halloween costumes involving blackface are still appearing on celebrities and on social media. The practice is not just offensive; it shows a blatant ignorance of racism’s history.
In the 1840s, blackface was the most popular “art form” in America. “Almost any show you would see would be in blackface,” said Jake Austen, co-author of Darkest America: Black Minstrelsy from Slavery to Hip-Hop. Stage actors rubbed their faces with burnt cork, shoe polish or greasepaint, transforming themselves into ersatz slaves for variety “minstrel” shows and, later, vaudeville. Pre-emancipation, it was black-on-white; post-emancipation, black-on-black was preferred. African Americans in blackface were considered more authentic and they did not take the compliment lightly. “When everybody is agreeing that black people are better at the most popular thing in America than white people are, there’s a sense of pride,” said Austen.
Julianne Hough dresses up as Crazy Eyes from 'Orange is the New Black' as she attends the Casamigos Tequila halloween party in Hollywood. The 'Safe Haven' star wore dark makeup to play the character from the hit Netflix series. (Devone Byrd/PacificCoastNews)
But, 150 years later, blackface is no longer something to be proud of; it’s something to apologize for. Last week, in a misguided attempt to pay tribute to her favorite Orange Is the New Black character, Crazy Eyes, actress Julianne Hough arrived at a Halloween party in Beverly Hills with her skin painted brown. “I am a huge fan of the show Orange is the New Black, actress Uzo Aduba, and the character she has created,” she tweeted on Friday after realizing her faux pas. “It certainly was never my intention to be disrespectful or demeaning to anyone in any way. I realize my costume hurt and offended people and I truly apologize.”
Jason Marsden, the voice of Binx, talks about the cult classic on its 20th anniversary. He’s also starred in Full House, Boy Meets World, and just about every show millennials love.
Halloween movies are supposed to be terrifying. Gory. Filled with blood-curdling screams and face-eating zombies and hatchet-wielding villains played by Hollywood’s most menacing actors. They’re not, traditionally, supposed to feature a choreographed musical number, endear audiences to a precocious talking cat, or star a villain played by…Bette Midler.
(From left to right) Sarah Jessica Packer as 'Sarah,' Bette Midler as 'Winifred' and Kathy Najimy as 'Mary' in the 1993 film "Hocus Pocus." (Buena Vista/Everett Collection )
Yet Hocus Pocus, which was released twenty years ago this year, features all of those things and has, implausibly, become a cherished entry in the Halloween-movie canon. (Just ask Buzzfeed...)
In honor of the 25th anniversary of ‘Child’s Play,’ the possessed doll Chucky curates his list of favorite kills.
1. Dinah Manoff, CHILD‘S PLAY
It was an honor to kill a Tony winner my first time out. Plus she deserved to be punished for Empty Nest.
Suzanne Somers published an opinion story claiming Obamacare is a noted socialist Ponzi scheme. From rampant sex to how chemotherapy’s a killer, see her wackiest quotes.
Suzanne Somers rose to fame as a wacky blonde bombshell on Three’s Company. Clearly, life imitates art. The 67-year-old star came out of the closet as a full-fledged crazy this week, publishing an article on WSJ.com claiming that Obamacare, the noted socialist Ponzi scheme, is destined to raise premiums, compromise the quality of healthcare, and invade the privacy of countless Americans. But that’s just the tip of the insanity iceberg. Somers started ranting and opining decades before Amanda Bynes had even opened a Twitter account. We collected a few of the actress’ craziest quotes, ranging from the inefficacy of chemotherapy to Somers’s own rampant sex life. Pharmaceutical conspiracies, “Somercising,” and elderly libidos, oh my!
On having lots of sex:
The actress took Miley Cyrus to task this year when the former Disney Star hypothesized that sex stops after 40. Somers wasn’t about to let that one go, and went on The Talk to insist that she and Alan Hamel, her husband of 36 years, have sex “a couple times a day”, largely due to the fact that “he’s on hormones and I’m on hormones.” We would say TMI, but we’re pretty sure Suzanne Somers doesn’t know what that means.
And Katy Perry roars to number one.
Chris Brown decides to go to rehab. A day after his appearance in court regarding a recent assault charge, Chris Brown has elected to enter a rehab facility. This exciting news is only four years too late. E! Online
Miley Cyrus carves racy pumpkins. Not content to twerk all over your Hannah Montana memories, Cyrus is dirtying another aspect of your childhood: pumpkin carving. The scandalous star managed to make this juvenile pastime pornographic, tweeting a picture of three pumpkins she carved with risqué sex scenes and a marijuana leaf. E! Online
When Suzanne Somers called Obamacare a socialized ponzi scheme, critics swiftly ripped apart her argument. In an email to The Daily Beast, she defends her assertions.
Suzanne Somers, the loveable darling of TV’s Three’s Company and more recently, a controversial advocate for alternative medicine, got a lot of flack about her Wall Street Journal column published Monday denouncing The Affordable Care Act as “socialized medicine.” The Journal offered a lengthy correction of her most egregious errors, but even that couldn’t stop the pile-on from reporters criticizing her numerous, dubious claims about the Canadian health-care system and the effects of Obamacare on seniors.
Suzanne Somers arrives at the 2010 Vanity Fair Oscar party in West Hollywood. (Danny Moloshok/Reuters)
We reached out to Somers directly to get her take on the frenzy elicited by her column. Somers said she was unavailable to talk, but she did reply to some questions via email. In her response, published in full below, Somers shrugs off the controversy, defends her knowledge on health-care, and calls for a return to the time when Americans could “dream big.” Click here for our fact-check of her original column.
Author and actress Suzanne Somers published a column on Monday claiming that Obamacare is “socialized medicine.” The Daily Beast combs through her assertions to sort fact from fiction.
On Monday, Suzanne Somers published a column on WSJ.com regarding her thoughts on nationalized health-care. Her basic argument, though it takes some work to decipher, is fourfold. Once the Affordable Care Act is implemented, she says: the U.S. will have a healthcare system like Canada’s and that is bad news for the quality of care; premiums will skyrocket; Medicare funds will be used to pay for Obamacare efforts; our privacy will be “invaded.” As well, she mentions that Canadians doctors would rather practice in the U.S. (or choose to be veterinarians) so they can make more money.
Suzanne Somers arrives at the 2010 Vanity Fair Oscar party in West Hollywood. (Danny Moloshok/Reuters)
Let’s take it one at a time.
Sleigh Bell’s album 'Bitter Rivals' is high-voltage thrash metal meshed with pop melody—and inspired by early Janet Jackson. Alexis Krauss talks about the uninhibited sound.
Even if you haven’t heard of the band Sleigh Bells, you’ve definitely heard them. Maybe while catching up on Gossip Girl or watching the opening scene of The Bling Ring. Or by simply being within however many feet of whatever venue they’re rocking out at. (They don’t call it noise pop for nothing.) Derek Miller and Alexis Krauss formed Sleigh Bells in 2008. Miller, a former guitarist in the hardcore band Poison the Well, had mix tapes and a vision, but needed a female vocalist to bring his project to life. Krauss was a former teen pop star who was teaching at an elementary school and singing wedding gigs on the side. The two talents crashed into one another when Krauss and her mother dined at a Williamsburg restaurant where Miller was waiting tables. They’ve been churning out raucous pop ever since.
Singer Alexis Krauss of Sleigh Bells performs during Day 1 of the Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival 2011 held at the Empire Polo Club on April 15, 2011 in Indio, California. (Charley Gallay/Getty)
Sleigh Bells burst onto the scene with 2010’s critically-acclaimed Treats, which was packed full of hits like “Rill Rill” and “Crown on the Ground.” Despite a grueling touring schedule, the duo managed to release their sophomore album Reign of Terror only two years later, featuring the lead single “Comeback Kid.” Sleigh Bell’s first two albums are hardcore mixed with honey. Their sound melds thrash metal with pop melodies, as Krauss shouts her pep rally chants over heavy guitar work and electronic explosions. Sleigh Bell’s new record, Bitter Rivals, which was released on October 8, seamlessly fits into their canon. The record treats diehard fans to the high-voltage Sleigh Bells aesthetic they know and love, but also expands on the young band’s repertoire, adding more challenging melodies and stronger R&B influences into the mix.
In 2005, the Taliban nearly wiped out a SEAL team in Afghanistan. Marcus Luttrell was the lone survivor, but the battle with his wounds was just starting. Then Hollywood came calling.
It was one of the most dramatic stories to emerge from the war on terror. On a moonless night in June 2005, four Navy SEALs dropped deep into the Hindu Kush in Northeast Afghanistan. Operation Red Wings was a reconnaissance mission targeting a Taliban commander named Ahmad Shah, whose attacks had taken a high toll on U.S. Marines in the area. The SEALs were America’s best-trained war-fighters, legendary for their physical strength, their mental toughness, and their ingenuity in extreme circumstances. So it was almost inevitable that the military would turn to them for a high value special operations mission deep behind enemy lines.
But not long into their mission, they stumbled onto some local goatherds. They faced a profound dilemma: let the goatherds go free and compromise the team’s position, or kill them, a potential war crime. After debating their options, the SEALs released the Afghans.
Within an hour, the commando team was ambushed by dozens of Taliban fighters. An intense firefight erupted. The SEALs fought valiantly but were badly outgunned. Lt. Michael Murphy, the team leader, was killed on a rocky outcropping while calling for backup. Two other SEALs, Petty Officers Matthew Axelson and Danny Dietz, were blown away on the steep mountainside. A rescue helicopter arrived, but it was brought down by Taliban fire; the entire crew of 16 was killed. In the end, only Petty Officer Marcus Luttrell remained alive, fighting off the Taliban single-handedly, living by his wits, a trained hunter now himself a hunted man.
Matthew McConaughey opens up about his resurgence and his Oscar-worthy turn as an AIDS victim in ‘Dallas Buyers Club.’
For a while, it was hard to take Matthew McConaughey seriously.
He was the breezy himbo coasting by on his southern charm and thousand-watt grin; the man candy opposite Jennifer Lopez and Kate Hudson; the guy busted for playing the bongos in the buff. Sure, he was prone to occasional flashes of brilliance, e.g. as a tattooed, balls-to-the-wall dragon hunter in Reign of Fire, or a muted soothsayer in Frailty. But for the most part, he was riffing off his own All right, all right, all right persona.
It’s not ‘Orange is the New Black’ or ‘House of Cards,’ but Hulu’s mascot docuseries ‘Behind the Mask’ proves the streaming site is more than just a place to catch up on sitcoms.
Field lights go from black to blinding. Bleachers rattle from the crowd buzz. Cheerleaders go up an octave. It’s not for the players. It’s for the mascot.
Milwaukee Bucks mascot Bango heads to the court with Lil’ Bango, one of his “kids,” during a Bucks/Magic game during an episode of Hulu's "Behind the Mask." (Jason Riker and Hulu)
“So many different people want pieces of him. Everyone wants to be around him. Everyone wants to take a picture of him. Who the heck is this guy?”
Ten years ago, ‘Wicked’ opened on Broadway. Here’s how a ‘popular’ good witch, a tortured green witch, and a legion of fans defied bad reviews—and gravity—to change Broadway.
What did critics think of the Broadway blockbuster Wicked when it opened in 2003?
Kristin Chenoweth (center left) as Glinda and Idina Menzel (center right) as Elphaba performing in the musical "Wicked" at the Gershwin Theater in New York on October 8, 2003. (Sara Krulwich/The New York Times, via Redux)
An “overproduced, overblown, confusingly dark and laboriously ambitious jumble,” ruled Newsday. “The show’s twenty-two songs were written by Stephen Schwartz, and not one of them is memorable,” wrote The New Yorker. Perhaps The New York Times carried the most damning review: “Wicked does not, alas, speak hopefully for the future of the Broadway musical.”
New Wonder Woman Named
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Nigella Lawson: I Used Cocaine
Denies she is an addict.More
'House of Cards' Gets Return Date
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CHILL YOUR BONES
CBS Buys ‘Scary Stories’ Film
1980s children’s horror books.More
Billy Joel to Become MSG Franchise
Along with Knicks, Rangers, and the Liberty.More
The Daily Beast goes backstage at the 2013 Victoria's Secret Fashion Show, seeing how models like Doutzen Kroes and Lily Aldridge get ready for the runway.