Seven years after quitting ‘The View,’ Rosie O’Donnell returned to the couch Barbara Walters built. Funny, engaging, and reliably controversial, she proved her unparalleled worth.
“Is Hasselbeck here? Just checking.”
With one naughty, haughty question, Rosie O’Donnell transports us all back to what was, at once, the most exciting and despicable time in daytime television: the Rosie O’Donnell/Elisabeth Hasselbeck wars of 2007. It was energizing, captivating television, watching two strong women unapologetically articulate their respectively controversial viewpoints and un-self-consciously debate and defend them against each other. It would’ve been inspiring had the moments—and they were the epitome of television “moments”—been organic. Instead, they were so callously orchestrated by The View’s producers (remember that offensive Jerry Springer-esque split screen shot?) that O’Donnell—that rare breath of air that’s fresh precisely because it’s a bit crude and rancid—quit the show feeling disgraced and used.
Claude Lanzmann, the director of the Holocaust masterpiece ‘Shoah,’ controversially falls under the spell of a Jewish collaborator of the death camps.
The hardest film to watch this year will be The Last of the Unjust. Not because it is a three-and-a-half hour documentary by Claude Lanzmann, which should qualify it as nothing more than a preview for the director of the nine-and-a-half-hour-long Shoah, perennial contender for the greatest cinema project the world has ever seen. Not because the film is essentially nothing but long segments of uncut interviews with Benjamin Murmelstein, the Elder of the Jews who helped the Nazis run the Theresienstadt concentration camp in modern-day Czech Republic. Not because it is about the Holocaust, that grimmest and most confounding event in history, which makes even poetry barbaric, let alone cinema.
Cohen Media Group
Rather, as you watch The Last of the Unjust, a hundred questions are raised, and none are answered. My pick for the best performance of 2014 goes to Murmelstein (despite the fact that he granted his interviews in 1975 and died in 1989), who lays down an impossible challenge: what would you have done in his place? Murmelstein was a rabbi in Vienna when in the summer of 1938 he met Adolf Eichmann, and was ordered to give him a report on emigrating the Jews in a few hours. “I taught him all he knew about emigration,” Murmelstein says, as he summarized whatever encyclopedia entries and books he can find on the subject. Over the years he would report regularly to Eichmann.
The veteran host did unexpectedly succumb to his emotions as he signed out after 22 years. In truth, it’s certainly time for a change.
In the final moments of his 22 years as host of The Tonight Show, Jay Leno actually seemed to succumb to affectingly genuine human emotions. But then, how could he not when serenaded (to special lyrics for “So Long, Farewell” from “The Sound of Music”) by actor-comic Billy Crystal, who’d been Leno’s guest on his first “Tonight.” Crystal brought out a surprise chorus of stars that included Carol Burnett and Oprah Winfrey to serenade Leno “Goodbye.”
To season the sublime with the ridiculous, Kim Kardashian showed up, too, though earlier Leno got through an entire monologue without mentioning her. Or did he perhaps sneak in a reference subliminally? He did do a Justin Bieber joke or two, of course, and there was the requisite mention of Anthony Weiner and the usual rogues’ gallery.
From unemployed actors to co-writers and co-producers on 'The Monuments Men,' Grant Heslov and George Clooney may just be Hollywood’s most successful bromance.
If George Clooney is Batman, then Grant Heslov is his real-life Robin.
Struggling actors when they met in early-1980s Los Angeles, Clooney and Heslov have been close friends ever since. But in recent years they’ve become collaborators, too. Beginning in 2003, Heslov has been the one constant on pretty much every big Clooney project. They co-wrote and co-produced Good Night, and Good Luck and The Ides of March. They co-produced Argo, The American, and August: Osage County. Clooney starred in The Men Who Stare at Goats, and Heslov directed. Heslov has even shown up on-screen in a couple of Clooney pictures.
Claudette Barius/Sony Pictures/Everett Collection
Nathan Sawaya was a corporate lawyer. Now he blows minds on a daily basis with his massive sculptures created entirely of Lego bricks. Here’s his wild story.
It’s the most wonderful, weirdest memory. Remember when you were a kid and you’d play with Lego and, when you were done, you would have circular impressions on your thumbs from pressing the bricks into each other?
Nathan Sawaya, otherwise known as “The Brick Artist,” knows those impressions well—and not just because he has them tattooed on his wrist. “I had a tattoo exactly like that on my thumb, too, but little did I know that the thumb regenerates its skin so fast that it wiped off after a few months,” he tells me. “My tattoo artist expected it to last six months to a year, but given my profession, it was less than three months and it was gone.”
Before World War II’s start, Hitler was driven to create his dream museum containing all his favorite Aryan-approved art. Noah Charney on how the Monuments Men had to unravel the thousands of objects plundered by the Fuhrer’s minions—and what they learned from Napoleon.
When Monuments Men Robert Posey and Lincoln Kirstein walked into the white-washed cottage in the German forest that housed Hermann Bunjes, the Harvard-educated one-time SS officer and art advisor to Herman Goring, they learned of an elaborate plan involving the wholesale looting of Europe’s art treasures. Bunjes, hiding in fear of reprisals against SS officers by angry German citizens, told these fellow art historians about the ERR—the Nazi art theft unit—and about Hitler’s plan to create a city-wide museum in his boyhood town of Linz, Austria: a “super museum” that would contain every important artwork in the world, including a wing of “degenerate art,” a sort of chamber of horrors to demonstrate from what monstrosities the Nazis had saved the world. It was news to Posey and Kirstein, who had to restrain their shock. The Monuments Men had heard rumors of art theft and looting throughout the war, but had no idea of the scale (some estimate that around 5 million cultural objects were looted, lost, or mishandled during the war), the advanced level of organization (scores of Nazi officers and hundreds of soldiers were assigned exclusively to the confiscation, transport, and maintenance of looted art and archival material), and the ultimate destination of the choicest pieces—the Führermuseum. It was years into the war, when this encounter took place, and only then did the Monuments Men finally realized what they were up against. Bunjes further detailed a number of hiding places for looted art, including the famous salt mine at Altaussee, in the Austrian Alps, which contained some twelve-thousand stolen artworks, the mother-load destined for the Linz museum. Posey and Kirstein were on the hunt for The Ghent Altarpiece by Jan van Eyck, the most influential painting ever made and the most-frequently stolen, but could hardly believe what they were hearing. Yes, The Ghent Altarpiece was the number one target that Hitler wanted as the centerpiece for his museum, both because of its beauty, fame, and importance but also because it had been forcibly repatriated to Belgium from Germany by the Treaty of Versailles, and seizing it back would right this perceived wrong against the German people. But here was the chance to save not just this painting, but tens of thousands of artworks.
The race was on.
Emily Mortimer plays a version of herself in the gloriously awkward new show ‘Doll & Em.’ She also promises to be less annoying as Mackenzie on ‘The Newsroom.’
Emily Mortimer (Mackenzie McHale in The Newsroom) returns next month in a startlingly-good spoof reality show she created with an old school friend. The series asks: What would happen if a British actress in Hollywood hired her best friend as a personal assistant? The answer, according to the first two episodes of Doll & Em, is a glorious female incarnation of Curb Your Enthusiasm.
Emily Mortimer. (Mischa Richter/HBO )
Mortimer, as a version of herself, attempts to cheer up her miserable best friend, played by Dolly Wells, who has just broken up with her boyfriend in England, by inviting her for an extended stay in Los Angeles. With Dolly dreading a return across the Atlantic to singledom, Emily strikes upon the idea that she could stay as a temporary PA.
He was Wyclef Jean’s musical director and even jammed with Bowie. A look at Robert Vineberg, the virtuoso who’s being held without bail in the wake of the Oscar winner’s fatal overdose.
On the drive from her home to her father's wake on Thursday, Philip Seymour Hoffman's younger daughter fell asleep.
Robert Vineberg (R) points at a camera as defense attorney Edward Kratt looks on during his arraignment in court in New York February 5, 2014. (Pool photo by Steven Hirsch)
And of all the scenes ever witnessed at the entrance to the Frank E. Campbell funeral chapel over the decades—it has handled everybody from Irving Berlin to Biggie Smalls to Joan Crawford to John Lennon to Jacqueline Kennedy Onassis to Damon Runyon to Walter Cronkite to Tennessee Williams to Heath Ledger to Jack Maple and such 9/11 FDNY heroes as Terry Hatton and Michael Carroll and Pat Brown—there has never been a sight so searing as that dozing little girl being carried inside by her mother.
Do abuse accusations affect adoptions? Only if investigators know about them—and thanks to state laws that differ widely, they might not.
Barbara Walters sparked a controversy of her own this week when she decided to take sides in the increasingly explosive controversy surrounding Dylan Farrow’s allegations that her filmmaker father, Woody Allen, molested her. On Tuesday’s episode of The View, Walters said, “I have rarely seen a father as sensitive, as loving and as caring as Woody is—and Soon-Yi—to these two girls. I don’t know about Dylan. I can only tell you what I have seen now.”
But Walters may have unintentionally raised more questions about Allen’s parental qualifications. After all, Allen’s two daughters with Soon-Yi are adopted, just like Soon-Yi had been before her relationship with Allen began, and just like Dylan Farrow, the daughter who, as an adult, maintains he molested her. Though the allegations against Allen have never been resolved in a court of law and the Oscar-winning director has strongly denied them, it does raise a number of serious questions. Perhaps chief among them: Is it odd that someone accused of molesting one girl was able to adopt two others?
As Jay Leno prepares to bid farewell to viewers of The Tonight Show, Tom Shales salutes the ‘haven of sentimentality’ that nourished the emotional goodbyes of the past kings of late night television.
Nearly everything that happens in television happened before—and now, thanks to technological evolution, will happen again. Jay Leno isn’t the first host of The Tonight Show to log more than one fond farewell to viewers. Jack Paar, who not so much hosted as owned the show from 1957 through 1962, did a wrenching farewell when he left Tonight, and then did another one three years later when he departed a prime-time weekly hour also on NBC.
Host Jay Leno during the "Stuff We Found Cleaning Up The Office" segment on February 5, 2014. (Chris Haston/NBC, via Getty)
Fifteen years or so ago, I had the opportunity to tell Jack, who had miraculously become a friend, that if he’d stayed on the program as long as his successor, Johnny Carson, “we’d still be in Vietnam.” I was teasing Paar because his brand of combative, sometimes convulsive television stirred up passions rather than cooling them down; he went from controversy to feud to controversy, taking viewers for an incomparably wild ride that no one has ever equaled.
With rumors of cancellation after NBC pulled it from its lineup, ‘Michael J. Fox Show’ creator Sam Laybourne sets the record straight, talks about ratings woes, and makes his pitch to save his show.
Big TV news broke Wednesday night that was both shocking and not surprising at all. The Michael J. Fox Show had been yanked from NBC’s Thursday night schedule, with no indication of when the seven episodes remaining in its first—and maybe only—season will air, according to Entertainment Weekly. Some people thought that meant the show was canceled, which isn’t the case just yet, though the writing does seem to be on the wall.
Eric Liebowitz/NBC, via Getty
It’s surprising news because of the huge buzz the show had coming into its debut this fall. NBC took the unprecedented step of giving it a full 22-episode order before a frame had been even shot, having so much faith in the return of Michael J. Fox to network comedy—an event that garnered its own amount of hype. The reviews of the pilot were positive. I loved it. The news is also not surprising, however, because ratings were so bad. Really bad. The show recently earned a terrible 0.6 adult demo rating and wasn’t featured in NBC’s promotion at the Television Critics Association press tour last month.
A delightful cast battles over a will and a stolen painting as a horde of pseudo-Nazis scour the mountains for fugitives. ‘The Grand Budapest Hotel’ might be Wes Anderson’s best film.
This might just be Wes Anderson’s best film; it’s certainly his most thrilling. The cult director has bolstered the whimsical humor and trademark character studies with a raucous crime caper in The Grand Budapest Hotel, and it’s a riot.
Paul Schlase as "Igor," Tony Revolori as "Zero," Tilda Swinton as "Madame D." and Ralph Fiennes as "M. Gustave". (Martin Scali)
Set in the fictional European land of Zubrowka shortly before the Second World War, a delightful cast of characters battle it out over a disputed will and a stolen oil painting as a horde of pseudo-Nazis scour the mountains in search of fugitives.
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