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The Man Who Became John Wayne

Scott Eyman’s new life of the actor John Wayne portrays an extremely complicated man who invented his own public persona and played it beautifully.

“Truly, this man was the son of God.” Thus speaks a Roman centurion at the end of George Stevens’s inaptly named The Greatest Story Ever Told (1965). It’s a line that always gets a big laugh, partly because the idea of anything so irreligious as Hollywood hokum commenting on the provenance of Jesus Christ is axiomatically funny, but mostly because the centurion is played by John Wayne, a movie star who might have known a son of a gun when he saw one, but who patently knew precious little else.


Except, one learns from Scott Eyman’s exhaustive new biography, John Wayne: the Life and Legend, Wayne was a rather more cultivated man than his movie persona allowed. He was a talented chess-player and no slouch at bridge, and he had a penchant for reciting Milton and Dickens and Shakespeare from memory. Among the titles on his bookshelves were first editions of Lolita and Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, as well as a complete set of Winston Churchill’s prose. True, he got into the University of Southern California on a football scholarship. But at high school, in Glendale, he had won the essay of the year award, had written for the student newspaper, was a lynchpin of the debating team and was both President of the Latin society and Chairman of the Senior Dance.


‘GOT’ Is Real - For These People


Game of Thrones COSPLAY

Imagine moving into George R.R. Martin’s engrossing brainchild permanently—to throw on a corset, pick up a dagger, and fight your way toward the iron throne.

Game of Thrones fanatics relish spending an hour in Westeros, a magical land where families have badass mottos, dragons run rampant, and sassy eunuchs are in charge of foreign policy. But imagine being able to move into George R.R Martin’s engrossing brainchild permanently—to throw on a corset, pick up a dagger, and fight your way towards the iron throne. A group of Italian cosplayers has made this fantasy their reality.

The Asoiaf Cosplay consists of over 50 players who come together at least once a month at conventions and events. Each member plays a different character from Game of Thrones, and together they enact portions of Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire series. It’s like playing dress up, except with precise attention to detail, actual grownups, and a whole lot more implied incest. We managed to track down a few of these dedicated fans to gab about HBO, cosplay co-workers, and getting really weird looks from strangers on the street.

Sara Briarose (Arianne Martell & Shae & Daenerys Targaryan)

TV Funhouse

My Rocky ‘SNL’ Stint

In 1985, Carol Leifer, who was discovered by David Letterman, became one of two female writers on 'Saturday Night Live,' but her time there wasn’t easy, and it didn’t end so well.

Saturday Night Live premiered in 1975, while I was in college, and comedy would never be the same. From the minute the show went on the air, it popped right off the screen as fresh and funny, and it immediately set a new standard for television comedy that continues today. So, in 1985 I was excited as anything when SNL’s creator, Lorne Michaels, returned to the helm after Dick Ebersol’s five-year reign. And even more excited to hear that the show was setting up auditions for new cast members at the Comic Strip, my home-base comedy club in New York City.



The night of the audition, I saw Al Franken walk into the club. Yes, that’s now Senator Al Franken. (And if you’re too young to find that disconcerting, imagine this in 20 years: Vice President Daniel Tosh.) I was familiar with Al from his appearances on the show with his comedy partner, Tom Davis, and was a huge fan. A fellow comic mentioned that he’d heard Al was going to be an occasional performer and producer on the show that year. He also mentioned that the head writer, Jim Downey, was part of the SNL posse that came to see the auditions. I had no idea if these things were true. When it comes to gossip, my fellow comics could put a couple of Boca yentas to shame. But I was excited nevertheless.


The CIA of 1776

Jamie Bells stars as Abraham Woodhull, a young Brit who smuggles intel in and out of British occupied New York to George Washington during the Revolutionary War.

The new AMC series Turn, which premieres April 6, is bewildering at first.


Frank Ockenfels 3/AMC

We’re dropped smack in the middle of British-occupied New York. The year is 1776, and Abraham Woodhull (Jamie Bell) is scraping by as a cabbage farmer and sometime innkeeper in Setauket, Long Island. He’s husband to Mary (Meegan Warner), and father to a young child. His father, Richard (Kevin McNally), is a local magistrate loyal to George III.

Watch This

The Week in Viral Videos



From a ‘90s-era Jon Hamm getting shown the door on a dating show to a two-legged boxer’s too-cute-for-words sprint along a beach, WATCH our countdown of the week’s buzziest videos.

5. James Franco’s Booty-Text Apology

“You know, I’m embarrassed… I guess I’m just a model of how social media is tricky.” With those words (and more), actor-filmmaker-performance artist multi-hyphenate James Franco apologized on the morning show Live with Kelly and Michael for his recent Instagram-and-text dalliance with a 17-year-old Scottish fan, who took it upon herself to post screenshots of their booty-text correspondences online. It ain’t easy bein’ Franco.

Love and Cough Syrup

When Kurt Met Courtney

On the 20th anniversary of Kurt Cobain's death, here's the story of how the romance between Cobain and Courtney Love began.

Kurt Cobain and Courtney Love first locked eyes on each other at eleven in the evening on Friday, January 12, 1990, and within 30 seconds they were tussling on the floor. The setting was the Satyricon, a small, dimly lit nightclub in Portland, Oregon. Kurt was there for a Nirvana gig; Courtney had come with a friend who was dating a member of the opening band, the wonderfully named Oily Bloodmen. Already infamous in Portland, Love was holding court in a booth when she saw Kurt walk by a few minutes before his band was set to appear onstage. Courtney was wearing a red polka-dot dress. “You look like Dave Pirner,” she said to him, meaning the remark to sound like a small insult, but also a flirt. Kurt did look a bit like Pirner, the lead singer of Soul Asylum, as his hair had grown long and tangled—he washed it just once a week, and then only with bar soap. Kurt responded with a flirt of his own: He grabbed Courtney and wrestled her to the ground. “It was in front of the jukebox,” Courtney remembered, “which was playing my favorite song by Living Color. There was beer on the floor.” She was glad her comment had gotten attention, but she hadn’t expected to be pinned to the floor by this little waif of a boy. For his part, Kurt hadn’t counted on his opponent being so tough: She was three inches taller than he was, and stronger. Without his high-school wrestling experience, she might have won the tussle. But the roll on the floor was all in jest, and he pulled her up with his arms and gave her a peace offering—a sticker of Chim Chim, the “Speed Racer” monkey he had made his mascot.


Kurt Cobain of rock band Nirvana, wife Courtney Love holding daughter Frances Bean Cobain at "MTV-Video Music Awards". (Marcel Noecker/dpa/Corbis)

Kurt later would say he was immediately attracted to Love: “I probably wanted to fuck her that night, but she left.” But the day he met Courtney, he still had a girlfriend, and she was with him. But the connection between Kurt and Courtney was sexual: Wrestling was a fetish of Kurt’s, and an opponent as worthy as Courtney was a major turn-on.


When Celebs #Fail

James Franco has apologized for ‘using bad judgment’ in courting a 17-year-old girl on Instagram. But he’s not the only famous face to fall victim to a screw-up online.

According to 17-year-old Scottish tourist Lucy Clode, 35-year-old actor James Franco tried to pick her up via Instagram. Clode apparently took an Instagram video with the star, and tagged him, which allegedly set off a night of flirting. Unfortunately for the star, this is all documented in screenshots.


via Instagram

Franco responded to the kerfuffle by tweeting the following:

Dirty Divas

The Pornification of Pop

When actress Rashida Jones admonished female pop stars for ‘acting like whores,’ she set off a firestorm of criticism—and started a conversation about the pornification of everything.

Rashida Jones bristles at the suggestion that she’s a prude.

“I love sex,” the 37-year-old actress and writer declared recently in Glamour magazine. “Hell, I’ve even posed in my underwear.” But Jones also bristles at an instinct so common among young female pop stars to showcase their private parts, à la Miley Cyrus gyrating on stage in latex scanties. Last October, Jones created a mini-furor when she tweeted, “This week’s celeb news takeaway: she who comes closest to showing the actual inside of her vagina is most popular #stopactinglikewhores.”


Adrian Sanchez-Gonzalez/AFP/Getty

Born in Flames

Meet the Secret ‘Avengers’

The end credit scene of ‘Captain America: The Winter Soldier’ introduces the new Avengers the Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver. Here’s everything you need to know about them.

Last year’s adaptation of Oldboy by American filmmaker Spike Lee tested two conflicting film theories. The first, that it is impossible for Spike Lee to make a bad film, and the second, that adaptations, sequels, and re-imaginings are evidence of Hollywood’s creative bankruptcy.


It was a bold undertaking, and one ultimately doomed to failure. But it would be unfair to judge Spike Lee based on the movie’s shortcomings. Bill Cosby used to tell a joke about how angry adults sound brain damaged when forced to censor their language in front of children. While the adaptation succeeds, and even challenges some elements of the original, the film is hampered by its inability to grapple with the major thematic tension of its source material.

Best & Worst

The Art of Saying Goodbye

David Letterman’s retirement announcement was short, sweet, and classy. But how did it compare to goodbyes from Barbara Walters, Regis Philbin, Jay Leno, and more?

It’s hard to say goodbye, sure. But it’s also literally hard to say goodbye.

As more and more TV personalities are learning, it’s difficult to strike the right balance of eloquence and breeziness, so that when you actually do depart, the reaction is more “parting is such sweet sorrow” and less “don’t let the door hit you on the ass on the way out.”


Jeffrey R. Staab/CBS

Different Stories

Jon Stewart Leans In

Women who lived through the Arab Spring give the Daily Show host an earful about their experiences—there were many disparate Arab Springs—when they testified at the Women in the World Summit’s ‘World on Fire’ panel in New York City.

One doesn’t automatically associate Jon Stewart, the king of cable news comedy, with a topic like the role of women after the Arab Spring, but after listening to him expertly moderate a panel surrounded by four Arab spring activists—three of whom were draped in hijab head covers—it made perfect sense.


Marc Bryan-Brown/Women in the World

The Daily Show host opened the Women in the World panel discussion this morning with a lighthearted joke: “The first challenge with any conversation about the Arab spring is pronunciation.” Then he aptly introduced all the panelists joining him on stage at New York City’s Lincoln Center—Zainab Salbi, the Iraqi producer of Awakening; Dalia Ziadi of the Ibn Khaldun Center; Nadia Al-Sakkaf, editor-in-chief of the Yemen Times; and Dr. Alaa Murabit, 24-year-old founder of The Voice of Libyan Women, who Stewart playfully called the “Doogie Howser of Libya.” 


He’s the Worst (But You Love Him)

What’s it like to play a stain of a human being on TV? Timothy Simons on being the lovably “jolly green jizzface” Jonah Ryan on ‘Veep.’

In Washington, D.C., the power players inside the Beltway (or at least those who consider themselves as such) have started categorizing themselves and their colleagues based on what character from Veep they are most like. And they’re all praying that no one thinks they’re a Jonah.


Paul Schiraldi/HBO

They are, of course, referring Jonah Ryan, the prodigiously insufferable liaison to the president on HBO’s whiz-bang brilliant political farce. An unparalleled ego manifested as a human, who accessorizes his frat-boy privileged personality with excessive delusion and obliviousness, Jonah is absolutely the worst human you’ll ever meet, in D.C. or otherwise. And my god is he great to watch on TV.

The Master

Dave’s Late-Night Nation

There’s been no comedy voice more influential to our generation of Americans than David Letterman. The master of ‘found comedy’ leaves television forever changed.

A strange shocked silence from the studio audience followed David Letterman’s announcement, on his Thursday Late Show, that he is retiring from television and has “a year or so” to go. And yet was it that much of a surprise? Many of his fans have long been harboring fears that any night now, he’d be making just such a statement.  The old clock on the wall ticked with a deafening vengeance.


Craig Warga/NY Daily News, via Getty

Letterman will turn 67 on April 12; talented Jimmy Fallon, whose radically reconstituted Tonight Show has been a runaway ratings hit on NBC, is 40. The networks’ desirable demographic is 18-49. In the light of Dave’s announcement, media savants spoke of it as “completing the generational transformation in late-night,” its control passing from baby boomers and the middle-aged to Generation Xers and younger, and much of the culture with it.

Valar Morghulis

Game of Thrones' Sexy New Cast

HBO’s sprawling fantasy epic returns for its fourth season on Sunday, April 6, and there will be plenty of new faces gracing Westeros.

All Men Must Die. In High Valyrian, it translates to valar morghulis, and serves as the ominous tagline to the highly anticipated fourth season of Game of Thrones.


The Daily Beast

Created by David Benioff and D.B. Weiss, and adapted from A Song of Ice and Fire, George R.R. Martin’s series of epic fantasy novels, the HBO show boasts hundreds of characters spread out across numerous continents, all of whom engage in a surfeit of sex and swordfights to determine who will secure the Iron Throne and control the Seven Kingdoms of Westeros.


Why Late Night Needs a Woman

With David Letterman retiring, it’s time to break comedy’s glass ceiling. And Chelsea Handler is just the woman to break up network television’s vaunted boy’s club.

David Letterman announced Thursday that he will retire next year after more than two decades of hosting CBS’s Late Show. As one of the most revered hosts in late-night television history, he will be leaving some very large shoes for the next host to fill in 2015.


It’s high time that they be a pair of heels.

Kate Upton Beats a Serial Cheater

In a given year, 4 percent of married people have extramarital affairs. Find out more stats about infidelity tied to the new comedy ‘The Other Woman,’ with Cameron Diaz and Kate Upton.

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