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OOPS

Colbert Caught in Twitter Storm

A Tweet from his show joking about ‘the Ching-Chong Ding-Dong Foundation for Sensitivity to Orientals or Whatever’ provoked fury on Twitter aimed at Stephen Colbert. He says it was nothing to do with him.

We can add Stephen Colbert to a long list of professional funny people who have leapt off the comedy high-diving board, hoping that there’s water in the pool, only to crash into dry cement.        

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Scott Gries/PictureGroup

Rosie O’Donnell, Jimmy Kimmel, Gilbert Gottfried, The Onion, and many other standups have been compelled to abjectly apologize, lose their jobs, explain themselves or otherwise suffer severe pain for their ill-fated attempts to make people laugh.        

OH, KERMIE

Why the Muppet Movie Is a Mess

How could they have gotten it so wrong? It should be impossible to make anything other than a brilliant Muppets film. But the latest is a fail. Our 3-year-old critic delivers the most damning verdict.

The highly anticipated Muppets Most Wanted has turned out to be the movie no one actually wants to see.

The box office earnings were a disappointment. Most Wanted came in a distant second to the young-adult dystopian flick Divergent, pulling in $17 million on opening weekend, a little more than half the earnings that had been projected. The much-better 2011 Muppet relaunch movie, The Muppets, brought in twice as much as Most Wanted, while similarly contending with a tween blockbuster (Breaking Dawn Part 1, in the “Twilight” series) and an animated feature, Happy Feet Two. That film, like this year’s Mr. Peabody & Sherman, was blamed for eating into Muppet profits.

MUPPETS MOST WANTED

"Muppets Most Wanted" (Jay Maidment/Disney)

Drink Up!

Klingon Beer & Other Sci-Fi Brews

Cursed

100 Years of Wrigley Field

Happy birthday Wrigley Field, but are you too beautiful of a ballpark? After all, attendance at games is more sensitive to beer prices—much more—than it is to the Cubs’ record.

Wrigley Field, the dead-ball-era ballpark wedged into perhaps Chicago’s hippest north-side neighborhood, turns 100 this April. With its ivy-shrouded walls, manually operated scoreboard, and concrete-and-steel edifice, it survives as a monument to architectural beauty and athletic ineptitude. The Chicago Cubs, those loveable losers of the National League, have called the friendly confines of Wrigley home for the past 98 years, and not once in that time have they won the World Series. For as much as Wrigley Field has served as a blessing for this bumbling franchise, it has also been, in some ways, its biggest curse.

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John Zich/AFP/Getty

The Cubs enter the upcoming baseball season 105 years removed from their last World Series title. Their losing streak is unparalleled in professional American sports. When the Cubs last won the World Series in 1908, Charlie Chaplin was still a vaudeville performer, the Titanic was nothing but a blueprint, and no human had yet reached the North or South Pole. The Cubs haven’t even played in a World Series since 1945, which represents by far the longest interval between pennants in baseball history. The Boston Red Sox, another team with a historic stadium and devoted fan-base, made their futility seem tragic in a Shakespearian sense. Before winning it all in 2004, the Red Sox survived until the seventh game of the World Series on four separate occasions during their lengthy championship drought, losing only by some agonizing twist of fate. In contrast, the Cubs are the jester figure in a Shakespearean comedy: able to steal a scene or two, but ultimately yanked from the stage when it’s time for the leads to marry. They are diverting but rarely consequential. Their failure is of the everyday variety—accumulative and quietly disappointing.

Divergent

‘Divergent’s’ Fear of Teen Sex

Divergent’s bold step into the battle over rape culture and teen sexuality is actually a meek regression, as its heroine remains deathly afraid of what’s hiding under her own covers.

Divergent is a film about a teenage girl that blatantly glosses over the desires of its adolescent heroine. It’s also a movie about sex and rape culture that doesn’t really show any sex. Confused? So, clearly, are the filmmakers who have rendered their characters two dimensional and flimsy by making them poster children for enthusiastic consent (aka saying yes and really wanting it) as opposed to believable teenagers.

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Summit Entertainment

In an effort to start a conversation and bolster a movement, the team behind Divergent has actually undermined their own progressive agenda, producing a film in which the 16-year-old heroine Tris Prior (Shailene Woodley) boldly conquers her cruelest enemies, but remains deathly afraid of what’s hiding under her own covers. In this way Divergent’s bold step into the frontlines of the battle over rape culture, female liberation, and teen sexuality is actually a meek regression, as its heroine, hiding behind sexual timidity and a set of obscenely huge eyelashes, reverts into a well of prudishness far deeper and scarier than the various cliffs and gorges scattered throughout the Dauntless compound.

Lost Classics

Doomed Passion Projects

This week will see the release of Darren Aronofsky’s ‘Noah,’ a cinematic epic over a decade in the making. But many of our greatest filmmakers’ most ambitious movies went unrealized.

“All people dream, but not equally,” D.H. Lawrence wrote. “Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their mind, wake in the morning to find that it was vanity. But the dreamers of the day are dangerous people, for they dream their dreams with open eyes, and make them come true.”

NOAH

Niko Tavernise

On Friday, the Biblical epic Noah hits theaters. The $130 million mega-production has been gestating in the mind of visionary filmmaker Darren Aronofsky since he was 13 when, as a seventh grader enrolled at Mark Twain IS 239 in Brooklyn, he penned a poem about the Noah’s Ark story entitled “The Dove.” He began work on the screenplay to Noah a decade ago. And after a turbulent production—one in which many of the film’s sets, including the giant ark they’d erected in Long Island, were wrecked by Superstorm Sandy—and a ridiculous deluge of pre-release criticism, his childhood dream will finally become a big-screen reality this week. 

The Creator

You Have to See ‘Noah’

It’s ‘The Lord of the Rings’ slamming into the Bible, until Noah morphs into Jack Torrance onboard the ark, awaiting his unborn grandchild with a glazed, murderous look in his eyes.

Darren Aronofsky does not come from the Less Is More school of filmmaking—to put it mildly. 

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Niko Tavernise/Paramount

In Pi, a numbers theorist named Max Cohen decides to put a power drill through his own brain. Requiem for a Dream concludes with a montage of four junkies simultaneously enduring prostitution, prison, amputation, and electroshock therapy. At one point in Black Swan, Natalie Portman sprouts feathers, writhing in agony as her femurs snap back and morph into bird legs; at another point, Winona Ryder repeatedly stabs herself in the face with a nail file. In The Fountain, Hugh Jackman plays a conquistador. And a neuroscientist. And a futuristic astronaut.

Above the Law

Fascist Fascination With D-Listers

Putin’s reviving a Stalin-era fitness program to toughen up Russians—with help from Steven Seagal. Why do today’s strongmen have such a weakness for our washed-up celebrities?

Say what you will about Vladimir Putin. For a guy in his sixties—at least based on the shirtless horseback photos we’ve all seen—he’s in better shape than most of us.

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AFP/Getty

So it’s not surprising to see Russia’s president—who has dominated the world stage thanks to a bloodless takeover of Crimea—stress the importance of physical fitness to his 143 million-plus population. It’s all part of his latest initiative to revive a Stalin-era conditioning program appropriately titled “Ready for Labor and Defense.” Funding for the project is courtesy of all the revenue generated from the recent Sochi Olympics Games, estimated to be in the billions.

New Rule

Bill Maher for Congress?


It’s not so far-fetched. Political comedians are already grassroots political candidates.

Bill Maher wants your vote for Congress this November. No, Maher’s name won’t be on the ballot, at least not yet.

Real Time With Bill Maher

The Daily Beast

Maher recently announced his “Flip a District” contest where he will pick one “terrible, entrenched” member of Congress and “see if we can’t send him scuttling under the refrigerator on Election Night.” (Translation: Beat him)  The contest is now heating up after Maher announced on his HBO show last Friday the first two House members under consideration to be chosen as the big “winner.”

Flood Warning

The Historical ‘Noah’

The first few chapters of Genesis contain some of the strangest prose in the Bible, but the big reveal is a God making peace with man’s sinful nature.

In the beginning, the earth was a formless void, and darkness covered the face of the deep, according to Genesis. Out of chaos, God created the universe and brought order. But fairly soon things started going very, very badly.

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Stefano Bianchetti/Corbis

The first chapters of Genesis, what scholars call the Bible’s “primeval history,” depict a gradual distancing between God and his creation, a tour of man’s growing alienation. The Fall is followed by violence—the murder of Abel. Angels begin consorting with human women, and giants roam the earth. Then it started raining.

WINTER IS COMING

Read 'The Winds of Winter' Chapter

The man behind Game of Thrones has something for you to read.

“Hiya kids, hiya hiya hiya.

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Lucas Jackson/Reuters

With season 4 of HBO's GAME OF THRONES almost upon us, I thought the time was ripe for me to give my readers another taste of WINDS OF WINTER.”

STEALTH FIGHTER

The Dramatic Life of Joy Reid

Ronan Farrow may have gotten all the attention, but another new anchor at MSNBC started the same day as him. And Joy Reid’s life story is every bit as colorful as his.

Joy Reid loves the sweet science of boxing because “it’s a sport, even at the turn of the 20th century, where a black man could beat up a white man in front of an entire crowd and not get lynched.”        

Joy Reid

William B. Plowman/NBC, via Getty

The even-tempered Reid—whose month-old program The Reid Report airs weekday afternoons on MSNBC—describes the Tea Party as a movement that “under the surface is about cross-racial resentment…a great industry in hatred and anger and self-victimization…There’s a lot of money in it.”        

THE MAN

Liam Neeson's GQ Cover Story

Liam Neeson

Paola Kudacki/GQ

He was on-set with Woody Allen when the Soon-Yi scandal broke.

When his fiction family is taken, he takes them back. When delivering an oddly Shakespearean soliloquy in a mostly crappy movie—something like, “Yes I’m an alcoholic, yes I’m a horrible father, but I did not hijack this plane!”—you believe him. And when someone calls him THE Liam Neesons, you don’t ask questions. Liam Neeson is the man.

And the action star is gracing the cover of GQ. He does the interview from a space he uses for meetings and to “sit and read and think.” (If that doesn’t sound like the Batcave, we don’t know what does.) But he’s not just a superhero. He’s a single father who, just like all dads, is worried about his boys getting hooked on drugs.

Neeson puts a toothpick box on a coffee table. “All right then, Let’s have at it.”

California Girls

Living Like ‘The Hills’

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John Shearer/Getty

Kristin Cavallari hosts a new style show, Lauren Conrad covers ‘Allure’ this April, and Audrina Patridge regularly pops up on taxi cab TVs. Why are we still taking lifestyle advice from the former stars of ‘The Hills’?

I watched Laguna Beach, and both of its subsidiaries—The Hills and The City—religiously. My early high-school self wanted to be the perfect mix of Lauren, Whitney, and Lo—a cool, popular girl with some serious style. While I grew older and left my days of lingerie tanks, Abercrombie and Fitch, and denim mini-skirts with Uggs behind, the cast of my favorite shows seemed to stay the same; nearly a decade later, they are still capitalizing on their high-school fame.

Around ten years have passed since Lauren Conrad, Lo Bosworth, Whitney Port, Kristin Cavallari, and Audrina Patridge made their reality television debut, forever ingraining themselves in the minds of Millennials. Yet, regardless of their impact on our friendships, relationships, and yes, even style, way back when, it’s hard to actually see where these girls—my young teen idols—actually fall in the reality of, well, the real, grown-up world today.

On March 17, Cavallari embarked on her most recent career move, a hosting gig for E!’s latest fashion, beauty, and lifestyle series, The Fabulist. On air, Cavallari, alongside fashion designer Orly Shani, dishes on the season’s hottest trends—jumpsuits, white-on-white, and rainbow-colored hair. If it’s obvious, they’re probably talking about it, as their trends are referenced by “the point of view of the industry experts and red-hot tastemakers who are driving the trends.” But Cavallari isn’t really to blame for the transparency of the show. She’s just trying to turn her Hills fame into a more sustainable career—“I had been wanting to get into the hosting world, but it had to be the right job,” Cavallari told The Examiner. Rather, we have to ask ourselves: why do we give the iconic “mean girl” of reality show past the authority (and experience) to tell us what is (or isn’t) cool?

The Message

‘Noah’: A Global Warming Epic

Darren Aronofsky’s longtime DP, Oscar nominee Matthew Libatique—who also shot ‘Iron Man’ and ‘Iron Man 2’—says the Biblical epic offers a stern warning about climate change.

The battle lines have already been drawn when it comes to Noah, filmmaker Darren Aronofsky’s staggeringly ambitious $130 million adaptation of the Noah’s Ark story from the Book of Genesis.

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Paramount Pictures

Conservative pundit Glenn Beck, the blowhardiest of the blowhards, claimed it might spread “dangerous disinformation” (he hasn’t seen it). It’s been banned in Pakistan, Bahrain, Qatar, U.A.E., and Indonesia, for allegedly contradicting the teachings of Islam. While Pope Francis reportedly gave the film the Vatican’s blessing after a brief tête-à-tête with the film’s burly star, Russell Crowe.

Why the GOP Is Angry About Colbert

When Stephen Colbert was announced as David Letterman's successor, Rush Limbaugh and company both criticized and politicized the move. Keli Goff discusses whether they're actually mad.

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