• Valerie Macon/AFP/Getty

    Tapestry of Color

    Octavia Spencer: My Oscar Fixed Nothing

    The ‘Get On Up’ actress on why TV is more diverse than film, and how life has changed since winning her Oscar for ‘The Help.’

    It’s been just over two years since Octavia Spencer, in a shimmering Tadashi Shoji gown that took a team of ten 1,000 hours to produce, glided up to the stage at the Hollywood and Highland Center to accept her Best Supporting Actress Oscar. With tears streaming down, she exclaimed, “I’m sorry, I’m freakin’ out! Thank you, world!”

    After winning the gold statuette for her deliciously sassy turn as Minny Jackson, the shit pie-servin’ maid in The Help, Spencer has popped up in supporting roles in the critically acclaimed indies Smashed, Fruitvale Station, and this year’s Snowpiercer, but hasn’t really been offered the juicy parts regularly afforded an actress of her Oscar-winning stature. So, she’s migrating to television, starring in this fall’s Fox series Red Band Society, which debuts Sept. 17. She’ll play Nurse Jackson, the overseer of a group of sick teenagers in a hospital’s pediatric ward—and is the outright lead.

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  • Sundance.tv

    Ripped From the Headlines

    Maggie Gyllenhaal’s Best Performance Yet

    Her free-wheeling eloquence, as much the actress’s trademark as those emotive, saucer-sized eyes, is more measured than usual when discussing ‘The Honorable Woman’ and Gaza.

    Maggie Gyllenhaal is being very careful with her words.

    We’re talking about her role in the eight-part miniseries The Honorable Woman, which begins airing Thursday night on SundanceTV. Gyllenhaal delivers what might be the most towering, complex, best performance of her career in the miniseries—a title not given freely to an actress who has been so stunning in projects like Sherrybaby, Secretary, and Crazy Heart, for which she received an Oscar nomination—and is outspokenly proud of her work in it.

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  • NBC/Getty

    Beauty Pageants

    A Crowning Moment of American Hypocrisy

    Thirty years ago, Vanessa Williams relinquished her crown amidst a nude photo scandal, crystallizing the unfair expectation that American girls have to be sexy, but not sexual.

    Wednesday is the 30th anniversary of an iconic moment in American hypocrisy: Vanessa Williams, who had been crowned Miss America in September 1983, resigned amid threats from Penthouse to publish nude photos she had taken in 1982. Williams swore that she had been told the photos would obscure her identity when she posed for them and they were sold to Penthouse without her permission.

    But while it’s troubling to consider that Williams was a victim of coercion, the resignation under fire would have been nearly as troubling even if she had been a more willing participant. That’s because the incident perfectly crystallized the unfair and impossible expectation that starts getting applied to girls from the moment you hit puberty: You have to be sexy, but not sexual.

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  • The Daily Beast

    ACTING UP

    Blake Lively Gets Her GOOP On

    The ‘Gossip Girl’ actress has followed Gwyneth Paltrow to the blogging ‘n’ selling online rodeo. We cut through the babble about historical and artisanal preservation to the $25 spoons.

    Really, before any celebrity follows the example of Gwyneth Paltrow and now the Gossip Girl actress Blake Lively in setting up a lifestyle blog, we, the poor public without access to personal shoppers and people to choose our mood colors for the day, beg you: Don’t. If money’s tight, head out to the curb and sell beads. Become a screeching red carpet anchor for E! Anything but presuming to lecture us about why, as Lively puts it on her new site, Preserve, “in a world so hectic, preserving intimacy is the key to being present. The smoky scent of sandalwood burning on a wick, the ‘ahh’ of a warm bath.” Hmm, and my current favorite: the guttural scream of a reader exhausted by lectures from actresses seeking to make a quick buck or rebrand themselves as a lifestyle expert, whatever they are.

    The trend for actresses to become these platitude-spouting gurus is continuing, then, and Lively’s site is just as simpering and irritating as anything Paltrow mashed up from her leftover kale. What are they going on about? How do they qualify in advising us about anything?

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  • Linda Perry poses at Kung Fu Studios during press day for The Linda Perry Project on Wednesday, June 25, 2014, in Los Angeles. (Casey Curry/Invision/AP)

    The Non Blonde

    Can Linda Perry Save Music?

    A long, unfiltered conversation with the prolific songwriter about the depressing state of the music industry and her bold new VH1 talent search, ‘The Linda Perry Project.’

    Turn on the radio right now. It’s likely you’ll hear the current No. 1 song, in which Australian rapper Iggy Azalea spits verses about being “Fancy.” Or maybe you’re tuning in just in time to hear, as they kids say, the “beat drop” on DJ Snake and Lil Jon’s “Turn Down for What.”

    If you’re really lucky, though, you’ll be treated to the poetry of Jason Derulo’s current summer hit: “You know what to do with that big fat butt: Wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle, wiggle.”

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  • Patricia Arquette "Boyhood" (Lee Calder/Corbis)

    Interview

    Patricia Arquette’s Wild Ride

    ‘Boyhood’ chronicles the growth of a young boy from first grade to college, with the actress playing the single mother who sacrifices her own happiness for her children.

    For cineastes, especially those who endured the mad pangs of adolescence in the halcyon ’90s, the mental image of Patricia Arquette will always be that of a badass Southern belle in a push-up bra with blood-red lipstick, Charlie’s Angels blond bob, and five-dollar shades. Her Alabama Worley, a prostitute-cum-outlaw in Tony Scott’s True Romance, remains one of the most indelible screen sirens ever.

    It’s been over 20 years—21, to be exact—since she uttered the phrase “You’re so cool…,” and Arquette looks a bit older now, but she still radiates that same intriguing blend of spunk and effortless cool. We’re seated in a courtyard on the Lower East Side sipping margaritas (her idea), and the actress is chain-smoking Parliament Lights (sorry, Bloomberg). And perhaps you can chalk it up to the liquid courage, but Arquette is refreshingly open; this is an actual conversation, not a strange game of tug-of-war, like so many movie star interviews.

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  • Frank W. Ockenfels 3/Showtime

    Climax

    Allison Janney’s Amazing ‘Double O’

    Nominated for Emmys for ‘Mom’ and ‘Masters of Sex,’ Allison Janney's bravura turn in the drama's season premiere likely secured her a nod for next year. It’s that good.

    What a difference a year makes. Early in 2013, Allison Janney was lamenting her inability to find another TV series job. Within a few months, the actress had landed not one but two plum roles: Bonnie Plunkett, the recovering alcoholic mother to newly sober Anna Faris on the CBS sitcom Mom, and Margaret Scully, a repressed ’50s woman whose sexuality is finally awakened and learns that her husband (Beau Bridges) is gay on Showtime’s drama Masters of Sex.

    On Thursday, she received Emmy nominations for both roles: supporting actress in a comedy for Mom and guest actress in a drama for Masters of Sex. Then Sunday night, on Masters of Sex’s superb Season 2 premiere, Janney delivered another nuanced, devastating turn as Margaret that likely secured her another Emmy nomination for next year.

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  • Kevin Tachman/Getty

    FIRST

    Laverne Cox, Emmy Trailblazer

    Laverne Cox has become the first out transgender actress to be nominated for an Emmy. The lesson for the entertainment industry is to employ more transgender actors.

    Earlier today, Laverne Cox became the first out transgender actress to be nominated for a Primetime Emmy Award, for her role as Sophia on the Netflix hit Orange Is the New Black. This achievement followed her appearance on the cover of Time magazine, championing the nation’s “transgender tipping point.”

    Cox, who got her start in TV with one-off parts on shows like Law & Order and appearing as a contestant on 2008’s I Want to Work for Diddy, has finally found herself with the fame, recognition, and respect she deserved all along.

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  • via Facebook

    Interview

    The Bridge’s Striking Heroine

    The striking German actress on the drama’s improved Season 2 and whether she’s ever seen her partner Joshua Jackson’s ‘Dawson’s Creek.’ [Warning: Some spoilers.]

    Hers was “the face that launched a thousand ships.” Now, a decade after making her big-screen splash in the sword-and-sandals blockbuster Troy, Diane Kruger is no longer a model-turned-ingénue, but a versatile actress who can convincingly portray anyone from a German screen siren/spy (Inglourious Basterds) to a treasure hunter with a Ph.D. (the National Treasure films). But on FX’s gritty drama The Bridge, she’s taken her talent to a different level.

    Kruger plays Det. Sonya Cross, a member of the El Paso Police Department who, when she’s not investigating rampant corruption and violence along the border between El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juarez, Mexico—the show’s title refers to the Bridge of the Americas border crossing—is busy managing her Asperger’s. The socially awkward Cross has found an odd ally in Det. Marco Ruiz (Demian Bichir), a world-weary homicide detective for the Mexican State Police of Chihuahua.

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  • Lionsgate

    Falling Out of Love

    The Romantic Comedy Is Dead

    ‘They Came Together’ is a compendium of every romcom cliché known to man. Unfortunately, the movies referenced are at least 15 years old. How in the name of Meg Ryan did this happen?

    They Came Together is a comedy. This much is clear. The movie stars Paul Rudd (I Love You, Man) and Amy Poehler (Parks and Recreation). It was co-written by Michael Showalter (The State). It was directed by David Wain (Wet Hot American Summer). These are some of the funniest people in the business. When you see it, you’re supposed to laugh.

    And yet I left the theater the other day feeling sort of… sad.

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  • Frazer Harrison/Getty

    Trials of Tammy

    Stop Policing Melissa McCarthy’s Body

    The distress of the actress’s fans has very little to do with women’s roles, and everything to do with distaste for working-class women and their bodies.

    When Bridesmaids debuted in 2010, launching the new age of Melissa McCarthy: Box Office Queen, no one really talked about what an unlikely hit it was. Watching a woman struggle with depression and jealousy after losing her job in the recession hardly sounds like the kind of light escapism that brings in the crowds. But like all great comedies, Bridesmaids had the good sense to know that darkness only makes what’s light seem lighter, and it became the defining comedy hit of this decade.

    Tammy is what happens when you make Bridesmaids, but forget to include the jokes.

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  • The Daily Beast

    Wild Life

    Free-Range Feminist Porn?

    Feminist porn is ethically produced and authentic adult entertainment shattering sexual stereotypes. It’s not all about the orgasm—it’s about letting your inner pervert out.

    Unlike the fair trade certified coffee beans you buy at Whole Foods—you know, the ones with the sticker on the box that say “FAIR TRADE”—it’s not easy to see what “feminist porn” is. Maybe there should be a gold sticker denoting certifiable feminist porn. But for that to happen, we need to establish clear guidelines.

    Feminist pornographers define their craft as “ethically” produced authentic porn that conquers the vast diversities of people and sexuality, while simultaneously challenging stereotypes and identity markers. If that sounds like a lot of jargon, that’s because it is. Basically, people on set aren’t there to fake an orgasm for the sake of a movie; they’re there to let their inner pervert out.

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  • James Devaney/GC Images, via Getty

    Beygency

    Did Bey Just Accuse Jay of Cheating?

    In the wake of ‘elevatorgate,’ rumors have been swirling that Hova may have stepped out on Queen Bey.

    We’ve just, perhaps, entered a State of Beygency.

    Ever since security footage emerged of Solange Knowles, the younger sister of Beyoncé, slapping the Jigga out of Jay Z in a tightly-packed elevator as the trio exited a MET Gala after-party back in May, conspiracy theorists have gone all True Detective on the bizarre scenario, concocting various explanations for why Solange did what she did, and why Queen B just stood idly by, barely batting an eyelash.

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