• Serena Williams of the U.S. walks on the court during her women's singles match against Ana Ivanovic of Serbia at the Australian Open 2014 tennis tournament in Melbourne January 19, 2014. (Jason Reed/Reuters)

    Last Stand

    Serena & the Decline of American Tennis

    With no obvious successor in place, 32-year-old Serena Williams, the oldest woman to ever hold the No. 1 world ranking, is one of the lone links to America's past dominance.

    The parking lots are full, but there’s only a sparse crowd this afternoon in Center Court of the Lindner Family Tennis Center in Mason, Ohio, when the chair umpire of this Cincinnati Open semifinal calls time. Serena Williams, wearing a violet sleeveless top and black miniskirt, with a bright yellow headband over her flowing, highlighted hair, moseys to the right baseline, settles atop it, and begins to sway back and forth awaiting the first serve of the match.

    The tournament is one of the last hard-court warm-ups for the upcoming U.S. Open, the latter of which Williams is the back-to-back defending champ. Like many of her compatriots, she’s in the Cincinnati suburb prepping for the final Grand Slam of the season. In what has increasingly become the norm through the years no matter the event, however, Williams is the only American singles player, male or female, to advance beyond the round of 16.

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  • The Daily Beast

    #NeverForget

    Beyoncé Is Our Indigo Girl

    The R&B diva’s ‘feminist’ proclamation at the VMAs recalls feminism’s all-important ’90s—a decade filled with strong, outspoken female musicians.

    In a heart-stopping moment during her 16-minute performance at Sunday night’s MTV Video Music Awards, Beyoncé made a bold political statement: Projecting a quote from Nigerian feminist Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie onto a gigantic, glowing screen while standing triumphantly in front of the word “feminist.” Bold, but it also felt right after a night of watching female performers dominate the telecast, often with anthems about power and liberation. Feminism is definitely having a moment in pop music.

    Of course, this isn’t really the first time that it’s happened. Twenty years ago, in fact, feminism was also having a big moment in pop music. Granted, no one was flashing the word “feminist” at the VMAs—leave it to Queen B to take it to the next level—but the ’90s, particularly the early to mid-’90s, was a banner time for women in music who wanted to be more than just objects for men to ogle, and to sing about something more than just wanting the pretty boys to like you. Back then, fans could be forgiven for thinking women’s power in the music world was just going to keep growing, but by the late ’90s and early 2000s, the moment had passed and music was deep into a backlash phase.

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  • NBC

    Emmys 2014

    Kate McKinnon: SNL’s New Superstar

    The ‘SNL’ scene-stealer nabbed an Emmy nod for singing about penises and her impression of Angela Merkel. Now she’s on the hit Hulu series ‘The Awesomes.’

    Every actor knows that there are tricks to landing an Emmy nomination. If a pregnancy storyline is written for your character, the birth episode is Emmy gold. A bout with a life-threatening—though not life-ending—illness is always good awards bait. When all that fails, ask the writers to pen you a scene where your meth-dealing former teacher suffers a psychological breakdown.

    Or, if you’re Saturday Night Live’s newest breakout star, you sing a song about traveling the world in pursuit of penises and do an impression of a German chancellor who most of mainstream America has never heard of. Unconventional? Sure. But that’s why we love Kate McKinnon.

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  • Todd Oren/Getty

    Keeping It Real

    Anne Archer: Hollywood Women Are Doomed

    While the Oscar-nominated actress is starring as Jane Fonda, the most outspoken woman’s rights campaigner in Hollywood history, she says the film industry will never change.

    EDINBURGH — Half a century after Hollywood’s liberal revolution, Oscar-nominated leading lady Anne Archer says she has never been more depressed about the prospects for women in the movie industry.

    The 1960s and ’70s were supposed to have been a watershed for equality, but Archer feels there is absolutely no prospect of women gaining equal status in the movie world. “People have been asking that question for 40, 50 years and I haven’t seen it happen,” she said. “Ten years ago I probably thought it would change, but now I’m more realistic.”

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  • WENN/Newscom

    Objectification

    Idris Elba’s Battle of the Bulge

    A photo of the studly actor Idris Elba sporting what appeared to be a huge bulge in his pants recently went viral. But men don’t deserve to be reduced to their sex organs, either.

    Last year, we asked the question that’s been on the minds of countless red-blooded women and plenty of men: “Why Isn’t Idris Elba a Bigger Movie Star?” The piece explores what many of us have long known: Elba is talented, likable and, well, attractive—very attractive—so why isn’t his name on everyone’s lips?

    The last few days should have served as some measure of validation for us Elba fans. For once, his name has dominated the news. But the reason he’s been a topic of conversation has left much to be desired, particularly if you’re someone who’s a fan of Elba’s impressive body of work and feels strongly about sexual objectification in media. Recent photos of a dapperly dressed Elba from the set of the London gangster film A Hundred Streets have led to wild speculation about his member, leading many Elba aficionados to believe that his DJ moniker, Big Driis, isn’t just a clever name. Gawker started things off with a bang with the not-so-subtle headline, “Is this Idris Elba’s Dick or What?” The photos quickly went viral, popping up on a number of gossip blogs.

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  • ABC's "Scandal" stars Kerry Washington as Olivia Pope. (Craig Sjodin/ABC)

    Emmys 2014

    Kerry’s Favorite ‘Scandal’ Moments

    The Emmy-nominated star of ABC’s smash-hit drama tells the stories behind Olivia Pope’s wildest, craziest, and most scandalous moments from the show’s third season.

    Season 3, Episode 1 “It’s Handled”
    Olivia’s name is leaked as Fitz’s mistress. Hunkered down in a bunker, she, Mellie, and Fitz argue over what details about their relationship they want to make public.

    I don’t remember exactly, but this scene was maybe seven pages, which, in television, is an eternity. It felt like shooting a play. It felt like doing a play, to have three of us in a room for that amount of time. And the scene had such a huge beginning, middle, and end, and such an arc. It felt like a beautifully written one-act play. Everybody has their own moment. I love both of those actors so much, so to be able to get that opportunity with them was so fun. The three of us are all Broadway actors. We all brought the same excitement about the theatrical element of it. We rehearsed it like a play, thought about it like a play, and lived in it like a play. I feel like the three of us could have done that scene for weeks.

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  • David Livingston/Getty

    Not Past Tense

    Anna Paquin’s Bisexuality for Dummies

    Veteran TV host Larry King made a fool of himself recently when he repeatedly prodded the ‘True Blood’ actress about being bisexual while also being married to a man.

    Larry King likely gave birth, albeit unintentionally, to at least one fledgling punk band during a recent interview with Anna Paquin, when he asked her if she is a “non-practicing bisexual.”

    The actress, who is married to her True Blood co-star Stephen Moyer, tried to set King straight by saying that she’s “monogamously married,” but this only served to confuse him more.

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  • 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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