That’s Professor Angelina Jolie to You

Angelina Jolie recently announced she’s going to be a professor at the London School of Economics. Yeah, you read that right. Ok, I guess there’s more. She’ll be a visiting professor at the school and will teach a master’s class at the Center for Women, Peace and Security. Angelina is expected to discuss the role of women as they work alongside governments and the United Nations. If you’re wondering, the job is unpaid. So that all checks out.

I can only imagine that first class – as a student, impatiently waiting for a full-blown Hollywood superstar to come through the door and teach you about the world. It would be surreal and I don’t know how anyone could manage to easily pay attention. And that’s Angelina Jolie. I don’t even fangirl for her that much. But what if your faves stood behind a podium and taught you a college course? Or ever worse – one of your least faves walked in to give a lecture?

I’ve compiled a list of just some celebs I think would be great professors, and some… that should maybe stick to their day jobs.

Best: Lin-Manuel Miranda

Fact – Lin used to be a substitute English teacher at his former high school, so he already has the skills to be a real professor. He’s always engaging, always interesting to listen to and is a literal genius. Not to mention he’s already taught millions of people around the world about an American founding father. Sure, we might have known he was shot in a duel, but without Lin’s creative way of infusing history into pop culture, we would probably never known Angelica Schuyler’s full story or stanned over a real dude named Hercules Mulligan. Lin’s a professor of life, y’all.

Worst: Quentin Tarantino

I just imagine him talking way too much and spending an extra 45 minutes over class time explaining why The Grim Reaper is the most underrated of all of Bertolucci’s films.

Best: Bryan Cranston

He played a high school chemistry teacher, so why not? You know, if you forget the whole drug dealer lit’rally breaking bad thing. IRL, Bryan never fails to entertain – I dare you to find an interview in which he’s not charming and hilarious. He’d be the cool professor that would be okay with you stealthily drinking wine out of a tumbler.

Worst: Kanye West

A 45 minute rant on art and business and fashion? Pass. I’d be ok with a 45 minute concert from him tho, TBH.

Best: Kerry Washington

Ah the queen. She’s obviously a phenomenal actress, but her philanthropy and passion to speak out about important causes like women’s rights and equality and education is energizing and I just want to learn how to be as much like her as possible.

Worst: Stacey Dash

I think that speaks for itself.

Worst: Idris Elba

Let’s face it, I wouldn’t get anything done. I’d spend the whole class picturing him naked, which is probably not a good way to pass a class. Maybe auditing is the way to go.

Highs And Lows: The 2014 Tony Awards

As we discovered last year, even hardcore theater lovers have to admit that not every Tony Awards moment can be the best. The 2014 awards were no exception. There were some great moments, some so-so ones, and that weird period where Hugh Jackman hopped around tracked by a steadicam. Whether you watched as a theater nerd or as a confused CBS viewer who just wanted The Good Wife, I think you’ll agree that the awards were a mixed bag. On to the highs and lows!

Low, like literally vacillating between 0 and 5 inches off the ground: Hugh Jackman, hopping for the entire opening sequence

At first I thought this was a reference to something … theatre-y, or Australian, or pop cultural that I didn’t know about. But according to Twitter, if there was a reference, nobody got it. Is hopping something that’s happening? The new parkour?

Middle, like a food that is neither sweet nor sour nor delicious nor necessarily awful (eg, Musical Soylent): The Les Mis number

Man, we do like Les Mis (I mean, we liveblogged the movie), but this was just dull. I spent the whole of the number contemplating whether to eat this mini Twix bar I found outside earlier today. I didn’t, because while my standards are low enough to bring garbage candy inside from the ground, they are higher than eating candy that, I reasoned, could have been peed on. Like, that life decision was more interesting to me than watching Les Mis.

Lower, like I guess my expectations should have been: Aladdin: The Musical

I love Disney, musicals, and – I’ll admit it – musicals based on Disney films. So why did that Aladdin number do absolutely nothing for me? One of my earliest theater memories is going to Cats with my family and my dad, during intermission, asking with incredulity: “I don’t get it, is this supposed to mean something?” Exactly, dad. Exactly.

[Evidently my dad thought that Cats was so stupid that he assumed that it must have been existing at a deeper level for so many people to like it. Like, We are all Cats. Or something.]

Higher than most people can sustain for a comfortable amount of time, like that high note at the end: Idina Menzel singing Always Starting Over

This lady is always a pro. Also, it feels like a true honor and privilege to hear her singing something –  anything – other than Let It Go.

Seems like it should be super high but actually isn’t, like when you get up close to Cinderella’s Castle at Disney: Rocky: The Musical

Movies can make great musicals, and over-the-top technological feats can spice up a show – part of me is still the 9-year-old who was blown away by the crashing chandelier in Phantom Of The Opera and the helicopter in Miss Saigon. Yet, the high-tech snippet of Rocky left me a little cold.

Way, way up high, like when I was watching this and my heart felt like it was being elevated by the fluttering wings of butterflies: Pinkham Bryce’s performance in A Gentleman’s Guide To Love And Murder

I think I get frustrated with some shows that seem like they’re catering to the least common denominator. That’s why it’s so refreshing when a show is actually clever. And Pinkham Bryce, well … he’s sort of easy on the eyes, isn’t he?

Soaring high, like an eagle: Audra McDonald’s historic Tony win

Who needs to EGOT when you can just collect ALLLL the Tonys instead? Audra McDonald is a true living legend and a class act, and it doesn’t even get old seeing her win. Although, I’m sure there’s a reason this wasn’t classified as a ‘musical’ but I’m not positive of what it is.

Soaring high, like a bird that flies in a more fun way than an eagle does, maybe a pelican or something: The Hedwig And The Angry Inch performance

Okay, while I love smart musicals, there’s something awesome about shows that are just a lot of FUN. The actors and crowd alike were having an absolute blast during this number, and ultimately that’s what theater is all about. I mean it’s also about expressing the human experience, but sometimes the human experience is fun, okay? Also, bonus cameo by NPH’s adorable husband David Burtka.

Just sort of flitting along, like a bird that doesn’t really go up quite that high – perhaps a baby sparrow or a hummingbird: The Commercials

CBS really out-CBS-ed itself. Is it just me or was ad for Old People Medicines, insurance, and cat food?

High, like a person on meth, I guess?: Bryan Cranston’s win

We ragged on Cranston’s sub-par headshot on the Tony website = not exactly “Faces Of Meth” level, but just not trying. But clearly, he didn’t need to try too hard. The Tony was already in the bag.

 Higher than I would have thought, like my cholesterol even though I’m a vegetarian who works out, I mean what the hell: Violet

If the wedding episode of Full House taught us one thing, it’s that incorporating a robed gospel choir can only make things more spectacular. And Sutton Foster – Jo March of my heart – is always a great fit for those “small town girl makes good” roles.

Lower than I would have thought, like the depressed spirits of so many Irishmen: Sting

He looked and sounded completely like someone that my uncles would hang out with at the Ancient Order Of Hibernians. Not sure if he’s playing an Irish character or just, you know, a sad guy.

Mid-range, like the kind of blah clothes that end up in the ‘donate’ pile when you pare down your wardrobe : For Good

The only thing that a 10 year anniversary of Wicked accomplishes is reminding me that 10 years passed in the blink of an eye. I would not have the mental fortitude to sing Elphaba in front of Idina Menzel herself, and frankly, I don’t think the actress last night did, either. The blending was so-so, both vocally and on Galinda’s wig cap, which covered half of her forehead. Does she have a giant, weird hairline? A facial tattoo? WHY?

Low, like the droopy flopped arms of a white person standing around not knowing how to dance: LL Cool J and TI doing that Music Man thing

They rapped about the Music Man. They told the crowd to get on their feet. The crowd obeyed. Then they all stood there, self-consciously unsure of what to do with their arms. I know the feeling.

High, like the pitch of the audible gasp I let out: Carole King’s appearance during the Beautiful performance

I knew King was there, obviously. I knew Beautiful was performing, of course. But it somehow never occurred to me that Carole King would sing with them. If this made Jessie Mueller nervous as hell, as it would for most humans, she didn’t let on.

Low, like the pit deep in my stomach: Bullets Over Broadway and the reawakening of latent Woody Allen feelings

You know, when all this Woody Allen stuff came back up, I thought “man, it would make it easier if someone would just tell me the proper way to react to this.” Then everyone DID tell everyone else the proper way to react. And it didn’t particularly help. Anyway. Catchy song, right?

Low, like something that just draaaags on and on, like maybe something hanging from the fender of a car: Hugh Jackman’s song before the Best Actress In A Musical award

It was 10:50 pm. Yet, an 11 o’clock number, it was not.

Low, like my glasses would be, on the bridge of my nose, in disapproval, like a librarian from yesteryear: Finding Neverland

I liked Finding Neverland The Movie. I already hate Finding Neverland The Musical That Doesn’t Exist Yet But Is Somehow Performing At The Tony’s. The former was charming, the latter involved Jennifer Hudson in a modern, sequined dress wailing about Neverland as small Edwardian boys jump on a bed and a female, Ginnifer Goodwin-y Peter Pan flitted around.

2014 Tony Award Winner Predictions (Based Solely On Headshots)

The all-powerful headshot can make or break an acting career. You thought it was talent, hard work, and luck? So did I – until I was 12. That was the year that all of my acting friends got the secret memo to wear makeup and flat-iron their hair before updating their photos. They all looked like they walked out of Seventeen magazine, whereas I looked like.. well, like:

Yep, that’s the headshot of someone who’s going to be stuck in child roles for a good while. The only way I would be playing a girl next door is if the main character happens to lives next door to a Victorian orphanage. So trust me, headshots matter. That’s why I’m pretty confident that the key to this year’s Tony wins is in the almighty 5×7. To be as impartial as possible, we are judging this year’s winners solely by the headshots available on the official Tony Awards website.

Best Performance By A Leading Actor In A Play

Samuel Barnett – Twelfth Night

Okay, the dabbled gray background is a little school portrait. But the icy blue, straight on stare says “I can play dramatic roles!” and the slight smirk says “but if the dialog gets a little funny, I’m on top of it!” The bright flash highlights Barnett’s pale complexion, as if to say “I can play British.”

Bryan Cranston – All The Way

The fuck, Cranston? No. NO. You’re like that one kid whose parents didn’t properly understand sending in a baby picture for that one section of your senior yearbook, and sent one from freshman year instead. You are the default silhouette picture from Myspace. Even Tom doesn’t want to be friends with that.

Remember Tom, everyone?

Chris O’Dowd – Of Mice And Men

Well as I live and breathe. Chris O’Dowd has out-Cranstoned Cranston. There are actual people in the actual background, and you know what? Blurring them out by enlarging the “blemish remover” function on iPhoto is just making me notice it more. Good luck winning a Tony with this Photobucket-quality headshot, buddy. Good freaking luck.

On the other hand, maybe this is clever. Maybe it tells us that he is too busy for headshots — busy going to events where he, and blurry others, wear suits.

Mark Rylance – Richard III

White sheet backdrop aside, this is art. ART. The lowered left eyebrow. The tremulous sidelong glance. The windswept locks. His mouth is even ever-so-slightly agape. It is like everything that Jay Manuel and Janice Dickinson told contestants to do on the early seasons of America’s Next Top Model, except for posing with limbs askew and pretending to have been murdered. I think we might have our winner. And that earring? That’s just boss.

Tony Shaloub – Act One

Like, is this photo editing, or does he have a legitimage twinkle in both eyes? Speaking of Tyra Banks: smizing. Notice how you sort of feel like Tony Shaloub has read the story of your soul, and would recommend it to a friend? It’s all in the smize.
The winner, based on headshot alone: Mark Rylance. That headshot has RANGE.

 

Best Performance By An Actress In A Leading Role In A Play

Tyne Daly – Mothers And Sons

Okay, now we’re cooking with gas. There’s a neutral but varied background. There’s warm, soft lighting. You know what this looks like? This looks like a headshot where the actress is at least TRYING. See the Shaloub-esque half smile?
Also, I think that, as in paintings by Renaissance masters, if you look at this from different points in the room, Daly’s eyes follow you.
Her face is so captivating that I almost didn’t notice that this photo almost reaches a Glamour Shot-caliber boob suggestion. Glamour Shots: Not the boob itself, but the idea of the boob.

LaTanya Richardson Jackson

FINALLY. Now it’s a contest. Look at this. It’s like Headshot Bingo. Or a headshot drinking game. Let’s count:
(1) Flowy wrap sweater
(2) Gently contrasting background
(3) Statement necklace
(4) HAND SHELF.
It’s like every headshot cliche in one photo. Ms Jackson, I salute you. Question, though: what is up with the curled-up, partially visible left hand?

Cherry Jones – The Glass Menagerie

I’m of two minds here. The first: the blurred background is, well… have we learned nothing from O’Dowd? It looks like Jones is in some sort of outdoor patio or porch situation, which is at least pleasant. Contrast that with O’Dowd, who is in some sort of formalwear context that is almost definitely not fun.
The second: Does she have the headshot smile down or what? Happy but not too happy. Warm without a photoshopped eye twinkle (unless that’s how Shaloub’s eyes are naturally, which… maybe, you know? Maybe.)

Audra MacDonald – Lady Day at Emerson’s Bar And Grill

Even if I didn’t know who Audra McDonald was, which I guess I’m trying to do here, I’d know this was the photo of a champion. That is the cozy sweater of someone who can play a mom or a business professional on a day off. Her hair is glorious. The background is neutral but, with the hint of light oak chair, not antiseptic. There’s gentle accessorizing. There’s nail polish. There’s attractive lighting, like in Barbara Walters specials.
Brava, Ms. McDonald.

Estelle Parsons

While I don’t deny that Estelle Parsons is probably a lovely person and a wonderful actress, this is simply not a Tony Award Winning headshot. That is the downward facing chin of a nominee, not the proud, upright chin of a winner!

Besides, it took me about 3 minutes to figure out that was a scarf tucked into her sweater and not some really weird collar or even weirder neck/chin situation. Tony voters don’t have time for that.
The Winner, Based On Headshot Alone: Audra. That’s the headshot of a lady who came to win.

 

Best Performance By A Lead Actor In A Musical

Now, for a little bit of the ‘man behind the curtain’ in the blogging world: my browser is doing something it’s never done before, and making text and photos appear straight on top of each other, and my curser is moving around will-nilly. So let’s just cut straight to the winner, shall we?
Winner, based on headshot alone:

Neil Patrick Harris, Hedwig And The Angry Inch

 

This was a process of elimination win. Ramin Karimloo looked a little too ‘intentionally disheveled hot guy.’ Andy Karl was posed in front of some sort of industrial piping, which, like, you’re in Rocky. We know. Jefferson Mays looked like he was going to turn me into ice with his crystalline blue stare. Between Bryce Pinkham and Neil Patrick Harris, Harris’s headshot was a little edgier. Pinkham’s, shot in soft light with a white background, seemed to say “I’m here for the art, not to win.”

Best Performance By An Actress In A Leading Role In A Musical

 

Can we discuss these award category names? They are all roughly twice as long as they need to be, right?
The winner, based on headshot alone:

Sutton Foster – Violet

This was another process of elimination. Idina Menzel, bless her talented heart, almost tries TOO hard in her headshot. I’m talking about a wind machine. Jessie Mueller manages to look most like someone I’d want to hang out with in real life – meaning, unlike some theater people, she doesn’t look absolutely exhausting. But she does have the visible, photoshopped background person going on. Kelli O’Hara has so much blinding white light going on that I think she might be the first person I’m seeing after dying.  Mary Bridget Davies brought her A-Game, but Foster’s got the approachable smile down. She was probably smile-coached along with Cherry Jones.

 

So, was my 12-year-old self right? Can you tell a great actor by headshot alone? Tune in to the Tony’s on Sunday night to find out!

Breaking Up with Breaking Bad: 11 WTF Scenes We Leave Behind

Has everyone recovered from Sunday’s episode of Breaking Bad yet? Are we still in denial that that was the last season premiere ever? The correct answers are no, and yes, respectively.

With Breaking Bad’s last eight (now seven) episodes airing in the next couple of months, it prompts us to reflect on the past five seasons with shock and awe, wondering how we ever lived without this show in our lives.

It made us laugh, made us cry, made us angry, and probably most paramount of all – make us scream WHAT THE FUCK at our TV screens like lunatics time after time.

So while we impatiently await the next episode but still want it to never end, the least we can do is take a look back at some of the greatest WTF moments throughout the years.

Season 1, Episode 2: Cat’s in the Bag

It’s only the series’ second episode, and (creator) Vince Gilligan has the balls to write something like this scene. Actually, one of the reasons I’m assuming he wrote the infamous bathtub scene is that he wanted to show that ‘hey, this isn’t a regular TV show. We’re taking risks here and you should watch what we’re doing.’ If that’s what he was going for, it worked, because this was the first time I realized this show was going to be like nothing I’ve ever seen before. Also it was absolutely disgusting.

Season 1, Episode 6: Crazy Handful of Nothin’

In addition to the dead tub guy (a drug dealer), Walt manages to kill another dealer,  Krazy-8, just three episodes in. The guy who replaces Krazy-8 is a guy named Tuco, who we see a lot of in the series. When Jesse goes to make a deal with Tuco, he gets beat up bad, and steals the meth. In retaliation of stealing Walt’s precious blue drug, he blows up Tuco’s safe house by throwing a crystalline nugget to the floor. SCIENCE, BITCH.

Season 2, Episode 12: Phoenix

This is one of the most heartbreaking scenes in the entire series. Jesse finally finds love with Jane (played by Krysten Ritter), who I only knew as Rory’s annoying friend at Yale on Gilmore Girls. Anyways, although they were both users, Jesse found someone – and somewhere- to focus his life on besides drug dealing. And it all went down the drain overnight when they used and fell asleep. Meanwhile, Walt makes a deal with Gus (our good amigo Gus), who offers to buy the blue meth but gives him only an hour to deliver the drugs. Obviously Jesse isn’t answering bc he’s half dead, so Walt breaks into his apartment to find the J + J asleep – until Jane turns over it all goes downhill. Walt watches Jane die without helping her, and we watch Walter White turn into Heisenberg in mere seconds.

Season 3, Episode 7: One Minute

{starts at 3:49}

It’s Hank Vs. the scary as hell Salamanca twins. That’s all you need to know. There is blood involved. You need to know that too.

Season 3, Episode 12: Half Measures

Jesse wants revenge against the drug dealers who killed his buddy Combo, and who are also selling Walt & Jesse’s blue meth. The only catch is that the guys are using an 11-year-old kid to sell the drugs – and he was the one who shot Jesse friend too. But because Jesse’s main character ‘flaw’ is that he’s good at heart, he can’t go through with killing the dealers. So when they’re about to come face to face, Walt rolls in to “save the day” … in his own Heisenberg way.

Season 3, Episode 13: Full Measure

One of the best season finales ever,  Walt orders Jesse kills Gale, the nerdy chemist who is the only one who can perfectly duplicate WW’s blue meth recipe. But again, Jesse needs to prove himself by letting go of his ‘conscience’ and just kill Gale. Except the episode ends with the camera on Jesse, staring down the barrel of the gun, pointing it directly into Gale’s face, and the screen fades to black. HELLO?!

Season 4, Episode 1: Box Cutter

We had to wait an entire year – A YEAR – to find out what happened after Jesse shot Gale. So suck on that all you binge watchers – try waiting an entire year for a resolution to the Gale story. But this – this episode showed us just how much of a monster Gus was. Warning: a lot of blood. A LOT.

Season 4, Episode 13: Face Off

Easily the most shocking thing that’s ever happened in the history of television, I bet my entire DVD collection that no one could have seen this coming. I had to watch it at least three times to make sure it really happened. HIS. FUCKING. TIE.

Season 5, Episode 5: Dead Freight

Oh hey, Landry from Friday Night Lights! You’re such a good guy – except for that time in season two when you *SPOILER ALERT* killed the guy who attacked Tyra and threw his body into the river. But I mean other than that, you’re just a kid who made it on the football team and loves playing in a metal band called Crucifictorious, so you definitely wouldn’t be able to kill an innocent kid who just happened to stumble upon an illegal scheme. Oh that’s right – you’re not Landry, you’re crazy Todd, who would ACTUALLY DO THAT.

Season 5, Episode 7: Say My Name

{starts at 3:05}

TBH, I didn’t really care that much for Mike, until season five. We saw the softer side of him, and we also saw Jesse bond with Mike in a way that he never could with Walt. So by the time this episode came around, it was absolutely heartbreaking to see him go after being so close to getting out of the business.

Season 5, Episode 8: Gilding Over All

Before Walt killed Mike, he refused to give up the name of his nine henchmen, who Mike had been paying off to keep their mouths shut. Mike manages to get the names from Lydia, and Walt arranges for all nine guys + Mike’s lawyer to all be killed at once. Thanks to Landry’s Todd’s ties to some Aryan gang in the prison (because fucker is shady as shit), the prisoners kill the nine guys all at once in one of the most scary scenes I’ve ever scene. I don’t like horror movies, but this is more than good enough to take its place.

BONUS

Season 4, Episode 11: Crawl Space

Because, acting. #ALLTHEAWARDS