In an attempt to get back into regularly scheduled programming – both on the blog and life-wise – I watched a Lifetime movie this week. It was a remake of Beaches, the classic 1988 Bette Midler/ Barbara Hershey friendship drama that I don’t remember ever seeing. This reboot takes the action to 2017 and stars Idina Menzel and Nia Long. It was exactly what I’d expect out of a Lifetime remake of a beloved movie with good actresses in it. Take that how you will.
Comment: I’m not coming at this with a lot of history with Beaches.
I thought “didn’t I do a monologue from that for auditions for a while as a kid?” but that was Brighton Beach Memoirs. I think I saw Beaches on TV as a child but I don’t really remember it. Guess what I’m saying is, I’m not expecting to have my memories of Beaches tarnished, I’m just expecting a better-than-usual Lifetime movie.
Comment: They did a really good job with the 80s flashback clothing!
Concern: The 80s being a flashback. I was alive then!
Part of the time anyway.
Concern: When you’re such a musical theater nerd that you know the child versions of CC and Hilary.
CC is Gabriella Pizzolo (Fun Home) and Hilary is Grace Capeless (The Lion King). Goes without saying, they’re adorable and talented in that classic older-than-their-years Musical Theater Child way.
Question: Did they just say this was supposed to be Vegas?
For some reason I thought it was meant to take place in Coney Island or something.
(Per Google, the flashback in the original was set in Atlantic City, which makes way more sense. Sorry. Must have misheard something)
Comment: I can see why people love Beaches.
The segment where the letters are going back and forth is really sweet.
Concern: I don’t love Idina in this role ??
OF COURSE I know Idina is talented. Obviously I loved Rent and Wicked. I don’t dispute that Idina Menzel knows what she’s doing. Just what she’s doing here isn’t working for me. I’m willing to admit the problem is probably me, I just wasn’t expecting to feel this way.
Comment: Love the throwback to Idina’s early lounge/wedding/bar mitzvah singer days though.
Comment: PEN PALS ARE LIKE INTERNET FRIENDS.
I don’t know why it took me this long to realize it, but I suddenly relate to this story more.
Question: Is CC’s apartment really messy or just really cluttered or somewhere in between?
(It’s messy, right?)
Concern: I shouldn’t have laughed so hard at “there’s only one dreidel song.”
Question: There’s gonna be singalongs??
They start singing Oh Come All Ye Faithful and my hopes for this movie skyrocket.
Question: Is the show CC’s in SUPPOSED to be bad?
I legitimately do not know.
(They go on to say that it’s supposed to be good. Huh.)
Comment: Nia’s acting at her father’s funeral.
Concern: This friendship really isn’t bringing out anyone’s best selves
I just can’t imagine being this mean to one of my friends, ever?
Like I said, I don’t have any history with this movie but I was expecting a lot more warm fuzzies. Someone better give someone else a kidney soon.
Comment: I went from zero emotional investment to crying when Idina sang about “don’t let the last time I hurt you be the last time…”
This is either the magical power of Beaches, which I’ve known about for years but never witnessed, or the magical power of Idina Menzel, which I know very well.
I think my lack of investment may be because I never really have friend breakups on purpose, I just sometimes suck at keeping in touch with people on accident.
Comment: I miss the beginning of the part where they’re putting a crib together because it sounds and looks like a commercial.
Like, where one woman would start explaining to the other why she likes her new brand of tampons.
Question: When is something awful going to happen?
Because Hilary is adorably pregnant and happy and CC and Hilary love each other and there’s, like, an hour to go. I’ve started to emotionally invest. IS THIS WHAT EVERYONE WAS REFUSING TO TELL ME ABOUT BEACHES.
Comment: Hilary delivers the most gorgeous 2-month-old baby ever.
Like any successful project with a rabid fan base, there’s a desire, and maybe even more so now, an expectation for additional installments (see: all the Fast & Furious movies, Arrested Development, Gilmore Girls, Prison Break, for some reason). Same rang true for Rent. In the years following, a Rent movie had always been a topic of discussion and the OG cast members were always asked when a movie was going to happen. And nearly 10 years after Rent debuted in 1996, a big screen adaptation of the blockbuster musical finally premiered in the fall of 2005.
It was received with mixed reviews from fans and critics, so we decided to re-watch the film and get to the bottom of why it was loved by some and hated by others. Conclusion:
Question: Why isn’t Daphne Rubin-Vega in this again?
T: I could look up the politics of this again but I don’t remember why Daphne Rubin-Vega was replaced with Rosario Dawson? Because she’s too “old”? She’s “not hot enough”? They needed a “movie star”?
M: I was thinking about this while driving the other day (secondary theme of the week: we are not cool). I decided she was working on another project at the time, which may be a lie. (OK, looked it up: she was pregnant.) Either way, Mimi is harder than all of the other characters to play 10 years after the musical premiered, because it is the only one saddled with a very specific, very young age (19, looks 16). Which brings me to:
Concern: Everyone Is Old
M: I’m no spring chicken, so that’s not an insult. But all of the OBC actors are a decade older than they were when they were cast in the musical, and it is central to the plot that these are vibrant idealists in the prime of life. It still works, and I will gladly suspend disbelief to see this many original cast members reprise their breakout roles. But the characters read different when they look like urban professionals in their 30s. I can tell you that at almost 30, my response to almost every situation in Rent, were it to happen in my real life, would be “I am too damn old for this.”
T: And for me, what was weird that I thought some of them looked younger than I thought they were when I watched it a decade ago. So young-looking old people playing the role of 1990s “millennials” is what this film features.
Concern: December 24 … 1989?
M: This was controversial when the movie came out (controversial for those of us who are too invested in film adaptations of musicals, anyway). The musical was set in the present day (at first) and as time wore on, around the era when it was released: the mid-90s. 1989 was when Jonathan Larson began his work on it. I’m not sure why this decision was made. Is it because in 2005, it was hard to conceive of a 90s period piece? Or because 1989 feels more like peak AIDS crisis? Because Mimi would look adorable in 80s clothes?
Anyway. There are some scenes where it doesn’t really work – cyber cafes were SO 90s, and I feel like we didn’t start talking about the end of the millennium until the mid 90s – but I don’t mind it too much. I’m mostly amazed at how they created a gritty version of the New York of 1980s Sesame Street eps.
Comment: IMDb makes me smart
T: Fun fact: There are two v notable names listed as executive producers of this project: Robert De Niro (of Robert De Niro) and Jeffrey Seller, who produced small hits such as Avenue Q, In The Heights and Hamilton, a show we never talk about, ever.
Comment: Tune Up #1
T: I actually like how they turned Tune Up #1 into Mark’s speaking monologue so it doesn’t come off as too “musical-y” but for the Rent-heads out there, I’m sure you found it just as hard not singing along to it. This is a choice they make throughout the movie, and for the most part, I think it’s smart. But at times it just sounds like they’re doing some sort of sing-songy slam poetry.
M: Plus, it keeps the movie from being 3 hours long. Source: church is always longer when the priest sings all of the talk-y bits instead of speaking them.
Concern: I now identify with Benny more than anyone else.
M: Benny realized that he’s 28 (made up age), married Allison Hendrix Gray, and acknowledged that in America, at the end of the millennium, you gotta collect rent on the building you own that’s gonna be prime real estate in 15 years. What happened to his heart? It’s the Bush I era and a man’s gotta make a buck.
But maybe I’m just saying that because Taye Diggs is a beautiful, beautiful man and he is KILLING IT in You’ll See.
T: I momentarily seethed when he started to speak the lines from You’ll See in fear we wouldn’t get to hear him sing the one song that’s his in the entire show.
Comment: Oh Benny
Benny rolls up to Alphabet City in his Range Rover and is immediately surrounded by protesting tenants angrily singing Rent to him. Rough start.
Comment: I love Angel.
M: Wilson Jermaine Heredia plays Angel with the perfect mix of humor, life, and too-good-to-be-true kindness. Angel/Collins is one of my favorite musical couples.
Comment: Can I get a light
T: I understand the point is that the power blows but it’s darker than How to Get Away With Murder up in here.
M: Like when we were watching Cheers, I had to adjust my set because half of the background is just black blobs with the occasional string of Christmas lights. Mimi says our eyes will adjust.
Comment: April looks like a young Poehler + Gillian Anderson
M: And everyone looks 200% more 80s in the flashbacks. Just how long ago was that supposed to be?
Concern: Did Rosario Dawson miss her musical calling?
How did Rent effect Rosario Dawson’s potential musical theater career?? JK.
Comment: Mimi’s junkie makeup is really effective.
M: That might sound like faint praise but I mean it – she looks strung out and feverish but not in a gross way?
Concern: I now identify with Mark more than anyone else.
Mark, talking about his parents’ laborious message on the answering machine: “There are times when we’re dirt broke, hungry, and freezing, and I ask myself, why the hell am I still living here? And then they call. And I remember.”
T: Same, Mark. Same.
Concern: When the characters are in their late 30s they just sound like people who talk too much about brunch.
M: E.g., Mark says to Collins “so that’s why you could afford to splurge on us” and it sounds like nothing so much as two guys discussing who’s buying the mimosas this week.
Comment: Angel’s entrance
T: But can you just imagine meeting someone like for the first time like this? Comes in dancing and singing with a plastic pickle tub about killing a random woman’s dog? I’d be like WHO IS THIS PERSON
M: Is Angel on coke? Because that is not a normal human energy level. Also also, believe it or not, Angel in Rent is when I first learned about using the pronouns people choose for themselves, because it was 1996 and I was 9.
Comment: I truly love Tracie Thoms
T: I’m fine with not bringing back Fredi Walker – Tracie is a better match chemistry wise with Idina.
M: Yes. Fredi Walker isn’t at all matronly, but her Joanne was more staid and mature, which made Maureen seem even more like a attention-seeking kid.
Comment: Tango Maureen hotness
T: I’m v into Joanne serving business chic & Idina serving tango dancer hotness.
M: I love how the dialogue about how Mark vs Joanne learned to dance shows, in two lines, exactly what kind of upper middle class kid each was.
Comment: They nailed Joanne’s 80s businesswoman attire.
Jheri curl, wide short tie, suspenders, statement earrings. It works.
Comment: Mighty Ducks meets Gilmore
As mentioned the other day in our Dream Cast post, there are two people of note in Life Support – Wayne Wilcox (Marty from Gilmore Girls) and Aaron Lohr (D2 & D3: Mighty Ducks and Newsies), two people from your youth you definitely didn’t expect to be in the Rent movie.
Question: Are New York/Pittsburgh exotic dancer scenes different?
When I watched Flashdance for the first time, I learned stripping in Pittsburgh during the 80s involved Japanese Kabuki, and apparently exotic dancing in New York in the early ’90s
Question: Will I?
T: How many of y’alls tried getting your friends to sing Will I in a round like this be honest
M: Just another Friday night in high school with the theater kids, hanging out in a basement rec room singing about “will I lose my dignity.”
Comment: The homeless woman is the voice of all of us watching Rent after our idealist phase has ended.
“Hey artist? Got a dollar. Didn’t think so.”
Question: Anyone else wanna hand out hand sanitizer after Santa Fe?
Everyone’s hands are ALL OVER the subway railings. (I remember being on the subway with a drunk friend in college who insisted on doing weird flips like Collins, and I was like okay, I’ll be at the end of the car pretending something’s happening on my phone BYE)
Question: What is Computer Age Philosphy (Actual Reality)?
T: I truly have no idea.
Question: Why are these two the cutest?
M: I’m going to go ahead and call I’ll Cover You the most adorable duet in musical history … even if this relationship is moving crazy fast. If you’re Jesse L. Martin or Wilson Jermaine Heredia, and you meet someone as cute as you are, you don’t let that pass you by.
Collins: Are we a thing?
Angel: Darling… we’re everything!
Why did they take that line out?!?!
T: Fun fact: This version of I’ll Cover You used to be my ringtone. I was the coolest.
Concern: The Rent/Hamilton effect
T: Roger says “Look around!” and I immediately continued sing, “look around, how lucky we are to be alive right now!” Ah the irony of being obsessed with a musical which was in part influenced by the musical you’re watching.
Question: How does Maureen have this many fans
M: Yeah, but not counting the homeless, how many tickets weren’t comped?
Comment: This shot of Idina
Actually, no comment at all.
Question: What do you think the crowd at the performance space smells like?
M: Me, I think weed, cigarettes, those alternative deodorants that don’t work.
I love how Angel proves they can pay for dinner this time by flashing him a folded bill
Question: How does Benny think he’s going to “break ground in mid-January”?
Comment: Viva La Vie Boheme
Just for once I’d like to act out this scene in a legit production. Not even the whole show, just this scene. They have fun.
LOL Mark’s solo dance – I’ve never related so much to him. Except all the other times.
M: OH LORD get me a gif of Mark in that moment and project it onto my tombstone.
Concern: I almost fast-forwarded through Seasons of Love because it’s too sad.
M: Lest you think a 20-year-old musical can’t move me anymore, I almost start crying at Seasons of Love. Goal: all 2+ hours of this, no tears.
T: I mean, fair. The line, “How do you figure a last year on earth?” like, stop it.
M: I’m also noticing that Seasons of Love is very obviously the song they included to be a breakout hit. Like, “okay, we need one song in a basic pop structure with no swearing or weird sex stuff in it so we can go on the Rosie show.”
Comment: All Angel all the time pls
After a night of celebrating New year’s Eve, the gang arrives back at their building only to find a padlock on the door. Angel swiftly grabs a trash can to knock it off, and after she triumphs, an equally inebriated Collins asks, “You gonna put that trash can back?” and a definitely not drunk Angel replies, “No”. The best delivery.
Comment: I FORGOT SARAH SILVERMAN IS IN THIS
M: I forgot both that she was in it and that she was SO GOOD as a cold businessperson.
Concern: For Mark’s overall wellbeing
T: Proposing (to your girlfriend) in front of your ex(boyfriend) is a ballsy move, Maureen. I just can’t get over how much I am Mark.
M: Me too. I am Mark in the same ways that I am Chandler.
Question: Exactly how long have Maureen and Joanne been together?
M: Because Collins didn’t know Mark and Maureen had broken up, and Joanne and Mark just met, but apparently Maureen and Joanne are engaged.
T: U-Hauls, amirite?
Comment: Maureen’s kind of a bitch
“Every single day I walk down the street. I hear people say ‘Baby’ so sweet… There will always be women in rubber.” Maureen… calm down.
Comment: Benny and Mimi
T: I still don’t get how characteristically, Benny would want to date Mimi? He seems super pretentious ever since he moved out of Alphabet City, and looks down on everyone who lives there.
Concern: Without You is a lot more graphic in the film adaptation
M: We are treated to Mimi’s delirium tremens (I think?), the ever-shrinking support group, Angel’s scary looking fever, hospitalization, drug buying, strip clubs, all that. I’m just going to go ahead and say I can never tell when people are supposed to be sick from drugs stuff vs AIDS stuff. Anyway. Without You is like the opposite of those montages of people having wacky fun and falling in love.
Question: Will I be able to make it through the I’ll Cover You Reprise without crying?
Comment: No. And ugly crying at that.
M: At least Traci cried vs me, who just fast-forwarded through the whole funeral. I know I said I am a Chandler, but I have a strong Joey Tribbiani “book in the freezer” mentality for stuff I don’t want to see.
T: Like Hannah Horvath, I am a glutton for pain. We’re just a blog about comparing ourselves to fictional characters now.
Comment: I am Mark reason #1094
T: Mark says, “Come on guys chill” during Goodbye Love when everyone is fighting. Excuse me while I go find a vintage videocamera and start documenting my friends’ terrible love lives.
Question: You know what I miss?
Using yuppie as an insult. (NB, I am technically a yuppie now? )
Question: How many times do you think Anthony Rapp & Adam Pascal have had to sing What You Own in their lifetime?
Approx a million.
Comment: I am Mark reason #1095
“Dive into work, drive the other way.” Me too, Mark. Me too.
Concern: Everytime I hear the phone ring i have a Pavlov dog’s response to getting up to answer the landline
Comment: Your Eyes
You Eyes, a mediocre song at best, is not a song Roger should be singing to Mimi on her “deathbed”. Like I know this scene is sad and everyhting, but this song would not be the last one I’d want to hear. ever
Question: What disease is Mimi having?
Is this AIDS? Hypothermia? Drug overdose? Picturesque yet vague musical theater malady?
Comment: I reflexively sing all of the lines in my head that they’re speaking here.
e.g., I rewired the ATM at the food emporium to provide an honorarium to anyone with the code.
Question:You know what I didn’t account for during rent week?
Hanukkah 2015 is already in the books. That means that from this point onward, people of all religions can focus on that other December holiday: Christmas. Sure, if we’re getting technical about it Christmas is the celebration of the birth of Jesus – but it’s also turned into a cultural celebration where we put our differences aside and eat cutout cookies, decorate trees, and jam out to the likes of Barbra Streisand and Amy Winehouse. Who better to sing Happy Birthday to one of the most famous Jewish babies in the world?
The Christmas Song (Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire)
Mel Torme and Judy Garland
This tune is one of the iconic Christmas songs we all know and love, but did you known it was written by two Jews? Mel Torme and Bob Wells wrote it in 1945 in the middle of summer in an effort to cool down. Truth. Bob was randomly writing down wintery things on a notepad like, “Yuletide carols” and “Jackfrost” and “folks dressed up like Eskimos” because he was so damn hot, but when Mel (who was 19 at the time) took a look at it he saw them as song lyrics. The rest is history. This version features Mel on Judy Garland’s self-titled TV show, and also includes a sly Over the Rainbow ref. This is the kind of song that just warms your heart.
Happy Xmas (War is Over)
Adam Levine & Sara Bareilles
Many people have covered John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s iconic Christmas protest song, but there’s something special about the pairing of Adam and Sara. Adam has the right range for it, while Sara can literally sing anything and I’d be on board.
This Christmas is one of my favorite modern day holiday jamz. Maybe it’s because I grew up listening to Platinum Christmas and heard R&B singer Joe’s version on repeat, but I associate this with pop and R&B acts, not folky types like Carole King. But that’s what makes me love this version that much more. She gives it a lived in, Tapestry quality to it that makes you want to curl up by the fire and drink hot cocoa.
From a Distance (Christmas version)
Listen up. Sometimes I enjoy turning up to the easy listening radio station. I can enjoy a good Kenny G tune or Celine Dion power ballad every once in a while. I can also appreciate Bette Midler and her classic tune From a Distance. BUT, in doing research for this post, I found out she made an alternative Christmas version that is maybe even better than the OG? Maybe. But the Queen of the Jews singing “Joy to the World” at the end is the best. The best.
I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus
No bit zone – I really think Amy would’ve made an amazing Christmas/holiday album. Her voice is already astounding, but her spin on classic songs would’ve been such a hit.
Baby It’s Cold Outside
Idina Menzel and Michael Buble
Yes, this song is creepy, but this version subs out some of the skeevier lyrics, making it my favorite rendition.
It was only a matter of time before Idina Menzel released a Christmas album. This particular song is really just a winter song, but there are plenty of Christmas-specific tracks on the album.
How about a two-fer: when he wrote White Christmas, Irving Berlin, nee Israel Baline, made the most important Jewish contribution to the Christmas holiday since the Virgin Mary. Then Barbra Streisand covered it, and while nobody, not even Babs, is Bing Crosby, this is still pretty darn wonderful.
Must Be Santa
If you ever doubt the extent to which Bob Dylan DGAF, just watch this video.
Christmas Must Be Tonight
Two things you may not have known: The Band performs a good Christmas song, and Robbie Robertson is Jewish.
Merry Christmas (I Don’t Want To Fight Tonight)
This is my second-favorite song about sparring on Christmas (after the fantastic Fairytale of New York) – and it proves that you don’t have to grow up celebrating Christmas to know that it’s a holiday that sparks a lot of arguments.
Yesterday, we got confirmation of the rumor we hoped wasn’t true – after almost exactly 10 years of marriage, Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner, aka Bennifer 2.0, announced they are getting a divorce. They had been dodging gossip for a while, but like any good American, we denied it was happening until it was slapping us across the face and posing as an actual problem.
Celebrity relationships have always been fascinating to me/the world, and in more recent years, specifically the psychology of why we, as a culture, are so obsessed with celebrity couples. Is it because they are the seemingly ideal, picture perfect, couple where nothing could possibly be wrong? Yes. Is it what our own #relationshipgoals aim to be? Yes. But despite all of that, why does it always feel like we are the ones ‘dying’ when it has absolutely nothing to do with us?
Today I’m looking back at some of the celebrity breakups that shook us to the core, proclaiming in all caps that LOVE IS DEAD and ‘IF THEY CAN’T MAKE IT, WHO CAN?’ to all of the Internet.
Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner
BAEs for: 10 years of marriage
RIP: June 30th, 2015 (One day after their 10th anniversary)
Why are we upset: Ben & Jen were like the All-American couple with the three cute kids, who were Hollywood enough that made them unattainable, but had a certain level of relatability. When they first met, he was engaged to another Jennifer, but ultimately, as we know, Jen G. won his heart in the end. Or not, I guess.
Over It Meter: It just happened, so it’ll take me a while –
Why are we upset: Jennifer is and was the beloved star from Friends, and he was the hottest Hollywood hunk that made them the golden couple of the early 2000s. They were a couple everyone was rooting for, so when they split, it was as if an actual person had died from their break-up. Not to mention, it all went down as Brad and Angelina’s onscreen chemistry was palpable in Mr. & Mrs. Smith, leading many to cast Angie as the villain in the scenario and tabloids STILL try to Pitt (pun intended) these women against each other. But the one thing we’ve learned from all of this: we just all want to see Jennifer Aniston happy.
Over It Meter: It’s been 10 years. We’re still a little hurt.
Why are we upset: I was in college when the first High School Musical came out, and I’m not ashamed to say I loved it. And I totally stanned for Troy/Gabriella, but more so Zac/Vanessa. I thought they were going to be together forever, TBH. I was Zanessa for life. Then they broke up, and I broke up too. It was sad, and if they ever get together again in the future I WILL NOT BE SURPRISED.
Over It Meter: Like I said, it won’t surprise me if they fall back in love when they’re 35.
4 out of 5 Notebook Rain Kisses
Justin Timberlake and Britney Spears
BAEs for: 3 years of dating (why does it seem like so much longer than that?)
Why are we upset: I am a Backstreet Boys fan, but also a Britney fan, so when she started dating Justin, I was at a *Crossroads*. Luckily, this was around the time JT was about to do his own thing, so my love for him as a solo artist grew from there, but my love for them as a couple was unquantifiable.They were the prince and princess of pop music, and their coupledom is hard to beat. When they abruptly broke up (What Goes Around Comes Around), not only was it the first celeb breakup (in my lifetime) that was devastating, but it was the first time I thought ~*tRuE LoVe*~ really didn’t exist.
Over It Meter: Both JT and Brit have clearly moved on, so we should too. But they get 2 rain GIFs only because they were iconic.
2 out of 5 Notebook Rain Kisses
Ryan Phillippe and Reese Witherspoon
BAEs for: 7 years of marriage
OTP Moment(s): Cruel Intentions
Why are we upset: Cruel Intentions was one of the best cult movies of our generation. I remember secretly going to see it with my friend, whose dad bought the tickets for us because it was rated R and we weren’t 17 yet. I think I told my parents I was going to see Robin Williams’ What Dreams May Come. Anyways, Reese and Ryan were like the younger version of Jen and Brad, and we were rooting for them because their onscreen love was real offscreen too.
Over It Meter: The best part about them as a couple is their two adorable kids, including Reese’s doppelganger Ava. It’s clear they were just really young when they got married, and Reese has another cute kid with her hubs while Ryan has another kid with the girl from Pitch Perfect.
Why are we upset: This is so cliche, but Rent is one of my all-time favorite musicals, and I spent a lot of my youth listening to the OBC (Original Broadway Cast, for you non-nerds) soundtrack. When I found out that these two met, fell in love, and got married all because of the show, it made me love them even more. I was working when the news of their divorce dropped, and I had to compose my emotions for a few minutes before writing it up because I was THAT emotionally attached to these idiots.
Why are we upset: Obviously The Notebook is considered one of the best romantic films in recent history, and the onscreen/offscreen love story between Ryan and Rachel just made it that much better. We’re gonna dismiss the fact they may not have gotten along on set and just remember that they made an amazing couple. But that Best Kiss tho.
Over It Meter: This would be 5, except he has a baby with Eva Mendes now, so I guess that trumps this reunion.
Why are we upset: Oh man. This one hurt. This one hurt real bad. If you’re new to our blog, Amy is deity around here, and just one of the many reasons we love her so much is because, as you know, she’s funny. Will is equally hilarious and can actually keep up with Poehler in the comedy department (watch that Blades of Glory clip). They were up there with like, Stiller and Meara or Lucy and Desi (I just picked refs for 70 year olds). When they announced their separation, I was much like those Twitter users, declaring LOVE IS DEAD. But in the end, like Jennifer Aniston before her, we just want Amy to be happy.
Over It Meter: Amy started dating Nick Kroll about a year after separating from Will, and at the time, I thought it was a downgrade, but I’ve really come to like their relationship, and where she’s at in her life in general – with or without a man. So she and Will get:
When Hillary Clinton officially announced her candidacy, I was 97% excited and 3% bummed. That 3% was because I knew that from this point onward, we were in for journalistic masterpieces like Pantsuit Watch 2016. At this weekend’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner, Cecily Strong solved that problem once and for all:
It should go without saying that a public figure’s appearance is not news – unless she makes it news. One time when that happens is on the red carpet: part of the deal is that celebrities help promote their designers by mentioning who they’re wearing. We’ll be the first to admit that there’s a home for fashion commentary online – we love outfits so much that we have a post category called Outfit Girl, after all. But what would it look like if journalists paid the barest attention to fashion – just the facts – then switched over to the stuff that really matters? Let’s try it out with the top looks from the White House Correspondent’s dinner.
Michelle Obama is a Harvard-educated lawyer wearing a metallic silver dress by Zac Posen. Her Let’s Move! campaign endeavors to reverse the childhood obesity epidemic in the U.S. by promoting exercise and a healthy diet. She has publicly backed economic stimulus packages, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay act, and LGBT equality, and has made a number of diplomatic trips in the capacity of First Lady. It is an unpaid position, and her hair looks awesome curly.
Cecily Strong made her SNL debut at the age of 28, and quickly gained popularity for her off-the-wall characters like the Girl You Wish You Hadn’t Started A Conversation With At A Party. Strong has a BFA in fine arts from CalArts and will be a Ghostbuster next year. This year she served as host of the White House Correspondent’s Dinner, and her appearance was so hilarious that you should just watch the whole thing here. You can locate the funniest jokes by finding which ones nobody laughs at because they’re not sure if they’re allowed to. Here she is in a black and purple gown by J.Mendel and some strong eye makeup, mere hours before absolutely killing it in front of Washington and Hollywood elite.
Gina Rodriguez is the Golden Globe-winning star of Jane The Virgin, and she used her Globes acceptance speech to express thanks to the Latino community and call out the need for more, and more varied, representation of Latinos in the media. Rodriguez said “This award is so much more than myself, it represents a culture that wants to see themselves as heroes […] My father used to tell me to say every morning, ‘Today is going to be a great day. I can and I will.’ Well, Dad — Today is a great day. I can and I did.” At the White House Correspondents’ dinner, Rodriguez wore a rose-colored Gustav Cadile gown.
Idina Menzel is a Tony-winning actress who has also appeared on film and in television, but you may know her best as the voice of Elsa in Frozen … or as Maureen from Rent or Elphaba from Wicked; I guess that depends on your demographic. In addition to her impressive list of stage credits, Menzel created the A BroaderWay Foundation with then-husband Taye Diggs to support disadvantaged youth in the arts. At the WHCD, Menzel sported blonder-than-usual hair, perfect for her upcoming summer-long world tour. She wore a Monique Lhuillier gown; clutch is by Judith Leiber and jewels are by Jacob & Co.
Lucy Liu, an actress known for her roles in Ally McBeal, Southland and Elementary, is also an accomplished visual artist who is fluent in Mandarin. Liu has worked to spread knowledge about human trafficking, as well as serving as a spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign. Here she is discussing the importance of representation in television:
Also, that sparkly gown is to die for.
This sequin gown by Donna Karan is reminiscent of Jane Fonda’s costumes in her breakout role in the 1968 film Barbarella. Since then, Fonda has won two Oscars and built an exercise video empire which – speaking of outfits – popularized that 80s aerobic gear that looks like nothing so much as a full-body wedgie. After sparking controversy for opposing the Vietnam War and supporting the Black Panthers, Fonda’s activism efforts have included establishing the Jane Fonda Center for Adolescent Reproductive Health at Emory University and participating in anti-Iraq War protests.
It’s been a rough couple months for Ashley Judd on the internet, so first something positive: she looks fantastic in this Badgley Mischka gown. Missed the online controversy? After posting some rather innocuous tweets in support of her alma mater’s basketball team – the Kentucky Wildcats – Judd faced a deluge of vulgar and threatening messages from mean-spirited trolls. As people who write stuff on the internet, we wouldn’t wish this kind of attack on anybody. However, Judd has spoken out on the inadequacies of platforms like Twitter in dealing with threats, sparking a discussion of how scary and upsetting online bullying can be – and this high-profile commentary just might help change things for the better. This isn’t the only cause Judd supports: she is on the board of directors of YouthAIDS and the Leadership Council of the International Center for Research on Women.
On Friday Night Lights, Connie Britton played the fantastic Tami Taylor, my favorite Texan I’m not related to. In real life, Britton is a Dartmouth grad with a resume including television (FNL, Nashville), theater, and film. Outside of her day job, she is a goodwill ambassador with the United Nations Development Programme. Gown by Halston Heritage.
If you don’t know who Laverne Cox is, that means you haven’t seen Orange Is The New Black – so first things first, queue it up on Netflix and you won’t regret it. Cox, a graduate of Marymount Manhattan College, was the first openly transgender person to be nominated for an acting Emmy. She has participated in a number of interviews and documentaries to promote understanding and dispel misconceptions about trans people, and speaking of visibility, will you look at her in this silver Ines Di Santo gown?
Barack Obama, best known as the President Of The United States, is wearing a classic black tux with a bow tie and a flash of white pocket square. Shirt buttons are a dark contrast – mother of pearl, perhaps? – and the lapel is accessorized with a Tiny American Flag Pin. When he isn’t dazzling crowds with red-carpet panache, President Obama is expanding Americans’ access to health care through the Affordable Care Act, tackling financial reform with the passage of the Dodd-Frank act, shoring up the post-recession economy with economic stimuli, and Obama still has time to raise two teenagers and play the occasional pickup game with his Washington buds.
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.
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.
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!