Tagged: Celebs Toggle Comment Threads | Keyboard Shortcuts

  • Jeff Somers 1:52 pm on 2017/03/29 Permalink
    Tags: , , , Celebs, , , , truth teller   

    In Nevertheless, Alec Baldwin Makes His Brand Brutal Honesty 

    On the third page of Alec Baldwin’s unvarnished new memoir, Nevertheless, he startles you with this: “I’m not actually writing this book to discuss my work, my opinions, or my life…I’m writing it because I was paid to write it.” That’s all the heads up you get that this isn’t your typical memoir. Yes, Baldwin does discuss his opinions, his work, and his life, but where memoirs often selectively reveal details designed to support a “branded” version of the author, Baldwin barrels through stories about his life with a raw intensity that really is “warts and all.” It’s a fascinating ride through a fascinating life and brain, and as you read you slowly begin to realize Baldwin isn’t hiding anything—nothing is off limits, even when it doesn’t make the revered actor look great.

    Childhood Miseries
    His statement about writing the book for money prefaces a lengthy section about his childhood growing up on Long Island, where his family’s continual lack of money caused immense stress in his home life. Baldwin’s descriptions of his childhood and teenage years are alternately heartbreaking and surprising. He describes his difficult early relationship with his mother, who struggled to accept the path her life took and an increasingly distant husband, and his complex relationship with his father, who was often shut off from his family emotionally. He talks about his early realization that he needed to earn money in order to do the things he wanted, and how that shaped—and harmed—his acting career. Most remarkably, he talks about going through his teenage years in a sort of haze, with almost zero memory of high school, of football practices, of anything.

    His Career
    Baldwin is compulsively self-deprecating about his skills as an actor. He frequently describes costars as brilliant and awe-inspiring, while considering his own work to be competent at best—and usually elevated by the amazing people around him. His acting career almost seems to have happened largely by accident; he was offered a role in a soap opera without even really trying, got an agent as a result, and within a few years is in California was being offered development deals by TV networks. Baldwin’s open about his insecurities—and about the bad decisions he made, largely for paychecks, that he now believes helped kill his chances to be a leading man. It’s rare for a hugely successful celebrity to admit they have so many regrets, and Baldwin’s honesty is thrilling.

    Inside Baseball
    Baldwin walks us through some of the more exciting moments in his professional career, too. He discusses being pushed out of the Jack Ryan movies after The Hunt for Red October, describing how he was outmaneuvered by a studio that wanted Harrison Ford’s box office pull (and Baldwin’s description of Ford is hilariously insulting). He also discusses the time he was sued by the studio while making the film The Edge with Anthony Hopkins, and his experience at Kim Basinger’s side when she was sued for breach of contract over Boxing Helena. And peppered between those big stories are a hundred smaller anecdotes—about working with specific people and the often dismaying day to day business of working in film, television, and theater. Through it all Baldwin is remarkably generous—most of his collaborators are described in glowing terms, and he falls in love with every other actor, actress, producer, or writer he meets. Baldwin name-checks plenty of below-the-line folks who are often forgotten in memoirs like this one, and doesn’t shy away from telling stories about producers who came on to him when he was a young actor, or giving us a brutally depressing blow-by-blow about the time he overdosed on cocaine and his struggles with sobriety ever since. He digs into his public mistakes, from the infamous voicemail he left his daughter, Ireland, to his often violent run-ins with photographers and tabloid reporters. In each, he offers explanations, but no excuses.

    The Big Picture
    Every life is a matrix of relationships, and Baldwin goes all in on both his marriage to Kim Basinger and where he thinks it went wrong, and touches on the bitter divorce battle that ensued and his positions on father’s rights and how he thinks the modern court system is broken—but only touches on them, because he has gone into much greater (and equally honest) detail on both in his book A Promise to Ourselves. He’s also surprisingly candid about his political stance and aspirations, referring several times to his desire early in life to go into politics, and admitting that he still contemplates running for office and has been approached in the past, most notably about running for mayor of New York City.

    Most remarkably, Baldwin uses one of his book’s last chapters to go into detail about his political beliefs and his experiences as an activist, a fundraiser, and an operative over the last few decades—a chapter that seems to be heading toward a major revelation as he builds the case that he has been plugged-in and politically active. Then he pulls back to ruefully discuss the most recent election and how he reacted to it. His concluding chapters discuss second chances, because Alec Baldwin is clearly a man who understands that he’s made many mistakes, and isn’t completely certain he deserves another shot.

    That sort of brutal honesty makes this one of the most remarkable memoirs you’ll read. Read it for the stories about working with Al Pacino, read it for the observations about the art of acting, or just read it for the hilarious joke that gives the book its title, or to find out what music will be played at Alec Baldwin’s funeral.

    Nevertheless hits shelves April 4, and is available for pre-order now.

    The post In Nevertheless, Alec Baldwin Makes His Brand Brutal Honesty appeared first on Barnes & Noble Reads.

  • Whitney Collins 9:00 pm on 2016/08/18 Permalink
    Tags: , , , Celebs, , , , , , , tell-alls   

    Honest, Tender, Normal, Dark: 4 Ways Amy Schumer’s New Memoir Is Not What You’d Expect 

    The inimitable Amy Schumer, known for her brash and unabashed standup comedy (as well as her Emmy-winning show Inside Amy Schumer and Hollywood blockbuster Trainwreck), has published a memoir, and it’s not what you’d expect. Yes, it’s full of humor and, yes, Schumer has plenty to say about sex, but The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo surprises readers by introducing them to an Amy fans and critics have never met. Schumer’s autobiography reveals a woman both more complex and more ordinary than the persona seen on stage and screen. Here are four ways The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo will astound you.

    It’s Honest
    Anyone familiar with Amy Schumer’s standup knows she doesn’t sugarcoat her intimate escapades or her love of pasta with parmesan cheese. But beyond the frankness of her sex life and food cravings, audiences have never been privy to her world laid bare. In The Girl with the Lower Back Tattoo, Amy gets real about her teenage shoplifting habit, her mother’s unorthodox style of discussing the facts of life, and her botched bat mitzvah. She also talks about her family’s financial woes, as well as that time, when she was 9, that she demanded to see a shrink so she could name ALL her fears, specifically earthquakes and getting a tapeworm.

    But one of the funnier instances of honesty in Schumer’s book is her chapter titled “What I Want People To Say At My Funeral.” This gem of a section humanizes superstar Schumer and shows how she wants others to see her (as endlessly generous), how she hopes to be remembered (as making everyone feel better), and how she’d liked to be honored (guests should bring pasta dishes to the funeral and pour them into her coffin).

    It’s Normal
    Amy Schumer is no diva; she’s just your average self-described “introverted,” “half-Jew,” “Long Island trash receptacle” who struggles with things regular people struggle with: making small talk, enduring family gatherings, sitting through long meetings, and managing weight gain, bad hair, and trying to keep it real. Wealth is novel to her (she has an entire chapter “On Being New Money”), and she doesn’t take her success for granted. In fact, she gives lots of her income away, sometimes tipping outrageously, sometimes taking her sister to Europe, sometimes giving generously to families affected by PTSD.

    Amy has also had a lot of everyday jobs. She’s been a bartender at a lesbian bar, a fry cook, a hot dog seller, a barbershop sweeper, a steakhouse server, a basketball referee, and a fitness instructor, so Hollywood fame is still something of a shock. All that said, the best instances of Schumer’s normal-ness shine through in the old diary excerpts sprinkled (and hilariously footnoted) throughout the book. If you weren’t convinced of Schumer’s girl-next-door status, one read of her 1994-era journal entry and you’ll be convinced.

    It’s Dark
    It’s easy to think famous folks, particularly funny ones, live lives full of sunshine and frivolity, but Schumer’s memoir can go surprisingly and refreshingly dark. For starters, she tells all about her ailing father’s battle with multiple sclerosis. Like the heartbreaking times he publicly soiled himself, the last time she was able to go bodysurfing with him, and how a stem cell advancement brought him to tears. She also dishes on her long history of binge drinking and blackouts, the troubling way she lost her virginity, and how the victims of gun violence have changed her life permanently.

    Most dark is her chapter about Dan, a man who physically and emotionally abused her. Her candidness about domestic violence, and how even strong, outspoken women like herself can become victims, is a compelling and important read. Schumer’s honesty isn’t just unexpected, it could potentially save a life.

    It’s Tender
    Schumer may be known for speaking her mind, telling people off, and pulling the Irish goodbye, but she’s also incredibly loyal and tender. In her memoir, she consistently gushes over her brother and sister and niece, clearly adores her Inside Amy Schumer staff and assistants, and waxes wistful about her childhood and parents and high school friends. She also devotes an entire (outrageously funny) chapter to her ugly stuffed animal collection, and shares cherished memories of the time she spent working at a summer camp for people with special needs.

    Schumer is able to get sweet without being sappy; she’s able to show us her soft side without compromising her grit. And we get to see this best in a section titled “Things That Make Me Happy.” We won’t pull a full spoiler here, just leaving you with a small sampling of things that make Amy not just joyful, but more accessible to her fans, like: “My toddler niece laughing or doing pretty much anything.” “Riding a horse.” “Hearing my brother Jason play his horn.” “Scones.” “Smoked salmon.” “Telling a new joke that I’m excited about onstage, even if it doesn’t do well,” because “telling a new joke never gets old.”

  • Ginni Chen 9:00 pm on 2016/05/31 Permalink
    Tags: , Celebs, eddie huang, foodie reads, , ,   

    The 10 Wisest Lines from Author-Chef Eddie Huang’s Double Cup Love 

    There are some books you just have to read twice in a row. The first time, you tear through the pages because you’re eager to find out what comes next. You know you’re missing some scenic moments and some nuggets of wisdom, but you’re having too much fun to pause and you just gotta find out what happens. The second time, you take your time with every word and you unpack every paragraph.  It’s during that second read, when you already know where the narrative is headed, that you have the luxury to digest all the gems of knowledge you missed the first time.

    Double Cup Love is one of those books. It’s the follow-up to Eddie Huang’s first memoir, Fresh Off the Boat, a bestseller that inspired the ABC sitcom of the same name. While Fresh Off the Boat is about where you’re from and where you get your start, Double Cup Love is about how that informs where you’re going, and how to continually define yourself.  It flies by the first time through, an uproariously funny ride that takes you from New York to Orlando to China to Scranton. But there’s a lot of wisdom dropped along the way, shared in Huang’s usual fast-paced witty way, and you won’t want to miss any of it.

    From my second read, here are some favorite Eddie Huang-isms on love, food, and self-discovery:

    1. “The key to being single in New York is recognizing that no one is really inviting you anywhere. No one is that interested in you, they just need a friend right now, and you really shouldn’t catch feelings.”
    2. “Effortless control is maddeningly attractive.”
    3. “When it’s done right, cooking is art in the most accessible, immediate, and satisfying way. Anyone can do it, anyone can appreciate it, and it’s extremely democratic.”
    4. “What does everyone want Sunday, Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday once they move out of their parents’ home? Mom’s food. That’s what meat and three is: the ten-dollar reenactment of your mother’s table. In this way, cooks are surrogate moms.”
    5. “When all else fails in romance, do people just give up and marry the manifestation of their favorite restaurant?”
    6. “For me, cooking has always been about ideas and techniques, not recipes.”
    7. “No one or no thing can speak for you, you have to speak for yourself.”
    8. “People talk about escape, but I don’t believe in traveling for the purpose of forgetting. I travel to find myself again.”
    9. “I don’t believe in country. I don’t believe in race. But I do believe in the power of place.”
    10. “It isn’t acceptance that extinguishes us, instead, it awakes us. And even if love doesn’t last, acceptance gives us new beginnings.”

    And last but not least, an Eddie Huang quote for the worst of situations: “Life is about intentions. I am man; I intend to step on this Cheez-it!”

    You’re just going to have to read the book to get that one.

    Double Cup Love is on sale now.

  • Jeff Somers 8:37 pm on 2016/04/26 Permalink
    Tags: Beyonce, , Celebs, hail to the queen, ,   

    Hey, Beyoncé Fans, Here’s Your Lemonade Reading List 

    With the release of her “visual album” Lemonade, Beyoncé Knowles-Carter has solidified her position as one of the greatest artists in modern times. No one else is operating at her level, combining on-point musical instincts and talent with a political and emotional awareness that’s almost supernatural. No one else combines catchy, golden pop hooks with lyrics that are confrontational, dense with allusion, and frequently hilarious and moving. And no one else packs as much import into both the music and visuals of her work.

    In fact, there’s so much going on in Beyoncé’s Lemonade, both visually and sonically, that it’s one of those artistic expressions that should have everyone racing to the nearest bookstore in order to bone up on everything Bey just referenced, especially if it’s outside your experience. The following 10 books only scratch the surface of what’s going on in Lemonade, but they’re a start.

    On Infidelity and Jay-Z: Becoming Beyoncé, by J. Randy Taraborelli
    Out of the gate, the hot take on Lemonade is that it’s detailing Beyoncé’s struggles with a troubled marriage and a partner’s infidelity—the album even follows a clear dramatic structure, beginning with suspicion and following through with anger, bitterness, and, ultimately, resignation and fragile optimism for the future. But is it that personal and obvious? Reading about Beyoncé’s family and her own past, there are many other possible sources of inspiration. Artists don’t necessarily write directly from what’s happening to them in the moment; often they dig back into their past in order to find inspiration. Reading about how Bey became Bey might offer some extra insight into what Lemonade is actually about. Or maybe it’s totally Jay-Z. It’s totally Jay-Z, isn’t it?

    The Quotes: Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth, by Warsan Shire
    Beyoncé quotes from Kenyan-born Somali-British poet Warsan Shire throughout the film. Far from a sheltered poet living and working from an ivory tower, Shire exhibits a great sense of humor, loves trashy television, and is as likely to quote a rap song as a classic poem, and has been carving out a heavyweight rep as a modern poet well worth paying attention to. Her 2013 book Teaching My Mother How to Give Birth includes the poem “For Women Who Are Difficult to Love,” which is quoted extensively in the film and thus should be your first stop.

    The Quotes, Part II: Malcom X Speaks, by George Breitman
    Lemonade quotes from one of Malcom X’s most famous speeches, delivered in 1962 and urging black Americans to question “who taught you to hate yourself,” stating, as quoted in the film, “The most disrespected person in America is the black woman. The most unprotected person in America is the black woman. The most neglected person in America is the black woman.” It’s a powerful moment, and a reminder that Malcolm X was an eloquent speaker whose words are still powerful today.

    The Bat: Pipilotti Rist, by Pipilotti Rist
    The “Hold Up” sequence in the film, in which Beyoncé goes on a tear with her bat named Hot Sauce, is likely inspired by a video installation by Pipilotti Rist, created in 1997, called “Ever is Over All.” The original piece is just as jarring and powerful—perhaps more so because it lacks Lemonade’s polish—and knowing a bit more about the art that inspired Knowles will add to your appreciation of the album and film overall.

    The Joke: Secret Societies and Clubs in American History, by Gordon Reavley
    If you’re wondering what Beyoncé means when she growls “Y’all haters corny with that Illuminati mess,” the answer is simple, hilarious, and disturbing all at once: people think she and Jay-Z are part of a worldwide conspiracy, a secret society that runs everything. Whether you’re laughing at the idea or thinking that it explains everything, learning a little more about the many, many secret societies that supposedly run the country and the world is a fun way to dig in a little deeper—and maybe start seeing Illuminati symbols in music videos, too.

    The Subtlest Detail: Make Magazine
    The “Sandcastles” segment opens with a shot of a beautiful bowl that appears to have been repaired, badly. In fact, it’s what’s known as a Kintsugi bowl, a shattered piece of ceramic patched up using gold that makes the repairs very obvious instead of hidden. It’s a Japanese technique designed to prove that repairing something can make it even more beautiful than it was before. There is so much going on with that one image it basically requires that you learn more about Kintsugi. There aren’t many (read: any) books in English on the art, but Make Magazine has written about the technique.

    That Becky with the Good Hair: Every is Italian on Sunday, by Rachael Ray
    The moment Lemonade hit, everyone wanted to know who the Becky with the good hair was, as it was immediately assumed this was who Jay-Z had an affair with. Suspicion fell on designer Rachel Roy due to an ill-advised tweet she sent out, and, hilariously, a lot of people confused her with celebrity chef Rachael Ray, who had to endure some hilariously misinformed grief. Throw Rachael Ray a bone and buy one of her books to make up for her fifteen seconds of infamy.

    That Spirit Guide: I Put a Spell on You, by Nina Simone
    At one point in the film you can hear Nina Simone singing in the background, and while it’s the lightest touch of a reference, it’s powerful. Simone remains one of the most fascinating black women in modern times, an incredible artist and a fiercely independent thinker. Simone, frankly, doesn’t get enough attention in general, so use this opportunity to read about her life in her own words, and you’ll find the words, music, and images of Lemonade more deeply shaded as a result.

    That Tone: Literally Anything by Toni Morrison
    If you’re looking for a literary accompaniment to Lemonade, start with Toni Morrison. Morrison’s emotionally powerful stories of love, loss, life, and struggle among black Americans are not only some of the finest novels ever written, they perfectly inform the fiercely emotional and courageous tone of Lemonade, which, among many other things, is about a smart, talented black woman in modern-day America daring to be independent and strong and hurt and insecure. If you’ve never read Morrison before, take this opportunity to get to know her work.

    That Background: Their Eyes Were Watching God, by Zora Neale Hurston
    It’s difficult for modern-day readers, especially those who aren’t people of color, to truly appreciate how amazing this book was when it was published in 1937. Some viewers think they see Hurston’s influence in the visuals and lyrics in Lemonade, and if you read Hurston’s work and watch the film you’ll see why. Hurston wrote frankly about black life in the south and black female sexuality at a time when even the black community was self-censoring such subjects in an effort to combat racist stereotypes, and Beyoncé’s celebration of her own creativity and sexuality can be seen to have a direct line to Hurst’s powerful writing.

    We’re all now living in a Post-Lemonade world. These books will help you get the most out of this incredible work of art, which inspires everyone who sees and listens to it—not to mention finally giving people a reason to sign up for Tidal.

  • Joel Cunningham 5:42 pm on 2015/09/11 Permalink
    Tags: , Celebs, , , , useful tips,   

    Valuable Life Lessons from Mindy Kaling’s Why Not Me? 

    It has been four years since Mindy Kaling shared her insecurities with us in Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me?, a hilarious memoir of her coming-of-age on the comedy scene and her time as a staff writer on The Office. Since then, she’s had a lot more reason to feel confident: she’s gone from cast member and writer on an ensemble show to creating, executive producing, and playing the lead role on her own. The star of The Mindy Project sounds a lot more at ease in her new book, Why Not Me?, because…why not her? Sure, she would probably still rather stay home watching Netflix than attend a Hollywood gala, and no, she’s not in love with her body, despite the attention she gets for being a “curvy” woman on TV. But she’s come a long way, and she’s got some valuable life lessons to share. Here are just a few of them.

    Find your confidence.
    “Confidence is just entitlement. Entitlement has gotten a bad rap because it’s used almost exclusively for the useless children of the rich [and] reality TV stars… But entitlement in and of itself isn’t so bad. Entitlement is simply the belief that you deserve something. Which is great.”

    Find your motivation.
    Having embarked on a 21-day juice cleanse, Mindy needed to keep herself focused: “You will not believe me, but I did not cheat once. I think I was only able to do this because of several highly motivating factors tied to my job: James Franco was going to be on the show and I was going to have to kiss him. Like every heterosexual woman and gay man in the country, I think James Franco is a very mysterious and sexy weirdo.”

    Don’t obsess about your looks—work with what you have.
    “If you’ve got it, flaunt it. And if you don’t got it? Flaunt it. ‘Cause what are we even doing here if we’re not flaunting it?”

    But learn to let go.
    “If I were going to lose weight successfully, I would have to think about what I eat constantly. I cannot imagine a more boring and a more time-consuming obsession… I mean, maybe being in a coma would be more boring, but at least then you’d be free to dream about all your favorite foods.”

    Also, be realistic—you probably can’t pull off the Hunger Games look.
    “If you’re Natalie Dormer, you can take big fashion risks and shave half your head, and it looks good. If you’re a normal person and you try that, you just look like you had recent brain surgery.”

    When in doubt, rely on your support staff.
    Mindy credits the cinematographer on The Mindy Project for making her look glam. Her advice: “Try to befriend a cinematographer and have him or her light you wherever you go.”

    Conquer your fear.
    “I’m the kind of person who becomes silent when I get scared, because I hope Death will not notice me if I am very still and very quiet.”

    Know what you are looking for in a partner.
    “This is the anatomy of a Mindy Kaling crush: just bear a passing resemblance to a fictional romantic trope I like and I will love you forever. We’re all just trying to find the Mark Darcy of our workplace, right?

    Know what strengths you bring to a relationship.
    “I am the kind of person who, if my feelings are unrequited, can completely detatch from someone emotionally if I simply put my mind to it. That’s why I’m always saying I would be a great serial murderer.”

    In the end, the one you’ve got to love is yourself.
    “My secret is: even though I wish I could be thin, and have the ease of lifestyle that I associate with being thin, I don’t wish for it with all of my heart. Because my heart is reserved for way for important things.”

compose new post
next post/next comment
previous post/previous comment
show/hide comments
go to top
go to login
show/hide help