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Short Ribs

Though peevish the few times I ever met him (to be fair, press conferences would bring out the crank in Ghandi), Martin Short has a wide reputation for being one of the kindest and most genuine men in Hollywood. Certainly his warm and witty memoir I Must Say justifies that reputation, with wonderfully insidery details of the North American comedy landscape from the ’70s through today. We’re talking stories about Gilda Radner (his first serious girlfriend), John Candy, John and Jim Belushi, Rick Moranis, Jan Hooks, Steve Martin, Alec Baldwin, Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Goldie Hawn, Larry David, Nora Ephron, Jerry Lewis, Billy Crystal, Will Ferrell, Dan Aykroyd, Elaine May, Carol Burnett, Jerry Lewis, Bernadette Peters, Christopher Guest, Bill Murray, Eugene Levy, Catherine O’Hara, Sammy Davis Jr., Diane Keaton, Tom Hanks (back when he was funny), and Andrea Martin–as well as the origins of every member of his (rubber) band of stock characters. The little girl in me who hijacked every elementary school sleepover with an Ed Grimley impression is especially delighted. Short’s greatest charm is a generosity that extends to himself but doesn’t preclude others. The book is replete with the kind of vignettes you always hope take place in Hollywood, even while stories of film producers snorting coke off B movie starlet’s asses seem more likely. An example:

Mike Nichols was as funny in person as he was on TV in the 1960s. A few years ago David Geffen invited us both onto his spectacular yacht, the Rising Sun. As we sat down to dinner one night, I took in the sight of all David’s guests–each one famous and accomplished–and decided to initiate a game called “Who Has Met Whom?” Surely at least one member of this crowd had met just about any great twentieth century figure you could think of. “Did anyone here ever meet Eleanor Roosevelt?”  Warren Beatty responded, “Actually, I met Eleanor Roosevelt.” From the far end of the table, Mike called out, “Did you fuck her?”

5 Reasons Why TV Is Better for Women

All told, 2014 was not a bad year for women in film, a fact that’s sure to be reflected in upcoming awards nominations.

Reese Witherspoon and Mia Wasikowska blew us away in the travelogues “Wild” and “Tracks,” respectively. Patricia Arquette broke our hearts as the single mother in “Boyhood.” Julianne Moore channeled an Alzheimer’s-stricken professor in the haunting “Still Alice.” Tilda Swinton ruled the school in four films, as did Jessica Chastain. Ava DuVernay dazzled us with the Martin Luther King Jr biopic, “Selma.” Gillian Flynn adapted her bestselling novel Gone Girl for the big screen. Jenny Slate kept us rolling in “Obvious Child,” the funny-as-fuck “abortion comedy” written and directed by Gillian Robespierre. Lake Bell sent up adult women who talk like babies in “In a World,” which she wrote, starred in, and directed. Angelina Jolie directed “Unbroken,” the highly regarded portrait of Louis Zamperini. Amma Asante helmed the historical drama “Belle.” Gia Coppola (yes, Sofia’s niece and Francis’s granddaughter) made an admirable debut with her coming-of-ager, “Palo Alto.” With “Foxcatcher,” “Her,” and “Zero Dark Thirty” independent producer Megan Ellison continued to emerge as Hollywood’s most potent new weapon. And with the rise of girl-empowering Young Adult-centric films like “Divergent” and the “Hunger Games” films, young women were even recognized as a force to be reckoned with at the box office.

That said, despite a recent study revealing that men still dominate the small-screen landscape both on and off screen, even a great year for women in film pales in comparison to any year for women in television. Sure, we could argue that’s because TV is viewed as a domestic medium, harkening back to when ladies allegedly lounged at home with their shows while husbands earned the bacon. But here are five more-evolved reasons why TV is better for women. Continue Reading →

A National Holiday for Julia

August 15 marks Julia Child’s 102nd birthday. That’s hardly a banner anniversary – remember the media celebration two years ago for her centennial? – but Julia Child deserves a red-carpet bonanza every year. Certainly her birthday should be recognized as a national holiday by the food world. If not for the late cookbook author and television host, its media empire wouldn’t exist – at least not in all the glory that it currently enjoys.

Yes, we have Julia to thank for all the Americans who eat something besides TV dinners every night. (The powers-that-be at Swanson may not feel so grateful.) But we also have Julia to thank for the glut of food porn, er, television that comprises an industry unto itself. The entire Food Network should credit Julia as its real founder. Without Julia, there’d likely be no Emeril Lagasse, Jamie Oliver, Tom Colicchio, Barefoot Contessa, or Pioneer Woman in our public eye. There’d probably not even be an Anthony Bourdain or a “Hell’s Kitchen.” (There’d still be a Rachael Ray, though. With her aggressive cheer and predilection for shortcuts and catchphrases, Ray always seems one gelatin mold away from being the new Betty Crocker.) Continue Reading →

"All, everything I understand, I understand only because I love."
― Leo Tolstoy