Connie Britton profile

Tami Taylor is the best goldang woman there is and if Connie Britton is even half the woman, she’s the best goldang woman there is, too, and if you disagree, you can go to hell.

“Friday Night Lights” turned Britton into something of an icon, a 40-something sex symbol and role model at the center of a critically acclaimed show (albeit one that was never a ratings smash). These days, the Internet is crowded with blog posts celebrating her exemplary television marriage, her maternal wisdom, the sheer amazingness of her hair. Britton, now 45, seemed to have emerged in her prime, redefining, in the process, what an actress’s prime exactly is. “Jerry Maguire” may have been the best thing that never happened to her.
[…}
Britton, who was briefly married right out of college, is single now, but she is usually dating someone. “In my experience of watching Connie Britton’s dating life, it has not been Connie getting beaten out by 25-year-old girls, let’s leave it at that,” says the producer Sarah Aubrey, a friend. If Britton bristles at characterizations of a 40-year-old woman as losing her appeal, it’s because she thinks those assumptions are off-base. “Because frankly I’ve had a different experience, as a single woman,” she said. “Younger men and all that.” It’s not that she has a particular pattern of dating younger men, she clarified. “Let’s put it this way: The older you get, the easier it is to date younger men.” She laughed. “There are more of them.”

Connie Britton profile

Jerry Seinfeld profile

Big long Jerry Seinfeld profile in the NYTimes Magazine. It’s great, especially if you’re a fan of Seinfeld, and there’s a bunch of different parts that focus on Seinfeld’s quirks, but I liked this part about why he needs to do standup.

When he can’t tinker, he grows anxious. “If I don’t do a set in two weeks, I feel it,” he said. “I read an article a few years ago that said when you practice a sport a lot, you literally become a broadband: the nerve pathway in your brain contains a lot more information. As soon as you stop practicing, the pathway begins shrinking back down. Reading that changed my life. I used to wonder, Why am I doing these sets, getting on a stage? Don’t I know how to do this already? The answer is no. You must keep doing it. The broadband starts to narrow the moment you stop.”

Jerry Seinfeld profile

Michael K. Williams profile

Michael K. Williams, best known as Omar on The Wire, discusses his past as a cocaine addict, a story that didn’t necessarily need to be told.

But why is he telling his story now? Why fess up when most of the world hadn’t found out and his career is peaking again on “Boardwalk Empire”? Somehow, after each coke binge, he cleaned up, showed up and knocked off some of the most powerful scenes on TV. He never blew an acting call. There were no rumors about missed table reads, no whispers among directors about mysterious “sick days.” So, this is a story that didn’t have to be told — or did it?

“I thought, ‘Why me? Why did I get spared?’ I should’ve been dead,” Williams says. “I have the scars. I’ve stuck my head in the lion’s mouth. Obviously, God saved me for a purpose. So, I decided to get clean and then come clean. I’m hoping I can reach that one person.”

Michael K. Williams profile

Alec Baldwin articles

NewImage Pic via Hamptons Magazine.

I noticed two long Alec Baldwin profiles pop up in the last month so I figured I’d put them in a post. Then I figured I’d try to find all the Alec Baldwin profiles, interviews, and longreads I could. Here are those two new stories, in Vanity Fair and Men’s Journal, along with all the others I found. I couldn’t find the full text of his Playboy interview, and I was surprised not to find any profiles in Esquire or GQ. If you find them or anything I missed, let me know.

Baldwin on the cover of the August, 2012 Vanity Fair.

As a college junior, Baldwin lost an election for student-association president. He learned, he now says, “when you draw the posters, draw more neatly.” As his political passion waned, his dramatic passion waxed: all those years of hamming it up at home began to exert a pull. Manhattan may have been a place that cost money, but as a teenager Baldwin had made it into town often enough to become acquainted with the theater. He vividly recalls a performance from his first Broadway show—John Cullum singing in the musical Shenandoah: “I’ll never forget watching a man onstage do that, a man move like that, and then the whole audience—I looked to the right of me, I looked to the left of me, the light in people’s faces … ” He was accepted into the drama program at New York University, and, on the long car ride from Washington to New York, Baldwin asked his father, who “wasn’t a chatty guy,” if the decision to transfer had been the right one. The answer was a question: “Do you have the things it takes to be a good actor?,” which the elder Baldwin went on to define as, above all, intelligence, ultimately declaring that he thought his son did indeed have what it took.

Baldwin in the July, 2012 Men’s Journal:

Though these days Alec Baldwin is probably best known as a television comedian, he remains a movie guy at heart. In his home screening room, there is a no-phone rule. You watch the movie straight through, without interruption, and the world goes away. As a young actor, like all of his peers, he wanted to be Brando, “in the back seat of that car with Rod Steiger” (he’s referring to the famous “I coulda been a contender” scene from On the Waterfront) or Pacino, whose career he obsessively studied, watching classics like Serpico and even misfires like Bobby Deerfield dozens and dozens of times. Now, though, looking back, Baldwin wishes he’d been more like William Holden – Baldwin says Bill Holden – who might not have reached the outer bounds of acting virtuosity, but who had perfect pitch when it came to both dramas and comedies, and was such a charming leading man, in classics like Sunset Boulevard, Stalag 17, Network, The Wild Bunch, and Sabrina, that to Baldwin’s mind he certainly “reached the outer bounds of movie stardom.”

Here are the other long reads I found.
October, 1989. Interview Magazine.
April, 1998. Slate.
March, 2004. The Guardian.
April, 2006. Elle.
March, 2008. The Advocate.
June, 2008. The Guardian.
September, 2008. The New Yorker.
March, 2009. Departures.
November, 2009. Elle.
December, 2009. New York Times.
December, 2009. Men’s Journal.
March, 2010. Vanity Fair.
June, 2012. Fresh Air.
July, 2012. New York Times.
July, 2012. New York Times (VOWS!!!).

And the transcripts from 3 cool interviews on Baldwin’s podcast, Here’s the Thing. Chris Rock, Lorne Michaels, David Letterman.

Alec Baldwin articles

David Frum profile

Two things I didn’t know about David Frum, the conservative Republican who has come under fire from his own party for writing critically about them: He’s Canadian and his mother was a famous liberal.

As nearly all Canadians, but basically zero Americans, are well aware, Frum is the son of a famous liberal and feminist icon, Barbara Frum. When he gained notoriety as a right-winger in the late 1980s, a nation of people to our north were shocked, and the more liberal half of them were scandalized—astonished that he could be so unworthy of his heritage. Frum has spent a lifetime proving them right, trying to sell them on some of our worst free-market ideas, such as less support for higher education, and pushing the United States into wars of which they disapproved. Twenty years after his mother’s death, it could be that he is at last saying, if not “I’m sorry,” then at the very least “I remember.”

David Frum profile

Flowery writing about a pornography actor

Wells Tower spent a week with porn star James Deen, and the resulting profile is interesting and full of flowery descriptions.

To wit:
“There’s no more ambient prurience than you’d find at an ad shoot for Windex.”
“He is not the traditional porno man, no overbulked squat-thruster spray-broasted from the Darque Tan booth.”
“That Deen’s very ordinariness is somehow a virtue in the industry is, one could argue, a symptom of pornography’s journey from unsanitary movie theaters and paper-windowed bookstores to every computer screen the free world over.”

Flowery writing about a pornography actor

Bob Iger profile

Long profile of Disney CEO and Chairman Bob Iger in Forbes. The part about Disney trying to get into China was especially interesting.

The fact that Iger is spending 2 1⁄2 hours reviewing everything from landscaping to lighting tells you just how important Shanghai Disney is for him and for the company. “This is a big deal,” he says. “The park is not a movie that comes and goes if you miss or fail. This is going to stand there forever.” Shanghai Disney, a joint venture between Disney and Shanghai Shendi Group, with Disney owning 43%, will open at the end of 2015 and serve as a doorway to more than 1 billion consumers.

Making it in China is tough. Disney’s Hong Kong resort lost money for years after it opened in 2005; it’s now close to breaking even. But Disney has an advantage over other Western companies. On a 2010 trip to China, I visited two homes — one a high-rise apartment in Shanghai, the other a peasant’s home near Mongolia. The two living areas had just one thing in common: a stencil of Mickey Mouse on the wall.

A huge part of Iger’s global expansion strategy has been its use of the Disney Channel to pry open previously closed markets. In 17 years it has expanded into 167 countries, including, most recently, Russia. But because of foreign ownership restrictions, Disney has to use other means in China, such as a new partnership with Tencent, the Chinese Internet company, to train local animators. Another creative idea was the 2008 rollout of Disney English, an English language school for kids that now has 33 locations in China. These high-tech centers have animated whiteboards and lots of friendly Disney songs and music. It’s brilliant, if insidious: Get kids to use the Disney characters to study English.

Bob Iger profile

Bill Murray links

//www.facebook.com/plugins/like.php?href=http%3A%2F%2Fwww.unlikelywords.com%2F2012%2F06%2F04%2Fbill-murray-links%2F&send=false&layout=standard&width=450&show_faces=false&action=like&colorscheme=light&font&height=35&appId=174118026001381

There’s a Bill Murray interview in the latest Esquire that has some good stuff. There’s also a few parts that should have been cut.

I’m not trying to be coy. It’s just practical for me. When the phone started ringing too many times, I had to take it back to what I can handle. I take my chances on a job or a person as opposed to a situation. I don’t like to have a situation placed over my head.

As a bonus, here’s Raab’s big profile of Murray from 2004 where he talks about not enjoying the making of Steve Zissou:

“A fireplace.” Murray sounds sardonic; I’m unsure if he’s joshing about the fireplace. He spent five months in Italy this past winter making The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou, due out this Christmas, his third film with director Wes Anderson. Apparently, fireplace or no, it wasn’t fun, at least for Mr. Bill. All the action takes place on a boat–Murray’s character, Steve Zissou, is a Jacques Cousteau type seeking to avenge his partner’s death by shark–but Murray won’t discuss the awful details.

“It’s like talkin’ about war stories,” he says. “I can’t even think about it. My impression of Italy before doing this job was that it’s one of the greatest, most beautiful places in the world. After this job, if you say ‘Italy’ to me, it’s like a whole lotta cockroaches in one room–you don’t know what to deal with first. It was by far the hardest job I’ve ever had, and I always work hard. I work the same hard on all of ’em. But this one–I’ve been kidding about it, saying they almost broke me, and they may have and I just don’t know it yet.”

Well, I say, I’m sure it’s gonna turn out to be a good–

“God damn it,” Murray snarls, “the movie better be the greatest movie ever made. If it’s not, I’m gonna kill Anderson. He’s a dead man. If it’s not the greatest movie ever made, or in the top ten, he may as well just move to China and change his name to Chin, and he better get himself a small room in a small town–and even then, I’ll hunt him down.”

And then because I love you all very much and I was bored yesterday, I went looking for as many Bill Murray articles as I could find. It was hard to find the articles, if any written about him in the 80s and 90s, I think because it’s only been since about Lost in Translation that he’s gotten the current level of respect. Even still, I was surprised not to find longread profile pieces on him in Vanity Fair, NY Times Magazine, etc.

August, 1984. Bill Murray and John Byrum. Rolling Stone
November, 1988. The Rumpled Anarchy of Bill Murray. New York Times
July, 1990 Bill Murray. “Quick Change” artist. rogerebert.com
February, 1993. Groundhog Day Review. NYTimes.com
January, 1999. A conversation with actor Bill Murray. Charlie Rose
February, 2001. Bill Murray. Salon.com
December, 2004. Life enigmatic with Bill Murray. USA Today
December, 2004. Never Out Of His Depth. Washington Post
February, 2005. Shotgun Golf with Bill Murray. ESPN
October, 2005. Pearce meets Bill Murray. The Guardian
June 2010. Bill Murray: The Man Who Knew Too Much. BlackBook
July, 2010. Bill Murray: The Curious Case of Hollywood’s White Whale. EW.com
July, 2010. Bill Murray. The Moviefone Blog
August, 2010. Bill Murray Is Ready To See You Now. GQ

Bill Murray links

Super bugs

This article about Craig Venter trying to bio-engineer organisms to do stuff, like clean up pollution or make fuel, is pretty fascinating. It also mentions the word ‘fart’ in the first paragraph and had me looking through the New York Times archives for early mentions of the word (the mentions seem to be all abbreviations or typos until the 1970s).

When I think for too long about the future, I sometimes get depressed, but these bugs could be a solution if they can get worked out in time.

The appeal of biological machinery is manifold. For one thing, because organisms reproduce, they can generate not only their target product but also more factories to do the same. Then too, microbes use novel fuel. Chances are, unless you’ve slipped off the grid, virtually every machine you own, from your iPhone to your toaster oven, depends on burning fossil fuels to work. Even if you have slipped off the grid, manufacturing those devices required massive carbon emissions. This is not necessarily the case for biomachinery. A custom organism could produce the same plastic or metal as an industrial plant while feeding on the compounds in pollution or the energy of the sun.

And here’s another article about super bugs, this time genetically modified mosquitoes bred to pass down genes that makes the offspring self-destruct (they couldn’t say die?) shortly after hatching.

Doyle’s solution? To move ahead with a controversial experiment that has been in the works since before he arrived: importing and releasing millions of Aedes aegypti mosquitoes that have been genetically modified in the labs of a British biotech firm called Oxitec. These minute marvels of science are tweaked to pass down a gene that causes their progeny to self-destruct soon after hatching. Only males would be released; theoretically, they would breed with normal females and spawn offspring that keel over and die just before adulthood. The dengue-spreading population would collapse generation by generation.

Super bugs

The case against Stan Lee

This is a strange one. Alex Pappademas goes to meet Stan Lee with the implied intention of raking him over the coals for the injustice done to Jack Kirby, Stan Lee’s co-creator of The Avengers, X-Men, and Fantastic Four, among others. The thing is, it doesn’t seem like Pappademas is passionate about comics, in one way or another (if he mentioned his feelings in the piece, I missed it). And after doing a fairly thorough job making the case against Lee, he lets him off the hook in the 10 minute interview. Still an interesting read.

On the other hand, I can’t conceive of any scenario in which ambushing and pissing off a man who’ll turn 90 in December will make me feel awesome. Stan has no power. He’s a pensioner whose job is to travel around walking red carpets and telling people he approves of movies other people have made based on comics he wrote in the ’60s. If Stan suing Marvel 10 years ago was like Colonel Sanders suing Kentucky Fried Chicken, confronting Stan in 2012 about the injustice done to Jack Kirby by Marvel would be like grilling Mr. Peanut about the business practices of Kraft Foods.

The case against Stan Lee