Category Archives: Magazine

David Sedaris Discusses New Book The Best of Me

Asking an interview subject about their pandemic isolation journey is dangerously close to passé. But for a David Sedaris interview, it’s a requirement: The essayist’s entire brand is built on nonstop international touring, his best material flowing from his travels and his frequent — and often off-color — interactions with his fans. (On his last tour, he drew portraits of readers naked from behind instead of signing their books.) Anyway, his quarantine story: He spent the first part in his apartment in New York before decamping to his North Carolina beach house — dubbed the Sea Section — and then, ultimately, to his homes in the U.K. (Sussex and London), where he’s passed his days maintaining his diary and obsessively checking his Fitbit.

Entertainment Weekly conducted this interview in early August, by late-night (for him) phone call — Sedaris has a strict no-Zoom policy. He paces back and forth in the office of his Sussex home, nearly crossing the 18-mile mark on his daily steps as the clock strikes midnight. Asked for a visual — he’s an infamous clotheshorse — his description goes beyond what could typically be seen in the waist-up frame of a screen: “It looks like I’m wearing a white skirt, but it’s a pair of shorts,” he says. “The legs are so wide, I look like one of those Greek soldiers.”

If it seems like Sedaris, 63, has a very cushy pandemic setup — this bucolic pic was shot at his London abode — he’s more than earned it. Punishing schedule aside, he’s been publishing best-selling books for more than a quarter-century (his first, Barrel Fever, debuted in 1994), and this fall he’s set to release his inaugural greatest-hits collection, The Best of Me. He wrote every day for 15 years before Fever was published (“Most of those days I thought, ‘Wow, I suck’ ”), so he doesn’t take this point in his career lightly. The Best of Me encompasses a wide swath of his past work, from early entries in The New Yorker’s Shouts & Murmurs section to fan-favorite essays like 2000’s “Me Talk Pretty One Day” (in which he recounts taking French-language classes from a merciless teacher) and 2016’s “The Perfect Fit” (about shopping for outrageous clothes in Tokyo).

But that doesn’t mean he’s going to pander to the masses: It’s better you hear it here first that “SantaLand Diaries,” about his stint as a Macy’s elf, is not included. “That might have been other people’s favorite, but it was never even in my top 100,” Sedaris says of the 1992 story that plays on NPR to this day. “It’s what most people know me from, but I’ve kind of moved on — I think the writing is so clunky, even if others don’t see it.”

The Best of Me required far less work than an original book, so the author is already looking to his next one: a second diary compilation (following 2017’s Theft byFinding), expected in late 2021. The pandemic is providing plenty of time to comb through journal entries, triggering as they may be. “In so many of [the entries] I was on tour,” he says. “So even the hotels I was complaining about, it’s like, God, I’d give anything to be back in that shitty hotel.” Much of what Sedaris records in his diary stems from the human contact we all took for granted before our age of quarantine. But he’s finding new ways to drum up material: Recent visits to the grocery store featured the sighting of a shopper without a shirt (or a mask) and a man who told him, “The funniest thing you ever said was that you gave $1,000 to Hillary Clinton.”

And while Sedaris misses the collective laughter that a packed theater provides, he doesn’t miss it enough to get on an Instagram Live or join Twitter: “I just don’t want to live in that world,” he says. “I think it makes me a happy person that I’m not on social media.” It’s a stark contrast to many of today’s authors, who find it crucial to promote their books on every digital platform. But Sedaris sees himself as part of the last generation to have the luxury of getting famous without social media, and he credits his early start on This American Life, when the radio format limited criticism of his work, for his rise: “I feel fortunate to have come up in a time when people didn’t get the opportunity to see the cracks.”

A social media absence shouldn’t be confused for an immunity to public opinion — with every release, a self-imposed pressure to perform at his peak mounts. The Best of Me offers a bit of a reprieve, since everything but the introduction has already been published. “With a normal book, if it wasn’t number one on the New York Times best-seller list, I would berate myself,” he says. “I would still like for it to do well, but I don’t feel its success reflects on me personally.”

There’s no tour this time around, obviously, but Sedaris is getting back to another beloved activity from his old life: shopping. He counts high-end boutiques among his favorite places, and shopkeepers as his personal friends. The author has ventured out to London’s Dover Street Market — he’s a regular — and to Bloomingdale’s, where a fittingly bleak interaction presented itself. “The clerk said, ‘Welcome in,’ ” Sedaris recalls with good-humored disdain. “Civilization as we know it ends, but ‘Welcome in’ survives? I realized I should have been grateful everyday I didn’t have to hear that.” His readers will just have to hope he wrote the whole thing down.

For more from Entertainment Weekly’s Fall Books Special, you can find it on newsstands beginning Sept. 18. There will also be a special edition of the issue at Barnes & Noble stores beginning Sept. 25.

Reprinted from Entertainment Weekly.

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Here Is A First Look Inside Season 2 of The Mandalorian

Baby Yoda was somehow in France — that’s what tipped it. 

It was December 2019. The Mandalorian had been airing for only about a month on the nascent streaming service Disney+ when showrunner Jon Favreau saw an online photo of a large mural halfway across the world. The street art depicted his show’s cherubic, wide-eyed, Force-sensitive character peering solemnly from under a bridge. That was the moment, Favreau says, when he realized his series was becoming a phenomenon: The Mandalorian hadn’t yet aired in France — or anywhere in Europe, for that matter.

“The show wasn’t there!” Favreau says. “Something was going on where people were connecting with the characters, with social media allowing them to see aspects of the show before they even knew what it was.”

Baby Yoda — which Disney has fruitlessly tried to persuade the world to call the Child, as its actual parents are unknown and its species is considered rare and mysterious — was only part of the frenzy. After a slew of recent Star Wars movies were met with fandom reactions that ranged from “Hey, that was fun” (2015’s The Force Awakens) to “Why, exactly?” (2018’s Solo: A Star Wars Story), The Mandalorian’s audience score on Rotten Tomatoes (93 percent “Fresh”) was higher than any live-action Star Wars title since George Lucas’ beloved original trilogy. The show also earned 15 Emmy nominations in July, including a nod for Outstanding Drama Series, a feat that stunned industry insiders. Not too shabby for a show about a hero whose face you cannot see (Pedro Pascal) who is partnered with a kid who doesn’t speak. 

Read more of the Entertainment Weekly article HERE and pickup the new issue this Friday!

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The 25 Greatest Movie Bands of All Time

On October 5th, 1991, the Dublin-based soul band known as the Commitments hit their peak position on the Billboard 200 when they cracked the top 10 to secure the number eight spot on the music chart, wedged between Ozzy Osbourne and Bonnie Raitt. The biggest difference between those two legendary artists and the Irish newcomers? The Commitments were a work of pure fiction — at least, they were originally.

Originally created by writer Roddy Doyle for his 1987 novel of the same name, director Alan Parker brought The Commitments to life on August 14th, 1991 — with a cast of (mostly) musicians who had the acting chops to carry a movie. But those R&B road dogs are hardly alone: From Pitch Perfect‘s a capella champions to the punk Irish preteens of Sing Street, the movies are full of amazingly talented musical artists and groups who we only wish existed in real life.

Rolling Stone counted down the 25 most amazing “movie bands” — those fake metalheads, glam divas, bluegrass crooners and underage rock superstars that have graced the screen, and a few cases, the actual stage. 

Some of them ended up touring (big up Jake and Elwood Blues!); others played their final note the minute they heard “That’s a wrap.” But all of them go to 11. 

Check out the list HERE.

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Al Jaffee, The Longest Working Cartoonist Ever, Retires at 99

Mad artist Al Jaffee, who was known for his “Snappy Answers to Stupid Questions” and Mad fold-in, retired this week at the age of 99. He is the longest working cartoonist in history.

Jaffee began working in comics at Timely and Atlas in the early 1940s, then moved on to Mad in 1955. Nearly 10 years later in ’64, he perfected the fold-in, a process of creating an image with a question or statement that revealed a “hidden” image and statement when the page was folded. Jaffee is known for his versatile ability to create art for everything from superheroes to funny animals.

His retirement was commemorated by Mad with a tribute issue and his final fold-in. The tribute issue will be Mad #14, featuring Jaffee’s work and original tribute content, including art by Mad vet Sergio Aragonées. The special issue is in stores on June 10, 2020.

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Here Is A First Look At Stephen King’s The Stand 

The Man in Black makes his return to the screen, only the world looks a lot different than we remember.

The first photos from CBS All Access miniseries The Stand, a fresh adaptation of Stephen King’s pandemic-apocalypse novel, have arrived with looks at Big Little Lies’ Alexander Skarsgard as demonic hell-raiser Randall Flagg and Whoopi Goldberg as benevolent Mother Abagail, courtesy of Vanity Fair.

Whoopi Goldberg as Mother Abagail

Jovan Adepo as Larry Underwood & Heather Graham as Rita Blakemoor

Owen Teague as Harold Lauder

Owen Teague as Harold Lauder & Odessa Young as Frannie Goldsmith

Alexander Skarsgård as Randall Flagg

Alexander Skarsgård as Randall Flagg & Nat Wolff as Lloyd Henreid

Odessa Young as Frannie Goldsmith

The story of The Stand sees what happens when a virus, a man-made biological weapon that goes out of control, wipes out about 99 percent of the human population. Those that remain are left with the choice to follow their more baser, primordial instincts, or work together to build something good. That’s where Randall and Mother Abagail find themselves in opposite camps.

“[Flagg is] so charming and he’s so handsome, and so powerful — I mean genuinely powerful, able to perform these sort of miracles where he could levitate himself and he has these actual powers,” Taylor Elmore, who showruns the series with Benjamin Cavell, told Vanity Fair. “And yet he needs this adulation and this kind of worship from these people whom he’s summoned to him. He needs to have them make a show all the time of how grateful they are to him.”

Cavell makes the obvious connection to our current reality: “And there’s something fundamentally weak about that. Does it remind you of someone you know?”

Mother Abagail, a 108-year-old prophet faced with doubts, is “very, very righteous and very good. But really flawed I feel,” Goldberg said. “I’ve been fighting with not making her the Magic Negro, because she’s complicated.”

The photos also reveal Odessa Young as Frannie Goldsmith, an expectant mother immune to the disease; Owen Teague as Frannie’s neighbor Harold Lauder; Jovan Adepo as musician Larry Underwood; Heather Graham as former New York socialite Rita Blakemoor; and Nat Wolff as inmate Lloyd Henreid, who’s visited by Flagg in his hour of need.

But then there’s also Henry Zaga as Nick Andros, Amber Heard as Nadine Cross, Greg Kinnear as Glen Bateman, and James Marsden as Stu Redman to look forward to.

“It’s about the fundamental questions of what society owes the individual and what we owe to each other,” Cavell said. “Over the last however-many years, we have sort of taken for granted the structure of democracy. Now, so much of that is being ripped down to the studs. It’s interesting to see a story about people who are rebuilding it from the ground up.”

A premiere date for The Stand has not been announced, though it’s expected to debut on CBS All Access later this year.

Read the full story on Vanity Fair.

Reprinted from Entertainment Weekly

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Even Stephen King Can’t Escape A Quarantine That Feels Like Living In A Stephen King Book

Like everyone, Stephen King is trapped. The author is in Florida, with his wife, Tabby, and his corgi, Molly, trying to stay sane while sheltering in place. Meanwhile, his life’s work seems to be coming to life around him.

People keep comparing the eeriness of the COVID-19 pandemic to the far deadlier one that swept the world in his novel The Stand. They draw parallels between Donald Trump and Greg Stillson, the egomaniacal, world-threatening politician from The Dead Zone. Even the recent rush on grocery stores has vague echoes of The Mist, where shoppers turned against each other while surrounded by unseen threats.

King doesn’t feel good about seeing the worst things he can imagine coming true. He’d rather remain in the realm of the impossible. “It’s like, okay, the worst thing that could happen, in terms of my career, is that somehow, in our society, we’ve cross-pollinated our Greg Stillson with The Stand,” the author told Vanity Fair.

Even he can’t help drawing comparisons. “I’m working on a book, so in the mornings I forget everything and I just do that. I wanted time to work on a book, I got plenty of time,” he said. “I feel like Jack Torrance, for God’s sakes.”

Unlike the father in The Shining, King hasn’t gone mad yet, but he knows that boredom can push anyone to the edge. That’s one reason he and Scribner decided to release his new book, the novella collection If It Bleeds, this month, a few weeks ahead of its planned May debut. But fair warning—King devises an entire new way of destroying the world in one of the stories. (Maybe we can look forward to that too.)

Read more HERE from Vanity Fair.

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HBO Max Acquires Seth Rogen’s Comedy Film, An American Pickle

HBO Max has acquired worldwide rights to Seth Rogen’s upcoming comedy feature An American Pickle. The project comes from Sony Pictures and is set to be released this summer on the digital streaming service under its Warner Max label.

An American Pickle is an adaptation of the 2013 New Yorker novella Sell Out by Simon Rich, who adapted his own script. Brandon Trost, the cinematographer of Rogen films This Is the End, Neighbors, and The Interview, will direct. You can read the 4 part story from the New Yorker HERE.

Rogen will star in dual leading roles in the film. Rogen will play Herschel Greenbaum, a struggling laborer who immigrates to America in 1920 with dreams of building a better life for his beloved family. One day, while working at his factory job, he falls into a vat of pickles and is brined for 100 years. The brine preserves him perfectly and when he emerges in present-day Brooklyn, he finds that he hasn’t aged a day. But when he seeks out his family, he is troubled to learn that his only surviving relative is his great-grandson, Ben Greenbaum (also played by Rogen), a mild-mannered computer coder whom Herschel can’t even begin to understand.

“I couldn’t be more thrilled to be partnering with HBO Max to release this film. We worked very hard and put as much of ourselves in this story as possible,” said Rogen. “We’re very proud of the end result and we can’t wait for people to get to see it.”

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The 100 Greatest Designs of Modern Times

What does it take to become a design icon? There‘s more to it than good looks. These 100 products have made our lives simpler, better, and yes, more stylish.

Check out the list from Fortune Magazine HERE.

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What Are The 50 Best Science Fiction TV Shows of All Time?

It’s odd to think that, once upon a time, a TV show set in space — one that declared, in its opening narration, as the cosmos being the “final frontier” — was considered the pop-cultural equivalent of an unwanted party-crasher. Yes, a concept like Star Trek was both of its time and clearly ahead of it; history has more than vindicated Gene Rodenberry’s notion of boldly going where no man had gone before. But given the number of top-notch shows set in the far reaches of the galaxy and that used genre for pulpy and profound purposes over the last 30 or so years, it seems crazy to think that one of the most groundbreaking SF series was a network pariah and a ratings dud. Today, there’s an entire cable network devoted to this kind of programming. You can’t turn on your TV/Roku/cut-cord viewing device without bumping into spaceships, alien invasion and wonky sci-fi food-for-thought.

Science fiction has been around in one form or another since the early-ish days of television, both here and abroad, and its legacy now looms larger than ever. 

So what better time to count down the 50 best sci-fi TV shows of all time? From anime classics to outer-space soap operas, spooky British anthology shows to worst-case-scenario postapocalyptic dramas, primetime pop hits to obscure but beloved cult classics, HERE are Rolling Stone’s choices for the best the television genre has to offer — submitted, for your approval.

My personal favorites include: The Six-Million Dollar Man, Lost, Stranger Things, Watchmen, Westworld, The Mandalorian, The Twilight Zone, and Star Trek.

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Entertainment Weekly Black Widow Cover Story

Scarlett Johansson readies for battle the way a veteran doctor scrubs in for surgery or an astronaut gears up for her eighth space flight. Hair drawn back in a tidy braid, she barely glances down at Natasha Romanoff’s familiar black catsuit as she buckles every buckle and zips every zipper with rhythmic efficiency. Squeezed into a closet-size armory on a Manhattan Beach soundstage, Johansson’s assassin-turned-Avenger is surrounded by all the guns, knives, and glossy wigs a superspy could ever need. She moves like she’s been doing this for a decade — because she has.

But this is something new: There’s no Captain America or Hawkeye to assist her, no S.H.I.E.L.D. backup waiting out of sight. This is Black Widow’s long-awaited solo movie, set in the turmoil between the all-star superhero team’s breakup in 2016’s Captain America: Civil War and their reunion in 2018’s Avengers: Infinity War. The mission she’s prepping for is personal, as the former Russian agent is going up against opponents from her past. When a fellow Widow, Rachel Weisz’s Melina, wonders how they’ll tackle one particularly formidable foe, Natasha replies, “Just get me close to him.” It’s not an arrogant quip or a self-congratulatory boast, just a matter-of-fact threat from a spy who is very, very good at her job.

Then, just as Johansson pulls on her last glove with a satisfying snap…darkness. The studio has lost power; in the dark, someone calls out for flashlights. After a quick investigation, the production crew discovers the blackout is not the work of a diabolical supervillain but a blown transformer nearby. Natasha’s mission will have to wait a little while longer — but that’s all right. Black Widow knows how to wait.

Read more HERE.

To read more on Black Widow, pick up the new issue of Entertainment Weekly beginning on Tuesday, March 17.

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