Celebritology 2.0: Highbrow

Posted at 12:30 PM ET, 10/02/2009

Opinion Roundup: Where Do Celebs Come Down on Polanski?

Much has been written about Roman Polanski this week. For anyone who has been living under a rock for the past few days, here's the case in a nutshell: Polanski was taken into custody in Switzerland earlier this week and could face extradition to the U.S. in connection with his 1978 conviction after admitting to unlawful sexual intercourse with a 13-year-old girl. His victim now says she believes Polanski is "sorry" for his actions and is not in support of further punishment. Although Polanski's case has long galvanized those who believe he should face the consequences for his actions and those who think the director should be dealt with leniently, if at all, the debate got especially heated this week. Below, a sampling of opinion pieces from both sides: A growing number of celebrities -- including Woody Allen, Martin Scorcese, Sam Mendes, Diane von Furstenberg and Tilda Swinton -- have...

By Liz Kelly  |  12:30 PM ET, 10/02/2009 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 09:23 AM ET, 04/21/2009

Susan Boyle -- From Obscurity to Stardom to Unlikely Lightning Rod

Susan Boyle on 'Britain's Got Talent.' (Courtesy of TALKBACK THAMES/SYCO TV) A survey of the flurry of opinion-making spawned by the "Britain's Got Talent" contestant and Internet sensation. According to Britain's Daily Mail, the clip of Susan Boyle's "Britain's Got Talent" performance is poised to become the most-viewed YouTube clip ever. As of this writing, the various versions posted to the site have been viewed approximately 100 million times. (The reigning most viewed clip? Comedian Judson Laipply's "Evolution Of Dance.") But now that the initial novelty of Boyle's out-of-nowhere Cinderella story is getting old, reactions to Boyle -- and the context in which her performance was presented -- are mixed. Asking why we're so surprised that someone "ugly" could have a beautiful voice, the Guardian's Tanya Gold writes: Is Susan Boyle ugly? Or are we? On Saturday night she stood on the stage in Britain's Got Talent; small and...

By Liz Kelly  |  09:23 AM ET, 04/21/2009 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 10:42 AM ET, 03/04/2008

Highbrow: Marion Cotillard -- Once Sound-bitten

In a scene from the 1950 Bette Davis classic, "All About Eve," Davis is chastened by an irate playwright who -- reacting to a diva-esque monologue from Davis -- asks (and I paraphrase) "what happens when actors start thinking that the insightful words coming out of their mouths are their own?" The implication was, of course, that actors are nothing without words being fed to them and that the actor who confuses adulation with respect is treading on dangerous ground. A mural in Los Angeles. (Getty Images) As dangerous ground goes, Marion Cotillard should win some kind of long jump award for jumping clear from the Olympian heights of a lead actress Oscar win all the way to the shifting ground of public opinion in just one short week. I hesitate to write about this because it takes us out of our safety zone of light celebrity mocking and into...

By Liz Kelly  |  10:42 AM ET, 03/04/2008 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 10:42 AM ET, 01/22/2008

Highbrow: Tom Cruise's Straight-to-Video Hit

Cruise in an image from what celeb-tracking Web site Gawker calls his 'Indoctrination Video.' (YouTube) In one of the feverishly earnest videos that surfaced last week in which Tom Cruise extols the virtues of Scientology, he says something to the about the duty of that group's members to stop at car crashes because, see, only a Scientologist is capable of truly understanding the situation and providing help. In that spirit, today's Highbrow attempts to shed a little light on Cruise and his recent ramblings. Proving the old saw that there's no such thing as bad publicity, Cruise's IMDB Star Rating (I'd link, but it's behind a pay-for-play wall) has spiked since the release of the videos last week. He's nowhere near list toppers Ellen Page ("Juno") and Johnny Depp ("Sweeney Todd"), but Cruise's Scientology vids have given the actor the kind of profile bump he sorely needed when "Lions...

By Liz Kelly  |  10:42 AM ET, 01/22/2008 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 10:42 AM ET, 12/05/2007

Highbrow: Weighing the Oprah Effect on Politics

Barack Obama and wife Michelle (left) with Oprah at an August Fundraiser. (Reuters) "My money isn't going to make any difference," Oprah Winfrey told Larry King prior to an August fundraising party where the daytime talk show queen helped to raise $3 million for Democratic presidential hopeful Barack Obama. "My value to him, my support of him is probably worth more than any other check that I could write." Last week, Winfrey formally declared her intention to hit the campaign trail in support of Obama. First in Iowa, then New Hampshire and South Carolina -- all key states early in the election run-up. Mused The Post's own Gene Robinson: "Now we're about to see whether the "Oprah effect" can do for Barack Obama what it did for Leo Tolstoy." If Yahoo stats are any indicator, the Oprah factor may already be moving the needle for Obama. Searches on the...

By Liz Kelly  |  10:42 AM ET, 12/05/2007 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 10:42 AM ET, 10/10/2007

High Brow: Sarah Silverman -- Funny Girl?

(Photo Illustration by Liz Kelly/Photo: AP) Does Sarah Silverman Suck? alternet.org/TheNation.com. Sarah Silverman -- the thinking man's pin-up, the angel with a dirty mouth -- may deliver shock value, but does she make us laugh? I'm not so sure. Neither is writer Kera Bolonik. Bon Mots: Sarah Silverman is like sushi, a raw delicacy that people either love or hate -- and too much will make you gag. Just One More Before Bedtime! New York Times. Dubbed "Pipsqueak Paparazzi" by David Spade, two tweeners armed with $6,000 cameras ditch school to cash in on the tabloid picture game. Bon Mots: In an era when even the most mundane images of the marginally famous are fodder for magazines and Web sites, almost anyone with a camera, it seems, can make a living as a celebrity photographer. Even a couple of kids who haven't started shaving. What is Pop? Guardian Unlimited....

By Liz Kelly  |  10:42 AM ET, 10/10/2007 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 10:43 AM ET, 10/03/2007

Highbrow: The Beehive Buzzes Again

Amy Winehouse. (AP) The Beehive: Amy Honey, How Do You Stand It? Telegraph.co.uk. One intrepid reporter gives Amy's top-heavy tangle a go (on tape) and finds it's more work than pleasure. Crucial Nugget: Winehouse's hairdresser, Alex Foden, uses furballs made from part-synthetic, part-real hair stuffed inside hairnets to pad out the singer's barnet, but top stylist Hari -- who teases the most famous tresses in London -- assures me that the same effect can be achieved with backcombing. Not That Innocent Slate.com. Can Britney Spears get her kids back? Slate's Emily Bazelon handicaps Brit's odds of tipping the scales of justice back in her favor. Crucial Nugget: K-Fed is hardly looking like the ideal long-term alternative here -- his drug use has also concerned the court in the recent past. Maybe he only looks good now because Spears looks so infuriating. Dream Role New York Magazine. Brother Jake talks...

By Liz Kelly  |  10:43 AM ET, 10/03/2007 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 10:43 AM ET, 09/18/2007

Highbrow: O.J. Revisited Edition

O.J. Simpson in 2001. (AFP/Getty Images) Inspired by columnist Gene Robinson's thoughtful op-ed column, today's Highbrow focuses on O.J. Simpson -- one-time football star and Americana hero who in the '90s transformed into acquitted murderer and cultural lightning rod. For anyone out there who might have spent the last week somewhere this sort of news doesn't permeate immediately, like for instance Ua Pu, a brief recap: Simpson was arrested on Sunday in Las Vegas on suspicion of armed robbery, assault with a deadly weapon, conspiracy and burglary after an incident in which the former NFL-er says he was merely trying to take back some memorabilia that rightfully belonged to him. The tale of the tape (the alleged victim recorded the entire incident), though, reveals a tense situation in which guns and plenty of profanity figured. And, suddenly, we are re-glued to the news, trading "remember whens" about white Broncos,...

By Liz Kelly  |  10:43 AM ET, 09/18/2007 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 10:43 AM ET, 07/26/2007

Highbrow: Lindsay Lohan Zeitgeist Edition

(Joe Hadley for washingtonpost.com) Sure, we all claim we're sick of Lindsay Lohan and her made-for-reality-TV antics, but what does her very existence say about our culture? I'm curious and would like to get your thoughts in the comments section -- but first, read what some other publications are saying: Psychologist Harris Stratyner says in the NYT that Lindsay Lohan and Britney Spears are "making a mockery of rehab." But is Lohan the victim of a permissive culture, shameless parents (registration required) or merely a typical addict, prone to relapse? Who cares? When it comes to celebs, the uglier the better, right? When it comes to predicting Lohan's future, though, look no further than the bottom line. More Good Reads: The Stiles Ultimatum (New York Magazine) The Simpsons Go to Paris (Harper's Bazaar) The Fug Girls See the End Times Coming (New York Magazine) L.A. Confidentiality (Los Angeles Times)...

By Liz Kelly  |  10:43 AM ET, 07/26/2007 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 10:43 AM ET, 07/19/2007

Highbrow: Are 'Faux-lebrities' Taking Over Hollywood?

(Joe Hadley for washingtonpost.com) The Pisher Kings New York Observer. With a dearth of fame-worthy men, overhyped youngsters like Shia LaBeouf and Pete Wentz are taking over our culture, our thoughts, our lives. Where are you, Johnny Depp? Well Written: "In the earlier days of cinema it was the big, hunky, male stars that got the names of those pretty starlets clinging to their arms into gossip columns. These days it seems the opposite. Would we really care about this Joel Madden fellow -- he's in a band called Good Charlotte, by the way -- if he didn't date tween-kitten Hilary Duff before reportedly impregnating Nicole Richie (whose origins of fame are almost as mystifying)?" Can Nicole Richie Get Pregnant? Slate.com. When arrested in December for suspected DUI, Nicole Richie weighed in at 85 pounds. A half a year later, she's rumored to be expecting her first child. How...

By Liz Kelly  |  10:43 AM ET, 07/19/2007 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 10:42 AM ET, 07/12/2007

Highbrow: Checking in With the Cognoscenti

(Joe Hadley for washingtonpost.com) Today we christen a new feature, Highbrow, which will take a somewhat regular look at the world beyond (dare I say "above") the tabloids and paparazzi-driven blogs we normally frequent here in Celebritology (though, we do love them). From our own Style, Op-ed and Outlook sections to sister pubs like Slate and Newsweek and trusted tastemakers Salon, The New York Review of Books and the U.K.'s Guardian, Highbrow hopes to provide you with a little more meat for your daily diet of celebrity culture. Featured: Brand It Like Beckham Slate.com Slate's latest Primary Source document is a six-page ad agency storyboard detailing plans to promote David Beckham's arrival on ESPN, set to the Beatles' "Hello, Goodbye." Best line: "Cut to a middle-aged Spanish woman at a newsstand in Madrid, crying as she reads tabloid articles about Beckham's move. Mascara runs down her cheeks." Beyond the...

By Liz Kelly  |  10:42 AM ET, 07/12/2007 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)

Posted at 08:33 AM ET, 06/29/2007

Are the Pixar Movies an Animated Boys Town?

'Sup, big guy? Remy of "Ratatouille" makes the rounds. (Walt Disney Pictures) Pixar has done it again. With "Ratatouille," the studio has created another dazzling, clever, uplifting adventure, this time about a French rodent with a flair for food preparation. But Pixar also has done something else again: It's delivered yet another kiddie-centric piece of entertainment with a male in the starring role. Aside from the Harry Potter books, the Pixar films may be the most influential children's narratives of our time. With their bright, digitally rendered colors, winning heroes and stories of triumphing over considerable odds, they are the quintessential fairy tales for the text-message generation. Strangely, though, not one of them features a female as its main character....

By Jen Chaney  |  08:33 AM ET, 06/29/2007 |  Permalink  |  Comments ( 0)