A brief history of the rock legend's style and fashions:
"Bowie’s image was as carefully contrived for album covers as for the actual musical performances: Sukita Masayoshi’s black-and-white photograph of Bowie posing like a mannequin doll on the cover of 'Heroes' (1977), or Bowie stretched out on a blue velvet sofa like a Pre-Raphaelite pinup in a long satin dress designed by Mr. Fish for The Man Who Sold the World (1971), or Guy Peellaert’s lurid drawing of Bowie as a 1920s carnival freak for Diamond Dogs (1974).
"All these images were created by Bowie himself, in collaboration with other artists. He drew his inspiration from anything that happened to catch his fancy: Christopher Isherwood’s Berlin of the 1930s, Hollywood divas of the 1940s, Kabuki theater, William Burroughs, English mummers, Jean Cocteau, Andy Warhol, French chansons, Buñuel’s surrealism, and Stanley Kubrick’s movies, especially A Clockwork Orange, whose mixture of high culture, science fiction, and lurking menace suited Bowie to the ground. Artists and filmmakers have often created interesting results by refining popular culture into high art. Bowie did the opposite: he would, as he once explained in an interview, plunder high art and take it down to the street; that was his brand of rock-and-roll theater."
PUBLISHED: May 7, 2013
LENGTH: 15 minutes (3932 words)
How does a would-be blockbuster become a disastrous flop? A look at the decisions, large and small, that doomed Super Mario Bros. in the early 1990s:
"You can learn a lot about the way the movie industry works in a given moment by looking at its successes (whether accidental or engineered), but often you can learn even more by looking at its failures — the long-in-development projects that never make it to the screen, the labors of love gone wrong, the should've-been blockbusters that fail to land — particularly those that caught Hollywood by surprise, miscalculations that everyone involved has attempted to sweep under the rug. By digging up some of these misbegotten artifacts and examining them both within the context of their eras and in the cold light of the present, we'll try to understand how seemingly inexplicable disasters happen."
PUBLISHED: April 7, 2013
LENGTH: 17 minutes (4341 words)
The voice actors behind billion-dollar games are paid hourly rates, and have seen video game voice acting budgets eaten up by Hollywood stars:
"'With very few exceptions, allocating a major portion of a budget to a big name is a magnificently terrible waste of money,' Blum says. 'A name on a game is something executives use to impress each other, and I find it difficult to believe that those huge dollars can ever be recouped or even justified.
"'I recently walked off a game because they expected me to record over 20 vocally stressful characters in one session for scale because they had blown their budget on a few "A-listers."'"
PUBLISHED: April 2, 2013
LENGTH: 13 minutes (3450 words)
The clash of cultures on the Japanese prefecture, where locals interact with thousands of U.S. service members:
"Eve had started dating Americans at age nineteen, when she was a student at Okinawa Christian Junior College. She and her friends hung around clubs, parks, and beaches and practiced speaking English with American guys. The men struck her as more attractive than local guys—the way they looked, acted, dressed, spoke English, put ladies first. American men had big hearts, like in Hollywood movies. To her, they were movie stars, perfect and romantic and thrilling.
"She realized the truth — American men were 'the real thing'— the hard way."
PUBLISHED: March 19, 2013
LENGTH: 11 minutes (2782 words)
Hollywood screenwriter Budd Schulberg's unlikely collaboration with Nazi propagandist Leni Riefenstahl, who was arrested and asked to provide evidence at Nuremberg against war criminals:
"In subsequent interviews he continued the story: 'I had this warrant for her in my pocket. It was like burning a hole in my pocket … Finally I took the thing out and said, ‘Miss Riefenstahl, I'm sorry, but I have to take you to Nuremberg.' And that's when she screamed, "Puppi, Puppi … he's arresting me."' The little majordomo raced into the room, with Schulberg now realizing he was her husband. 'I tried to reassure her,' Schulberg continued. 'I said, "Look, you're not being put on trial with Goering and von Ribbentrop, but we do need you as a material witness."' He took her outside, where his driver and his vehicle awaited. The trip from Kitzbühel to Nuremberg was roughly 150 miles. 'She didn't say anything on the way ... She was very ticked off—very. And I guess scared.'"
PUBLISHED: March 2, 2013
LENGTH: 27 minutes (6763 words)
The director on what's wrong with Hollywood today, why you should never use his name in a pitch, and why he's retiring from movies to focus on painting:
"The worst development in filmmaking—particularly in the last five years—is how badly directors are treated. It’s become absolutely horrible the way the people with the money decide they can fart in the kitchen, to put it bluntly. It’s not just studios—it’s anyone who is financing a film. I guess I don’t understand the assumption that the director is presumptively wrong about what the audience wants or needs when they are the first audience, in a way. And probably got into making movies because of being in that audience.
"But an alarming thing I learned during Contagion is that the people who pay to make the movies and the audiences who see them are actually very much in sync. I remember during previews how upset the audience was by the Jude Law character. The fact that he created a sort of mixed reaction was viewed as a flaw in the filmmaking. Not, 'Oh, that’s interesting, I’m not sure if this guy is an asshole or a hero.' People were really annoyed by that. And I thought, Wow, so ambiguity is not on the table anymore. They were angry."
PUBLISHED: Jan. 27, 2013
LENGTH: 29 minutes (7404 words)
The origins of one of Hollywood's earliest femme fatales:
"Theodosia Goodman grew up in Cincinnati, the child of middle-class Jewish immigrants. Her father was a tailor; her mother kept house. She went to high school, she went to two years of college. She was a middling actress with middling looks, age 30, stuck in the Yiddish theater circuit, with a bit role in the occasional film. She was wholly unremarkable — one of hundreds of women working toward the same end.
"And then, in 1915, totally out of nowhere, she became THE BIGGEST SEX SYMBOL IN THE WORLD. As the star of A Fool There Was, she embodied the cinematic 'vamp' — the evil, predatory woman who seduces men with her dark ways, sucks him dry, and leaves him for ruin. Her name was no longer Theodosia Goodman, but Theda Bara — an anagram, naturally, for 'ARAB DEATH.'"
PUBLISHED: Jan. 9, 2013
LENGTH: 13 minutes (3322 words)
Scovell, a former writer for Spy magazine, joins a group of up-and-coming writers to work on a Fox late-night show called The Wilton North Report:
"In October 1987, I was offered a job on a new, late-night variety talk show and, without thinking twice, I relocated from New York City to Hollywood, where the sunshine and palm trees seemed cartoonish. When Thanksgiving rolled around, I wanted to head back East, but with the premiere two weeks away, we had only Thursday off. The best I could do was spend the day with two other Wilton North writers who were also New England expats. We headed to Westwood, home of UCLA, saw a movie, and looked for a restaurant. Most places were closed or too fancy, so we landed at a bar patterned after an English pub. It was dark, smelly, noisy — everything the Pilgrims had tried to get away from when they came to the New World. The hostess directed us to the one open table on the second floor. We trudged up the steep steps and plopped down. The evening could have been depressing. In fact, it should have been depressing. But it wasn’t. I got to spend Thanksgiving with Conan O’Brien and Greg Daniels."
PUBLISHED: Dec. 11, 2012
LENGTH: 20 minutes (5192 words)
He's most closely connected to New York, but his writing about California helped define what makes it special:
"It started by accident. Wolfe was working for the New York Herald Tribune, which, along with eight other local papers, shut down for 114 days during the 1962–63 newspaper strike. He had recently written about a custom car show—phoned it in, by his own admission—but he knew there was more to the story. Temporarily without an income, he pitched a story about the custom car scene to Esquire. 'Really, I needed to make some money,' Wolfe tells me. 'You could draw a per diem from the newspaper writers’ guild, but it was a pittance. I was in bad shape,' he chuckles. Esquire bit and sent the 32-year-old on his first visit to the West—to Southern California, epicenter of the subculture.
"Wolfe saw plenty on that trip, from Santa Monica to North Hollywood to Maywood, from the gardens and suburbs of mid-’60s Southern California to its dung heaps. He saw so much that he didn’t know what to make of it all. Returning to New York in despair, he told Esquire that he couldn’t write the piece. Well, they said, we already have the art laid in, so we have to do something; type up your notes and send them over. 'Can you imagine anything more humiliating than being told, "Type up your notes, we’ll have a real writer do the piece"?' Wolfe asks. He stayed up all night writing a 49-page memo—which Esquire printed nearly verbatim."
PUBLISHED: Nov. 22, 2012
LENGTH: 19 minutes (4825 words)