Tag Archives: Meryl Streep

Good News Friday: Buffalo Bills fans bombard Andy Dalton’s charity with kindness. A news anchor gets a marriage proposal live on TV. And “The Post” does a great job on the Pentagon Papers scandal

And a Happy Friday to all of you out there in Internet-land, which can’t be as frigid as it is here in New York. My word was Thursday a horrendous storm day; I usually love snow but this was too much. Happily, it’s over and now it’ll just be 46 below zero today.

Which is a perfect segue to talk about the awesomeness of the people of Buffalo. Yes, Buffalo, the place where even polar bears are like “Can someone turn on a space heater or something?” Buffalo-nians have endured a lot with their sports teams over the years (four straight losses in the Super Bowl by the Bills, the Sabres losing their one Stanley Cup Finals chance on a goal that probably shouldn’t have counted),  and lately they’ve suffered through 17 consecutive non-playoff seasons from the Bills.

But finally last Sunday, thanks to the Bills winning and a remarkable comeback by the Cincinnati Bengals to beat the Baltimore Ravens, the Bills are back in the playoffs.

It truly took a sensational play by Bengals QB Andy Dalton to win the game, and only by the Ravens losing to Cincy did the Bills finally qualify. And of all the ways Bills fans could’ve celebrated their team finally making the playoffs for the first time this century (seriously, 1999 was a LONG time ago), this way the fans responded was the coolest.

Buffalo fans have helped raise more than $400,000, in a week, for Dalton’s preferred charity and the charity favored by Bengals receiver Tyler Boyd, who scored the winning touchdown. Dalton and his wife Jordan’s personal foundation sponsors several community outreach programs, including the Pass It On Fund, which aims to provide medical equipment and financial relief to families with seriously ill or physically challenged children.

And more than $40,000 has been raised for the Western PA Youth Athletic Association, which Boyd played in as a child.

Hilariously, most of the donations have come in $17 increments, since it’s been 17 seasons since the Bills last made the playoffs.

Dalton was overwhelmed by the generosity.

“We are blown away by everybody that’s donating,” he said. “Thank you to all the Bills fans, thank you for anybody that’s just supporting our foundation. Let’s keep it going.”

Very, very cool. How could you not root for the Bills on Sunday against Jacksonville?

**Next up, this kind of thing always, always makes me smile. Evie Allen is a female news anchor at WSIL-TV in Carterville, Ill. She was on the air on New Year’s Day morning when suddenly the weather forecaster started talking about a surprise in the weather and that “ice is coming around the corner.”

Then, out of nowhere comes Evie’s boyfriend Matt, to propose to her live on television. (Please click through, it’s a really sweet, short video)

Such a sweet, sweet genuine moment. Live TV, man, you never know what’s going to happen.

**Finally today, I was 99.9 percent certain I was going to love the new Tom Hanks/Meryl Streep/Steven Spielberg movie “The Post,” because it has those three icons in it, and it’s about a newspaper. In this case, The Washington Post, in 1971, wrestling whether or not to publish The Pentagon Papers, the explosive documents ex-government employee Daniel Ellsberg released to the The New York Times that documented how deep the deception and lies went, over four administrations, to convince the American people that the war in Vietnam was being won.

(And by the way, a fabulous, hilarious touch by Spielberg to have Matthew Rhys, who of course is a Russian spy on “The Americans” play Ellsberg.)

The story follows the Post’s female publisher, Katherine Graham (Streep), and editor Ben Bradlee (Hanks) wrestling with the legal, political and moral implications of running the Papers.

Both leads are, of course, fabulous, and there are a ton of other great actors you’ll recognize here, including Bradley Whitford, Bruce Greenwood, and the fantastic Bob Odenkirk playing the reporter who brings the Post the actual papers.

The drama is presented realistically, as there’s no 100 percent clear right answer, and watching Streep balance friendship and journalistic responsiblility (something 99 percent of publishers never deal with) was fascinating.

“The Post” is too long, probably by about 20-30 minutes, but other than that, it’s fantastic. I believe it comes out nationwide in a few days, I highly recommend it.

Between “Spotlight” and “The Post,” we’re on a roll with great movies about newspapers!

 

The most thin-skinned famous person ever is about to become President, and I’m terrified. Bill Walton is a national treasure. And “The Front Page” a great night at the theater

trump-thinskin

OK, so there was a HUGE amount of information that broke last night about Donald Trump, the Russians, some really sordid sex behavior, and about 14 other things. I have said on this blog numerous times that I don’t like to “knee-jerk” react to things, and quite honestly there’s way too much to digest to write a coherent post right now. So I’m just going to take one small piece of the Donald Trump pie, something I’ve been thinking about for a while, and look at at that today.

“Golden showers,” my goodness. And we thought the Ken Starr report on Bill Clinton was salacious…

OK, on with the show.

When I was a college sportswriter at the University of Delaware, the football team was coached by a man named Tubby Raymond.

Tubby was a fun guy to be around (guys named ‘Tubby” usually are), a real rascal and a pretty good coach, too. He always had our Blue Hens in the Division I-AA playoffs, gave great quotes to us media, and generally comported himself well. (Tubby was getting up there in years when I covered him and his memory was fading; to this day I’m convinced they announced which players were sitting next to him at the weekly press luncheon because otherwise he wouldn’t recognize who was with him.)

But if you ever dared to question his strategy or decision-making, Tubby’s face turned red. He sometimes exploded or mocked the question, and seemed to take great offense at any suggestion that what he did or said wasn’t right. He was, still to this day, the most thin-skinned “celebrity” I’d ever seen, and I always wondered that if us, the little Delaware press corps, got him upset with his questions, what would happen if Tubby ever coached in a bigger city? He’d implode, that’s what.

I was thinking about Tubby the other night because once again, the man who in just a few days will be the leader of the free world couldn’t handle being criticized by an actor.

The easiest thing to predict in the entire world was that after Meryl Streep criticized Trump at the Golden Globes, that he would lash out on Twitter and attack her back.
This fits his entire pattern of behavior. He’s gotten mad at Vanity Fair magazine for a review of his restaurant that was negative. He just last week criticized Arnold Schwarzenegger for not getting as high ratings as The Donald did on “The Apprentice.”

There is no slight too small, no alleged critique too tiny, for this small man to fire back at. He is the most thin-skinned celebrity in the history of the world, and he’s about to have the nuclear codes.

Of all the things that scare me about a President Trump, the idea that an offhand remark by a world leader about him, or to him, will start a nuclear war.

God save us all. Eugene Robinson of The Washington Post wrote about this idea yesterday, his column is excellent.

**Next up, I thought about writing a long screed about Barack Obama, who gave a farewell speech last night that was moving, heartfelt and smart, and contrasting him in a thousand ways with the guy about to inherit the big chair in the Oval Office.

But there’ll be time for that next week; I don’t want the stench of Trump to mix with the appreciation of Obama. So instead, I present a true American treasure, Mr. Bill Walton.

Because they can, ESPN didn’t just show the exhilarating college football championship game on one channel Monday night; they gave viewers about 10 different types of coverage to watch, including one featuring Walton and other non-football people watching the Alabama-Clemson tilt sitting around talking.

Walton, dressed as Uncle Sam (of course) has some great questions and comments, especially when he asks what city Clemson is in.

God I love Bill Walton.

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**Finally today, my wife and I don’t get to the theater that much despite, you know, living less than a mile from Broadway, but when I heard there was a play about newspaper reporters from the 1930s being revived and coming here, I immediately knew I’d be seeing it.

So last Friday night we saw “The Front Page,” based on Ben Hecht’s play about one night in a Chicago-area courthouse press room, when a bunch of tabloid scribes are waiting around for a scheduled hanging of a convicted murderer.

I was pretty certain I would love the play, which starred a huge number of major actors, including Nathan Lane, John Slattery, John Goodman, and Holland Taylor. And it was sensational.

The rapid-fire dialogue made Aaron Sorkin’s characters seem like they had slow Southern drawls; the acting, especially by Slattery and Lane (who really is a force of nature as a soul-less, no morals editor) was superb, and it was pretty damn hilarious, too.

It was a long, long show (2:45, with two intermissions) and honestly sometimes so many people were cross-talking on stage that I missed some of the great one-liners.

But there were so many actors working at the top of their craft, and having so much fun (John Goodman always looks like he’s having a good time, doesn’t he?) that I didn’t mind. With newspapers in such bad shape these days, and me being a dyed-in-the-wool ink-stained wretch, it was fun to step back into a time when reporters were true characters, had very few scruples, and what they wrote really mattered.

“The Front Page” is only going to be on Broadway for a few months, but if you’re here anytime soon, I highly, highly recommend seeing it.

The Golden Globes were more blah than usual, but saved by the amazing Meryl Streep. And a dull NFL wild-card weekend hopefully leads to better games next week

 

This image released by NBC shows Viola Davis presenting the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the 74th Annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Sunday, Jan. 8, 2017. (Paul Drinkwater/NBC via AP)

This image released by NBC shows Viola Davis presenting the Cecil B. DeMille Award at the 74th Annual Golden Globe Awards at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif., on Sunday, Jan. 8, 2017. (Paul Drinkwater/NBC via AP)

The Golden Globes are usually the best awards show of the season, because they’re unpredictable and fun and have winners who never win the other big awards.

But Sunday night, I don’t know if it was just that the host was bad (sorry Jimmy Fallon, but this isn’t your best role, can’t Tina Fey and Amy Poehler host this show every year? They’re beyond awesome), or that the crop of movies was blah, or I just wasn’t in the mood, but for the first two hours the Golden Globes were boring as all get out.

Then, it was time for Meryl Streep’s lifetime achievement award, and man, did business pick up. Nobody in Hollywood is more admired than the amazing Ms. Streep, for her grace, for her unparalleled talent, and for her kindness toward others.

Viola Davis gave Meryl a wonderful tribute, some clips from her many phenomenal performances were shown, and then the greatest actress of our lifetime spoke.

And she spoke about the man who in less than two weeks will actually be our President.

Surgically, beautifully, she called him out for what he is: A mean, thoughtless, ignorant jerk who conned millions through his use of insults and fear-mongering.

This short speech was phenomenal, and needs to be watched. “When the powerful use their position to bully, we all lose,” she said. Here is a woman speaking from the heart, about what so many have felt. By far the best thing at Sunday night’s ceremony. (If the speech isn’t embedded below, click here to watch it)

Some other highlights and lowlights from the show (as always, most of the fashion comments come from my beautiful and talented wife):

— The best thing on the show besides Streep, I thought, was Kristin Wiig and Steve Carell’s hilarious bit about the first animated movie they’d seen. Such great deadpan and timing!

— Viola Davis was stunningly beautiful in her dress; Emma Stone looked “airbrushed,” and Mandy Moore looked amazing. Nicole Kidman, I believe, will still look gorgeous at age 113.

— “The Americans” stars were robbed once again, but I was thrilled to see Sarah Paulson win for her Marcia Clark portrayal in “The People vs. O.J. Simpson,” and Tracee Ellis Ross gave a heartfelt and winning speech after her win for “Blackish.”

— Really lame, stupid and borderline offensive of the writers to make lame Sofia Vergara accent jokes (come on, her saying “anal” instead of “annual?” That’s Howard Stern-level humor), and portray Goldie Hawn as a ditzy old lady not able to read a TelePrompter. Just bad.

— Do awards shows really need a DJ? Apparently. Qwestlove didn’t get to do much but he’s always fun.

–Didn’t see “La La Land” and don’t plan to, but “Moonlight” sure as heck looks amazing. And I can’t wait to see “Fences” as soon as I can.

— Seriously, bring back Amy and Tina next year. And every year from now on.

packers-giants

**Finally today, that was one shitty NFL wild-card weekend, eh? Four games, and not really a great game among ’em. Hell, there wasn’t even a good game among them, although Giants-Packers was at least compelling for 2.5 quarters.

This happens fairly frequently on wild-card weekend; sometimes the matchups just aren’t good. Still, we should have at least two good games next weekend. Couple thoughts on the slop that took place Saturday and Sunday…

— The Dallas Cowboys are the happiest team in the world this morning, since the Giants, the only team that’s beaten Jerry Jones’ boys all year when they were playing all their regulars, are not coming to Texas next weekend to try to beat Dallas a third time. The boys from New Jersey played a miserable game Sunday, although part of that was because Aaron Rodgers played superhuman quarterback for the final three quarters.

I still don’t think the Cowboys are making the Super Bowl with a rookie QB and a rookie running back, but their road got a lot easier with the Giants losing.

— I feel really badly for the Raiders, of all teams. They were having a sensational, dream-like season for 14 games, going 11-3 and looking like a real title threat.

Then their star quarterback, Derek Carr gets hurt, and they don’t win again and they’re forced to play a kid making his first-ever NFL start (Connor Cook) in a road playoff game. No way that goes well.

— I think the chances of Donald Trump coming out of the closet as a gay man on Jan. 20 are greater than the chances of the Houston Texans going into New England next week and beating the Patriots. I’m just sayin.’

— The two “good” games I see next week are the NFC contests: I guess the Steelers could upset Kansas City, but I just don’t think Pittsburgh’s D is all that great this year. But I think the road teams are very frisky next week in the NFC. Seattle looked very solid and have all kinds of playoff experience, and the Matt Ryan-led Falcons certainly have a choking history in the playoffs.

And the Packers, winners of seven in a row, with a QB playing out of his mind, absolutely could steal that game in Dallas. Rodgers is on a different plane right now, just totally locked in.

And really, who doesn’t want to see Jerry Jones unhappy?

Me and Meryl Streep, hanging out on a Tuesday night. A park ranger fired for dancing. Seriously? And a singing Mom belts her heart out while her sons fight

"The Eye Of The Storm" New York Premiere

Had a very cool “Only in New York” kind of moment Tuesday night: My wife and I went to a Shakespeare in the Park performance of “Much Ado About Nothing” (if you’re not familiar with Shakespeare in the Park, it’s an awesome free summer series in NY featuring two of the Bard’s plays every year, the only catch being you’ve got to wait on line for tickets for 3-4 hours the morning of the performance you want to see.).
Anyway, so our seats are right near one of the entrances to the theater, and all of a sudden my wife looks over my shoulder and whispers “Look, it’s Meryl Streep!”

And it was. I quickly shouted “We love you Meryl!” to her, because I’m just cool like that. She turned around and smiled at me, then went on  her merry way to her primo seat in the center of the theater.

After a long career as a sportswriter, I never get star-struck around athletes anymore. Politicians? Nah. But when the greatest female actor in American history walks by me on a random Tuesday night? Yeah, I was pretty pumped.

I love living here.

**Next up, a story so ridiculous it sounds like it came from The Onion. But sadly, it’s real.
A park ranger in Tennessee was fired last week after a mother visiting the park was offended by his dancing in the parking lot.
That’s pretty much it. Watch this video and you’ll see this dude was hardly “Madonna during her ‘Sex” book era.
Ridiculous. Absolutely ridiculous. Hope you’re proud of yourself, Melissa Parsons. You put a man named Darrell Nelson just trying to have a little fun out of a job.

**And finally, this was made a year ago but a Facebook friend just posted it Tuesday, and I think it’s fabulous. While Katie Crank’s four sons rough-house with each other on the family couch, she belts out a pretty song and annotates it with what life is like trying to tame four crazy boys.

Really, really funny. Four boys all under 10? That woman be crazy.

Amazon.com scares me with their newest breakthrough. The amazing Meryl Streep can do anything (here’s proof). And David Stern hits Letterman on farewell tour

amazon
I’m not exactly sure what the line is when it comes to companies knowing way too much about us on the Internet; the line seems to move all the time. Amazon.com, especially, keeps pushing that line further and further away, and we all kind of shrug. (Drones delivering packages to our house? Sure!)

But this thing I heard about this week might be going a bit too far. OK, way too far. Amazon needs to chill out with this.

Apparently the newest development at the company is what they’re calling “pre-shipment”, where, get this, Amazon will start shipping things you might want to buy soon to fulfillment centers near where you live.

Seriously, they’ve now patented some kind of fancy mathematical formula that will look at what you’ve purchased before, along with what you’ve put on your “wish list” and what you’ve clicked on, and then shipping that item in your general direction before you’ve even bought it. That way, when you DO buy it, Amazon.com can get it to you quicker.

My head hurts just thinking about this. How do they know whether I’m really going to buy the item, and isn’t it a waste of time and money if I don’t end up buying it? Maybe I fall out of love with a certain author, or an appliance I thought I needed I no longer to.

So on behalf of the world, let me say this:

Dear Amazon.com,

We love you, really. You’ve made our lives better in many ways. But enough. You’re getting a little too clingy and too into us. Please stop trying to predict our every move and action. It creeps us out. Thanks.

Hugs and Kisses,

The World.

**So I don’t know if there’s a human being alive who doesn’t love Meryl Streep, probably the greatest American actress of all time. She’s been nominated for 18 Oscars, won three of them, and seems to be a hell of a nice person off screen as well (I say “seems to be” because, you know, you never know. We all thought O.J. was a nice guy until June, 1994).

Streep is famous for being able to do any kind of accent or persona, so recently on “Ellen” the host asked her to do some crazy scenarios that would test even Meryl’s range.

She of course came through perfectly, and hilariously. I really laughed at the last impression here….

**Finally today, sports fans may know that NBA commissioner David Stern, just about the most powerful guy in sports the last 30 years, is retiring next week. I’m not going to launch into a whole “legacy of David Stern” thing here, because it’s pretty obvious how brilliantly he helped steer the NBA of Larry and Magic, through the Michael Jordan era, right through LeBron. Stern is a marketing genius, a power-broker extraordinaire, and he took a sport that was highly regionalized and to a specific audience and exploded it into the world’s consciousness.

Anyway, Stern is retiring next week, and stopped by David Letterman Wednesday night to read a Top 10 list

Kenneth Feinberg has 1 of toughest jobs in America. A boy sings Queen every day for 3 years. And “August Osage County” a terrific film

feinberg

Just a quick self-promotional tout before we get started; I wrote a story for ThriveSports.com on John Daly, a U.S. Olympian from Smithtown, N.Y. who’ll be competing in the skeleton at the Sochi Games. He’s a really nice guy who may get a medal, though I think his sport is totally crazy.

There are some jobs that I would never, ever want to do, not for $1 million per year in salary, or even more.

Police officer. Firefighter. Museum security guard (seriously, he has to stand there for eight hours in the same spot all day? How do you not go insane doing that?).

But the job I would want the absolute least right now belongs to Kenneth Feinberg. He’s the guy who, since the 9/11 tragedy, has been the “Special Master” in a host of horrific U.S. disasters. What Feinberg does is put a price tag on each family or victim’s suffering, and decide what they’ll be compensated for from the victims’ fund that has been set up.

Since 9/11, he’s worked on the Virginia Tech massacre, the Colorado movie theater shooting, the Boston Marathon bombing, and a host of others. This man, literally, has to deal with unspeakable pain and tragic loss all the time, weigh all the facts, and then determine that person’s life is worth this, and but this life is worth more.

Even more excruciatingly, Feinberg meets with the victims of these tragedies and their families before making a decision, having to look into their eyes and hear their pain. Just an unbelievably hard job.

It’s a job without precedent in history, and one that had never really fully been explained before. Chris Jones of Esquire, whose work I tout on the blog often, has written a sensational profile of Feinberg in this month’s issue.

Here’s a quick excerpt; the whole story can be found here.

“Bad things happen to good people every day,” Feinberg says. Why do those bad things happen when they do, and why is our collective response to them just as unpredictable? Why do some who die suddenly and horribly deserve compensation and public keening while others do not? “I’d like to think that there’s some religious coordination of what’s going on in this world, but I don’t know,” Feinberg says. “That’s for the philosophers, I guess.”

**Next up, I can’t decide if this is genius or just really weird. Three years ago a high school student named Matt Perren started taking a photo of himself each day, for a future video he’d make. Each day he also lip-synched the Queen song “Don’t Stop Me Now.”

Even more impressive (or weirdly), the photos move forward from age 15 to 18 until 53 seconds into the song, when the photos work backwards to age 15 again (while the lip-syncing continues forward with the song). The planning and dedication required to pull this off is extraordinary…

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**Finally today, I saw the movie version of the Pulitzer Prize-winning play “August: Osage County” last week, and it was, as expected, fantastic.

This movie, about a highly, highly dysfunctional family in Oklahoma that’s reunited at their old home when their father has gone missing, is a lot of things: Loud, fast-talking, sarcastic, and filled with surprising heart.

But what it ain’t, is subtle. Every searing monologue comes with a sharpened knife, and every character’s motivations and feelings bludgeon you at every turn.

Happily, though, the script is fantastic and the acting equally as good. Meryl Streep is, well, Meryl Streep, fabulous again. I had also forgotten how good Julia Roberts can be; she plays the oldest daughter and her scenes where she goes insult-for-insult with Streep are fantastic to watch; Roberts really matches Meryl’s intensity.

Chris Cooper, who rules, is also great, as is Margo Martindale, and Julianne Nicholson, and the rest of the star-studded cast.

The movie goes on a bit too long, and some might find it a little too mean and negative, but I loved it. Definitely go see it if you have the chance.

“Mad Men” begins and “Shameless” ends: 2 great shows Sunday night. Louisville wins the national title. And RIP, Margaret Thatcher

madmen

Always enjoy the synchronicity when one of my favorite TV shows ends its season, on the same night as another begins.

I got a great season premiere of “Mad Men” Sunday night, and at the same time, the underrated and criminally unloved “Shameless” finished its third season.
Two very different shows, but both were fantastic on Sunday. First, some “Mad Men” thoughts (SPOILER ALERT!)

No. 1, a terrific episode that showed why we love Roger Sterling and Peggy Olson, and why we love and loathe both Don and Betty. I thought the scene with Don and the young Vietnam soldier in Hawaii was terrific; the whole episode was filled with darkness, which is right up Don Draper’s alley.
No. 2, I love that Peggy in her new firm has become a little Don Draper; ordering around the staff and making them stay late; she has become what she always railed against.

No. 3, how fantastic is all the new hair on this show? It’s 1968 and Harry and Stan have crazy beard/sideburns, and Abe, I don’t know what’s going on with Abe’s facial hair. But it’s beautiful. Six years ago all these guys were straight-laced and clean-cut; now it’s 1968 and they’ve all let themselves go.

Finally, I’m glad they’re finally showing Betty to be at least a little human this season. They’ve made her so damn unlikable that I used to root for bad things to happen to her. But now she’s at least showing a little bit of a soul in trying to help wayward young Sandy.

As for “Shameless,” this was a crazy year with a million bizarre plot twists, but it all ended really nicely. Fiona has no boyfriend again, as (we think) Jimmy/Steve has been killed by his gangster father-in-law. Lip actually got into college, and might even go. Ian runs away to join the Army, stealing his older brother’s identity in the process.
And Frank, well, I really hope the show doesn’t start next season trying to redeem him. In fact, I’d love it if they killed him off. I know William H. Macy is awesome and a brilliant actor and all that, but his character adds so little to the show, I think it’d be better without it.

If you don’t watch “Shameless,” catching up on the just-completed season would be a good place to start. It’s a riotously funny, tragic, wonderfully-acted show.

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**Monday night’s NCAA championship game was the best since … I can’t remember one as thrilling. It’s been a while, that’s for sure. Louisville and Michigan played a phenomenal, entertaining game filled with great athleticism and drama.
Some quick thoughts before I drift off to sleep:
— That first half was played as good as basketball can be. Spike Albrecht of Michigan, who averaged like 2 points a game this year, scored 17 (And I enjoyed all the “Teen Wolf” jokes about him on Twitter). And then the Hancock kid goes nuts to get the Cards back in.
— Trey Burke. How good is that kid? And the CBS announcers (Greg Anthony and Doug Gottlieb) are nuts if they think his sitting out the last minutes of the first half is why Michigan lost. The Wolverines lost because they couldn’t get a rebound in the second half, and couldn’t guard Peyton Siva in the lane (then again, no one can).
— Man, the basketball fans in the state of Kentucky are going to be insufferable this year. Last year Kentucky won, this year Louisville.
— So glad that after a poor-shooting tournament that featured lots of sloppy games, we got a thriller tonight. A great advertisement for the great sport of college hoops.
— I love “One Shining Moment” as much as anyone, but I thought this year’s was just … pretty good. I actually thought we’d see more Florida Gulf Coast highlights, but as always I got chills watching the buzzer-beaters and the emotional stuff.  So glad CBS has kept that tradition going.

— Can’t wait ’till Oct. 15, first day of practice next year. Let’s go Duke.

thatcher

**It’s sort of hard to explain to young people just how important Margaret Thatcher was in world history. Oh, Meryl Streep did a great job (so I hear, I haven’t seen it yet) portraying Thatcher in “The Iron Lady.” But unless you lived through it, I think it’s difficult to comprehend just how radical her being elected prime minister was.

For 11 years from 1979-90, a woman led one of the most important and powerful countries in the world. Long before Hillary Clinton or Angela Merkel, Thatcher was the trailblazer.

She was beloved, she was hated, but she was truly a unique voice in the world.  Reading some of the obits about her on Monday, after she died at age 87,  it was clear that she revolutionized England, modernized it, and did things her own way and in a way no woman leader had ever done before.

She left a giant footprint on the world, and she’ll be missed.

A terrific Oscars with Billy C back in charge. And Mormons baptizing Anne Frank posthumously? Very weird

Billy Crystal brought the funny.
Jennifer Lopez brought the wow.
And Meryl Streep brought the love from everyone.
One year after a pretty miserable Oscars hosted by two people who had no idea what they were doing, Billy Crystal and Hollywood kicked some serious butt last night at the Academy Awards.
As always, yours truly was taking notes and gathering comments from the peanut gallery.
— Sunday was the first time I ever attended an Oscars party, and it was super fun. Some friends of my girlfriend host a gala every year at their gorgeous NYC apartment, and it was super fun. There was a pool, some theme food (I particularly liked the Eggstremely Loud and Incredibly Toast) and good mocking all around.

— I thought Billy Crystal was terrific, though oddly he laughed at his own jokes a few times. His opener was hilarious, most of his jokes were spot-on (his political joke was funny, as was most of his banter with the stars in the crowd), and he kept the show moving. He sounded a little under the weather, which was unfortunate. Still, I thought he was great.

–Those Cirque de Soleil people were fantastic. Many at our party went “wow” at the contortions they were doing. Gotta see that show live one of these days.
— Jennifer Lopez. Wow. It seems like only at awards shows do I remember how beautiful she is. Thought Clooney’s girlfriend Stacy Kiebler, and Tina Fey looked particularly fetching, too. As did Viola Davis.
— So happy Meryl Streep won her third Oscar (her speech is at this link), and first in 29 years. Yeah, maybe Viola Davis deserved it, too, but Meryl has been so good for so long that I’m glad she got another moment in the sun. She’s the finest actor, male or female, in America. And a genuinely nice person from Jersey, too.
— Line of the night from one of the guys in our party: “Nick Nolte could walk right from the red carpet into the Death Montage.” Man, Nick looked bad.

— Very sweet speech by the guy who won for “A Separation,” from Iran. Thought it was interesting that as he was speaking, the cameras flashed right to Steven Spielberg, one of the most famous Jews in Hollywood.
— I thought Emma Stone was trying way too hard. But the “Bridesmaids” ladies were very funny.
— Chris Rock killed in his two minutes on stage. I wish they’d let him host again.

— Finally, though Streep’s win was one of the only “upsets” of the night, I actually liked the pacing of the show this year. Some of the interludes were interesting and I’m glad they didn’t subject us to 9 Best Picture vignettes. Good stuff all around.

**I don’t quite know what to say about this story, except to just present it and let you try to figure it out. For at least the 10th time, the Mormon Church has decided to posthumously baptize Anne Frank into the church. Yes, that Anne Frank, the famous Holocaust child who hid in the attic, then died in a concentration camp, has been baptized into the Mormon church.

Offensive and bizarre on so many levels. To try to use Anne Frank as a prop to proselytize about your religion is just ridiculous and wrong.
Would love to hear Mitt Romney weigh in on this one.

 

The beginning of the end for DADT. And Oscar nominees are out. Yay!

“I can not escape being troubled by the fact that we have in place a policy that forces young men and women to lie about who they are in order to defend their fellow citizens” — Admiral Mike Mullen

It’s a rare day when I can look at Congress and say “Well OK then, today they made a difference, and today they matter.”

But as I watched and read about the brave and honest testimony of the highest-ranking member of the U.S. military command, talk about the foolishness and just plain wrongness of the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy, I realized that today was such a huge day in our country.

Here we have a man who’s spent his whole career with soldiers, saying that is indefensible for America to keep hard-working gay and lesbian men and women out of the military.

All those Republican bigots and homophobes, all these years, have been saying that we should leave such a matter “to the generals,” because they know what’s best.

Well today, we had the Joint Chiefs of Staff, and the Defense Secretary, unveil a plan to finally repeal the hideous “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” law.

It may not happen overnight (and I think it’s crap that it’ll take a year-long “study” before the law is killed), but pretty soon, and not a moment too soon, gay Americans, who love this country as much as anyone else, will be allowed to help defend it.

That, my friends, is progress.

**Big Academy Awards fan here. Huge. Unlike the Grammys, where I have no interest and hardly have heard of most of the nominees, I love movies and try to see a lot of them ever year.

So I was excited the Oscar nominees came out today, and it seems like the voters did a pretty good job. I was very excited to see four movies I saw this year and loved (“Up,” “Inglorious Basterds,” “Avatar,” and “Up in the Air, my pick for best picture) nominated for the top award. I’d love it for “Basterds” to win, just to hear Tarantino make a crazy speech. I love that guy.

I think if Christoph Waltz, the SS military officer in “Basterds” doesn’t win supporting actor, there should be a criminal investigation. I’m stunned that an actress as limited as Sandra Bullock was nominated for best actress, but I hear she’s great in “The Blind Side.” (And hey, the other Michael Lewis wrote the book it was based on).

I think best actor has to be George Clooney or Jeff Bridges; best actress is wide-open; Helen Mirren or Meryl Streep are always worthy picks, but maybe Bullock or Gabby Sidibe (the woman from “Precious”) has a chance.

Finally, was thrilled to see Anna Kendrick get picked for best supporting actress; she was outstanding in “Up in the Air.”

Overall, I don’t see any major screwups with the nominees, but what do I know? I’m a guy who still loves “Side Out.”