Adele, Queen Of Hearts

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xxxSince her chart-topping coronation, the superstar singer has been determined to balance her real life with her record-breaking career. From behind the scenes of her world tour, she opens up about the challenges of motherhood, melancholy, and mega-stardom.
When Adele sings you can hear that it’s coming from an unfiltered honesty and purity. She creates songs that go deep and expose pain and vulnerability with her soulful voice. She takes you places other artists don’t go to anymore—the way they did in the ‘70s. —BEYONCÉ
I swear to god I laugh at every big thing that happens in my career. I laugh out loud because I think it’s fuckin’ ridiculous. At some point, the director of The Truman Show is going to come and say this is a sequel. —ADELE
The black Porsche Cayenne S.U.V. pulls up to the driveway of my hotel. Adele is behind the wheel and alone in the car. When I get in, she tells me she loves to drive on her own—although there is a discreet security detail in the vehicle in front of us. We’re on our way to Staples Center for the second of eight sold-out L.A. concerts on her current, 43-city world tour. She’s wearing a flouncy white cotton top over black leggings and beige flats. A Van Cleef & Arpels bracelet with colored round jewels is on her right arm. Her hair is pulled up off her face in a loose bun, her huge green eyes are covered by sunglasses, and, makeup-free, she is naturally gorgeous. She is gregarious and totally at ease, and we immediately start to talk about L.A. She recently purchased a house in Beverly Hills, because she spends so much time recording here and got tired of renting houses that weren’t properly baby-proofed, or private enough, or the pool was broken, and it was a waste of money. At the previous night’s concert she gave a shout-out to her new favorite L.A. supermarket—Bristol Farms. She raves about their balsamic cheese (“I ate the whole thing”), and we somehow segue into grooming. She shows me her long fake nails, which she says are coming off straight after the tour. She says she waited weeks to get her eyebrows shaped because the only woman she’ll let touch them lives in L.A. And how, after a month, she shaved her legs because she thought people in the front row at her concerts might notice them when she runs up the stairs to the stage. I ask if Simon Konecki (her boyfriend of five years and the father of their four-year-old son, Angelo) minded her unshaven legs. “He has no choice,” she says. “I’ll have no man telling me to shave my fuckin’ legs. Shave yours.”
We’re in the car for about 10 minutes when she starts talking about the joys and conflicts of motherhood. I say it was brave of her to have a child in the midst of such a big, successful career. “Actually,” she says, “I think it’s the bravest thing not to have a child; all my friends and I felt pressurized into having kids, because that’s what adults do. I love my son more than anything, but on a daily basis, if I have a minute or two, I wish I could do whatever the fuck I wanted, whenever I want. Every single day I feel like that.” I ask if she wants more children. She says she doesn’t think so. I say women often want to give their child a sibling, but since Simon has a daughter from a former marriage who is very much a part of their lives, Angelo already has a sister. “Exactly,” she says, “so that’s my get-out-of-jail-free card. I’m too scared. I had really bad postpartum depression after I had my son, and it frightened me.” Did she take antidepressants? “No, no, no, no. But also, I didn’t talk to anyone about it. I was very reluctant . . . . My boyfriend said I should talk to other women who were pregnant, and I said, ‘Fuck that, I ain’t hanging around with a fuckin’ bunch of mothers.’ Then, without realizing it, I was gravitating towards pregnant women and other women with children, because I found they’re a bit more patient. You’ll be talking to someone, but you’re not really listening, because you’re so fuckin’ tired.
“My friends who didn’t have kids would get annoyed with me,” she continues, “whereas I knew I could just sit there and chat absolute mush with my friends who had children, and we wouldn’t judge each other. One day I said to a friend, ‘I fuckin’ hate this,’ and she just burst into tears and said, ‘I fuckin’ hate this, too.’ And it was done. It lifted. My knowledge of postpartum—or post-natal, as we call it in England—is that you don’t want to be with your child; you’re worried you might hurt your child; you’re worried you weren’t doing a good job. But I was obsessed with my child. I felt very inadequate; I felt like I’d made the worst decision of my life . . . . It can come in many different forms. Eventually I just said, I’m going to give myself an afternoon a week, just to do whatever the fuck I want without my baby. A friend of mine said, ‘Really? Don’t you feel bad?’ I said, I do, but not as bad as I’d feel if I didn’t do it. Four of my friends felt the same way I did, and everyone was too embarrassed to talk about it; they thought everyone would think they were a bad mom, and it’s not the case. It makes you a better mom if you give yourself a better time. I’m enjoying touring, but at times I feel guilty because I’m doing this massive tour, and even though my son is with me all the time, on certain nights I can’t put him to bed. I never feel guilty when I’m not working. You’re constantly trying to make up for stuff when you’re a mom. I don’t mind, because of the love I feel for him . . . . I don’t care if I don’t ever get to do anything for myself again.” And while she does, of course, have a nanny, she is adamantly not one of those celebrity mothers who hands the kid off to a caretaker after a photo op in a fake playground.
We talk about the U.S. presidential election. “We only know Trump from The Apprentice,” she says, “so we think a reality star is running for president. I just don’t think anybody should be building walls or shit like that right now. I think we need to look after each other. Everyone must vote.” She tells me how, when she couldn’t speak for seven weeks following vocal surgery in 2011, “I wrote everything down. Which is nice, because it was the beginning of my relationship with my boyfriend, and now we have a record of all that for our kids.” She adds that she and Simon are not married, and she doesn’t need it; she thinks having a child together is the bigger commitment. And in her “real,” non-work life, she is fiercely private and so protective of her son that, she says, “I’d sue the fuckin’ ass off anyone that comes anywhere near my child.”
As we pull into the backstage area of Staples Center, she—a 10-time Grammy winner—says she’s “nostalgic” about this arena because the award show is held here. We walk into her large, private dressing room, and I note that she’s taller than I imagined—she tells me she’s five feet nine. She takes off her shoes and walks barefoot on the carpet. The room has white flowing curtains, large sofas, and a TV screen on a wall. In one part of the room a child’s play area is set up with a toy motorcycle, a toy kitchen with little pots and pans and cups and saucers, games, a Crayola box, and books. Rose- and Baies-scented candles are lit, and there’s a full makeup table in another corner. She says we have 20 more minutes to talk, then she has to do her sound check for 10 minutes, then vocal warm-ups for another 10, then we can talk again while she’s having her makeup done. I ask if she’s always this organized. She admits she’s always been in full control and comfortable in her skin. “It’s probably from my upbringing. I come from a very big family of a lot of women who did everything on their own.” (Later, her manager, Jonathan Dickins—the only person she says she completely trusts besides her boyfriend—tells me, “I met her when she lived [in London’s Brixton] above a convenience store, next to a gas station, and she would walk into a room and not give a fuck if she was speaking to the janitor or the head of the record label. That was her at 18 and that’s her at 28: completely unflappable, completely her own woman.”) Adele says, “My entire life revolves around my child, so everything is timed, because he’s on a routine.”
We sit on the sofa, and I ask her if she still has her previously well-documented stage fright. “In a different way,” she says. “I get nervous, as opposed to the projectile vomiting and trying to avoid the stage.” She says she didn’t have to tour, and she doesn’t understand why people are addicted to touring. “I’d still like to make records, but I’d be fine if I never heard [the applause] again. I’m on tour simply to see everyone who’s been so supportive. I don’t care about money. I’m British, and we don’t have that . . . thing of having to earn more money all the time. I don’t come from money; it’s not that important a part of my life. Obviously I have nice things, and I live in a nicer area than I grew up in. That was my goal from the age of seven: it was ‘I ain’t living here.’ I didn’t care how I was getting out, I didn’t care where I’d be living, but I knew I wasn’t living there. I love being famous for my songs, but I don’t enjoy being in the public eye. I love to make music, and I love doing shows, and I needed to go back to work—not for money but because something was missing. I wasn’t creating music. But there is such a massive difference between what I do for my work and what I do in my real life. I don’t think anyone should be famous for going to a grocery store or a playground.” She tells me that, when she first got famous, people in her family sold stories about her, and friends from childhood sold photos. “I appreciate when there’s money [involved],” she says, “but you could go get a job. The problem is you can’t talk about the downside of fame, because people have hope, and they cling to the hope of what it would be like to be famous, to be adored, to be able to create and do nice things.” Also, she adds, “money makes everyone act so bizarrely. It’s like they become intimidated by it, like I’m wearing my fuckin’ money.”
A note here about her laugh, which comes often and has been described as a “cackle,” but is really more a raucous burst of appreciation at something either she or someone else has said. According to Beyoncé, “It is so easy to talk to her and be around her. She’s funny as hell and her comebacks are legendary. The most beautiful thing about Adele is that she has her priorities straight. She is a gracious woman and the most humble human being I’ve ever met.”
Adele Laurie Blue Adkins was born 28 years ago in Tottenham, London, and was raised mostly by her single mother, Penny, with help from her paternal grandparents. At the age of seven she knew she could carry a tune and spent years in her room impersonating the British singer Gabrielle and the Spice Girls. She graduated from the BRIT School for Performing Arts and Technology in 2006 and was quickly “discovered” from a demo on MySpace and signed at the age of 18 to the British alternative label XL. At that same time, she made her management deal with Dickins—who comes from a British music-business family—and they’ve been a team ever since. In 2008 she released her debut album, 19, with its smash hit “Chasing Pavements,” and an October 2008 appearance on Saturday Night Live (the night Sarah Palin was on) kickstarted her career in the U.S.—where her album has since gone triple platinum. Prior to the release of 19, when she wanted to make a North American record deal, she went to Columbia Records, whose chairman and C.E.O., Rob Stringer, says, “She walked down our corridor, a cigarette in her mouth, and she saw the photos of Barbra Streisand, Bob Dylan, and Beyoncé on the wall, and she was like, literally, ‘Yeah, I’ll be all right here.’ ” She won two Grammys in 2009, and the rest is a steady, extraordinary decade-long rise for a singer who doesn’t dance, doesn’t do big production numbers, doesn’t dress like a fairground stripper, doesn’t lip-synch, doesn’t endorse any commercial products, and refreshingly doesn’t use the words “my brand.” Rob Stringer says, “She has time to really think about her music, because she’s not spending all that time doing private gigs or Coke commercials.”
All this led to huge record sales at a time when people stopped buying records. In January 2011 she released her sophomore album, 21—with the smash singles “Rolling in the Deep” and “Someone Like You.” It held the No. 1 spot on the Billboard charts for 24 weeks and was in the Top Five of the charts for 39 consecutive weeks—the most in Billboard’s history. In 2011 and 2012, 21 sold more albums worldwide in a two-year period than any since Michael Jackson’s Thriller, in 1983 and 1984. And 21 has sold 35 million to date. She swept the 2012 Grammys with six awards, including Record, Song, and Album of the Year. Producer Rick Rubin, who worked with her on 21, says, “Besides her once-in-a-lifetime voice, Adele has a pure songwriting gift. We always discussed how to get the most out of the songs, never to settle. All the songs always started with her; sometimes she liked having a collaborator to help get it over the finish line, but all of her best work comes directly from her.”
In December 2013, Prince Charles presented Adele with Britain’s M.B.E. for Services to Music. Her third album, 2015’s 25, spent 10 weeks at the top of the U.S. charts; the video for the first single (“Hello”) was viewed 1.6 million times per hour the first two days of its release. And recently, unconfirmed rumors had it that she renegotiated her Columbia deal for an unprecedented sum of $130 million. According to Stringer, “This year, 25 has sold 10 million physical and digital albums—easily twice that of any other artist.” Adele also won an Oscar for her James Bond theme, “Skyfall,” in 2013, her television special, Adele Live in New York City, was nominated for four Emmys, and she is expected to receive multiple Grammy nominations this year for 25. According to her friend the late-night TV host James Corden, whose “Carpool Karaoke” segment with Adele has had more than 130 million online views, “She is the biggest star on the planet, and yet she’s still in the world with us. As a performer, she represents us; so many of the feelings she expresses in her songs are feelings that we all have. She is true to herself and completely authentic.”
The day after Adele’s second L.A. concert, on her day off, we meet in a private room at the Soho House for lunch. She arrives exactly on time, wearing a black tunic and gladiator sandals. Her hair is up and, once again, she’s makeup-free. She says she can’t drink caffeine anymore, orders a decaf latte and some avocado-on-toast sandwich situation, and shares my French fries. She checks her phone only once—to make sure her son is napping—and we talk for over two hours. We discuss her show and how she manages to make an arena seem intimate. She brings people up from the audience onto the stage for a hug or, in the case of the night before, a plug—when she brought up a drag-queen Adele impersonator named Delta Work, who shamelessly announced her own upcoming appearances to the audience. The real Adele alternates four identical sequined Burberry gowns for her concerts, and after the show she makes a quick change to get in the car and drive home with Simon. “It’s like America’s Got Talent,” she says. “I climb out of my Spanx.” She gets “pissed off,” she says, when she sees people in her audience checking their phones (to say nothing of her calling out an audience member in Verona, Italy, who was filming her with a professional camera on a tripod). “People would rather have a photo to show to people than actually enjoy a moment,” she says. “It’s weird—when I first started out, nearly 10 years ago, no one had their phones out. I’d go onstage to people. Now I go onstage to 18,000 phones. It’s pretty because of the lights . . . but no one is actually looking at the world—they’re on their phones all the time. Also, this Wi-Fi, you watch, it’s going to fuckin’ kill our insides . . . it’s just floating around. I’m telling you, we’ll find out in 25 years.”
We order no alcoholic beverages. She says she used to be a “massive drinker,” but since her vocal surgery and the birth of her son, she stopped smoking and now might have two glasses of wine a week. “Having a hangover with a child is torture,” she says. “Just imagine an annoying three-year-old who knows something’s wrong; it’s hell.” She says she’s never had any interest in drugs, because when she was younger someone her family knew died of a heroin overdose and it “freaked the fuckin’ life out of me. I’m too scared to ever take drugs. I used to love to be drunk, but as I got more famous I would wake up the next morning and think, What the fuck did I say and who the fuck did I say it to? I never had blackouts, but when you’re drunk and you go to a party, you’ll talk to anyone. I can see from an outsider’s perspective that I will never write songs as good as the ones that are on 21, but I’m not as indulgent as I was then, and I don’t have time to fall apart like I did then. I was completely off my face writing that album, and a drunk tongue is an honest one. I would drink two bottles of wine, and I would chain-smoke. Then I’d write the lyrics down and the next morning think, Fuck, that’s quite good. Then I’d find the melody. But since I’ve had my baby, I’m not as carefree as I used to be. I’m scared of a lot of things now because I don’t want to die; I want to be around for my kid. I’m very cautious, whereas I was never cautious before. I would never have done anything before that would make me die, but now I go out of my way to avoid anything that is remotely dangerous—like walking along a sidewalk. I’d rather walk on the grass or a lawn, rather than the pavement, in case a car crashes into me. Also, I don’t go out as much as I used to. I go to very civilized dinners, and I’ll go to work things when I have to, but you have to literally drag me onto a fuckin’ red carpet.”
She tells me she considers herself a “wailer” more than a singer, and that the singers she likes are “incredible—they’re on the next level,” like her early influences Etta James and Ella Fitzgerald. She adores Beyoncé, who she says has been a constant in her life since she was 11 and heard “No, No, No” from Destiny’s Child. “She’s my Michael Jackson,” Adele says. The other two women she says she reveres are Stevie Nicks—”I can’t find the words to describe how much I love her”—and Bette Midler. About Bette, she says, “I’ve obviously loved her for years. I like her humor, but she’s a fucking great singer, a really amazing singer. When I watched her show, I felt like I was really watching the last legend. No one’s made like that anymore.” Both women return the admiration: “Adele is major,” says Stevie Nicks. “It’s very satisfying to see her success. [Her song] ‘When We Were Young’ makes me sob. I think she can do anything. And I think she will do everything.” And Bette, who had been at Adele’s show at Staples the previous night, told me, “Adele’s voice is so beautiful, so flexible, and she can do anything with it. The main thing is she hits you where you live. She is utterly hilarious and her shows are a riot—not just because of the great music and musicianship but her complete connection with her audience and her ability to make them laugh and then turn around and reduce them to tears.”
Adele says, “Every day as I get older, I appreciate women more and more. When you’re between the ages of 15 and 19, maybe you see women as competition, as opposed to lifesavers and people that hold your hand and have experienced pretty much everything that you have. So the more women in my life the better.” As for her relationship with Simon (who runs the nonprofit Drop4Drop), Adele attributes their age gap (he’s 14 years older than she is) as the reason he is so comfortable with her success. “I have no desire to be with anyone in show business, because we all have egos. He’s not threatened by any stage of my life that I’m going for, and that’s an amazing thing. It’s the most serious relationship I’ve ever been in; we’ve got a child together and we live together. After releasing my first album, all the other people I ever was with were so insecure about themselves—they couldn’t handle it at all. When I try to describe this to my friends they don’t always get it, because they go out with people that are our age, but Simon is already who he is, and I’m still becoming who I’m going to be. He’s confident. He’s perfect.”
I ask why, during her onstage “chat” (her word), she refers to her songs as “miserable” when they actually are more reflective. She says, “The music I’ve always been drawn to is sad. I’ve always been pretty melancholy. Obviously not as much in my real life as the songs are, but I have a very dark side. I’m very available to depression. I can slip in and out of it quite easily. It started when my granddad died, when I was about 10, and while I never had a suicidal thought, I have been in therapy, lots. But,” she emphasizes, “I haven’t had that feeling since I had my son and snapped out of my postpartum depression.” What about all the old boyfriends who were the subjects of her earlier heartbreak songs? “There’s a reason I loved them once,” she says, “and for a while hate got in the way. But I’m an adult now, I’m a mother, and I’m a lot less bitchy. They were interesting people, and while we’re not friends and I don’t see them regularly, I have seen them and it’s all fine.”
I ask why she was a reluctant latecomer to music-streaming services, and she says, “I wanted to prove a point. Everyone said streaming is the future. Well, if it is in the future, we’re not in the fuckin’ future yet. I wanted to prove the point that, if people like a record enough, they will go out and buy it. And they did.” She says she’s in this for “the long haul,” and while she might never do a long tour like this again, perhaps, one day, she would do 20 shows in one place, like Las Vegas. And that she would love to be on Broadway, specifically playing the part of Mama Rose in Gypsy. But, she says, “like when I’m 50.”
As we wind down and she prepares to go back home to Simon and their son, she says, “I want to sing these songs when I’m 70 fuckin’ years old. To have a song, any song—let alone I’ve had four or five that have resonated with people that much—that’s why I make music.” But, she adds, “all of my relationships are more important to me than any tour I’ll ever do. If my relationship with Simon or my relationship with Angelo started to flounder a bit now, I would pull out of my tour. My life is more important to me than anything I’m doing because how the fuck am I supposed to write a record if I don’t have a life? If I don’t have a real life, then it’s game over anyway.”
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‘The Odd Couple’ Paying Tribute To Garry Marshall

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untitledThe November 7 episode of CBS’ The Odd Couple will take a look back with a tribute to the original series’ co-creator Garry Marshall, who died in July. The episode will feature actors from his hit TV shows including Ron Howard, Marion Ross, Anson Williams and Don Most from Happy Days; Marshall’s sister Penny Marshall and Cindy Williams from Laverne & Shirley; and Pam Dawber from Mork & Mindy, which made Robin Williams a star. In the 1978-79 season, those series claimed three of the top four slots in all of primetime.

Marshall developed and was the executive producer of the original Odd Couple, which starred Tony Randall and Jack Klugman, and ran from 1970-75, and served as executive consultant on the current version, starring Matthew Perry and Thomas Lennon as Oscar Madison and Felix Unger, respectively. In the current series, Marshall guest-starred once as Oscar’s father, Walter.

“The writing staff and everyone on The Odd Couple reboot was thrilled when Garry Marshall joined us as a producer because his shows were part of our TV DNA,” said executive producer Bob Daily. “He was a kind, generous presence on the set, and we loved him dearly. And when we lost him, we knew we had to do something to honor his legacy – something that, like Garry’s work, was both heartfelt and zany. We are so grateful that the stars of these classic shows are able to join us in honoring him.”

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Billy Bush Wife Is Not Pleased

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jjjjNew details of Billy Bush‘s marriage woes have come to light just days after exclusively revealed his potential divorce crisis with wife Sydney Davis.

According to Page Six, Davis is livid with her shamed husband after his 2005 Donald Trump tape leaked to the world earlier this month.

“Billy Bush’s wife was furious about the tape. Not just because of what was said, but because he was stupid enough to put himself in that position,” an NBC source told the publication. “It wasn’t just the vile talk, it’s because he insisted the woman hug him and Trump. It was creepy. She was so furious that she refused to speak with him for a while — and she’s still furious.”

“They are having marriage problems,” the insider continued. “He didn’t apologize to her for the embarrassment he caused in his statement. And she hasn’t released a statement at all.”

Bush and Davis have been married for 18 years with three daughters together.

“Billy has brought this on himself. He’s blown his big chance at TODAY, and he doesn’t have his old job at Access [Hollywood] to fall back on,” the source also claimed. “He fears his career is over. His wife is angered that he has embarrassed her and their daughters.”

Meanwhile, sources claimed to Radar that the scandal is now threatening the future of their marriage.

“Sydney was so upset and devastated when she heard the tape,” a source exclusively told Radar. “Billy told his friends that he was getting more s**t at home than he did at work and that Sydney flipped out over it.”

Hours after the tape leaked, Bush quickly issued a public apology.

“Obviously I’m embarrassed and ashamed,” he said. “It’s no excuse, but this happened eleven years ago — I was younger, less mature, and acted foolishly in playing along. I’m very sorry.”

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Fears For William Shatner After On-Air Meltdown

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xxxWilliam Shatner‘s bizarre on-air meltdown on a recent TV chat show has the actor’s friends worried — and has exclusively learned that some fear the Star Trek icon could be losing his mind to brain-ravaging dementia!

“Bill’s latest behavior has his loved ones petrified that his mind is going,” said one source.

“He hasn’t been himself in recent months. He has wild mood swings. One minute Bill can be totally calm and happy and a few minutes later, he’s shouting and ranting about some random topic.”

“Some close to him are worried Bill could be succumbing to dementia.”

Alarm bells for Star Trek‘s legendary Capt. James T. Kirk began clanging after he flew into an on-air rant during an early October appearance on the TV chat show Good Morning Britain.

The 85-year-old star, who was attending a Star Trek convention in Manchester, suddenly launched into a head-scratching tirade, saying he couldn’t understand the hosts, and bellowing, “This primitive place! I’m among savages. Where am I?”

He forgot the names of co-hosts Ben Shephard and Kate Garraway, mocked their questions and rudely quit mid-interview, saying, “I’m getting out of this. What kind of interview is this? Lovely to chat to you … if that’s what it was.”

Now, the source described the aging star’s behavior as “downright weird.”

“Bill can be laughing in one breath and then break down in tears at the slightest provocation, even for something as small as seeing a sentimental commercial on TV,” the insider claimed.

In the past, Shatner’s battled a myriad of medical woes.

Last year the 5-foot-8 star’s weight ballooned to 300 pounds, but he’s since trimmed 30 pounds.

Shatner’s also had a hip replacement and was nearly driven to suicide 10 years ago by tinnitus, a constant ringing in the ears.

Now, he’s been lashing out at friends who act concerned or suggest he get professional help for his bizarre mood swings, said the insider.

“Bill seems unwell and everyone’s praying he can get the help he needs,” said the source, “so he doesn’t fade away into a heartbreaking and agonizing death.”


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Chris Rock On Comedy, Producing, Writing And Directing

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cr“Some people aren’t making comedy for me, like Samantha Bee,” he said. “This is not for me, this is for a certain group of women, and I gotta kinda defer. I think everyone should be funny to the people that look like you first.”

The key to producing a successful comedy lies within the lead comedian, says Chris Rock.

“There’s definitely a role [for producers in comedies], it’s just less of a role than it would be for something dramatic,” he explained at a comedy-focused panel at Produced By: New York, held Saturday at the Time Warner Center. “Like, you can do any Jerry Bruckheimer movie and take the actor out, … the movie is exactly the same. Get rid of Sean Connery, put in … Clint Eastwood, same f—ing movie! Try that with Talladega Nights and watch what happens: a lot of embarrassment there. People will get fired.”

“You have to pick your boss, essentially,” he continued. “It’s a jockey job. Ride a f— horse. … No one can ride Chris Tucker like Brett Ratner. Chris Tucker and Brett Ratner, woo! Can’t f— with that combination.”

To make a hit film, “the best comedies basically are dramas with jokes,” Rock observed. “Dodgeball and Any Given Sunday are kind of the same movie, it’s just different seasoning. Woody Allen, to me, all of them are dramas with jokes. In order to get the biggest laughs you need something dramatic; the laughs have to be a release.”

Louie producer M. Blair Breard added, “The difference between comedy and drama is the drama people get more money. … The drama people are sometimes funny, but the comedy people are always dramatic. They’re telling a story in a comedic way.”

Throughout the panel, also featuring Stuart Cornfeld, Rock also spoke on how he knows what’s funny on his sets. “If my producer totally gets it, the joke’s too old. I wrote a joke that the grips get right away? Sometimes everybody not getting it is just good, it’s like you’re in the right zone, or they get it and they’re uncomfortable as f—,” he explained.

Of judging what’s funny from other comics, he admitted, “Some people aren’t making comedy for me, like Samantha Bee. This is not for me, this is for a certain group of women, and I gotta kind of defer. I think everyone should be funny to the people that look like you first. If you’re not funny to the people who look like you, there’s something wrong. If you’re real funny, it breaks that down.”

Someone who doesn’t look like him: Amy Schumer, whose HBO stand-up special he directed. “I’ve never directed stand-up, it never even crossed my mind,” he said of doing so, adding that his strategy was to cut jokes he felt were too familiar. “I don’t know shit. Part of being a producer, a good one anyway, is knowing when you don’t know. I don’t know. What I can help this person with is, why’s are you doing this joke? Are we getting the most out of it? Is there more meat on that bone? … A lot of that is putting your ego in your back pocket and getting the most out of her.”

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Tippi Hedren Claims Alfred Hitchcock Sexually Assaulted Her

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thTippi Hedren, who starred in Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds” and “Marnie,” claims the director stalked and sexually assaulted and harassed her when she worked with him in the 1960s.

In an excerpt from her new memoir “Tippi,” obtained by the New York Post, Hedren details her relationship with Hitchcock in the ’60s, after she moved from New York City to Los Angeles following her divorce from Peter Griffith. Hitchcock, who died in 1980, tracked her down after seeing her in a commercial for meal replacement shakes, and signed her to a five-year movie contract.

After that, Hedren alleges, Hitchcock developed an unhealthy relationship with the actress. While working on 1963’s “The Birds,” the role that shot Hedren to stardom, Hedren claims that he was extremely possessive of her, warning her castmates, including co-star Rod Taylor, not to “touch her.” She claims that if Hitchcock even saw her talking to another man, he would give her an “expressionless, unwavering stare … even if he was talking to a group of people on the other side of the soundstage.”

Hedren further claims that Hedren would stalk her, telling his driver to pass by her home, and detailed an incident in which he allegedly tried to kiss her in the back of his limo. “It was an awful, awful moment,” she writes.

The alleged abuse reportedly continued on the set of their next movie together, “Marnie,” where Hedren says Hitchcock had a door installed that connected his office to her dressing room. On that set, Hedren says Hitchcock entered her dressing room and tried to “put his hands on me.”

“It was sexual, it was perverse,” she writes. “The harder I fought him, the more aggressive he became.”

She writes that she didn’t tell anyone of the alleged abuse because “sexual harassment and stalking were terms that didn’t exist” at the time.

It’s not the first time, however, Hedren has spoken out about Hitchcock’s behavior. HBO’s 2012 film “The Girl” detailed the darker side of their relationship, and Hedren previously gave interviews describing his apparent obsession with her. “He was a misogynist,” she told the New York Times in 2012. “I think he had a whole lot of problems.”

“Tippi” will be released on Nov. 1.

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John Lennon’s Letter To Queen Elizabeth Unearthed

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lennonThe draft of a letter John Lennon sent to Queen Elizabeth to return the award he received as a member of the Beatles was unearthed Wednesday at a Fab Four exhibition in Liverpool, CNN reports.

In the letter, Lennon seriously and playfully mapped out why he was sending back his MBE (Member of the British Empire) medal. “I am returning this MBE in protest against Britain’s involvement in the Nigeria-Biafra thing, against our support of America in Vietnam and against Cold Turkey slipping down the charts,” referring to the singer’s 1969 single.

Lennon added his signature and credited the letter to “John Lennon of Bag,” referring to his and wife Yoko Ono’s “bagism” campaign.

The anonymous owner of the letter discovered it within the sleeve of a used record they bought for £10. At the Beatles Story exhibition Wednesday, a memorabilia expert put the value of the letter at roughly $72,000.

The letter is believed to be the first draft of the note Lennon ultimately sent to Queen Elizabeth; it’s speculated that because the handwriting on the letter became smudged, Lennon instead sent a more pristine copy.

“You can quite clearly see that the signature in this letter has been smudged. My theory is that John Lennon never sent this draft because of the smeared ink,” music memorabilia expert Darren Julien told CNN. “If you’re writing to The Queen, you want the letter to look pretty perfect, you don’t want the ink to be smudged. This suggests that he wrote a second version of the letter, which was the one that was actually sent to The Queen.”

It’s unclear whether the letter’s owner has plans to sell his discovery.

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Olivia Harrison Presents: The Material World

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oliviaharrisonDrawing on George Harrison’s personal archive of photographs, letters, diaries, and memorabilia, Olivia Harrison reveals the arc of his life, from his guitar-obsessed boyhood in Liverpool, to the astonishment of the Beatles years, to his days as an independent musician and bohemian squire. Here too is the record of Harrison’s lifelong commitment to Indian music, and his adventures as a movie producer, Traveling Wilbury, and Formula One racing fan. The book is filled with stories and reminiscences from Harrison’s friends, including Eric Clapton, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Paul McCartney, Ringo Starr, and many, many others. Among its previously unpublished riches are photographs taken by Harrison himself beginning in the mid-1960s. It is a rich tribute to a man who died far too young, but who touched the lives of millions. Praise for George Harrison: Living in the Material World:

“The ‘quiet’ Beatle’s widow draws on photos, letters, and memorabilia to evoke a living, breathing portrait of the man who sought a more spiritual life after experiencing the riches that came with fame. The book is tied to the HBO documentary directed by Martin Scorsese.” —USA Today “George was the quiet Beatle, so it’s a real magical mystery tour to peer behind the scenes with this nearly four-hundred-page book.” —New York Post

“Seems well worth putting on your coffee table.” —Huffington Post

“Fans of George Harrison, the quiet Beatle who died in 2001, will lap up George Harrison: Living in the Material World, by his second wife, Olivia.” —

“The four-hundred-page book is filled with reproductions of notes, letters, scribbled lyrics, and some never-before-seen photographs. How many Beatles fans are out there? And how many ‘liked George’? Quite a few, it may turn out: the book debuts at number 24 on our extended nonfiction bestseller list this week, in its first week on sale.”

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Bob Dylan: Nobel Literature Prize Left Me Speechless

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bob-dylanBob Dylan says he accepts his Nobel Prize in literature, ending a silence since being awarded the prize earlier this month.

He said the honour had left him “speechless”, the Nobel Foundation said in a statement.

The foundation said it had not yet been decided if the singer would attend the awards ceremony in December.

However, Dylan reportedly told a UK newspaper he intended to pick up the award in person “if at all possible”.

The award to the star was announced on 13 October “for having created new poetic expressions within the great American song tradition”.

However, his failure to acknowledge it raised eyebrows.

Last week, a member of the Swedish Academy, which awards the Nobel prizes, described his silence as “impolite and arrogant”.

But on Friday, the Nobel Foundation said Dylan had called Sara Danius, Permanent Secretary of the Swedish Academy, telling her: “The news about the Nobel Prize left me speechless. I appreciate the honour so much.”

Although the statement said it was unclear if Dylan would attend the prize-giving banquet in Stockholm, the UK’s Daily Telegraph quoted him as saying: “Absolutely. If it’s at all possible.”

In an interview with the paper he described the prize as “amazing, incredible”.

“It’s hard to believe. Whoever dreams about something like that?” the paper quoted him as saying.

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Six Decades In, Warren Beatty Is Still Seducing Hollywood

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hollywoodIn one of the first magazine interviews he’s given in 25 years, the actor, director, and legendary lothario talks to Sam Kashner about his new film, his fascination with Howard Hughes, his wife Annette Bening, and living in the new age of Hollywood while remaining an icon of the past.
Warren Beatty and, opposite, Lily Collins and Alden Ehrenreich, photographed at the Beverly Hills Hotel.

‘Lunch at the Beverly Glen Deli at 1?”

“Yes, at your convenience. At this moment at the school dance concert.”

“Just returned. Let me check with authorities.”

“Timing . . . will call you in 20 minutes, ok?”

“May I call you at 2:30 and we’ll make a plan?”

“Sam, dealing with several things at once. Tomorrow dinner looks good.”


It was spring. The 2016 Academy Awards had come and gone, and Warren Beatty was hard at work editing Rules Don’t Apply, the first movie he has directed since the 1998 political satire Bulworth, which he also wrote and starred in. He met with me for his first in-depth interview in 25 years, since Norman Mailer’s 1991 profile of him in the pages of this magazine.

He is one of the most famous actors of the second half of the 20th century, was the most talked-about wooer of women in his day (his former paramours are legion, and all are beauties), and is one of Hollywood’s more successful filmmakers, known for equal amounts of shrewdness and seductive charm. He has been called “the Prince of Hollywood,” “the Pro,” and “Boss.” He was a famous movie star before any of them—before Clint, before Redford, before Dustin, before Pacino, even before his good friend Jack Nicholson. Throughout his nearly 60-year career as an actor, director, screenwriter, and producer, Warren Beatty has been nominated for 14 Academy Awards (including best actor, best picture, best director, best original screenplay, and best adapted screenplay), winning the best-director Oscar for Reds in 1981. He pops up in the diaries of Andy Warhol, the journals of J.F.K. historian Arthur Schlesinger Jr., a biography of James Baldwin, and countless celebrity memoirs. Although a decade can pass between the release of his movies, when they arrive on the scene they are cultural events. And he’s coming squarely back into the public gaze again this year, with Rules Don’t Apply, the rumored re-release of Bulworth, and the upcoming 50th anniversary of Bonnie and Clyde, in which he starred as Clyde Barrow.

After a cat-and-mouse week of postponed appointments, I was about to give up hope of ever seeing Mr. Beatty and was packing to leave Los Angeles. Suddenly, he playfully texted me, “where the f— are you? I’ve been waiting out here for seconds and seconds!”

I raced down to the lobby of the Montage hotel in Beverly Hills, and there he was outside, sitting in his car, parked on the street in front of the hotel. Beatty at 79 is still handsome, still lean, still charismatic. Though his Kennedy hair is now silver, he still has that Dick Tracy chin, that athlete’s loping walk. You can still imagine him on the high-school football field, sauntering up to a cheerleader with an unhurried grace. Diane Keaton, a former girlfriend and his co-star in Reds, once described him as “a collector’s item, a rare bird . . . Warren was stunning.” He doesn’t smoke or drink and has taken good care of himself over the decades. “If you see pictures of me smoking,” he said as we drove up the canyon, “I was acting. What I do like very much is the smell of cigar smoke.” He had the distinction of being sent a box of cigars by none other than Fidel Castro, who admired Reds. “They were just unbelievable. I smoked one every night after dinner, and I talked until four A.M.”

We arrive at his architecturally impressive house, perched atop Mulholland Drive, designed by Beatty. “I haven’t done an interview for a long, long time,” he explains as the gate opens and we pull in to the driveway up to the house. I follow him into the living room.

The views are spectacular: one side looks to the mountains, the other side to the sea. He lives there with his wife of 25 years, the actress Annette Bening, and two of their four children. (Later, it’s sweet to see him texting with his kids, Stephen, Ben, Isabel, Ella. He texts them novellas; they text back a single word, “yeah.”)

At first, however, after we were settled comfortably in his library, Beatty fell silent. Perhaps it was because I was a stranger—those who know him well describe him as the most loquacious of men. I noticed that he chose his words carefully. His sentences seemed to form themselves and break apart before they were even spoken—perhaps a feature of his legendary perfectionism. It was becoming just a little uncomfortable so I screwed up my courage and asked, “What are you thinking?”

He squinted. “I’m trying to figure out if I can trust you.”

After our meeting, we drove down the palm-treed boulevard behind the Beverly Hills Hotel on our way to dinner, quickly passing the former homes of Old Hollywood royalty. He casually acknowledged them as we sped by—“There’s Clifford Odets, and that’s Roz Russell, Kirk Douglas around the corner, and up here is Natalie Wood and R. J. Wagner’s.” These were the people he knew—you could well imagine Clifford Odets standing in his doorway, Beethoven blasting out from the hi-fi, or Roz Russell in her robe and slippers, waving to the mailman and watching him read a salacious postcard from Sinatra in Palm Springs.

“Warren is this link between many different generations of Hollywood,” says Alden Ehrenreich, the 26-year-old actor about to take on the role of Han Solo in the next Star Wars, whom Beatty cast as the young lead in Rules Don’t Apply. “He’s been an active participant in so many different eras, including the end of the golden Hollywood era of the big studios. He really spent the early part of his career learning as much as he could from iconic figures in the film industry—[directors] Elia Kazan and George Stevens, and [studio head] Louis B. Mayer.”

Then there’s the fame. On his way into a California Pizza Kitchen on the less glamorous side of Wilshire Boulevard, a young woman on her way out of the restaurant instantly recognized him: “Oh my god, you’re my favorite actor!”

“And you’re mine,” Beatty fired back. Warren Beatty seduced the world, and the world still seems to be in love with him.

After dinner, Beatty made his way from the back of the restaurant to the exit. You could see it happen: faces lit up with recognition. Suddenly, they were seeing Clyde Barrow, a matchstick stuck between his teeth, or George (in 1975’s Shampoo), distracted and blow-drying a Beverly Hills matron with her head in his lap, or Dick Tracy (in 1990’s Dick Tracy) in his fedora and yellow raincoat. And a few days later, heading back to the parking lot after a memorable hamburger at the Apple Pan, a famed greasy spoon in West Los Angeles, a car slowed down menacingly. The window was lowered. “Reds is the greatest movie ever made!” its driver yelled out.

“Thank you, thank you,” Beatty said as he kept walking, a gentle smile appearing on his face. He often seems sheepish in the glare of his fame. His expression seems to say, “Thank you, but remember it’s only a movie,” though he has given much of his life to Hollywood. Later, when I asked him what the best thing about being famous is, he answered, “I asked Jodie Foster that same question because she’s been famous since she was eight. And you know what she said? She said, ‘Access.’ And she’s right. You can pick up the phone and they’ll take your call.”

Beatty has an uncanny ability to remember phone numbers, particularly hotels where he’s spent time, such as the rather modest, small penthouse at the top of the Beverly Wilshire Hotel where he lived for a while—“310–271–8627.”

“The Plaza?”


“The Carlyle?”


Due to be released next month, Rules Don’t Apply has been described as a biographical film about eccentric billionaire Howard Hughes, but it’s actually about two would-be lovers finding themselves in the labyrinth of Hollywood against a backdrop of 1950s sexual repression. Beatty plays Howard Hughes in a supporting role.

“There’s this misapprehension that it’s a biopic,” Beatty explains, “which it’s not, although Howard is an important character in it. I wanted to do a story about a girl who comes from being the Apple Blossom Queen of Winchester, Virginia [Marla Mabrey, played by Lily Collins], and a boy who is a Methodist from Fresno [Frank Forbes, played by Alden Ehrenreich], who is under the same religious influences that I was raised in. I wanted to do a story about that young man and that young woman that also deals with money and misogyny in late-1950s Hollywood.”

One doesn’t immediately associate Beatty with puritanical guilt and repression, but that is the world he grew up in, in conservative Virginia in the 1940s and 50s, and the one he has rebelled against his entire life. “I’m afraid it still remains a big subject in America,” he says, “which often makes us the laughingstock of France and other European countries. So I thought this would be fun to deal with—a young man and a young woman involved with an unpredictable billionaire, who had no rules he had to follow because of his inheritance and his way of life. So it’s also about the effect of Hollywood on those rules, and the effect of money.”

The story of a young man coming to Hollywood from a conservative background is one he knows all too well. He and his sister, the actress Shirley MacLaine, were raised by Southern Baptist parents. Still, the family was somewhat bohemian. Their mother was an acting teacher, their father a high-school principal who was also something of a raconteur and bon vivant. Beatty recalled the first time he came downstairs dressed in a suit for church, astonishing his parents. He also admitted being convinced that if he had sex with a girl, he would have to marry her, one of the many autobiographical touches he brings to Rules Don’t Apply. And his high-school football coach telling him, as he looked longingly at the cheerleaders on the sidelines, “Don’t charge the battery if you don’t intend to use the lights”—advice also given to Frank Forbes in the film. Beatty was 20 before he lost his virginity. In casting Ehrenreich as the boy, Beatty chose an actor who reminded him of himself.

Nonetheless, the role of Howard Hughes is made to order for Beatty. The reclusive, detail-obsessed Hughes, who was a pilot, an innovative aeronautical engineer, and the owner of the RKO film studio, was considered during his lifetime one of the most unknowable men in Hollywood. He was also a fascinating spectacle and a favorite object of Hollywood gossip, especially in his later years, when he retreated to the desert, occupying the top floor of the Desert Inn, in Las Vegas, living like a hermit surrounded by a cadre of Mormon yes-men.

Martin Sheen, Ed Harris, Dabney Coleman, Matthew Broderick, and Oliver Platt are also in the movie, as well as Alec Baldwin as Howard Hughes’s lawyer Bob Maheu. (In a particularly touching scene, Hughes explains to Maheu why they can never meet face-to-face: He is rightly afraid the bankers would take TWA away from him if they saw his deteriorated condition.)

Like Hughes, Beatty has remained out of the public eye for some time, refusing interviews, taking years off between films. Some in Hollywood went so far as to accuse him of engineering his own fade, like the disappearing movie-star beauty Greta Garbo. Perhaps they don’t know how else to explain his happiness, his domestic bliss. In Hollywood, the greatest fear is not to work. But, for Beatty, it’s the work that creates the anxiety, agonizing over every detail of filmmaking. He avoids doing it for as long as possible, until the anxiety of not doing it boils over, and then a movie—slowly, painstakingly—gets made.

Beatty is always working, always writing, but for the past two decades he was also busy raising his “four, small Eastern European countries that live in our house,” as he describes his offspring, each with their own culture and language and customs. They have thrived under the care of two famous parents, whose celebrity fails to impress them. “One of them recently saw their first Warren Beatty movie, Reds, and claimed to ‘rather enjoy it,’ ” Beatty said. With two teenagers still at home, it seems to be a household run by children, for children.

When Norman Mailer profiled Beatty in V.F. in 1991, he was working on the final edit ofBugsy, and spoke of his pregnant bride-to-be, Annette Bening, who co-starred with him in the story of Benjamin “Bugsy” Siegel, the visionary gangster who opened the Flamingo Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas in the 1940s. Since then, there have been more children than movies. He’s more than fine with that—thrilled, in fact. “I think I’ve been lucky enough not to have to do movie after movie after movie for financial reasons, so I’ve been able to live life, and also make movies. I didn’t have to grind them out. I could go long periods where I was living life, rather than tripping over cables. Sometimes life just takes over, as it has taken over with four kids, in a way that has been more wonderful than I could have imagined at an earlier age.”

He was criticized for turning down starring roles in other people’s pictures that became big hits, such as the Burt Reynolds role in Paul Thomas Anderson’s Boogie Nights. Earlier, he’d turned down the role of Sundance in Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid, after insisting unsuccessfully on doing the film with Elvis Presley, and he turned down Marlon Brando’s role in Last Tango in Paris (a role also offered to Jack Nicholson). John F. Kennedy himself wanted Beatty to play him in PT 109, Robert J. Donovan’s account of Kennedy’s heroism in the Pacific during World War II. The president sent Press Secretary Pierre Salinger to ask him, but Beatty didn’t like the script. Later, at a dinner at the Fifth Avenue apartment of Kennedy’s brother-in-law Stephen Smith, the president told Beatty, “Boy, were you smart not to be in that movie!” (Cliff Robertson took the role and the movie flopped.)

He turned down playing Richard Nixon twice—once for Oliver Stone and again in Ron Howard’s Frost/Nixon—because he felt that in both films “Nixon was not treated compassionately. . . . I think I was on his enemies list, but I grew to feel sad for him.”

Photographs from and floor-to-ceiling posters of his films adorn his office: Bonnie and Clyde; all the historical witnesses from Reds; Goldie Hawn and Julie Christie peering out of the poster for Shampoo, Beatty hovering over them, holding a hair dryer; Robert Altman’s rain-soaked, revisionist Western, McCabe & Mrs. Miller, featuring a haunted Julie Christie and a bearded Warren Beatty; Heaven Can Wait, with Beatty as winged angel in a tracksuit. Like the pages of a giant, illustrated book of great 20th-century films, Splendor in the Grass, Bonnie and Clyde, Reds, Heaven Can Wait, Dick Tracy, and Bugsy represent Beatty’s gallery of American outliers. Howard Hughes is about to join that pantheon.

“For years Warner Bros. was trying to get me to make a movie about Howard Hughes,” Beatty explains. “[Hughes] did have a way of creating mystery about his involvements, and where he was, and what he was, while also maintaining a level of freedom.” Last year, The New York Times called the movie a “40-year passion project whose status is almost as mysterious as its subject: the industrialist Howard Hughes.” The movie is a love poem to all that’s bad and all that’s good about an America that still belonged to men, and to men like Howard Hughes. It’s a time and a place Beatty knows well, having come up through its dense forests of want and guilt and fame.

The idea for Rules Don’t Apply was sown 40 years ago when Beatty found himself at the Beverly Hills Hotel for a discreet liaison with a young woman who will remain nameless. “I’ve always been, you might call it, secretive, but there I was. I didn’t want to be seen at the moment—many, many, many, many years ago at the Beverly Hills Hotel,” he says with a lopsided grin. “I went to visit someone, and as I walked down the hallway, I saw an open door with two men with crew cuts staring at a television. And I thought, Uh-oh. Tabloids. It didn’t alter my plan for the evening, and when I left the next day, there were two other guys staring out of that same door, and I thought, This is bad.”

He complained to the desk. “I’m sorry that you’ve allowed tabloids to be spying on my friend!” he said, and they asked him to hold on. “They came back to the phone, and they said, ‘Would you keep this in confidence?’

“I said, ‘Well, yes.’

“ ‘Those people are not with the tabloids. They’re with Mr. Hughes.’

“ ‘Are you telling me that my friend is staying in the next suite from Howard Hughes?’

“ ‘Well, we don’t know.’

“ ‘So what are you telling me?’

“ ‘Well, he has seven suites.’

“ ‘Seven suites?’

“ ‘Yes, and confidentially, he has five bungalows.’ “

Beatty was intrigued. Why did the reclusive mogul need seven suites and five bungalows? After a while, Beatty found himself “more interested in why I was interested. There was something about inherited wealth at a young age that gave one a license to go against the rules. And the rules always interested me. It didn’t take me long to surmise that I was more interested in why I was interested than I was in Howard Hughes!” he says with a laugh.

The former football star didn’t set out to be an actor. “I left Northwestern University after a year,” Beatty reminisces, “and was in New York playing piano in a little bar on 58th Street, and I didn’t know whether to go back. And then someone said, ‘You should go to [famed acting coach] Stella Adler. She was Marlon Brando’s teacher.’ I said, ‘What is Stella Adler?’ I was just a redneck football player from Virginia. That’s how much I knew. I got lucky. I was very young.”

Beatty came to Hollywood just as the old studio system was dissolving. He made a five-picture deal with MGM at $400 per week. “I had a car and a nice little house. I had been paying $13 a week in Manhattan, on West 68th Street, and the bathroom was in the hall.” But six weeks after Beatty arrived in Hollywood, playwright William Inge and director Daniel Mann showed up and asked him if he was interested in appearing in Inge’s new Broadway play, A Loss of Roses.

Beatty answered, “Well, I’m a movie actor. I can’t really go back and do a play.”

Inge looked at Beatty and asked, “So, do you feel that you’ve sold out?”

“That’s all he had to say,” recalls Beatty, but first he had to get out of his contract with Lew Wasserman at MCA, at that time the world’s largest talent agency. That wasn’t easy. Beatty was finally making good money, and he’d have to give it back. He asked Wasserman if he could borrow the money from MCA.

Wasserman stared at Beatty for a long time. “What do I look like to you—a bank?”

Beatty took a deep breath and told him, “You look to me like a brilliant agent who will be minus one client if you don’t lend me the $2,400 [I owe you].” Wasserman leaned forward, then burst out laughing. “All right,” he said. “You’ve got the fucking money.”

Beatty returned to New York to do the play.

A Loss of Roses was a flop, but Beatty got a positive mention in Kenneth Tynan’s review inThe New Yorker: “Mr. Beatty, sensual around the lips and pensive around the brow, is excellent as the boy.” More important, Elia Kazan saw him in the play and cast him as Bud in Splendor in the Grass.

The memory of the guilt and repression of his teen years stayed with him, which is partly why he is so heartbreakingly convincing as the tortured teenager Bud, in love with Natalie Wood’s doomed Deanie Loomis, in Splendor in the Grass in 1961, and why he has returned to this theme. Beatty has come full circle. Alden Ehrenreich agrees. “There’s a spiritual connection to Splendor in this film,” he says.

In William Inge’s story, high-school football star Bud and his teenage love, Deanie, are driven mad by their unconsummated desire and by their parents, who meddle in their romance, bent on keeping them “unspoiled,” in Deanie’s case, and saved for a higher-class life at Yale, in Bud’s. The movie launched Beatty’s film career. At 24, he was a star. That should have been the open sesame to all roles, but the one he wanted, Paolo, the Italian gigolo in Tennessee Williams’s adaptation of his novel The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone, eluded him. “They kept asking me to play these inhibited young high-school people,” Beatty recalls, “and I thought, No, got to stay away from that. So I get offered The Roman Spring of Mrs. Stone. Jose Quintero, who had the respect of everyone in the theater, [was set to direct], and Lotte Lenya was going to be in it, and Vivien Leigh. And I thought, O.K.! Now I’m playing opposite Vivien Leigh—I’m not playing opposite Sandra Dee—and guess what, they’re paying me $20,000, so I’m all set to go. And then, it’s ‘We’re sorry. Tennessee Williams has casting approval, and he says that whoever plays that part has to be an Italian. He will not accept an American.’ And I thought, Is there something I can do?”

Beatty called Williams’s agent, Audrey Wood, who also happened to be the agent for Inge. “ ‘Should I talk to him? Is there anything I can do?’ She said, ‘I don’t really think you should. He’s in Puerto Rico, and frankly, he’s a little depressed. The reviews for [his 1959 play]Sweet Bird of Youth hadn’t been very good.’ He was also suffering from stomach ulcers, which had flared up at the opening of the play.”

At that point Beatty had never been to Italy and thought all Italians were well tanned. “I bought something that was very new: it was called Man Tan. I smeared myself in Man Tan. I got what I considered to be sort of a pimp suit, nicely fitted and everything, and I flew to Puerto Rico to the Caribe Hilton.” Beatty went into the casino to look for the playwright. He spied Tennessee hunched over a blackjack table. “He looked like he was almost asleep, and he was by himself,” Beatty remembers. “He was drinking milk for his ulcers—that was a mistake, but that’s what people did in those days.”

Beatty asked the waiter to bring him a glass of milk, a tray, and a pad. He wrote on it “Whatever you say. Paolo” and had it delivered to Tennessee. “The waiter was confused but said O.K. He took it over.”

Tennessee distractedly picked up the note and read it. He turned and looked toward the door, where the waiter was pointing. “Tennessee looked at me and said, ‘All right, you’ve got the fucking part.’ ”

Not usually a fan of movies adapted from his work, the playwright nonetheless later wrote about Roman Spring, “I think that film is a poem,” perhaps a tribute not only to Vivien Leigh’s tragic fragility but to Warren Beauty’s youthful beauty as well.

‘Ah, if only Warren Beatty had been President,” Norman Mailer once toldThe Paris Review. Mailer was one in a long line of people who encouraged Beatty to enter politics, even to run for president, as late as 1991.

Though he has never run for office, he has been passionately interested in politics. He became particularly active in the 1960s, during a period of great political upheaval. As he was being gassed with Abbie Hoffman and Jerry Rubin in Chicago’s Lincoln Park during the Democratic convention of 1968, he realized he was running late for an appointment with Hubert Humphrey, the Democratic nominee. Four years later, in 1972, he campaigned for George McGovern in his unsuccessful run against Richard Nixon for the presidency. Beatty gave speeches and organized fund-raisers; he even got Simon and Garfunkel to re-unite for a McGovern benefit.

The world and politics almost lost Warren Beatty, however, when he took a wild ride with journalist Hunter S. Thompson after a party at George McGovern’s house in Washington, D.C., in 1972. In Jann Wenner and Corey Seymour’s oral biography, Gonzo: The Life of Hunter S. Thompson, McGovern’s pollster Pat Caddell recalls that he and Beatty found themselves, with Hunter at the wheel, “racing down the street with a bottle of Wild Turkey between his legs.” He forced a police car off the road and almost drove off a half-finished bridge into the Potomac. Caddell remembers looking over at Beatty, “who was whiter than a sheet.”

Later, Beatty supported Gary Hart’s two bids for the Democratic nomination, in 1984 and 1988, and maintains to this day that “Hart was railroaded” when a photograph of Hart with beauty-pageant winner Donna Rice in his lap was published. “That was a cropped photograph,” says Beatty. “There were 75 people there—it was truly unfair; he would have made a great president.”

Mostly Beatty has remained behind the scenes. He prefers that role, perhaps aware that his wealth and glamour would work against him. Too cautious, perhaps, and too private, Beatty has ultimately refused to run for office. In 1976 he declined to enter the New Hampshire primary against Jimmy Carter. “There has to be someone better” is what he says to those who have urged him to run. His vocal opposition to measures proposed by Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger earned him the enmity of the bodybuilding politician when all of the propositions were defeated. However, despite being a lifelong Democrat, Beatty liked the Reagans, especially Nancy. When he screened Reds for Ronald and Nancy, he remembers, the former-movie-star president told him, “It’s beginning to look like there’s no business but show business.”

Beatty has been described as “a samurai of sex” and “a model of discretion.” A short list of Beatty’s loves is said to include (in alphabetical order) Isabelle Adjani, Brigitte Bardot, Leslie Caron, Cher, Julie Christie, Joan Collins, Britt Eklund, Goldie Hawn, Diane Keaton, Elle Macpherson, Madonna, Michelle Phillips, Vanessa Redgrave, Diana Ross, Barbra Streisand, and Liv Ullmann (our apologies to those left off this list). He also had a somewhat reluctant dalliance with Edie Sedgwick, the waifish Andy Warhol “It girl.”

“I was staying at the Delmonico Hotel, in New York, when there was a phone call from the lobby,” he remembered. It was Sedgwick, whom he had met the night before, with cultural critic Susan Sontag and some others. “I think it was somewhere like Max’s Kansas City [nightclub].” They had only exchanged a few pleasantries, so it was something of a surprise when she showed up the following evening. When he opened the door, she stood in the hallway in a yellow rain slicker, with nothing underneath. The television was on. And taken by surprise, he wasn’t all that sure he could rise to the occasion. But she was insistent, flirting and nuzzling. Eventually he gave in, and as they fell to the floor, they suddenly heard on the television: “One small step for a man. One giant leap for mankind.” Neil Armstrong had stepped onto the surface of the moon. The moment had passed, and the two just stared at the television for the rest of the night.

He also briefly encountered Marilyn Monroe. Peter Lawford had invited him out to his house in Malibu for a night of tacos and poker, and Monroe was there. “I hadn’t seen anything that beautiful,” Beatty recalls. She invited him to take a walk along the beach, which he did. “It was more soulful than romantic.” Back in the house, he played the piano. (He’s a good pianist, by the way, enamored of jazz greats such as Erroll Garner.) Marilyn sat on the edge of the piano in something so clingy that Beatty could tell she wasn’t wearing underwear.

“How old are you?” she asked.

“Twenty-five,” he answered. “And how old are you?” he asked cheekily.

“Three. Six,” she said, as if not wanting to bring the two numbers together. By then, the tacos had arrived, and no one really played poker that night. Warren noticed that Marilyn was already a bit tipsy from champagne, even before the sun had set.

The next day, the producer Walter Mirisch’s brother Harold called. “Did you hear?” he asked. “Marilyn Monroe is dead.” Warren was one of the last people to see Marilyn alive—a story that Beatty tells only reluctantly. He really is one of Hollywood’s most discreet people, in a town and an industry marinated in its own gossip.

In another encounter with a famous seducer, Beatty met with playwright Noël Coward in London, where they had high tea at the Savoy. The master entertainer asked the actor, “Dear boy, have you ever tried homosexuality?”

“No. I have my hands full at the moment,” he replied diplomatically, as ever.

“You really should, you know. It’s marvelous.”

It may be worth mentioning that Beatty has remained on friendly terms with many, if not most, of his former lovers, especially the radiant Julie Christie, who co-starred with him in McCabe & Mrs. Miller, Shampoo, and Heaven Can Wait, and with whom he was involved for five years. She and her husband, journalist Duncan Campbell, still visit the Beattys and stay with them whenever they are in Los Angeles. “When she was on the cover of a magazine when we were together,” Beatty recalls, “I commented on how beautiful she looked. I was always telling her that, which exasperated her. ‘Stop saying that about me!’ ” But years later, she was looking through one of Beatty’s photo albums and saw pictures of herself. The next morning at breakfast, she said, ‘You know, you’re right. I was beautiful!’ “

Beatty himself disputes much of what has been written about him, especially as it pertains to his affairs. “I’ve never talked to anyone writing a book on me,” he says. “I’ve had so much written about me that is made up, usually something that seems silly enough or weird enough to get remarked upon, and it’s pretty much all fiction.”

Beatty reveres Elia Kazan and feels that he owes him his career, but even Kazan apparently got it wrong in his book Elia Kazan: A Life when he wrote that Warren and Natalie Wood began their love affair during Splendor in the Grass. Their romance began a year or more after the film was completed, Beatty says. In another biography, the author publicized his book “by saying some insane number of involvements with women”—12,775—“and if you stopped and thought about it, I’m now a married person of 24 years, and I believe in doing the right thing, and I’ve never been secretive that I had a rather religious youth, and that I didn’t begin this until late—you know, the age of 20. So I would have had to have been with something like three or four people a day, and nobody twice, ever!” With 24 years off for good behavior, that comes to approximately 342 women a year. And so he’s perhaps right in quoting Napoleon: “History is a set of lies that people have agreed upon.”

As for refuting the rumors, he says, “it’s best not to respond, because then you play tennis with it. You hit it back across the net. Then the people who are exploiting the fallacy get another shot at it, so it becomes three times as prominent. It’s yesterday’s mashed potatoes. . . . These untruths have been ‘true’ about me since 1958. It used to be that they would sell books, but not now. There are very few people you can scandalize profitably.”

A few months later, we met again in New York City at the Carlyle hotel. Warren had come to the city just for the day to screen his new movie and chat it up to the magazines. In the empty, late-morning dining room, we sat surrounded by the great Harry Benson’s photographs—Jacqueline Kennedy regally entering a room, Bianca Jagger being photographed by Andy Warhol, reflected in a mirror. Warren noticed me noticing these great beauties—“Not true,” he said about Jackie, before I could even ask. I nodded toward Bianca’s photograph. “Also not true.” I noticed a masked Mia Farrow from a photograph of Truman Capote’s Black and White Ball. “Mia?” I asked. He shook his head no.

‘Annette’s a very unusual woman,” said David Geffen. The entertainment titan has known Beatty for more than four decades. “We go back to the year that Howard Hughes died, in ‘76,” he recalled. “I was around when the Howard Hughes movie was first being considered at Warner Bros.” When the subject of Beatty’s marriage to Bening comes up, he muses, “It takes a lot of confidence to marry Warren. He’s a great husband and father, and before he was both of those things, he was a great Casanova. What can we say? It’s an incredible collection of lovers. You can’t ignore it. It’s impossible. That’s like ignoring that Muhammad Ali is black.”

Beatty’s marriage to Annette has disproved Casanova’s dictum “Marriage is the tomb of love.”

“For me, I would not submit to it until I was 54,” says Beatty. “There’s a lot to be said for doing it at a time where, if you’re going to have children, you’re sure to be around when the shit hits the fan—whatever the shit is, and whatever the fan is.”

Years before she ever met Beatty, Bening had asked actress Glenne Headly (who played Tess Trueheart in Dick Tracy) about him. “Warren is my favorite director—the best director I ever worked with,” she replied. A surprisingly down-to-earth beauty from the American heartland, Bening had already attracted glowing reviews in films such as Valmont (1989) and The Grifters (1990), for which she was nominated for an Academy Award. She later picked up three more nominations for American Beauty (1999), Being Julia (2004), andThe Kids Are Alright (2010).

They met in 1991 when Beatty cast her to play the notorious good-time girl Virginia Hill inBugsy. When he first interviewed her for the film, Warren said, “I want you to know that I’m not going to come on to you.” But when filming was over, it all happened very quickly. Beatty realized what he was giving up if he allowed himself to fall in love with her, but it happened. When Warren called Mike Nichols, who had directed him in The Fortune and Annette in Regarding Henry and Postcards from the Edge, to tell him that he was going to marry “the actress Annette Bening,” Nichols remarked, “Well, there’s one thing you should know about her . . .” Long pause. “She’s perfect.”

When I ask Beatty what he would do if he ever found out that Annette had an affair with someone else, he replies, “I would pass out. And then when I woke up, I would try to be modern.”

Beatty talked glowingly about the cast of Rules Don’t Apply. “Lily and Alden are both smart. I find them both inspiring. Makes you feel like going to work. By the way,” he added coyly, “I feel the same way about this woman Annette Bening. She makes you feel like doing it.” It was our last day together. As we exited the deli, we noticed a strangely familiar face. It was the actor Robert Blake, now with a rooster’s crest of white hair, sitting in a banquette with a young woman and waving Beatty over.

“Come! Sit—sit down with the crazy man!”

Blake (In Cold Blood, TV’s Baretta) began to talk about how he knew Natalie Wood when they were both child actors. “She was eight and I was three,” he said. “I heard Kazan couldn’t get her into the water in Splendor,” he continued, referring to the deceased actress’s well-publicized fear of dark water.

“No, it’s just not true,” Beatty said, meeting Blake for the first time.

“I know what happened that night [when Wood drowned off Catalina Island],” Blake insisted, making everyone suddenly uncomfortable. “I know people. I know when people are telling the truth. I’ve been on trial for murder!” (In 2005 Blake was acquitted of the murder of his second wife, Bonny Lee Bakley.)

We had suddenly stepped through the cracked looking glass of Hollywood, where the past is never completely past. We left the deli and emerged into the bright sunlight of Beverly Glen.

I spoke with Annette Bening just before she headed out to the gym one afternoon, and I asked her about her husband as a director.

“He’s remarkable because he works so hard. That’s true of most people with talent,” she told me. “Everyone that he’s worked with knows this about him—his attention to detail and his stamina, his not giving up, and caring about every detail and every moment, his suffering over everything—that is very unusual. And he loves actors and he respects them, and he respects the intelligence of actors.” She admitted to having had a blast on the set ofRules Don’t Apply. “We improvised, and we would do takes, and he would say, O.K., do whatever you want. I love that! When you have a good structure around you, improvising is a joy.”

Lily Collins, the 27-year-old actress who impressed Beatty and everyone else in the 2012 film Mirror Mirror, is the daughter of the Genesis drummer and pop star Phil Collins. Her character in the movie, Marla, is endlessly waiting for her screen test from Howard Hughes, to the great mistrust of her mother, Lucy Mabrey, played by Bening. It was not unlike what Lily had to go through, waiting to hear from Beatty if she got the part.

“From our first meeting to the second, it was a couple of months, a long process of just meeting and talking about life. And then, finally, reading the script.” He eventually invited her to meet Alden and maybe try out a scene or two. “I still had no idea if I was doing the movie,” she recalled. Finally, her agent phoned Beatty, who assured him that, yes, she was in the movie. “There was never an audition, just a month of hanging out and chatting. I think Warren reads people. He’s a great judge of character. He was auditioning me in a way through just meeting me. That’s part of his brilliance. He knows what he’s looking for. I feel it totally mirrored my character—and I don’t know if that was on purpose! Marla just wants to please Howard Hughes, and is just waiting and waiting.”

Marla turns out to be a strong character, standing up to her strict, hovering mother. “I feel like that’s very Warren, because he loves strong women—I mean strong women in life, but also strong female characters. Warren has never been afraid of ballsy women—he loves that. He really respects women who are intelligent and not afraid to express their opinions. There’s no question as to why Annette is his wife; I mean, she is the most incredible, intellectual, brave, vocal woman, and he just loves that!” When asked about the other female characters in his movies—Faye Dunaway’s Bonnie Parker, Annette Bening’s Virginia Hill, Diane Keaton’s Louise Bryant, Halle Berry’s Nina—Warren says, “Well, that’s no surprise, if you grew up with my mother and my sister [Shirley MacLaine].”

Beatty met Alden Ehrenreich in 2009 after seeing him in his first film, the Frances Ford Coppola-directed Tetro, when Alden was only 19. His audition for Rules Don’t Apply lasted five years, even longer than Lily’s. “I spent the first two years of our relationship where he wouldn’t let me read the script, so I just spent all that time talking and getting to know him. He really made it clear that he was kind of studying me while this was happening. And then, eventually, after a couple of years, he allowed me to read the script. I think his feeling was that I was too young for the role, but by the time we shot it, in 2014, I was 24.”

Beatty brought the two young leads together and involved them in the whole process—scouting locations, sitting in on production meetings. “It was extraordinarily generous of him to give me an insight into the process,” says Alden. “You usually just show up as an actor when those things are already done. This is as much about leadership as it is about artistry.”

‘Warren is not his age. He’s timeless, he’s fearless, he’s just . . . very singular. He stays up with the times because of his kids, or just because he loves what he does. There’s no one quite like him,” says Lily Collins. “Annette and Warren have created this amazing family who are, for all intents and purposes, ‘normal,’ and that’s a testament to how they both raised them.”

Just as Beatty was something of a sexual revolutionary in the years emerging from the strict mores of the 1950s, so his firstborn child is also a revolutionary. Stephen, who is challenging cultural norms of sexuality, is an activist for the transgender community. Identifying as transitioned at the age of 14, he changed his name from Kathlyn Elizabeth to Stephen Ira. A poet and writer, he posted an “Answer to Seven Questions” about his gender identity on the “WeHappyTrans” Web site. One is struck by Stephen’s insouciant intelligence—he manages to be playful, erudite, and eloquent all at once.

“He’s a revolutionary, a genius, and my hero, as are all my children,” Beatty says when asked about Stephen.

With his children growing up and two of them now out of the house, “there’s something about the empty nest that makes you say, ‘Well, maybe I should go out and make a movie.’ It’s like Cocteau said [quoting the French poet Paul Valery], ‘A poem is never finished, it’s only abandoned.’ And that’s the way it is with movies—like children. You continue to work on them, and work on them, but then you have to let them go.”

Presented by The Griper – E.Cowan

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