Alyssa Milano Launches “Me Too” Twitter Hashtag

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Milano wrote that she got the idea from a friend who told her such a tweet “might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.”

In the wake of sexual assault and harassment allegations against Harvey Weinstein, Alyssa Milano is getting thousands of responses on Twitter to her request that people reply to her on the social network with “me too” if they have been sexually harassed or assaulted.

Milano, 44, received “me, too” responses from Will & Grace star Debra Messing and Anna Paquin, the Oscar-winning actress from New Zealand, among numerous other stars.

Milano says on her Twitter account that she got the idea from a friend who told her such a tweet “might give people a sense of the magnitude of the problem.”

In another tweet that links to a blog post, Milano writes the following about film producer Harvey Weinstein: “While I am sickened and angered over the disturbing accusations of Weinstein’s sexual predation and abuse of power, I’m happy — ecstatic even — that it has opened up a dialogue around the continued sexual harassment, objectification and degradation of women.”

#MeToo was the top trend nationwide on Twitter on Sunday night as scores of women and men replied to Milano’s initial tweet.

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Ringo Starr Dedicating First show Of All Starr Band’s Las Vegas Residency To Shooting Victims

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Ringo Starr and his All Starr Band set to launch a new U.S. tour next week with a Las Vegas residency at Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino, the ex-Beatles drummer has announced plans to pay tribute to the victims of the recent mass shooting in the city. Starr has dedicated the group’s first Vegas show, which takes place October 13, to the shooting victims, and also will make a donation to them from his Lotus Foundation charity.

Ringo and the All Starr Band will play a total of eight shows at Planet Hollywood through October 28, and then will move on to a variety of venues across the country, winding things down on November 16 in Newark, New Jersey.

The group’s lineup, which has remained constant for the last several years, features Todd Rundgren, ex-Santana and Journey member Gregg Rolie, Toto‘s Steve Lukather, Mr. Mister‘s Richard Page, Warren Ham, and Gregg Bissonette.

During the trek, Starr will be promoting his new solo album, Give More Love, which was released last month. The record features guest artists including Paul McCartney, Joe Walsh, Lukather, Peter Frampton, Richard Marx, Timothy B. Schmidt, Dave Stewart, Benmont Tench, Don Was, and Edgar Winter.

In other news, Ringo is selling signed prints of 12 images that are featured his 2013 book, Photograph. The limited-edition, large-format, high-quality pics include vintage photos that Starr took of his Beatles band mates. Proceeds raised from sales of the prints will benefit the Lotus Foundation. Visit for more information.

Here are all of Ringo and the All Starr Band’s upcoming tour dates:

10/13-14, 17, 20-21, 24, 27-28 — Las Vegas, NV, Planet Hollywood Resort & Casino 10/30 — El Paso, TX, Albert Chavez Theatre 10/31 — Austin TX, Moody Theater 11/2 — Sugarland, TX, Smart Sugarland Civic Center 11/3 — Irving, TX, The Pavilion at Toyota Music Factory 11/4 — Thackerville, OK, Global Events Center at Winstar 11/7-8 — Fort Lauderdale, FL, Parker Playhouse 11/11 — Atlanta, GA, Fox Theater 11/12 — Norfolk, VA, ODU Pavilion 11/14 — Morristown, NJ, Mayo Performing Arts enter 11/15 — New York City, NY, Beacon Theatre 11/16 — Newark, NJ, New Jersey Performing Arts Center

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Craig Ferguson’s New TV Series Is Also A Modern-Day Commercial

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Craig Ferguson is taking over the helm of a new talk show that has an intriguing feature – no commercial breaks. That’s because the series is a commercial itself.

U.S. TV viewers will likely recall Ferguson from his tenure on CBS’ “Late Late Show,” where he set himself apart from the pack with a distinctly cerebral monologue. Now he and his wife, Megan Ferguson, will work their brains by seeking out thought leaders such as astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson and molecular scientist Daisy Robinton to ask them questions about topics that often spur them into debate – including sustainability, success, and other high-minded matters.

They are doing it on behalf of Gant, the Swedish clothes retailer, and how the pair are going to inspire viewers to run out and pick up dress shirts or a sacker-ribbed polo sweater remains to be seen. According to the company’s chief marketing officer, however, Gant won’t achieve its goal by running traditional TV commercials.

“We want to do content that people think is interesting, instead of a commercial that is interrupting what is interesting,” said Eleonore Säll, the company’s global marketing officer, in an interview. “We think our audience will thank us.”

The series, “Couple Thinkers,” will appear in 70 countries via YouTube and other digital venues, with the first episode debuting Monday, October 9.  The six-episode cycle is meant to burnish Gant’s brand credo, “Never Stop Learning.”

Gant’s efforts emulate those of other advertisers, many of who are fast discovering the need for new kinds of promotional programming in an era when viewers are more accustomed to seeing fewer ads accompanying their content.  Nike produced a documentary for National Geographic set to air this week that touts its footwear as it depicts runners trying to finish a marathon in under two hours. Other companies like Apple and AT&T are crafting longer commercials with greater flair and A-list celebrities and then distributing the vignettes online.

The opportunity proved interesting for Ferguson because it offered “the unique opportunity to go straight to the experts in any particular topic we were curious, or, let’s be honest, arguing about,” he said in a statement. “Something I would imagine most couples would be grateful for.”

Gant considered trying to get the series on a traditional TV network, said Säll, but felt it would have to give up control over timing and how the content itself. Talks are already underway, she said, for a second season.

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‘Curb Your Enthusiasm,’ The Early Years

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Seventeen years ago, Larry David almost accidentally created a comedy legend. Now David and the cast dish on the humble origins of the HBO hit, the lines that made them stars and discovering the science behind the awkwardness: “I had no idea I had that effect on people.”

Larry David’s Curb Your Enthusiasm returns to HBO for its ninth season on Oct. 1. Author James Andrew Miller (Powerhouse: The Untold Story of Hollywood’s Creative Artists Agency, Those Guys Have All the Fun: Inside the World of ESPN, Live From New York: An Uncensored History of Saturday Night Live) dove into the history of the hit HBO comedy for the first chapter of his new podcast, Origins, about beginnings in film, television, music, sports, tech, relationships and more. Miller talked with David, the show’s creator, and many of the its stars and crew and others who worked behind the scenes about how the show came to be, how it was cast and the blurring of art and real life. THR presents an excerpt from Origins’ five-episode look at Curb.

Larry David I finished Seinfeld, then I did a movie. My state of mind was fine. I started to focus on stand-up because I had not done it in 10 years, and I thought it was time that I should give it another shot. And Jeff Garlin was in the office next door, and I would go in there, and we would always talk. Jeff said, “What are you working on?” I said, “Well, I think I am going to do some stand-up.” And he said, “You should film it.” That idea did not really appeal very much to me. I did not really want cameras in there, following me around. He said, “You should do it as a documentary, and I will direct it.” I said, “No, I do not think so.”

Cheryl Hines The first I heard about Curb, it was actually just being called Larry David Special on HBO. So it started out as a one-hour special, and the idea was Larry returning to stand-up comedy, and they wanted to do sort of a mockumentary of his return to stand-up.

Bob Weide, director We saw a lot of actresses for that part. I remember Nia Vardolos came in; this was before My Big Fat Greek Wedding. I’m sure if I looked at the tape now I’d see a lot of other recognizable names. I got an invitation one night for an actors showcase. Lo and behold, one of the actresses was Cheryl Hines, who was unknown to all of us. But I remember the bit that she did to this day: It was some sort of employee training meeting, where they had some guy advising about what to do in a disaster at the workplace. He would say, “OK, so there’s been an earthquake and the water is cut off, there’s no running water in your office and you can’t escape. You’re thirsty, what do you do?” Cheryl pipes up, “Well, I suppose if push came to shove you could drink your own urine.” The room just goes real quiet, and everybody stares at her. And the guy stares at her and says, “Well, OK, I was thinking more about having water stored in the room or, you know, possibly detaching a hose from the back of the refrigerator and drinking the water that way.” Cheryl goes, “Oh, well, yeah.” And then I remember the line that really killed me: “Well, I did say if push came to shove.” I just said this girl’s really, really funny. And that line, “I did say if push came to shove,” gave Cheryl a career.

From season one: Mary Steenburgen, Cheryl Hines, Larry David and Ted Danson.

Hines I didn’t know what I was auditioning for, because it was all very vague. And I met Larry, and I really sparked with him. There were no sides. There have never been sides for actors to read, because there’s no script. So even when it started out, even the one-hour special, it was all improvised.

Chris Albrecht president, original programming and chairman, HBO, 2002-07 Originally Larry was going to do one-third the making of and half to two-thirds the stand-up act. As he started to get into it and started to shoot the making of, that was really the connection he made. What ended up happening was that the making of became the dominant thrust of it. Not surprisingly, the first part was funnier than the second part because what Larry really was was somebody who had learned to take his point of view and translate it through a dramatized version of characters. In this case, himself rather than a stand-up form.

Ted Danson My wife, Mary, and I met Larry on Martha’s Vineyard. They were renting a home there, and he had just shot the pilot. He showed a group of us in this little rental house. We were all crowded around this hot room and looked at the pilot. I’m overjoyed to tell you this: A couple of people fell asleep.

David You know, when people told me after the show started airing that they had to leave the room for some scenes because they were cringing and they couldn’t bear to watch — it was like a horror movie — I had no idea it was having that effect on people. That was a complete surprise to me, and I liked it. I liked that they couldn’t see it. But I never really gave it that much thought. I was just trying to do funny shows. I never felt I was going too far. I felt I was doing what I wanted to see.

Susie Essman It was this slap-dash operation. We had no budget, nothing. We didn’t have our own dressing-room trailers. We were all running around whatever house we were in finding a bathroom and changing and getting makeup done in the half dark. It was such a low-budget operation. And then finally, in season three or four, we got one trailer that we all shared. Cheryl, Larry, Jeff and me, we all shared the trailer together. We liked it when it was like that.

David When I drove home every day, because we were improvising it, I’d think, “Would this scene be better if I’d written it?” And 98 percent of the time, I’d thought “No.” It was better improvised. You could just get to places that you couldn’t get to writing. But the editing is really hard. Compared to a written show, where you’re doing two to three takes and they’re all the same. For this show, every take is different.

J.B. Smoove Oh man, it’s such a crazy, crazy ride man. When I worked for Saturday Night Live, everybody loved the show. We would come in on write days and spend the first 15 minutes talking about Curb. I said to my wife, “Baby, I love this damn show so much. I love this dude Larry David. I would love to be on this show one day.” And my wife said, “You know what, you’re going to be on that show one day.” She said some of the craziest stuff. She said, “You’re going to be on that show one day.”

Weide J.B. was so funny. He came in with his character of Leon fully formed.

Smoove So I go in there as Leon. They said, “OK, J.B., you’re going to improv with Larry directly.” And I had no idea I was going to be improving with Larry directly. Larry is standing in the middle of the room. I thought I was going to go on tape, you know how they put you on tape, they review the tape. You know, you actually improved directly with Larry — I had no idea. So, Larry is standing in the middle of the room, and this is exactly what I said to Larry, verbatim: I walk up to Larry as Leon, I said, “OK, Larry, let’s do this, baby.” You know, this is improv, right? I said, “OK, let’s improv.” And since this is improv, I said, “I don’t know Larry, I might fuck around and slap you in the face.” And that’s exactly what I said to him, and Larry looked at everybody else like, “What the, who the hell is this guy?”

Essman The only scene that I think I ever preplanned what I was going to say, and there was a reason for that, was the restaurant opening. You know, where everybody is cursing, and Paul Sand plays the Tourette’s chef. And I walk in while they’re all in the middle of this crazy cursing, and Cheryl says something like, “God damn, son of a bitch.” And I think she’s talking to me. So I actually planned my response, which is one of my most famous quotes: “Fuck you, you car-wash cunt. I had a dental appointment.” When I first met my husband, he had never seen Curb, so I was very happy about that, you know? He got to know me before he ran the other way. But years ago, when I first put my website up, I had a contact thing on it. And I was getting these crazy S&M guys contacting me. You know, just really weird, sexually perverse, and wanting me to like tie them up and scream at them. So I got rid of the contact, because it was gross.

Bob Einstein My whole life I did this character called Super Dave, and it was all ad lib. I hate pontificating about how we create things. My relationship with Larry developed very differently from the other characters. I had some things happen to me that were amazing: My father dies. Larry opens the casket because he left his 5-wood [golf club] in there, and then my mother dies. The place where she was hit in her wheelchair became a monument there and they put flowers there, and Larry steals the flowers and gives them to his wife so he could fuck her. My daughter was a lesbian who went straight, and Larry turned her back into a lesbian. Jeff [Garlin] fucked my mentally ill sister. And this year something else happens, which I can’t tell you.

Richard Lewis I needed a colonoscopy a couple of years ago. I’m waiting for the car. Everything is valeted in L.A., you know, little stores, little delis, the whole thing is a joke. Well, this was a medical building. So I valet, and the guy says to me, “Are you going to have a colon fight with Larry?” [The pair fight over who has a cleaner colon in season six.] I go, “You know what? Just do me a favor. I could be dying. Let me get my colonoscopy.” So then I get the car, and some other guy is walking to his car, and he goes, “Richard, is your kidney OK?” I go, “What are you talking about?” He goes, “Well, you’ve got Larry’s kidney.” I go, “No, no.” I said, “Please, please.” And it gets to the point where, because we’re playing our own names and our own people, our own persons, people do believe it. And I sort of take pride in that because I guess it’s very real. I might be unraveling in some scenes, and Larry might be upset and angry but funny. But I felt it was like doing a Cassavettes movie, but as a comedy. Because it’s so real, and it gets really intense sometimes. Our fights are almost no different on the show except maybe in how loud they are in real life.

Albrecht The woman I’m married to now, I met 15 years ago, we became engaged. The first night I met her, she was extraordinarily beautiful, very, as the Jews would say, shiska woman, blonde. And we were talking, and I told her I work at HBO, trying to impress her, the CEO of HBO, and she said, “Oh, HBO.” She says, “My DVR is jammed with all the episodes of one of your shows. And I said, “Oh, Sex in the City. And she said, “No, Curb Your Enthusiasm. I live for Larry David.” And I thought, “OK, first of all, who looks like you that says, ‘I live for Larry David?’ ” But [it] also told me how broad and accessible Larry had become as a comic voice.

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John Lennon’s Phantom V: Psychedelic Beatle-Mobile

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As the late icon’s famed Rolls-Royce returns to public view, we look back at how it served both as a safe haven and a souped-up plaything

“You swine! How dare you do that to a Rolls-Royce!” So screamed an outraged Englishwoman as John Lennon’s Phantom V cruised past on London’s posh Piccadilly promenade in the summer of 1967. The ornately decorated limousine, sprayed an electric yellow and bedecked with colorful floral tendrils, Romany scrolls and zodiac symbols like a hallucinatory gypsy caravan, so offended her sensibilities that she briefly attacked it with an umbrella – or at least that’s the way Lennon always told the story.

Much as the length of the Beatles’ mop-tops had done, Lennon’s choice to express himself through his automobile triggered a generational clash, enraging those who felt the tripped-out paintjob had subverted a British icon. “I can imagine this lady felt, ‘How dare you?! This is one of those things you cannot do!'” Giles Taylor, design director for Rolls-Royce, tells Rolling Stone. “It’s like putting graffiti on Buckingham Palace. You’re getting close to the nerve of British elegance, British politeness and good British manners.”

In the 50 years since it outraged the Establishment, Lennon’s Rolls-Royce Phantom V is now embraced as a masterpiece of design and a jewel of the Swinging Sixties. After nearly four decades spent in North America, where it was housed in a number of museums, the one of a kind vehicle is making its grand English homecoming as part of Rolls-Royce’s new exhibition, “The Great Eight Phantoms.” Between July 29th and August 2nd, Phantoms owned by the likes of Queen Elizabeth II and Fred Astaire will be on display at Bonhams flagship saleroom and galleries in London to celebrate the launch of the Phantom VIII, the latest incarnation of the 92-year-old model.

Despite the illustrious company, the wild car once owned by a guy from Liverpool has arguably earned the most attention. “It’s pure art,” Taylor says of the ride, since nicknamed the “Psychedelic Rolls” for obvious reasons. “John Lennon chose an automotive piece as his canvas, using all the symbols of wealth and other messages that go along with the Rolls-Royces of that period. He was certainly getting fed up with conforming at that time. It was a classic artistic statement.” In a fitting nod to Lennon’s individuality, the Phantom VIII will come equipped with a full-length glass dashboard, allowing owners to customize their ride with art of their choice. “We’ve opened a door to allow the license to ‘subvert,’ which goes back to where Lennon went originally. It’s a license to express yourselves.”

Lennon bought his first Rolls-Royce, a secondhand two-toned maroon-and-black limo, in July 1964 to shuttle him to London from Kenwood, his newly purchased estate in the rural Surrey village of Weybridge. But that December he decided to upgrade this comparatively modest car for a coach that matched his fab status, and submitted an order for the most exclusive (read: expensive) Rolls-Royce model. Rumor has it that John had wanted to one-up his manager, Brian Epstein,” says Dr. Lorne Hammond, the curator of Human History at the Royal British Columbia Museum in Canada, where the car has permanently resided since 1993. “On a return in 1964, the Beatles were picked up by Brian at the airport in a new Bentley, material proof of their success. John’s choice of a Phantom V showed the people back home in Liverpool, all of London, and the world, that he had made it. He bought ‘the best car in the world’ with every factory option and extras. The delicious humor of one-upping his manager would have also have appealed.”

Commissioned from R.S. Mead Ltd., a retailer based in nearby Maidenhead, the custom-made Phantom V would take six months to complete. Its chassis was manufactured at the Rolls-Royce factory in Crewe, Cheshire, and in late January 1965 work began on the bespoke limousine carriage at Mulliner Park Ward in Willesden, Northwest London. For all of the paperwork accumulated during the car’s construction, the total price of the vehicle is not recorded. An educated guess from historian Steve Clifford, who profiled the car in an extensive 1999 article for Beatleology magazine, put the figure at around 11,000 pounds (nearly $240,000 in today’s value). However, with publicity at a premium and Lennon being one of the most famous people on the planet, odds are good that he received some sort of Beatle discount.

Ironic considering the significant expenditure, Lennon was unable to drive when he first ordered the Phantom V. He wouldn’t pass his “L-test” until February 15th, 1965 at age 24, becoming the last Beatle to do so. “I’d never bothered because I wasn’t very interested in driving, but when the others passed I thought I’d better do it or I’d get left,” he said at the time. That same day the Beatles began work on a new song, “Ticket to Ride,” a prophetic title considering the number of citations Lennon eventually racked up during his road hours. By all accounts – including his own – he was a horrendous driver, far too myopic to read signs, too distracted to recall routes, and too impractical to troubleshoot even the simplest mechanical issue.

An untold number of fenders were spared when he employed the services of a six-foot-four Welsh guardsman named Les Anthony, whose large frame made him an effective bodyguard as well as driver. On permanent call for 36 pounds a week, Anthony doffed a braided chauffer’s cap whenever “Mr. Lennon” rang. It was likely he who was on hand to receive the finished Phantom V on June 3rd, 1965, at R.S. Mead. Bearing the registration plates “FJB 111C,” the enormous vehicle measured an astonishing 19 feet, 10 inches long, and six feet, seven inches wide. Tipping the scales at nearly three metric tons, it didn’t roll so much as glide down the blacktop. Not yet emblazoned with the distinctive Romany paintjob, the exterior was finished in a somber “Valentine Black” shade. “John’s Rolls was all black – even the wheels,” Anthony later told author Phillip Norman. “The only bit of chrome on it was the radiator. He told me he’d wanted that to be black as well, but the Rolls people wouldn’t do it.”

Among the Phantom V’s more traditional amenities were the 6.23-litre V8 engine, black leather upholstery, cocktail cabinet with fine wood trim, writing table, reading lamps, a seven-piece his-and-hers black-hide luggage set, and a Perdio portable television. Slightly more novel was the refrigeration system contained in the trunk of the car, perfect for chilling champagne or, more often, cola for Scotch and Cokes. The most unusual feature was the one-way passenger windows made of darkened Triplex Deeplight glass. Lennon’s Phantom V was among the first automobiles in England to be outfitted with tinted windows, shielding riders from any unwanted gawking. More valuable than privacy, for Lennon it created the effect of a mobile discothèque that never closed. “People think they’ve got black windows to hide. It’s partly that, but it’s also for when you’re coming home late,” he admitted in 1965. “If it’s daylight when you’re coming in, it’s still dark inside the car – you just shut all the windows and you’re still in the club.”

In those early morning hours, while being ferried home from hotspots like the Ad Lib Club or the Scotch of St. James, Lennon surely took pleasure knowing that he was riding in the same car owned by his hero, Elvis Presley. But the King of Rock was far from the only royal who favored the Phantom V. Queen Elizabeth II and the Queen Mother both used the model as their official state vehicles, occasionally leading to some disappointing mix-ups with mistaken Beatle fans. Perhaps it provided a conversation starter when the Beatles took Lennon’s Phantom to Buckingham Palace on October 26th, 1965, to collect their MBE honors from Her Majesty.

In December 1965, a simple maintenance checkup spiraled into a major overhaul as Lennon submitted a seven-page list of alterations to be carried out at a cost of more than 1900 pounds. The splurge transformed the deluxe ride into an Austin Powers–like shag-wagon, beginning with a modified backseat that converted into a double bed – with oversized ashtrays added to the armrests. On-demand music was available from a state of the art Philips Auto-Mignon AG2101 “floating” record player, boasting an ingenious suspension system that prevented the needle from jumping when the car was in use. A Philips tape player was also added in a specially built cabinet, as well as a Sterno Radio Telephone assigned with the number WEYBRIDGE 46676. “The telephone packs and batteries were so large in those days that they took up almost the entire boot,” recalled Lennon’s housekeeper, Dot Jarlett. “John also had the hooter changed so that when you honked, it played ‘Lilli Marlene.'”

The television set was upgraded to a more modern Sony TV 9-306 UB, but the reception was poor and it rarely worked. Instead, Lennon derived much of his entertainment from the “loud hailer” public address system. Speakers mounted in the front wheel wells allowed occupants to communicate with the world outside via microphone. “You could ask people to cross the road a bit faster which scared the daylights out of them,” Beatles associate Tony King told author Mick Brown. The car’s stereo could also be switched to these outdoor speakers, and Lennon enjoyed blasting sound-effect recordings of trains and jet engines to confuse bystanders.

Lennon’s bandmates often got in on the vehicular mischief. “After recording sessions, at two or three in the morning, we’d be careening through the villages on the way to Weybridge, shouting ‘wey-hey’ and driving much too fast,” Paul McCartney remembered during the Beatles’ Anthology documentary. “George would perhaps be in his Ferrari – he was quite a fast driver – and John and I would be following in his big Rolls-Royce. John had a mic in the Rolls with a loudspeaker outside and he’d be shouting to George in the front: ‘It is foolish to resist, it is foolish to resist! Pull over!’ It was insane. All the lights would go on in the houses as we went past – it must have freaked everybody out.”

No one was safe, not even members of their rock star coterie. “I remember being in Hyde Park, coming back from John’s house in his big chauffeur-driven Rolls-Royce. … We were driving through the park, and ahead of us was Brian [Jones’] Austin Princess,” McCartney told biographer Barry Miles. “We could see his big floppy hat and blond hair and we could see him nervously smoking a ciggie in the back of the car. So John got on the mic and said, ‘Pull over now! Brian Jones! You are under arrest! Pull over now!’ Brian jumped up. ‘Fucking hell!’ He really thought he had been busted. He was shitting himself! Then he saw it was us. And we were going, ‘Fuck off!’ giving V-signs [the British equivalent of flipping the middle finger] out of the car window.”

Lennon ramped up use of the car in 1966, piling on nearly 20,000 miles by the end of the year. When his first solo acting turn in director Richard Lester’s How I Won the War required him to shoot on location in Spain for six weeks that autumn, he had Anthony make the 1,400-mile drive south to meet him with the Phantom V. “We were in Almería, which was very sandy, and the local kids would write ‘el Beatle’ on the car,” Anthony remembered. The large black saloon was a conspicuous prescience in the provincial town, and soon earned the nickname “El Funebre” (“The Hearse”) from the locals.

The filmmaking process – to say nothing of the 6 a.m. call times – quickly proved tedious and unfulfilling for Lennon, and the Rolls served as a comfortable cocoon that he, according to McCartney, “virtually lived in. It had blacked-out windows so it was perfect. John didn’t come out of it – he just used to talk to the people outside through the microphone: ‘Get away from the car! Get away!'” To stave off boredom between takes, he would while away the hours in the backseat, smoking marijuana that had been smuggled into the country inside boxes of candy, and tinkering with lyrics for a melancholic new song provisionally called “It’s Not Too Bad.” After a lengthy process of finessing, the composition took its final, better known title: “Strawberry Fields Forever.”

The groundbreaking Beatles single would be the silver lining for what proved to be an overall disappointing trip. Lennon lost interest in becoming a movie star, Anthony detested the bugs and heat, and the primitive roads badly damaged the Phantom V’s undercarriage and exhaust system. Mechanical repairs were made in short order, but the southern-Spanish sand and dust had all but ruined the car’s elegant matte black finishing. With a new paintjob required, and Lennon’s creativity unleashed by the fruitful sessions for Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band, he began to consider something a little more colorful.

Exactly how Lennon decided on the lurid Romany floral/zodiac hybrid is subject to some debate. Anthony recalls Ringo Starr planting the seed of the idea during a drive in early 1967. “We were passing the fairground one day and they were admiring the fairground decorations and gypsy caravans. Ringo said why not have the Rolls painted the same way. John thought it was a great idea.” However, others say the idea was suggested by Marijke Koger of the Dutch design collective the Fool – who would also paint Lennon’s piano that summer – after Lennon commissioned a refurbished 1874 gypsy caravan as a present for his young son, Julian. Either way, the chance to indulge his eccentric taste, while simultaneously delivering a massive “V-sign” to the staid British high society, proved too tempting to resist.

Doubtful that Rolls-Royce themselves would ever submit to such a drastic makeover of one of their prized vehicles, Lennon paid a visit to private coach makers J.P. Fallon Ltd. in Chertsey on April 8th, 1967, to discuss the design. After spraying the body of the car yellow, local artist Steve Weaver was tasked with painting the red, orange, green and blue art nouveau swirls, floral side panels and Lennon’s astrological symbol, Libra, on the roof. On May 24th, Weaver submitted an invoice for 290 pounds, and the following day the car was ready for pickup. Predictably, the unveiling of the way-out Rolls drew the world’s press. “The first time I drove it, I was followed by hordes of photographers and Pathé news,” said Anthony.

Reactions were mixed, depending on which side of the generation gap you happened to stand. The Daily Mail reported that the “shrieking yellow” vehicle elicited jeers from the assembled crowd, and the July 1967 issue of Beatles Book Monthly claimed that a local traffic official feared the loud colors would be a dangerous distraction to drivers on the road. And, of course, there was the angry elderly woman who took an umbrella to the car as it cruised down Piccadilly. “Naturally, John was delighted and repeated the story everywhere he went,” friend Tony Bramwell wrote in his 2006 memoir, Magical Mystery Tours: My Life with the Beatles.

Predictably, Lennon and his compatriots adored the new and improved car. Delivered days before the Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band was issued, its official maiden voyage took place on May 28th, leading a fleet of friends to Epstein’s new country home for a combined album release party and housewarming. Lennon somehow managed to cram in the back with eight others: his wife Cynthia, George Harrison and his wife Pattie, Koger and fellow Fools Simon Posthuma and Josje Leeger, as well as Derek Taylor – the Beatles’ former (and future) press officer who had just flown in from Los Angeles for the event – and his wife Joan. All but the visiting Taylors were decked out in colorful silk and satin garb adorned with flowers, bells, scarves and amulets. Led by balloon bouquets tied to sign posts to guide the way, the friends sipped LSD-laced tea and played Procol Harum’s gentle psychedelic lullaby “A Whiter Shade of Pale” endlessly on the record player.

“John and friends floated in on his gaudy yellow Rolls, through bucolic country lanes adrift with clouds of May blossoms, as if in a magic pumpkin on the way to the ball,” Bramwell writes of the idyllic scene. It was a harbinger of the season, kicking off the semi-mythical Summer of Love. “The party had a soft, dreamlike quality to it,” wrote Beatle confidant Peter Brown in his book, The Love You Make. “The prophets were here, the masters were in control, there was good food and liquor and friends. ‘A Whiter Shade of Pale,’ interspersed with Sgt. Pepper, played all afternoon and into the evening.”

It couldn’t last. The magic summer came to an abrupt end on August 27th, when Epstein was found dead of an accidental barbiturate and alcohol overdose in his London home. The times changed as the weather grew colder. That autumn the Beatles rallied together to film their directorial debut, Magical Mystery Tour, which proved to be only slightly less miserable for Lennon than his experience filming How I Won the War a year earlier. The Phantom can be seen in various production stills for the film, which are among the last known images of the car in active Beatle duty.

From 1968 onward, an additional Phantom V, with the license plate EUC 100, became Lennon’s primary ride. The all-white model seemed to signal a sea change in Lennon’s life, drifting away from psychedelic whimsy and towards conceptual minimalism – due at least in part to his blossoming relationship with artist Yoko Ono. The kaleidoscopic collage of the Sgt. Pepper cover was replaced with the stark White Album sleeve, the vibrant kaftans replaced with immaculate white suits, and Kenwood was replaced with the imposing white Georgian country house, Tittenhurst Park.

The precise whereabouts of the flower-power Phantom remain sketchy for the remainder of the Sixties, but Steve Clifford theorizes that it was shipped to the United States in early 1968 for Lennon to use during New York meetings for Apple Corps, the Beatles’ new record label established in the power vacuum following Epstein’s death. Whatever the case, he joined the car in September 1971, leaving his native England for what would prove to be the last time. Though it made an appearance at Lennon’s 31st birthday celebration in Syracuse, New York – attended by fellow guests George Harrison and Ringo Starr – the Phantom V was mostly put to use being loaned out to other musicians. Bob Dylan, the Moody Blues and even members of the Rolling Stones all reportedly got a lift throughout the early Seventies.

ennon, apparently facing difficulties from the IRS, decided to donate it to the Cooper-Hewitt Museum at the Smithsonian Institute in exchange for a $250,000 tax credit. It served as a highlight of the “Ornament in the 20th Century” exhibit, held from October 1978, to January 1979. Lennon was greatly amused by the spectacle, and particularly by the souvenir postcards depicting with his old car available for purchase in the gift shop. He couldn’t resist sending one to his Uncle Norman just before the show closed.

The yellow Phantom V took on a new significance in the wake of Lennon’s murder on December 8th, 1980, transforming the automobile into a vivid relic of one of the 20th century’s most unique figures. When the Cooper-Hewitt chose to put the car up for auction at Sotheby’s on June 29th, 1985, it sold for $2,299,000 – nearly 10 times the estimated amount. The buyer was Jim Pattison, a Canadian business magnate and billionaire, who beat out a St. Louis–area Rolls-Royce dealership for the honor of securing what had become the most expensive car in history.

Pattison also owned the Ripley’s Believe it or Not museum franchise, and for a time the Phantom V was on display at the South Carolina branch. It was loaned to the Expo ’86 World’s Fair in Vancouver (also chaired by Pattison), before being presented as a gift to the Canadian government and displayed at British Columbia’s Historic Transportation Center in 1987. Following the institution’s closure in 1993, it was installed in its longtime permanent home at the Royal B.C. Museum.

Too large to fit in the museum’s regular collection, the vehicle spends the majority of the time in storage. The Sony television, Phillips tape player, and spare tire have mysteriously vanished over the years, and the sound system is no longer functional, but it still offers a smooth ride. Every six months a representative from Bristol Motors takes the car on a brief spin to keep everything in working order, bringing the total mileage to just under 35,000 miles. “The biggest challenge with this artifact is preserving the unique paint on the exterior of the car,” says conservation manager Kasey Lee. “It did not bond well with the metal and original factory paint. We keep the car operational only so that we can move it from storage to display when required. The vehicle is incredibly heavy, and since the paint is fragile, it is difficult to push without damaging the paint.”

According to Dr. Hammond, Lennon’s car has been appraised at $5.2 million, but its true worth is impossible to calculate. “With a work of art like this, one only knows when it goes to auction. Given the increased stature of John Lennon and collectability of all things associated with him and the Beatles, we can only assume that in the future it’s value will only grow. However, its value as a piece of cultural history has become priceless.”

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Van Morrison Announces New Album

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Van Morrison detailed his 37th studio album. Roll With the Punches, out September 22nd, contains covers of old blues and soul classics along with five new compositions from Van Morrison.

“The songs on Roll With the Punches– whether I’ve written them or not – they’re performance oriented,” the singer said in a statement. “Each song is like a story and I’m performing that story. That’s been forgotten over years because people over-analyze things. I was a performer before I started writing songs, and I’ve always felt like that’s what I do.”

Roll With the Punches includes tunes by Bo Diddley (“I Can Tell,” “Ride on Josephine”), Lightnin’ Hopkins (“Automobile Blues”) and Little Walter (“Mean Old World”). Several of Van Morrison’s selections are popular post-war standards, like “Stormy Monday,” which has been recorded by Lou Rawls and the Allman Brothers and lead single “Bring It on Home to Me,” originally performed by Sam Cooke and later rendered as a duet by Otis Redding and Carla Thomas.

The version of “Bring It on Home to Me” on Roll With the Punchescould have been recorded in the 1960s around the same time as the Thomas/Redding rendition. The guitar works up and down the scale in a predictable pattern, as if played by Stax stalwart Steve Cropper, and the drummer taps out a light beat in 6/8 time. Van Morrison stretches syllables in remarkable ways, making the word “bring” last for several measures, and background singers add controlled doses of gospel power.

“The thing about the blues is you don’t dissect it – you just do it,” Van Morrison said. “I was lucky to have met people who were the real thing, people like John Lee Hooker, Jimmy Witherspoon, Bo Diddley, Little Walter and Mose Allison. I got to hang out with them and absorb what they did. They were people with no ego whatsoever and they helped me learn a lot.”

Van Morrison self-produced Roll With the Punches, which features contributions from Jeff Beck, Paul Jones, Jason Rebello, Chris Farlowe and Georgie Fame. Following the album’s release, Van Morrison will embark on a short tour. He plays two gigs in the U.S. in September and four more in October. Starting in November, he has a series of performances scheduled in Scotland and England before wrapping up with two shows in Belfast, Ireland.

Roll With the Punches Track List

  1. “Roll With the Punches” (Van Morrison & Don Black)
    2. “Transformation” (Van Morrison)
    3. “I Can Tell” (Bo Diddley & Samuel Bernard Smith)
    4. “Stormy Monday / Lonely Avenue” (T-Bone Walker / Doc Pomus)
    5. “Goin’ To Chicago” (Count Basie & Jimmy Rushing)
    6. “Fame” (Van Morrison)
    7. “Too Much Trouble” (Van Morrison)
    8. “Bring It on Home to Me” (Sam Cooke)
    9. “Ordinary People” (Van Morrison)
    10. “How Far From God” (Sister Rosetta Tharpe)
    11. “Teardrops From My Eyes” (Rudy Toombs)
    12. “Automobile Blues” (Lightnin’ Hopkins)
    13. “Benediction” (Mose Allison)
    14. “Mean Old World” (Little Walter)
    15. “Ride On Josephine” (Bo Diddley)

Van Morrison Tour Dates

September 10 – Hershey, PA @ Hersheypark Stadium
September 14 – Nashville, TN @ Ascend Amphitheater
October 13 – Rancho Mirage, CA @ The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa
October 14 – Rancho Mirage, CA @ The Show at Agua Caliente Casino Resort Spa
October 20 – Oakland, CA @ Fox Theater
October 21 – Oakland, CA @ Fox Theater
November 6 – Edinburgh, SCT @ Edinburgh Playhouse
November 7 – Glasgow, SCT @ Glasgow Royal Court
November 12 – London, U.K. @ Eventim Apollo
November 13 – Birmingham, U.K. @ Birmingham Symphony Hall
November 15 – Liverpool, U.K. @ Liverpool Philharmonic Hall
November 20 – Cardiff, U.K. @ St. David’s Hall
November 21 – Bristol, U.K. @ Colston Hall
November 24 – Torquay, U.K. @ Princess Theatre
November 25 – Plymouth, U.K. @ Plymouth Pavilions
December 4 – Belfast, IRL @ Europa Hotel
December 5 – Belfast, IRL @ Europa Hotel

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Steven Van Zandt Talks

Categories: Top Stories

In the early days of the Reagan administration, Steve Van Zandt started writing a doo-wop song called “The City Weeps Tonight.” The goal was total authenticity, something that “could have been by the Students or the Jive Five,” and he was getting pretty close, until he got stuck on the final verse. As Van Zandt threw himself into the improbable arc of the next 36 years of his life – leaving the E Street Band to launch an activism-fueled solo career; helping to establish a pivotal cultural boycott of South Africa with “Sun City”; then falling into a post-Eighties showbiz limbo that consisted mostly of walking his dog, only to find himself, all at once, starring on The Sopranos, touring the world again with Bruce Springsteen, and becoming the world’s leading and only garage-rock evangelist – that song somehow never left his mind.

“Every couple of years,” he says, “I’d see if I could finish that last verse. I’m not kiddin’. I’d have pages and pages of words. … ‘Not yet, that’s not quite it.’ ” He laughs, offsetting the heavy-lidded sternness of a default expression you might call Resting Silvio Face. (“Steven is a kindhearted guy,” says his longtime collaborator Southside Johnny Lyon, “but he can be very intimidating, because he’s so focused.”)

Van Zandt is, for the first time in many years, focused on his lapsed solo career. In October, Van Zandt was fresh from a yearlong E Street Band tour when a friend persuaded him to play a show of his songs in London, where he had to win over an audience filled with as many “curiosity-seekers” as fans. “It was a revelation,” says Van Zandt. “The stuff held up so well. It was nice to feel that, the strength of those songs.”

Thanks in part to his proximity to Springsteen and his habit of giving away some of his best songs to other artists (Southside Johnny, Gary U.S. Bonds and, recently, Darlene Love), Van Zandt is among the most underrated songwriters of the rock era, and it’s hard not to think that even Van Zandt had started to undervalue his work. “He really is a great writer,” says Jackson Browne, who recorded and frequently performed Van Zandt’s protest song “I Am a Patriot” (also a favorite of Eddie Vedder’s), and credits him with inspiring the political bent of his own Eighties work. Browne notes that Van Zandt’s second album, Voice of America, was “more recognizably political than Born in the U.S.A.,” released a month later. “And Little Steven’s songs could not be misunderstood. It really was a huge influence on me, and Bruce became more and more political from that point on.”

At the moment, Van Zandt is in a rehearsal studio on the Far West Side of Manhattan, preparing for an upcoming Asbury Park show with a new incarnation of his backing band, the Disciples of Soul – this one 15 musicians strong, barely fitting in the room, not to mention forming a substantial collective payroll. “Still strugglin’ to achieve my lifelong goal of breaking even,” he half-jokes. (He’s particularly excited about having recruited former Youngbloods keyboardist Lowell “Banana” Levinger, charmingly assuming he’s a household name: “Did you see Banana?”)

In the past few months, that missing verse to the doo-wop song at last came to Van Zandt (“You told me you’d pray for me,” it begins, capturing the Fifties innocence he’d sought), just in time for him to record the song for Soulfire, his first solo album in 18 years. “The City Weeps Tonight” isn’t the only genre exercise on Soulfire, which is largely drawn from songs Van Zandt wrote for other artists over the years. Most prominently, there’s the first real song he ever wrote, the dead-on Drifters homage “I Don’t Want to Go Home,” which he used to introduce as an actual Drifters song in early performances. “We always have to establish our identity in some original way,” he says. “But just as challenging, or just below it, is a real genre song that holds up in that genre. I’m always proud when that happens.”

But Van Zandt has come to realize that he does have a genre all his own, a brand of soul rock once known as the Jersey Shore sound. He helped create the style – where Stax-Volt horn-section blasts collide with power chords and Motown hooks – as songwriter, producer and guitarist for Southside Johnny and the Asbury Jukes, a role he mostly maintained in the studio for a few years even after joining the E Street Band. The sound – which also creeps in and out of Springsteen’s own records – reached its apotheosis on Southside’s 1978 classic, Hearts of Stone, and on Van Zandt’s own debut, 1982’s Men Without Women. He and Springsteen both took stylistic cues from Jersey shows by Sam and Dave, of “Soul Man” fame. “I said, ‘Aha! Me and Southside will be the white Sam and Dave,’ ” says Van Zandt. “The great thing about rock & roll, in terms of identity, was it’s white guys trying to be black. And failing gloriously, right? So we took the Sam and Dave thing, but I wanted to keep the rock-guitar part of it.”

But aside from helming Southside’s 1991 comeback, Better Days, Van Zandt had mostly put that style aside, veering between various sounds – reggae, Eighties synth anthems, hard rock – on his solo albums. “I didn’t worry about consistency,” he says. “Of course, if I was someone’s manager or producer, I would never allow them to do that. That’s career suicide before it starts. You can’t have five different identities musically, OK?”

Soulfire is Van Zandt’s first album since Men Without Women to embrace his signature style. “I was thinking, ‘Who do I want to be?’ ” he says. “I’m like, ‘Who am I really?’ And the thing most identified with me, and the thing that is most unique, is that soul-meets-rock thing. So I went back to that.”

Van Zandt started his career as a frontman, covering the likes of Paul Revere and the Raiders with his high school band, the Shadows, in Middletown, New Jersey, just a bit to the east of Springsteen’s Freehold. He never had the prettiest voice in the world, but he’s a compelling vocalist: “The emotional commitment carries you along,” says Southside, always the best pure singer on the Shore scene. In a high school of 3,000 students, Van Zandt was, as he tells it, the only kid with long hair. He got thrown out of the school and his own house for it, though he eventually made his way back to both. “My father was an ex-Marine Goldwater Republican,” he says. “We were the generation gap. It was rough. My identity was an embarrassment to him. He figured ‘You’re just a gay drug-addict criminal,’ you know, whatever the worst thing was in their heads.” Steve actually wasn’t on drugs, at least until “Nazi” local cops planted weed on him and arrested him for it. “After that, I’m like, ‘Well, fuck this! If I’m gonna be punished, might as well smoke dope!’ So I started smoking dope.”

His musical success, he says, “wasn’t out of determination or courage or persistence, it was because I was a complete fuck-up at everything else. That’s true of Bruce too. That’s the one thing we had in common. When chances came, everybody took them. College, military, job, whatever. The only two left standing from New Jersey was me and him. Why? Because we were complete freaks, misfits, outcasts, that’s why! There was no place else where we fit.”

By 1983 or so, Van Zandt didn’t even feel at home in the E Street Band anymore, thanks to now-resolved tensions with Springsteen and manager Jon Landau. (In his autobiography, Springsteen writes about playing the two men off each other to yield creative sparks.) Van Zandt left, pursuing an increasingly political direction: “ ’Does the world really need a bunch of new love songs from a sideman? I don’t think so.’ And I started studying politics.”

He went to South Africa to research a song, and was shaken by the brutalities of apartheid. Van Zandt persuasively argues that the activism that followed, most publicly with the all-star “Sun City” song and album, was a significant factor in the fall of the regime. That said, he couldn’t help wondering if he had erred in leaving Springsteen’s orbit right before the Born in the U.S.A. tour thundered through stadiums. “At some point I just started to feel a little bit stupid,” Van Zandt says, smiling a bit, “when they’re all buying mansions and I’m hiding under a blanket in Soweto. But that’s how life goes, man.”

He’s convinced that labels blackballed him after the fall of apartheid. “They’re looking at me like, ‘Whoa, this guy’s a little bit dangerous,’ and they just disappeared. So I just went out into the desert, man, and just thought about stuff.”

Before they got back together for good in 1999, the E Street Band had a quick trial reunion in ’95 – and Springsteen wrote that Van Zandt more or less invited himself back into the band at that point. Van Zandt has to think hard about that account before he nods. “I think I felt like, ‘Hey, there’s gonna be an E Street Band reunion, I should be there.’ Right? I had as much to do with that success as anybody.” He smiles. “Maybe more. Some things got left out of the book. But I’ll deal with that later.”

Now, he wants to do solo work between every Springsteen tour, along with more acting and a long list of other ideas and projects. “It might be kind of late,” says Van Zandt, who turns 67 this year, “but I’m hoping for a big fourth quarter.”

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Todd Rundgren Has A Trigger Warning For Trump Supporters

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Todd Rundgren has a warning for supporters of President Donald Trump: Keep away.

“Don’t come to my show,” Rundgren told Variety. “Because you won’t have a good time.”

Rundgren’s latest album features the anti-Trump song “Tin Foil Hat,” which he recorded with Donald Fagen of Steely Dan.

Variety’s Chris Willman said the new tune reminded him of seeing a couple walk out of a show last year after Rundgren criticized Trump from the stage. But the man behind hits such as “Hello It’s Me,” “I Saw The Light” and “Bang The Drum All Day,” said such a response doesn’t bother him.

Addressing Trump supporters, he said:

“I don’t understand your frickin’ values. Because I’m not singing about that. If you don’t understand that basic thing, you’re just fooling yourself. I guarantee that in this show, if you’re a Trump supporter, you will likely be offended. Let the buyer beware! I mean, if you can’t take a joke, or you can’t admit that you’ve made a mistake, you don’t belong with the rest of us.”

Rundgren laughed at the end of his comments, Willman noted.

Along with his own career as a successful singer, songwriter and performer, Rundgren is an accomplished producer and engineer who has worked with Meat Loaf, Cheap Trick and The Band as well as Daryl Hall and John Oates.

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Johnny Depp Regrets Ever Becoming An Actor

Categories: Top Stories

Johnny Depp reportedly regrets ever becoming an actor.

According to the U.K.’s Express, The Pirates Of The Caribbean star said, “I would have told my younger self to get out of this business immediately. I would have said, ‘It’s gonna get weird.’ ”

As Radar readers know, Depp, 53, has been dragged down by legal woes for months. He is currently at war with his former managers and his nasty divorce from actress wife Amber Heard, which was finalized in January, got him tons of bad publicity. Heard, 31, accused him of domestic abuse.

In January, the star sued his former management company, The Management Group (TMG), alleging fraud and negligence and demanding $25 million in damages.

But his ex-advisers at TMG countersued, claiming that Depp has “compulsive spending disorder” and needs a mental exam, as Radar reported.

Among the more extravagant expenses alleged in the counter suit against Depp were $75 million to maintain and furnish 14 homes, including a chain of islands in the Bahamas and a horse farm in Kentucky, $5 million on a cannon to shoot the ashes of his friend, journalist Hunter S. Thompson, into the sky, and $30,000 per month on wines from around the world.

Depp’s former management company contended in the lawsuit that he spent an astonishing $2 million a month, but he has denied being extravagant.

Depp alleges that TMG mishandled his fortune, failing to pay his taxes on time, collecting improper fees and loaning out his money without authorization.

Depp also had conflict with Disney over Pirates of the Caribbean 5, as Radar has reported. Sources said the studio was losing patience with their star’s pirate comeback over various issues, including the moment Depp had to fly back to the United States for emergency surgery on his finger while filming the blockbuster. It blew the movie’s budget, claimed a source.

The insider said Depp might be too much trouble going forward: “His box office draw has all but disappeared and he’s a mess.”

Now, the actor has said he wishes he never even launched his famous career!

Presented by The Griper – E.Cowan

Poor baby…we feel for you.

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Goldie Hawn Opens Up About Monogamy With Kurt Russell

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“What really got me was when I watched my kids when they’d come to the set and how he was with them,” she continued. “He was amazing with them. He was such a natural.”

They welcomed a son, actor Wyatt Russell, in 1986, and have been together ever since, but have never walked down the aisle. When asked about the secret to their relationship, Hawn couldn’t narrow it down to just one.

“Love, gratitude, compassion, because sometimes every man or every woman will drive their partner crazy. Family. Fun. Laughs. Sex,” Hawn explained. “If you don’t nurture that, and remember, you’re done.”

However, just like every couple, Hawn and Russell have faced their ups and downs, as maintaining a long-lasting relationship is not without its challenges, especially when it comes to staying monogamous.

“I’m sure I’ve been party to it, and Kurt’s been — we’re all normal this way,” Hawn said of giving into temptation. “It’s like, ‘You really liked that guy, didn’t you?’ Or the woman says, ‘You were looking at her.’ My answer would be, ‘Of course. Why not? She’s beautiful,’” she explained. “Would you want a man who doesn’t look? Who doesn’t feel inspired by the beauty or the curves of a woman’s body? Or the way she is? I mean, come on. We’re human beings. There is, I guess, an elasticity to the relationship. Otherwise it’s going to break, just like a rubber band.”

“Monogamy is a very tough order,” she continued. “You’re in the prime of your life, you are attracted to other people, potentially, you have fantasies about that. It really runs the risk, if you will, if you’re not aware that you could maybe screw up a really good thing by doing that.”

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