Dubbed "Great American Novelist" by Time, Jonathan Franzen is undoubtedly a key literary figure in the United States, having firmly established his status with the expansive novels The Corrections (20...
When celebrities have something to say they talk to Oprah. And it sounds like Lance Armstrong has something to say. The disgraced cycling hero, who last year was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles and banned from cycling after a report documented in detail his alleged use of performance-enhancing drugs (a charge he's repeatedly denied), is going to appear on Oprah's Next Chapter on January 17 on OWN. This comes after a report in The New York Times last week cited an anonymous source who said that Armstrong was considering revealing a history of doping. And the description of Armstrong's appearance on the Next Chapter website says, "Armstrong will address the alleged doping scandal, years of accusations of cheating, and charges of lying about the use of performance-enhancing drugs throughout his storied cycling career."
We have no idea what Armstrong will say, but we are certain that he will face some pretty tough questions. Still, it'll take a lot for his sitdown to rank among our picks for Oprah's 10 Most Awkward Interviews Ever. This is a list full of ugly crying, couch jumping, mic painting, and not one but two appearances from Elizabeth Taylor.
10. Mary Tyler Moore (1997)
It's putting it very mildly to say that Oprah Winfrey is a fan of Mary Tyler Moore. Actually, in a surprise 1997 interview with the comedy pioneer, she revealed that she'd pretty much patterned her life on that of Mary Richards, MTM's alter ego on The Mary Tyler Moore Show. It's impressive that Oprah was able to recover from the following tear-soaked hysterics upon first seeing Moore to even speak coherently.
9. Barbra Streisand (2003)
Mind you, Streisand's interview didn't have to be awkward. But it very quickly became just that after Oprah realized that Babs had spray-painted one of Harpo's microphones white so that it could match her ensemble. The stuff Kathy Griffin parodies are made of.
8. Mackenzie Phillips (2009)
In which the American Graffiti star reveals she had a years-long incestuous relationship with her father, Mamas and the Papas' singer John Phillips.
NEXT: Oprah stages a public reconciliation with an author who refused her Book Club and the interview she called "the hardest of my career" 7. Jonathan Franzen (2010)
In 2001, Oprah extended an offer to author Jonathan Franzen to appear on her Book Club to promote his National Book Award-winning novel, The Corrections. What happened next is still unclear: Franzen appeared to refuse the honor. So Oprah withdrew her invitation. Nine years later, Franzen and Winfrey publicly made up on-air during the final season of her show.
6. Whitney Houston (2009)
Everyone talks about Houston's infamous "Crack is Whack" interview with Diane Sawyer in 2002. But even more disturbing was her 2009 chat with Oprah, in which she put on a none-too-convincing facade of normalcy. Though Houston spoke candidly about her struggle with addiction, she blamed her history of drug abuse on her marriage to Bobby Brown and acted like she was completely sober. Seen in hindsight through the prism of her tragic death, her last major interview is a portrait of the point when addiction becomes its most dangerous: when its hidden.
5. Elizabeth Taylor (1988)
In a segment on her 25th anniversary DVD box set, Oprah says Liz told her right before the start of the interview that she would not answer any questions about her personal life and, instead, only wished to discuss her perfume line, White Diamonds. No wonder Oprah herself called it "the hardest interview of my career." However, it wouldn't be the last time she would cross paths with Taylor...
4. Michael Jackson (1993)
Oprah didn't hold back when she sat down with the King of Pop at the Neverland Ranch. After questions about his changing appearance and lightening skin tone, she asked, "Are you a virgin?" MJ replied, "How can you ask me that? I'm a gentleman!" To make things even more uncomfortable, Oprah's "hardest interview ever," Elizabeth Taylor, popped up unexpectedly, ambushed the interview, and deflected some of the more difficult questions on Jackson's behalf.
NEXT: The hardest-hitting interview Oprah ever conducted is also her most awkward. 3. Jay Leno (2010)
If it weren't for the No. 1 pick on this list, we'd say Oprah's one-on-one with Jay Leno, following his return to The Tonight Show in 2010 after Conan O'Brien's ouster, is the hardest-hitting interview she's ever conducted. (The interview subject in the No. 2 slot brought about the awkwardness entirely on his own.) She point-blank asked Leno if he thought he'd been selfish ("I've asked myself that," he said) and if he thought he'd "robbed Conan of his dream." It was all the more awkward because in every previous encounter on her show, Oprah and Jay came across like best buds — he even wheeled out her birthday cake during her 50th birthday celebration! The most squirm-inducing moment, however, came when Oprah revealed the results of an oprah.com poll in which 98% said Leno was at fault for the failure of Conan's Tonight Show.
2.Tom Cruise (2005)
It was the couch-jump seen across the world. Tom Cruise so could not contain his newfound love for Katie Holmes that he played a grown-up version of Jack B. Nimble on nationwide television.
1. James Frey (2006)
This wasn't an interview. This was a massacre. After it was revealed that Frey's memoir A Million Little Pieces wasn't a memoir at all, and that Frey had fictionalized key episodes in the supposedly confessional account of his struggle with substance abuse, Oprah brought the Book Club author back on her show for a brutal Round 2. She said she felt "betrayed," then proceeded to rip him a new one for the next hour. When it was all said and done, it was our frayed nerves that were in a million little pieces.
You got an opinion! You got an opinion! Everybody's got an opinion! Sound off about our picks in the comments below.
Follow Christian Blauvelt on Twitter @Ctblauvelt
[Photo Credit: Harpo]
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The Star Wars actor had cleared his schedule to take on the screen adaptation of Jonathan Franzen's bestselling novel The Corrections, about the family troubles of an elderly couple and its three adult children, portrayed by McGregor, Bruce Norris and Maggie Gyllenhaal.
However, bosses at America's HBO network were not impressed with the pilot episode, directed by Noah Baumbach, and the project was scrapped in May (12).
Now McGregor admits the failed venture was a huge disappointment for him.
He tells New York Magazine, "At first I was sad, but when I saw the pilot I was devastated. Creatively, I was destroyed because it was so powerful."
The actor had made a conscious decision not to sign up for big film roles after he agreed to take on a role in The Corrections because he was convinced the series was good enough to run for four or five years.
But as a result of its cancellation, McGregor has been left with weeks of downtime in between projects.
He says, "This is the least work I've ever done in my life, since I was 20 or 21, because of HBO and The Corrections."
Let's face it: Popular culture has helped us stereotype our political parties. On the right, we're led to believe most Republicans are either flag-waving, tea-drinking rebel rousers or stiff money-waving, scotch-swilling billionaires. On the left, we're led to believe most Democrats are either crusty granola-munching hippies or pretentious Jonathan Franzen-reading elitists.
Of course, none of these stereotypes are true — but many can't help but judge a political party by its cover. Or, more accurately, its faces. But how easy is it to determine who's a Republican and who's a Democrat? We compiled a selection of photographs of delegates on the floor of the RNC and the DNC. Can you guess who's a registered Democrat and who's a registered Republican?
Test your skills below!
Democrat or Republican? Test Your Skills Here!
[Credit for All Images: Getty Images]
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Timing, as we all know too well, is everything. Whether it be in an ultimately ill-fated relationship or being unconventional in Hollywood during a time when offbeat is not only celebrated, but a success story. It all comes down to timing.
So it's fitting that actress Greta Gerwig, she of indie cred like Greenberg and Damsels in Distress, is appearing in the new romantic comedy Lola Versus. A movie about that time in a young New Yorkers life when the timing is completely wrong just so happens to be out at the same time as cultural game-changers like Girls and Bridesmaids leading the charge.
The impeccable timing and inevitable comparisons of her lovelorn Lola — a smart, but fumbling late twentysomething who is dumped by her fiance just weeks before their wedding and is left to pick up the pieces of her life — to the recent trend of flawed female characters is something that resonated with Gerwig, who chatted with Hollywood.com about her latest project.
"She's the hardest to love," Gerwig says of the titular Lola in Daryl Wein and Zoe Lister Jones' observational urban relationship comedy, "Usually they're kind of perfect and have no flaws or their flaws can be gotten over in a day. [Lola's flaws] are deep and she makes big mistakes and I really liked that." While Gerwig, who has also starred in more mainstream fare like No Strings Attached and Arthur, says she's not opposed to that type of moviemaking ("I go both ways…I love Notting Hill, I love those [kinds of] movies") she is happy to be part of the new wave of female-driven rom coms.
"It's a really special time to be a girl making movies because there's a certain craving for people who look more like people you know, people who seem like people you know," Gerwig tells Hollywood.com, "I think that's true of Bridesmaids and a lot of these movies, they just don't alienate you. You recognize them, even when that's painful."
Of course, even if Hollywood has finally caught up with finding beauty in flaws with entertainment like Lola Versus, Girls, and Bridesmaids, Gerwig admits it even took her a little time to get there. "I went through a phase of really wanting to fit in and be like everyone else and be that beautiful starlet that has no flaws," she says, adding, "I think, really, at the end of the day for me it's so much more powerful and special to be able to accept myself for who I am and not try to change it."
It's a good thing for Gerwig that she opted to stay true to herself than mold to the typical Hollywood conventions: the 28-year-old's talents caught the attention of the one and only Woody Allen. Gerwig appears in the Oscar-winning legend's latest international love letter To Rome With Love, an experience she says was "totally surreal and amazing."
"It was [filmed] in Rome, so that just added to the feeling of 'Where am I and what's happening?'," Gerwig explains, "I was just so honored and grateful to be able to work with him. It doesn't even feel like I actually got to do it because it went by so fast and I was nervous the whole time. I hope I get to do it again one day so I can actually savor it."
Still, even with Gerwig's good fortune to work with the likes of icons such as Woody Allen and her Lola Versus co-star Debra Winger ("She's a woman who has not been put into a cookie cutter mold….it felt so special to work with someone like that, who didn't succumb to pressure to be a certain way,") sometimes the timing can still go wrong.
Gerwig was part of Noah Baumbach and Scott Rudin's all-star television adaptation of Jonathan Franzen's acclaimed novel The Corrections. The family drama, which also starred Ewan McGregor, Dianne Wiest, Chris Cooper, and Maggie Gyllenhaal, was passed over by HBO. "I think it's not going to happen," Gerwig says of the fate of the project, "It was an amazing cast and an amazing script. I think ultimately it just wasn't for television and I think they realized that. Maybe it would have worked better as a miniseries."
But Gerwig isn't taking the Hollywood timing misfortune to heart. In fact, she has all the positivity of the smart, hopeful twentysomethings that are touching a nerve with audiences these days about it. "It's just one of those things. It was a bummer, but thems the breaks."
[Photo credit: Fox Searchlight]
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More: Lola Versus Poster Features Rising Star Greta Gerwig
Ewan Mcgregor's new TV series has been axed before it aired. HBO bosses have decided not to press on with the adaptation of Jonathan Franzen's bestseller The Corrections after checking out the pilot episode, which featured McGregor and Maggie Gyllenhaal and Chris Cooper and Dianne Weist as their parents.
While the book turned TV series Game of Thrones is one of HBO's most successful projects ever, the network won't be following the same path with another recent literary hit. Apparently Jonathan Franzen's The Corrections didn't contain the requisite amount of nudity and scene-stealing dwarves.
After ordering a pilot for The Corrections, HBO has decided not to move forward with the project. The show followed a Midwestern couple, played by Chris Cooper and Dianne Weist, and their adult children, played by Ewan McGregor and Maggie Gyllenhaal. The network says the decision had nothing to do with landing the rights to True Detective, the cop drama starring Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson.
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News regarding HBO's developing drama pilot The Corrections is both sparse and invigorating. The small, somewhat perplexing synopsis hints at a series with a lot of character, and a lot of heart (though likely, a lot of sadness). The newest piece of information about The Corrections pilot furthers our optimism: Ewan McGregor has been cast as one of the lead roles.
The story centers on an aging Midwestern couple, nearing the winter of their lives as the year 2000 approaches rapidly. The couple, who will be played by Chris Cooper and Dianne Wiest (as it was announced last month) vow to organize "one last Christmas" to be celebrated with their three estranged children. McGregor will play the couple's middle child, Chip, with a sordid personal and professional life. Chip, a radical Marxist, worked in education before losing his job as a result of his illicit affair with one of his students. When the pilot opens, Chip will work for a Lithuanian crime ring that operates by defrauding business investors in the United States.
The pilot is based on the 2001 novel of the same name by Jonathan Franzen. In the novel, the two older children (yet to be cast) are Gary, the oldest, an unhappy, alcoholic banker who resents the hold his wife and children have on him, and Denise, the youngest and only daughter, a bisexual chef who loses her job due to a messy romance involving both her boss and his wife.
Directing the pilot is Noah Baumbach (Kicking and Screaming, The Squid and the Whale), who also co-wrote with Franzen, while Scott Rudin produces.
The curse of being an actor on a hit television series is often that people identify you only as your character. Elisabeth Moss is bst known for playing Peggy Olson on AMC's Mad Men, but she might soon expand her notoriety with a new series on the BBC. Moss is in the late stages of a deal with the British network to star in Top of the Lake, a crime-drama miniseries about the investigation of a missing pregnant girl, whose father is a notorious drug kingpin. If the deal goes through, Moss will play Robin Griffin, the detective on the case. Also attached is writer/director Jane Campion (The Piano). -Deadline
Technically, Conan O'Brien isn't really allowed to use a good deal of his bits and characters that he created for the NBC network now that he is hosting his talk show, Conan, on TBS. However, that hasn't stopped the irreverent Conan from making a few call-backs to his former days hosting Late Night. And he's not done yet. Conan will be reunited his, arguably, most iconic character: Triumph the Insult Comic Dog. According to Conan's twitter, Triumph will be making an appearance on his show tonight, to add to the glory of his week shooting in New York City. The week has already been packed full of Conan's best comedy in quite some time; this is no disappointment. Conan airs weeknights at 11 p.m. ET/PT on TBS. -Twitter
When 30 Rock returns to NBC a mid-season replacement, it will be bringing with it some guest stars of note. When we last left Jack Donaghy, he was still sullied over the kidnapping of his wife, Avery Jessup (Elizabeth Banks). However, Donaghy won't be entirely alone: Avery's mother is coming to the show, and she'll be played by Mary Steenburgen. Steenburgen's character will be Charlotte, an "uber-WASP" who doesn't quite get along with her son-in-law.
The Corrections, the 2001 novel by Jonathan Franzen, has been officially picked up for adaptation as a series by HBO. Starring in the series are Chris Cooper and Dianne Wiest as a couple from the American Midwest who muster their estranged children to enjoy "one last Christmas" together as the twentieth century comes to a close. -Vulture
Chris Cooper is in talks to join HBO's upcoming series The Corrections, for which Dianne Wiest has already signed up.
If officially greenlighted, The Corrections -- like the 2001 Jonathan Franzen novel on which it is loosely based -- centers on a family trying to organize one last Christmas together before the year 2000. Cooper and Wiest would play the lead husband and wife.
Corrections' pilot is to be directed by Greenberg helmer (and Wes Anderson buddy) Noah Baumbach, with Scott Rudin producing.
The Star Trek actor, who is currently starring in an off-Broadway production of Angels in America, agreed to a chat with New York Magazine at the Signature Theatre Company gala in the Big Apple, but he ended the interview abruptly after the talk became too candid.
When he was asked about his "post-show ritual", he replied, "I like to take showers after the show. And then I read. I'm reading Jonathan Franzen's Freedom, like the rest of the world. But all these questions are too personal, sorry."
And when the reporter suggested he talk about his favourite ice cream instead, he responded, "Still too personal. Sorry."
When asked what he would prefer to chat about, Quinto gave a brief response about playwright Tony Kushner and then ended the interview.
Published fourth novel Freedom; also selected as part of Oprah's Book Club
Received National Book Award for The Corrections; novel also selected in Oprah's Book Club, but later withdrawn
Collaborated with Noah Baumbach on HBO series adaptation "The Corrections"; pilot not picked up
Published English-language version of Frank Wedekind's play Spring Awakening; Franzen originally translated play for Swarthmore College's theater department in 1986
Released collection of essays titled Farther Away
Moved to New York
Named Pulitzer Prize finalist in Fiction
Wrote literary manifesto "Perchance to Dream: In the Age of Images, a Reason to Write Novels" ("Why Bother?") published in Harper's Magazine
Studied on a Fulbright Scholarship at Freie Universität Berlin
Tackled controversial themes such as abortion and capitalism in second novel Strong Motion
Published debut novel The Twenty-Seventh City, a partly satirical thriller
Grew up in Webster Groves, a suburb of St. Louis, MO
Dubbed "Great American Novelist" by Time, Jonathan Franzen is undoubtedly a key literary figure in the United States, having firmly established his status with the expansive novels The Corrections (2001) and Freedom (2010). A Midwestern native, Franzen has drawn extensively on his upbringing in Middle America, with his first novel, The Twenty-Seventh City (1988), set in St. Louis, where he spent much of his childhood. His second book, Strong Motion (1992), met with muted response, and he didn't prominently resurface until the publication of his third novel, The Corrections (2001), a family saga that became a major literary success. Taking his time with the follow-up, Franzen unveiled the eagerly anticipated Freedom in 2010, with its generally warm reception proving that The Corrections was far from a fluke. Unabashedly outspoken and committed to intriguing portrayals of American families, Franzen seemed intent on maintaining this revered rank by staying true to his singular vision.
Born in a town near Chicago and raised just outside of St. Louis in a well-to-do area, Franzen had childhood steeped in 1960s and '70s suburbia. After focusing on his German studies while in college, he began his writing career, eventually seeing his debut novel, The Twenty-Seventh City, published in 1988. A high-minded political thriller, the book wasn't a huge hit, but it established Franzen as an author to watch. His next book, Strong Motion, which incorporated the subjects of earthquakes and capitalism, wasn't particularly well received, and he went back to the drawing board, with no subsequent novel for nearly 10 years. Franzen's patience clearly paid off, however, when The Corrections, a decades-spawning look at one Midwestern family's dysfunction, became a huge hit in 2001. This was in part due to the publicity generated when he started a dispute with Oprah Winfrey after making comments that were resentful of the novel's inclusion in her hugely popular book club.
Releasing non-fiction collections in the years thereafter, he lent his voice to a 2006 literature-themed episode of "The Simpsons" (Fox, 1989- ) and returned prominently in 2010 with Freedom, which snowballed into a literary event that even led to his photo on the cover of Time. That year he finally appeared on Winfrey's show, ending the perceived feud between the two. He also continued to stir up controversy by making various statements about the negative effects of the Internet and social media, comments that angered some and were championed by others. After working with lauded director/screenwriter Noah Baumbach on a proposed television version of The Corrections, the project was not picked up by HBO, but diehard fans held out hope that another Franzen screen adaptation would develop.
Freie Universität Berlin
"I come from a kind of old-fashioned Midwest, and I live in a technocorporate, postironic, cool, late-late-late East-coast world. The two worlds hardly ever talk to each other, but they're completely, constantly talking to one another inside me." - from Bomb, Fall 2001
"Where does this stuff come from? It comes from sensory deprivation. It comes from turning down all the volume knobs to the one setting-or somewhere between zero and one-on everything, so I can actually hear myself think and I can actually poke around inside myself. We're all so used to cultural noise being played at full volume. It can come as a surprise, even to myself, how much you can know about what's going on by listening to almost nothing. It's important, because if you have it up at full volume, you can't hear yourself think, and all you want to do is chase after the stuff that's going on." - from The AV Club, September 1, 2010
"The writers who have become models for me are the ones who manage to have some public life-we're all communal-but a restricted one. Writers have audiences and responsibilities to those audiences. But we also have a responsibility to remain ourselves. It's a balancing act." - from The Atlantic, Oct. 1, 2013