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Allow me to open this article with a candid admission: I want to believe that Andy Kaufman is still alive. I've wanted to believe that Andy Kaufman was still alive since I was first introduced to the comedic genius' story at age 11, sparked by my fandom of Taxi (thank you, Nick at Nite) to watch Man on the Moon (thank you, HBO). I had loved his work as Latka Gravas and knew his famous Mighty Mouse gag, but wasn't familiar with the man or his legacy — nor his dedication to very fabric of comedy — until Milos Forman and Jim Carrey painted such a colorful picture. Ever since then, I've read everything I could about Kaufman. I've watched all his old routines, reveling in his variety of hoaxes and schemes. I hung a decidedly creepy poster of the man in my college dorm room, alienating visitors with my 48 square inch print of the swarthy weirdo with the menacing stare. In short (although I guess it's too late for that), I love Andy Kaufman. Many do. And among those is, quite likely, a large population who were really hoping that this new revelation was not a hoax.
On Monday, New York City's Gotham Comedy Club hosted the 9th Annual Andy Kaufman Award finals — a nation-wide talent competition constructed to showcase the varied creative exploits of budding performers. The most notable performance of the night came not from a contestant, though, but from a 24-year-old young woman who took the stage beside Michael Kaufman (Andy's brother and the founder of the award show), announcing herself to be the daughter of Andy Kaufman, and pronouncing her alleged father to be still alive. Watch the video for yourself, courtesy of Cinema Blend:
A bit of background info. In 1984, Kaufman was believed (by some) to be killed by a longstanding struggle with lung cancer... a curiosity to those who knew Kaufman as a very healthy individual who never smoked a day in his life. Due to the number of times he pulled the wool over America's eyes — he staged so many elaborate cons, short and long, that to take anything Kaufman did at face value would be foolish — a number of people have assumed that the death was a ruse. Kaufman could have faked it for a number of reasons: Maybe to sink into a life of privacy that he might enjoy amongst his loved ones, maybe to emancipate himself from the cannibalistic vanity of the Hollywood business, or maybe, simply, because he thought it would be funny. We'd believe any and all.
Kaufman hasn't been seen publicly since '84, and doesn't appear to have had any encounter with his brother Michael, with whom he shared an ostensibly good relationship. The one exception to the actor/comedian's 30-year absentia came in 1999, at a restaurant where he planned to meet his brother had he ever decided to fake his own death. Andy didn't show, but Michael is said to have come into the possession of a message from his brother, stating that Andy was alive, happy, living with a wife and children, and uncomfortable discarding his privacy just yet. With the passing of the Kaufman brothers' father this past summer, Andy is said — by his alleged daughter — to be reconsidering his privacy, opening up to the idea of reconnecting with his brother, and possibly extending his publicity beyond that. The young woman revealed that Andy is a big fan and follower of the awards circuit that Michael Kaufman has set up in his name, taking special interest in Michael's forwarding of their appreciation of comedy and performance.
And so, here we are. Wondering if this new twist of fate carries with it any veritability at all.
On the side of "Come on, this is ridiculous!" Cinema Blend acknowledges the uncanny resemblance that exists between the Kaufman daughter and theater actress Alexandra Tatarsky, who is reported to have met Michael Kaufman at a Manhattan art gallery and, quite possibly, planned the whole ordeal with Andy's brother from there. Incidentally, Tatarsky's father is a 58-year-old New York-based psychologist.
On the side of "Well, maybe... just maybe..." we really only have faith. Faith and the proclamations of present parties who insist that the whole scene was a genuine display of shock and emotion on the parts of both Michael and the niece he would have first met on this night.
And somewhere in the middle, airing cautiously on the side of the former mentality but with a smidgen of hope that maybe... just maybe... it's possible that the Elvis-impersonating Foreign Man pulled off one of the greatest gags in showbiz history, do I lie. Contemplating skeptically the rare reversal of the Internet death hoax.
I'm wont to believe that the whole thing is an act. In truth, it would be amazing if Kaufman were to resurface, and not only for the reason of having my hero back among us once more, but in the showcase of a performance artist's true devotion to the art that he pioneered in his heyday. But as much as I'd bask in the glory of Kaufman's triumphant resurgence, there would be cons to this turn of events as well.
With the rebirth of a legend comes the rebirth of his humanity. Just like with Elvis, Tupac, Houdini, James Dean, Jim Morrison, John Belushi, and a number of other legends, a portion of the majesty of these figures' work is owed to their untimely passing. Immortalized by the short section of time that they got the opportunity to showcase their brilliance, we remember these greats as flawless. Their images are limited to their triumphs. They are dehumanized and transformed into ideas of perfection (in their respective fields). Andy Kaufman was 35 at the time of his supposed death, having only treated us to a few years of his maniacal brain before leaving this Earth (or just leaving its eye). Back with us, Kaufman would be a man. A man, granted, who managed a 30-year prank, but a man (and a 64-year-old one, to boot) who'd have to carry forth nonstop with his genius in order to maintain "the legend." For a while, doable. For a lifetime, impossible.
That's why we speak with a hymnal whisper of John Lennon, but a merry appreciation of Paul McCartney. Paul is a man. An unbelievably talented force of musical creativity and chutzpah. But John, now, is just shy of a god. Granted, John was also a dark, brooding loon and Paul is a pretty even-keeled and chipper fellow. But it's also the immortalization thing.
We'd lose the Kaufman we knew if we were to unite with one that lived today. He'd arise as a man, one living in a different kind of world that might not play conduit to the tricks at which he was such a master. And we'd eventually have to ask the inevitable question: What kind of person willingly lets their brother, parents, and friends believe he is dead for 30 years, all in the service of a joke or his own desires for privacy?
I say this not motived to castigate Kaufman, if he indeed is still out there, or to call attention to humanity's odd glorification of the dead. I say this as an appeasement for those, like me, who really want to believe that he did it. That he faked it all, hid away, and decided, "What the hell? Let's get the band back together!" Anything is possible. But this is probably not the case. Sadly, Andy Kaufman may very well have died back in 1984. But on that very same day, something was born: his legacy. The legendary, inimitable character that has coursed through the veins of comedians ever since, hoping to achieve this wonderful spirit's passion for laughter, performance, and emotion. In a way, no matter what, he's still at large. Because nobody, 30 years after disappearing, could inspire this much conversation about the veracity of his death. Andy might not be on this Earth any longer, but he continues to fool us all. And we're all terribly grateful for it.
Thank you very much.
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If you don't know what to watch after finishing Orange is the New Black, or just spend hours deciding between films on Netflix each night, here are 10 of the more obscure instant streaming documentaries to make your decision a little bit harder:
Her Master’s VoiceDidn’t know there was a a Puppet Graveyard? This docu/mockumentary follows ventriloquist Nina Conti on her soul-searching journey to say good-bye to her mentor’s creatures at the Vent Haven Museum in Kentucky. (If ventriloquism is your thing, make it a puppet-themed night and watch Dumbstruck right after.)Life 2.0 Escaping life via the wonderful world wide web is not a strange notion in 2013 but Life 2.0 takes a look at those who take it one step further. Just how skewed can one’s perception of reality become when making a second identity for themselves?Heart of the KingElvis will never leave the building, according to these four die-hard fans and impersonators. What started as a mockumentary turned into a passionate tale of rock-n-roll and the men who will never let The King die. Otaku Some people really love anime, and many of them are Japanese males. This 1994 documentary explores an industry that was just emerging in their culture but has since become a world-wide phenomenon. 10th District CourtChronicling three months in a French court room resided over by a female judge, 10th District Court deals with small trials and misdemeanors that are both telling of the human character and a look into society. OC87The door to discussion on mental illness is thrown wide open as Buddy Clayman documents the long journey he faced to become a filmmaker while struggling with both OCD and Asperger’s Syndrome. Lunarcy!The moon is pretty pivotal in our everyday lives but there are some people who it means more to then just wave schedules. (A former ventriloquist is also featured in this movie, who knew it was so huge an industry?)Super, Girls! China’s former singing contest was a way for girls to find grand fame in their country. Yi Jian follows ten of the contestants through their hopeful journey to stardom during the second, and final, season of “Super Girls Singing Contest.”American Harmony High-name salons may be on the rise, but barbershops aren’t going anywhere and neither are their singers — there’s even an International Championship of Barbershop Singing and the fight to the crown isn’t as quick of a cut as you’d think.NoBody’s PerfectDirector Niko von Glasow was born disabled as a result of his mother taking thalidomide's during pregnancy. His search for those suffering the same consequences, missing limbs and handicapped, is riddled with both humor and compassion.
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If you grew up in the '90s, you probably spent a half hour each Friday night with your favorite TV family – the Tanners. They were like any normal family, except for the fact that they rarely fought, lived in a tony section of San Francisco, and had John Stamos as their uncle. Now without further ado, let's hit the rewind button and revisit this timeless symbol of Clinton-era optimism, Full House.
Every Kid Wanted a Dad like Danny TannerHe was tall, affable, and impeccably groomed. He also liked to clean… a lot! But aside from having good manners and a Trebek-like affinity for enunciation, Danny Tanner was also an all around good dude. Pre-pubescent girls wanted to be driven to school by him, and young boys wanted to play catch with him. Danny Tanner was the All-American dad, which is strange seeing that the actor who played him, Bob Saget, was known for his foul-mouthed comedy act. Saget later lampooned his family-friendly image by playing an X-rated version of himself on HBO's Entourage.
Rebecca Donaldson Was a BabeShe was Danny Tanner's co-anchor on Wake Up San Francisco and the G-rated fantasy of countless teenage boys. Put it this way, in the pre-Internet era, when Super Mario Bros. was still considered cutting edge technology, Becky Donaldson was about as good as it got. Too bad Uncle Jesse snagged her first!
How Annoying Was Kimmy Gibbler?Whenever the Tanners' air-headed next door neighbor popped up on the screen (she was a recurring character throughout Full House's eight season run) you could not help but cringe. Not only was Kimmy incredibly annoying, but her awful-smelling feet were one of the reasons Danny despised her. And any enemy of Danny Tanner was an enemy of America. Perhaps that's why the actress that played Gibbler (Andrea Barber) gave up acting to become a housewife. She had it coming!
Hey, Cut It OutIt's weird for any family to shack up in the same pad as their freewheeling bachelor uncle (unless something illegal is happening), yet the Tanners lived with not one, but two of 'em! There was the handsome, Elvis-loving Uncle Jesse, and his dorky-but-loveable counterpart, Joey Gladstone. That latter was played by Dave Coulier, who would later achieve infamy as the impetus for Alanis Morissette's acidic I-hate-men-anthem, "You Oughta Know." Who knew Uncle Joey could be such a douche?
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Emmy award-winning comedian Sara Schaefer, host of MTV's late show Nikki & Sara Live, will be blogging The Bachelorette for Hollywood.com all season long.
If you're like me, you've been watching The Bachelor/Bachelorette since the beginning. You can't tear yourself away season after season because, like they tell us in school, it only takes one time to become addicted to cocaine. In this scenario, of course, cocaine is the word "journey," and according to last night's premiere of The Bachelorette, this season is gonna be some gooooood s**t. Sean's fourth-place girlfriend Desiree Hartsock is going to be handing out roses this year and there are so many things to discuss I have decided to organize them in list form. (I wanted to do a PowerPoint but my editor tells me that won't work.)
10 Things I'm Looking Forward To On This Season of The Bachelorette
1. Man Tears
According to the previews, in addition to some sexy, sexy fist fights, these guys are gonna cry some sweet, sweet man tears! And if they don't produce full-on tears, they will put their heads down and rub their eyes and forehead to show how emotional this is. The heart? It shall be wrenched.
2. Remembering Jonathan's Love Tank
His time at the Bachelor mansion was short-lived, but Jonathan will stay vivid in my memories this season. This guy gets out of the limo and immediately asks Desiree to go to the fantasy suite. What fantasy suite? Aren't those usually located on a resort in the tropics? Anyway, she declines, but Jonathan won't be deterred. He repeatedly tries to get Desiree to go into this makeshift f**k room he's set up. And he keeps talking about how his "love tank has not been depleted for years" and that his mom thinks he's attractive. Hahahaha — that's normal! He doesn't want to wear Desiree's skin as a bathrobe, at all. Hahahahaha...
Finally, Desiree makes him leave before even going to the rose ceremony — but that doesn't mean Jonathan will soon be forgotten. I'm sure we'll hear from him soon... when he gets arrested for "depleting his love tank" on an unsuspecting woman at the mall.
3. Hashtag Douchebag
Kasey is a self-proclaimed "social media expert." But how can we be sure? Because he's constantly using the word "hashtag," naturally and organically during conversation! Examples from last night: "Hashtag I want a rose!" "Hashtag fantasy suite fail!"
Cool catchphrase, bro. Hashtag not. Hashtag good luck with that. Hashtag pack your bags. Hashtag okay, now I'm doing it. Hashtag sorry. Hashtag let's move on.
4. Finding Out What a "Drilling Fluid Engineer" Does, Other Than Go Topless
Zack, or as I like to call him, "the rich man's Situation," arrives topless to the mansion. He's got abs and Desiree is impressed when he strips down to his briefs and jumps in the pool. Meanwhile, I am just really curious as to what a "drilling fluid engineer" does. Sounds highly sexual. I mean complicated. What? Hi.
5. The Part When Desiree Realizes Ben Is a Weirdo for Using His Cute Son to Impress Her
Um, how AMAZING would it have been if right after that tiny kid got out of the limo, Chris Hansen stepped in and revealed that we were just watching a really elaborate episode of Dateline NBC's "To Catch a Predator"? No? OK. Well, regardless, even though Desiree seemed to love that Ben brought his son, I found it highly suspicious. I imagine Ben whispering into his son's ear before they got out, "Do NOT f**k this up for Daddy, you hear me?" And what was that explanation about the kid's mother — that they were just friends who had a baby? Hmmmm. That sounds like BS. And according to the preview, Ben seems to cause a lot of trouble in the house so let's just SEE.
6. Desiree's Emotional Journey
We know that Desiree is open to finding love. How do we know this? Because of a seven-outfit montage of her roller-skating, walking under a pier, sitting on the beach, and holding onto a railing while staring into the distance. We now know she's ready to share her life with someone. And it won't be easy. It will involve a lot of tears. And in the preview, we see that some MAJOR S**T is going to go down — there's one shot of her curled up in a ball crying, saying, "This is the worst possible scenario." Worst possible scenario? OMG JUAN PABLO GOT HER PREGNANT! Oh wait, no, oops, sorry — I forgot this is The Bachelorette, and the "worst possible scenario" usually involves one of the guys admitting he has a girlfriend back home or that he's only in it for the fame. THE TERROR!!! But according to all the french kissing they show, I am guessing she gets back on her feet in no time. I just can't wait for her brother to beat the piss out of whoever makes it to the end!
7. Finding Out Whose Girlfriend Shows Up
Awwwwww yeah! A girlfriend from the outside world shows up this season!!! HELL YES. That's some primo Bachelorette drama right there. I'd like to thank the producers in advance for their crack team of investigators for uncovering this one.
8. The Triumphant Return of Diogo
Diogo was ROBBED!!!! He showed up in a SUIT OF ARMOR for chrissake. Do you know how heavy that is? He put it all on the line for you, Desiree, and you just threw it all away. I really hope they find a way to bring Diogo back. If not, I'm thinking he's the next Bachelor??!!!? No? Oh well. Poor Diogo. We will remember you for the next few hours.
9. Finding Out Who Did That Bizarre Dance
Can someone please tell me — who was the guy we saw doing that insanely weird dance (it looked like a combo of Elvis and an '80s new wave move)? I couldn't see his face and I must know his identity in order to continue on this season. And I need a GIF of that STAT.
10. The Candlescaping
I have to say, whoever is doing this year's candlescaping on the show is doing a top notch job. Never before have I seen such beautiful arrangements of candles in and throughout the Bachelor compound. The mood has been set perfectly for the men to become vulnerable, open themselves to love, find out who is here for the right reasons, declare they're not here to make friends, borrow Desiree for a moment, and ultimately, fall in love and spend the rest of their lives with this woman. THE MOOD HAS BEEN SET!
Tune into The Bachelorette every Monday night at 8/7c on ABC and check Hollywood.com on Tuesdays for Sara Schaefer's reactions to the madness.
Sara Schaefer is a critically acclaimed stand up comedian, writer, and producer based in New York City. She is the co-host of MTV’s late night show Nikki & Sara Live. She won two Emmy awards for her work as the Head Blogger for Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, and has written for BestWeekEver.tv and Who Wants to Be A Millionaire. Sara has appeared on Comedy Central, Late Night with Jimmy Fallon, Best Week Ever, FX, E!, Fuse, and AOL. She also has a popular podcast You Had To Be There with her MTV co-host Nikki Glaser.
Follow Sara on Twitter @saraschaefer1 | Follow Hollywood.com on Twitter @Hollywood_com
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Instead of some poorly conceived duets filling time during American Idol's two-hour Top 6 performance show, the finalists — Janelle Arthur, Candice Glover, Kree Harrison, Amber Holcomb, Angie Miller and lone dude Lazaro Arbos — will sing two songs each. One comes from the lengthy Burt Bacharach and Hal David songbook, while the second theme, "Song I Wish I'd Written," is much more expansive. Hollywood.com chatted with the finalists on their final rehearsal day and got the scoop on why they chose each tune.
"My song that I wish I had written is 'Love On Top' by Beyonce," Holcomb tells us. "I just actually got done rehearsing and it’s coming together really well. It's not like a wind blowing, 'wooo' [crazy moment], but it's fun. I love that song; it's upbeat and it shows my voice."
Glover is tackling another diva, the incomparable Adele — specifically, the British singer's cover of The Cure's "Love Song." "I am so excited because this is the kind of music I see myself doing in the future," she explains.
In a slightly more obscure move, Miller chose her favorite worship song, "Love Came Down" by Kari Jobe. "It’s definitely not a well known song but I’m so excited for people to hear it," she says. "She is an incredible singer. It’s more like a worship song, but I’m taking the song and making it relatable to everyone."
Like Miller, Harrison is a songwriter herself. She took the assignment very seriously, finally settling on "How Do You Make It Through the Night." "It’s written by Kris Kristofferson, but so many people who influence me have covered it, like Tammy Wynette to Elvis, so I’m really excited about it," she says. "It was kind of hard for me to choose because as a songwriter, you have [tons of] people who have influenced your writing. This song in particular I thought would give me an intimate moment I haven’t had yet — more country rather than Aretha and everything else I’ve been doing."
Country girl Arthur is also excited to stick with her roots and sing "The Dance" by Garth Brooks. "It was actually in a show that I did when I was 11 years old," she says. "It was one of those songs that really opened up my mind to how deep lyrics can be and how there’s more meaning to it than what you think."
Robbie Williams' "Angels" might not have been Arbos' first pick, but it's a song that's still close to his heart. "It’s not my all-time favorite song, but it’s a song that I do love and I felt it was right for the show," he says. "I do know it well. Hopefully I don’t forget the words since that has been becoming a recurring problem!"
The second theme was slightly more problematic for many contestants, but not Harrison. "For a lot of them it’s like the Dionne Warwick catalog," she jokes. "I’m singing 'What the World Needs Now,' which I love. I’ve always loved that song. Have you ever seen My Best Friend’s Wedding? It’s basically that soundtrack, what we’re doing. I’ve always loved that song and from the list of that catalog this was the one I could make my own more than any other."
Holcomb, however, hasn't seen the Julia Roberts rom-com, despite the fact that she chose the movie's iconic ditty "Say A Little Prayer." "I've seen Date Movie, and that's, like, a spoof of that movie," she says. "The song's in there! Listen, I did watch the scene of the song when the guy sings at the table."
Glover chose "Don't Make Me Over" by Warwick, and although she doesn't want to change the classic too much, "I still want to put that Candice in there," she says. "I never want to have anyone to change me, change my opinion. That's what got me sent home the first couple of times. I want to definitely be myself."
Staying true to her country vibe, Arthur's pick, "I'll Never Fall in Love Again," was covered by country greats like Bobbie Gentry, Sheryl Crow, and Trisha Yearwood. Arbos, on the other hand, just went with the producers' suggestions and chose The Carpenters' "Close to You." "I heard it and I loved it," he says.
Miller is going obscure on her second song, too. "Anyone Who Had a Heart," which she didn't know before she chose it, is "really intense and dark, which I like," she says. "It doesn’t have an old-fashioned sound; it has more of a modern sound so that’s good."
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Former Mouseketeer and beach-movie mainstay Annette Funicello died Monday at the age of 70 after 25 years of battling multiple sclerosis. Anyone born after 1970 might not appreciate Funicello’s pop cultural significance, but let’s just say that she did that whole Disney-to-adult-star transition long before Britney Spears, Christina Aguilera, Justins Timberlake and Bieber, Selena Gomez, and Miley Cyrus.
Here, a few things you may not have known about the late legend:
Walt Disney himself discovered her at a dance-school recital in 1955. He’d instructed his minions about what he was looking for: "Go to a school and watch the kids at recess. Watch what happens to you. You’ll notice that you’re watching one kid. Not any of the other kids, but sooner or later your gaze will always go back to this one kid. That kid has star quality. That’s the kid we want to get in The Mickey Mouse Club." He spotted exactly that when he saw 12-year-old Funicello appear in a selection from Swan Lake.
She began her recording career while still on The Mickey Mouse Club, despite her admitted lack of vocal prowess. During one of the show’s "serial" segments — basically mini-teen dramas — Annette played a country girl who comes to live with relatives in the city. One episode featured her singing a song called "How Will I Know My Love," despite what she described as her "three-note range." Thousands of fans wrote in asking how they could buy it on record, so Disney asked her to record it. Producer Tutti Camarata invented her "sound" when he found that her voice barely registered on the recording, so he added "an overlay of a second Annette voice," creating a distinctive echo effect. She’d go on to hit the pop charts several times more throughout her career and release several albums, including Annette Sings Anka, Hawaiiannette, and Dance Annette.
Her first romance was an on-set one — with fellow Mouseketeer Lonnie Burr. The preteen lothario of The Mickey Mouse Club wasn’t the only boy on set who pined for Annette, but he was the only one who had the guts to put the moves on her. The two held hands on carpool trips to and from Disneyland appearances and shared a first kiss.
She had a weakness for cute boys. She crushed on Paul Anka (whom she’d later date), Elvis Presley, Tab Hunter, and Guy Williams (who played Disney’s Zorro) during her time on The Mickey Mouse Club. She even snuck over to the Zorro set to catch a glimpse of Williams despite strict orders to the contrary from Walt himself. Williams signed a photo of himself for her, and she slept with it every night until the frame cracked.
She became The Mickey Mouse Club’s breakout star because she got so much fan mail — 6,000 letters per week at her peak. TV networks put a lot of stock in letters as a gauge of popularity, and soon insisted that Annette get as much screen time as possible. "My son is six years old and has shown no noticeable desire for girls," one mother wrote to her, "but he insists on seeing you daily." Another fan said what many others were thinking: "Annette, in my book, you are beautiful. I dream of you every night."
Hollywood.comcorrespondent Jennifer Keishin Armstrong wrote about The Mickey Mouse Club’s history and significance in her book Why? Because We Still Like You. She is also the author of Sexy Feminism and Mary and Lou and Rhoda and Ted, a history of The Mary Tyler Moore Show, due out in May. Visit her online at JenniferKArmstrong.com.
Follow Jennifer on Twitter @jmkarmstrong
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Margaret Thatcher wasn't just the former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom and the country's Iron Lady, she was also an inspiration for every nook and cranny of pop culture. From music to movies, to TV and even fashion, Thatcher's policies and beliefs were fruit for the artistic mind, especially during the late '80s and the years leading up to her resignation in 1990. Unfortunately for the former prime minister, those voices tended to skew liberal, and thus pop culture's relationship with the British politician was a rather testy one.
Despite her positive effects on history, including the promotion of feminism and women in power (and even the invention of soft serve ice cream, apparently), Thatcher took a beating from the music world. From Elvis Costello to Paul McCartney to Morissey, musicians took up lyrical arms against the leader. Even Billy Elliot includes some harsh words set to music by Elton John: "Merry Christmas, Maggie Thatcher/ We'll all celebrate today/ 'Cause it's one day closer to your death." But none spewed quite as much obvious hate as Pete Wylie's "The Day That Margaret Thatcher Dies" which boasts, "When Margaret Thatcher dies/ There will be no tears/ Save it for the people/ That she stomped for years."
In 2008, one theater company took the sentiments of Wylie's song to a new extreme. The Death of Margaret Thatcher depicted a series of characters reacting to the fictional death of the politician, including one man who is driven to tears at the news, but can't fathom why since his beliefs were against everything she stood for. Thatcher was very ill when the play ran in London and it stirred some controversy about where art ends and disrespect begins. Ultimately, the play continued and even won a nomination for the King's Cross Award for New Writing.
For those of us who were mere children when Thatcher ran England, experiencing the weight of protest music and the emotion behind plays like The Death of Margaret Thatcher takes a little more effort. Instead, we're left with what might be Austin Powers: International Man of Mystery's most memorable line — outside of "Yeah, baby!" and "I lost my Mojo." Surrounded by fembots hellbent on seducing him into submission, Powers uses Thatcher for anti-inspiration. And thus "Margaret Thatcher naked on a cold day!" was born.
Thatcher received a rather complete depiction of her life from the time of her youth to her old age and the development of Alzheimer's Disease when Meryl Streep delivered an Oscar-winning performance in The Iron Lady. But despite the film's decided turn away from pop culture's rampant negativity about the former British leader, many critics were disappointed that the film failed to take a stance at all on Thatcher's reign. Still, being played by the great Meryl Streep has to count for something, doesn't it?
Television has had a generally less favorable relationship with the Iron Lady. She's been portrayed numerous times on Saturday Night Live, often played by men including Monty Python legend Michael Palin and John Lithgow. Johnny Carson used her famously sober demeanor to prank Joan Rivers into thinking she was being insulted by the leader (it turns out it was a Thatcher impersonator after all). But no one was more critical than the British comedian community, including the 1980s puppet sketch show Spitting Image, which hit her rather hard with a Mad Magazine-esque puppet singing "My Way" while the streets of London are beseiged by riots.
Of course, Thatcher famously got her own revenge when she used a famous Monty Python sketch to make her own point against the Liberal party during a 1990 speech to the Conservative party. She not only cleverly trotted out the famous "This is an ex-parrot" line from the beloved "Dead Parrot Sketch," but she playfully ended her speech with John Cleese's well-worn Python transition: "And now, for something completely different." Point, Thatcher.
If we take a closer look at Netflix's most recent gift to fans of great television, House of Cards, we can see that we have Thatcher to thank for its existence. Her resignation in 1990 inspired the British version of House of Cards about one man's ruthless scheming to replace the Iron Lady as prime minister. And, as we now know, that character inspired Kevin Spacey's Frank Underwood on Netflix's American adaptation of the series, which is revolutionizing the way we watch television by presenting all its episodes at once. So, if you think about it, Thatcher (in an admittedly very small and completely indirect way) influenced the evolution of the television medium.
Not too shabby for a woman whose relationship with the performing arts has been, well, complicated.
Follow Kelsea on Twitter @KelseaStahler
[Photo Credit: Wenn]
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Let’s all reminisce together for a moment. Think back to the glorious time you spent growing up devoted to one magical block of television: TGIF. The classics like Family Matters, Full House, and Step by Step started a revolution for the Friday night timeslot and paved the way for edgy and cool shows like Sabrina The Teenage Witch and Boy Meets World to thrive.
It was a simpler time, filled with Tamagotchis, Beanie Babies, and the allure of the perfect teen specimen known as Jonathan Taylor Thomas. Now fifteen-ish years later, we have the opportunity to relive the glory days of our tweendom and twirl with excitement knowing Friday nights are finally cool again — and we have Happy Endings to thank for that.
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TGIF — the oh-so cool acronym for “Thank Goodness It’s Friday” — was the place to be on Friday nights. If you were going to be busy that night, you’d better pray to Salem that your mom remembered to hit record on the VCR. Now in the technologically advanced world of 2013, we have the luxury of knowing that our DVR will capture the two back-to-back episodes of Happy Endings joy to watch at our leisure. But you shouldn’t do that — and here are six reasons why:
1. It’ll Make an Amahzing Pregame: Let’s be real, we’re all a little older, and hopefully a little wiser but anything that tugs on our '90s-loving nostalgia heartstrings takes precedence over anything else. Use the hour from 8-9 PM as a way to relive your glory days of childhood — while also getting wasted for your mid-twenties nights. “It’s early enough that I feel like at 8, 8:30 you’re not going out yet on a Friday night,” Happy Endings creator David Caspe suggests. “You’re probably going out around 10 or 10:30 so you can pregame with Happy Endings.” Our favorite rules? Take a shot every time Alex is confused or Brad and Jane have an overly sexual exchange. You’ll be drunk and ready for your night in no time!
2. It’s Free: Star Zachary Knighton knows that going out in [insert your city here] can be expensive, so why not stay in for a night and relax with some laughs? “Instead of wasting your money at a bar, or a club, you could stay home and watch Happy Endings for free. You’ll save money!” Knighton presents a perfect compromise for the loyal Happy Endings fans out there: “If you love our show and you want it to stick around, please watch on Friday night and go out Saturday night or even on Sunday night and then be really hungover at work on Monday.” We’re sure your boss will understand!
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3. You Won’t Get Rejected By That Hottie At the Bar: Staying in to watch Happy Endings on Friday night will be a huge ego boost! Not only will you avoid the embarrassment of getting shot down in front of your friends, you’ll know that the entire Happy Endings cast and crew is praising you for your fine taste in Friday night entertainment. In fact, Casey Wilson wants to send you countless compliments and thank yous. “If you’re watching in any capacity, God bless you,” she says. “We all love you and you’re a visionary and you get comedy and television and life.” Aww shucks, you’re welcome, girl!
4. It’ll Make You Smile: Plain and simple, Happy Endings is a phenomenal thirty minutes of television and the fact that every Friday fans will be rewarded with a double dose of laughter makes it even better. If you’ve been living under a rock, the lovely Elisha Cuthbert has the perfect explanation as to why all you newbies need to tune in. “To the people who haven’t seen it, I say just give it one episode and see what you think. I really think just one episode gets you involved and makes you understand what these amazing characters are all about," she says. "Something magical is going on here… When you get us all in a scene together it’s like taking six rubber balls and throwing them in a box and it’s chaotic and it’s fun to watch.”
5. They’ll Reenact An Episode of Full House For You: The cast of Happy Endings loves you and they want you to be happy with the new TGIF, so they are willing to take on some of the most iconic Friday night characters we’ve ever seen: The Tanner Family. Damon Wayans Jr. called dibs on his favorites, (“I’ll be the twins, I’ll be the Olsen twins!”) While Eliza Coupe is wiling to switch genders as the Elvis-loving Uncle Jesse. Coupe says, “Elisha should play Joey except she can’t figure out the whole 'Cut it out!’ thing.” Coupe and Wayans automatically demoted Knighton to the geeky and cleaning-obsessed Danny Tanner, but the verdict is still out on who Pally should portray. Shout out your suggestions in the comments below!
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6. Okay Fine, At Least Just Make Sure You DVR It: Always the realist, Adam Pally explains how fans can still help out even if they’re a cold-hearted, TGIF-hating person. “Let’s cut the s**t and know that you don’t have to watch it Friday night at eight because you won't be home if you like Happy Endings… So I will say to anyone who likes Happy Endings, DVR it.” Pally reveals that unlike other shows, Happy Endings can be enjoyed anytime, anywhere, and with anyone. “Happy Endings to me is like candy or a party you can stay there as long as you want but you don’t need someone to be like, 'And that’s the end of the party!' Happy Endings was built and made to play whenever you want to see it. That’s why it’s such a fun show because you can pop it in and enjoy the jokes and enjoy the characters at any time.” But seriously, try to watch it live!
Tune in tonight for a full hour of Happy Endings — aka one of the greatest shows to ever grace your television — tonight at 8 PM on ABC. And don’t forget to tweet your support using the hashtag #SaveHappyEndings!
Follow Leanne on Twitter @LeanneAguilera
[Photo Credit: ABC]
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We are gathered here today to mourn the loss of every other sitcom on television trying to compete with New Girl, which is not only firing on all cylinders when it comes to sharp writing, Emmy-primed performances (just give Jake Johnson the damn thing now, he's earned it), and the right balance of heart and wit. We will miss them.
At the start, New Girl wasn't exactly a show that stood on the edge. The Fox comedy has been solid in the ratings from the word go — or, in the case of an ill-advised marketing slogan, "adorkable" — so a premature cancellation was never really in the cards. The show's leading lady Zooey Deschanel and breakout sidekick Max Greenfield both earned nominations from the always-newcomer friendly Golden Globes. Yet, as "safe" as it was, there wasn't enough to convince even the snobbiest of television snubs that a show with a similar premise (attractive twentysomethings living in the city, wading through the sea of bulls**t that is dating, careers, and being broke) was actually doing something really special and downright hilarious.
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Whatever New Girl detractors are left out there, if there are any, you should really be the one in mourning. Fox'sNew Girl isn't just a sexy, shipper-friendly sitcom, it's also the funniest and most hearfelt comedy on television right now. The show has quickly turned its muddled second season (thanks to those pesky anti-feminism themes and that cringe-worthy product placement moment) into a thoughtful and entertaining comedy that finally feels on par with the likes of Parks and Recreation.
A huge part of that success has been the evolution of Johnson's Nick Miller from goofy, likable manchild to a fully fleshed-out character with a continually interesting back story and even more promising future. Plus, he's just so damn dreamy. The ballad of Nick Miller continued last night in "Chicago", a heartbreaker of an ep that explained more about him in 24 minutes than the whole of two seasons.
After receiving a phone call from his mom (played by the great Margo Martindale) Nick has learned that his dad (played by Dennis Farina, who we met a few weeks ago as the con man and learned Nick had a complicated father-son relationship with) had a heart attack and passed away. Now, this is no new sitcom territory: How I Met Your Mother dealt with it brilliantly with Marshall mourning the unexpected loss of his dad, but during a week when something as touching and raw as this comes out, New Girl had its work cut out for it. Still, any episode that starts with friends giving their condolences after huffing helium was on the right track.
The gang flies out with Nick to Chicago (lest you forget from Schmidt's rap "Nick Milla, Nick Milla/From the streets of Chicago/'Cause the players play/Like they do, like they did") to lend their support as Nick not only has to say goodbye, but deal with his crazy, loud brood. While Schmidt and Winston are used to it (or, as Nick's mom referred to them, Fat Schmidt and Winnie), it was all new territory for Jess. Of course, once you can survive the first meeting with the fam, especially one under such extreme circumstances, you can handle pretty much anything.
She was immediately thrust into Miller clan madness, which includes an overbearing mother who doesn't trust her (and thinks she's Spanish) and relies on Nick to put the entire Elvis-themed funeral together in a few days (we learned pretty quickly that Nick ran the show at home as a kid thanks to his unreliable dad), a bonehead brother named Jamie (played to perfection by Nick Kroll), a grandmother (perennial TV and movie grandmother Ellen Albertini Dow) who doesn't trust cops, and a rough-around-the-edges cousin from Boston Bobby (comedian Bill Burr) hell-bent on getting a gold necklace from his dead uncle.
It's a side of Nick we haven't seen before, certainly not one seen by Jess, and it explains a whole lot about Nick. The reason why he's so unfocused and lost is because he had to be the one at home (or that year they lived in a van) to handle all the really grown-up affairs. Now he finally gets to be the teenager he never got to be back home in Chicago. If that doesn't make you fall in love with Nick a little bit more, you're on you're own: it certainly flipped a switch in Jess. Desperate to help him, Jess somehow gets talked into writing his father's eulogy despite having only met him once.
With little help from Jamie (he described his late father as a man who "had a table at every diner in the city, silverware from the finest hotels in the area, a gold chain as thick as floss... thick floss") and even less help from an under-pressure Nick who takes off the night before the funeral, Jess feels, well, helpless. But more than anything, you can tell its killing her that she wants to connect with Nick, to hold his hand during this time, but he won't let her, he can't while he takes care of the latest family crisis. Which, in the Miller family, just so happens to include finding an affordable Elvis Presley impersonator.
Of course, Jess and Nick weren't the only ones dealing with a personal crisis: Winston somehow got relegated, once again, to helping smooth out Schmidt's crazed theories and neurosis. What was capturing a rare fish last week became helping him cope with his fear of death, mainly of seeing a dead body in an open casket. "What's with this open casket thing? I gotta see the carcass? That's crazy! What if his eyes open and then he comes and haunts all of us?" Schmidt cried in a pre-funeral meltdown. (Johnson may be the heart and soul of the show right now, but Greenfield still knows how to go straight for the funny bone).
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Now, I still think the show's writers need to give Winston and actor Lamorne Morris way more to do on the show than play a sidekick to a sidekick (he's literally playing dead here to help out Schmidt get the laughs), but while we're all busy swooning over Nick and Jess, it is fun to watch these two play off of each other. They make a good duo, we just need to build Winston as his own person first for it to be completely effective.
But, neither Winston nor Jess got their job done as both Schmidt was still weary about death ("It's bad luck to see the body before the funeral") and Nick showed up to his father's funeral tanked ("I drank one dozen beers") with a shady Elvis impersonator and a shoddy eulogy (or, as he hilariously slurred, "a giggliography") in tow. While poor Winnie wound up being the one who unraveled come funeral time as Schmidt faced his fear of the dead — quite literally, he touched head's with Nick's dead dad's head as he tried to get the crazy cousin away from the coveted chain — Nick eventually pulled it together, with the help of Jess.
After having a heart-to-heart with Nick as she helped Nick sober up, she not only told him that she simply wanted to be there to hold his hand, but stepped in as the Elvis impersonator as the funeral so richly deserved. Deschanel has always been a gifted comedian as far as I'm concerned (see: The Good Girl and Almost Famous) but watching her sing "In the Ghetto" in full Elvis garb to a room full of mourners took it to another level. Even Schmidt marveled that he felt transported to the ghetto. I think Nick truly fell in love with her in that moment, and no matter how much her bangs might drive you crazy, you'd be made of stone to not fall head over heels for her here, too.
With the boost from Jess, who was willing to make an ass of herself for the sake of him and his family, Nick did what he knew he had to do all along, but kept putting off (it's easier to crunch the numbers on a calculator than it is to find the right words about your parent): he said goodbye to his dad. Nick gave a sweet, honest, and beautiful eulogy about his pop.
Now, I know I keep pushing for Johnson to get an Emmy (he deserves it) but there was a moment that solidified his place as not only an incredibly gifted comic star, but an actor as well. When Nick said in his eulogy that he didn't know whether or not his father Walt was a good or bad guy "he was my dad and im sure gonna miss him." That gut punch of a line was likely from the talented New Girl writers, but in that same moment Nick hands begin to nervously fidget. That could have very well been in the script too, but after having seen the improv-heavy Drinking Buddies at SXSW, which stars Johnson, I wouldn't be surprised if he came up with that key moment on the spot.
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In case that wasn't enough to put a lump in your throat, Nick's mom apologized to him for putting so much pressure on him as a kid (being the good boy that he is, he told her not to worry) and warmed to Jess, even packing her a snack for the road. "I'm glad you have someone who takes care of you," she told her son as they both looked at Jess. He didn't correct her, he only smiled knowingly. These two have a bond deeper than frenzied make-outs, but whether that will lead to love still remains to be seen. They deeply, deeply care about each other for now, and that's okay. Although, here's to hoping that final sequence of Jess singing "Burning Love" is actually just musical foreshadowing.
Check out the lines and best moments from the wonderful "Chicago" (there's more than a few, get ready) here:
- "He loved me more than he loved you, he told me that"- Winston, to Nick about his dad. Nick concurred with, "Yeah he told me that, too, actually."
- "I wanted to look fantastic for your father's funeral, now I have nothing but the schmatta on my back" - Schmidt, putting his Hebrew flair on funeral talk.
- "Don't do the hair pull, it's so intimate" - Nick to his brother Jamie.
- Nick's nicknames (ha!) at home include College and The Iron Jew. Jess' nicknamed was ceremoniously declared Glasses.
- Schmidt's hatred of the "middle class button system": "Look at all these buttons, I look like a remote control!"
- Jamie's theory on being coy about sexual relationships: "She who denied it, supplied it."
- Schmidt calling Winston a "beautiful black butterfly" and "a ghoul" during his fake eulogy for him.
- Schimdt representin': "Long Island, son!" (Runner-up: "All day, son!")
- Bobby representin': "It's all about the gestuh!"
- Drunk Nick crying to Jess, "I'm the stupidest of all the stupid boys!" Hardly.
- "He was very good at gambling, he had a great mustache, he was mean to cabbies in a cool way, he never was scared" - Nick's lovely, tearjerking eulogy to his dad.
Follow Aly on Twitter @AlySemigran
[Photo credit: Jennifer Clasen/Fox]
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“You’re in St. Pete now. We do it gangsta. Gangsta!” - Alien
Watching Spring Breakers, shot mostly in my hometown of St. Petersburg, FL and its adjoining community of St. Pete Beach, was a transcendental experience for this native of the Tampa Bay area. Not because it accurately depicted all the surface details of life in our glistening jewel of a Gulf Coast burg — it didn’t — but because it captured so beautifully the feeling of living there. Where others see debauchery and soullessness while watching Spring Breakers, I see home.
I grew up in paradise. I started where most people want to end up in life. Unlike the East Coast of Florida, which has a frenetic, metropolitan quality — like New York City having decamped to sunnier shores — the Gulf Coast is pretty quiet. And everyone in the Tampa Bay Area, and St. Petersburg in particular, seem to be on a more relaxed wavelength. As a kid, I’d actually do my homework while laying on the beach. Many of the classes at my school were held out of doors. As a now-pasty writer living in New York you’d never know it to look at me, but I’ve probably spent more days on the beach than just about anyone my age. (Bring it on, skin cancer!) I take great pride in my roots even if, unlike James Franco's Alien, I don’t have St. Pete’s area code, 727, tattooed across my chest. That said, after having lived in the Big Apple for five years I do still have a cellphone with a 727 area code. I never intend to change it.
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So it might strike you as funny that I say I liked Spring Breakers so much, since on the surface, with its depiction of out-of-state coeds participating in a Caligula-caliber St. Pete Beach spring break scene, then going on a murderous crime spree, it may seem like my hometown has been painted in a negative light. I disagree with that assessment. I think director Harmony Korine is using St. Pete the way Joseph Conrad used the Congo in Heart of Darkness, the way Michael Powell & Emeric Pressburger used the Himalayas in Black Narcissus: as a place of such magic and overwhelming beauty that it can drive the weaker-willed to madness and mayhem. Do most people who visit St. Pete lose their minds the way Vanessa Hudgens, Ashley Benson, Rachel Korine, and Selena Gomez do? Well, not to that degree, no. But I do have a friend who was so overcome by St. Pete that she vowed to leave her husband and move there on the spot. My own dad fell so hard for the area that he decided to risk being shunned by his parents to attend Eckerd College, a St. Pete institution of higher education that at the time was only 18 years old, over the family alma mater, Yale. (It turns out he did burn his bridges with his family for that choice, but I don’t think he regretted it.)
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All of which is to say that I think St. Pete’s transformative power is similar to what was conveyed in Spring Breakers, even if its charms are, in reality, far more subtle. It’s a vacation destination, yes, and we rely heavily on tourist dollars, but we residents of St. Pete also enjoy how untouched and pristine our community still is in many ways. When I told one local friend that Spring Breakers was shot there, his response was “Wait…since when has St. Pete had a spring break scene?” Fort Lauderdale, St. Pete ain’t. And we like it that way. So let me take you on a tour of my St. Petersburg, by way of some of the locations you see in Spring Breakers.
The Sunshine Skyway Bridge
The Tampa Bay area’s most iconic landmark, the golden-spired Sunshine Skyway bridge serves as our spring breakers' gateway to paradise (or hell) in the movie. Never mind that it’s located at the southern tip of St. Pete and would never be the way four northern girls from out of state would arrive. Its glistening presence is so dramatic it needed to be in the movie. Yet even the Sunshine Skyway is tinged with darkness. It’s the site of the Tampa Bay area’s 9/11.
On May 9, 1980 a freighter called the Summit Venture approached the span of the bridge that used to streak across Tampa Bay on the site of the current Sunshine Skyway. Because of a storm, the Venture was thrown off course and collided into one of the bridge’s support columns. A 1,200 foot section of the bridge collapsed into Tampa Bay. Six cars, a truck, and a Greyhound bus fell 150 feet into the water. 35 people were killed. Part of the old bridge was converted into a fishing pier in the years after. The rest was demolished and replaced with the current Sunshine Skyway, a structure built to withstand such collisions. It was the kind of incident that put into perspective the way we live in the Tampa Bay area. Tourists flock to our shores to escape from the toil and pressures of “real life.” But that doesn't mean the people who actually live there don’t have problems and tragedies of their own to contend with, problems and tragedies that no number of walks on the beach or picturesque sunsets can ameliorate.
The Coral Reef Resort
When Sergio Leone came to St. Pete Beach to film a scene for Once Upon a Time in America, he chose our most famous hotel: a pink, Mediterranean-style castle called the Don Cesar. So did Robert Altman when shooting his debacle of a film Health. But Harmony Korine wisely knew not to film there. He chose a far cheaper dive, the Coral Reef Resort, as the site of the spring breakers’ poolside orgy. It has a carefully landscaped, free-form pool with bridges and waterfalls, but, other than that, the Coral Reef Resort, like so much of St. Pete Beach, looks straight out of an Elvis movie from the early ‘60s. It’s definitely the kind of place spring breakers would flock to, if we actually did have a spring break culture. Mostly, it looks like this: pretty empty. Only in a movie would this place be glutted with hundreds of college-age kids.
By the way, topless sunbathing is most definitely not allowed on St. Pete Beach. The police patrol the sands pretty vigilantly, and the one and only woman I can actually remember seeing sunbathing topless was ordered to cover up almost asap. All those coeds in Spring Breakers seemingly auditioning to be on Girls Gone Wild would be hit with stiff citations for public indecency. If you’re actually within the grounds of a private resort, like the Coral Reef, you maybe could get away with it, but only if it’s sanctioned by the hotel management. And even then, the topless bather in question would have to be very careful to stay out of outside view.
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That doesn’t mean we don’t have plenty of half-naked flesh on view everywhere you turn, though. Per Alien’s mantra, bikinis really do seem to be the uniform of most women who visit St. Pete Beach. As a kid growing up in that environment, you never knew anything different, making you adopt from an early age a rather European view of women being scantily clad.
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Now this one’s really going to shock you: alcohol isn’t allowed on the beach. I know! It’s crazy. Of course, that’s one law that’s very frequently broken, as intrepid beachcombers smuggle in all kinds of sweet brew via their coolers. But if you were caught chugging the way those kids at the Coral Reef Resort were chugging in the movie, you’d be in the slammer faster than you could say “Volstead Act.”
Historic Corey Avenue
This is the historic heart of St. Pete Beach, a row of five-and-ten cent shops, galleries featuring local art, and a couple sidewalk cafes. It’s the quaint strip where Selena, Vanessa, Ashley, and Rachel ride mopeds. (Seriously, this isn’t Bermuda. Nobody rides mopeds there.) The real prize of Corey Avenue, however, is the Beach Theatre (upper left in the photo), an old movie house that’s been in operation since 1941, that you can glimpse as the gals are taking their joyride. To everyone’s horror, including this St. Pete émigré in New York, the Beach Theatre went out of business for the first time ever in November, after showing (the, with hindsight, ironically titled) End of Watch as its last picture show. Its owner, Michael France, a Hollywood screenwriter who wrote or co-wrote GoldenEye, Cliffhanger, The Hulk, and Fantastic Four, has been locked in a heated divorce battle, with the beloved theater a property under contention.
The Twistee Treat
One of the most unsettling scenes in Spring Breakers is when the four gals sit outside a convenience store—St. Pete Beach’s Sunshine Discount Food and Gift Corner, in the lower left background of the photo above—and hold a group singalong of Britney Spears’ “Baby One More Time.” It’s in the parking lot of this convenience store that Hudgens, Benson, and Korine’s character reenact for Gomez the robbery they committed to fund their trip. In the background, right next to the parking lot in which they’re loitering, you see one of St. Pete Beach’s greatest icons: The Twistee Treat. It’s a one-room shack shaped to look like an ice cream cone that—guess what!—sells ice cream. This is the place where young people, the few spring breakers we get especially, congregate to cool off. Many a summer night I’ve clutched a cone at the Twistee Treat, though, sadly, no one has ever serenaded me with “Baby One More Time.”
Also, consider how Spring Breakers shows us the Twistee Treat, then just a few minutes later introduces us to Gucci Mane’s gangster…who has an ice cream cone tattooed to his face! Only then does it become clear what a complex image system Spring Breakers really possesses.
The Dark Side of Paradise
But, really, how does my nostalgia for St. Pete compute with the incredible darkness that comes across in the film? Because there is indeed a dark side to paradise. I’ve seen it for myself. There is a strong drug culture throughout the Tampa Bay area that sometimes can erupt into violence. I myself once lost someone very close to me to drug addiction and, eventually, suicide.
Beyond that, though, if you actually live in the Tampa Bay area, you’re forced to confront the fundamental paradox of living in paradise: you may be surrounded by incredible beauty, enjoy a much more laid-back rhythm to life, and have every material comfort provided for you. But once all the basic necessities — and the additional pleasures that so many strive their whole lifetimes to achieve — have been satisfied, you’re confronted with the reality that you and your loved ones are still going to die someday, that this beauty cannot last. That’s the basic existential paradox of living in paradise: you have everything, but it always reminds you that you will lose it all in the end. Throw in the very real traumas of foreclosure and unemployment that have beset the Tampa Bay area, and you’ve got a recipe for unhappiness. I’d venture to say that may be a reason why Men’s Health magazine declared St. Petersburg “the most depressed city in America” last year. Chalk it up to a variation on James Taylor’s “sunny days that I thought would never end” scenario. Unfortunately, some people turn to drugs in their despair, others get involved in crime, but mostly the depressed of the Tampa Bay area turn to the kind of conspicuous materialism you see in Franco's Alien. Most of my classmates at my prep school in St. Pete were like slightly more upscale versions of Alien, obsessed with their possessions and driven be a nouveau riche mindset to flaunt all they had. One kid totaled five Porsches during my high-school years. His daddy bought him a new one after every single reckless crash.
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But as much as recognize the real-world roots of the darkness you see in Spring Breakers, I choose not to focus on that. I have too many incredible memories. Like the time when I was three years old and my mom and I met Farrah Fawcett and Ryan O’Neal on the beach — they were staying in the posh Don Cesar, of course. Their son Redmond, a year older than myself, gave me my first-ever piece of bubblegum. With hindsight, given Redmond’s highly-publicized struggle with drugs, I suppose he was “dealing” even then. But my favorite memories are the simple things: taking in the sunset, watching a poolside movie, listening to the cicadas that add their hum to the night air. It’s possible that I had it so good as a kid that I could find myself a candidate for the Woody Allen Syndrome: “I had a wonderful childhood...and a miserable adulthood.” But I wouldn’t trade those years for anything. Spring break forever, indeed.
Follow Christian Blauvelt on Twitter @Ctblauvelt
[Photo Credits: A24 Films; CoralReefFlorida.com; Google Maps; John Picken/flickr; Facebook]
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An informal jam session in which Elvis Presley reminisces about his early years as a performer. The session was originally taped as part of an NBC-TV special (December 3, 1968) but only a small portion of it aired. The HBO version presents the unedited taped version of the session, which marked Elvis' return to live performing after a seven-year absence.