Fallout documents one journalist’s quest to expose the ghastly realities of the atomic bombs dropped on Japan at the end of World War II.
Fifteen years after its debut on HBO, Deadwood, the Western series set in a 1870s mining boomtown in what is now South Dakota, will reappear on screens tonight, this time as a feature film. In its three seasons and 36 episodes, Deadwood treated viewers to a depiction of humanity at its most brutal and feral—and its most magnanimous. The primary currencies in Deadwood were gold, blood and whiskey; the relentless body count ensured that the town’s flesh-eating pigs were treated to near-daily feasts. Legendary figures such as Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane and Sheriff Seth Bullock were brought to vivid life onscreen and wielded expletives as expertly as they did their shotguns and Colt 45s. Eight Emmy Awards and a Golden Globe Award followed, so when the series was abruptly cancelled in 2006, both Deadwood’s cast and fans were left bewildered.
For years rumors circulated that the series might be reprised, fueling the hope of dedicated Deadwood devotees in need of closure. And now their hopes have been fulfilled. Set 10 years after the culmination of the series, as the characters reunite to celebrate South Dakota’s statehood, Deadwood: The Movie will also introduce a new generation of viewers to its raging world. The project carries a special poignancy; Deadwood creator David Milch—whose linguistic virtuosity has earned him countless comparisons to Shakespeare—was diagnosed with Alzheimer’s disease in 2015. This film, which was written and executive produced by Milch, presented the last opportunity to revisit the Deadwood world as envisioned by its original maestro.
On the eve of the film’s release, Blume sat down with three of the show’s principal cast members: Ian McShane (the murderous yet benevolent saloonkeeper Al Swearengen), Timothy Olyphant (Deadwood’s quick-tempered sheriff Seth Bullock) and John Hawkes (the frontier entrepreneur Sol Star) at HBO’s Santa Monica, California offices.
To the casual observer, the southwest corner of Sunset Boulevard and Crescent Heights Boulevard is just another West Hollywood strip mall. Among the occupants of the site: a McDonald’s, a dental clinic, and a bank with a curious zigzag of a roof. Nothing about this plot of land, 8150 Sunset Boulevard, indicates that it was once one of the city’s most notorious destinations—or that it is once again at the center of controversy.
For more than a century the story of Los Angeles itself has been reflected in this site, as it evolved from a fruit grove into Hollywood’s most decadent hotel, and then into its current incarnation as paved-over paradise. And now fate has new plans for 8150 Sunset: Architect Frank Gehry is poised, with developer Townscape Partners, to build a 333,000-square-foot project there, with gleaming towers, abundant commercial space, and residential units.
The Gehry complex will be built on what was once one of the most glamorous destinations in town: the site of the former Garden of Allah hotel, the Chateau Marmont of its time. Practically every major star and writer in old Hollywood had history at the Garden, from Tallulah Bankhead and Errol Flynn to Garbo, Dietrich, Sinatra and Cary Crant. The most important writers of the 30s and 40s also called the Garden home – including F. Scott Fitzgerald, Robert Benchley, and Dorothy Parker, who placed chenille “welcome” mats on either side of her bed. Many relics of the Garden will likely be discovered again when the site is excavated.
Read more in this Town & Country story on one of the most notorious and glamorous land plots in Hollywood.
Growing up, I clocked a lot of time at Sardi’s, the landmark restaurant in New York City’s theater district that is home to one of the most famous portrait galleries in the world. My grandfather, an attorney for artists, had a standing lunchtime reservation there, and he worked hard to ingratiate himself with Vincent Sardi—even, supposedly, handling some divorce work for the restaurateur. Still, these machinations did not earn him a place in the Sardi’s hall of fame. The Sardi’s caricatures, with their exaggerated features—depicting everyone from Carol Burnett and Lucille Ball to Oscar Hammerstein—weirded me out, but they also instilled in me a lifelong fascination with restaurant and hotel portrait galleries.
Even as a kid I knew that they were a coded map to power, and that having one’s picture up on the wall really mattered to a certain breed of adult. When management would move the pictures around (or, worse, banish one entirely) in accordance with the ebb and flow of their subjects’ successes, the reshuffling prompted all sorts of glee and schadenfreude among other customers. It was an idiosyncratic spectator sport.
These days, in the era of #MeToo, the musical chairs politics of such portrait galleries has accelerated, as scores of former masters of the universe have become pariahs overnight. Pictures of offenders have been hastily removed from restaurant and hotel walls across the country, leaving bare spots and dangling wires behind. Read more in this story about the famous portrait galleries around the world in this moment of upheaval.
With a major renovation and a new drawing institute, Houston’s renowned Menil Collection is newly showcasing the eclectic tastes and social activism of its founders, Dominique and John de Menil. Both French by birth, the de Menils began collecting in the 1930s, acquiring a series of surrealist works when they were newlyweds and still living in Europe. During World War II, they moved to Houston – along with Dominique’s family’s oil company, Schlumberger Ltd.
Not only did they become famed art collectors – earning the moniker “the Medici of Modern Art” – once confronted with the racism of the segregated South, the de Menils became human- and civil-rights activists. The de Menils believed that their position came with responsibility. “What we do with our power—our overwhelming power—is…very important indeed,” John wrote to a friend in 1964.
Their activism took many forms: John gave financial support to African-American political candidates and to progressive school board candidates who worked toward the elimination of segregation. In 1967, he paid the legal fees of the TSU Five—a group of African-American students from Texas Southern University who were falsely accused of starting a riot. The de Menils helped launch the political career of Mickey Leland, a black activist who eventually became a six-term congressman. (“I really loved him,” Leland once said of John. “He was a feisty guy, he didn’t give a damn for the establishment.”)
Their worldview was reflected in their private art collection. In 1960, they initiated a still-ongoing project titled The Image of the Black in Western Art, and nearly 25 percent of the Menil’s permanent holdings now consists of African works and works depicting black figures.
Founded by Dominique in the 1980s, the Menil Collection museum showcased this dedication within the broader de Menil collection, and the museum’s new stewards are now proudly displaying the collection’s historical works – along with new commissions. Read more in this WSJ Magazine exclusive on the Menil’s fascinating history and ambitious plans for the future.
In 2017, when New York City’s Metropolitan Museum of Art staged a major exhibition honoring the 100th birthday of the late photographer Irving Penn, its director, Thomas P. Campbell, cited Penn as “one of the most celebrated American artists of the 20th century.” The statement was an acknowledgment of Penn’s “uncommon virtuosity” with a camera, as Campbell put it, and his innovation in the darkroom, but also indicated that Penn’s oeuvre was more diverse than just his renowned photography.
Few people are truly inexhaustible, but Damian Woetzel appears to be one of those rare creatures. As a principal dancer at the New York City Ballet from 1989 to 2008, Woetzel’s exuberance and limitless energy was lavishly celebrated.
“I loved to dance, and it was never enough,” he says. “I always wanted to do more. City Ballet had multiple ballets on a night. If there were three ballets, I’d want to do all three. One was not enough. Two was pretty good. Three? Wow. That would be my night.”
Before retiring from that stage at 41, Woetzel acquired a master’s degree from Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government. He later taught at Harvard Law School and served on President Obama’s Committee on the Arts and Humanities. Now 51, Woetzel has become the new president of Manhattan’s prestigious Juilliard School—the first former dancer to hold that position.
In this profile, he pulls back the curtain and gives a glimpse into his life, onstage and off.
On July 23, in Paris, France, Ms. Blume will appear at the XVIII International Hemingway Conference, hosted by The American University of Paris.
Between 10 AM and 1 PM, Ms. Blume will give a presentation with Valerie Hemingway at the PEN/Hemingway fundraiser inside the Salon Gustave Eiffel of the Eiffel Tower. Ms. Hemingway was Ernest Hemingway’s assistant in the late 1950s and accompanied the Nobel Prize-winning author in 1959 as he toured his old haunts from 1920s Paris, reliving that chapter of his life and fact-checking his manuscript for A Moveable Feast.
Ms. Blume wrote a Town & Country cover story recounting Ms. Hemingway’s experience, and the two women retraced the 1959 Paris odyssey throughout Paris. On July 23, they will recount highlights from their trip and Ms. Hemingway’s recollections of Hemingway during the final years of his life.
On Sunday, May 6, Ms. Blume will appear on a panel alongside actor Gillian Jacobs (Love, Girls) and film historian Cari Beauchamp (Without Lying Down: Frances Marion and the Power of Women in Hollywood) at the United State of Women Summit in Los Angeles.
The panelists will discuss pioneering female filmmakers, writers, and actors from Hollywood’s earliest years, and how these women served as instructive forerunners for women forging their way in the industry today.
UTA agent and partner Shani Rosenzweig will moderate.
Fashion designer Thom Browne walks into his office, trailed by his wire-haired dachshund, Hector – who, like everyone else on the premises, is clad in Thom Browne apparel (in this case, a tidy red sweater, not a suit). Mid-century furnishings have been placed with great intention throughout the space. As the staffers come and go, one gets the sensation of having been admitted to a benevolent cult, comprised of eager, immaculately-groomed, Ivy-league prepsters — with a surrealist twist.
One of the central curiosities about the entire Thom Browne enterprise: it is paradoxically restrictive and unbridled at the same time — a massive, seasonal exercise in restraint and release. If Browne’s headquarters represents the zany yet buttoned-up restraint of his operation, his fashion shows exude its fantastical release. Going from the Thom Browne studio to a Thom Browne presentation feels akin to teasing open an elegant clock and watching the springs explode out. The show scenarios vary wildly: one season, there was a nightmarish circus set, complete with models bound as mummies or sent down the runway adjoined in a Siamese twin suit; another presentation mimicked an elaborate, ghoulish funeral. At yet another show, models relentlessly hammered away at a wooden house frame for the duration of the show.
Read more about Mr. Browne’s stylishly peculiar world here, in Ms. Blume’s profile of the designer.
Sunset Boulevard has long been synonymous with spectacle; now the street is getting spectacle with conscience. On February 27 – just in time for the Oscars – London-born artist Zoe Buckman will unveil her feminist installation Champ, a rotating 43-foot sculpture featuring a white neon uterus with boxing gloves instead of ovaries.
The site choice was highly intentional, says Buckman: “The visual landscape on Sunset is saturated with billboard images of women; it made sense to juxtapose [Champ] against the sexual objectification portrayed there.”
Champ was conceived before #MeToo rocked Hollywood, but the movement has certainly made the work more significant. Buckman and the Art Production Fund, which secured funding for the project, found a willing partner in the City of West Hollywood, and throughout 2018, the Fund will host public programs and discussions inspired by Champ.
“It represents many things that deserve protection,” says Buckman. “I’m really excited about taking it beyond an object, and making it into an opportunity for social engagement.”
It’s difficult to imagine anything that would intimidate Sarah Paulson. She’s an actress who seems to choose roles for their audacity, and she inhabits her characters fearlessly– whether she’s playing Marcia Clark in American Crime Story, a brutal salve owner in Twelve Years a Slave, or conjoined twins in American Horror Story. Yet when Paulson arrived on set for The Post, Steven Spielberg’s film about the late Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham (Meryl Streep) and the legal battle around the Pentagon Papers, Paulson admits that she began “totally freaking out.”
“These are arguably the most respected filmmakers and actors of their generation,” Paulson says. “That made it a very extraordinary place to be. It was a pinch-me moment.”
Paulson is having a lot of those moments lately. Following her Emmy-winning performance as Clark in 2016, accolades and offers have been cascading in. Over the coming year, in addition to The Post, she will appear in the all-female spy comedy Ocean’s Eight, the Netflix series Ratched (as Nurse Ratched, of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest fame), and M. Night Shyamalan’s upcoming thriller Glass. She also recently signed on to the movie adaptation of Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch.
“It’s head-spinning,” she says. “But part of me is scared. I’ve got a window, as a woman of 43. Right now it’s cracked this big”—she holds her hands inches apart—“and I’m trying to keep it open with both hands, as wide as possible, for as long as possible.”
In this February 2018 Town & Country cover story, Paulson talks with Blume about the view from the top, why character likeability is irrelevant, and how she will never bow to convention – in any aspect of her life.
As announced in Publisher Weekly this week, my next non-fiction book project is underway. A WWII-era newsroom story, FALLOUT (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2020) will recount how an intrepid reporter helped expose one of the great cover-ups of the 20th century: the true effects of the atom bomb dropped on Hiroshima.
This topic is a homecoming of sorts for me, as I wrote my graduate thesis on the evolution of American war reporting; this particular story, however, is among the most harrowing and engrossing I’ve encountered – and also serves as evidence that an excellent piece of journalism truly can change the world.
I am thrilled and honored to be working on this project with my Houghton Mifflin Harcourt editor, Eamon Dolan, who oversaw my Hemingway book, EVERYBODY BEHAVES BADLY, and has already done so much to forward my thinking on this daunting new undertaking.
The project is represented by literary agents Molly Friedrich and Lucy Carson of the Friedrich agency, and Keya Khayatian at United Talent Agency.
Earlier this fall, I got an amusing call from the writer Adam Gopnik. He’d come to Los Angeles as part of the tour for his new book, At the Strangers’ Gate, and was making his way down the Sunset Strip in West Hollywood. I was stunned: first of all, it was high noon on a hundred-degree day—the town was absolutely baking—and second of all, he was walking, a rare activity among Angelenos. Luckily, he happened across Greenblatt’s, an old-fashioned deli on Sunset, and sought solace in some chicken soup and a corned-beef sandwich. All of these activities seemed to me evidence that Gopnik was a quintessential, incurable Manhattanite, far away from his natural habitat and relying on his New Yorker instincts for survival.
Gopnik is a virtuosic writer; since joining the staff of The New Yorker in 1986, he has written nine books and covered a myriad of topics for the magazine, from the emigration of the European Roma to the complicated legacy of F. Scott Fitzgerald to gun control in America. For many readers, he is synonymous with the pleasures of Paris: he was the magazine’s correspondent there between 1995 and 2000 and wrote the best seller Paris to the Moon, about his young family’s triumphs and travails as modern American expats. (The French Republic even bestowed upon him the medal of Chevalier of the Order of Arts and Letters.)
Yet New York City—where he lives with his filmmaker wife, Martha, and their two children—has been an endless source of fascination and material for him. When he first started at The New Yorker, he dispatched himself all over the city, covering table-hockey tournaments in Flatbush, slack-rope walkers who dwelled in boats on the Hudson River, and a community of rivalrous fresco painters. In Strangers’ Gate, a blend of memoir and social observation in which Gopnik specializes, he revisits his arrival in New York from Canada in the early 1980s. The book is a love letter to that vanished town, then an eccentric metropolis of all-powerful magazine editors, landlines, Kodak film, artists’ lofts in SoHo, and bookstores on every block.
At the Strangers’ Gate also seems, at first glance, a whimsical counterpoint to Gopnik’s recent writings about America’s fraught political landscape. Although he once told me that he had never wanted to be any sort of pundit, he was an early whistleblower in the pages of The New Yorker about the threat to democracy posited by Trump, and has been unrelenting in his criticism since. “I feel a sense of emergency every morning,” he says. “We have to bear witness, even if we can’t change minds.” (He is already working on his next book, a political essay defending liberalism). Yet, he maintains, the seeds of today’s landscape had already been planted by the era he documents in the book; the eighties were “the first domino in a line of dominos that have fallen,” he says, leading to the post-9/11, post–financial collapse, Internet-and-social-media-driven realm in which we dwell today.
Gopnik and I spoke about the New York of his salad days, the attributes that make the city uniquely (and peculiarly) alluring, and how New Yorkers seem innately equipped to handle these unstable times. Click here to read the interview.
Everyone has seen Jeff Goldblum in a movie. The Oscar-and Emmy-nominated actor has done it all: alien, dinosaur, and superhero blockbusters; urban comedies (both light- and dark-hearted); dramas; thrillers—the works.
He’s not designated as a comedian first and foremost, but Goldblum is a connoisseur of absurdity and often brings a perverse, languid humor to his roles. His funniness was apparent from the earliest days of his film career: in Woody Allen’s Annie Hall (1977), for instance, Goldblum plays a vapid Los Angeles actor at a party, informing someone—presumably his agent or manager—on the phone, “I forgot my mantra.”The cameo lasted all of two seconds, but the line has become one of the most oft quoted from the classic film.
Now 65, Goldblum remains relentlessly busy. In Thor: Ragnarok, out this month, he plays the immortal, game-obsessed Grandmaster; he’s also reprising his role as Dr. Ian Malcolm in next year’s Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom. Factor in his regular jazz gig in L.A. and two kids under the age of three, and Goldblum would seem to be leading a sleepless existence. But he says he’s sleeping just fine these days, thank you very much. In this Vanity Fair interview, he talks about vice-free living, an unlikely early job (it involved jails), and how he repaid Woody Allen for that early-fame favor.
Jim Shepard is always funny in conversation—but never more so than when he’s imparting dark musings about the future of the country or about human nature in general. And he can often be found musing about these dark things, for he is, as he puts it, “resourcefully pessimistic.”
As evidence, he cites the title of his just-released book, The Tunnel at the End of the Light: Essays on Movies and Politics. Many of us nursing the bitter cocktail that is the Trump administration are familiar with this sentiment, but Shepard’s book has been decades in the making. There has always been something to despair about, he announces jovially: The title “reflects the sinking sense I’ve had following American politics since the late 1960s. It’s been an ongoing cycle of progressive and thoughtful people saying, Well, this is a new low, but we have something to look forward to—and then hitting a new low after that.”
An award-winning, seven-time novelist and professor of English and film studies at Williams College, Shepard has studied certain iconic, influential American movies, from Casablanca to Goodfellas to Schindler’s List—along with “what they’re selling us”—for clues as to why this country keeps finding itself in the soul-crushing cycle of Icarus highs and lows. They provide, he concludes, a constructive road map. He pulled his book’s title from an anecdote about the 1974 noir film Chinatown, in which scriptwriter Robert Towne told director Roman Polanski that the dark ending was like “the tunnel at the end of the light”—much like the circumstances contributing to the déjà-vu political landscape Shepard sees now. He and I spoke last week about how movies both reflect and generate the circumstances that made the presidency of a creature like Donald J. Trump possible in the first place.
On September 14 at 9 PM ET, Logo TV will air “Kevyn Aucoin: Beauty and the Beast in Me,” a documentary about the rise and fall of legendary make-up artist Kevyn Aucoin, who helped define the 1990s supermodel era and became the world’s first celebrity make-up artist. The film reveals, for the first time, extensive Camcorder footage Aucoin shot of his own life and times.
While documentary depicts the glamorous aspects of Aucoin’s life, it also showcases his deep background, both through Aucoin’s own footage and director Lori Kaye’s excellent reporting. Born in 1962 to an unwed, sixteen-year-old mother in rural Louisiana, he was given up for adoption and raised in a nearby town. He knew that he was gay by age six, and so did everyone else: in high school, his classmates tried to kill him with a pick-up truck. Aucoin dropped out. He eventually made his way to 1980s NYC and launched his career.
Aucoin eventually documented on tape his reunion with his birth mother after tracking her down. She rejected him, and told him that he wouldn’t have been gay if she had raised him. But he had the unrelenting, heartbreaking support of his adoptive family, who quit their local church because it taught that homosexuality was a sin. “No one was going to tell me that something was wrong with my boy because he was gay,” his adoptive father tells Kaye in the doc.
Lori Kaye’s access in “Kevyn Aucoin: Beauty and the Beast in Me” is astonishing, and apparently unlimited: everyone from the supermodels of the era to Aucoin’s birth mother spoke with her. The film not only depicts a now-vanished 1980s and 90s NYC, but also gives a surprisingly nuanced portrait of small town Louisiana, where pockets of tolerance thrive.
The original version of this story appeared in the September 2017 edition of Vogue, which celebrated the magazine’s 125th anniversary.
When Los Angeles-based fashion designers Laura and Kate Mulleavy are asked to identify the genre of their debut feature, Woodshock, their answer is decidedly noncommittal. “I’m not sure we should try to categorize it,” says Laura, and then ventures a try. “I would not describe it as experimental. It’s more of a non-traditional narrative, a drama.”
Producer Ben LeClair confirms that classifying Woodshock—which debuts this September at the Venice Film Festival —has proved difficult for the project’s entire team. “We’re reluctant to corner it or put it in a box,” he says. “It’s in a space all to itself.” Kirsten Dunst, who plays the movie’s main character, adds, “The film is unlike anything I’ve ever seen. There’s definitely a psychological element in a Polanski sort of way.”
Read Ms. Blume’s WSJ Magazine article on the Mulleavy’s sisters’ bold, idiosyncratic leap into filmmaking.
If Frederick Vreeland’s famous Marrakech estate has long been a private-jet-set enclave, the public now has its chance to get an inside glimpse. The property has just been put up for sale, with an asking price of $2 million. Like many of its guests over the decades, the earth-colored house (official hue: “Marrakech la Rouge”) has an outsized, idiosyncratic personality. The Vreelands commissioned Anglo-French solar architect Dominic Michaelis to create the building, with the instructions that it should be designed with an elaborate game of hide-and-seek in mind. “We insisted that it should be almost impossible to find one’s way around,” says Vreeland. “People had to be able to get lost.”
Invitations to this sprawling 12,000-square-foot desert fortress in the Palmeraie, outside Marrakech, have long been coveted by luminaries and pleasure-seekers on at least three continents. The Vreelands’ giddy entertainments and days-long house parties are the stuff of legend in certain circles. (The house sleeps 16, but, Vreeland notes, more guests can be easily stashed away on the myriad veranda-and-living room couches and chaises.)
Mick Jagger used to let his offspring ride the Vreelands’ resident camel, Jamila; the rock star himself could occasionally be compelled to hop on the animal’s back for a ride around the house’s camel-racing track, nicknamed the “Chamodrome.” King Hassan II took an interest in the house’s grand eccentricities. Society photographer Slim Aarons shot the Moroccan-door-shaped pool for his book Poolside with Slim Aarons. Read more about the home and the Vreelands’ world in this Vanity Fair story.