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Watch the Explosive, Robot-less Trailer for Michael Bay's Fiery Benghazi Project, 13 Hours

In an alternate dimension with no Pam, Jim Halpert and Roy Anderson have grown epic beards and decided that nobody should mess with them. (Actually, there are a lot of beards in here. How many can you count?) That's kind of how this trailer goes — plus some cryptic teasers ("When everything went wrong, six men had the courage to do what was right") and the wonderfully explosive montages of Michael Bay doing his thing sans robots. The film, based on Mitchell Zuckoff's Thirteen Hours: A Firsthand Account of What Really Happened in Benghazi, is already generating politically charged articles, as well as comparisons to American Sniper (wow, that was fast!). Timing-wise, it makes sense: The film is slated for the same release window as Sniper, and it'll come as a Benghazi reminder right as the 2016 election kicks into gear. As with the book, Bay's 13 Hours will retell the true story of how six "secret soldiers" responded to the infamous attack on a Special Mission Compound and CIA annex in Benghazi on the 11th anniversary of 9/11; it comes out January 15.

  • Posted 7/27/15 at 9:55 PM
  • Theater

Theater Review: Jersey Boys (and Girls) in The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey

Beware short plays bearing long titles; they are usually not short enough. Such is the case with The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey, a 75-minute one-man show in which James Lecesne, who also wrote the piece, portrays nine denizens of a Jersey shore town. Chief among them is the improbable, noir-spouting police detective assigned to investigate the disappearance of a 14-year-old who is not just missing but murdered. We quickly learn why, as well: Leonard Pelkey was an outrageously flamboyant gay boy, unwilling or unable to “tone it down” for other people’s comfort or even his own safety. (Among other capital offenses, he liked to wear Capri pants.) Since only one of the townies that Lecesne gives voice to is a homophobe, there’s not much mystery here, nor, in a play consisting mostly of monologues, much drama of any other sort. Instead, we get a series of amusing, if sometimes too cute, impersonations of people who loved Leonard even if they thought he was “too much.” These include the hairstylist at the salon where Leonard liked to kibitz with the clients about their bouffants and makeup; a lisping British-expat after-school drama coach; a Mafia wife who finds one of Leonard’s rainbow platform sneakers floating in the lake; and an elderly German shopkeeper who befriended Leonard decades after — wouldn’t you know it? — having alienated his own gay son.

But not Leonard himself. »

  • Posted 7/27/15 at 3:38 PM
  • Primer

A Timeline of the Abuse Charges Against Bill Cosby [Updated]

Thirty years ago this fall, The Cosby Show debuted on NBC, and its star was catapulted into the comedic stratosphere. The timing is prime, then, for the release of a sprawling biography. Written by former Newsweek editor Mark Whitaker, Cosby: His Life and Times documents the man’s rise from the Philadelphia projects, while also detailing the creation of his family sitcom and the murder of his son Ennis in 1997.

The book is notable, however, for its complete avoidance of sexual abuse allegations that have dogged Cosby for more than a decade. In a statement to Buzzfeed's Kate Aurthur, Whitaker says, "I didn’t want to print allegations that I couldn’t confirm independently." Regardless, their absence is glaring. Consider the following timeline an appendix to the book.

"Tamara Green, a lawyer, alleges that Cosby drugged and sexually assaulted her in the 1970s." »

Kanye West, Steve McQueen’s Short Film for ‘All Day/I Feel Like That’ Is Here

After an Über-exclusive L.A. County Museum of Art event this weekend, Kanye West and Steve McQueen premiered their collaborative short film for "All Day/I Feel Like That." The nine-minute video, which was unspooled as a conceptual art piece in front of roughly 120 people, combines two of West's latest SWISH singles, set to an extended shot of the rapper dancing, running to and away from the camera, and resting against a wall. It was shot in single takes in a dockyard building near London — McQueen told the Los Angeles Times they did three takes total and used the third. The video reportedly plays on both sides of a floor-to-ceiling screen, installed in one of the museum's Broad Contemporary galleries, where four monster stereos pump out the soundtrack.

Watch it here: »

  • Posted 7/24/15 at 4:31 PM
  • Theater

Theater Review: Rach Gets Rolling in Preludes

Dave Malloy has a thing for the Russian romantics. His recent electropop opera Natasha, Pierre, and the Great Comet of 1812 — presented in a big tent fabulously tricked out as a Czarist nightclub, if there were such a thing — was based on a slice of Tolstoy’s War and Peace. (Tolstoy survived the surgery.) His new piece, Preludes, being given a spectacular production at LCT3, sets its sights on Sergei Rachmaninoff. Though subtitled (like some of some of the composer’s solo piano works) a “fantasia,” it is more faithful to the facts, if not the implications, of its subject’s life than many recent musicals purporting to be actual history. Malloy focuses on a period of several months in 1900, when the composer, at 27, was still suffering from a monumental case of writer’s block brought on by the disastrous premiere of his first symphony three years earlier. As he undergoes a course of hypnotherapy in an effort to break the dam, scenes from his past (and even his future) appear before us: his early success, his subsequent humiliation, his love affair with the cousin he would eventually marry. What holds this fragmented narrative together, to the extent anything does, is Rachmaninoff’s struggle to understand what it might mean to be a great artist. Chekhov, Tchaikovsky, and others weigh in; Tolstoy himself makes an especially unhelpful contribution.

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  • Posted 7/24/15 at 3:51 PM

Ingrid Sischy, Artforum Maestro: 1952–2015

The American 1980s didn’t begin or end with Ingrid Sischy, but her tenure as editor-in-chief of Artforum — from 1980, when she was 27, to 1988 — made her a perpetual presence, lightning-rod gatekeeper, and immense id of artistic status, ambition, and fame. Friend of Julian Schnabel, Jeff Koons, Nan Goldin, Francesco Clemente, Peter Hujar, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Leonardo DiCaprio, Lil' Kim, Chloë Sevigny, Miuccia Prada, Sean Penn, Helmut Lang, Todd Solondz, k.d. lang, Valentino, and Veronica Webb, and nurturer and torturer of gifted writers like Rene Ricard and Lisa Liebmann, this Sarah Lawrence graduate was a poster child for the unbridled desire of the 1980s, its creative pretentiousness in its very best and most crazy forms, the one who helped integrate underground, mainstream, fashion, rock 'n' roll, and anyone who showed up and tried to make a connection. When The New Yorker called Sischy “Girl of the Zeitgeist” above an epic two-part profile by Janet Malcolm that both captured the decade’s spirit and expressed the skepticism with which an ever-more-fashionable and ever-more-monied art world would come to be viewed, it was not wrong. Either way, it let the art world know it was big news and no longer just its own clubhouse kibbutz.

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John Green on Lonelygirl15, Rushmore, and 10 Other Things That Influenced His Work

John Green isn't the kind of author you only glimpse on the back of a book jacket. Since The Fault in Our Stars was successfully adapted from his best-known novel, the 37-year-old Green has seen his profile skyrocket. He has one of the most devoted fan bases in YA literature, plus a millions-strong YouTube following, and today's release of Paper Towns (adapted from his 2008 book) represents Hollywood's latest attempt to court Green's coveted audience. Since Green's own cultural impact is fast on the rise, we decided to ask about the movies, books, and other pop-cultural totems that influenced him on his way up.

Including Toni Morrison and Jimmy Stewart. »

James Franco’s Infatuation With Lana Del Rey Has Reached Its Scrapbook Phase

James Franco has been obsessed with Lana Del Rey for a while, and now his fascination has been taken to its logical conclusion: He's writing a book about her! Maybe also with her; it's hard to tell. The book's called Flip-Side: Real and Imaginary Conversations With Lana Del Rey, and it seems like a lengthier version of Franco's V magazine tribute from earlier this year. There, Franco revealed the singer refused to be interviewed for a book, telling him, "Just write around me; It's better if it's not my own words. It’s almost better if you don't get me exactly, but try." So either she changed her mind, or these will be entirely imaginary conversations, or truth is an illusion and only performance is real.

Bill Cosby’s Alleged Teen Sexual-Assault Lawsuit Is Moving Forward, With the Possibility of a New Deposition

Bill Cosby's team will no longer be able to stave off Gloria Allred and Judy Huth, both of whom are using an underage sexual-assault allegation to push the embattled comedian toward a new deposition. Huth sued Cosby for sexual battery last year, claiming he molested her at the Playboy Mansion in 1974, when she was 15. Cosby had been trying to ward off this suit to avoid answering questions under oath, but on Wednesday, according to multiple reports, the California Supreme Court without comment quashed his latest attempt to stall. (NBC News reports that Cosby had filed a petition to review earlier rulings in the suit because of "procedural errors.") With an unimpeded path, Allred is gunning to question Cosby "as soon as possible within the next 30 days."

"We are looking forward to Mr. Cosby answering questions under oath at his deposition and we will continue to seek justice for our courageous client," Allred, Huth's attorney, said in a statement, according to Reuters."It's a very big victory." L.A. authorities had been investigating Huth's claims, but Cosby was ultimately not criminally charged or prosecuted because of California's statute of limitations. If Allred nails down a deposition date, it will be Cosby's first time addressing sex-assault allegations since Andrea Constand's 2005 lawsuit — portions of that transcript were unsealed earlier this month and have stirred an ethical maelstrom all their own. Aside from denying the many accusations against him, Cosby and his team have been mostly mum on the matter.

His biography, Mark Whitaker's Cosby: His Life and Times, is also in trouble. »

From the Archives: Author E. L. Doctorow on His Childhood in New York

This article appeared in the April 8, 2013 issue of New York Magazine.

In the dark Bronx days of the Great Depression, I lived on a street named after the brook or burn that once flowed through it. I came down the front steps of my house into a world that was sunny, warm, and clean. Nobody in the neighborhood owned a car, and so the street belonged to the kids. It was our stickball field, our flea market. We flipped pennies against a wall, traded baseball cards, played skelly with soda-bottle caps; we opened our hands for the delicate art of box ball, and abandoned ourselves to the wild neighborhood wars of ringolevio. An eminence who lived on our block was a captain in the Sanitation Department, which is why every other day in summer, the water wagon came grinding up the street, spraying from the sides of its tank a beautiful spreading arc of glistening rainbows that seemed ethereally to be herding this beast of a truck like a pair of angels. And when the water wagon turned the corner and was gone, the street was suddenly quiet except for the bubbling rivulets of water running along the guttered curbs, carrying with it our fleets of walnut shells and ice-cream sticks as we scurried along to see how far they would go before running aground.

Read More  »

  • Posted 7/22/15 at 12:47 PM
  • Books

How Dr. Seuss’s Editor Helped Finish His Lost Book, 24 Years After His Death

“I don’t really believe in this stuff,” says Cathy Goldsmith, “but I feel like sometimes he sends me answers when I’m stuck.” Goldsmith, the associate publishing director of Random House’s Golden Books Young Readers Group, was the last editor to work with Theodor Geisel, a.k.a. Dr. Seuss, before he died in 1991. In 2013, when his widow found the sheets of a complete book, What Pet Should I Get?, Goldsmith was charged with figuring out how to publish the work. In shepherding along the book, which will be available on July 28 and has a first print run of a million copies, Goldsmith relied on her knowledge of Seuss’s preferences on everything from endpapers to punctuation. Here, she explains how one of the original sketches was turned into finished pages.

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  • Posted 7/21/15 at 9:04 PM
  • R.i.p.

E. L. Doctorow, Author of Ragtime and Writer of Historical Fiction, Has Died

E. L. Doctorow, the award-winning New York author who was renowned for his historical fiction and penned such unique works as Ragtime, Billy Bathgate, City of God, and The Waterworks, died Tuesday in Manhattan. The New York Times reports the cause was "complications from lung cancer." He was 84.

He recalled his Bronx upbringing for New York Magazine in 2013. »

Here’s What Game of Thrones’ Jack Gleeson Has Been Doing

If you're wondering what he-who-played–King Joffrey has been up to, look not onscreen but onstage. Game of Thrones' Jack Gleeson, as it turns out, has taken a hiatus from Hollywood to run an Irish theater company and produce a crazy comedy about cryogenically frozen bears with his BFFs. "Offers [for blockbuster action roles] came in, but I just had a lack of desire to do a big action movie. What I enjoy most is this kind of thing, where I can have fun with my friends," Gleeson told the London Evening Standard. "My real interest is in creating something from the ground up. ... For the time being I get far more fulfillment from being part of a project that I have helped create and have more of a stake in."

His present passion project is a production called Bears in Space, which involves puppets and is exactly what the title sounds like it would be about. It comes from Gleeson's Collapsing Horse troupe and features him and his Trinity College pals: Aaron Heffernan, Cameron McCauley, and Eoghan Quinn. One review has referred to it as a "must-see," and another has lauded it for its "razor-sharp ridiculousness" and "dry self-awareness." Sounds fun(ny)! Some fans were worried that 23-year-old Gleeson wasn't going to return to acting when he left Thrones (he had ostensibly threatened as much). Luckily, that's not the case. And there are now adorably absurd ursine cosmonauts to prove it: Bears in Space plays at London's Soho Theatre from August 3 to 22 — giving you lots of time to plan an outrageous trip.

  • Posted 7/19/15 at 8:00 PM
  • Books

How Go Set a Watchman Solves the Mystery of Harper Lee

Tourists come to Monroeville, Alabama, for one reason: to visit the real-life model of To Kill a Mockingbird’s Maycomb and the birthplace and current residence of its author, Harper Lee. Invariably, they come to the well-preserved county courthouse, which looks a lot like the place where Atticus Finch defends a black man falsely accused of rape, and they visit a stone wall, next to a shake-and-burger shack, that used to separate the houses where Lee and her childhood friend Truman Capote (Mockingbird’s “Scout” Finch and Dill Harris) played and plotted.

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If You Hated Feeling Happy at the End of Return of the Jedi, You’ll Love This New Star Wars Book

Say, what happened to the Emperor's forces at the end of Return of the Jedi? In the old Expanded Universe canon, the Empire collapsed quickly after the downfall of its central government, with the Imperial remnant scattering about under dozens of petty warlords. But with the coming of the new trilogy, all that history's been wiped clean, and sci-fi novelist Chuck Wendig has been brought aboard to create a trilogy of books filling in the three-decade gap between Jedi and The Force Awakens. EW has an exclusive excerpt from the first book, Aftermath, and as it turns out, in this version, the Imperial forces don't go down without a fight. It's an ending that has much more in common with our post–Iraq War sensibilities, while also syncing up perfectly with the need for entertainment franchises to have continuous stories with no concrete endings.

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  • Posted 7/16/15 at 11:03 PM
  • Theater

Theater Review: Amazing Grace, Too Sweet, Unsound

There’s a scene in Fun Home — both the book and the musical — in which a 9-year-old girl shows her father a fanciful map she’s drawn for school. As the father grows more agitated trying to correct and improve it (“This is visually confusing,” he complains), the girl grows more defensive about preserving her vision. (“This is a cartoon!”) For the audience, the scene is a wrenching demonstration of the father’s controlling nature; by the time he explodes in frustration (“You cannot do it like that unless you want to ruin it!”), you are cringing over the mistaken application of his high standards, and his insensitivity to a budding artist’s feelings. 

"Certainly it can’t be recommended as history; it’s riddled with falsehoods." »

  • Posted 7/16/15 at 4:01 PM
  • Theater

Theater Review: At Encores!, a Brief Return to The Wild Party

Are you Team Lippa or Team LaChiusa?

For theater types, the dueling musicals of The Wild Party — one by Andrew Lippa, one by Michael John LaChiusa, both somehow given their premieres in the spring of 2000 — provide an opportunity for personal branding and group identification that others may get from, say, The Hunger Games. Both derive from Joseph Moncure March’s seedy Jazz Age narrative poem about a gin-soaked debauch chez Queenie and Burrs, a vaudeville siren and her abusive lover. Both musicals use (to varying degrees) vaudeville itself as a framing device and a metaphor for the disjointed, sensation-oriented experiences that pass for their characters’ lives. And both musicals flopped, Lippa’s off Broadway and LaChiusa’s on, despite stellar casts and scores memorable enough to become quick cult items when recorded. But in almost every other way the two parties are entirely different, and for me the sensational mounting of Lippa’s version with which the “Encores! Off-Center” series is closing its third season is a fascinating opportunity to consider what those differences mean in the context of the 21st-century musical.

"I really have nothing to criticize about this production." »

  • Posted 7/15/15 at 8:00 AM
  • Theater

Gallery: Writer-Actor James Lecesne Morphs Into 9 of His Characters

In adapting his YA novel Absolute Brightness — a tale, full of funny, familiar residents of a small Jersey town, about the disappearance of a flamboyant, apparently gay teen — for the stage, James Lecesne jettisoned some characters and added others. “It has to be varied, to keep people’s interest for 75 minutes,” he explains. “You can’t have too many people in the hair salon, right?” Then came voices and gestures “to encourage people to think about the uniqueness of each human being.” The accents and movements that distinguish detective from hairdresser from mob wife come from all corners of his life: his Has­brouck Heights youth, summers at the shore, a stint in a play full of German characters. “I hear them speaking,” he says, “and then I work back.” (The Absolute Brightness of Leonard Pelkey just opened at the Westside Theatre.)

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What Critics Are Saying About Go Set a Watchman

Harper Lee’s Go Set a Watchman, the first draft of what turned into her much-beloved To Kill a Mockingbird, was released today. Ever since Michiko Kakutani used her review to tell the world that Harper Lee’s beloved Atticus was perhaps more complicated than we always believed, most people’s attention has focused on the jarring idea that this paragon of racial tolerance was actually a bigot. But what else are critics saying about this highly anticipated novel? Though the reviews have been mixed, one overarching theme that many critics have zeroed in on is that there is a lot to learn from the novel, as both a writer and a reader.

"Go Set a Watchman is kind of a mess..." »

  • Posted 7/14/15 at 8:00 AM
  • Art

The Storied History of the Most Expensive Picasso Ever Auctioned

In May, Pablo Picasso’s 1955 painting Les Femmes d’Alger (Version “O”) was snapped up at Christie’s for $179 million, setting a record for the most expensive artwork ever sold at auction. Naturally, the headlines focused on the sheer magnitude of the sale, which broke the old auction record of $142 million — the cost of Francis Bacon’s Three Studies of Lucian Freud. The painting itself, though, has a story to tell beyond its price. 

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