Pete Holmes to host TBS late-night seriesMar 27, 2015
USA Today stories "A is For ASSSSCAT" benefit with Julie Bowen, Busy Philipps & Martha PlimptonMar 27, 2015
Pregnant Busy Philipps: Nope, not 'any day now'
The actress joins Martha Plimpton on stage in L.A. for a benefit to promote reproductive rights for women.
Here are two things not to say to a pregnant woman, as decoded by Busy Philipps:
"So, it's twins!" or "Any day now!"
Those were two gems directed at the Cougar Town star recently, who is six months pregnant with her second child. Sunday night, Philipps broke out her improv skills with Julie Bowen for pal Martha Plimpton's "A Is For" benefit, which champions women's reproductive rights. Onstage at the Upright Citizen's Brigade, Philipps improvised a monologue about her (wine-fueled) Dawson's Creek days, giving birth au naturel, and, yes, the worst things to say to a woman with child.
"Are you going into labor?" Julie Bowen, pretending to be panicked, jokes backstage with Phillips after the show (after a hilarious retelling of her An American Werewolf in Paris days). "Is it happening now?"
"Any day now?" Philipps shakes her head. "Nope, not any day now!"
"I know, I got that, too," Bowen says, nodding. She says she was called "massive" while pregnant with twins four years ago. Both women participated in the bicoastal sketch comedy night (in New York, Lena Dunham was among performers) for pal Plimpton, who co-founded "A Is For" in 2012.
"It's something I feel very strongly about," Philipps says. "Like Martha said onstage, in so many ways, we're taking great steps forward in this country, but for some reason, I do feel this issue of women's reproductive rights and the health care that's being offered and available to women is being so limited and stripped back, especially in rural and poor areas."
Adds Bowen: "As a mom, I think about the education aspect. I'm fully on board with women's reproductive rights, but as a mom, I look at it and go, they're going to know all about what pregnancy is, how you get there. Because no one wants their kid to get in that situation."
Plimpton, who wore a shirt reading "Where's My Personhood Amendment?" says women today are legislatively under attack thanks to a heavy load of anti-abortion bills advancing across the USA. "If over 2,000 bills have been proposed in the past three years, 400 since January 1st, then it's not a matter of feeling, it's a matter of fact," she says.
How did Philipps feel about having the conversation while pregnant? "I was saying to Martha backstage, 'This is the ultimate planned pregnancy,' " she says. "I planned it around my television schedule! I really did."
Bowen nodded: "Absolutely. Aim for hiatus. I had my babies in April and May. Nailed it!"
John Ross Bowie pens book on "Heathers"Mar 27, 2015
If the author had not been Jonathan Lethem--award-winning novelist, brilliant essayist, recipient of a "genius grant" from the MacArthur Foundation--I might not have opened They Live, a slim critical monograph published last year concerning a late-1980s science-fiction-horror film I had never seen. When I did open it, I found epigraphs from Roland Barthes, Edgar Allan Poe, and Mystery Science Theater 3000, and short, suggestive chapters with titles like "Note on Diegesis and Ideology and Peek-A-Boo" (on the film-theory terms Lethem finds indispensable) and "The Black Guy and the White Guy, Together Again for the First Time" (on a certain casting cliche in late-20th-century Hollywood action movies). I found shrewd and funny insights concerning the movie's key device, "a pair of sunglasses that reveal yuppies as alien ghouls." And I found a way of thinking about movies that was thorough, thoughtful, populist, and personal, all at once.
Happily, Lethem's book was the first in a series, called Deep Focus and edited by Sean Howe, who also edited Give Our Regards to the Atom Smashers! Writers on Comics. Joining Lethem's book last fall was another surprising piece of pop scholarship: Christopher Sorrentino's take on Death Wish, the Charles Bronson vehicle from 1974. A novelist like Lethem, Sorrentino is even less impressed with his object of study (a lot less impressed), but finds in both the movie and its reception (which consisted mostly of righteous opprobrium) much to mull about violence and its representation, New York in American cinema, high art and low, and so on. Throughout, Sorrentino makes an eloquent case for attentive viewing with an open mind: "We fail when we walk into a movie knowing in advance what we're going to see."
Now four more Deep Focus titles are on the way: Josh Wilker's The Bad News Bears in Breaking Training, Matthew Specktor's The Sting, John Ross Bowie's Heathers, and Chris Ryan's Lethal Weapon. There's a bit of a pattern here: so far the series seems, well, focused on the reactions of white American men born in the '60s and '70s to movies they first saw between the ages of 9 and 25, give or take. Which is not to say the sensibilities or approaches are uniform: Wilker's consideration of the much-maligned sequel to the classic baseball film is nostalgic and lyrical (really: one chapter is a poem); Bowie's book is a pleasing mix of memoir, analysis, and journalism (he interviewed the film's director and screenwriter, plus a couple of his high school girlfriends, both actually named Heather); Specktor's study is more straightforwardly analytical. (I've not yet seen Chris Ryan's entry in the series.)
Of these three, Bowie's is probably the best: he bounces with seeming ease from personal history to the history of the name "Heather," from close reading ("Westerburg High School" is a nod to the Replacements; "Sherwood, Ohio" alludes to the author of Winesburg, Ohio) to a discussion of Columbine. Wilker, meanwhile, sometimes veers too far into beatnik romanticism for my taste, but he also endearingly evokes early adolescence and the odd attachments we form at that age to mediocre movies--a heartfelt devotion that seems to drive each one of these books. "A dream of baseball," he calls his mediocre movie of choice, "of junk food, of the most uncomplicated happiness there could ever be, on the road with no one but other boys just like me, a baseball game to play, a season still alive, the coolest kid who ever lived at the wheel."