Hollywood: The Herstory of Wonder Woman

By Tim Parks

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In 1941 when Wonder Woman made her debut in All-Star Comics, the concept of a female superhero must have seemed like something of an unconventional notion. Following in the footsteps of Superman and Batman, the shero proved that she was every bit as capable as The Man of Steel and The Caped Crusader and headlined her own comic book in 1942 through Sensation Comics.

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However, unlike her male counterparts The National Organization for Decent Literature – the One Million Moms of its time – blacklisted the comic citing that “Wonder Woman was not sufficiently dressed.” Um, hello Superman wore red underwear on the outside of his costume!

Princess Diana of Themyscira has had a long and storied career in the pantheon of pop culture and will finally be headlining her very own movie on June 2. This marks only the third time in her 76 year crime fighting career that she has appeared in Cineplex’s, following her appearance in last year’s Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. 

Gal Gadot stars as the Amazonian Princess in not one, but two movies this year alone. So let’s look at the herstory of Wonder Woman, shall we? That wasn’t a rhetorical question.

The Original Originator

As previously mentioned, Wonder Woman made her comic book debut in the 1940’s and was created by William Moulton Marston, a famed psychologist and the inventor of the lie detector test, who modeled her after both suffragists and erotic pin ups. The man himself fathered children with both his wife and mistress in a polyamorous relationship and had a penchant for bondage, which showed up in his work. But he took her strength very seriously.

“Frankly, Wonder Woman is psychological propaganda for the new type of woman who, I believe, should rule the world,” he said of his creation.

However, she certainly had her fair share of detractors. In the 1950’s Wonder Woman was accused by anti-comic crusader Fredric Wertham of “being a lesbian with a sadistic hatred of all men.” He makes it sound like it’s a bad thing!

It was during this period that Wonder Woman went from being a war hero and delved into regular gal mode and worked as a movie star, fashion model and even a lonely hearts columnist for a newspaper and during the 1960’s she was rebranded as an Emma Peel from The Avengers-type character.  She fared a bit better during the ’70s, thanks in part to the TV series. But the comic was cancelled in 1985 due to low sales and like the warrior she is came back the following year and has prevailed ever since. She even gained some Greek mythology parentage, courtesy of being Zeus’ daughter
Thank you For Being a Super Friend

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The very first animated version of Wonder Woman was featured on The Brady Kids cartoon in 1972 –  damn, let’s hope she didn’t throw a football at Marcia’s nose! It would have caved her face in! As it was, she and The Bunch get sent back in time to Ancient Greece, courtesy of the kids’ pet magical, talking myna bird. Somehow, I’m sure that Jan was still blamed for it.

During the run of the Saturday morning staple SuperFriends, she sported her Marlo Thomas That Girl flip hairstyle and was the only female in the all-boys Justice League of America. She had all of the traditional Wonder Woman items needed to fight for good: the golden lasso, the tiara, and the bracelets and of course, The Invisible Jet.

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After the show ended in 1986, she went on to be featured in a plethora of animated ventures, including: Wonder Woman and the Star Riders, Batman: The Brave and the Bold, DC Super Hero Girls and even an episode of South Park.

 

You Spin Me Round

In 1967, there was a five minute proposed pilot for Who’s Afraid of Diana Prince? William Dozier, the man behind TV’s Batman, thought it was time to bring Wonder Woman to the small screen. Unfortunately, it was also decided that Diana Prince (Ellie Wood Walker) would live at home with her shrill mother (Maudie Prickett) and transform into her super alter ego (Linda Harrison of The Planet of the Apes films) by going into a revolving wall and being able to fly afterwards. Dub tee eff? The pilot was a poor attempt to capitalize on the success of Batman and thankfully never made it to series. The answer to the title of the show can be answered as everyone should be scured. Very, very scured.

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In 1974, Cathy Lee Crosby starred as the titular hero in a TV movie that was loosely based on the DC Comics character. That’s an understatement. For starters, Crosby is blonde, Swedish looking and sported some sort of track suit/soccer mom ensemble. She was more of a Vunder Vuman who assists government agent Steve Trevor (Kaz Garas) in attempting to recover stolen classified code books from villain Abner Smith (Ricardo Montalban). Um, ok.

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Lynda Carter’s much-celebrated performance on the Wonder Woman series of the 1970’s was literally making dizzy queens out of boys that spun around and around in order to transform into their favorite super heroine. The show followed in the footsteps of the Batman series of the 1960’s, in that it had a dose of camp thrown in for good measure. How could GITs (Gays In Training) resist?

The series began as a two-hour pilot movie in 1975 and explained her origins on Paradise Island, which was thrown into a tizzy when Major Steve Trevor (Lyle Waggoner) crash landed on said all-female island. Surprisingly, it was not called The Isle of Lesbos. But I digress. She leaves her mother (Cloris Leachman and played by Caroline Jones in the subsequent series) and the other ladies behind to join in the fight for the old red, white and blue.

For the first year of the ABC show in 1976, Wonder Woman battled Nazis during WWII and had her kid sister Drusilla (Debra Winger) join in on the action as Wonder Girl. You go, Wonder Girl!

When the show moved over to CBS as The New Adventures of Wonder Woman, the show was brought into the 1970’s and the only remaining cast member – aside from Carter – was Lyle Waggoner, who played Steve Trevor, Jr.  Those two seasons saw Wonder Woman and Diana Prince doing battle with such scenarios as a telepathic disco dancer using his powers to steal people’s minds in the episode “Disco Devil.” Nope. Couldn’t make that up if I tried. The show went off the air in 1979, but remained forever in the heart of the LGBTQ community.

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Poor Adrianne Palicki didn’t really get a chance to step into the iconic Wonder Woman outfit for long, save for a pilot episode. And said get up in the proposed 2011 update, well, let’s just say was horrible. The first version looked like it was crafted from leggings and a bustier and the second version – after much interweb decrying from fans – just looked like something a college girl would wear for Halloween as slutty Wonder Woman.

Needless to say this David E. Kelley pilot did not live to see the light of day, as was the case for the proposed Amazon for the CW, which was to mainly focus on the origins of the Themyscira Princess. It only made it to the script process, until it was put on pause by the network in 2013.

The Silver Screen

Throughout the past 20 years, a number of efforts have been made to make a big screen adaptation, ranging from versions to star Jennifer Aniston to Sandra Bullock.

But her first celluloid appearance was in The Lego Movie in 2014. Yeah, that sorta counts! However, it is sufficed to say that she was the best part of 2016’s Batman v Superman – really at a runtime of 2 hours and 31 minutes and only 10 minutes of fighting? I call shenanigans!

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Anyhoo, Gadot seems more than capable to step into the foundation laid down by Carter before her. Her solo venture will be set during World War I and co-stars Chris Pine as Steve Trevor, Robin Wright as her Amazonian mentor and Connie Nielsen as her mother. Their island is attacked by men and their machines and they retaliate with arrows and other forms of chicks who kick ass badassery. It is decided that Wonder Woman will travel with Steve, posing as his secretary, to aid the Allies.

On November 17, Justice League will hit theaters and tell the story of Batman (Ben Affleck) and Wonder Woman (Gadot) tracking down metahumans Aquaman (Jason Momoa, hubba hubba), The Flash (Ezra Miller) and Cyborg (Ray Fisher) to form a united front against villainous Steppenwolf.

So there you have it, a brief herstory of the most popular female super hero of our time, who has stood the test of time in remaining an example of being a strong role model for women and gay men alike. You’re a wonder, Wonder Woman!

 

 

 

The Scheme of Things Is Winning Awards!

My debut novel The Scheme of Things recently picked up two awards within a week of each other! I was named Outstanding Writer for the local San Diego “gay Academy Awards” also known as the Nickys.

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The next week I placed as the finalist in the Beverly Hills International Book Awards.

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I am truly humbled and thankful for the recognition.

If you still haven’t picked up your copy, you can purchase it on Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.com

Hollywood: Make Your Yuletide Gay

By Tim Parks

As I write this, it is 90 degrees in November. But I know from “The Great Orange Hope” that climate change is a hoax perpetuated by the Chinese; so there’s that. I could really go for a Winter Wonderland right about now, just sayin’. And to help in that endeavor, there are a plethora of time-honored holiday movies and TV shows to view that will surely get us into the winter groove.

Let’s take a look at some fun facts about said time capsules of Christmas’ past and a gander at the TV specials that are far and away the absolute best examples of donning our gay apparel.

Tinsel Tidbits

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When It’s A Wonderful Life debuted in theaters in 1946, it was considered a flop. However, the Frank Capra film starring James Stewart and Donna Reed has gone on to become a perennial favorite. James Stewart, who portrays George Bailey a man that is contemplating suicide –Merry Christmas, movie house! – stated that the role was his favorite to portray onscreen.

He became so immersed in his portrayal that while filming the scene where George prays in the bar, he actually broke down into real sobs. For Donna Reed, one of sitcom TV’s favorite perfect mom/perfect wife, it was her first starring role. Every time you vacuum the house all dolled up and wearing pearls, an angel gets its wings!

Faster than you can say, Merry Christmas and throw in a “Shitter was full,” courtesy of Cousin Eddie (Randy Quaid before he went bat shitter cray cray), you have yourself a Griswold-style Christmas.

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Hapless Clark Griswold (Chevy Chase) stages a homebound Christmas Vacation for his family (Beverly D’Angelo, Juliette Lewis and Johnny Galecki), after they have experienced hellacious trips to both Wally World and Europe and the results are naturally disastrous.

In the five Vacation movies, the characters of Rusty and Audrey Griswold were played by five different sets of actors: Anthony-Michael Hall, Dana Barron, Jason Lively, Dana Hill, Johnny Galecki, Juliette Lewis, Ethan Embry, Marisol Nichols, Ed Helms and Leslie Mann. However, in the 1989 Yuletide comedy, the characters are younger than the ones in the first two and Audrey is suddenly the older of the two. Must be something in the egg nog; I’ll have what they’re drinking! Conversely, Diane Ladd who plays Chevy Chase’s mother Nora is only 8 years older than Chase in real life.

The term “Griswold house” was introduced into the lexicon to describe a house that is overly decorated for the holidays.

Someone that had a successful White Christmas was Bing Crosby in what ended up being the most profitable movie of 1954, and spawned a favorite Christmas tune.

But, the song was actually re-recorded and was first introduced by Crosby in 1942’s Holiday Inn and although White Christmas features both songs by Irving Berlin and stars Crosby, it is not a sequel; Crosby also sang the song in 1946’s Blue Skies. Guess, you could call it his signature tune.

Rosemary Clooney stated that she took the role so she could perform with Crosby and co-star Danny Kaye caused many a retake with his antics that caused cast and crew to laugh when they weren’t supposed to.

After the final shot, the cast was informed that they would film the finale again for the visiting King and Queen of Greece. However, it was shot without film in the camera or Crosby, who skipped out to play golf. Oh Bing!

Somebody that would probably brain you with a golf club is Bad Santa, as portrayed in 2003 by Billy Bob Thornton. Willie T. Stokes (Thornton) and his dwarf assistant Marcus (Tony Cox) – is height challenged the more P.C. term? – pose as a department store Santa and his elf only to rob the mall at night.

Bill Murray was the initial choice to play in the dark comedy, but dropped out to star in Lost in Translation. Actress Lauren Graham, whose character has a Santa fetish, humped a chair during her audition, while Thornton has said he went method actor during the filming, IE, being very drunk during the shoot. In the Czech Republic, the film was released as Santa is a Pervert. Way to put the ho in ho, ho, ho Bad Santa.

Another comedic effort, Elf, stars Will Ferrell as Buddy one of Santa’s elves, who is bound and determined to spread some Holiday cheer while attempting to reconnect with his biological father (James Caan) in New York City. Good luck there, Buddy!

The movie spawned both an animated Holiday special and a Broadway musical. The set for Santa’s workshop and the elf costumes mirror the ones in the animated TV special Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer. The elf named Ming Ming is played by Peter Billingsley, who starred as Ralphie Parker in A Christmas Story.

Speaking of the beloved 1983 tale, in which young Ralphie just wants a Red Ryder Carbine Action BB gun, despite his mother’s warnings that he’ll shoot his eye out.

Actor Scott Schwartz, who infamously got his tongue frozen on a flag pole, later put his tongue to a different use as an adult film star. This wasn’t director Bob Clark’s first foray into yuletide territory, he had previously directed the 1974 horror movie Black Christmas.

Home Alone is another childhood take on Christmas, albeit one where CPS should step in and have a chat with Kevin McCallister’s (Macaulay Culkin) parents, who leave him behind while they go on vacation to Paris. Complicating matters are a pair of burglars (Joe Pesci and Daniel Stern) who try to rob the McCallister house!

The 1990 comedy – abandonment, ha ha! A child in jeopardy, snicker – was the highest-grossing live action comedy of all-time, until it was dethroned by 2011’s The Hangover Part II. But it remains the highest-grossing Christmas movie ever.

 

Make Your Yuletide Really Gay

Naturally, there are tried and true Christmas specials that will definitely make your yuletide gay!

The roster of guest stars, including Cher, Joan Rivers, Oprah Winfrey, k.d. lang, Grace Jones and Little Richard, makes Pee-Wee’s Christmas Special one of the gayest Holiday offerings ever forced down the chimney and into our living rooms. Perhaps he should have changed his secret word to a safe word!

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If you think about it, Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer is definitely a gay parable. Rudolph is ostracized for being different and is not able to participate in any reindeer games. He runs away with fellow misfit Hermie the Elf, who just wants to be a dentist, which sounds like 1960’s code for being a homosexual. Eventually, they meet up with Yukon Cornelius who resembles a Bear Daddy. In the end, Rudolph’s flashy red nose and being different save the day. You glow, gurl!

Leave it to Mama Ru to deliver two Christmas specials over the years. First up was 1993’s VH-1 special RuPaul’s Christmas Ball that was graced by the presences of: Elton John, Eartha Kitt, Taylor Dane, Boy George, Nirvana and LaToya Jackson. 5 out of 6 ain’t bad. Then last Christmas I gave you my heart, err, there was RuPaul’s Drag Race: I’m Dreaming of a Green Screen Christmas, which featured some contestants of Drag Race past.

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A Diva’s Christmas Carol stars the incomparable Vanessa Williams as Ebony Scrooge, one of the world’s foremost pop superstars. She is visited by three ghosts, one of which is played by Kathy Griffin. So if that’s not gay enough for you, that smell ain’t chestnuts roasting on an open fire; your gay card is on fire! 

A Charlie Brown Christmas would have been included, but only if it had featured Peppermint Patty and Marcie. Anyhoo, here’s a fun drinking game as the Holidays are notorious for imbibing. If you can stomach it, watch Kirk Cameron’s Saving Christmas and every time the movie sucks take a swig. Enjoy your alcohol poisoning and Happy Holidays!

Worthy Mention

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I received a mention in Mikey Rox’s article about the “9 New LGBT Books To Keep Your Summer Reading List Lit” for Grab Magazine in Chicago! So honored and I get to be in the same issue as Ross Mathews? Too cool! Check out the layout at: http://www.grabchicago.com
 
The Scheme of Things
by Tim Parks
Henry Dodge does his best to
hide what makes him different from
the other boys – like his
bourgeoning lust for his brother’s
best friend Danny – by escaping
into the TV, movies and music of
the 1980s. As such, his affinity for
nighttime soap operas leads him to
devise a plan to follow Danny to
Los Angeles, unchartered territory
for the teen, which has secrets of
its own.

Hollywood: Breathe and Reboot

 

The mantra in Hollywood certainly must be “Breathe and Reboot,” as there are scads of old new shows coming our way. Yes, while that sounds like an oxymoron – not like Donald Trump, he’s just the latter and not the former of that word, mmmkay – your TV screen is heading into a time warp and will be reheating up some TV dinners that already had their expiration dates.

Not surprisingly, the recent big screen success of Star Wars: The Force Awakens wasn’t so much a wake-up call that nostalgia can break box-office records; it was more of a reminder that there is still gold in them thar already mined hills!

And with the X-Files revival proving to be a ratings winner for Fox, even though some episodes were better than others – cough, cough I’m talking right to you Were-Lizard. You comin’ at me, bro? Trust me, I ain’t scured – the floodgates are now open for more visits from the Ghosts of TV Shows Past.

So, which ones have the potential to leave us awe-struck and others that will have us screaming “boo” at the screen?  Let’s take a looksee at what’s what to discern which is which.

Gurl Power

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The premise of Netflix’s Fuller House sounds like an absolute laugh riot! After D.J. Tanner-Fuller’s (Candace Cameron-Bure) husband dies, she is left to raise her three sons, one of which is a baby. Oh geez, I think I am starting to hyperventilate from all that comedy potential! So what’s a widow – giggle – supposed to do? Why not invite one of TV’s most infamously annoying characters, Kimmy Gibbler (Andrea Barber), to move in with you with her teenage daughter in tow. But seeing as Kimmy, who probably was featured on I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant, “may” need some supervision, enter D.J.’s younger sister Stephanie (Jodie Sweeten) to also lend a helping hand.

And no Fuller House – see what they did there? – would be complete without visits from John Stamos, Bob Saget, Dave Coulier, John Stamos, Lori Loughlin and John Stamos. Did I mention that I have a “thing” for John Stamos? And by thing, I mean my junk.

Now, why did the Olsen Twins pass on this one again? Oh yeah, they were “busy.” Busy being billionaires. Hopefully Bure won’t have writers insert her right-wing conservative points-of-view into the show; it ain’t called Fuller Church, hunty.

Another Netflix offering will be Gilmore Girls; have you ever noticed that its theme song and that of The Golden Girls are eerily similar? Anyhoo, speaking of “Where You Lead,” the series will be split up into four 90 minute movies that reunite viewers with the fast-talking/pop culture referencing mother/daughter duo over the course of winter, spring, summer or fall.

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Apparently all original showrunner Amy Sherman-Palladino had to do was call the original cast to revisit their characters. Lauren Graham and Alexis Bledel will be joined by everyone in Star’s Hollow, including all of Rory’s former love interests Jared Padalecki, Matt Czuchry – bless you – and Milo Ventimiglia – see above John Stamos comment. Of course Luke Danes (Scott Patterson) – again, reference Stamos comment – will be on hand to complicate Lorelai’s life. However, someone who has taken a hand’s off approach to the show that made her a household name is Melissa McCarthy. She said recently that she wasn’t “invited” to partake in the reunion. Betch please and check your e-mail! So I guess she won’t be there – perhaps she is filming a movie with the Olsen Twins?

When talk of a reboot of Xena: Warrior Princess began, there was a fan outcry that the powers-that-be behind the show were even thinking of using another actress other than Lucy Lawless as the titular character.

Sadly the proposed NBC show that is still in its infancy stages is looking to do just that, according to Robert Greenblatt, a honcho at the Peacock Network.

He feels that her presence may overshadow the direction of the show and stated, “I’m not sure how she could be part of it if she wasn’t playing Xena, and I don’t know if that’s a direction we’ll ever go.” Wow. Just. Wow.  But with Lawless’ husband Rob Tapert on board, as well as director Sam Raimi involved, perhaps they will leather skirt the controversy.

And there are also a few movies being turned in TV shows, such as The Notebook for CW. It should get a sponsorship deal from Kleenex, because that movie was S.A.F. (Sad As F*&%).

Meanwhile, Cruel Intentions is getting the TV show/sequel treatment for NBC and will follow the son of Ryan Phillipe and Reese Witherspoon’s characters. Say what? Phillipe’s Sebastian died in the movie. Oh, spoiler alert for those who haven’t watched a movie since 1998. Anyhoo, this pre-conceived notion will feature the character of Kathryn, who was played by Sarah Michelle Gellar in the movie and it’s not too far-fetched to think that she may return to the role. It’s not like she’s busy or anything.

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Another getting-the-sequel-as-a-TV-show-treatment is ABC’s proposed My Best Friend’s Wedding, which will continue the misadventures of Julianne Potter and her gay bestie George, as portrayed on celluloid by Julia Roberts and Rupert Everett.

Stop Me If You’ve Heard This One Before

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In a much simpler time, television was more of escapist fare, especially during the ’70s and ’80s. I mean how many rich couples playing detective do you see nowadays? That was the premise of Hart to Hart, which starred Robert Wagner and Stefanie Powers – that’s Mrs. H., she’s gorgeous! And the show is getting a very new life on – take three guesses – NBC with a major change in store. The couple in question will now be gay with its lead characters being attorney Jonathan Hart and investigator Dan Hartman. Umm, wouldn’t that make it Hart to Hartman? The show’s tagline: “When they met, it was murder” will probably be changed to “When they met, it was fabulous!”

Fantasy Island was a place you could visit on Saturday nights for seven seasons, as Ricardo Montalban’s Mr. Roarke and diminutive thespian Hervé Villechaize as Tattoo welcomed such Hollywood stalwarts as Sonny Bono to fulfill their deepest desires, like a paycheck. Well, CBS thinks it’s time to dust off the premise, but…there won’t actually be an island, just a company called Fantasy Island that does the wish-fulfillment and Mr. Roarke will be a woman. Sounds great?

Keep an eye out for two other reboots in talks of making a comeback with both MacGyver and The A-Team looking to get the go-ahead for a series order. I pity the fool that doesn’t know how to disarm a nuclear bomb with a paper clip!

Prison Break is looking to return, not as a reboot, but as a continuation of hot TV inmate brothers Wentworth Miller and Dominic Purcell’s story. What with Miller’s coming out as gay in 2015 – maybe that can be worked into the Fox revival? If I asked with a pretty please would that help?

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Probably one of TV’s most surreal shows had to be Twin Peaks that delved into the question of “Who Killed Laura Palmer?” Her dad did it! You’re welcome. But, it took Special Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan) to figure that out.

Now director and show creator David Lynch and Showtime have surmised that the time is ripe to bring us old faces, mixed with some new ones. MacLachlan will reprise his role, as will quite a few of the original troupe. However, Lara Flynn Boyle will not return as her character, Donna, as is the case of Michael Ontkean as Sheriff Harry S. Truman.

So, this will be Season 3 of the series and is set to debut in the first part of 2017 and will see Laura Dern, Amanda Seyfried, Jennifer Jason Leigh and Naomi Watts joining the fractured fray. Hopefully, they have brushed up on how to speak dwarf and saved room for cherry pie and some damn fine coffee.

So we shall literally see what can achieve the success that Hawaii Five-O has and what may, ahem, flame out like Heroes: Reborn did.

 

 

 

Hello From The Other Side

Tim Parks Author Photo

Well hello there. Yes, I know it’s been a spell since I have had anything on my blog and there’s a very good reason for that. My first novel, The Scheme of Things, will be published in about 2 months time. I have spent the last year editing and getting all the pieces into place to present my first-born to the world. Such an exciting time and very surreal, to be honest. But, I will be posting some writing for you guys in the meantime!

Hollywood: Days of Wine and Celebrities

I’ll admit I’m not the world’s foremost authority when it comes to wine; I don’t really know my from rosé from my rose b. But in my defense, I know a ton about celebrities; trust me you don’t want to go up against me in any type of entertainment trivia setting. They don’t call me Rain Man for nothing! On second thought, that could be for my penchant for not wearing underwear. Plus, I am an excellent driver.
So I thought I’d take a cue from the old NBC PSA, The More You Know, and learn something about wines in the only way that I could comprehend it; by slapping a star’s face on the bottle and seeing what sticks.
Here is a gander at which celebrities have branched out into these side endeavors; get ready for the words to flow like so much grape-made liquid.
Hollywood and Vine

hollywoodcoppolla1_1935792b The very first celebrity name that comes to mind when one thinks of vineyards and the like is director Francis Ford Coppola. In 1975, he began his winemaking venture in Napa Valley and produced his first vintage two years later. The endeavor was a regular family affair with his wife and kids stomping the grapes; isn’t that why people have kids because of free child labor?
Fast forward to 1995 and Coppola purchased the former Inglenook Winery chateau and paid more for the legendary trademark of the company than he did for the estate. I guess they made him a deal he couldn’t refuse. His Inglenook wine is made with organically grown grapes and its Chablis is in the Top 5 of bestselling wines served in restaurants.
His Francis Ford Coppola Wineries is influenced by the Tivoli Gardens in Copenhagen and features memorabilia from his acclaimed films. He has called the winery “a wine wonderland, a park of pleasure where people of all ages can enjoy all the best things in life – food, wine, music, dancing, games, swimming and performances of all types.” So, a Disneyland for drunks in other words.
Back in 2007, Johnny Depp bought his then-girlfriend Vanessa Paradis a vineyard estate located near St, Tropez, France. He was known to ship his wines to movie sets, such as 2009’s Public Enemies, and that fell in line with his reputhollywoodmadonna-and-drinking-wine-galleryation as a Hollywood party boy. In 2012, Depp and Paradis split and a year later he admitted that he had been sober for a year-and-a-half. Good for you, but bad for business.
Soccer stud David Beckham purchased a Napa Valley winery for a paltry seven figures for wife Victoria’s birthday this year. Damn, that Spice Girl gets everything! They have no plans to mass produce the wine, deciding to keep it on hand for family and friends. Well, that’s probably for the best, as former Real Housewives star, Bethenny Frankel already named her brand Skinny Girl. What? Vicki looks a little bit like a lollipop, just sayin’.
Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are an unstoppable Hollywood commodity and they have parlayed that Midas touch into the wine business. They released their first vintage rosé from their $60 million estate in Provence last year to rave reviews. And being the savvy types, they have a great loyalty program for drinkers of their Jolie-Pitt & Perrin Côte de Provence Rosé Miraval. Buy a case of wine, get a kid for free.

While most people forget that Madonna actually has a last name, and that it’s Ciccone, they can just open the cork on a bottle made at Ciccone Vineyard & Winery to edify themselves. The business is a venture between the “Material Girl” and her “Papa Don’t Preach,” Tony Ciccone, based out of Leelanau Peninsula, Michigan and is located on 14 acres, which produces a variety of wines ranging from Pinot Noir to Cabernet Sauvignon. The enterprise is a real family affair, with Madonna’s stepmother Joan acting as co-owner, her brother Mario is the Operations Manager, while her sister Paula is the Wine Production Manager. Way to keep it together in the family, Mo.
Madonna’s Evita co-star, Antonio Banderas, has also gotten into the wine game. He introduced a line of Spanish wines in 2009 with Anta Banderas. Hopefully, part of the wine-making procedure doesn’t involve substituting straining grapes through cheese cloth, in favor of utilizing his ex-wife Melanie Griffith’s excess skin from face lifts for the process.
Sting has a new Message in a Bottle vino to complete his other three wines, Tenuta Il Palagio Casino delle Vie, Tenuta Il Palagio When We Dance and Tenuta Palagio Il Sister Moon.
What? No Tenuta Il Palagio Zenyatta Mondatta! Missed opportunity there, Sting. The singer and his wife Trudie Styler purchased an in disrepair estate in Tuscany, Italy in 1999 and transformed it into a successful winery.
Since 1983, Olivia Newton-John’s Koala Blue brand of wines offers its drinkers “a taste of Australia.” But, be careful too many sips of Australia could result in becoming Slutty Sandy.

Bottle Service, TV style
Former “Full House” star Candace Cameron and her hubby Valerie Bure are the makers of Bure Family Wines. One can’t help but wonder since Cameron is a devout Christian if they actually turn water into wine.
“Sex and the City” cast member Kyle MacLachlan has a Cabernet blend called Pursued by Bear, which is based out of Walla Walla, Washington. With the recent news that his cult hit show, “Twin Peaks,” will return to the air on Showtime in 2016, and since he hinted on Twitter that he may be returning as agent Dale Cooper; perhaps his will replace his character’s love for a cup of “damn fine coffee” in favor of a glass of “damn fine wine.” An added bonus is that if director David Lynch features more backwards talking dwarves on the new edition, drinking MacLachlan’s wine will help it make sense.

hollywoodRamona-Singer-Pinot-Grigio-Turtle-Time It’s no secret that “Real Housewives of New York City” staple Ramona Singer is no stranger to Pinot Grigio and what she refers to as “Turtle Time,” in relation to her love of the grape. So, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that she started her own label, Ramona Pinot Grigio. Look for her new Syrah, Crazy Eyes, in the coming year.
Well there you have it, a way to impress your friends at your next Academy Awards party by busting out a wine by any of the aforementioned celebrities.
And I feel like I learned something here today.
I’m really surprised, since the wine-making business has become a lucrative side gig, that more celebrities who have had run-ins with the law for alcohol-related offenses haven’t jumped on this particular bandwagon. I mean who wouldn’t want to wash down a delicious meal with Nick Nolte’s Mug Shot Merlot or Mel Gibson’s Sugar T**ts Chardonnay? And much like a grape on a vine, that’s one to grow on.

Happy 25th Anniversary Like A Prayer

Madonna-Like_a_Prayer-Frontal

The very first CD that I ever bought recently turned 25 years old, which seems odd, since that is my exact age. If you believe that, then you are either very sweet or very stupid. We’ll go with the former and not the latter, since I’m in a good mood today, mmmkay.

Ok, getting back to the business at hand, or ear, as it were.

It’s no big secret that Madonna has always been my favorite diva, and by this time in 1989 we were well on our way to our lifetime commitment on a teacher and student level, cuz she’s a lady person and I enjoy the company of gentlemen.

The air before a Madonna CD is always pregnant with an electricity for me; questions crop up such as, “Will this one be better than her last? And how will she change up her looks in the ensuing videos?”

Let’s address those questions with some answers, shall we? Well, truth be told, out of her three previous studio releases True Blue  was my favorite, so I was hopeful that this one would follow suit. What I wasn’t expecting was such an honest album, a more mature Madonna than we had ever heard before.

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Of course controversy preceded the release of  Like A Prayer, thanks in part to Pepsi not being able to separate church and state, or rather an artist and burning crosses in her video and dropped her as their spokesperson. But, from the very first listen I was hooked and in love, forget infatuation, this was the real deal.

The title track remains one of my all-time favorite favorites in her catalog, but it was the second single, “Express Yourself” that completely resonated with me, as I was in a shitty relationship, and this song definitely made me re-evaluate said shit show. As did, “Til Death Do Us Part,” alas it would be another few years before I got the courage to get out of that situation. In the meantime, I did my best to “Cherish” the shit heel I saddled myself with.

As family was a big topic with Mo on this album, I also listened intently to the lyrics about where I fit into the family dynamic on “Keep It Together,” although technically I was the sister of the bunch, Ok? My estranged relationship with my father now had a soundtrack, thanks to “Oh Father,” and while I was years away from losing my own mother to cancer, I could relate with the song, “Promise To Try.”

I thought the duet with Prince on “Love Song” was just alright, as was “Dear Jessie.” And I have been known to make certain friends laugh with my impression of Madonna singing on “Pray for Spanish Eyes,” while “Act Of Contrition” made me feel avant garde in listening to it.

Stylistically and visually, Madonna captured herself post-boy toy and on the verge of getting a divorce in a time capsule of strong videos. “Like A Prayer” had a brunette Madonna dancing and almost falling out of her dress, making out with Black Jesus and being backed by a choir. Loved it.

But for my money, but not for Pepsi’s since Madonna used her  $5 million dollar paycheck from the boycotted commercial to make the best video of the bunch,”Express Yourself.” She looked hawt in this video – all blonde this time out, which is my favorite Madonna look I must admit.  I loved its nod to the silent film Metropolis and  the added bonus of hot shirtless guys. Plus, the track itself received a makeover and sounded more contemporary than the Motown-inspired album cut.

“Cherish” had plenty of eye candy, too, in the form of mermen and brilliant direction from famed photographer Herb Ritts, which captured Madonna frolicking on the beach in glorious black and white and was one of the catchiest tracks that she did for this particular album.

This was also the polar opposite for the haunting “Oh Father” with its stark imagery and ever-present Madonna daddy issues.

What was to follow was, in my humble opinion, was the best tour that Madonna ever did with Blonde Ambition, which upped the ante on what a concert going experience could be with its amazing choreography and ever-expanding catalog of hits at her disposal.

Happy Belated Birthday Like A Prayer.