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.

madonna

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.