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The furrowed brow (high- vs. low-): Vanity Fair and the National Enquirer Vol. 3 — Drew Barrymore

Posted by rollinsloane on 13 January 2008

The coffee-table photo tomes of the National Enquirer and Vanity Fair offer humorously different versions of Hollywood’s lates and greats, and we here at TORO! are dedicated to bringing you the best of the lopsided portraits.

Drew Barrymore:

“And it goes on: in 1984 Vanity Fair asked Grorge Hurrell, who photographed on the set of Grand Hotel, to shoot John Barrymore’s granddaughter, Drew, who was nine at the time. By then she had already knocked ‘em dead a Gertie in E.T. From cherub to nymph – or brat to tart, if you count Firecracker [note from Sloane – or Poison Ivy] – she fast-forwarded too soon (Steven Spielberg is her godfather; kurt Cobain’s kid is her goddaughter), but rebounded in a string of films, including the improbably named Never Been Kissed.”


Vanity Fair (1984 George Hurrell portrait in old-Hollywood dress-up; copy by Christopher Hitchens)

— reference to old Hollywood lineage; Never Been Kissed (and a sly joke on that choice of title, eh, Hitch?)

“The 7-year-old E.T. pixie may have become famous phoning home, but child stardom would soon have her dialing 911. The pigtailed heiress to the Barrymore dynasty of acting – and acting out – nightclubbed at 7, drank at 9, smoked pot at 10, snorted cocaine at 12, and check into rehab at 13. AT 14, forlorn Drew survived a suicide attempt – then purged it all in her tell-all autobiography, Little Girl Lost. A year later she “divorced” her unconventional parents, got breast-reduction surgery, dropped out of school, and hopped on the wagon. “No kid should have to go through what I did,” said Drew at 26. “Maybe it was all a blessing, because today, life couldn’t be better.”

National Enquirer (1982 shot of her impishly holding a pay-phone)

– cornball ‘dialing’ reference to accompanying photo; nighclubs, booze, coke, rebab, suicide; tell-all autobiography; child emancipation

Round goes to: NE. Even without the Hollywood ancestry, their take is waaaaaay more interesting.

— Sloane

Vanity Fair and the National Enquirer Vol 1; Vol 2


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The furrowed brow (high- vs. low-): Vanity Fair and the National Enquirer Vol. 2 — Audrey Hepburn

Posted by rollinsloane on 13 January 2008

The coffee-table photo tomes of the National Enquirer and Vanity Fair offer humorously different versions of Hollywood’s lates and greats, and we here at TORO! are dedicated to bringing you the best of the lopsided portraits.

Audrey Hepburn

“In Nazi-occupied Holland she actually did starve. And before she went, lightly, in 1993, she was a UNICEF ambassador to the world’s malnourished children – their fair lady. Cecil Beaton said she resembled a Modigliani with the paint still shining; she came by her coltishness honestly. In Roman Holiday she was a princess of a country with no name; of her Eliza Doolittle and Sabrina Fairchild and Holly Golightly you could say the same.”

Vanity Fair (1991 Steven Meisel studio portrait of Hepburn in signature black; copy by Christopher Hitchens)

— references to Nazi background, irrelevant and relatively obscure painter, ‘princess’ carriage; also — ‘coltishness’?

audrey hepburn 1991 steven meiser vanity fair

“As one of Hollywood’s most glamorous women, Audrey Hepburn made a career of playing rich sophisticates and women of high social standing. But in real life, she was renowned for her humility and generosity – even when she was dying. When Hepburn decided to visit this refugee camp in Somali to provide comfort and much-needed publicity, doctors advised her not to go: She was complaining of server stomach pains, but declined to delay her trip for medical tests. “Audrey looked exhausted,” a nurse at the camp said later. “She kept clutching her stomach and wincing in pain. We pleaded with her to rest, but she refused.” Not long afterward, however the pain overcame Hepburn and she went to a hospital, where doctors discovered she had abdominal cancer. She died five years later.”

National Enquirer (1988 close-up of Hepburn with refugee child)

– high drama! She eschews glamour for humility, refuses medical treatment, and ends up with — gasp! — the cancer.

Round goes to: Vanity Fair.

— Rafe

Vanity Fair and the National Enquirer Vol. 1, Vol. 3 (Drew Barrymore)

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vs: frankie and johnny

Posted by rollinsloane on 8 January 2008

In honor of MarioKart’s Vs. option (person-to-person battle…yeah, it’s been a long, rainy weekend), we here at TORO! are introducing a new feature, wherein various members of the pop culture elite offer their own versions of a single something. Me in particular, I’m a tremendous fan of a well-done cover — what better proof of innovation than a singular take on an already established song? So here, for your scrutiny, is my personal collection of “Frankie and Johnny” covers, because that old root-less folk tune is as frickin addictive as it is malleable. Frankie is Johnny’s woman and he does her wrong and she remedies the situation with a lil ole handgun. Gotta love Americana.

(And no, fyi, I’m not including the Lindsay Lohan travesty from A Prairie Home Companion, because such blasphemies don’t even merit mockery. You can YouTube that shit on your own if you’re so morbidly curious.)

Mae West (from 1933’s She Done Him Wrong):

This is how old this ear-catching little ditty truly is. Mae West, she of the husky come-hither, does it like a true vaudevillian in full sequins and feathers. It’s half shouting and all chutzpah, cut short by an unfortunate interjection of actual scene, but you’ll get the point.

Johnny Cash (from a 1959 concert):

Cash puts a new twist on the F&J tale, ever-true to his fidelity mantra. Johnny becomes a guitar-picker with an eye for redheads and an apparent ignorance of the family members of his supposed beloved.

PS — Joe Pesci should have TOTALLY been the lead of Walk the Line.

Elvis Presley:

Elvis’s 1966 movie version directly contradicts ol Johnny Cash — in this take, it seems, there ain’t no moral to this story. Elvis is Johnny and a riverboat gambler and he, too, has an eye for redheads. Bonus points for the pink tie.

Stevie Wonder:

This is babycheeks Stevie, suspiciously pre-puberty and hitting some notes like a cat yowling. But his boyishness will make you grin, and dig the funk beats that he kicks off with.

Last, but not least, my personal favorite comes straight to you from one Mr. Sam Cooke. Good lord, ladies and gentlemen, if you aren’t yet intimately familiar with the smooth vocal stylings of this suave motherfucker, take an online mp3 tour right now. He’ll make you cry. Yeah, this “Frankie and Johnny” goes big band-bombastic at parts, but feel him stretch out the final third into pure unreined vocals and you’ll want to start singing, too.

— Ollie

PS: Damn the Man’s iTunes! Pandora or Ruckus these last two songs for damn sure, because my mp3 capability is crapping out.

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bear market: ready, aim — draw

Posted by rollinsloane on 9 November 2007

Animation duel — who’s the better 1960s bear?

baloo jungle bookyogi bear

They’ve both got charisma to burn and a voice like a stand-up bass, so it’s hard to pick favorites between The Jungle Book‘s Baloo and Hanna-Barbera‘s Yogi Bear. They cheerfully blunder into scrapes and scrounge for food to consume with as much speed and relish. Baloo, voiced by Phil Harris (not coincidentally, also the voice of Little John, the bear from Disney’s Robin Hood — pretty much Baloo, but brown), lives in Disney’s cartoony Indian jungle, shepherds around young Mowgli and affectionately torments straight-shootin panther Bagheera; Yogi, voiced by Daws Butler (also Huckleberry Hound — and Snagglepuss!), lives in Jellystone National Park, shepherds around young bow-tie-wearing Boo-Boo and affectionately torments straight-shootin Ranger Smith.

Points for Baloo:

– killer rhythm

– affinity for cross-dressing

– girth, baby, girth

When Baloo teams up with King Louis (swing trumpeter Louis Prima) for a jungle swing number, you don’t have to be knee-high to start dancing. Best musical number in animated Disney movie history? You better believe it.

Points for Yogi:

– pork-pie hat, neck cuff and dapper tie

– sidekick nicknamed Boob

– catchphrases (“Heeeeey, Boo-Boo! Let’s go get some pic-a-nic bas-kets!”)

And Yogi comes from the seven-minute world of Hanna-Barbara, which is another work-break plus [ah, the cartoon-short narrative, when you can get your guy in a mess and not bother getting him out]. YouTube’s got a number of episodes to sample from, and as long as you’re willing to stomach the lame theme song, always for the 60s batch instead of the recent 90s revivals.

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1960 via 2002

Posted by rollinsloane on 30 October 2007

Someone lamented to me the other day that the mainstream these days just doesn’t do that old school southern-fried soul. I had four words for him: “Get thee to YouTube.” Here’s why:

Yes, this is 2002. Yes, this is American Idol. But Tamyra Gray’s got chops worth digging up from the YouTube graveyard and cementing as one of contemporary pop culture’s greatest missed opportunities. She was cruelly washed out of American Idol’s first season in fourth place and I accordingly stopped keeping real tabs on pop fare. Kelly Clarkson was perhaps a better pick for the masses anyway — last I checked, she’s doing fine, and kudos for the pipes she brought to “Since U Been Gone” — but Tamyra, abysmal wardrobe aside, is the real thing. Wikipedia reports that she’s currently playing Mimi on Broadway’s way-too-long-running RENT (and the only decent part of that self-absorbed musical bloat, I’ll wager), and I can’t imagine it’s the 28-year-old’s last bit in the spotlight.

Eventual Idol winner Jennifer Hudson may have somehow managed to bungle her way into an Oscar for Dreamgirls (and HOW?), but Tamyra’s rendition of “And I’m Telling You (I’m Not Going)” has Hudson way beat. It’s worth pointing out that this particular number was a ballsy song choice for a singing contest elimination round, but hey, brassiness never worked against the other Idols any.

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