Movies / Movie Stars

(click on covers to read articles – you can enlarge pdfs for readability)

Egg (cover) - Liam Neeson
Liam and I had become pals through a mutual friend, and as I knew him well and had interviewed him before (see the next clip), we had an easy camaraderie and spent most of the interview time laughing. Some people later told me they thought his nose on the cover illustration was rather, um, phallic, which made us laugh even more.
Premiere - Liam Neeson
This is one of the first articles about Liam in the American press, and he was shy and soft-spoken when we first met, even though heads were already turning when we walked down the street. When a fan called out, "Hey, I know who you are!" Liam replied, "Who paid you to say that?"
Women's Weekly Australia - Tony Curtis
Now that's what I call OMG sex appeal. Tony Curtis was the first assignment I had for the Weekly, Australia's preeminent monthly (no longer weekly - go figure) women's magazine - a mix of celebrity features, fashion, advice, etc. He was just the greatest fun and I nearly fell off my chair, I was laughing so hard. Meanwhile, I thought his poor young publicists were going to fall through the floor in mortification as Tony blithely dished the dirt and dropped more than a few F-bombs along the way. Since then, I've written many more stories for WW, including profiles of Oprah, Martha Stewart, Rita Heyworth and her daughter Yasmin Khan, Michael Jackson, Bob Hope, Liza Minnelli, Elvis, Mariel Hemingway, and Isabel Allende.
Guardian UK - Hanks, but No Thanks
The film of The Bonfire of the Vanities was much anticipated... until the cast was announced. In a spectacular piece of miscasting, Tom Hanks got the lead, and when I interviewed Brian De Palma about it at Chaya Brasserie in LA, he was flagrantly unapologetic. Let's just say that he was one of the more interesting directors I've interviewed. The two bottles of Chateau Margaux didn't hurt his disposition, either.
HQ UK - Martin Scorsese
A one-on-one with Scorsese is a film lover's dream, as he is his own Wiki, so vast is his knowledge of cinema. He spoke so quickly and with such authority that I had to hire a transcriber to help me decipher the tape.
Women's Weekly Australia - Christopher and Dana Reeve
I can barely look at this piece without crying. I interviewed Chris and Dana at their home north of New York City on a frigid day in late fall of 2002, and what I'll never forget is the absolute stillness of Chris's body coupled with the absolute vitality of his spirit. Two years later, he was gone. He was only 52. A non-smoker, Dana died after a short, valiant fight with lung cancer a year and a half later. She was only 44. This was one of those assignments where I considered myself extremely lucky to have had the privilege of spending time with such an extraordinary couple.
Women's Weekly Australia - Joan Collins
I had interviewed Joan's sister Jackie many years before, and I mercifully remembered not to bring her up, especially as I got this assignment when Joan was promoting a novel she'd written (hello, can we say competitive?). Like Tony Curtis, Joan was bluntly forthcoming about Old Hollywood. She was one tough cookie.
Elle UK - Sean Young
More than Sean's high spirits, what I remember most about this set visit was the desert heat and costar Tommy Lee Jones' appetite, as we shared several meals with the cast and crew during the interminably typical shot set-ups.
Elle UK - Lothaire Bluteau
This was one of my more dangerous assignments, as the set was literally in the middle of a forest outside of Chicoutimi, Quebec, and a sudden blizzard blew up as we were driving back to the hotel in sub-zero temperatures. Once back in the hotel, shaken and frozen, I got food poisoning. Such an evocative environment and contemplative subject made for a potent piece.
Hot Air UK - Cher (cover)
Aspen was a splendid town to visit at the height of ski season, unless you were Cher and faced with a busload of happy junketeers eager to speak to her about Mermaids. But even a cranky Cher was a lot more interesting than many other performers I've spoken to over the years.
Hot Air UK - Jodie Foster (cover)
Jodie Foster was consistently the smartest and most subtle actor I've interviewed, yet she remained humble about her stunning brain power (unlike the next subject on this list) and talent.
Mode Australia - James Woods
James Woods has a brain and a mouth and makes sure any journalist within the same area code is fully aware of his Mensability. Luckily for moi, I wasn't fazed by his name-dropping multi-syllabic utterances so he quickly backed off, and we had a lively talk (that's coded but I'm sure you can figure it out).
Mode Australia - Isabella Rossellini
After meeting director Attenborough on the set of Cry Freedom, we reminisced about the film when Isabella was in the makeup trailer during the shoot for The Innocent. I don't think she was very happy being in Berlin, and she talked quite a lot about her visit to Sachsenhausen concentration camp a few days before. I found her fascinating – and vulnerable.
Mode Australia - Uma Thurman
For this story, Uma was all thumbs (in character). The next time I interviewed her, for The Avengers, she was heavily pregnant and literally giddy with anticipation. As a rule, it's much more interesting to speak to actors before they've given so many interviews that leave them bored and jaded with the process.
Elle Australia (cover) - Priscilla Presley
Priscilla (pre-siliconed cheeks) was astonishingly beautiful and extremely gracious. I'd been warned by her PR copious times not to bring up Elvis or Michael Jackson (short-lived hubby to her daughter Lisa Marie, as if anyone could forget that) in a typical publicist ploy. How could it be possible to talk to Priscilla without discussing at least something about The King? So when she initiated the topics I was greatly relieved. And we both laughed at the sound of her young son Marco nearby, innocently singing along to the X-rated lyrics of Alannis Morrisette's "You Oughta Know."
Interview - Mamie Van Doren
When I was talking to smart-as-a-whip Mamie, in between chirps from her parrot, I couldn't help thinking about how frustrating it is to have to fight so hard to do features on women of a certain age. Mamie was far more interesting (and full of dish) than most of the younger performers I've interviewed. Interview is still one of the few magazines that consistently highlights a huge range of interesting/unusual people, even though I miss the old Richard Bernstein covers that always captured the essence of their subjects, unlike the current crop of photos so airbrushed that the skin of a 45-year-old star is somehow smoother than my son's butt when he was a baby.
Interview - Donald and Wendy Woods
Donald Woods was one of my heroes and he died way too young (in 2001). I wrote this after a set visit for Cry Freedom, directed by Richard Attenborough, outside London, where I watched with Donald as Kevin Kline expertly captured his body language and accent. As this clip is from 1987, the last page is missing in my files somewhere, but it's still worth a read. Here's to ya, Donald!
More - Fran Drescher
Her famous voice is far less grating in person, and when I spoke to her, Fran was on a mission to get the word out about uterine cancer, because her misdiagnosis nearly killed her. Gone was the schtick she'd been selling when I'd first interviewed her many years before, for The Beautician and the Beast (best left unmentioned, thank you very much). She's the kind of woman you'd love to have as your BFF. - Two on One columnist
Chicago-based film critic Ray Pride and I wrote these weekly back-and-forths entirely online, which wasn't quite so easy it you'd think back in the days of dial-up. Still, we had a blast doing these and it was a shame that our editor left and the idea was killed.

Bitter Magnolia

Devlish Tease

Double Trouble in Paradise

Eye of the Beholder

Girls on Film

Gross and Grosser

Love Among the Emus

Missing in Action

Obsession for Men

Tricky Dicky

Waking the Dead