He starts slow, dawdles, draws out his thought, twinkles, but he knows how to get the most from a simple handful of words. Even if "Where The Money Is" wasn't the amiable, modest heist caper-character comedy that it is, you'd want to see it for one fine reason: Newman, princely yet also a kind of everyman. At 75, he still possesses unintimidating good looks and his serene self-confidence, whether on screen or across the table from you, seems limitless.
In "Where the Money Is," Newman plays Henry, a famous bank robber who's had a stroke. When he's transferred to a nursing home where disaffected former prom queen Carol (Linda Fiorentino) works, his ruse is soon found out: he's only playing possum, much like Carol and husband Wayne (Dermot Mulroney) have in their small town lives. A low-key caper ensues, but it's the by-play among the three that make Marek Kanievska's film the small, solid charmer that it is.
On a sunny Sunday morning, Newman enters the room with cup and saucer, glasses and sunglasses tucked into the V of his sweater. "How was the movie? Did people get up and go for coffee?" He settles into a chair with a smile.
Because he doesn't work as often as he used to, I wondered why this script (co-written by "Something Wild"'s E. Max Frye) clicked for him. "Well, larceny is always a very attractive and wonderful thing to play," he says. "The hustle is always attractive as well. I like the fact that the actors had to carry the film and not the special effects guys. We didn't mutilate any children, there wasn't any blood, no one got shot, no one got killed, nobody got stabbed, there wasn't any profanity in the film and it's still, I think, funny and suspenseful. That's unusual today."
The movie keeps the older man-younger woman dynamic at a low boil. Was that important? "There should be the promise of something down the pike." He grins.
Linda Fiorentino has said that she was charmed to work with Newman each day, and if he weren't happily married, she would be happy to be his lover even if he were in his nineties or hundreds. "Holy smoke! What a compliment."
Does that kind of sex symbol talk still make him roll his eyes? "I ain't talkin'." He grins. "When you're making a film that's really cookin', it's really a community affair. If it's working well, it's like a family. It works best if there are no restraints, if it's a group that is beyond criticism. Where exploration can go any place and in any direction. So there are a lot of free-floating ideas out there." So personal chemistry plays a part of that? "Sure. That exists with all the actors and actresses. If it's not there, the film's not gonna work."
Even with his stature, Newman finds it difficult to find challenging material at his age. "Well, it's a young person's business. It's very dry out there for us older antiques. But who knows what's around the corner?" Rather than working on a regular basis, he says, "I'd like to find a film I could bow out on."
What kind of film would that be? "I don't know. Anything that had some serious aspiration to it, some exploration of the human experience."
Why? "Because it's time."
To stop? "Yeah."
Why? "Because I don't want to go out on my knees."
Do you feel like you have a body of work that needs a coda? "No. I just think if you're gonna have a swan song, it might as well be a pretty melody." Worry about a legacy? "It's out there. It's gonna be whatever it is."
"Money" wouldn't be that film, would it? "I think there are a lot of good scenes in it," he says, adding, "I don't break a film down into scenes, I just look at the whole thing and figure out if it works or not." So you're analytical? "I used to be very analytical. I'd go through the day like I was an emotional Republican. But since I've become more liberal emotionally, I don't have that problem. I go much more quickly to where I want to get."
Newman's Own products have, since 1982, given tens of millions of dollars to charity. "I never expected it to outgross my films. It's a constant surprise. I'm puzzled by the fact that I went into the theater because I could not find the romance in business, which is what I would have done in Cleveland. Thirty years later, to go back into that business world and discover there is wonderful allure and romance to the selling and marketing of product, including the cutthroat aspect." So you get off on the dynamics as well as the charity? "It's nice to be on people's radar now. I can only say if someone had told me twenty years ago I'd have my face on a bottle of salad dressing, I could have gotten them committed. But it's turned out in a way we never, ever, ever expected to."
He's still racing cars as well. Do accidents give him pause? "Oh, I think if you think about that, there's no sense getting in the car."
28 September 2008
26 September 2008
Hemingway's cats are staying put: "KEY WEST, Fla. (AP) — The famed six-toed cats at Ernest Hemingway's island home aren't going anywhere. The Ernest Hemingway Home and Museum announced Thursday it reached an agreement with the federal government that lets the 50 or so cats continue roaming the grounds, ending a five-year battle that could have resulted in them being removed or caged. The cats descend from a cat named "Snowball" given to the novelist in 1935 and freely wander the grounds of the Spanish colonial house. All the cats carry the gene for six toes, but not all show the trait.
The home is where the Nobel prize-winning author wrote "For Whom the Bell Tolls" and "To Have and Have Not" and is one of the most popular visitor attractions in the Florida Keys.The U.S. Department of Agriculture confirmed the agreement. It had threatened to fine the museum $200 per day per cat — about $10,000 — saying it didn't have the proper animal exhibition license and couldn't qualify for one, primarily because the animals weren't enclosed. The museum has installed a fence to keep the animals on the one-acre property. Finally, about a year ago, Morawski and a USDA deputy administrator agreed to hire an independent animal behaviorist to make recommendations. Dr. Terry Curtis, from the University of Florida's College of Veterinary Medicine, said in a report that the cats appeared "well-cared for, healthy and content" and suggested the special fence that was installed. "We're excited we found a solution that protects the health and welfare of the cats while preserving the historical integrity of the Hemingway Home and Museum," Morawski said. "That's been our whole goal since we were notified by the USDA in 2003." Morawski said the museum has spent more than $250,000 for lawyers and the fence and continues to question the need for the permit. The courts might have to settle that question."The cats have been living on the grounds for years and we're not a zoo, carnival or amusement park," he said."
25 September 2008
In this 12-second exchange with Sarah Palin, I think I have an unexpected crush on Katie Couric. [Transcript.]
But this 90 seconds fills me with fear.
COURIC: You've cited Alaska's proximity to Russia as part of your foreign policy experience. What did you mean by that?
PALIN: That Alaska has a very narrow maritime border between a foreign country, Russia, and on our other side, the land-- boundary that we have with-- Canada. It-- it's funny that a comment like that was-- kind of made to-- cari-- I don't know, you know? Reporters--
PALIN: Yeah, mocked, I guess that's the word, yeah.
COURIC: Explain to me why that enhances your foreign policy credentials.
PALIN: Well, it certainly does because our-- our next door neighbors are foreign countries. They're in the state that I am the executive of. And there in Russia--
COURIC: Have you ever been involved with any negotiations, for example, with the Russians?
PALIN: We have trade missions back and forth. We-- we do-- it's very important when you consider even national security issues with Russia as Putin rears his head and comes into the air space of the United States of America, where-- where do they go? It's Alaska. It's just right over the border. It is-- from Alaska that we send those out to make sure that an eye is being kept on this very powerful nation, Russia, because they are right there. They are right next to-- to our state.
Pray it's fake. Sarah Palin appears 7:30 into the video. Max Blumenthal writes: "On September 20 and 21, I attended services at the church Sarah Palin belonged to since she was an adolescent, the Wasilla Assembly of God. Though Palin officially left the church in 2002, she is listed on its website as “a friend,” and spoke there as recently as June 8 of this year. I went specifically to see a pastor visiting from Kiambu, Kenya named Thomas Muthee. Muthee gained fame within Pentecostal circles by claiming that he defeated a local witch, Mama Jane, in a great spiritual battle, thus liberating his town from sin and opening its people to the spirit of Jesus. Muthee’s mounting stardom took him to Wasilla Assembly of God in May, 2005, where he prayed over Palin and called upon Jesus to propel her into the governor’s mansion — and beyond. Muthee also implored Jesus to protect Palin from “the spirit of witchcraft.” The video archive of that startling sermon was scrubbed from Wasilla Assembly of God’s website, but now it has reappeared."
20 September 2008
19 September 2008
12 September 2008
11 September 2008
04 September 2008
died today. It was nearly seven years old. The informal prohibition, which had been occasionally threatened by political ads in recent years, was pronounced dead at approximately 7:40 CST, when a video aired before delegates at the Republican National Convention included slow-motion footage of a plane striking the World Trade Center, the towers' subsequent collapse, and smoke emerging from the Pentagon. The September 11 precedent was one of the few surviving campaign-season taboos. It is survived by direct comparisons of one's opponents to Hitler."