Keri Russell turns 33 today. Kenneth Cole turns 55. Chef Tom Valenti is 50. Author Jonathan Ames is 45. Ex-con shoe mogul Steve Madden turns 52. Real estate broker Leslie Garfield turns 77. Actress Catherine Keener is 50. Disgraced ex-Times reporter Jayson Blair is 33. Chaka Khan is turning 56. Actress Michelle Monaghan is turning 33. Perez Hilton is 31. Ric Ocasek of The Cars is 60. Princess Eugenie, the daughter of Sarah Ferguson and Prince Andrew, is turning 19. And John Bobbitt—remember him?—turns 42 today.
Charlie Kaufman's directing debut Synecdoche, New York is the most inaccessible, challenging, infuriating, stupefying, heartbreaking film of 2008. It's also the best American movie we've seen this year, and as noted here this morning, it's required viewing this weekend for anyone who wants to be on our good side. Or history's good side, for that matter — and here are five reasons why.1. Philip Seymour Hoffman. Period. When we called our shot for Brad Pitt as the likely winner in a crowded Best Actor field, we hadn't yet seen Hoffman as Caden Cotard, a Schenectady, N.Y., regional theater director at odds with his painter wife Adele (Catherine Keener) and his own chronically afflicted body. When Adele and his young daughter leave him for new, famous lives in Berlin, Caden spends the next 30 years funneling a Macarthur "genius" grant into staging his masterpiece: A city within a city, populated by himself, his doppelganger (Tom Noonan), his doppelganger's doppelganger and those of the people closest to him. Yet nobody and nothing is as close to Caden as his own admitted psychosis, the layers of which collapse onto and into each other in scene after scene. Sounds great, right? Except, well, it is. Portraying a man vexed by doctors, lovers, work and ultimately himself (aging decades in the process), Hoffman digs into an adventure of suffering as ludicrous as it is bittersweet. In one crucial scene when the hunt for his estranged daughter takes him to Berlin, what little interaction they have both validates and fetishizes his paranoia — just one of dozens of metaphysical stunts that make Hoffman's performance thrilling and really kind of inspiring. He not only gets but owns all this mindbending melancholy, and for the maybe first time ever, we felt like we had a guide in our tumble down the Kaufman rabbit hole. 2. Six extraordinary roles for women. Starting with Samantha Morton as Caden's theater receptionist-turned-lover-turned-right-hand Hazel (and then Emily Watson as the woman who depicts her in his play), Synecdoche features enough dynamic parts for actresses to fill its own Oscar category. Michelle Williams and Dianne Wiest contribute brilliant turns as Caden's second wife and fourth doppelganger, respectively, but Hope Davis walks away with her scenes as arguably the world's worst couples therapist: 3. Charlie Kaufman gets to be Charlie Kaufman. Like director and former collaborator Michel Gondry, whose screenwriting debut Science of Sleep found a grandly ambitious balance of theory and technique that slipped through the twee seams of their Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, Kaufman and his vision seem more potent and personal on their own. (Don't get us started about his overrated work with Spike Jonze.) It's another nifty trick under the circumstances; as Manohla Dargis alludes to in her fantastic NYT review, an opus about failure is itself a staggering creative success that took decidedly less than a lifetime to make. And for better or worse, it can happen to you. Maybe not the part about bedding Michelle Williams, but that never ends well anyway. 4. Hazel lives in a house on fire. Why? Kaufman professes not to know, but it makes already great scenes (and a classic, climactic bit of dark humor) altogether memorable. 5. Adele Lack's paintings. The square-inch canvases on display through the weekend at the Montalban Gallery are too absurdly small to require the paint-spattered basement workshop where Keener's character composes them, but we think their clues to Caden's past, present and future symbolize the rewards viewers earn for accepting an artist's challenge. Sound familiar? Like so much of the rest of Synecdoche, New York, it really is your life. We'd sincerely hate to see you miss it.
PrivacyWatch celebrity sightings are submitted by our millions of Defamer operatives. We'd like to remind you that this feature is powered by you, so if you want to see more installments of PrivacyWatch, then all you've got to do is to send us your sightings. Submit yours to tips[AT]defamer.com (please put "sighting" or "PrivacyWatch" in the subject line so we don't lose them) and tell everyone about the time you saw a tired Kiefer Sutherland eating lunch with Gary Oldman and a couple of stunning brunettes. UPDATE (8/26/08): C'mon guys, we need you to be better than this! We just got this email from Gary Oldman's manager: "…About your item on Gary and Keifer, alas, Gary was not with Kiefer on Friday, Gary was out of the country on holiday with his family. Prior to that, Gary spent ten days in Barbados. Gary has not seen Kiefer for years and years. Whoever says they saw them together on Friday is, alas, mistaken!!" This week's installment also includes: Katherine Heigl, Anthony Michael Hall, Bryan Singer, Sean "P. Diddy" Combs, Louie Anderson, Tatyana Ali, Gordon Ramsey, Catherine Keener, Bradley Cooper, Victor Garber and more!SATURDAY, AUGUST 9 · Saw KATHERINE HEIGL at Cliff's Edge in Silverlake. My parents were in town and we wanted to take them someplace nice. We were sitting up in the outside covered area when Heigl and her entourage (which included her mother) were seated next to us. Alas, she decided that she didn't want to sit there (I heard her say something about not being able to smoke. Dead serious.), so they moved to a very secluded corner. Or, she may not have wanted to sit by us because when she came in, my sister nudged me and I totally turned around in my seat to look at who or what prompted the nudge ... perhaps she thought I was a super-fan who would lose my shit if she sat next to us. She would have been safe as I am not. Also, her voice is pretty annoying in person —way crackier than it is in movies. WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 13 · Saw ANTHONY MICHAEL HALL at Farmer's Market on Wednesday Aug 13th with Fiona Forbes (she's a Canadian tv host who no one in LA would reconize but i did!) He's still a little geeky. SATURDAY, AUGUST 16 · Fiesta Cantina, The 'Ho: Fighting my way through the gay-os to secure one last 2-for-1 drink special, I spotted BRYAN SINGER jauntily hopping to the music as he entered. He looked fresh and young but not as fresh and young looking as the A&F wearing tyke he was with. · JERRY O'CONNELL stopped by the 12 Shiny Nickels comedy show in Hollywood on Saturday night to see Carpoolers co-star TJ Miller perform. Seemed to have a delightful time. MONDAY, AUGUST 18 · Around 11:30ish, saw PUFF DADDY trying to de-puff himself with some light cardio at Equinox West Hollywood. Take that, take that! · LOUIE ANDERSON in front of Susina on Beverly. TUESDAY, AUGUST 19 · Saw twice in one night: the beautiful TATYANA ALI at Gingergrass and Hyperion Tavern with some friends. WEDNESDAY, AUGUST 20 · Had two good sightings in one night along the douchey Sunset Strip. First, outside of Ketchup, chef GORDON RAMSEY and his family. He was laid back and non-shouty, his kids looked happy and content and not snobby and privileged (I always look at the kids to see if they look miserable!). Then, later that night, outside of BLD Craft we see CATHERINE KEENER in the valet area. I spot her as we walk up and just as we pass her I said in a dorky voice "Catherine Keener, I love you". It cracked up the valet but she looked utterly confused and surprised (but awesome). · Mini-Alias nonreunion in the Arclight lobby: BRADLEY COOPER exited with hipster friends; one minute later, VICTOR GARBER entered. FRIDAY, AUGUST 22 · KIEFER SUTHERLAND must like the sandwiches at Dan Subs. Because he was there in Woodland Hills, on Ventura Blvd, again. This time, he was with
GARY OLDMAN a Gary Oldman lookalike. Kiefer did not look so good — he looked exhausted. But he seemed to be enjoying his sub, but not nearly as much as the two stunning brunettes that were with them.
The world awoke this morning to the chirping of little birds resembling Kristin Chenoweth and Neil Patrick Harris, perched at a podium in the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, announcing nominations for the 60th Emmy Awards. While most rolled over and tried to get back to sleep, we sat bolt upright as usual and sprinted to the window, our furious note-taking chronicling a few snubs, surprises and plenty of the conventional wisdom we've come to expect from the annual ritual.
It's become clear that the one of the biggest trends of 2008 thus far is the emergence of lesbian chic. Girls can marry girls, starlets can publicly make out with their female roommates, and even though The L Word was canceled, its real-life L Word stars can still get it on with other lesbian cable stars. The two scissor-kick sisters in question? Well, one of our favorite indie actresses, Catherine Keener, has a little sister named Elizabeth, who starred in the Showtime series as Dawn Denbo. And while she's never publicly ‘fessed up to preferring ladies, those rumors have been an elephant in the collective lesbian community room for years. As for Keener's alleged makeout partner this past weekend, she's quite the opposite: she's loud and proud about being out. Details on Keener's game of tongue twister over the weekend, and who she played with, after the jump.
PrivacyWatch celebrity sightings are submitted by our readers, and are posted several times a week, so send them in often. Submit yours to tips[AT]defamer.com (please put "sighting" or "PrivacyWatch" in the subject line so we don't lose them) and tell everyone about the time you saw Mike Tyson requesting earlobe-consistency mochi topping on his Pinkberry frozen dessert.
PrivacyWatch celebrity sightings are submitted by our readers, and are posted several times a week, so them in often. Submit yours to tips[AT]defamer.com (please put "sighting" or "PrivacyWatch" in the subject line) and tell the world about the time Ari Gold and his giant, silver Lexus ruined the bohemian tranquility of your favorite Venice coffee house.
Thanks to a Defamer operative, we think we may have a clue as to the contents of that all-important text message preoccupying Catherine Keener early in the Oscar ceremony: She was merely getting confirmation that her name was on the guest list for the Yeah Yeah Yeahs show later that night at the Troubadour.
During the first few minutes of the Oscars liveblog, an operative called our attention to someone Blackberrying behind Philip Seymour Hoffman. Another reader just sent in this screengrab of the moment, which seems to out Capote co-star Catherine Keener as the already-bored thumb-typist. (Even worse, the device looks more like a cellphone than a Blackberry, making the moment still more awkward—what star still fumbles through messages on a phone keypad?) We'd like to imagine that she had a good reason for ignoring the show so quickly after it began, like angrily texting her agent, furious about how he booked her an obstructed view seat behind Hoffman's gigantic head.