Personalities / Insights

Marsha Thomason Acts Out

USA Network's White Collar breaks boundaries.

February 07, 2011

British beauty Marsha Thomason may currently reside in LA, but it’s really New York, where she films USA Network’s cop drama White Collar, that’s captured her fancy. “I’ve always wanted to work in New York, so this is a dream come true for me,” she says. “It’s such a stunning, eclectic city. One day we’re shooting in a warehouse in Brooklyn, and the next day we’re in a penthouse on Park Avenue.”

On the show, Thomason plays Diana Berrigan, an openly gay detective who moves from Washington, DC, to the Big Apple to join forces with the FBI. Playing a gay character is something she takes pride in, and she hopes that one day a character’s sexuality won’t even be a talking point. “I know how important it is for minorities to be represented on television,” she says. “There’s a real shift happening at this moment in time. There are more gay characters on TV than there have ever been, and I think as time moves on, we won’t even be having this conversation. We’re moving forward in a positive way.”

White Collar airs at 10 PM on USA Network.

—meghan blalock


Snow and the SAG Awards

Despite the winter weather, Jeffrey Slonim works another red carpet—this time at the SAG Awards.

February 04, 2011

Thursday, January 27: Elle magazine graciously invited me to cover its fête at Soho House on Sunset Boulevard. This New York reporter (known here as Dispatches) enjoys the commodious seating at Soho House. I also wanted to chat with Kim Raver and Julie Benz. But snow happens. By 3 AM in New York that Thursday, a foot of the white stuff had blanketed the city. Delta canceled all morning flights, and I was lucky to rebook for one at 9:30 PM. Dispatches missed the party.

The next morning, by contrast, palm trees and bougainvillea circled the pool at the West Hollywood boutique hotel where I was staying. (I'd touched down at 3 AM.) The sun beat down on a sizzling female couple making out in the shallow end.

Saturday, January 29: The night before the SAG Awards, Entertainment Weekly and L’Oreal Paris invited Dispatches to party at the stately hip Chateau Marmont hotel to kick off the SAG Awards weekend in the cloister-like back garden. Rose McGowan’s pink lips, courtesy of “Chatterbox by MAC,” matched her Issa dress. Kate Middleton, pointed out McGowan, is a big fan of Issa London.

David Spade managed to carry two drinks in one hand. And someone, not Spade, later hurled in the men's restroom. 30 Rock’s Katrina Bowden said she had just flown in from Manhattan. “So icy,” she said. “And right outside my building, there is a giant puddle you can’t walk around!” Mark Ruffalo and his wife, who were staying upstairs, dined beside Chevy Chase. “Club Monaco,” said Amy Poehler, pointing at her dress. “Spread the word!”

An inventive Shenae Grimes had snipped off the sheer top of a dress and was wearing it as a blouse—with some midriff on view.

Sunday, January 30: The next day, the weather turned gray in the morning and driving rain and later sun turned the plastic tent at the Shrine Auditorium—where the SAG Awards took place—into a celebrity terrarium. Nicole Kidman signed autographs for fans with a Sharpie on the red carpet. James Franco high-fived the ass of the giant male actor statue.

It was Christian Bale’s birthday. How does it feel to win an award on your b-day? “Pretty freakin’ good!” he reported. The Weinstein and Dewar’s afterparty at the Sunset Tower hotel was also a winner. Amy Poehler cornered a waiter who was passing out coconut shrimp. A shoeless Helena Bonham Carter appeared way shorter than Colin Firth. Dispatches also spotted Amanda Seyfried and Justin Timberlake, who turned 30 at midnight and threw back a few cocktails. Young Hollywood comes of age.

—Jeffrey Slonim


Golden Globes Glamour

Jeffrey Slonim reports on his LA celeb sightings from the Golden Globes and beyond.

January 24, 2011

Snow has been blanketing New York a lot lately, so to arrive at sunny LAX on the Friday before the Golden Globes was a slice of Left Coast heaven.

That night at the 16th Annual VH1 Critics’ Choice Awards, a cable crossed under the red carpet right where I was standing. So everyone tripped. Right there. Ryan Gosling passed me in overdrive and nearly went flying. Backstage during the awards, Christian Bale asked me, in front of all the other journalists, if I was the only dude at the event wearing a bow tie. The minute he said it, I felt like an extra in a Fred Astaire move. The show was black-tie, but everyone apparently wore black skinny ties. (Noted to self: Wear black sneakers to the Golden Globes to keep it modern.)

At the Chateau Marmont for W magazine, Helena Bonham Carter and her big hair looked like a disheveled sea monster. Love. (I’m told she recently suffered lice!) She had a lot of trouble on the cobblestones out front and fell into a young, skinny journalist’s arms. “Dah-ling, are you all right?” Colin Firth inquired.

The hot reporter next to me was Korean-American, and she not only claimed that pho (that delicious Vietnamese noodle soup) is pronounced “fuh,” but that there is a popular pho house in LA called Pho King.

W editor Stefano Tonchi was super-nice when he walked the line in his 70s-style Dries Van Noten suit. His hair snip was a much shorter version of mine. (Noted to self: Get clipped.) Jennifer Love Hewitt showed up with her beau, a nice, normal hunk. They loved the ’02 vintage Dom Perignon being served. They were both fighting a cold. They had both run a marathon. They apparently spend a lot of time together. True love.

Joe Jonas also appeared to be a normal Joe, hanging out with Mila Kunis. But when he headed toward the paparazzi out in front of the hotel, the paps really shrieked.

Slim-Fast Break
The next day, I stopped by the Stuff You Must Lounge (sponsored by On 3 Productions, Access Hollywood and Slim-Fast 3-2-1) at the Sofitel. Journalist Micah Jesse was working the Slim-Fast 3-2-1 booth. At first, The Los Angeles Times called him a “spokeswoman” in its article about the booth.

Gilles Marini, meanwhile, picked up Vintage Revolution jeans and New Balance sneakers, which replaced his red plaid kicks. I can’t figure out how he looked like he did naked in Sex and the City—in person, he looks like a normal Joe. (Well, a little better than, say, Joe Jonas.)

I was kicking myself because I left before Lisa Vanderpump, whom I adore, showed up with her little dog Giggy!

Tea Timeout
I headed out early to the BAFTA (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) Los Angeles tea and hung out in a fabu walled garden (complete with spinning copper sprinkler fountain tines) in back of the Four Seasons Hotel. Heaven. I had been to the BAFTA tea the year before, but had never made it inside. This time, after schmoozing with Nicole Kidman, Aaron Eckhart and Kathy Griffin on the red carpet, my friend, Lindzi Scharf from WWD, and I were invited in. It was hard to not load up on cucumber sandwiches, and the clotted cream and pastries were yummy. Colin Firth showed up after I left. You can’t have a BAFTA tea without The King from The King’s Speech.

Helena Bonham Carter was coming in as I was leaving and told me that Tim Burton is her reality check before she goes out. He tells her “to take off seven items.” I’d tell her the same thing.

Fat Burger Break
It took forever to get my car. (Snobby valets.) But I made it out in time to get to Art of Elysium way downtown at the California Science Center, which is on a big breezy campus. Jesse James showed up with Kat Von D. They both have lots of tattoos and they were holding hands. When I was talking to her, he had his hand on her rump. Angus Mitchell, who has a salon in Beverly Hills, was doing hair for the Vogue fashion show that night, arriving with a really Goth entourage. His dad is the late Paul Mitchell, and he’s nice and fun and has a hot new wife.

James Franco showed up to be honored and mentioned that he allegedly has about seven years of school left at Yale. That’s like S&M for a star.

I wasn’t seated at the dinner, but I was invited for cocktails. Fat Burger showed up with trays of burgers, and I spotted Nicole Richie snagging one.

Very Golden Globes
The next day was the Golden Globes. I got up at 9 AM to pick up my credentials and managed to snag a parking space near the Peninsula Hotel, just down the street from The Beverly Hilton. I ran into Katie Lee having eggs on Little Santa Monica, and a few doors away the fab publicist Jennifer Allen (who has Matt Damon) appeared with her adorable 9-year-old daughter. On the carpet, I ended up next to Joe Zee, creative director of Elle who used to work with me at Allure. Even J.Lo stopped to smooch the not-at-all-average Joe. I chatted with Robert Pattinson, who said he gets completely “befuddled” when he walks out of the limo at these things. And Natalie Portman said she felt like she’d been “hit in the head with a blunt instrument.”

Melissa Leo said that the “dresses don’t work in the back of the limos.” You have to sit up too straight, because of the low seating, so she “sits up front.” Olivia Wilde stopped to chat but then found Zee’s foot planted firmly on her train when she got ready to leave. Christina Aguilera stopped and told me her date’s name is “Matthew Rutler,” a set assistant on Burlesque. Dude!

Tricky Rick
Then Ricky Gervais lit into me! During last year’s event, he said he would never host the Globes again. So I started with, “Gee, it must be great to have the year off from hosting.” Oops. “You call yourself a journalist just because you put on a suit and carry a little Dictaphone?” he yelled, lashing into me with laughs for about 10 minutes. (Little did we know that every star in the venue was next.) My spot was so great even Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban stopped. She said her Prada column dress was comfy.

I had a golden position at the Weinstein fête after the show as well. Gene Simmons stopped to fix my collar and told me that he puts lots of hairspray in his hair to make it stay put. Paris Hilton’s publicist snapped that she wasn’t stopping. “No, he’s my friend!” Paris insisted. We talked about both being “obsessed” with her aunts on The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. And she said that she recently jumped out of an airplane.

Kathy Griffin told me she suspects that she gets the dresses that Eva Longoria passes over after Robert Verdi shows her what’s available. Then Paz de La Huerta got emotional on me. An hour later, she could barely walk out of the party. She needed a little help. The HBO party, by the way, always has fab food: steak and chocolate mousse this year. Kyle Richards, Paris’s aunt, was taking pics with her husband and dancing. HBO had covered the pool with little islands that had flames all over them. Julianna Margulies had the best idea, ordering club sandwiches and fries from room service while waiting for her car.

The next morning I had an 11:05 flight on American, and I saw all these paparazzi flashing at LAX. When I got to the gate, I realized it was Kyle MacLachlan. In first class, I spotted Wendie Malick. And when we arrived in Manhattan, Jane Krakowski, who had looked really pregnant on the red carpet, was in her street clothes with a video camera up in her face. Not fun.

—Jeffrey Slonim


Actor Lily Rabe Rises

Between stage and screen, Lily Rabe does it all.

January 24, 2011

Stormy downpours did little to dampen Lily Rabe’s spirits last summer as she played Portia in Shakespeare in the Park’s production of The Merchant of Venice, opposite Al Pacino as Shylock. “It’s been a ride, but a wonderful ride,” she says of the role that she revived on Broadway this past winter.

Rabe has now accomplished an actor’s New York City hat trick: Shakespeare in the Park, Broadway and a stint on Law & Order. She’s also acted in films shot here—most recently All Good Things costarring Ryan Gosling and Kirsten Dunst. “It’s so much fun to shoot a movie in New York,” she says. “I love working here and living here.” What else could a New York-based actor desire? “I’m a big Woody Allen fan,” she hints.



Chiffon gown, D&G ($1,120). 343 W. Broadway; Dinah collection diamond and crystal ring, Tous ($2,219). 109 Greene St.; Satin Maniac pumps, Brian Atwood ($586). Saks Fifth Avenue, 611 Fifth Ave.; Sapphire ring, Lily’s own

—jenny sherman


The Actors Act

From Ashton Kutcher's No Strings Attached to Ne-Yo's TV gunplay, we hear from the stars.

January 21, 2011

Ashton Kutcher and Greta Gerwig  

Ashton Kutcher couldn’t stop singing co-star Natalie Portman’s praises at The Cinema Society screening of No Strings Attached. “I’m not the star of this film—Natalie is,” he said. “She’s a rock star and, for me, this movie was an opportunity to… go toe-to-toe with her and try to be as unbelievably awesome as she is.”

“This may have been the most fun movie I’ve ever made,” he continued. “Work didn’t feel like work on this one.” Given how much time Portman spends in the movie naked and on top of him, it’s no stretch to see why Kutcher felt that way. At the afterparty (sponsored by DeLeon Tequila), Kutcher stuck close to wife Demi Moore and enjoyed a round of congrats from the likes of Howard Stern, director Paul Haggis and Donna Karen.

Across the room, Saturday Night Live’s Abby Elliott, who has a solid supporting role in the flick, weighed in on how to best start a no-strings-attached relationship. “Send a text message: a booty text if you will,” she said with a laugh. But keep it simple and polite. “Just like, ‘Hey what’s up. What’re you doing later?’ I feel like if you’re really gross with what you’re writing then it’s too much. Be a gentleman about it and you’ll get much farther.”

Greta Gerwig, who steals a few scenes in the movie, had a different take. “Kicking off a no strings fling happens when you explain to someone very early that’s what you’d like and by making them sign a legally binding contract,” she deadpanned. “Otherwise people will get attached. If this falls apart then you can sue them!” It’s always nice to meet a lovely lady with a solid plan of attack.

Ne-Yo on CSI: NY
The night before, Ne-Yo took center stage at the recently launched Millesime at the Carlton Hotel. There to introduce Estelle, who performed for the packed house, the crooner was more than eager to talk about his bourgeoning acting career. With roles in the forthcoming action film Battlefield: Los Angeles and on CSI: NY (he plays a murderer), Ne-Yo laughed heartily when we pointed out that all the killing was a trend.

“I’m a huge fan of action films and martial arts films,” he told us. “I love those genres. So anytime someone gives me an opportunity to shoot someone in the head I’m there.” As for his skills with a weapon, watch out. “I’m not bad, to my surprise. I’d never shot a gun before,” he explained. “The kick back is honestly kind of scary, especially when you realize how much power these guns have. [But ] it’s scary and exciting. It’s almost orgasmic.”

As for his role as a serial killer on CSI, “I don’t want to give away too many details," he sais. "I want people to be surprised when they see it.” But given his down-to-earth ethos and sweet, friendly vibe, it’s going to be hard to picture him as anything other than a nice guy. When we raised that point, he had a quick response. “I’m very professional at killing on camera,” he laughed. “I think I can pull it off.”

—sean evans


Make Room for MTV's Skins

MTV brings its own version of a British teen hit to American small screens.

January 17, 2011

Rachel Thevenard as Michelle on Skins  

If the cast members of MTV’s Skins—a new teen drama inspired by the smash British series of the same name—look amazingly young, that’s because they are. “We are our age playing our age,” says James Newman, 18, who plays the lead character Tony.

The cast, which was built partially via open casting calls in Toronto and NYC, isn’t the only aspect of the show that is super young. The writers are also youthful, and a crew of teenage consultants helps the show's creators keep things authentic.                                    

“In the UK, we have 19- or 20-year-olds writing full episodes,” says Bryan Elsley, the creator of the original series (which premiered in 2007) who signed on to helm its American rebirth. “For most of the writers on this show, this is their first professional engagement. A gang of about 30 teenagers from Manhattan come and go and tell us, sometimes not very politely, what we’re doing wrong. I want Skins to be a place where young people can express themselves.”

The Kids Are All Right?
One of the biggest marketing ploys of the show—which is set in suburban America—is that it displays the true, perhaps less savory aspects of teen life: sex, drugs and alcohol. “People are worried about whether or not we’re glamorizing the sex and drugs," says Newman. "[But] I think when people watch the show, they’re gonna see something that’s more disturbing [rather] than cool.”

Two of the other leading cast members, Rachel Thevenard, 17, who plays Tony’s girlfriend Michelle, and Sofia Black-D’Ella, 19, who plays the openly gay Tea, assert that the purpose of the show is not simply to shock people or turn them away. “Wherever you are, there are going to be adults who don’t know—and refuse to acknowledge—what’s going on in their kids’ lives," says Black-D’Ella. "Parents kind of have to embrace the show because it’s brutally honest.”

“If anything, what we might hope to accomplish is to open up lines of conversation amongst teenagers or between teenagers and their parents,” Thevenard says. “There are some issues in Skins that might be a little touchy, but if people start talking about them, start addressing them, maybe that will help.”

Elsley, who turns 50 this year, hopes Skins will be more than the sum of its illicit parts. “I want it to say to young people that they’re not alone,” he says. “Whatever’s happening to them, there is someone else in the world that it’s happening to as well. We hope that kids can find something of their own lives in the show, even if they don’t necessarily live like the characters in [it].”

Skins premieres tonight at 10 PM on MTV.


by meghan blalock / photograph by Jason Nocito


The Right Knight

Robbie Sheehan goes on a quest in Season of the Witch

December 15, 2010

Starring alongside Nicolas Cage and Ron Perlman in the upcoming supernatural thriller Season of the Witch, 22-year-old Irish actor Robbie Sheehan plays a determined youth with a dream of becoming a knight among 14th century crusaders. Sheehan’s character in the film (which is directed by Dominic Sena) embarks on a dangerous journey in order to determine the fate of an accused witch, who is said to have brought the Black Plague to a village.

We caught up with Sheehan, whose charming personality shines through as he discusses his growing career, what he learned from the veteran actors on set and his future plans.

At what age did you start acting and begin landing roles?
ROBBIE SHEEHAN: I started acting when I was 14 and did my first job in Ireland. It was called Song for a Raggy Boy, with Irish actors Aidan Quinn and Iain Glen. There were a couple of good boys in that film, they were all show biz kids and they had agents, so then I decided to get myself an agent.

You fight a lot in Season of the Witch, and ride a horse. Did you train for the role?
RS: We did quite a bit in the three weeks leading up to shooting because I lied to them and said I could ride a horse. It was a white lie! I’d been on a horse, but I said I could ride one well, and that was just a complete lie. For the weeks leading up we did various amounts of training for horse riding and carriage riding and sword choreography.

How was it working with Nicolas Cage and Ron Perlman? Did they give you advice?
RS: Just by being there and doing what they were doing—that was advice enough. It was wonderful just to be in the same… cast as those guys. I think one of the main things I learned from them is the art of stamina and patience. This film is far larger than anything else I’ve ever done in its scope and its magnitude, so there was more setting up and large choreographed things. And I had a bit of a laugh as well with them, which is always necessary!

What films do you have in the pipeline?
There’s a mixed bag. I’m going back to do the second series of a show in Dublin for a four part series called Love/Hate. It is with Aidan Gillen, an Irish actor who was in The Wire and various things.

Are you traveling to NYC or LA anytime soon?
RS: No. But I’m definitely coming to New York [at some point] because I’ve never been! I went to LA for two weeks last year.

What did you like about it?
RS: Jerry’s Famous Deli! And you know what’s great as well? Obvious, but brilliant, the In-N-Out Burger! We ate from that nearly everyday.

Season of the Witch opens January 7

—Michaela Manning


Survival of the Fittest

Hoda Kotb celebrates a new book

December 13, 2010

Hoda Kotb has made a career out of telling other people’s stories on Dateline NBC and Today. But what was it like for the seasoned journalist to put her own story on display, as she does in her new book, Hoda: How I Survived War Zones, Bad Hair, Cancer and Kathie Lee? “Really enlightening,” says Kotb. “It’s just a little weird to put your life out there and say, ‘This is where I am, let me know what you think of it,’ and that’s sort of what you’re doing when you write a book.”

However, the single 46-year-old is finding one very interesting fringe benefit to being an author. “The best thing is that at the book signings, I’m meeting all these dates,” Kotb says of the men she’s been introduced to everywhere from Barnes & Noble to Costco. “Who knew that the best dating would come from book tours? Plus, they already know your life story—it’s in the book.”

See images from Kotb’s book party here



An Explosive Premiere

Season two of Human Target gets off to a running start

December 01, 2010

Season two of Human Target premiered with an action packed episode. The Fox series stars Mark Valley as Christopher Chance, a daring bodyguard/spy with a death wish.

While the pilot was an hour of cut and dry action and adventure, the show has greatly evolved and folded in a few laughs here and there. “[Comedy] is a pretty solid aspect of the show—part of its DNA,” Valley explains.

This season, Chance’s operation gets new funding by the wealthy Ilsa Pucci, played by Basic Instinct 2’s Indira Varma. With new financial means, Chance is able to take on bigger assignments, meaning more action. “[Pucci] can afford to buy us bigger toys, like private jets to fly around and crash and so forth,” Valley adds.

Janet Montgomery (who appears in this month’s Black Swan) joins the cast as Ames, the team’s fierce new recruit. With two new cast members and some welcomed punch lines, season two is a great time to get hooked on this adrenaline rush of a show.

by allison polster


Angel Secrets

The stunning Victoria's Secret Angels share beauty secrets and NYC haunts

December 01, 2010





Favorite product: VS lip-gloss by Victoria’s Secret. I can’t live without it. It plumps your lips. It is almost clear but it has a slight tint of pink.
NYC haunt: Tompkins Square










Favorite product: Victoria’s Secret Bombshell. It has peonies and orchids—such a sexy mix.
Beauty secret: I love cream blush. I also use an eyelash curler and some lip-gloss everyday.
NYC haunt: The west village is my favorite area. I love walking down Bleeker and shopping.








Favorite product: VS has great mascara. It really thickens your lashes and lengthens them.
Beauty secret: I always like to get a facial before the show and try to stay really moisturized and exfoliated. I also take hip-hop classes. It's really good for stress relief and it gets your body in shape.
NYC haunt: My favorite part of New York City is the restaurants. One of my favorites is Friend of a Farmer. It's my weekend brunch place.








Video: Behind-the Scenes at the Victoria's Secret Fashion Show

by allison polster, beauty assistant

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