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Jewish World Review March 14, 2003 / 10 Adar II, 5763

Bill Steigerwald

Bill Steigerwald
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Vanity Fair gets us ready for month's big event


http://www.NewsAndOpinion.com | It's coming soon.

It cannot be stopped by protestors.

It's logistics have been planned for a year.

The media are ready for the brutal, life-changing action to begin. Before March ends, the hot desert floor will be spattered again with the blood, sweat and tears of men, women and children from America and foreign lands.

Oscar Night in Hollywood is always a big deal. War or no war in Iraq, it happens every year during Tinseltown's holy month of March, when Academy Awards are handed out in bunches.

The awards ceremony will be conducted with the usual mix of class and crass March 23, so you have to read fast if you hope to finish all the good stuff in Vanity Fair's "The 2003 Hollywood Issue."

The ninth straight March VF devoted to America's most morally challenged export industry, the issue is, as Vanity Fair's cover accurately describes, "450 pages of stars and star-makers, Oscar favorites and old-timers, glamour and glamour, legends and leading ladies, history and mystery."

You've probably heard about the Michael Jackson piece, "Losing His Grip," which, unless it's going to be turned into the treatment for a horror movie, has nothing to do with Hollywood.

Without getting into details about Mike's legal, surgical or sexual problems, or trying to describe what's left of his poor nose, the story confirms everything strange and pathetic you've heard about the 44-year-old former black person - and then some.

Much classier (except for a few exceptions) are full-page portraits of female glamour-pusses such as Nicole Kidman by the late Herb Ritts, and 41 pages of "legends, big guns and scene-stealers" by Annie Leibovitz and other A-list photogs.

Among a dozen long articles packed into VF's love fest are ones about some of Hollywood's superstars of yore, such as Cary Grant, Jimmy Stewart and comedian Phil Silvers, and "Spiegel's Mighty Shadow."

An excerpt from a book about Sam Spiegel, a stereotypically sleazy and obnoxious Hollywood producer, the piece tells how Spiegel assembled the money and the stars to make four Oscar-winning movies - "The African Queen," "On the Waterfront," "The Bridge on the River Kwai" and "Lawrence of Arabia."

Not that movie stars and their enablers back then didn't do cruel and sordid things they wouldn't want their mothers to read about in Confidential, the Los Angeles celebrity magazine that, as a Vanity Fair piece explains, brought down-and-dirty tabloidism to Hollywood in the 1950s.

But reading about classy, interesting gents such as Grant and Stewart might make you wonder if, 50 years from now, people will read similar accounts about the lives of Ben Affleck and Tom Cruise with as much interest.

Speaking of Ben and Tommy, if you want to know how much they and their pals earn, spend and save while toiling in Hollywood's "factory in the sun," see "Earn, Baby, Earn" in the March 17 People.

Julia Roberts and Leonardo DiCaprio get $20 million per movie. But it might give little people some consolation to know that by the time they pay their army of agents, managers, attorneys, publicists, stylists - plus $5.7 million in state and federal taxes - their take-home pay is down to a crummy but still guilt-inducing $6.3 million.

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JWR contributor Bill Steigerwald is an associate editor and columnist at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Comment by clicking here.

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03/06/03: Iraq war will come and go before we know it
02/28/03: America takes time out for swimsuits
02/26/03: 'We shall be seen as liberators' .... 10 minutes with noted Brit commentator David Pryce-Jones
02/21/03: Terrorism one of many losing battles
02/14/03: Editors planning for the day after Gulf War II
02/12/03: The 'religiosity' of Ronald Reagan 10 minutes with author Paul Kengor
02/10/03: Should the shuttle crash be the end of NASA?
02/06/03: Dear Joan ...
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01/22/03: When handicapping 2004, watch the economy: Ten minutes with Charlie Cook
01/17/03: New Republic fans hatred for SUVs
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01/07/03: The best of the Q&As
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12/13/02: Corruption of Indian casinos no surprise
12/06/02: Giving credit to young philanthropists
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11/26/02: It's critical to memorialize communism's victims: 10 minutes with Lee Edwards
11/22/02: JFK's secret health woes are revealed
11/19/02: “It's best to contain Saddam”: Ten minutes with Col. David Hackworth
11/15/02: Brushing up on the affairs of a wild world
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11/01/02: Going to pot; thank heaven for media overkill
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09/27/02: Analyzing Esquire, GQ is not for the squeamish
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09/06/02: Rating the 9-11 mags
08/30/02: Bad trains, bad planes, and bad automobiles
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08/09/02: A funny take on a new kind of suburb
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05/30/02: FBI saga gets more depressing
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04/26/02: Will the American Taliban go free?
04/23/02: 10 minutes with ... Dinesh D'Souza
04/19/02: Saddam starting to show his age
04/12/02: Newsweek puts suicide bombing in perspective
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04/05/02: Looking into the state of American greatness
03/25/02: The American President and the Peruvian Shoeshine Boys
03/22/02: Troublemaking intellectual puts Churchill in spotlight
03/20/02: 10 minutes with ... Bill Bennett
03/18/02: Suddenly, it's cool again to be a man
03/12/02: 10 minutes with Ken Adelman
03/08/02: TIME asks the nation a scary question
03/05/02: 10 minutes with ... Rich Lowry
02/26/02: 10 minutes with ... Tony Snow
02/12/02: Has Soldier of Fortune gone soft?

© 2002, Bill Steigerwald