The trailer for "Moneyball," the Brad Pitt flick based on Michael Lewis's best-selling book of the same name, hit the Web this week, and it looks promising. Pitt plays Billy Beane, the Oakland A's general manager who's credited with using sabermetrics - a stats-heavy approach to evaluating talent - to turn around the formerly moribund franchise. The movie is co-written by "Social Network" scribe Aaron Sorkin and stars the always entertaining Jonah Hill as a character based on former A's exec Paul DePodesta. (Oscar winner Philip Seymour Hoffman also show up as former A's manager Art Howe.) In the trailer, there's a scene shot at Fenway Park between Pitt and a character that vaguely resembles John Henry. Is it supposed to be him? Yes. In an email today, the Sox owner told us he's seen the movie and he is, in fact, in it. But - get this - he can't remember who plays him. "Forgot the name of the actor," Henry wrote. And darned if we know. The guy looks like a cross between John Heard, Ted Danson, and William Hurt, but it's none of them, and the Internet Movie Database is no help at all. Last fall, when the movie filmed at Fenway, we asked the Sox owner who he'd like to play him. His reply: Sam Shepard.
Amy Poehler at Harvard today (Reuters/Brian Snyder)
Even before she opened her mouth today, Amy Poehler managed to make us laugh. The Burlington-bred star of "Parks and Recreation" was the Class Day speaker at Harvard, and as she waited to talk, smart-aleck student Scott Levin-Gesundheit referred to Poehler as the "blonde Tina Fey." Without missing a beat, Poehler flipped the kid the middle finger. (That's what you call physical humor.) To be fair, Levin-Gesundheit's speech was funny, and even Poehler laughed out loud when the Harvard senior said he'd relieved himself nine times in the Widener Library stacks. An alum of BC - "which some call the Harvard of Boston" - Poehler encouraged students to keep an open mind as they embark on life after college. "Other people's ideas are often better than your own. Find people who challenge and inspire you. Spend a lot of time with them. It will change your life," she said. "You're here because someone gave you strength: God, Allah, Buddha, Gaga. Whoever you pray to." She also asked the students to be kind to their elders. "Would it kill you to be nicer to your parents?" said Poehler, whose owns parents were sitting nearby. "They have sacrificed so much for you and all they want you to do is smile and take a picture with your weird cousins."
A few other pearls of wisdom from Poehler:
- "If I wanted to give advice as an actor: Donít do it. Donít be one. There are too many. Sorry no more room at the inn. I bet youíre great, just work with the human genome."
- "I cannot stress enough that the answer to a lot of your lifeís questions is often in someone elseís face. Look at peopleís faces. They will tell you amazing things. Like if theyíre angry, nauseous, or asleep.
- "You never know whatís around the corner unless you peek. Hold someoneís hand while you do it, youíll feel less scared. Itís much more fun to succeed and fail with other people. You can blame them."
- "When you feel scared, hold someoneís hand, look into their eyes. When you feel brave, do the same thing. You are here because youíre smart and brave, and if you add to that kindness and the ability to change a tire, you almost make up the perfect person."
A long-ago girlfriend of Steven Tyler's is taking issue with the way she's portrayed in the Aerosmith screamer's much-hyped new memoir, "Does the Noise In My Head Bother You?". In a 5,000-word narrative for the pro-life web site LifeNews.com, Julia Holcomb says Tyler's "gross exaggeration" of their relationship is "puzzling" and she resents the way the "American Idol" judge talks about her "as a sex object without any human dignity." And that's just for starters. Holcomb, who's referred to in the book as "Little Bo Peep," reveals that she was just 16 when she met Tyler at a concert in Portland, Ore. in 1973, and within a year she was pregnant with his baby. She writes that her mother signed over guardianship to Tyler, and she and the flamboyant frontman planned to marry and start a family. But when Holcomb was five months pregnant, she was hospitalized with severe smoke inhalation as a result of a fire in her Boston apartment. She claims that Tyler pressured her to have an abortion, which she calls "a horrible nightmare I will never forget." Tyler could not be reached for comment today. He doesn't write about any of this in the book, focusing instead on the couple's habit of having sex in public, something Holcomb denies. (Not exactly a stickler for detail, Tyler actually misspells Holcomb's name in the acknowledgements of his book.) Today, Holcomb and her husband of 30 years are the parents of seven children. "I have made a point over these long years never to speak of (Tyler), yet he has repeatedly humiliated me in print with distortions of our time together," she writes. "I do not understand why he has done this. It has been very painful." But profitable, too. Tyler's book is currently No. 2 on the New York Times Best Seller list, having sold 107,000 copies in hardcover since it was released May 3, according to Nielsen BookScan. If you're wondering, that's a lot. By comparison, Sammy Hargar's new tell-all "Red: My Uncensored Life in Rock" has sold 54,000 copies and Patti Smith's National Book Award-winning memoir, "Just Kids," has moved 188,000 hardcover copies. Still, Tyler's got a ways to go to catch Rolling Stones guitarist Keith Richards, whose book, "Life," has sold 543,000 copies in hardcover and 26,000 in paperback.
Dresden Doll Amanda Palmer was detained today in Amsterdam, though it's not clear why. Judging from a YouTube video of the arrest - see below - it appears the chanteuse may have been busted for staging an impromptu outdoor show. Following her release, Palmer, who's married to writer Neil Gaiman, talked about the incident on Twitter. "Dear Amsterdam, sorry I got arrested & the gig ended prematurely," she typed. "Took my belongings and put me in a holding jail cell, and after a while let me go with a fine. Still really unsettling. A bunch of fans held vigil outside the station and we all came to a salsa night to celebrate my freedom. My life is weird." The singer, who grew up in Lexington, is on a solo tour that stops tomorrow in Utrecht, Netherlands.
James Levine chatted with Terry Gross on "Fresh Air" today, ostensibly to promote a new book, "James Levine: 40 Years at The Metropolitan Opera," and the PBS documentary, "James Levine: America's Maestro," which premieres June 1. (You can read The Wall Street Journal's ambivalent review of the book here.) Levine, who recently resigned from the BSO due to chronic health problems, says he still suffers from back problems. You can listen to the interview here.
Dicky, Alice, and Micky
Alice Ward, mother of Lowell-bred boxers Micky Ward and Dicky Eklund, has died. We're told the matriarch played by Melissa Leo in "The Fighter" passed away early this morning at the Spaulding Rehabilitation Hospital, surrounded by her family. In failing health for some time, Ward had gone into cardiac arrest in January and stopped breathing for more than 30 minutes before doctors at Brigham and Women's Hospital revived her. Her recovery amazed doctors and nurses. Ward, who also has seven daughters, managed Micky's career in his heyday, and comes across in "The Fighter" as a fierce, sometimes foul-mouthed defender. She was not happy with Leo's portrayal, but Academy Award voters were, and the actress won the Oscar for her performance.
Robert B. Parker is no longer with us, but his literary creations are. Parker's estate - his wife Joan and sons Dan and David - along with his publisher have chosen two writers to carry on Parker's celebrated "Spenser" and "Jesse Stone" series. Michael Brandman, a longtime friend and collaborator of the author's, will handle the "Jesse Stone" books, while Ace Atkins will tackle Spenser. Though well known to the folks at G.P. Putnam's Sons, both writers submitted sample pages to the publisher. "We're absolutely thrilled with the quality of their work," Joan Parker told us yesterday. She said she's known Brandman for many years, but only recently met Atkins. "Bob's nickname for many years was 'Ace' Parker, so when Putnam called and said they'd found a good potential partner and his name is Ace, I said, 'Really?'" Brandman's "Jesse Stone" title will be published this fall, and Atkins's take on Parker's long-running "Spenser" series starts in spring 2012. Parker died last year at the age of 77.
The elusive Whitey Bulger on Castle Island
There are already plenty of books about Whitey Bulger, but the shelf is about to get a little more crowded. Tom Foley, former head of Massachusetts State Police who spearheaded the probe that led to murder charges being filed against Bulger, has inked a deal to write an insider's account of the Boston gangster. The book, to be called "Betrayal," will trace Foley's 20-year pursuit of Bulger, and his discovery that the FBI not only protected the mobster but allowed him to build his criminal empire. The book, which Foley is writing with Cambridge author John Sedgwick, was sold to Touchstone after a bidding war among four prospective publishers. (We're told Foley's advance is north of $250,000.) Reached yesterday in Florida, the retired top cop said he's writing the book to "set the record straight." While there is no shortage of books, at least a few of them don't get the story right, he said. "This will be the real true story of what went on, and there's nobody who can tell that story like I can," said Foley. Of course, that hasn't stopped others from trying. There's "Black Mass: The True Story of an Unholy Alliance Between the FBI and the Irish Mob" by Dick Lehr and Gerry O'Neill; "Brutal: The Untold Story of My Life Inside Whitey Bulger's Irish Mob" by former Winter Hill henchman Kevin Weeks; "Street Soldier: My Life as an Enforcer for Whitey Bulger and the Boston Irish Mob" by Edward MacKenzie Jr.; Howie Carr's "The Brothers Bulger: How They Terrorized and Corrupted Boston for a Quarter Century"; and Carr's latest "Hitman: The Untold Story of Johnny Martorano." (We're not sure what's "untold" since Martorano has talked to anyone who'll listen, including "60 Minutes.") Foley said he'll be focusing on the FBI's (mis)handling of Bulger because that's what the publisher wants. "When I said this would be about what (investigators) ran into on a daily basis from the government, they jumped all over it," he said. "We're going to tell the whole thing, including the good bad guys and the bad good guys." There's no timetable for the book, but Foley told us it'll be done within a year.
Youk gets a rare smile from Bill Belichick (Photo: Rick Bern)
Kevin Youkilis hosted a benefit for his charity, Youk's Kids, at the Liberty Hotel's Catwalk Bar the other night, and the Sox first baseman hung around afterward to check out a fashion show featuring looks by Hudson Jeans. (Hudson is owned by Fireman Capital Partners, one of whose principals is Youkilis's friend Dan Fireman.) Also stopping by Youk's event were Pats coach Bill Belichick and girlfriend Linda Holliday, Sox owner John Henry and wife Linda Pizzuti Henry, and Celtics Delonte West and Von Wafer.
Anthony Bourdain has a complicated relationship with Boston. On some level, the chef and silver-haired host of "Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations" hates the place because he grew up a Yankees fan in New Jersey. But on another level, he loves the the city, especially as exemplified in "The Friends of Eddie Coyle," the '70s crime novel by George V. Higgins. "It's one of the most important books of my life," says Bourdain. "And the Peter Yates film is pitch perfect. It's (Robert) Mitchum's finest hour." So when Bourdain came to town a few months ago to shoot an espisode of the Travel Channel show, he wanted to explore Boston's soft, mostly-white underbelly. The show, which airs Monday at 9 p.m., is not the usual best-of food show. "This is working-class cuisine, a lot of grinders, chowder, and drinking," said Bourdain. "We ate really well and we drank superbly...I just fell in love with the bars we went to." (Stops included the Galley Diner, Michael's Deli, O Senhor Ramos, L Street Tavern, and Quencher Tavern.) The soundtrack of the show was written by Bourdain's buddy, Mike Ruffino, the bassist for long-ago Boston rockers, The Unband. (The host told us he also tried to license the Modern Lovers's tune "Roadrunner," but the cost was too high.) Finally, we had to ask Boudain about the Red Sox's early struggles. "Honestly, I like the idea of having a worthy adversary, so I hope they win," he said. "I hate to see them beat the Yankees, but I cried real tears of joy when they finally won the World Series." Here's a snippet of the show for you.
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