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: Don’t do it. Don’t be one. There are too many. Sorry no more room at the inn. I bet you’re great, just work with the human genome."
- "I cannot stress enough that the answer to a lot of your life’s questions is often in someone else’s face. Look at people’s faces. They will tell you amazing things. Like if they’re angry, nauseous, or asleep.
- "You never know what’s around the corner unless you peek. Hold someone’s hand while you do it, you’ll feel less scared. It’s much more fun to succeed and fail with other people. You can blame them."
- "When you feel scared, hold someone’s hand, look into their eyes. When you feel brave, do the same thing. You are here because you’re 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.
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.
Lest anyone thinks James Levine has nothing to do now that he has resigned as music director of the Boston Symphony Orchestra, that's not so. The maestro, who was forced to put down his baton because of chronic health problems, is writing a memoir. To be published by Alfred A. Knopf Inc., the still-untitled book will chronicle Levine's half-century in the music business. (He is still music director of New York’s Metropolitan Opera.) The 67-year-old conductor is collaborating on the book with Harvey Sachs, a music writer whose resume includes a biography of Italian conductor Arturo Toscanini and an edited collection of Toscanini's letters. No word on what Levine is being paid for the book. He was repped by New York-based literary agent Denise Shannon, who did not return a call today.
Massachusetts native and "Mad Men" star John Slattery is hilarious as a secret service agent in the new video for The National's song "Conversation 16." In the video, Slattery's object of affection is a commander-in-chief played by "Flight of the Chonchords" comedian Kristen Schaal. Schaal, for those who forgot, had a tiny part on "Mad Men" in 2007. Slattery, of course, can be seen now in "The Adjustment Bureau" with Matt Damon and Emily Blunt.
The boys in Good Charlotte paid a visit to Children's Hospital today. Joel and Benji Madden, Paul Thomas, Billy Martin, and Dean Butterworth used fabric pens to decorate canvas trucker hats and bags for patients. After donning gowns and gloves to visit with kids, the guys joked they could be on "Grey's Anatomy."
While NFL players and owners are hard at work trying to hammer out a new collective bargaining agreement, Tom Brady and his bride are busy partying in Rio. The QB and his supermodel spouse Gisele Bundchen took part in Carnival, with Bundchen appearing as the goddess Venus on a sumptuous float. During the festivities, which drew an estimated 800,000 people to the Brazilian city, Brady and Bundchen were photographed wearing T-shirts emblazoned with corporate logos. (Pantene for her, Oral-B for him.) Brady, who's wearing his hair these days in the style of a European soccer player - is that a ponytail? - shook hands with Ronaldinho as the famous Brazilian footballer danced past. Here's a little video of TB moving and grooving it at Carnival.
Mrs. Mark Wahlberg, Rhea Durham, Wahlberg, Christian Bale and his wife, Sibi, at the Governor's Ball after the Academy Awards. ((Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
Last fall, it looked like "The Social Network" would clean up at the Oscars. Thanks to Colin Firth and "The King's Speech," that didn't happen, but do you think Ben Mezrich minds?
Of course, he does. But Mezrich, the author of "The Accidental Billionaires," on which David Fincher's Facebook movie is based, still managed to have a swell time in Tinseltown.
By Mezrich's own admission, authors are the lowest form of life in the Hollywood food chain, but if you stay close to the big fish - that'd be "TSN" screenwriter Aaron Sorkin and producer Kevin Spacey - you have entree to some sweet shindigs.
Like the pre-Oscar bash at super-agent Ari Emanuel's house. (For you rubes, Emanuel is the inspiration for Jeremy Piven's character on "Entourage" and the brother of Chicago's new mayor Rahm Emanuel.) The host greeted guests at the door, and Mezrich says - wishfully perhaps - there was a glimmer of recognition when Emanuel said hello.
Later, Justin Timberlake, who plays Facebook co-founder Sean Parker in the film, took a seat next to Mezrich and his wife Tonya, and ate corn on the cob. There were hundreds of people milling around under a tent, and a lavish Las Vegas-style spread of soups, steaks, and shrimp.
"He tells us a funny story about running into the real Sean Parker," says Mezrich. "Tonya wants to tell him we saw 'N Sync at the Garden years ago but the crowd gets too crazy."
Even better, he says, was Oscar night, which began with hair, make-up, and jewelry at the couple's chic hotel, the SLS in Beverly Hills. Tonya wore a platinum necklace with 130 pear-shaped diamonds - a loaner from DePrisco Diamond Jewelers - and Mezrich was terrified the expensive piece would be lost.
It wasn't, of course, even amid the swarm at the post-Oscar party hosted by Madonna and Demi Moore at Guy Oseary's house.
"Madonna walked past us with a bottle of Moet, with (daughter) Lourdes nearby, looking more like sisters than mother and daughter," says Mezrich.
Guests included Jude Law, Nicole Kidman and Keith Urban, Leonardo Di Caprio, Jack Black, and Gwen Stefani, who looked "ethereal, white on white, like a statue," says Mezrich. But the best was Atticus Ross, who along with Trent Reznor won the Oscar for "The Social Network" score. (Sorkin also won for his screenplay.)
"Atticus lets me walk around the party holding his Oscar," says Mezrich. "All in all, awesome."
But there was plenty of fun to be had elsewhere, too. Elton John hosted his annual Oscar Night bash benefiting the Elton John AIDS Foundation, and Captain Fantastic drew quite a crowd. The celebrity press was invited to attend the fancy affair at the Pacific Design Center but then kept in a pen like poor saps in steerage. Bemused women in ball gowns actually gawked at media scarfing pizza as they prepared to feast on beef tenderloin with charcoal oil and crispy bacon and goat cheese soup fixed by star chef Ludo Lefebvre.
Lefebvre, owner of the popular touring restaurant LudoBites, tried to explain to us in a heavy French accent the inspiration for the evening's menu, but we were too busy admiring the tattoos on his arm.
Sir Elton, with his teased bouffant and oversize specs, was gracious with the press, wandering the rope line in what looked like gold-studded slippers and chatting about Zachary, the baby he adopted with partner David Furnish. Asked if he wants more children, Elton was emphatic.
"Oh no, we're just getting used to this one," he said.
Nor should we expect the Rocket Man to sit in judgement on "American Idol" a la Aerosmith singer Steven Tyler.
"No, I can't be horrible to people," he said. "I just can't do that."
What Elton John can still do is sing, and he demonstrated that by joining indie warblers Florence + The Machine for renditions of "Tiny Dancer" and "You Got the Love."
The guest list included everyone who's anyone, and a few of us who are no one. (That means you, too, Dean McDermott.) Tyler walked the yellow carpet with girlfriend Erin Brady, but wouldn't stop to chat. Some who did included composer Quincy Jones, tennis ace Serena Williams, Oscar winner Ben Kingsley, supermodel Heidi Klum, whose hairstyle reminded us, unfortunately, of a young Martina Navratilova, as well as "Modern Family" actor Eric Stonestreet, Kim Kardashian, singer Rufus Wainwright, and actor Tom Sizemore, who told us he's frightened for Charlie Sheen.
"I know Charlie and he's definitely in the throes of addiction," said Sizemore, whose own substance abuse issues landed him on Season 3 of "Celebrity Rehab." "Charlie's got enormous recuperative powers, and he's going to need them."
"Access Hollywood" correspondent and Medford native Maria Menounos hurried to Elton's event after concluding her red-carpet interviews at the Kodak Theatre. But in four-inch heels and a long, one-shouldered black velvet gown by Johanna Johnson, Menounos was not exactly nimble.
"It's the first dress I tried on and I fell in love," she said.
From there, it was off to the super-exclusive Vanity Fair party at the Sunset Tower Hotel. How coveted was a ticket to Graydon Carter's celeb-heavy soiree? A pair were auctioned at Elton John's party and fetched $70,000. Security was ridiculous - guys with guns and ominous-looking earpieces greeted guests at checkpoints on Sunset Boulevard - and the tickets came in hard-plastic cases with a hologram.
Hollywood is an industry town, and all the captains were there. Amid large-scale photos of luminaries like Jean Harlow, Rita Hayworth, and Marlon Brando, the A-listers dined on steak and sea bass, and then schmoozed. We spied Mick Jagger and girlfriend L'Wren Scott, Jane Fonda greeting brother Peter with a kiss on the cheek, Donald Trump and wife Melania gabbing with gossip Richard Johnson, Harvey Weinstein, Paul Haggis, Quentin Tarantino smooching a bleary-eyed Paz de la Huerta, Tom Hanks, Tyler (again) with daughters Liv and Chelsea, and Pittsfield native Elizabeth Banks talking shop with Harvard man Darren Aronofsky.
Around 2 a.m., we saw filmmaker and Newton native Eli Roth chatting with Zooey Deschanel at the valet stand. They got into separate SUVs and drove away, and so did we.
Robert Downey Jr, his wife Susan, and Jude Law at the VF party (Photo by Craig Barritt/Getty Images)
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