EW magazine schools readers with a who's-who of 'cool'

June 23, 1993|By Stephanie Shapiro | Stephanie Shapiro,Staff Writer

Think you're way cool?

Take a number. According to Entertainment Weekly's current "What is Cool" issue, you're behind David Letterman (there's news); a dead man (cult film director Ed Wood); the assembly-required furniture at Ikea and "Today" anchor Katie Couric (doesn't she belong in the "So uncool, they're cool" column?).

The June 25 issue of the weekly magazine identifies cool people, places and things that have "the power to swing the thermostat of popular culture."

Yes, but what is cool?

"It's something you can't really define," says Jeannie Park, a senior editor on the "Cool" issue.

A cool person, for example, is "someone who sort of transcends mere celebrity, and, you know, is cool," Ms. Park says.

Cool can be innate, or it can be fleeting, she adds.

David Letterman, who posed tugging on his signature cigar for the "Cool" cover, is "quintessentially cool to his core," she says.

Others may be cool today, cold tomorrow. Actor/director Tim Robbins was on the cover of Entertainment Weekly's first cool issue last year and his squeeze, actress Susan Sarandon, was listed in the "Cool Hall of Fame."

But this year, the couple's brand of ribbon-wearing political activism was pooh-poohed on the magazine's "Cold Page." It's not that "it's bad to be politically correct. It's just that we're a little tired of it," Ms. Park says.

The cool list appears several weeks after Rolling Stone magazine's hot list. What is the difference?

Ms. Park explains: "Hot is different than cool, though probably a little easier to define. If you're hot, you're hot. You're popular. People want you and like you. Whereas if you're cool, you don't necessarily have to be hot, you can be something more as well."

Never mind.

Back to Baltimore, where it's just plain hot. Local coolmeister Gregg Mason, a casting director and partner in the new World Cafexbar downtown, weighed in on selected items on EW's list:

* David Letterman: "I think he's cool."

* Katie Couric: "I don't know, I never watch."

* Angela Bassett: "She's doing the Tina Turner [movie] thing. I love Tina Turner to death. I think Tina Turner is cool."

* Kirstie Alley: "Ummmmmm, Kirstie Alley is bizarre."

* Funkadelic king George Clinton: "Mr. P-Funk is ultimate for sure."

* Ikea: I guess in summertime when they have the air conditioning on it's pretty cool there."

* Painting by numbers: "Only if you don't stay in the lines, [do I] think it's cool."

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