News cruise: Tom and Anne in 'Esquire'

MAGAZINES

February 27, 1994|By Matthew Gilbert | Matthew Gilbert,Boston Globe

A new editor, Edward Kosner, takes the reins of Esquire with the March issue. Formerly of Newsweek and then New York magazine, Mr. Kosner appears to have Three-P impulses -- pop, practical, piecemeal. Along with a monthly guide to "a subject vital to a man's life" (read: sex and pecs) and a Harper's-esque collection of excerpts from new literary books, there's a section called "Reality Check" with gossipy, much-ado-about-nothing snippets on the New York and Los Angeles elite.

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Mr. Kosner's pop impulse brings us a juicy insider cover article on the casting of Tom Cruise in the $50 million movie of Anne Rice's "Interview with the Vampire." Everyone, it seems, is adamant about who should be playing Lestat, the "tall, blond, European and androgynous" prince of the undead. The article, "Lestat, C'est Moi," is an anatomy of a petit furor, starring Ms. Rice and her "one-woman crusade to embarrass Tom Cruise" and producer David Geffen, who has little patience for Ms. Rice's attack: "It lacks kindness. It lacks discretion. And it lacks professionalism." Mr. Cruise, for his part, is rather human about it all: "It really hurt my feelings," he says. "Her venom hurt."

Tom: Reality bites.

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Not long ago, the New York Post ran a big cover story called "TYSON TURNS TO TOLSTOY." Pete Hamill does the same story for Esquire, going to an Indiana jail to chart the intellectual flowering of convicted rapist Mike Tyson since his incarceration two years ago. The article, which nearly puts Tyson in a league with imprisoned heroes like Alexander Solzhenitsyn and Cervantes, is a gold mine of Tyson lit crit. "I loved 'Candide,' " he says. Hemingway "uses those short, hard words, just like hooks and uppercuts inside. You always know what he's saying, 'cause he says it very clearly. But a guy like Francis Bacon, hey, the sentences just go on and on and on . . ." And what of Tolstoy? "I don't like his writing that much because it's so complicated, but I just like the guy's way of thinking." Tyson will be free in the spring of 1995, and as Mr. Hamill notes, "his return to boxing could be the most lucrative campaign in the history of sport."

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Watching the River flow -- it's easy to do these days as River Phoenix profiles proliferate four months after his death. Esquire writer Tad Friend attends a memorial service for the 23-year-old actor and interviews a host of friends and family, including River's mother, Heart, who says, "I am still connected to his energy." One comment, from Phoenix pal Wade Evans, says much: "If you walked outside and it was snowing, you knew that the first thing on his mind was making a snowball." Premiere for March has an oral biography of Phoenix, with anecdotal comments from such directors as Rob Reiner, Gus Van Sant, Peter Weir and Joe Dante, and such actors as Joan Plowright, Dan Aykroyd, Jonathan Pryce, Judy Davis and Richard Harris. Taken together, the Esquire and Premiere pieces portray a searching boy desperate to take care of everyone but himself.

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There's a very out-there interview in the March Details with Carlos Castaneda, the sorcerer who found his spot in college dorm rooms with 1968's "The Teachings of Don Juan: A Yaqui Way of Knowledge." In enigmatic prose, punctuated with passages by Mr. Castaneda, writer Bruce Wagner encounters "an empty man, a funnel, a teller of tales and stories; not really a man at all, but a being who no longer has attachments to the world as we know it." Soon after Mr. Castaneda shows up for an interview, he begins to weep: "Please love me," he begs. Mr. Wagner, author of the novel "Force Majeure" and creator of TV's "Wild Palms," does a nice job of pinning down the disappearing )) man, his beliefs and his weaknesses.

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Farewell to Spy magazine, which has folded after 7 1/2 years. The ruthlessly irreverent magazine, which thrived on the Trumpian decadence of the 1980s, has one more issue on the way. . . . The latest Creem magazine has a long, satisfying cover story on Blind Melon.

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