Hollywood opens a branch in Boston



As I write this, it's Oscar night, and everybody and his brother thinks they know who'll win what.

Whoopi is making whoopee successfully (without Michelle Pfeiffer or a grand piano) on the Left Coast, and the toons of Tinseltown are all assembled in nice, neat rows, fluffing their dresses, straightening their bolo ties, hoping their hair spray holds up, and trying hard to present the correct profile angle for the next sweep of the cameras.

Well, it turns out that Boston magazine guessed correctly by choosing Mira Sorvino as its March cover girl, hyping its 12-page pre-Oscar spread on the "connection" between Boston and Hollywood. It's sweet that they're doing an arts section and all, but trying to work Harvard into six pages on Hollywood is stretching it a bit.

Premiere's hilarious fictional columnist Libby Gelman-Waxner (in reality, playwright Paul Rudnick) hits the nail on the head, however, in her "review" of "Leaving Las Vegas," which she calls a grad-student fantasy with Elisabeth Shue as a preppy "hooker who looks like a field-hockey champion," while "Nicolas Cage sits on a bench in a stupor.

"Frankly," she writes, the film "could use a few Power Rangers, or maybe a trip to see the topless goddess review from 'Showgirls.'"

NB There's more, and it's great, but you should see for yourself.

Leah Rabin interview

I don't know what I expected when I picked up the April Marie Claire.

Like most of the glam mags, it hypes your typical goofy girl things in the table of contents, such as "Escape from Hair Hell," "Janet Jackson's Sit-up Secrets" and the like.

Despite all that, it's an attractive, rather elegant magazine, and the champagne in the center of the truffle is a gorgeous, graceful, yearning interview with Leah Rabin.

It's more of a transcript, actually, in her voice as told to writer Suzanne Glass.

Ms. Rabin speaks of how she was nervous for her husband's safety on the day he was shot:

"It was a brilliant evening. I watched Yitzhak sing the 'Song of Peace,' and I felt jubilant. When it was over, I was so glad nothing had gone wrong. I turned to one of the bodyguards and said, 'Congratulations ... no one was hurt.' I caught Yitzhak's eye ... "

Ms. Rabin had her granddaughter sit down to write the funeral address at her husband's desk, and she says that her husband "would not believe it, you know, if I told him about the overwhelming reaction of the whole world" to his death.

"Uppity women attorneys"

Elle offers a smart profile of Hillary Clinton's friend Susan Thomases, for whom "the knives are out" -- for being such a blunt, tough cookie and shepherding her friend (some say not entirely honestly) through the torrent of Whitewater.

"But it is also profoundly true that a generation of women, a type of feminist, is on trial here, and that the issues go far beyond Whitewater," writes Meryl Gordon. "The circus called Whitewater can be seen as revenge on uppity women attorneys and the liberal social values of the 1960s and '70s."

Fluff for girls

Which brings me to my next victim. Leading the books section in Ms. (Volume 6) is a long essay on "Teen Mags: How to Get a Guy, Drop 20 Pounds, and Lose Your Self-Esteem." Within, writer Anastasia Higginbotham goes postal over the drivel that the publishing industry is force-feeding our teen-age girls. Mags like Seventeen, Sassy, YM and 'Teen make her "blood boil," for their emphasis on white, thin, big-haired, small-butted prom queens and the implication that "girls need improving."

All of which is a keen sentiment. And I want to make it clear that I'm not disagreeing. But Ms. Higginbotham also admits to having read them herself, as a kid. "I was not prepared for a feminist revolution at 16," she writes. "I could barely deal with what the humidity did to my hair."

However, she continues, "filling girls full of fluff and garbage -- under the pretense that this is their reality -- is patronizing, cowardly, and just plain lazy."

Well, perhaps it is, and the article is undoubtedly whip-smart, articulate and totally politically correct, but most of the women's mags, like those quoted above, have marshmallow stuffing along with a little solid protein.

So do the men's.

It doesn't mean they aren't fun. (Hey, thank God the kids are reading.

My point is that it's a reader's responsibility to pick and choose -- dare I say "text"? -- whether it's an encyclopedia or a comic book. The reason we read magazines is to find stuff out, mull it over, maul it mentally, and then accept or reject it.

It's also the editor's job to provide a balanced menu, which perhaps the teen mags are not doing well.

But, lighten up, and give the kids some credit. Perhaps to them, right now, Leah Rabin is Brussels sprouts. Perhaps they'll grow up to like them. Perhaps I'm defending myself for spending the weekend reading fashion and movie magazines, who knows?

P.S. Blue eye shadow is back.

Pub date: 03/31/96

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