Author

Jamie Malanowski

EW remembers Peter Jennings

With an urbane, sophisticated demeanor and an intelligence informed by years of on-the-ground reporting, Peter Jennings, who died at 67 of lung cancer on Aug. 7, led ABC’s World News Tonight for more than two decades. Although as an anchor he never had his identity attached to a single great event, as Tom Brokaw did with the fall of the Berlin Wall or Dan Rather did with Tiananmen Square, he orchestrated a star-studded network news team that for much of his tenure captured a larger audience than its competitors.

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Agnès Jaoui’s subtle tale of celebrity and its effects presents itself as a comedy, but if that connotes Will Ferrell, you’ll be disappointed. In Look at Me, Etienne (Jean-Pierre Bacri) is a famous writer whose plump daughter, Lolita (Marilou Berry), aches for his attention. But he prefers the surrounding sycophants, whose adulation gives him license to behave like a major brat. Jaoui’s most compelling theme is how those drawn to Etienne, including Lolita, emulate his nastiest traits.

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Marxists of the Groucho variety, the Yes Men are a low-key Mission: Impossible-like squad of practical jokers who play pranks on the World Trade Organization, President Bush, and other pillars of the establishment. The leisurely, unobtrusively directed doc follows the ringleaders, Andy Bichlbaum and Mike Bonanno, as they journey to three continents to impersonate WTO officials. The guys aren’t in it for the chicks; they believe the WTO promotes the rich at the poor’s expense, and through their elaborate masquerades they deliver that message.

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There’s more talk in this moral-packed melodrama than most modern audiences appreciate, but behind all that oratory is splendid acting. The story takes place at one of the later, lesser war crimes trials in the late 1940s; the defendants aren’t the perpetrators of the slaughter but the judges who provided the legal rubber stamp. At issue is their actual level of responsibility.

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The First Ladies' memorable celebrity encounters

Betty Ford, a former member of the Martha Graham Auxiliary Group, surprised guests at a 1976 White House dinner for President Tolbert of Liberia by engaging in a wild, spirited 10-minute performance to Carole King?s ”I Feel the Earth Move.” The other dancers parted to make room for Mrs. Ford and her partner, the bug-eyed, frizzy-haired comedian Marty Allen. Mrs. Ford had invited Allen, whose wife had recently died, to cheer him up. Later, he said that frugging with the First Lady had helped relieve some of his bottled-up grief.

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Bizarre encounters between presidents and entertainers

Nancy Reagan, Ronald Reagan, ...

If Washington, D.C., isn’t the most political town in America, then Hollywood is: The Weinsteins’ machinations put most political operatives to shame. And if Hollywood isn’t the most showbizzy town, then Washington is: It takes consummate actors to utter lines like ”I’m not a crook.” Sometimes, the worlds actually collide. The meeting between Abe Lincoln and John Wilkes Booth may have been less than auspicious, but more recent encounters have proven to be, if not cultural milestones, then at least moments of odd illumination.

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Steve McQueen, The Great Escape

Is there a movie that owes as much to one scene as The Great Escape does to Steve McQueen leaping the fence? The moment is like a masterful guitar solo that turns a good song by a good band into a classic. But guess what? That’s not McQueen. We learn in the commentary accompanying this stunning two-disc collector’s set – released in honor of the 60th anniversary of D-Day – that director John Sturges knew McQueen was good on motorcycles, and intended to capitalize on that ability.

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Roundtable: The Cast Of 'Camp'

EW chats with three stars of writer-director Todd Graff’s Fame-in-the-woods film about a retreat for theater-loving teens, on DVD Feb. 24 (PG-13, 114 mins., 2003, MGM).

EW Did you ever attend a place like Camp Ovation?

JOANNA CHILCOAT (who plays the lovely but insecure Ellen): Nothing quite so trippy. I went to a theater camp, but it was Shakespeare-intensive.

ROBIN DEJESUS (the emerging transvestite Michael): I worked at a theater camp in Connecticut, but it was more like babysitting.

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The Wright Stuff

THE RIGHT STUFF (1983, Sam Shepard, Scott Glenn) Flying at its coolest. When a toasted Shepard emerges from a crash with his elan intact, you forget all your three-hour layovers.

AIRPLANE! (1980, Robert Hays, Julie Hagerty) One of the first of the fast-paced Zucker-Abrahams pastiches feasts on the bloated corpses of the vaguely remembered Airport melodramas.

NORTH BY NORTHWEST (1959, Cary Grant, Eva Marie Saint) For pure tension, you just can’t beat Grant being chased by a crop duster – film’s most iconic airplane image, unless you count…

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A publishing giant talks about Marlon Brando and Monica Lewinsky

In his new memoir, ”Another Life,” Michael Korda, the editor in chief of publishing giant Simon & Schuster, tells the story of his 40-year career in the book biz. The memoir is full of charming portraits of writers he’s worked with, including Tennessee Williams, Harold Robbins, mobster Joseph Bonanno, and Ronald Reagan. Korda recently spoke to EW Online about today’s celebrity culture, books and the Internet, and Monica Lewinsky.

Is celebrity culture today out of hand?

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