WBEZ | Tom Cruise http://www.wbez.org/tags/tom-cruise Latest from WBEZ Chicago Public Radio en Chicago play takes on celebrity culture http://www.wbez.org/chicago-play-takes-celebrity-culture-107744 <img typeof="foaf:Image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org//main-images/tomkatproject_photo.jpg" alt="" /><p><p>Six actors file into a black-box theater dressed all in black.&nbsp;</p><p>Julie Dahlinger, who portrays Hollywood star Katie Holmes, acts out verbatim dialogue from a Seventeen magazine interview, as her overprotective family from Toledo, Ohio, tells the audience how Holmes got the leading role in the late 90s teen drama<em> Dawson&rsquo;s Creek</em>.</p><p>Walt Delaney, as a scrawnier version of Cruise, is heartbroken after the end of his relationship with Spanish actress Penelope Cruz. He&rsquo;s always had bad luck with women, Cruise and his agent explain, and he blames it on his abusive father.</p><p>These quick-paced vignettes kick off <em>The TomKat Project</em>, a two-act play that takes on the most public of Hollywood relationships: the marriage and divorce of Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes (known as TomKat in the tabloids).</p><p>The satirical play isn&rsquo;t just trying to be funny. <em>The TomKat Project</em> is trying to send a message about our obsession with celebrity.</p><p>The different characters in the play &ndash; 54 in total &ndash; are played by seven actors. One moment, an actress is playing Nicole Kidman. The next, she&rsquo;s playing Oprah for the public revelation of the TomKat relationship that comes, of course, through the infamous couch-jumping incident.</p><p>This world of celebrity gossip is all too familiar to the play&rsquo;s writer and narrator, Brandon Ogborn. He&rsquo;s an improv actor and aspiring TV and film writer with encyclopedic knowledge of the movie business. Tabloid chatter is like a newsfeed for his career.</p><p>But when news of the TomKat relationship flooded every media outlet, he got drawn into it as entertainment, like so many of us do.</p><p>&ldquo;I&rsquo;ll have, like, Yasmina Reza plays in my bag and instead of reading those while I&rsquo;m waiting somewhere, I&rsquo;ll be reading <em>US</em> magazine about Tom and Katie,&rdquo; he said.&nbsp;</p><p>When Ogborn started writing a play about TomKat, he thought the couple would make good comedy. The eerie Scientology rumors that surrounded the TomKat relationship gave Ogborn plenty of material to work with.</p><p>The TomKat Project is complete with humorous reenactments of auditing sessions, the routine therapeutic meetings in Scientology in which Cruise supposedly revealed very personal details to fellow church members. Ogborn made David Miscavige, the head of the Church of Scientology, one of the main characters in the play.</p><p>But halfway through writing it, Ogborn had a realization that changed his approach to his subject: He started to question why 14-year-old girls and 45-year-old women end up having opinions about things like TomKat and Justin Bieber&rsquo;s haircut. And Ogborn realized he was making the same mistake as some of the public&mdash;he was buying into a tabloid version of events that probably wasn&rsquo;t true, or at least was greatly exaggerated.</p><p>&ldquo;You might be an A-hole for thinking what you&rsquo;ve read in tabloids over the years is true about these people, and about most other human beings that happen to have jobs in film and television and also happen to be attractive,&rdquo; Ogborn said.</p><p>Ogborn takes that dilemma onstage in the second act, as he plays himself. He shows himself as the narrator and writer of <em>The TomKat Project</em>, questioning why he believes what he reads in the tabloids and why he even wrote a play about the VIP couple in the first place.</p><p>He physically tussles with the character of Maureen Orth (played by Allison Yolo), the Vanity Fair contributor who wrote a controversial cover story about TomKat last year. Ogborn accuses Orth of trying to make a name for herself by writing about celebrities. She accuses him of trying to turn lowbrow nonfiction into highbrow theater. Ogborn escorts her out of the theater.</p><p>Ironically, Ogborn himself is making a name out of writing about famous people. The play sold out most of its run at Lakeview&rsquo;s Playground Theater, and took the stage last weekend at Just for Laughs Chicago. Now it&rsquo;s heading to Second City&rsquo;s UP Comedy Club on June 20, then moving on to New York&rsquo;s Fringe Festival in August.</p><p>A DePaul University sociology professor who specializes in celebrity culture doesn&rsquo;t share Ogborn&rsquo;s conflicted feelings on dishing about them. Deena Weinstein recognizes the stars are easy targets&mdash;she calls writing a play on the TomKat relationship &ldquo;kind of like shooting fish in a barrel.&rdquo;</p><p>But she says gossip about other people is a tradition that goes way back in time, and she sees meaning in it.</p><p>&ldquo;When we lived in small societies, we could gossip about people we know. Living in the metropolitan area, we don&rsquo;t know very many people about whom we can gossip but we all feel we know celebrities,&rdquo; Weinstein said.</p><p>She said many people today are increasingly isolated. They live farther from their families, and they may have hundreds of friends on Facebook, but only know a few of them well.</p><p>Weinstein says talking about Hollywood stars can provide a false sense of intimacy, and that can help some people feel less isolated.</p><p><em>Diana Buendía is a WBEZ arts and culture intern. Follow her <a href="http://twitter.com/buendiag" target="_blank">@buendiag</a></em></p></p> Tue, 18 Jun 2013 09:34:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/chicago-play-takes-celebrity-culture-107744 Kristen Stewart, slut-shaming and the war on women http://www.wbez.org/blogs/nico-lang/2013-05/kristen-stewart-slut-shaming-and-war-women-107094 <p><p dir="ltr"><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://llnw.wbez.org/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/kristen-stewart.jpg" style="height: 305px; width: 620px;" title="Kristen Stewart braves the Toronto premiere of 'On the Road'. (AP/Marion Curtis) " /></p><p dir="ltr">I&rsquo;ve always known I would have a daughter someday. With my brothers, father, uncles and their friends, I was surrounded by men who shaped my understanding of the world. A classic workaholic, my father taught me the importance of playing by society&rsquo;s rules, doing what was necessary to get ahead. As a former nerd, all he wanted to do was fit in and be one of the guys.</p><p dir="ltr">My father and his friends had a term for girls: &ldquo;Psycho bitches from hell.&rdquo;</p><p dir="ltr">At the age of three, he taught me how to catcall. He trained me to whistle at women in the grocery store and yell things like, &ldquo;Hubba Hubba!&rdquo; The woman would usually tell me how cute I was.</p><p dir="ltr">&ldquo;You&rsquo;ll be a real heartbreaker someday,&rdquo; she would say.</p><p dir="ltr">My dad would wink and nudge me, rewarding me for sexual harassment and complicit masculinity. This is the world I grew up in.</p><p dir="ltr">But it wasn&rsquo;t supposed to be. I was supposed to be a girl. My mother was going to call me Natasha, Tasha for short. I wonder what life would have been like as Tasha, even though I&rsquo;ve always hated that name. Sometimes when my mother looks at me, I can see she&rsquo;s wondering the same thing&mdash;what it would feel like to have a daughter. It looks like fear.</p><p dir="ltr">Yesterday I felt my mother&rsquo;s eyes on me again. <em>Reader&rsquo;s Digest</em> released their annual poll of the most and least trusted people in the world. Topping the list was Tom Hanks, long a leader of dependability in the U.S. He often ranks near the top, and joining him were actors like Denzel Washington, Meryl Streep and Sandra Bullock.</p><p dir="ltr">But guess who <a>ranked at the bottom</a>? America&rsquo;s &ldquo;least trusted&rdquo; actress is Kristen Stewart, who also placed second on Star&rsquo;s &ldquo;Most Hated Celebrity&rdquo; list.</p><p dir="ltr">In the poll, Stewart boasts a whopping 24 percent &quot;trust&quot; score, which is the Digest&#39;s version of approval rating. That&rsquo;s nearly as <a href="http://www.gallup.com/poll/116500/presidential-approval-ratings-george-bush.aspx,%20">low</a> as George W. Bush when he left office in 2008 and Nixon during the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/16/congress-approval-rating-porn-polygamy_n_1098497.html">Watergate Scandal</a>. She&rsquo;s only slightly more popular than BP during the <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2011/11/16/congress-approval-rating-porn-polygamy_n_1098497.html">infamous oil spill</a> that cost billions of dollars worth of damage. She has the same approval rating as <a href="http://www.outsidethebeltway.com/150-years-later-23-of-americans-40-of-southerners-side-with-confederacy/">the Confederacy</a>. If it makes her feel better, celebutante Kim Kardashian racked up 8 percent, making her three times less popular than institutionalized slavery. (Ah, priorities.)</p><p dir="ltr">The popular magazine spoke to Dorothy Crenshaw, CEO of Crenshaw Communications (the PR agency behind Starbucks and Bain Capital), about Stewart&rsquo;s unpopularity. Crenshaw <a href="http://www.rd.com/slideshows/readers-digest-trust-poll-heres-what-shocked-us-the-most/#slideshow=slide7">put it bluntly</a>, &ldquo;Kristen Stewart&rsquo;s trust was damaged when she was unfaithful.&rdquo; She might as well have said, &quot;Don&#39;t trust a ho.&quot;</p><p dir="ltr">Unless you were vacationing on Mars, you&rsquo;re likely aware that Stewart became a <a href="http://www.afterellen.com/content/2012/08/trampire-slut-shaming-and-kristen-stewart">tabloid phenomenon</a> last year when the photos were taken of her in a romantic tryst with Rupert Sanders, the married director of her film, <em>Snow White and the Huntsman</em>. After the images leaked, Stewart quickly became the target of a collective witch hunt, and she had to hide in her hotel room to escape paparazzi and death threats from vengeful Twilight fans.</p><p dir="ltr">Will Ferrell mocked the scandal on Conan&mdash;the fact that America was so invested in the breakup of people they don&rsquo;t know. Ferrell pretended to break down over Stewart&rsquo;s infidelity, crying that she was a &ldquo;trampire.&rdquo; Rather than realizing they were being punked, the internet turned the joke into a viral meme. You could even order a &ldquo;Kristen Stewart Is a Trampire&rdquo; t-shirt to commemorate America&rsquo;s inability to understand satire. They say you vote with your dollar. In 2012, America voted for slut-shaming.</p><p dir="ltr">Although the media moved on from the story (aided by Pattinson and Stewart&rsquo;s reconciliation), the public clearly has not, and it has killed her career.</p><p dir="ltr">Despite being a big factor in building buzz for <em>Snow White and the Huntsman</em>&rsquo;s success, Stewart was initially dropped from the sequel by Universal. After much criticism, they re-hired her. The film has been pushed back to 2015, quite a delay for a film that made $400 million worldwide. IMDB doesn&rsquo;t even list a director attached. When <em>Safe House, Thor, Horrible Bosses, Captain America</em> and <em>Ted</em> boasted similar grosses, sequels were pushed into production almost immediately. A sequel to <em>The Hangover</em> got fast-tracked before it ever came out.</p><p dir="ltr">In the meantime, Stewart only has one other film lined up, and her <em>On the Road</em> adaptation was all but dumped by the studio despite <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/12/10/kristen-stewart-oscar-on-the-road_n_2270461.html">critical raves</a> for her performance. Topless photos <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/10/03/kristen-stewart-topless-naked-on-the-road_n_1937851.html">leaked</a> before <em>On the Road</em>&#39;s release got more buzz than the film. Like the film, her breasts were not well-received (and a British men&rsquo;s website later deemed her the &ldquo;<a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2013/02/20/kristen-stewart-least-sexy-hollywood-actress_n_2723756.html">least sexy</a>&rdquo; actress in the world). She even canceled OTR press appearances after the scandal broke because she was &ldquo;<a href="http://metro.co.uk/2012/08/09/kristen-stewart-too-ashamed-to-attend-on-the-road-premiere-529700/">too ashamed</a>&rdquo; to be seen in public.</p><p dir="ltr">Although easy to laugh off, this sends a clear message about the double standards set for men and women. Case in point: Ashton Kutcher got a nod on America&rsquo;s least-liked list. But not because of his infidelity. <em>Reader&rsquo;s Digest</em> cited his <a href="http://online.wsj.com/article/PR-CO-20130507-912697.html">virulent Twitter presence</a> as the reason for his low score: &ldquo;Those with large social media audiences...drifted to the bottom of the list of those tested.&rdquo; His cheating scandal wasn&rsquo;t even considered relevant enough to be mentioned.</p><p dir="ltr">When I wrote about Stewart in 2012, I argued that her <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/nico-lang/trampires-why-the-slut-sh_b_1850940.html">constant slut-shaming</a> in the media was endemic of the <a href="http://www.aclu.org/blog/tag/war-women">War on Women</a>, a rhetoric that teaches us that female sexuality isn&rsquo;t to be trusted and tells young girls that they have to protect themselves from their own bodies. This was a time when many feared for repeal of their reproductive rights with the prospective of a Romney administration that would erase years of progress on gender equality.</p><p dir="ltr">With Obama promising to maintain Planned Parenthood, many feel like the battles were won. However, Stewart&rsquo;s continuing victimization shows how invisible war can be, the hidden microagressions that affect us every day. Last year, I wrote that Chris Brown could beat the crap out of his girlfriend in public (allegedly for being unfaithful) and win awards for it. After barely making it onto Star&rsquo;s Most Hated list (at #20), he didn&rsquo;t get listed in the <em>Reader&rsquo;s Digest</em> poll at all, yet Stewart did. We still have work to do.</p><p dir="ltr">I wonder how Tasha would have made sense of all this. Would she learn she can&rsquo;t trust Kristen Stewart? Would she look in Kristen Stewart&rsquo;s face and see fear? I hope she would see someone who is brave and strong in the face of constant criticism. To all the girls demonized as &quot;sluts&quot; for not being what society expects them to be and shamed for being human, Kristen Stewart should be a hero.</p><p dir="ltr">One day when I give my mother the daughter she wanted, I want to look into her newborn eyes and see hope, a promise that we can unlearn what we were taught and get it right next time. I plan on giving her the world. I just pray it&rsquo;s better than the one I grew up in.</p><p dir="ltr"><em>Nico Lang writes about LGBTQ issues in Chicago. You can find Nico on <a href="http://www.facebook.com/nico_lang">Facebook</a>, <a href="http://www.twitter.com/nicorlang">Twitter</a> or <a href="http://achatwithnicolang.tumblr.com">Tumblr</a>.</em></p></p> Thu, 09 May 2013 05:00:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/nico-lang/2013-05/kristen-stewart-slut-shaming-and-war-women-107094 What did the break-up of Katie Holmes and Tom Cruise actually look like? http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-07/what-did-break-katie-holmes-and-tom-cruise-actually-look-101029 <p><p><img alt="" class="image-original_image" src="http://www.wbez.org/system/files/styles/original_image/llo/insert-images/cn_image.size_.jpg" style="float: left; " title="The couple and their daughter Suri during happier times." />&quot;Inside Tom Cruise&#39;s Private Pain&quot; <a href="http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,20612724,00.html">proclaimed <em>People magazine</em></a> on Wednesday, as they attempted to paint a picture of exactly how much the movie star has been suffering since his separation from wife Katie Holmes &mdash; and how.</p><p>Perhaps we&#39;ll never know exactly what Cruise has been experiencing, but we can certainly speculate. Comedian Michael Palascak shared his theory at <em>The Paper Machete</em>. Read an excerpt below or listen above:</p><p><em>Tom just gets home from work. Work is in Iceland and home is probably a really nice hotel. One that you walk into and it&rsquo;s always just been cleaned or made up and it smells wonderful. And the faucets and the shower are shiny and there&rsquo;s a flat screen TV that you can watch Conan on or whatever they watch in Iceland. Or maybe it&rsquo;s a condo in a beautiful part of Iceland--all of Iceland is beautiful. That&rsquo;s why they called it Iceland. They didn&rsquo;t want people going to Iceland so they called it Iceland and they called Greenland, &ldquo;Greenland,&rdquo; so people would go there. It&rsquo;s great for channeling people but the people who went to Iceland and it was beautiful were probably upset that they brought so many clothes.&nbsp;</em></p><p><em>Anyway, Tom just gets home from work. He&rsquo;s in Iceland working on his new movie, </em>Oblivion<em>. A movie about how, &ldquo;A court martial sends a veteran soldier to a distant planet, where he has to destroy the remains of an alien race. The arrival of an unexpected traveler causes him to question what he knows about the planet, his mission, and himself.&rdquo; (IMDB 2012) &nbsp;Today he shot a scene where he was hanging onto a ship and beating aliens off while he&rsquo;s still trying to get on this ship. His arms are tired. A scratch on the back of his neck tingles where one of the aliens got too close with a whip. The makeup people noticed but he didn&rsquo;t say anything. No one should lose their job because he gets scratched. He walks into the kitchen and sits down. He wonders why Katie didn&rsquo;t call him to say goodnight last night and wonders how his daughter Siri is doing. Suri. That should say &ldquo;Suri.&rdquo;</em></p><p><a href="http://thepapermacheteshow.com/" target="_blank">The Paper Machete</a><em>&nbsp;is a weekly live magazine at the Horseshoe in North Center. It&#39;s always at 3 p.m., it&#39;s always on Saturday, and it&#39;s always free. Get all your</em>&nbsp;The Paper Machete Radio Magazine&nbsp;<em>needs filled&nbsp;<a href="http://www.wbez.org/tags/paper-machete" target="_blank">here</a>, or download the podcast from iTunes&nbsp;<a href="http://itunes.apple.com/podcast/the-paper-machete-radio-magazine/id450280345" target="_blank">here</a>.</em></p></p> Fri, 20 Jul 2012 10:44:00 -0500 http://www.wbez.org/blogs/onstagebackstage/2012-07/what-did-break-katie-holmes-and-tom-cruise-actually-look-101029