TIME movies

Home Movies: The Unreleased 1984 Oddball Nothing Lasts Forever Can Now Be Seen!!!

The same year as Ghostbusters, Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd graced a sci-fi comedy musical romance directed by SNL auteur Tom Schiller. Finally this authentic weirdie has crawled out of the lost-film crypt

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Thirty years ago this summer, Ghostbusters answered Hollywood’s call for a comedy blockbuster. The horror comedy, starring Saturday Night Live veterans Bill Murray and Dan Aykroyd, became the second biggest box-office smash of 1984, just behind fellow SNL refugee Eddie Murphy’s Beverly Hills Cop. So genial and lasting was the Ghostbusters vibe that the movie will be rereleased this Aug. 29 in some 700 North American theaters.

Turns out that Ghostbusters, directed by Ivan Reitman, wasn’t the only fantasy comedy Murray and Aykroyd appeared in that year. Nothing Lasts Forever was the first feature film produced by SNL’s Lorne Michaels. Its 20-year-old leading man, Zach Galligan, had starred in the horror-comedy hit Gremlins, also from the summer of ’84. Nothing Lasts Forever boasted sumptuous music by SNL bandleader Howard Shore, who would go on to win Oscars for two of his Lord of the Rings scores. The film’s writer-director, Tom Schiller, had created some of SNL’s most distinctive early short films for Gilda Radner (“La Dolce Gilda”) and John Belushi (“Don’t Look Back in Anger”). The movie was scheduled to open in September 1984, and since part of the story takes place on the lunar surface, it almost could have been called Moonbusters.

(READ: Ivan Reitman’s tribute to Ghostbusters co-writer Harold Ramis)

Some people loved Nothing Lasts Forever, especially the programmers at the Cannes Film Festival. “I got a phone call,” Schiller recalled in 2010, “and they said, ‘You have created a masterpiece! You will be a sensation at Cannes!’” Yet the movie didn’t play there — and didn’t officially open in U.S. theaters. The bosses at its distributor, MGM, decided it had no commercial potential, even with the Ghostbusters and Gremlins stars, and aborted its release. The film got a few showings at museums but was never released either theatrically or for home video.

Not until this month, when an “unreleased upgrade” grabbed attention on YouTube, could viewers see for themselves the movie that provoked all those cheers, all that unease. This long-missing movie even comes with a conspiracy theory. “WhylamWhatham,” who posted NLF on YouTube, provided this note with the upload: “MGM has given many reasons for why this film was never released, but those reasons will be very obvious to those that watch, if you have the eyes to see. The masonic big whigs apparently did not want the profane to know some of the things this film contains.” The Masons? Paging Dan Brown!

(READ: Inside the Masons with author Jay Kinney)

Freemasonry aside, NLF is an authentic weirdie: a sci-fi comedy that’s short on special effects and laughs; a young man’s movie with a bizarrely high proportion of old actors; a saturnine satire with a soft romantic heart. There are color sequences, set in underground Manhattan and on the moon, but most of the movie is in a broody, noirish black-and-white. And if you’re wondering, Aykroyd is in just two short scenes lasting about a minute and a half, while Murray has a larger supporting role as a smiling, sinister “sky host” on a bus to the moon. Still, Nothing Lasts Forever, which clocks in at a tidy 80 minutes, is well worth checking out as a unique goofball experiment.

The trailer promises “Magnificence! The most spectacular film ever produced.” That’s a joke, since NLF is at heart a young man’s journey of artistic yearning. Galligan’s Adam Beckett is first seen as a pianist wowing a crowd of Carnegie Hall music lovers with his interpretation of Chopin’s Polonaise. But his virtuosity is a fraud — he’s been banging away on a player piano — and, just as the ruse is exposed, he wakes up from his nightmare on a train in Europe. A kindly stranger (Jan Trinka) encourages the lad to follow his artistic star, sagely predicting, “You will get everything you want in your lifetime. Only you won’t get it in the way you expect.”

(WATCH: the trailer for Nothing Lasts Forever)

Adam returns to New York to stay with his aunt and uncle (jazz singer Anita Ellis and comic monologuist Mort Sahl) and finds the city under the tyrannical control of the Port Authority, the transportation monolith that now requires passport verification of travelers from New Jersey and Connecticut. Proclaiming his artistic intentions, Adam is obliged to take a test drawing a nude model but flunks it and is assigned a job at the Holland Tunnel, where Buck Heller (Aykroyd) is his harried supervisor and one of his co-workers is art-world vamp Mara Hofmeier (Apollonia von Ravenstein). Adam and Mara become lovers until he realizes she’s cheating on him with a performance artist (Marc Alderman) whose latest project is to walk a million steps on a treadmill.

A random good deed — offering food, money and shelter to a homeless man — brings him into contact with an underground tribe of otherworldly alterkockers; these must be the Masons. The supposedly homeless fellow, Hugo (British actor Paul Rogers in a spectral-benevolent role much like the one Claude Rains took in Here Comes Mr. Jordan), introduces Adam to saintly Father Knickerbocker (92-year-old Sam Jaffe, who had played the title role in the 1939 Gunga Din and Dr. Zorba on the ’60s medical drama Ben Casey). “We shall show you,” he tells Adam, “that New York City is a dream created by higher beings as a temporary lodging place in the earthly sojourn.” He gives good-hearted Adam a mission — to colonize the moon with kindness — and adds, “You will meet your soul mate there.” Adam has the knack of meeting strange men who tell his future.

(FIND: Saturday Night Live on the all-TIME 100 TV Shows list)

How to get to the moon? On an “Astrocruiser,” an ordinary bus with jet propulsion. Adam, who needs to escape both Mara and Manhattan, boards the bus believing it’s headed for Miami Beach, as indicated by a glimpse of his fellow passengers, all Social Security pensioners or older. So are the bus’s driver and stewardess. Adam doesn’t realize where he’s going until steward Ted Breughel (Murray as a friendlier version of the unctuous, showbiz-fringe performer he often played on SNL) identifies himself as the trip’s “sky host” and announces that shortly, “We will commence lunartini service.” (Moon-voyage perks include a free martini.)

Among the passengers are such veteran actors as Imogene Coca, Sid Caesar’s leading lady on Your Show of Shows; Coca’s husband King Donovan, who co-starred in the primal sci-fi film Invasion of the Body Snatchers in 1956; and Calvert DeForest, better known as Larry “Bud” Melman on David Letterman’s late-night NBC show. DeForest exudes his patented idiot enthusiasm when he exclaims, “That takeoff was a doozy!” and, later, “I can see the man in the moon — he’s smiling at me!” The headliner in the Astrocruiser lounge is Eddie Fisher, singing “Oh! My Pa-Pa” long past his crooner prime. When he mutters, “How the hell did I wind up singin’ on a bus to the moon?” a waiter (Avon Long) observes, “Must have been all them women, Mr. Fisher.”

(READ: Corliss remembers the tuneful, sinful life of Eddie Fisher)

Adam and the other passengers land to find that the moon is less Miami Beach than Honolulu: the lovely moon maidens dance to a “Lunar Hula.” One maiden, Eloy (Lauren Tom, later one of The Joy Luck Club daughters and a recurring voice on King of the Hill and Futurama), looks familiar to Adam; he saw her in his Carnegie Hall nightmare. Eloy is kin to the space cuties from ’50s endearingly trashy sci-fi movies — among them Cat-Women on the Moon and the Zsa Zsa Gabor Queen From Outer Space — and thus our hero’s predestined love interest. (Think Adam and Eloy.) Her name is also a variation on the Eloi race from H.G. Wells’ The Time Machine; in the 1960 movie version, Yvette Mimieux played the blondest, loveliest Eloi.

Eloy informs Adam that the U.S. first landed on the moon in 1953 and quickly turned it into a Disneyland-like “carousel of consumer values” known as Moon-O-Rama. She drives him on a gold cart past a cratered Luna 2 Soviet spacecraft from 1959 and a pair of audioanimatronic astronauts planting the American flag on the Moon’s surface. As Murray’s Ted brays, “Shop! Shop!” at the elderly consumers, Adam and Eloy plot a lovers’ insurrection.

(SEE: Top 10 Sci-fi movies from the 1950s)

In any movie era, NLF would be a misfit, but it can be seen as a remnant of that brief phase in the late ’60s and early ’70s when many American filmmakers were under the sway of European art cinema — Fellini, Godard, that crowd. Going even further back, Schiller pulls from a grab bag of silent-movie iconic scenes: the Babylonian set from D.W. Griffith’s Intolerance; the flight down the Odessa steps from Eisenstein’s Potemkin; the eyeball-slicing from Buñuel and Dali’s Un chien andalou. For those viewers who don’t want to ransack their old-film thesaurus, the director also offers the chocolate-factory assembly-line bit from an I Love Lucy episode in 1952 — just a year before President Eisenhower colonized the moon.

Visually inventive but a little lumpy in its pacing and direction of actors, NLF plays like a film-school project by a gifted tyro; it’s just that Schiller had a strangely starry cast and a $3 million budget. If the movie doesn’t quite work as either a comedy or a sci-fi homily, that could be because the director was really aiming for a musical romance. He and Shore composed several numbers for the film, most memorably the title love theme — a grandiose melody in the Chopin style performed by Tom (but sung in playback by soprano Mara Beckerman). “If this must be,” the climactic lyric proclaims, “let’s make forever never.” No, I don’t know what that means either. But I haven’t been able to get the tune out of my head. Maybe that’s the one thing from Nothing that will last forever.

In one sense, NLF is not anachronistic but prophetic. Adam evinces no talent for painting or writing or music, yet he believes he possesses an artistic impulse worth cultivating. That makes him the perfect prototype for this decade, when more college students major in visual arts than in all the more useful, potentially lucrative STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and medicine). Any film-studies grads, living jobless in their parents’ basements, could find some entertainment and much instruction in Nothing Lasts Forever. They should just keep in mind that, over the next 30 years, Schiller never got to make another feature film. After this honorable debacle, he earned a living directing TV commercials.

TIME Late Night

Watch: Dwayne Johnson And Jimmy Fallon Sweat It Out ’80s Style

The late night host and the actor broke out the shake weights for a hilarious fitness video skit

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The Tonight Show had a bit of an 80s workout makeover when Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson and host Jimmy Fallon dressed up like a fake, albeit colorful, workout duo.

“About a year ago I found this old VHS tape that had a bunch of clips of this fitness duo called The Fungo Brothers,” Johnson said of his secret workout weapon.

Johnson was promoting his latest movie, Hercules, out Friday.

TIME Television

Jon Stewart Launches $10 Billion Kickstarter to Buy CNN

Jon Stewart speaks during a taping of "The Daily Show with John Stewart," in New York. in 2012.
Jon Stewart speaks during a taping of "The Daily Show with John Stewart," in New York. in 2012. Carolyn Kaster—AP

Jon Stewart doesn't like the cable news channel and wants to make it better—but he'll need some help raising the funds to buy it

If Rupert Murdoch buys Time Warner, the world’s other great media titan will be there to pick up the scraps.

Jon Stewart said Tuesday on the Daily Show that he is launching a $10 billion Kickstarter campaign to buy CNN. The legacy news station, whose value is reportedly around $10 billion and is a Time Warner company, would likely be up for sale if Rupert Murdoch were successful in his bid to acquire the media conglomerate.

Ten billion dollars?

“It’s a lot of money for anyone,” said Stewart on Tuesday. “But not a lot of money for everyone.

So that’s where the Daily Show host’s campaign comes in. Stewart’s LetsBuyCNN.com mimics a Kickstarter page, though it doesn’t actually allow users to contribute money toward the goal. Hypothetically, a contribution of $1 billion would allow you to host a CNN anchor Hunger Games-style fight to the death.

Worth it? Depends on whether you dislike CNN as much as the Daily Show does.

“CNN, America’s first 24-hour cable news network, has been terrible for many, many years,” LetsBuyCNN.com reads. “Does it have to be that way? Who knows, maybe it does. So let’s find out for ourselves!”

Amen?

TIME Books

U.S. Authors Snag 4 Spots on Man Booker Prize Longlist

Simon & Schuster

But Donna Tartt's The Goldfinch didn't make the cut

The longlist for the 2014 Man Booker prize was announced Wednesday and in the first year the prestigious British award changed its criteria to consider writers from all over the world, a whopping four novels by American authors made the cut.

Previously awarded to English-language works written by citizens of the Commonwealth, the Republic of Ireland or Zimbabwe, this year marks the first time the judges of the literary prize were able to consider works from writers across the globe, so long as they’re written in English and published in the UK.

The four American books to make the cut — We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves by Karen Joy Fowler, The Blazing World by Siri Hustvedt, To Rise Again at a Decent Hour by Joshua Ferris and Orfeo by Richard Powers — make up nearly a third of the 13-title longlist. Somewhat surprisingly, Donna Tartt’s The Goldfinch wasn’t selected, though it won the 2014 Pulitzer Prize for fiction.

When the new criteria for the Booker prize were announced last September, it caused a minor controversy as some literary insiders complained that the rule change could lead to an American domination of the prize.

“Although it appears to let in lots more good fiction, it risks diluting the identity of the prize,” John Mullan, a former Booker Prize judge, told the BBC last year. “It’s going to be Toni Morrison versus Hilary Mantel, or Jonathan Franzen against Ian McEwan, and I think that’s really unfortunate.”

American authors didn’t dominate the longlist — the Brits still hold that claim with five titles making the cut — and the final winner will be announced on Sept. 9.

The 2014 Man Booker Prize longlist:

To Rise Again at a Decent Hour, Joshua Ferris (US)
The Narrow Road to the Deep North, Richard Flanagan (Australia)
We Are All Completely Beside Ourselves, Karen Joy Fowler (US)
The Blazing World, Siri Hustvedt (US)
J, Howard Jacobson (UK)
The Wake, Paul Kingsnorth (UK)
The Bone Clocks, David Mitchell (UK)
The Lives of Others, Neel Mukherjee (India)
Us, David Nicholls (UK)
The Dog, Joseph O’Neill (Ireland)
Orfeo, Richard Powers (US)
How to be Both, Ali Smith (UK)
History of the Rain, Niall Williams (Ireland)

TIME Theater

“Bullets Over Broadway” to Shut Down Next Month

"Bullets Over Broadway" Opening Night Celebration - Arrivals And Curtain Call
Brooks Ashmanskas, Nick Cordero, Zach Braff, Marin Mazzie and Helene Yorke during the Broadway opening night performance curtain call for ''Bullets Over Broadway" at the St. James Theatre on April 10, 2014 in New York City. Walter McBride/Getty Images

The musical is likely to take a $14 million hit

The curtains will close on “Bullets Over Broadway” next month. The show, about the struggles of pulling off a Broadway production whilst casting members of the mob, was the first Woody Allen film to be adapted into a stage musical.

Producers of “Bullets” announced on Tuesday that the final St. James Theatre show will be on Aug. 24.

While the film version was feted with seven Academy Award nominations, the musical adaption failed to impress critics and theatregoers. It was left empty handed at this year’s Tony Awards and audience attendance slumped following the April 10 opening – filling only 67 percent of the house seats.

The $14 million musical’s poor attendance and early exit is likely to cost most or all of its capitalization, reports the New York Times.

Lead producers, Letty Aronson (Woody Allen’s sister) and Julian Schlossberg, said in a statement on Tuesday, “We are tremendously proud of this show and every single person involved with it. It has been a true pleasure, and we know that ‘Bullets Over Broadway’ will have a long life in future productions to come.”

Zach Braff took on the lead role as David Shayne, the playwright who makes a deal with the mob to get his play produced. John Cusack played the on-screen version of the writer in the 1994 film.

[LA Times]

TIME justice

Spike Lee Splices NYPD Chokehold Footage With Scenes From Do the Right Thing

The director seems to be noting similarities between the death of Eric Garner and the killing by police of a character in his 1989 film

Film director Spike Lee posted a short video on Tuesday, which mixes together footage of a black Staten Island man who died July 17 after a confrontation with the NYPD, with an eerily similar climactic scene from his 1989 movie Do the Right Thing.

Eric Garner was a father of six who died after being held down and put in a chokehold by New York City police last week. An asthmatic, Garner can be heard in the video saying he can’t breathe while officers restrain him before he passed out.

Video of the incident, recorded by Garner’s friend Ramsey Orta with a camera phone, has gone viral online. The police officer, Daniel Pantaleo, who is seen in the video putting Garner in a chokehold, which is strictly prohibited by the department, has been assigned to desk duty, while two EMT’s who failed to act to save Garner’s life have been suspended without pay.

Lee titled the video, which he posted to Instagram and YouTube, “Radio Raheem And The Gentle Giant,” after the name of the parallel character in Do the Right Thing, who dies as a result of a brutal police chokehold, and the nickname given to Garner by friends in some media reports.

TIME Video Games

The Destiny Beta Is Back a Day Early for Both PlayStation and Xbox

Bungie says the Destiny beta is back early because it managed to finish maintenance ahead of schedule.

You know all that stuff about the Destiny beta being down for maintenance and offline until Wednesday, July 23 at 10:00 a.m. PT?

Pish-posh, apparently, because the beta is back as I’m typing this, and I mean for everyone — PlayStation and Xbox players alike. Bungie made the announcement on its Destiny blog just a few hours ago:

We know you’ve been waiting, so we busted our asses to finish our chores up early. You can download and play the Beta right now. This is a great moment for the entire Bungie Community to share in this adventure, and we couldn’t be more excited. Get in there. Break it. Tell us what you think. Share your experiences online.

If you have a code, redeem it already, says Bungie, and if you don’t, here’s how you can still get one. Bungie adds that it has “some surprises in store,” and says that if you play this Saturday, July 26, starting at 2:00 p.m. PT, you’ll get a permanent reward to celebrate your participation. The beta runs until July 27 at 11:59 p.m. PT, and the launch version of the game arrives for Xbox and PlayStation platforms on September 9.

TIME celebrities

Beyoncé Already Responded to Those Divorce Rumors on Instagram

A quick guide to whether you should care

Question: How do you know if a Beyoncé rumor is worth talking about? Answer: If she decides to address it in her own special Beyoncé way — with some not-so-subtle Instagram PR a la Solange-gate. A recent blind item suggested the pop star and husband Jay Z are going to end their marriage once their joint On the Run tour wraps up, and the news has sent some Internet dwellers into a bit of a tizzy. Sure, Beyoncé and Jay Z divorce rumors happen all the time, often for no real reason — but some are taking this rumor more seriously because it comes from the same source that called the Tom Cruise-Katie Holmes divorce.

Of course, the fact that Beyoncé posted a picture of happy family time on social media doesn’t make it true — she responded to pregnancy rumors with a Tumblr post and a glass of wine, and Blue Ivy Carter is still an only child as far as we know (assuming you believe she gave birth to Blue in the first place). It just means that, were Beyoncé’s gossip troubles ever canonized, this week’s news would certainly make the List of Beyoncé Scandals page Wikipedia, which somehow does not exist yet. Get on it, #BeyHive.

TIME celebrity

The Problem With Celebrities Who Tell You How to Live Well

Blake Lively arrives for the screening of the film "Captives" at the 67th edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southern France, on May 16, 201.
Blake Lively arrives for the screening of the film "Captives" at the 67th edition of the Cannes Film Festival in Cannes, southern France, on May 16, 201. Valery Hache—AFP/Getty Images

Health is the new wealth: Just ask Blake, Gwyneth, Jessica and Ellen

Somewhere in Greenwich Village, it’s reported that Leonardo Di Caprio’s apartment lighting is synching up with his circadian rhythms. At least that’s one of the features his health-centric building advertises. On a recent visit to the Delos Living loft-style apartments in New York City, which are designed with posture-supportive flooring and ultraviolet lights to sterilize airborne microbes, I got a sneak peak into the lifestyles of the rich and health conscious. As the elevator doors opened, Deepak Chopra, prominent alternative medicine practitioner, stepped out in a t-shirt. He too, lives in the building currently offering a penthouse for $50 million.

(MORE: 5 Celebrities Who Want to Tell You How to Live)

If you’re willing to pay the price, you can not only afford a luxury apartment with cleaner air, but a yoga teacher who makes house calls, a fitness concierge who makes sure you get to workouts on time, healthy meals delivered to your doorstep. Is the good life still getting you down? If you can foot a $1818 bill, you can escape to Sri Lanka for a two-week wellness vacation.

Gone are the days of flaunting lavish apartments and cars for the MTV “Cribs” camera crews, instead, we see Instagram posts of up to $235 rejuvenating skin care products and celebrity trainers. Exit opulent mansions, enter evidence of impeccable physical health.

Wellness is the new wealth. And we all want some of that glow. Steady growth of 7.2% per year for the health and wellness market is expected to continue, with global sales hitting a record high of $1 trillion by 2017. Wellness tourism—travel that promotes health through physical and spiritual activities from meditation retreats to weight loss spas–is a $439 billion industry worldwide.

And who better to pander to our desires for the latest and greatest in self improvement than today’s batch of celebrities who no longer simply sell us a new vodka, perfume, or eye shadow, but instead offer how-to guides using their own lives displayed via perfectly curated lifestyle blogs.

The queen of selling us the good life is of course, actress Gwyneth Paltrow, whose personal blog, Goop, provides recipes for her white pear kimchi, or the chai gingerbread shake in her winter cleanse. She’s even pushing the trendy new way to end a marriage.

Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres recently announced that she will be launching, E.D., her new lifestyle brand in late October/early November. Though she remained tight lipped about the details to WWD, she will reportedly offer everything from home décor to fashion. Jessica Alba even has her own brand of organic baby products. And this week, actress Blake Lively joined the crowd with the launch of her lifestyle brand, Preserve. The site, which highlights trends in food, style and wellness, sells everything from curry ketchup to earrings. In her editor’s letter Lively writes: “I’m no editor, no artisan, no expert. And certainly no arbiter of what you should buy, wear. Eat.” And yet…

This new wave of celebrities are no longer just actresses and performers, they’re brands, and they’re selling us a blueprint for the most intimate aspects of life. Martha Stewart built her empire by showing women how to create cute crafts and put together the perfect 4th of July spread, but she never provided a detailed outline of her own day-to-day activities, like what products she uses and her latest workout. Oprah got a lot closer, with her former TV show and O magazine, flagging inspiring stories and offering recommendations on what women should read how to get their to do lists done.

And in 2014, it’s clear that wellness is becoming something worth lusting over as much as the perfect table setting, and in many cases, it’s a luxury item. Arianna Huffington’s book Thrive: The Third Metric to Redefining Success and Creating a Life of Well-Being, Wisdom, and Wonder has sold about 1.6 million copies promoting the idea that true success means paying heed to well being, taking meditation breaks at work and getting more sleep.

Hotels like the W and Westin are catering to the growing interest among guests to be healthy. Westin hotel rooms are part hotel room, part mini-gym with a treadmill or stationary bike, dumbbells, fitness DVDs, resistance bands and stability balls built into individual rooms. In May, the W launched a fitness program with in-room exercise videos. Renowned hospital, the Cleveland Clinic, even has a clinic that specifically treats big-name business executives (Oprah is a patient).

But how easy is it to adopt the lifestyles of the rich and extremely well? Just ask Rachel Bertsche, author of the new book, “Jennifer, Gwyneth, & Me.” She spent eight months trying to imitate the lives of celebrities like Jennifer Aniston, Jessica Alba and Gwyneth Paltrow following their eating, exercise and marriage philosophies for a month each. “There is absolutely a rush when you’re feeling like you’re living that glamorous lifestyle,” she says. “I think Gwyneth Paltrow has made a business of saying ‘here is my fabulous life’ and suggesting things that are attainable. But stars are not just like us, and we are not just like them.” By the end of Bertsche’s chapter on Gwyneth she sounds like she’s close to tears and starvation.

Meanwhile, one third of the general populace is still obese, and the majority of us are not getting adequate exercise nor do enough of us have regular access to fresh food, raw, macrobiotic or otherwise. Americans work long hours—among the longest in the industrailized world—and we’re stressed out. Forty-three percent of U,S. adults report stress has kept them awake at night. But often times it’s easier to simply click through Gwyneth’s recipes for appetizers like beet-cured gravlax than take that time and money to make ourselves better based on her recommendations. It’s sort of like window shopping high-luxury stores. The reality is that look and admire is all many of us can do.

Making health and wellness a luxury that only a select few can afford isn’t helpful, especially since there are so many simple ways to achieve better health by opting for healthier food (even in the frozen aisle) and being more physically active (even just a walk can help). If a juice cleanse is really part of a simple healthy lifestyle (which I will argue until I am blue in the face that it’s not) then why does a one-day package cost $65? Making health “trendy” has its benefits, surely we’ve seen enough of celebrities touting late night boozing and drug use. But when a market emerges that transforms wellness into something only attainable for the 1%, health disparities become ever more visible, and we lose sight of what it means to really be “well.”

 

TIME movies

GLAAD Report: Only 17 Major Studio Movies in 2013 Had LGBT Characters

MCDHANG EC129
Ken Jeong as Leslie Chow in The Hangover Part III Warner Bros.

The advocacy group also found that many of those depictions were offensive

On Tuesday, the LGBT advocacy group GLAAD released its second-ever annual run-down of depictions of gay, bisexual and transgender characters in major Hollywood movies, the Studio Responsibility Index. The organization took a look at 102 major studio releases from 2013, and found that not much had changed: about 17% of the movies examined contained LGBT characters, versus last year’s 14%; about 7% of them passed the “Vito Russo Test” — GLAAD’s way of measuring whether a depiction is both positive and substantial — versus last year’s 6%.

Though the number has increased slightly in both counts, only one character out of a whole cast is needed to move a movie into the “yes” column — and many of the films that don’t pass the Vito Russo Test get a “no” for actually being offensive, not just for lacking an LGBT character. (Among the offenders: The Hangover Part III for the character of Leslie Chow and Grown Up 2‘s “recurring jokes about a female bodybuilder character secretly being a man.”) In addition, GLAAD found that none of the LGBT characters counted were leads, the group was not very diverse (three-quarters of the gay characters were white) and the genres where Hollywood money is most readily spent, such as action, are the least likely to feature LGBT characters.

But despite numbers that GLAAD calls “depressing” in its findings, there were a few bright spots. Notably, in a studio-by-studio tally, Sony Columbia became the first major studio in the study’s history to receive a “good” score, after being marked “adequate” last year, on the strength of The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones and Battle of the Year, both of which pass the Vito Russo Test. 20th Century Fox and Disney both went from “failing” to “adequate.” The number of transgender characters overall also increased from zero to two.

The reason GLAAD takes the time to track these movies, the report explains, is that Hollywood films are — in addition to being entertaining — capable of spreading ideas worldwide. When a gay character gets significant screen time but perpetuates stereotypes (as in the case of Riddick, GLAAD points out, where a major lesbian character is routinely insulted and later successfully seduced by the ultra-macho protagonist) that may be worse than having no depictions of gay people at all.

“These studios have the eyes and ears of millions of audience members, and should reflect the true fabric of our society,” said GLAAD CEO and President Sarah Kate Ellis in a statement announcing the report’s release, “rather than feed into the hatred and prejudice against LGBT people too often seen around the globe.”

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