TIME celebrities

Why People Love Reading About Supreme Court Justices’ Favorite Movies

Ruth Bader Ginsburg
Cliff Owen—AP

Ginsburg's defense of a controversial opera is the latest in a long series of culture-diet revelations from the judges

Every national election gets candidates talking about their taste in television and movies. This is how we found out, two years ago, that Modern Family was just about the only thing that Mitt Romney and Barack Obama agree upon. But candidates for office have to speak carefully in order to please their constituencies, whereas people with lifetime appointments can say whatever they like.

Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s recent declaration that she didn’t find anti-Semitic tones in the controversial new opera The Death of Klinghoffer, about a Palestinian terrorist group’s hijacking of a cruise ship in 1985, is interesting on its face as another entry into the heated debate over the opera. It was also proof positive of Supreme Court Justices’ unique place in the culture: They’re people who are simultaneously able to speak their minds publicly without fear of losing their jobs (New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio, defending the opera, relied on a free-speech argument without getting into content), and are widely seen as especially learned. When they break their silence on culture, Justices are presumably speaking freely, and their statements, preferences, and cultural choices would seem to carry special weight.

Ginsburg and Justice Antonin Scalia are both outspoken opera fans, for instance, and have used the press to promote favorite opera recordings. This is in line with the ivory-tower expectations around Supreme Court Justices (though it also sheds light on Ginsburg and Scalia’s by-all-reports collegial relationship). Scalia’s professed fondness of Duck Dynasty and Seinfeld in a New York magazine interview last year was yet more revealing: This was a person, unlike a presidential candidate, who made no attempt to present as caught up with contemporary culture (which he dismissed as coarse). His declaration that he’d watched a single episode of the A&E reality show and had “some CDs” of the NBC sitcom showed a far broader audience his philosophy of staying aloof from the ups and downs of intellectual trends than any judicial opinion could have.

Clarence Thomas, who is the tersest of the justices during oral argument, has said he frequently watches Saving Private Ryan at home but “can’t tell you why except we have it and it’s about something important in our lives — World War II.” Sonia Sotomayor has helped to humanize her position through her well-publicized love of salsa music and Major League Baseball (in her confirmation hearings, she compared the associate justice position to that of an umpire). And Chief Justice John Roberts loves both Dr. Zhivago, which he discussed at such length at a judicial conference that the Christian Science Monitor compared him to a “USC film school grad.”

It’s easy to see why the Justices get asked so many questions about their cultural consumption in the Stars-They’re-Just-Like-Us era: It would seem to shed some light on what very smart people think is worth watching, and also gives us real insight into the inner workings of some of the most influential people in America, who have no incentive to answer dishonestly — or to answer at all. (Not every question asked, though, gets an answer: During her confirmation hearing, Elena Kagan couldn’t say whether she was “Team Edward” or “Team Jacob,” which may speak well of her.)

The Supreme Court remains the least visible of the three branches, because its members don’t have to do interviews about what frivolous culture they enjoy in order to keep their jobs; they could just keep influencing our lives without granting much insight into who they are and what they watch. That’s exactly why it’s so important that they do it.

TIME celebrities

Watch Daniel Radcliffe Rap ‘Alphabet Aerobics’ with Jimmy Fallon

He's a wizard on the mic

Daniel Radcliffe: child actor extraordinaire, theater star, and now, budding hip-hop idol?

In an appearance Tuesday on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, the boy who lived became the man who rapped, with an incredible interpretation of Blackalicious’ Alphabet Aerobics. By any measure an extremely difficult rap to repeat, Alphabet Aerobics employs a heavy dose of mouth-numbing consonance as it wends its way through each letter of the alphabet. But Radcliffe proved himself a wizard on the mic, barely dropping a syllable.

As impressive as Radcliffe’s performance is, the most enjoyable part of the video might just be Fallon’s exuberant head bobbing, especially by the letter “S”. A scintillating spectacle, stunning spectators, especially the show’s sign-squeezing emcee? Radcliffe and Blackalicious can take it from there.

Read next: Alan Rickman Played an Epic Prank on Daniel Radcliffe While Filming Harry Potter

TIME celebrities

Phil Collins Brings Alamo Artifact Collection Back to Texas

British music legend, Phil Collins donates what is considered the biggest collection of Alamo artifacts to the people of Texas on Oct. 28, 2014.
British music legend, Phil Collins donates what is considered the biggest collection of Alamo artifacts to the people of Texas on Oct. 28, 2014. Bob Daemmrich—Corbis

The singer has remembered the Alamo since he was a child

Phil Collins recently brought his Alamo artifact collection back to its original San Antonio home, a site the 63-year-old has been fascinated by since he was young.

The In the Air Tonight singer said he became fascinated by the U.S. historical site ever since he saw the 1955 film Davy Crockett, King of the Wild Frontier as a child in London, according to Reuters. The British rocker has since amassed a large collection of artifacts from the 1836 Battle of the Alamo, when Mexican troops attacked the Alamo Mission, a chapel built to spread Christianity to those living in the region. The Alamo’s defenders sought revenge, and later defeated the Mexican Army to establish the Republic of Texas, which would be later become a U.S. state.

Collins’ collection will be housed temporarily at a building near the Alamo before they are moved into a $100 million museum called the Phil Alamo Collins Collection.

“This completes the journey for me,” Collins told Reuters. “These artifacts are coming home.”

The artifacts include a leather pouch that Davy Crockett, who died at the Battle of the Alamo, brought from his home state of Tennessee to Texas during the Texas Revolution. Collins also owned one of only four remaining rifles that were owned by Crockett, and an original Bowie knife owned by Jim Bowie during the Battle of the Alamo, where he also died.

[Reuters]

 

TIME Music

Taylor Swift’s 1989 Expected to Hit 1 Million Sales in Debut Week

Taylor Swift performs during her 1989 Secret Session with iHeartRadio on Oct. 27, 2014 in New York City.
Taylor Swift performs during her 1989 Secret Session with iHeartRadio on Oct. 27, 2014 in New York City. Kevin Mazur—Getty Images for TAS

The singer would be the first to have three albums that sold 1 million copies in their first weeks

Taylor Swift’s latest album, released Monday, is on track to hit 1 million in sales during its first week, according to Billboard. That would make 1989 the first album in 2014 to reach that watermark, and it would make the 24-year-old the only singer ever to have three albums achieve the one-million-in-one-week feat.

Taylor’s last million-selling debut week was Red, which was released in 2012 and sold 1.21 million copies. (Red was also the last million-selling debut week, period.) Before that, the singer had released Speak Now in 2010, which promptly sold 1.05 million copies.

[Billboard]

TIME Television

2015 Will Be the Last Time Tina Fey and Amy Poehler Host the Golden Globes

"There's nowhere to go but down!"

The 2015 Golden Globes will be bittersweet for fans of Amy Poehler and Tina Fey.

While promoting her book Yes, Please on the Today Show Tuesday, the Parks and Recreation star said that January will mark the “third and final” time she and Fey co-host the awards show.

“It’s the law of diminishing returns, which is why this is our last time,” Poehler said. “Unless you want to be a perennial host, there’s nowhere to go but down!”

But could this be the “farewell tour” that keeps on going? Poehler joked, “We’ll be the Jay Z of the Globes and never retire.”

You can watch Poehler make the announcement below:

 

TIME celebrities

Watch Darren Aronofsky and Woody Harrelson’s Climate Change Ad

The Noah director continues on his environmentalist bent

The director Darren Aronofsky claimed his recent film Noah was about contemporary environmental concerns, reframing the Biblical tale of the rising oceans through a modern lens: “The water is rising,” he told a CNN interviewer, “and we already saw it once. We are living the second chance that was given to Noah.”

Now Aronofsky is making his political point yet more forcefully, and without the benefit of allegory. The director has enlisted Woody Harrelson to narrate his new ad encouraging voters to turn out in the upcoming midterm elections and vote on the basis of climate change. This is hardly Aronofsky’s first foray into advertising (he’s made both anti-meth PSAs and a perfume ad) — but with its ominous images of seeping gas leading into cataclysmic scenes of ice shelves collapsing and forest fires, it may be his most striking, and proof positive that the themes he explored in Noah are ones he’s going to keep exploring.

TIME celebrities

The Unauthorized Beyoncé Biography Will Be Better Than Any Authorized Biography Ever Could Be

Beyonce "The Mrs. Carter Show World Tour" - New York
Beyonce performs on stage during "The Mrs. Carter Show World Tour" at the Barclays Center on December 19, 2013 in New York, New York. Larry Busacca—WireImage/Getty Images

The book will chronicle the singer's rise from childhood performer to international celebrity

Like many of her contemporaries in the entertainment industry, Beyoncé is a brand. And this brand has many facets: singer, dancer, entertainer, designer, philanthropist, wife, and mother.

Of course, Beyoncé is a person first, a brand second. But the force behind that brand — the carefully crafted public relations operation that helps rake in the cash — obscures the person that the brand is selling, presenting an altered facsimile of the person behind the brand. Consumers, meanwhile, are expected to equate that presentation with the person herself.

All of this is to say: today’s announcement that an unauthorized Beyoncé biography will hit bookstores in the fall of 2015 is welcome news for those interested in the woman behind the brand. Biographer J. Randy Taraborrelli, who will write the book, is no stranger to the mega-celebrity profile; his subjects over the last three decades have included Diana Ross, Frank Sinatra, Madonna, and most famously, Michael Jackson.

But the key word in this soundbite is “unauthorized.” This means that Beyoncé herself won’t participate in the project, and the biography’s content will be gleaned from interviews with secondary sources. The word “unauthorized” suggests that we should probably take the book with some skepticism, because Queen Bey won’t have signed off on the story it spins. But the fact that she’s so tightly controlled her image until now leaves one wondering which version requires taking more grains of salt: the one she’s approved or the one she hasn’t?

Take, for example, the 2013 HBO documentary Beyoncé: Life Is But a Dream, which was not only authorized, but featured heavy participation from its subject. The film purports to “strip away the veneer of stardom” and offer up the real Beyoncé in its stead. And it literally does strip away the makeup, offering a visual to match its stated goal. But for all its Neutrogena-clean wholesomeness, the production feels self-consciously manufactured. It swaps out the image of the diva for the equally fabricated image of the girl next door, one edited truth for another. Every revelation has been carefully weighed for the way it will land.

Following her mini-concert at the MTV Video Music Awards in August, Beyoncé accepted the Michael Jackson Video Vanguard Award from her husband, Jay-Z, with daughter Blue Ivy in tow. The trio was all tears and kisses, the picture of family harmony. The Twittersphere immediately launched into debate: Were the smiles genuine, or was the performance still going? Were we witnessing a publicity stunt staged to counter the tabloids’ insistence on trouble in paradise? Throughout Beyoncé’s career, it’s always been difficult to parse out the genuine from the affected.

In the Washington Post last week, Eve Fairbanks lamented what is sometimes lost when we switch from the third-person to the first. “All that sad and subtle truth, all the disconnect between how we imagine ourselves and who we really are — the disconnect that underpins the whole tragicomedy of human life — [is] lost,” she writes. “Sometimes the deepest truths are the ones we cannot ourselves quite face.” And that, in a nutshell, is why the unauthorized biography will probably tell us more about Beyoncé than the authorized one ever could.

TIME celebrities

Alan Rickman Played an Epic Prank on Daniel Radcliffe While Filming Harry Potter

Special New York Luncheon in Honor of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2
Daniel Radcliffe and Alan Rickman at a luncheon for "Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2," at 21 Club, Monday, Nov. 21, 2011, in New York. Dave Allocca—AP

Oh, Snape

Daniel Radcliffe, who’s busy promoting his new film Horns, took to Reddit to answer troves of questions for fans this week.

Unsurprisingly, the fans were itching for answers to Harry Potter queries from the actor who played The Boy Who Lived. When asked about the best prank that was played on the Potter set, Radcliffe replied, “I should probably [tell] about the one that was pulled on ME, rather than any I pulled. Because it came from a very unexpected place.”

The unexpected place? The mind of Alan Rickman, who played Professor Severus Snape, Harry’s bête noire at Hogwarts. Rickman pranked Radcliffe on the set of Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban with a jape that sounds like something Fred and George Weasley might have pulled off.

“There’s a shot in the great hall of all the kids sleeping in the great hall, and the camera starts very very wide, and comes in so that it’s an inch from my face,” Radcliffe wrote on Reddit. “Alan Rickman decided he would plant one of those fart machines in my, uh, sleeping bag, and they waited until like – the camera had come in for this huge DRAMATIC developing shot, and then unleashed this tremendous noise in the great hall.”

“I immediately thought: ‘This is one of the other kids f–king around, and we were going to get in trouble.'”

But as it turns out, it was one of the members of Britain’s acting royalty. “I think I laughed a lot, was probably a bit embarrassed, but it was really really funny.”

Watch a young Radcliffe and co-stars Rupert Grint and Emma Watson explain the prank on the DVD extras from the film:

Read next: Watch Daniel Radcliffe Rap ‘Alphabet Aerobics’ with Jimmy Fallon

TIME Books

Here Are Some Sex Tips From Amy Poehler’s New Book (Plus Insight on Motherhood and Divorce)

2014 ELLE Women In Hollywood Awards - Arrivals
Amy Poehler arrives at the 2014 ELLE Women In Hollywood Awards at Four Seasons Hotel Los Angeles at Beverly Hills on Oct. 20, 2014 in Beverly Hills. Steve Granitz—WireImage

The Parks & Rec star's new book, Yes Please, is out on Oct. 28

Amy Poehler’s new book, Yes Please is out today, and the title pretty much sums up everyone’s attitude when we heard the notoriously nice funnywoman was finally writing a book. An Amy Poehler book? Yes please! That’s probably where she got her title.

The Parks & Rec star explains where she got her title, in a winning yet insightful passage in the book’s introduction:

It’s called Yes Please because it is the constant struggle and often the right answer. Can we figure out what we want, ask for it, and stop talking? Yes please. Is being vulnerable a power position? Yes please. Am I allowed to take up space? Yes please. Would I like to be left alone? Yes please…”Yes Please” sounds powerful and concise. It is a response and a request. It is not about being a good girl; it is about being a real woman.”

But if you can’t pick up the book, or your bookstore is out of it, or you’re waiting in a line behind everyone else in the world and just want to know the highlights, here they are:

On hot sex tips:

In the “World Famous Sex Tips” chapter, Poehler has some choice advice for women and men about how to get it on:

For women:

Try not to fake it: I know you are tired/nervous/eager to please/unsure of how to get there. Just remember to allow yourself real pleasure and not worry about how long it takes…God punished us with the gift of being able to fake it. Show God who the real boss is by getting off and getting yours.

For men:

Be nice, tell your woman she is hot, never shame her, and never hurt her.

Also, she advises not to let your kids sleep in your bed, which is probably a good idea for both men and women.

On her mantra for women who make different choices:

Poehler describes the experience of giving birth to her first son, and making choices about delivery that were different from what her friends were doing (she opted for lots of drugs, not a “natural birth.”)

Good for her! Not for me. That is the motto women should constantly repeat over and over again. Good for her! Not for me.

Poehler also notes that her OB-GYN had delivered Sophia Loren’s children, which was fitting because she (Poehler) has “the Angelina Jolie of vaginas.” This celebrity gyno doesn’t end up delivering Poehler’s son, but you’ll have to read the book to find out why…

On motherhood, and why “every mother needs a wife:”

Poehler has an excellent chapter on motherhood, titled “Every Mother Needs a Wife.” At first, she gets into the down-and-dirty of the mommy wars (perfectly lampooning the subtle digs of working and stay-at-home moms.)

“The ‘I don’t know how you do it’ statement used to get my blood boiling. When I heard those words, I didn’t hear ‘I don’t know HOW you do it.’ I just heard ‘I don’t know how you COULD do it.’ I would be feeling overworked and guilty and overwhelmed and suddenly I would be struck over the head by what felt like someone else’s bullsh*t. It was an emotional drive-by. A random act of woman-on-woman violence…

But then Poehler gets to what she actually means by “every mother needs a wife.” The chapter ends with a touching tribute to the nannies who care for her children, similar to the tear-jerking toast she gave at the TIME100 gala in 2011. These women, she says, are her wives.

“Do you know how I do it? I can do it because I have a wife. Every mother needs a wife… Some mothers’ wives are their mothers. Some mothers’ wives are their husbands. Some mothers’ wives are their friends and neighbors. Every working person needs a wife who takes care of her and helps her become a better mother… the biggest lie and biggest crime is that we all do this alone and look down on people who can’t.

On divorce:

True to form, Poehler doesn’t dish any juicy details at all about her 2013 divorce from comedian Will Arnett, but does write insightfully about how difficult the process was.

“Imagine spreading everything you care about on a blanket and then tossing the whole thing up in the air. The process of divorce is about loading up that blanket, throwing it up, watching it all spin, and worrying what stuff will break when it lands.

She notes that she isn’t going to get into any specifics, because it’s “too sad and too personal,” but she will say this:

“I am proud of how my ex husband, Will, and I have been taking care of our children; I am beyond grateful he is their father and I don’t think a ten-year marriage constitutes failure. That being said, getting a divorce really sucks. But as my dear friend and relationship sponsor Louis CK has noted, “divorce is always good news because no good marriage has ever ended in divorce.

On awards shows:

Poehler has been nominated for many acting awards (mostly for Parks & Rec, although she was nominated for two Emmys for her time at SNL, and for some movies). Although she has not yet won an Emmy for Parks & Rec, she is known for staging “bits” with other nominees to take some of the pressure off who wins. Here’s why:

“The worst part of being nominated for any award is that despite your best efforts, you start to want the pudding. You spend weeks thinking about how it doesn’t matter and it’s all just an honor, and then seconds before the name of the winner is announced everything inside you screams… “GIMME THAT PUDDING!!” Then comes the adrenaline dump, followed by shame.

She describes all the various stunts she’s pulled at awards shows, from wearing fake mustaches to pretending to be in a beauty pageant to switching speeches with Julia Louis Dreyfus, to a fake flirtation with George Clooney.

“The lessons? Women are mighty. George Clooney loves bits. Doing something together is often more fun than doing it alone. And you don’t always have to win to get the pudding.”

On doing drugs:

She’s pretty open about her drug use, which is kind of awesome. The verdict: weed rocks, cocaine feels great but terrible the next day, and everything else ruins lives.

“In my twenties I tried cocaine, which I instantly loved but eventually hated. Cocaine is terrific if you want to hang out with people you don’t know very well and play Ping-Pong all night. It’s bad for almost everything else… The day after cocaine is rough…The next day is the thing I can’t pull off anymore. How do you explain to a four-and-six-year old that you can’t play Rescue Bots because you have to spend all day in bed eating Cape Cod potato chips and watching The Bicycle Thief?

But is she worried that her kids will read the book and think drugs are okay? Nah.

“What’s more boring than your own mother’s take on her own life? Yawn. Also, I am counting on everyone living on the moon by the time my children are teenagers, and that they’ll have really interesting space friends who are kind and good students and think drugs are lame and “totally, like, Earthish.”

More, please!

Read next: Marcel the Shell (With Shoes On) Is Back

TIME celebrities

Neil Patrick Harris Will Host NBC Variety Show

Neil Patrick Harris signs copies of his new book "Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography" at Barnes & Noble bookstore at Barnes & Noble bookstore at The Grove on October 24v in Los Angeles, California.
Neil Patrick Harris signs copies of his new book Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography at Barnes & Noble bookstore in Los Angeles on October 24, 2014 Araya Diaz—WireImage

"Its unique structure fits right into my random skill set"

Neil Patrick Harris will host a show based on the British hit series Ant and Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway.

Filmed before a live audience, the show will feature comedy sketches, musical numbers, minigame shows and hidden cameras, NBC announced Monday — all based on the British series.

“As I watched the show, I couldn’t stop smiling. Now that I’ve seen many seasons, my face hurts. It’s a game changer,” Harris said in a statement. “Nothing like this has been done before, and I can’t wait to roll up my sleeves and have some fun!”

The jack-of-all-trades and star of current box-office hit Gone Girl has proved his hosting chops as emcee for the Emmys and Tony Awards and recently confirmed he’ll be hosting the 2015 Academy Awards. Harris also won a Tony Award for Best Actor in June this year for Broadway’s Hedwig and the Angry Inch.

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