In 1961, John F. Kennedy made a speech to Congress declaring that America should commit “to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the Moon and returning him safely to the Earth.” This seemed a tad overambitious, even when you factor in how much speed Kennedy was on at the time. The Soviets were popping into space every other week, but the American space program basically consisted of paying a really strong guy to huck empty beer cans at the sky in the hope that one of them hit Sputnik. An American hadn’t even been into orbit, now they were suddenly supposed to go to the moon?
And yet, against all the odds, they did. In just eight years, NASA designed and built, almost from scratch, moon landers and rockets and space suits. Whole landscapes were leveled to build test sites and launch pads. Over 400,000 people were recruited to work on the program, which is more people than worked on the Pyramids, or the Great Wall. The moon itself was so mysterious that scientists genuinely worried that the entire lander might just sink straight into the moon dust like quicksand. Fortunately, the surface was solid enough to support Neil Armstrong’s small step in July 1969. It was one of the greatest achievements in human history.
The moon landing captivated the entire world. Even on tiny boats in the middle of the ocean, they were glued to the radio and breaking out the champagne. The astronauts instantly became national heroes, which helped compensate for the brutal punishment of having to hold several conversations with Richard Nixon. Naturally, America’s newspapers went berserk. The New York Times‘ headline was a series of all-caps F-bombs, while the Chicago Tribune published a special 40-page supplement that just contained the word “America!” typed over and over. The LA Times ran a front-page op-ed solemnly inviting Leonid Brezhnev to “suck our giant moon-hog,” while the Miami Herald staff set fire to all their printing presses and simply walked into the sea, declaring that the age of man had surely peaked and ended.
At least, we assume that’s what happened, but there’s no need to Google any of those actual headlines, because the greatest coverage of the moon landing was unquestionably provided by the local newspaper in Neil Armstrong’s tiny hometown of Wapakoneta, Ohio. While the rest of the world was going nuts over the scale of the achievement, or the political and scientific implications, the Wapakoneta Daily News simply went with the adorably perfect “Neil Steps On The Moon.”
It’s Nearly Election Time—So Let’s Roast Trump in Rhyme
John Lithgow knows that poems will not defeat Donald Trump, no matter how cleverly penned.
What the actor hopes is that his collection of Trumpty Dumpty rhymes and storybook illustrations provides a laugh, some schadenfreude, and a bit of relief and reassurance to those who are doing all they can to fight the good fight as the November 3 election draws near.
“I’m an entertainer,” Lithgow said. “What else am I going to do except somehow entertain while I express, deep down, my anger and loathing at what’s going on right now?”
The book, the full title of which is Trumpty Dumpty Wanted a Crown: Verses for a Despotic Age, hits stores on Tuesday. In the meantime, Lithgow recruited actor friends (and a few political figures) to read some of the poems aloud.
Vanity Fair presents four of the readings here, with performers including Meryl Streep, Samuel L. Jackson, Whoopi Goldberg, Glenn Close, Steve Buscemi, and Joseph Gordon-Levitt.
Lithgow came up with the idea for the videos himself. “Here we are in the COVID era, where you can’t have a proper book tour. What’s the best bang for your buck when you can’t leave your office or your living room? I thought, I’ll just get friends of mine to film themselves,” he said. “I mean, all of us are being asked to do all sorts of things, just sitting and staring at your own iPhone. I think I must’ve done 40 little testimonials and tributes—even plays just right here in my house.”
The shoots were overseen by Emmy-winning Boardwalk Empire and The Sopranos director Tim Van Patten, who had recently worked with Lithgow on HBO’s Perry Mason. They both shared a love for one of the founding fathers of political cartoons, who popularized the form in the late 1800s. “He’s a huge Thomas Nast fan,” Lithgow said of Van Patten. “So he, in fact, was thrilled with my political cartoons, and he said yes immediately.”
The Tiger King
Among the people Lithgow recruited were Montana senator Jon Tester, Republican strategist Steve Schmidt, and Democratic campaign adviser James Carville. Van Patten and his team cut the footage together and added the animation for a dash of playfulness.
Henry Cavill Finds Playing Superman & Geralt More Stressful Than Sherlock
Henry Cavill is no stranger to playing iconic characters, but it turns out he found one to be less stressful than the others: Sherlock Holmes.
Henry Cavill finds playing Sherlock Holmes to be much less stressful than Superman or Geralt of Rivia. Cavill rose to fame when he was cast as the DCEU’s Superman for 2013’s Man of Steel. Though the film was met with a mixed response, fans grew to appreciate Cavill’s performance as Clark Kent over the course of additional films like Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice and Justice League. Since then, though, Cavill’s DCEU future has remained a large question mark. Luckily, the actor found another memorable role to take on in the meantime, portraying monster hunter Geralt for Netflix’s The Witcher.
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Cavill’s newest role just so happens to be as well-known as Superman himself: Sherlock Holmes. For Netflix’s Enola Holmes, Cavill is the latest actor to play the iconic detective, though the film is actually centered on his brilliant younger sister (Millie Bobby Brown). As this Sherlock is a bit different than ones that came before, there’s actually been some controversy over him; the estate of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle has sued Netflix for depicting a more emotional Sherlock. Nevertheless, fans were both surprised and excited to see Cavill become Sherlock for Enola Holmes.
Cavill recently spoke about his experience playing Sherlock with Collider and dug into the pressure that comes with portraying such iconic figures like him, Superman, and Geralt. Interestingly, Sherlock was the character he felt the least amount of pressure for, and that is due to his attachment to the source material, not the external pressure. “It’s more about me –certainly with Superman and The Witcher – those are characters I grew up with and I love and I really, really want to represent in the most source-accurate way possible. That for me was a massive thing and still is a massive thing,” Cavill explained. However, when it came to Sherlock, “I wasn’t reading the books of Sherlock Holmes necessarily.”
Cavill went on to explain how he’s often the one on set to question everything based on his knowledge of the source material. Since he was less familiar with Sherlock, though, he managed to sidestep that. “I managed to absolve myself of this duty which I put on myself which is being a law loyalist; it’s always about the details,” Cavill said. Those who have watched Enola Holmes might agree that Cavill’s Sherlock is far different than past iterations, and that’s actually a remarkable thing. After all, Sherlock has been portrayed more times onscreen than any other literary character, so providing a different spin on him is an impressive creative risk.
If fans and Cavill have their way, he could end up taking on another iconic role: James Bond. Cavill was previously in contention for the role, but it ended up going to Daniel Craig. However, with Craig vacating the role, it’s a mystery as to who will fill his shoes. Cavill is a popular pick, and he himself has voiced interest in it. His Superman future is still unclear, and Cavill won’t comment on it. However, between The Witcher and a possible Enola Holmes 2, Cavill might already have his hands full. Only time will tell what major role he’ll take next.
More: How We All Learned To Stop Worrying And Love Henry Cavill
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Chris Rock Reflects on Original ‘Tower Heist’ Pitch: Robbing a Hans Gruber-Like Donald Trump
Eddie Murphy’s original pitch to rob Trump Tower was very different before it became a movie with “a bunch of white people,” Rock says.
Before Alan Alda was cast to play the Ponzi-scheming bad guy in the 2011 caper comedy “Tower Heist,” the film was set to a have a more recognizable real-life villain. Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter for a recent profile, Chris Rock recalled that Eddie Murphy’s original pitch was for a movie about a gang that robs a villainous Donald Trump.
Rock said he was in producer Brian Grazer’s office when Murphy pitched the movie — a kind of Black “Ocean’s Eleven,” starring Rock, Dave Chapelle, and Chris Tucker as a gang that robs Trump Tower. Trump would be the bad guy, “Like Alan Rickman in ‘Die Hard,’” Rock told THR.
The movie morphed during development into what we know today, “Tower Heist,” the more middle-of-the-road movie with a great cast of, as Rock puts it, “a bunch of white people.”
Directed by Brett Ratner, the film follows employees of a luxury apartment building who, after being fleeced out of their retirement funds by a scheming Alda, plot to rob him of $20 million. Ben Stiller, Casey Affleck, and Michael Peña play the employees, and Murphy plays the criminal they hire to help pull off the heist.
THR reported back in 2017, about six months into Trump’s presidency, that Ratner regrets moving away from the Trump storyline. “In retrospect, it would have been a bigger hit if it had been called ‘Trump Heist,’” he said.
While Trump’s long love of appearing on film and TV is well documented (“Zoolander,” “Home Alone 2: Lost in New York,” “Sex and the City”), many of those roles could be described as shrewd playboy billionaire rather than the villain that Murphy envisioned. Though Trump has previously described his tax avoidance as “smart,” it’s unlikely he would have agreed to appear in a movie where he steals his employees’ retirement money.
While his name or likeness didn’t make it into the final film, Trump did participate in the production of “Tower Heist.” THR reported that the movie’s press notes boasted about how Trump International Hotel & Tower and Trump Tower were both used as filming locations.
“With the cooperation of Donald Trump, who allowed the production access to several of his high-end properties, the filmmakers were able to incorporate true luxury locales in the film. … The real-estate mogul made a point of visiting the set during a break from taping his television series, ‘The Celebrity Apprentice,’ several floors up to see how Ratner and the cast were faring,” the production notes said.
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