January 17, 2011

My Father at 100 by Ron Reagan
The 40th president’s youngest son is sharing his memories”€”and getting a piece of the publishing pie”€”on the centennial anniversary of Ronald Reagan’s birthday. The liberal commentator didn”€™t always get along with his “€œwarm yet remote”€ father (who at one point told him, “€œYou’re my son, so I have to love you. But sometimes you make it very hard to like you”€), but this is a nice glimpse into the personal relationships of one of the most beloved leaders in history. The most controversial bits of the book are already making media waves before the memoir’s release on Tuesday. Reagan writes that his father had Alzheimer’s while president in the “€˜80s, years before he told the public of his disease in 1994. The admission has created a rift in the family”€”older brother Michael said, “€œMy brother seems to want [to] sell out his father to sell books…my father did not suffer from Alzheimer’s in the “€˜80s.”€ Either way, consider the books already sold.

Hold It Against Me by Britney Spears
It’s hard to remember what year it is, what with the Backstreet Boys touring with New Kids of the Block and Britney Spears again shooting to Number One on the charts. It’s harder still to imagine our introduction to young Brit was nearly 12 years ago. A decade of drama, two kids, two divorces, and one head-shaving incident later, Britney’s back”€”and packing more talent in one breathy chorus than any of Disney’s writhing Britney wannabes. Her latest track, the dance-heavy “€œHold It Against Me,”€ was an immediate hit, topping iTunes in 16 countries after its release last week. She’s in the middle of music video rehearsals now, and rumor has it Brit will perform at the Grammy Awards on February 13. Britney is still pop’s reigning queen”€”don”€™t hold it against her. 

“€œForgotten Promises”€ by Damien Hirst, Gagosian Gallery, Hong Kong, January 18 “€“ March 19, 2011
Art world kingpin Larry Gagosian is taking over Asia. The first exhibition in his new and 11th gallery space is a cache of paintings and sculptures by contemporary artist Damien Hirst. The popular Brit often works with skeletons and butterflies that, he says, comment on the beauty and fragility of life. The main draw is a jeweled baby’s skull titled “€œFor Heaven’s Sake.”€ Made in 2008 but never seen before in public, it’s set in platinum with 8,128 diamonds, 7,105 pink diamonds, and 1,023 white diamonds, and creates something of a pair with Hirst’s widely known “€œFor the Love of God,”€ the human-sized skull equivalent whose asking price was once $79 million. The exhibition is a signal of contemporary art’s strong market in Asia, and with auction prices on the rise for the past five years, it’s clear the show”€”and everything on sale”€”is already destined to be a big hit.

Piers Morgan Tonight, CNN, January 17

After Larry King announced he was hanging up his suspenders seven months ago, the race was on to find a replacement that could capture the public’s attention. A host of America’s Got Talent wasn”€™t the most natural choice, but Piers Morgan is still sliding into the interviewer’s chair this week. One of his first guests is Oprah, whom he bets 100 British pounds he will interview Michael Vick before she does. It’s that braggadocio that the 45-year-old brings to the table, a sort of daring”€”false as it may be”€”that left King long ago. The network is banking on Morgan to boost them out of the ratings doldrums, and they”€™re immediately going A-list: Rudy Giuliani, George Clooney, Condi Rice, and Howard Stern are all sitting down for his apparently tough interview style. Oprah claimed she had to go home, have a hot bath, and take two Anadin after talking to him.

Sundance Film Festival, Park City, Utah, January 20 “€“ 30
It’s that time of year again. The annual snow-filled festival is back with its hidden gems and a little something for all film fans. Becoming Chaz, a documentary about Chaz Bono’s gender reassignment from a woman to a man, will premiere before heading to Oprah’s new TV network. Other ones to watch: The Beastie Boys”€™ new short film Fight for Your Right Revisited, a documentary about the life of Harry Belafonte, Paul Rudd in My Idiot Brother, and Vera Farmiga navigating a crisis in Higher Ground. Morgan Spurlock of Super Size Me is back with The Greatest Movie Ever Sold, a documentary about product placement, and Kevin Smith is taking an interesting turn, too, with Red State, a raunchy road trip story-turned-horror film. Quite an eclectic bunch, no? Expect reviews to be pouring out of the state for the next few weeks as Sundance sets the agenda for what to watch”€”and what studios should buy”€”for the rest of the year.


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