1. ”’Why is God telling me to stop asking questions?’: Meet the woman behind Neil deGrasse Tyson’s Cosmos.” Ann Druyan, Cosmos creator and widow of Carl Sagan, on science vs. religion—and men getting credit for her work.
“Druyan does not personally seek the limelight and is not a celebrity, but in her own way she’s a key cultural figure in the struggle against the popular antagonism to science and the spread of anti-scientific claptrap about climate change and evolution. Those on the creationist or anti-evolutionist fringe who understood the unstinting scientific arguments of Cosmos as a direct attack on their beliefs were entirely correct, but Druyan’s critique of religion goes well beyond the literal-minded idiocy of the Answers in Genesis crowd. She describes herself as an agnostic rather than an atheist—based on the premise that science must withhold judgment on questions it cannot answer—but she has also described religious faith as ’antithetical to the values of science’ and religion in general as ’a statement of contempt for nature and reality.’”
2. “How Silly Can You Get?” Screen Crush’s Mike Ryan on the tumultuous making of Top Secret.
“Adding to the tumultuous experience was the film’s star; a classically trained actor named Val Kilmer starring in his first film role who, by his own admission, wasn’t always happy on set. Kilmer stars as Nick Rivers (a character that today the Zuckers admit was poorly written, which probably added to Kilmer’s angst), a cocky rock and roll singer who is performing in East Germany. After meeting a woman named Hillary (Lucy Gutteridge), Nick finds himself caught up in a deadly game of spies and resistance fighters. Again, this wasn’t the simple story that was Airplane! Ahead—as Top Secret! approaches its 30th anniversary—in their own words, David Zucker, Jim Abrahams, Jerry Zucker and Val Kilmer tell the story about the rise, then fall, then rise again of what today is considered a comedy classic, Top Secret!”
3. “Vulture TV Awards: The Year’s Best Villain Is Breaking Bad’s Walter White.” David Milch shares his thoughts on Walter White.
“You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone in all of television’s kingdoms more heinous than Joffrey Baratheon. Or more devilish than Frank Underwood. Or more politely chilling than the eponymous Hannibal. For these characters, villainy is as much a vocation as avocation: Joffrey is a teenage tyrant; Frank is a scheming politician; and Dr. Lecter a sinister shrink. When villainy is a job requirement, why not delight in it? But there is nothing inherently villainous about your mild-mannered chemistry teacher — the one who took a medical leave when he developed lung cancer. He’s so nice, after all, and his family is so sweet. He’s just like you and me, and we’re not so bad. Are we? Walter White’s transformation into the monster Heisenberg is compelling because he does bad things for good reasons. We might even do the same, if pushed far enough. We see a little of ourselves in him, and that’s precisely why we should fear him most.”
4. “Björk Retrospective Opening at MOMA Next Year.” The installation will chronicle her career through various genres of art.
“The artist Björk is getting the full star treatment at New York City’s Museum of Modern Art in 2015. The museum announced Wednesday it will be presenting a retrospective of Björk’s career drawing from over 20 years of her projects and seven full-length albums. The exhibition will follow her work in sound, film, visuals, instruments, objects, costumes and performance. Björk and Icelandic writer Sjon Sigurdsson are co-writing the narrative to accompany the installation, which will be a mix of biography and fiction.”
5. “New York’s Film Czar Preserves Indie Spirit.” The New York Times profiles Cynthia López, Commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment.
“When Cynthia López was 9 years old, her mother told her, ’Make sure you hold the door for those who come behind you.’ Her mother died three years later, but Ms. López kept that message in mind and has taken it into her new position as commissioner of the Mayor’s Office of Media and Entertainment in New York. ’How do we open the doors to people who would like to work in this economy and don’t have access?’ Ms. López said in her office in her first formal interview. ’I took the job with profound respect for the mayor’s emphasis on diversity.’ Ms. López’s portfolio includes the Office of Film, Theater and Broadcasting, which involves entertainment production in the five boroughs, generates an estimated $400 million in city tax revenue and contributes about $7 billion to the local economy in direct spending, according to the Boston Consulting Group. She also oversees NYC Media, the city’s TV, radio and online network. To be sure, Ms. López, 49, is an unorthodox choice for the commissioner’s job. She comes from the documentary world, having most recently served as executive vice president and co-executive producer of the PBS documentary series ’POV.’”
Video of the Day: George R.R. Martin stops by “Gay of Thrones”:
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