August 27, 2016
August 27, 2016
July 18, 2016
This Wednesday, July 20th, I’m being interviewed by the wonderful Randy Cohen for his show Person Place Thing. It’s from 7 to 8:30 PM, at the Museum at Eldridge Street, a gloriously restored synagogue which is worth a trip in itself, at 12 Eldridge Street. Each guest is asked to name a person, place and thing of great personal significance, so come by and hear mine!
June 19, 2016
During the first test screening of In&Out, the audience had been recruited from all ages, races and genders. They knew nothing about the movie they were about to see. The crowd was enjoying the action, laughing and involved, until Tom Selleck grabbed Kevin Kline and kissed him. The place went wild, with approval and disgust. I watched one teenage boy try to hide behind his girlfriend, while another covered his eyes and put drinking straws in his ears (I’m not kidding.) This was unnerving, as was the response card from a woman who said that she loved the movie, the characters and the cast, until she was asked, “Would you recommend this film to a friend?” She replied No, and when asked why, wrote, “Against God’s law.”
The Broadway musical Shuffle Along portrays how revolutionary it was in the 1920s, for a show to include a kiss between an African American man and woman.
The shooter in Orlando was reportedly enraged, a few weeks before the massacre, by the sight of two men kissing.
While In&Out was in development, certain studio execs kept asking if the same-sex kiss was necessary. It was.
Some additional thoughts on the Orlando killings: as always, Republicans are only even mildly sympathetic to gay lives, once the gay people in question are dead. Over the past week, these Republicans have reverted to their ordinary bigotry, refusing to pass an anti-discrimination bill in Congress. Trump, who portrays himself as a friend to LGBTQ people, has pledged, if elected, to roll back gay marriage. He’s also congratulated himself on the massacre, using it to fuel his anti-Muslim diatribes.
I remember how, during the peak years of the American AIDS crisis, gay lives at last became visible, due to a hideous plague. Now a gunman has returned these lives, and these deaths, to the front pages.
Also: Anderson Cooper’s reporting from Florida has been extraordinary. His grief has been heartbreaking, and he called out Pam Bondi, the state’s Attorney General, on her earlier attempts to reject gay marriage and defame gay lives.
May 9, 2016
North Carolina’s Governor McCrory is suing God for creating LGBT people; he claims God is trying to “play God”
April 16, 2016
March 11, 2016
February 27, 2016
As I was watching Gods of Egypt I was so dazzled that I could only think of three words: Vegas Bat Mitzvah. While the film is set in ancient Egypt, the production design is so glorious that it reminded me of the ceremony I’d dreamed of but could only approximate, when I was turning 13 at Temple Beth Lauren in Great Neck. Sure, I had lovely floral arrangements and monogrammed cocktail napkins, but Gods of Egypt is like a late-period Michael Jackson video crossed with an even whiter Oscar Nite Best Song production number.
The story follows Set and Horus, the two warring sons of Osiris, who, like deities and pudgy Republican candidates everywhere, both want to rule the world. Set is played by Gerard Butler, in a rugged style I can only term Hungover-Divorced-Dad-Yelling-At-The-Valet-Parker. Gerard is handsome, grizzled and angry about everything, which, as with so many Scottish actors experiencing mid-life angst, makes him occasionally morph into a gleaming, winged, golden creature who looks like the hood ornament on a custom Maserati.
Gerard is especially upset by his arrogant but good-hearted brother Horus, who’s played by the dreamy Danish actor Nikolaj Coster-Waldau, whose name does sound like a chain of Scandinavian big-box stores. Nikolaj shares Gerard’s swarthy, sweaty, where’s-my-latte-and-my-agent-who-I’m-about-to-fire machismo. My favorite moment was when Nikolaj was introduced to the people of Egypt as, “Horus – Lord of the Air”, which made me hope that Nikolaj was about to riverdance, but instead he just strutted around in a streaky spray tan and a wardrobe of Donna Karan-style, work-into-evening leather wrap skirts. At one point Gerard plucks out Nikolaj’s eyes, which become glowing ice-blue crystals, perhaps to be mounted on Gerard’s stick shift, or dropped into Gerard’s tumbler of fancy flavored vodka.
Gerard and Nikolaj also battle over Hathor, the Goddess of Love, who’s played by the slinky Elodie Yung, wearing all the Golden Globe gowns which even the Real Housewives of Anywhere deemed, “a little too bachelorette-party belly-dancer.” While Hathor can use her sultry gaze to get anyone to do her bidding, she spends most of the movie trudging through swamps and conjuring up visions of the afterlife in sand tornadoes. No one ever suggests that Hathor might be the best choice to rule Egypt; she’s like Elizabeth Warren with a perpetually bare midriff and too many bangles.
During their warfare, the gods are accompanied by Brenton Thwaites as a mortal lad, seeking to retrieve his dead girlfriend, Zaya, from the underworld; when she was alive, Zaya worked as a temp for a royal architect, and together she and Brenton inspect many scrolls filled with hieroglyphs, which resemble laminated takeout menus. Brenton is always pointing to a picture of a sacred cat and announcing, “It says that the entrance to the pyramid is right here!” Zaya is played by an actress named Courtney Eaton, and I kept thinking about how great it would’ve been, if her character had been named Courtney as well, or maybe Madison of Thebes. Brenton is adorable, but with his button eyes and his asymmetrical shag, he reminded me of both young Princess Stephanie of Monaco, and Kimmy Gribler from Full House.
Eventually everyone in this movie tries to stab everyone else with a spear, as guided by Geoffrey Rush as Ra, who wears a hefty Marin County gluten-free braid and steers a golden chariot through outer space; as I’m sure Geoffrey’s business manager informed him, when the script for Gods of Egypt arrived, “It’s a job.”
Gods of Egypt isn’t quite as lustily homo-erotic as 300, where Gerard cavorted with hundreds of other Spartan bodybuilders in swirling capes and leather Speedos, and it doesn’t have Christian Bale, glowering as a goyische, hipster-bearded Moses in Exodus: Gods and Kings. But it’s still altogether wonderful, in teaching us just how difficult it is, for an actor to wear what looks like a plastic Burger King crown, and try to bring peace to the Nile, if you ask me.
February 14, 2016
There have also been more terrific reviews: Publishers Weekly called the book “a whirlwind, laugh-a-minute escapade about a girl swept far outside her comfort zone, with real heart beneath the acid humor”, while Booklist called it “one riotously good read.” My favorite review may be from the delightful Maria Mei on Goodreads, who said, “FIVE STARS! I DON’T CARE! I LOVE IT.”
Reviews are always a tricky proposition, especially when they include everything from raves to snark. I included an especially snitty character in the book itself, the scary fangirl Ava Lily Larrimore. As Caitlin, one of the book’s heroines, says, “I feel bad for Ava because she’s backed herself into a corner, where nothing will ever be good enough. But I never want to become Ava, sitting at home with her arms crossed, sneering and judging everyone else, ruling from her iPad and never taking a risk or daring to enjoy herself.” Luckily, the Avas tend to be in the minority, although they never recognize themselves.
Speaking of Avas, the Supreme Court Justice Antonin Scalia died yesterday, at age 79, in his sleep, in Texas. Scalia had been a terror, doing active, far-reaching damage for years, to both womens’ rights and gay causes – Scalia wasn’t just bitterly opposed to gay marriage, he’d wanted homosexuality to remain a crime. His supporters mourn him, while liberals are in a quandary – should we actively celebrate the passing of such a genuinely villainous figure? I’m not sure, but I do know this: there’s something especially awful about anyone in a position of great power, who uses that power to harm innocent people.
January 17, 2016
I’m delighted to report that on January 26th, Scholastic will publish my new Young Adult novel, It’s All Your Fault. It’s a story of two girls, the innocent, homeschooled, kneesock-addicted Caitlin, and her cousin, the notorious Hollywood bad girl, Heller Harrigan. The cousins, who were once best friends, haven’t spoken in years. Then, just as Heller’s about to star in the movie of a YA blockbuster, Caitlin is forced to become Heller’s sober companion, full-time babysitter and bodyguard.
I had a great time writing this book, with the help of my supremely wonderful editor, Rachel Griffiths, and all the terrific folks at Scholastic. Here’s the cover:
And here’s what a batch of exceedingly generous people have been saying about the book:
* “Hilarious, irresistible, and oh so timely.” — Kirkus Reviews, starred review
“Paul Rudnick makes me lie hysterical on the floor, screeching with laughter and sobbing with fury that I can’t write the way he does.” — E. Lockhart, New York Times bestselling author of We Were Liars and The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks
“Paul Rudnick is one of the funniest people out there and he’s on fire with It’s All Your Fault. This book is as fun and crazy as a wild night out. It is brilliant and hilarious, and I had to know what happened next.” – Andy Cohen, host of Watch What Happens Live and New York Times bestselling author of The Andy Cohen Diaries: A Deep Look at a Shallow Year
“Caution: Do not read in public. Will cause you to laugh (and possibly cry) out loud, sometimes at the same time. Paul Rudnick has managed to write a book that is both screamingly funny and yet warmly touching. Buy multiple copies: you’ll to want to share this one with friends. ” – Meg Cabot, #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Princess Diaries and Mediator series
If you’d like to order a copy, you can proceed to the Young Adult section on this site for the links.
January 4, 2016
Everyone was so worried and excited about the new Star Wars movie, especially the sort of people who can remember the names of the planets in all the other Star Wars movies. Thankfully, this latest installment, Star Wars: The Force Awakens, is just delightful, and has soothed even the most passionate Star Warriors, the ones who bring their light sabers to weddings. The movie is a careful salad of reboot, nostalgia and a long overdue, culturally diversified step forward; the two young leads prove that everyone, including women and African-Americans, is welcome in the Star Wars galacto-sphere, provided they’re spunky and earnest, like good kids on a field trip to outer space.
Daisy Ridley plays Rey, who collects interplanetary scrap on the planet Jakku. She’s stunningly beautiful and bone thin, and she runs like a supermodel, meaning, like someone who isn’t asked to run all that much. John Boyega plays Finn, a stormtrooper with a conscience, who’s originally seen wearing one of those white plastic uniforms, which are glossy and flimsy, as if they’ve been supplied by West Elm, and can be wiped clean with a spritz of Fantastik. The stormtroopers exist to serve as endless, faceless, identical killers; they’re Rockettes with phasers. In this new installment, the stormtroopers work for an evil army called the First Order, which sounds like a boy band, and they’re led by Kylo Ren, which is the perfect name for an outlying Kardashian. Luckily, after Kylo removes his Vader-ish face mask, he’s played by Adam Driver, whose goofball charisma is a relief, along with the sly studliness of Oscar Isaac as Poe Dameron, a swaggering good guy.
After awhile, Harrison Ford and Carrie Fisher show up, playing their original roles. They both look great and behave blessedly like adults; they share a certain weary splendor, which can only come from being merchandised for over thirty years. Harrison and Carrie have been immortalized as action figures, bobbleheads, beach towels, sleeping bags and Lord knows what else; they’ve seen their mini-mes being abused as dog toys, marital aids and BB gun targets. Like everyone else in the movie, Harrison and Carrie are only allowed to hug; Star Wars has never been an especially erotic franchise, although Harrison and Chewbacca have their moments. And is it just me, or does Chewie now share a hairstylist with Teresa Giudice, that Real Housewife who just got out of prison?
The movie’s plot consists mostly of giving all the characters excuses to run off to different locations, so they can re-team later. The Star Wars movies could not exist without the lines “Find him!” and, when a spaceship is under attack, “We’ve got company!” Harrison’s spacecraft, the battered Millenium Falcon, is hauled out of storage, along with the beloved robots R2D2 and C-3PO; Star Wars has become the great American attic.
I have to confess, while I’ve always enjoyed the Star Wars saga, I’ve never spent any real time figuring it all out, like those boys who receive Star Wars chess sets for their bar mitzvahs. It’s like with Lord of the Rings, Game of Thrones or Downton Abbey: I trust the diehard fans to outline the character relationships in tattoos across their backs. I’ve never totally understood the Force; whenever someone utilizes it onscreen, it resembles mild constipation crossed with a staring contest, if you ask me.
December 23, 2015
I surfed Youtube, searching for a highly original Christmas song to post. I wavered between Anna Kendrick, doing a terrific job with Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas, backed by a choir, singing for the Obamas in Washington; George Michael’s This Christmas; or something refreshingly brooding, like Chet Baker crooning Time After Time. Ultimately I surrendered, the way everyone must, to the highest holiday power imaginable: Mariah Carey.
Mariah’s been having her ups and downs lately, and squeezing herself into some terrifyingly engineered gowns. But she always seems to maintain a breezy what-the-hell outlook, even while hawking her butterflies-and-angels jewelry on home shopping. She’s even just directed and appeared in a Hallmark made-for-TV Christmas movie, where she glows like a Star Wars light saber. In fact, don’t the words “Mariah Carey” sound like “Merry Christmas”, in the very special language spoken on Mariah’s home planet, in a galaxy far, far away?
December 10, 2015
I’d like to create a menorah using all the Republican candidates, and light each one on fire using Donald Trump’s hair.
You’re not supposed to call Chanukah the Jewish Christmas, but as a child, I always knew that when it came to winter holidays, the Jews weren’t even trying.
There’s the Elf on the Shelf, and the Mensch on a Bench. My Mom used to call the Hadassah newsletter Jews in the News.
There’s a real childrens book called Blintzes for Blitzen. I saw it in the Chanukah section of Bed Bath and Beyond, which, of course, was dwarfed by the Christmas goods. I’m not sure, but I think this is a Lego menorah:
I was proud of my family for refusing to have a Christmas tree.
I always loved the gold foil-covered chocolate coins available in little gold mesh bags at Chanukah, called gelt. But making chocolate money might not be the best public relations move for Judaism.