The Famous 50 - 2013
Who's up? Who's Down? Pat Grandjean dishes on 50 of Connecticut's best-known celebs.
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41. A.R. GURNEY A new play by the 82-year-old Gurney is always good news, even if his latest politically themed work has gotten mixed reviews. Heresy, described as a rewrite of the Gospel of Mark set in a modern military state, played the ever-devoted-to-Gurney’s-political-works, Obie-winning, 74-seat Flea Theater this fall in TriBeCa. Time will tell whether Heresy gets developed further, or whether we’re treated to something else from Pete’s pen.
42. HARRY CONNICK JR. The Broadway revival of On a Clear Day You Can See Forever didn’t last long, but its premise—a ’70s psychiatrist undergoes a melodic emotional meltdown—did a great public service for theater critics by giving them plenty of license to play with theme-appropriate zingers. Said the AP, “It needs more time on the couch”; quoth Ben Brantley of The New York Times, “It has the approximate fun quotient of a day in an M.R.I. machine.” In short, for star Connick, The Pajama Game it wasn’t. Still, he was a “break-evener” in the Seinfeldian sense, getting plaudits for a successful TV stint in “Law and Order: SVU” early in the year. He’ll next be seen onscreen in the family flick When Angels Sing, co-starring Willie Nelson, Lyle Lovett and Kris Kristofferson.
43. CANDACE BUSHNELL Not a banner year for Carrie Bradshaw’s creator: Her 10-year marriage to real-life Mr. Big, Charles Askegard, came unglued over his affair with New York City Ballet dancer Georgina Pazcoquin, prompting Bushnell to put the Greenwich Village apartment they shared on the block (for $2.8 million). To add insult to injury, she was also forced to renegotiate a settlement with former manager Clifford Streit, whom she’d already paid roughly a quarter-million from 2006 to 2009 in response to his claim that she owed him commissions for helping her make connections that led to the Sex and the City franchise. Now, he’ll also get a cut of the movie and DVD-sale profits.
44. DON IMUS He may be one of the greatest radio talk show hosts of all time, but this year he seemed to suffer a significant loss of cool, highlighted by his oft-professed friendship with buffoonish Fox News broadcaster Sean Hannity. We also wonder about his loyalty to longtime producer Bernard McGuirk—believed to be the main instigator behind the Rutgers 2007 basketball controversy that was almost Imus’s undoing—who went on Fox News’ “The O’Reilly Factor” to opine that Randy Newman’s “I’m Dreaming of a White President” proves the satirical songwriter is a “liberal racist.” Confidential to the I-Man: Conservatism is your prerogative, but cluelessness is fatal.
45. ROB ZOMBIE Rock ’n’ roll roadmances can get soo bitchy. About nine dates into his “Twins of Evil” co-headlining tour with Marilyn Manson (which ends this month in Italy, more than 25 shows later—if in fact it’s still on), Zombie reportedly snapped and called his co-star a “punk-ass bitch.” That was because Manson threatened to “kick Rob Zombie’s ass” in response to Zombie cutting Manson’s opening set off prematurely. Whoever was the biggest divo, Zombie was the quicker to do damage control, citing his harmonious tours with “Pantera, Slayer, Alice Cooper, Korn and Megadeth.” We’re more interested in how he and Dee Wallace hit it off on The Lords of Salem.
46. GRETCHEN CARLSON In 2012, “Fox & Friends” went from regular “Daily Show” target status to mainstream media notoriety as one of President Barack Obama’s most strident adversaries, an approach that reached a much-criticized peak in May when the show aired a four-minute attack ad on Obama’s first-term record—Time magazine wrote, “It’s hard to imagine a more over-the-top parody of Fox News’ raw-meat-hurling, fear-stoking, base-pleasing agitprop.” Carlson’s willingness to play along has drawn some abuse; on one occasion, she was punked by a Columbia College of Chicago student who got on air pretending to be a “disaffected Obama supporter.” Yet, Fox’s “base” keeps “F&F” by far the highest-rated morning show on cable, and Carlson’s folksy congeniality is still a big reason why.
47. LISA LAMPANELLI Since she underwent gastric-sleeve surgery and lost 80 pounds, wags everywhere have started calling her “The Queen of Lean” (instead of, har har, “Mean”). She’s been touring her live show in the U.S. and Canada this fall (her final date will bring her to the MGM Grand at Foxwoods Dec. 15) and will be more of a screen presence in the new year, both in David Chase’s movie Not Fade Away and the animated TV series “Bounty Hunters,” debuting on CMT.
48. 50 CENT Seems like Fiddy’s been a little touchy about his hip-hop career lately—delaying the release of his fifth CD, Street King Immortal (a couple of single releases, “New Day” and “First Date,” haven’t charted well) and feuding with rival French Montana of Bad Boy on Twitter (better nasty tweets than gunfights, we’d say). The August death of friend and manager Chris Lighty has left him understandably dispirited yet determined to steer his own future for now; the brightest venture seems to be his custom line of headphones, SMS Audio.
49. GRAYDON CARTER Longtime Vanity Fair editor and Hollywood maven Carter turned heads with his cameo in Arbitrage; otherwise, to borrow a turn of phrase from Shakespeare, this seems to have been the autumn of his aggravation. The Church of Scientology responded to VF’s recent article about Tom Cruise like Pavlov’s dog to a bell, and Janet Jackson, who objected to allegations made in the mag’s excerpt of the new book Untouchable: The Strange Life and Tragic Death of Michael Jackson, also got litigious. Carter’s acquisition and revival of Manhattan’s historic downtown Beatrice Inn also caused him headaches: While word is that he plans to return the Bea to its 50-year-old roots as a sedate neighborhood Italian restaurant, he heralded its reopening with the kind of “catnip-for-paparazzi” parties (featuring Scott Rudin, George Clooney and L.A. Reid) that got the place closed by exasperated neighbors in 2009.
50. JIM CALHOUN/GENO AURIEMMA: In September Calhoun stepped down after 26 years as the University of Connecticut’s head basketball coach to devote himself to fundraising for the university, politicking for Chris Murphy and mentoring his handpicked successor, novice Kevin Ollie. Meanwhile, Ollie has forged a mutual admiration society with UConn’s women’s basketball coach Auriemma, who coached the U.S. Women’s National Basketball team to a gold medal at the 2012 Summer Olympics. While last season wasn’t a fabulous one for the Lady Huskies, he remains the winningest coach ever in college basketball, with an .861 percentage.