Archive for February, 2014

Julia Roberts“We are talking about people who are powerful. People who have very delicate power, people who are in the limelight. Their power can be destroyed very easily…”

This recent public statement by the fiancee of actress Julia Robert’s half-sister Nancy Motes may be spelling out the new rules of celebrity life in the truly tell-all era of social media.  What is the cost of a media world when angry Tweet messages or even alleged seven-page suicide notes can go viral?

nancy-motesTragically, Nancy Motes– as the world is now learning– died of an apparent drug overdose and presumed suicide on Feb. 9th.  In photos, Motes shares her famous sibling’s beaming smile.  But the sisters’ relationship allegedly darkened in later life.  Given the hostile nature of Mote’s Tweets on her superstar sister, speculation abounds about the supposedly lengthy suicide note Motes may have left behind.

Scandals hit hardest when the stars involved have seemed the most invincible.  Since bursting into stardom in Pretty Woman, Julia Roberts with her mile-wide smile has lived a charmed celebrity life.  An A-list star with a rare common touch, a longtime wife and mother of three offscreen, Roberts with her offbeat beauty projects vibrant warmth and humor onscreen.

Recently she has begun succeeding in making the tricky switch to serious actress, holding her own with Meryl Streep in August: Osage County. Some have callously speculated that her sister’s death may have been timed to ‘deny’ Roberts a Best Supporting Actress Oscar.  Even in death, Roberts’ sister and family are seen in Julia’s shadow.

PrettyWoman4_240x260_041020080506It can’t be easy to be a movie star’s sibling.  Or being a star with a sterling wholesome image who comes from an all-too-real and troubled family.  As with Woody Allen– whose alleged repugnant offscreen behavior is said to threaten Cate Blanchett’s Oscar chances– it’s painful yet perversely fascinating to watch family woes play out in public– and to have the unprecedented access to those woes that the social media era allows.

Radiant young Julia Roberts’ starmaking moment came in Pretty Woman when Richard Gere playfully held open a jewel box displaying a dazzling necklace.  As Julia reached for the box with childish eagerness, Gere snapped it shut.  Julia– regal in red velvet– burst into the wild girlish laugh heard round the world.

All these years later, will fame come back to bite this larger-than-life star, as a Pandora’s box of real-life troubles bursts open with– as always, for Julia Roberts– millions all-too-raptly watching?

(photos: GoogleImages, The Guardian.com, NYDailyNews.com, butterfliesandhurricansaccessstories.com)

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Michael BarryMichael Barry is a writer who lives in Boston, MA. He received his B.A. in Financial Economics from St. Anselm College and his MFA in Creative Writing from the Stonecoast Program at the University of Southern Maine. Check him out at MichaelBarryWriter.com.

lebron-james01It was being whispered around that Lebron James was in Manchester, NH, incognito. Why he made his way to a city with no professional basketball I wasn’t sure. We met up on Elm Street, outside the Black Brimmer. We both knew where we were meeting and when, the details prearranged elsewhere. On the curb a valet weaved his way through a number of smoking college students. They were enthralled in the story of a girl they’d passed around. None of the flat brimmed polo hat bros gave heed to the 6’8” athlete in two pieces of a three-piece plaid cashmere suit. On another night in another city we might have been looking for the red carpet, the next party, the third piece of his suit. In ManchVegas we were on our way to a nightcap.


The first thing we saw turning up Lowell Street was a tow truck dragging away some unsuspecting drunk’s Cutlass Ciera. It was too early for the college kids to be at The Red Arrow Diner. The car belonged to a local. How unlikely a local would be unaware of the tow zone, Lebron stated so matter-of-factly, as though this were his usual Thursday-night-spot.

Lebron walked into the diner like it was a nightclub. He had a pseudo secret handshake with the lady behind the register and shot a kiss at the heavyset guy manning the grill before bear hugging an older gentleman reading yesterday’s paper at the counter. He had a swagger as we made our way down the line. I loved that about Lebron, that he waited in line. No shortcuts. LBsWhen we got to our place at the end he shoved his hands in his pockets and cozied up to the wall. There were four or five people in front of us. Lebron’s smile beamed as he turned to the girls ahead of us. He asked them where they went to school and immediately which dorms they lived in, favorite teachers, intramural basketball, then volleyball, tennis. He seemed to know so much about college life. The girls asked him how. He confessed how much he’d missed. How the millions of dollars couldn’t buy him one or two or four years of campus life, of skipping classes and hitting up house parties and bonfires with the gang. He never had the gang, had missed out on the opportunity to miss them and work to stay in touch after graduation. (more…)

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Daniel%20publicity%20shotThanks to Daniel for his thoughts on the deaths of Philip Seymour Hoffman, Pete Seeger and more.  RIP to two great stars…

After many years writing about music, movies and theater as a top Boston-market freelance journalist, Daniel Gewertz turned his attentions toward more creative writing, namely personal essays, short memoir pieces and story-telling. Recently, he completed his first novel, “Ghost To Genius.” He frequently performs his work on stage. Gewertz has published in The Boston Globe Magazine, The Boston Herald,  Harvard Magazine, The New York Times, and many other periodicals, and has taught writing at Cambridge Center for Adult Education, Lesley University and Bay State Community College. 

Demises Noble and Ignoble, Cultural Giants Dead or Shrunken

My sorrow over the death of Philip Seymour Hoffman feels as penetrating a grief as any I’ve felt by the demise of a public figure in a long time.


I did think he was the most expressive film actor of his generation, but beyond artistic stature, he was also like a humorous, schleppy, surprising friend.
There have been more heroic actors, but unlike a Daniel Day Lewis, I can say about Philip: his pain was my pain. He, like many of us, was an outsider.
The shock of his death comes the same week as the death of a truly heroic American, Pete Seeger.


Pete was over twice the age of Philip. A life of 94 beautifully-spent years coming to an end is not a stark tragedy, but I have stopped in my tracks a few times this week and thought: for the first time in my life, I am no longer sharing this earth with Pete Seeger. I am no longer blessed by his worldly presence. Yet here’s the good part: when I hear his recorded voice, I am lifted up still, and suspect I always will be.
I am sure seeing Hoffman on film will, for a while at least, only sadden me, much like hearing John Lennon’s voice struck me with pain after his premature death these 33 years ago. Seeger lived his ideals to his last days. The same cannot be said of Bob Dylan, who chose on Sunday to further tarnish, confuse and dirty the legacy of his far-gone, artistically heroic younger years. (more…)

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