Words: Dodi Fayed’s Adventures in Hollywood

The first day of location filming for F/X in 1985 found an eerie foreshadowing unfolding for producer Dodi Fayed. Michael Peyser, who worked on the film with Fayed, recalls one of Fayed’s bodyguards getting into an altercation with a bus driver after the bus got too close to Fayed’s car. “It led to a shouting match between the bodyguard, who was talking to the bus driver, who didn’t like his guff,” Peyser says. “And it came to, I believe, some fisticuffs.”

In the melee, the bus driver was either knocked down or fell, and Fayed’s bodyguard fled the scene while the police were called. “We found him and resolved the situation,” Peyser says. “But it was weird that a bodyguard created trouble for his client by having a temper.” Eleven years later, another man in Fayed’s employ would create trouble again, with tragic results.

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Fact-Checking The Crown Season 5

The Crown” is back — and so is the Netflix series’ accompanying drama about what is and is not factually accurate. This season feels particularly explosive, as the first batch of episodes to take place in the oh-so-well-documented 1990s. Among the many topics tackled are the dissolution of marriages (Charles and Diana, Andrew and Fergie, Anne and her husband, whoever he was), the discovery of the remains of the Tsar of Russia and his family, the election of Tony Blair — and Prince Philip’s obsession with carriage driving.

In order to sift through what is historically accurate and what is merely conjecture (if not outright dramatic fiction), we turn to the Internet’s favorite arbiter of fact versus fantasy: Jonathan Frakes, the host of late ’90s meme-fave “Beyond Belief: Fact or Fiction.” Are these “um, what?!?” moments true? Or is Peter Morgan just pulling the crown over our eyes?

Visit IndieWire.com to read the full story.

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Words: Olivia Wilde’s Salad Dressing

It was the question on the minds of every overly online person this week: What is Olivia Wilde’s salad dressing recipe?

This query is just the latest wrinkle in a titanically rough year for the Don’t Worry Darling director. Fresh off the heels of the disastrous press tour for the film, Wilde’s former nanny gave the kind of typically explosive interview that former nannies tend to give, alleging, among many other things, that Wilde made a salad and accompanying dressing for Harry Styles while still living with ex-fiancé Jason Sudeikis. Sudeikis was so outraged by this that, according to the nanny, he lay under Wilde’s car to prevent her from leaving. “She made this salad and she made her special dressing and she’s leaving with her salad to have dinner with” Styles, Sudeikis allegedly told the unnamed nanny.

As has been her wont over the last several months, Wilde remained silent about the latest revelations. The former couple released a joint statement decrying the interview and calling it the latest attack in an 18-month-long harassment from their former employee. But then Wilde (like so many before her) took to her Instagram stories and revealed the source of that “special dressing.”

Reader, that salad dressing is from Heartburn, Nora Ephron’s roman a clef about her messy divorce from Carl Bernstein.

To read the full story, visit Town & Country.

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Wild Swoops and Cloudy Thinking

“I mean,” he said patiently, “that we’re no good at that sort of game. Our game is wild swoops, sudden inexplicable discoveries, cloudy thinking. Knights’ jumps instead of files of rooks plowing across the board. So we’d better play our way if we expect to win.”

I have spent an inordinate amount of time contemplating my career and answering questions about said career in the last two years. “What do you want to do?” people ask. There’s genuine curiosity and a little bit of skepticism. I am, after all, someone who walked away from the narrative. I had a career in publishing, moving from publication to publication in an orderly fashion. 

“You were always so focused, no matter what you were pursuing. But it feels lately like you’re drifting,” a friend recently said. True! But the second half of this year has become, by necessity, about clearing the decks for the next thing. And the next thing is not me following a playbook or saying the lines someone arbitrarily assigned me before I fully understood what was in store.

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Words: Capote’s Swans Are Alive and Well and Living on Runways

They were walking, breathing Slim Aarons photos come to life—literally. The photographer who defined midcentury style by taking photos of “attractive people doing attractive things in attractive places” frequently captured them at home and at play, and often both. Some 60 years later, much like “walkers” and long lunches at La Côte Basque, these stylish women—whom Truman Capote dubbed his “swans”—have largely faded from view.

But this season, they took wing again. Look no further than the 2022 pre-fall shows at New York Fashion Week, where the swans’ silhouettes found their way into collections as varied as Oscar de la Renta, Carolina Herrera, Khaite, and Christopher John Rogers—complete with some thoroughly modern updates. At Oscar, perfectly cut tweed suits came with statement buttons and bare midriffs. Carolina Herrera’s models stood on pedestals, but their swanlike ensembles included down-to-earth touches like cutouts; Rogers updated classic silhouettes with bold stripes and one-of-a-kind hats. These are clothes for a woman who prizes individuality, maybe even eccentricity, in a sea of algorithm-driven sameness.

To read the full story, visit Elle.com.

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Words: Martha Mitchell, the “Mouth of the South,” Gets Her Due

During her time, Martha Mitchell was ­inescapable. The Arkansas-born wife of John Mitchell, Richard Nixon’s attorney general, was an invaluable source for gossip columnists, a guest star on Laugh-In, and the cover star of a 1970 issue of Time devoted to the women of Washington, DC. But her true place in history is weightier than pop culture ubiquity. “If it hadn’t been for Martha,” Richard Nixon told David Frost in 1977, “there’d have been no Watergate.”

Mitchell’s predilection for critiquing the administration—which earned her the nickname “The Mouth of the South”—caused headaches, but it was her threat to tell reporters the truth about the break-in at the Democratic National Committee headquarters that resulted in a beating, kidnapping, and smear campaign. Fifty years later, she’s finally getting her due with Starz’s Gaslit, starring Julia Roberts.

To read the full story, visit Town&Country.com.

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Books: The Hard-Edged and Glittering Life of Miriam Leslie

There is nothing quite like a cultural history or a great biography of a once famous, now largely forgotten person. When those books are written with verve and wit worthy of their subjects. But too often, a fascinating life results in a book that begs for its primary source darlings to be slaughtered. Some stories cry out to be a great Vanity Fair article, not a full-length book.

Still, Diamonds and Deadlines: A Tale of Greed, Deceit, and a Female Tycoon in the Gilded Age (out now, Harry N. Abrams) has much to recommend it in terms of its subject. Mrs. Frank Leslie was many things over the course of her long life. All evidence points to both a biracial heritage—whispered about even at the time—as well as a stint as a sex worker in her teens. But she traveled and performed with Lola Montes; she lived in an almost open menage a trois with a cuckholded husband and the wealthy Frank Leslie; and she ran a publishing empire with, at her best, an almost eerie insight into what the public would read. And she did it all by flattering male egos and entreating women to aspire to the arts of feminine perfection, while simultaneously exerting more power than most women of her day could have dreamed of.

The story itself is fascinating—as is Miriam Leslie’s short-lived marriage to Oscar Wilde’s brother—but here the book falters is in author Betsy Prioleu’s liberal use of contemporary accounts throughout. Every quotation is another stutter in the narrative, particularly when it’s a word or two in the middle of a sentence. Yes, that gives us the flavor of the era, but I have less faith in the accuracy of the press than most others do and I tend to take everything printed in a newspaper with a grain of salt. Still, Prioleu navigates the story’s wild tangents and abrupt shifts in tone with aplomb, rendering Miriam Leslie at turns a social climber, a survivor, a joke, and an inspiration. Just as she was in life.

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Words: Rediscovering the Gallant, Fearless Betty Ford

Betty Ford may be the most famous and least known First Lady in history.

Everyone recognizes the name—thanks in large part to the Betty Ford Clinic she co-founded in 1982 after coming out with her own battles with addiction—but few know anything beyond her health struggles, including a breast cancer diagnosis just two months after she became First Lady.

That’s all changing thanks to Showtime’s The First Ladya limited series telling the real-life stories of three FLOTUSes: Eleanor Roosevelt (Gillian Anderson), Michelle Obama (Viola Davis), and Ford (Michelle Pfeiffer). Now, a new generation of Americans are poised to fall in love with the woman whose national popularity so eclipsed her spouse’s that his supporters wore “Betty’s Husband for President” buttons during his unsuccessful run for president in 1976.

To read the full story, visit Town&Country.com.

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Words: Me and Minx

Watching HBO Max’s Minx was a surreal experience for me. I know I’m an audience of one when it comes to this show. How many other people watching the series about a woman who creates the first erotic magazine for women have also launched a publication that marries erotica with a sharp point of view on politics and culture?

But that was what I did in the fall of 2020. With an adult company backing it, I launched The Gay Goods, a website that took porn as seriously as it did pop culture. And in the end, despite some success, I walked away because the owner and I didn’t agree on the direction in which we wanted to take it. No regrets—he had a very specific vision, and he deserved the chance to find someone committed to bringing that vision to life. But I glimpsed more potential in what we were doing, and I wasn’t interested in alternatives.

So you can understand that what happens in the season finale of Minx—Minx editor-in-chief Joyce walks away when she and the publisher can’t agree on the direction in which they want to take the publication—hit harder for me than for others. When telling her former boss about new job offers on the table, Joyce points out that they all come with one very big string: Someone else is still imposing their will on the thing she’ll create. “Someone who wants something from me, something they could never do on their own, but still insists on holding all the power,” she tells Minx publisher Doug. “I’m not sure I’m interested in giving away my power anymore.”

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Books: ‘Paralyzed by Triviality’

Penelope Mortimer always seems poised to have a moment, and yet never quite breaks through. That’s a shame, because her semi-autobiographical writing—sharp, clean, and dispassionate, but not unkind—has withstood the test of time.

Never mind her family life, famous husband, large household. Mortimer’s mordant wit sets her apart from fellow novelists of the mid-century years. The Pumpkin Eater (made into a film starring Anne Bancroft) may be her best-known novel, but there are treasures aplenty to be discovered. And chief among them is Daddy’s Gone A-Hunting (McNally Editions, May 17), her 1958 novel initially published in the states as Cave of Ice.

Cave of Ice as a title seems like a joke played on the novel, about Ruth, a frustrated wife and mother who throws off a nervous breakdown caused from suburbia as much as anything else to help her daughter secure an abortion. Her daughter doesn’t necessarily want one (though that depends on her ever-fluctuating desire to annoy her mother); Ruth long ago gave up on connecting with her husband; and the commuters who sleep and breathe in their sleepy neighborhood are exactly the types of adulterous, gossipy neighbors you’d expect in a town like this.

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