Author Archives: Mark Peikert

Words: Why I Love ‘Yellowstone’

Not since Julia Sugarbaker told Marjorie about the night the lights went out in Georgia has a female performer given audiences a feast of camp and fury like Kelly Reilly serves every week on “Yellowstone.” And I, a gay man, am here to say that she ate, no crumbs, she is Mother, and whatever we’ll be saying next year because we no longer live in a world that won’t discuss Reilly’s performance as Beth Dutton. With the first half of Season 5 now available to stream on Peacock with the rest of the series, I need to go on the record about something.

Yes, I watch “Yellowstone” (or as most publications call it “That Show Your Parents Love”). Yes, it is problematic and messy and sometimes cringe, and yeah, OK, I do tend to bear down on the fast-forward button when the men are talking about, I dunno, familial duty and fatherhood and whatever patriarchal stuff straight men dressing up for an office job in cowboy togs meaningfully discuss.

Beth doesn’t dress like a woman living on a ranch. Wearing more kohl than Elizabeth Taylor in “Cleopatra,” she stalks through Montana in leopard-print coats, wreathed in cigarettes and alcohol fumes and sometimes clad in jarring cottage core that enhances her unpredictability. Would a woman wearing cap sleeves really order a double Tito’s and then reprimand the waitress for correcting it to a martini by saying, “A martini has vermouth and is enjoyed with friends. I don’t like vermouth, and these aren’t my friends”? If it’s Beth Dutton, she will, and you’ll record it and post it to Instagram stories with the caption, “Me on a first date.”

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The Rich Even Die Differently

“It’s better than fashion week!” Samantha Jones squealed outside of Lexi Featherston’s funeral in the Sex and the City episode “Splat.” Like so much of Sex and the City, the line is silly, solipsistic—and deadly accurate. For a certain type of person, an A-list funeral is worth killing—or dying—for.

As is so often the case, the wealthy do funerals if not better, than certainly more memorably. After Logan Roy’s shocking death on this week’s episode of Succession—the fictional media mogul died on his private plane during a trip to Sweden—one can only wonder how the series will send him off. (“Let’s grieve and whatever, but not do anything that restricts our freedom of movement,” Kendall Roy said shortly after learning of his father’s demise. “We’ll get a funeral off the rack; we can do Reagan’s with tweaks.”)

In that, the Roy family’s service may not be all that different from the real-life funeral of philanthropist and Manhattan society doyenne Brooke Astor. Astor, as is increasingly the case, left behind detailed instructions for her service—written in 1992 and never updated before her passing in 2007 at 105. During that time, her three suggestions to read a passage aloud had all died, and her son and grandson became embroiled in an internecine war about her care and fortune.

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Words: Why I Love Martinis

The day doesn’t exist that can’t be improved by a martini.

A martini is a celebration or a solace. It’s an indulgence or a home bartender’s best friend. But above all, a martini is the quintessential beverage of adulthood.

No other cocktail has so firm a grip on society and culture, showing up as a signifier of sophistication in everything from James Bond to The Queen’s Gambit. When Samantha threw a drink in her ex-lover’s face on Sex and the City, it wasn’t a Cosmo. It was a dirty martini. The martini even usurped the original purpose of its iconic glass, which was initially designed as an Art Deco riff on the champagne coupe.

The drink itself feels almost Deco. The quintessential recipe for a martini is two thirds spirits (vodka or gin—although it should be gin), one third vermouth, a dash of orange bitters, and a lemon twist. Served so cold you could skate across it. That’s it.

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Words: 2022 Was the Year of Juliette Lewis — and We Couldn’t Be More ThrilledWords:

Juliette Lewis is the secret sauce of film and TV. Drop her in things as disparate as the 2005 indie “Aurora Borealis” (where she impeccably delivers the greatest Thanksgiving plans ever filmed) or the star-studded misfire “August: Osage County,” and Lewis elevates the proceedings. She’s stylized without seeming affected, a live wire of a performer whose expressive face can fold a glare in on itself until it’s heartbroken. And 2022 saw her finally receiving her due. As usual with year-end content, spoilers abound.

Yellowjackets,” it turns out, was just the amuse-bouche. On Showtime’s cannibals and camaraderie thriller, Lewis plays the adult Natalie with all the punk-rock energy she brought to her band, Juliette and the Licks. Never mind that she’s years older than her castmates; who else could play a woman who drives straight from rehab to a bar, who forges a bizarre friendship with Christina Ricci’s sociopathic Misty, who is equal parts angry and devastated at the discovery of a friend’s ostensible suicide? And who then breaks our hearts with her own desolation in the final moments of the season before a deus ex machina prevents her from pulling the trigger?

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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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