Esquire paints a portrait of Woody Allen as the wronged father


Woody Allen looks his schleppy, pre-scandal self on Esquire's October cover, smiling his inscrutable-nebbish smile. But, unfortunately, the article sweats and strains to reinvent Woody as the Wronged Papa for Our Time: "As a father denied, he has found unexpected bravado that is sometimes a thrill to behold."

You can feel writer Bill Zehme bursting veins trying to lift Woody's reputation, leading us on a pathos-laden tour of Satchel Farrow's bedroom and dropping quaint details like "Friends love to recall the notorious incident of Woody and Satchel mixing cake batter and adding the frosting before baking." Next they'll be boiling lobster together.

Also in Esquire, there's a sharp profile of Don Imus, the radio talkster with the "very, very important mouth." Writer Martha Sherrill captures both Imus' on-air persona -- "two kisses, then a slap; two slaps, then a kiss" -- as well as his "miserable" backstage presence, his "Marlboro man quality, but maybe a Marlboro man whose modeling contract wore out a decade ago and who's been leaning into a bar rail pretty hard since."

Garnished with plenty of drug-and-alcohol abuse tales, the dishy piece traces Mr. Imus' rocky development from "a rich kid on cattle ranches" to an interviewer of the president. Ultimately, Ms. Sherrill herself fits into the story, as Mr. Imus brings the writer on the air and later suffers moments of rage toward her: "I hate you," he tells her. "No wonder your boyfriend won't marry you."

Depp in trouble deep?

Johnny Depp trashed a New York hotel room and got dragged down to the 19th Precinct just in time for the Oct. 7 release of his new movie, "Ed Wood." This week's People says that "the chain-smoking, tattoo-festooned, Viper Room-owning movie star seems to be dancing on the edge of danger," but publicists know better.

Now dating model Kate Moss, says People, Mr. Depp is having his "Winona Forever" tattoo removed from his right bicep letter by letter. It currently reads: "Wino Forever." Kudos to People, by the way, for brilliantly dubbing the 31-year-old actor the "Gielgud of Grunge."

The ever-feisty Movieline (October) also gives its cover a Depp charge, but the piece is a yawner. Elsewhere in Movieline is an angry, breathless interview with popademic Camille Paglia, who tears apart Madonna, "vapid" Meg Ryan, Madonna, "perky" Julia Roberts, Madonna, "bleached, sanitized, goyish" Meryl Streep and Madonna. Turns out Spin, Esquire, Penthouse and HBO have tried to put Ms. Paglia and Madonna in the same room, but Madonna consistently refuses. "And I'm like a major intellectual of the world," says Ms. Paglia. "OK, all right?"

Superficial Locklear

There's little to note in the October Details except, of course, the cover story on Heather Locklear of "Melrose Place." Turns out TV's stiff, blown-dry, microskirted villain is unshakably sweet in person and surprisingly influenced by her parents' approval. About her former marriage to Motley Crue drummer Tommy Lee and her engagement to Bon Jovi guitarist Richie Sambora, she'll say nothing. In short, she is "dazzlingly accomplished at superficiality."

'King Lear,' personally

The New Yorker for Oct. 3 has a personal piece by New York magazine film critic David Denby on reading "King Lear" after his mother's death. A dominating woman who became increasingly demanding of her only son, Mrs. Denby starts the writer thinking of Lear, and his article shows how great literature can give structure and resonance to life's chaos.

Mr. Denby also looks at how differently we read classics at different stages of our lives. While the parallel between his family and "Lear" is at times forced, the piece is a nice reminder of the value of good reading.

Their lives were changed

Musician for October interviews 57 musicians on "the record that changed my life." Bob Dylan seems to have had the most influence, his albums changing the lives of John Mellencamp, John Hiatt and Jackson Browne. Michael Stipe says hearing Patti Smith's "Horses" was like a "piano landed on my head. I was a teen-ager, and I was so moved I couldn't sleep, I was sick to my stomach with the impact."

Carole King went for "There Goes My Baby" by Ben E. King; Tony Bennett was "motivated" by Al Hibbler's "Trees"; and Liz Phair "lived for" "Psychocandy" by the Jesus and Mary Chain.

Bunch of doubles

For "Brady Bunch" fans, Entertainment Weekly (Sept. 30) gives the first sneak peak at the cast of "The Brady Bunch Movie," which is due next spring. The actors, including Shelley Long as Carol, are frightening doubles of the original actors, and the set appears to be a dead ringer.

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