Five Once-Promising Actors and the Franchises That Ruined Them

First published on on November 18, 2011. Read the original here.

Promising acting careers can be derailed by many things — sex scandals, drug habits, bad hair — but the most insidious cause is choosing the wrong franchise. What looks like a dream gig, with the kind of job security few actors can hope for, can quickly go south if the movies aren’t good. As the fourth Twilight film tears up the box office and the reputations of several SAG members, we’re taking a look at five actors whose futures were maligned by franchises.

1. Kristen Stewart

“Ms. Stewart is good enough to help you overlook just what a stock character the smart-alecky, sensitive-underneath-it-all Sarah really is.” — A. O. Scott, reviewing Panic Room

The inspiration for this list, Kristen Stewart was given a blessing and a curse that few others (maybe the Harry Potter kids) could understand. The lumbering, unstoppable behemoth that is The Twilight Saga may have made her famous, ubiquitous, and so rich she could do that Scrooge McDuck pool-full-of-gold thing, but it has also permanently connected her to one Bella Swan. And that’s too bad, really. Because whatever you think of Stewart now — I, for one, like her — back then, she was talented and attracted to some interesting work, like David Fincher’s thriller Panic Room and Into the Wild. She was tough and shy, smart but too cool to make a big thing out of it.

In a different universe, Kristen Stewart a) is the undisputed fantasy of every indie guy in the land and b) would laugh at the idea of getting a C-section, on-screen, via a guy’s mouth. But for at least the foreseeable future, Stewart is quite literally stuck in the Twilight zone, where no role she takes (see the upcoming Snow White and the Huntsman) will be seen on its own. Things will be “so much like her role in Twilight!” or “so different from her role in Twilight!” but they will never just be. If Stewart does manage to pull herself away from the gravity of this franchise, it will be a pretty damn impressive trick. Continue reading

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One Young World Mania Hits Twitter

First published on on September 2, 2011. Read the original here.

Representing nearly 200 countries, the delegates of the One Young World Summit are an amazingly diverse group. But if there’s anything they have in common, besides a commitment to action, it’s a mastery of social media that more and more has little regard for borders. Can Facebook and Twitter be trifling? Yes, but only if used in a trifling way, and for proof you only need to look at the inspiring torrent of online action during the first two days of the Summit.

Despite what must have been taxing jetlag for many of the delegates, the word of the day on Thursday was energy. This was a group of young people ready to represent their voices, their causes, and their countries – Maureen Anaga tweeted, “Finally met Arch. Bishop Desmond Tutu and I raised the Ugandan flag up high:)” and Alex Leboucher echoed her with, “Ready to be the flag bearer of #France at the opening ceremony at @OneYoungWorld!” The pressure on a young person to be the face of a whole country in front of so much attention must be daunting, but of course these are not your typical young people. Continue reading

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Dharun Ravi Found Guilty In Tyler Clementi Case

First published on on March 16, 2012. Read the original here.

Dharun Ravi, the former roommate of Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi, was found guilty today of a majority of the charges against him, including invasion of privacy, bias intimidation, witness tampering, and hindering arrest. Ravi now faces up to ten years in prison and even deportation to India.

In September of 2010, Ravi used his webcam to watch Clementi and a male date in their shared room, and encouraged others to watch as well. Two days later, Clementi jumped to his death from the George Washington Bridge. Prosecutor Julie McClure argued that Ravi was motivated by the fact that Clementi was gay, and that his actions were tantamount to an anti-gay hate crime. McClure also argued that Clementi was clearly made uncomfortable by Ravi even before the webcam incident. Ravi’s attorney claimed that his actions came from a place of immaturity and not maliciousness, and were simply the actions of an unthinking eighteen-year-old. (For probably the most nuanced look at the situation so far, go read this excellent New Yorker article.) Continue reading

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Is Fox Pushing a Gay Agenda? Glee Makes Network “Most Inclusive”

First published on on September 28, 2011. Read the original here.

Thanks to Glee, Fox Leads In GLAAD’s TV Inclusiveness Report

Fox has taken the title of “most inclusive broadcast network” in GLAAD’s 2011-2012 Where We Are On TV report, which analyzes the numbers of LGBT characters on both network and cable television. The station took the title away from last year’s winner, ABC, with 6.9% of its leading characters identifying as gay, lesbian, or bisexual, which translates to a total of eight. There are no regular trans characters on the channel.

Is this a sign that Fox is leading the charge of the gay agenda? (It’s cousin, Fox News, must love this idea.) Not quite: a full half of those characters belonged to a single show, the Ryan Murphy juggernaut Glee. The show may have started with one out character, Kurt (Chris Colfer), but with the revelation of a relationship between cheerleaders Brittany (Heather Morris) and Santana (Naya Rivera) and the promotion of formerly recurring character Blaine (Darren Criss), Glee propelled the station to the top. Of course, having the gayest show on TV outside of Logo should garner Fox some praise anyway. Continue reading

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Occupy Wall Street: Protesters Prepare for the Police

First published on in October 6, 2011. Read the original here.

Days after the altercation at the Brooklyn Bridge, in which 700 protesters were detained for blocking traffic, the police presence at Zuccotti Park (also known as Liberty Plaza) remains strong. Stone faced officers stand in pairs around the perimeter of the square; plain clothes policemen walk among the many people who are in it for the long haul at the Occupy Wall Street event.

One protester, who asked only to be referred to as Kaitlyn, was among the many who were held for hours in the aftermath of the march. After sitting for hours on a bus with her hands cuffed, Kaitlyn said her shoulders were still sore from the day. (Luckily, someone had set up a station for free massages.) And while Kaitlyn is a veteran demonstrator, she admitted that for many of the group this was a first foray into activism. She was relieved to see that organizers were educating some of the greener attendees about what to expect. Continue reading

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IFC Arrested Development Campaign

For IFC’s Arrested Development campaign on, I produced a week-long “guest-star bracket,” in which we asked readers to vote daily to determine the best of Arrested Development’s many guest stars. See the original here.

Is there a show so rewarding of repeated viewings as Arrested Development? With so many callback jokes, tiny details, and meta-references stuffed into every scene, you could literally blink and miss something. If you still haven’t purchased the DVD sets yet (and…are you in a coma, perhaps?), lucky for you that IFC is bringing the show back to your TV screen this fall, with back-to-back episodes Sundays at 10PM.

In honor of that commendable deed, we want to figure out – of all the many excellent guest stars in the series’ run, which one takes the cake? Do you prefer the borderline psychotics of Judy Greer as Kitty Sanchez, or are you more into the subtle homo-eroticism of Henry Winkler’s Barry Zuckercorn? We’ve paired up sixteen of the best for a fight to claim the top spot. Give us your votes – and make sure to come back tomorrow for the next round. Continue reading

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DonQ Rum Campaign

This is one of a series of interviews I conducted for DonQ Rum’s “Party Data” campaign on See the original here.

As the makers of Puerto Rico’s premier rum for decades, Don Q knows what it takes to have a good time. There are lots of essential components for a good party – the right music, the right look, the right mix of people. But of course, Don Q’s real area of expertise is at the bar – which is why they supplied all the rum necessary for a recent Brooklyn house party. A party can fail if the drinks are lackluster, but luckily we were in good hands – Lauren, the designated mixologist for the evening. We talked to her about the best rum drinks, bar essentials, and why the resident mixologist shouldn’t be afraid to liberally sample their own creations.

What advice would you give for people who are throwing holiday parties and need to come up with the drink menu?
Do a little research, but don’t be afraid to improvise. And use what you have around. Continue reading

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Wrote copy for in-house ads promoting’s Twitter feed. See sample below.

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Hendrick’s Gin Campaign

For the Hendrick’s Gin campaign on, I wrote copy for “The Hendrick’s Speakeasy” microsite, which featured Victorian re-imaginations of recurring Nerve features. See sample below.

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Stolichnaya Blackberi Campaign

For the Stolichnaya Blackberi campaign on, I wrote copy for ten images of sleek home furnishings that matched the sophisticated brand identity of Stoli as part of the “Unbasic Blak” special insert. See sample below.

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