The Assassination of Gianni Versace — American Crime Story on FX | My Review

A prime time product placement bonanza.

Are you watching American Crime Story‘s The Assassination of Gianni Versace on FX?

Okay, this thing is, like, nonstop advertising in nine 76-minute parts. Holy shit! I clocked a gratuitous product pitch for branded consumables — cars, clothes, jewelry, food, drugs, booze, duct tape, tchotchkes — every 37 seconds. It makes Sex and the City look subtle. I was so exhausted by the end of Episode 2, I couldn’t watch any more. I hope everything turned out okay.

Also, does it bother anyone else that three quarters of the main characters (Gianni, Donatella, Antonio), all Italians, are played by a Venezuelan, a Spaniard, and a Puerto Rican (respectively Edgar Ramírez, Penélope Cruz, and Ricky Martin)? I mean, they’re okay performances as these things go, but really? No actual Italians were available? Or even Maya Rudolph? They were able to find plenty of Italians to play Puerto Ricans in West Side Story. What the AF?

And seriously, the psychology of this thing is so whack, no wonder Versace’s family is pissed off. Serial killer Andy Cunanan is portrayed (by Darren Criss, exquisitely) as a shallow, ingenuous, flaky, lying, penniless, druggie, murdery, wife-beater-shirtey psycho gigolo, which he maybe was. But Versace — savvy enough to build a giant luxury fashion empire, handsome and rich enough to have any man he wanted — he found that irresistible? Computer says no. (Maureen Orth, author of the source book for the show, says they met once, briefly, in a San Francisco club in 1990. Antonio D’Amico claims Versace and Cunanan never met at all. Well, except the one time.)

Also, every time the action slows down, the show cuts to an insert of Cunanan running up to Versace’s bordello — oops, I mean villa — with a gun. Every time. Relevant or not. C’mon. That’s all’s they got?

Plus one more thing: This allegedly classy Miami Beach villa (in fact, the one where Versace actually lived and arguably the biggest product plug of all, after the shmatahs) is a Disneyesque McMansion snuggled between two fleabag hotels and Lummus Park, the site of countless perp tackles on Miami Vice. Quel trashy!

It reminds me of the 16th century travesty built by Henry VIII, Nonsuch Palace,  a rich boor’s interpretation of Florentine Renaissance architecture. It was offloaded by Henry’s heirs in a fire sale to the first sucker who came along, and eventually dismantled and sold for parts.

Fun Facts!
● In 2013 Villa Versace was sold at a bankruptcy auction for $41.5 million, after failing to sell on FSBO.com or wherever for the original asking price of $125 million.
● The second-highest bidder was Donald Trump. If you think it’s bad now, imagine what might have been.
● According to Vanity Fair, the garish interiors I just complained about aren’t in the actual villa but are “meticulous re-creations” on a Los Angeles soundstage. Gack!
● The villa’s a hotel today. Yelp reviewers say the restaurant’s staff is rude and the food rivals the decor in tastelessness. Pretty much tells you everything you need to know.

Anyway, ACS is framing Versace as a world-class arbiter of taste who was attracted to mindless users and lived in this tacky crapfest. Give me a break.

Versace mansion. Photo © Night Fine Art Miami Beach

Versace mansion. Photo © Night Fine Art Miami Beach

 

The Versace curve: Safety-pinned dress on Liz Hurley in the Gianni era, 1994 (left). Assortment of scarves and glue on J-Lo in the Donatella era, 2000 (right).

The Versace curve: Potholders safety-pinned onto Liz Hurley in the Gianni era, 1994 (left). Assortment of scarves glued onto J-Lo in the Donatella era, 2000 (right).

I watched this show because 2016’s Emmy-winning The People V. O.J. Simpson by the same folks was da bomb. I wanted desperately to love this one, too. You know what? I’m genuinely sorry about what happened to Versace; his stuff was okay enough, certainly not deserving of getting his head blown off. But that being said, I always considered him the poor man’s Armani. And if that needs an explanation, then The Assassination of Gianni Versace is perfect.

Gross A Goofy Movie GIF

 

Copyright © 2018 SYDNEY SCHUSTER — All rights reserved

I make no money from this blog. If you find it interesting or useful, please buy my book Dead Spot. The Kindle version’s only $5 and you’ll love it! (Also available in paperback.) Thanks.
DEAD SPOT on AmazonSydney Schuster and Dead Spot neither approved nor endorse any advertising that may appear below, nor do we derive any income from it. Feel free to ignore it.

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Celebs Behaving Badly

Copyright © 2016 SYDNEY SCHUSTER – All Rights Reserved

So you know how I always humblebrag about all the famous people I’ve met, and then instead of spilling about any I veer off into an Emily Litella-ish rant about Soviet jewelry? Thought you might enjoy some actual celebrity dirt, so here ya go.

(This is part of a series. See Celebs Behaving Badly: CalArts Edition, Celebs Behaving Badly: New York City Edition, and Celebs Behaving Badly: Burbank Edition.)

Bridge Over Bongled Water

When I was 13 I was a rabid Simon and Garfunkel fan. They performed at my town’s convention center, back in ye olden days when concert security was one old fat guy with a flashlight. If you knew where the stage door was, you could ambush the objects of your teenage lust. Which is exactly what I did after S&G’s concert.

At the time I had a business painting pictures of cute things on river rocks that I sold in boutiques. Most people used them for paperweights. So I painted Simon’s and Garfunkel’s portraits on two rocks, which I presented to them as they ran in terror to their waiting limo.

Simon was actually quite gracious about being handed a heavy blunt object. Of course he was confused and thought me insane, but he smiled a lot. Garfunkel was further away; I had to throw his rock to him. Apparently this sort of thing happens to him a lot. Perceiving that I was throwing a rock AT him, he picked it up from where he let it crash to the ground and nailed me with it. I’d never heard an adult curse like that before.

Bonus round: Years later, my mother-in-law reported seeing Garfunkel get into another limo with his wife. She was so clutzy (or hammered, your pick) that my MIL could see her tonsils from up her skirt. Along with everyone else on that crowded Manhattan street. Stay classy, Art.

Art Garfunkel and Mrs. Garfunkel step out.

Art Garfunkel and Mrs. Garfunkel step out.

The Man Who Fell Into My Floorthru

Back when actor Candy Clark was still lukewarm from American Graffiti, I lived in Los Angeles. My boyfriend at the time was her brother. Her boyfriend at the time was Nick Roeg, the director.

She now claims to not remember me even though I was her sister-in-law for, like, eight years. Whatever. This is a good time to mention a 2015 interview in which Clark said this about one of her Man Who Fell to Earth doubles: “They hired this older actress and I thought, wow, that David Bowie is pretty brave — he was making out with her and she was about 60 years old.” The older actress whose name Clark couldn’t remember was her mother.

Anyway, Candy invited herself and Roeg to my place one Thanksgiving. I was young and broke and lived in a modest apartment in West Hollywood, when WeHo was still a hellho. Lenny Bruce lived there too, but not at the same time. My landlord swore it wasn’t the apartment where Bruce died, but I think he just said that so tenants wouldn’t bug him about the angry ghost in the coat closet.

So at this party there wasn’t enough food to go around, or even chairs. Clark arrived wearing 1) a dress that took up my whole living room and 2) Roeg, who clearly wanted to be someplace else. (He was directing Clark and David Bowie at the time in The Man Who Fell to Earth — a time Bowie called “singularly the darkest days of my life”* and this was yet another kind of activity Roeg didn’t enjoy.)

Apparently they had no place else to go. They hijacked my intimate party, holding court in my parlor with most of my guests crowded around them like a trash fire. I spent the evening with my besties on a couch as far away as we could get without leaving.

Bonus round 1: Around this same time, Clark reportedly also swapped fluids with David Bowie, Ed Ruscha, and Mikhail Barishnikov.

Bonus round 2: Clark subsequently was incinerated by a hack-phobic demon in Amityville 3-D (1983) and ingested by The Blob (1988), which somehow didn’t stop her from selling autographs at hot rod rallies.

Bonus round 3: When Clark was shooting The Man Who Fell to Earth, I visited the set and met the incomparable Rip Torn. He’s very nice, and handsome.

Schadenfreude Bacon points: Roeg directed Art Garfunkel in the awful Bad Timing (1980).

*Bowie said this on VH1 Storytellers, S4 E7, aired 10-18-99.

Candy Clark takes a meeting.

Candy Clark takes a meeting.

I Am Tootie Hear Me Roar

When I lived in L.A. I worked at a store in Hollywood. One day showbiz poobah Jeff Wald swaggered in and screamed at everyone for no reason. (Wald managed Sylvester Stallone, David Crosby, Stephen Stills, George Carlin, Donna Summer, Flip Wilson, and a mountain of nose candy — $100,000 of it per year, in 1980s dollars.) He was dressed like a pimp. Everyone ignored him.

Eventually he left. Not for nothing, but we were relieved. In 1983 he tried to kill his ex-wife’s fiancé with his Maserati, with their 10-year-old inside. Helen Reddy (the ex) trashed Wald’s car with a mop while Wald’s bodyguard encouraged him to shoot her with his .45 stashed in the glove. I was never a Reddy fan before that. Wald also broke into Reddy’s house (kid in tow), busted her doors and windows and fled with $35,000 worth of stuff, including a Chagall print and a shotgun. Later he shoved the shotgun into a Sahara Tahoe picketer’s mouth and knocked out Rod Stewart for making him wait for a hotel room.

When Wald ODed in 1986, the only hospital that would admit him was Cedars-Sinai, and only because he’d built them a clinic.

Schadenfreude Bacon points: Wald married Candy Clark.

Jeff Wald and Helen Reddy

Jeff Wald and Helen Reddy making friends.

Royal Pain

You remember Jane Powell, the MGM contract starlet from so many forgettable films of the ’50s. No? Probably the most famous were Royal Wedding and Seven Brides for Seven Brothers, and that’s not saying much.

She was about 50 when we met, and very tiny (her Wikipedia stats say 5’1″, but that’s wildly optimistic). I was an indie fashion designer at the time. One of my customers, Wanda, owned a boutique on Sunset Strip, and one of Wanda’s friends was Jane. Actually, it was more like Jane waddled in one day and started ordering Wanda around.

Anyway, I had made an awesome custom dress for Wanda, who was a size 4. Jane saw it and wanted it. Not one like it. She wanted the exact same dress, cut down to fit her size 0 frame. Understand that this dress was engineered without any straight-line seams, like a baseball, in two difficult fabrics (silk and suede), to fit someone much bigger.

Wanda and I got into a big fight about it. She said she’d never hawk my stuff again if I didn’t do this thing. So I did it. Rebuilt the custom dress for Wanda into a custom dress for Jane. There was no CAD then, and a lot of the work involved hand stitching. It was the most elegant pain in the ass I ever attempted.

Fast forward to the fitting. Jane hated it. One of her hips was higher than the other, causing the hem to hang unevenly. It could’ve been fixed easily, but she decided to use it as an excuse to throw a temper tantrum and storm out. Hey, when Hollywood stops calling, how else ya gonna get any attention?

There was no way to resize it to fit a normal human, or even Wanda. And that’s how she got stuck with a size 0 custom dress that would fit no one ever. She hung it up in her store, but I have no idea if she ever sold it because I never spoke to her again.

The dress I made for Wanda and Jane.

The dress I made for Wanda and Jane.

How Wanda saw Jane (left); How Jane saw Jane (right).

How Wanda saw Jane (left); How Jane saw Jane (right).

The skirt I made for Jane (left); Jane's skirt from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (right).

The skirt I made for Jane (left); Jane’s skirt from Seven Brides for Seven Brothers (right).

Fun Fact: In 1981 Jane Powell’s estranged husband, unemployed producer David Parlour, sued her for $3,915 monthly alimony, $1,200 monthly rent, $25,000 in attorneys’ fees, and $3,000 for an accountant to check Powell’s books. Powell claimed to be “dumbfounded.”

Greatest American Hero

I used to be a USOC-licensed bicycle racing official. I worked many races where Lance Armstrong competed as a junior drug monkey, before he won 47 Tours de France. The officials would arrive at the race venues all excited to be there, for they loved their sport. Then they’d obtain the start list and see his name on it, and go “Ohmygod Lance is here ugh.”

Lance Armstrong smells a fart.

Doug McClure or Troy Donahue (I can’t tell those guys apart)

Okay, this isn’t really my story, it’s my friends’ story which makes it hearsay, but it’s true and too funny to leave out.

Couple of my friends in high school, Laurie and Susan, they were like twins. Creepy alien twins, but cuter. Went everywhere together, had secret codes only they knew, laughed hysterically at stuff nobody else thought was funny. They were adorable.

I don’t remember how the following situation came about, but one night they were in a bar, in a state where the drinking age is 21. It was a bowling alley or something. They were maybe 17 at the time.

Also darkening this bar was red-nosed ’60s icon Doug McClure, or Troy Donahue. (Google them.) Although his showbiz shelf life was long expired, he alas had not and was still inadvisedly hitting on jailbait. He badgered Laurie and Susan relentlessly. They thought this hilarious and blew him off, repeatedly. He was obstinate, and kind of angry. He kept sniffing them and they kept ignoring him until eventually their ride came and they split, laughing hysterically.

Doug McClure and Troy Donahue. You figure it out.

Doug McClure and Troy Donahue. You figure it out.

Grouch-In-Chief

There was a restaurant I loved in New York that I visited a lot. Felidia, on 58th Street. They serve Italian food. Not the spaghetti and red sauce kind. The other stuff.

One night I was there with the better half, quietly enjoying a fabulous meal until the party at the next table got out of hand. Damn, they were loud. Look-At-Me loud. Someone at the table would say something, and then someone else would crush any spontaneous social interaction by demanding (loudly), “What do you think, Morley?” And then famed Canadian newsreader Morley Safer would hold forth interminably about something nobody cared about. Very loudly. Then they’d start all over again.

We would’ve scrammed early but the food was too good to wolf down.

Above: In his 2009 60 Minutes interview with Vogue boss Anna Wintour, Safer called her a bitch four times.

Princess Boogedyboo

One day I was standing on a long line at a big post office in Manhattan. The woman in front of me was squirming and twisting relentlessly, slinging her bags around, dropping stuff and picking it up, and generally having shpilkes over absolutely nothing. While everyone else waited quietly, she looked around nervously, like she expected them to assault her. Nobody did. Nobody cared. In fact, few people have ever been ignored so definitively. At length I realized she was Phoebe Cates.

Related posts:
No Degrees of Separation | My Date with Kevin Bacon
End of the Eighties | Walter Monheit
Joan Jett, the Queen of Rock’n’Roll, Finally Gets Crowned
Memo from the Dead Zone | 1986 World Cycling Championships
Doesn’t Harley-Davidson Make Training Wheels?

Photo Credits:
Art & Kim Garfunkel © 2004 Mitchell Levy/Globe-Photos
Candy Clark © 1976 British Lion Film Corporation
Jeff Wald & Helen Reddy © Hollywood Reporter
Jane Powell’s uglyass skirt & Christmas photos © 1954 Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer 
Lance Armstrong © 2015 EPA/European Pressphoto Agency
Doug McClure © 1962 National Broadcasting Company
Troy Donahue © 1960 Warner Brothers Pictures
Phoebe Cates © 1994 Ardican Films

Text and all other photos Copyright © 2016 SYDNEY SCHUSTER – All Rights Reserved
I make no money from this blog. If you find it interesting or useful, please buy my book Dead Spot. The Kindle version’s only $5 and you’ll love it! Thanks.

DEAD SPOT on Amazon

Sydney Schuster and Dead Spot neither approved nor endorse any third-party advertising that may appear below, nor do we derive any income from it. Feel free to ignore it.

Don’t Hold Your Breath | Missoni at Target

DON’T HOLD YOUR BREATH
Missoni at Target

Copyright © 2011 SYDNEY SCHUSTER – All Rights Reserved

I admit, I’m a little spoiled. I love fashion, and I used to live in New York, so I’ve had truckloads of really great clothes, none of which I ever paid full retail for.

The place where I live now is a fashion black hole. For a bike ride, it’s awesome. For clothes? Not so much. If you’re a fan of polyester and the color brown, this is the place for you.

That’s why the big news here in Boondoggle was today’s arrival of Missoni at Target. In New York (and probably LA, San Francisco, and Chicago) you can pretty much walk into any upscale retailer and buy Missoni. No big deal. Here? The last (and only) place I was ever able to get Missoni was the lone Syms store, which carried the real deal from Italy, made of luxury materials, and steeply discounted. Then Sy died and Marcy bought Filene’s, and Syms somehow turned into Filene’s, which is the dog’s dinner now, not like the glory days when they had basements that were scenes of shopper violence and mayhem. Gad, I miss them.

Anyway, I’d been reading about the Missoni invasion of Target for awhile. It was hard to miss, seeing as how the ads were always in your face. And cheap? Are you kidding? We are talking Target.

Naturally, I assumed Missoni’s Target “collection” would be sweatshop junk made in the Third World, and it kind of is, but at least it isn’t brown, and there was a dress and a cocktail set on my radar.

So for this I got up at 6 a.m. The store opened at 8 a.m. I arrived at 8:10, only because I missed my exit. The Missoni collection was picked clean by 9. By which I mean, if you weren’t on the line at the door when they unlocked it, you got squat.

Did I score anything? Of course. Was it what I went there for? Not exactly. I pulled a sleeveless shift from a rack of same that also included matching long cardigans. When I returned from the dressing room to get the cardigan, every Missoni rack was empty. We’re talking ten minutes. But before that bit of misfortune, I was honestly quite shocked at the quality of everything, considering the prices.

I didn’t get my cocktail set, either. The Missoni housewares shelf was bare except for some plastic plates I didn’t like (and neither did anyone else, for some reason). I did get the last pair of bath towels, the very last duvet set, and the last man’s winter scarf.

I never had a chance to examine other stuff I knew they had only because I saw it in other people’s carts. Someone bought the crazy-colored retro bike and rode it around the store. It was better than I expected from the photos. Way better.

When I got home I headed straight for Target.com to do damage control. Everyone else had the same idea, apparently. The site is logjammed. So much for my stupid cardigan.

The Missoni event at Target is advertised for September 13 through October 22. There’s a laugh. What’s going to be the event after the first hour? Fistfights over returns? Filene’s basement lives!

Supposedly this is a 400-piece collection. My ass. They didn’t have no 400 pieces at my Target, much less 400 different types of pieces. But what they did have was epic, for the half hour it lasted. What’re ya gonna do? People don’t always want to wear brown. Get a clue, Boondoggle.

Text & Photos Copyright © 2011 SYDNEY SCHUSTER – All Rights Reserved
Sydney Schuster and Dead Spot neither approved nor endorse any third-party advertising that may appear below, nor do we derive any income from it. Feel free to ignore it.