CB Book Club: ‘The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks’ by Jeanne Theoharis

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I recommended The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks because I saw an interview with the author, Jeanne Theoharis, on Melissa Harris Perry’s MSNBC show several months ago. I was struck by the fact that the simple almost-storybook history of Rosa Parks’ one act – defying the law regarding the seats given to African-Americans in the Jim Crow South – is very far from the complicated individual and extraordinary life of Mrs. Parks. That being said, I wasn’t expecting this book to be so DENSE. It’s more like a reference book used for a college course on the Civil Rights Movement rather than an accessible account of the life and times of a civil rights icon. That being said, I take Theoharis’ claim at face value, that this book serves as the ONLY comprehensive look at the life and lifelong advocacy work done by Mrs. Parks. And that’s a shame.

Even from the first third of the book, all of the pre-Montgomery Bus Boycott details of Mrs. Parks life, struck me as particularly cinematic. I wasn’t expecting that, but do you realize that there’s only been one major TV movie done about Mrs. Parks’ life? And that was just about her arrest and the bus boycott. Her life is crying out for a prestigious HBO miniseries, hand to God. This is driven home time and time again: Mrs. Parks toiled (often alone or with her dear friend and activist ally, E.D. Nixon) in civil rights work for literally decades before her arrest in 1955. She took testimony from African-Americans violently abused by the white power structure. She taught children how to advocate for their interests. She organized, she worked as a secretary for the NAACP, and on and on. She often felt profoundly lonely in her pre-arrest years.

By the time the account of Mrs. Parks’ arrest and the subsequent Montgomery Bus Boycott are recounted, everything starts to feel more familiar, but the experience is richer knowing how Mrs. Parks got to that place. That place where she refused to give up her seat. That place where she made an extraordinary act of personal dignity. We often think of Mrs. Parks as an “older lady” at the time of her arrest, but she was only 42 years old. Granted, that was old enough for her to be considered the “mother figure” to all of the young male organizers. In 1955, Martin Luther King Jr. (the newest and youngest minister in Montgomery) was only 26. It was in this moment when you begin to feel the first splinters in the history-book narrative. The boycott was organized by men, but the women were often on the frontlines of carrying out the day-to-day activities of the boycott. Mrs. Parks lost her job (as a department store seamstress) and then barely any of the money pouring in to support the boycott went to Mrs. Parks. She basically spent the next decade post-arrest living hand-to-mouth.

Mrs. Parks finally got a permanent job with Congressman John Conyers in 1965 and she and her husband moved permanently to Detroit. I came away with an abiding respect for Rep. Conyers for recognizing the need to give Mrs. Parks a permanent job, and for utilizing her strengths as an organizer. She acted, for the most part, as Conyers’ eyes and ears in Detroit. The post-1965 period of her life (she passed away in 2006 and Mrs. Parks is still the only African-American woman to lay in state in the US Capitol) was also rich in advocacy and activist work.

I enjoyed so many details about Mrs. Parks life – her lifelong love of children and her belief that future generations will find new and different ways to fight oppression and inequality. I loved that she made clothes for all of her nieces and nephews. I loved how militant she was, in the early days and later in her life, when she idolized Malcolm X. I loved what little information there was about her marriage to Raymond Parks and how he supported her 100% through thick and thin. In the worst days in Montgomery, when the KKK was bombing MLK’s home, Raymond would get his gun and sit the night watch, protecting his wife. Theirs was a marriage of equals. It was a good book, I just wish it had been a bit more readable and accessible.

Oh, and by the way: we’re putting the Book Club on hold for a while. With the holidays and the awards season rolling up in the next four months, we probably won’t start the book club up again until next spring!

Bedhead’s take: I agree with Kaiser about this book’s lack of accessibility. Maybe it says something about my attention level, but I required some caffeine to get through the bulkier, fact-heavy sections of this book. It was still a great read and a very rewarding fount of knowledge.

What did I like best? The PR orchestrations that led to the commonly known public image of Rosa Parks, which revolves solely around the beginning of the Montgomery Bus Boycott. Behind the scenes, Rosa advocated for decades before and after the brief moment in time that made her a legend. Parks remained an indomitable spirit throughout her life. She continuously plugged away at the civil rights movement despite (successful) efforts by others to downplay her contributions. The fact that it took a book of this caliber to paint a new portrait of Parks’ image speaks to the gender discrimination even within the civil rights movement. So I enjoyed getting to know the real Rosa Parks instead of simply rereading about the lady who refused to sit in the back of the bus.

This book is revisionist history and does its job well. Even if one isn’t interested in learning more about the inner mechanisms of Parks’ civil rights efforts, The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks is a stunning example of how history books don’t even come close to telling the whole truth. That’s an invaluable lesson.

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CB Book Club: ‘The Rebellious Life of Mrs. Rosa Parks’ by Jeanne Theoharis

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Blake Lively in Michael Kors at the Golden Heart Awards: lovely or bland?

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Blake Lively was really making us wait for red carpet photos of her baby bump, and here we go. Blake attended the Golden Heart Awards (for God’s Love We Deliver) in NYC last night. She posed her bump off! Ryan Reynolds was not there… or, should I say, there are no photos of him on the red carpet. Blake wore this full-length Michael Kors gown which… I sort of like, even though it looks like confetti-covered pantyhose. She looks feminine and pretty and happy. So, good for her.

At the event, Blake told Us Weekly that her pregnancy is a dream come true: “It’s something that I’ve always wanted ever since I was a little girl. I never knew what I wanted to do for a living but I knew I wanted to have a lot of kids because I had come from a big family, so it was always important to me. So it’s just the excitement of that finally being here.” She’s never known what she wanted to do for a living? Says the actress and Preserver. And baker. She also talked about Ryan a little, saying: “He’s always good to me. That’s like a jerky thing to say because you want to be able to complain about your husband and be that person, but he takes pretty good care of me.”

As for Preserve and Antebellum-gate, one good thing that’s happened is that more people are giving Preserve a more critical once-over. What had been seen as a silly but harmless side project is now being analyzed for content, plagiarism and just plain awful writing. Good. It’s about time. My suggestion to Blake: hire some real writers and some real website designers to make Preserve user-friendly. Plus, Blake’s purple prose needs to go.

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Photos courtesy of Fame/Flynet.

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Blake Lively in Michael Kors at the Golden Heart Awards: lovely or bland?

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Nikki Reed and Ian Somerhalder Welcome New Family Member: Meet Her Now!

According to a recent report, things are very awkward on The Vampire Diaries set between Ian Somerhalder and Nina Dobrev, considering they’re no longer dating and everything.

But things are quite the opposite for Somerhalder and relatively new girlfriend Nikki Reed, who are getting more and more serious by the day.

The Twilight beauty and the pretend blood sucker have added to their furry family, with Reed posting a picture to Instagram this week of an adorable little kitten

Nikki Reed, Cat Photo

“Went to the animal shelter today to give some love to the babies living in cages and don’t have homes and ended up adopting the little girl!” Reed wrote.”What should we name her?”

How about… Elena? Or maybe Katherine? Okay. We’ll keep thinking.

Somerhalder tweeted a link to Nikki’s post and excitedly told his own followers to welcome “the newest addition to the family!”

Ian and Nikki have only been together since this summer, but they were friends prior to dating and they show no signs of slowing down any time soon.

Just last week, in regard to all the work Reed does with animals, Ian told his lady love that she amazes him, writing online for all to see:

“Thank you for giving so much of your life and for being a strong voice for those whom can speak. My hat is off to you. You amaze me. Love, Ian.”

Ian Somerhalder, Nikki Reed, Family


Ian Somerhalder shared this photo in Instagram with a wonderful note to Nikki Reed, gushing over his new girlfriend and their “family.”

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Nikki Reed and Ian Somerhalder Welcome New Family Member: Meet Her Now!

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Selena Gomez Refuses To Let Her “Grown-Up Haters Win”

Paris Fashion Week Womenswear Spring/Summer 2015 - Louis Vuitton ShowIt sounds like Selena Gomez has had ENOUGH. She says she’s been dealing with “grown-up” haters, but she’s not willing to let them keep her down. RELATED: Selena Gomez wins big at the 2014 Teen Choice Awards.

Selena told E! News’s Marc Malkin:

I get picked on by grown adults all the time. It’s grown-ups and I don’t get it. It just baffles me. I wish I could just sit them down and say, ‘What were you doing at 15? What were you doing at 18? What were you doing at 21?’ Because I can guarantee you it’s not half of what I’ve done.’”

That’s true. Say what you will about Selena, she’s accomplished A LOT. It amazes me what people will say when they can hide behind the anonymity of the internet. It’s a good thing to remember, though. That flame war you get into on twitter? It could very well be with a KID that you would never dream of arguing with in person. It’s something to think about.

Good for Selena for not being intimidated!

Selena Gomez Sneaks Out Of Canada
Selena Gomez Sneaks Out Of Canada
Selena Gomez Sneaks Out Of Canada
Selena Gomez Sneaks Out Of Canada
Selena Gomez Sneaks Out Of Canada
Paris Fashion Week Womenswear Spring/Summer 2015 - Louis Vuitton Show
Paris Fashion Week Womenswear Spring/Summer 2015 - Louis Vuitton Show
Paris Fashion Week Womenswear Spring/Summer 2015 - Louis Vuitton Show
Paris Fashion Week Womenswear Spring/Summer 2015 - Louis Vuitton Show
Paris Fashion Week Womenswear Spring/Summer 2015 - Louis Vuitton Show

Photos by FAMEFLYNET

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JK Simmons is the anti-Miles Teller: ‘I have no illusions about being a movie star’

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Here are some photos of Miles Teller and JK Simmons at the BFI London Film Festival yesterday – these are photocall and premiere photos for Whiplash. I’m surprised to see Miles towering over JK. I mean, I knew Miles was a big guy, but I thought JK was tall too. Whiplash has become the indie partner to The Imitation Game this year. The Imitation Game keeps scooping up the big awards at film festivals, while Whiplash keeps getting awards for “Audience Favorite” and such. Plus, most people really believe that JK is a major Oscar contender for Best Supporting Actor. Too bad his costar has already worn out his welcome, right?

JK has been doing a lot of press for the film, just as much as Miles. But JK’s interviews don’t generate the same kind of heat because JK is not a raging a—hole. When The Wrap sat down with JK to talk about the movie, the last questions were about being a life-long character actor, remembered and beloved without ever being a proper “movie star.” When asked if he would ever want to be a leading man, JK said:

“Well, I’ve had a lot of great supporting parts. And honestly, I’ve got a wife and kids, so I like spending time at home. I just did a TV show this past year where I was number one on the call sheet ["Growing Up Fisher"], and I was working 60 hours a week. And it was a good show and I enjoyed it, but at the end of the day I was like, this is a lot of work. Generally, I like being the supporting guy. And that was obviously part of the joy of doing “Whiplash,” because this is just a bigger supporting part than usual. But I have no illusions about being a movie star. I’m just glad to be able to work. To be able to do the short and then do the feature a year later, and then to be sitting here in whatever fancy hotel this is talking about it has been a pretty cool journey.

[From The Wrap]

Humble. Cool. Not interested in being the second coming of Ryan Gosling. Happy where he is. Compare that to any of Miles Teller’s recent profiles and you wonder what JK really thinks of his costar. Oh, Miles has a new interview with The Daily Beast this week – go here to read. He says some sort of interesting stuff about his friendship with Shailene Woodley (he compared them to Ryan Gosling and Rachel McAdams) and once again talked about how in-demand he is these days.

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Photos courtesy of WENN.

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Neil Patrick Harris to Host 2015 Academy Awards: Yay or Nay?

Neil Patrick Harris will soon be able to add yet another hosting gig to his very impressive resume.

The former How I Met Your Mother star – who has previously emceed the Tony Awards and the Emmy Awards, while also having taken home trophies at both those events – has been tapped to host the 2015 Academy Awards.

The show will air live on ABC on Sunday, February 22.

Neil Patrick Harris Red Carpet Pic

“It is truly an honor and a thrill to be asked to host this year’s Academy Awards,” Harris said via statement. “I grew up watching the Oscars and was always in such awe of some of the greats who hosted the show.

“To be asked to follow in the footsteps of Johnny Carson, Billy Crystal, Ellen DeGeneres, and everyone else who had the great fortune of hosting is a bucket list dream come true.”

As multi-talented a performer as exists in Hollywood, Harris portrays the character of Desi in Gone Girl.

He did performed in the opening musical number at the 2010 Oscars.

Take a look back at the best moments from last year’s big night…

Jennifer Lawrence Laughs


Jennifer Lawrence laughs at her own expense at the Oscars. It’s why we love her.

… and then vote on Neil Patrick Harris: Good choice for 2015 Academy Awards host?

 

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Neil Patrick Harris to Host 2015 Academy Awards: Yay or Nay?

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Kesha vs. Dr. Luke: Who’s Telling the Truth?

Kesha is suing her longtime producer, Dr. Luke, for sexual, verbal and physical abuse, which he counters is false and tantamount to extortion. So who’s telling the truth?

When it came to Kesha suing Dr. Luke, the pop singer had “a lot of trepidation,” her lawyer, Mark Geragos, said on Good Morning America today.

But the 27-year-old did just that, and Lukasz Gottwald almost immediately countersued the singer, citing extortion, defamation and breach of contract.

Just the same, “she’s strong,” Geragos said, noting that “when I talked with her yesterday, I thought she was enormously resilient … she’s in a good place.”

The star claims his abuse was so severe that she “nearly lost her life,” alleging that she was often plied with alcohol and “cruelly and incessantly” berated.

She claimed that Dr. Luke’s alleged verbal abuse contributed to the singer developing an eating disorder, for which Kesha went to rehab earlier this year.

Her fans tore Dr. Luke a new one then, blaming him almost entirely.

Now, “she’s in a place where she’s strong enough that she can make it work. She can stand up to him,” Geragos said. “I mean, this is a frightening thing.”

Kesha: Hot at the Billboard Awards


Kesha at last night’s Billboard Music Awards. Is it just us, or is she looking mighty good these days?

“The date rape. Years of mental and emotional abuse. Those are things that I think anybody, especially at her age when this started, would be devastated by.”

Undoubtedly, if you assume that they actually happened.

Gottwald’s lawsuit denies all claims made by Kesha and added that her mother “has made clear that extortion is the ultimate goal of this defamatory campaign.”

Gottwald’s lawyer, Christine Lepera, told ABC News that she believes the claims will prove “nothing more than a continuation of her bad and offensive acts.”

According to Lepera, “Kesha and her mother are engaged in a campaign of publishing outrageous and untrue statements about Dr. Luke to third parties.”

Their goal, she says, is to weild “defamatory statements in an attempt to extort Gottwald into releasing Kesha from her exclusive recording agreement with Dr. Luke.”

What do you think? Whose side are you more inclined to believe, or is perhaps the truth somewhere in the middle, a murky gray area as is so often the case?

Kesha


Hey, it’s Ke$ha! And there is Ke$ha’s butt! The singer is anything but shy in this Twit pic.

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Kesha vs. Dr. Luke: Who’s Telling the Truth?

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Blake Lively tried to stop Gawker from making fun of her pro-Antebellum editorial

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I wasn’t going to write about this at first, but then it snowballed into a media story and now I sort of have to cover it, which sucks for Blake Lively. In between posting photos of her baby bump and trying to sell us beautiful ginger children, Blake Lively posted this weird editorial/layout/thing on her Preserve site. The editorial/post is called “The Allure of Antebellum.” Antebellum being the pre-Civil War era in the American South. As in, Blake wants to romanticize the era where ladies didn’t have the right to vote and human beings were sold like property. This is what was written in the post:

Georgia peaches, sweet tea, and the enticement of a smooth twang…we all love a bit of southern charm. These regional mainstays, along with an innate sense of social poise, evoke an unparalleled warmth and authenticity in style and tradition.

The term “Southern Belle” came to fruition during the Antebellum period (prior to the Civil War), acknowledging women with an inherent social distinction who set the standards for style and appearance. These women epitomized Southern hospitality with a cultivation of beauty and grace, but even more with a captivating and magnetic sensibility. While at times depicted as coy, these belles of the ball, in actuality could command attention with the ease of a hummingbird relishing a pastoral bloom.

Like the debutantes of yesteryear, the authenticity and allure still ring true today. Hoop skirts are replaced by flared and pleated A-lines; oversized straw toppers are transformed into wide-brimmed floppy hats and wool fedoras.

The prowess of artful layering -the southern way- lies in inadvertent combinations. From menswear-inspired overcoats to the fluidity of soft flowing separates, wrap yourself up in tactile layers that elicit a true sense of seasonal lure.

Embrace the season and the magic below the Mason-Dixon with styles as theatric as a Dixie drawl.

[From Preserve]

Now, do I think Blake meant anything rude, racist or nasty by this? Not at all. I think she’s a white lady who never considered the fact that she was romanticizing a period of time that many Americans consider to be part of the darkest in our history. Like, she’s seen Gone with the Wind 20 times and she’s never watched 12 Years A Slave.

I didn’t even care that much about the story/controversy because I thought it was about historical ignorance more than any conscious choice to align herself with the Confederacy. But then Blake made an even stupider mistake. Gawker had written a harsh critique of Blake’s “Allure of Antebellum” post and Blake’s lawyers sent a take-down notice to Gawker – see here. She was trying to shut down criticism of her stupid pro-Antebellum editorial. Is this just a rookie mistake? Because whenever I try to look through Preserve, I’m always struck by how disorganized it is, so much so I can’t even concentrate on the “message.” Maybe she should focus more on making Preserve more user-friendly?

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Photos courtesy of Fame/Flynet.

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Uma Thurman Ex-Fiance Sues For Custody Of Their Daughter

The 8th Annual Clinton Global Citizen Awards And CGCA Blue CarpetUh-oh. Uma Thurman’s former fiance, Arpad Busson, has just sued for custody of their two-year-old daughter, Rosalind. The papers were filed in New York yesterday. RELATED: Uma Thurman vacations in St. Tropez.

The court files are sealed, according to the NY Daily News. Rosalind, whose full name is Rosalind Arusha Arkadina Altalune Florence Thurman-Busson, is called Luna for short.

I think Arpad is based in London. He and Uma were engaged twice before breaking it off for the second time just this past April, according to E! News. I wonder if that’s the problem: Arpad doesn’t feel he’s seeing enough of Luna since Uma is based in New York City? That’s purely speculation on my part.

For Luna’s sake, I hope they’re able to come to an amicable resolution.

71st Venice International Film Festival - 'Nymphomaniac: Volume 2 - Directors Cut' Premiere
The 8th Annual Clinton Global Citizen Awards And CGCA Blue Carpet
The 8th Annual Clinton Global Citizen Awards And CGCA Blue Carpet
The 8th Annual Clinton Global Citizen Awards And CGCA Blue Carpet
The 8th Annual Clinton Global Citizen Awards And CGCA Blue Carpet
The 8th Annual Clinton Global Citizen Awards And CGCA Blue Carpet
71st Venice International Film Festival - 'Nymphomaniac: Volume 2 - Directors Cut' Premiere
71st Venice International Film Festival - 'Nymphomaniac: Volume 2 - Directors Cut' Premiere
71st Venice International Film Festival - 'Nymphomaniac: Volume 2 - Directors Cut' Premiere
71st Venice International Film Festival - 'Nymphomaniac: Volume 2 - Directors Cut' Premiere

Photos by FAMEFLYNET

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Uma Thurman Ex-Fiance Sues For Custody Of Their Daughter

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Bill Murray: ‘I do not like people that complain about being famous’

Bill Murray

Bill Murray covers this week’s issue of Variety in a black veil. No, he’s not turning into Lorde. He’s promoting St. Vincent, which features him as a curmudgeonly bad influence on everyone. The film stars Melissa McCarthy as a mother who entrusts Murray with her child. Ruh-roh. I’ve been dancing around some Bill Murray stories for weeks now. Murray is my tragicomic idol, and he definitely brought the fun to the Alamoony wedding. I desperately want to drink some tequila with him. Bill loves tequila because it keeps the energy up. Likewise.

Bill’s working it for this indie flick from first-time (feature-film) director Ted Melfi. The story of what it took for this guy to land Murray is nothing less of an epic tale. Everyone knows how Murray doesn’t have an agent or a publicist. He keeps a 1-800 number where people can leave messages. He checks the voicemail sometimes. If he likes what you have to say, he’ll be in touch. As you can imagine, he doesn’t respond very often. Murray is much more likely to crash a random birthday bash or invite himself into a kickball game than to return a voicemail.

TIFF recently threw a Bill Murray Day celebration. They gave him a special crown (see the gallery) for the occasion. He talked to Variety about many things including the unnerving experience of being honored at TIFF. Murray also says that he refuses to campaign for an Oscar for St. Vincent. That’s a strong statement since this film is being distributed by The Weinstein Co. You know how Harvey loves his Oscar campaigns. Let’s throw down with Murray:

On attending Bill Murray Day at TIFF: “The whole thing gets more complicated as it draws closer, and you feel such dread about it. I’m nervous. All I can think is I feel like the Statue of Liberty covered with maggots. I feel like I am going to be assaulted! Why am I doing this?”

His career: “There’s no real plan. I just do what I like. What agents do is try to package you with other people they got. I don’t really require that. If you have an agent, you get a lot of bad scripts. I could probably make better deals. I could probably make more money.”

He won’t campaign for an Oscar, ever again: “I’ve never done that. I know that’s something Harvey (Weinstein) does — he forces you to do these things. I’m not that way. If you want an award so much, it’s like a virus. It’s an illness.”

On losing in 2004 for Lost in Translation: “Six months later, I realized I had taken the virus. I had been infected. People have this post-Oscar blowback. They start thinking, ‘I can’t do a movie unless it’s Oscar-worthy.’ It just seems people have difficulty making the right choices after that.”

Harvey on Bill’s refusal to campaign: “And neither will we, until something happens, like a Golden Globe or a critic’s award. If that happens, he’ll have to get a restraining order against us. We’ll disregard what he told us.”

[From Variety]

Only Bill Murray could call out Harvey Weinstein for his notorious Oscar campaign trails and keep his job. I guess we know who won’t be wearing Marchesa dresses come awards season.

Bill also sat down with Howard Stern last week. I should have covered this earlier, so this will be abbreviated. The hour-long interview is quite entertaining, and you can hear it here. Bill talks about the “emotional” Alimooney wedding, his dislike for Seinfeld, his love of In-N-Out burger, and how the late Roger Ebert used to bust his chops. Here are some other topics:

On fame: “I do not like people that complain about being famous, but I say to people, ‘Hey, you want to be rich and famous? Try being rich, and see if that doesn’t cover most of it for you.’ You have a bunch of dough, you can be as kind as you want, and you can be invisible. No one has to know you have a bunch of dough, and you can behave any way you want. You can be a secret kind of person.”

On not finding the love of his life: “Well… I do think about that. I do think about that. I’m not sure when I’m getting done here. I have kids–I have children that I’m responsible for–and I enjoy that very much, and that wouldn’t have happened without women. I don’t think I’m lonely. It would be nice to go to some of these things and have a date, have someone to bring along. And to go play golf in Scotland, that would be fun. But there’s a lot that I’m not doing that I need to do–something like working on yourself, self-development, and becoming more connected to myself. I don’t have a problem connecting with people, my problem is connecting with myself. And if I’m not really committing myself really well to that, it’s sort of better that I don’t have another person. I can’t take on another relationship if I’m not taking care of the things I need to take care of the most. What stops us from looking at ourselves is that we’re kind of ugly if we look really hard; we’re not who we think we are, and we’re not as wonderful as we think we are.”

[From HowardStern.com]

Bill Murray doesn’t need anyone else to help him be Bill Murray. He’s been married (and divorced) twice. He realizes that he’d rather work on himself than try to shoehorn himself in as part of a couple. That’s admirable. Most people will keep on trying in vain to make it work with someone … anyone. Bill is happiest as a lone wolf. And did he call it on the subject of fame and money, or what?

One more thing: Murray has signed on to sing Christmas carols in a tv special directed by Sofia Coppola. This year, I can say “Murray Christmas” and really mean it.

Bill Murray

Photos courtesy of Variety & WENN

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Bill Murray: ‘I do not like people that complain about being famous’

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