Shared posts

18 Sep 19:26

Lisa G

Let's talk about pizza. This list has the true best pizza (Joe's) at 21. But my friends at Pizza Delicious in NOLA made the list! What's your best local pizza joint? What's your BEST SLICE memory?

26 Aug 18:45

Since We’re All Stuck Inside, Might It Be a Good Time to Try Retinoids?

Lisa G

I know we've already all pledged to use retinol. We should comment on our progress here. I started my regimine last week. I'd also like to agree with their plug for elta SPF because my derm gave it to me for free after she made me wait an hour. I recommend the tinted one if you like that stuff!

If you’ve never heard of retinol, let me give you a quick rundown: it is a topical treatment that can help stimulate cell turnover, pushing healthier looking, smoother, and more radiant skin to the surface. Retinoids (the umbrella term for any cream derived from vitamin A) are some of the most well-researched and revered ingredients in the cosmetic industry, due to the fact that (when applied properly) they can combat a wide range of hard-to-treat issues, from dark spots, to wrinkles, to texture, to acne. If you’re wondering what the common thread in Chrissy Tiegen, January Jones, J.Lo, and Reese Witherspoon’s skin-care routine is, I can tell you right now: a good retinol.

But of course, there’s a catch: retinoids are powerful, and first time users can (and likely will) experience dryness, irritation, redness, sensitivity, or even breakouts. According to my esthetician Sofie Pavitt, retinoids can take up to a month to adjust to. This lengthy transition period is what often keeps people, like myself, far away from the ingredient.  It can be tough to imagine actively inviting irritation and redness — especially if you already suffer from eczema or psoriasis. Plus, retinoids can also increase your skin’s sensitivity to sun. But considering I have long coveted the glorious results they promise, I started to wonder if right now — as I’m stuck in the house with minimal exposure to sunlight, and with only my boyfriend and my cat to witness any initial flakiness and redness — might be a prime opportunity to try one out. And it turns out I’m not alone — in the past few days I’ve noticed quite a few “to-retinol-or-not-to-retinol?” posts popping up on my Instagram feed.

Ever-cautious when it comes to my skin, I reached out to Dr. Shereen Idriss, a celebrity dermatologist based in Manhattan, who confirmed what I suspected: since we’re all stuck indoors most of the day, with minimal sun exposure, and zoom filters at our disposal, this is an unusually optimal time to give retinoids a go.

When you’re first trying retinoids, Dr. Idriss says that the most important guideline is less is more — you should start by applying a lower concentrations (0.01 percent if you’re nervous and want to start really slow, 0.25 percent to 0.3 percent if you want a pretty low dosage with faster results) once a week and, see how your skin responds to it, and slowly up your usage to twice a week. If you’re extremely sensitive naturally — like myself — Dr. Idriss suggests first doing patch tests on your skin by applying a small amount just underneath your jaw, then repeating after 48 hours. If there is no reaction, then you have the green light to apply a pea sized amount on your whole face.

For my first foray with retinoids, I went with one from First Aid Beauty which I picked after reading dozens and dozens of reviews on Dermstore (and in retinoid reddit forums) — a ton of sensitive-skinned commenters swore that this 0.25% retinol didn’t cause dramatic peeling or redness. In a few weeks, people swore that any post inflammatory hyperpigmentation (the marks left behind by blemishes) had faded away and their skin looked startlingly luminous and radiant. I trusted them and I’m glad I did — I am currently in my second week of usage (I’ve been applying it once a week, right before my moisturizer), and while my skin is slightly more sensitive than usual, it’s not half as bad as I expected it to be: I’ve only noticed a teeny tiny bit of peeling around my nose. Below: two retinoids that are suitable for beginners, plus a dermatologist-beloved SPF.

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04 Aug 19:16

The Bachelorette Drops Cryptic Teaser As Alums Celebrate Double Lead Season

Lisa G

Ok, Steve, I know this is your safe space. But basically the bachelor pick a mature bachelorette (39) and she was so assured of what she wanted she shut the whole club down 12 days in and ran off into the sunset with hottie hot hot man Dale Moss (former NFL, met him once for work, hes a kind giant). Now we have a new second bachelorette, a black woman, and fan fave Tyisha Adams. So we have 2 bachelorettes. A new black bachelorette, next bachelor and "winner" who ended Clare's season early. I'm dying for this great love/drama/representation!

Photo-Illustration: Vulture and Getty Images

Will you accept this somewhat verified and wildly shareable bit of gossip? With rumors swirling that Tayshia Adams is replacing Clare Crawley as the newest Bachelorette lead for reasons still unclear, the show released a short teaser that seemingly confirms the presence of both women in the upcoming season. While Crawley’s likeness is prominently featured in the teaser, a silhouette of a woman wearing a ball gown looks similar to Adams, which is the closest the franchise has come to confirming the widespread reports of the switch. Over the weekend, the narrative that emerged from Crawley’s Bachelorette season, which has been filming at a quarantined resort near Palm Springs, is the following: Crawley fell in love with contestant Dale Moss within two weeks, and asked producers to leave the show with him out of respect for other contestants. Adams was thus called in as a mid-season replacement. It’s believed that the season will feature both women’s journeys, which would be a franchise first.

Various Bachelor Nation alums have been praising the abrupt (but welcome) casting switch since it began making headlines on August 3. Rachel Lindsay, the first Black Bachelorette lead, noted that Adams will now be the second. “When I stepped in as Bachelorette, I wanted to pave a way for more diversity, for more people who look like me and who didn’t look like the typical lead. So to see another Bachelorette of color, I’m thrilled,” she said. “I have been fighting for inclusion, and I’ve said before that Tayshia would be an excellent Bachelorette, so I am more than happy to pass the torch.” Colton Underwood, who led the Bachelor season that Adams competed on, congratulated her on Twitter. “Good luck,” he wrote, “and I hope you find yourself a better kisser.” Ali Fedotowsky, the sixth Bachelorette, also praised the switch and thought it was “awesome” for the show “to let that happen.”

Bachelorette Drops Cryptic Teaser for Its Double Lead Season

06 Jul 19:34

Condé Nast has suspended a Bon Appétit video editor amid an internal investigation

Lisa G


Condé Nast has suspended a Bon Appétit video editor, Matt Hunziker, the publisher confirmed to Business Insider.

Condé Nast Entertainment President Oren Katzeff said during a staff meeting on Thursday that Hunziker had been suspended "pending investigation" by the company, according to a recording reviewed by Business Insider.

"There have been many concerns raised about Matt that the company is obligated to investigate and he has been suspended until we reach a resolution," a Condé Nast representative said in a statement.

The representative did not detail what concerns sparked the suspension. Katzeff did not provide reasons for the suspension on the call, citing policies from legal and human-resources departments.

Three employees at CNE and Bon Appétit told Business Insider that they believe Hunziker was suspended over his posts on social media that were critical of the company.

Following the publication of this story, other employees have publicly defended Hunziker, emphasizing that he was an "advocate" in the newsroom for people of color.

Those including Bon Appétit contributor Priya Krishna, editorial assistant Jesse Sparks, assistant editor Sohla El-Waylly and research director Joseph Hernandez critiqued Condé Nast's suspension of Hunziker on Twitter or Instagram.

BA video editor Matt Hunziker was suspended by Condé, for calling out systemic racism...while the company says it supports people speaking openly. got it.

— Priya Krishna (@priyakrishna) June 25, 2020

On June 12, several days after Bon Appétit's top editor and its head of video resigned over racist social-media posts, Hunziker tweeted: "Why would we hire someone who's not racist when we could simply [checks industry handbook] uhh hire a racist and provide them with anti-racism training..."

In the Thursday meeting, a CNE employee asked — in a direct reference to Hunziker's suspension — what protections were in place for employees who voiced their opinions on company policies. Katzeff responded, "The issue of being able to speak openly and safely in meetings, in these forums, and working groups is of utmost importance to me."

Hunziker did not respond to multiple requests for comment.

Bon Appétit has become a flashpoint for conversations about institutional racism following allegations of racism from former and current employees. Over three days earlier this month, the Condé Nast food magazine shed its editor in chief, Adam Rapoport, and its head of video, Matt Duckor. Katzeff was also the subject of a recent Daily Beast story about his offensive tweets.

According to Hunziker's website, he is the editor for "It's Alive with Brad Leone," a top-watched series on Bon Appétit. Hunziker is also a comedian.

Got more information about this story or another media industry tip? Contact Rachel Premack at or, or via Twitter DM @rrpre. You can also contact Business Insider securely via SecureDrop.

02 Jul 20:33

Dinah, Put Down Your Horn: Blackface Minstrel Songs Don’t Belong in Music Class

Lisa G

I did not know this. I mean I knew vaguely but not this depth.

PPerforming blackface minstrelsy started to become taboo by the 1950s, but its songs had become a fundamental part of American culture. The history of the children’s classic “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad” serves as a case study illustrating how minstrel songs were whitewashed into wholesome American “folk songs” for children.

Lyrics to “Levee Song.” Source: ‘Carmina Princetonia’ (1894)

“I’ve Been Working on the Railroad” is based on the minstrel tune “Levee Song,” first published by Princeton University students in 1894. Caricaturing the African American laborers who built the levee and railroad systems in the 19th and early 20th centuries, “Levee Song” was a hit on college campuses and by 1920 became known by the line from its popular chorus, “I Been Wukkin’ on de Railroad.”

The song’s publication in caricatured Black dialect continued into the 1940s, with lyrics that reflected the physically abusive and highly exploitative conditions for laborers in railroad and levee camps. The camp workday began early (“rise up, so uhly in de mawn’”), the hours were long (“I been wukkin’ on de railroad all de live long day”), and White foremen enforced abusive conditions through disciplinary violence (“doan’ yuh hyah de capn’ shoutin’”), which occasionally resulted in death.

Dinah, the railroad camp cook whose meal is so eagerly awaited by the laborers (“Dinah, blow yo’ hawn!”) is a character from another minstrel song, “Old Joe,” or “Dere’s Some One in de House wid Dinah.” Dinah was a 19th-century generic name for an African American woman, recalling Aunt Dinah, the untidy slave cook of Harriet Beecher Stowe’s Uncle Tom’s Cabin (1852).

Lyrics to “Dere’s Some One in De House wid Dinah.” Source: ‘Gordon’s Universal Melodist,’ London: G.H. Davidson (1953)

In “Dere’s Some One in de House wid Dinah,” a drunken plantation laborer, Old Joe, flies into a rage when he realizes that someone, “playin’ on de ole banjo,” is in the house with his mistress, Dinah. Like many minstrel songs, “Dinah” employs the classic minstrel trope of the African American playing the banjo.

By 1915, “Levee Song” started being published in children’s song collections. In M. Teresa Armitage’s children’s song anthology, Junior Laurel Songs, “Levee Song” was published in caricatured Black dialect but was euphemistically described as an “old popular song.”

By the mid-20th century, publishing minstrel songs in caricatured Black dialect became unacceptable, and the lyrics to minstrel songs started appearing in standard English spelling. Beatrice Landeck, in her 1950 anthology, Songs to Grow On, published “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad” in standard English and called it “one of the classic American community songs” that mysteriously “sprung from nowhere.” The songbook’s accompanying illustration, however, betrayed the editors’ knowledge of the song’s true roots.

The folk revivalist Pete Seeger similarly downplayed the historical roots of “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad.” The liner notes to Seeger’s first recording of the song in 1963 innocuously describe “Railroad” as an “old 19th-century ditty” that “just keeps changing and rolling along.”

The mythologizing of “I’ve Been Working on the Railroad” as a tune celebrating American values has continued into recent decades. When Smithsonian Folkways reissued Seeger’s recording in 1990, the liner notes touted the “democratic passion” of folk revivalists to include the “music of working-class Americans” as part of the “national cultural conversation.” The Black Americans represented in “Railroad,” however, barely had any rights as laborers in railroad camps and arguably still lack basic rights as Americans today.

23 Jun 16:58


Lisa G

The link works! The New Weapon in the Covid-19 War -- TLDR: The virus mutates slightly every 2-3 people and you can tell who gave it to who. Contact tracing GOLD

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30 May 03:14

Pastry Chef Remakes Gourmet Pop Tarts at Home | Gourmet Remakes | Bon Appétit

Lisa G

Steve! Gourmet Remakes POP TARTS. Been there baked that, eh Dyer?

No, you didn't misread the title. Pastry Chef Claire Saffitz has returned to one of her earlier gourmet conquests: Pop Tarts. This time, she's making a simplified version of her original gourmet Pop Tarts so that anybody can make them from home using common kitchen equipment.
We also asked you to send in videos of you trying out her recipe and we got over 900 responses. Join Claire as she watches some of the videos to see the gourmet Pop Tarts people made.
Check out the recipe here:
Check out Claire's Instagram:

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Bon Appétit is a highly opinionated food brand that wants everyone to love cooking and eating as much as we do. We believe in seasonal produce, properly salted pasta water, and developing recipes that anyone can make at home.

Pastry Chef Remakes Gourmet Pop Tarts at Home | Gourmet Remakes | Bon Appétit

17 May 15:36

Pro Chefs Show Us the Oldest Food in Their Kitchens | Test Kitchen Talks @ Home | Bon Appétit

Lisa G

@Sam. According to Claire you gave up on your starter too early!

Join Claire Saffitz, Brad Leone, Chris Morocco, Gaby Melian, Andy Baraghani, Sohla El-Waylly, Amiel Stanek, Carla Lalli Music, Priya Krishna and Christina Chaey at home as they show us the oldest food in their kitchens. Whether it's smuggled lardo or ten year old fruitcake, there are a probably a few items here that may be a health hazard.
#stayhome cook #withme

Want Bon Appétit shirts, hats and more?

Still haven’t subscribed to Bon Appétit on YouTube? ►►

Want more Bon Appétit in your life? Subscribe to the magazine!

Bon Appétit is a highly opinionated food brand that wants everyone to love cooking and eating as much as we do. We believe in seasonal produce, properly salted pasta water, and developing recipes that anyone can make at home.

Pro Chefs Show Us the Oldest Food in Their Kitchens | Test Kitchen Talks @ Home | Bon Appétit

14 May 22:10

An Oral History of Center Stage

Lisa G

Let's talk about the masterpiece that is Center Stage.

“What genuinely brings tears to my eyes is I’ve had a number of male dancers approach me and say, ‘I showed my parents that movie and that’s when they understood why I love to dance,’” says Amanda Schull. Photo: Columbia Pictures

The year 2000 was boom times for teen movies, which is what Center Stage looks like at first glance. A motley crew of young ballet dancers from around the country is thrown together in a pressure-cooker environment, where they fall in love, fall out of friendships, and find themselves. There are training montages and close-ups of pointe shoe–mangled feet. We’d seen some version of this movie many times before, and the reviews said as much. Variety called it “an uneven, mildly entertaining divertissement” and complained that it borrowed too many plot points from other dance and show-business films. Entertainment Weekly said it was “the same old stuff, not an arabesque more: shredded slippers, shredded nerves, shredded bodies, and, to the lucky few, an armload of roses.” (Roger Ebert was kinder, saying that it was smart and perceptive, and “about something … about the union of hard work and artistic success.”)

But 20 years later, Center Stage is arguably the defining dance movie of its generation, the rare example of its kind that enjoys as much affection among dancers as it does among civilians. It might have seemed like a disastrous mismatch of a project: a decorated British theater director at the helm of an American ballet movie stocked with untested acting talent (it was Zoë Saldana’s first feature) and dancers in their first film roles, feigning struggle to the sounds of Mandy Moore’s “I Wanna Be With You” and Jamiroquai’s “Canned Heat.” But Nicholas Hytner proved determined to take Center Stage seriously. Armed with a screenplay by Empire Records’ Carol Heikkinen (punched up by legendary playwright Wendy Wasserstein), Hytner spent the summer of 1999 filming in the heart of New York City’s dance scene. In interviews with Vulture, eight of the main cast members, the producer, the costume designer, the choreographer, and a dance double share memories of how white-knuckle auditions and 3 a.m. takes at Lincoln Center, 24 pairs of leather pants and a single tearaway tutu, amounted to one of the most unforgettable shoots of their careers.

Center Stage tells the story of 12 young dancers handpicked to train at the American Ballet Academy, loosely based on the School of American Ballet. Nicholas Hytner set the tone of the film’s casting process early on: authenticity. Of the primary characters, three were played by actual American Ballet Theater dancers — Ethan Stiefel, Sascha Radetsky, and Julie Kent. But casting directors traveled across the country in search of a professional ballerina who could carry the star role of Jody Sawyer: “Any place there was a ballet company, I think, the casting folks were visiting.”

Former ABT principal dancer, choreographer, and ABT instructor Ethan Stiefel as Cooper Nielson, opposite former professional dancer and actress Amanda Schull as Jody Sawyer. Photo: Columbia Pictures

Ethan Stiefel, Cooper Nielson: It was a time where I didn’t have a cell phone and was still getting messages and stuff at [American Ballet Theater] in the pigeon holes the dancers have … there was that iconic pink message slip in my cubby hole, and it simply said, “Laurence Mark, Columbia Pictures, please call.”

Larry Mark, producer: Amy Pascal, who ran Sony in the day, had always wanted to do a dance movie. She had had a script developed, one draft of it, by Carol Heikkenen. I had just gotten over to Sony with a production deal, and she said, “Larry, this might be a good movie for you to hop on.”

At the time all it was was a script, and I read it and I was fascinated by it. In a way that wasn’t schmaltzy, it seemed to be aspirational. It seemed to encourage young folks to go to ballet class, no matter what your body.

The first person I thought of to direct this was Nick Hytner, with whom I had just done The Object of My Affection. Nick was looking for his next movie, and I thought, who better to do something, particularly in the musical arena, than Nick, who had done Miss Saigon and any number of amazing stage musicals and stage plays. He came onboard and that was the beginning of it.

Stiefel: I called Larry and he just said, “We’re putting together this film. It’s in the early stages, but I’ve seen your work and really admire your performing, and would you be interested?”

Mark: I’ve always been a fan of ABT, that’s for sure. I think I’d seen him do something there and just thought he had amazing charisma. Amy and I went to see an ABT performance in Los Angeles, and we went backstage and visited with Ethan.

Stiefel: After recovering a bit from the shock, I said, “Yeah, absolutely,” and he described from there the process a bit, just in terms of having to do some readings and meet with the director. It was kind of wild, from that message slip to seeing it happen.

Mark: We were trying to be as authentic as possible, and that’s why we were always very conscious of going for boys and girls who could dance really well. We were trying not to fudge the dancing. That was a Nick Hytner edict: Let’s get people who can really really really dance to do this movie.

Sascha Radetsky, Charlie: Ethan and I were really close friends — we have been since we were little kids — and I remember that he had signed on to this project. I think that’s when I first became aware of it, just that he was doing a movie.

And then in the spring of ’99, the auditions started. Everyone knew about it. [New York] City Ballet, ABT. We’re the big classical and neoclassical companies in New York, and we all knew about it. A lot of people were auditioning.

Stiefel: It had been a long time since a dance movie had been made, certainly one that featured dancers as actors. So I think in general people were really intrigued and excited.

The female dance cast backstage with producer Larry Mark (third from left) and director Nicholas Hytner (center). Photo: Amanda Schull

Susan Stroman, choreographer: [It] was kind of ahead of its time, you know — this was before Glee or before the dance TV shows that are on now. To do a pure dance movie, a movie that was celebrating dance and also a movie that at the end the girl ballerinas all have a mind of their own — it was ahead of its time. So I think people really wanted to be a part of it.

Amanda Schull, Jody Sawyer: I was in a rehearsal for the end of the year student showcase with the San Francisco Ballet School. We were rehearsing a contemporary piece that was being choreographed by one of the company members, and she said, “We’re going to have a fancy Hollywood producer come in today.” We learned later it was a casting director. And apparently, a casting director had already been to see the company. She had gone across the country — started in New York and gone to a few companies across the country because they wanted to find a dancer for the role of Jody.

Mark: We were all over the map. We were auditioning practically everywhere. We sent people into various cities. Any place there was a ballet company, I think, the casting folks were visiting.

Radetsky: I originally went in to audition for the Russian guy, Sergei. I did live in Russia and study there and speak decent Russian, but my accent isn’t very good.

Mark: [The role of Sergei went to] Ilia Kulik, an Olympic figure skater who managed most of the dancing, because dance and figure skating — there’s a lot in common. He in our view qualified as someone who was a proper dancer.

Radetsky: The role of Charlie, which I eventually landed, was [originally named] Carlos. He was a Hispanic dude, and at that time there were some really special up-and-coming young Latino male dancers like Joaquin de Luz, Angel Corella. Julio Bocca was in his prime. There were a bunch of them. And I think the role of Carlos went to Angel. I don’t know if he signed anything, but that was the scuttlebutt.

We were mid-Met season, which is two months at the Metropolitan Opera House, where we do eight shows a week and a different program each week. So we were doing this ballet, Snow Maiden, and it has kind of a slippery floor … there was a rash of injuries that week, and among them, Angel. He blew out his ankle. So then I got a call to come back to audition for the role of Carlos. Then I got it, and they changed it to Charlie. So unfortunately, Angel’s misfortune was I guess my advantage.

Mark: We’d certainly talked to Angel about it for a few moments. He wasn’t cast in the role, but we had spoken to him about it. I think what seemed to occur in a way was almost a script issue. That we all, including the studio, felt it was kind of in the moment more fun and cool to have a boy next door in that role. And Sascha, despite his name, is an American boy next door. And there were also scheduling issues with Angel, there were any number of hurdles, but the creative one was that the role itself was slightly reimagined as we went along, and Sascha was more appropriate for it.

Schull: The assistant from the company came to me and she said, “They want to put you on tape tomorrow and here’s the script.” But I didn’t get to choose the time, so I was taken right after rehearsal. I was sweating. I was beet red. I had no makeup on and I went straight into the audition.

Afterwards [the casting director] said to me, “Do you mind stepping outside, looking at these sides and coming back in, and reading for the role of Maureen?” And I said to her, “Oh, yes, I like this part better. I’d like this part please.” So I stepped outside, and later she told me that the reason she had me step outside is because she called her boss and she said, “I found Jody, I’m just getting a little bit more of her on tape.”

Mark: Amanda Schull, that was one of those ones where you’re just seeing every girl who seems to fit the bill. Amanda came in and combined all the qualities that the character as written required. She was lovely and appealing and graceful and energetic.

Schull: I found out that they wanted to do a producer session with me in Los Angeles, and the company wouldn’t let me go until after the showcase. My whole family flew in from Hawaii to see me. And then I sort of like peaced out on my family and flew on a 7 a.m. flight the day after down to Los Angeles.

And that was the first time I met Nick Hytner. Ilia Kulik was in the waiting room. That was so over the top exciting for me because he just won the gold medal in the Olympics, and he was the first man to ever do a quad during the Olympics. I read for Nick, and he gave me some notes. I remember having a good rapport with him.

I didn’t hear from them again for a few more days. Then they called and said they want to do a screen test. So they flew me from Hawaii [to New York] and I did the screen test there, and they put me up in a hotel and it was all just kind of like, If this is all, I guess this is pretty good. I’ve made it. And then within a couple days after the test I was told I had the role and I was going to be going back to New York.

For some roles, like the talented-but-jaded Eva Rodriguez and the star student living with an eating disorder, Maureen, the casting team was willing to prioritize acting talent over ballet ability and hire dance doubles to make up the difference. Some cast members, like newcomer Zoë Saldana, were game to jump onboard. Others, like Broadway veteran Donna Murphy, had concerns. 

A photo of Center Stage stars Zoë Saldana and Peter Gallagher taken by co-star Susan May Pratt. Photo: Susan May Pratt

Zoë Saldana, Eva Rodriguez: I had just gotten my SAG card a year before, by doing a Verizon commercial I think. So I was learning but I was just very happy-go-lucky. In my mind, I was like, Oh, well I can dance. And this girl [Eva], yes, she’s from Boston, but I’m from New York — from Queens. I think we have a lot in common.

Susan May Pratt, Maureen Cummings: I remember my agents asking me months ahead, “Do you have any ballet experience?” And I was like, “Yeah, I took classes.”

A really good friend of my mom was a ballet teacher where I grew up, and I went back to East Lansing and took a weekend intensive, where she sort of tried to teach me ballet in two days, and then I remember her saying at the end of the weekend, “I wish I had you for a year, I could really make something out of you!”

Saldana: They knew that I was not a professional ballet dancer. I think I’d stopped dancing three years or two years before that. So they wanted to see how I could move.

When I met Nicholas Hytner, he was just so sweet. He cut me off in the middle of the second scene that I was auditioning with, and he said, “That’s okay, I don’t need to see any more.” And I remember I was really thrown by that, and I thought, “Well, they’re probably going to shake my hand and they’re going to tell me to leave.” And that really happened. He was like, “I’ll see you soon, Zoë,” and I was like, “Oh! What does that mean?”

Then I got the call that afternoon and I found out I got the part. And it was my first film. I was ecstatic.

Pratt: I remember being at the ballet audition and trying to follow along with the directions. I was doing better than a lot of the girls who were with me in the room but still not fantastic, and I just remember the choreographer being like, “Well, maybe she’ll do.”

Donna Murphy, Juliette Simone: I read the script, and I said, “This is ridiculous. I mean, I’m not a trained dancer.” The script would read, “Juliette jetés across the room” and “she demonstrates this” and “she demonstrates that.” I thought I should be seen for the role that Deb Monk played, [Maureen’s] mom.

I went in and I did my audition and towards the end of the audition, Nick Hytner said, “Why in the world would you not want to play this role?” He said, “I’ve seen you on Broadway. You’re a dancer.” I said, “No, not this kind of dancer, Nick, not a ballet dancer … I don’t want to be the obvious fake in the middle of all this, who’s teaching.”

He said, “But I just see you as Juliette.” I didn’t know exactly what that meant but I wasn’t out of there long before my agent called and said, “They want to offer you this role.” And I said, “They need to agree to put me in training, basically tomorrow, to acquire as much as I can. And I advise them to shoot me from the waist up. I’ll work intensely on my port de bras.”
Peter Gallagher, Jonathan: I don’t know whether I had to audition or whether it was an offer, or whether I met first, but I just remember that it was about ballet and Nick Hytner was directing it. And Nick Hytner, you know … well okay, I’m in.

Eion Bailey, Jim Gordon: When I auditioned for it I was sure that I was not going to get it. I thought I was so bad in the audition. I walked out after having met Nicholas Hytner and thinking, “That’s never going to happen. Never going to happen.” And then I got the job.

Gallagher: And then it became the glorious process of researching. That was really surprisingly powerful because I got to go to rehearsals at ABT. I was so moved. I got to sit in the front and watch them rehearse, and it was all I could do not to start crying. Because what they were doing was so hard, and required so many years of expertise and sacrifice and pain. And nobody was getting rich from it, nobody was getting famous from it. They were just becoming excellent, extraordinary creatures that could do these otherworldly things.

Schull: Peter was lovely. He was kind and gracious and he took his job seriously. You know, he had gone and watched some classes and tried to figure out how to best embody an ex-dancer.

Gallagher: I was terrified, because I was surrounded by these brilliant, gorgeous dancers who knew what they were doing, and I realized I didn’t even know how to walk right. I said, “Fellas, how do I walk? How do I walk?” [They said] “Shoulder blades together, shoulder blades together!” And I said “Oh my God, that’s genius, thank you!”

I just wanted to steep myself in that culture and in that world and talk to as many people. I remember I was thinking [former New York City Ballet artistic director] Peter Martins was sort of a good person to study a bit.

Schull: There are a couple of scenes where he’s sort of one of those, like, gently evil people. The tone of his voice stays level even when he’s telling you that you’re never going to have a career. And I’ve worked with a lot of people like that before where you swallow that pill and then you realize, “Oh, they were being hideous.”

Ruth Myers, costume designer: I was given free reign to the Royal Ballet School and backstage at the Royal Ballet [in London]. They just let me wander around … which was a huge asset because it gave me a lot of confidence that I might otherwise not have had.

Murphy: I started [training] with somebody who I knew from the Broadway community, Cynthia Onrubia. And then I trained with someone who was a ballet master at ABT and a former dancer, Kirk Peterson, who’s in the film too. And we figured out what did look really good on me — or good enough. He basically created choreography that he could recommend that I would “teach.”

In the interim I also observed and interviewed teachers at ABT and SAB [the school of American Ballet, New York City Ballet’s affiliated school]. I saw how modified their own movement was and how much was done with just their hands and their arms. I still really wanted the port de bras to be convincing.

Pratt: I was so singularly obsessed with not being a dancer. I would go take ballet classes to try to improve my skills [at] Broadway Dance Center and Steps. I just remember being in total envy of what these women and men can do.

I was really glad I had a dance double. But she’s only in one scene in the movie. She’s in the movie as another character a bunch, but there were other scenes of rehearsals where I’m supposedly having a hard time dancing and it was like a whole day that was supposed to be me dancing and back and forth with the body double. And she got the flu that day. So if you actually watch the film carefully, my character just doesn’t dance. All they do is say, “Oh, she’s such a great dancer!” There’s only one time, and the rest is me doing arms.

Pratt, Zoë Saldana, Amanda Schull and Victoria Born attempting to spell out “happy birthday” with their bodies on the set of Center Stage. Photo: Susan May Pratt

In general the filming was such a great experience, but I always just felt like I just wasn’t good enough. I actually think that Nicholas tried really hard to find a real ballet dancer to play the part and they just couldn’t find someone who could do the acting.

Saldana: I had to take classes with the company. Every time they would warm up before a shoot, or when they were rehearsing the choreography, we would warm up with them. And that was pretty amazing. But then I would stop, and I would feel so insecure because no matter how good I thought I was, I realized that I never really had the passion that all of these people had since they were in single digit ages. They did this every day and they breathed it, and then they molded their bodies to do what they loved. When you’re around dancers, it’s like being around gazelles, you know? You find yourself just paralyzed watching them.

[My dance double] was the sweetest person, and my gosh, she was so talented. At that time I think she was the only woman of color at New York City Ballet.

Aesha Ash, Saldana’s dance double: [Zoë] was a super sweetheart. I remember she was always full of life and always had a smile, and always super kind to all the dancers.

Schull: Everyone who wasn’t a dancer, worked really hard to try to make it as realistic as possible. Nobody just winged it.

Radetsky: We had way more rehearsals than we would ever have in a company. It’s just a different process, with Stroman coming from the Broadway world, where I think they rehearse things and drill them over and over and over. Whereas at ABT and City Ballet you’re always under-rehearsed. You kinda go out there and that’s part of the magic — the spontaneity.

Stroman: I rehearsed them all to death.

As nearly every review makes clear, Center Stage is a teen film, and so it makes sense that most of the younger cast members remember the early vibe on set as focused but fun. On one memorable day of shoots, the ABA crew actors and Eion Bailey (who played Maureen’s love interest) filmed a series of scenes that take place on a boat, where Radetsky’s character Charlie reveals his crush on Jody — who is unfortunately falling for bad boy principal dancer, Cooper. For Radetsky, it was a particularly panicked day. But for others, their early memories involve less tardiness and more vomit.

From left to right: Amanda Schull, Eion Bailey, Sascha Radetsky, Susan May Pratt, Shakiem Evans, Victoria Born, Zoë Saldana, and Ilia Kulik. Photo: Amanda Schull

Radetsky: When we did dance rehearsals before we started shooting — I think that was the first time [Amanda and I] met.

Schull: [Radetsky and Stiefel] were in the middle of their season. So the rehearsals were kind of scattered. And to be fair, they did not need the rehearsal. I needed it. So I would rehearse quite a bit and then they would kind of drop in between the rehearsals, do a little bit, nail it, and leave.

Radetsky: The first scene that I actually shot was the scene where we go out on a ferry. I overslept and I missed my call. I was totally mortified, like, late on your first day of work. I show up and we go out on the boat, and I think it was cut, but there was a whole kissing scene with Amanda and me. And she gets seasick.

Saldana: Oh my God. She really was [seasick]. We were loving it, and there was Amanda.

Radetsky: She was like, throwing up, and then we were kissing, that whole day. Poor thing.

Schull: Poor guy. I didn’t even consider how hideous my breath probably was throughout that entire scene until much later. They had a bucket right off camera. We did that whole thing — they chartered that boat, we were at sea for several hours — and I vomited every single one of those hours.

Murphy: I think my first day on set was a classroom situation, and I was very nervous because the entire corps were all City Ballet and ABT dancers. So I thought, “They’re just gonna, you know, out me in no time.” And somebody came up to me and said, “Where do you teach?” Part of me said, “Well, I guess they don’t know me as an actress.” But another part of me thought, “Oh my God, they think I’m a real teacher.”

I loved my scenes with Zoë Saldana. It may have been the first day of filming, and I recognized the way that she was just so focused. I just remember coming out of that saying, “That girl’s gonna be a star.” I mean everybody there was disciplined, everybody, but there was something about her.

Stiefel: I remember dancing [the Romeo and Juliet scene] several times early on. Once or twice we shot it because Julie Kent or I thought we could do it better, but I know there were several other takes that were done because of camera angles. Everyone was very committed to making sure throughout the film, whether it was me or Julie or Sascha, that we were happy — or as happy as we could be — with the dance performances, because it really was an opportunity to put the art form on film for posterity.

Murphy: And that’s the thing. Nick allowed that, and I think it’s because when it came to wanting this film to be legit, he knew that Ethan was this master. He trusted his eye. On other films I’ve done since, there’s not so much monitor-watching allowed.

Mark: Nick really wanted to have it feel as real and authentic as possible. Clearly, that is Julie Kent. Clearly, that is Sascha Radetsky. Clearly, that is Amanda Schull. We’re not closing in on their faces spinning about. We’re actually seeing their whole body from head to toe. It’s a very Gene Kelly approach to dance.

Stroman: What Nick did also was he shot so beautifully the essence of Lincoln Center and what it’s like to be a dancer walking down Broadway. He’s shot it really like New York is always dancing. To go to the salsa club that we went to, and then the jazz class. To be able to have so many types of dance in the movie — the classical, the modern, the salsa, the jazz. You know it has everything in it that I think a dancer really loves.

Stiefel: I really relished that I was going to be on film doing not only what people were familiar with seeing me performing. We shot at Paul Taylor downtown. It certainly was emulating Broadway Dance Center in their old studios on 57th Street, but it was shot at Paul Taylor.

Stroman: It was quite brilliant that Nick cast Priscilla Lopez to say “Dance the shit out of it.” That’s become like an iconic phrase that people say before their classes all the time. A lot of teachers say it.

A little over halfway through the film, the love triangle between Jody, Cooper, and Charlie comes to a head … in the form of pirouettes and bravura jumps. Jody is still smitten with principal dancer/aspiring choreographer Cooper, who cast her in his controversial rock-pop ballet but has been distant and cruel ever since their one-night stand. And star student Charlie is still smitten with Jody (and her undeveloped turnout!), whose attention, he realizes now, is fixed on the man tasked with directing him on stage. Frustrated, Charlie taunts Cooper into a short but sweet rehearsal dance-off.

Stiefel: In the script I think the dialogue was there, but in terms of the actual steps, it was basically, “Come up with something we might not see elsewhere.” Just choose a couple of things that you like doing and would be impressive. And just try to one up each other.

Stroman: I’d given them an acting challenge: “We’re going to play ‘Can you top this?’” To win the girl. And they certainly brought their own interpretation of what that might be. I would say, “I need you to do a pirouette here,” thinking I’d get three, and I got 15.

Radetsky: We had been close for so many years, and that’s just what guys do after class. You goof around and try to one-up each other, but do it with good nature and a sense of camaraderie.

But we shot that studio face-off challenge after we shot the final performance scene. And in the final performance scene, I do a double tour, pirouette, double tour, double tour. And in the script, I’m supposed to be finally doing what I couldn’t do in the studio face-off — which is [what Cooper performs], three [double tours]. But that’s only because after we shot the final performance, we got in the studio, and Ethan was like, “Oh, I’m just going to do another double here.” So it doesn’t really match up. But it’s impressive.

Stiefel: I really took the approach that this could have been a number of other dancers who got the role. So I wanted to do something that everyone who worked on the film could be proud of. In the back of my mind I always had this approach where I wanted to ensure that other dancers looking at this would go, “You know, he represented.”

Radetsky: I think we all felt that onus. But yeah, he was this superstar in the movie, so I’m sure he felt the pressure even more. But he’s maybe the greatest male dancer of his generation, so it came easy for him. I was like, “Ethan, what are you doing, man, you’re messing up the whole bit!” But hey, if you can do all those double tours like he did, why not do ‘em?

By now, a burnt out Maureen has grown increasingly moody and distracted. Her mother (played by Deborah Monk) thinks the problem is Maureen’s med student boyfriend Jim (played by Eion Bailey); the audience knows it’s her bulimia. In what is certainly the most quotable scene of the entire movie, Jim confronts her about her eating disorder and the havoc ballet is wreaking on her mental state, prompting her to storm out of his apartment — but not before delivering a scathing insult : “I am the best goddamn dancer in the American Ballet Academy. Who the hell are you? Nobody.” For Bailey, the scene was a tough moment in an otherwise collegial experience on set.

Deborah Monk as Maureen’s mother, Nancy Cummings. Photo: Columbia Pictures

Bailey: It was the hardest scene to film. I always struggled with that. In the audition it felt very strange to me.

Pratt: It was really accurate that she would leave. From my research and also just personal experience with friends who’ve had eating disorders … It’s a hard dance to play if you want to keep a friend who’s got an eating disorder. I really thought that was a really accurate reaction. She would walk out.

But [the line] is so ridiculous! A lot of people quote that to me. They really love it, but I cringe when I hear it. I mean, of course it wasn’t supposed to be funny the way it was written, but it was very telling of how narrow her world is.

Bailey: I remember when we were filming it, it was the only time Nicholas Hytner and I butted heads. I can’t remember the particulars of why, but I remember he and I were not in agreement.

Pratt: That kind of rings a bell. I remember another scene that was cut out where we were in bed in his apartment, and [Eion] was asking Nicholas, like how he should be loving toward me. Nicholas made this hilarious joke like, “Listen, you’re straight, I’m gay, you figure it out, okay?”

Bailey: He was exacting. He knew what he wanted. He could be demanding. All things that I could appreciate in a director.

Pratt: I mean he was in my corner all the time and he had high standards. But of course that’s what we want. I definitely had some insecurities, you know. I was young and inexperienced. But he was really good at handling that and insisting that he get the performance that he needed.

Bailey: I don’t recall ever feeling like I had a warm relationship with [Hytner]. I don’t remember us ever going out to dinners with him or having that kind of relationship. It was kind of on a professional level only. I hung out with the cast a lot. Amanda and Zoë, sometimes Sascha and Shakiem [Evans, who played ballet student Eric Jones]. My friend Holt McCallany, he gave me his apartment in Tribeca, and I used to have get-togethers. We’d play Truth or Dare. It was so much fun.

Schull: We did go over there, we did play Truth or Dare, and what happens in Eion’s great apartment stays in Eion’s great apartment.

Saldana: I’m going to keep that to ourselves. But there were fun times. I mean, it’s summer in New York, for the love of God, and we’re all in our late teens or early 20s, and it’s our first shot or second shot at doing something that we absolutely love.

Schull: We spent every single waking moment on set together and then still liked each other off set.

Gallagher: Making movies is like having a passport for experiences you’re not really entitled to have, especially at that level, but which just stay in your bones and in your heart forever. The fact that I was able to hang out with Sascha and Ethan. We hung out and we became friends. We did a couple of the sequels.

The movie’s climax is two short ballets performed during the ABA student showcase. First is Jonathan’s ballet (choreographed for the screen by Christopher Wheeldon). Maureen had been cast in the lead role opposite Sergei, but at the last minute — and without telling anyone — Maureen drops out and asks Eva to dance in her place. Second is Cooper’s ballet, starring Jody, Charlie, and, after a rehearsal injury downs Eric (played by Shakiem Evans), Cooper himself. Choreographed for the screen by Susan Stroman, it also tells the story of a love triangle, and features an onstage motorcycle, red pointe shoes, and an iconic tearaway tutu.

Nicholas Hytner and Amanda Schull behind the scenes of the student showcase finale. Photo: Amanda Schull

Stroman: I think [Hytner] wanted me to sort of embody what a rebellious choreographer would do. If Cooper were to have the opportunity to do a new ballet, what would that be like?

He wanted it to be a part of the relationship between Amanda and Ethan and to reflect that — that her love was being fought for by the two men. Like the good old MGM times, a reflection of what has happened in the movie before.

Stiefel: They did add the motorcycle bits into the script after I was cast, so the [part] where we’re in the street or driving over the bridge or in the ballet. That was added after I had gotten the role, and that bike in the film was the bike that I owned at the time. That was a bit of Ethan Stiefel.

Stroman: People kept saying, “He rides a motorcycle, he rides a motorcycle, he rides a motorcycle.” And I thought, well, okay, why don’t we put a motorcycle in the ballet? And [Ethan] was thrilled to be able to drive his motorcycle onstage.

Stiefel: I think she said to me, “It’s going to be one thing to roar on stage on this bike, but you can’t just step off it.” She was like, “Can you do something that would create a seamless transition, but also be really kind of wild and entertaining?” So I was like, “Well, if I put my foot here, not just throw my leg over but push off the handlebars, I think I can kind of launch myself.”

Stroman: I would ask him to do a certain combination or certain step, and he would just turn to me and say, “Sweet.” I’ve never had a dancer say that to me before, just say, “Sweet.” And then go do it and do it extraordinarily well.

Schull: The end of the year showcase piece was really challenging. It was challenging for me to learn and then I was intimidated, you know, because the guys were so great. I had just come from doing an end of year showcase where I had gotten to be the lead in a bunch of pieces. But I was still very much a student. I didn’t have the comfort, and the flexibility, metaphorically, of a company member where you learn the steps but then you put your own swagger to it.

Radetsky: The pas de trois with Ethan, Amanda, and me was the most fun to shoot. It has the most dancing. It was the time when I got to show a little bit of my own technique.

Myers: Ethan’s leather pants, that he slides across in the ballet — I think we made 24 pairs of those. Because he literally ripped them every time he did that slide.

And of course, the costume that I’m unbelievably proud of is the one that Amanda wears where she twirls and it undoes.

Stroman: I asked for it. I wanted Amanda to be with The Nutcracker dancers in the white tutus, and I wanted the costume to magically change.

Myers: It was my idea. She can say it was her idea, but I insist on taking full credit for it. When I did The Addams Family, I very much wanted to do the ball sequence in a way that people’s costumes sort of fell off them, so you got a sense of skeletons underneath, and we didn’t exactly have either the time or the money.

When [Cooper’s ballet] came up, it could have been done quite easily with a visual effect, but I had a friend, Carolyn Kostopoulos, who at that time had a small costume house in New York. I did the drawings quickly, but we worked for many hours trying to work out how we could do this.

Stroman: With all sorts of prototypes.

Myers: We were obsessed by it. We spent weekends just going over and over trying to get it right. In the end, the only way it could be done was by using snaps and velcro. I went to Susan and to Nick and said, “It’s going to take 15 minutes between each take for me to redo this. You just have to make your minds up whether it’s cheaper for you to do this by vis effects.” It was decided in the end that this was the best way to do it, and we got it down to 10 minutes.

However, I have to say, they were a very stressful ten minutes, and people were yelling at me each time.

Schull: Yeah, that was a monumental feat in buttoning and snaps.

Myers: Ethan had a little wooden handle under the tutu to pull. It literally was like something that you’d grab to pull a doorknob with.

Schull: He would grab onto it, and I’d chainé away. But the thing about that is, in order for it to come off, he has to pull hard enough to pull the tutu off, but I have to have the force to go forward with the chainé turns. So when you watch it, I’m almost kind of chainé-ing in place, because it’s like such a weird push and pull effect. I don’t remember rehearsing that prior to getting onstage either.

Radetsky: The final part with all the cast, it was a nice mix of City Ballet and ABT dancers.

Schull: When we shot all of that, that was done over about a week in Lincoln Center. Thankfully, I didn’t see the girls behind me [in the scene] because now when I watch it I’m like, “Oh my God, look at how good they are.” They’re future principals from ABT and City Ballet dancing behind me? What? That’s weird and wrong.

Radetsky: I remember that being really fun, but again, I think we were shooting really late at night in the [New York] State Theater [now the David H. Koch Theater, New York City Ballet’s home stage, at Lincoln Center] and so it had its challenges. It’s hard to stay warm.

Schull: The guys were just incredible. But the starting and stopping of it all was really challenging. You dance full out, and then you have an hour or so down to cool off, and then you go full out again.

Ash: I remember one day [when they were filming Jonathan’s ballet] we had to wake up early, get ready early, because on a film set it’s always “hurry up and wait.” So we were sprawled out on the floor, half asleep, exhausted, and then it was, “Okay, we’re ready.” We had to just jump up and dance.

Schull: By the time they shot the fouettés it was like 3 o’clock in the morning on the last day, and it was exhausting. My body just didn’t hold out, just wasn’t capable of staying on pointe for that. We had been dancing for probably ten to 12 hours at that point, stop and start, stop and start.

It took several [takes], because my red pointe shoes were really slippery. They were dyed. I kept falling, not just off pointe, like falling and slipping and falling.

Stroman: [It] was Nick Hytner’s idea, for [Jody’s pointe shoes] to be all red. Again, making it magical, you know, trying to make that last ballet almost fantastical.

Myers: Every dancer dreams of coloring their pointe shoes an interesting color, because of course it absolutely screams your feet out.

Schull: And Nick was like, “You know, it’s okay, we got it.” And I wouldn’t accept it. I just kept asking for more and more and more. I couldn’t get around that second time, and it was just that my body was exhausted. Nick finally was like, “You know, we got it. We don’t see you come down.” Cut to the final performance, and you see me come down!

Stroman: Well, she did them.

Since Center Stage premiered in 2000, two sequels have been made and a future TV series is on the table. Whether or not any of the original stars will appear in it (Susan May Pratt is waiting for her call), nearly every actor interviewed agrees: “Of the films I’ve done, that’s the one that seems to mean the most.”

Amanda Schull, Susan May Pratt, and Zoë Saldana. Photo: Amanda Schull

Pratt: I don’t know if anyone’s talked about how the script was a lot longer. They shot a lot more that was cut out. Maybe they always knew from the beginning they’d cut some of it, but it was much more of an equal story between the three girls and then I think smartly they narrowed it down to be about Jody’s character.

Mark: Every so often someone will come and suggest this as a TV series. And for the first time, Sony TV found a writer, and we’re seriously trying to make that happen. It may not, but for the first time there’s a serious effort. The idea is to turn it into a series. There’s actually serious negotiations going on about it, so there’s at least a decent chance that it will occur.

Pratt: A few years ago I ran into [Larry], and I was like, “Hey, I want to be a really mean ballet teacher” [in a future series].

Mark: It’s remarkable now how often people say, “I just noticed Center Stage on your resume, I love that movie.”

Myers: For many years, young actresses who I worked with would come in and say “I’m in awe of you,” and I’d go, “Oh, how nice.” [Center Stage] had, as children, been their favorite film that they’d watched and watched and watched, which was a huge compliment.

Saldana: Everybody that comes up to me because they recognize me from things I’ve been in, I would say maybe half of the people reference Center Stage. And it’s usually young women. And also women in their 40s and 50s who were at that time of their lives, in their 20s. The fact that they’re able to remember it years later makes me feel so good. That I was a part of something that made a time in their lives special. That my first big thing was a studio movie with an award-winning director and a wonderful cast, in the city that gave birth to me and that I loved.

Pratt: Of the films I’ve done that’s the one that seems to mean the most. I mean people love 10 Things, but people really love Center Stage. It’s a lot of people’s guilty pleasure.

Gallagher: I think if you’re going to go crazy over Center Stage you’d go crazy over Julie Kent and Ethan Stiefel and Sascha Radetsky … I could be standing next to somebody who’s a huge fan of Center Stage ten minutes before they’ll say something. But I’m very proud of that movie. I’m very proud to be part of that movie.

Amanda Schull behind-the-scenes of her finale sequence. Photo: Amanda Schull

Stiefel: I think a lot of things in the film are going to be kind of timeless, in terms of the dance.

Murphy: I’ve starred in a number of Broadway shows where the brilliant dancers in the show would say, “Oh my god, Center Stage just was everything.”

Radetsky: The ballet is really the star of it, and Nick and Larry insisted that it not be trimmed away. I’m guessing that the studio execs were like, “Oh gosh, is an audience going to sit through all this ballet?” But that I think is what makes it really unique.

Schull: I didn’t realize it because it was my first job, but I was getting to embody a character in a world that people maybe didn’t have any access to or didn’t understand. Then after having seen the movie they had a better idea of why we do what we do and why so many dancers feel like they’re compelled to dance.

Mark: And I think it’s inspiring to other young girls and guys who want to dance. By the way, if for whatever reason you don’t have exactly the right body to do this, you might have the right body to do that.

Schull: What genuinely brings tears to my eyes is I’ve had a number of male dancers approach me and say, “I showed my parents that movie and that’s when they understood why I love to dance.” And that is something I could never have anticipated.

Susan Stroman is a Tony Award-winning choreographer who’s worked in theater, dance, film, and TV. Her notable Broadway productions include The ProducersCrazy for YouContact, and The Scottsboro Boys. Kulik did have a dance double on set. Peter Martins is a Danish ballet dancer, choreographer, and former artistic director and ballet master in chief of City Ballet, who took a leave of absence from the New York City Ballet following allegations of sexual misconduct. After further allegations of physical and verbal abuse surfaced, Martins retired. City Ballet later claimed it could not corroborate the allegations. Onrubia is a dancer and choreographer. She was cast in Broadway’s of A Chorus Line at the age of 15 as the production’s youngest cast member. She also originated the role of Victoria in the original Broadway production of Cats. Peterson appeared in and staged classroom segments for Center Stage. Later, Pratt texted to say that she showed the movie to her 13-year-old daughter, who gave it a good review: “I liked it … It was weird that they call you the best dancer but they didn’t even show you dancing.” In the scene that made the final cut, Charlie merely asks Jody out on a “date date,” which she declines: “I’m seeing someone.” Poor Charlie doesn’t know that someone is Cooper. Paul Taylor Dance Company was founded in 1954. Its namesake danced for Merce Cunningham, Martha Graham, and George Balanchine before creating his own modern company, where Twyla Tharp and David Parsons performed. Broadway Dance Center was founded in the 1980s as a “drop-in” dance training school that has since seen the likes of Bette Midler, Britney Spears, Madonna, *NSYNC, and Elizabeth Berkley among its pupils. Priscilla Lopez is a singer, dancer, and actress best known for originating the role of Diana Morales in A Chorus Line. One extra, former ABT dancer Erin Baiano, told Dance Spirit magazine last month that “what you don’t see is that all of the dance extras were in the studio for that dance-off. We were in the background cheering, like ‘All right!’”  During our interview, Susan May Pratt redelivered the line, and, reader, she’s still got it. The two appeared in Fight Club together. Center Stage: Turn It Up premiered in 2008 on the Oxygen channel, and Center Stage: On Pointe premiered in 2016 on Lifetime. Cooper’s ballet closes with Jody doing a pirouette series alone in the center of the stage. For the dancers in the room, the combination is: fouetté, fouetté, tour à la seconde, double pirouette, “and then at the end,” Schull said, “pull in for a double or maybe a triple to finish it, as the curtain’s closing.” Pratt added: “Zoë might remember more but I feel like her brother died, and there’s this whole scene, like, where she’s in mourning over her brother’s passing. I mean, it was some really heavy stuff. I remember my character had more development of the love story with Eion Bailey’s character, stuff like that. But I really think they did the right thing with cutting out those side stories.”

An Oral History of Center Stage

07 May 21:07

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• Amazon’s new Chinese thermal spycam vendor was blacklisted by U.S. over allegations it helped China detain and monitor Uighurs and other Muslim minorities


Mark Di Stefano of the Financial Times is accused by The Independent of accessing private Zoom meetings held by The Independent and The Evening Standard as journalists were learning how coronavirus restrictions would affect them.


Hackers tried to break into the World Health Organization earlier in March, as the COVID-19 pandemic spread, Reuters reports. Security experts blame an advanced cyber-espionage hacker group known as DarkHotel. A senior agency official says the WHO has been facing a more than two-fold increase in cyberattacks since the coronavirus pandemic began.


In the ultra-competitive, ultra-crowded VPN market, it isn’t easy for a new entrant to distinguish itself. In fact, scores of providers come and go, with many never making much of an impact before slipping into obscurity. However, Fastest VPN accomplished the feat, securing rave reviews from outlets like TechRadar, who praised FastestVPN for its “lengthy […]


If you’re already an IT pro or you’re looking to make the move and become one, one of the best ways to boost your career is by getting certified in Amazon Web Services. And why’s that? Because AWS—a variety of cloud computing products and services—is pretty much running the show behind the scenes. And by […]


The world of stock photography can be a frustrating place for anyone who’s in need of images for their own use, for freelance purposes, or for their small business. Most professional services are incredibly expensive, can be hard to navigate, and include limitations. As for the free options, the actual image inventory can be lacking, […]


07 May 13:43

update: my needy boss wants me to “adopt” her

by Ask a Manager
Lisa G


It’s a special “where are you now?” season at Ask a Manager, when I’m running updates from people who had their letters here answered in the past.

Remember the letter-writer whose needy boss tried to invite herself on the letter-writer’s vacations and nights out with her husband? Here’s the update.

Alison, thanks so very much for responding to my letter, and many thanks also to all the readers who shared their insights. Both your observations and those of the commentariat were immensely helpful, and while Wanda is still Wanda, I feel as though I have gained a measure of control in handling the situation.

As I read and reread the replies to my letter, I realized that a big part of the issue for me has been that while Wanda makes herself very, very clear about what she wants, she does so with passive-aggressive manipulation tactics rather than by outright asking for things. And because I had a parent who did the same thing (and on whose account I spent a number of years in therapy), I am rather more susceptible to that approach than I’d like to be. Your comments, and those of your readers, were incredibly useful in helping me realize how deeply I had gotten pulled back into the same kind of unhealthy relationship that had caused me so much angst when I was young.

The first thing I did was to sit down with my husband and explain the whole thing to him. I wanted him to know that I was going to start setting limits with Wanda, and that part of the limit-setting would involve casting him in the role of a hopeless romantic who insists on lots of couples-only time.

Once we both stopped howling with laughter – which took a while, because Bob is just about as romantic as a box of hammers – he readily agreed to take the heat for me. He’s a good guy.

So when I put in my vacation request for this summer and Wanda asked archly “and where are we going this year,” I chuckled ruefully and said, “Bob is such a romantic that he insists on us taking a ‘mini-moon’ together every year and he doesn’t want anyone to know where we’re going, even our kids.” She pushed a little, even to the point of saying she could easily take that same week off, but I basically took the approach you suggested, treating it as a joke, which worked quite well. Then of course the pandemic came along and we had to cancel our plans – but if it worked once, it’ll work again.

When I started planning a ticket purchase for an autumn concert series that Bob and I always attend with friends, one that Wanda also likes and used to attend with her sister who moved out of state, I offered to include her for the one performance that we take a large group to. She immediately replied “yes, I’ll go with you for that one, and then you can go with me to all the rest,” to which I responded “oh, the rest of the series are dates for Bob and me – such a romantic old guy he is, still wanting go out on dates with his wife.” She pushed a little, but blaming it all on someone else, and especially on someone who is a man, was quite effective. She pretty much already assumes that all men are scoundrels whose only goal is to thwart and frustrate her anyway.

Redirection and deflection have been useful tools as well. A couple of months ago, Wanda stopped by my desk one afternoon and complained, “My stupid brother wants me to give my mother’s ring to his obnoxious stepdaughter at their Easter dinner, she’s so greedy that she’ll probably go pawn it, I really, really don’t want to go to their place for Easter, I really, really wish I had someplace else to go for the holiday, it would be SOOOO nice if only someone else would invite me to their Easter dinner.” I just replied, “Hey, did you hear that Fergus in Legal sent back his edits on that policy document we drafted on llama-herding? He completely changed the meaning of the middle section, and we’ll be in violation of the llama management ordinance if the guidance is released that way.”

That produced a very predictable response, one that successfully kept the topic of Easter dinner out of the conversation for the rest of the day. It takes a bit of planning to keep a distraction like that ready in my back pocket, so to speak, but there’s always some new crisis or controversy looming in our organization, so it’s not all that huge of a stretch. And it has been well worthwhile in terms of deflecting Wanda’s attempts to manipulate me into including her in my personal life.

The pandemic has honestly helped the situation, too, strange though that may sound. As stressful and horrifying and tragic as the pandemic is, the social distancing requirement has been a godsend in helping me establish and maintain a healthier degree of emotional distance.

For example, it is essentially impossible at our workplace to get away from Wanda. Even though she is considered a mid-level executive and is eligible for a private office, she insists on having a desk right out in the middle of the cube farm “to be close to her people” – which translates to being up in everyone’s business at all times.

When we went to telecommuting, however, that all changed, because we’re all scattered to our own homes and Wanda can’t do the kind of spontaneous drop-by meeting where she traps a hapless victim in their cubicle and babbles at them for half the afternoon. We don’t do video meetings either, thank goodness, and it’s downright amazing how much more work I can produce in a day now.

There are still phone conferences, of course, but for some reason, whenever the phone rings, my dog wakes up and insists on going out for a potty break. It’s so odd, I can’t seem to talk for more than five or ten minutes – just long enough to cover the business purpose for the call but no longer – and the minute Wanda goes off on another rant about Easter dinner with her horrible brother, Daisy starts whining at the door and I have to end the call to take her outside.

Of course I know that at some point, we’ll all be back in the office again, and I have no doubt that Wanda will resume her spontaneous drop-by meetings and her passive-aggressive attempts to manipulate me into “adopting” her. But with the insights I’ve gained from AAM, I expect to have no trouble at all in keeping the Oblivious Meter™ set to MAXIMUM CLUELESS and just let that manipulation roll right off my back.

Thank you again, Alison, for your help in joggling me out of the unhealthy place I had allowed myself to be pulled back to! Take care, be well, and stay away from those immersion blenders!

update: my needy boss wants me to “adopt” her was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

30 Apr 16:39

'Bad Education' Turns a Real-Life School Embezzlement Scandal Into a Gripping Black Comedy

Lisa G

This is on my watch list for tonight. This took place at my HS when I was there. And the student who "broke the story" was a year older than me Rebeckah Rombom, possibly the smartest girl I'd ever met.

bad education

Once an American school district reaches a certain level of student test scores and Ivy League acceptance, combined with a general level of wealth amongst its population, things start to get interesting. Roslyn High School, the setting of HBO's newest film Bad Education, directed by Cory Finley and written by Roslyn alum Mike Makowsky, operates within one of Long Island's richest districts, constantly competing against the other swanky high schools populated by all the other children from families who live in McMansions and keep beach houses in the Hamptons. Being an administrator of such a school is no joke, and district superintendent Frank Tassone had made a name for himself as one of the best, rocketing Roslyn's student body to ever-higher reaches of achievement while introducing newer, modern additions to the school infrastructure, making it an ever-more desirable place for Long Island residents to send their kids. And then, in 2002, he found himself at the center of the biggest public school embezzlement scandal in American history. 

Tassone (played by Hugh Jackman in a performance that has been described as "career best," and I'd be inclined to agree) is not just respected by his colleagues, underlings, students, and their parents; he's beloved. He's the man who turned their school into a utopia, made their students higher achievers, got them into the best colleges around, and renovated the palatial campus to nothing short of enviable. In fact, he's been heavily lobbying for funding for a new addition, a glittering aboveground "Skywalk" that will connect the wing of one building to another. It's this very Skywalk that gets one particular student, steely-eyed Rachel Bhargava (Blockers' Geraldine Viswanathan), interested in writing a piece about the subject, and when she digs through the school's long-buried financial records, she finds evidence of discrepancy upon discrepancy, extravagant charges made with school money that don't seem to have anything to do with the actual school at all. On top of everything, Roslyn's leaky ceiling is threatening to cave in: with all the money being spent on "fixing" the school, why has no one paid any attention to… fixing the school? 

It's her report, which is published by the school newspaper, the Hilltop Beacon, that brings everything crashing down around Tassone and his colleague Pam Gluckin (Allison Janney, with a delightfully rich Long Island drawl). He throws Gluckin under the bus, seemingly to keep her financial scandal from going public (making lavish purchases on the school card, tsk tsk), but it's mostly to protect himself and the more impressive amount of money he had been siphoning off the school funds for years. What follows is a strikingly entertaining and extremely blackly comedic retelling of the craziest true story you'll ever hear about employees of a public school almost making off with nearly $8 million. 

Jackman, with his hair slicked aggressively back and his suits immaculately pressed, one hand always clutching an evil-looking charcoal drink, plays Tassone with a distinct style and an absolutely fascinating empathy. Tassone is the villain of the story in every capacity except for the fact that he's also the main character, and Bad Education, which initially premiered at the 2019 Toronto International Film Festival, switches halfway through from a gleeful true-crime recounting to an unexpectedly mournful character study. Particularly fun (and then achingly sad) to watch is Tassone's jovial camaraderie with Gluckin turn instantly sour as their house of cards starts to topple. 

The details of the crime and its court proceedings were written about everywhere from the local papers to the New York Times, but Bad Education takes most of its inspiration from Robert Kolker's riveting 2004 New York Magazine article "The Bad Superintendent," which chronicles the fall of Tassone and his legacy. Liberties were taken with the film, of course. Roslyn's Skywalk already existed before the scandal, but the film uses it as an example of the school's excessive spending; in reality, it was the leaky ceilings which incited the original investigation. Bhargava's character was an invention, and there was obviously no confrontation between her and Tassone in real life, but she is a composite meant to represent the various reports that came out in the school's newspaper that first alerted people to the incident. The charges that initially alerted the school's auditor to spending discrepancies were made by Pam Gluckin's son (played with hysterical goofiness by American Vandal's Jimmy Tatro), but they were purchases from a Home Depot, not an Ace Hardware as depicted in the film. 

The true story, at times, even borders on the salacious. Aside from dipping his hands into his school's coffers for years, Tassone was revealed to have been living with another man in an apartment in Manhattan, at an address which he'd faked on the school's financial records to appear as a word processing company. Aside from even that, he had also bought a house with another man, an exotic dancer who, in the film, he met on a work trip. It's Jackman's final scenes with his younger partner, a character based on his real-life boyfriend and played by Rafael Casal, that are the most emotionally affecting, a last dance in a gay club to Moby's "In This World" as the feds snatch up Tassone's colleagues one by one. Bad Education didn't even need to handle its material with such deftness and grace, and could have been content with just delighting in the true crime of it all, but that's the kind of thing that turns a good movie into a great one. 

Need help finding something to watch? Sign up here for our weekly Streamail newsletter to get streaming recommendations delivered straight to your inbox.

Emma Stefansky is a staff entertainment writer at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @stefabsky.
24 Apr 23:38

Grindr is an app for gay men who want a convenient way to watch lava being poured on a goldfish.

by (@YESsteveYES)
Lisa G

This is my favorite Steve tweet. It also branches to heteros. Gardenscapes is everywhere....

Grindr is an app for gay men who want a convenient way to watch lava being poured on a goldfish.

16 Apr 21:22

The FDA lets ‘pretty much anyone’ sell a COVID-19 antibody test — and a lot of them are shoddy: CNN

by Matthew Chapman
Lisa G

A Cary share. Liz I was reading about how the FDA made the regs for this like ZERO and we basically now have many tests that mean nothing.

On CNN Tuesday, senior medical correspondent Elizabeth Cohen warned that many of the antibody tests on the market for COVID-19 — the tests that show whether you are immune to the virus — are barely tested under the Food and Drug Administration’s new standards, and possibly ineffective. “So this test tells you, hey, look, you […]
16 Apr 20:38

I can’t wait to be able to post a picture of me at 20 next year when I turn 20.

by (@YESsteveYES)
Lisa G

Too young for retinoids.

I can’t wait to be able to post a picture of me at 20 next year when I turn 20.

15 Apr 19:51

I accidentally flashed my team during a video call

by Ask a Manager
Lisa G

“There but for the grace of God go I.”

A reader writes:

After a video team meeting today, I hung up the call and proceeded to get undressed for a shower. After a few seconds, when I was significantly but not completely undressed, I noticed that the app had frozen and was still open. The rest of my team had been staying on for a different meeting, so I prayed it had disconnected on their end and closed it.

At a meeting with our team lead later in the afternoon, she (gently) let me know that it had not disconnected and told me it wasn’t a big deal. Obviously I am DEEPLY mortified and basically want to die right now.

Should I reach out to the other team members and offer an explanation/apology? Also, can you tell me that someday everyone will forget this happened and I’ll stop reliving it in my head while wanting to barf, even if it’s not true? Everyone on my team is great and I’m sure will act like it never happened, but I’ll always know what they’ve seen.

Do I have to quit now? Just kidding. I think. Ugggghhhh.

Oh nooooo, I’m sorry! With the drastic increase in video calls recently, this is everyone’s nightmare right now.

In fact, because it’s everyone’s nightmare right now, a lot/all of your colleagues are probably thinking, “There but for the grace of God go I.”

Stuff like this happens, and decent coworkers do not forever associate it with the person it happened to. Mostly they will feel empathy, and probably care about you feeling comfortable again.

There also might be comfort in the fact that you are one of many, many people who have had something like this happen in the last month. If you had to appear semi-nude on video in front of your coworkers, now is the time for it, because you are part of a sea of people who have shown too much on video calls. It is the secondary pandemic of the pandemic!

People will indeed forget this and you will stop reliving it in your head, because that is the way of mortifying moments. That doesn’t mean you won’t occasionally be struck with the memory, because that is also the way of mortifying moments, but it will not haunt you forever.

You don’t need to contact your team members to explain or apologize. I promise no one thinks you did this on purpose, as a sort of post-meeting novelty; they get what happened. That said, if you’d feel better if you acknowledged it in some way, do whatever will make you feel better. As somewhat of a connoisseur of embarrassing myself, I sometimes find that speaking of the incident can take some of the sting out of it (which of course means a second awkward moment, but I’m sometimes willing to pay that price for the relief it brings), but other people find more relief in never speaking of it again. It’s up to you! But you don’t need to do anything here; you can do or not do whatever will make you the most comfortable.

We are all with you in spirit.

I accidentally flashed my team during a video call was originally published by Alison Green on Ask a Manager.

05 Apr 07:00

I came down to the kitchen to get a Starfruit Lemonade Polar seltzer at around 2 pm to drink while I worked upstairs in my room. I have been looking for the can of seltzer in my house now for 9 hours.

by (@YESsteveYES)
Lisa G

Did you find it?

I came down to the kitchen to get a Starfruit Lemonade Polar seltzer at around 2 pm to drink while I worked upstairs in my room. I have been looking for the can of seltzer in my house now for 9 hours.

02 Apr 19:09

Okay, who’s gunna tell these gays that quarantine is not a personality

by (@YESsteveYES)

Okay, who’s gunna tell these gays that quarantine is not👏 a 👏personality👏

25 Mar 18:22

theweirdwideweb: goathazard: goathazard: theweirdwideweb: So in Minnesota there’s this cultural...

Lisa G

Share from Cary. Just FOLLOW HER people!





So in Minnesota there’s this cultural taboo about taking the last piece. If there’s a group and everyone orders pizza, typically one slice will not be eaten. At the office if someone brings donuts, the last donut will be left alone. Possibly cut in half. Then that half cut in half, but always leaving at least a little on the plate. The reason is it’s considered impolite because someone else might want it. To take the last piece is a desperate thing to do. There’s even an expression: “I wasn’t raised by wolves.” Anyway, here’s the best local facebook post going around right now. 


I saw this and thought to myself, thats so strange because thats a thing here in sweden as well, how two different places so far apart can have the same taboo.. and then I remembered something from history class

Humans are wild, huh?

Yeah this is why we talk this way. 

19 Mar 11:46


by (@YESsteveYES)
Lisa G

Did you hear what he said? Roast him.

18 Mar 18:13

Send the emoji to anyone posting from a bar or club this weekend, and then separately, Venmo $20 to your favorite local drag queens. Everyone stay the fuck home, I’m not living like this for the next six months because your twink brain can’t read a line graph.

by (@YESsteveYES)
Lisa G

every day they spent at brunch this weekend is like... another three weeks

Send the 👎 emoji to anyone posting from a bar or club this weekend, and then separately, Venmo $20 to your favorite local drag queens. Everyone stay the fuck home, I’m not living like this for the next six months because your twink brain can’t read a line graph.

18 Mar 14:40

How To Delete All Your Twitter Likes

Lisa G

I recently wanted to delete all my twitter likes. I felt like it was a window into my subconscious that I didn't want to show. SO.

The comments provided this diddy (if you follow the directions in the blog post)

var divs = document.getElementsByTagName('div')
var arr = divs)
var hearts = arr.filter(x => x.getAttribute('data-testid') == 'unlike')
hearts.forEach(h =>
window.scrollTo(0, document.body.scrollHeight ||document.documentElement.scrollHeight);

Sorry to Steve who this action will disproportionately effect.

Twitter has become one of the world’s leading forums for discussion and argument, with at least half a billion tweets sent out each day. (Side note: either the site should be called Tweeter, or the messages should be called Twits.) Pretty much everyone who is anybody is on Twitter, either to put their opinion out there or to follow the opinions of the people whose opinions they care about. Of course, with so many people using the site, and with it being such a channel for controversial topics, there are always Twitter scandals and outrages.

One result of those scandals and outrages is that every once in a while, users find themselves wanting to delete old Favorites, also known as “likes”. Maybe the comedian whose joke they liked later turned out to be a huge sex criminal, or maybe they just changed their mind on an issue of the day, but deciding to undo a like is a common decision. It’s quick and easy to do and many have done it. But what if you want to delete all of your likes and start fresh? In this article, I will show you a few different ways you can get rid of your entire Twitter like history.

One by One

The old-fashioned way is the simplest way: delete your likes one at a time using the Twitter app itself on your phone. This is a time-consuming, tedious activity. It has the sole virtue of letting you leave some likes in place. However, if you’ve only been on Twitter for a little while or if you haven’t got a lot of likes to go through, this method might be the easiest way. Here’s how to do it:

  1. Log in to Twitter.
  2. Open the “Likes” section.
  3. Browse the tweets.
  4. Click “Undo Like” next to all the likes that you want removed.

There is one crucial limitation on this method: The Likes page in your Twitter app will track only the last 3,200 likes, with the older ones being inaccessible. Luckily, there are faster and more efficient methods out there.

Through Browser Console

If you’d like to delete a large number of likes, you can do it through your web browser’s console. You will need some basic knowledge of how the console works, a web browser, and a Twitter account. This method will only work on Google Chrome. Here’s the step-by-step guide:

  1. First, launch Chrome.
  2. Then, log into your Twitter account.
  3. Navigate to the “Likes” section.
  4. Once you’re on the “Likes” page, hit F12. This command will open Chrome’s debug console.
  5. Next, click on “Console” to open the tab.
  6. Copy this script $(‘.ProfileTweet-actionButtonUndo.ProfileTweet-action–unfavorite’).click(); into the “Console” field, next to the blue arrow.
  7. Hit “Enter” and run it.
  8. Check the results.
  9. Repeat the process as many times as needed.

While certainly far more efficient than the previous method, deleting likes through the console does have its limitations. You’ll still only be able to erase some 3,200 likes this way, as that’s how many likes your Likes page has access to. If you have more than 3,000 likes to delete, you will need a better, more powerful solution.

Twitter Archive Eraser

The next method involves third-party apps designed for managing and deleting tweets, likes, and favorites. Twitter Archive Eraser is one of the free options. It allows you to bulk-delete likes and is easy and simple to use. Here’s how it works.

  1. Install and launch the app.
  2. You will see two check boxes. Tick the first one, but not the other one.
  3. Click the “Sign In” button.
  4. Next, type in your user name and password.
  5. Click “Authorize app”.
  6. You will then get a PIN code. You should paste it into the app.
  7. After that, the app will show you the selection screen. Choose “Delete Favorites”.
  8. The app will show you the likes count, as well as the query limitation, on top of the page.
  9. Click “Start” to gather the likes.
  10. When the process is done, click “Next”.
  11. The app will show you the likes it gathered. All likes are selected by default, though the application does permit filtering.
  12. When you’re ready, click “Erase selected tweets”.
  13. Click “OK” to confirm.
  14. Once the process ends, the application will display a “success” notification.

You should, however, bear in mind that this application has its limits. First off, the app may or may not work with all Favorites/likes. There is a known issue with Twitter’s API that causes some likes (from the days when they were called Favorites) to not be accessible to the program. Second, the app has a four-tiered pricing program, ranging from “free” to “premium”. Each tier grants new access and functionality. For example, with the free version, you will only be able to delete up to 1,000 likes which are less than two years old. The Basic package ($9 one-time charge) will let you delete 3,000 likes no older than 4 years. The Advanced option ($19) will allow you to delete 10,000 likes no older than 4 years. Finally, the Premium version ($29) will let you delete an unlimited number of likes no matter how old they are.

Do you have any suggestions on ways to delete all your Twitter likes? Share them with us in the comments if so!

Want to learn more about how to make the most of Twitter? TechJunkie has you covered, with tutorials on how to delete your whole Twitter account, how to delete all your retweets, how to tell if you’ve been muted by someone, how to write your own Twitter bot, and how to block and unblock people on Twitter.

16 Mar 22:42

Why was a Tennessee lawmaker drinking out of a Hershey's syrup bottle? We've got answers.

Lisa G

Apparently it's water and he's an avid upcycler! (or is he)

Rep. Kent Calfee, R-Kingston, drinks out of a chocolate syrup bottle as he waits for the start of the State of the State address at the state Capitol Monday, Feb. 3, 2020 in Nashville, Tenn.

Rep. Kent Calfee, R-Kingston, drinks out of a chocolate syrup bottle as he waits for the start of the State of the State address at the state Capitol Monday, Feb. 3, 2020 in Nashville, Tenn. (Photo: George Walker IV / The Tennessean)

A Tennessee state representative found himself in the spotlight Monday night for drinking out of a Hershey's chocolate syrup bottle while on the House floor.

You had a lot of questions after the photo of Rep. Kent Calfee went viral on Twitter, so we decided to get some answers.

If you're just now catching up, a Tennessean photo of Calfee was widely shared on Twitter on Monday evening, showing the Republican from Kingston drinking from a chocolate syrup bottle while waiting for Gov. Bill Lee's second State of the State address to begin.

So first, you ask, what was actually in the chocolate syrup bottle?

Twitter users shared their theories, which were largely both of amusement and disgust at the prospect of Calfee chugging chocolate syrup or some kind of hard liquor.

"It's a repurposed syrup bottle that I drink my water out of," Calfee said on Tuesday. "I'm not going to buy a $25 or $35 or $45 water bottle that’s not worth what it costs because I'll probably put it down and leave it somewhere."

Calfee said he and his wife, Marilyn, "recycle everything."

"I was fixing to put it in the plastic recycling one day at home, and I thought, shoot, I can put water in that," Calfee said.

Rep. Kent Calfee, R-Kingston

Rep. Kent Calfee, R-Kingston (Photo: Jed DeKalb)

He keeps it in the drawer at his desk in the front of the House chamber and refills it with water — and never with liquor, which he stopped drinking in December 1978, Calfee said.

Perhaps more importantly, though, is the question of whether Calfee actually ever has consumed Hershey's syrup from the bottle.

"I don’t know that I've ever drank chocolate syrup," Calfee said.

He does, however, like to take a spoonful of Nesquik and wash it down with a sip of milk rather than mixing it in. It's a trick he has also passed along to some of his seven grandchildren.

Calfee, who is in his eighth year serving in the General Assembly, was a member of the Roane County commission for 20 years before that.

He and his wife have a farm, a boat, kayaks and a motor home to fill his free time when he doesn't have legislative business, Calfee said.

Reach Natalie Allison at Follow her on Twitter at @natalie_allison.

Want to read more stories like this? A subscription to one of our Tennessee publications gets you unlimited access to all the latest politics news, podcasts like Grand Divisions, plus newsletters, a personalized mobile experience and the ability to tap into stories, photos and videos from throughout the USA TODAY Network's 261 daily sites.

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11 Mar 18:30

Loved this video that describes the mechanics of how epidemics spread and why #flatteningthecurve is so important. It definitely helped internalize the risk to myself and responsibility to others. …

by (@YESsteveYES)
Lisa G

Ok more from steve but this video is great

Loved this video that describes the mechanics of how epidemics spread and why #flatteningthecurve is so important. It definitely helped internalize the risk to myself and responsibility to others. …

11 Mar 06:30

(hi lisa)

by (@YESsteveYES)
Lisa G

Hi Steve.

(hi lisa)

10 Mar 22:11

I Tried Not to Touch My Face for a Day. It Made Me Insane.

by Justin Peters
Lisa G

It turns out I touch my face a lot.

What happened when I took the CDC’s advice for avoiding the coronavirus as literally as possible.
10 Mar 16:19


by (@YESsteveYES)
Lisa G

I am now following Steve's Twitter on Reader


10 Mar 15:01


Lisa G

I can't believe Robby hasn't shared this first!


Stonks is an intentional misspelling of the word "stocks" which is often associated with a surreal meme featuring the character Meme Man standing in front of a picture representing the stock market followed by the caption "Stonks." The picture began seeing use as a reaction image online in jokes about making poor financial decisions.

Read More
06 Mar 18:27

Can You Fall in Love Without Seeing the Person’s Face?

by June Thomas, Nichole Perkins, Marcia Chatelain, and Christina Cauterucci
Lisa G

Should I watch Love is Blind? I haven't read the article. I'm just using it to ask this vital question.

04 Mar 15:43

The Stubborn, Prolific Slipper Snail Is Notorious for Conquering Clam Beds. Is Your Dinner Plate Next?

by Hannah Selinger
Lisa G

Share for funky snails.

Long the bane of bay harvesters, the mollusk is receiving a fresh look from sustainability advocates and chefs alike.