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Comments: Week of May 27, 2013

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1. The cover of our annual “Television” issue featured a coquettish Michael Douglas partially in makeup as Liberace, whom he plays in Steven Soderbergh’s upcoming HBO biopic. Readers excitedly chewed over Lynn Hirschberg’s intimate profile of the ­actor (Once You Get the First Kiss In, You’re Comfortable,” May 20)—we got an unusual volume of actual letters about it. “He has a great backbone and libido to be able to handle all of the good, his movies, and the bad, his family and sickness,” wrote Edward Brunswick. “One of the most revealing and intimate profiles of Douglas I’ve read,” agreed a reader on Vulture, where others treated the story as a kind of anachronism, a celebrity profile in which the writer seemed to not just parachute into the subject’s life but also actually hang around for an extended visit. “When the celebs are open and game, you can sometimes get golden moments,” wrote one reader. Others praised in particular Douglas’s willingness to discuss his imprisoned son—“He makes no excuses for his son and clearly illustrates how our justice system fails drug addicts who are nonviolent”—and his recent battle with cancer: “Great to see Michael Douglas working again—I went through similar treatment this time last year and it is really, really hard. I resisted a feeding tube, too, and lost 45 lbs. … No one really wants to read the grisly details but I wish I could ask him how his saliva glands are going and if not so good, how he copes.

2. “The world into which the first three seasons of Arrested Development were released is dramatically different from the one we live in now,” wrote Will Leitch in a valentine to the cult hit that doubled as a celebration of its rabid fans, who’ve inspired Netflix to relaunch the show after eight years off the air (The Persistent Cult of Arrested Development,” May 20). “I confess to an addiction to Arrested Development,” wrote Andrew Sullivan at the Dish. “It’s the purest character drama and also yet the purest sight-gag, one-liner comedy.” At The Atlantic, Ta-Nehisi Coates outed himself as a fanatic, too: “The cult of Arrested Development is pretty strong in my house.” On Vulture, as well, reader after reader proudly declared love for the show. “I missed the final four episodes and for the longest time I refused to watch them, just so that I could pretend there were still new episodes of AD,” wrote one. And then, of course, there were those who went Bluthier-than-thou: “I went on the frozen banana stand line in NY, and found that I was older than everyone else on the line. Now, granted it isn’t their fault that they were so young when the show came on, but there are a lot of ‘Johnny Come Lately’ fans … I actually hope that the show never becomes a megahit because the last thing any Bluth fan wants is to know that they are part of the processed, GIF-obsessed masses.”

3. In a semi-satirical column advising disgraced ex-congressman Anthony Weiner on his campaign for mayor, Chris Smith suggested the candidate “be boring”: “Talk only about the wonky stuff: cops, kids, economic development, the middle class” (Winning With Weiner,” May 20). “Good advice—but would Weiner resist the temptation to act like the smartest guy in the room at every press conference and debate?” asked one reader at nymag.com. “No press secretary short of Obi-Wan Kenobi can keep Weiner’s mouth closed.” Another also thought the candidate hadn’t yet shown enough remorse: “He needs to humble himself and do a few good works before anyone will believe he has changed.” And a third reader wondered why we keep fussing about personal narratives rather than politics proper: “This goes in line with the New York Times story about Chris Quinn and her bulimia and alcoholism. These weird personal features are supposed to earn them points but we see right through them.

4. An update: This winter, we published a story by Steve Fishman on corruption at St. John’s, where a dean had been accused of embezzling $1 million, then killed herself after testifying in her own trial last fall (The Dean of Corruption,” February 24). This past week, under continued pressure, the school’s president, the Reverend Donald J. Harrington, retired, and his chief of staff, Robert Wile, resigned.

Send correspondence to: nymletters@nymag.com


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