A tribute to Natasha Richardson (1963-2009)


I couldn’t imagine doing anything else.  -On acting

Theaters on Broadway and London’s West End dimmed their lights Thursday night in honor of 45 year-old British stage/film actress Natasha Richardson.  Not only was she strikingly beautiful- with a great laugh- she had an interesting body of work and a lovely family.  Natasha has two sons w/ her husband of nearly 15 yrs, Irish actor Liam Neeson.  

We talk all the time.  We are very close. -On her relationship w/ her mother

Natasha at 17 (1978)
Natasha at 17 (1978)

I thought this photo was interesting b/c she looks just like a typical teenager.  Natasha is from a respected acting family; she was the daughter of the renowned Vanessa Redgrave, niece of Corin and Lynn, cousin of Jemma, and sister of Joely Richardson (currently seen on the TV series Nip/Tuck).  AmFAR was one of the charities Natasha supported; her father Tony Richardson (a director) died of AIDS in 1991.

The Comfort of Strangers

I think I first saw Natasha in The Comfort of Strangers; it’s a indie thriller-type film where a young married Brit couple get involved with another older, manipulative pair while vacationing in France.

Classing up Disney's The Parent Trap

Another unusual, yet though-provoking, film she starred in was The Handmaid’s Tale.  It’s based on a sci-fi novel, and co-stars Robert Duvall, Faye Dunaway, and Aidan Quinn.

Dancing w/ Marton Csokas in Asylum

In Asylum, Natasha plays the impeccably-dressed/upper-crust/bored wife of an asylum supervisor who gets entangled with one of the patients (played by Aussie actor, Marton Csokas).  Though she knows he’s in the asylum for killing his wife, she begins a torrid affair with him.

The main reason to watch Asylum, aside from Natasha’s risk-taking/emotional performance, is Sir Ian McKellan.  He plays a smart/cunning psychiatrist who relishes in manipulating people around him.

Trying to figure out Sir Ian in Asylum

I cannot imagine a world without her wit, her love, her mischief, her great, great talent and her gift for living. I loved her very much. She was a supreme friend. I shall miss her deeply.

Ralph Fiennes at Natasha’s funeral

With good friend Ralph Fiennes - The White Countess

Natasha worked with good friend Ralph Fiennes on Maid in Manhattan (Oh, that was just for fun!) and The White Countess, a period romance filmed in China.  (Vanessa and Lynn co-star as well.)  As with other Merchant Ivory productions, The White Countess has gorgeous cinematography, exquisite costumes (esp. for Natsha), and intelligent dialogue (it’s based on Kazuo Ishiguro’s book).

 …the enormous depth and emotional force of a great actor on the one hand, and the intelligence and objectivity of a great director on the other. She was a one-of-a-kind, a magnificent actress.

-Sam Mendes (film/theater director)

The White Countess has gorgeous costumes.

Sofia, a former Russian countess, her young daughter, and her extended family live in a seedy part of Shanghai in the 1930s.  Sofia works as a taxi dancer in a bar where she meets a wealthy/blind American named Todd (Fiennes) who’s recently opened a posh nightclub.  The lonely Todd offers her the job of main hostess in his club, and begins to confide in her.

Natasha and Liam met while working on Broadway.  They both became naturalized US citizens, and lived in both Millbrook NY(where they held big dinner parties) and on the Upper West Side of Manhattan (where a grad school friend of mine spotted Liam and his sons one Saturday ordering breakfast.)

This pic below is from a holiday ep of Top Chef on Bravo.   Natasha served as a guest judge; she was said to be an accomplished chef.


Though they came from very different backgrounds- she attended private schools in France and England- he grew up working-class/Catholic in a Protestant area of Northern Ireland, Natasha and Liam seemed to have a solid marriage.



They have two sons, Micheal and Daniel.   I admire how this classy pair kept their most of their private life out of the public eye (no small feat in Hollywood.)
…incredibly luminous quality that you seldom see, and a great sense of humor. I thought she was a really great actress and seemed to simply shine in both film and theater.
-Judi Dench

With John C. Reilly in Streetcar

Natasha was best known for her stage work; she was a Tony award winner. The above pic is from summer of 2005 when Natasha played Blanche Dubois in A Streetcar Named Desire on Broadway.  This revival received many accolades.

The term ‘life force’ seems trite but that is what she was: a woman who powered through life and fascinated everyone she encountered. I have been thinking about the times I spent with her since I heard the news of her tragic accident, and the strongest memory I have is of her laughter, her unmistakable throaty laugh. I think that’s a great way to remember someone.
Alan Cumming (on his personal blog)

A desi “American Idol”… and more!!!

This guy just made me smile! 
Anoop is the anti-Sanjaya... Thank goodness!!!
Anoop is the anti-Sanjaya... Thank goodness!!!
I started to watch AI after a LOOOONG time b/c my aunt pointed Anoop out to me 2 wks ago.  (She has 2 young daughters, so she tries to check out what they like when she can.)  I’m REALLY excited that there could be a (good) desi idol in the near future!  As for Sanjaya Malakar- he has a book out now!  I did a double-take when I saw it recently at Borders.
Awww... I LOVE a big smile!
Awww... I LOVE a big smile!

Like many desis, Anoop is a multi-talented, but humble individual.  He’s  22, graduated w/ BA from UNC Chapel Hill (he won a scholarship), and is currently enrolled there in a master’s program in Anthropology.  He likes R&B music the best, and feels part of Southern culture (he referred to himself as “a Carolina boy”). 


Yes, Anoop is a TALL desi guy!
Yes, Anoop is a TALL desi guy!

In this week’s ep, Randy Travis was (noticebly) impressed w/ Noop Dogg.  Though Anoop admitted to not knowing much re: country music, he did VERY well.  He sang Willie Nelson’s classic song.   


Singing at UNC Chapel Hill
Singing at UNC Chapel Hill (w/ The Clef Tones)

Anoop was in an acapella group at his uni; he was usually the soloist of the group (The Clef Tones).  You can check out some old vids of the grp on You Tube.   

Anoop's parents are both scientists in "The Research Triangle."
Anoop's parents are both scientists in "The Research Triangle."
Anoop’s parents were in the audience before; they support his dream of being a singer.  Wow, talk about COOL desis!


 Other American Idol contestants I like:


Lil Rounds from Memhis, TN
Lil Rounds from Memphis, TN
She's pretty and has a POWERFUL voice!
She's pretty and has a POWERFUL voice!

I think she has a GREAT chance of winning the competition!  Great voice (w/ power), sweet/humble personality, and “girl-next-door” looks ALL go in her favor.



Matt Giraud from Kalamazoo, MI
Matt Giraud from Kalamazoo, MI

This guy seems very confidant and sweet.  He’s from suburban Michigan, and has a cool, husky kind of voice.


Matt, who also plays piano, released CDs (independantly) before!




Can’t wait to hear more from ALL these new young singers!

Another NYC Trip…

Church across from Columbia U (114th & Bdwy)
Church across from Columbia U (114th & Bdwy)


Hello readers,

I recently went to NYC for 2 job fairs held at Columbia.  On Friday March 6, I stood in line (for some mins!) for the non-profit/ED job fair at Columbia.   Last year, we didn’t have to wait in line.  There were Columbia undergrads/grads and alumni from several (good) schools present.  (I’m an alumnus of Fordham.)     


Waiting in line before non-profit job fair
Waiting in line before non-profit job fair


Please God, give me a job!!!   LOL…  There was a photographer snapping pics of the line; the chubby young (lovey-dovey) couple in front of me turned their heads away.  I guess they didn’t want anyone to know they didn’t have jobs.  Well, at least they have love!


On Saturday March 7, I went to the charter school career fair (off 120th St).  I had gone last year, and thought it wasn’t TOO busy or rushed.  We had to go through several doors and hallways to reach the actual fair.  (They had us in a pokey little corner of a bldg, b/c hey- who cares about educators?) 


This time there were MANY attendees!  The fair was held in 2 rooms- one quite small and one long-ish hall (actually a cafeteria).  I learned about a FEW new charter schools, but I already knew about most of the orgs and schools there.  No one looked pleased- forget looking happy!  Their faces were VERY serious. give or take a few young’uns here and there.  A few older, experienced teachers (from suburban areas) came to see what was out there.  (Maybe they fear layoffs?)   


Roosevelt Island
Roosevelt Island


The best part of the trip was seeing many of my NYC friends!  I stayed w/ my friend Sadia on Roosevelt Island for most of my trip; we got to know more about each other.  Sadia knows how to cook deshi and Thai food- very cool!  (She’ll be off to Toronto soon for a new adventure.  GOOD LUCK!!!)  I got to have a long talk with Rumana on Sunday. 




Sadly, I know of SEVERAL people I know are out of jobs (laid-off or unable to re-enter workforce after some yrs away); they are architects, work in HR, finance, and more.       


Vietnames restaurant (Univ Place East)
Vietnames restaurant (Univ Place East)
On Friday, Sadia and I went to a Vietnamese place.  Yes, we will BOTH miss NYC a lot!  (I don’t see a HIGH chance of getting a teaching job there.)
All the best,

More Movie Trivia!


– Katherine Hepburn was maid of honor at Vivien Leigh and Laurence Olivier’s wedding.

– She was a direct descendant of Britain’s King John (through one of his illegitimate children)!

– Some of Hepburn’s favorite actors are: Jeremy Irons, John Lithgow, and Vanessa Redgrave.

– She was tall among her peers, standing over 5’7″ tall.




– Lauren Bacall’s real name is Betty Joan Perske.

– Bacall is over 5’8″ tall; she started out as a model.

– After the death of long-time husband/co-star Humphery Bogart, Bacall married respected character actor Jason Robards.   




– When Bette Davis arrived in Hollywood, the studio representative who went to meet her train left without her because he could find no one who looked like a movie star.  (LOL!!!)

– Davis was married 4 times; she admitted that her work always came first.

– She was Welsh and Scottish.




– Judi Dench is only 5’1″ tall!

– She and Vanessa Redgrave were in the same class (year) in drama school. 

– Dench is a Dame Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (just like close friend Maggie Smith).




– Claudette Colbert’s real name was Emilie Claudette Chauchoin; she was born in France and moved to the US as a 3 year-old child.

– She worked in a dress shop to afford drama classes.

– Colbert’s salary for It Happened One Night was $50,000.   (Not bad!)