BlackBook Video Archives: A Pre-Scandal Brett Ratner Interviews Racing Legend Jackie Stewart…About Roman Polanski

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With the floodgates having opened on the Hollywood sexual assault allegations, from Harvey Weinstein to James Toback to Kevin Spacey to now X-Men / Hercules director Brett Ratner, as many were likely caught off guard as were not necessarily all that surprised. BlackBook surely admired the prolific Ratner for his work, especially his ability to consistently make us laugh (who didn’t love those Rush Hour movies?).
And so it was that we got the director/producer together with racing legend Jackie Stewart in 2013, to talk, ironically, about that year’s update of Roman Polanski’s acclaimed 1972 film about Stewart, Weekend of a Champion. Considering the 1977 sex scandal that has dogged Polanski for his entire life since then, watching these BlackBook clips of Ratner and Stewart surely brings up the question of how to consider any artist’s oeuvre, when forced to view it through the lens of purported/repeated sexual transgressions.
Stewart, for his part, has notably been a loving husband to Helen, his wife of 55 years.



How to Live Your Most Comfortable Life According to a Design Expert

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Design expert Bob Williams, half of the creative minds behind the home furnishing brand Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams, didn’t always plan on designing furniture. In fact, he originally studied to be a graphic designer. It wasn’t until he met Mitchell Gold, now his business partner, that he learned the intricacies of the furniture industry, and the rest is history. Post Studios had the pleasure of speaking with Bob to hear about where he draws inspiration from, what makes him tick, and how to make the family pet feel right at home.



What was it about interior design that led you to home furnishing?

I actually got into the furniture business because of Mitchell and just being at the right place at the right time. He worked for a big furniture company, and after a couple of years, he wanted to start his own. I was the only one willing to pick up the paintbrush and carry all the boxes and all that kind of stuff.

Where do you draw inspiration from? Is there a particular piece you can tie back to a specific inspiration?

I get inspiration from all kinds of places. Whether it’s watching movies, television or what I’m reading in books. Magazines are also a huge influence and just kind of getting inspired during my day-to-day. I’m a huge antique, flea-market type person, and it’s so interesting to go back and find something from a previous period and think, “How can I take that and make it more relevant for today’s consumer?” Sometimes it’s making a piece a little deeper, making the back a little fluffier, or putting a new or different cover on it. One of our best-selling pieces is the Hunter sofa, and I found something similar to that in a flea market and it turned into being one of our best-selling sofa collections.


Every day, there is a new opportunity that comes to you and you just need to be brave enough or smart enough to run with that opportunity and see where it takes you.

Where are you most creative? Where do you do most of your designing?

I live about 25 miles from the factory [where Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams furniture is built] and it’s all through the country to get here. So every morning and every evening, I’ve got about a 25-, 30-minute ride and I’m seeing cows, farmhouses and barns and your mind just starts to think: What if we did this to this chair or what if we took this table and put this finish on it and make the knobs a little bigger? I just let it kind of stew there until I get it all figured out. And that’s kind of my litmus test for ideas: If I remember it or I’m real excited about it by the time I get to the office, then I know this is something really good. I write it down, pin it on the wall with all the other ideas and then when it comes time to come up with the ideas for the next season, I’ve already got a wall full of ideas and thoughts.



When you’re not designing, what are you doing?

Besides going to antique stores and flea markets, I love to garden. It’s interesting because it lets me design but in a completely different medium than furniture and interiors. It’s fun because it lets me use different kinds of thoughts and ideas and it’s also challenging to try and create a garden that’s beautiful and colorful 12 months out of the year.


One thing that I learned a long time ago: If it’s a really good thought or a really good idea, it’ll come back to you.

Do you have any tips for someone furnishing their first home?

I always tell people, think about how you want to use the space. Is this a space where I’m going to have friends and family over and we’re going to be able to talk? Or is this the place where I want to relax, lay back, take a nap, or watch TV? You need to find furniture that will allow you to do those activities in that space. If you want to be able to have a conversation and talk, you want a seat that is very shallow and lets you sit up straight. Now, if it’s a place where you want to relax or watch TV, then something that sits a little deeper or a little lower is perfect. I don’t really tell people you need to think about the color or you need to think about the style; I always stress to people to think about the function. Once you figure out the function, then finding those pieces that allow you to do that makes it so much easier.

How would you describe the look and feel of the fall collection?

One of the things that we try to do every season is to have things that are clean and classic. We try to put together a collection that will have great, incredible, classic, basic items that you can add to season after season. It’s one thing if you buy a shirt that’s a little crazy or a pair of shoes that’s a little “off the rack” because you’re not going to wear that or see it every day. But a piece of furniture — as soon as you walk in the room, it’s the first thing that you see. The last thing I want is somebody to regret what they bought; I want them to be able to build onto the pieces that they have.


A media sofa is great because it’s extra deep. It lets you lay back and put your feet up without having to have an ottoman.

Your company is very much focused on eco-friendly and sustainable designs. Can you give us some background on why that’s important to you?

In the manufacturing, or pouring, of foam, there’s a lot of fluorocarbons that get released into the atmosphere which is destroying the ozone layer. So we started calling the foam companies to find out what other kind of foams they had, and it just lucked out that this one company just created this new type of foam that didn’t release these particular fluorocarbons. We were really fortunate that immediately we were able to buy foam that was more environmentally responsible than other foams out there. Growing up in Texas during the ‘70s also introduced me to Lady Bird Johnson’s big campaign about “Keep America Beautiful.” The notion that it’s up to us to make sure that we keep the world clean and safe is just a part of my whole DNA. It’s amazing now to have a company that part of our whole ethos is making sure that we protect the environment.



We know you have two dogs. What advice can you give your fellow pet owners about choosing upholstery?

I always recommend you limit the furniture the pet can be on to one or two pieces and we suggest using performance fabrics. Sunbrella is a great fabric because it’s an acrylic yarn so it’s easy to clean and it’s practically indestructible. That’s what I have on my sectional in my house and I’ve got two dirty little French bulldogs on there every night. About a year ago, I came home from overseas, dead tired and decide I’m going to get a glass of red wine and sit on the sofa and just relax. My two dogs come running in, and next thing you know, they jump on the sofa and run across me. Of course I’m jiggling my glass of wine and think, “Thank goodness I didn’t spill any!” and before I even had a chance to move, one of them jumps on top of me. The glass of red wine goes right up in the air and I’m soaked, with seven of the cushions covered in red wine. I took them off the sofa, threw them in the washing machine, and they came out clean.


Just remember: Pets are dirty, so be sure to vacuum your upholstery because dog hair and dirt is just going to be part of it.


Click here to find out more about Mitchell Gold + Bob Williams and shop their new Fall collection now.


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No brand celebrates women in all their complexities quite like Chanel. It is constantly finding new ways to fuse the modern and the classic, the strong and the feminine – something that’s perfectly encapsulated in its iconic perfumes. For their latest project, a multimedia online experience aptly titled The Fifth Sense, Chanel teamed up with i-D to highlight some of the most innovative and complex women working in the arts today. As part of the project, Chanel and i-D are highlighting the artistic practices of six women, specifically exploring the ways in which their visions are influenced by smell.

Entitled “Making Movement,” the fifth film in the series profiles the stunning Japanese ballet dancer Nozomi Iijima as she choreographs her very first piece. Inspired by Chanel No. 5, Iijima’s piece marries technical precision and fluid self-expression to create something that’s at once beautifully unfamiliar and timeless. “In dance, the classic is the foundation of the modern,” she explains. “And so as a woman and as a dancer I feel I have to carry both.” Not only is Iijima’s unique approach to movement endlessly mesmerizing, it illustrates strength in femininity – a notion that couldn’t be more Chanel.

Through The Fifth Sense, Chanel and i-D challenge female artists to view their work through a different lens, ultimately urging them to create something fresh and beautiful.

Find out more about The Fifth Sense and click here to watch “Making Movement”.

Cannabis Tourism: Las Vegas Comes to the Party

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As Nevada nears the expected July 1st start date for its emergent recreational marijuana program, tourists, 21 years and older, will be able buy pot while visiting Las Vegas and other Nevada cities. Nevada officials are hoping this will make the state even friendlier to tourists, and those in the cannabis industry agree.

Nevada is one of eight states that have legalized recreational marijuana. It already had legal medical pot. Medical dispensaries started opening in 2015. The state now has 55, mostly in Las Vegas or surrounding Clark County.

Attitudes regarding marijuana regulation have also changed as other states (Colorado, Washington, Oregon, California, Maine, Massachusetts and Alaska) have passed their own laws legalizing marijuana for recreational use. Even though marijuana remains illegal at the federal level, and state lawmakers are cautious about running afoul of the Justice Department, voters, on the other hand, have forged ahead. The public opinion tipping point may have occurred as 56% of US voters surveyed said they would support legalization.

Colorado and Washington have fully legalized cannabis for recreational use since 2014, so with larger state populations, it would seem logical that those states would be bigger markets for cannabis. But those with knowledge of the marijuana industry believe that Nevada, and Vegas in particular, represents an even greater opportunity. According to a survey by Love Home Swap, the Las Vegas Strip attracted over 39 million tourists annually, making it the most visited tourist attraction in the world over both the Eiffel Tower and Times Square. If even a small percentage of tourists buy cannabis in Vegas, the numbers will be huge. In the not too distant future, we could see annual cannabis market in Vegas growing to anywhere between $500 million to $1 billion.

Despite rules against smoking pot in hotel rooms or outdoors, legal marijuana may provide an extra incentive for tourists. Already known for some of the world’s best hotels, restaurants, nightclubs, and entertainment, and now we’ll have hopefully become known for the best cannabis experience as well.

“I think Las Vegas has the potential of being the new cannabis tourists center in the United States, overtaking Colorado, if not in actual sales, but in perception.”

How does the tax revenue help Nevada?

For one, Gov. Brian Sandoval most recently projected that recreational marijuana sales will bring in more than $60 million in state revenue over the next two years. Revenue collected from the cultivation will be funneled toward schools, and revenue from recreational marijuana sales tax will go towards the state’s rainy day fund.
Starting in July, all marijuana — both medical and recreational — will be taxed 15 percent at the cultivation transaction level, but only recreational marijuana have a state excise tax of 10 percent, both medical and recreational will have the applicable local sales tax (8.25% in Clark County) and a 3 percent local gross revenue fee.

Nevada’s Medical Marijuana Program

For fear that the medical marijuana program could be smothered by the new recreational program; lawmakers have made it easier to be a part of the medical program and decreased the tax on medical by 10 percent. The new bill will make the medical program more accessible to Nevada citizens, by streamlining the program, and folding the administrative duties into the Department of Taxation.
“What’s important is that you’re creating that delta between medical and recreational costs – it’s keeping the cost down for medical,” Sen. Julia Ratti, D-Sparks, who sponsored the tax bill.
The medical marijuana program already was at risk due to bureaucracy which limited the number of people pursuing medical cards. While medical cards used to cost about $100 for a year’s value, the cards now will cost half the price ($50) because background checks no longer are required. Additionally, the cards will now be good for two years. Because recreational marijuana is now legal and anyone can get product, there is no point in doing the background checks. The Department of Public Health will continue to issue the medical cards.

Facts on Community Impact of Legalization

The marijuana industry has grown significantly since 2000 and federal officials maintain that the legalization of marijuana will contribute to the increase of youth and adolescent use because it will make marijuana easier to obtain, reduce its perceived risks with more adult role models smoking it.
However, studies in Colorado have shown no connection between legalized marijuana and youth marijuana use. In Colorado teen use is lower than the national average; fewer teens report using marijuana than said they did prior to legalization. Surveys conducted in Colorado interviewed over 17,000 students in middle & high school showing that from 2009 to 2015 the rates in which teenagers smoked marijuana has decreased. The state of Colorado has also seen the percentage of teenagers who have smoked marijuana in the past 30 days drop to 21%, from 25%. Colorado believes, underage use will continue to decrease with their implementation of strict age limits, and risk awareness programs.
In 2014, Colorado invested $2 million generated from marijuana sales tax revenue on campaigns aimed at anti-marijuana education of minors and double that amount, $4 million in 2015 (out of a total projected marijuana sales tax revenue of $125 million). The current campaigns provide information on marijuana laws, the impacts of youth use, the dangers of driving under the influence of any drug, and the harmful side effects of using marijuana.

Celebs Come Out for Glamorous Opening of NYC’s Maxwell’s Chophouse

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Sarika Rastogi, Pippa Cohen and Fiona Bora

Certainly everyone is gearing up for the beach season – which in New York means the reopening of all our Hamptons faves. But Wednesday evening saw a decidedly fab crowd gather for one last glamorous Manhattan bash, before digging out the swimsuits for the Memorial Day weekend.

The occasion? The opening of Maxwell’s Chophouse, NoMad’s newest dining hotspot. With the Avion Tequila cocktails flowing, mother and daughter proprietors Babette Haddad and Melissa Haddad Malaga hosted a glittering guest list: Oscar winner Marisa Tomei, actress Zuleikha Robinson, Real Housewives‘ Dorinda Medley and John Mahdessian, HGTV’s Genevieve Gorder, supermodel Alex Lundqvist, fashion designer Carlos Campos, Brit rockers The Struts…and superstar DJ Elle Dee manning the decks.

Maxwell’s itself is poised to be one of the summer’s hottest scenes, serving up steakhouse classics and seafood specialties in a plush, grandiose space, with patterned floors, high-ceilings and lots of swanky gold trimmings. But stylistas will surely be fighting for space on spectacular rooftop, with its jaw-dropping downtown views.

  • Marisa Tomei and Babette Haddad
  • Zuleikha Robinson and Alexander Klingspor
  • Scott Lipps
  • Carlos Campos
  • Avion Tequila
  • Bruce Perlmutter, Prudence Inzerillo, Carson Kressley
  • DJ Elle Dee
  • Luke Ditella, Charles Thorpe
  • Rooftop Garden

Omar’s Celebrates 4th Anniversary With Glamorous Bash

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Alexandre Assouline, Michaela Vybohova & Omar


When Omar Hernandez opened his namesake West Village nightspot in in 2013, it immediately came to epitomize the new paradigm of elite, clandestine, yet anything by stuffy members-only supper club. Since then its plush, elegant rooms have been a prestigious meeting point and glamorous refuge for many of New York’s most fascinating people in media, fashion, publishing, etc., while also earning a stealthy reputation as a magnet for international royalty. It has, as well, hosted parties for the likes of Priyanka Chopra, Carolina Herrera and Mikimoto/BlackBook, the latter attended by Parker Posey, Nolan Funk and Cynthia Rowley.

This week the party was for Omar’s itself, a dress-up affair celebrating its fourth anniversary. In attendance were notables in fashion (Christian Siriano, Catherine Malandrino, Halston’s Cameron Silver), society (Tinsley Mortimer, Ann Dexter-Jones) and art (Tatyana Murray, Xander Ferreira), as well as photographer Ellen von Unwerth, publishing scion Alexandre Assouline, models Alex Lundqvist and Michaela Vybohova and the inimitable George Wayne – who all toasted the evening with specialty Tequila Avion cocktails. Superstar DJ Elle Dee was on the decks, providing the soundtrack.

A good bet the guest list for its five-year anniversary fete is already being considered.


  • Cameron Silver & Omar
  • Xander Ferreira & Ann Dexter-Jones
  • Tatyana Murray & Omar
  • Keytt & Alex Lundqvist
  • Catherine Malandrino & Omar
  • Amanda Whitcroft & Gabe Kennedy
  • George Wayne
  • Keith Patrick, Camilla Olsson, Omar & Nabeela Abrahams

Chanel’s ‘The Fifth Sense’ Celebrates Empowerment With Surrealist Short ‘JellyWolf’

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CHANEL is synonymous with femininity. That’s why the iconic brand has partnered with i-D to celebrate women across the arts with a new platform, The Fifth Sense. A multimedia experience that showcases original content from today’s leading voices, it evaluates the relationship between creativity and fragrance. As part of its mission, the site will spotlight six women from different creative fields, as they analyze the role scent plays in the artistic process.

For their fourth project, Israeli-American filmmaker Alma Har’el delivers a hypnotic short that analyzes the relationship between scent and vision, fantasy and the real world. Inspired by CHANEL Nº5 L’Eau, JellyWolf presents a synaesthetic experience through the lens of a coming-of-age story, using surrealist imagery to explore the different realms of female identity. Starring Kiersey Clemons and Lisa Bonet, the film captures the spiritual nature of scent while also serving as a visual feminist manifesto that embodies the ethos of empowerment. Through i-D’s relationship with CHANEL, The Fifth Sense offers creative women the opportunity for self-acceptance and expression.

“This film is a trippy little love letter to women,” says Har’el. “I wanted to capture a sense of wonder that scent holds and a liberated feminine identity that develops from getting connected to what scares you.”

Learn more about The Fifth Sense, and watch JellyWolf, below:

Japanese Rock Star Yoshiki Makes His Classical Debut at Carnegie Hall

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Known primarily as the founder and drummer of Japan’s hardest heavy metal act, X Japan, Yoshiki also has a softer side. The multi-instrumentalist composer will be making his Carnegie Hall debut this Thursday and Friday accompanied by the Tokyo Philharmonic.  Yoshiki will be performing pieces from his recent album, Yoshiki Classical, which features collaborations with legendary Beatles producer Sir George Martin, the London Philharmonic Orchestra, the Tokyo City Philharmonic Orchestra, and Quartet San Francisco.

Along with original compositions, Yoshiki will also perform well-known classics, using his heavy metal background as inspiration for his work. As a leading voice in the Japanese metal world, Yoshiki Classical at Carnegie Hall, will solidify the composer’s place in the American classical canon, as he transcends genre in what is sure to be a groundbreaking performance.

Yoshiki Classical at Carnegie Hall runs from January 12 to the 13, at the Perelman Hall in New York. Buy tickets, here.

BlackBook Wishes You a 2017 Filled With Happiness and Prosperity

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As a sometimes shocking (the loss of David Bowie, Prince, et al) and often contentious 2016 comes to a close, we would like to extend to everyone our hopes for a 2017 that is filled with kindness, enlightenment and positive inspiration.


The BlackBook Staff