Cynthia Nixon asks, Do You Want Cheap Pink Chocolate Hearts, or Robust Women’s Health Rights?

Photo Credit: Matteo Prandoni/BFAnyc.com

Truth is, no one knows much about the third-century martyr St. Valentine, or how his name became synonymous with love—it may have something to do with old pagan rituals is about all a quick Google search can come up with. What we do know is that today, the holiday means spending a bunch of money on cheap candy and cheaper stuffed bears. (Or if you’re lucky, a fancy dinner.) But if there’s a woman in your romantic life, or if you’re that woman, then maybe it’s worth stepping back this Valentines Day, and putting that cuddly pink dollar somewhere important.

Here the ever-iconic actress and social activist Cynthia Nixon lays out why.

1. Because some members of Congress introduced 14 anti women’s health bills in only 14 days. The new Congress has only been in session for a few weeks, but some members have already begun pushing deeply unpopular measures that would restrict abortion nationwide, limit access to affordable birth control, and even defund Planned Parenthood. We know this isn’t what our elected officials should be spending their time (and our taxpayer dollars) on – and Planned Parenthood needs our help to fight back and hold these out of touch politicians accountable.

2. Because more than half of American women of reproductive age now live in a state where their access to safe, legal abortion is being restricted. Planned Parenthood and their allies are on the front lines of the fight to preserve access to the full range of reproductive care for millions of women: birth control, cancer screenings, sex ed, abortion – the list goes on. They are proactive advocates for a commonsense approach to women’s health and well-being, fighting back dangerous legislation in courtrooms and legislatures across the country.

3. Because some politicians are trying to send women back to the 1950s…and Planned Parenthood isn’t letting them. Politicians continue to try to insert themselves into women’s bedrooms and doctors’ exam rooms. With anti women’s health politicians trying to deny women access to abortion saying children born from rape can be “beautiful,” calling birth control irresponsible, or spreading lies about the safety of abortion, Planned Parenthood is helping set the record straight, and advocating for policies and politicians that will move women forward rather than taking them backward.

4. Because Planned Parenthood is an educator in a political climate where too often facts and science are ignored or twisted beyond recognition. Science, facts, and history are important to understanding what women are currently up against, especially in the context of how far we have come. Access to affordable birth control, for example, has given women the power to plan their families and their lives. Yet even now, women still make 78 cents to every dollar a man makes and 1 in 3 women report struggling to afford the cost of birth control at some point. Planned Parenthood provides resources – available online and in their health centers – about the full range of reproductive health care services. They also provide sex ed classes and guidance to schools and community organizations.

5. Because Planned Parenthood is elevating the conversation. Through Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, and other social media, Planned Parenthood is working to create a space to break the silence, allowing women to share their stories and reduce the stigma around abortion. Planned Parenthood is further helping foster this conversation to spark change in popular culture through television, film and music to get people thinking critically and talking openly about these issues.

Please donate here. Your gift will make a lasting impact on the lives of women and their families.

Morning Links: Tracy Morgan Returns Home, Paula Deen’s Publicist Has Had Enough

● Tracy Morgan left the hospital and Utah yesterday, oxygen tank in tow. "Superman ran into a little Kryptonite today," he told TMZ, explaining that exhaustion and the altitude at Sundance had made him sick. [TMZ]

● Six long years of butter-dipped and bacon-wrapped antics later, Paula Deen’s publicist, Nancy Assuncao, has had enough. “Although we had a great deal of fun along the way, I could not agree with the new business strategy going forward." she said, hinting that Deen’s "dramatic turnabout" was just too much. [Page Six]

● Cynthia Nixon says that, for her, being gay "is a choice." "I understand that for many people it’s not, but for me it’s a choice, and you don’t get to define my gayness for me," she explained. "Why can’t it be a choice? Why is that any less legitimate?" [Huff Post]

● Ben Stiller and Jonathan Safran Foer are teaming up for a “politically, religiously, culturally, intellectually and sexually irreverent” Jewish family comedy at HBO. [THR]

● Diddy is working with a former MTV exec to launch an "urban skewed" music and music news television channel called Revolt. [Rap-Up]

● Epic Records big guy L.A. Reid confirmed yesterday on Twitter that, at long last, there is new Fiona Apple music on the way "in the next few weeks." [Pitchfork]

● A handful of Starbucks in Atlanta and Southern California will expand to sell beer and wine by year end. We also wouldn’t say no to bloody marys on the menu, if anyone was wondering. [Reuters]

The Top 11 ‘Law & Order’ Celebrity Guest Stars

After 20 years of dependably formulaic plotlines, play-by-play accounts of sexual deviance and faux-intellectual moralizing, it appears that the upcoming season finale of Law & Order will be the show’s last. Rumors began circulating yesterday that NBC abruptly decided not to renew the declining series (though its two spinoffs will continue). With the show will depart a long legacy of coveted guest-star spots, which have given countless aspiring actors their first break. To celebrate two decades of Americans’ devoted Law & Order consumption, we look back at our favorite guest stars in each of the show’s most popular categories.

image1. The teen star proving he’s all grown up: Just like Saved by the Bell’s Jessie Spano made Showgirls and Screech made a revolting sex tape, Zack Morris (Mark-Paul Gosselaar) tried breaking his teen-idol reputation by playing a gay pornstar on Law & Order. His performance was actually pretty good, although it did make us feel a little like a pedophile appreciating his milky-white talent in the early ’90s.

image2. The equal-opportunity lawyer: Law & Order beats critics to the punch by casting as many black judges and lawyers as it does black hobos and autoerotic asphyxiators. In its first season, the then unknown Samuel L. Jackson plays a sharp-witted attorney defending four white gang rapists. Added bonus: one of them was Philip Seymour Hoffman, earning his first IMDB credit.

image3. The in-on-the-joke comedian: Two real-life queer icons collided when Kathy Griffin played a gay-rights activist named Babs who wants to touch lesbian icon Mariska Hargitay’s rubyfruit!!!! Meow!! But since it’s a lesbian episode (titled “P.C.,” naturally) Babs only gets a kiss and the editors cut it anyway (though the leaked scene went viral).

image4. The little big man predator: Of all the virgin-obsessed rapists over the years, none was quite as terrifying as that grinning goblin Martin Short. This breed of wormy creep — a close relative of the doughy potato-man creep — revels in duping the cops with sadistic mind games in order to compensate for other obvious shortcomings.

image5. The the-Prozac-made-me-do-it defendant: In his guest spot, the young Rory Culkin could have easily followed in Macaulay’s footsteps and become another bad-stepdad heartthrob. But instead of playing a victim of an “especially heinous” sex crime, he went on to Law & Order: Criminal Intent and played out one of that show’s favorite tropes: the crackpot shrink’s twinkie defense. This time a lawyer argued that taking antidepressants can destroy the part of the brain that makes you not kill children.

image6. The typecast breaker: Cynthia Nixon won an Emmy for playing a famously outrageous SVU suspect with Multiple Personality Disorder. She was at once a bloodthirsty Russian, a grieving mom, a quivering child, and — what better way to shirk her fuddy-duddy Miranda Hobbes typecast? — a pigtailed high-schooler in heat.

image7. The mascara-melting beauty queen: Before Claire Danes was (and always will be) Angela Chase from My So-Called Life, she played an aspiring model on the verge of a meltdown. It was on this episode that she got her start as a heroine to a nation of silently suffering teens by stabbing (with a pair of scissors) a photographer-cum-pimp who tells her that she’ll never be a model because her legs are too fat.

image8. The perp with daddy issues: Almost as much as Law & Order writers love a pervert with two sets of DNA, they love a righteous morality play. Playing Ice-T’s stepson, Ludacris was a bad seed whose sins reflected his troubled upbringing. It really got us thinking: Who is to blame for the horrors of the world? The individual or the society that shaped them? The deadbeat dad or the trainwreck child? Michael Lohan or Lindsay? So many deep questions.

image9. The uncomfortably sexualized crying girl: It’s probably no surprise that Chloe succubus Amanda Seyfried got her start as an SVU Lolita who is raped and then forced to relay the sordid details over and over. Once again, blonde mermaid hair and teary blue eyes make for a disturbingly titillating yet sympathetic victim.

image10. The “feminist” fatale: On the surface, recurring catwoman Nicole Wallace, played by Kicking and Screaming’s Olivia d’Abo, is all velvet and lip gloss and a cute overbite. But underneath, she’s a serial man-eater who marries for money and then kills her husbands. Her real purpose on the show, however, is to stir up Detective Goren’s Freudian demons, sustain a narrative thread, and evoke some pop psychology. Also for boobs.

image11. The repeat offender: If it seems like you’ve seen an episode before, it may not be due to a recycled plot — it might be because working actor Edward D. Murphy’s in it. Murphy has played a foreman, a medic, three different crime-scene unit techs, and seven other characters since 1991. Runner-up Lee Shepherd has played seven different roles in eleven episodes.

Images from Law & Order Wiki and Amanda Seyfried Fan

True Lies: What I Learned on the Set of ‘Sex and the City 2’

Yesterday, I fulfilled a goal of performing as an extra in a movie filmed in New York. The only way I was getting out of bed at 5am for a 6:30am call time was the idea that I was going to be a part of one of the most popular empires of my generation: the Sex and the City dynasty. Consequently, I was also ready to look like someone straight from the cast of Dynasty because I was scheduled to be ‘background’ in the 80s flashback scenes for the SATC sequel. When I arrived to the set at 6:30am bright-eyed and bushy-tailed, I was met with a group of disgruntled extras who had been dealing with the busy set, and long hours for a few days. I hit up wardrobe for my colorful costume: a calf-length ruffled dress in a bright pattern, finished with huge gold bracelets and big square earrings, an Hermes clutch, and an authentic reproduction of an Yves Saint Laurent shopping bag (I was listed as a ‘Wealthy Shopper’).

My makeup was atrocious, but it all came together on set as a thing of kitschy 80s beauty. What do extras do? They sit around for a long time waiting for their scene to be filmed. They read magazines, they freeze on early morning sets, they walk repetitively in the background of scenes trying to think of a different way to make the walking look better each time, they hobble around in uncomfortable shoes — and if they’re like me, they listen like a fly on the wall. Here are some of the tidbits I learned about everyone’s favorite sequel, all pretty much hearsay, but interesting notions nonetheless.

● It was a rockstar experience. As we walked out of the “Extra Holding Pen” onto set, it was astounding to see thousands of fans crammed behind barricades down 5th Avenue at 9am. It was utter hysteria in some aspects … bystanders pulled my clothes as I walked onto set, begging for photos, asking us, merely extras dolled up in 80s gear, if we were famous. I must have taken 20 pictures with crazed fans. ● The Sex and the City crew really does try to respect the habitat; midway through filming a scene where a bookish Miranda struggles in a careless crowd in front of Bergdorf’s, a confused elderly shopper was escorted through the scene to the front doors. Unfortunately, it seems as though rude pedestrians are at fault for clogging up the walkways. I saw a number of people stopping to make rude comments to people on set, purposefully walking slowly to keep others making through makeshift walkways with ease. ● Most of the extras on set weren’t there for their love of SATC; they just want to get through the day and get their paycheck. Many of the extras were annoyed with the huge crowds. “These bitches must be doing something right,” a veteran extra said, “but the crowds make a long day even longer.” ● SPOILER: Someone on set told me the reason they filmed all around Bergdorf’s was because this is ground zero for where Carrie, Samantha, Charlotte, and Miranda all met. Whether or not this is true is questionable, I’m not sure if on-set gossip can be trusted. ● Even former Governor Spitzer likes SATC. As the crew shooed away gawkers and pedestrians, they were confused as to how to ask the scandalous politician to walk away. “Keep it movin’ Mr. Governor,” was how they went about it. ● Craft services: Chickpea salad, loaves of bread, granola bars, chicken wings, fruit, Asian trail mix, and a lot of candy. ● Steve Sands seems to have the run over the entire production. One of the assistants on set was telling me the reason why he so freely skulked around was because he has so much dirt on the cast and crew that it would be a dumb move not to let him in — and everyone on set knows it. They all know him and seemed to make sure they spoke to him in a respectful way. “He has photos of actors partying with directors, some of them doing drugs — apparently Sharon Stone has the worst of it. He has a lot of information on her … if it were to get out, it would be a huge scandal.” So, naturally the pap has free reign over film sets and access to “exclusive parties.” When the crew was screaming at photographers brandishing official press passes to get out of the way, they asked Sands nicely to stop shooting, though he basically wandered around the set as he pleased. “Come on, Steve,” a NYPD officer said, “let’s get out of the way now.” ● Sarah Jessica Parker is basically a Beatle. When she first walked out from her trailer to film part of the 80s flashback, hysterical screams and cries emerged from the masses behind the barricades, moving in a wave that started from the side of the plaza and washed over the thousands of fans along 5th Avenue. It echoed all the way to Central Park. It was one of the most amazing things to see, this tiny superstar in cheesy 80’s garb elicit such a dramatic response. ● I think the actresses really do get along. As Cynthia Nixon was filming her scene with braces and books, SJP pulled up to the set in a black SUV, rolled down the window, and shouted: “Hey Cynthia!” It was a good show, and almost funny, as if she was playing a joke on Nixon. ● Being an extra is not the easiest thing. With a 6:30am call time, freezing morning temperatures in thin costumes, and repetitive movements in heels that barely fit, I was beginning to get worn down. That is, until SJP rolled onto set. Seeing the crowds respond to her as she bounced along in 6-inch heels served as a reminder of what a historical production this was. ● The girls care about their fans. As soon as Kim Cattrall wrapped her scene, she rushed over to a mob of fans and signed autographs, posed for pictures, and just chatted them up. ● Kristin Davis wears a wig in the sequel. Between bites at the craft table, I overheard one of the hair dressers talk about how he makes the best wigs (he said he was responsible for Michelle Pfeiffer’s rug in a film). ● Bette Midler is in the 80s flashback. ● There will be a Sex and the City 3. They are currently filming both SATC 2 and SATC 3, as told to me by a few other extras who overheard it from crew members. ● The people in that crew are geniuses. Not knowing what we look like on film, nor if we could be trusted with walking with a normal gait, they pointed to random bodies, yelled cues to us, and when the cameras rolled, it turned into cinematic magic. ● Patricia Field is a genius. I was wearing authentic 80s gear down to my buttons. I have no idea how they were able to know what kinds of characters they would need, but they had the most beautiful wardrobe details; “wealthy 80s shoppers,” “gay rights campaigners,” even schoolgirls and hot dog stand hawkers. ● Extras don’t have much interaction with the talent. Kim Cattrall said she liked my dance to keep warm. She apologized to us for ruining a scene by dropping her Walkman (though she didn’t see me trip and fall in the background minutes earlier). I commented on Pat Field’s busted iPhone at the craft table, and she sighed at her misfortune. Cynthia Nixon asked an extra to run into her a little bit harder. Yeah, that’s about it. But it was totally worth it.

See also: 5 Rules for 80s Makeup from ‘Sex and the City 2’

Cynthia Nixon Would Like Her Wedding to Be Real, Legal, and State-Recognized

It’s been a rough weekend for the Catholic Church, what with Angels & Demons reaping in the gold doubloons, and one of the broads from Sex & the City–the most tolerable one–screaming that she would like to gay-marry girlfriend Christine Morniani, if that’s okay with you. No, not you, Rudy Giuliani. Stay out of it, Rudes! You see, “civil unions” are for wimps. And contrary to that S&TC episode where Miranda faces her Krispy Kreme demons and loses pitifully, Nixon is no wimp.

“I don’t really want to get married to get married pretend,” says Nixon. And she would know too, having been married to a —cringe!– man for fifteen years up until 2003. “I think we’d like to do it in a real, actual, legal way that the state would recognize.” And in addition to tax benefits and a proper basket of homemade jams or whatever the government gives you upon legal marriage, such a state-recognized merger will hopefully also include a beefed-up guest list incorporating those sinful gay-makers with who she rallied yesterday and perhaps some after-hours Lemon Drops at Henrietta Hudson’s.

Redundant ‘Sex & the City’ Sequel a Go

imageGrasping for extended relevance, Hollywood stalwarts like Kim Cattrall and Kristin Davis have agreed (though not signed) to a Sex & the City sequel. Because, y’know, the whole premise of wealthy, empowered New York City gals wasn’t done to death with 94 episodes of prissy histrionics, 1 overstuffed feature film, and a number of knock-offs. Everyone’s said to be getting generous pay bumps. Says Sarah Jessica Parker, “It’s all about the money story. If we can’t get more money tell a story that’s really worthy of an audience, then we won’t do it.” Cynthia Nixon, meanwhile, muses on possible plots, revealing, “I would love to see her and Carrie and Charlotte and Samantha all go off on some wild mad cap adventure somewhere.” Might we suggest Flushing, Brighton Beach, or perhaps Rikers Island?