Actor David Call Talks Shop, Sex & Hypnotizing Chickens

David Call is on the cusp. You may recognize his handsome mug from the hit TV drama Gossip Girl, where he enjoyed a recurring guest role as convict-meets-teacher Ben Donovan and could be seen opposite Blake Lively’s Serena van der Woodsen (or donning all orange while plotting her demise from behind bars). He may also ring a bell as the skeevy Keith, with whom Lena Dunham’s Aura has some seriously sketchy sex in her first flick, Tiny Furniture. (Yes, there was life before Hannah Horvath.)

The Issaquah, Washington-born actor has appeared in a number of films and TV programs since breaking into the business eight years ago. Most recently, fans can catch him in Dead Man’s Burden (opening tonight and screening through the weekend at Village East Cinema in New York). And, believe it or not, he even turned up in a few episodes of Smash last month.

Call currently has several projects in post-production and, though he jumped coasts for a little R&R—“I came out mostly because I’ve been in New York for the past six to seven months working and I just got sick of winter”—the 30-year-old Leo was happy to chat.

We caught up while he was driving (cliché for LA), talking to me through his headset and generous enough to gab for an hour. We covered a lot of terrain, including pre-acting gigs (none of which were in an office), dream roles, riding horses, hypnotizing chickens, and striking a balance between commercial moneymakers and indie passion projects. He also touched on the craze surrounding Girls, and how he was originally written into the much buzzed about HBO show. We both agree he should swoop in and sweep Marnie off her feet now that Charlie’s flown the coop. For more from the affable David Call, who gets recognized “occasionally," read on.

Sorry I kept canceling and we weren’t able to get together before you escaped to LA. I’ve been temping as a copyeditor at an office for the past few weeks, working late, which bumps everything else to the weekend. You ever work in an office?

I’ve actually managed to avoid office jobs. I’ve worked lots of random jobs, lots of labor and service, but I avoided offices.

Service, huh? Like escorting?

Yeah, yeah, let’s get into my history as a male escort. That sounds a lot more fun than bartending, waiting tables and making lattes. Which is mostly what I did.

Fond memories?

Oh for sure. My first real job I worked at a dry cleaner. I was 15. It was horrible, but …nice. I was also a maintenance man for a housing project.

Did you always know you wanted to get into acting?

I grew up doing a lot of snowboarding and skating. I was pretty hardcore. Then, when I was 14 or 15, I basically broke my arm skating, like, three times. After the third time, the doctors were like, You need to stop that. Then I discovered acting. I was at a new school and no girls would talk to me. I got up and read Shakespeare in English class. Then girls talked to me.

In my high school, the theater kids were the dorks.

I was pretty dorky. I wasn’t super dorky. I was kinda dorky. Nobody could figure me out. I knew I wanted to go to New York when I was, like, 15. I was like, I’m out of here.  [Laughs]

In Dead Man’s Burden you guys are sort of savage. How did you prepare for the role?

It was a multipronged preparation. Growing up in the west, I was raised on Clint Eastwood movies. I went to ranches. It’s just sort of in me. The character’s from the Missouri/Kansas border. My mom’s side of the family is from there. They were there during the Civil War. So, a lot of it was figuring out where the character resided within myself and my family. Also, just doing lots of research. I’m a history nut. I love history, especially American history. So, I devoured books on that time and place. Also learning to use the weapons. I’d never fired black powder guns before, so I got trained in those. It takes, like, 5 to 10 minutes to load the thing. And a lot of it was spending time with Clare Bowen, my wife in the film. When she signed on to the production, I decided I was going to drive from LA to our location in New Mexico. She came along so we could get to know each other. In the film, we’re two people who live in the middle of nowhere by ourselves. So, Clare and I took a little three-day trip.

Sounds fun! What was it like on location?

Absolutely stunning. We were basically next to Georgia O’Keefe’s land, shooting adjacent to where she painted. We actually got permission to shoot there, which was pretty cool.

Where did you stay?

In a house used for Christian couples counseling, owned by some wealthy minister. It’s this huge house with all these bedrooms in it, but no one lives there. It was big, but sparsely furnished. And it was just me, Barlow [Jacobs], and Clare knocking around by ourselves every night in this gigantic house. It was kinda weird.

What did you enjoy most?

We had horses on set. So, if I had down time between scenes, the wrangler let me go riding in the mountains, which was an awesome way to kill time. It was a dream come true. Coming to work every day and getting on a horse and putting a gun on your hip? It was like heaven for me.

Were there other animals on set, too?

There were goats and chickens. I learned how to hypnotize a chicken. If you put them on your lap, pinch the base of their neck and just rub it—almost like you’re giving someone a neck rub—after a while they basically go to sleep. But, the chickens would often cluck in the middle of a take. At one point a chicken jumped into the window in the background of this very intense scene. We had to cut because there was a chicken in the window. And a goat got on the roof once. We were shooting in front of the house and the DP looks up from the camera: Guys, guys, cut. The goat’s on the roof. And everyone looks up and he’s just standing on the roof, chillin’. Once he discovered he could get on the roof, it became a constant. But, I liked that goat. We got along really well.

Back in New York, you were on Smash last month. I have to admit, I don’t watch the show.

Neither do I.

What drew you to the role?

Umm, paying the rent. [Laughs] I’ve been very fortunate the last five or six years. I’ve been able to strike a balance between doing a recurring role on a TV show—working for several months, making some money—and then going off and making movies like Dead Man’s Burden and Tiny Furniture.

Speaking of TV shows, I was mildly obsessed with Gossip Girl. Did you watch the episodes you were in?

I have to be honest with you. I’m not a huge fan of watching myself on TV. I’ll watch a movie that I’m in, but not TV shows. I tried watching the first episode I was in. Thirty to 40 minutes into it I was like, I can’t do this.

I know you’re not on Girls, but you’ve worked with Lena Dunham before, so I’m wondering if there was ever talk of you being on that show?

Lena and I talked about me being in the first season. I think as she had originally conceived it there was going to be a character I was going to play. And then, once the pilot picked up and they hired more writers and producers, that character was eliminated. One of the story arcs changed. Originally I was, and then for various reasons I wasn’t. That’s sort of where it’s at.

You should just swing in, in the place of Charlie’s character, since Christopher Abbott left the show. You should be the new guy to date Marnie.

I agree with that. I think I should. But I think they’re already onto, like, episode five now. So, I’m not sure that’s in the cards. 

Sorry to bring up a show you’re not on.

No, it’s fine. I’m very happy for her. It kind of blows my mind that that show has become a “thing” that people write about.

Do you watch?

I watched the first season. I haven’t caught up with the second. It’s weird. The show has such an obscene media presence. It feels like, even though I haven’t been watching, I’m totally aware of everything that happened on it. The media’s obsession is pretty mind-blowing.

It is. But, you’ve got to tune into season two. There’s a sex scene that rivals your sex scene in the pipe with Lena’s character in Tiny Furniture.

The one with Adam?

No, the one with Booth Jonathan and Marnie.

I just remember everybody got all upset about that rape-y scene with Adam.

That’s Adam. Some people are more adventurous in bed.

Exactly. It sounded like it wasn’t that big a deal. Did they have sex in that weird TV box of his?

No, they had weird splayed-out sex on Booth’s bed, next to that weird TV thing. And a doll. Anyway, did you know there’s a tumblr in your honor, entitled Fuck Yeah David Call?

I’ve been turned on to that. It’s really funny to me. I’m a huge fan of that title, by the way.

It’s a good title. They could update the design.

Yeah. And it’s a lot of Fringe gifs. I’ve been on a lot of random TV shows and Fringe, there is a passionate following for that show.

Do you ever get recognized?

Not a lot, but occasionally. It depends on the state of my facial hair. If I’m clean-shaven, I’ll get recognized for Gossip Girl. Recently, in the past six months to a year, I’ve been getting recognized for Tiny Furniture more than anything else.

It’s Girls fans going back and checking out Lena’s previous work. What’s the state of your facial hair right now?

Right now I have a very short beard, but that’s more a product of laziness and the fact that I have to play a meth head at the reading I’m doing tonight.  [Laughs]

What would be your dream role?

I have a lot of dream roles. Dead Man’s Burden was definitely on the list. Badass dude in a Western? I’d really like to do a World War II movie. There’s a part of me that would like to play someone very evil, like a serial killer. I always wanted to play a flamboyant gay character, too. To sort of subvert expectations. And I’d love to do a Sam Shepard play.

You’re all about diversity. So, you’re from the West Coast, you’re currently in LA for some R&R and auditions, and you’re based in New York. Is there a place you prefer?

It’s a question I ask myself all the time. I love New York. I love working there. I love the energy there. I feel much more productive there. I’m part of the filmmaking community, which I love. But, it does get a little exhausting sometimes. There’s a part of me that likes the LA lifestyle. A backyard, being outdoors, driving a car. But, it’s also a very settled lifestyle. You can’t go out until 5 AM on a Tuesday night in Los Angeles the way you can in New York. I think once I’m ready to settle down, I’ll probably move back out west. But I ain’t settled yet. I’m just getting started. 

Photo: Cinedigm

[More by Nell Alk; Follow Nell on Twitter]

‘Gossip Girl: Acapulco’ Is The Same Rich Kid Melodrama, En Espanol

September 2007 was such an innocent time. That was before we knew the majesty of Blake Lively’s boobs, before Taylor Momsen wore more black eyeliner than all of Houston Street, and before "I’m Chuck Bass" was a thing people actually said. But now, with Gossip Girl behind us here in America, it’s time for our cultural exports to deliver their gifts to the rest of the world: Mexico is having their own September 2007 with the debut of Gossip Girl: Acapulco

The trailer stars Spanish actors in the roles of the American cast, but with Latin-ified name changes all around. Blonde party girl Serena Van Der Woodsen is Sofia Lopez-Haro, brunette schemer Blair Waldorf is Barbara Fuenmayor, dumb rich boy Nate Archibald is Nicola de la Vega, social climbing little sister Jenny Humphrey is Jenny Parra, sensitive "Lonely Boy" scribe Dan Humphrey is Daniel Parra, and Chuck Bass is Max Zaga.

The costumes are pretty much the same — less hairbands on "Blair" south of the border, though — and the pilot’s plot is ripped from the 2007 American version. Watch below and you can relive Chuck Bass trying to sexually assault Jenny Humphrey … but this time, en espanol

Contact the author of this post at Jessica.Wakeman@Gmail.com. Follow me on Twitter.

Billy Magnussen Strips, Kisses Sigourney Weaver, And Shacks Up With A ‘Gossip Girl’ Guy

A sort of blond Adonis, 27-year-old actor Billy Magnussen is not only chiseled to Ken doll perfection; he’s also quite a riot. Especially in his ongoing stage engagement, assuming the role of wannabe actor Spike in playwright Christopher Durang’s latest work, the poignant and amusing Vanya and Sonia and Masha and Spike. Indeed, Magnussen takes Lincoln Center Theater by storm, self-described as a “bull in a china shop,” attracting laughs with the delivery of his hilarious lines and smiles—and stares—with several instances of near nudity.

Performing shirtless is nothing new to the young actor, who in 2008 joined As The World Turns, taking over the character of Casey Hughes, who just so happened to be topless a lot of the time. Between then and now, Magnussen has appeared on the big screen (think Damsels In Distress, among others) as well as on some of TV’s biggest hits, such as Boardwalk Empire, CSI, Law & Order, and In Plain Sight. Yes, this kid’s got the chops, the mug, and the bod to command jobs any up-and-coming actor would be thrilled to land. Plus, he mans the bass guitar in a rock band called Reserved For Rondee, which regularly jams in music clubs around NYC.

Magnussen has the rare honor now to call David Hyde Pierce and Sigourney Weaver his colleagues, as they, along with a wonderfully funny and endearing Kristine Nielsen (whose impression of Downton Abbey’s Maggie Smith alone is reason enough to secure tickets), make up the mass of VSMS. Directed by Nicholas Martin and produced in association with the McCarter Theatre Center in Princeton (where it opened in September) this touching Chekhov-esque parody has just been extended to January 20 at LTC, and I highly recommend attending. If nothing else, Magnussen’s boy toy to Weaver’s cougar presents a romantic-meets-raunchy pairing that must be seen to be believed.

Magnussen, whom I’d prefer to refer to as Billy, because we’re friends, came by for coffee last week to discuss this theatrical venture I dare say New York Magazine would deem “Highbrow” and “Brilliant.” Between sneezes (he’s allergic to my “catty-cat,” as he nicknamed the feline foster staying with me), Billy shared some fun stuff, from the story behind his wrist tattoo to the surprising ritual that sometimes takes place backstage between scenes.

Something that perhaps doesn’t adequately come across in what follows, however, is this: Billy really throws himself into this Spike guy, giving dimension to a somewhat self-congratulatory climber type. He makes despicable also attractive, redeeming even. There’s a lot of Billy in Spike, which those who know him well will agree shines through in the best possible ways. That attitude, that talent, that laugh. Billy’s bud or not, I sincerely suggest seeing this lovely little show in this intimate environment. You never know where it could be headed next.

What’s the story behind this wrist tattoo?
I was with friends out partying and they’re like, “Let’s all get tattoos!” And I was like, “Okay, let’s go.” [They said,] “Billy, you go first.” I got a tattoo and they’re like, “Eh, we’re not gonna get tattoos.”

You were the only one?!
I was the only one!

A permanent “friendship” bracelet.
I guess! At least this reminds me my friends are assholes. [Laughs]

I’d be pissed. So, onto something more relevant, how did you get involved with this play?
I auditioned. I auditioned five times. It started with just the casting director, then the director, then the writer, then producers, that kinda thing.

Were you nervous?
No, because the character isn’t nervous. He’s just chaos in the room. I remember there was a piano, and I just started playing the piano [proceeds to imitate playing piano] for no reason.

[Laughs] Was it difficult stripping down to your skivvies? I suppose not with your ample exposure, shall we say, on As The World Turns
No. Getting into shape was the difficult part. I don’t even think about [taking off my clothes] anymore. The sooner the better. Just get over that hump. Whatever.

Do you have a specific workout routine?
It varies. I was training for a triathlon for a while and that’s really advantageous to getting in shape.

Oh, I bet. What do you eat to stay fit and trim?
Raw vegetables all the time. I usually start the morning with an apple and five strawberries. Then, like, two raw vegetables for lunch and a white meat, like fish, [with more raw vegetables] for dinner. I love broccoli, peppers. If [I] get hungry [I] eat dill pickles or Wasa Crackers.

Keep in mind, protein is readily available (and absorbable) from plant-based sources. No meat necessary. Anyway, have you been hating the diet?
No. Also, I have a pretty big vitamin regimen. I love B12!

That’s too funny. I’ve never met anyone who “loves” a particular vitamin. I applaud your enthusiasm. Is it tough to learn lines by rote?
[My] job is to memorize the lines. After [I] memorize the lines, [I] have the freedom to play and do anything [I] want.

Speaking of playing, did you have to overcome some sort of professional hurdle to get intimate with Sigourney Weaver?
She was wonderful to work with. Unbelievable. I can’t be more thankful for how open, free, and fun she [is]. Everyone in the show [is]: Kristine and David. They’re all so awesome. It’s an honor to be working with them. Just learning from them. These are veterans.

What kinds of things have you taken away from them thus far?
Little things, from how to work with a line or throw a line out, to keep[ing] composure through the run. It’s a long run. Holding it together…it’s a lot. It’s eight shows a week. It really is draining.

But you love it.
I love it. It’s a wonderful project to be on. But, you get a little [exasperated] after a while. But, every show’s a new show. David and I share a dressing room, so we pep talk before and hang out, bullshit and talk about the show as it’s going on. My favorite thing is switching things up.

Such as?
Sometimes throwing Sigourney on the floor. It’s up to her. There’s a moment in the play where I’m alone with David and I get closer and closer. There was one night I started playing with his beard. The nipple thing just came out of being like, You ready? [Laughs]

That wasn’t written into the script?
No. The motorboat-ing wasn’t in the script either. I popped my shirt open in the audition, too.

Gotta love the cheek. What was the most difficult scene to master?
I would say my audition for Entourage 2. I have to be Spike doing his best audition—it’s really bad—but still be funny. There’s so many layers. That was the most challenging thing, finding that audition. It’s ridiculous. I mean, I’m talking about Entourage 2!

I know, which actually isn’t the most implausible program to exist…
Yeah, I know. [Laughs]

What’s been your favorite aspect of this experience so far?
Giving a bow at the end of a show to give thanks for the audience’s time. That’s my favorite. Just to say thank you. They went on a journey with us. They play with us. The uncertainty is what’s exciting. The audience, through [us], gets to play. You get older and you forget. You forget how to imagine. And, doing a play, the audience is the energy. They really are. They create the world.

Given this, what’s your opinion of the art of theater versus the art of film and TV? You’ve been fortunate enough to do all three.
With film [and television], it’s not a do-or-die kind of moment. You get takes. The stamina in theater—you have to be in character for two-and-a-half hours! In film, you shoot a scene and walk away.

I’ve always wondered, when you leave the stage and go backstage, what do you do?
Sundays, I’m doing the show and I go back and watch football. Then I hear my cue. Then I go back and watch the Jets lose. I play Words With Friends. I think it’s insane.

[Laughs] Wow. Does David watch football with you?
[Laughs] No! I try to get David to watch football. He’ll be like, “Oh shit, the Yankees are losing.” He has no clue. I had fantasy football and I’d tell him about my team and he’d be like, “Yes! Who?” He’s such a nice guy. I really have a friend there. All of them.

I’ve interviewed David at various events and he’s just a lovely individual to talk to.
He’s a soft, sweet guy. And he’s amazing to watch during the show. He’s always there, but he’s a stealth missile the whole play. He’s so specific all the time. It’s kind of wonderful to watch.

Absolutely. You’re all wonderful to watch. It’s a great play. So, is there something you love most about what you do?
I like playing the bad guy. Even in this I’m the “bad guy.”

Indeed! Well, you and Sigourney Weaver. Speaking of being bad, what kind of name is Hootie Pie [the name of Weaver’s unseen assistant in the play]?
When [Christopher Durang] was writing that day, Pootie Tang was on TV!

Hilarity. Ah, the wily ways of writers. That’s some interesting trivia. What’s some fun trivia about your life in NYC?
I live[ed] with Hugo Becker? He was Prince Louis on Gossip Girl. We did Damsels in Distress together. He’s back in Paris now. I miss him, man. He was so cool.

Oh la la! Small entertainment world…
He’s so funny, because that’s not him on Gossip Girl at all. He’s goofy. He’s a goof-French-ball!

[Laughs] Were you ever invited to appear on the show?
Yeah, but I was on the soap opera at the time, so I couldn’t ever get off.

Bummer. The series came to an end this week. Did you tune in at all during its six-season run?
No. Absolutely not. [Laughs]

Photos by T. Charles Erikson

Artist Brian Batt Talks ‘Gossip Girl’

If you haven’t yet heard of artist Brian Batt, you’ll be getting a glimpse soon, especially if you tune into Gossip Girl. We know that not everyone’s smitten for Upper East Side scheming, but this impressive painter makes a cameo in tonight’s episode, “Portrait of a Lady Alexander.” Indeed, the 33-year-old acting neophyte even delivers some lines, in the presence of Chuck and Blair, no less. Guilty pleasure, meet aesthetic skill.

Born and raised in Philadelphia, Batt made his way to Manhattan roughly five years ago. At the time, he was working for a Long Island-based band merchandising company, designing t-shirts and other fan-focused products. But, much as he loved it, in 2008 Batt threw in towel, determined to work for himself and bent on painting fulltime.

And now, that’s just what he does. Day in and day out, he collides with the canvas in his Lower East Side two-bedroom walk-up, though soon he’ll be relocating to Dumbo. We can appreciate his need for more space. With two pit bulls, Lily and Zoe, bounding about (not to mention fixating on our feet) and countless large-scale works scattered throughout the apartment, perched precariously against walls and otherwise making it a little difficult to walk without worry, he’s due for—and deserving of—a real estate upgrade.

Batt’s style has certainly evolved over the years, and currently it’s all about gridding and dots. Some depictions we encountered during our visit were of Russell Simmons, Frida Kahlo, and Karen O of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. Just blocks and dots of color making for a magnificent and entirely fresh perspective. No Lichtenstein or Seurat to be seen here.

Our personal favorite Batt original would have to be Venus, which features a gorgeous girl (who looks a lot like Lana Del Rey). She sports a letterman jacket and oversized sunglasses, her long locks billowing in the wind before a body of water. The closer you stand, the more out of focus it is. But back up a bit and the beauty comes together, well, beautifully. We really dig the illusion, not to mention the evident meticulousness. And we aren’t alone. Batt counts among his collectors the likes of Reese Witherspoon and John Krasinski, amid myriad more. Though he can command up to $25,000 per piece, prints are available on his site, signed and embossed, for only $90.

Jolly and totally down to talk shop, Batt opened up to us about his craft, breaking into television (if only once…so far), and his relationship with L.A. Spoiler alert: New York City wins.

Let’s begin at the beginning. Have you always been into art, even as a kid?
I was always drawing. And, I went to college for illustration at Hartford Art School in Connecticut. Also, my dad was an artist, too.

That’s awesome. Who is your favorite artist, apart from pops of course?
My primary influence is Chuck Close. Chuck Close is the man.

I can see that, for sure. You have a couple reminiscent, albeit distinct, aesthetics. What would you call them?
Pixilated paintings and dot style[, respectively]. [The former] is influenced by the digital era. The reference is like a bitmap. [The latter is] like look[ing] at a newspaper [if] you zoom way in; it’s all dots. It’s influenced by print.

What does this endeavor mean to you?
I’m just so motivated to be painting every day, as much as possible. Definitely more motivated now than ever before. I spend a lot of time; I’m working at least twelve hours a day, seven days a week. There’s so much I want to do, so much I’m set up to do right now. Commissions and pieces I’m compelled to do. I’m the only one here to do it, too. I don’t have assistants or anything, so I just have to be as productive as I can. I work really hard.

It shows. How do you create these pieces? Like, where do you source the initial images?
This [Russell Simmons image] is taken from a photo on the internet, which is something I’m trying to avoid. I want them to be original. Like, with Gossip Girl, I couldn’t show this because I didn’t take this photo, you know?

It’s tricky. So, how did you initially get involved with Gossip Girl?
The head writer bought two of my paintings at a show I had in L.A. They wanted [to feature] a New York artist and were trying to write me into the script. They wanted me to play myself for authenticity. When they first told me, I really [didn’t] expect it to happen. [After some back and forth,] they invite[d] me to do a cameo on the show.

Were you stoked?
I was very interested.

Then what?
They explained what the scene was going to be; Chuck and Blair come to my studio to talk about a painting. They wanted me to read in front of the camera. That was the final test. I was super nervous, because I’d never done that sort of thing. They just wanted me to be myself.

Did Gossip Girl film here?
They wanted to. Because of the walk-up, it was an issue. So, they came, picked up, like, 18 of my paintings, and recreated my studio out on Long Island. It was cool to see it all recreated.

I bet. So, what was the end result?
It was amazing. The experience was great. They made me feel really comfortable and were really enthusiastic about the work. It was so surreal. It should be great exposure.

Beyond the head writer of Gossip Girl, who else invests in your work?
Probably the most famous person who’s bought work from me is Reese Witherspoon. I did one for John Krasinski a couple years ago, too. It was commissioned by a friend of his. He loves JFK…

Are you bent on depicting famous faces or are you also into lesser-known subjects?
It’s both. I don’t feel as comfortable submitting pieces where I didn’t take the photograph.

And that largely ties back to portraying folks you know or have easier access to than the celebrity (or deceased) set. Tell me about your Frida Kahlo painting.
I think it’s important [to represent] the power of women. There’s not as many female artists. There’s not as much of a presence of female artists. That’s what inspired me. I like subjects who are game changers, who overcome adversity, who stand up for something. To me, Frida totally represents that.

Absolutely.
It’s also about doing more obscure icons. People I think are amazing but don’t necessarily get the recognition of, like, Bob Marley, who’s on posters everywhere. [For example,] this is Karen O. from the Yeah Yeah Yeahs. I love Karen O.

Does anyone ever sit for a portrait?
Used to. But now I take a photograph because I don’t want to make someone wait so long.

Speaking of waiting, what’s your waiting list like?
A year. Some are priority. Some people are anxious to get something; others are, like, Whenever. I’m happy to have a bunch of commissions lined up.

It must be awesome to be an artist who isn’t starving.
It’s the best. I’m starting to pick up some momentum now.

Yes, you may even make it to Art Basel this year. Tell me more about the piece you anticipate showcasing there?
I’ve probably put in 1,000 hours so far. It’s tedious. I really hope they take it.

For sure. So, does New York inform your art? This area?
It’s always inspiring to walk around the neighborhood. I’m lucky I have dogs. Gets me out of the apartment.

But soon you’ll be abandoning the Lower East Side for Dumbo. Are you ready to say goodbye to Manhattan?
I’m freaking out. I’m majorly freaking out.

I would be, too. Lastly, your manager’s based in L.A. Can you describe your relationship with the West Coast?
There’s so many opportunities for artists out there now. It’s really refreshing to have New York artists [going] to L.A. The general population in Los Angeles is all about it. There’s so much to take advantage of. It’s really positive and beneficial to be involved in some way. It’s also nice to recharge a little bit, too. I love going back and forth, absorbing what both places have to offer. I don’t think I could live there full-time, though. New York is just so amazing.

Ed Westwick Gets Belligerent In Da Club

Ed Westwick allegedly threw a punch at a patron at a night club patron who he thought was taking his picture. Not only was the poor guy just snapping pics of his own girlfriend, but Westwick missed his mark. Awkward!

According to the New York Post, the British Gossip Girl hottie and friends had a table at the night club SL. At a table nearby, a guy started taking pics of his own girlfriend, but Westwick apparently thought the pics were of him. No paps, please!

So the actor allegedly confronted the dude and threw a punch, and, according to the Post’s anonymous source, "completely missed." So, like a little Chuck Bass-hole that he is, Westwick asked a bouncer to kick the guy out.

Westwick’s rep denied the story to the Post, of course, but the paper recalled other tales of Westwick’s nightclub belligerence, like a "shoving match" at Westside Tavern. Calm down, Ed! Having the sexiest accent in all of New York City can’t be that stressful.

Afternoon Links: Tila Tequila Hospitalized For Brain Aneurysm, Jonathan Franzen Hates Twitter

● Tila Tequila has been hospitalized for a brain aneurysm and consequential drug overdose that left her near death. "It was terrifying for Tila," says someone who knows. [Radar]

● China is getting a Gossip Girl spinoff of their very own called China Girl, and Gossip Girl creators Josh Schwartz and Stephanie Savage will consult. [LAT]

● The 1972 Dodge Sportsman Royal Van used by the Melvins to tour that was occasionally driven by Kurt Cobain himself is up for auction on eBay. Going once, going twice… [BV]

● Speaking at Tulane last night, noted technophobe Jonathan Franzen made clear that he will not be joining the 140 Club. "Twitter is unspeakably irritating," he said. "Twitter stands for everything I oppose…it’s hard to cite facts or create an argument in 140 characters…it’s like if Kafka had decided to make a video semaphoring The Metamorphosis. Or it’s like writing a novel without the letter ‘P.’" Which is, you know, something some writers like to do. [MediaBistro]

● In celebration of Super Tuesday, VH1 has rounded up 40 celebrities who vote Right. Some you might have guessed (Kirk Cameron); others may come as a surprise (Vince Vaughn?).  [TheFabLife]

● They’re really pumping them out now: hear two more new Radiohead songs — “The Amazing Sounds of Orgy” and “Skirting on the Surface” — as performed last week in Miami. [The Fader]

Morning Links: Arnold Schwarzenegger & Maria Shriver Separate, Taylor Momsen Off Gossip Girl

● The new Duke and Duchess of Cambridge are on their honeymoon right now, on an island somewhere surrounded by coconut groves. Where are you? [DailyMail] ● After 25 years of marriage, Arnold Schwarzennegger and Maria Shriver have separated. Shriver’s moving out of their Brentwood mansion while they “work on the future of [their] relationship”. [LA Times] ● Whitney Houston has voluntarily returned to rehab, purportedly as part of a “long-standing” recovery process. [AP/Yahoo]

● Probably much to her relief, Taylor Momsen has been released from her duties as Little J on Gossip Girl. She is now free to do whatever else it is that she does. Jessica Szohr is out after this season, too, although both are welcome back as guests. [TVLine] ● Vin Diesel “wouldn’t be surprised if there is some Oscar talk” around Fast Five because “sooner or later, people are gonna say, ‘Wait a minute, just because they are for the working class doesn’t mean they’re not great.'” Then he chuckled, “I don’t know, maybe I’m just biting off what some guy from Channel 7 thought.” [NYM] ● Alicia Silverstone named her newborn son Bear Blu Jarecki, a name that’s pretty cute for, like, a pet. [TooFab] ● Paul Thomas Anderson’s Scientology movie (once called The Master, but currently without a working name) has been picked up for distribution by the Weinstein Company, which means Harvey is probably not a secret Scientologist. [Deadline]

Leighton Meester, Missoni’s New Face

It’s no secret that Gossip Girl cast members Blake Lively and Leighton Meester have proved themselves to be stylish on set and off. Now it seems that both ladies will be fronting major fashion campaigns next year. Lively is the new face of Chanel, while Meester is rumored to be Missoni’s new model, according to Elle UK. Meester, who currently appears in campaigns for Vera Wang fragrances and Herbal Essences, will be modeling for Missoni in a campaign launching in summer 2011.

If there’s one thing that’s certain, it’s that you know you’ll love them, xoxo.

A Gossip Girl’s High & Low Fashion Appeal

Taylor Momsen has been making fashion headlines for a few seasons now thanks to the Gossip Girl’s controversial style. (Think: no pants.) But it seems bona fide fashion heavyweights are looking to the teen spirit for inspiration, too. Not only has Momsen found herself in the good graces of Madonna, she’s also apparently piqued the fancy of John Galliano. “Momsen was hand-picked by Madonna to be the face and muse of Material Girl, the juniors label that will launch at 200 Macy’s stores next week,” says Women’s Wear Daily. The line was in large part designed and inspired by Madonna’s own spawn, Lourdes, but it’s Momsen that will act as its spokesperson. “The role entails doing the launch of the line on Aug. 3 at Herald Square. And I’ll be tweeting and talking about the line. We did a photo shoot for the first pieces of the collection. It’s a really great line. It’s really cool,” Momsen told WWD.

Also included in the partnership: being photographed and styled by the original Material Girl herself. The appearance in Madge’s ads won’t be Momsen’s only major campaign this year. Galliano has cast her as the face of his namesake fragrance, to be released this fall. She also racked up an endorsement gig with New Look in London. Maybe Momsen’s personal style choices might not have been so regrettable after all.