What Art To See In New York, Los Angeles + London April 14-20

Ai Weiwei photographed by Gao Yuan, 2012

Monday, April 14

Christo makes a rare public appearance at Neuehouse (we assume you’re a member) in New York to speak about Over the River and The Mastaba, two projects of the artist. A tour of Neuehouse’s art collection precedes the talk at 5:45 p.m.

Tuesday, April 15

Jean Nouvel’s Triptyques opens at Gagosian Gallery in London with a reception from 6-8 p.m. 17-19 Davies Street, London.

Thursday, April 17

Julian Schnabel’s View of Dawn in the Tropics: Paintings, 1989-1990 opens at Gagosian Gallery in New York with a reception from 6-8 p.m. 555 West 24th Street, New York.

Henri Matisse’s blue nudes are back together at the Tate Modern in London. The Cut-Outs exhibition opens Thursday. Museum hours are 10 a.m. – 6 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, 10 a.m. – 10 p.m. Friday and Saturday. Bankside, London.

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Friday, April 18

Ai Weiwei’s According to What? exhibition opens at the Brooklyn Museum. Tickets are $15; the show is free for members.

Saturday, April 19

Thomas Ruff’s Photograms and Negatives opens at Gagosian Gallery in Beverly Hills with a reception from 6-8 p.m. 456 North Camden Drive, Beverly Hills, California.

When Andy Warhol Walked In… & Walked Out (His Diary Excerpt Inside)

This past Monday would have been Andy Warhol’s 84th birthday. It’s hard to imagine a world without Andy, and it’s hard to imagine Andy at 84. He hasn’t been replaced. The concept of "downtown,” of art-influenced clubbing, has never adjusted to his loss. Going back before "back in the day” for most of you, there was a scene that was led by the creative crowd. In my club days, I started each night with the concept of having my joint cool enough "in case Andy Warhol walked in.” It was the way I set my goals, got up for the game. On occasion, he would walk in.

I can’t think of a celebrity that would define the "cool" in this era. I guess club owners were fawning over Lindsay Lohan until recently, and at one point it was Paris Hilton. Of course Jersey Shore peeps or Kardashians or basketball stars bring excitement to the hoi polloi. Maybe Jay-Z or Beyonce are the pulse. An art star like Julian Schnabel is often seen at downtown spots. Although he carries impressive credentials, he doesn’t influence the thought process like Andy did. I thought Banksy might create a stir – until we got used to his face.

Andy charged up a room. Any gathering he attended was defined by his presence. He hobnobbed at Studio 54 with Bianca and Mick and Truman and Halston and Elizbeth Taylor, but then snuck south to Max’s Kansas City for Lou Reed, The Dolls, and his crew. The profound difference of celebrity back then and now mirrors the profound difference of VIP, then and now. Then, it was the wonderful, the creative, the style-influencers. Now, it’s all about the Benjamins.

Until a few weeks ago I would catch Taylor Meade’s act at the now-shuttered Bowery Poetry Club. Stories about Andy would drift into his act – one day disdaining Warhol, one day adoring him. Taylor is 87 now. He’s still brilliant but very frail. I don’t know if and when and where I will see his schtick again. I miss my weekly dose of his and Andy tales. Just before his death, Long Nguyen and I produced a fashion show for Kohshin Satoh at Tunnel. Andy, Miles Davis, and Devo’s Gerry Casales were the celebrity models. Andy was complaining about the place being cold, although it wasn’t. He looked ill, so we forgo him walking up and then down the steps from the dressing room he shared with Gerry. We put him on the ground floor with Miles. We weren’t being mean, but we couldn’t make him comfortable. He smiled and waved on the runway and no one in the audience suspected a thing. We knew he wasn’t himself and we found out later that he was sick and in pain. He died a few days later, on February 22, 1987.

Here’s Andy’s own recollection of the event at Tunnel, straight from his diary:

Tuesday, February 17, 1987:

…Then went over to the Tunnel and they gave us the best dressing room,but it was absolutely freezing. I had all my makeup with me. Miles Davis was there and he has absolute delicate fingers. They’re the same length as mine but half the width. I’d gone with Jean Michel last year to see his show at the Beacon, and I’d met him in the sixties at that store on Christopher Street, Hernando’s where we used to get leather pants. I reminded him that I’d met him there and he said he remembered. Miles is a clotheshorse. And we made a deal that we’d trade ten minutes of him playing music for me, for me doing his portrait. He gave me his address and a drawing-he draws while he gets his hair done. His hairdresser does the hair weaving, the extensions.

      They did a $5000 custom outfit for Miles with gold musical notes on it and everything, and they didn’t do a thing for me, they were so mean. They could’ve made me a gold palette or something. So I looked like the poor step child.and in the end they even(laughs) told me I walked to slow…

Julian Schnabel on ‘Miral,’ His Critics, & His Lost ‘Perfume’ Movie

Julian Schnabel draws a lot of attention to the way he dresses. The incongruity of seeing the burly perma-hipster on the red carpet in what amounts to his pajamas never gets old. But on a gray morning last week, watching Schnabel saunter into the kitchen of his New York City home — the sprawling Palazzo Chupi — draped in his trademark velvet, it finally felt right. “Did you have something to eat?” Schnabel asks, referring to the breakfast spread that was laid out for us journalists. “Are you sure you don’t want another bagel?”

Despite that fatherly warmth, Schnabel was ready for a dogfight. Ours was the first in a day filled with interviews that would see the renowned artist defend his latest film — over and over again — like he’s never had to before. That film is Miral, and unlike his previous movies — The Diving Bell and Butterfly, Before Night Falls, and Basquiat — people got beef. Besides the lukewarm critical response the film received at festivals like Venice and Toronto (something else that’s new for the Oscar-nominated director), there’s a whole group of detractors that take issue with Miral on both ideological and political levels.

Back in November, around the time of Miral‘s original release date (it was pushed back to today), we ran a cover story on the film’s star, Freida Pinto. The role marked Pinto’s first since her Slumdog Millionaire breakthrough, and it was a ballsy one. Pinto plays a young Palestinian girl raised in an orphanage, who gets radicalized in the wake of the Arab-Israeli conflict. The story is based in large part on the memoirs of Palestinian-born journalist Rula Jebreal, who was sleeping upstairs when we spoke to Schnabel. The two have been dating since 2009.

A few days before our talk, Schnabel showed the film at the United Nations General Assembly, a screening that drew protests from his critics, namely the American Jewish Committee and the Anti-Defamation League, who consider the film to be pro-Palestinian in the way that it depicts the Israeli army as occupiers. Here’s Julian Schnabel in defense of a film he claims most of his critics have yet to even see.

When you made this film, did you expect that you were going to have to defend it as much as you have? What did Diane Arbus say? “It’s never like what they said it would be, it’s always what I’ve never seen before that I recognize.” I knew that it was a hot button topic, and I think I made the movie for that reason, because we couldn’t do any worse than the politicians are doing. I think it’s important to tell stories to create empathy, and it certainly raised empathy in me— working with them and being with them—Palestinians and Israelis that are in the middle of that conflict, and stuck there and held hostage by maniacs on both sides.

Do you think some people confuse a Palestinian story as automatically being pro-Palestinian story? Absolutely. I think it’s a story about Palestinian people, and there are a lot of different people in the movie, and they have different viewpoints. One is a pacifist, one is an activist, one is a terrorist, one is a religious guy who is just trying to keep his daughter from getting in trouble, and one is certainly a teacher who in a warzone, tried to save a bunch of kids and created an oasis in the middle of that warzone, that has functioned to nurture and save lives since 1948. Since the wall went up, it’s very hard to get girls in that school, and the school at one time had 3,000 girls in it, and now it’s maybe a hundred or less.

So you think there are people on the Israeli side that don’t want any Palestinian stories told because they think it’s automatically sympathetic to them? To their enemy.

It reminds me of Downfall, where critics argued that telling a story about Hitler was somehow humanizing him. I didn’t think he was very likable in that movie, and I don’t think they made a hero out of him. I think it was an excellent movie, even though the man who produced it I can’t stand.

Who’s that? Bernd Eichinger, who’s the man that actually owned the rights to Perfume, and I wrote a script, and he wanted to make this terrible movie that was made, which was very different than the script I had.

You wanted to make Perfume? I wrote a script, and he bought it to stop me from making it, so he could make whatever stupid movie he wanted to do. But I can’t criticize Downfall artistically, because I think it was a pretty good movie. Despite that, I don’t think this had anything to do with this movie. When you start comparing Hitler to Palestinians you’re getting into a mire, man.

Good point. I don’t want to support Hitler in any way.

Does it frustrate you that a lot of people seem to want to criticize the movie without having seeing it at all? I think that’s pretty interesting. How stupid can you be to criticize something without seeing it? I mean, I couldn’t criticize The Passion of the Christ unless I saw it, and I didn’t like it, but I couldn’t pick on it until I saw it. So I invited the people that were criticizing it, or trying to stop the screenings at the United Nations, to see the movie. None of them showed up, but there’s many other Jewish groups that have come out in support. I have a lot of faith in Jewish people, most of the people that are working on this project are Jewish people, and there are Arabs and Muslims and Christians and Israelis that worked on this film—and French people, and Protestants, and God knows what else. And peace is not selective, and the movie is really a cry for peace, it’s a cry for understanding. I tried to come out to understand the Other, to know what the other side is, so we could at least have a dialogue. I don’t think I portrayed anything that wasn’t factual, and more than that, there are things that are so much more brutal that exist, but they weren’t part of Miral’s story. I didn’t feel compelled to include those things because—

You were telling one person’s story. Exactly. And I think that the thing people forget is the “I.” It’s her story, it’s in the first person, it’s her historical references, it’s the way she was told and then what she lived through. We as Jewish people think, Well, this is against us, we have to represent our group, and that’s how we’re going to approach it. We lose the opportunity to have that first person experience.

When you went into Passion of the Christ, did you go in with an open mind, or did you go in expecting not to like it? I’m really open. I mean, people told me that Sofia Coppola’s movie was terrible.

Which one? Somewhere. People that I know, a lot of people told me, and I went to see the movie and I didn’t hate it. I understood what she was trying to do, why she was doing it like that. I think a lot of people were expecting things she did not try to do in that movie, and that’s not what it was about. So if people superimpose the movie that they want to make on everybody, are they watching what’s in front of them? If you love art, you have to give art a chance to speak for itself. You can’t say that we’re totally without any kind of bias or prejudice, but I’ll tell you something: I had bias and prejudice against Palestinian people before I got involved in learning about them.

When Lisa says, “My father thinks all Palestinians are terrorists,” a lot of people think that. And obviously there’s a war going on, and they’ve been an enemy of the Jews, but the Jews have been the enemy to them, too. But then there are Jews and Palestinians that live together and everybody’s not violent. There are a lot of peaceful people on both sides that are not enemies, and don’t want to see these things happen, and feel bad when a child is murdered, whether it’s an Israeli child or a Palestinian child, there’s no reason for it. And so we have to look at everybody as human beings. Look at South Africa, look what happened. Nelson Mandela, the first word out of his mouth was “freedom.” Wait, what am I talking about? It was “forgiveness.” I think all a sudden I just heard Mel Gibson stand up and go, “Freedom!” in Braveheart.

Have friends or family been honest with you in their reactions to the film? People love the film. My sister, who was the President of the Hadassah, loved the film. My 92-year-old aunt loved it, was proud of it. I got all sorts of letters and things from people that were very moved. It was particularly moving the other night at the UN, because you could really look at the film— it’s a pity to see a movie on television as a screener—the screen was 45 feet. (Points to one of his paintings) That painting is 15 feet across, so it was three times as long as that, and almost twice as tall.

I saw the film at the Toronto Film Festival, and the film had a great response. You saw the response of the audience. I don’t understand why the critics were not writing what was happening. Can you believe that? There was an incongruity between the response of the audience and what they were writing. The next morning it was packed, and people loved the movie. I don’t know where reviews come from, people just can’t be unbiased about this particular topic, and that’s why I made the movie. I made the movie to address that. We need to—come on people now, smile on your brother, everybody get together, try to love one another right now.

Are you disappointed the movie kept getting pushed back until now? I think this is a wonderful time for the movie to come out. I think they thought it was too difficult to digest, and too much work to do at the time of the Oscars. And I’m glad that Harvey was involved with The King’s Speech, and that worked out for him, but I think now is a moment where, if you look at the revolution that’s going on all over the world, the people in the movie are asking for the same thing as the people in Egypt, and in Libya, and Tunisia are asking for. I mean, we have a democratic state in Israel for Jewish people, but not for Palestinians, and that’s not acceptable. And we’ve had regimes that were protecting our borders that were tyrannical dictators, where people were living there without freedom. Is that the price for democracy over there? There’s something wrong with that picture. It’s a hard pill to swallow, because everybody’s so super-sensitive about this issue, but if we want Israel to survive, we need to be understanding, we need to create love. not hate. We need to understand people and let them see that we understand them. and I think probably I’m a better ambassador for peace with Arab people than a solider with a gun in his hand.

Do you think there are people on both sides that don’t want peace? I mean, yeah, sure. I mean anybody that says, We’re going to build another two hundred settlements—Bibi Netanyahu, he doesn’t care, he doesn’t want peace. And these crazy people in Hamas? They don’t want peace. But the poor people that are living in the middle of all this, they do. I mean the kids that are soldiers, do you think they want to be soldiers? In the movie when Miral says to Lisa, “Are you in the army?” When do you go to a party and meet a young girl and go, Are you in the army?

When I was in Israel. There you go. I think there’s a lot of people that are very disappointed with the way everything is going, and I don’t think I could do any worse. I think the movie is really about empathy, and it’s a beginning. Besides the fact that I think it’s seeing 60 years kind of compressed like that, and watching the women’s stories and the acting. I was wondering if I could tell this story in a way that I should do, that would need me to be the author of the film. is there something for me to do there? Because I’m not a journalist or a politician, and I think when you see her walk into the water or you see the rape scene, and you see that piece of metal or you see the landscape, and you hear Laurie Anderson’s music or whatever, it’s just eye candy, you keep watching what’s happening and you walk out and go, whoa.

Well it’s a Julian Schnabel movie, so of course it’s eye candy. I was not disappointed when people wanted to stop the film, but I am disappointed when they want to stop people from seeing the film. A lot of different writers don’t want to lose their jobs, so they stay on the fence and don’t have the balls and the courage and the autonomy, to just say what they thought, and that was pretty pathetic, because I think it’s a good movie. In fact, if I look at everything that was at the Oscars, I don’t think there was a better movie.

Freida Pinto Steps Into the Spotlight

In September 2008, Freida Pinto, along with a small coterie of Indian actors, arrived at the Toronto International Film Festival for the premiere of her new movie, Slumdog Millionaire. Its unveiling at Telluride the week before generated strong buzz, but not enough to ignite a storm of media interest in Canada. “There was a red carpet, one photographer, and one video camera. That’s it,” says Pinto, fondly recalling the simplicity of it all. “I thought, well, that was easy. Why was I so nervous?”

Slumdog Millionaire went on to win eight Academy Awards—including Best Picture—in 2009, becoming in the process an international phenomenon. The Dickensian fable of a Mumbai street kid who uses the Indian version of Who Wants to Be a Millionaire to reconnect with his true love (played by Pinto) made household names of its director, Danny Boyle, and its leads, Pinto and Dev Patel, her current boyfriend. “We were these wide-eyed babies, lost in a wonderland scenario. Danny said, ‘Enjoy this moment, because you might never get it back.’”

Two years have passed, and Pinto is back in Toronto. Looking like she just returned from a Beverly Hills shopping spree, the 26-year-old actor is clad in a gray Acne blazer, a black top from BCBG, and ash-gray jeans from Armani Exchange. She reclines on a sofa in a penthouse suite at Sutton Place, the hotel’s complimentary cotton slippers keeping her feet warm.

Beyond the floor-to-ceiling windows that surround us, Toronto glitters with city lights, but also with movie stars who are here to sell their work—and themselves. Pinto was especially busy this week trying to launch herself as a legitimate, working actor, but the festival publicity grind has left her sapped. She’s reluctant to leave the room, and cancels our dinner reservation at celebrity clubhouse Bistro 990 across the street.

Pinto debuted two films at the festival, Julian Schnabel’s Miral, in which she plays the title character, and Woody Allen’s You Will Meet a Tall Dark Stranger, in which she stars as the exotic object of Josh Brolin’s extramarital desire. What was once, for her, a paparazzi ghost town has become a blitzkrieg of flashbulbs and screaming fans. The thought of her long flight home to India tomorrow doesn’t make matters easier.

Along with Pinto’s overnight success came a hectic traveling schedule, which means that she no longer spends much time in her hometown of Mumbai, where she still technically lives with her parents. Instead, she’s been crisscrossing the globe, shooting films—like the upcoming Planet of the Apes prequel, Rise of the Apes, in Vancouver—and falling in love with the cities where they’re shot. She talks about one day owning homes in Mumbai, London, New York, and Montreal (where she just wrapped Tarsem Singh’s Immortals). It’s a network of crash pads fit for the global star Pinto is positioning herself to become.

Pinto is currently breaking ground on a career she once worried would expire prematurely. “When your first film happens to be such a big success, there’s going to be pressure and expectations, and people are going to dissect you in a way that’s almost uncomfortable,” she says. Her accent oscillates between British, Indian, and American inflections, a colonial mishmash that leaves her sounding strangely scholarly. “I was worried people might dismiss me as someone who had 20 minutes in a film and now considers herself a big star. But it’s like, my god, I never asked for this.”

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The reality is that, like all aspiring movie stars, this is precisely what she asked for. While the shock of instant fame was unexpected, Pinto has wanted a “life in the limelight” since she was young. With no formal training, the former model relied on her beauty and dedication to will herself through the casting rooms of an Indian film industry rife with nepotism and creaky depictions of women.

To help boost her confidence after the success of Slumdog, Pinto enrolled in a three-month acting boot camp in India. Her passion, she feared, was not enough. But her studies were nothing compared to the trial by fire she would undergo, courtesy of a gray-haired New York nebbish named Woody. “To have him directing you—it’s 30 years of learning, at least,” she says of her experience with Allen. “Okay, I wouldn’t say 30 years, because then I’d be comparing myself to Meryl Streep or Vanessa Redgrave. It’s more like three years, but you get the picture.” Although she was again cast as a mysterious love interest—this time as Dia, a woman who attracts the attention of a married Josh Brolin by plucking compositions on her guitar—the pressure of being in a Woody Allen film weighed on her. “I was doubtful I’d still be on the project after the second day,” she says. “But by the third day, it stopped affecting me. I was like, You know what? I’m an actor. I’m allowed to make mistakes. It’s all part of the process of learning the art.”

It was, however, Miral, a polarizing film about four Arab women and their harrowing experiences during the early decades of the Palestinian-Israeli conflict, which finally gave Pinto real confidence. “I don’t know where it came from, but it seeded itself within me and stayed in me the duration of the shoot,” she says. Schnabel, who has directed once-in-a-generation actors—Javier Bardem and Johnny Depp, among them—was amazed that Miral was only Pinto’s second film. “She worked as hard as anybody I’ve ever met,” he said from his home in Montauk, New York. “Johnny once said, ‘There’s nothing to it but to do it,’ and Freida is one of those actresses who does it.”

Critics, many of whom believe Miral tells the one-sided story of a two-sided conflict, have been quick to attack. In the film, Pinto plays a young, impressionable girl raised in the Arab Children’s House, a real-life orphanage founded by Palestinian humanitarian Hind Husseini. After witnessing atrocities carried out by the Israeli army, Miral falls in love with a Palestinian activist during the first intifada, before joining him in the struggle. When she read the script, which was adapted from the memoir of Palestinian journalist Rula Jebreal—who also happens to live with Schnabel—Pinto knew the film would prove challenging. But as the Slumdog glow began to fade, Miral, which Pinto describes as a “representation of hope,” appeared to be exactly the kind of movie that would give her the chance to establish herself as a serious actor.

To her credit, Pinto swats away the negative reviews Miral is receiving—some of which are lobbed at her performance—with nonchalance. “Here’s the thing,” she says. “I’m never going to be entirely happy with a performance. I need to push myself in order to get better. I look at the negative criticism as constructively as possible. People are opinionated. I am opinionated. It’s human nature.” Perhaps anticipating that Miral’s middling reception won’t likely add up to the career-maker for which she was hoping, Pinto seems to mean it.

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Shot directly after Slumdog, Miral marks the first time Pinto has made a film outside of India, and the experience of filming in the Middle East shattered some of the illusions she had carried over from a sheltered childhood in the suburbs of Mumbai. “I was brought up in a Catholic family and taught about Bethlehem. When I got to Jesus’ birthplace in Bethlehem, I expected to see beauty and mountains, exactly how it was described to me as a child,” she says, laughing at how her naïveté now sounds. “But when I got there, instead of seeing children born in mangers, I visited refugee camps and saw children born into poverty and sadness.” I tell Pinto about a pamphlet featuring her image and protesting Israel’s blockade of Gaza, which had been circulating outside the Toronto premiere. “Wow,” she says, pleasantly surprised. “That is exactly what we want the movie to do.”

Miral’s hot-button subject matter was not the only thing to which Pinto was drawn. As she puts it, one does not say no to Julian Schnabel. The Academy Award-nominated director and world-class painter invited Pinto to audition after seeing her in Slumdog. Schnabel was, he says, struck by her resemblance to Rula Jebreal. “When bad things happened to Freida in Slumdog Millionaire, I found myself getting very upset, like they were happening to Rula,” Schnabel says. He decided to schedule a screen test, with one caveat—it had to be shot by Danny Boyle. Despite being in the middle of his Slumdog victory lap, Boyle agreed. In a scene they shot, he played Miral’s dying father. “The way she looked at Danny told me that she loves her father very, very much,” Schnabel recalls. “The kindness that she showed was profound. I trust my intuition. I saw something in her, and I think I was right.” Boyle was equally impressed. “I could tell how much she had grown already as a performer,” he says, adding, “It obviously helps if you look like Freida.”

About those looks. Pinto has a face designed for close-ups, and although it’s without makeup for most of Miral, her beauty is still enough to make Helen of Troy look frumpy. “I needed somebody audiences would want to watch because her character was destined to make some questionable decisions. People had to care about her mistakes,” Schnabel says. But Pinto downplays her genetic luck, partly out of modesty, but most likely for fear of sounding ungrateful. When pressed, she’ll admit that she is not “unfortunate looking.”

Pinto is realistic about Hollywood’s superficial side, and the doors that were open to her because of it. She recently watched Salt simply to ogle Angelina Jolie, but also says she’d relish the chance to tackle a role like Charlize Theron’s Aileen Wuornos in Monster. Boyle insists that despite Pinto’s glamorous image, she is not consumed by her own looks. “I once worked with Cameron Diaz and she’s very similar,” he says. “You’re expecting women who look like that to be attached to the mirror the whole time. But Freida didn’t have any vanity at all.”

For all her symmetry, Pinto admits to a time when she felt unsure if she could find her niche in Hollywood, an industry known for overlooking minorities, especially Indians. “I guess I’ll take that as a compliment,” she says when I suggest that she’s the only current Indian actress who would be considered for a lead in a $90-million popcorn movie opposite James Franco. She tries to name others, but the best she can do is Archie Panjabi, the British actress who just won an Emmy for her supporting role on the CBS drama The Good Wife. “There are people who still focus on skin color, but most people don’t,” she says. In Rise of the Apes, she offers by way of example, the background of the primatologist she plays is as relevant as Franco’s hair color. “It didn’t really matter where she came from,” Pinto says. “She just needed to understand what she was meant to do.”

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Pinto identifies herself with the global cinema, and isn’t terribly inclined to become a product of the movie factory on the West Coast. “My next film will be directed by a French man,” she says, referring to Jean-Jacques Annaud, who is scheduled to helm Black Thirst, a film set in the Arab states during the 1930s oil boom. Given India’s titanic film industry, does Pinto have any desire—or perhaps feel the need—to make a Bollywood movie? It’s a question that Indian reporters have fixated on since Pinto first became famous. “People in India wonder why I’m staying clear of Bollywood films,” she says. “I’m not staying clear of them, but there are some amazing films in India, made on a much smaller scale, that don’t get the same appreciation as the big Bollywood films, and I’ve never understood why. Those are the films that I want to be a part of, so I’m just waiting for something like that to come my way, and I’m telling you, I’m going to grab it with both hands.”

When I mention tabloids, a particularly unpleasant media niche, Pinto’s mouth tightens. “I don’t know how I could ever get a good night’s sleep after stripping someone of their dignity and writing things about them that are probably untrue,” she says, before jumping into a venomous rant that only seconds earlier seemed unlikely. Back when she was promoting Slumdog, Pinto was coerced by a reporter into revealing the end of her engagement to then-fiancé Rohan Antao. “I was new and an easy target, and they said it was going to be a quote about Slumdog Millionaire for the next day’s paper. I felt very betrayed.”

She understands why the public latched on to news of her romantic relationship with co-star Dev Patel, but the speculation—mostly surrounding their rumored engagement—was difficult. “Dev had such a problem trying to tell people that was not true,” she says, before deploying a stock answer: “I’ve decided not to answer stupidity with more stupidity.”

Despite the trappings of celebrity and the pressures associated with her still-nascent stardom, Pinto admits that there are perks that numb the trials and tribulations of being an in-demand princess of the cinema. “People work very hard their whole lives to get to this particular stage, so I’m not going to shy away from it. I’m going to enjoy it. It’s very difficult handling the pressure of being so recognized and being in the limelight, and at the same time having to deliver and perform.” She goes on, with a trace of childlike delight: “I used to look at the beautiful dresses in fashion magazines, put my finger on them and say, I’m going to have them one day. Now I’m like, it’s kind of easy to get those things.”

Photography by Richard Bernardin. Styling by Christopher Campbell. For a behind the scenes look at Freida in Toronto, head here.

Ed. Note: Miral‘s release date has been pushed back from November of 2010 to March 25, 2011.

The ‘Miral’ Trailer Is Excellent, Has Freida Pinto

The trailer for Julian Schnabel’s Miral is out and it is great, great stuff. The story concerns a young Palestinian girl who becomes invested in political activism after she is awoken to the struggle of her people. The film addresses love, violence, and a daughter torn between her father’s wishes and her newfound calling to fight for justice. It looks gorgeously shot and the music in the trailer is excellent.

Also–and I feel crass for even pointing this out–but Freida Pinto stars in the film and she is just flat out one of the best face havers in the business. Seriously, such a great face. I’d look at that face for the entirety of a feature length motion picture about political activism in the Middle East, if you know what I mean (you know what I mean).

Links: Jon Hamm Sells Mercedes; Mo’Nique’s Open Marriage

● Condom makers decide to get into the extra-small water balloon business, make extra small condoms for 12-year old boys. [The Awl] ● Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter may be Tim Burton’s next project; Fran Leibowitz may be Martin Scorsese’s. [GNews, Playlist] ● Schnabel, Johns, Murakami, Koons, Hirst, Kapoor and Marden are the wealthiest living artists. [Art Info] ● Mercedes Benz commercials about to make you start tearing off your clothes in search of a tall, dark, handsome jerk, as Mad Men’s Jon Hamm signs on to do the car company’s voiceover work. [NYTimes]

● How that great Old Spice commercial got made. [You Tube] ● Banksy starts a beef with a graffiti pioneer, Robbo, who takes his spray can out of retirement as a result. [WSJ] ● Mo’Nique dishes on her marriage, which is sort of open, to Barbara Walters. [NYDN] ● Lesser known Parisian exhibition space is giving the Lourve a run for its visitors. [Flavorwire]

Week in Divas: Natasha Richardson’s Organs, Beyoncé Goes Nintendo

imageThis week, we learned that no one can out-diva New York City herself, try hard as they might. And that when NYC has no qualms about strapping on her sharpest pair of high heels and kicking your ass, even her guardian has little choice but to shyly step aside. More sobering is how she’s even helped manage to humble once-wealthy wannabes, driving them to ask for alms. But because that’s too real and because the President told us last night that this reality looks poised to settle in for a good while longer, let’s instead preoccupy ourselves with more obliviously pleasant thoughts — the likes of which helped us get through the first miserable eight years of this century. Pleasant thoughts like hand-held video games, leather, and Grace Jones.

● Proving that there is in fact tangible life after death, the late but everlasting Natasha Richardson’s organs have been donated to waiting transplant patients. [ShowbizSpy]

● And proving that there’s life after the Oscars, Freida Pinto, most recently snatched up by Woody Allen, has secured a role in Julian Schnabel’s next flick. [ Press Association]

Lily Allen archnemesis Cheryl Cole and the rest of the Girls Aloud are demonstrating maturity accrued through seven years of girlbandery by squeezing into garish rubber outfits. [Daily Mail]

● Guys, Lindsay Lohan would kindly like it if you stopped talking about her. Also she crashed her car. Again. [New York Daily News]

● Oxygen — the cable network that gave Janice Dickinson her own reality series where she perpetually appears in soft-focus — polled a number of women, age 18-34, and found that only 25% of them would rather win America’s Next Top Model than the Nobel Peace Prize. [Jezebel]

● Busying himself with cleaning up Paula Abdul’s spittle or perhaps a frantic round of manscaping, Simon Cowell found himself too busy to take an audience with Barack Obama, who seemed genuinely interested in appearing on American Idol. [Sify]

● Joining Bat For Lashes, the Pet Shop Boys, and Nick Cave & the Bad Seeds, glam-soul crooner Grace Jones will be taking the stage at this summer’s Latitude Festival in the UK. [Yahoo]

● Sacrilege! The Daily Mail contends that Darwinist poster girl Jade Goody may be a heroine in the same league as Princess Diana. Except for that not-being-born-into-royalty junk. [The Daily Mail]

● Having left her mark on everything from more-talented younger sisters to ubiquitous L’Oreal endorsements, Beyoncé now hungrily eyes a new subset of fans: gaming geeks. Probably contemplating on a Street Fighter II-style video game that incorporates every Destiny’s Child to date, she will wedge her way into the world of video games, one Nintendo DS at a time. [Kotaku]

Julian Schnabel Huffs, Puffs, & Blows Morley Safer Away

imageNote to New York magazine: Please never use “thrusting its stamen” in any analogy involving Julian Schnabel. That said, they weren’t too far off in likening the moody artist to a delicate flower (though I might use the adjective “wolf-like” myself). Last night, the delicate flower put a 60 Minutes host in the cross-hairs of an incendiary ass-kicking. The grandfatherly Morley Safer tread a little to close to the sensitive beast, asking him to reflect on being called a “shlockmeister” by Times art critic Robert Hughes.

Sparing no mercy, Schnabel dismissed Safer’s questioning as lazy, but entangled in him a catch-22 where he wouldn’t let Safer change the topic either. But despite all awkwardness and emotional scarring to Mr. Safer, this outburst should be nothing but good PR for Schnabel, whose latest show is on display at London’s Saatchi Gallery through the middle of January.

Gramercy Park Changes Up The Art

Last night, New York’s gliteratti gathered to celebrate Gramercy Park Hotel‘s newly installed artworks. Creative Director Nur Khan kept it familial by not only having Rose Bar co-designer and newly prominent filmmaker Julian Schnabel’s work adorn the walls, but also by inviting his daughter Stella Schnabel to host the event. A-list attendees and invite-only door policy hardly differed from an average lounge-about evening at Gramercy Park. However, the handsome wait staff with sliders and scallop ceviche in tow signaled that the night was meant to be special. And that it was–boundless bubbly replaced the usual pout with giggles and grins. Somehow, alcohol adapts a more distinguished pungency when sipped in the company of Basquiats, Herrings, Shnabels, and Warhols. Those of the noteworthy variety included Julia Restoin Roitfeld, Alice Dellal, Genevieve Jones, Jessica Joffe, and Cory Kennedy with her Cobrasnake.