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Talking Greek: An Interview with Andreas Zinelis

Talking Greek: An Interview with Andreas Zinelis



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Andreas Zinelis is the beverage director for Nerai, a modern Greek restaurant in New York City, which aims to create contemporary versions of traditional Greek cuisine. Zinelis, a Greek American born in Los Angeles, moved to Athens at age seven, where he lived for 10 years. Zinelis gained hospitality experience in Los Angeles, New York, and Greece. In Los Angeles, he worked with his father, who owned two Greek American restaurants. In New York, he worked at Harry’s at Hanover Square, and enrolled in the French Culinary Institute.

“If I was going to work in hospitality, I wanted to learn as much as I possibly could,” He explained.

In 2008, Zinelis moved back to Greece, where he and a cousin had a tiny Greek restaurant in the heart of Athens, cooking fresh food daily and pouring domestic wines from the Peloponnese. Ultimately, the financial crisis brought him back to New York, where he worked as a wine director for Kellari Hospitality, and a manager and sommelier at Buddakan.

His broad experience in hospitality, and his specific experience as a Greek American who lived and worked in Greece, has positioned Zinelis to be an important authority on Greek wines. His timing couldn’t be better. The U.S. is the second most important market for Greek exports after Germany.

“The most important market for Greek wines in the U.S. is New York,” said Sofia Perpera, a Bordeaux-trained oenologist and the director of the Greek Wine Bureau in North America “We calculated more than 480 restaurants and 520 wine shops selling Greek wines in the New York area in July 2013. Other important markets include Chicago, Texas, Florida, and San Francisco.”

Since Nerai opened in May 2013, Zinelis has overseen a wine list of about 130 selections, 35 percent of which are Greek, along with Greek spirits and Greek-inspired cocktails. Half of the restaurant’s wines by the glass are Greek, with three white, three red, and one rosé. The average cost of the wines by the glass at Nerai is $13 to $18.

Greek wines have increased in quality in the last decade, and they are typically sold at moderate price points. The zesty, high acid whites and the lighter bodied reds pair well with food. In addition, they offer a unique alternative to consumers looking to broaden their palates. But with more than 300 indigenous grape varieties and a host of international varieties, Greek wine lists can be difficult to navigate. Zinelis offers up some useful advice:A lot of the top restaurants have Greek wines on their list, because of the versatility and potential of the wines, and I wouldn’t be surprised if, five to 10 years from now, a lot of small boutique producers could compete with the great wines.

What tips would you offer guests on how to choose Greek wine?

Greek wine has come a long way from the Retsina days. Even Retsina is respectable right now. In the 80s and 90s, most people stayed away from Greek reds because of poor quality, high yields, and they weren’t elegant. Not much complexity, very acidic. But the whites were always capable of standing out. They were more approachable. They had amazing geology and microclimates that helped the grapes succeed. Because Greece is so mountainous, flat areas were used for cultivating food. Anything left over, on the most obscure areas, like cliffs and so forth, was used for planting grapes. It was secondary. Santorini made a splash with the Assyrtiko grape, which you can compare to Sancerre. We also have Moschofilero, which is almost like a dry Muscat or an elegant Pinot grigio, based in the Peloponnese. For reds, there are two main varieties. Aghiorghitiko, based in Neméa and also known as St. George, comes in varying styles depending on altitude and producer, but generally speaking, I think of it like a Sangiovese. And, Xinomavro, which translates to “sour black” with a key area in Naoussa in Northern Greece, very cool climate, I often compare it to an Oregonian-style Pinot noir. Light body and lots of red fruit.

What about International Varietals?

Based on the indigenous varietals, Greek wines don’t always hit certain flavor profiles. In some cases, the spectrum is limited. I find that international varietals help reach all sides of the spectrum. For instance, it’s difficult to get a full-bodied red wine from an indigenous varietal. So one of our most full-bodied wines on our list is a Syrah, from Domaine Nerantzi, a biodymic producer. We are the only restaurant in New York City that pour it by the glass.

Why are you excited about Greek wines?

Quality has increased, a lot of people trained in France and Italy and came back and are doing amazing things with it. Most of the ingredients on our menu come from Greece, and the wines have developed to complement the food of the region. Greece offers a lot of crisp, light, fresh whites. Most of the Greek fare is light, and the reds run on the lighter side too, which complements the food. Some guests come to Nerai only wanting to taste Greek wines. That guest opens the door for an adventure.

Some wines fall into a category you call, “Ancient World” style?

When guests ask if a wine is New World or Old World, I find myself explaining it as Ancient World because it draws characteristics from both. Some of the wines are very fruit forward, with huge bouquets, but then again they have that dusty, terrior-driven essence to them so it’s a combination of both worlds. I find it not only in Greek wines, but some of the Southern Italian wines from Sicily or Puglia, or even Lebanon. They are very unique.

How has the financial crisis affected Greek wines?

The Greek financial crisis has tightened up the market. The international market has helped the Greek wine market sustain itself. Within Greece, people drink table wine.

Producers are becoming more experimental, utilizing their land to the fullest extent. And like any growing wine region, people are realizing what is really working, and what’s not. But there are a lot of areas and microclimates that need researching.

How do you see the future of Greek wine progressing?

A lot of the top restaurants have Greek wines on their list, because of the versatility and potential of the wines, and I wouldn’t be surprised if, five to 10 years from now, a lot of small boutique producers could compete with the great wines. There are a couple producers right now in the southern part of Crete. We have a 1999 Domaine Economo. They have a white and a red, using indigenous Crete varietals. It’s a movement we are living in. From 10 years ago, it’s day and night. The whites have improved and the reds have come leaps and bounds.

What do you like to drink?

Besides enjoying Greek wines, I love St. Laurent from Austria, Pinot noirs from Russian River. I enjoy their elegance without overwhelming my palate. When I go out, Negronis, Manhattans, and single malts from Speyside are my go-to.

Zinelis offered tips on food and wine/spirits Pairing. He was kind enough to humor my sweet tooth, which inspired some intriguing and delectable dessert and spirits options.

Char-grilled Spanish octopus, served on chickpea salad with capers, red pepper, and onion.

A dry crisp wine like Assyrtiko would be great but a better pairing is a Zafeirakis Malagousia 2011 from a North Central area of Greece. It’s got a little more body than the Assyrtiko, less angular, very rich with lemon and citrus notes. With the char it’s outstanding. If the body of the wine isn’t heavy enough, you might not appreciate the octopus as much, because octopus is fleshier.

Lavender mousse, a lavender infused yogurt with pineapple carpaccio, lavender honey and caramelized pecans.

Paired with: A chilled glass of Mastika

The mastic tree is a low growing shrub indigenous to the island of Chios, only in the Southern part of this island. It’s an AOC of medieval villages. They make cuts along the bark. During the spring, sap raises and tears come out of the trunk. It’s gummy, piney, and aromatic, almost like vanilla. The biggest tears are considered the highest quality, and they’re used for distilled spirits, which is what Mastika is. The smaller ones are crystallized and used for baking, soap, bubblegum. With the lavender, the pairing would be excellent.

Saragliare hand-rolled baklava (wrapped all the way around as opposed to baklava cut into pieces) with almond and pistachio.

Paired with: Rakomelo

Rakomelo is Greek grappa infused with cinnamon and honey. It doesn’t have the jet propulsion alcohol levels of other grappa, it comes in around 24 percent. The cinnamon and honey already baked into the baklava would be a nice marriage. It’s very popular on the island of Crete. It’s served warm in the winter, otherwise room temperature.

Additional featured wines at Nerai:

Domaine Nerantzi Syrah, Serres, 2008. With only 1800 bottles produced annually, it’s not readily available elsewhere. This wine fits Zinelis’ “Ancient World Style,” an aromatic blend of ripe fruit and earthiness. Elegant and balanced.

Domaine Skouras Moschofilero, Salto, 2012. A sophisticated example of this grape variety, with citrus, floral notes, salinity, and a little desirable funk from the wild yeast fermentation.


Best teacher in the world Andria Zafirakou: ‘Build trust with your kids – then everything else can happen’

A ndria Zafirakou has been functioning on three hours’ sleep a night for weeks, but looks radiant. “It’s adrenaline, it’s excitement, it’s everything.” Nominated by current and former colleagues for the Varkey Foundation’s annual Global Teacher prize, dubbed the Nobel for teaching, last month Zafirakou learned she had been shortlisted from a field of more than 30,000 entries. She flew out to Dubai last week to join nine other finalists from all over the world for a star-studded awards ceremony hosted by Trevor Noah, and arrived home on Wednesday the winner of the $1m prize. The nominees were judged on, among other things, the progress made by pupils, achievements outside the classroom and in helping children become “global citizens”.

Politicians and dignitaries, the media and 100 of her schoolchildren were waiting to welcome her at Heathrow, from where she was whisked straight to parliament to meet Theresa May. The prime minister and education secretary’s praise for the arts and textiles teacher could not have been more lavish she is, declared Damian Hinds, “truly inspiring”.

Zafirakou still hasn’t made it home to Brent, north-west London, when we meet later that day. The 39-year-old has the dazed air of a woman who barely recognises herself as she stares at her photo on the front of London’s Evening Standard. “My whole life has been transformed,” she laughs breathlessly. Amid all the wonderment of her fairytale week, however, there is one obvious irony. Had Zafirakou prioritised the targets the government sets for her profession, and focused all her energies on its official performance measures, she would never have been considered for the award. She won, instead, by being the kind of teacher our education system actively discourages.

Zafirakou has spent her 12-year career at Alperton Community secondary school in Brent, teaching some of the most disadvantaged, ethnically diverse children in the country. She suspects most of us couldn’t “have a clue” about the depth of deprivation she sees in her classroom every day. “This is what deprivation looks like. Deprivation is when you have got six or seven separate families living in one house, sleeping one family to a room, sharing one bathroom and rotating the use of the kitchen. I had a girl who was truanting in my class, so I investigated and found it was because she had to go home during the middle of my lesson and cook for her family because that was their slot on the rota.” Children routinely arrive at school hungry and dirty – “I’ve put clothes in the washing machine for the kids, and we provide a free breakfast to every child” – while gang violence haunts the school gates.

These are the very conditions that put so many people off teaching, but when I ask if she wouldn’t rather teach orderly, motivated pupils, she looks amused. “Bor-ing! No, I love trying to figure out: how can I get in to that child? How can I get them to trust me and how can I help them? Trying to figure out, right, OK, that didn’t work, what do I need to try now? I love that.”

Zafirakou accepting the award in Dubai from the city’s ruler, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid al Maktoum. Photograph: Jon Gambrell/AP

To that end, Zafirakou taught herself phrases in many of the 35 languages spoken by her pupils. She set up a female cricket club for girls from conservative faith backgrounds, and rescheduled after-school clubs, so that children burdened with domestic duties all week could attend at weekends. She uses art to unlock pupils’ creativity and confidence, visits their homes to understand their family lives, and personally escorts them off the school premises on to buses at the end of the day, to protect them from violence. Her school teaches mindfulness, offers yoga classes, runs a boxing club, and is ranked in the top 1 to 5% of all schools in the UK for improving children’s achievement.

This approach is the opposite of the prevailing educational wisdom, famously pioneered by Mossbourne Academy in Hackney, east London, that what kids like those in Zafirakou’s class need is not silly ideas about freedom and creativity, but old-fashioned structure, discipline and academic rigour. Once ministers saw Mossbourne’s tough regime get children from council estates into Oxbridge, politicians in all parties deduced that the real problem wasn’t poverty, but “poverty of expectations”. This consenus allowed Michael Gove to rewrite the national curriculum in his own childhood’s elite private school image, ditching subjects such as drama for Latin and grammar, all in the name of egalitarianism. If the Mossbourne model works, why does Zafirakou take such a radically different approach?

“How will those children deal with the mental health issues that they’re going to get from that system? It’s like a conveyor belt of stress,” she challenges. “How are those children going to be able to nourish themselves, and find ways of letting their anxieties out, or just being happy, being creative – socialising and building skills of resilience or perseverance?” Brent does have schools modelled on Mossbourne, she says, “and parents are withdrawing their children and putting them into our school”.

To prioritise extracurricular clubs and pastoral care would strike some educationalists as a well-meant but misguided disservice to children perfectly capable of academic excellence, if only they were pushed instead of patronised.

“I have no problem with expecting the same from these kids as we do of kids from Eton. No problem. But did these kids have a breakfast in the morning? Did these kids watch their mum and dad beating each other up? So for me, a success for some of our children is: ‘He came into school, oh my God, he came into school.’ It’s great to say every child should have the same potential, but you need to know the personal background and the lives of your children, and how different and complex they are.”

Zafirakou takes great exception to the popular view that multiculturalism is at best a big problem, at worst, a dangerously failed experiment, and that immigrant children will never integrate if schools accommodate their different cultural identities. “When they come into this huge, intimidating building, if you say to them ‘namaste’ or ‘vanakkam’, you see their faces light up. It means that you get them, that you’re interested in them, that you are welcoming them, and that you appreciate their identity, their background – and they glow. Then what happens there, you’ve got complete and utter engagement from the parents. They will come in whenever you want them. We have a 95% minimum turnout for parents’ evenings.”

She applies the same principle to her lessons, introducing immigrant pupils to the great art of their birth country, rather than to the white European classics Gove wanted every child to study. “Kids won’t engage with that,” she says simply. “So first of all, connect them with their identity, their own history, their own culture. Show them what it’s about and how you can celebrate it. Then you have a sense of pride. Once you have that pride, then you can say: ‘This is what happened in the Renaissance’ ‘This is impressionism’.”

As the government wants schools to perform best in Stem subjects (science, technology, engineering and maths), and has excluded some arts subjects from the league tables, a lot of schools have given up teaching the arts altogether. When budgets are being cut, to spend money teaching GCSE drama, say, could be considered an unnecessary extravagance. Zarifakou’s weary smile suggests this is not the first time this has been put to her.

A sign outside Zafirakou’s Alperton community school celebrating her nomination. Photograph: Ray Tang/REX/Shutterstock

“Isn’t it funny that if you go to a private school, the parents will not tolerate their children not doing an art, not taking up a musical instrument, because they understand how important it is to be a child that has got many skills and these subjects build life skills? They help children communicate. They help them establish their own characters. They help to really challenge them and take them out of their comfort zones, because they’ve got to solve problems with these subjects. So the social skills you build up with them, being able to talk about your work confidently, being able to evaluate a piece of work, being able to talk about a role-play and completely break down a role-play – they are life skills. They are absolutely life skills that every child needs.”

Zarifakou always knew she would be an art teacher. “It wasn’t even a choice. Even from when I was at primary school my parents used to get complaints from my teachers saying: ‘She’s just so bossy, she tells us what to do.’ It was a vocation. I just knew.” Born in north-west London to Greek-Cypriot parents, and state-educated in Brent and Camden, she was promoted to deputy head of art within a year at Alperton, and is now associate deputy school head. Married to a fitness instructor, with two daughters aged 7 and 9, she is at work every morning by 7.30am, leaves at 5.30pm if lucky, often much later, and starts work again at home once the kids are in bed. “I don’t watch TV. I don’t ever even go into my living room. Even in my lunch, I’m working. The only time I break is when I’m in my bed.”

I tell her that while she was away in Dubai, a report on teachers’ pay was published. The average teacher earns £17.70 an hour. “See, that’s disgusting,” she says with feeling. When I ask what she would change if she were education secretary for a day, though, she doesn’t mention money, but proposes the introduction of a reward system of praise and appreciation for teachers, to acknowledge the extraordinary work they do.


By Andreas Petroulakis | September 19th, 2017

Τhe power of those journalists who are political cartoonists lies in the establishment of a specific code of communication with part of the public. It takes time and hard work to develop that code and to give it stability, but once it’s in place the results are easily comprehensible and reception is traightforward and therefore powerful. The success of that reception, however, rests on a few fundamental presuppositions.

The language in which we cartoonists converse with our public is enigmatic, laconic, full of allusions and, we hope, witty. Our communication with the reader is instantaneous, the fruit of an everyday moment, and yet there is always the danger that it will be overlooked that the message won’t get through. Only a particular sort of reader will luxuriate over a daily cartoon, examine it in detail and invest time in solving the riddle the cartoonist is posing (particularly if it’s trickier than usual).

Most people love cartoons for their immediacy they want a cartoon to be easy to understand. They enjoy being surprised by it in a passive sort of way – and if all these conditions aren’t fulfilled, they abandon it. If their expectations are met, however, the cartoon can become unstoppable, a way for the public to express itself, a common trope. Then it becomes a language with unspeakable power.

Cartoon by Elias Makris for Kathimerini Cartoon by Elias Makris for Kathimerini

A cartoonist gives the news back to the reader as a funny image, a subversive point of view, a satiric commentary. He does this in a way that must be clear and uncomplicated, as easily intelligible as possible, but not in an explanatory fashion. It’s like when someone tells you a joke: if they have to explain it to you, the joke doesn’t work. The cartoonist should never write more than the drawing requires he counts his words like a poet, because otherwise he runs the risk of the cartoon going soft. Comprehension is key in our work – not explanation.

Let’s pause for a moment on the term “reader.” It’s a trap for a journalist to imagine or invent a particular sort of reader, one who agrees with his own views, and to try to cultivate a consistent, steady relationship with him, in the belief that both parties will be mutually satisfied by that identification. This sort of imagined reader will lead him astray.

As we all know, a reader isn’t a collective subject therefore, it’s impossible for him to desire any particular thing. For each person who agrees with your opinion, there is another who disagrees. Meanwhile, society is more divided than ever before, with no-go areas, fanaticisms and unlikely alliances. So which reader are we talking about? The Everyman who reads the newspaper which is to say, a public that presumably shares similar political views and perhaps also cultural references?

But every journalist’s ambition, particularly in the internet age, is to have the widest possible audience and not to be defined by the profile of the presumed average reader of the medium in which he works. This is even more the case for a cartoonist who strongly believes that a sense of humor has no limits – that, if you find the key, your work will spread and be welcomed, even by parts of the population that don’t agree with your political views.

Cartoon by Dimitris Hantzopoulos for Kathimerini Cartoon by Dimitris Hantzopoulos for Kathimerini

A cartoon reflects the talent of the cartoonist, his sensitivities, his education, his aesthetics, his hard work and his instincts. The reader chooses to follow the cartoonist or cartoonists who suit him. The relationship that is forged between them over time is usually a tacit one, testified to by sharing on social media or over email, or mentions during phone calls.

On those rare occasions when we happen to meet our readers face-to-face, we realize that each of us has a readership that isn’t limited by party positions, a readership in which our efforts find a response, as does our sense of humor, our perspective, our knowledge and the aesthetics that are implicit in our cartoons. A cartoonist is closely tied to this readership, not as regards their respective political views, which can change and shouldn’t in any case be allowed to ensnare us, but as concerns a certain cultural plane and a shared taste. This is the segment of society over which the cartoonist has influence, and it is in this audience that he finds himself reflected.

Cartoon by Andreas Petroulakis for Kathimerini. Cartoon by Andreas Petroulakis for Kathimerini.

A political cartoonist should never allow himself to be paternalistic or didactic. It is against the nature of his work to try to give lessons to society – he wants to make people laugh. But that laughter always springs from a sense of some political lack, contradiction, mistake, inconsistency or subversion. Therefore, the only way for him to operate is to make his own political and personal views his starting point.

If, instead, he makes it his goal to flatter what we call common sentiment, his work will be cheapened over time and will eventually betray him. Common sentiment is, in my opinion, often just what shouts the loudest. If cartoonists allow themselves to begin catering to it, they soon find themselves simply hopping from trend to trend, losing their unique identities and becoming playthings of the merciless stream of current events.

Adherence to one’s own values and beliefs should be a cartoonist’s constant guide, while the antenna of his sensitivity to social injustice should always remain raised. The dangers of populism and simplicity on the one hand and of elitism and self-isolation on the other are always there – we journalists have to keep in mind that we are neither union leaders responsible for representing a particular public nor novelists who are allowed the luxury of departing from reality. The power of our work – autonomous, unprejudiced, and mature – arises from the reasonable balance each of us must discover.

Cartoon by Andreas Petroulakis for Kathimerini Cartoon by Andreas Petroulakis for Kathimerini

A cartoonist is constantly judged because he is entirely exposed. His readership may not know what he looks like, but the faces in his drawings are familiar and reflect him with precision. No one who addresses himself to the public for years can keep his intentions hidden, or his cultural or educational background, or his talent and its limitations.

For many, political views play a secondary role in how they view a journalist – they pay more attention to the quality, the honesty, the openness and the validity of the weapons he uses to defend his position. Cartoonists, like all journalists who practice the satiric arts, have one great advantage: humor. Humor can become the passport that allows us to enter whatever political and social space hasn’t already been closed off by prejudgment.

If one believes that mature individuals have the ability to make fun of themselves, then they can easily accept the satire of a third party and laugh along with him. This is the greatest strength of the work of the political cartoonist: to break down society’s ideological and political walls, and to send his little inky people everywhere.

Andreas Petroulakis is a prominent Greek political cartoonist. Self-taught, he started his career in 1985 and has been working for the newspaper Kathimerini since 2000.


Now and Jen

In a no-holds-barred interview with Jennifer Aniston, funnywoman Amy Sedaris captures the quirkier side of everyone&rsquos favorite friend.

Thanks to her hilarious performances in Office Christmas Party, the Horrible Bosses movies and the cult-favorite Office Space, Jennifer Aniston has earned a reputation as one of Hollywood&rsquos queens of dark comedy. Enter comedian and actress Amy Sedaris for what should have been a straightforward chat with Aniston about her upcoming film project, her latest fragrance (Jennifer Aniston Luxe), and passion for interior design, and things take a slightly twisted turn. Just as she does with the unsuspecting guests on her new show, At Home With Amy Sedaris, premiering this month on truTV, Sedaris deftly steered the talk to bedbugs, seeing ghosts, and the joys of being Greek.

AMY SEDARIS: Jennifer Aniston!

JENNIFER ANISTON: Amy Sedaris!

AS: I think of you as my sister-in-law because you&rsquore married to Justin [Theroux], an old good friend of mine. You took him from New York, and it&rsquos fun to see him so in love and happy.

JA: A brother from another mother&mdashthat warms my heart.

AS: I&rsquove been a big fan of yours for so long. I&rsquom always happy when I&rsquom watching a movie and you pop in. One that took me a long time to watch was Marley & Me because you know how sad it&rsquos going to be, but you made that movie. And Cake, it must have been a drag to get into the head space of playing someone so addicted to pain medication. I just love the scene when you have to lie down in the car.

JA: It was, but I was so deeply in love with that character. It was a fascinating experiment as an actor because you don&rsquot always get those opportunities if you&rsquore seen in a certain light.

AS: Comedy&mdashyou&rsquove got it. It must be great to branch out into roles like that and The Good Girl, where you&rsquore willing to look unglamorous. Now you&rsquore going to do a show with Reese Witherspoon. Are you excited about going back to TV?

JA: Always. Lately all the great work has been on television. Reese was my little sister on Friends. She had just given birth to Ava, who&rsquos 18 now, so it was like, &ldquoOh, my God, a baby with a baby!&rdquo [Laughs]

AS: I like that TV feels more intimate. It takes a lot for me to go to a movie now. You have to sit so long before the movie even starts, and then everyone starts talking about bedbugs. [Laughs]

JA: Bedbugs&mdashoh, my! The kind of wonderful nostalgia of going to a movie on a date on a Friday night unfortunately has gone, it seems. Everyone is so addicted to their damn phone. Kids are watching movies on their phones or a computer. It&rsquos sad to see the filmmaker&rsquos and everyone&rsquos hard work diminished down to a computer screen. But it is fun to sit in bed and binge-watch. You can just dive through them like an eating disorder. [Laughs]

AS: So true. There are certain shows that aren&rsquot even good and you&rsquore still binge-watching. But sometimes, especially when you finish a project, you need to mentally go down a rabbit hole. I heard that Jason Bateman&rsquos Ozark is really good.

JA: That&rsquos my current binge. It&rsquos brilliant, he&rsquos fantastic in it.

AS: At your wedding, I pimped Jason to say something, and it was so nice what he had to say. Everything about that wedding was perfect. Everyone was dressed like a bunch of woodland creatures, and your dress looked so beautiful and breezy. Justin asked me to be his best man two days before, and I was really scared. Jimmy Kimmel [who officiated at the nuptials] said, &ldquoAmy, you have one job: Just hand me the rings separately.&rdquo Of course, I handed both to him. [Laughs]

JA: It&rsquos funny, I just gave Justin our edited video of the wedding for our anniversary, and it was fun to revisit it.

AS: Justin says we met for the first time at Marion&rsquos in New York, where I used to wait tables, but I don&rsquot remember waiting on him. I know I met him through Phil [Seymour] Hoffman, and we clicked instantly. Justin&rsquos so talented, and he has a good mind. We both think really fast.

JA: You&rsquore surely one of his sisters from another mister. [Laughs]

AS: When you guys started dating, I didn&rsquot know you, but I was like, &ldquoI can see it, Justin. You don&rsquot have to tell me anything about her.&rdquo I love what you did to his apartment in New York, and I love that you&rsquore interested in buildings and their history. Does renovating stress you out?

JA: I love it. I&rsquom getting antsy to do another project. It&rsquos a hell of an expensive hobby, though. If I wasn&rsquot acting, I would do that full-time: the process of seeing it, having the vision, then collecting the team of people who will execute that vision. I enjoy walking into a house that&rsquos been taken down to the studs.

AS: Studs terrify me.

JA: You should have seen Justin. We walked in one day after they&rsquod been doing the demo, and he was like, &ldquoHoly shit. What are we doing?&rdquo And I was like, &ldquoWe&rsquore redoing the house, babe. We gotta take the wall down to put up a nicer one.&rdquo

AS: Did you ever have to de-spook a house?

JA: It&rsquos funny you ask. One of the first houses I rented was in Laurel Canyon, and things would literally fall off the shelves, the televisions and stereo system would all of a sudden blast, and the coffeemaker would start making coffee. My roommate at the time, who talked to dead people, if that doesn&rsquot sound too crazy, did a little ceremony, and that freaked me out. I was new to Los Angeles and the spirit, past lives, New Age thing. And now every house I go to, I have a healer or a medium come through. This makes me sound like an absolute insane human being. [Laughs]

&ldquoEveryone is so addicted to their damn phone. It&rsquos sad to see the filmmaker&rsquos work diminished down to a computer screen.&rdquo

AS: How did you and Justin come together on decorating?

JA: They say building houses can make or break a couple. I was so used to doing it on my own, and there were moments when I was like, &ldquoDon&rsquot say no so fast.&rdquo I have this dialogue with my interior designer where I&rsquoll go: &ldquoNo. Hate it. Move. Next.&rdquo That can sound a little abrupt, so I had to retool my attitude a bit. It wasn&rsquot very hard because he loved whatever I brought to him.

AS: Was your mom or your dad into interior design?

JA: We were broke, so my mom and dad would go to thrift places and antiques stores and find these jewels. My dad would strip the paint, and underneath would be a gorgeous old wooden cabinet with leaded glass. It was important for my mom aesthetically to have a beautiful space even though we couldn&rsquot afford expensive furniture. Even in my 20s as a struggling waitress, I knew how to make whatever rental I was in into a pretty home. My mom also taught me about being a proper hostess and always having some noshes and drinks for guests.

AS: You guys are both very welcoming there&rsquos always food, and you&rsquove got drinks. I love the habit of you leaving the refrigerator door open.

JA: I love to entertain. And I love the sound of people enjoying themselves.

AS: I hear you have a new fragrance? I wear Comme des Garçons Incense, then I mix it with a little vanilla and a little bit of Italian patchouli. I think it would be hard to bottle something.

JA: There&rsquos a whole art of perfume-making. Like the group they call the nose. This feels clichéd, but they happen to be Frenchmen with noses that are very sensitive to smell. You&rsquore like an alchemist. There was this oil, hair serum, and candle that I love, and it was fun to bring those scents together. I also came up with the idea of making my friend Andrea&rsquos wedding-day fragrance. By the way, did you watch the finale of The Bachelorette?

AS: I don&rsquot watch it.

JA: You&rsquore so way ahead of us. [Laughs] Good girl. Anyway, I found this antique perfume bottle and essential oils, and at Andrea&rsquos bachelorette weekend, 12 girls put in drops and made a beautiful intention, prayers, and wishes. You could never re-create it.

AS: What&rsquos the main note in your fragrance?

JA: There&rsquos wood, smokier notes, and some citrusy, lavender, floral-y scents. I like to ground it all up, as some perfumes can suffocate. When you get into an elevator or someone hugs you and you smell like them, it&rsquos the worst.

AS: I wish I could smell like a Greek bakery and gasoline. [Laughs]

JA: I love the smell of acrylic nails. [Laughs] We were talking about the nails of the character I am playing in a movie called Dumplin', and she&rsquos got to have these horrible French tipped nails. So we were trying out different ones, and I loved the smell.

AS: Do you wear nail polish a lot?

JA: I usually just buff my nails. I don&rsquot have the patience to let my nails dry. When Justin proposed he put that freaking ring on my finger, and I was like, &ldquoHoly crap, now I&rsquom gonna have to get manicures.&rdquo [Laughs]

AS: We&rsquove talked about tanning before, and you said you had a friend who swore if you use Coca-Cola on your skin it gets really dark?

JA: Yes, baby oil and Coca-Cola, or some weird combination. Being Greek, we love our tanning, but I&rsquove been on hiatus. And I miss it. It brought me a lot of happiness being able to lay out there and get that vitamin D, but I&rsquove become very comfortable with a good spray tan.

AS: I&rsquom going to the beach for vacation, and we have a tanning contest every year. I&rsquom gonna run for it and make it my last summer. I like people who know how to tan, when to flip, and how to get the inside of your leg. I swear there&rsquos a real skill to it.

JA: Your skin is like no other. You must have Greek in you.

AS: My dad&rsquos Greek, my mom wasn&rsquot.

JA: Mine too. And if you make this your last tanning hurrah, you have to document it. I&rsquoll be very excited to watch that progression. I want you to win. I don&rsquot like losers. [Laughs]

AS: You have to prevent the sun from getting on your face with that lotion, what do you call that?

JA: [Laughs] Sunscreen?

AS: Sunscreen? What&rsquos that? This is something new. I just don&rsquot like the feel of it.

JA: I hate it. I&rsquove been experimenting with ones that don&rsquot make you look like you have Kabuki makeup on or like a corpse. I understand we&rsquore saving our skin, but they gotta figure that stuff out. Who wants to be in the sun and not look cute?

AS: Baby steps.

JA: And, of course, Aveeno. Aveeno. Aveeno. It&rsquos in my car, my bag, my dresser, everywhere around the house.

AS: When I was 12, I had a dry patch on my face, and the doctor told my mom I&rsquom supposed to apply Jergens lotion to my face and body every night. Now when I go home I always do spa night and give everyone a facial.

JA: You do? I want you to give me a facial!

JA: Next time we come to New York, instead of a crafty night, what do you call it? Crafty bitches? [Laughs]

AS: Crafty beavers.

JA: And I expect you to take the facial very seriously. [Laughs]

&ldquoThey say building houses can make or break a couple. I had to retool my attitude a bit.&rdquo

AS: A few of my friends had questions for you. One wanted to know, when you get your hair done at the salon, are you able to maintain it yourself?

JA: It&rsquos the curse of [hairstylist] Chris McMillan. Everybody leaves going, &ldquoThis is the best haircut ever.&rdquo Then you wash it and go, &ldquoOh, God, what is this?&rdquo I need him in order for my hair not to turn into a Greek fuzz fur ball. [Laughs] What other questions do you have from your friends?

AS: They wanted to know what your vitamin regimen was. I know that you and Justin take vitamins.

JA: Vitamins. Vitamins. Vitamins. I take a lot of vitamins, I&rsquom not going to lie. It changes all the time because someone will say, &ldquoOh, my God, you don&rsquot take activated charcoal?&rdquo Then you go down a Googling hole to understand the benefits of that, or turmeric or dandelion for water retention. Now I&rsquom doing apple cider vinegar in the morning.

AS: Watch one episode of Dr. Oz and your counter is full of stuff you never take.

JA: I can&rsquot keep up. My dream is to open a wellness center. I have a fantasy where you have this beautiful space with facialists, rotating workouts, meditation classes, and a café with recipes that are healthier versions of delicious foods so you&rsquore not deprived. I&rsquom working on it in my brain. Not to sound all woo-woo, but if you go out into the world with inner peace, you&rsquore more joyful. There&rsquos a life&rsquos-too-short policy that I now have with my work no negative Nancies. So I&rsquom looking forward to my facial.

AS: Oh, boy. Oh, no, I&rsquod be so nervous. One time I put a mask on Phil [Hoffman] and his face turned 10 shades of red. So I slapped on a cucumber mask and was like, &ldquoIt&rsquos supposed to look that way.&rdquo [Laughs]

JA: That happened to me recently. I had a facial and woke up later with what looked like cystic teenage acne. It was an intense thing to look at Justin&rsquos face. He was like, &ldquoWhat is happening?&rdquo

AS: Well, it was so nice talking to you. Give Justin a big smooch.

JA: You too, my darling. Ame, I&rsquom so glad we got to do this. I can&rsquot even believe that was an interview. I felt like that was just a good conversation with a girlfriend.

This article originally appears in the October issue of Harper's Bazaar, available on newsstands September 26.


On Greek Stage, Another Papandreou

A statue of Harry Truman that was sawed off at the ankles here during the American intervention in Kosovo still has not been restored -- and may not be. ''We don't know what he looked like,'' Americans pressing for repairs were told.

Such anti-American feeling remains palpable here, nearly 30 years after the demise of an American-supported military dictatorship. But there is one sign that this may be finally changing: The most popular politician in the country today is American born, Amherst-educated and surrounded by a coterie of Greek-American advisers, some of whom speak English only. In his off-hours, he's a gym rat in a culture that does not embrace sweat he caused a stir in a downtown health club recently just by showing up.

Of course that politician, Foreign Minister George A. Papandreou, is also the son of a prime minister, Andreas Papandreou, and the grandson of another, also George Papandreou. And the foreign minister is someone who could hardly be associated with the American policies that Greeks have not forgotten caused such suffering.

When he was 15, soldiers overthrowing the government broke into his home, held a gun to his throat and demanded to know where his father was hiding. For years, his family was in exile.

These days, American diplomats see Mr. Papandreou, whose mother is American, as a miracle antidote to the anti-American passions that his father, Andreas, made a career of inflaming. He has been one of the few politicians to speak out forcefully against anti-Western terrorism.

But the real proof of his success is that few Greeks seem to hold his gushing American admirers against him. On the contrary, Mr. Papandreou, 49, seems to have the unlikely problem of having become too popular at what he considers the wrong time, and he is actively campaigning to avoid becoming prime minister.

An aide to the foreign minister made this clear when he responded to a request for an interview with the foreign minister by demanding novel assurances -- in essence, that the story would not be too positive.

''If this were to put him forward as a future prime minister,'' the aide said, point blank, ''we would not be interested in doing it.''

A smooch in print from a big American newspaper is still something of a mixed blessing here. But more generally, Mr. Papandreou is doing all he can to avoid being drafted for the top job. When asked about beating a strategic retreat, Mr. Papandreou acknowledged it. ''It's obviously an honor to have a lot of support,'' he said, 'ɻut it's not an opportune moment.''

Greek voters are grouchy just now -- over crime, immigration and a recent stock market crash. They are certainly down on Mr. Papandreou's party, the Panhellenic Socialist Movement, known as PASOK -- which has chalked up a series of failures since winning last year's elections by a tiny margin.

Party hard-liners in the mold of Andreas Papandreou, a party founder, who died in 1996, have delayed pension reform in a country where it is possible to make more money in retirement than at work, and the government has found no takers for the struggling Olympic Airways.

But in his two and a half years as foreign minister, Mr. Papandreou has engineered a series of foreign policy triumphs like improving relations with Turkey and providing early support to Serbian democrats, actions that were all the more striking because they moved Greek public opinion rather than reacting to it. He has made Greece a much more active partner in the European Union.

And he is seen as the future of his party. Dimitris Keridis, director of the Kokkalis Foundation, which focuses on regional cooperation, said Mr. Papandreou '⟊n unite the two wings of the party like no one else,'' and '⟊n combine the tradition of his family name with reform.''

The current party leader and prime minister, Costas Simitis, has called a party congress for October, where delegates will vote whether to keep him as party leader and in effect, as prime minister. And though Mr. Simitis is expected to hang onto his job for now, that is hardly the end of the matter.

''The old left has finally realized that if they bring Simitis down, Papandreou will kick them out in a minute,'' said Dimitri Mitropoulos, a political columnist for Ta Nea. ''So now they're trying to keep Simitis in, but weakened.''

He added that Mr. Papandreou is ''trying to avoid being catapulted into power, because he would go in with a weak mandate.'' But the rank-and-file may demand it, he said, feeling he is necessary to winning the next elections, in two or three years.

American politicians tend to think there is no bad time to take office. And the concept of passing up even a decent shot at the top job may seem particularly exotic after the presidential election in November when the feeling in both camps was pretty much ''mandate, schmandate.'' But no one here seems to think Mr. Papandreou is just playing coy.

''I've said no'' to those pressing him to challenge Mr. Simitis, he said. ''I think I'm doing important things now, then later we'll see.''

Meanwhile, at the Foreign Ministry, as one Western diplomat put it, ''they are wigging out, trying to figure out how to calibrate'' the rather sudden rise of a soft-spoken man who spent years in junior ministerial posts.

He was written off by nearly everyone but his ambitious mother as a lightweight who spent an odd amount of time in the gym. Mr. Papandreou himself, however, is neither wigging out nor expected to in this lifetime.

In a long interview in his office, Mr. Papandreou was so mild, just back from a holiday in Crete, that it was easy to see both how political opponents could misjudge him and how effective he could be at defusing even ancient passions.

He was born in Minnesota, grew up in California and was back in Greece in high school when the junta took over and he had to leave again. And having lived so many years in between cultures helped his understanding of the world, he said.

As education minister under his father in the mid-90's, he was the first Greek politician of any prominence to promote gay rights and drug treatment, and he tried to decriminalize marijuana. These days, he is leading efforts to improve ethnic tolerance inside Greece, where there are large numbers of Albanians and other new immigrants.

He also gets credit at home for making Greece more of a regional player. ''There is a mature, flexible foreign policy in a country that used to be polarized,'' said Mr. Keridis. ''Now you're talking about interests, and that's a shift he engineered, refusing to play the card of Greek nationalism'' as his father did, for example.

Many Greeks tend to see his centrist politics, '⟊lifornian'' demeanor and serene personal life -- one wife, two children -- as a reaction to his thundering father, who humiliated George's mother by divorcing her to marry a young flight attendant.

But he says no. ''I've been able, hopefully anyway, to go beyond my relationship with my father.''


WASHINGTON TALK: STATE DEPARTMENT Book on Greek Leader Stirs Diplomatic Dispute

It started out last year as a harmless sounding project: a book by American and Greek authors about the administration of Prime Minister Andreas Papandreou of Greece, edited and published by Greek-Americans. But now, two months before publication, the project has created a stir involving the State Department, the Greek Embassy and others associated with it.

The book, ''Greece Under Socialism: A NATO Ally Adrift,'' is scheduled for publication Aug. 30 by Aristide D. Caratzas, Publisher, of New Rochelle, N.Y. It was edited by Nikolaos A. Stavrou, a professor of international affairs and political science at Howard University.

Professor Stavrou and Mr. Caratzas accuse officials of the Papandreou administration of trying to censor a chapter in the book, of trying to intimidate them for refusing to withdraw the chapter and, in one case, of using a racial epithet. Friends in the Greek Government, Mr. Caratzas said, warned both him and Professor Stavrou that warrants would be issued for their arrest if either of them visited Greece.

While acknowledging that he had asked to have the controversial chapter withdrawn, George Papoulias, the Greek Ambassador to the United States, has called the broader accusations ''nonsense.'' Four Greek Contributors

Among the 14 contributors to the book are four Greeks. Matthew Nimetz, a former Under Secretary of State, wrote the introduction, and Robert Pranger, a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for international security, contributed a chapter. But it is the essay of Yannis Kapsis, Deputy Secretary of Foreign Affairs in the Papandreou government, that stirred the controversy.

In response to an invitation from Professor Stavrou, Mr. Kapsis submitted an article last October on the philosophy and goals of Greek foreign policy. At that time the book's working title was ''PASOK in Power: A Critical Analysis of Its Domestic and Foreign Policies.'' PASOK is the acronym for Mr. Papandreou's governing party, the Panhellenic Socialist Movement.

While editing the manuscript, however, Professor Stavrou changed the title of the book to ''Greece Under Socialism: The Rise, Policies and Decline of Andreas Papandreou.'' When he finished editing it he changed the subtitle again to 'ɺ NATO Ally Adrift,'' which he said more accurately reflects the book's contents.

But last December, when the book still bore the first subtitle - that is, ''The Rise, Policies and Decline of Andreas Papandreou'' - Ambassador Papoulias said in a letter to Professor Stavrou that Mr. Kapsis wished to withdraw his article. The reason, he said, was that the subtitle suggested 'ɺ biased and unobjective context.'' A Question of Credibility

Professor Stavrou refused, saying that the project was already too far along and that any suggestion of bias and lack of objectivity ''touches upon my credibility as a scholar and upon the credibility of internationally known contributors.''

In an interview, Professor Stavrou, who was born in Greece but who has lived in the United States for more than 30 years and is an American citizen, said he would have withheld the article if Mr. Kapsis or Ambassador Papoulias had said only that they wished to withdraw it. 'ɻut I couldn't withdraw it after they said the book is subjective, before they read a single line of it,'' the professor added.

Ambassador Papoulias said in a telephone interview that Mr. Kapsis contributed the article in good faith, and demurred after he learned that the planned subtitle talked about the '𧷬line'' of Mr. Papandreou.

''It's very improper for a high government official to be led to contribute to a book about the decline of the government he is serving,'' the Ambassador said. He also said he had talked by telephone with the publisher and the editor ''to try to make them understand it was unfair'' to include Mr. Kapsis's article in the book. Subtitle Changes Defended

Professor Stavrou said the subtitle under which the book would now be published was not chosen to mollify or accommodate the Greek Government, any more than the previous subtitle was intended to rile it.

''It is not unusual for a book to have one or more working titles right through the editing process,'' he said. 'ɺnd after I read the contributions in their entirety, it was clear that Papandreou is still popular, although the popularity of his party is declining. The new subtitle is meant to reflect the book's contents.''

Mr. Nimetz, the former State Department official, said he was unaware of any pressure from the Greek Government. ''No one has approached me in any way,'' he said. But he added that he did not find any of the book's essays particularly controversial. ''The book is an attempt to be descriptive, which is hard to do about a government that's still in power,'' he said, 'ɻut I can't see much for anybody to object to.''

Robert Pranger, now a research fellow at the University of Maryland, also said the book was not polemical. ''It's a very straightforward book, not meant to excite,'' he said. Opponent of Greek Junta

Mr. Pranger added that he found the apparent animosity between Professor Stavrou and the Papandreou government ironic in view of past events. ''Stavrou in the ❠'s was an outspoken opponent of the Greek junta, like Papandreou,'' Mr. Pranger said. ''When I went to Greece in ➁ and met Papandreou before the election, Nick set up the meeting.''

Mr. Caratzas, the Greek-born publisher of the book, charged that he and Professor Stavrou ''have been subjected to improper and inordinate pressure by the Papandreou government.'' The warning not to come to Greece, for instance, was made by Mr. Kapsis himself, among others, Mr. Caratzas said.

''The Ambassador referred to me as hostile to the democratically elected Greek Government,'' Mr. Caratzas said. ''I wrote to him and said that publishing a book critical in parts of a government doesn't mean that we are enemies.''

Ambassador Papoulias, while saying that Mr. Kapsis was within his rights in asking to withdraw his essay from the book, denied that his Government had tried to harass or intimidate Mr. Stavrou or Mr. Caratzas. ''Mr. Kapsis reserves his rights according to existing legislation in the U.S. or Greece,'' the Ambassador said. 'ɻut that is not a threat - that's his right under the law.'' Racial Slur Protested

The racial incident came about last December when a member of the Greek Embassy press office staff reportedly denounced Professor Stavrou in a gathering, saying: ''Mr. Stavrou - he cannot write books, he can only teach niggers at a most mediocre university.''

Howard University, where Professor Stavrou has taught for two decades, is a predominantly black educational institution. In a letter of protest to Ambassador Papoulias, the chairman of Howard's department of political science, Hilbourne A. Watson, noted that he had learned ''personally'' of the denunciation and said he was ''strongly opposed'' to such an attack on Professor Stavrou.

Meanwhile, Professor Stavrou left this week for the Balkans, including Greece. His visit to his homeland is partly business, he said, because a Greek publisher is negotiating to publish the book. 'ɻut I also intend to test this threat,'' he added. ''I do not intend to let a government harass or intimidate me.''

The State Department has cabled the United States Embassy in Athens to look after Professor Stavrou.


Q&A with Mel Brooks

A: It’s an insane combination of James Bond and Mel Brooks comedy. It has a wonderful fusion and special effects and comedy, which is very rare. Usually, when you get big special effects pictures, sci-fi and things, there’s little or no comedy. Or it’s a domestic comedy and there’s not one special effect – like “Knocked Up.” But very rarely do these things fuse and come out right.

Q: You were able to do it with “Spaceballs.” What’s the trick?

A: I’d say the trick is talent. Andreas Voutsinas said that to me when we were making “The Producers” in 1968 – he played Carmen Ghia, the gay roommate of the very gay director Roger De Bris. I said, “How do these things work, Andreas?” And he said, “Or you got it or you ain’t.” I said, “You’re Greek, Andreas. We don’t start sentences with ‘or’ in America.”

But he was absolutely right. It’s talent. Either you got it or you ain’t. Give someone else the premise of “Blazing Saddles” and you’d probably get only the vulgarity. Only the farting scene. Give it to me and my cohorts and the engine is the prejudice against the black sheriff that drives the movie. So you’ve got to know how to do it.

Q: A lot of your projects have been getting remade recently. Do you go to them or do they come to you?

A: It’s all haphazard. Someone called me up and said, “They’re making a movie of ‘Get Smart.’ ” I said, “Oh, really? What are they going to call it?” They said, “‘Get Smart.’ ” I said, “That was wise.”

Because they did do a movie based on “Get Smart” about 20 years ago called “The Nude Bomb.” I said, “That’s foolish.”

Q: You didn’t have any say in the title?

A: No, not at all. I had nothing to do with it. They never even called me! This one, they called me from Day One. They said, “What do you think of this?” Or “What do you think of that?” And I’d say yay or nay.

It’s got a good director, Peter Segal. Wonderful director. The writers were great. The producers were young and aggressive and smart. But the brilliance is Steve Carell. To choose a guy who’s right in the Don Adams groove. You couldn’t get a better guy than Steve Carell. And yet he doesn’t do Don Adams. He does none of his delivery. He just does Steve Carell.

Q: It seems like the premise is strong enough to have multiple interpretations of Maxwell Smart.

A: It’s the earnest stupidity of organizations like the CIA. I would say honest and earnest stupidity. They want to do a good job. But they don’t hire enough [multicultural people]. They hire too many WASPs and they get too much white-bread thinking.

Q: And this was true back in 1965 as well as today.

A: Exactly! Buck Henry and I thought if we could just get some hip thinking, maybe a borscht belt comic. They didn’t want a back story for Agent 86, but I provided one. I said he works the Buffalo Lodge. And he’s a drummer in the band. And he also does the line, “Good evening ladies and gentlemen, I met a girl who was so skinny, the waiter said ‘Check your umbrella.’ ” They never used that back story. In my mind, I had a more protean, rich background guy. Rather than the Harvard-educated guy. Someone with street smarts.

And that’s the problem today with organizations like the CIA and the FBI.

Q: How do you feel that 40-some years later, the situation hasn’t improved as far as the CIA being out of touch?

A: It’s true. They’re still out of touch. In a strange way, they’re still kind of supermen, kind of SS troops: We’re blond and the best and everyone else should be incinerated. They argue about waterboarding! Is it right to shove water up a person’s nostrils? Or maybe we shouldn’t do it as much. Or maybe we should do half as much water up his nostrils. They just simply don’t see the picture. They don’t know right from wrong. That’s what makes a satire of these government bureaus really funny.

Q: Does “Get Smart” have a fan following in the spy community?

A: I once met somebody from the CIA who said they were very big fans. He said “I work for the Department of Transportation” Then he winked and said, “It’s really CIA.” I said, “OK, OK. Maybe there’s more money in transportation. You should go there.” He said all the CIA guys loved the show. I thought they’d hate it. Maybe they’re smarter than I thought.

Q: Do you want to upset them?

A: No. It’s not important to me what they feel. I’m not mad at them. My job is to go out and entertain the most people possible. The job is to make people laugh. I don’t have a mission. I don’t have a torch to burn. They’re fuel for me. I’m glad they’re dumb. It’s good stuff for me.

Q: When you’re pitching joke ideas to the makers of “Get Smart” is it intimidating for them? Do they humor you and then not use it?

A: That’s normal. That’s part and parcel of our business from day one. Where the powers that be, the producers, say, “Oh, love it, love it, love it.” And then you never see it again.

My son Max Brooks wrote for a couple years on “Saturday Night Live.” He said there were 18 writers, like puppies trying to get to their mother’s teats, trying to get one joke in. And the powers there would say yay or nay. Max had a million great ideas. So three years later, he had a great idea for a book, “The Zombie Surival Guide.” And when he asked whether he could take six weeks off to go on a book tour and he would come back, they said, “No, what do you love your books? Do you love your thoughts? Or do you love ‘SNL’?” And he said, that’s an easy one. And he left and went on his tour and he’s been happy ever since. He’s not one of 18 or 20 writers struggling to get one lousy joke onto a show. It’s awful.

He would sleep with a sleeping bag under the desk at NBC to be available.

Q: Was it like that back in the days when you were a comedy writer?

A: No. There were three of us. Mel Tolkin, Lucille Kallen and Mel Brooks in 1950 and we wrote the Admiral Broadway Revue, the precursor to “Your Show of Shows.” Three of us! With the help, of course, of the producer Sid Caeser.

FOR THE RECORD: An earlier version of this story misspelled Sid Caesar as Sid Ceaser.

Q: Were the hours as grueling?

A: No. We were young and stupid. We just poured our heart out. I don’t know if we worked as many hours as the ‘SNL’ writers. We certainly gave it all we had. The strange thing was, we’d do the show on Saturday and on Saturday afternoon, we’d do a dress rehearsal with an audience to keep whatever we could in the show. The dress rehearsal was at one in the afternoon and it ran for an hour and a half. And then around 3 p.m. we’d begin rewriting the show. And we’d go on again at 7 p.m. and we’d have four hours of nonstop thinking and correcting and writing and rewriting. But we always had a pretty good show.

Q: You produced the 1986 remake of “The Fly” and your son wrote the zombie thriller “World War Z.” Is horror a Brooks family passion?

A: [Max’s] got a lot of comedy in him. But his real passion and love, I guess, is zombies. I’m more of a World War II geek than I am of a horror geek. That’s my avocation. Max is also. Max knows more about German and Russian submarines than anybody alive. The brilliance of Max Brooks is that he always quotes authorities at the back of his books that never existed. Like a Russian professor he made up that validates a story or character. He has maybe 200 “authorities” and he makes every one of them up. That’s so brilliant.

Q: Maxwell Smart’s shoe phone once seemed so ridiculous But now we have cell phones that could easily be shoes.

A: I guess Buck Henry and I actually invented the cell phone. We didn’t know we were doing that. We still haven’t gotten any royalties from that or the Cone of Silence. And I think they did a great job with the Cone of Silence in the movie. They super-teched it.

Q: Were you trying to predict future spy-tech with these gadgets?

A: I don’t know. I stole it from Dick Tracy. I think Dick Tracy had a watch that was a TV watch or a radio watch. And he communicated through this watch. I thought that’s too simple and too nice. Let’s put his communicator device in his shoe. And it worked.

We were very lucky to get Don Adams. Around one season on NBC and they cancelled it. For some reason they couldn’t find a proper replacement. And no one knew about the show, so they threw it on another season. And the second season it caught fire. They kept it for the run, and then in the last year CBS took it over.

Q: How difficult is it to Maxwell Smart stupid?

A: You want to be as smart as you can about being stupid. Peter Segal and the writers respect the audience. And I have always thought there were a lot of people in the audience were smarter than I was. I was watching “Blazing Saddles” with an audience and when they exploded, I thought, these people are as smart as I am. In writing comedy, I’ve never written down. I’ve always written as hard as I could.

Q: “Get Smart” was on all the four networks at one time or another.

A: I never knew that. Until you told me just now.

Q: If the movie is a hit, is the plan to take the sequels around to each of the different studios?

A: No. But that’s a good idea. I’m writing it down. I’m going to tell them to do that and I want a piece of the action.

Q: When you meet the public, which of your projects do you find yourself talking about the most?

A: “Spaceballs.” I don’t know why. They are always talking about Just Plain Yogurt and President Skroob. The young people see it. Older people will talk to me about “Blazing Saddles.” But little kids will always have a “Spaceballs” reference. In fact, we’re doing “Spaceballs” as an animated series. I’m doing two voices: Just Plain Yogurt and President Skroob – who isn’t that far from the Bush administration.

Inside the business of entertainment

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Striped drawstring shorts and sweatshirt

many of you write and ask what outfit i wear when i’m lounging around the house? today’s ootd is a spring/summer version of my everyday uniform when it’s time to unwind. sweatshirts are perfect to throw on this time of year when the temps are still cool. this opens in a new window vintage navy cotton terry crewneck from opens in a new window J.Crew was last opens in a new window seen here paired with opens in a new window joggers. today, i popped it over a opens in a new window gingham blouse and a comfy pair of opens in a new window striped drawstring shorts.

there’s always much discussion about women of a certain age wearing shorts and, in particular, the length of the inseam. when i’m relaxing at home, i’m looking for comfort, so i don’t think twice about throwing on running or track shorts. if i’m out and about, i like a 7″ or 9″ inch inseam. the sweet spot for shorts is 2″ above your knee or shorter unless they’re Bermuda shorts which tend to run long. and, no, you do not need perfect legs to wear shorts. and you don’t need a perfect body to wear swimsuits. i think it’s time to wrap our heads around the fact that only super-models have those assets. that’s why they get paid the big bucks! comfort is always a key component when putting an outfit together. once those hot summer temps set in, i will always choose a pair of shorts to beat the heat.


'Evangelical Christianity Has Been Hijacked': An Interview with Tony Campolo

July 2004--Evangelical leader, sociology professor, and Baptist minister Tony Campolo made headlines in the 1990s when he agreed to be a spiritual counselor to President Bill Clinton. A self-described Bible-believing Christian, he has drawn fire from his fellow evangelicals for his stance on contemporary issues like homosexuality. He talked with Beliefnet recently about his new book, Speaking My Mind.

Editor's note, December 2004: In response to reader interest, Beliefnet is making available additional material from the July 2004 interview with Campolo.

It's a common perception that evangelical Christians are conservative on issues like gay marriage, Islam, and women's roles. Is this the case?

Well, there's a difference between evangelical and being a part of the Religious Right. A significant proportion of the evangelical community is part of the Religious Right. My purpose in writing the book was to communicate loud and clear that I felt that evangelical Christianity had been hijacked.

When did it become anti-feminist? When did evangelical Christianity become anti-gay? When did it become supportive of capital punishment? Pro-war? When did it become so negative towards other religious groups?

The latest statistics that I have seen on evangelicals indicate that something like 83 percent of them are going to vote for George Bush and are Republicans. And there's nothing wrong with that. It's just that Christians need to be considering other issues beside abortion and homosexuality.

These are important issues, but isn't poverty an issue? When you pass a bill of tax reform that not only gives the upper five percent most of the benefits, leaving very little behind for the rest of us, you have to ask some very serious questions. When that results in 300,000 slots for children's afterschool tutoring in poor neighborhoods being cut from the budget. When one and a half billion dollars is cut from the "No Child Left Behind" program.

In short, I think that evangelicals are so concerned with the unborn-as we should be-that we have failed to pay enough attention to the born-to those children who do live and who are being left behind by a system that has gone in favor of corporate interests and big money.

So as an evangelical, I find myself very torn, because I am a pro-life person. I understand evangelicals who say there comes a time when one issue is so overpowering that we have to vote for the candidate that espouses a pro-life position, even if we disagree with him on a lot of other issues. My response to that is OK, the Republican party and George Bush know that they have the evangelical community in its pocket-[but] they can't win the election without us. Given this position, shouldn't we be using our incredible position of influence to get the president and his party to address a whole host of other issues which we think are being neglected?

Like what you just said-poverty, or our foreign policy?

Most parents who have homosexual children are upset because of the suffering their children have to go through living in a homophobic world. What they don't need is for the Church to come along and to lay a guilt trip on top of them and say "And your children are homosexual because of you. If you would have been the right kind of parent, this would have never happened." That kind of thinking is common in the evangelical Church and the book attacks on solid sociological, psychological, biological grounds.

But even if evangelicals came to believe that it was not a choice, how should they approach the topic?

Well, beyond that, they seem to offer an absolute solution to the problem. They are saying, "We can change every gay. We can change every lesbian." I have heard enough of the brothers and sisters give testimonies of having changed their sexual orientation to doubt them.I believe them. But that's rare: people who stand up and say, "I was gay but Jesus came into my life and now I'm not homosexual anymore." But the overwhelming proportion of the gay community that love Jesus, that go to church, that are deeply committed in spiritual things, try to change and can't change. And the Church acts as though they are just stubborn and unwilling, when in reality they can't change. To propose that every gay with proper counseling and proper prayer can change their orientation is to create a mentality where parents are angry with their children, saying, "You are a gay person because you don't want to change and you're hurting your mother and your father and your family and you're embarrassing us all." These young people cannot change. What they are begging for, and what we as Church people have a responsibility to give them, is loving affirmation as they are. That does not mean that we support same-gender eroticism. What do you wish evangelicals might accept in terms of salvation for non-Christians? We ought to get out of the judging business. We should leave it up to God to determine who belongs in one arena or another when it comes to eternity. What we are obligated to do is to tell people about Jesus and that's what I do. I try to do it every day of my life.

I don't know how far the grace of God does expand and I'm sure that what the 25th chapter of Matthew says is correct--that there will be a lot of surprises on Judgment Day as to who receives eternal life and who doesn't. But in the book I try to make the case that we have to stop our exclusivistic, judgmental mentality. Let us preach Christ, let us be faithful to proclaiming the Gospel, but let's leave judgment in the hands of God.

But in the book you also mention the decline of mainline churches. Some people would say that this lack of taking a firm stand is wishy-washy, and that if evangelicalism is infected by relativism, that could be its downfall as well.

I didn't say anything that was relativistic. I am just saying that when we don't know what we're talking about, we shouldn't make absolute statements. And we don't know how God will judge in the end. We do not know the mind of God. As for mainline churches declining, my own particular analysis is that they're declining because they have been so concerned about social justice issues that they forgot to put a major emphasis on bringing people into a close, personal, transforming relationship with God. The Pentecostal churches, the evangelical churches, attract people who are hungry to know God, not just as a theology, not just as a moral teacher, not just as a social justice advocate, but as someone who can invade them, possess them, transform them from within, strengthen them for their everyday struggles, enable them to overcome the guilt they feel for things in the past. Mainline churches have not sufficiently nurtured that kind of Christianity. They believe in it, they articulate it, it's not where they put enough emphasis. They are not putting enough emphasis on getting people into a personal, I use the word mystical, transforming relationship with Christ. I think that Christianity has two emphases. One is a social emphasis to impart the values of the kingdom of God in society-to relieve the sufferings of the poor, to stand up for the oppressed, to be a voice for those who have no voice. The other emphasis is to bring people into a personal, transforming relationship with Christ, where they feel the joy and the love of God in their lives. That they manifest what the fifth chapter of Galatians calls "the fruit of the Spirit." Fundamentalism has emphasized the latter, mainline churches have emphasized the former. We cannot neglect the one for the other.

In your book, you put forward a sort of ideal creed for 21st-century evangelicals. What's most crucial to understand about the additions you made to this creed?

The Apostle's Creed I think is the ultimate measure for Christians. Some say it goes back as far as 1800 years. It has been the standard statement of faith that the Church has maintained, and I wanted to say, "An evangelical is someone who believes in the doctrines of the Apostle's Creed." However, the thing that evangelicals would add to the Apostle's Creed is their view of holy scripture. They contend, and I contend, that the Bible is an infallible message from God, inspired. The writers were inspired by the Holy Spirit and [the Bible] is a message that provides an infallible guide for faith and practice.

And not only that. It's necessary to know Jesus in an intimate and personal way. That's what it means to be an evangelical. I don't think it means evangelicals are necessarily in favor of capital punishment. I'm one evangelical that is opposed to capital punishment. I do not believe being an evangelical means women should be debarred from pastoral ministry. I believe women do have a right to be in ministry. It doesn't mean evangelicals are supportive of the Republican party in all respects, because here's one evangelical who says "I think the Republican party has been the party of the rich, and has forgotten many ethnic groups and many poor people." I am an evangelical who holds to those three positions [Creed, Bible, personal relationship with Jesus] and is a strong environmentalist. I am an evangelical who raises very specific questions about war in general, but specifically the war in Iraq. The evangelical community has been far too supportive of militarism. You were criticized when you counseled Bill Clinton during the Lewinsky scandal. Are you still in touch with Clinton? Yes, and very much in the way I was before: trying to be a faithful follower of Jesus. I think it's the task of Christians to speak truth to power. The president of the United States called upon me to help him and nurture him into some kind of relationship with God. He obviously had strayed away from what he knew was right, and he called me one day and said can you help me?

I would say different things to each candidate, but I would respond instantaneously to the invitation to speak to each of them. All the way to the White House, I would be praying, "God, keep me from chickening out. Help me to not be so overawed by the high office of these people that I fail to recognize I answer to a higher authority."


Reinvigorating Greece is an Olympian task for prime minister Papandreou

When George Papandreou, the Greek prime minister, swims, he cuts through the water with agility and speed.

This week, the statuesque leader could be seen displaying Olympian stamina as he ploughed through the seas off the island of Poros

By contrast, Papandreou's predecessor, Costas Karamanlis, preferred breast-stroke over crawl and more often than not the confines of a pool.

But, then, almost everything about the unmistakably fit, US-born Papandreou is different in manner and style of governance than Greeks are used to.

As the politician who has led them through the country's worst financial crisis in decades, his nine months in office have also been marked with more high drama than most as the governing socialists have tried not only to keep bankruptcy at bay but cope with a state now universally acknowledged to have failed those it was meant to serve.

"It has been crisis management, day in, day out," he told the Guardian in his first major interview since Greece received €110bn (£92bn) of emergency international loans in May. "We knew that we had high debt and a high deficit with high inequality, high unemployment and negative growth … but we had no idea about the depth and breadth of the problems or the lack of good, transparent, democratic governance. When we found the deficit as high as it was [13.6% of GDP], we wanted to be absolutely transparent."

Transparency is another hallmark of the 58-year-old son and grandson of former prime ministers, but in Papandreou's case it has come at a cost – unprecedented austerity measures. It is a price that fellow progressive leaders, economists, academics and opinion makers, gathering in Poros to attend Papandreou's annual international talk-shop, the Symi symposium, readily agree could still plunge Greece into social turmoil, poverty and despair.

For Papandreou there have been sleepless nights – even if he has displayed a rare coolness under pressure.

As the head of Socialist International, a global leftist network, he is not immune to the charge that, because of his government's stringent public-sector cuts, the wrong people are now being made to pay for decades of profligacy, corruption, cronyism and tax evasion – chronic ills that have helped accrue a debt mountain in excess of €300bn, by far the EU's largest.

In the last week, alone, the ruling Pasok party has passed legislation overhauling the pension system, shaking up labour laws and paring back benefits and allowances – rights that, unions say, have taken decades to win.

On Wednesday, it was the turn of policemen, firefighters and coast guard officials to take to the streets and protest against "barbarism".

"Of course I feel very bad that we had to take these measures and that our financial sovereignty is under the tutelage of the so-called troika [the EU, International Monetary Fund and European Central Bank]. It's not a happy state to be in," said Papandreou.

"And the most painful thing is to take measures against people who were not responsible for the crisis … But you have to make tough decisions in politics. You can theorise about the options you have but in reality they are very specific. The option was: "Do we default or do we take these measures? Do we lose our pension system or do we save what we can? … it was a question of existence, of being able to pay civil servants their wages or losing that possibility"

Alone among Greek prime ministers, Papandreou has publicly declared that re-election is not his aim. If it means changing Greece "and mind-sets" for the better he will push through his modernising policies, whatever the political cost.

Already, he says, it feels like "a small revolution" as he has forged ahead with reforms, including new tax laws and a radical decentralisation plan, that no other prime minister has dared to enact in modern times. "My hope is that we will turn Greece into maybe the most transparent country in the world with everything on the web."

Making the Greek economy more competitive by tackling corruption and bureaucracy are top priorities. So, too, is attracting badly needed foreign investment – and mobilising the younger generation to become a motor of change by setting up innovative start-ups and participating in grand schemes to "green" the economy by utilising Greece's untapped potential through wind and solar energy.

The irony is not lost on Papandreou, or his aides, that much of this amounts to the dismantling of the state his father, Andreas, set up as Greece's first elected socialist leader in the early 80s.

"I have always said I will be in politics to serve as best as I can and it will take me wherever it will take me," says Papandreou.

"As long as I feel I am doing what I think is right and just for my country, for the Greek people, that is enough for me. Saving Greece from this crisis was the first thing on the agenda. We are now on a much more normalised road."

But he also concedes that the path ahead is strewn with difficulties. After months of angry protests and bloody violence, culminating in the deaths of three bank employees in May, it is clear that the Greek people are not prepared to take austerity lying down.

For many, the recent respite is the lull before the storm – with worsening recession, galloping unemployment and mounting dissent within Papandreou's own party looming on the horizon.

He accepts that in a nation where almost a quarter of the population lives under the poverty line, communication could be better.

In the months ahead, as measures really begin to bite, there will, he says, be greater urgency to "get out more into the neighbourhoods and countryside" to convey the message that Greeks must bite the bullet of austerity in return for seeing their country emerge reinvigorated out of the crisis.


Harry and Meghan’s disproven claims

No ‘backyard’ wedding

In the interview, Meghan revealed that they were actually secretly married three days before the Windsor ceremony by the Archbishop of Canterbury. But, just two weeks after the Oprah interview aired, Harry and Meghan admitted they did not get married three days before the Royal wedding after an official certificate blew their claim apart. They said that the ceremony with the Archbishop of Canterbury in Kensington Palace saw them just ‘privately exchange personal vows’.

The Archbishop of Canterbury has also rejected the couple’s claim that they married at a secret ceremony before the Windsor Castle wedding.

He said: “The legal wedding was on the Saturday. I signed the wedding certificate, which is a legal document, and I would have committed a serious criminal offence if I signed it knowing it was false.”

Archie has a birthright to be a prince

In the interview, Meghan said: “Idea of the first member of colour in this family, not being titled in the same way that other grandchildren would be… It’s not their right to take it away.”

According to reports, under the George V rules, Archie would be entitled to be an HRH or a prince when his grandfather Charles, the Prince of Wales, accedes to the throne. That William and Kate’s children have the HRH title and are styled as prince and princesses – and Archie is not – stems from this ruling set more than 100 years ago.

In 1917, King George V issued a written order that only royal offspring who are in the direct line of succession could be made a prince and receive HRH titles.

The Letters Patent read: “…the grandchildren of the sons of any such sovereign in the direct male line (save only the eldest living son of the eldest son of the Prince of Wales) shall have and enjoy in all occasions the style and title enjoyed by the children of dukes of these our realms.”

Under the rules, only Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge’s eldest son Prince George – as a great-grandson of the monarch down the direct line of succession to the throne – was originally entitled to be a prince.

The Queen stepped in ahead of George’s birth in 2013 to issue a Letters Patent to ensure all George’s siblings – as the children of future monarch William – would have fitting titles, meaning they were extended to Charles and Louis.

Archie wouldn’t get 24/7 security because he wasn’t a prince

In the interview, Meghan said: “In those months when I was pregnant, all around this same time, so we (had) the conversation of he won’t be given security, he’s not going to be given a title.”

But, it is said that being a prince or princess does not automatically mean royals have police protection. Princess Beatrice and Princess Eugenie’s security is no longer paid for by the taxpayer. After they stepped down as senior members of the royal family, Harry and Meghan no longer receive British police protection, and are understood to be paying for private security.

Meghan has not seen Samantha Markle in almost 20 years

In the interview, Meghan said: “The last time I saw her must have been at least 18, 19 years.”

During the interview Meghan distanced herself from her half-sister Samantha, who she said she hardly knows and she grew up “an only child”.

A photograph from 2008 – 13 years ago – shows Meghan with Samantha at her graduation. Samantha has since also slammed the royal’s interview with Oprah Winfrey, saying “the truth was totally ignored and omitted” while providing photos and documents to disprove each of Meghan’s claims about her.

Newspaper held story about Thomas Markle until Sunday before Meghan’s wedding

Meghan claimed that “the tabloids had apparently known for a month” that Thomas Markle had staged paparazzi photos before their wedding but “decided to hold till the Sunday before our wedding… to create drama,” adding: “They did not report the news, they created the news”. She suggested she had ‘lost’ her father forever as a result.

In truth, far from sitting on the paparazzi story, the Mail on Sunday, which broke it, published within 24 hours of getting the proof.

‘Exaggerated’ claims made by Meghan Markle

On being ‘silenced’

Meghan said she was “silenced” by the institution. “Everyone in my world was given very clear directive, from the moment the world knew Harry and I were dating, to say ‘No comment'”.

On the day they announced their engagement, Meghan and Harry gave a lengthy interview to the BBC‘s Mishal Husain, although the duchess reportedly complained afterwards that the journalist had not been “warm enough”. On their tour of South Africa, they granted interviews to ITN‘s Tom Bradby, when Meghan memorably told him: “Not many people have asked if I’m OK”.

Royal insiders have since stressed that it was very much the case that Harry and Meghan themselves “called the shots” when it came to publicity, deciding which charities to support, which engagements to go on, and which media to grant interviews to.

Meghan never researched the Royal Family prior to joining

Meghan’s claim that she never researched Harry, nor the Royal Family, before entering into the relationship is at odds with claims made in the couple’s biography.

Prior to their first date at Dean Street Townhouse in 2016, the authors write: “Naturally both participants in this blind date did their homework with a thorough Google search. Harry, who scoped out Meghan on social media, was interested.”

Friends of the duchess have painted a different picture, revealing that she was fascinated by the royals in her youth. Ninaki Priddy, who was Meghan’s maid of honour at her first wedding to Trevor Engelson, said her friend was “always fascinated by the Royal Family. She wants to be Princess Diana 2.0”.

Harry was financially cut off from the royals

When Harry and Meghan announced their intention to step back from being senior royals, they said they wanted to be “financially independent”. Before cutting ties, 95% of their money came from Prince Charles’s income from the Duchy of Cornwall, and 5% from the taxpayer-funded Sovereign Grant.

Princes William and Harry also received millions from their mother Princess Diana. Harry is also thought to have had millions left to him by the Queen mother.

Father who staged photos

Meghan estranged father Thomas denied his daughter’s claims he had “betrayed” her. He says that he’s apologized � times” for doing a deal with a paparazzi photographer before the royal wedding in 2018 and urged the couple to see him now that they live closer.

He also denied the Royal Family – or Britain – is racist, calling Meghan and Harry’s claims “bulls**t” and saying if it is true a royal asked about how “dark” Archie’s skin would be, it was probably just a “dumb question”.

Unverifiable claims made by the duke and duchess of Sussex

Meghan says she begged the Palace to help her mental state. Harry, meanwhile, said he was ashamed of admitting to his family that Meghan needed help, and so he did not talk to them.

The duke, who is passionate about the mental health campaign he launched, called Heads Together, and has himself sought therapy in the past, said that with his wife he “had no idea what to do”.

“He is attached to many of the biggest mental health charities in Britain,” Piers said in the interview. “He makes no secret of his desire that everyone who feels depressed or anxious or has suicidal thoughts to get immediate help, and yet here was his wife who says she was feeling constantly suicidal, and Prince Harry never sought to get her help. And I find that very hard to believe frankly.”

The couple witnessed racism inside the monarchy

Meghan said: “[There were] concerns and conversations about how dark his [Archie’s] skin might be when he’s born'”.

Harry and Meghan said they will never reveal the person who made these comments. However, Oprah revealed that Harry confirmed it was not the Queen nor Prince Philip. After the interview, Buckingham Palace said that “recollections may vary” of the events described by Meghan and Harry.

Prince Charles also reportedly wanted to release a “point by point” response to the couple’s claims but decided against it because he didn’t want to give “more ammunition”.

Kate made Meghan cry before her wedding to Harry

Reports of a pre-wedding clash between the duchesses first emerged in November 2018, when sources claimed Meghan had been left displeased with a “stressful” dress fitting for the flower girls. Accounts differed as to the source of the row. Some said it was a disagreement on whether the bridesmaids should wear tights – Meghan reportedly believed they should not.

Meghan had to turn over her passport, keys and driving license to royal aides

Meghan said: ‘”When I joined that family, that was the last time I saw my passport, my driving license, my keys – all of that gets turned over.”

Senior royals are often pictured driving themselves and it is believed there have never been prior claims of a royal having keys and passports held. Harry and Meghan received police protection, meaning their travel was meticulously planned by officers.

Meghan’s press team didn’t defend her when “things weren’t true

Mail on Sunday royal correspondent Emily Andrews has said that Meghan’s press team did, in fact, defend untrue stories, saying this was”‘just not right”.

Andrews said that she interacted with a press team who defended the Sussexes “again and again and again, told me things were wrong – so didn’t publish – and indeed tried to stop me when true”.

Palace lied to protect other members of the Royal Family

Meghan said: “I came to understand that not only was I not being protected but that they were willing to lie to protect other members of the family, but they weren’t willing to tell the truth to protect me and my husband.”

It is said that the Palace did robustly stand ground on many other stories that the couple insisted were not true, resulting in the media not running them. The Palace pursued at least one national newspaper all the way to press regulator IPSO over a story about their Frogmore home and won a decisive victory for Harry and Meghan.

Palace sources have hit back at the idea the duchess was left to fend for herself, suggesting it was her own aides who needed protection from her bullying ways – something she strenuously denies.

Meghan was banned from going out for lunch with her friends

Meghan: “I remember so often people within The Firm would say, ‘Well, you can’t do this because it’ll look like that. You can’t’… so, even, ‘Can I go and have lunch with my friends?’ ‘No, no, no. You’re oversaturated. You’re everywhere. It would be best for you to not go out to lunch with your friends.’ I go, ‘Well, I haven’t left the house in months.”

Meghan appears to be talking about a four-year period, and it is likely the situation varied. She was spotted enjoying outings on numerous occasions, including a pub lunch with Harry, going for facials near their Kensington Palace home and shopping trips.

When the couple decided to leave the Royal family

Early in the Oprah interview, Meghan said she joined the Royal family with the intention of devoting her life to service. Later, when asked if the Queen was “shocked” by Megxit, Meghan said Harry had been talking to his grandmother about stepping down for “two years”.

Harry and Meghan’s combined murky timeline of when they expressed their intention of stepping down as senior Royals left this question unanswered.


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