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 Blonde on Blonde

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Robert Redford recalls his greatest cinematic moments.

By Joe McGovern in Entertainment Weekly

Robert Redfordhe movie legend, 80, has appeared in more than 40 films and has directed nine. His leading-man looks may have made him a matinee idol, but he never relied on them, opting for roles and films that mattered to him. As he was preparing to go into the wild with Nick Nolte in his latest film A Walk in the Woods, he took a stroll with us down memory lane.

Barefoot in the Park 1967

Redford was 27 years old when he turned down a TV show in Los Angeles and instead got paid $130 a week for a Bucks County, Pa., tryout of Neil Simon's Barefoot in the Park, directed by a young comedian named Mike Nichols. "I'd never really done a comedy before," says Redford. "And Nichols had never directed theater, so we both shared a bit of insecurity." Redford went on to star with Jane Fonda in the 1967 film adaptation, establishing himself as the quintessential golden boy -- a type he'd spend much of his career bucking against.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid 1969

"When I first met [director] George Roy Hill, I told him that I much more related to the outlaw character, the Sundance Kid, which was not the role he wanted me for. But George got excited and thought, 'Hmm, I'm going to make this work.'... The studio wanted a name as big as Paul Newman's and I was quite a ways down on the stardom ladder. I'd never met Paul, but he insisted that the studio support George, and because it was Paul Newman, they agreed. The only thing they did was change the title. It was called The Sundance Kid and Butch Cassidy -- but they wanted Butch's name first because that's the part Paul was playing.

The Sting 1973

Four years after Butch Cassidy, Redford reunited with that movie's team for The Sting, which won seven Oscars, including Best Picture. It also earned Redford his sole acting nomination. He attributes the lion's share of the success to his director. "George Roy Hill loved reading the funny papers. He loved the idea of telling a story in four or five panels, so he was able to take the somewhat flawed script, shift a few things around, and turn it into something damn near perfect."

The Way We Were 1973

Redford originally turned down the role of a WASP college student who romances Barbra Streisand's liberal activist. "He was a bit of a Ken doll with no dimension. I said, 'I'll be interested if we can fine some flaws in him.'" Speaking of flaws Redford had been warned that his costar possessed a few. "I'd heard all kinds of crazy things about Barbra, but none of them applied to our relationship. I loved working with her. We had a ton of fun."

All the President's Men 1976

While Redford was promoting his politically charged film The Candidate in 1972, he had the opportunity to kibitz with newspapermen. "They were all gossiping about a break-in at a campaign headquarters," he says. "And I became intrigued by the profiles of the two guys writing about it, Woodward and Bernstein. And then President Nixon resigned over the break-in and a lot of people said it was yesterday's news -- but I said, 'No, it's the dynamic between these two guys that'll make it sing.'" Redford costarred opposite Dustin Hoffman, and the film was a box office smash, winning four Oscars, including one for sound design. "We took all the elements of their work -- the typewriters, telephones, pens on paper -- and kicked up the sound. Every scene where the typewriter was used, there's a real bang. What does it sound like? It sounds like a weapon."

Ordinary People 1980

"This story was about feelings that can't be reached, like with the mother character," says Redford of his directorial debut, a family drama that won Oscars for Best Picture and Director. "The first studio I took it to said, 'You can't have Mary Tyler Moore in that role, she's America's sweetheart.' But I remember sitting in my house in Malibu one day in the late fall and I saw this woman bundled up in her overcoat, and she seemed very sad. When I realized it was Mary Tyler Moore, it hit me like a ton of bricks: 'Wow, she could do this.' When I asked her to be in the film, she wanted it even more than I did. She wanted to explore that side of herself and gave 100 percent."

Quiz Show 1994

If Ordinary People is about the lies people tell themselves, Redford's masterpiece Quiz Show, based on a TV scandal, is about the lies that people get told. "It's all about how audiences are tricked. That's a story about much more than one quiz show in the '50s."

All Is Lost 2013

For this minimalist action film by director J.C. Chandor (Margin Call), Redford received perhaps the best reviews of his career as a mariner attempting to survive while his ship sinks in the Indian Ocean. "This was guerilla filmmaking all the way around," he says. "No special effects, just raw-to-its-core filmmaking. It was very tough, but I loved it. I loved the filling of pure cinema in my bloodstream."  

 The Lawyer Who Kept John & Yoko in America

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How the former Beatle won his right to stay in the Big Apple.

By Andy Greene in Rolling Stone

Yoko OnoJohn Lennon'John Lennon vs. the USA' - Leon Wildesn early 1972, a 39-year-old attorney named Leon Wildes told his wife about two high-profile clients he'd just met who were facing deportation. "Let's see," he said when asked for their names. "I think it was Jack Lemmon and Yoko Moto." His wife stared incredulously: "Do you mean John Lennon and Yoko Ono?"

Wildes may have known nothing about pop music, but he was an expert on immigration cases, and he'd just stumbled into one of the biggest ever. President Nixon was looking for an excuse to kick the most famous war protester out out of the U.S., and Lennon's previous drug arrest made that easier. In his new book, John Lennon vs. the USA: The Inside Story of the Most Bitterly Contested and Influential Deportation Case in United States History, Wildes tells the story of the four-year battle to secure permanent residence for Lennon. He fills the gaps left by Lennon biographers, like the parade of witnesses at the deportation trial that included Geraldo Rivera and silent-film actress Gloria Swanson. Ultimately, Wildes was so successful that he set a new legal precedent. "Thanks to [Lennon's] willingness to fight..." he writes, "we managed to discover and helped create a remedy for impossible cases."


Bruce Springsteen
Mike Love
Brian Wilson
Paul Simon

Born To Run by Bruce Springsteen (Sept. 27) After playing the 2009 Super Bowl halftime show, Springsteen wrote an online diary about the experience. He had so much fun he started sitting down with a notebook regularly. He wrote Born to Run over the next seven years, often taking as long as a year off to come back fresh. A source close to the project says it spans his entire life, discussing key songs and what was going on in his life when he wrote them. "One of the questions I'm asked over and over again by fans on he street is 'How do you do it?'" Springsteen writes in the book's forward. "In the following pages I will try to shed a little light on how and, more important, why."

Good Vibrations: My Life as a Beach Boy by Mike Love (Sept. 13) The first of two Beach Boys memoirs coming this fall (see Brian Wilson's book, right) aims to debunk Love's image as the villain in the band, the guy who hated Pet Sounds and lobbing frivolous lawsuits at his bandmates. "Hundreds of thousands of words have been written about the Beach Boys," Love tells Rolling Stone, "often by people who weren't there." The book goes deep into the tyrannical reign of first manager (and Love's uncle) Murray Wilson, along with the band's descent into darkness in the late Sixties (one of Sharon Tate's killers babysat for Love's kids). "My life story fits within the larger American dream, the California dream, if you will," Love says.

I Am Brian Wilson: A Memoir by Brian Wilson with Ben Greenman (Oct. 11) Wilson's first autobiography came in 1991, but it was largely the work of his overbearing live-in therapist, Eugene Landy. This time, Wilson tells his own story: his battles with his abusive father, the pressure to score hits in the Sixties and his long struggle with mental illness. "The voices were everwhere," he writes about combating schizoaffective disorder in the Seventies. Wilson says he hopes "people will come away with a better understanding of mental illness, perhaps more empathy for those who have it."

Homeward Bound: The Life of Paul Simon by Peter Ames Carlin (Oct. 11) "No authorative, deeply researched book about Paul Simon has ever been attempted," says veteran rock biographer Peter Ames Carlin, who took on the task by interviewing more than 100 people from Simon's past, from ex-girlfriends to collaborators (though Simon and Art Garfunkel didn't participate). Homeward Bound is full of new stories; Carlin tracked down Heidi Berg, the former SNL band member who claimed she inspired the idea for Graceland when she gave him a tape of some of the South African musicians who would play on the album. He also goes deep into Simon's rocky relationship with Garfunkel, revealing that Garfunkel never forgave him for signing a solo deal behind his back in 1957. "I was 15!" Simon shouted in a 1983 confrontation. Garfunkel replied: "You're still the same guy."

Phil Collins
Robbie Robertson
Maurice White
David Bowie

Not Dead Yet: The Memoir by Phil Collins (Oct. 25) Collins promises a "warts and all" biography covering his time in Genesis, his three divorces, and health struggles that have made it impossible to play drums in recent years. "To confront my mistakes was good for me," says Collins. "I hope readers will get a new, and a more corrected, view of my life. Not always pretty, but the truth as I remember it."

Testimony by Robbie Robertson (Nov. 11) "I needed to bring the incredible story of the Band to the surface," says Robertson, the group's guitarist and chief songwriter. He does, beginning with the day he took a train from Canada to Arkansas to join rockabilly hero Ronnie Hawkins' band in 1961. It wraps 15 years later with the story of The Last Waltz. Robertson sheds new light on working with Bob Dylan and writing classics like "The Weight." He recalls it all with astounding detail, considering it all took place more than 40 years ago. "I have an unusual memory chip from both my father's side and my mother's," he says. "As a kid, it embarrassed me, but now it's quite handy."

My Life with Earth, Wind & Fire by Maurice White with Herb Powell (Sept. 15) Singer Maurice White finished this memoir shortly before his death in February, documenting his band's tumultuous fights and his battle with Parkinson's.

David Bowie Behind The Curtain by Andrew Kent and Cameron Crowe (Oct. 1) Traveling with Bowie from 1975 to '77, photographer Andrew Kent captured a Soviet Union trip, parties with Iggy Pop and more for this intimate coffee-table book.

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