Search Results for: tom junod

Tom Junod Remembers Fred Rogers: “You Were a Child Once, Too”

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At the Atlantic, Tom Junod recalls his friendship with Fred Rogers 16 years after Fred’s death. Junod and Rogers traded 70 emails around the time Junod’s Esquire profile of Rogers, ‘Can You Say…”Hero”?’ was published in 1998. The author considers the movies made about Rogers’ life, as well as how Fred would have responded to today’s routine mass violence and the growing lack of civility in political discourse.

As for Fred: It’s true that he lost, and that the digitization of all human endeavor has devoured his legacy as eagerly as it has devoured everything else. But that he stands at the height of his reputation 16 years after his death shows the persistence of a certain kind of human hunger—the hunger for goodness. He had faith in us, and even if his faith turns out to have been misplaced, even if we have abandoned him, he somehow endures, standing between us and our electrified antipathies and recriminations like the Tank Man of Tiananmen Square in a red sweater. He is a warrior, all right, because he is not just unarmed, outgunned, outnumbered; he is long gone, and yet he keeps up the fight.

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What George Clooney Smells Like, According to Tom Junod

“He is fifty-two years old. He is wearing a black hoodie zipped to the neck, blue jeans, and boots laced so assertively they squeak when he flexes his ankles. He has a long neck, upon which his long head, adorned by long ears, wobbles like a tulip. Everything is to scale with him. Many people have long eyelashes; he has lashes as long on the bottom as they are on the top. His eyes look like they’ve been caught by Venus flytraps. He is going gray, yes, but if you took a population sample of his hair, there is no doubt that any analysis would reveal that the numbers of black and gray hairs are evenly distributed and have achieved equipoise. He has recently showered, and a careful modicum of product lifts his hair off his forehead. He has surprisingly fine hands. He smells like soap.”

Tom Junod, describing George Clooney in a new Esquire profile. Read more from Junod.

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Photo: botheredbybees, Flickr

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Why We Love to Hate Tom Brady

I'm so good!
Tom. (Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)

Before I became a bona fide football fan, a development that nearly all of my friends find as disturbing as if I’d become a dog murderer, I only knew of two football people: Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady. I knew them because they were both Hollywood Handsome, with gleaming white teeth, and square jaws, which seems to be a minimum requirement to become an NFL quarterback. I didn’t differentiate between them other than that one was blond and the other was not, and I couldn’t tell you what teams they played for, only that they were both quarterbacks, and rich and famous.

But now that I’ve been a football fan, specifically a Seattle Seahawks football fan, I have come to loathe Tom Brady and the Patriots with an intensity I once reserved for Pavement. (They should have given the ball to Marshawn; Pete, baby, a slant pass? Why did you burn a timeout? Let us never speak of this again, etc. etc.) Read more…

‘It was illegal. And it ruined him.’

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At ESPN, Tom Junod reflects on his father’s gambling habit: “…he made people think he was a gangster when really he was just a mark.”

Everybody thought Lou Junod was a gangster. He not only looked the part, with his pinkie ring and French cuffs and blue dress shirts white at the collar, he played it, cultivating an air of danger. He had beautiful manners and always strove to be a gentleman, the striving itself a part of his charm. But there was something feral about him behind the civility, the elaborate coded masculinity and even more elaborate actorly diction. He chased down men when they cut him off in traffic and got into fistfights well into his 70s, his anger an eclipse you couldn’t help but look at even though you knew it would strike you blind. He had an underworld glamour, even to his own children, and a reputation. People figured he had “connections,” and he did — his connections called our house, like old friends. But they weren’t friends. They were bookies, and they had him by the balls.

He placed his first bet on the first Super Bowl, Chiefs-Packers 1967. That was also the first football game I ever watched, because my uncle George was married to Vince Lombardi’s sister. Who the hell knows why you fall in love, but I can tell you that several love stories began that day: between America and the NFL, between my father and gambling, between me and football, and between me and my father.

I was 8 years old at the time, alone in the house because my brother and sister had just gone off to college. I was afraid of him until football. He scared me often to tears, and football gave me a way of talking to him without crying. And it gave him a way of talking to me, well, without making me cry. I dedicated myself to football in an effort to reconcile myself to him, and to reconcile him to the rest of my family. That he lost tens of thousands of dollars in the process didn’t really matter as much to me as my role in trying to help him win.

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25 Movies and the Magazine Stories That Inspired Them

Constance Wu and Jennifer Lopez on the set of 'Hustlers' in New York City. (Photo by Jose Perez/Bauer-Griffin/GC Images)

As more publications pursue blockbuster stories with film and television potential, producers in Hollywood and the magazine industry are taking their inspiration from successful article-to-film adaptations of the past that have achieved box office success.

Here are 25 gold-standard film adaptations of magazine articles, published over the course of half a century as cover stories, features, or breaking news, as well as direct links to read all 25 stories online.

Legacy magazines with well-known print editions dominate this list, as do the nonfiction writers that legacy magazines accept and champion. Many of these writers’ names will be familiar to readers, as will the majority of the magazines and films themselves, in many cases because celebrated journalists inspired these major motion pictures at the peak of their careers as writers and reporters. Name recognition in one industry reinforces name recognition in another, and — despite the incredible diversity of feature-length nonfiction being published today by new voices most mainstream audiences have yet to discover — institutional support still tends to elevate known veterans.

While the talents of all of the writers on this list are undeniable, there are also well-documented structural biases that account for why so many of the writers represented here are overwhelmingly male, white, or Susan Orlean. These stories belong on any narrative nonfiction syllabus on their own merit, but I hope these samples are still just the beginning, and that new filmmakers and magazine writers can start to work together far more often on a greater breadth of material, with sufficient editorial guidance and studio backing to support them.

This list is by no means exhaustive. I’ve limited this roundup to favor adaptations (loosely defined) based primarily on magazine-style features, including only a couple of films based on award-winning newspaper investigations. The list of new film and television adaptations based on popular books or podcasts, let alone reporting that has helped support the explosion in streaming documentary formats, would run even longer.

It takes time, access, imagination, and resources to be able to realize ambitious true stories like these in their original form as narrative magazine features. It would be a welcome change to see greater diversity in the production pipeline in the coming years: in the subjects of narrative stories, in the publications considered for exclusive source material, in the creative teams that are given studio support, in the agencies brokering deals, in the awards and recognition that elevate new work, and in the storytellers who are given the resources to write long.

Writers are the lifeblood of all of these industries, and will always play a pivotal role in any production that is based on a true story.

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A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood (2019)

Based on Can You Say…Hero? by Tom Junod (Esquire, 1998)

Once upon a time, a man named Fred Rogers decided that he wanted to live in heaven. Heaven is the place where good people go when they die, but this man, Fred Rogers, didn’t want to go to heaven; he wanted to live in heaven, here, now, in this world, and so one day, when he was talking about all the people he had loved in this life, he looked at me and said, “The connections we make in the course of a life—maybe that’s what heaven is, Tom. We make so many connections here on earth. Look at us—I’ve just met you, but I’m investing in who you are and who you will be, and I can’t help it.”

Hustlers (2019)

Based on The Hustlers at Scores by Jessica Pressler (The Cut, 2015)

While evolutionary theory and The Bachelor would suggest that a room full of women hoping to attract the attention of a few men would be cutthroat-competitive, it’s actually better for strippers to work together, because while most men might be able keep their wits, and their wallets, around one scantily clad, sweet-smelling sylph, they tend to lose their grip around three or four. Which is why at Hustler, as elsewhere, the dancers worked in groups.

Beautiful Boy (2018)

Based on My Addicted Son by David Sheff (The New York Times Magazine, 2005)

Nick now claims that he was searching for methamphetamine for his entire life, and when he tried it for the first time, as he says, “That was that.” It would have been no easier to see him strung out on heroin or cocaine, but as every parent of a methamphetamine addict comes to learn, this drug has a unique, horrific quality. In an interview, Stephan Jenkins, the singer in the band Third Eye Blind, said that methamphetamine makes you feel “bright and shiny.” It also makes you paranoid, incoherent and both destructive and pathetically and relentlessly self-destructive. Then you will do unconscionable things in order to feel bright and shiny again. Nick had always been a sensitive, sagacious, joyful and exceptionally bright child, but on meth he became unrecognizable.

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My Friend Mister Rogers

Longreads Pick

Tom Junod remembers his friendship with Fred Rogers 16 years after Fred’s death and considers how Fred would have responded in today’s world, filled with regular mass violence and a growing lack of civility in political discourse and protest.

Author: Tom Junod
Source: The Atlantic
Published: Nov 7, 2019
Length: 28 minutes (7,113 words)

The Family Vice

Longreads Pick
Author: Tom Junod
Source: ESPN
Published: Jan 21, 2019
Length: 12 minutes (3,214 words)

Longreads Best of 2017: Profile Writing

We asked writers and editors to choose some of their favorite stories of the year in various categories. Here is the best in profile writing.

Seyward Darby
Executive editor, The Atavist

A Most American Terrorist: The Making of Dylann Roof (Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah, GQ)

There was no piece of journalism in 2017 more honest or more raw than Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah’s profile of Dylann Roof for GQ. Its brilliance began with an enviable lede—”Sitting beside the church, drinking from a bottle of Smirnoff Ice, he thought he had to go in and shoot them” — and persisted for the duration of what proved to be an unlikely profile. Unlikely, because Kaadzi Ghansah didn’t set out to write it. She went to Charleston to cover Roof’s murder trial, planning to report on the families of his victims, but found herself drawn to the young man who sat, angry and silent and unfazed, day after day in the courtroom. She decided to profile a black hole, an absence, because she couldn’t not.

The story is unlikely, too, because of its style. Ghansah winds through Roof’s life like a criminal profiler. She collects evidence, data, interviews, and observations, then pieces them together for readers, showing where the connective tissue resides. She is an essential presence in the story, which is no easy feat to pull off, and the result is wholly organic. This is a story about race, class, anger, bewilderment, and division. It is also, as the headline “A Most American Terrorist” attests, a story about the current political moment. You come away from it knowing who Dylann Roof is, who Rachel Kaadzi Ghansah is, and what America is—or, really, what it has always been.


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One-Minute Readings: Ben Montgomery Remembers Journalist Michael Brick

Above is a brief tribute to journalist Michael Brick, who died in February at the age of 41. The video features Tampa Bay Times writer Ben Montgomery reading from Brick’s 2006 New York Times story, “Dusk of the Drummer” — and it’s one of many pieces featured in a new collection, Everyone Leaves Behind a Name: True Stories, published by The Sager Group. Proceeds from the book will go to Brick’s wife and children.

In a brief note, Montgomery tells us:

When journalist Michael Brick died from colorectal cancer in February at the age of 41, he left behind a wife, three kids and a body of work that rivals the best of the best. His friends collected his stories in a remarkable anthology, along with original essays from greats like Tom Junod, Gary Smith, Charles Pierce, Amy Wallace, Michael Paterniti, Dan Barry, Chris Jones, Kurt Eichenwald and Wright Thompson. Sales benefit Brick’s family, and the book solidifies his place in American letters.

Thank you, Ben, for sharing, and you can purchase the book here.