TV and Taylor Swift to the rescue for the Nice Performers Situation of the New York Occasions Magazine
For an annual edition that has been appearing in its current form for more than 15 years, this year’s edition of the New York Times Magazine “Great Performers” consists of many new items.
Most importantly, it is the first time the list has been released outside of theatrical films that can be seen on television, streaming platforms, and even TikTok. But it is also the first time the issue has been produced during a pandemic and many photos of actors and comedians have been taken in relative isolation in remote areas. In this case, it will be the first time Taylor Swift should receive photo assistant credit.
Yes, that Taylor Swift ultimately directed the remote photoshoot for Zoë Kravitz, which is on the magazine’s list for her appearance on “High Fidelity,” a series from Hulu. The actual photographer Christopher Anderson steered Kravitz and Swift’s camera angles from his base in Paris using his laptop.
“Zoë was very strict about making a movie anyway,” said Jake Silverstein, editor-in-chief of NYT Magazine. “And Taylor Swift was in her capsule and ready to help.”
The result is an intentionally “dreamy” photo of Kravitz, according to Kathy Ryan, cameraman for the magazine. “We wanted that quality because it was such a bad year,” added Ryan. “So we’ve become a little more surreal, beyond the world. We were all in a changed reality in some ways. ”
While certain photos were taken live in a studio, around half were not. This is unlike the typical edition of “Great Performers,” selected by Times critics AO Scott and Wesley Morris, which has something to do with the Oscars. It’s considered an early look at actors competing for an award, and it gets a large production budget and usually a big-name photographer to do all of the portraits. But it also took a break in 2020. This year the photos were taken by six freelancers. They are simple but colorful and effective. And the list is half comedy and half drama. Maya Erskine and Anna Konkle from Hulus Pen15 did it, as did comedian Hannah Gadsby for her Netflix special, Jason Sudeikis for Apple’s “Ted Lasso”, Maitreyi Ramakrishnan for Netflix’s “Never Have I Ever” and Michaela Cole the cover treatment for her role in HBO’s “I May Destroy You,” a comedy drama that she also created and wrote.
The story goes on
But the first are not over yet. This year marks the first time an actor who wasn’t featured in a 2020 release has made the list. That would be Cher and her performance in “Moonstruck,” which was released in 1987. Silverstein admitted that there was some debate about adding a decade-old achievement to the list, but ultimately won 2020. Like all year.
“2020 was just a time to tear down the walls,” said Silverstein. Apparently, “Moonstruck” had competition from the mayor in “Jaws”, who insisted to the people of Amity that the water was perfectly safe even if there was a basking shark with a taste for humans out and about. At the beginning of the pandemic, it became a cultural touchpoint, also known as a meme, as outgoing President Trump and certain states’ governors insisted on par with the coronavirus pandemic. But Cher is Cher and she earned her place above the mayor of “Jaws”.
As for the inclusion of appearances on TikTok, like breakout Trump lip dubbing artist Sarah Cooper, along with Kylie Brakeman and Jeff Wright, who have also gained popularity on TikTok with political humor, Silverstien has taken off the list and only allowed theatrical films which also include the opposite of 2020.
“It was in part a reflection of the fact that we wanted to recount a year in which we were all so isolated from one another and reliant on screens more than ever,” said Silverstein. “And what we shot on those screens wasn’t dramas with super-big-budget scripts. It was pretty raw TikTok videos at times. People who used few tools and almost no budget were able to connect with millions of people. Ultimately, great performance is about that. ”
However, don’t expect TikTok and TV political satire to be the path for great performers in the years to come. Though Silverstein admitted that Scott and Morris have said over the past several years, “Jeeze, so many of the best shows this year haven’t been in feature films,” that spirit could return to the bottle.
“Never say never,” he said. “In part, it depends on what is happening in the world. But it can take a while for people to gather back in the theaters. ”
This year’s list is also the first time that none of the 23 selected actors appeared on a project sponsored by a major Hollywood studio or a subsidiary of one of them. The only exception is MGM’s “Moonstruck”. But this film, too, was released more than 30 years ago. The main players behind this year’s list are Netflix, Hulu, HBO, TikTok, Apple and Showtime.
“That’s a good indication of how quickly the streamers came to take a seat at the table,” said Silverstein. After looking through the edition that came out in print on Sunday to make sure it actually did.
“We’ll probably see a lot of movies on our televisions next year,” he admitted. “If so, why privilege films over television?”
Sign up for the WWD newsletter. Follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram for the latest news.