Celebrity Flashback: Nicole Kidman

From 1996 – 2000, I met dozens of celebrities while working in the West Coast bureau of Premiere Magazine and later, at Us Weekly. These interviews ran the gamut from 30 seconds on the red carpet (Leonardo DiCaprio) to an hour on set (George Clooney). And of course, there were many stars I never interviewed or even saw – not ever in the entire time I worked in Hollywood (Julia Roberts). In Celebrity Flashback, I’ll share the details of one of those close encounters.

In my brief Hollywood experience, I found that the bigger the star, the nicer they were.

In 1999, there were few stars bigger than Tom Cruise and Nicole Kidman. Tom was a megastar, at his peak. Nicole was major in her own right by then, having earned serious cred in Portrait of a Lady. The couple had just made Eyes Wide Shut with Stanley Kubrick. They had reportedly grown very close to the legendary director, who had died that March, just after wrapping. I interviewed Nicole on the red carpet at the Los Angeles premiere of that movie.

It was July 1999 and the premiere was held at Mann Village Theatre in Westwood Village on UCLA’s campus, just off Sunset Boulevard. It was a regular movie theater most nights of the week but movie premieres were held there pretty frequently. It about five minutes from my 1-room studio apartment in West L.A.

The sun hadn’t gone down yet and she and Tom were graciously working their way down the red carpet, hands tightly entwined. Tom led the way with Nicole trailing behind, both guided by their publicist as always. Tom got past me but stopped to talk to the reporter immediately next to me. That put Nicole right in front of me.

By this time, I’d been working in L.A., visiting sets and covering premieres for about 3 years. Let me say, not all Hollywood stars are beautiful in person. Some were quite ordinary looking. Or wrinkly, with tell-tale cigarette lines around their mouth. But Nicole, she was lovely.

She was tall and slender but solid – not frail. She was wearing a flimsy, backless bordeaux camisole and matching mini-skirt that revealed long, toned legs and a slice of toned, white midriff. It seemed like her pale skin had never seen the sun. There was no sign of lip injections or Botox then; she was just flat-out flawless.

I’m sorry to tell you, reader, I cannot for the life of me remember the questions I asked any of these people. I probably couldn’t have told you a week after actually interviewing them. I definitely can’t recall now.

I do remember Nicole confided that she’d picked out the outfit herself at some shop and now wasn’t so sure about it. She was showing a lot of skin that evening. She told me she was freezing. But she seemed happy and light-hearted.

So while stars like Winona, Uma, and Gwyneth were on the icy side (sorry Gwen! I do love your cookbook), Nicole was warm and friendly and kinda vulnerable — like your best girlfriend who second-guesses her outfit after arriving at the party. She was holding Tom’s hand the whole time we talked. I kept thinking he’d end his conversation and join us. Didn’t happen.

P.S. In my Winona post, I mentioned that I often got to go in and watch the movie with the stars after working the red carpet at premieres. That didn’t happen here. There was so much secrecy and build-up with this movie, it was nearly impossible to get into an advance screening.

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What’s for Dinner

Sushi at Sapporo!

Sushi restaurants are actually great for little kids. Most little ones like edamame, white rice, deep-fried shrimp and veggie tempura.

We went there tonight to celebrate Barrak’s birthday with his family a few days early. Thanks for picking up the tab, Grandpa!

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What’s for Dinner

I only bought it because the enchiladas on the cover looked good, OK?

I only bought it because the enchiladas on the cover looked good, OK?

Tonight, we had cheesy chicken enchiladas that I made last night while watching Justin Timberlake, Miley Cyrus and other spectacles on the MTV Video Music Awards. Barrak put them in the oven when he got home tonight since I got home late. He topped his with some fresh cilantro. I had my customary plop of sour cream, plus pickled jalapenos and fresh cilantro.

My mom makes unbelievably decadent chicken enchiladas that have more of a creamy white sauce. They’re rich and spicy and delish. They’re like the Mexican equivalent of fettucine Alfredo on the triple bypass scale, however. The ones I made tonight called for a red sauce. It’s surprisingly easy to make your own red enchilada sauce but I went for canned here.

I got the recipe from Family Circle magazine. Ahem. Yes, I’m 40 now and I proudly put Family Circle in my cart.

Greta had Totino’s pizza rolls. Magnus was served many things; I’m not sure he actually consumed anything though.

Does it look like the picture? Like the good blogger I am, I forgot to take a beauty shot when it first came out of the oven all melty and bubbly.

Does it look like the picture? Like the good blogger I am, I forgot to take a beauty shot when it first came out of the oven all melty and bubbly.

Barrak gave tonight's dinner a thumbs up... but I still caught him dipping pretzel twists in a jar of Jif.

Barrak gave tonight’s dinner a thumbs up… but I still caught him dipping pretzel twists in a jar of Jif afterward.

What’s for Dinner

Pot roast with carrots & onions in slow cooker; mashed redskin potatoes; Bibb lettuce salad with super-ripe red tomatoes and a dill, chive & buttermilk ranch dressing using Pioneer Woman’s herby recipe

Thanks to grandpa for providing the beef, plus carrots, potatoes and tomatoes from his garden for Sunday night’s dinner!

What’s for Dinner

Homemade basil pesto, roasted tomato & grilled chicken pizza for the grown-ups, pepperoni & cheese pizza for the kids

This morning, while having coffee and flipping through cookbooks, I got the idea to make homemade pizzas and pesto. With the basil in my garden in overdrive, all I needed from the store was parmesan and pine nuts.

And making your pizza dough is so easy. All you need is flour, salt, olive oil, warm water and active dry yeast. In My Father’s Daughter, Gwyneth Paltrow also has you add sugar. Since I’d just used the last of it in my coffee, I skipped that ingredient. Pioneer Woman doesn’t have you add sugar in her recipe so it didn’t seem critical.

I’ve never made pesto but it turned out to be super easy, and good. I still have a ton in the fridge.

Barrak grilled thin-sliced chicken breasts for our pizzas. Magnus ate a bunch of the grilled chicken straight off the plate; I’ll file that information away for a future dinner.

I considered sun-dried tomatoes but instead went with slow-roasted tomatoes – another great Gwyneth recipe. You halve vine-ripened tomatoes horizontally, drizzle with olive oil, add salt and pepper and roast them at 275 degrees for 3 – 5 hours. I only had 2 hours and they still came out great: sweet, rich and almost caramelized.

We crumbled a block of salty feta cheese over the pizza and sent it into a 450 degree oven. The crust ended up being a little doughy — you need a bonafide pizza oven to get that nice crispy crust. So we used forks and it was still the best meal we’ve had all week.

Next time we make pizza, I’ll use pita bread — a tip I got from our neighbors who both have demanding careers and two little ones AND also like to cook. They even brought me a bag of the homemade pita bread they buy from a bakery on Cleveland Avenue. Thanks guys!

Homemade pesto! I can't wait to find other uses for it.

Homemade pesto! I can’t wait to find other uses for it.

Gwyneth's slow-roasted tomatoes. I wish we had some left for sandwiches.

Gwyneth’s slow-roasted tomatoes. I wish we had some left for sandwiches.

Food photography is an art. Trust me: this pizza looked better in person than it does here.

Food photography is an art. Trust me: this pizza looked better in person than it does here.

Recent downloads

Here are the songs I’ve downloaded over the past couple weeks:

’80s Songs that Only My Sister Would Appreciate

Only the Young – Journey
Don’t Stop Believin’ – Journey
Eye in the Sky – The Alan Parsons Project
Heat of the Moment – Asia
Africa – Toto

Ready for Fall

A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall – Bob Dylan
In My Life – The Beatles
Unknown Legend – Neil Young

Songs for Magnus (that I shamelessly also enjoy)

Life is a Highway – Cars soundtrack
Real Gone – Cars soundtrack
Our Town – Cars soundtrack

Songs for Greta (okay, I like them too)

We Can’t Stop – Miley Cyrus
Roar – Katy Perry

Songs to Run To (if I could figure out how to move to my iPod shuffle)

Get Lucky – Daft Punk
Doin’ It Right – Daft Punk

The new iPhone protector cover I got for my birthday

The new iPhone protector cover I got for my birthday

What’s for Dinner

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The kids had hot dogs for dinner. Again. And I had eggs and toast. Again.

See that bookshelf? Those are cookbooks lining the entire top shelf.

My kids got me this new Pioneer Woman cookbook for my birthday.

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Blogging about what we’re having for dinner is making me realize we eat terribly. Ugh. Stay tuned for some improvements…