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Anderson Cooper Wishes His Parents and Truman Capote Could Reconcile Over Dinner

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Anderson Cooper Wishes His Parents and Truman Capote Could Reconcile Over Dinner


Has a book ever brought you closer to another person, or come between you?

A few years before my dad died in 1978, he wrote a book called “Families: A Memoir and a Celebration.” It is about the family in Mississippi he was born into and the family he made with my mom. I read it every year. I was 10 when he died, and most of my memories of him come from that book. It’s like a letter from him. I can hear his voice in its pages. It makes me feel closer to him and one day my son, who is named after my dad, can read it and feel closer to him as well.

What’s the most interesting thing you learned from a book recently?

That Neanderthals and humans were alive at the same time. Yuval Noah Harari’s “Sapiens” was a revelation. I also read a new book that is just coming out called “Never Silent: ACT UP and My Life in Activism,” by my friend Peter Staley. I wrote the foreword. I learned so much about the heroic work he and other activists did to save lives in the worst years of the AIDS epidemic.

Which genres do you especially enjoy reading? And which do you avoid?

I don’t read a lot of nonfiction, except if it’s something someone has recommended to me, but when I find a great novel I love nothing more than just losing myself in it.

How do you organize your books?

My books are organized according to the personal connection I feel to them. The ones that are most important to me are in my library and are divided into categories: books I’ve read that I love; books written by family members or about my mom’s family; books that belonged to my mom, dad, brother or grandparents that have their names or notes in them; books about artists that I like or collect. In other rooms I have all the other books I’ve read over the years as well as books that belonged to my mom, dad and brother. We are probably talking about 3,000 or 4,000 books in all.

What book might people be surprised to find on your shelves?

I don’t know about surprised, but the book I am always delighted by is a copy of “Don Quixote” with illustrations by Salvador Dalí. It belonged to my mom and she wrote down the year she read it on the inside cover — 1949.

What’s the best book you’ve ever received as a gift?

A few years ago I was given a scrapbook my dad made when he was a child growing up in Quitman, Miss., during the Depression. It’s full of ticket stubs to the local theater and other mementos of his childhood.

What kind of reader were you as a child? Which childhood books and authors stick with you most?

I had difficulty reading as a child. I think in third grade I started weekly visits to someone I was told was a “reading doctor.” Her name was Jeannette Jansky and it wasn’t until years later I realized I had a mild form of dyslexia and she was a well-respected expert on child learning disabilities. She made a huge difference in my life. She taught me to type without looking at the keys, and I started really enjoying reading. I had a book called “Handmade Houses” as a child that I was obsessed with. I still have it. It’s a photo book of all sorts of shacks and homes made by hippies in the forest — this was the early ’70s. As a kid, I was very concerned about how people made a living and so I tended to read biographies. I read one about Helen Keller that I loved. I also loved the Fonz and read a book when I was around 8 called “The Fonz: The Henry Winkler Story.” I actually keep it in my office at CNN. Henry Winkler was very important to me when I was a child. Meeting him as an adult — and discovering what a kind and gracious person he is — was amazing.



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Syria Accuses Israel of Assassinating Official Near Golan Heights

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Syria Accuses Israel of Assassinating Official Near Golan Heights


The Syrian government on Saturday accused Israel of assassinating a high-ranking Syrian official who spent 12 years in an Israeli prison on terrorism charges before serving decades in the Syrian government.

The official, Midhat Saleh, who was responsible for overseeing the strategic Golan Heights boundary, was shot and killed by an apparent sniper while inside Syria near the shared border between the two countries.

In a statement announcing his death, Syria’s Presidency of the Council of Ministers said Mr. Saleh was “targeted by the Israeli enemy with bursts of treacherous bullets while returning to his home.”

Mr. Saleh, a member of the Druse religious minority, served 12 years in an Israeli prison on charges of using mines and explosives with the intention of killing Israeli civilians and soldiers

Credit…Syrian Arab News Agency

In 1997, after his release, he went to Syria, where he was elected to Parliament.

A senior Israeli defense official, who would not address Israel’s involvement in any killing, said Mr. Saleh was working with Iran’s Revolutionary Guard to establish the military infrastructure along the border necessary for an attack against Israel.

Israel has been operating aggressively against Iran in Syria soon after the country’s civil began and has attacked Iranian or Iranian-related targets in the country hundreds of times, if not more, as well as carried out a series of assassinations. The fighting between Israel and Iran inside Syria effectively constitutes a shadow war, as regional powers test their opponents’ abilities amid the carnage of the Syrian civil war.

Israel has long maintained that Iran represents a threat to its existence and has targeted the Islamic Republic’s agents both outside and inside Iran, stymying its nuclear weapons program and killing its top scientists and operatives.

The Israelis are sensitive to Iran’s presence in Syria. The assassination was the fourth attack this week against Iranian forces in Syria attributed to Israel.

Mr. Saleh, 54, was killed in Ein al-Tina, Syria, according to SANA, the Syrian state news agency. The town is directly across the border from Majdal Shams, Israel, the Druse village in which he was born.

The year of his birth, 1967, coincided with Israel’s defeat of a coalition of Arab countries and the occupation of the Golan Heights, a strategic plateau that spans the border.

He was arrested by Israeli intelligence agents in 1985, along with other Druse from the occupied Golan villages, and convicted of terrorism.

“I’m not saying we will kill the Jews or drive them away,” he said in a 2007 interview with The Guardian. “I just want to live on my land.”

After representing the Golan in Syria’s Parliament, he was appointed head of the country’s Golan Office and an adviser to President Bashar al-Assad.

Mr. Saleh was praised by officials in Mr. Assad’s government, a regime that has brutalized its own people, including gas attacks, for much of the past decade.

Hussein Arnous, Syria’s prime minister, described Mr. Saleh’s assassination as a cowardly act. Hussam Edin Aala, the country’s United Nations representative, called him “a man who devoted his life to defending the rights of his people in the occupied Syrian Golan.”



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Penn Badgley Flexes New Dance Moves

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Penn Badgley Flexes New Dance Moves


“It feels good,” the actor Penn Badgley said on a recent Friday morning, in an echoing studio at the Mark Morris Dance Center in Brooklyn. “I’m clumsy as hell. But it feels good.”

Mr. Badgley, 34, who played lonely boy Dan on the original “Gossip Girl” and now stars on the Netflix thriller “You,” hadn’t visited a gym in two years. He hadn’t taken a dance class in far longer.

But at a fashion shoot a month before, he had found himself moving in tandem with the photographer and missing dance acutely. So he reached out to André Zachery, his gyrotonics instructor and the artistic director of Renegade Performance Group, a contemporary dance company in Brooklyn. Mr. Zachery was willing to put him through his paces.

In the yawning dance studio, mirrors lined one wall. Ice-white tube lights glared overhead. Mr. Badgley had dressed for class in a villain-black T-shirt and shorts. A luxurious dad beard and a corona of mink-brown hair framed his face.

They began with a warm-up: stretches, lunges, isolations of the neck, shoulders, chest and hips. Roy Ayers’s “Everybody Loves the Sunshine” set the groove; Mr. Badgley, his brooding face etched into a frown, inhaled and exhaled in time, rolling his spine down and up.

Mr. Zachery integrated the stretches into a simple routine, and Mr. Badgley lumbering and somewhat stiff, like a bear who hadn’t fully shaken off hibernation, danced his way through the initial eight count, then repeated the steps again.

“All right, not bad,” Mr. Zachery said encouragingly. “You want to go a little faster?”

Mr. Badgley paused to tie his hair back with a blue-and-white bandanna. He asked to take it slow again. “As much as I love to move and I love to dance, it’s not a language that I speak regularly at all,” he said. “So even just getting into this feels great. But it also feels very clumsy.”

Mr. Zachery reassured him, gently countering Mr. Badgley’s perfectionism. “Be imperfect with this,” he said.

As Mr. Zachery prepared the next combination, the track switched to Donny Hathaway’s “The Ghetto,” and Mr. Badgley’s face stern face split into a smile. “This is one of my kid’s favorite songs,” Mr. Badgley said. “He loves classic soul.”

Last summer, Mr. Badgley and his wife, Domino Kirke, welcomed a son. (They also share custody of Ms. Kirke’s son from an earlier relationship.) On “You,” Mr. Badgley plays Joe, the sociopath next door. Joe has also had a son with his wife, Love (Victoria Pedretti), who has a body count of her very own.

In the third season, which premieres on Oct. 15, Joe muses about his new life in a Bay Area suburb. “Me, a boy and his mom, who is usually great, but occasionally murders people with her bare hands,” Joe says. “What could go wrong?” A lot, it turns out.

Mr. Badgley has some experience playing characters with dark motives. The final episodes of “Gossip Girl” revealed that Dan, the Deuxmoi of his day, had surveilled his friends and lovers, uploading their secrets to the pre-Instagram internet.

Making the show was, as Mr. Badgley described it, “an existential endurance test.” As a 20-something, he struggled with the glitzy ethos of the series. Fans’ failure to differentiate between him and Dan nagged at him, too. “I wouldn’t recommend fame to anybody,” he said. “It just doesn’t make anything better or help it make more sense. It doesn’t help you as a person.”

When “Gossip Girl” ended in 2012, he spent half of a decade shooting indie movies and touring with his band, MOTHXR. He wasn’t sure he wanted to return to mainstream TV and he had further doubts about Joe, a character who imprisons, tortures and kills women (and the occasional interfering man), all in the name of true love. Boy gets girl? Absolutely.

Still, he thought that “You” had something to say about the tropes of romantic love and the queasy nexus of desire, power and abuse. Many viewers responded a lot more swoonily and for a while Mr. Badgley took time to razz fans asking to be kidnapped. (“No thx,” he replied.) Now he tries to focus on the work itself, which he likens to a dance, “a torturous and ugly dance.”

Back in the studio, Mr. Badgley was trying to dance more beautifully. He can become overwhelmed by his own thoughts, he said, so Mr. Zachery introduced a guided meditation, occupying Mr. Badgley’s mind so that his body could move more freely.

As Robert Glasper’s cover of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” played, he had Mr. Badgley imagine himself at the beach, his body buoyed by the waves. They also played a game of avant-garde Twister, in which had Mr. Badgley had to keep either both hands and one foot on the floor, or both feet and one hand.

“Yo, man,” Mr. Zachery said approvingly. “You’re actually more in your body than you think.”

Finally, at a suggestion from Mr. Badgley, he switched the music to “Promises,” a mellow album from Floating Points, Pharoah Sanders and the London Symphony Orchestra. The two men began to move across the floor together, limbs slowly cartwheeling as they improvised. Politely, Mr. Badgley asked to turn the music up.

“Now we’re dancing,” he said, back arched, head tipped back, arms like wings. “It feels so good.”



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Beyond Chucky: Frightening Alternatives for Halloween TV

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Beyond Chucky: Frightening Alternatives for Halloween TV


The approach of Halloween brings an influx of horror to television and streaming, and this year the offerings have a classic appeal: reboots of “Chucky” on Syfy and USA, “Day of the Dead” on Syfy and of “I Know What You Did Last Summer” on Amazon Prime Video. But if the familiar delights of those franchises — and the campiness or melodrama that come with them — don’t appeal to you, here are a few recent or coming series that are scary with a difference.

This is the third horror mini-series Mike Flanagan has created for Netflix, following “The Haunting of Hill House” (based on the Shirley Jackson novel) and “The Haunting of Bly Manor” (based on Henry James’s “The Turn of the Screw”). “Midnight Mass” has the same emphasis on chilly, foreboding atmosphere as the earlier shows, but it seems to benefit from not being tied to a specific literary source. (There’s a general aura of Stephen King.) Especially in its early episodes, it feels looser and quirkier and more human.

A lot of the credit for that goes to the stars, Zach Gilford and Hamish Linklater. Gilford plays a native of a small, isolated coastal island who returns home after a stretch in jail for killing someone while driving drunk; Linklater plays a cleric who arrives at the same time, as a temporary replacement for the island’s aging priest.

Gilford perfectly captures the prodigal son’s hangdog guilt and resentment — it’s a far better performance than the show needs — and Linklater, with his gift for boyish pomposity, is entertaining as the well-intentioned priest who brings ruin to the island. Flanagan’s mix of Christian and vampiric lore and imagery is clever, though the later episodes are a little heavy on sermonizing and philosophical exposition. Patience is rewarded with a long cleansing by blood and fire.

The streaming service Topic will premiere this French mini-series in the extreme-crime-thriller category, which makes up a relatively high percentage of northern European TV, on Oct. 28. A reckless police officer (Maïwenn) disappears while on a stakeout in the tunnels beneath Paris, and her mother (Nathalie Baye), a retired detective, sets out to find her in a story involving dirty cops, dark-web thrill seekers, mass graves and chases through very cramped spaces. It is not for the claustrophobic.

As grim and tense as the show sometimes is, though, the really frightening thing about it is Baye, a superstar of French film (10 Cesar nominations, four victories), who appears to be having a blast as Catherine, the domineering, foul-mouthed, relentless ex-cop. An onscreen avatar of capability and insouciance since the early 1970s, Baye looks perfectly at home wielding a tattoo pen against a reluctant suspect or tasering her daughter’s ex-lover just because she feels like it. Baye also takes the trouble, not common in this genre, to give a fully developed performance, as the case’s startling revelations give Catherine perspective on her faults as a mother and as a police colleague. As a bonus, the show reunites Baye with Sergi López, her co-star in “A Pornographic Affair” (1999); their grumpy exes in “Nox” could be the same characters two decades later.

USA’s psychological crime drama stops just short of the supernatural, but it specializes in dread and weird vibes. Harry Ambrose, the broken-down cop played for four seasons now by Bill Pullman, is ridden by guilt, shame and feelings of inadequacy — he’s the real sinner of the title, at least in his own mind — so naturally, he stumbles onto season-long cases involving secret societies or cults or Nietzschean psycho killers. We know he’ll solve them, because he’s a dogged and gifted detective. But on any given day, it’s no sure thing that he’ll be able to drag himself out of bed.

In the new season that began this week, the unlikely romance Harry found in Season 3 has blossomed, which is great news because his partner, the painter Sonya Barzel, is played by the wonderful Jessica Hecht. Her ability to convey both astringency and warmth, sometimes in the same line, puts a new light on Pullman’s Harry, who can sometimes seem like a collection of tics and grimaces and awkward silences — now we see him through Sonya’s eyes, and if she can put up with it, so can we. The season opens with the new couple on vacation on a picturesque New England island where Harry, who’s now retired, stumbles almost immediately into the middle of a missing-persons case that may involve racial animosities in the fishing fleet and grunting, naked moon worshipers.

This anthology of animated ghost stories is a Japanese analogue to comics-inspired American series like “Creepshow.” Its ninth season was recently added by the anime streaming service Crunchyroll, but catching up would not be onerous: Episodes are four minutes long.

The rough, slightly rudimentary two-dimensional animation — like paper cutouts set in motion — pays homage to the kamishibai style of street storytelling and entertainment, which employs illustrated wooden boards. Stories are based on the usual assortment of Japanese folk tales and urban legends; the most recent batch includes cautionary tales about the dangers of visiting your new husband’s unusually tall family or being born in the (nonexistent) Year of the Cat.



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