Today on Alphabet City: An original Spit List fixture takes a final bow. Guest Star: Scarlett Johansson, Liev Schreiber.
Scarlett Johansson has been officially removed from my Spit List. While many of you can breathe easier now, others are probably confused and might want to bone up on my go-to game of celebrity distaste. The Spit List debuts in “Episode 11: Bold Faced Names” of Alphabet City: My So-Called Sitcom Life and also in this Thanksgiving blog post.
Since the creation of the Spit List (SL), I’ve discovered that the easiest way for an actor to move away from any wet loogies is to turn in a laudable performance. To be honest, Scarlett has been headed off the SL for quite some time mostly helped by Woody Allen. But it was her Broadway debut in Arthur Miller’s A View From the Bridge that sealed her exit. Chef, Susan and I took in the Sunday matinee and were impressed with her dark hair, raspy voice and ability to project the budding confidence of a 17 year-old on the precipice of escape. Scarlett shines because her co-stars are truly remarkable including Jessica Hecht and the always captivating Liev Schreiber. Yowsa, that man’s presence can fill a vast stage.
Incidentally, Chef and I have always had a thing for Liev since we ran into him years ago in the Bath & Bodyworks near NYU. He had his Jack Russell terrier in tow, and Chef and I scrambled to the floor to play with the pup, stealing glimpses up at the towering actor while he picked out some bath scrub. I don’t remember he paid us much attention, but we didn’t care, we just wanted to be part of his pack for a few moments.
So congrats, Scarlett. I’m sure the honor of being removed from The Spit List supersedes any other awards and tributes (do I see a Tony nom in her future?). Take heart, Dakota Fanning—there’s hope for you yet.
Today on Alphabet City: Jon Paul’s celebrity hatred game becomes a Thanksgiving tradition.
Since I moved to the Big Apple, Thanksgiving has become my all-time favorite holiday. Instead of traveling to spend stress-induced time with family, I gather friends in my home for a big meal. After we pile our plates with food and pour copious amounts of wine, we go around the table and announce the person we would most like to spit on. That’s right, we don’t waste time being sappy and thankful. Instead, we use it as an opportunity to vent frustration with famous faces. The Spit List as we call it has a long and storied history, having been created by Susan and me in our days at Condé Nast. CLICK HERE to read a full excerpt about the origins, including a peek inside the famed Condé Nast cafeteria, and a dig at Chloe Sevigny.
For those of you rushing to adopt the game as a conversation starter at your own feast and too busy to read the excerpt, let me give a quick overview of the ground rules:
- Spitting on someone is a real commitment based upon a visceral reaction; it comes from the gut. There really is no rhyme or reason—so there’s no arguing allowed once someone announces their “spitee.” They are allowed to give some background, but not required to defend their choice per se.
- You can only spit on famous people—someone that you might see on a red carpet. It can’t be Bob in accounting.
- Your Spit List doesn’t have to be long, and people can move on and off the list over time. Scarlett Johansson was on my very first list, but has moved off.
Friends who have enjoyed The Spit List game at my table report that it has become like a drug for them—they spend all year looking forward to creating their list. If they miss Thanksgiving at my house, they phone or email in their entry. Some have tried exporting it to their family gatherings with limited success. My friend Aimee spent some time in Liberia but was frustrated in her attempts to explain the game to citizens of a post-war torn republic.
Over the years, we have had quite a diverse group of honorees—Jennifer Aniston has moved on and off various people’s lists; not surprisingly both Suze Orman and Oprah have appeared more than once. I imagine at least Oprah will be back this year.
Last year, Angela tried expanding it beyond just celebrities to broader concepts like the “blogosphere.” The judges are still out on whether pop culture concepts will be a permanent category addition to The Spit List.
This year I’m extra lucky—two of my perennial Spit List favorites have collided: the Vampires of Twilight and Dakota Fanning. I’m already getting choked up.
Have a heartwarming holiday, and do report back on your own Spit List.
Excerpt from Alphabet City’s Episode 11: Bold Faced Names