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Mel Gibson may be What Women Want, but it’s clear that Robert Downey Jr. is the pinup on everyone’s minds (#572, Dec. 8). ”What [Downey] needs is help for his addictions — not bets on whether his Hollywood career is over,” writes Becky Thomas of Kennewick, Wash. But Randy Sindelar-Corturillo of Cleveland argues his career might be part of the problem: ”Maybe it’s time for him to be fully devoted to maintaining his sobriety, as opposed to acting.” In other mail, paramedic David J. Roll of Gallatin, Mo., applauds a piece on the retooled NBC show Third Watch. Writes Roll, ”[An] episode involving the burning death of teenagers showed how stress affects those who witness tragic events, how we carry on with our lives and jobs, but never forget.”

GIBSON GIRL

Thank you for the great article on Mel Gibson and Helen Hunt (”Lady and the Chump”). I can’t wait to see the movie. And as far as Mel’s comment that he’s way past being a romantic lead: If I were lucky enough to be an actress, there is no other actor that I would want more for a romantic lead. Mel, you are and will always be the best and most beautiful actor in Hollywood — or anywhere else for that matter. LIA MCKINNY mckinny@cadence.com Santa Clara, Calif.

UPSIDE DOWNEY

You asked if Hollywood would give up on Robert Downey Jr (News & Notes). Probably not. Hollywood has been coddling and enabling Downey for years now. If most of us were arrested for possession of drugs, we’d probably lose our jobs and not have a stack of new offers to mull over. In articles about Downey, people often comment about what a gifted actor he is. I’m afraid I haven’t seen much evidence of that in recent years. U.S. Marshals? Don’t think so. In Dreams? Please. I’m not unsympathetic to Downey’s plight, but when he emerges from these latest self-inflicted wounds, he should probably put his career on the back burner until he can learn how to function as a drug-free individual. CHUCK MABRY Lanham, Md.

Anyone who has thought drugs are glamorous or something that can be controlled need only look at Robert Downey Jr. It is so sad to see his talent wasted once again. For those of you who believe in the power of prayer, this man really needs it now. God bless you, Robert. MELANIE NORRIS Leawood, Kan.

‘WATCH’ AND WONDER

As a Third Watch-er, I was very happy to see the article ”Keeping Watch” (Biz). Okay, the show may not be quite up there with executive producer John Wells’ other hits — yet! — but it’s still more enjoyable than some other overhyped, underentertaining shows this season, and it can only get better. It’s a pleasure to see that same show dig in deep and rally to stay in the game against all odds. ROBERT ARMIERI Stony Brook, N.Y.

TIFFANI SETTING

I want to thank you for an early Christmas present. When I turned to the article ”Wack to the Future” (TV), I saw something that made my blood start pumping a bit faster: Tiffani ”Amber-free” Thiessen. Not only was it a great photo of an incredibly beautiful woman, but there was the news she will soon be starring in her own sitcom. Hopefully, in a sewer of TV shows, hers will stand out. By the way, Tiffani, if you are reading this, will you marry me? JEFF FUELL Las Vegas

XXX-MAS

Amidst the seasonal music reviews (Music), you put forth the scenario of an Eminem Christmas CD. Some of the song titles you felt were appropriate for this CD were ”Whose Bitch Is This?” and ”Silencer Night.” Eminem doesn’t need help from EW to be offensive. EW should not use Eminem as justification to be offensive. GREG VANDERSPEK Toronto

WHEN WILL SHE BE LOVED

EW is the only entertainment magazine that ”gets it.” Case in point: your review of Linda Ronstadt’s A Merry Little Christmas (Music). I thank you for acknowledging music’s most precious and grossly underappreciated artist! PAT DEVITTO patdevitto@netscape.net East Moriches, N.Y.

DOG TIRED

Please ask Josh Wolk what the point was of ”interviewing” Kelly from the Grinch movie (Movies)? Too much time on his hands? Had space to fill? He gets paid for this kind of stupid fluff? Who’s next? The Pets.com Sock Puppet talking about currently being out of a job? Get real. GARY BOWDEN Fort Smith, Ark.

CORRECTIONS: Lynyrd Skynyrd hail from Florida, not Alabama (Music). We left out the full title of the book Writers at the Movies: Twenty-Six Contemporary Authors Celebrate Twenty-Six Memorable Movies (Books).

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