The sweet life with Justin 'n' Kate
Early dinner patrons at La Dolce Vita (the fab Italian boite on Woodward in Detroit) tried not to gawk Sunday when a handsome-looking foursome emerged from two black SUVs with blacked-out windows. It was Detroit Tigers super pitcher Justin Verlander (currently on the disabled list) and his girlfriend, supermodel Kate Upton, along with Tigers pitcher Joe Nathan (also on the disabled list) with his girlfriend, Cristy Jones. They had an assortment of appetizers — Justin had a veal entrée, and the supermodel simply had a bowl of soup. We couldn't help but notice a nice bottle of red wine, or as we heard the waiter say, "A very lovely bottle of wine." After eating, the couples rushed out the door. "She has a plane to catch," Justin told us, pointing to Upton (who was with the ace at the John Varvatos opening last week, watching Alice Cooper), before stopping for a photo op. And although the other diners seemed to know who they were, no one bothered them for autographs or photos. Not us — we're shameless.
Alice Cooper on film
Speaking of Varvatos and Cooper, we got several tips last week while chatting at Cliff Bell's with the two. Alice Cooper's love of horror films started when he was a kid in Detroit, watching films like "Creature from the Black Lagoon" at the Eastown Theater. Currently, he recommends "It Follows." "I saw it twice, I took my son to see it and my daughter to see it. It's all shot in Metro Detroit. They pass the '67 riot area, with all these old houses all burned down. There was something about it, I said, 'Ah, home!' "
Whatever "it" is, it follows you, relentlessly. "It's relentless," Cooper said, "It walks very slowly, but it never gives up. And it changes people. There's people walking around, and you see one person way in the background, just kind of walking at the camera."
"It's all shot in Detroit by this young guy, it's independent, cost nothing and it got five-star reviews because it's truly, originally scary. The other film Cooper touts: "What We Do in the Shadows." "It's 'Spinal Tap' with vampires. It's about these four vampires from Transylvania or wherever, living in a flat. They were arguing about who was doing the dishes. 'I'm 400 years old, I don't do dishes.' The other one said, 'When you kill someone in the living room, put papers down!' It's hysterically funny."
Detroiters on film
Lately Productions Plus, Metro Detroit's largest SAG/AFTRA-franchised talent agency, has been booking actors for parts that would ordinarily be cast out of New York or Hollywood. "Since Michigan's film incentive was implemented, P+ Detroit has auditioned or booked actors for speaking roles in over 200 films," said Olga Denysenko, director of the agency's theatrical department. More than 70 Michigan actors were cast in speaking roles in "Batman vs. Superman," and several actors made it onto "Empire," "Chicago P.D." and "Chicago Fire." Michigan actress Nicole Forester won a co-starring role in the film "Dial a Prayer," and several other local actors snagged smaller roles. The agency is booking talent for several local shoots this summer.
An epic novel of Detroit
One of the hottest new authors is Angela Flournoy, who's written an epic novel, "The Turner House," about several generations of a Detroit family and how they and the neighborhood evolves over 50 years. Flournoy is a southern California native, but her father came from Detroit. Flournoy will appear at 2 p.m. Sunday at the Scarab Club, 217 Farnsworth in Detroit, sponsored by the Book Beat bookstore. There is no admission fee, but books are available to purchase.