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5 Classes You Can Take With Celebrities

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Traditional wisdom says that in order to become the best, you should learn from the best. Whether you’re trying to perfect your tennis serve, write a play, or launch your own fashion empire, here are helpful classes, tutorials, and learning programs offered by some of the most famous names in the business.

1. SPEND A WEEKEND COOKING WITH CELEBRITY CHEFS.

Chef Dan Barber
Chef and restaurateur Dan Barber
Rob Kim/Getty Images

At the New York Culinary Experience, aspiring chefs can spend an entire weekend stirring, sautéing, and seasoning their way to culinary greatness alongside some of the food industry’s most famous figures. Hosted by New York Magazine and the International Culinary Center, the event offers participants the chance to take classes with star chefs, participate in Q&A sessions with key food industry players, and hobnob with other gourmands.

Last year's event featured hands-on tutorials by Blue Hill at Stone Barn’s Dan Barber, Nobu executive chef Ricky Estrellado, and chocolatier Jacques Torres. Dates for this year’s New York Culinary Experience haven’t been announced yet, nor have guest chefs or ticket prices. That said, sharing a kitchen with figures like Barber, Estrellado, and Torres doesn’t come cheap: Last year’s attendees paid $1695, a fee that included four classes, meals, and private closing receptions on both days.

2. TAKE A FASHION DESIGN CLASS WITH DIANE VON FURSTENBERG, AN ARCHITECTURE COURSE WITH FRANK GEHRY, A DRAMATIC WRITING CLASS WITH DAVID MAMET, AND MORE.

Fashion designer Diane Von Furstenberg
Fashion designer Diane von Furstenberg
John Lamparski/Getty Images

We’d be remiss if we didn’t mention MasterClass, the digital education platform that connects internet students of all skill levels and interests with celebrity “teachers” like comedian Steve Martin, Oscar-winning composer Hans Zimmer, or country star Reba McEntire. The virtual “classes” cost $90 and include streaming videos and reading materials.

All videos are pre-recorded, but participants can seek feedback from their classmates in an online forum or in comment threads. Occasionally, they're given the chance to receive direct critiques from their famous teachers (although it's unclear how often it happens). To bridge any communication gaps, instructors hold "Office Hours," in which they post online answers to select student questions.

Not interested in writing jokes, composing award-winning movie scores, or singing about souped-up Chevys and broken hearts? Brand-new MasterClass course offerings are currently in the works, including a fashion course taught by designer Diane von Furstenberg; a dramatic writing class by David Mamet; a photography course by Annie Leibovitz; and an architecture/design course taught by Frank Gehry.

3. LEARN TO CREATE COMICS WITH FORMER MARVEL EDITOR/WRITER DANNY FINGEROTH.

American comic book writer and editor Danny Fingeroth
Marvel Comics writer/editor Danny Fingeroth and Stan Lee.
Mat Szwajkos/Getty Images

For years, Danny Fingeroth worked at Marvel Comics as the group editor of the company's Spider-Man book line, and wrote issues of The Deadly Foes of Spider-Man, Avengers, and other comics. He has also written books about comics and graphic novels, including an upcoming biography of Stan Lee. Amid his busy schedule, Fingeroth takes time to teach aspiring comics writers.

In addition to lecturing at universities and museums, he offers online writing classes for up to six students, and provides one-on-one tutorials via email or phone. Fingeroth’s next online class begins on November 5, and the registration deadline is October 15. It’s six weeks long and costs $450. As for individual classes, they’re available upon request, and prices are determined on an hourly or per-project basis.

4. IMPROVE YOUR SERVE WITH ANDRE AGASSI.

Tennis Player Andre Agassi
Tennis Player Andre Agassi
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Tennis player Andre Agassi retired in 2006, following a 21-year career that saw him win eight Grand Slam tournaments and a 1996 Olympic gold medal. Today, the athlete runs an education nonprofit, the Andre Agassi Foundation, and he recently took time to do his own teaching, teaming up with learning platform Udemy.com to share his secrets to a successful match.

The online course costs $10, marked down from its original $100, and includes one hour of on-demand video lectures. Agassi walks viewers through his signature moves (including his famous return of serve), shares his go-to drills, and explains his mental strategies for staying focused and in control on the court. The course is recommended for advanced-beginner and intermediate tennis players, but anyone with a computer or mobile device with internet connection can technically follow along.

5. PERFECT YOUR VOCAL, DANCE, AND AUDITIONING SKILLS WITH AWARD-WINNING BROADWAY STARS.

The cast of the Broadway musical "Hamilton" performing onstage.
The cast of Hamilton performing at the Grammys.
Theo Wargo/Getty Images

Dreaming of making it big on Broadway? Before seeing your name in lights, you’ll need to fine-tune your dance moves, perfect your auditioning skills, and train your voice to hit all the right high notes. That’s where the Broadway Artists Alliance comes in: Located in New York City’s Theater District, the performance arts training center hosts master classes for advanced students, taught by Broadway performers, casting directors, and Tony Award winners or nominees.

Classes are often themed and range in technique from monologue performance to scene study and song interpretation. Upcoming classes include a half-day session with Hamilton actor Thayne Jasperson and an Anastasia-themed full-day class for young actors taught by Christy Altomare, star of the same-titled Broadway musical.

To enroll in a master class at the Broadway Artists Alliance, you’ll need to apply online and submit a headshot and resume. Half-day classes typically cost $175, and full-day classes (which are typically recommended for students 21 and younger) cost $250.

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7 Fascinating Details We Learned From Classic Movie Novelizations
Universal Studios
Universal Studios

Before the rise of on-demand entertainment sources, fans who fell in love with movies didn’t have many options beyond waiting for a theatrical re-release or home video rental. Revisiting Star Wars or King Kong instead meant picking up a novelization, a book-length prose adaptation that often expanded or added to a film’s plot.

Working from early drafts of a script sometimes meant that the writers assigned to these projects referenced details that weren’t present in the finished film. These facts can range from minor (Indiana Jones’s crushing student in Raiders of the Lost Ark may have been more of a stalker) to major (the Gremlins novelization depicts Mogwais as aliens from another planet). Check out seven of the more intriguing reveals found in the paperback versions of classic films.

1. E.T. HAD THE HOTS FOR ELLIOTT’S MOM

Steven Spielberg had enjoyed William Kotzwinkle’s 1974 novel The Fan Man so much that he invited Kotzwinkle to take on a plum assignment: Novelizing the director’s big 1982 release, E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial. Although Kotzwinkle stuck to the film’s fish-out-of-water clothesline and the friendship between the titular alien and human friend Elliott, he took some time to delve deeper into the accordion-necked creature’s proclivities—specifically, the idea that E.T. was not quite the asexual being portrayed in the film.

In the novel, E.T. is depicted as having a crush on Mary, Elliott’s (single) mother. After musing that it was unfortunate Mary was showing signs of being lonely, E.T.

"…crept down the hall to Mary's room and peeked in. The willow-creature was asleep, and he watched her for a long time. She was a goddess, the most beautiful thing he'd ever seen. … Mary, said his old heart. Then upon paddle feet, he tiptoed over to her bed and gazed more closely.”

Perhaps watching someone while they sleep is considered acceptable on E.T.’s home planet. In any event, neither the prose version of Mary nor her onscreen incarnation (played by Dee Wallace) acknowledged that E.T. wanted to swipe right.

2. RENÉ BELLOQ AND INDIANA JONES WERE COLLEGE RIVALS.

Karen Allen and Paul Freeman in Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
Lucasfilm Ltd.

In the opening sequence of 1981’s Raiders of the Lost Ark, we learn that two-fisted archaeologist Indiana Jones (Harrison Ford) will go to considerable lengths to acquire rare and valuable artifacts. We also discover that his archrival, René Belloq, will go a step further in seizing them. Belloq meets a satisfying, face-melting end during the movie’s climax, but viewers never learn that he and Indy had problems going back to graduate school. In Campbell Black’s novelization, it’s revealed that the two were classmates who drifted apart when Belloq plagiarized one of Indy’s essays. (The book also mentions that Indy’s love interest, Marion Ravenwood, was only 15 when Professor Jones seduced her, a fact best left on the cutting room floor.)

3. THE XEROMORPHS MIGHT BE PRETTY SMART.

In Alan Dean Foster’s novelization of 1979’s Alien, Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) is shown to be at odds with android Ash (Ian Holm) for his duplicitous behavior. Conversing with his decapitated head, Ripley discovers that Ash know more about the Xenomorph terrorizing the crew of the Nostromo than he had let on. Near death, Ash hints that the alien might be intelligent and that she should try to communicate with it.

“Did you?” she asks.

“Please let my grave hold some secrets,” Ash replies.

Onscreen, the creature seemed less interested in interacting with humans and more preoccupied with treating them like incubators. In fairness, signs of intelligent life were hard to come by in that universe following 1986's Aliens.

4. ROCKY FORFEITED HIS WORLD TITLE TO FIGHT IVAN DRAGO.

Dolph Lundgren and Sylvester Stallone in Rocky IV (1985)
MGM Home Entertainment

After watching his friend Apollo Creed get pummeled to death without doing anything to stop it, a penitent Rocky Balboa (Sylvester Stallone) travels to Russia to get revenge in 1985’s Rocky IV. The film makes it clear that Balboa’s bout with steroided Soviet hulk Ivan Drago is personal: He declares he’s not being paid for the match and will do it over the Christmas holiday, leaving his skittish wife and son to wonder if Rocky will be cognitively functional in time for eggnog.

The accompanying novelization, which is credited to Sylvester Stallone but may have been written by a ghostwriter, elaborates on Rocky’s obsession with the bout. After Creed’s death, Rocky tries to petition the sanctioning body for boxing to permit him to fight Drago. They refuse, and Rocky is forced to give up his heavyweight belt in order to compete. There are other complications—black sheep brother-in-law Paulie wrecks Rocky’s car—but most of it seems to be in the service of inserting details in place of the film’s trademark montages.

The book does correct one of the movie’s subjective flaws: Rocky is quick to throw in the towel during Creed’s beating, making Drago less an accidental murderer and more of an actual one.

5. GREMLINS ARE SPACE ALIENS THAT SPEAK ENGLISH.

The canon established by Chris Columbus’s script for 1984’s Gremlins says only that the Mogwai are a race of adorably over-fuzzed creatures that spawn demonic offspring when they get wet or are fed after midnight. In George Gipe’s novelization, readers learn that Mogwai are actually an alien race dispatched to different planets in order to display a “peaceful spirit.” Gipe also had the notion to have Gizmo and Stripe converse in the Queen’s English, with Stripe calling his rival “my dear enemy.” Joe Dante, the movie’s director, said Gipe “made up” their galactic backstory, telling Empire in 2014 that Mogwai are the result of dragons and pandas mating. It's as good an explanation as any.

6. JANINE DESIGNED THE GHOSTBUSTERS LOGO.

A screen shot from the 1984 film 'Ghostbusters'
Columbia Pictures

Released in 1984, Ghostbusters succeeded where many movies subsequently failed, mixing comedy with special effects in a story about four guys who treat ghost entrapment like pest extermination. Their secretary, Janine (Annie Potts) seems unaffected by the whole enterprise, answering the phone with “Gahhstbustahs.” But in the novelization by Richard Mueller, it’s revealed that she was responsible for the most iconic image of the business: the crossed-out Ghostbusters logo.

7. FERRIS BUELLER FUNDED HIS DAY OFF WITH SAVINGS BONDS.

Novelizing a John Hughes screenplay must have seemed like a thankless task. The prolific writer/director had a very distinctive voice that was carried by his adolescent characters. One of his most enduring creations was the title teenager of 1986’s Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, an episodic tale of a high schooler (Matthew Broderick) who decides to skip class to hang out with his friends.

The film never specifies how Bueller comes up with the cash he spends in the course of his truancy, but the novel by Todd Strasser fills in the gaps. Apparently, Bueller convinces his father to give him the location of his savings bonds, which he proceeds to cash in at a local bank. He also steals a few bucks from his sister Jeanie.

The book provides other details, like what Ferris and his friends ate at the French restaurant and the fact that Ferris is apparently friendly with Garth Volbeck, the juvenile delinquent played by Charlie Sheen that Jeanie runs into in the police station near the end of the film.

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The Muppets are Getting a Reboot (Again)
Frazer Harrison, Getty Images
Frazer Harrison, Getty Images

The Muppets have entertained audiences from television sets and movie screens. Now, The Hollywood Reporter reports the beloved characters are coming to your computer. Jim Henson's classic characters are being rebooted for Disney's new streaming service.

This isn't the first time Disney has attempted to repackage The Muppets for TV since acquiring the property in 2004. In 2015, a mockumentary-style show, simply titled The Muppets, premiered on ABC, but it was canceled after one season in light of underwhelming reviews. Disney is also producing a CGI update of the animated series Muppet Babies this March. Unlike that show, this upcoming series will star the original adult characters.

Disney has yet to announce a premiere date or even a premise for the new streaming show. Audiences can expect to see it sometime after the Netflix competitor launches in fall of 2019.

The Muppets will be accompanied by streaming versions of other classic Disney properties. Series based on Monsters Inc. (2001) and The Mighty Ducks (1992) as well as film reboots of The Parent Trap (1998) and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids (1989) are all expected to appear exclusively on the streaming service.

[h/t The Hollywood Reporter]

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