Sept. 14 2006 10:56 AM

Event 3: The First 1,000 Words of a Vanity Fair Profile






 A Vanity Fair Profile
       Go ahead. Make fun of Richard Gere. His eyes are too close together. He's a college dropout who expounds on geopolitics--Tibetan independence and tribal rights. He practices Buddhism and can't shut up about it. He divorced Cindy Crawford. He hasn't made a good movie since Days of Heaven, which came out almost 20 years ago. Currently running in theaters are two more Gere travesties, The Jackal and Red Corner.

       And yet, there is something quite wonderful about Gere. We invite our Hackathletes to find it in this week's assignment: the first 1,000 words of a Vanity Fair profile of the actor/activist. Our Hacks are invited to imagine a location for their profile, as well as incidental events, but they must rely on the public record--or the "cheat sheet" we've provided--for all quotations and facts.
       They should also be mindful of the instructions offered by Vanity Fair Editor Graydon Carter this week on how to write a celebrity profile. "You can only have so many tough things in an issue and I think it's foolish to waste it on an actor," Carter told the Wall Street Journal. "A searing investigative piece on an actor?"
       Pucker up.
Richard Gere
Born: Aug. 31, 1948
Salary: $12 million per picture
Web Sites:
       Mr. Showbiz fan site
       Survival International  interview (scroll down on the left side of the screen)
       Report to the Commissioner (1974); Baby Blue Marine (1976); Looking for Mr. Goodbar (1977); Days of Heaven (1978); American Gigolo (1979); Bloodbrothers (1979); Yanks (1979); An Officer and a Gentleman (1982); Breathless (1983); The Cotton Club (1984); KingDavid (1985); Power (1986); PrettyWoman (1990); InternalAffairs (1990); FinalAnalysis (1992); And the Band Played On (1993); Sommersby (1993); Intersection (1994); First Knight (1995); Primal Fear (1996); Red Corner (1997); The Jackal (1997). In development: Manhattan GhostStory and the Coen Brothers' Intolerable Cruelty.


Stage Career:
       Provincetown Playhouse; Young Vic acting troupe; Seattle Repertory. Sam Shepard's Killer's Head; London production of Grease, Lincoln Center's A Midsummer Night's Dream. Also starred in Bent in 1979, a play about a gay man's efforts to survive in a Nazi concentration camp.
       Gay and lesbian rights; AIDS research; Tibetan independence; human rights; tribal people.
He's Only in It for the Money: He once accepted $75,000 for appearing at Harrod's annual "white sale."

Gere's Rap Sheet:
       Arrested: for blocking the demolition of two historic Times Square theaters, 1982; urinating in public, 1983.

Up Close and Personal:
       Known as Dick Gere in high school. Attended the University of Massachusetts for two years on a gymnastics scholarship. Eighth Biggest Box Office Star, 1982. Wears an expensive wristwatch on his left wrist and a Buddhist mala (prayer beads) on the right one. Meditates two hours each day. Travels to India for teachings. Girlfriends over the years: Diane Von Furstenberg, British socialite Sabrina Guinness, jewelry designer Tina Chow, actress Penelope Milford, and model Laura Bailey, whom he met at a party hosted by the Dalai Lama. Current squeeze, actress Carey Lowell. Days of Heaven, American Gigolo, and An Officer and a Gentleman were all developed for John Travolta. Shattered over losing the lead role in The Lords of Flatbush (1974), which went to Sylvester Stallone, Gere spent three days in bed recovering. He once heckled China apologist Henry Kissinger at New York City's Cathedral of Saint John the Divine, crying out, "What about China, Henry!" as he began his speech.

Malicious Rumors:
       That he's gay and has a penchant for gerbils.
Hanging With the Dalai Lama:
       The Dalai Lama once asked Gere if he really felt the emotions he displayed on the screen. Gere answered yes, and the Dalai Lama laughed. Gere still ponders the meaning of the Dalai Lama's laughter.

Gere's Fears:
       Missing connecting flights. Summer thunderstorms. Suffering, "which is a state we all find ourselves in."

Marital Status--Divorced:
       Gere was introduced to model Cindy Crawford by Vanity Fair photographer Herb Ritts. The couple married in 1991 in a Las Vegas chapel, making wedding rings out of aluminum foil. Rumors of the couple's demise accelerated in 1994, with the gossip press claiming it was a marriage of convenience. That May, the couple placed a $30,000 full-page ad in the London Times: "We are heterosexual and monogamous and take our commitment to each other very seriously. ... Marriage is hard enough without all this negative speculation. We both look forward to having a family." In December they announced their split, and they divorced in 1995.

Gere on Inner Peace Through Buddhism:
       "It's a philosophy that has no givens. It questions everything. It acknowledges the state we're all in, which is a state of incompleteness or damage or suffering. Suffering is the state where we all find ourselves. If you realize you suffer, you can begin to remove the causes of the suffering."

Gere's Religion:
       Don't you ever read People in the checkout stand? He's been a Buddhist for more than 20 years!