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The Duchess of York on “The Young Victoria.”

The Duchess of York on “The Young Victoria.” (photo)

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Sarah Ferguson, Duchess of York, is the ex-wife of Prince Andrew, a famous toe-suckee, a one time confidante to Princess Diana, a Weight Watchers spokesperson, Britain’s traditional punching bag and, now, a movie producer — and she’s out on the circuit doing press for “The Young Victoria,” her first venture into film production.

Americans are suckers for British accents and aristocracy, so regardless of any accompanying infamy, it was inevitable the Duchess would show up and give good copy to promote the release, this Friday, of the year’s seemingly mandatory entry in the Boring Awards-Season Movie About British Royalty genre. (Last year, hilariously, it was literally “The Duchess” with Keira Knightley; two years before that, it was “The Queen.”)

And the Duchess has been getting softballed by everyone from New York‘s “46 Minutes” to New York Times ex-restaurant critic Frank Bruni. In every interview — all of which devote at least half of their length to discussing Fergie rather than the movie she’s ostensibly promoting — she alludes to being “misunderstood,” or how the British press was cruel to her, or so on. The American profiles tend to leave it at that, erring on the side of discretion.

When the film came out in the UK earlier this year, it seems Ferguson’s involvement was viewed as a demerit rather than an asset, and interviews with her were far less extensive. Hating the Duchess is a national UK pastime, perhaps exacerbated by her twin reality shows “The Duchess in Hull” and “The Duchess on the Estate,” in which she shows up and harangues, respectively, the obese and the poor, all while moaning about herself.

12152009_duchessinhull.jpg“Every single minute of the day I think I’m fat, ugly, disgusting, unworthy and nobody likes me. I’ve had 15 years of defamation of character,” she begins the former show by saying, before informing the fat family — who didn’t know who she was — “You’ve heard of the Queen of England, have you? The Queen was my mother-in-law.” And her obsession with her bad press seems only to be adding fuel to the fire, as when she showed up at her daughter’s college, working into her speech the tabloid poll tidbit that 82% of the nation would rather sleep with a goat than her.

But let no one say that she doesn’t understand her American audience. It’s highly unlikely that viewers will show up for “The Young Victoria” solely on the strength of a royal connection, no matter how much Ferguson claims spiritual kinship by explaining she wanted to make a movie about a woman who “fought for her marriage” like she should have done. Similarly, it’s impossible she raised $35 million on the strength of her tabloid background and the parallels.

But her unselfconscious sense of constantly reiterated hurt and willingness to discuss her peak of fame for an audience that hasn’t learned to hate her like they do at home is smart marketing for a movie that (c’mon) has little chance of making an American killing. Better yet, it allows her to martyr herself in a way that plays to the bathetic strengths of American celebrity journalism.

Regardless of how “The Young Victoria” does, this has to be the most satisfying press tour Ferguson’s done in years: a prestige-y movie to talk up and parallels to Queen Victoria. Never mind that the Victorian era is not generally considered a golden age these days. An icon is an icon.

[Photos: “The Young Victoria,” Apparition, 2009; “The Duchess in Hull,” from Ken McKay, ITV, 2008]

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

It’s the final countdown to Christmas and thanks to IFC’s movie marathon all Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, you can revel in classic ’80s films AND find inspiration for your last-minute gifts. Here are our recommendations, if you need a head start:

Musical Instrument

Great analog entertainment substitute when you refuse to give your kid the Nintendo Switch they’ve been drooling over.

Breakfast In Bed

Any significant other or child would appreciate these Uncle Buck-approved flapjacks. Just make sure you’re not stuck on clean up duty.

Cocktail Supplies

You’ll need them to get through the holidays.

Dance Lessons

So you can learn to shake-shake-shake (unless you know ghosts willing to lend a hand).

Comfy Clothes

With all the holiday meals, there may be some…embigenning.

Get even more great inspiration all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC, and remember…

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A-O Rewind

Celebrating Portlandia One Sketch at a Time

The final season of Portlandia approaches.

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GIFs via Giphy

Most people measure time in minutes, hours, days, years…At IFC, we measure it in sketches. And nothing takes us way (waaaaaay) back like Portlandia sketches. Yes, there’s a Portlandia milepost from every season that changed the way we think, behave, and pickle things. In honor of Portlandia’s 8th and final season, Subaru presents a few of our favorites.


Put A Bird On It

Portlandia enters the pop-culture lexicon and inspires us to put birds on literally everything.

Colin the Chicken

Who’s your chicken, really? Behold the emerging locavore trend captured perfectly to the nth degree.

Dream Of The ’90s

This treatise on Portland made it clear that “the dream” was alive and well.

No You Go

We Americans spend most of our lives in cars. Fortunately, there’s a Portlandia sketch for every automotive situation.

A-O River!

We learned all our outdoor survival skills from Kath and Dave.

One More Episode

The true birth of binge watching, pre-Netflix. And what you’ll do once Season 8 premieres.

Catch up on Portlandia’s best moments before the 8th season premieres January 18th on IFC.

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WTF Films

Artfully Off

Celebrity All-Star by Sisters Weekend is available now on IFC's Comedy Crib.

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Sisters Weekend isn’t like other comedy groups. It’s filmmaking collaboration between besties Angelo Balassone, Michael Fails and Kat Tadesco, self-described lace-front addicts with great legs who write, direct, design and produce video sketches and cinematic shorts that are so surreally hilarious that they defy categorization. One such short film, Celebrity All-Star, is the newest addition to IFC’s Comedy Crib. Here’s what they had to say about it in a very personal email interview…


IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a fancy network executive you just met in an elevator?

Celebrity All-Star is a short film about an overworked reality TV coordinator struggling to save her one night off after the cast of C-List celebrities she wrangles gets locked out of their hotel rooms.

IFC: How would you describe Celebrity All-Star to a drunk friend of a friend you met in a bar?

Sisters Weekend: It’s this short we made for IFC where a talent coordinator named Karen babysits a bunch of weird c-list celebs who are stuck in a hotel bar. It’s everyone you hate from reality TV under one roof – and that roof leaks because it’s a 2-star hotel. There’s a magician, sexy cowboys, and a guy wearing a belt that sucks up his farts.


IFC: What was the genesis of Celebrity All-Star?

Celebrity All-Star was born from our love of embarrassing celebrities. We love a good c-lister in need of a paycheck! We were really interested in the canned politeness people give off when forced to mingle with strangers. The backstory we created is that the cast of this reality show called “Celebrity All-Star” is in the middle of a mandatory round of “get to know each other” drinks in the hotel bar when the room keys stop working. Shows like Celebrity Ghost Hunters and of course The Surreal Life were of inspo, but we thought it
was funny to keep it really vague what kind of show they’re on, and just focus on everyone’s diva antics after the cameras stop rolling.

IFC: Every celebrity in Celebrity All-Star seems familiar. What real-life pop personalities did you look to for inspiration?

Sisters Weekend: Anyone who is trying to plug their branded merch that no one asked for. We love low-rent celebrity. We did, however, directly reference Kylie Jenner’s turd-raison lip color for our fictional teen celebutante Gibby Kyle (played by Mary Houlihan).


IFC: Celebrity seems disgusting yet desirable. What’s your POV? Do you crave it, hate it, or both?

Sisters Weekend: A lot of people chase fame. If you’re practical, you’ll likely switch to chasing success and if you’re smart, you’ll hopefully switch to chasing happiness. But also, “We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game,” Young Thug.


IFC: Who are your comedy idols?

Sisters Weekend: Mike grew up renting “Monty Python” tapes from the library and staying up late to watch 2000’s SNL, Kat was super into Andy Kaufman and “Kids In The Hall” in high school, and Angelo was heavily influenced by “Strangers With Candy” and Anna Faris in the Scary Movie franchise, so, our comedy heroes mesh from all over. But, also we idolize a lot of the people we work with in NY-  Lorelei Ramirez, Erin Markey, Mary Houlihan, who are all in the film, Amy Zimmer, Ana Fabrega, Patti Harrison, Sam Taggart. Geniuses! All of Em!

IFC: What’s your favorite moment from the film?

Sisters Weekend: I mean…seeing Mary Houlihan scream at an insane Pomeranian on an iPad is pretty great.

See Sisters Weekend right now on IFC’s Comedy Crib

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