18A - The Michigan Daily - Thursday, September 7, 2000
Aguilera media blitz
hopes to set theafB
teen apart from Brit
shoots straight from
The Los Angeles'l'Ies
You say you can't tell your Christina
Aguilera doll from your Britney
Aguilera hopes to make the differ-
ences clearer in the coming weeks.
First there is the all-Spanish-lan-
guage album "Mi RIeflejo" due out
Sept. 12. A month lat'er she'll
release her first Christmas album.
On both she'll display the kinfd of
voice that earned her favorable
'comparisons to big voices like
Mariah Carey and won her the best-
new-artist Grammy this year -
over a roster that included, ahem,
Along with TV specials and the rest
of her tour, Aguilera may finally break
op1t of the pack of former Mickey-
"It's just a matter of time," Aguil-
era says by phone from a tour stop.
'in Minneapolis. "Within the next
.year probably, a lot of people will
They haven't so far, she says: 1
think it's kind of ffustrating that,
over the past year, people haven't
looked for themselves what the dif-
ferences are. Or maybe they've seen
us and want to categorize us as
being the same thing because they
maybe see a navel and some blond
hair. But we are different in our own
Aguilera, 19, has said in the past
that she's more attuned to R&B, but
her record company tried to steer
her more to pop on her year-old
debut, which has now sold 7 million
copies. The differences will become
clearer with the upcoming albums.
"I mean, with the Latin record,
that's different from what people are
doing; the Christmas record will
have so many things on it that are
just far different types of music,
some of it very mature. I think it's
something definitely for young and
old to get into."
As for the official follow-up to her
No. I pop debut album, due out next
year, she knows, in the words of one of
her hits, "What a Girl Wants."
"It's not like I'm going to have the
first single off my new record be a ver-
sion of 'Genie in a Bottle' but with
different lyrics," she said. "That's just
totally uncreative to me"
. The reference is a thinly veiled
one to Spears, whose first single
from her second album, "Oops ... I
Did It Again," was criticized as
being nothing more than a remake
of that artist's first hit, "Baby One
As Aguilera continues her first
headlining amphitheater tour with
Destiny's Child, she's anticipating the
Spanish album, produced with Rudy
Already it has produced the current
Top 10 entry on the Billboard Latin
singles chart, "Por Siempre Tu," a
Spanish-language version of "I Turn to
AnOthqr of its tracks, the Spanish
version 'f ""Genie in a Bottle" -
"Genio Altrapado" - is nominated
for the Billboard Latin Music Awards
Sept. 13. She'll be up for five MTV
Video Awards Sept. 7. And she'll be
performing at both shows.
Never mind that she hasn't quite
mastered the second language.
"'I have a Spanish tutor on the
road with me now, to perfect my
Spanish," she says. "Because it is
something that I take very seriously
as just being a part of me. I mean,
* my father being from Ecuador. And
my gr'aiidparents would be proud of
Half the songs on "Mi Reflejo"
are Latin versions of her pop hits
(including the title track, a rework-
ing of her song from "Mulan,"
"Reflection"). Six other tracks are
Both the Latin and the Christmas
albums are matters of "doing a bit of
experimenting and exploring different
sides of myself."
On the Christmas album, she says,
"we're doing a lot of classic, huge bal-
lads. You know, 'O Holy Night' turns
into a huge ballad. We've got, you
know, 'Silent Night' on it,'she said.
"This Christmas record is definitely
going to show how I've grown over the
past year vocally."
Such powerhouse ballads "where I
just completely let loose and put my
heart into, and just belt out" arc impor-
tant to her.
But, she adds, "I'm still 19 years
old, going on 20, and there still is
very much a part of me that wants to
bdst out in full-out choreography and
put on a really entertaining show."
For now, she's satisfied with the
comparisons to big-voiced singers like
But she's one in a number of influ-
ences Aguilera cites, including Whit-
ney Houston, Brian McKnight and
Etta James - - the latter being the most
The \ashigton Post
Perhaps it's appropriate: The man
who wrote and directed a movie
called "The Way of the Gun" stud-
ied film with a 9mm pistol on his
No, not at NYU. Rather, at a small-
er, tougher academy: the University of
the Amboy Multiplex, Sayreville, N.J.,
among dope dealers and assorted vio-
But to look at Christopher
McQuarrie, who won an Oscar for
writing the now-legendary 1995 hit
"The Usual Suspects," you'd never
believe it. He doesn't look like any
kind of suspect, usual or not, and he
looks like nobody versed in the
ways of guns.
What you see is a husky thirty-
something in Stephen King's beard
and glasses, his own gray shirt,
khakis and a pair of running shoes.
Assistant professor, anyone? Former
bright young man of the high school
English department? Dentist on day
You've certainly never seen an
Oscar winner with less pizazz, even
if he is the man who thought up the
legendary master criminal Keyser
Soze. To look at his spectacular
ordinariness, you'd never imagine
that he spent four years toting the 9-
mil as a security guard in a danger-
ous movie theater just off the
Garden State Parkway.
And you'd never believe he'd be
the writer-director of the bullet-
betrayalfest "The Way of the Gun,"
which opens in theaters next month,
a movie to which you'd be well
advised to wear a Kevlar vest. Oh,
and be careful not to slip on the
empty shell casings on the floor, of
which there are many.
He seems so ... suburban.
What was a nice fellow like him
doing with a gun on his hip? And what
was he doing on the podium at the
Academy Awards'? Explain yourself,
Like nearly anybody who is asked to
explain himself, even the shy and diffi-
dent McQuarrie is up to the challenge.
"I was just one of those kids who
wanted to write," he says of an
extremely middle-class childhood at a
high school where everybody went to
college. "Didn't want to go to college
or anything. Instead of college, I went
to Australia for a year through an
agency that placed Americans in jobs.
Then I wandered the western desert
with a friend. Got back and went to
work for my father's cousin's security
There's a guilty little laugh here.
When "The Usual Suspects" was so
hot, the publicity suggested that
McQuarrie had been a detective,
which gave the movie, about a hunt
for the legendary, manipulative
criminal genius Keyser Soze, an
imprimatur of mysterious reality.
Even the publicity for "The Way
of the Gun" - Which is about a
boneheaded kidnapping that goes
bloodily, spectacularly wrong-plays
up the detective-agency angle, again
suggesting that the writer-director
has mysterious insights into the
world of true crime.
"Well, you know, a little exagger-
ation," he says. "I didn't do any real
detective work. It was security
work. I worked in a uniform in a
theater that was on the way to
cverywhere, and it was crazy. A lot
of violence, drug sales, fights, stuff
like that. I carried a gun. I carried a
gun before I could legally buy
What saved -- or doomed -
McQuarrie was his high school
buddy Bryan Singer, who, just
before McQuarrie was about to
apply to the New York City Police,
asked him to come out to Los Ange-
les to work on a picture. Tfihe two
pals -both, McQuarrie admits,
"social outcasts" in high school -
had previously written and directed
short films together.
McQuarrie, somewhat at loose
ends, went out to work on a film
called "Public Access," which ulti-
mately got made ("Three months
after I got to L.A., I was on the set
of a movie I had written.") and wo4
a big award at the Sundance Film
Festival, which in turn led to a
chance to make a much larger film.
With that opportunity, Singer called
him to revive a project the two had
already discussed casually.
As McQuarrie recalls it, the conver-
sation went like this:
S: "Remember the movie?"
McQ: "Yeah." S: "I need to pitch it
in three days. Get busy."
At the time, McQuarrie was work-0
ing in the copying room of a Los
Angeles law firm. He found a small
place where he could work.
"It seemed like an interrogation
room," he said. "I started to interrogate
myself on what kind of story I wanted
to write. As I was interrogating
myself, I was talking so much that I
named the part I was playing in my
mind 'Verbal.' But I was out of ideas
and I looked up and there was a memo
on the bulletin board about the Heim-
"So suddenly I had an idea for
someone getting ideas from a bulletin
board behind his interrogator. It was a
great twist. So I started coming up
with ways to rationalize it. I didn't
even know the rules I was breaking."
There were other things McQuarrie
didn't know. He didn't know, for
example, that the phrase "usual sus-
pects" came from a movie, namely
"Casablanca." He just knew the phrase
from somewhere. He didn't know any-
thing about film noir, the genre he was
in the process of revitalizing.
He just had a vague idea about a
master criminal who had killed his
family -- the inspiration came from a
familiar case he recalled concerning
John Liszt, who'd done the same -
and the idea of someone telling a story
off of cues on the wall behind him. H
threw in the names of some of the peo-
ple he was working with.
But clearly, he had a great deal of
talent, great luck and good guidance
from Singer. Thus, he ended up on the
podium at the Oscars.
"The Oscar was the best and
worst thing that ever happened to
me," McQuarrie says.
"It makes that film hard to get*
away from. I'll always be affiliated
with 'The Usual Suspects.' I'd much
rather it happened at the end of my
career than at the beginning. But it's
been great financially. It's kept me
alive for years. But even if you win
the Oscar, there's a Hollywood real-
ity you have to face: Nobody wants
to make your film. They want to
make their film."Af
Courtesy of chnstinia .com
19 and never been kissed? Christina Aguilera is hot hot hot.
But Aguilera, who says she first
heard the song in a movie, says she has
been in a trance by James' "At Last"
ever since. She covers the song on the
It may not be the last song she sings
by the woman who made "Roll With
Me Henry"a hit in 1955.
Aguilera has been asked more often
lately about Eminem, the rapper who
inserted her into his hit "The Real
Slim Shady" and alleged all sort of
intimate Aguilera behavior with Fred
Durst, MTV's Carson Daly and even
"I haven't even spent any time with
Eminem," she said. "I mean, once, for
like two seconds! So that was just like
She sees Eminem's name-drop-
ping as "an immature way of trying
to differentiate himself from this
pop audience that he has kind of
created for himself."
Even as Aguilera seeks to expand
her audience and better define her-
self with her upcoming projects, she
sees [mincm's crude stab as a way
of doing his own differentiation.
"It made him some money, and I
guess that's what he was also really
looking for. And it got him a hit
song - by using a lot of our names.
beca use life doesn't stan
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WELFARE REFORM REAUTHORIZATION 2001: WHAT HAVE WE
LEARNED FROM THE PAST FOUR YEARS?
A Debate of Leading Experts
Join national experts in social welfare policy to debate the results of the landmark 1996 Personal
Responsibility and Work Opportuniy Reconciliation Act, its impact on the poor in America in the
past four years, and the future of welfare with the reauthorization in 2001.
September 7, 2000, 4 p.m. - 5:30 p.m.
Michigan Union - Anderson Room D
Dean of the Gerald R. Ford School of Public Policy and former member of the President's Council
of Economic Advisers.
Staff Director in the U.S. House of Representatives.
I ~ ' iii