Skip to main content

Sean Penn’s Strange Interview with a Drug Lord and Other Notes from the Week


We’re pleased to bring you “While You Were Out”—the Verily editors’ quick takes on the happenings of this week.

Legendary Actor Alan Rickman Passed Away, RIP

Say it ain’t so! The legendary entertainer passed away this week at age 69. Alan Rickman, best known to the current generation as Professor Severus Snape in the acclaimed Harry Potter films, died on Thursday after a short battle with cancer. Rickman’s nearly forty-year career included membership in the Royal Shakespeare Company and the well-known films Sense and Sensibility, Die Hard, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, and Love Actually, among other roles. The Twittersphere reacted to the news with quotes from the celebrated actor himself: “Talent is an accident of genes—and a responsibility”; “There's a voice inside you that tells you what you should do”; and most notably, this about his admiration for the series that brought his work to a new generation: “When I’m 80 years old and sitting in my rocking chair, I’ll be reading Harry Potter. And my family will say to me, ‘After all this time?’ And I will say ‘Always.’” The recipient of numerous prestigious awards, including a Golden Globe, an Emmy, a Screen Actors Guild, and a Tony nomination, Rickman has certainly left his mark on the world of English drama, and that’s something many of us will “always” be grateful for. —Lindsay Schlegel

. . . and Legendary Singer David Bowie

This week, the world not only learned that musical legend David Bowie had passed away but also that he had been combating cancer for the past eighteen months. Despite his health condition, Bowie’s last days were nothing short of impressive. In fact, he recently released an album, a new music video, and performed in New York. This week Anna Quinlan described how Bowie’s last days truly embody the saying “live like you’re dying.” According to Quinlan, “It’s rare, to be sure, for anyone to have a career that they’d want to actively pursue with their most precious and fleeting days.” Bowie obviously had a deep passion for his life’s work so much so that he kept at it until the last moments. —Diana Stancy

The Golden Globes Came and Went

Did you miss the Golden Globes? Don’t worry, Verily’s got you covered. We’ve picked some of the most important highlights from the night so you can catch up on the event. Some standouts included the prevalence of family (Sylvester Stallone and Denzel Washington even brought their whole families), Jennifer Lawrence and Amy Schumer’s evident support of each other (isn’t it great seeing women build each other up?), and wins from some of our favorite ladies like Kate Winslet and Brie Larson. But we also couldn’t forget about the dresses. I’ll admit Winslet’s navy gown is definitely on my wish list. Winslet wasn’t the only one looking fabulous though; Gina Rodriguez, Lady Gaga, and others all looked poised and stunning. —DS

Obama Gave His Last State of the Union Address

This week, President Barack Obama gave his final State of the Union address on Washington, and all the usual suspects responded. Still, my favorite coverage of the event was Wes Anderson’s version on CNN. —Mary Rose Somarriba

Sean Penn Interviewed El Chapo?

This week the world reacted to Sean Penn’s “interview” with the Mexican drug lord known as El Chapo published in Rolling Stone. Turns out the much-hyped interview rambled more about Penn than about anything of substance and raised red flags in the journalism community for the opening disclosure that El Chapo was given the opportunity to read and edit the piece before publication (he did not submit any changes). Among my favorite responses? Criticisms of this piece as it relates to our celebrity culture included joking allegations that Penn was using El Chapo’s “choice product” and that it could use a good line edit, if not be killed altogether. This isn’t boding well for Rolling Stone’s disappearing credibility when it comes to journalism. —MRS

A New Documentary Will Explore Body Image Issues

Have you ever wondered why the fashion industry perpetuates unhealthy body image, and how we can change the way women are portrayed in the media? A new documentary exploring precisely these issues will be released in September by an organization called Straight/Curve. As one of the models interviewed in the film says, "plenty of women... are a size zero and naturally that way, but to say that that's the only beauty that should be showcased is not realistic and hurts our society." In their own words, "Straight/Curve examines the current trends around female body image and showcases the pioneering women, and men, fighting to redefine society’s unrealistic standards of beauty. In the midst of this plus size revolution, Straight/Curve poses the critical question: what is standing in the way of more diverse and inclusive body sizes in fashion and the media?" This is definitely on my "to watch" list for September! —Sophie Caldecott

The Hottest New BBC Costume Drama Around

Literature lovers, rejoice. The BBC just released a new mini-series adaptation of Tolstoy's War and Peace, and with over 6 million views for the first episode and rave reviews from all quarters, it looks like a real treat. The screenplay was written by the talented Andrew Davies, best known for his screenplay for the BBC version of Austen's Pride and Prejudice starring Colin Firth. The mini-series stars Lily James of Downton Abbey fame as Natasha Rostova. Hurray for making great Russian literature accessible to the masses! Catch the U.S. premier of the show on Lifetime, A&E, and the History Channel on January 18. —SC

Why Do So Many Women Suffer Miscarriages?

Back in November the miscarriage research and awareness organization, Tommy's, launched a powerful campaign called #misCOURAGE, encouraging women to share their experiences. It polled more than six thousand women and summarized its findings on its website and in this video of common insensitive comments that people make. Amongst other things, it discovered that 70 percent of women polled felt guilty about their miscarriage, and 67 percent felt that they couldn’t talk to their best friend about it.

Given how common miscarriage is and how hard it is for people who do miscarry to talk about it, it's incredibly exciting that Tommy's will be opening the United Kingdom's first national Miscarriage Research Centre in April this year. Based on its belief that a "lack of open discussion about miscarriage means lack of funding and support for research," Tommy's aims "to halve the number of miscarriages by 2030 through funding medical research." Here's hoping that more initiatives like this can develop around the world. —SC

FBI Improves Anti–Sex Trafficking Strategies in Anticipation of Super Bowl

In anticipation of next month’s Super Bowl, I’m pleased to see the FBI taking new approaches to combat the growing problem of sex trafficking around the sports event. In addition to sting operations that the Bureau has used in the past, officials will be working in collaboration with trafficking-survivor-led organizations on the ground in San Francisco. Law enforcement chronically has difficulty convincing trafficking victims to speak up against their traffickers, so employing survivors of trafficking to be the first point of contact is a brilliant strategy that is increasingly successful. "The goal is to reach anyone who is being trafficked," said FBI Supervisory Special Agent Doug Hunt to CBS News. And what a worthy goal that is. —MRS

New Survey Exposes Harassment for Women in Tech

Women in Silicon Valley face sexism and sexual harassment more than one might expect from such a progressive locale. According to a recent survey entitled “Elephant in the Valley,” 66 percent of women felt excluded from key social-networking opportunities as females, 40 percent felt the need to speak less about their family, 60 percent of the women reported receiving unwanted sexual advances and of those women, 65 percent received an unwanted advance from a superior. Furthermore, many women noted dissatisfaction with the way incidents were “resolved” once reported, if reported at all.

While these statistics are discouraging, Verily’s Baleigh Scott says this survey could initiate changes in the work environment. “If there is a silver lining to the findings of “Elephant in the Valley,” it is that it can serve as a catalyst for change,” Scott writes. “This report should encourage women (and men, of course) to better arm ourselves with available resources on what sexual harassment is and how best to respond to it.” I couldn’t agree more. —DS