The teen drama series “Gossip Girl” shone light on the sexy scandals and lavish lifestyles of Manhattan’s elite prep schools when it premiered in 2007.
But for Upper East Side native Wil Glavin, who was on the verge of high school at the time, it barely scratched the surface.
“‘Gossip Girl’ didn’t go far enough. They had to keep it more PG-13,” said Glavin, who just self-published a novel, “The Venerable Vincent Beattie,” based on his own tween and teen years at posh prep schools. “My book is more R-rated.”
Glavin, who started writing the tome in January 2019 and finished it after being furloughed from his assistant job at Marvel Entertainment, used his alma maters as inspiration: Buckley, the all-boys academy on East 73rd Street attended by Roosevelt and Rockefeller scions; and the co-ed Columbia Grammar and Preparatory School on the Upper West Side, where celebrity alums include Herman Melville, ex-Time Warner CEO Steven Jay Ross and actress Ally Sheedy. Gov. Andrew Cuomo spoke at Columbia Prep’s 2017 graduation; Barron Trump was enrolled there until his move to Washington.
A self-described introvert, Glavin said his protagonist is “a more extreme version” of him, but Vincent’s journey through the wild world of New York City’s prestigious private schools is based on Glavin’s real life.
“A lot of stories I got were just from listening to gossip in the student lounge for four years,” Glavin told The Post.
His parents, a bond salesman and a stay-at-home mom turned marketing executive, were disciplinarians when Glavin was younger.
“My teachers were very strict, and my coaches were very strict,” said Glavin, a 2016 Tufts graduate. “Elbows off the table, chew with your mouth closed. I took etiquette classes … People would always ask me if I had a military background because I am so rigid.”
His sheltered upbringing led to shock at the social scene he observed as he grew up among a well-heeled set.
First came over-the-top bar and bat mitzvahs — Ciara performed at one, Glavin said, and Sean Paul at another. Later, there were the urban equivalent of house parties, which at their most extreme featured hard alcohol and drugs like pot and cocaine.
“In Manhattan, they’re apartment parties or penthouse parties,” said Glavin, who set a scene in “Vincent Beattie” at a particularly debauched one. “There are people hooking up on couches, and they are drinking and smoking cigarettes out the window. And these are the nicest apartments in New York City, with $30,000 tables and $100,000 chandeliers.”
Not everyone took part in these shenanigans. Glavin was a guest at a handful of such soirees, but took his first drink as a high school senior and has never tried drugs.
“I’m glad I was able to go to as many things as I did, because it gave me a lot more material and ammunition,” he said adding that only a small percentage of people he knew were extreme or dangerous partiers.
“These parents would say, ‘Don’t do anything I wouldn’t do,’ and they closed the door,” he added. “The houses would be stocked with nice alcohol and champagne, and people played beer pong. It was so crazy to me.”
Flagrant spending by some classmates also went largely unchecked.
“Kids had their own credit cards and spent ridiculous amounts on parties or alcohol or traveling,” Glavin said, adding that some bought fake IDs for clubbing and there often was “next to zero supervision.” “Girls and guys would go to Madison Avenue [to shop] during a free period, going to any restaurant and not even caring how expensive certain things are. The money wasn’t theirs, so they spent whatever they wanted.”
Signs of wealth cropped up in small ways, dividing the mere haves from the have-a-lots. Some students, for example, had personal chauffeurs.
“I always have that image of walking out to Central Park West [by Columbia Prep] and seeing five or six blocks straight, lined with black or white Escalades,” he said.
A highlight of the private school party circuit occurred over spring break, when seniors from different schools organized a trip to Paradise Island in the Bahamas. About 35 to 40 kids per school, Glavin said, flew down for the week.
“No chaperones, no teachers and no parents. It gets so insane down there because the drinking age is 18,” said Glavin, who added it cost between $1,500 to $1,800 per person for five nights at Atlantis, an all-inclusive resort. “We would get to the airport, and people would just buy handles and drink their faces off in their hotel room. There were nightclub parties every night.”
Glavin, who tagged along like “a fly on the wall” because his parents loosened up following their separation when he was 14 (and even paid for him to go to the Bahamas), penned two juicy chapters about the annual hedonistic underage getaway.
He said he thinks “parents back home understood what was going on to an extent. They knew they were drinking and having sex, and no one seemed to care or mind. There was a ‘boys will be boys’ and ‘girls will be girls’ mentality.”
There was a lack of consequences for students who did break rules, Glavin said, in part because parents were often not around to enforce punishments because they were working or traveling.
“If you’re getting grounded by parents, and they happen to be overseas, or they’re working until 11 p.m., it never seemed to prevent people from going out,” he said. “They’d say, ‘My parents are really pissed at me, and they threatened to take away my credit card.’ ”
Even if mom and dad happened to be home, there were ever-present housekeepers, leading to some creative romantic trysts and “a lot of Central Park hookups,” Glavin said.
“You’d ask your friend, ‘If your parents aren’t home, can we go use [your apartment] for 30 minutes or use it for an hour? Do you have siblings? Do you have a reliable doorman who won’t tattle on you or won’t tell your parents?,’ ” he said. “In a rare case, if you are very well-off, there’s getting a hotel room, but that wouldn’t happen until you’re 18 or so.”
The privileged practices of a selective New York City enclave are laid bare in his book, Glavin said, which can allow a much wider audience to appreciate them.
“I hope it helps the introvert, helps the loner, helps the person who doesn’t feel like they fit in,” he said. “It’s relatable for current high school and college students, it’s nostalgic for people post-college, and for parents and teachers, it’s informative. It’s like, ‘Wow, I had no idea it was like this.’ “
Maury Povich says his show has ‘classic Shakespearean’ elements
Maury Povich says his daytime talk show, “Maury,” owes a chunk of its popularity to The Bard himself.
“What’s appealing when it comes to watching TV, it’s always been those classic Shakespearean themes, whether it’s love, lust, betrayal, conflict or drama,” Povich, 81, tells The Post. “That’s been the kind of TV that attracts an audience — and has been the key to this show.
“I have such a loyal audience that cuts across all social groups,” he says. “I have kids who DVR me at college, young people who work and DVR me and play [the show] at night, housewives at home. The audience for daytime talk is notoriously ‘old,’ but ours covers all age groups.”
Povich knows a thing or two about audience demographics; he’s hosted two iterations of the show since 1991, when it launched in syndication as “The Maury Povich Show.”
“This is the 30th year, and my research people tell me that I’ve passed everybody else as the longest-running daytime talk show host ever,” says Povich. “When I think about it, Oprah didn’t go this long, Phil [Donahue] didn’t go this long. I said to them, ‘I’m not too sure I like this kind of identification — I gotta live with it!’ ”
“Maury” returns for its 23rd season Oct. 5 on a new home, airing weekdays at 4 p.m. on WWOR/Ch. 9, and with COVID-19 restrictions in place — but with all its familiar elements: paternity tests, lie-detector tests, wild audiences — the whole shebang. The move has already paid dividends; as Povich points out, “Maury” hasn’t missed a beat regarding viewership since moving to Ch. 9, which has aired reruns leading into the Oct. 5 season premiere.
“It’s the way the topics are handled,” he says. “The key to this show, whether it’s lie-detectors, DNA tests, out-of-control kids … within 12-15 minutes we get results so the audience knows what happens at the end of the story. That’s the major reason for our success, truthfully — and the host has to make that connection.”
That connection will be a bit different this season, with Povich shooting his show in Stamford, Conn., sans an in-studio audience and with limited in-studio guests.
“The live audience is a big part of our show, its major heartbeat,” he says. “We’re going to be missing that, but in its place we found out, during the first month of taping [the new season], that it’s more intimate now. There’s room for deeper storytelling and an intimacy even in the virtual world. The audience and guests can get more involved in the stories.”
Povich says in-studio guests will, for now, be limited to people who are not from states that are under travel quarantines.
“Believe it or not, I think the country has accepted this new TV world of ours. I think they’re OK with it,” he says. “I’ve watched some of the daytime shows, including a little bit of ‘The Drew Barrymore Show,’ and they’re finding creative ways to produce them.”
“Maury” is renewed through the 2022 season, and Povich says he has no plans to retire.
“I go contract-by-contract and also take the Satchel Paige view of age: ‘How old would you be if you didn’t know how old you were?’ ” he says.
“I’m 81, and as long as I feel good, and I do, I’m going to work.”
Sir David Attenborough fastest to reach 1M Instagram followers
Sir David Attenborough has broken Jennifer Anniston’s record for the fastest time to reach 1 million followers on Instagram.
The 94-year-old British broadcaster and environmentalist hit the seven-figure follower mark in four hours and 44 minutes after joining the platform on Thursday, according to Guinness World Records.
Aniston reached the same milestone in five hours and 16 minutes when she took to Instagram last October.
Attenborough’s first post was a video of himself warning about environmental disasters.
“I am making this move and exploring this new way of communication to me because, as we all know, the world is in trouble,” he said. “Continents are on fire. Glaciers are melting. Coral reefs are dying. Fish are disappearing from our oceans. The list goes on and on. Saving our planet is now a communications challenge.”
Attenborough, who has amassed more than 3 million followers, said he will be posting more videos about saving the planet in the coming weeks.
“Over the next few weeks I’m recording messages to explain what the problems are and how we can deal with them,” he went on. “Join me. Or as we used to say in those early days of radio: Stay tuned.”
Period drama king David Morrisey on research and filming during COVID
English actor David Morrisey has been a staple in period pieces over the course of his prolific career.
He currently stars on the epic drama “Brittania” (set in the year 43 AD) as Aulus, the general leading the Roman forces in the invasion of Britain. The series returns for its second season Oct. 4 on Epix.
Morrisey, who played the villainous Governor on “The Walking Dead” (2012-2015), also starred as UK prime minister Gordon Brown in “The Deal” (2003), as the Duke of Norfolk in “The Other Boleyn Girl” (2008) and as Colonel Brandon in “Sense & Sensibility.”
He’s also appeared in a host of Shakespeare productions on the stage, including “Macbeth” and “Julius Cesar.”
Morrisey, 56, spoke to The Post about how he researches his roles, filming Season 3 of “Brittania” during the pandemic, and more.
What attracted you to “Brittania?”
It was Jez Butterworth, who writes the series. He’s one of our great theater writers. Once I knew he was involved, I spoke to him quite considerably before taking the role. And the great thing about Jez is [that] he has a respect for that time and he does his work and he also has a healthy irreverence. There’s something very modern about what we do in the show and the language we use.
I feel very connected with Aulus, even though he’s quite out-there and possibly not the nicest man in the world. I love playing him. He’s sort of a governor [like my “Walking Dead” character] but he’s a general in “Britannia.” I’m 6-foot- 3, so I tend to get roles of people in authority quite often, and that’s nice. Although the Governor and Aulus are both dictatorial and vicious characters — probably on the wrong side of good — the Roman world is quite different from the zombie apocalypse.
You’re currently filming Season 3 in England. What’s that like?
It’s very strict. I get tested [for COVID] three times a week, as do our makeup and hair and costume staff. Anybody who comes into close contact with the actors is tested three times a week. Our temperature is taken twice a day, and all our crew have to wear masks and keep a distance from each other while they’re working. We also have a COVID marshall, someone on set who is there to remind us of what our actions have to be for the new restrictions and regulations in the workplace. The main difficulty is that everything takes a little longer to do. For instance, if I’m handling props and another actor has to handle props in the same scene, they have to be wiped down and we need hand sanitizer and stuff like that. We’re all so grateful and thankful to be at work. Everyone is approaching this new world with real professionalism and a real sense of gratitude for being there.
How do you research your roles?
I will read the script maybe two or three times, and I am making notes [about] the dates, [the characters’] profession and things like that. Then with those questions, I will then go and do my research — that might be Googling it or I’ll go to the library or bookshop and order books that are [about] that period. Sometimes if I talk to the writer, they say, “I used this book while I was researching it myself”’ and I’ll look at that. I’ll use YouTube clips. I recently did a show about Singapore in the 1940s and I was able to see some footage of that time. I use music a lot, as well; I’ll have a soundtrack of the music I think my character might have listened to.
I interview actors about one role that they’ve played. I interviewed people like Derek Jacobi about “I, Claudius,” David Harewood for his role in “Homeland,” Eddie Marsan for “Ray Donovan.” When I was growing up, I wanted to be an actor but nobody in my life was in theater or the arts. So there was no one I could ask about how I could go about becoming an actor or how to audition or anything like that. I wanted to do a podcast where people could find out about what the job of being an actor is, because sometimes it’s cloaked in mystery. Of course we need to have talent, but we need to know how to have people see the talent we have. I wanted to slightly demystify the job and the craft of acting for people. I’m really so delighted with [the podcast] and very proud of it. My first [episode] I spoke to Alan Cumming about the Emcee he played in “Cabaret,” which was a great success on Broadway.
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