Three Good Ledes

It’s been said that “80 percent of success is showing up” (or a closely related “genius is 90% perspiration and 10% inspiration”). In newspaper writing, getting the lede right is sometimes nearly 100% of the job.

Three ledes I’ve encountered recently and enjoyed:

1. Jacob Brogan in Slate on Paul Manafort’s technical maladroitness.

“There are two types of people in this world: those who know how to convert PDFs into Word documents and those who are indicted for money laundering. Former Trump campaign chairman Paul Manafort is the second kind of person.”

2. A fascinating Times obit by David Margolick of one Alan Gershwin, who might or might not have been the issue of George, a claim he pursued his whole life.

“As Alan Gershwin told the story — often — he was hidden away at his Uncle Ira and Aunt Leonore’s house on North Roxbury Drive in Beverly Hills in late 1945, right after his discharge from the Navy. Ignoring the orders of his hosts, he headed downstairs to join one of the parties the Gershwins regularly gave. When a guest spotted him on the landing, he dropped his glass of Scotch in shock. Or maybe two guests did.

By then, seven years had passed since the man Alan Gershwin called his father had died. But all anyone eyeing 19-year-old Alan that night saw was George Gershwin, reincarnated.

For 70 years or so, Alan Gershwin insisted he was George Gershwin’s long-lost son. And with his death on Feb. 27 at 91 in a Bronx hospital, the curtain came down on what was surely the Gershwins’ most bizarre show ever, revolving around whether this affable but monomaniacal man was one of the greatest victims in American musical history, or a grifter running a long-term con, or someone suffering decades of delusion.”

3. Finally, Vanity Fair‘s Darryn King catches up with Uwe Boll, a director who was not up for an Academy Award last weekend.

In a small, cold film studio in early 2016, the man known by the Internet as the “worst director in the world” was doing what he does, well, worst.

“O.K., one more time,” said Uwe Boll (his first name is pronounced “OO-vah”), feeding lines to one of the actors in the absence of a script. “Straight in the lens: ‘. . . has been killed. By the law . . . er . . . the law enforcement? Has been shot by law enforcement.’ Yes. O.K., do it. Ready, and . . . Action!”

“This is the worst-looking set,” assistant director Michael Pohorly admitted between takes. “The budget on this set was . . . nothing. Twenty dollars for a lick of paint? It’s a $20 set.”


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