The Time Joan Rivers Took Judge Judy and Cindy Adams on An 18th-Century Girlfriend Getaway

Jason Kempin/Getty Images for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week
Jason Kempin/Getty Images for Mercedes-Benz Fashion Week

The late Joan Rivers was many things—a trailblazing comedian, a fastidious filer, an acerbic critic of Hollywood fashion—but not many knew her as a history buff (beyond, perhaps, her often joking that she was older than dirt). And as she once gushed in a piece for the Daily Mail, for all of her expensive tastes, one of her most beloved vacation spots was Colonial Williamsburg.

"My favorite place in the world is my plastic surgeon's office, of course," Rivers wrote. "But I also adore Williamsburg in Virginia. It's tiny and magical and so nicely preserved."

Colonial Williamsburg is known as the world's largest living history museum. It's part of Virginia's "Historic Triangle," which also includes Jamestown and Yorktown—all important centers in the early years of the American colonies. Actors in full 18th-century regalia greet visitors, give talks about life in the revolutionary days, and put on demonstrations of everything from loading and firing muskets to cooking lessons in the Governor's Palace kitchens. Rivers first visited the town as a child—"which tells you how old Williamsburg is" she joked to the local newspaper, the Williamsburg-Yorktown Daily—and honeymooned there in 1955 with her first husband.

Rivers said in the Daily Mail that she often liked to go for a few days around Christmas, and she turned her December 2011 visit into a girlfriend getaway. Joining her were two longtime friends: New York Post gossip columnist Cindy Adams (close "since the day they first met, in 1847," Joan's daughter Melissa Rivers wrote in her tribute book to her mother), and Judith "Judge Judy" Sheindlin. "Another reason I love Judge Judy," Rivers joked in her book Diary of a Mad Diva, "She's worth $150 million. When I ask her if she wants to go on vacation with me to Tahiti, she never has to say, 'Let me check my budget,' because she owns Tahiti."

The Williamsburg Inn at Christmastime.Via Tsuji, Flickr // CC BY-NC-ND 2.0

The trio stayed at the luxury Williamsburg Inn, the kind with sunken marble bathtubs, chandeliers, and cozy afternoon teas by the fire (past guests include Shirley Temple, Queen Elizabeth II, Winston Churchill, and John Travolta). Rivers had her hair done every morning in her bedroom by a local stylist she'd pre-booked while Judge Judy pecked away at her iPad "alongside … a 1773 portrait of whoever Thomas Bolling might've been," Adams reported in her column the following week.

Then, the women went out to see the sites. "We were three tough New Yorkers out to have a good time," Rivers told the local Daily Press. "What didn't we do."

They began with a horse-drawn carriage tour of Colonial Williamsburg led by a private Revolutionary City guide. "Trotting about we saw fifes, drums, muskets, blacksmiths … ladies in frill bonnets, white aprons … flags from the Mother Country and Brit street names," Adams ticked off in her Page Six column. "Enough to make future Queen Kate Middleton whimper: 'This place could've been ours.'"

Brent Hoard, Flickr // CC BY 2.0

Judge Judy tested out the high court judge's seat at the 244-year-old Courthouse, where crimes like petty theft and skipping church were tried, while Rivers did a little Fashion Police-ing of the costumed interpreters doomed to frumpy petticoats: "Lose the apron and just look fetching!" she quipped.

Adams, for her part, was entranced by the elaborate hairstyles … of the men. "Fie on powdered wigs because males were as bald as billiard balls. It was because they were stylish," she wrote. "Fashion was to shave one's head. The richer the dude the jazzier his toupee. Maidens in ye days of yore were attracted by the size of a guy's ringlet."

And like any group of longtime friends, they spent plenty of time just enjoying being together and catching up. "I felt sorry for everyone around us because all we did is laugh," Rivers said of their dinners at the local taverns.

"At Christmas [Williamsburg is] heaven," a wistful Rivers later recalled. "No cars are allowed and you've got the snow and the carol singers, the candlelight, the whole American thing. It may not be everybody's cup of tea, but it suits me."

Celebrate the Holidays With the 2020 Harry Potter Funko Pop Advent Calendar

Funko
Funko

Though the main book series and movie franchise are long over, the Wizarding World of Harry Potter remains in the spotlight as one of the most popular properties in pop-culture. The folks at Funko definitely know this, and every year the company releases a new Advent calendar based on the popular series so fans can count down to the holidays with their favorite characters.

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Right now, you can pre-order the 2020 edition of Funko's popular Harry Potter Advent calendar, and if you do it through Amazon, you'll even get it on sale for 33 percent off, bringing the price down from $60 to just $40.

Funko Pop!/Amazon

Over the course of the holiday season, the Advent calendar allows you to count down the days until Christmas, starting on December 1, by opening one of the tiny, numbered doors on the appropriate day. Each door is filled with a surprise Pocket Pop! figurine—but outside of the trio of Harry, Hermione, and Ron, the company isn't revealing who you'll be getting just yet.

Calendars will start shipping on October 15, but if you want a head start, go to Amazon to pre-order yours at a discount.

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What Movie Do You Want to Watch? This Website Analyzes Film Critic Reviews to Help You Choose

She's smiling because it only took her two minutes to choose a movie.
She's smiling because it only took her two minutes to choose a movie.
Rowan Jordan/iStock via Getty Images

Much like sommeliers can detect subtle notes of who-knows-what in a sip of wine, film critics are fantastic at identifying influences and drawing parallels between movies. Cinetrii is a handy website that crowdsources all that movie knowledge to help you find your next favorite film.

Basically, you enter the name of a movie you enjoyed in the search bar, and the site will show you a node graph with film recommendations splintering off the search query. Click on one, and you’ll see a quote from a critic (or critics) who referenced the films together. This way, you get a list of recommendations based on different aspects of the movie, and you get to decide for yourself what you’d like to see more of.

If, for example, you were blown away by the special effects in Christopher Nolan’s Inception, you might like Doctor Strange; according to Variety, it boasts “a staggering visual effects innovation, in which the building-bending seen in Christopher Nolan’s Inception is taken to an extreme that would blow even M.C. Escher’s mind.” If what the Chicago Tribune calls an “elegant brain-bender” quality appealed to you more, The Matrix might be a perfect fit.

Films above your search query were released before the movie you typed in, while films below came out after it. The shorter the line, the more closely the films are related, as calculated by the website’s algorithm. And, as Lifehacker points out, that algorithm doesn’t give any special treatment to massive Hollywood blockbusters, so Cinetrii is an especially great way to find hidden gems. Because it shows you the critics' actual quotes, you’re not left to wonder why a certain film landed on the recommendations list—which can’t always be said for “Watch next” lists on streaming services.

You can explore Cinetrii here.

[h/t Lifehacker]