Grinding the rumor mill

BY ELLEN HARRIS | JULY 22, 2009 7:15 AM

We live in a world in which celebrity gossip is manna to our barren souls. So it’s inevitable that in this little Midwestern sliver of the globe we have accumulated a circulating set of UI rumors.

In an alarming display of faux gullibility, I allowed various UI students and members of the Iowa City community to tell me what they thought each of these celebrities achieved here. Let’s dispel a few of these, shall we?

Diablo Cody (Oscar-winning screenwriter for 2007s Juno)

Rumors: Cody received her master’s in Russian literature at UI. Cody received her master’s in Russian language. Cody attended the Iowa Writers’ Workshop for fiction. Cody attended the Iowa Writers’ Workshop for nonfiction.

Truth: According to both IMDb, Cody (née Brook Busey) earned her undergraduate degree in media studies at UI. She was unavailable for comment on her experiences here, though I did politely Tweet my request.

Gene Wilder (iconic star of Young Frankenstein and Blazing Saddles)

Rumors: Wilder hated his time at UI. Wilder believed that the theater program at UI was subpar. Wilder left before finishing his degree because he was so fed up with said theater program.

Truth: Wilder — now 76, on his fourth marriage, and just as neurotic-looking as ever — graduated with a degree in theater. This is confirmed by the lovely photo and mini-bio of the actor posted in the Theatre Building. Go check it out — every once in a while, it gets stolen and has to be replaced. (Just a little department lore.)

Brandon Routh & Ashton Kutcher (pretty-boy Hollywood actors extraordinaire)

Rumors: Routh earned a degree in theater from the UI. Kutcher studied mechanical engineering for a few years at UI. Routh received an undergraduate degree in creative writing from the UI. Kutcher was president of his UI fraternity, Delta Chi.

Truth: Wikipedia and IMDb confirm that Routh attended UI for a year, with the desire to pursue a career in writing. He modeled to pay the bills, which subsequently led to Routh’s career in acting. Kutcher purportedly studied biochemical engineering for a year and was simply a member of the Delta Chi fraternity (again according to the omniscient Wikipedia). He also became a model, which led to a career in acting. And a marriage to G.I. Jane.

James Franco ( … does he really need a description? Oh, fine —Spider-Man good guy/bad guy and Pineapple Express stoner)

This may be the most fantastical rumor of them all.

Rumors: Franco was denied entry to the Iowa Writers’ Workshop because of his celebrity status. UI officials did not want to disturb the peace of Iowa City with massive numbers of paparazzi.

Truth: In a very nice e-mail, Franco’s publicist Robin Baum explained the situation. “I can tell you that, although he likes the University of Iowa, he did get into his first choice of school.” Franco now attends both NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts and Columbia University and is currently out of the country working on a film. (Wish I was out of the country working on a film; specifically, his.)
So, hopefully, our little UI family is now a bit more informed on the all-important matter of local celebrity gossip.

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