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Editor's Letter - Unwrapping the Gift

Photograph by Bob Capazzo

I owe an apology to Joanna Gleason and Chris Sarandon. You see, I love this cover shot of them. They look beautiful and happy, just like the day I met them for the photo shoot — and, yes, before the hair products and designer outfits. What the glamorous image doesn’t show is the most unfussy and unpretentious famous couple imaginable. We dressed Joanna in silk and fur, put jewels around her neck, applied makeup and blew out her hair until she was every inch a radiant Hollywood star. And then we ambushed Chris into the shot without any warning, pulling his best formal jacket from his closet. The couple was styled and photographed for a good part of a day.

Now, there’s a lot of us who don’t mind being fussed over. Asking us to try on designer duds or have a professional hairstylist make sure our tresses are perfect is a treat. But what the world has in Joanna and Chris is a pair that is authentically down-to-earth — they just happen to appear in hit TV shows and movies, even cult classics, and perform on Broadway and at Lincoln Center. It’s almost like they don’t know they’re special. Or just don’t want to be. For them, extravagance is cooking food they’ve grown themselves, sharing stories with their grown children, making plans for home renovations.

Still, we persisted. When Joanna saw the cover shot, she said, “The dressy-upness doesn’t look like us.” It was a blunt, sincere comment; I knew it was simply the truth. I was still free to use it, with her blessing, even if they didn’t recognize themselves. The situation had a touch of humor to it; like they got a kick out of not seeing themselves in it, but if we liked it … . It makes me like them all the more for it. The cover speaks to our image of Hollywood stars and reflects the reality of their careers. In other words, beauty can be the all-gussied-up type, or as simple as a supportive, loving glance between husband and wife.

Their Fairfield house is slowly growing, thanks to its new owners; family mementoes are displayed on shelves and tables; family photos fill a prominent wall. Everything reveals the couple’s steadfast priorities: one another, family, health and keeping it real while building a life together.

It’s a good reminder as we head into the holidays, when not just a few of us tend to get trapped by all the details of the festivities. What is actually important isn’t glittery wrapping but, rather, sharing something pure.