Howard Stern wished some fans a happy new year with a personal call.
By Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, NBC News
Howard Stern fans who follow the radio host on Twitter had a chance to get up close and personal with the King of All Media on New Year's Eve.
Stern tweeted this message to his followers Saturday night: "Beth and I are drunk dialing. What's your phone number?"
Stern and wife Beth apparently followed through on that promise for the next few hours, at least according to Stern's Twitter feed, where he would tweet about who he spoke to. In numerous cases, he didn't reach the person, but tweeted that he left them a voicemail message.
One fan tweeted that he adopted his two cats because of advice from Stern, and Stern tweeted "Just called to hear about the cats. Got voicemail."
An equal opportunity pet lover, apparently, Stern also called two fans who mentioned their dogs, including one who said that he and his wife were staying home with a dog who'd just returned from the ICU.
To another, Stern tweeted "sorry to interrupt the video games," and to another, he said "Drinking beer alone. What happened? You clammed up on me."
Some of the fans then reported on their calls via Twitter. The aforementioned video gamer wrote "Howard Stern just called me! This new year rules already!"
Another lucky fan tweeted after her call: "OMG! It was like the best thing ever! I started crying after we hung up!"
When he was finished, Stern tweeted "Just made my last call. Going to bed. Wishing everyone a happy new year. If u get a call after this...it's not me."
Things are still pretty slow in the entertainment world, but at least a few favorite TV shows are starting to return.
TV "Downton Abbey" is the show for those of us who want to get addicted to a high-quality, soapy but well-written series, but don't feel like shelling out for HBO or Showtime. The PBS show chronicles the lives of a rich British family and their many fascinating servants, and it's addictive from the moment you tune in. One of the first season's events made our best deaths of 2011 list (spoilers, obviously.) The first season ended with word that World War I had begun, and no one will be untouched by the fighting. (Second season premiere Jan. 8, PBS, check local listings for times.)
"Project Runway" fans will be sure to recognize a number of the faces and personalities who'll be busy sewing up a storm on "Project Runway All Stars." Hey, that's Kara Janx! Look, there's Mondo Guerra! Kenley Collins, how ya been? Can that be ... AUSTIN SCARLETT? You won't see Heidi Klum and Tim Gunn, though -- this special season has model Angela Lindvall as host and Isaac Mizrahi and Georgina Chapman as judges. We're actually most excited that Miss Piggy is a guest judge. (Jan. 5, 9 p.m., Lifetime.)
The dream of the '90s is alive in "Portlandia." The quirky, funny show returns for a second season this week. Penny Marshall, Jack McBrayer, Tim Robbins and Kristen Wiig are among the guest stars who'll mix it up with the Pac NW crew. (Second season premiere Jan. 6, 10 p.m., IFC.)
There's a grandmother on "The Bachelor"? The Huffington Post posted a video showing the new Bachelor, winemaker Ben Flajnik, being greeted by a gray-haired granny on crutches, who doesn't quite glide out of the limo like the usual Bachelorette bombshells. What's up with that? We presume all will be explained. (Jan. 2, 8 p.m., ABC.)
Contestants on "The Biggest Loser" reportedly will be competing aginst their own loved ones, not working alongside them, as the weight-loss show tries a new twist. (Jan. 3, 8 p.m., NBC.)
Movies Really quiet movie week, but horror fans have been intrigued for some time by "The Devil Inside." No, it's not a concert film featuring Australian band INXS. Instead, it's a scary documentary-style film about exorcism. A woman whose mother killed three people while priests were trying to expel demons from her in the 1980s has been in a Vatican hospital ever since. When her now-grown daughter tries to visit her, taking along a film crew, the "Exorcist" style frights start coming. (Opens Jan. 6.)
DVD If you've ever eyed a sneezing airplane seatmate nervously, you should perhaps not see "Contagion." Gwyneth Paltrow is Patient Zero in this Steven Soderbergh thriller about a worldwide epidemic. You'll never say "it's just a cold" again. Achoo! (Out on DVD Jan. 3.)
Rumors have been swirling for some time, but now it's official. Comedian and actor Russell Brand has filed for divorce from singer Katy Perry. He cites "irreconcilable differences" in the petition, filed in Los Angeles.
The 36-year-old British comedian told AP on Friday, "Sadly, Katy and I are ending our marriage. I'll always adore her and I know we'll remain friends."
The couple wed Oct. 23, 2010, in a traditional Hindu ceremony near the tiger sanctuary in India where Brand had proposed.
Brand starred as alcoholic playboy "Arthur" in the 2011 remake of the Dudley Moore classic, which hit theaters last spring, and provided the voice of the Easter Bunny's heir apparent in the animated film "Hop." Perry, 27, recently provided the voice of Smurfette in the big-screen movie "The Smurfs" and hosted "Saturday Night Live" on Dec. 10. On Dec. 15, she was chosen as MTV's first-ever Artist of the Year.
As recently as Dec. 2, Brand told talk-show host Ellen DeGeneres that the marriage was solid. "I really am happily married," he said on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show." He went on to add, "Perpetually, until death do us part was the pledge. I'm still alive."
GOP presidential candidate Ron paul, left, and comedian Sacha Baron Cohen as Bruno.
By Kurt Schlosser, NBC News
As Republican presidential hopeful Ron Paul rises to the top of the pack just a few days before the all-important Iowa caucuses, we thought this was as good a time as any to revisit his cinematic roots.
The Texas congressman famously appeared in the 2009 Sacha Baron Cohen comedy "Bruno," about a flamboyant Austrian fashion reporter. The character comes from the Cohen stable that also brought us Borat and Ali G, and will, in 2012, offer "The Dictator."
Paul is featured in a scene in "Bruno" in which Cohen's character interviews the congressman after his run for the presidency in 2008. After one question about what designer clothing Paul is wearing, things take a turn. The two men have to leave the interview space during a technical malfunction and they are alone in a nearby bedroom. Depending on your sense of humor -- or your politics, perhaps -- hilarity ensues:
Is this 2009 clip on YouTube, Paul laughs about the matter and how he was expecting an interview on Austrian economics, but "that didn't turn out that way ... by the time he started pulling his pants down I thought, 'what in thunder is going on here?!'" The congressman laments the fraud involved in getting the interview and says the fact that audiences buy into Cohen's "raunchy material" is a sad reflection of our culture.
The world's supposed to end in 2012, if you believe certain folks. But before it does, there's a boatload of big movies to eagerly anticipate. I tried to pick just one per month, but my resolve quickly fell apart there.
January There's plenty of Oscar talk surrounding Meryl Streep as Margaret Thatcher in "The Iron Lady." As an Anglophile as well as a person who doesn't mind getting often-grossly-error-ridden history from movies, I can't wait for this one. The hilarious FilmDrunk.com, though, disagrees, writing, "Can you imagine fast-forwarding through scenes about proper elocution lessons ('King’s Speech' much?) to get to the F***ING FALKLANDS WAR? This makes Ken Burns look like Michael Bay." I'll still be there, Union Jack in hand. (Jan. 13)
February Let's stay in jolly old England, shall we, with Madonna's "W.E." The Material Girl co-wrote and directed this story of American divorcee Wallis Simpson and Edward VIII, the king who left his throne for her. Can't say I care for the fact that there's a parallel story about a modern-day woman who is obsessed with the royal love story, but you can't have everything. Also this month: "Star Wars Episode 1: Phantom Menace" in 3-D, but I may be too scarred by Jar-Jar to risk having him in a third dimension. (Feb. 3 for "W.E.," Feb. 10 for "Phantom Menace 3-D.")
March The first volume of Suzanne Collins' "The Hunger Games" didn't really engage me, so if you're reading and find it slow going, keep trying. I found that the story really took off in the second and third volumes. The hype drum's been beating loudly on this one, with every bit of photo and trailer news causing waves of interest across the Web. And if you saw star Jennifer Lawrence in "Winter's Bone," you can rest easy knowing heroine Katniss is in good hands. (March 23)
April Going out on a limb here and picking "Cabin in the Woods." This horror movie is co-written by Joss Whedon of "Buffy the Vampire Slayer" fame. Good-looking couples in the spooky, dark woods, things start to get scary, and one of them says, "We should split up!" "REALLY?" snarks his pal, who's obviously seen a scary movie or two. This could be awful, but Whedon usually does the unexpected, and rumors are that the film puts a smart twist on its scares. (April 13)
May Sure, the big May movie is "Avengers," where Captain America, Iron Man, Thor and the crew finally assemble. But if you offered me an "Avengers" ticket in one hand and a "Dark Shadows" ticket in the other, I'm going "Dark." It's all Mom's fault -- we watched the creepy vampire soap opera when it ran after school in the 1970s, and I'm not ashamed to own up to a crush on Jonathan Frid as Barnabas Collins. Johnny Depp plays Barbabas here, and he's got a lot of fans hoping he won't disappoint. My name is Victoria Winters ... (May 11)
June It's been 30 years since "Blade Runner," and now director Ridley Scott is returning to science fiction with "Prometheus." While originally conceived as a prequel to the "Alien" series, it's no longer clear if that's the case. Call it what you want, these acid-blooded, face-hugging creatures are among the scariest ever invented, and I'll be there even if I have to duck in fear through half of it. In the multiplex, no one can hear you scream. (June 8)
July Batman flies back into theaters this summer with "Dark Knight Rises," but the previews are focusing less on The Caped Crusader and more on sexy Catwoman (Anne Hathaway) and powerhouse villain Bane (Tom Hardy). It can't be easy to step into a Batman villain role after Heath Ledger did such a marvelously unnerving Joker, but Bane is so different from the cerebral psychopath that the film's bound to feel fresh. July not feeling super enough? "Amazing Spider-Man" also comes out that month. (July 20 for "Dark Knight," July 3 for "Spider-Man")
August "ParaNorman" had me at the title. Norman is a misunderstood boy who can talk to the dead, and whoa, isn't that a handy talent to have when they just happen to take over your town? (Aug. 17)
September Not usually the world's biggest fan of 3-D, but it's easy to envision the Pixar classic "Finding Nemo" swimming into the extra dimension. That angler fish who gets stuck in the diver mask and the giant herd of jellyfish will be fun to watch in 3-D, and there's a whole generation of kids who grew up seeing this film only on home TVs. Earning buzz: "Argo," in which the CIA stages a fake movie to help six Americans escape during the Iranian Hostage Crisis. (Sept. 14 for "Nemo" and "Argo" both.)
October I just ... don't know about October 2012's movies. Johnny Knoxville in the Halloween comedy "Fun Size"? There's not really going to be a "Saw 9" or a "Paranormal Activity 4," right? Most interesting at the moment is "Gangster Squad," with Sean Penn, Ryan Gosling, Josh Brolin, Anthony Mackie and others starring in a tale of gangsters infiltrating L.A. in the 1940s and 1950s. (Oct. 19)
November James Bond returns in "Skyfall," with Daniel Craig returning as superspy 007. I'm quite happy that M (Judi Dench) plays a large role, as events in her past apparently cause Bond to question her loyalty. Oh, and a little franchise called "Twilight" finishes off with "Breaking Dawn Part 2," but I can't imagine anyone would go to that movie. It'll probably bomb. (Nov. 9 for "Skyfall," Nov. 16 for "Breaking Dawn Part 2")
December No no no, don't make me choose. December is packed full of gifts for movie fans. "The Hobbit" takes Tolkien fans back to Middle Earth, "World War Z" details the great zombie war with some help from Brad Pitt and "The Great Gatsby" has Leonardo DiCaprio searching for the green light at the end of Daisy's dock. How can he miss it? It's in 3-D! Quentin Tarantino's "Django Unchained" will also be worth a look. (Dec. 14 for "Hobbit," Dec. 21 for "World War Z," Dec. 25 for "Great Gatsby" and "Django Unchained.")
There are hundreds of other films coming out in 2012. Which ones top your list? Tell us on Facebook.
Fozzie Bear's standup isn't very funny, but he had some great lines in "The Muppets."
By Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, NBC News
I saw a lot of movies this year. Some were great, some were horrible, many were in the middle. But a movie doesn't have to be Oscar quality to provide a line or exchange that makes you laugh. Here are a few of my favorite funny movie lines from 2011.
'Bridesmaids' Brynn: At first I did not know it was your diary, I thought it was a very sad handwritten book.
'Muppets' Fozzie Bear: Wow, that was such an expensive looking explosion! I can't believe we had that in the budget.
'Arthur Christmas' Grand Santa to his son, Santa Claus: You're a postman with a spaceship! During World War II, I did the whole thing with six reindeer and a drunken elf!
'Young Adult' Matt: I'm a fat geek, OK? I know what a zombie is!
'War Horse' Colin, a British soldier: You speak good English! Peter, a German soldier: I speak English well.
'Moneyball' Billy Beane: There are rich teams and there are poor teams, then there's fifty feet of crap, and then there's us.
'Rango' Priscilla: Oh he's talking about Rattlesnake Jake, Mr. Rango. He usually doesn't come to town because of that hawk, but he might come now. Can I have your boots when you're dead?
'The Smurfs' Patrick: None of you find that song just the tiniest bit annoying?
'A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas' Kumar: No can do man. I have to stay here and smoke this weed, otherwise I won't get high.
'Mission: Impossible -- Ghost Protocol' Brandt, after barely surviving a giant fan: That's it. Next time, I get to seduce the rich guy.
'Captain America: The First Avenger' Col. Phillips: If you have anything to say, now would be a perfect time to keep it to yourself.
'Thor' Darcy, upon seeing Thor: You know, for a crazy homeless person, he's pretty cut.
'Scream 4' Trevor: Why is Sidney Prescott staying with you? I mean, that's like being on 'Top Chef' with Jeffrey Dahmer.
'Cars 2' Finn: My apologies, I haven't properly introduced myself. Finn McMissile, British intelligence. Mater: Tow Mater, average intelligence.
Got a better one? Tell us your favorite funny movie line on Facebook.
While some people spent 2011 "winning," GTL-ing and marrying (and quickly divorcing), there were events in pop culture happening under a much dimmer spotlight. The following television shows, films, books, Twitter feeds and otherwise class acts aren’t total unknowns, they're just people and performances deserving of some singular attention as the year comes to a close. That everyone on this list is a woman, well that’s just a coincidence, but one that's totally fine by me.
So without further ado, the people who deserve an extra shout-out before the clock strikes 2012.
Best new character on television: Claire Danes’ Carrie Mathison, 'Homeland' If, for any reason, you’ve previously written off Danes, or just not given Showtime's "Homeland" a chance, I implore you to reconsider. For the first time in I don’t know how long, Danes portrays a female character who all at once has considerable vulnerability, flaws and power (not to mention mental illness, which adds another dimension to all of that). Season two can't come quickly enough.
Best book of the year: 'Swamplandia!' Karen Russell Critically, "Swamplandia" received a ton of praise, but the story of Ava Bigtree, a young girl raised on an alligator farm/amusement park didn't get enough attention from a wider cultural swath (Oprah's Book Club: this is how we miss you). Russell's debut novel is full of whimsy, but also wisdom (“it’s hard to hear your own happiness as an alarm bell," she writes at one point). HBO picked up the rights to develop this book into a 30-minute comedy series; I highly recommend you check out the story in its true form before that becomes a reality.
The Twitter feed you should be following: @KellyOxford This Canadian mother of three uses Twitter exactly how it should be used: as a (hilarious) mouthpiece for the darker parts of our consciousness. A few gems: this from Christmas Eve, "I have a huge fire roaring and the kids are screaming that it will be too hot for Santa, but I keep laughing and throwing logs on it. #eggnog." And this insight into Justin Bieber and her 3-year-old: "SERIOUS: My three year old just told me she wanted Justin Bieber's haircut because 'She's so pretty' :("
Oxford just sold a comedy to NBC, so we'll be seeing more of her work on the tube soon, but my Twitter feed would appreciate it if her best, unfiltered material stayed there.
Best film performance: Shailene Woodley, 'The Descendents' There's a feeling among my close friends and family that I loved "The Descendents" so much because it stars my George Clooney, but really, truly, the actor who plays his oldest daughter Alexandra, Shailene Woodley, is every bit as responsible for my affection for the film. In less capable hands, Woodley's character could have been cliche, grating, or just plain boring. Instead, the movie couldn't have been anywhere as remotely successful as it's been without Woodley's pitch-perfect performance. I'll be stunned, or at least feeling wronged-by-proxy, if she's not on the receiving end of some awards this season. Regardless, she's an actor we will be seeing for a very long time.
Class Acts: A tie — Sandra Bullock, Denise Richards Seriously, these two women had some real doozies on their hands in 2011. Disappearing entirely would have been completely understandable, but neither did. Instead, they were both judicious with their public comments, did their work, and went on with their lives. When celebrity was rearing its ugliest of heads, Richards and Bullock were holding theirs high. They weren't just a good example to their peers (many of whom could have learned a thing or two), but to a lot of women in general. Good on you, and thanks for showing this little corner of showbiz how to be graceful.
People on Twitter often toss off a quick thought or joke, that's the point of the medium for many. But the world -- and sometimes those pretty close to the topic of discussion -- is watching.
Seems like the original point of Tobias' tweet -- that movies about racial issues can be uncomfortable to discuss with family -- got a little bit lost. He wasn't attacking Tuohy or her family's adoption of Michael Oher, he was discussing the movie, as is a movie critic's job.
But for Tuohy, naturally, it can be hard to separate dislike of a film and dislike of that film's subject -- her own family.
Comments on the Huffington Post story as well as responses to Tobias on Twitter were mixed.
One Huffington Post reader jumped in on Tuohy's side, writing "I hate parasites. By parasites I mean critics like this Scott Tobias character who don't seem to have any talents to speak of and who don't seem to have anything to contribute to the world but they feed on the hard work of people like Leigh Anne Tuohy that are inspirations to films like this and to the hard working people that churn these features out."
But another defended the critic, saying "He was criticizing the MOVIE not what she did. I happened to not like it because I do not like Sandra Bullock."
And yet another was impressed with Tobias' original response to Tuohy, writing "You have to admit that was a pretty awesome reply. This guy should get his own TV show."
What do you think? Was Tuohy taking it too personally, or was the original remark worth her response? Tell us on Facebook.
Happy 75th birthday, Mary Tyler Moore. You might just make it after all.
By Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, NBC News
Mary Tyler Moore turns 75 today, but to millions of Americans, she's still 32, forever driving from her small hometown to Minnesota's Twin Cities on a sunny freeway in 1970. How will she make it on her own? This world is awfully big, and girl, this time she's all alone.
But she had determination, moxie, smarts, charm, and something Lou Grant hated -- spunk.
After all, she'd already captured America's hearts in another beloved show when she played Laura Petrie, New Rochelle's "hostess with the mostess" on "The Dick Van Dyke Show." There's something magical about this scene, in which she dances in her famed capri pants. What, your parents' parties didn't involve conga drums and elaborately choreographed dances in the living room? Ours either, but this show made us wish they did.
Before "Dick Van Dyke," a teenage MTM played the goofy little sprite Happy Hotpoint in dozens of appliance commercials. You might not recognize her here. (Watch the whole ad though if you want a classic 1956 spiel on dishwashers.)
She was a million miles from Laura Petrie or Mary Richards in 1980's "Ordinary People," which earned her an Oscar nomination. Just watch the trailer (and wow, did that movie have a heckuva cast all the way around) and see her brittle, repressed Beth trying to hold things together. Not exactly the mother Laura or Mary would have turned out to be.
But of course, we can't forget "The Mary Tyler Moore Show." I grew up in Minnesota in the 1970s, and although only the opening credits were shot there, it was still a point of pride for residents. If you go to downtown Minneapolis, you can still eat at the very restaurant table (marked with a plaque) in the IDS Crystal Court where Mary and then-husband Grant Tinker are seen dining in the credits.
Everyone knew where the house was that was shown as Mary's, and also knew the real reason why Mary moved to an apartment in later seasons. When the studio came back to film the same giant lakeside home's exterior, its owner hung an "IMPEACH NIXON" banner on the home, forcing them to shoot elsewhere (it was 1973, after all).
I once interviewed one of the Toughskins-clad schoolkids who appear in the credits crossing a street with Mary and a school patrol. He was just walking home from school with friends one day, he said, when a man yelled "Hey! You kids wanna be on TV?" Half the gang scattered, and half stuck around and when ordered, crossed the street while Mary strode along with them, clutching a grocery bag. I sometimes wonder if the half that scattered know exactly what they missed out on.
There are too many classic "MTM" scenes to share, but Chuckles the Clown gets mentioned more than any other, and for good reason. Watch the bit where Mary scolds Murray for cracking wise -- "A man has DIED!" -- and then see if you can't feel her embarrassment when it turns out she's the one who can't stop laughing. Until the moment she's told to laugh, when of course she bursts into tears.
Taylor Swift sings the lead song from "The Hunger Games" soundtrack.
By Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, NBC News
Country superstar Taylor Swift and long-anticipated movie "The Hunger Games" seem like an ideal combination. Both have zillions of young fans who can't wait for the latest news about them.
Just before Christmas, Swift teased on her Twitter account that "something I've been VERY excited about for a VERY long time is going to be happening VERY soon" and then tweeted a link to her new song, "Safe & Sound," the lead song from the upcoming "Hunger Games" film.
Grammy-winning duo The Civil Wars accompany Swift on acoustic guitar and backup vocals. The song will be included on the film's soundtrack album, which also includes songs by Arcade Fire and The Decemberists. "Safe & Sound" quickly moved to the top of the iTunes Songs chart, boosted no doubt by aid from Swift's 10 million Twitter followers.
The lyrics relate to the "Hunger Games" plot, in which Katniss Everdeen must fight other young people for her life in a cruel tournament put on by their fictional country of Panem. "Everything's on fire," Swift sings. "The war outside our door keeps raging on. Hold onto this lullaby, even when the music's gone."
Not all the musical news about the movie is as well-received. According to The Wrap.com, the president of the American Federation of Musicians union has criticized the film for recording its score in London, and not using musicians from his union. He complains that the film receives tax subsidies to film in North Carolina, and as such should be utilizing American workers.
"The Hunger Games," starring Jennifer Lawrence, opens March 23.
Listen to the song below, and tell us what you think of it in the comments.
Will Oprah Winfrey land an interview with Jerry Sandusky and his wife?
By Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, NBC News
Many observers were shocked when Jerry Sandusky, the retired Penn State football coach charged with dozens of counts of child sexual abuse, spoke to Bob Costas on NBC's "Rock Center" in November.
Jon Stewart even did a "Daily Show" segment questioning what Sandusky's lawyer, Joe Amendola, could have been thinking. "It seems to me when you're accused of one of the most heinous crimes imaginable, you may not want to literally phone in your defense on national television," Stewart wryly pointed out.
But Sandusky may not be done speaking to famous reporters. The Harrisburg Patriot-News reported that Amendola told them that Sandusky and his wife Dottie may do another interview after the new year, and that they're considering speaking to talk queen Oprah Winfrey, returning to "Rock Center," or speaking with Barbara Walters or "60 Minutes."
Winfrey especially would be an interesting choice, as she's famous for celebrity interviews. Although her famed self-titled talk show ended in May, the interview would be a coup for her lesser-known OWN channel. Winfrey is debuting a new primetime talk show, "Oprah's Next Chapter," on Jan. 1, with Aerosmith rocker Steven Tyler as her first guest. What better way to get the show's name known than to land a guest who's all over the news, even if for the wrong reasons?
Sandusky's wife has staunchly defended her husband, saying Dec. 8 that "I continue to believe in Jerry’s innocence and all the good things he has done."
In one recent indictment, Dottie Sandusky was specifically mentioned. According to the Patriot-News, one victim claims he screamed for help while being assaulted in the Sanduskys' basement, knowing that Dottie was upstairs, but no help came. Dottie Sandusky responded to those claims in a statement, saying "I have been devastated by these accusations. I am also angry about these false accusations that such a terrible incident ever occurred in my home."
Costas told Willie Geist that the "Rock Center" interview was supposed to be just with Amendola, but that at the last minute, the attorney asked if Costas would like to speak to his client directly.
Perhaps the oddest part of the interview came when Sandusky was asked if he was sexually attracted to young boys. First Sandusky repeated the question, then gave a rambling answer, saying "Sexually attracted? You know, I enjoy young people. I love to be around them. I ... but, no, I am not sexually attracted to young boys."
Joked Stewart about that answer: " "Everyone knows the only time when you answer with a question is when you're guilty. You can't even bring yourself to lie emphatically. It's like in that phone conversation you're fighting the urge to come clean."
Should Sandusky and his wife speak out in another national interview? Who should they speak to? Tell us on Facebook.
PETA just can’t let an old dog rest. The animal rights organization stirred up its nearly year-old campaign against singer Janet Jackson, who added part-time furrier to her resume with a gig designing a collection for Blackglama. Time and again, PETA called for her to denounce fur, and now that she hasn’t, the organization named her the first ever PETA "Grinch of the Year".
The award (if you can call it that) comes with the distinction of having angered PETA enough to have its members formally denounce you. And from the tone of PETA’s spokespeople, they’re not going to let Jackson forget just how angry they are.
“When Janet Jackson had her infamous wardrobe malfunction during Super Bowl XXXVIII, at least what popped into view of 170 million onlookers belonged to her, unlike the animal skins she drapes herself in, which are as dead as her fashion taste and her career.”
PETA also named celebrity fur-wearers Cameron Crowe and Kim Kardashian to the list. We're curious to see who gets added in 2012 — and whether or not it actually makes any difference in whether or not they wear fur.
An old parody of "A Charlie Brown Christmas" from Denis Leary -- whereby the title character converts to Islam -- didn’t get much attention when the politically incorrect comedian posted it online last week, but on Tuesday it was being dissected in political circles.
Under the description, “In advance of Your Merry HappyHannakwanzaxmas,” the video starts with Charlie Brown seeking Lucy’s help with his doubts about Christianity. After she dismisses Tom Cruise as a “blockhead,” Linus steps in to advise his friend to convert to Islam.
Whereas the classic TV special has Charlie Brown purchasing a Christmas tree seemingly too weak to support a single bulb, Leary’s version features him constructing a bomb that merely detonates a few puffs of smoke. Instead of Linus delivering his true-meaning-of-Christmas speech, this bearded, camouflaged version announces: “It is the duty of the Jihadist to bring terror to the enemy and create one global, Islamic state where there is no music, no alcohol and no Western Influences.”
“Isn’t he the cutest radical Islamist you’ve ever seen,” coos Charlie Brown’s sister, Sally, who has a crush on Linus. (The video is below).
The parody also features lines like “Merry F-king Christmas” and others that could cause Christians to cringe, but judging from the response thus far the only complaints are coming from Muslim activist groups or their liberal sympathizers.
Islamopohobia-Watch.com announced that “a jaw-droppingly Islamophobic video has been posted by Irish-American comedian Denis Leary,” and Gothamist.com says “we had a very tough time sitting through this particularly xenophobic one-note joke.”
Many right wingers, meanwhile, are supportive of Leary’s parody. BigHollywood.com editor John Nolte, for example, writes: “Screaming ‘Islamophobia,’ ‘xenophobia,’ ‘homophobia,’ ‘bullying’ or anything of the like, is just the cowards’ way of telling the satirist to shut up.”
Leary, the self-described "five-time Emmy award loser," tweeted the arrival of the three-minute cartoon from his Apostle production company twice last week and it hit the well-trafficked site WhoSay.com five days ago, though it seems to be getting more attention after Christmas than it did prior to the holiday. On Tuesday, WhoSay listed it among its biggest-trending videos, even though the video is actually several years old and once resided at the Comedy Central website. Versions have been on YouTubefor years.
But on Tuesday, Glenn Beck’s TheBlaze.com linked it without much commentary, as did the Islamic news site Crescent Post and dozens of others that weren’t sure what to make of the suddenly hot, years-old cartoon, so they simply asked their readers to weigh in on the controversy.
Joe Bodolai, a former "Saturday Night Live" staff writer who co-wrote the first draft of the 1992 "Wayne's World" movie, was found dead at a Los Angeles hotel on Monday after apparently committing suicide, TMZ reported.
Bodolai's body was discovered by cleaning staff at the hotel, where he had been staying about a week. When police arrived the scene, they found a bottle of antifreeze and Gatorade, according to TMZ.
In a grim bit of foreshadowing and perhaps a cry for help gone unnoticed, Bodolai, 63, had posted what seemed to be a suicide note on his website Dec. 23.
His post -- titled "If This Was Your Last Day Alive What Would You Do?" -- includes lists of "Things I Think Will Happen Next Year" ("Snooki will have another 'book'") and "Stuff I Would Live To Have Seen In My Life" ("An American awards show being half as good as mine. Or, basically, getting a chance here. I can run a show. I can create a show"). There's also "Things I Regret," among them: "My inability to conquer my alcoholism," "The things I did because of it," and "Not fighting harder or making a better deal to stay with The Comedy Network I helped create."
Among the things of he's most proud: his two sons, and stints writing for SNL from 1981-82, and producing the sketch-comedy show "The Kids In the Hall" and the Gemini Awards in Canada. Also: "Writing the first draft of 'Wayne’s World' with Mike Myers. I kinda knew our draft was really a second movie, not an expository first reveal, but my heart wanted him to find his voice. He sure did. (The second movie? Nothing to do with me. Wow, did it suck.)."
Signing off, Bodolai wrote: "May you all have the happy lives you deserve. Thank you all for being in my life."
DJ Earworm, also known as Jordan Roseman, revealed on his website that 2011's edition was inspired by the year's "songs of regret and anger, pride and perseverance, and lots of fire."
As for how the DJ decides which songs make the cut? Earworm says he looked to the year's weekly charts to ensure even the "late-breaking hits" like Rihanna's "We Found Love" and LMFAO's "Sexy and I Know It" were sure to be included.
Other artists featured in the catchy mashup include Adele, Britney Spears, Cee Lo Green, Britney Spears, Katy Perry, Nicki Minaj, 50 Cent, and more!
In case you missed it over the Christmas weekend, the NBA returned to action after a bit of a delayed start to the season.
Noel Vasquez / Getty Images
Still reading? Good.
The best part of this news, from the standpoint of those of us who like to gawk at celebrities, is that the Los Angeles Lakers were playing. The Staples Center is the premiere spot for courtside celeb viewing, and Sunday was no exception. But forget Jack Nicholson and Dyan Cannon.
The highlight for us was rappers Lil Wayne and Kanye West, right, exchanging a shake and a hug. Wayne's camo shorts defied gravity in their ability to stay above his knees despite riding way below his waist. Perhaps even more baffling was the addition of snowboard boots, below, to the ensemble. Gotta love L.A.
Noel Vasquez / Getty Images
All of this makes for a good reason to watch this classic "Pants on the Ground" clip from "American Idol" (sorry, you'll have to go find the Brett Favre version on your own). Take it away, General:
Few people like being asked to take on extra tasks at work. But one L.A. weatherman used his live TV platform to complain about the request and then storm off the set.
Video featuring KTLA meteorologist Henry DiCarlo angrily reacting on Dec. 22's newscast has become a viral hit. In the clip, which we found at Deadline.com, DiCarlo begins by conducting an interview about the Toys for Tots program at L.A.'s Union Station. (The interview is cut out of the clip.)
Then he's apparently told via his earpiece that there's no longer time for him to give the weather report, and the viewers heard this live: "I’m in the communications business, and it seems like there’s so little communication," he says. "When you send a weatherman out to do the weather but you’re also sending him to do a story, you might want to give him a little extra time. But that’s just me. Anyway. Sorry we don’t have time for weather, folks, I’m just doing what I’m told, and that was to do an interview, so I’ll tell you what. We’ll have somebody else handle weather. We’ll send it back to you in the studio.” Then he's briefly seen walking out of the shot.
Anchors back in the studio react in true "Oh no he di'int!" form, with anchor Chris Schauble saying "Did Henry DiCarlo just have a fit on live TV?" and following it up with "Maybe we'll give him a little cheese to go with that whine out there."
The L.A. Times later followed up on the incident, noting that DiCarlo apologized the next morning on the station's newscast."It doesn't matter what the circumstances were — it wasn't a pretty sight for me to act like that, and I get that," DiCarlo said. "But personally, you guys have seen much worse from me, so I didn't think I was that bad."
The newscast also let Roxanne, the producer who was speaking to DiCarlo through his earpiece, have her say. "He was supposed to do the weather first, then ... he was supposed to get into the segment," she said. "I might have been yelling a little loud in his ear to get to the weather."
Both DiCarlo and the producer laughed about the incident. "Just for the record, I love Roxanne, I love everybody on the morning show," the meteorologist said. DiCarlo went on to joke that he hadn't had breakfast or enough coffee.
Comments on the L.A. Times post were split between support for DiCarlo ("Who hasn't wanted to say things like that when they feel rushed by a boss?") and those mocking him ("Prima donna weatherman is kind of an oxymoron.")
Business Insider pointed out another awkward clip featuring DiCarlo the next day. The station has a running joke about an intern, Irene, bringing coffee to the anchors, but DiCarlo asked her for a neck massage on-air as well.
Also, it's Los Angeles. The rest of the nation can give you their weather forecast without any meteorological training whatsoever. Nicer than what the rest of us are putting up with.
An obviously faked People magazine cover on which Taylor Lautner supposedly announced that he's "out and proud" ricocheted across the internet Monday, tricking fans and even celebs like Russell Simmons.
Ring in the new year with Dick Clark and Ryan Seacrest.
By Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, NBC News
Staying in with the family? There are plenty of holiday specials to watch, not to mention New Year's celebrations. Family driving you crazy? Get out of the house and take in a new movie.
TV Almost every channel has a New Year's Eve special to ring in 2012.
The classic, of course, is the clumsily named "Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve With Ryan Seacrest." Like Ruth's Chris Steak House, the special's convoluted title pays tribute to its original host and the new one. (Dec. 31, 10 p.m., ABC)
NBC's New Year's celebration is "New Year's Eve With Carson Daly," which also features news anchor Brian Williams.
Prefer a down-on-the-farm special? "American Country New Year's Eve" features "American Idol's" Lauren Alaina and other country performers. (Dec. 31, 11 p.m., Fox.)
Movies Moviegoers are spoiled for choice this holiday.
If it's action you're looking for, "Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol" turns Tom Cruise into James Bond, with stunning stunts, beautiful women, and Cruise hanging off the world's tallest building. (In theaters now.)
If the whole family wants to see something dramatic but inspirational, "War Horse" is a good bet. Spoiler: Animal lovers and those with sensitive stomachs should know the horse manages to come through World War I pretty much intact, and there's a happy ending. (Opens Dec. 25.)
And fans of Stieg Larsson's Millennium trilogy have long awaited the English remake of "Girl With the Dragon Tattoo." Early fears were that it couldn't live up to the 2009 Swedish-language version, but reviews have been quite positive. (In theaters now.)
DVD George Clooney plays a grim assassin who's rethinking his career in "The American," a very serious thriller that may give you a completely different view of the handsome actor. (On DVD Dec. 28.)
Their lives still fascinate: Sid Vicious killed Nancy Spungen in 1978, and the Sex Pistol bassist died himself in 1979. "Sid & Nancy" has been a cult favorite almost since its 1986 release, and now it's on Blu-ray. The film, at 25, is now older than either Sid or Nancy ever got to be. (Out on Blu-ray Dec. 27.)
Jean Dujardin plays George Valentin and Berenice Bejo is Peppy Miller, actors whose careers are going in different directions, in "The Artist."
By Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, NBC News
It's odd to go to a theater and watch a black-and-white silent movie in 2011. You feel as if you should drive there in your horseless carriage with a stop at the speakeasy to don a "Votes for Women" sash.
Once the film in question, "The Artist," begins, you will occasionally become aware of how eerily quiet a room full of people can be. The film has music, but until the end, there are no lines spoken by the actors. When they finally speak, it's jarring, and you're reminded just how deep into its world "The Artist" has pulled you.
Jean Dujardin plays silent film star George Valentin, who has all the right moves in the mid-1920s. He's the George Clooney or Brad Pitt of his day, with agents and producers at his beck and call, and women flocking to his suave, tuxedoed form. One of those women is young Peppy Miller (Berenice Bejo), who uses a tabloid photo of herself getting a kiss on the cheek from Valentin to jumpstart her own Hollywood career. When talkies come in, French-accented George's star falls, and the aptly named Peppy rises. Watch for numerous scenes showing her running up the stairs while he trudges down, their very walking directions showing their career trajectories.
For a while, George's adorable dog and co-star is the only one who sticks by him, but tides and trends naturally change again. After one scene so dramatic that a woman in our audience broke the silence by screaming out "JESUS!" things actually turn around, and the film's happy ending feels earned and uplifting.
The film makes a few jokes at its own expense -- the very first scene shows George, in a film, being tortured with sound for refusing to speak. And it provokes discussion too -- who doesn't know someone who's refused to or been unable to move with the times when a new innovation breaks up the career that's served them well? Newspaper journalists know what I'm talking about.
"Singin' in the Rain," "A Star Is Born," "Sunset Boulevard" and other films may pop into your head as you watch this tale of how fast a star can fall, but "The Artist" feels original and yes, a little magical. You may think you'll never enjoy a silent film, but give yourself the chance to try.
Sigourney Weaver's Ripley was a big part of the original "Alien" films.
By Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, NBC News
As someone who considers "Alien" and "Aliens" to be possibly the scariest set of movie-and-sequel ever made, you bet I'm all over the upcoming "Alien" film, "Prometheus."
In my opinion, the "Alien" films got badly off-track with 1992's "Alien 3," losing the pervasive terror of the original two. (Although I heartily enjoyed the Alien-Predator spinoff films for what they were, monster shoot-em-ups that don't take themselves too seriously.)
But Ridley Scott is getting the original "Alien" mythology back on track, and I for one can't wait. Scott hasn't made a sci-fi movie since 1982's "Blade Runner," and after 30 years, anticipation is high.
The new trailer is short (one minute) and a little dark. It's unclear exactly how the plot will unfold, and that's fine -- doesn't everyone hate trailers that give too much away? This one tantalizes with the same feelings of dread and claustrophobia of the original two films -- when a creature has acid for blood, you can't just unleash a gun at it and come out unscathed.
There's been some debate about whether "Prometheus" is actually a prequel to the other films. First people thought it was, then Scott and writer Damon Lindelof (co-creator of "Lost") said no, it wasn't, that the events do not actually precede the events of the first two. (Meaning that aliens concurrently are face-hugging people on different planets, I guess?)
But the trailer certainly seems to position it as as a prequel. It shows elements of the first film, including that weird dead alien who appears to have been chest-bursted eons before the Nostromo crew stumbled upon him. (The fun blog I Watch Stuff refers to him as a "space jockey.") And though they're not at all mentioned, I can't be the only fan who's spent time wondering about poor Newt's family, and how their band of terraforming colonists met their horrible ends.
Prequel or no, I can't wait till the June 8 release.
The article doesn't say the NBC show has contacted Tebow, 24, just that producers "(realize) it would be HUGE ratings and they are hoping he will say yes."
Yes, people would tune in -- we'd be among them. Athletes, including quarterbacks Tom Brady and Peyton Manning, have hosted the show, so there is precedent. But if he's approached, Tebow's going to say no, and he's smart to do so.
First off, whatever his athletic skills, he's not going to be comfortable standing up there delivering the traditional opening monologue.
The skits themselves are a whole different thing. Manning actually took part in a memorable sketch where he played off his nice guy image, terrorizing a bunch of grade-school football players. (At one point, Manning clonks a kid in the head with a pass and then yells at him: "Get your head outta your a**! You SUCK!" He later shows them how to break into a car.)
But how could Tebow do the same? He's known for prayers, praising God on-field and off, and going on missionary trips where he has assisted in medical and dental procedures, including, most famously, helping in circumcisions.
There's no question the sketches "SNL's" writers would create for Tebow would play off the many known issues surrounding him -- the circumcisions, his virginity, the on-field prayer stance dubbed "Tebowing." But once they handed those scripts to Tebow, it seems wildly unlikely that he'd go along with what they come up with. Who can blame him?
Manning did it, and he looked smart for doing so. But here's betting the Tebow sketches would be much more personal and vicious, and much more likely to go against Tebow's personal values, religious or otherwise.
Last week's show featured Taran Killam playing Tebow, who is visited in the locker room by Jesus Christ (Jason Sudeikis). After it aired, evangelist Pat Robertson said the sketch showed "anti-Christian bigotry."
Whatever Robertson's opinion, we're betting that if "SNL" wants more Tebow on the show, they're going to have to keep utilizing Killam, not the real guy.
Donahue, nearly 37, writes of an unexpected career change in her new book "Growgirl: How My Life After The Blair Witch Project Went to Pot," out Jan. 5.
The former scream queen discovered high-grade medical marijuana after doctors prescribed it to treat her PMS. It became a new job after the actress, frustrated by a lack of opportunities, gave up on Hollywood.
Donahue met a marijuana grower from "Nuggettown," a pot-growing community in Northern California. She explained that she was "always an avid gardener," and decided to grow and sell high-grade medical marijuana herself.
"I became a solitary country girl," she explained.
Donahue gave up the agricultural project after she decided to write her book -- and after a friend got arrested.
Will medical marijuana be legalized? "I think you're going to see [medical marijuana] on a lot of ballots over the next few years," she to the Philadelphia Inquirer. "There has been enough support for medical use if not outright legalization that I don't think it will go away."
Jeremy Irvine plays Albert Naracott, whose beloved horse Joey is taken off to World War I, in "War Horse."
By Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, NBC News
Just the two words of the title may scare some potential moviegoers away. "War Horse" isn't a neutral title like "Secretariat," it hints to animal lovers that the beautiful creature seen in the trailers is going to be shot at, terrified, manhandled and might not survive.
Spoiler alert: This is a PG-13, family friendly, Steven Spielberg movie, and animal lovers can breathe easy. "War Horse" is based on a book for 8-year-olds, and as befits that, the horse, Joey (Joey? Yes, Joey,) is carefully protected. Even battle-hardened army men go out of their way to keep him safe.
Before he's a war horse, Joey belongs to a teenage farmboy named Albert (Jeremy Irvine), whose prideful drunk of a father (Peter Mullan) bought him for more money than he can afford. When World War I breaks out, Joey is sold to the British army.
"Wherever you go, I will find you. I will bring you home," a desperate Albert vows. Sure, it's corny, but if you're not a little choked up by the end of this movie, you might not be human.
In a twist that may surprise those unfamliar with the book or stage play, Joey bounces from army to army, military to civilian, his freakish luck and apparently irresistible charm keeping him safe.
In one memorable scene, both sides actually call a halt to fighting to rescue Joey from a tangle of barbed wire, and a German soldier with a capital command of English helps a Brit set the horse free. The message is clear if simplistic: If they can come together and work toward a common goal to aid a suffering creature, why are they trying to kill each other?
"War Horse" is breathtakingly shot, with some scenes so over-the-top lovely with flaming skies and velvety pastures that you're acutely aware you're watching a movie. Spielberg gets his details right, of course -- from music to uniforms to the muddy horror of the trenches, the ruin of landscapes and lives that the war creates.
This film isn't really about great acting performances, but Irvine, Mullan, Emily Watson as Albert's mom, and the rest of the cast all do fine, with performances as earnest as the material.
This is a perfect family film, just in time for the holiday break. Older kids will enjoy it but their parents will too. It's touching and heartwrenching, thrilling and cathartic.
The horse may be the star, but in the end, "War Horse" is an undeniably human story.
Matt Damon and Scarlett Johansson deal with some animal magnetism in "We Bought a Zoo."
By Alonso Duralde, TheWrap.com
We all go into sentimental movies with certain pre-set buttons that directors try to hit -- some people lose it when a beloved doggie dies, others shed tears when long-estranged lovers are reunited, and then there are those who reach for their hankies when a gruff dad finally articulates his love for his child.
Me, I'm an easy touch for the dead-mom movie, so when one of those fails to move me, it's clear that whoever's jerking the tears isn't doing his or her job. Which brings us to Cameron Crowe's latest, "We Bought a Zoo."
In telling the true story of writer Benjamin Mee (Matt Damon, saddled with a wretched haircut), who raised his kids amongst a menagerie of wild animals following the death of his wife, director and co-writer Cameron Crowe doesn't take things as disastrously off the rails as his previous feature, "Elizabethtown." Still, the results feel artificial and sappy, with only a few too-little-too-late moments where the tragedy of losing a mother or a wife is handled with anything resembling grace.
Part of the problem could stem from Fox's desire to turn this movie into another "Marley and Me," and the resemblances don't end with the posters featuring animals bearing festive gift ribbons. Like that earlier hit, this is a film about a writer and his family moving into an enormous house, dealing with personal loss, and fighting for camera time against a gaggle of photogenic and insanely cute animals.
Or maybe we can pin it on Crowe's collaborator, Aline Brosh McKenna, the first writing partner that the auteur has ever employed -- or had forced upon him, as the case may be. (The first credited one, anyway.) In just over a decade as a working screenwriter, McKenna has been credited with some of the most noxious comedies of the era, including "27 Dresses," "Laws of Attraction," "Three to Tango," and "I Don't Know How She Does It," so perhaps the forced emotional content and paper-thin characterizations are her fault.
In any event, the film follows Benjamin as he moves his cheery daughter Rosie (Maggie Elizabeth Jones) and sullen son Dylan (Colin Ford) into a somewhat ramshackle animal park that's in need of both cash and a little TLC if it's ever going to open its doors again. The place comes with a staff that includes overworked animal expert Kelly (Scarlett Johansson, frumping herself up as much as possible), boisterous animal-enclosure designer Peter (Angus MacFayden), and a handful of others.
The only ones in this crew who get anything resembling character development are Rosie and her niece Lily (Elle Fanning), and only because they're there as potential romantic interests for Benjamin and Dylan, respectively. As for Peter, and Patrick Fugit's Robin, they're basically one-quirk characters who just exist in the background.
The big plot dilemma revolves around an obnoxious USDA inspector played by John Michael Higgins, whose say-so dictates whether or not the animal park can be open to the public, and not even as gifted a comic actor as Hitchcock can make this character anything more than a two-dimensional bureaucrat.
"We Bought a Zoo" only rarely addresses the bizarre notion that an average family could, in fact, buy a zoo, and the few moments where the topic comes up allows Thomas Haden Church to mostly steal the movie in his handful of appearances as Benjamin's brother. But the ongoing mope-fest about Benjamin missing his wife and his kids longing for their dead mother are the stuff of basic-cable cheese-fests.
There's a lovely score by Sigur Ros frontman Jonsi, but we're allowed to hear it all too infrequently, because Crowe would rather indulge his penchant for aging-boomer rock favorites at the most thuddingly obvious opportunities. Playing Cat Stevens' "Don't Be Shy" over a scene where characters are meeting for the first time is one thing, but Tom Petty's "Don't Come Around Here No More" to score a school expulsion? "I Think It's Going to Rain Today" during a rainstorm? Come on!
If anything about "We Bought a Zoo" lingers after the lights come up, it's the performance from Church, and the one from Katie -- she plays the zoo's aging alpha tiger, who just wants to be put out of his misery. After 124 minutes of these shenanigans, you may empathize.