Top Chef Kristen gets a hug from competitor Brooke.
By Drusilla Moorhouse, TODAY contributor
"Top Chef: Seattle" concluded its very competitive season Wednesday night with Brooke and Kristen squaring off before the judges and a live studio audience.
It came down to the ladies' fourth-round red snapper dishes, with all the judges voting in favor of Kristen's leeks, gem lettuce, tarragon, uni and shellfish nage over her opponent's "surf and turf" combo with braised pork cheek, collard green slaw, sorrel puree and pomegranate seeds.
So Kristen won the title of Top Chef and the $125,000 prize! After being eliminated in the 11th week, the underdog clawed her way back to a spot in the finals by smacking down five other ousted cheftestants in the Last Chance Kitchen.
Although much has been made of Brooke's five challenge wins, it's worth noting that three of them came after Kristen's untimely exit. (Kristen had originally bested her 4-2.)
In the end, it was really no contest. With their former competitors helping out as sous chefs, Kristen won three rounds with unanimous votes from the judges. Brooke just skated by in the second contest with a vote of 3-2 for her scallops, and her fourth-round failure forestalled the need for Round 5.
One drawback to the finale was its lack of suspense, especially since the fourth round judging took place in the final minutes of the episode. But the stadium atmosphere and live audience, including all nine previous "Top Chef" winners, still made for an exciting episode.
Former Temptations singer Richard Street died of a blood clot in a lung in a Las Vegas hospital at the age of 70, his widow said on Thursday.
Gilles Petard / Redferns via Getty Images file
The Temptations in 1972. From left, Richard Street, Melvin Franklin, Otis Williams, Dennis Edwards and Damon Harris. Street and Harris both died in February.
Cindy Street said her husband died on Wednesday at St. Rose Dominican Hospital in Las Vegas. She had taken him to the emergency room on Friday after he had trouble breathing.
"He was fighting to the very last moment," she said in a telephone interview from Las Vegas. "He was very happy. He had the kind of life he wanted. We laughed all the time."
Street, who had suffered from a blood clot more than a decade ago, was the second ex-member of the versatile Motown band to die this month after Otis "Damon" Harris died at age 62.
The Temptations was one of the leading male vocal groups of the 1960s and early 1970s, surviving several personnel changes to tackle a wide range of musical styles with tight harmonies and well choreographed dance routines.
Street was not in the original 1960s lineup but joined the band in the early 1970s and continued for more than 20 years before pursuing a solo career.
During his tenure, the Temptations released a string of hits including the 1972 chart-topping classic "Papa Was a Rollin' Stone" and "Masterpiece" released the following year.
"He was very proud of being part of black history," his wife said, adding he loved performing. "He was very proud of what he had done."
Street had completed a 45-show tour in Europe in September and October.
Funeral arrangements are incomplete, but will probably take place next week. Because her husband was a public figure, his widow said she thought she would open the services to the public. Street is also survived by four children.
Have the Fans of "Survivor: Caramoan" actually watched the show before? Just days into season 26, the fab four are failing arithmetic and Shamar is thinking of quitting the game.
After their first Tribal Council, Reynold is reeling from the "revenge of the nerds," who voted out his snuggle bunny Allie. It suddenly dawns on him, Eddie and Hope that their alliance is a "vast minority." (Maybe these kids were too busy admiring themselves during math class, but four versus six was a significant minority from the outset.)
Meanwhile, Shamar is lunging around camp like an injured Godzilla, breathing fire at everyone and making absolutely no sense. Everyone is appalled except businesswoman Sherri, whose entire staff at home consists of Shamars: "All I do is deal with snotty teenage brats all day."
Shamar then starts threatening to quit the game, revealing that after his first tour in Iraq he suffered from alcoholism and "anger issues." But it's his genuine belief that he's "trying to uplift everybody" that makes us wonder how he ever passed his CBS psych eval.
Just as we're tasting bile at the thought of another NaOnka and Purple Kelly desertion, Shamar agrees to stay a few more days out of loyalty to Sherri, Laura & Co.
"He made himself a hero for unquitting the game of 'Survivor,'" said Reynold. Bravo!
Over at Bikal, Phillip is channeling his inner Richard Simmons, while Corrine and Malcolm team up to look for the Hidden Immunity Idol. He finds it in about five seconds, they do a celebratory Snoopy dance/pinky pact, and bury it in another spot. (He doesn't tell Corrine that he was burned by Laundry Lady Lisa.)
Andrea, who is playing this game harder than anyone, notices that Corrine and Mal are "intensely talking" and tries to sway Cochran and Phillip to swap out Corrine's spot with Brandon and oust the "Gabon" vet instead. Fortunately for Corrine, the Favorites win both immunity and reward (including chairs, pillows, blankets and a tarp).
It's another spectacular challenge, proving that "Survivor" should never, ever have another landlubber season.
Although Laura flounders during the swim, it's a tight race. Both tribes, even at 9-9, must swim to a cage, climb it and jump into water, release and drag a submerged chest to shore, and then push it to a platform after assembling a series of tracks obtained via grappling hook.
While Eddie struggles, Brandon nails the last hook for Favorites victory.
Shamar continues his unique version of "uplifting" the tribe, calling Reynold "disgusting" and revealing to Hope the majority's plan to split the vote between her and Eddie. She shares his revelation with Julia, who for a hot minute considers aligning with the Pretty People to vote out the insufferable Marine.
At Tribal Council, Shamar continues his Pity Party of One, accusing everyone of lying -- including the guys on his "No-Talking List" -- and throwing him under the bus. (Where, in fact, he really threw himself. He's much too huge for anyone else to toss him into traffic.)
With Reynold again holding onto his immunity idol, Eddie, Hope and Shamar are tied with three votes apiece. As planned, Shamar, Michael and Matt switch their votes to Hope, and her torch is summarily snuffed.
Eddie and Reynold's lunch table is sure getting lonely. Aw.
Children of the 1980s, you remember "Pretty in Pink." Molly Ringwald's bizarre home-sewn prom dress. "His name is Blane? That's a major appliance, that's not a name!" "What's this? We don't have a candy machine in the boys' room!" "WHAT ABOUT PROM, BLANE?"
The 1986 John Hughes classic came out 27 years ago Thursday, meaning that had Andie Walsh (Molly Ringwald) actually stayed together with either rich pretty boy Blane McDonnagh (Andrew McCarthy) or (our preference) quirky best friend Duckie Dale (Jon Cryer), they might even have kids of their own by now. Possibly adult kids. Maybe even a grandkid.
Some say "Pretty in Pink" pales next to some of Hughes' other work, such as "Sixteen Candles" or "The Breakfast Club," but there's no doubt it's made its mark on pop culture. Years ago, Jon Cryer told TODAY.com that he's played Alan Harper on "Two and a Half Men" for years, but when he walks down the street, fans who recognize him never yell "Alan!" They always yell, "Duckie!"
In 2012, Jimmy Fallon asked Cryer if the beloved character couldn't be resurrected for a "Duckie Holiday Speclal." Cryer wasn't so sure, pointing out the innate uncoolness of his alter ago. "People forget that Duckie wore lederhosen!" he admonished.
And when McCarthy's memoir came out last fall, TODAY anchor Savannah Guthrie asked him if he felt it was true that Duckie was better for Andie than his own character of Blane. "That is an outrageous theory," McCarthy joked.
It's famously known that "Pretty in Pink" was supposed to end with Andie leaving Blane and ending up back with Duckie, her faithful, fashionable friend. But that ending was reportedly rejected by a test audience (someone find these people and interrogate them about what they were thinking), so Andie got the "happy" ending with richie Blane.
And perhaps that's as it should be. As much as we support Duckie's eternal faithfulness and fire, a 2012 TODAY.com poll showed that a slight majority of readers chose Blane over Duckie anyway. So let's pretend they're content, whoever and wherever they are. And happy anniversary.
Scott Weiland claims he thought he was still flying with the Stone Temple Pilots until Wednesday. "I learned of my supposed 'termination' from Stone Temple Pilots this morning by reading about it in the press," the band's on-again, off-again lead singer said in a statement obtained by E! News.
"Not sure how I can be 'terminated' from a band that I founded, fronted and co-wrote many of its biggest hits, but that's something for the lawyers to figure out. In the meantime, I'm looking forward to seeing all of my fans on my solo tour which starts this Friday."
What was apparent Wednesday morning was that the still-trucking members of STP had no trouble booting their core member.
"Stone Temple Pilots have announced they have officially terminated Scott Weiland," read a statement released by the band's publicist.
Plagued by personal issues that carried on through much of the '00s, Weiland first left STP in 2002 and then formed Velvet Revolver with Slash, Dave Kushner, Duff McCagan and Matt Sorum the following year.
Weiland rejoined brothers Dean and Robert DeLeo and Eric Kretz in STP in 2008. Their 2010 self-titled album debuted at No. 2 on the Billboard 200, indicating that at least the fans were psyched that the boys were back together.
According to Rolling Stone, it was Slash who first said in an interview a couple months ago that STP and Weiland had parted ways yet again, to which Weiland replied just yesterday: "Slash doesn't know anything about STP. We're talking right now about when we want to tour next."
"No one has ever fired anybody in STP," the 45-year-old rocker continued. "We're like a family. It's also a partnership. I started the band. We've always kept things going. We've taken time off before. They've done their own projects and I fully support that. No one has been fired and I haven't quit. That's all hearsay."
It wasn't your typical Oscars song. On Sunday night, host Seth MacFarlane led a number of singers, including the Gay Men's Chorus of Los Angeles, in a song he called, "We Saw Your Boobs." The lyrics called out a number of actresses in the auditorium who'd gone topless in movies, repeating, "in the movie that we saw, we saw your boobs." Meryl Streep, Naomi Watts, Angelina Jolie, Anne Hathaway, Halle Berry, Nicole Kidman and Kate Winslet (repeatedly) were among the women mentioned.
But now someone is striking back, and pointing out the fact that MacFarlane chose to focus only on women who'd gone partially nude in films, not men. Kevin Gisi, an engineer at Mashable.com, put together a hilarious twist on the song, aimed at male actors and called, "We Saw Your Junk."
Sporting a great voice, Gisi dives right in, with "We saw your junk, we saw your junk, in the movie that we saw, we saw your junk." He goes on to namedrop such male actors as Kevin Bacon, Bruce Willis, Harvey Keitel, Richard Gere, Ben Stiller and more.
"Mark Wahlberg used prosthetics in 'Boogie Niiiiiiiiiights,'" he sings, gesturing to indicate that said prosthetics were quite lengthy.
And where MacFarlane used Kate Winslet's numerous nude scenes as a joke in his version, Gisi picked someone who's made his name on nudity. He sings, "And Ron Jeremy kept it hidden in (1996 horror film) 'They Bite.' And 'Orgazmo.' 'Crank: High Voltage.' And 'The Chase.' And '54.' But that doesn't make up for the porn!"
Gisi even gets in a dig at the Oscar host himself, singing, "Not a peep of Seth MacFarlane's junk to see, hypocrite!"
But Gisi says that he has mixed feelings about MacFarlane's original song.
"For that particular joke premise, if it didn't offend, it wouldn't have gotten laughs in the first place," Gisi told TODAY.com. "I abhor the objectification of anyone -- but I don't think Seth actively objectified, rather he identified the objectification in the film industry. But I can certainly understand why being so casual about it would make many people feel uncomfortable. My video was just to point out that whether Seth's song was taken as crass and immature, or as insightful social commentary -- there's no shortage of men who've done the very same thing as the women he mentioned."
Gisi had to work hard to get his video together before the Oscar parody lost steam. "It was a fair bit of work," he says. "Honestly, the toughest part was re-orchestrating the music. I was in a rush to get the video up, mainly just concerned that people would be sick of the Oscars if I waited too long. I think I could have done better, but I'm proud I was able to get it out.
His video deftly skewers MacFarlane's number, but Gisi says he realizes what a tough job the "Family Guy" creator had hosting the Oscars.
"Seth tweeted out 'The Oscars is basically the Kobayashi Maru test,' " Gisi says, referring to "Star Trek's" famed unwinnable scenario. "It certainly seems that way to me -- award shows hosts are expected to be roast masters, but in front of too wide an audience to avoid seriously offending many."
While this is Gisi's first video that's gone viral, he releases videos Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays on his You Tube Channel, "The Kevin Show."
Up until this week, Zoanette Johnson’s role has been to provide the comic relief on the “American Idol” audition and Hollywood clip shows. She looked like the traditional contestant who is brought along for drama in the early stages, then quickly hustled out the door before she actually gets a chance to make the live rounds.
Wednesday night was her first night to perform unfiltered, without having her work sliced and diced by the producers and editors. And while it’s still hard to see her being anything other than the “Vote for the Worst” candidate for season 12, she at least showed a bit of what the judges see in her -- that is, if you’re not too cynical to think they actually see anything besides an oversized personality with a big, but perhaps uncontrollable, voice who gets people talking.
Johnson received the much-coveted spot at the end of the show, and her song choice was brilliant. Her version of “Circle of Life,” complete with the animal-print outfit, got three out of four judges out of their seats for a standing ovation, and the platitudes seemed to go on forever.
“Zoanette! Zoanette! Zoanette! Good Lord!” Keith Urban said. “I love that I have no clue what you’re gonna do. I sometimes wonder if you do too.”
Nicki Minaj got teary. “The reason that you make me so emotional is that when I think of you coming from Liberia … I am so proud of you. I don’t care what people say about you. You’re the person that we’re going to remember after tonight! You’re unforgettable! You’re a superstar! That song was such a smart choice, because it matches who you are, where you’re about to be, where you’re from.”
“I’m proud that this place right here gives people like you and me that came from absolutely nothing, from a country that we probably didn’t think we’d make it out alive -- it gives us a shot,” Minaj added.
Point of fact: Minaj was actually a pretty big deal in the music business before signing up to be a judge, so she didn’t need “Idol” to get her shot. But let’s continue.
“I know a lot of people out there were wondering what the judges were thinking, what Zoanette was doing out there,” Randy Jackson said. “That was the reason she’s here. That spirit that you have is the spirit of the lion, the champion. That’s what it’s about.”
There were indeed a lot of people wondering what the judges were thinking – but perhaps not as many who were wondering what Randy himself was saying Wednesday. It just wasn’t his night for useful or memorable commentary, and part of the effect of the hipper panel of judges is that it accentuates how passé and predictable he can be.
Mariah Carey completed the love fest. “I’m so proud and happy for you. It’s almost like your spirit is too big to be contained, and that’s what you wanted to give tonight,” she said.
That’s was the closest to the truth. Johnson is over-the-top in every respect, and how she was portrayed over the first two months was designed to make her seem like a lovable loon rather than a serious singer. That changed on Wednesday -- sort of.
It’s indisputable that she’s the one who made Wednesday’s show memorable, and the judges in their loud praise gave people a reason to root for her, always important in a popularity contest. It’s also indisputable that if she had a quieter personality, she never would have made it this far.
Part of the problem that “Idol” women have had over the past five seasons has been their tendenency to be solid but boring, easily cast aside in favor of the men. Nobody’s ever going to call Zoanette Johnson boring, and that’s a big reason she’s still here.
In other news, Janelle Arthur, Aubrey Cleland, Breanna Steer and Candice Glover also advanced. Arthur had to survive a surprisingly average performance to win the last spot, while Juliana Chahayed has to be cursing the fates that had her singing this week instead of last week. Her toned down “Skyscraper” was excellent, but the 15-year-old showed just enough nerves that she missed the cut. Melinda Ademi was also good enough to advance on a different day, but not amongst this group.
Based on their performances since January, Arthur and Glover are both stronger candidates to win than Johnson. But based on how much the judges seem to love her, Johnson could last a lot longer than people think.
The sole culprit behind Harry Styles' shoe shenanigan is making amends. A Twitter user by the name of Jade Anderson has taken responsibility for clocking him in the groin when she threw her shoe onstage at a One Direction show Tuesday in Glasgow, and she's now apologizing to the boy bander for the ballsy move.
The 14-year-old, who hails from Scotland's East Kilbride town, took to Twitter shortly after the incident, writing, "tonight i threw my shoe and it hit harry in the balls then security came and took me out the concert then i got my shoe back hahahaha."
Whether you're Catholic or not, it's impossible to deny the pope's role in world events, and, on the lighter side, in entertainment and related topics. Here's a look at some of the most famous times the papacy met pop culture.
Pope soap on a rope
Pope soap on a rope Don't be a dope, use pope soap on a rope. It'll help you cope. You could wash your antelope. Don't sit around and mope! It might give you fresh hope. And if you drop it, you won't have to grope. Just keep it next to your bottle of Scope. Maybe on a bathtub slope. What do ya mean, nope? --Gael Fashingbauer Cooper
'South Park' says first pope was a bunny "South Park's" 2007 "Fantastic Easter Special" -- a "Da Vinci Code" spoof -- neatly links the origins of Peter Rabbit to the papacy. Stan and Kyle find proof that St. Peter, the first pope, was actually a pure-of-heart bunny. "Look at the pope's hat," one character says of the pope's mitre. "It makes no sense, except that it was originally designed for (the ears of) a rabbit." Pope Benedict XVI delivers the especially irreverent episode's best line: "I'm pretty sure that killing Jesus is not very Christian.” --Dru Moorhouse
Samir Hussein / Getty Images Contributor
Sinead O'Connor, seen here in 2011, famously tore up a photo of the pope on "Saturday Night Live
Sinead O'Connor rips up picture of the Pope It's perhaps the most famous time the papacy met entertainment. In 1992, singer Sinead O'Connor tore up a photo of Pope John Paul II while singing Bob Marley's "Evil" on "Saturday Night Live." O'Connor first changed a lyric about racism to be about child abuse, referencing the church's abuse scandals. She tore the picture while singing the word "evil," then threw the pieces of the photo at the camera and said, "Fight the real enemy." The gesture came as a shock to the show -- during dress rehearsal, O'Connor simply held up a photo of a refugee child. On the following week's show, host Joe Pesci held up the taped-back-together photo and instead ripped up one of O'Connor. --G.F.C.
"The Shoes of the Fisherman
'Shoes of the Fisherman' In 1963, everyone was reading about the pope. But not the real one. Australian author Morris West hit #1 on the New York Times bestseller list with his novel, "The Shoes of the Fisherman," about a fictional pope who ascends to the papacy after spending decades in a Siberian labor camp. The book's timing was impeccable: It was published the same day that Pope John XXIII died. Five years later, the book became a film starring Anthony Quinn and Laurence Olivier. Just a decade after the film. Pope John Paul II was elected, and many pointed out that his life story shares similarities with that of the pope West imagined in his novel. --G.F.C.
Guido Montani / EPA
Pope Benedict XVI waves to the crowd from the specially modified Mercedes dubbed the "Popemobile."
Popemobile It's no Batmobile, but like that famed car, the Popemobile also comes in numerous models. Some have bullet-proof glass, some are open. Some make it seem as if the pope is standing in a mobile glass phone both, others look like Dr. Who's Tardis, and some like the Jeeps from "Jurassic Park." Reportedly, Pope Benedict XVI's most-favored version is a modified Mercedes that can go 160 mph, and the glass room in the back in which the pope waves to the crowds comes complete with its own oxygen supply. --G.F.C.
Jaap Buitendijk / Warner Bros.
The pope himself may not have been a Harry Potter fan, but the Vatican newspaper had no problem with it.
Pope vs. Potter Right around the time Harry Potter fans were anticipating the release of J.K. Rowling’s “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” in 2003, some critics of the books were making a case to then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger about the series’ impact on Christianity. German religious writer Gabriele Kuby, a sociologist, wrote a treatise about the dangers of the series. She found a receptive audience in the cardinal, who responded, "It is good that you enlighten us on the Harry Potter matter, for these are subtle seductions that are barely noticeable, and precisely because of that have a deep effect and corrupt the Christian faith in souls even before it could properly grow.” Ratzinger, of course, would later become Pope Benedict XVI. The Vatican as a whole, on the other hand, had a different stance. In 2009, the official Vatican newspaper, L’Osservatore Romano, praised “Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince," saying, “There is a clear line of demarcation between good and evil and [the film] makes clear that good is right. One understands as well that sometimes this requires hard work and sacrifice." --Courtney Hazlett
Joan Rivers arrives for "Late Show With David Letterman" on Tuesday.
By Gael Fashingbauer Cooper, TODAY
Singer Adele took home an Oscar in the best original song category Sunday night, but she also had to listen to host Seth MacFarlane joke about her weight. The jokes aren't over: On Wednesday night's "Late Night With David Letterman," comedian Joan Rivers poked fun at the singer's size as well.
"I met Adele! Has she been on the show?" Rivers asked Letterman, puffing out her cheeks and holding her arms far away from her body. When the audience booed, Rivers snapped, "Oh no! No! She's thin! Can we just talk to each other here?"
"What is her song, 'Rolling in the Deep'? She should add, 'Fried Chicken,'" Rivers cracked.
Rivers went on to say that Adele expressed concern about her live Oscars performance, saying, "My throat, my throat! I don't know if I can swallow."
"And I said, 'Oh yeah, you can swallow,'" Rivers said, again holding her arms out to indicate a large person.
Rivers is also being called upon by the Anti-Defamation League to apologize for a "vulgar and hideous" Holocaust joke she made about German-born model Heidi Klum.
On the E! show "Fashion Police" Monday, Rivers said, "The last time a German looked this hot was when they were pushing Jews into the ovens."
The ADL says in a press release that the segment has been shown at least four times on the network and appeared briefly on YouTube.
"It is vulgar and offensive for anybody to use the death of six million Jews and millions of others in the Holocaust to make a joke, but this is especially true for someone who is Jewish and who proudly and publicly wears her Jewishness on her sleeve," the ADL said of Rivers.
At press time, "Fashion Police" had not responded to a request for comment.
Kendra Wilkinson and Kate Gosselin swapped lives for a week.
By Anna Chan, TODAY
When women swap lives on ABC's "Wife Swap," they tend to go home having learned a few life lessons. The same couldn't exactly be said for the season premiere of "Celebrity Wife Swap" Tuesday night, when Kate Gosselin and Kendra Wilkinson made the switch.
Former "Girls Next Door" star Kendra -- a mom of one who has a pretty splendid life being pampered by former football player Hank Baskett -- got a rude awakening when she took care of Kate's eight children, but she did it all with a smile on her face. And in the end, she even bonded with the children.
"I really worked my butt off to get these kids to at least appreciate me and know my heart," Kendra told us. "I really wanted to know their hearts. I really wanted to know about them and know where they come from. I don't want to just do the show, I want to ... really learn about these kids."
For Kate, the experience didn't seem quite so positive. She spent the majority of her time at Kendra's house criticizing Kendra's seeming lack of effort around the house and leaving the majority of the child-rearing to hubby Hank and maid Rosa.
When it came time for the couples to meet face to face (Kate's friend Deanna, who helped Kendra out with the kids, sat in as the husband figure), the mom of eight showed just how judgmental she was of the other woman.
After Kendra praised the warmth of Kate's home and expressed being overwhelmed by Kate's rule book, the mom of eight whipped out her claws and reduced Kendra to tears.
"Imagine my surprise when I arrived at your house and discovered you had ONE child," she told Kendra. "It was a very unique experience to sort of do nothing. Reading your manual made me believe that you let everybody else do everything because you don't care. And between (Hank) and Rosa, they do everything, so it essentially enables you to not have to."
Oh, ouch! Could Kendra have chipped in a little more at home? Probably! But did she deserve this treatment? Not really! (Especially since the same message could've been delivered in a more tactful manner.) Loving husband Hank stepped up to defend his wife.
"No! She's very hands on with Little Hank!" he insisted. Hank then said to Kendra, "I don't want you to change who you are." Awww!
At the end, Kendra admitted that she had "grown up so much" from the experience. "I took some advice from her, and I am taking that in," Kendra told us. The show also revealed that she's spending even more time with her little son now.
As for Kate? Her parting words at the table weren't about what she learned from the experience, but that she hoped Kendra took a few lessons with her.
Every show needs a good guy and bad guy, right?
"Celebrity Wife Swap" airs at 8 p.m. Tuesdays on ABC.
For "Top Chef: Seattle" finalists Kristen Kish and Brooke Williamson, it's time to unpack their knives and go!
In Wednesday night's season 10 finale, the ladies will prepare five of their best dishes -- live in front of a studio audience. In addition to their own guests, the spectators will include the champions of all nine previous seasons of "Top Chef."
(In other words, no need to fear a repeat of season nine's cross-country ski/target-shooting "Culinary Olympics." What that had to do with cooking, we're not sure.)
Brooke, the steely owner of two acclaimed Los Angeles gastropubs, has dominated the competition for weeks. Then again, she hasn't had to square off against Kristen since the former model was eliminated in the 11th round.
After winning four challenges, Kristen was sent home during the infamous Restaurant Wars. (While Josie stayed. Boo! Hiss!) But then she sliced and diced five other eliminated cheftestants in the Last Chance Kitchen to earn her spot in the finale.
Fans eager for the return of reality TV's ballroom bash finally got the big news they've been waiting for on Tuesday: The 11 familiar faces set to grace the dance floor when the next season of "Dancing With the Stars" kicks off were revealed. There's just one problem. According to many of those fans, the faces weren't that familiar at all.
It's a common complaint for the show each season. The word "stars" may be in the title, but some feel the definition is stretched.
"I guess I'm really showing my age, but I have only heard of (Wynonna) Judd and (Dorothy Hamill)," reader Lin Redfield posted to our Facebook page. "I have no idea who these other people are."
The others in question happen to be Super Bowl champ Jacoby Jones, actor D.L. Hughely, Lisa Vanderpump of "The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills," boxer Victor Ortiz, actor-comedian Andy Dick, "American Idol" alum Kellie Pickler, soap star Ingo Rademacher, Olympic gymnast Aly Raisman and Zendaya of Disney Channel fame.
But the truth is, Lin was hardly alone in wondering about the so-called celebrity identities.
"'With the Stars'!!!???? Who the heck are 8 out of 11 of those names?" reader Julaine Schexnayder asked. "I have never heard of them so how can I care if they do well or not! I will bet you this, however, the winner will be someone with a well-known name today, not an unknown."
In fact, the complaint about unknown or little-known "stars" was echoed again and again, leaving some to suggest the successful reality TV staple was starting to lose touch with the modern boob-tube world.
"Dancing With The Stars: where The Lawrence Welk show meets The Love Boat," Kevin Doyle joked.
But it wasn't just the celebrity casting news that had fans in a tizzy. While the participating stars -- or well, close enough -- gave viewers plenty to talk about, so did the absence of one ballroom pro.
For only the second time in his 13 seasons with the show, popular pro Maksim Chmerkovskiy -- aka the bad boy of the ballroom -- won't be dancing alongside one of the hoofer hopefuls, and faithful fans weren't pleased about that.
"OMG! will I miss Maks? thats an understatement," Linda Benincasa Fabiano told us. "It will not be the same without him. Not sure if I will be as dedicated to the show now that he is taking a leave."
Kathi Johnson agreed, telling us, "(It's) disappointing, he was one of the highlights of the show."
According to the "Dancing" powers-that-be, Maks' absence is just routine.
"We frequently rotate the professional dancers, so it is not unusual for them to rest a cycle,” ABC said in a statement.
But on Twitter, a reader who goes by JoJo pointed out, "The funny thing is they said they frequently rotate dancers, but I seldom see them rotate Derek (Hough) and Mark (Ballas), or Kym (Johnson)."
That's an especially interesting point in the case of Derek, who announced he was leaving the ballroom last season only to return once again.
He received decidedly mixed reviews for his Sunday night stint hosting the Oscars. She was mentioned, along with comedy partner in crime Amy Poehler, as a dream host for the future. But both Seth MacFarlane and Tina Fey have now gone on record saying they won't host next year's show.
Paul Drinkwater / NBC via AP
Tina Fey, seen here hosting the Golden Globes with Amy Poehler, says she won't host the Oscars.
In a comedy bit that opened the awards show, William Shatner muttered, "Why couldn't they get Tina and Amy to host? Why can't Tina and Amy host everything?"
"I just feel like that gig is so hard," Fey told the site. "Especially for, like, a woman -- the amount of months that would be spent trying on dresses alone ... no way."
When writer Mike Ryan pushed Fey, asking if there was a "one in a million chance," she still declined, saying "I wish I could tell you there was."
As for MacFarlane, he responded to a Twitter fan who asked him if he'd host again with "No way. Lotta fun to have done it though."
With Fey and MacFarlane out of the running, the Academy organizers will have to start combing through a long list of possible hosts. Recent hosts have included Billy Crystal, James Franco and Anne Hathaway, Alec Baldwin and Steve Martin, Hugh Jackman, Jon Stewart and Ellen DeGeneres.
It's a list that heavily favors comedians, but there the Academy walks a fine line. Edgy comics like MacFarlane and three-time Golden Globes host Ricky Gervais may appeal to a younger audience, but also run the risk of alienating viewers who like their Oscar humor safe and friendly. And there's no denying it's a great deal of work for a famous name who arguably doesn't gain much from taking the job but has a lot to lose if his or her hosting night goes awry. It might even be easier to win an Oscar than to successfully host one.
The ultimate "Celebrity Apprentice" face-off is about to begin. The best of the best, the worst of the worst, and all the fan favorites in between are set to return for the show's first all-star season, and according to boss Donald Trump, the quest for the top job is going to be wild.
"It's probably as tough and mean and nasty as we've had so far," he told Matt Lauer during a Wednesday morning visit to TODAY.
That's not hard to imagine given the polarizing personalities ready to clash for another shot at reality TV glory. Bret Michaels, Gary Busey, Dennis Rodman, La Toya Jackson, Dee Snider, Lisa Rinna, Lil Jon, Penn Jilette, Marilu Henner, Stephen Baldwin, Trace Adkins, Claudia Jordan, Brande Roderick and classic 'Apprentice' villain Omarosa are all onboard.
In fact, from what Trump has seen of the unaired action so far, one star is at the heart of many of those clashes.
"A lot of people are not getting along with Omarosa," Trump said to the surprise of absolutely no one who watched Omarosa's first stint on the show. "She's brutal!"
But it's not all about boardroom backbiting. The stars have another big objective.
"They've raised millions and millions of dollars with 'Celebrity Apprentice' for charity," Trump boasted of the all-stars. "I'll tell you, the first night (of the new season), we raised over $1 million for one charity."
See what else the big boss and his daughter Ivanka Trump had to say about the show in the clip above, and catch the charitable acts and "mean and nasty" gameplay for yourself when the all-star season "Celebrity Apprentice" premieres Sunday at 9 p.m. on NBC.
All signs were pointing to the fact the last season of "Dancing With the Stars" was Derek Hough’s final one. He’d not only competed in 10 seasons, won three mirror ball trophies and sustained a neck injury, but in a video package played during the finale, Hough sure acted like he was hanging up his sequins.
“It was my last,” Hough confirmed to The Clicker. “I was planning on not coming back. It really felt like the end.”
So what changed his mind?
Hough decided he was simply too busy to quit. Yep, too busy. Along with his sister, Julianne Hough, the fan favorite dancer is executive producing a series called ‘Blackpool’ for Starz which is set against the backdrop of the international competitive ballroom dancing scene.
The siblings will not only produce the series, but the pair will also act as head choreographers.
Hough’s always been too savvy to air any personal laundry (that may or may not be piling up) during his run on the show, preferring instead to keep the drama on the dance floor. Now, he’s eagerly looking forward to letting it explode in the fictional stories he’ll be helping to create.
“It’s a world I know very well,” he said of ‘Blackpool’s’ backdrop. “It’ll be fictionalized -- not autobiographical. We’re meeting with the writers, and it’s starting to come together.”
The monumental task of developing and running a show triggered Hough’s choice to return to "Dancing With the Stars."
“I decided I’m better when I’m busy,” he said. “My other projects will benefit from me doing another season of ‘Dancing With the Stars.’ My creative mind will be going. I tend to get things done more often and more quickly when I’m busy."
Fortunately, one thing Hough hasn’t had to add to his schedule is surgery for his neck injury. “I spoke to the spinal guy (after last season) and he said unless it’s something that’s taking me completely out, let’s not start cutting into your neck,” Hough said. “I am going to take more care of (myself). I’ll be more aware.”
There’s another big reason Hough signed up for another season of standing in front of Carrie Ann Inaba, Len Goodman and Bruno Tonioli each week. “I love being a part of this show. It was a last-minute decision, but it’s a decision that I’m very, very happy with -- even more so now because I have (‘American Idol’ alum) Kellie Pickler as a partner.”
Pickler is not only thrilled that Hough made the decision that he did, but she also agrees with it. “When life gives you the opportunity to jump, you should jump,” she told The Clicker. “The chances of your parachute opening are good.”
“Your mind is like a parachute,” Hough added. “It works better when it’s open.”
Rick Springfield's Dr. Drake is returning to "GH"!
By Drusilla Moorhouse, TODAY contributor
For fans of Rick Springfield, this is just what the doctor ordered: The "Jessie's Girl" singer is returning to "General Hospital," reprising his role as Dr. Noah Drake.
Even better, reports People, he'll be joined by his son, Liam Springthorpe. (Springfield was born Richard Springthorpe.) The young actor-musician, who will play an undercover cop, isn't expecting to share scenes with his famous father.
Springfield debuted on the ABC soap opera in 1981 -- the same year "Jessie's Girl" topped the charts and earned him a Grammy award for best male rock vocal performance. Since we last saw Noah Drake in March 2012, Springfield says the good doctor has been "going to Doctors Without Borders and going around the world helping people."
"He lost his wife and became a drunk and regretted all these terrible, sinful ways and then cleaned his act up when he almost died from the alcohol," Springfield told People about the troubled neurosurgeon.
Maksim Chmerkovskiy is taking season 16 of "Dancing" off.
By Anna Chan, TODAY
When "Dancing With the Stars" unveiled its season 16 lineup Tuesday morning, one very popular pro was not included: ballroom bad boy Maksim Chmerkovskiy.
Rumors had surfaced in the days prior that Maks wouldn't be participating in the show this upcoming season, and Tuesday, he confirmed the news to TODAY.com.
"I just want to set the record straight to all of my amazing fans that I will unfortunately not be returning for this season of 'Dancing With the Stars,' " he said in a statement. "I’ve been a pro dancer on the show for about seven years now and am eager to explore other opportunities that have been made possible because of 'Dancing With the Stars.' I'm going to take this time to dive into producing and acting, while fulfilling my sponsorship obligations.
"A big thank you to all of my fans for your never-ending support. I also want to thank the entire cast and production of 'Dancing With the Stars.' "
"We frequently rotate the professional dancers, so it is not unusual for them to rest a cycle,” ABC said of Maks taking a break. "We appreciate each of our dancer's dedication to the show, so this is a very difficult decision. Anna (Trebunskaya), Chelsie (Hightower), Maks and Louis (Van Amstel) continue to be a part of the 'Dancing With the Stars' family."
This isn't the first time the passionate dancer, who joined "DWTS" in season two, has taken time off from the show. He took season six off after finishing second with Mel B. in season five.
Maks, who has always stood up for his partners on the show when he felt they were unfairly critiqued, has famously sparred with judges Len Goodman, Bruno Tonioli and Carrie Ann Inaba for several seasons. In season 13, he even told head judge Len during a critique of partner Hope Solo that he should retire, and cursed Carrie Ann backstage to reporters.
Though the Ukranian pro is taking time off to pursue other interests, the ballroom won't be Chmerkovskiy free. Maks' little brother, Val, is returning for his fourth season, and is paired with teen Disney star Zendaya.
"Dancing With the Stars" kicks off on March 18 at 8 p.m. on ABC.
Anne Hathaway is a world-famous movie star -- and now an Oscar-winning actress -- but that doesn't mean she's immune to insecurity. In fact, she may be more vulnerable than anyone. Though the 30-year-old star has been praised in recent months for her spectacular performance in the epic movie musical "Les Miserables," she has also been criticized for what some believe is a false, cloying sense of earnestness in her awards show appearances.
Mario Anzuoni / Reuters
Anne Hathaway accepts the Oscar for best supporting actress for her role in "Les Miserables."
Speaking to reporters backstage after winning the best supporting actress Academy Award on Feb. 24, Hathaway admitted to feeling hurt by the backlash. "It does get to me," she confessed. "But you have to remember in life that there's a positive to every negative and a negative to every positive."
"The miracle of the universe is that, as far as they know, there's 51 percent matter versus 49 percent anti-matter -- things tip in the scale of the positive," she continued. "So that is what I focus on."
The star -- who beat out fellow nominees Sally Field, Jacki Weaver, Helen Hunt, and Amy Adams -- then went on to say that she tries not to let other people's criticism change the way she approaches her own relationships. "I live my life with love," she explained. "I live my life with compassion. I live my life hoping the best for absolutely everyone, no matter how they feel about me. And when you live that way, it's amazing how beautiful every day can be."
Indeed, Hathaway's life has seemed especially charmed recently. Prior to her successful awards season run, the actress married Adam Shulman in September 2012. Addressing her now-husband as she accepted her Oscar on Sunday, she gushed, "By far the greatest moment of my life was the one when you walked into it. I love you so much."
There are some pairings that seem inevitable, and David Bowie's inclusion of Oscar-winning actress Tilda Swinton in his newest music video, "The Stars (Are Out Tonight)" is just such a one. The actress, who made an early career splash as the gender-shifting title character in 1989's "Orlando" seems just the right kind of otherworldly face to appear in a video by the Thin White Duke, who for much of his career has affected an androgynous look.
That said, here's the surprise: Initially, Swinton's done up in true girly-girl fashion as Bowie's wife, seen in a fluffy blonde wig and neck-scarf, sidling up behind him in a convenience store and offering a peck on the cheek. But as the video progresses and the pair are haunted by younger lookalikes, a transformation occurs.
Dorothy Hamill, D.L. Hughley and Wynonna Judd are among the stars ready to go "Dancing."
By Ree Hines, TODAY contributor
In just three weeks, glitz, glam and a whole lot of spray tan return to prime time as "Dancing With the Stars" kicks off its 16th season. The battle for the mirror-ball trophy will see 11 stars -- or reasonable facsimiles -- face off for ballroom bragging rights. But which 11 stars?
ABC teased the first star Sunday night -- Super Bowl champ and Baltimore Ravens wide receiver Jacoby Jones. As for the rest of the cast, they were revealed Tuesday on "Good Morning America."
Here are the stars and pro partners who'll soon get ready to rumba:
Wynonna Judd will dance alongside Tony Dovolani.
Dorothy Hamill will learn some ballroom basics from Tristan MacManus.
D.L. Hughley is set to perform with pro dancer Cheryl Burke.
Lisa Vanderpump will partner with new pro Gleb Savchenko.
Victor Ortiz will try out his fancy footwork with first-timer Lindsay Arnold.
Andy Dick will hit the floor with some help from yet another new pro, Sharna Burgess.
Zendaya is set to step out with Val Chmerkovskiy.
Aly Raisman and pro Mark Ballas will vie for the mirror ball together.
Kellie Pickler will waltz with Derek Hough.
Ingo Rademacher will perform with Kym Johnson.
And as for Jones, he'll be joined by pro Karina Smirnoff.
Even though Jennifer Lawrence fell on her way up to accept her best actress Oscar for “Silver Linings Playbook,” perhaps the most embarrassing moment for the 22-year-old came after the show.
While ABC’s George Stephanopoulous was interviewing Lawrence in a post-show wrap-up, three-time Oscar winner Jack Nicholson, 75, came up behind her and said, “You did such a beautiful job,” before adding “I would love to interview you.”
Nicholson, who had earlier co-presented the best picture award with Michelle Obama, added to the flirting when he told Lawrence, “You look like an old girlfriend” to which the actress gamely quipped “Oh really, do I look like a new girlfriend?”
Nicholson didn’t miss a beat. “I’ve thought about it," he said.
With a smile, the surprised actress exclaimed “Oh my God!” and buried her head in her hands.
She really shouldn't have been surprised. On a night where she pulled in the best actress award, flipped off the press room, and nearly fell on her face, getting hit on by someone old enough to be her grandfather was just par for the course.
Seth MacFarlane's Sunday-night stint hosting the Oscars drew both criticism and praise. The "Family Guy" host definitely pushed the envelope -- it was hard to imagine some of his jokes coming from past Oscar hosts, such as Billy Crystal or Ellen DeGeneres. Here's a look at five of his most controversial lines.
Robyn Beck / AFP - Getty Images
Host Seth MacFarlane pushed the envelope on Oscar humor, and not everyone laughed.
1. "I would argue, however, that the actor who really got inside Lincoln's head was John Wilkes Booth." MacFarlane followed this up by acknowledging the audience's groans and gasps, saying "150 years and it's still too soon, huh?" Too soon, or just too crass. After all, "South Park" once joked about Lincoln's assassination, sending a giant statue of Booth after a giant rampaging statue of Lincoln. Big difference: Their joke was actually funny.
2. "To give you an idea of how young (Quvenzhane Wallis) is, it'll be 16 years before she's too young for Clooney." This joke doesn't even make that much sense. Wallis is 9, so he's joking about her dating someone at age 25, and George Clooney may have some younger girlfriends at times, but he's no Doug Hutchison (the 51-year-old actor who wed 16-year-old Courtney Stodden in 2011.) It might be different if Clooney had a sleazy reputation. But there's one saving grace -- at least MacFarlane didn't go as far as the Onion and refer to the 9-year-old nominee with an offensive sexual term.
3. "Rex Reed will be out here to review Adele’s performance of 'Skyfall.'" The remark assumes viewers know that movie critic Rex Reed took heat for comparing "Identity Thief" star Melissa McCarthy to a hippo. So MacFarlane's calling Adele, a gifted singer and one of the few women at the Oscars who didn't look bone-thin, a hippo? Gee, we wonder why some viewers, Adele fans or not, took offense.
4. "(There's) a lot of controversy over the multiple uses of the n-word (in 'Django Unchained.') I am told the screenplay is loosely based on Mel Gibson's voice mails." When this met with disapproval from the audience, MacFarlane cracked, "Oh, you're on his side." Gibson's problems with ethnic slurs are well-documented, but they also feel a little old. No one's on Gibson's side when it comes to the slurs, but maybe they're ready to move on?
5. "('Django Unchained') is the story of a man fighting to get back his woman, who's been subjected to unthinkable violence. Or as Chris Brown and Rihanna call it, a date movie." MacFarlane seemed to instantly know joking about domestic violence wasn't winning him friends. "That's as bad as it gets, if it makes you feel better," he said, then bluntly adding, "It's really not as bad as it gets." Nope, it wasn't. Still to come were jokes about eating disorders, a song called "We Saw Your Boobs," a description of college women as "coeds" and the implication that Jennifer Aniston was a stripper. We've come a long way from Bob Hope cracking, "Welcome to the Oscars, or, as we call it at my house, Passover."
What did you think of MacFarlane's jokes? Appropriate and edgy, or mean? Vote in our polls, and tell us on Facebook.
Lindsay Lohan is set to guest star on Charlie Sheen's "Anger Management.
By Anna Chan, TODAY
Charlie Sheen has a new goddess, and her name is Lindsay Lohan. FX announced on Monday that the actress is set to guest star as herself on an upcoming episode of the actor's "Anger Management."
According to the network, the troubled starlet will develop a romantic relationship with Sheen's character, Charlie Goodson. This will come about after she becomes one of his therapy patients. No specific air date has been announced, but FX noted that the episode would air sometime in April.
This won't be the first time the two have worked together. Sheen and Lohan both had small roles in the film "Scary Movie 5." Like Lohan's episode of "Anger Management," the movie is scheduled for an April release.
One's a "Family Guy," the other wanted to "somehow form a family." Oscar-watchers were of differing opinions on host Seth MacFarlane's performance at Sunday's big awards show, but many found one thing to agree on: He looked an awful lot like Peter Brady.
Here's the story: Some Oscar-watchers felt host Seth MacFarlane looked more than a little like Peter Brady.
Twitter users spotted the comparison early, and began sharing photo comparisons and of course, "Brady" references. (Some saw a mixed resemblance, saying MacFarlane also looked like Donny Osmond.)
You remember Peter, the Brady family's middle son, played by actor Christopher Knight. Peter loved movies too -- he famously once tried to say "pork chops and applesauce" in the style of Humphrey Bogart. And he was more than a little into drama, once getting big brother Greg to attempt a "Cyrano" act with him in hopes of charming a girl, and pretending to his parents that he was still employed after a bike shop fired him for working too slow.
MacFarlane acknowledges the resemblance, telling Parade magazine on Sunday, "I get a lot of 'Hey, aren't you Peter Brady?'" And maybe the resemblance is more than skin-deep.
If you'll remember, poor Peter, like middle sister Jan, had it a little rough. He never pulled off the suave charm of Greg or the little-kid cuteness of little Bobby. Maybe, as the mixed reviews of MacFarlane's hosting gig continue to trickle in, the comic can relate.