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Sarah Hyland Gets Restraining Order Against Ex Matt Prokop Following Assault Allegations (Tue, 23 Sep 2014 20:09:21 -0400)

"Modern Family" star Sarah Hyland has filed a temporary restraining order against her ex-boyfriend Matt Prokop, according to court documents obtained by TMZ.

Hyland says her 24-year-old ex, whom she dated for five years before they split in August, choked her, pushed her and threatened her life, and her "Modern Family" co-star Julie Bowen was reportedly witness to the abuse.

According to the documents, Prokop allegedly pinned Hyland against a car during an argument about her wardrobe back in May, yelling, "c--t, c--t, c--t" and choking her.

"His grip was so tight that I could not breathe or speak. I was scared and in fear for my life," Hyland, 23, explains in the documents. She reportedly suffered injuries to her voice and had a "very sore throat following this event." Hyland also says she asked her TV mom Bowen to come to her house to help "peacefully end the relationship." According to TMZ, she purchased a plane ticket to send Prokop back to his hometown in Texas, but when he arrived to Hyland's home and saw Bowen, among others, he freaked out and allegedly "ran outside into the backyard and began screaming." Hyland claims Prokop threw a lighter at her, which is when Bowen stepped in and told her to get out of the house.

Hyland also details other threats Prokop made against her -- and her dog -- in the documents, saying he threatened to set one of her houses on fire. "[He] relentlessly bombarded me with vile, threatening and emotionally disturbing texts and voice mails including his own suicide threats," Hyland explains.

According to the actress, Prokop entered a rehab facility in August, but was released on Sept. 21. An L.A. judge has now granted Hyland a temporary restraining order against Prokop after the director of the rehab center contacted the judge and told her it would be in the best interest to do so because of Prokop's mental state and attitude toward Hyland. Prokop is now required to stay at least 100 yards away from Hyland and her dog at all times.

"On Sept. 19, 2014, Ms. Hyland obtained a Domestic Violence Temporary Restraining Order against Matthew Prokop," Hyland's lawyer Lee A. Sherman of CTSC Law writes in a statement to The Huffington Post. "The documents filed speak for themselves. Out of respect for the court, the process and all parties, I have advised Ms. Hyland not to comment on the matter. We request that you respect the parties' privacy during this time."

The Huffington Post has reached out to Prokop's rep for a comment and will update this post if more information comes through.

Boyhood's Answer to the Existential Confusion of the Millennial Generation (Tue, 23 Sep 2014 18:57:18 -0400)

Disclaimer: While this article doesn't contain spoilers per se, it does discuss dialogue and events that take place throughout the movie "Boyhood."

Every other day, I go to Annadel State Park. It's one of the most gorgeous places I've ever been: red clay trails, mossy oak trees with low-hanging branches, a lake hidden in its upper reaches, redwoods many stories high.


I go there not just to run and hike, but also to escape and contemplate. Some segment of my DNA says that I must ask myself the questions that can never be answered. The "what-is-the-point-of-all-this"s, the "why-am-I-here"s. I'm not unique in this -- most humans fortunate enough to have basic needs satisfied also pose these questions to themselves, their god, or their pillow.

That's why it was utterly gripping to watch Mason face the same questions as he goes from a boy to a young adult in Boyhood.

Perhaps the most basic observation about the movie is how much realer it all feels when we watch an actor grow up before our eyes -- the same one, for twelve years. A subtler one is how the movie portrays every scene with the same weight. Moments are milestones; milestones, moments. Without special effects or CGI, the story's steady cadence advances through Mason's triumphs, pain and confusion at a uniform speed. Kind of like how real life happens.

This movie also differed from others because we don't just see action scenes, sex scenes, witty dialogue and emotional drama. We see Mason pissing on a fire with his dad after camping. We see a girl ride her bike next to him as he walks home from school. We see his mom disapprove slightly of his smoking pot. It's just so normal.

But the normal-ness is where the movie drums up serious momentum. As so many unremarkable events pass by -- a graduation, family dinner, departure for college -- the subtext of the events comes to the foreground. We skip from day to day, event to event -- what is the point of it all? Right when I was starting to wonder that, Mason asks the same question to his dad in the wake of a hard breakup.

This atmosphere reaches its climax during his mother's emotional crisis right before he leaves for college. She laments that the family moved around, she worked different jobs, men came and went, and she completed the most significant part of her mothering with Mason leaving for college. What's to show for all the struggle? What else is there? "You know what's next? My funeral. I just... I just thought there would be more."

Photo by Nicu Buculei

We feel, as the mother feels, the patient and relentless succession of events that composes life. We reach new milestones and meet goals, but after an initial high, equilibrium reestablishes. The basic condition of life stays the same. And for many people in America today, that basic condition has a strong element of background anxiety. Of searching.

But in the final scene, Mason and a fellow psychedelic adventurer look more closely: Is life a succession of moments? Where does one moment end and the next begin? "It's like it's always right now," Mason and Boyhood conclude.

Boyhood and the Millennials

The Millennial Generation faces a myriad of situations that bring about the big questions. The traditional career path followed by preceding generations is becoming less plausible and less desirable. Jobs are scarce so we take ones we don't enjoy, or move far and frequently to chase good ones. Student loans haunt us like a second shadow and add pressure to make money -- somehow, some way. Social justice issues like gender equality, gay rights, climate change and income inequality are brought to the public eye, but it feels like no progress is being made. We are distracted by smart phones and social media and miss real human connection. Romantic relationships are often transient and whimsical because people are unsettled. And as Boyhood portrays so well, adults are often just as lost as children. There is little stability for the Millennial Generation.

What can we do?

Boyhood suggests that there is only one way to answer the big questions: accept that we cannot know the answer, and refocus on what we have right now. There will always be questions, and there is never a permanent escape from them. The best we can do is make peace with that fact. If we do, we remain open to new experiences. The more we grasp for security, the more we fear of the essence of life: change.

After letting go of the need for something permanent on which to anchor, we are left with the only thing Mason was left with on the precipice between his old life and his new -- right now. Uncertainty can be empowering.

A Walk in the Park


The last time I was in Annadel, I imagined that the trees might be bothered by the fact that they live and die once a year. By the feeling that within a few months, all of the splendor and decorum they put forth will be browned and decaying on the ground. Nature is an endless fluctuation between life and death. But it is the balance between them that actually lets the whole damn thing keep going.

Regardless of external conditions, our succession of moments will contain triumphs and defeats. We will wobble between them like the rest of nature. And although that can entail confusion and angst, it can also allow for peace. We can fight a constant battle for security or embrace uncertainty. We can reject or accept the fundamental flux of life. In the last seconds of Boyhood, Mason begins to dance along with it. It would do us well to follow in his footsteps.

This blog post is part of a series for HuffPost Moments Not Milestones, entitled 'The Moment I Stopped Being Perfect.' To see all the other posts in the series, click here.

A Spoonful of Paolo, A Feast of Dreams Come True (Tue, 23 Sep 2014 18:36:36 -0400)


Patrick Thomassie, Oprah Winfrey, and Paolo Presta.

Paolo Presta first captured our hearts when Oprah Winfrey, as part of her Wildest Dreams Spectacular on The Oprah Winfrey Show in 2004, surprised him with a walk-on, speaking role on the hit NBC sitcom Will & Grace. Paolo, who at the time worked in his family's grocery store in Chicago, dreamed of being an actor and working in Hollywood. He held on to this vision for his life with such steadfast commitment and conviction, writing hundreds of emails to The Oprah Winfrey Show asking Oprah Winfrey to make his dream come true. Check out this joy-rising moment from 2004 here:

Ten years after this momentous surprise, Paolo now lives in Los Angeles with his partner Patrick Thomassie and together they have just launched season 4 of their tremendously successful online talk show A Spoonful of Paolo with Paolo interviewing his biggest guest yet, his mentor Oprah Winfrey (Part 1 was released last Thursday with Part 2 coming out this Thursday, September 25). Talk about a full-circle moment! Over the course of the previous 3 seasons, Paolo interviewed a range of artists, actors, talk show hosts, musicians, journalists, and reality stars, including Kristen Chenoweth, Andy Cohen, LaToya Jackson, Sharon Osbourne, Kris Jenner, Nate Berkus, and Robin Roberts. Thomassie, having worked for several years as an actor, is the Executive Producer of A Spoonful of Paolo and the technical genius behind the show's visionary production and its various game segments.

This indefatigable duo released their first episode of A Spoonful of Paolo on September 8, 2011, choosing that date because it was exactly 25 years after the first episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show aired. After its debut season, A Spoonful of Paolo was selected as a Webby Award Honoree, a prestigious award for online programming.

When asked why they settled on a talk show as their vehicle for sharing light with the world, Presta responds:

We both grew up watching talk shows, and I always dreamt of hosting one. I had no idea how to make that happen so I started working behind the scenes of a few talk shows [including The Talk and The Ellen DeGeneres Show] to get an idea. In the spring of 2011, during the last episode of The Oprah Winfrey Show, Oprah talked about using your own platform. At that moment, I decided that if I was going to host a show, I would have to make it happen.

In choosing the talk show's creative, partially eponymous title and direction, Presta states, "I love sugar, so Patrick thought of the title, A Spoonful of Paolo." From its very first episode where Paolo interviewed Sharon Osbourne, the luminous web-series took off, combining thought-provoking, inspiring interviews with entertaining game and quiz segments. Paolo Presta serves as the audience representative, asking the questions we yearn to ask, sharing the laughs we dream of sharing, and forging meaningful connections we can all enjoy.


Paolo Presta and Oprah Winfrey after their September 2014 A Spoonful of Paolo interview.

You see, authenticity is Presta's calling card. He realized at the outset that in order to be in his element, he needed to be completely himself. This authenticity permeates the entire process for Presta and Thomassie. What is even more impressive is that this duo undertakes every single aspect of production, research, booking, development, editing, hosting and release by themselves. When Presta reflects on the all-encompassing nature of the show, he observes, "I knew I wanted to be a host, but I never expected to be a researcher, a publicist, a producer, a travel agent and so many other things that come with running a show."

Their efforts have not gone unnoticed. In addition to a passionate fan-base, loyal viewership, and a range of powerhouse celebrity guests, Paolo and Patrick are also currently working with Robin Roberts on an exciting new endeavor under the banner of her new production company. When asked about the project, Presta responds, "We have some really exciting ideas and over the course of the next year, we will be putting them into action. We're not sure what the destination will be, but we are seriously enjoying this journey."

In the midst of these exciting professional achievements, Paolo and Patrick are also set to embark on an exciting new personal journey of their own. They are getting married in June 2015 in Pasadena, California. When asked about working with the love of his life, Presta's response will melt your heart:

I've always considered Patrick my best friend since day one, so to be on this journey with the love of my life is amazing. Our lives have changed so much since starting this show. We have been in celebrities' homes, dressing rooms, inside their studios and to experience all of this together has been an amazing journey for the both of us. I know it can be really hard or even impossible for some couples, but working together has brought us so much closer together. We have learned that individually we can have dreams, but together we can make them a reality. We have learned how to use our skills to complement each other and how to keep each other going when times are tough.


Patrick Thomassie, Kristin Chenoweth, and Paolo Presta after their April 2014 A Spoonful of Paolo interview.

What is most beautiful perhaps is how Presta and Thomassie have encouraged their viewers to keep going in the midst of challenges. Through their tireless work and unquenchable desire to share light and joy, Paolo and Patrick have inspired legions of viewers everywhere to believe in the vivacity of their dreams. They have inspired us to never give up, showing us that in the space of kindness and grace, anything is possible.

So in honor of the fourth season of A Spoonful of Paolo and to celebrate the tremendous work Paolo and Patrick have poured into this series, I am pleased to countdown my 10 all-time favorite episodes of A Spoonful of Paolo, including the one-word that Paolo and Patrick have each shared to describe the chosen episodes. As Paolo would say, "Sit back, eat a cookie, and enjoy the show!" And don't forget to tune in to Part 2 of Paolo's interview with Oprah Winfrey which will be released HERE on Thursday, September 25, 2014.

1) Oprah Winfrey
Paolo: Dream / Patrick: Truth

2) Andy Cohen
Paolo: Similar / Patrick: Surreal

3) Robin Roberts
Paolo: Life-changing / Patrick: Divine

4) Kristin Chenoweth
Paolo: Voice / Patrick: Sweet

5) Kelsey Grammer
Paolo: Legend / Patrick: Honored

6) Alison Sweeney
Paolo: Heart / Patrick: Gratitude

7) Paolo and His Mom Make Pasta
Paolo: Real / Patrick: Yummy

8) Ross Matthews
Paolo: Hilarious / Patrick: Dreamer

9) Tyler Oakley
Paolo: Sensational / Patrick: Cool

10) Ricki Lake
Paolo: Intelligent / Patrick: Friend

Unique Upcoming Film Festival Organized by Mad in America (Tue, 23 Sep 2014 18:13:34 -0400)

Mad in America's International Film Festival will encourage us to think anew about the nature of what is commonly called "mental illness" and its treatments. The festival will run from October 9-12, 2014, in Arlington, Massachusetts (Boston vicinity).

I have had a chance to preview some of the festival films, including Nick and Zack Young's William Kurelek's The Maze, about one of Canada's most celebrated artists. The Young brothers finished this film which their father, Robert M. Young, started over 40 years ago. Award-winning filmmaker Robert M. Young (Nothing But a Man, Dominick and Eugene) began this documentary because he believed that Kurelek's revelations in both his art and in his person were of great importance -- a belief that will be difficult to reject after seeing this film.

Kurelek (1927-1977) as a young man became disconnected from himself and others, displayed frightening behaviors, and was hospitalized in London, diagnosed as schizophrenic. Kurelek came to believe that he was never "mentally ill" but had experienced a spiritual crisis. Kurelek was an extremely gentle and honest man, and the Young brothers' film is extremely gentle and honest in revealing not only him but his familial relationships.

The Young brothers' gentle honesty gives William Kurelek's The Maze a non-polemical stance -- a rare quality in films about this kind of subject matter, where we are routinely manipulated to buy this or that dogma. The film, instead of manipulating us, opens our hearts to an aspect of our humanity that is often difficult for many of us to be receptive to.

From what I've seen, opening our hearts to our humanity is what many of the other films at the Mad in America's International Film Festival will also accomplish.

The mission of the festival, according to organizers, is "to foster the pursuit of social justice and human rights by bringing together an international collective of voices, perspectives, and artistic presentations that challenge the current mental health system and explore mainstream and alternative understandings of 'mental illness.' " To this end, in addition to films, there will also be speakers, panels, visual art, theater, and performance art. The films will be shown at the Regent Theatre in Arlington, Massachusetts from October 9th-12th, 2014.

Bruce E. Levine, a practicing clinical psychologist, writes and speaks about how society, culture, politics and psychology intersect. His latest book is Get Up, Stand Up: Uniting Populists, Energizing the Defeated, and Battling the Corporate Elite. His Web site is www.brucelevine.net

Here's How Twitter Responded To The 'True Detective' Season 2 Casting News (Tue, 23 Sep 2014 18:07:29 -0400)

It's official! Vince Vaughn and Colin Farrell have been cast as two of the leads in "True Detective" for Season 2.

Colin Farrell and Vince Vaughn confirmed to star in #TrueDetectiveSeason2 http://t.co/IqqNqq19gY pic.twitter.com/i0ctKqgSzO

— HuffPostEnt (@HuffPostEnt) September 23, 2014

The announcement ended months of speculation and rumors about who would play the roles, and it also completely blew up Twitter.

Check out some of the best reactions from the Twittersphere below:

Some loved it ...

Colin Farrell + Vince Vaughn = #WeddingCrashers2. JK, it's #TrueDetectiveSeason2, but I would've been down for the other, too.

— tierney bricker (@tbrick2) September 23, 2014

Yes to Vince in the new True Detectives 2. Watch "Clay Pigeons" and I rest my case. #VinceVaughn #TrueDetectiveSeason2

— Chris Griggs (@MeChrisGriggs) September 23, 2014

YES! My dream has come true! Vince Vaughn just confirmed for #TrueDetectiveSeason2

— Ramy Zabarah (@ramyzab) September 23, 2014

I guess I'd watch "wedding crashers in bruges"

— Jessica Goodman (@jessgood) September 23, 2014

Vince Vaughn to “True Detective,” Jeffrey Tambor starring in “Transparent.” How soon before there’s a crossover? http://t.co/hih3D2rrAC

— Alan Sepinwall (@sepinwall) September 23, 2014

Others, not so much ...

HBO knows #TrueDetective isn’t obligated to employ stars in need of career comebacks, right?

— Matt Jacobs (@tarantallegra) September 23, 2014

colin farrell :|
we want matthew backkkk #TrueDetectiveSeason2

— Cyanide (@aye_robot) September 23, 2014

So #TrueDetectiveSeason2 apparently signed Colin Farrell and will be filmed in LA. They need a quadruple McConaissance to pull this off.

— Brett Morris (@BrettsBrain) September 21, 2014

Some were just funny ...

#TrueDetective S2: Proof you can overcome a sex tape AND Couple's Retreat.

— Damian Holbrook (@TVGMDamian) September 23, 2014

#TrueDetectiveSeason2 pic.twitter.com/XVWYuGCFCE

— Kevin Polowy (@djkevlar) September 23, 2014

Rust Cohle, Ray Velcoro. More #TrueDetectiveNames: Dirk Tape. Brent Steel. Cliff Iron. Max Nail. Gus Glue. Ned Stapler. Sven Paperclip.

— Mo Ryan (@moryan) September 23, 2014

VV is totally the next gen Rust Cohle http://t.co/gSjsgill3j pic.twitter.com/ZNbQKCcLRl

— al (@antogold) September 23, 2014

Actually, most were just funny ...

#TrueDetectiveSeason2: Rust Cohle -- The Beginning pic.twitter.com/5moOuvJHRQ

— Liz Raftery (@LizRaftery_TVG) September 23, 2014

There's still time to cast us instead, we're both wearing ties, #TrueDetectiveSeason2 pic.twitter.com/NAVDKillBZ

— Desmond (@thatdes) September 23, 2014

... Heh ... cats.

Others kind of just sounded like Rust Cohle ...

Seriously, with few exceptions I don't get excited about casting notices, pro or con. The season will be good, or it won't. We'll see.

— James Poniewozik (@poniewozik) September 23, 2014

It's all just one giant gutter, man ...

And some completely rocked our world ...

the yellow king pic.twitter.com/CByN0N7x3f

— Jon Eiseman (@Jon_Eiseman) September 23, 2014

What? You're telling us Peter La Fleur was the Yellow King this whole time? Mind. Blown.

Stay tuned, Twitter. HBO says "additional casting will be announced as it is confirmed."

The Kitten Parody Of 'Scandal' Is Full Of Adorable Cat-iators In Suits (Tue, 23 Sep 2014 17:57:56 -0400)

Get a large wad of catnip ready, everyone.

In the latest from The Pet Collective, Shonda Rhymes' smash-hit drama series "Scandal," which returns for a fourth season on Sept. 25, gets the warm and fuzzy treatment as kittens play all our favorite cat-iators in suits.

Even with kitties at the helm, this situation is still handled. Me-ow.

The 8 Best Bazingas From 'The Big Bang Theory' Premiere (Tue, 23 Sep 2014 17:46:27 -0400)

It's Bazinga time!

Season 8 of "The Big Bang Theory" premiered on Monday night with two episodes back to back.

In "The Locomotion Interruption," Sheldon makes his triumphant return to Pasadena, California, after weeks of riding trains across the country. And by "triumphant," we mean he got robbed again and Leonard and Amy had to drive to Arizona to pick him up. In addition, Howard confronts Stuart about his weird relationship with Mrs. Wolowitz, and the two end up making awkward fatherly comments to each other.

Then, in "The Junior Professor Solution," Sheldon gets promoted but now has to teach a class, and Howard ends up taking it after nobody else signs up. This leads to Sheldon trying to constantly outsmart him and Howard being the most disruptive student ever. Also, Amy becomes the popular girl she always wanted to be by taking advantage of the conflict between Penny and Bernadette about Penny's new gig as a pharmaceutical rep.

Both episodes were hilarious, but here are 8 of the best Bazingas!

1. Sheldon just wants some pants

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Image Source: Parangarico

2. Penny makes the first Bazinga about her hair

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Image Source: swedishfishrule

3. Sheldon's idea of being romantic

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4. Raj's views on tinted windows

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Image Source: drsheldoncoopers

5. Bernadette knows the perfect job for Penny

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Image Source: theflavourofyourlips

6. Sheldon's idea of the ultimate soldier

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Image Source: YouTube

7. Howard just being a great student

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Image Source: rubyanjel

8. And finally, Amy acting all popular

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Image Source: YouTube

What was your favorite Bazinga from the premiere?

"The Big Bang Theory" airs Monday at 8:00 p.m. ET on CBS.

'This is Where I Leave You' and 'The Big Chill:' The Avoidance Drift (Tue, 23 Sep 2014 17:43:36 -0400)

No matter what else I may write here, I do not want you coming away from this believing that Lawrence Kasdan's The Big Chill (1983) and Shawn Levy's This is Where I Leave You (2014) are the same movie. OK -- they both involve the reunion of a group of 30-somethings who were once close and have now drifted apart. Both movies use the death of another member of the group as the catalyst for said reunion. Both movies isolate the group in house. Both movies involve infidelity and old flames. One of the characters is desperate to get pregnant and turns to someone other than her husband. At some point in the middle, they get high.

But they are by no means the same movie. After all, one of them has Jane Fonda.

But even though they are not the exact same, you've got to admit they are pretty damn similar. And so, they provide a good opportunity to try and figure out what makes one movie better than another. We don't really have a scientific method for measuring art, and thank god for that. We do have certain meta-scores which are commonplace in the on-line era and so you can bolster an argument for The Big Chill's superiority by pointing out the relative scores from IMDB (Chill - 7.2; Leave - 6.6) or Rotten Tomatoes (Chill - 68 percent; Leave - 43 percent). But that doesn't address the "why." What is about The Big Chill that makes it better than the very similar This is Where I Leave You?

There are any number of specific moments that make me prefer the older movie. I think Lawrence Kasdan, at least at that point in his career, was a more observant and witty writer than Jonathan Tropper (of Banshee fame) is at this point in his career. Less than one day after seeing This is Where I Leave You, I do not recall a single line of dialogue. Thirty years after seeing The Big Chill, I can remember a dozen, including Jeff Goldblum's exchange comparing rationalizations with sex (with the conclusion that rationalization is far more important to survival) and William Hurt's devastating analysis of the old college gang's friendship, beginning with "a long time ago we knew each other for a short period of time; you don't know anything about me."

And then there's the music. The Big Chill had an epic soundtrack. This is Where I Leave You -- not so much.

There are several broader structural decisions that come into play here as well. There's an old axiom in the world of drama which states that month is better than a year, a week is better than a month, and a day is better than a week. This dates back to Aristotle's unities and it has pretty much been borne out over the past two thousand years. (Though it doesn't mean that real time movies like Locke or Quarantine, which take place over a couple hours, are the best movies ever.) And so, I greatly prefer The Big Chill's weekend to This is Where I Leave You's week. The fact is, neither movie has a great deal of forward dramatic momentum and both are prone to feel a bit long. Leave You feels longer.

I also think Tropper makes a bad decision by including the character Horry. Horry, played by Timothy Olyphant, is a former love of one of the returning characters, Wendy (Tina Fey). Many years ago, they were in a car crash which left Horry "brain damaged" -- a fact which is repeated several times during the movie. Now Wendy is trapped in a bad marriage and feeling very guilty about having abandoned Horry after the accident. Horry barely seems to be a character. He seems to be an emblem for past pain and regret. An issue to come to terms with. To me, it feels like a cheap stab at pathos in what really is not a terribly serious movie. The character feels out of place.

This may signal the biggest take-away from a 2014 version of The Big Chill. The genuine pain and challenge and sadness of growing up are more flippant and less genuine than they were in 1983. Compare the marijuana scenes: in The Big Chill, it's a scene of self-reflection. In This is Where I Leave You, it's slapstick. Or compare the two fuck-up characters (yes, that's another similarity -- they both present prodigals who are there to stir the pot): William Hurt's Nick is a profoundly intelligent asshole who constantly challenges the prevailing self-congratulatory liberal mantra that all his friends share. Adam Driver's Phillip is mostly a clown. I admit I am being too hard on Philip since he does has some good, and even profound moments, but the entire conception of the character is comic.

That is probably the ultimate conclusion. This is Where I Leave You opts for comic avoidance in place of admittedly incomplete understanding. It presents minor characters like new-age Rabbi Grodner (aka Boner) and Dax Shepard's cartoonish lout Wade for mostly comic relief. There are no comparable characters in The Big Chill. It resolves its serious moments with mostly-comic interruptions, such as the conflict between brothers Judd and Paul, which develops into a slapstick chase/fight and is ultimately resolved by their mother's comic revelation of her lesbianism. It has great fun with mother Jane Fonda's enormously pumped-up breasts.

The point about how Tropper and Levy resolve the fight scene is crucial. In This is Where I Leave You, moments are constantly being interrupted. Usually it is a comic interruption. Occasionally it has more gravitas. Interruption is a classic dramatic device and its mere presence is by no means a problem. But in This is Where I Leave You, we never seem to get to that moment where the interruptions stop and the real issues get hammered out one way or another. Even the climax of the main plot, involving Jason Bateman's Judd and Rose Byrne's Penny, ends with the characters tabling their relationship. They will revisit it in six months.

Am I wrong to think of the U.S. Congress at moments like this? Am I wrong to think of the way we smugly ignore serious realities (take your pick -- climate change, income inequality, health care, debt or religious radicalism) by watching news programs which have morphed into entertainment vehicles without anyone seeming to care?

One of the very first things we see in This is Where I Leave You is Shepard's character screaming at callers on his "Man Up" radio program. It's hard not to find irony in that. This is Where I Leave, in a softer and more tolerant way, essentially does the same thing. It blots out its more serious undercurrents with fairly good, but largely uneven, humor. The weird thing is, The Big Chill, thirty years earlier, managed to be both more serious and funnier. And that is at least one reason why it is better.

Forbes' Hip-Hop Cash Kings 2014 List Rockets Dr. Dre To The Top (Tue, 23 Sep 2014 16:57:37 -0400)

In 2013, Diddy topped Forbes' list of highest paid hip-hop acts with $50 million, leading Dr. Dre, who landed in third, by $10 million. But after Apple dished out $3 billion to purchase Beats, Diddy has been unseated as Dre rocketed to the top of this year's hip-hop cash kings with an incredible total of $620 million (it will take a little more time for him to hit nine figures). It's so much money that Dre's income exceeds the total sum of all earnings for the 24 others on this year's list.

“It’s safe to say headphones is a good business,” DJ Khaled said in a video announcing the top five on Forbes' list.

Following Dre is a tie for second place between Diddy and Jay Z, each earning $60 million. In fourth place, Drake raked in $33 million, an impressive leap from his 11th spot in 2013. In fifth place, Macklemore & Ryan Lewis garnered a cool $32 million, jumping ahead 10 spots and more than tripling their earnings since 2013. Here are 2014's top 10:

1. Dr. Dre – $620 million
2. Jay Z – $60 million
2. Diddy – $60 million
4. Drake – $33 million
5. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis – $32 million
6. Kanye West – $30 million
7. Birdman – $24 million
8. Lil Wayne – $23 million
9. Pharrell Williams – $22 million
10. Eminem – $18 million

For the full list and more information about the Hip-Hop Cash Kings of 2014, head over to Forbes.

Mary J. Blige Opens Up On Overcoming Burger King Commercial Backlash (VIDEO) (Tue, 23 Sep 2014 16:43:04 -0400)

--Grammy Award-winning singer Mary J. Blige opens up on how she overcame backlash stemming from her 2012 Burger King chicken snack wrap commercial. (The Breakfast Club)

mary j blige

More Notable/Quotables:

The Horror of Syntax (Tue, 23 Sep 2014 16:41:03 -0400)

There comes a point in listening to a young man's conversation on the subway where you wonder just how many times, grammatically and with proper syntax, can he say "f*ckin" and for it to all fit into his thesis properly. As a verb, as an interjection, as an adjective. All relevant. It is actually an amazing number. About seven. One sentence. F*ck, seven times. Accurate.

"The f*ckin scariest movie I... f*ckin... I f*ckin ever seen in my f*ckin life," he began, "which I've ever yet to f*ckin finish, because that shit is f*ckin' scary, is The f*ckin Exorcist." This is a direct quote. Verbatim. I was impressed.

I've never seen it, The Exorcist. My horror movie career ended at 14 when my chorus group, yes, chorus, had a Halloween party and played a movie called Witch Blade. Fifteen years later, I realize that's not the correct title, but I come from Rhode Island where letters and even entire words are incorrectly tacked on any old place, so really, the title could be anything. But, it was something about a haunted Ouija board that killed people. Logical. Nevertheless, my junior high self viewed the first cinematic beheading at a seemingly placid abandoned construction site and I was down for the count. I spent the remainder of the evening hanging out on the porch pretending to fit in with the cool girls because, well, at 14 who wouldn't want to fit in with the cool girls.

At the end of the party, there was a Yankee Swap (or White Elephant Exchange). You know, where you blindly select a gift brought by someone in your office who you don't know well (or in this case, chorus group) and you hope you end up with something you can actually use (or in this case, some plastic shit from your 14-year-old self's crush) and inevitably, you're swayed into selecting a brown paper bag wrapped up by the mother of that awkward kid, filled with a couple canisters of Silly Putty. Silly Putty? How old is your kid, lady? And you unabashedly trade the garbage in not caring who brought it or who is now silently upset. You want the plastic shit from that cool kid who hit puberty a little sooner than most. In retrospect, you learn via Facebook that he became ultra-Republican and well, nobody can tolerate that level of misinformed judgment; also, "cool chorus kid", I should have understood the oxymoron then. But here's your moment. You say, "I'll give you my brown paper bag filled with fucking Silly Putty, for your green gift bag containing I don't know what." You win. You win the thing in the green bag. It's a battery operated raccoon tail that rolls around like a rodent in a bag. You hadn't realized shitty gag gifts were commonplace here. Your mom had delivered you with a thoughtful gift certificate to Sam Goody.

And that is why I dislike horror movies.

4chan Trolls Threaten To Release Nude Photos Of Emma Watson After Feminist Speech (Tue, 23 Sep 2014 16:27:54 -0400)

Internet trolls are threatening to leak nude photos of Emma Watson, in response to a speech on gender equality the actress delivered at the United Nations headquarters over the weekend

Members of the anonymous message board 4chan, largely at the center of the recent hacking schemes that leaked nude photos of celebrities including Jennifer Lawrence and Kate Upton, have apparently set up a website called EmmaYouAreNext.com. The mostly empty page bears 4chan's logo, a blurry photo of Watson's head and a timer clock counting down to midnight EST on Sept. 24.

An earlier version of the site said the countdown would end later this week. The times have apparently been adjusted.

It's unclear how serious the threat is.

Death and Taxes magazine printed some of the comments that were posted to 4chan after Watson's speech.

"That feminist bitch Emma is going to show the world she is as much of a whore as any woman," one read, in part.

"She makes stupid feminist speeches at UN, and now her nudes will be online, HAHAHAHAHAHAHAH," read another.

During her Sept. 20 speech, the 24-year-old Watson, who is the Goodwill Ambassador for UN Women, explained her personal investment in spreading feminism. Those words resonate even stronger now.

"[T]he more I have spoken about feminism the more I have realized that fighting for women's rights has too often become synonymous with man-hating. If there is one thing I know for certain, it is that this has to stop," she said.

"I decided I was a feminist and this seemed uncomplicated to me. But my recent research has shown me that feminism has become an unpopular word," she went on to say. "Apparently I am among the ranks of women whose expressions are seen as too strong, too aggressive, isolating, anti-men and unattractive.”

Feminist supporters are rallying behind Watson, lambasting the threats as further examples of why the fight for gender equality is as important now as ever.

Emma Watson, like so many other women online, is being silenced and kept in her place with misogyny as a weapon.

— Elizabeth Plank (@feministabulous) September 22, 2014

“If her stolen nude photos are leaked on the Internet in retaliation for her work, that will not mean that she was irresponsible or reckless, it will mean that she is brave,” Amanda Taub wrote on Vox. “Regardless of whether any photos are released, the threats against Watson are already an attack on all of us. And we should all take it personally.”

WATCH Watson's UN speech below.

Ana Gasteyer Apologizes To Martha Stewart For Topless Impersonation (And Other Stuff) (Tue, 23 Sep 2014 16:26:42 -0400)

One of "Saturday Night Live" alum Ana Gasteyer's most famous impressions was of Martha Stewart, which made it super awkward when they were booked on the same episode of "Late Night with Seth Meyers." But Gasteyer decided to take the high road and craft a heartfelt apology to Stewart, just to clear the air before the cooking portion of the show.

She may not have written it in calligraphy, but this apology is otherwise all class.

Two-Faced 'American Horror Story' Teaser Is The Freakiest Yet (Tue, 23 Sep 2014 16:20:13 -0400)

The latest "American Horror Story: Freak Show" teaser will totally mess with your mind.

In the exclusive promo, the two-faced character rotates around and says the message in the "AHS" hashtag, #WirSindAlleFreaks. This means "we are all freaks" in German. It also means we will probably never sleep again.

Ryan Murphy has already gone on record to say he's worried the show's clown, Twisty, may be too scary, and that it's "heart-stopping what he does." But if the show keeps sending out teasers like this, our hearts may stop way before we ever have the chance to meet him.

"American Horror Story: Freak Show" premieres Oct. 8 at 10:00 p.m. ET.

Shonda Rhimes, The New York Times And Why We Really Need 'Black-ish' (Tue, 23 Sep 2014 15:35:16 -0400)

It was pretty clever of ABC to get the New York Times to do stealth marketing for the network's promising new comedy, "Black-ish," which premieres Wednesday.

Nothing proves the need for a show like "Black-ish" like the recent controversy over Times critic Alessandra Stanley's essay about Shonda Rhimes, the producer behind "Grey's Anatomy," "Scandal" and "How to Get Away With Murder."

In the piece, Stanley started out by invoking the stereotype of the "angry black woman" to describe Rhimes, and the essay only got worse from there. Several commentators have done a fine job of zeroing in on the the intensely problematic nature of Stanley's piece, but it's been hard for me to find a way to fully express why it horrified me so much.

The difficulty could arise from the fact that all of it is so very wrong -- the framing and foundations of Stanley's essay are so spectacularly off-base, prejudiced and poorly formed that it's hard to fathom how any of those sentences came to be put in that particular order, let alone how the piece made through the editorial process.

One of the most important takeaways from this whole sorry affair is that this isn't about one critic at an important media outlet writing a half-baked, badly argued, glibly condescending piece (again). This is about an entire editorial structure, including three New York Times editors, who thought that the foundations, assumptions and framing of that piece were just fine.

These editors apparently live inside such a hermetically sealed culture of complacency that they thought it was acceptable for Stanley to inexpertly and insultingly throw around loaded terms like "sassy," "menacing" and "not classically beautiful" in relation to African-American actors and characters. Everybody thought describing one of the most successful television creators of our time as an "angry black woman" was perfectly fine. The editors who read that piece thought the diminishment, dismissal and degradation baked into it were absolutely acceptable.

I'll get to "Black-ish" in a minute, I swear.

The point here is to provide a small slice of the context in which "Black-ish" will operate. It will not operate in a post-racial America, that's for sure.

More proof of that: The editorial and authorial responses to the fury Stanley's piece provoked made the situation worse. Some people, when deep in a hole, are possessed by an irresistible urge to keep digging.

When Stanley was first asked for comment about the piece, her response was to double-down on her contemptuous attitude (Twitter was to blame, naturally). Stanley's second response, contained in a blog post by the Times' public editor (who was appalled by the piece), rather efficiently combined a non-apology and a insouciant dismissal. Apparently readers just weren't smart enough to get how smart Stanley's piece was; we didn't understand her rhetorical devices, her writing style, her deep thoughts, etc. You've heard of "mansplaining" -- welcome to "Stansplaining."

None of that imperiousness was a surprise, given the tone of lethargic condescension that pervades Stanley's work. What was more troubling was the response of one of her editors, who resorted to a laundry list of derailment tactics and excuses: No one intended for anyone to be offended, the piece was largely positive anyway, and the article's validity was unfortunately "swamped" by critiques. Well, intention isn't magic, and words matter. Editors should know that better than anyone.

Far from rigorously examining the mistakes they made and coming up with a deeply considered and thoughtful apology, both Stanley and her editor, Danielle Mattoon, did everything they could to hold substantive criticisms at arm's length. Based on their comments, they appear to feel -- still -- that Shonda Rhimes, her viewers and readers of the Times should take the piece as as compliment.

As a compliment.

Sometimes you have to laugh, or else you might cry. Hence the need for "Black-ish."

I can't see into the mind of Kenya Barris, the creator of the show, or "Daily Show" contributor Larry Wilmore, who, along with Barris, is guiding the show creatively before leaving for another commitment. As a white lady, I sure don't want to make assumptions about the creative processes of these black men. But I'm grateful that "Black-ish" exists, first and foremost because it's funny.

It's entirely possible to appreciate the first episode of the show on a surface level: The pilot (which is ABC has released to the media) is a polished, entertaining and promising half-hour of comedy about a well-to-do American family. Most of the new half-hours on the broadcast networks are forgettable at best, but this one travels the well-worn and comfortable pathways of the family sitcom while proving there's some life left in the old TV standby.

But "Black-ish" has to do double duty. Shonda Rhimes cannot simply be a successful creator of television, no different from peers like Hart Hanson, Greg Berlanti or Chuck Lorre; she is continually asked to address issues of race and gender because, as NPR's Linda Holmes pointed out, Rhimes is one of the few women and African-Americans who is making televisions shows.

Similarly, "Black-ish" has to be more than just another pretty good sitcom. As one of the few comedies on a major network with a predominantly African-American cast, it has to navigate the issue of race in America. It can't just be funny, it has to be astute and adept as well. The good news is that so far, it navigates that challenging territory with intelligence, wit and subversive purpose.

In the show, Anthony Anderson plays a successful executive, Andre, who is married to a doctor played by Tracee Ellis Ross. The couple has four kids, and one of the most miraculous things about the show is how subtle and good the kids are (many child actors set my teeth on edge by embracing the hammy, obnoxious mannerisms common on Disney-ish tween shows, but that's a rant for another day).

Like many a sitcom patriarch of yore -- many of them, most notably Archie Bunker, came from the working class -- Andre's worried about his kids losing touch with their hardscrabble roots and becoming too soft and pampered. One of the best running jokes of the show deals with the fact that his son, Andre Jr., would prefer to call himself Andy, the better to fit in with his posh school's field-hockey crowd. The issues of class, status and assimilation are artfully handled throughout, and should prove relatable to anyone who's ever encountered kids -- possibly one's own -- who are a little spoiled or oblivious.

Though the home-life stuff is fine, the workplace scenes are probably the strongest segments of the "Black-ish" pilot. Anderson's character is one of the few African-Americans in a senior position at his firm, and as such, he's constantly called upon to code-switch and calibrate just how black he can be in a given situation. A few months ago, BuzzFeed published a hilarious/sad list called "31 Things You Have to Deal With as the Only Black Person in Your Office," and I get the impression that Andre could have written it.

Andre probably would love to spend all his work-oriented mental energy on doing his actual work, but he doesn't have that luxury. Shonda Rhimes would probably like to be asked how her creative process, which Emily Nussbaum explores in a great recent post, differs from that of Aaron Sorkin or David Simon, but Rhimes doesn't have that luxury. That's not to say they are without access to luxuries: Rhimes, Barris and Wilmore (who leaves "Black-ish" soon to work on his own Comedy Central show) aren't making their shows for free.

But they have to deal with the fact that the vast majority of people making television are white. (ABC, it should be noted, has a number of shows from people of color this season). Shonda Rhimes has to deal with the fact that women, and women of color, are still rare as creators, directors and executive producers. In their lives and careers, these professionals have no doubt encountered the kinds of situations, dynamics and attitudes that Andre has to handle on a daily basis. They don't get to choose to be oblivious.

But we're all part of these conversations, which need to happen. Creatives who work behind the scenes and those of us in front of the screens also have to deal with the failings of the media, which are not few. Beyond Stanley's latest debacle, there's the New York Times' entire approach to TV criticism, which has been frustrating for years. Just one mystifying aspect of the paper of record's approach is its continual toleration of a lead critic with a history of not just disdain for the medium but of error-prone writing.

But the mindset of that critic and the Times' editors did not evolve in a vacuum. Let's not forget the "joke" the Onion made about Quvenzhané Wallis last year. Let's not forget that, after an outcry, the Economist recently retracted a review of a book about slavery that complained that the author wasn't nice enough to the slave owners.

Here's how that Economist review concluded: "Almost all the blacks in [Edward Baptist's] book are victims, almost all the whites villains. This is not history; it is advocacy."

"Black-ish" is not advocacy. It's more effective: It's comedy.

"Black-ish" airs 9:30 p.m. ET Wednesdays on ABC.

I was part of a HuffPost Live discussion of the issues raised by the Times piece about Rhimes; that discussion is below. Ryan McGee and I talked about "Black-ish" in a recent Talking TV podcast, which is here, on iTunes and below.