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8 Things You Didn't Know About Katy Perry, Even If She's Your Teenage Dream (Sat, 25 Oct 2014 08:59:52 -0400)

So make a wish, trivia will make it like your birthday everyday.

Katy Perry has already had an amazing career, from starting as a Christian rock singer to breaking records to even showing up in all denim to this year's MTV VMAs. She's got the eye of the tiger and we're all going to keep hearing her roar for a long time.

As the princess of pop turns 30, on Oct. 25, let's review a few facts even hard core Katy Cats missed. If you're a super fan, you might have known about Kitty Purry and her ability to sing Italian opera, but this is about what you missed.

Learn eight things about Katy Perry, and go from zero to your own hero.

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1. Katy Perry and Paul McCartney are practically BFFs.


Twist and shout and twerk. During a Twitter Q&A, 72-year-old Paul McCartney revealed that he and Katy Perry have twerked together, even saying she was "rather good."

Earlier in 2014, the two singers appeared on "The Graham Norton Show," where Perry said she'd "hope to have half the career" that McCartney has had (also noting that she's sort of surprised he's "still here today"). At that point, McCartney clutched his chest and jokingly keeled over.

2. Katy Perry's spinning peppermint bra was banned by her insurance company.


According to the Sun, the spinning peppermint bra that Katy Perry initially wore during her California Dreams tour caused issues with her insurance company. As Perry reportedly explained:

My hair got caught in the wheels of my spinning peppermint bra and began to coil around and around. I'm forced to just go with it so, by the end of the song, it looked quite like I was licking my own tit. What a girl does for her art ... I keep being told the insurers are worried I will injure my neck. I seriously doubt it could be lethal but they want a new bra designed that will not allow hair to be caught up.

3. The album "Prism" was deemed a biohazard by the Australian government.

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Members of the Australian Department of Agriculture were not happy with the inclusion of seeds along with "Prism," which Katy Perry instructed fans to plant in order to "spread the light." The officials were worried that the seeds would not be native to Australia and therefore be considered a weed.

A special edition of "Prism" was made with seeds local to Australia, but there was concern over albums purchased from international locations. Despite being deemed a biohazard, "Prism" still debuted at the top of the Australian charts.

4. Katy Perry helped deliver a baby in a living room.

Finally you can add "helps delivers babies in living rooms" to my resume! It's been a miracle of a day...❤️ Auntie Katy aka Stylist Auntie

— Katy Perry (@katyperry) February 27, 2014

The mother was Katy Perry's older sister, Angela Hudson, who had a water birth in a friend's living room. Perry recorded the delivery on her iPhone. The Mirror quoted her as saying:

It's insane, like birth and women giving birth, whenever I see moms walking down the street I'm like, 'Damn, you're a rock star, you're the real rock star, you did something incredible ... I was kind of like Martin Scorsese with my iPhone, I have the whole thing. It was like a water birth, the whole thing we were like the child is swimming through the water. It's crazy.

Baby you're a firework / Come on show them what you're worth / Make them go, "Oh, oh, oh" / As you shoot across the living room.

5. Katy Perry thinks aliens may have built the pyramids.

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In an interview with Rolling Stone, Katy Perry admitted that she was fascinated by alien conspiracy theories. Talking about the History Channel show "Ancient Aliens," Perry said:

Oh my God. When it talks about the sky people, how everyone comes from the sky and how the pyramids were used for star observations, it's too much for me. It all seems to connect the dots. It's blowing my mind.

"Ancient Aliens" is the show that gave rise to the meme of ridiculous "alien expert" Giorgio A. Tsoukalos.

6. Mary Perry, Katy's mom, is now a preacher along with her husband, but once dated Jimi Hendrix.


Katy Perry's parents are now Evangelists and her childhood apparently closely resembled the movie "Jesus Camp," but her parents, Keith and Mary Hudson, weren't always so religious.

Despite forcing Perry to called deviled eggs "angeled eggs" while growing up, her mother dated Jimi Hendrix and her father was apparently a drug dealer. Perry has said, "Sometimes I say to her, 'Mom, you shouldn't have been such a prude with him -- I would have been a Hendrix.'" According to a quote from the Mirror, her father sold acid with Timothy Leary.

7. After just a few months of high school, Katy Perry completed her GED to pursue singing.

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At a very young age, Katy Perry got her high school equivalency out of the way:

I got my GED [high school equivalency] when I was 15, when I was a freshman in high school. I know it was my first semester of my freshman year of high school, I decided to bounce. I was like, I know exactly what I want to do, I have the opportunity to do it and hopefully I will learn as much as I can in this first semester. I took a test and I decided to leave high school. Ever since then it’s been fantastic. I think sometimes you just know what you want to do at a really early age so you don’t have to deal with certain things. Like the drama of going to prom.

Perry has later admitted that wishes she had pursued more schooling. "I'm kind of bummed at this stage that I didn't have a great education because I could really use that these days," she said.

8. Katy Perry owns locks of both Taylor Swift and Miley Cyrus' hair, and has kept them in her purse.


During the Q&A portion of an interview with Mario Lopez promoting "Prism," a fan asked what Katy Perry keeps in her purse. Out of nowhere, Perry responded:

One of the first times I went to the Grammys, I got to share a dressing room with Miley Cyrus and Taylor Swift. And I asked for a lock of their hair from each one of them, which is totally creepy, but awesome ... I put little bows on them individually and put them in my purse. And that was my little secret and I'm a freak!

This likely happened at the 2009 Grammys, but Swift probably wouldn't be so willing to give Perry her hair these days. The two pop stars have been feuding as Swift hinted she was angry that Perry apparently sabotaged her tour.

BONUS: "Teenage Dream" had five No. 1 singles, which is tied for the most ever on an album with Michael Jackson's "Bad."

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With the release of "Last Friday Night (T.G.I.F.)" topping the Billboard charts, Katy Perry's album, "Teenage Dream," tied Michael Jackson's record for most number one singles on an album. Jackson initially set the record with the release of the 1987 album, "Bad."

At the time, Perry tweeted, "What a way to wake up! SO proud to announce that the little-engine-that-could of a song 'LAST FRIDAY NIGHT' is officially #1 & made HISTORY!"

All images Getty unless otherwise noted.

We're Still Processing that Ending to The Walking Dead "Strangers" (Fri, 24 Oct 2014 23:05:41 -0400)

I've had a few days to try and recover from that shocking ending to the latest episode of The Walking Dead, but I still get really uncomfortable every time I watch it. Let's not dig too deeply into the fact that I've insisted on rewatching "Strangers" several times even though I get this hollow-pit of just plain old ickiness in my gut every time. It's gross. I like it; I played with mud as a child it probably says something about me we can analyze at a different time.

Luckily, I've got Justice Revils, founder of popular fan-account @StuffThangsTWD to help get me through this. Mind the spoilers, though if you haven't seen the episode yet I don't know what's wrong with you, go watch "Strangers!"

VB: Okay, walk me through what we saw this week...

JR: The end of the episode! Bob walks away from the church crying, I'm guessing he was bit, and then Gareth and "The Hunters" knock him out -- only to eat his leg! This was a fantastic scene that came right out of the comics, best of the episode for sure!

True, for readers of the comics what happens to Bob this week isn't a huge surprise, it just happens to a different character (Dale, who obviously isn't around anymore, RIP Daly, I admit I don't miss your "judgey-face").

I really love the direction this season is taking, it looks like it's sticking a lot to the comics, and I won't complain!


"Strangers" began as an introduction to new character, Father Gabriel, but became something much deeper as (most of) our group got a rare chance to breathe easy for a few hours.

I loved Abraham's toast in the church. Really cool moment where he convinces Rick and Judith to go to DC with him. Tara also had some cool moments with Rick and when she talked to Maggie about being with The Governor when they attacked the prison.

I love how much she's grown since 4B, owning up to the decisions she made by following The Governor and committing to becoming a strong member of this new version of our group. What are some other moments that stick out to you this week as we get ready for the next episode?"

Seeing the car that kidnapped Beth! I really didn't think it would address that problem this episode, but that's what I love about surprises. So Daryl & Carol have now gone looking for Beth, and Bob has been taking by The Hunters... Father Gabriel is just in a bad position right now.


Judging by previews for the upcoming "Four Walls and a Roof" Sasha is gunning for Gabriel and definitely believes he had something to do with Bob's disappearance. She seems to think Daryl and Carol are with him, I can't wait to see them go after Beth!

The Walking Dead airs Sundays at 9pm on AMC. Photos by Gene Page © AMC TV.

Norman Lear: An Appreciation (Fri, 24 Oct 2014 20:54:33 -0400)

Norman Lear is a comic poet on the order of the Greeks who, just our luck, came of age at the dawn of the television era. In another time he would have been perhaps Aristophanes or Voltaire, or Swift or Twain. He has always said, "If you can get people to laugh, you can get them to care."

Norman Lear is the definitive artist of our American culture. But I write here about Norman, my friend, who has taught me personally -- I write about how he informed my life.

Norman Lear transformed my hopes. Before I knew Norman, I hoped to be successful as a conductor, to tackle the great works and to collaborate with the greatest musicians in the world. After I came to know him, I began to see the possibility of reaching people and illuminating connections at even a fraction of his effectiveness. Now when I plan a concert, I hope I can help people truly listen in a way that brings their hearts alive. That is how Norman Lear re-shaped my ambition.

"If you can get them to laugh you can get them to care", is a simple yet infinitely insightful observation for the artist.

Our modern life smashes our humanity into a zillion pieces, with our thinking parts, and our laughing parts and our feeling parts blasted apart, lying in separate shards in haphazard patterns all around us.

Enter the artist, the transformative artist who recognizes his or her responsibility not as commentary or showmanship, but as the re-assemblage -- if even for a moment -- of the human soul and of those natural human gifts of listening and communication that help us to understand one another.

For all that has been written about the social conscience of Mr. Lear's life-work, his oeuvre is organic and meaningful, because he puts things in their right order and he gives us the ability to leap beyond our limits and to understand and care about one another -- and to truly be together.

The laughter in Lear is powerful because it is a release from the tyrannical bondage of our differences and the dark terror of our loneliness. And yet the work is disguised in the silly safety of the sitcom or film, with characters we know -- and who resemble us, and remind us of our neighbors. And in every way the form of his art is as approachable and accessible as it is infinite and profound.

This is what the performing arts are about for me.

Music and performance are most needed when our differences and personal defenses have severed our ears and cut us off from listening and so from caring. We acknowledge music as a powerful force bringing us together in community, and yet we seem content to know this as fact and not to practice the true art of listening with open spirit. In so doing, we can leave the riches of music just beyond reach -- and that leaves us separated from ourselves.

In defiance of this dynamic, Norman Lear taught me that the minimal standard of excellence is to be transformative.

With his leadership, which is a clarion call to all American artists, we are reminded of our responsibility to defy the expectations of genres and formats and personalities -- and to reach for the truth in its living form.

We are well reminded by Norman that this is a brave fight and that custom is a sneaky and divisive and furiously destructive foe.

Think of how strongly and deeply we associate different kinds of music with different kinds of people. And how strongly surprised we are when our expectations are upended, such as when a buttoned up businessman loves hip-hop or an inner city kid hums Bach. There seems such a determination to divide ourselves that we allow even our music to separate us from one another. In many ways, we USE our music to separate ourselves from one another.

But there is no separation in music itself. Music is a whole and beautiful continuum.

We just choose to see it in the divisive notion of "genres."

Before (and after) Norman, we see this in TV and film as well -- with stock characters and shorthand stereotypes serving to reinforce our sense of separation. And yet for Norman, mass entertainment media became a vehicle for unity. He turned the world on its ear and put it back in its proper place all at once.

For me, inspired by Norman, finding common bonds within music became the whole heart of the matter.

Even though all music can make you feel good, music is not making you whole when you don't endeavor to hear all of it -- and all of it INCLUDES its connections to the rest of the continuum.

What may sound obvious -- this notion of wholeness and the continuum -- is something we spend enormous energy and violence seeking to blot out.

Meathead and Archie are part of the same whole of humanity. We laugh and regale at their competition, and then we are moved beyond words when they connect -- unexpectedly -- in love.

This is because connection is not how things should be -- it is how things really are.

Fragmentation is the unnatural state, and it is our fractured perception that is incongruous to the real world. The transformative artist like Norman Lear is the rescuer who performs magic by simply illuminating our path. Through him I came to know art as personal and connective.

Now when I face an audience I know that my humble calling is simply to create listening, because listening is learning, and learning is caring. And when we care we discover the world anew.

In the last few pages of Norman's memoir I learned that for decades we have both subscribed to the same belief profoundly described by George Bernhard Shaw...

I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the whole community, and as long as I live it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can... Life is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for the moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.

23 Blast Is Based On an Amazing True Story (Fri, 24 Oct 2014 20:20:36 -0400)

With Keanu Reeves committing endless mayhem in "John Wick", things going horribly wrong in "Ouija" and Bill Murray showing his utmost lovability in "St. Vincent" it has been easy for a family friendly film titled "23 Blast" to get overlooked at your local cinema this weekend. It is only playing on around six hundred screens so it might not even be available in your area. But if it is, go see it. It is worth your time and effort.

The movie is based on the true story of Travis Freeman (Mark Hapka), a young man who loses his eyesight in his junior year of high school. Prior to that time he had been a rising football star. Amazingly his coach is able to convince him to come back to the team in his senior year. You have to see the movie to see how this works. Suffice it to say, seeing his valiant effort and the support he receives from his family and friends makes for an emotional and enjoyable film.

One aspect concerning the film that caught my attention is the name of Dylan Baker appearing as the director. Now Baker has been an actor in many movies and in a lot of them he has had some quirky roles. You might have also seen him on "The Good Wife" as a man who gets away with murder and relishes it.

As the director of this film he has to find the right way to present this too good to be true story without making the audience gag on the sweetness. He achieves that balance perfectly. This is no doubt aided by sincere performances by Hapka, Stephen Lang as the high school coach, Bram Hoover as Travis's best friend, and Baker and Kim Zimmer as Travis' parents.

The only amateurish performance in the movie is that of the actor playing Travis' local preacher. However before the movie ends you well find out the reason for that. It comes as a big surprise. Still it adds to the overall effect of the story.

The high caliber of the acting, the strong direction by Baker, the way the story is told in dramatic linear fashion, all add up to an impressive movie experience. This is not something you would expect of a small budget movie of this type but every aspect of the movie rings true.

The film is rated PG-13 for football violence and teen drinking.

If you want to see a movie that will lift your spirits this is the one to chase down. It has humor, heart and drama presented against a football background.

I scored "23 Blast" a hiked 7 out of 10.

Jackie K. Cooper -- www.jackiekcooper.com

'Little Mermaid' Wedding Ideas For Your Disney-Loving Heart (Fri, 24 Oct 2014 18:41:49 -0400)

We bet there are a lot of little kids (and quite a few not-so-little ones) who have dreamed about having a "Little Mermaid"-themed wedding.

Online wedding marketplace Your Cloud Parade recently teamed up with singer and designer Traci Hines to bring that childhood dream to life with a fantasy wedding photo shoot inspired by the beloved Disney movie. Hines plays the role of mermaid bride Ariel and model Leo Camacho plays the charming groom, Prince Eric, in the faux wedding.

Now this is a world we would love to be a part of. Check out some of the photos below for a treasure trove of under-the-sea inspiration.

For more photos from the shoot, check out the slideshow below. Credit on all photos: Mark Brooke Photography and Mathieu Photo

Produced by: Your Cloud Parade | Bride: Traci Hines | Designed by Your Cloud Parade's: Lauren Coats | Groom: Leo Camacho | Videography: Sweet T Studios | Photography: Mark Brooke Photography, Mathieu Photo, Dillon Phommasa Photo | Hair & Makeup: 10.11 Makeup | Cake & Desserts: Sweet and Saucy Shop | Florist: A Blooming Bud | Silk Floral: Afloral | Mer-sister Bridesmaids (models): Charis Lincoln, Brytni Jean, Vanessa Walton, Helena Levin, Joanna Lynn, Amber Arden

Your Cloud Parade Vendors:
Bridal gown: Claire La Faye | Hair pieces: Creature of Habit | Paper goods: Typologie Co. | Tablescape: Koyal | Bow Tie: Little Byrd Shop | Plaid skirts: Fleet Collection | Shell stir sticks: Laura Hooper Calligraphy | Geometric planters: Redwood Stoneworks | Air plants: Robin Charlotte | Wands & Streamers: Kate Kate NYC | Shell crop tops: Adorkable Apparel | Shell rings: Siren’s Grotto | Tulle skirts: Dark Pony Designs


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You'll Never Forget Being "Disgraced" on Broadway (Fri, 24 Oct 2014 18:40:37 -0400)

"ALL THE WORLD'S a stage, but in New York, most people are in a David Mamet play, not a Noel Coward comedy!"

So writes Joan Juliet Buck for the Bergdorf-Goodman Mega-Fall catalogue.

     Because my friend Ms. Buck used to be the editor of French Vogue, I always pay attention even when she is writing for a catalogue -- especially so these days, for what is fashion without a catalogue?

•UNDER THE HEADLINE "How Do You Spell Civilization?" Ms. Joan pontificates. She advises that "please" and "thank you" make up the core of manners...The boor, who shouts in restaurants and snaps his fingers at waiters, is a bore... "Your cell phone should be treated like a child. It isn't allowed at dinner with the grown-ups but is good company in the car. It must remain silent at weddings, funerals, theater, movies, speeches, gatherings, ceremonies, baptisms and panel discussions.  If the cell is your conduit to urgencies from your attorney, agent, ex-husband, realtors and doctors, you must change its nappies in private."         

      Ms. Joan seems to be telling us we must not, in life, imitate reality shows. She says flower-senders are to receive a thank you note immediately.  No guns are allowed in civilization.  The Post Office is not permitted to read your mail so condolences, congratulations and thank you's should be written by hand and mailed.  If two people have gone to a marvelous party it is not to be discussed in front of a third person who was not invited.  

      If you use e-mail, Joan says, don't write long paragraphs and don't pass-along things. Text anyone under thirty.  E-mail, continues JJB, does not replace phone calls, lunch, dinner, coffee, hand-holding, hugging, flowers or gifts.  If you accept an invitation you must show up.  Åvoid trying for snappy repartee.  

      Are you wondering what JJB, who advised all this, looks like?   See the Meryl Streep movie about Julia Child where Julia goes to a high-flown Paris cooking school and the mean woman, who is soooo French, treats her so badly. That's Joan. Nora Ephron, who directed the movie, always opined that the minute she saw Joan Juliet Buck, she said to herself, "There's my Cordon Bleu character!"  

•THINGS HAVE come to a pretty pass when a sixteen-year-old begins to direct my theater going.  But that's what happened to me when my godson started asking, "Do you know about the 2013 Pulitzer Prize-winning play that won at Lincoln Center last year and is now going to open on Broadway?"

     Well, I must have been under a rock, or under anesthesia, or somehow my mind was blank or I had totally ignored my favorite critics (like one Ben Brantley) because I didn't even recall what my teenager was talking about.  But I bought some matinee tickets to the drama at the Lyceum Theater and took him to see "Disgraced," written by Ayad Akhtar. ("Disgraced" opened last night and I hope you didn't read the reviews, because I believe it's much better not to know what it's all about...in fact, events onstage have taken on even more depth and meaning than could have been totally perceived last year when it stealthily won the Pulitzer!)

"Disgraced" is something you'll never forget. The staging is so dramatic and all the actors so good that you'll never be able to stop thinking about it. The actors are Hari Dhillon, Gretchen Mol, Josh Radnor, Danny Ashok and Karen Pittman.

If you don't mind taking advice from someone who didn't even know this play existed and that it had been welcomed with open arms by the whole dramatic world, well, you are really in for a staggering emotional treat.

Hooray for my Spencer, who also steered me into appreciating "A Gentleman's Guide to Love and Murder," which won the Tony after he had taken me to see it when he was only fifteen!

•Hear, ye! Budding writers out there. The late Elaine Kaufman of saloon-café fame for 47 years in NYC, has had The Table 4 Writers Foundation going strong in her honor.

They'll give $5000 next spring and other grants to aspiring writers. Rules and applications available at www.table4.org. You need to act before Nov. 15th.

•OH, PLEASE -- wasn't the feature film of "Bewitched" enough bad news for fans of the old TV series starring Elizabeth Montgomery? (Nicole Kidman looked lost, and her co-stars Will Ferrell and Shirley MacLaine didn't look lost enough.) Now NBC is reportedly hoping to re-make the series; a "new take" on the suburban witch and her hapless mortal husband.

Despite the charms of the late Miss Montgomery, "Bewitched" wasn't very funny after about -- two seasons. It went on for five more and "jumped the shark," as they say today, at least twice a season. New ideas, Hollywood! New ideas!

HuffPost Live's 'Spoiler Alert' Gets Spooky With TV's Best Halloween Episodes (Fri, 24 Oct 2014 18:08:02 -0400)

The spirit of Halloween is in the air, so HuffPost Live's "Spoiler Alert" indulged in a few tricks and treats with a discussion of what makes our favorite Halloween episodes so hauntingly hilarious, from "Roseanne" to "American Horror Story."

Speaking of "American Horror Story," this week's episode of "Freak Show" got a little two-faced. Host Ricky Camilleri and the "Spoiler Alert" panel also dissected "AHS" -- possible Voldemort cameo and all -- plus the latest installment of "How To Get Away With Murder."

Catch the full "Spoiler Alert" episode here.

Sign up here for Live Today, HuffPost Live's new morning email that will let you know the newsmakers, celebrities and politicians joining us that day and give you the best clips from the day before!

John Goodman And Megan Mullally Star In This 1980s McDonald's Commercial, Because Zero To Hero (Fri, 24 Oct 2014 18:04:40 -0400)

Every actor has to start somewhere! Even Emmy-award winning John Goodman and Megan Mullally, who both appear in this vintage Mcdonald's breakfast commercial. (You're welcome.)

Next time you're watching the clock during a commercial break, remember that random dish soap actress could be a huge star like any day now.

Kim Kardashian -- She Really Is Just Like The Rest Of Us (Fri, 24 Oct 2014 18:02:16 -0400)

In only one -- just one -- way, of course: Kim Kardashian is only similar to us peasants in the way that she, too, adored Johnny Depp as a young girl.

Lunch With Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones: The Theory of Everything (Fri, 24 Oct 2014 17:50:33 -0400)

Stephen Hawking, ALS and all, is such a "character," he's perfect as the charismatic center of a movie. That's partly because of his brilliance in physics and cosmology, partly because his bold yet childlike persona, and partly because of the woman who kept his brain alive, his wife Jane. A new movie based on her account of their courtship, marriage, and ultimate friendship, The Theory of Everything, stars Eddie Redmayne and Felicity Jones as this exceptional couple. Last week at lunch at the Lotos Club, in a Q&A led by the charming Stephen Daldry, the stars and screenwriter Anthony McCarten discussed their movie relationship in what many are calling performances that top the lists for this year's acting awards; the film should be nominated for Best Picture.

The handsome Redmayne as Hawking starts out as a merely nerdy Cambridge student; as the disease is diagnosed, he's given two years to live. Miraculously, he lives on to marry his sweetheart, father three children with her, complete his schooling and publish several best selling books including the ten million bestseller, A Brief History of Time, even after several near death emergencies. All the while his physical state becomes more and more compromised, and a challenge for Eddie Redmayne to portray. At one point he is seen to deliver a lecture, well after his ability to speak gives out. Seated in his wheelchair, head slumped to the side, his expression is a riot of contortion. Redmayne worked with a dancer to learn the physicality of muscles stiffening and wilting. While the movie never explains how Hawking remains alive, Redmayne, who must get this question a lot, agreed, no one knows.

When they met, Hawking had the demeanor of a man expecting to live till 100, said the actor. A lady's man, Hawking really perked up meeting Felicity Jones who supplies her signature subtlety to the character of Jane Hawking whose care and critical decisions literally keep him alive. Well, this is her side of the story. Stephen Hawking likes the movie, and said it is true in spirit. And yes, Eddie Redmayne met the ALS ice bucket challenge too.

A version of this post also appears on Gossip Central.

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau Bats 1,000 (Fri, 24 Oct 2014 17:47:11 -0400)

A veteran actor with more than 40 film and TV roles to his credit, Denmark native Nikolaj Coster-Waldau finally hit paydirt as the nefarious, yet complicated, Jamie Lannister on HBO's hit series Game of Thrones. However, far from resting the laurels of his hard-earned fame, Coster-Waldau has kept busy before the cameras. His latest effort, 1,000 Times Goodnight, stars Juliette Binoche as Rebecca, one of the world's top war photojournalists, but she's also a wife and mother, leaving behind a husband and two young daughters every time she travels to a new combat zone. After a near-death experience chronicling the ritual of a female suicide bomber, husband Marcus (Coster-Waldau) levels an ultimatum: give up the dangerous profession or lose the family she counts on being there when she returns from each assignment. With an offer to photograph a refugee camp in Kenya, a place allegedly so safe that daughter Steph (Lauryn Canny) is allowed to join her, Rebecca comes face to face with just how much she risks each time she steps back into the fray. Directed by former photojournalist Erik Poppe, the Film Movement release hits theaters and V.O.D. today, October 24.

Nikolaj Coster-Waldau spoke with Alex Simon recently, while on location in Seville, Spain, where he's shooting season five of Game of Thrones. Here's what followed:

Tell us how you got involved with 1,000 Times Goodnight.

I met Erik when I was in Belfast. He used to be the Juliette Binoche character, as a war photographer, and I loved the idea of changing the sex of the main character to a woman. If it had been a guy, then it would have been kind of a cliché: the man going out into dangerous situations and being heroic. This turned that conceit upside down, and I think it works beautifully.

In the press notes, Erik actually quotes one of my heroes, iconic war photographer Robert Capa: "If the picture isn't strong enough, then you're not close enough."

(laughs) Yeah, that's a great quote, and of course it's true. Erik lived it and so does Juliette's character in the film. Didn't he die in the field?

Yeah, he was, arguably, the first photojournalist to die covering Vietnam, in 1954. He also shot that famous picture of a soldier in the Spanish Civil War the instant he's felled by a fatal bullet. It's viewed as the greatest war photo ever taken.

Yeah, I know the one. Very powerful. Sobering.

But it sounds like it was the dichotomy of Juliette's character that drew you to this.

Yeah, and the question of what is it that's truly heroic? In the beginning, we see Juliette risking her life based on her mothering instincts to save the lives of some children. But then her own children are saying to her, "We don't want you to go back into the fray. We just want you to stay here and be our mom." But it's like the danger is an addiction for her, an adrenaline high, a moth to the flame, and she can't stay away. Nothing complicated is ever due to just one thing. And of course, my character as her husband, wants her in a safe place, as well.

That's what gives the film its power, I think: its objectivity. Every character has a very clear, rational point of view.

Yeah, this was the first time I've played a character that was very close to home for me. My wife and I have two daughters, just like my character in the film, and if family is important to you, your priorities change and become very clear, rather quickly.

I've interviewed Juliette several times over the years and each time, she struck me as someone who's highly intelligent and committed to her work.

Absolutely. She's almost relentless in her search for truth and understanding more about the scene and the characters. She's very good at asking questions and not settling. It was tough, but it also made the final result amazing, I think.

I didn't recognize Larry Mullen, Jr. until I saw his name on the credits. He was always hiding behind his drum kit when I saw U2 play live.

(laughs) Yeah, I didn't either. I met the cast in a restaurant in Dublin and it took me a while to realize that, yeah, I'd seen this guy before. (laughs) I think he likes that degree of anonymity, actually. But he's a really good actor and such a nice, easy-going guy.

We have to talk about Game of Thrones and Jamie Lannister. Of all the characters on the show, his arc has been the most interesting, for me. During the first season, he was absolutely reprehensible, but you began to see more shadings in his character as the series progressed, particularly in his dealings with Brienne of Tarth (Gwendoline Christie).

What's interesting with the show, not just Jamie's character, since you have so much time to develop the characters, no one is black and white. It's all gray. And when we first meet Jamie, all his actions are against the people whom we originally see as the heroes of the story. I don't think Jamie has really changed as a person so much over time, but I also never saw Jamie as a "bad guy," in the traditional sense. He's certainly done some really horrific things, but he's not a psychopath. He was motivated by logical things: pushing the kid out the window, for example. He was doing that to protect the love of his life and her kids. The same when he attacked Ned Stark. Jamie was trying to protect his brother. When I started out, I knew what was going to happen for the next three seasons, if we got that far, so I really looked forward to doing those scenes with Brienne that would open Jamie up and allow us to learn more about him and what made him tick, so to speak. From the beginning, I knew he was a great character, because he begins appearing to be one thing, but at the end, turns out to be something quite the opposite. That's not only a great character, that's great writing, and it's what makes being an actor such a pleasure.

Here's A GIF Of Benedict Cumberbatch Strutting Like Beyoncé (Fri, 24 Oct 2014 17:39:08 -0400)

It's Friday, so here's what it looks like when Benedict Cumberbatch struts to Beyoncé's "Crazy In Love" on "The Graham Norton Show." Thanks, Earth!

GIF via YouTube

If more context for enjoyment of this seismic event is required, The Hollywood Reporter has your back.

7 Things You Didn't Know About 'Girls,' As Told By Jenni Konner (Fri, 24 Oct 2014 17:14:49 -0400)

Before you write that "Girls" think piece, know showrunner Jenni Konner will probably actually read it. Konner sat down with Slate TV critic Willa Paskin on Thursday as part of the 2014 New York Television festival's Creative Keynote series to discuss her early career, the Internet and "Girls." Here are some of the most fascinating things we learned:

jenni konner

1. Konner loves the Internet fervor surrounding "Girls."
Though she acknowledges it can turn nasty, Konner appreciates fans and critics' heated engagement with "Girls." "I actually love it," she said. "There are days where I'm like 'Oh my god, everyone is evil and so mean and terrible and why are they talking about bodies like that.' But in general, I actually think it's really exciting. And having done shows before there was Twitter, it's nice to engage with people most of the time when they're not awful." The showrunner said she reads many of the think pieces about the show, and has learned from the most thoughtful. "Even when it's kind of terrible or really angry, I tend to really enjoy people thinking about 'Girls.' If it's a thoughtful piece, even if it's like people completely misreading things, I still enjoy reading them," she said. "For every 200 stupid things, someone will say something thoughtful, and you feel so heard and it's so exciting. When people are super nasty then I just shut it out. But if someone has a point -- like when we got into all that stuff about race after the first season, we learned a lot, because the people who were thoughtful about it and who were smart and who came at us in a thoughtful way made us think differently about what we were doing."

2. She can never predict the episodes that will stir the most controversy.
Over its three seasons, "Girls" has been known to provoke controversy with certain episodes and storylines. But Konner says she hasn't managed to predict ahead of time what parts of the seasons will stir people up the most. "What is funny is that I literally can never predict what people will react to. Whenever I'm like 'Oh my god, that's gonna be a big deal,' it just, like, breezes over," she said. "It's really funny because I don't have any gauge for what people will respond to in that way or not."

3. Konner thinks Tim Molloy -- The Wrap reporter who asked about the purpose of nudity on the show at this year's TCA Winter press tour -- should "google it."
At one point, Paskin steered the discussion toward reactions to Lena Dunham's body on "Girls" by saying: "You have gotten mad at people asking about this before. I don't think I'm asking in this way, but have you been surprised how obsessed people are about Lena's body?" Konner then addressed her remarks to Molloy. "Yeah. I mean the time that I got really mad about it which I think you're referring to -- the TCA's, my rage spiral -- was because it was our third season. And the guy, he asked this question, [he] was a 'journalist,' he asked a question that was like: 'Why do we have to look at you naked so much?' And that's the kind of thing that I'm just, like, 'Go fuck yourself, dude.' We were also at the TCAs. We've been to that place for three years now talking about her nudity. If it had been the first season, maybe. But we were so, like ... I mean, google it. Google it. There are so many answers to the question about her nudity. The whole thing was so offensive. I don't even think in the transcript you could tell how fucking mad he sounded. He sounded so enraged about her nudity. And I was just, like, I can't."

4. She thinks "unlikeable" characters are just realistic.
The conversation also touched on the famous topic of the "Girls" characters' likability, and Konner said it's not something the writers are concerned with. "What I personally think is that I like so many people in real life who are probably unlikable," she said. "We all like unlikeable people and we like people who do bad things. That's like HBO to me. It's, like, 'It's not TV, it's HBO,' but it should be, 'People who do bad things, we like them anyway.' That is every show they've made. Kind of all great shows tend to be that. So I think the whole idea of likability is kind of silly because I think we all go through our lives making choices to enjoy people who are not perfect."

Konner also said she thinks self-centered behavior is a truthful part of being young. "They're really young," she said. "Part of it to me, especially with Hannah, is that she's really young and she's getting older and we're trying to grow her and make her a little bit less narcissistic and self involved. And we'll see if you guys agree with that. But I do think that they're really young girls, and I know I, at that time -- like, I look at myself and I'm like I cannot believe I had friends, or parents. I can't believe anyone talked to me. Or jobs. It's sort of this like really self-centered moment."

5. She and Dunham have mapped out the way all the "Girls" characters die.
Asked about how far into the future the writers have planned for the characters, Konner revealed that she and Lena once imagined all the characters' death scenarios. "Lena and I were at SXSW once, and we were in separate hotel rooms but we were on the phone, which is something we do a lot. And we figured out where everyone died," she said. "It was the 'Six Feet Under' ending. So we know where everyone dies."

6. Lena Dunham punctured her eardrum with a Q-tip the same year Hannah did.
Konner said it was difficult to film the scene in which Hannah punctured her ear drum with a Q-tip, in part because it was so close to when Dunham had done so in real life. "The first time we shot [the Q-tip scene], I could not watch because I was so grossed out. And Lena had truly pierced her eardrum in this exact way that year so it was very close." Unfortunately, Konner didn't manage to avoid looking forever. "So, she was doing it, and I couldn't watch and I just kept looking away and looking away," she said. "And we shot it and then I get a call from Judd [Apatow] a few days later. And he's like, 'You gotta reshoot the Q-tip.' And I was like, 'What do you mean?' And he was like, 'It's not gross at all.' And he's like, 'Were you watching?' And I was like, '... No.' So we had to reshoot it. So what you see -- the gruesomeness -- was me behind fingers."

7. Konner also stood by the romantic ending to the same episode, which Paskin admitted she had not been a huge fan of when it aired.
Viewers may remember the pretty unsavory reception to the finale of "Girls" second season, when the show suddenly went rom-com and had Adam swoop in as Hannah's savior. But Konner said she thinks it worked because it wasn't supposed to actually be a happy ending. "What we wanted it to end with was this feeling of her feeling rescued. But I think that that is not the same thing as a happy ending," she said. "It's someone in the middle of a breakdown and [Adam] has this crazy, over-the-top reaction that then sends them into a relationship that doesn't necessarily work, right? So for me it was a very sweeping romantic idea, but I always thought, well, this is Hannah's idea of what romance is, not the world's idea of what romance is. It was like her dream, but not necessarily a great dream."

"Girls" Season 4 will air in 2015.

Downloading Music Is Quickly Going Out Of Fashion (Fri, 24 Oct 2014 17:07:38 -0400)

First records died, then cassette tapes, then CDs and now, downloads. That's right, we're all but officially in the age of streaming services.

Apple might operate the largest online music store in the world, but the Apple Store's iTunes digital music sales have fallen about 13 percent this year, a source familiar with the matter tells the Wall Street Journal. The writing is on the wall.

Meanwhile, Spotify is surging ahead. The music streaming service hit 10 million global paid subscribers in May, up from 6 million paid subscribers in March 2013. Throw in people who use the service but don't pay, and Spotify's now lays claim to 40 million active users, up from 24 million in March 2013.

Then there's Pandora, the Internet radio service with 80 million users, which dominates the streaming music industry. Those numbers have steadily increased, up from 70 million in May 2013, and listening hours have continued to increase too.

Of course, there's a big difference between the Apple Store on the one hand and Spotify and Pandora on the other. Apple's iTunes makes mountain of money, while Pandora occasionally turns a little profit and Spotify isn't even profitable yet.

Nevertheless, Apple apparently sees which way the wind is blowing. As speculated in earlier reports, Apple will be relaunching and rebuilding Beats Music -- the existing $10-a-month subscription streaming service -- under its own brand.

You can soon say goodbye to the days when download was king.

Citizenfour Review: Quiet Moments in a Hong Kong Hotel Room as Edward Snowden, Journalists Fight to Save Democracy (Fri, 24 Oct 2014 16:49:12 -0400)

Hong Kong has been ground zero this year in the fight for freedom, with students and Occupy leaders battling police for control of the streets in a desperate campaign to maintain the Chinese territory's relative autonomy from erosion by the central Beijing government.

But the city hosted much quieter freedom fighters a year earlier, not on the streets but in the confines of an international hotel room. When journalist Glenn Greenwald and documentary film maker / journalist Laura Poitras responded to emails from an intelligence community member who identified himself at first only as "Citizenfour," little did they how deep the rabbit hole would be and that unraveling history's largest spying operation -- a worldwide mass dragnet by the NSA that targets essentially everyone on earth -- would mean traveling to Hong Kong and debriefing Snowden in a hotel room from which none of them would emerge unchanged.

Nor, it seems likely, will the audience of Citizenfour, which takes the viewer inside that hotel room via footage Poitras shot as the interviews with Snowden unfolded. Even though we now know, thank to the courage of Snowden, and of Greenwald, Poitras and their colleagues, that the NS's warrantless programs hoover up everything from everyone, domestic and foreign, emails, telephone calls, metadata and apparently  contents as well, it's nonetheless gripping to watch the interplay between source and journalists as the latter learn the details and attempt to figure out what to do about it.

Snowden, young, handsome, sincere, is outwardly calm, willing to give up his comfortable life, family ties and perhaps his freedom to slow the U.S.'s slide towards a nation of subjects rather than citizens. But his Adam's Apple betrays him. Take a close look and you can see he's swallowing hard, even as he insists he's made his peace with the choice to sacrifice his own comfort for the greater good. Later, when he rearranges his hair to muddle his identity as he prepares to slip underground, his curses at an errant cowlick underscore the anxiety he feels.

As a journalist, I've worked with anxious sources, tried to uncover truths, published secret documents and laid bare the backroom dealings of closed-door meetings. I've never worked on anything as momentous as Poitras and Greenwald's brief, nor put my life (cf. war reporters) or freedom at risk, but Citizenfour nonetheless felt eerily familiar in its duet between source and reporter, as documents and thumbdrives change hands and broad contexts and telling details emerge.

As a former math geek and computer scientist, I've long been interested in the NSA, and knew that the nascent intelligence community during World War II had monitored every international telephone call and telegram from or to the U.S. As far back as the early 1980's -- when I worked for the military-contractor think tank that created the Internet's predecessor for the Defense Department -- I figured that computerized monitoring of international communications was taking place (though I never worked on such projects), so the Snowden revelations at one level were unsurprising. But they didn't fail to chill last year, nor when seen again in the film.

Not all of the documentary takes place in the hotel room. Particularly unnerving is footage of earthmovers in the Utah mountains relentlessly clawing at the landscape as they construct a massive NSA data center to store the intercepts that Snowden says the agency in drowning in -- so much so, he says, that the intelligence community has lost the ability to find the valuable information in its own hoard. Dogged in their pursuit of bedrock, the steamshovels' unforgiving appetite for raw earth and their inexorable attack on the landscape become in Poitras's sure hands visual signifiers of the greed for information -- and thus power -- that characterizes the security apparatus that has flowered since 9/11 under both Bush and Obama.

The tension between national security and freedom has seldom been tauter, nor the balance harder to strike in a world where every bit, byte and packet is subject not just to interception but also to weaponization. With his actions, Snowden ignited a debate that will long continue, and Citizenfour, the third film of a post-9/11 trilogy -- the other films landed Poitras on a secret watch list from which she found no escape and drove her to relocate to Berlin --  will stand as an urgent and gripping record. See it this weekend. The NSA probably already has.

Check out "The New Zealand Hobbit Crisis," available on Amazon in paperback, Kindle and audiobook. Visit my website (jhandel.com), follow me on Twitter or friend me on Facebook or LinkedIn. If you work in tech, take a look at my book How to Write LOIs and Term Sheets