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Oh No They Didn't! -

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    Just call us Jennifer Lopez because we're taking you inside the planning of one of TV's biggest—and most surprising—weddings of the year.

    OK, we so didn't actually plan the nuptials that went down between Jamie (Sam Heughan) and Claire (Caitriona Balfe) in Outlander's Saturday episode, a moment fans of Diana Gabaldon's book series have been eagerly awaiting since the hit Starz series debuted.

    While they were forced to marry in order to protect Claire from the English, Jamie and Claire's love story truly begins after they say "I do."

    In this exclusive behind-the-scenes look at the filming of the episode, executive producer Ronald D. Moore reveals the cast and crew dedicated "several days" to rehearsals of the, um, steamy wedding night. Why? "Because it was going to be so intense."

    Of the rehearsals, Heughan says, "We spent a week, basically, in a room, myself and Cat, with very little clothes on. It was pretty interesting." And a little embarrassing, as Balfe jokes. "I feel like I can't look half the crew in the face anymore."

    Fortunately, it helps that Heughan and Balfe are extremely close off-screen.

    "The relationship off-screen with them, they're just very affectionate with each other," co-executive producer Anne Kenney gushes. "They're very caring with each other, so that's lovely and kind of infuses the relationship between Jamie and Claire."

    For more inside scoop on the big wedding, including how they picked Claire's gorgeous dress, which Balfe actually "never wants to see again," watch our exclusive clip above.

    video at the source since it won't embed
    this episode was e v e r y t h i n g. i am so sad about this midseason finale BULLSHIT

    mods this wasn't posted i checked!

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    Jack O'Connell learned a lot about acting from his first head butt. "I was doing a scene with Stephen Graham in 'This Is England,'" recalls the 24-year-old of the 2006 film directed by Shane Meadows, which featured a gang of teenagers falling under the sway of a racist skinhead, played by Graham. We're walking along the bank of Regent's Canal on a hot, sparkling day. Londoners are dressed in their summer linens, and O'Connell is wearing a whopping hangover from a night out celebrating a friend's promotion. He squints through the sweats and continues the anecdote: "Stephen said, 'I'm just gonna tap you, I ain't gonna commit.'" Then Graham, best known for playing a ferocious Al Capone on "Boardwalk Empire," committed. "He just flattened me," O'Connell laughs. "But that was good: They used the 'oomf' I made in the final edit."

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    Photographer Bruce Weber films actor Jack O'Connell on the set of T's Fall Men's issue cover shoot.
    The lesson that O'Connell took from that encounter is that the hard way is often the right one. Over the past eight years, if a British film called for a tough case, a grappler, someone with a bit of grit, chances were O'Connell got the part. He has played soldiers, soccer players and gangsters, and worked alongside some of Britain's finest actors — including Sir Michael Caine, who called O'Connell "the star of the future"— in period dramas, thrillers and horror films. Even more impressive than his range is the way he folds vulnerability into strength. In one of the most intense scenes in "Starred Up," a tightly coiled prison drama that was released in the U.S. this August, O'Connell's character savagely beats another prisoner and retreats to his cell to await the guards. While riot sirens go off, he breaks a table in half, rips off the legs and douses his body in baby oil to make himself slippery for fighting. As terrifying as he looks, however, O'Connell's character is still a boy. From his film debut as a teenage skinhead in "This Is England" to his role as a hard-drinking soccer fan on the BBC Channel 4 television show "Skins," O'Connell has delivered one gripping physical performance after another, bringing an electric authenticity to the portrayal of angry, troubled youth.

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    Dressed in a loose white button-up, green trousers and blue desert boots, this afternoon O'Connell doesn't look like the bruiser he often plays in films. Instead he is more like an approachable James Dean from the British Midlands — small and delicate, with an easy confidence. Over the course of our interview, O'Connell pauses to answer questions thoughtfully, asking permission before he interrupts to emphasize and complete a response. O’Connell knows he's talented — in fact, he's very talented — but he's also anxious, eager to please and achingly polite. His default is to charm anyone within range. A bartender who offers to cure his hangover with a Bloody Mary instantly becomes "luv." As in, sorry, luv, he's going to ride this one out with water.

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    In "Starred Up," directed by David Mackenzie, O'Connell leads the film as Eric, a young offender sent to an adult prison in an unnamed suburb where his father (played by Ben Mendelsohn) is serving a life sentence. Lean, tattooed, utterly silent, Eric slinks through the prison’s maze with a sprung, watchful rage. He behaves like a trained attack dog, exploding into sudden, lethal bursts of violence.

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    The film was shot partially in a former prison in Belfast, and some of the cast stayed overnight to get into character. O'Connell didn’t need to. "I've been exposed to violence," the actor says in his heavy East Midland twang, looking distractedly at his hands and wrists. O'Connell grew up working class in the central England city of Derby, where his family home was located between two housing estates. Both his parents held jobs, and O'Connell's father, Johnny, worked on the railroad for most of his life. "It's a very humble place," O'Connell says of Derby. "Certain areas are deprived. But it's home to a lot of charismatic people. I've got this endless supply of good-natured mates, people who know right from wrong."He was never a bully but he grew up around guys who would "punch people whilst grinning, then have a laugh about it afterwards."

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    Until an injury derailed O'Connell, he had planned on trying to become a soccer player like his grandfather, who managed a club and played professionally. Plans changed again when O'Connell took a drama class in secondary school and fell in love with acting. His teacher encouraged him to try out for a television workshop in Nottingham, and it was there that O'Connell met Meadows, who later cast him in his breakout role in "This Is England."

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    O'Connell was only 18 and had just filmed the thriller "Harry Brown" when his father died at age 58 of pancreatic cancer. "He worked right up until the end," O'Connell says, wincing at the thought of it. "Wearing a bag that was literally draining his pancreas." While he was alive, Johnny O'Connell didn't say much about his son's profession. Though Johnny was popular and sociable — he came from a big Irish family — the two had a fiery relationship, which sometimes resulted in physical clashes."He was one of the hardest blokes I've known," O'Connell says, noting that his father always got the better of him in their grapples. It didn't help that the two were spitting images of each other. In recent years, O'Connell has become even more aware of the similarities between them."I catch myself in bars, where he spent an awful lot of his time," O'Connell says. "I find myself laughing exactly the same way he did, telling jokes he probably told... I really am a reincarnation." Johnny left behind his wife, son and teenage daughter. On his deathbed, he made Jack promise to take care of the family.

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    For a long time, O'Connell coped with his father's death by devoting himself to work and destructive behavior. Even as his career took off, "I didn't stop partying for like seven years," O'Connell says. He moved to the college town of Bristol in 2008 after accepting a role on "Skins," the British drama about teenagers who fall in and out of bed with each other. Playing the partygoing but troubled James Cook made O'Connell a celebrity among people his age, and also served as a very real reminder of other routes his life might have taken. Over the course of the series, Cook evolves from a pint-swilling pubcrawler who seems almost innocent to an outright criminal and drug dealer. O'Connell refuses to go into too much detail about the repercussions of that time except to suggest that alcohol-related offenses might have kept him from being cast in American films. And "even if you are clean as a whistle," he remarks, "it's very difficult to get into the States."

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    Despite these troubles, 2014 is shaping up to be the year in which O'Connell could become a hit on this side of the Atlantic. Earlier this spring he acted in his first blockbuster, the sequel to "300," followed by "Starred Up"; and at Christmastime, Angelina Jolie is betting that O'Connell's intensity will carry her second directorial effort, "Unbroken," based on the bestselling book by Laura Hillenbrand. Written by Joel and Ethan Coen, the film chronicles the life of Louis Zamperini, the Italian-American distance runner who took eighth place in the 5,000-meter event at the 1936 Olympics. When he was a bombardier in World War II, Zamperini's plane crashed into the Pacific; he survived for 47 days at sea before being captured by the Japanese and held as a P.O.W. for two years. Zamperini died this July at age 97.

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    Jolie cast O'Connell out of a worldwide search of thousands. He describes her as a deeply intuitive director with a knack for figuring out how to motivate her actors. She gave O'Connell encouragement, praise and challenges, while her partner, Brad Pitt, offered him a different kind of moral support. "I think Angie might have told him about my situation at home," O'Connell says, "so one of the first things he said to me was, 'I want you to know that you got my email address.' He didn't need to say that. But it gave me a nudge when I needed it."

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    When O'Connell talks about "Unbroken," he speaks less about the role and more about not letting "Angie" down. Though last night was a rare exception, O'Connell says he's turned a corner when it comes to partying. "I met Angelina and I sort of drew a line through it all." Without being melodramatic, O'Connell describes working with her as an intervention in his life. "She's seen people screw up, and she's not willing to let that happen to me." O'Connell talks earnestly about the other ways in which he's protecting himself from the pitfalls of success. A best mate from home came with him to the premiere of "300." His mother, now acting as his manager, traveled to Australia for the filming of "Unbroken," and later met Pitt in London. "She's very selective about who she fangirls over, and he definitely qualifies," O'Connell says, laughing. "They were talking for like 20 minutes. Just having a natter. I looked across the table at her and thought, She's holding it together well."

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    O'Connell now has his own London apartment, is learning to cook and is working to stay on "the straight and narrow." He's also managed to keep his promise to his father. "I'm the breadwinner now," O'Connell says with some pride. "I put food on the table." His next project is a period drama, "Tulip Fever," with Judi Dench, responsibilities for which mean he needs to go. We rise, walk outside and say goodbye. The sun has dipped and the diners at the nearby restaurant have left. Not far from here is the last spot O'Connell slept rough on the street between auditions. "That was three years ago," O'Connell says, more to himself than to me.

    Cute behind the scenes interview
    (lots of dogs, Jack playing guitar & being charming af)


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    Vogue’s September 2014 cover had us feeling nostalgic: Models (the major ones), over the years, have come to be known essentially in brackets. You have the overarching supers—the Karolina Kurkovas and Hilary Rhodas of the biz—atop which, arguably, sit the Trinity: Naomi, Linda, Christy, those who needn’t a surname uttered. You have the waifs, à la Miss Moss. You have the Brazilians—Alessandra, Adriana, Gisele, etc. And now, well, you have the Instagirls.

    That tendency for pop-grouping doesn’t so much apply to the men of the trade. “Male supermodel” sounds weird. Yet, no doubt, there’s a gilded ring of all-time greats, hailing from St. Louis to Sweden and everywhere in between. Here, check out’s homme­-age to the ten greatest gentlemen catwalkers and campaign kings of all time—the supes of their sex, with nary a cheekbone or abdomen muscle gone soft over the years.

    10. Evandro Soldati

    We're not surprised that Evandro Soldati hails from Brazil’s Minas Gerais state, which is known for its mining—his cheekbones could, after all, cut diamonds. Our favorite Soldati appearance (Louis Vuitton campaigns notwithstanding) has to be his star turn in Lady Gaga’s music video for “Alejandro,” directed by Steven Klein.

    8. Mark Vanderloo

    OK, besides an illustrious run atop the biz (Hugo Boss campaigns are pretty major), this is the one fact you need to know about Mark Vanderloo: Zoolander, the comedy starring Ben Stiller about very serious male modeling, is allegedly a twist on Mark’s surname. Talk about an honor.

    7. Mathias Lauridsen

    Known for his unique features, this Danish model first broke out in 2004 as the face of Dior Homme. That little coup sparked a booking craze, and he’s since worked for everyone from Lacoste to Salvatore Ferragamo to Givenchy.

    4. Jon Kortajarena

    Debuting on the scene in 2004 (in Milan for Emporio Armani and Paris for John Galliano), Kortajarena is the closest thing male modeling has to a sex symbol. Guest turns in campaigns for Guess and Tom Ford are the only proof you need.

    2. David Gandy

    David: The Dolce boy. Much of Gandy’s modeling career has been headlined by his numerous appearances in Dolce & Gabbana campaigns, including lucrative fragrance bookings. (“Light Blue” features the model on a boat sailing over electric cyan water. His eyes match. #swoon.) He’s even produced a calendar for the brand, shot by Mariano Vivanco.


    fave models ontd?

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    Nestled on the northwest coast of Nantucket Island is an unassuming boutique named Jewel of the Isle that has been experiencing a business boom of late. Owners Gary and Kelli Trainor's handmade seashell bracelets and basket charms have been a draw for more than 25 years, but the store has a new attraction: Their daughter Meghan's first platinum plaque, presented to her on the Sept. 11 Ellen DeGeneres Show by DeGeneres herself for her smash debut single, "All About That Bass." "My dad's like, 'Business is great now!'" says Trainor, 20.

    That isn't the only good news Trainor's parents shared with her recently. The singer-songwriter's mom was the first to tell her that "Bass" had boomed to the top of the Billboard Hot 100, reaching Trainor, who had just landed in Australia for a promotional run on Sept. 10, through text before her Epic label boss L.A. Reid or manager Troy Carter. "After 15 hours of flying I panicked -- I didn't know what she was talking about!" Trainor recalls, over the phone from Sydney. "I started bawling in the middle of the airport. Everyone looked at me like I was crazy. My parents were like, 'You made it, babe!'"

    The Trainors have extra reason to be proud: Two years ago, they encouraged their then-18-year-old daughter to pass up college in favor of a freshly inked publishing deal with Nashville's Big Yellow Dog Music. "They told me, 'You can learn more with this job than you can in a classroom -- go for it!'" Trainor says. "I decided to write songs and travel."

    Trainor still seems a little shell-shocked, and who can blame her? It hasn't even been a full year since she moved from Los Angeles to Nashville last November to try writing songs for country artists (Rascal Flatts picked two of her songs for new album Rewind). Soon after, she paired up with writer-producer Kevin Kadish for the fateful session that produced "Bass."

    "I'd just gotten back from L.A. writing for pop stars, trying to pretend I was them," Trainor remembers. "The first thing Kevin said was, 'I don’t want to have any rules today. I just want to write a great song.'"

    They liked their track, but didn't make much of its commercial prospects. "We told each other, 'We're never going to make a dime off this,'" recalls Trainor.

    Three months later, Trainor found herself singing "All About That Bass" for Reid and the New York staff of Epic Records, which signed her a week later. Now, she has just released her debut EP, Title (which bows at No. 15 on the Sept. 27 Billboard 200), and is at the center of a body-positivity movement sweeping music, from Mary Lambert's "Secrets" to Colbie Caillat's makeup-free video for "Try." Trainor says "Bass" was inspired by her struggle to embrace her beauty. "I still look at pictures like, 'I don't like that,' and my mom has to tell me, 'Stop doing that to yourself.' Even my auntie will be like, 'You're adorable,'" Trainor says. "I was always a little insecure. I had brothers that played football, so I was just a straight-up tomboy for a minute. I didn't know makeup and hair stuff. My friends had to tell me what a straightener was. I didn't know fashion or any of that until the label gave me a stylist." (Indeed, Trainor was getting an Epic-sanctioned manicure during her interview.)

    Now, Trainor has become a model of self-acceptance for kids across the globe. "I got up at six this morning to reply to fan letters and Instagram posts," she says. "I don't consider myself a feminist, but I'm down for my first opportunity to say something to the world to be so meaningful. If you asked me, 'What do you want to say?' it would be, 'Love yourself more.'"

    But other songs by Trainor are devoted to loving other people, through values as vintage as her doo-wop-indebted sound. The EP's title track is an ode to commitment before sex; on "Dear Future Husband," she lists requirements to a future beau, including "flowers every anniversary." "Girls need to be treated better. I never got that growing up," she says. "In high school, I didn't date awesome dudes."

    Trainor is now single and looking -- though she isn't sure if the success of "Bass" will help or hurt her prospects. "Now I go to work and I don't know if I got time for a boyfriend. But do you have anyone I could date?"


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    Actor James Spader has had a rich and varied career, from starring in NBC’s new hit series The Blacklist to appearing in movies like the quirky S&M cult flick Secretary. It seems unlikely that anything in his previous body of work really prepared for him the task of playing a giant robot, though – which is exactly what Spader will do in Marvel’s upcoming The Avengers: Age of Ultron.

    Just how massive is Ultron? Well, Spader spilled the beans in this clip from The Tonight Show with host Jimmy Fallon, which was posted over at Comic Book Movie. Does eight feet tall sound big enough for you? Because that’s how tall Ultron is, according to the just under six foot tall actor.

    "I’m Ultron, eight foot robot," Spader said when the topic got around to the latest Avengers movie. Mix that with the super-strength of the machine, and The Avengers appear set to have their hands full when the newest feature from director Joss Whedon hits theaters next year. Listen to the full James Spader clip here:

    Whedon’s not sticking to hard comic continuity with James Spader’s character – Tony Stark will be Ultron’s creator instead of Hank Pym. He won’t be quite as powerful as he in the comics, either. He will still be wickedly smart and hellbent on wiping out humanity, who he sees as flawed to the point where the only solution is extermination. Sounds delightful…

    It’s been a whirlwind run for James Spader, who’s about to learn what it’s like to juggle a hit TV series like The Blacklist with a major role in one of the biggest comic book franchises around. The actor recently had his first Comic-Con experience, which he describes as "insane."
    "But Comic-Con is the most insane…have any of you ever been to Comic-Con? [Several audience members applaud] Oh, my god, you brave, brave souls. It is crazy. I mean life really can’t get strange enough for me, but I mean it’s the craziest place I have ever been."

    For his first trip to Nerd Mecca, Spader has a pretty good grip on what Comic Con is all about. He tells Fallon how it’s essentially "three days of foreplay" with a payoff that isn’t coming for months or years down the road. He’s right – Comic Con is one of those places where the sizzle is every bit as important as the steak.

    Given that the actor’s character on The Blacklist – a high profile criminal who helps the FBI catch other high profile criminals – and Ultron are big favorites amongst con attendees, it appears likely that Spader will be attending many more conventions in the not too distant future. Hopefully, he learns to embrace the madness.

    Time to start building that Avengers ladder of friendship to beat Ultron.

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    Sept. 22 will mark the 20th anniversary of Friends, quite possibly the best sitcom ever about a group of single 20-somethings trying to make it in the big city. Apart from being just a damn good show, hitting all the right comedic and emotional notes and being filled with enough zingy, fast-paced one-liners to put a Gilmore girl to shame, Friends paved the way for countless like-minded shows to follow suit.

    Friends set the golden standard for TV shows about 20-somethings struggling to figure it all out: love, career, self, life in general. What's more, despite having aired, we repeat, 20 years ago, all the points it made about being a 20-something still ring completely true to this day. Friends got the 20-something life just right. Here's how.

    You have no idea what most of your friends do at work.

    A running gag throughout the entirety of Friends was that none of them had any idea what Chandler did for a living. (Just to clear things up, he was originally an "executive specializing in statistical analysis and data reconfiguration," and later quit to become a copywriter. He was never a "transponster.")

    The Chandler confusion is a pretty accurate representation of how many 20-somethings feel about their friends' jobs. Don't feel too alone when you suddenly realize that you have no freaking idea what most "adults" do between 9 and 5 every day.

    You're going to date a long string of weirdos and losers before finding your lobster.

    And we mean a very long string. Not all of them will be losers; some of them will be perfectly nice, fairly normal people who are perfectly wrong for you. You're going to date them anyway, though, because that's what you do in your 20s. Chandler dated Janice, for far longer than was reasonable. Monica dated "Fun Bobby" who was only fun because he was a raging alcoholic. Phoebe dated a guy who couldn't keep his nuts from hanging out of his shorts. Joey dated a girl who keeps punching him. Ross dated a woman who was really hot but also had a really, really dirty apartment. These are all variations on the same theme: weirdos you're going to sleep with in your 20s before you know better.

    You're going to live with roommates for longer than you'd planned. Much longer.

    When you were a kid, and you imagined yourself as a real, live, certified grown-up, did you picture yourself living with a platonic roommate in an apartment roughly the size of your parents' living room? Not a chance. One big wakeup call when you actually reach your 20s is that not only can you not afford the big, beautiful house you thought you'd be living in at this age, you can't even afford to live in a sixth-floor walk-up shoebox without a roomie to split the rent. Sure, Joey and Chandler and Monica and Rachel lived together for so long because they were BFFs ... but also because they probably couldn't afford not to.

    You might fall in love with a gay guy (or girl).

    And they're not going to love you back, and you're going to have to come to terms with that. It happens. This happened to both Ross and Phoebe, to different degrees. Ross' first wife, Carol, realizes she's a lesbian when she meets Susan at the gym, and goes on to have an affair that turns into a marriage. Phoebe married a gay Canadian ice skater. Okay, okay, she did it to help him get his green card, but that's a thing adults have to deal with too! Getting married so you can cross country lines? Very 20-something issue to deal with.

    You might never earn your parents' approval, and it turns out that's okay.

    People spend a lot of their young lives trying to live up to who they think they're expected to be. A whole lot of that self-imposed expectation often comes from their parents. When you hit your groove in your late 20s and start making life choices for you and not for the you you think you're supposed to be (see: No. 1), it suddenly gets easier to distance yourself from familial expectations.

    It took some of the Friends characters longer to get there than others. Monica spent many seasons trying to earn the approval of her stuck-up mother and went fairly crazy doing it. But guess what? It was all good, because, in the end, Monica finally realized that the only person she had to impress was herself. It's a good day when you have that particular "aha" moment. (Spoiler alert: Sometimes this doesn't happen until your 30s. Be patient.)

    Friends really are the family you choose.

    This is never more true than when you're living in a city far from home, sometimes on a different coast or even continent and you're still single. In the weird, figuring-it-out in-between time that is all of your 20s (sorry, it really is), the carefully curated group of close friends you choose to spend your time with really does serve as your makeshift family. And sometimes, that family is just as good (or better!) than the one you were born into.


    Let's celebrate the show anniversary with the quotes, the gifs, the stories, and everything you got, ONTD!

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    *Lilian Garcia sang the National Anthem while Mark Henry cried

    *After being declared winner of the match, Seth Rollins issued an open challenge. Dean Ambrose shows up in a yellow cab and proceeds to fuck shit up. Elbow drops everybody.

    *After hitting Brock with a 4th AA, Cena covered him until Rollins interfered. He took out Cena, hit Brock with the curbstomp, then proceeded to cash in his MITB briefcase. However, before he could get back in the ring, he was attacked by Cena. The bell did not ring, therefore Seth's cash in was not valid. Show ends with Cena laid out after an F5 by Brock. has posted an update on Roman Reigns noting he underwent successful hernia surgery, and will be missing approximately 4-6 weeks of in-ring action, but according to Dr. Chris Amann, closer to 6 weeks due to the severity of the injury.

    BleacherReport, Roman's Twitter , Wrestlezone and my TV

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    Despite what you might believe, the problem isn’t that female superheroes are oversexualized in comics and on film — no, according to Fox & Friends, it’s they’re not being sexualized enough.


    In a particularly odd segment of Sunday’s show that frequently tipped into full-on parody, co-host Clayton Morris began by worrying that test footage from Genndy Tartakovsky’s animated Popeye movie signifies the “wussifying” of the classic character, as he doesn’t sport his iconic pipe and tattoos.

    “Of course, they’re wussifying,” assured co-host Tucker Carlson. “Nothing is scarier to a modern liberal than tobacco. If Popeye were driving around giving the morning-after pill to fourth-graders, that would be totally fine. But smoking a pipe, a symbol of freedom and masculinity in America itself, the reason this country exists, tobacco, that’s like, ‘Oh, that’s outrageous. That’s a major sin.’”

    Anna Kooiman, the third part of the Fox News trinity, brought up the specter of smoking and lung cancer, but her co-hosts had little time for that, as masculinity was being assaulted from still another front: The introduction of a female Thor, which made headlines, oh, two months ago.

    “If you think that’s bewildering,” Carlson offered by way of segue, “take a look at this: This is Thor. Now you may notice something a little different. Popeye lost something, Thor has added something — a couple of them. We’ll see if you can notice what they are.” (Hint: He’s talking about breasts.) “That’s the new, bustier Thor on the left, because Thor is now a chick!”

    After a bit of hand-wringing from Kooiman about the character’s name — why not “Thorita” or “Thorella,” for goodness sake? — and that we’re “worrying about gender equality so much and being so politically correct that this is what we’re getting,” Morris asked, “Do we have to cram a female version into every male version of a character? We had this in the ’70s, of course — Spider-Woman, we had.”

    Yes, those wussified ’70s, when, as you might recall, the introduction of Jessica Drew nearly deprived the country of the Reagan Era.

    But that brought Fox & Friends to the real tragedy: that Gal Gadot in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice won’t be wearing the same costume Lynda Carter did four decades ago — a costume that Morris remembers with more than just a twinge of nostalgia.

    “Now in the comic book — take a look what they’ve done to Wonder Woman in the comic books now,” said Morris, barely recovered from his Spider-Woman flashbacks. They’ve taken her from that beautiful, you know, the short-shorts, like you might wear roller-blading, I don’t know, and they’ve stuck her in a pantsuit like she’s on her way to an accountant’s office.” It’s worth noting the Fox & Friends crew was lamenting Jim Lee’s 2010 costume redesign.


    “Y’know, some people would say this is an important thing that we’re not sexualizing these women so much, right?” Kooiman said in a tone that suggested she’s probably not among those people, before immediately agreeing with Morris — “Come on, Thor doesn’t have a shirt on!” — that male superheroes are also sexualized.

    That gave Carlson, who’d already attempted to link a pipe-less Popeye to liberalism, his opening to take an out-of-left-field jab at Islam. “That’s a good Islamic point I think you’re making. We should cover them,” he told Kooiman. “We should cover the women because, otherwise, it just incites the men. It’s immodest, as we say in the Sharia.”

    Morris, however, couldn’t be bothered with scoring political points; his mind was preoccupied with boyhood fantasies.

    “I wanna see Wonder Woman in that outfit,” he declares. “Is it wrong for me to say I want to see that? I want to see Wonder Woman in the original short-shorts and the halter top. Is that wrong of me? … I mean, if you’ve got the body, flaunt it. That’s what I always say.”


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    wut is dis shit omW... papi looks good tho!!!!

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    Why does a scene with Caroline and her mother have to turn into a scene all about Elena and how she's lost the most people (ignoring the fact that Jeremy is the character who has lost the most loved ones)?

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    Following its premiere at the Venice Film Festival, Radius picked up North American rights to the horror thriller Goodnight Mommy (Ich Seh Ich Seh). Wanna take a gander at what got them so excited? Check out this new trailer!

    Directed by Austrian filmmakers Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala, the creepy movie takes place in an isolated home and centers on a pair of twins whose mother returns home from the hospital. But with a bandaged-up face and off-kilter behavior, the twins begin to think that perhaps this isn’t their mother after all.

    Real-life twins Elias Schwarz and Lukas Schwarz star. Radius plans a 2015 release.


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    The quack attack is back!

    Fans of Disney's cult hockey classic "The Mighty Ducks" are skating figure eights at the sight of the movie's cast (who also starred in its sequel "D2: The Mighty Ducks") reuniting 20 years after the sequel's release.

    Marguerite Moreau, who played Connie, shared photos of their informal reunion this weekend on Instagram, which quickly went viral:

    Fans got to see the infamous "Flying V" formation — minus the ice, hockey sticks and pucks — and got a look at Connie and Guy back together again.

    Shaun Weiss, who played Greg "Goldie" Goldberg, showed he'd finally shed the baby weight and those signature chubby cheeks as he posed beside the original poster for the film.

    Sadly, there was no sighting of team captain Charlie Conway, played by Joshua Jackson, or Coach Gordon Bombay (Emilio Estevez). But with two years to go until the 20th anniversary of "D3: The Mighty Ducks," we're holding out hope that we'll soon see the whole team get back together.

    You guys, The Mighty Ducks came out 22 yrs ago; we're all getting oldddd. Who had a crush moreso on Emilio Estevez than any of the kids on the team? Just me? Oh, ok.


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    Jennifer Lawrence and Chris Martin spotted together for the first time as they jet back to LA after iHeart Radio Festival in Las Vegas

    more pics + the DM's annoying journalism at the src

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    Actress Jessica Chastain at the photocall of her new movie "The Disappearance of Eleanor Rigby" at the Aquarium during the 62nd San Sebastian International Film Festival on September 23, 2014 in San Sebastian, Spain.


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    At 71, Billy Connolly is as irrepressible as ever - no matter what life throws at him. He talks candidly about his dark childhood, illness, and the loss of his friend Robin Williams

    On the plane over to New York to meet Billy Connolly I watched his documentary series Billy’s Big Send Off about death and funerals, which he was making before he got diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease, deafness and prostate cancer. It happened all in the same week. He has now had the all-clear from cancer, wears tiny hearing aids, and the Parkinson’s is still there. It creeps along, he says. It’s the slow-developing sort.

    We meet at Connolly’s management office in Chelsea. He is looking surprisingly chipper: embroidered shoes, a white dotty shirt, and interesting jewellery – skulls, and a giant beautiful ring with the half-elephant-half-man Hindu god Ganesh. His shaggy hair is slightly less shaggy. It was cut and dyed blond for a film (Wild Oats) where he plays Shirley MacLaine’s con-man toyboy. But more of that later.

    Connolly is jovial, smiley, and extremely fresh faced. It would make a better story to say he was bravely battling his inner darkness but he doesn’t seem dark at all. I wondered if the series about death, the soon to be seen Who do You Think You Are? (Connolly is very moved by the story of an ancestor who was an alcoholic syphilitic soldier) meant he’d begun to think about his legacy? He shrugs: “No, it just appealed to me. I was attracted to Who do You Think You Are? because I saw that man who does very harsh political interviews on it and he cried on it.” Does he mean Jeremy Paxman? “Yes, Jeremy Paxman.”

    There’s no sign of Connolly’s Parkinson’s. He doesn’t visibly shake or walk oddly but he sometimes forgets the names of people. He insists he had a really bad memory for things like that anyway.

    He is soon to be in a very sweet and funny movie from the makers of Outnumbered, What We Did on Our Holiday, in which he plays a dying grandfather swarming with little children who adore him and who believe he has Viking heritage. “I die in almost every movie I’m in,” he says. “My children are sick of it. And then I did the documentary about the business of death. I think it’s just my age.”

    Was he trying to prepare himself by embracing death to confront it and somehow take away the fear? “No, no, no, not at all. I had the idea long before the diagnosis. I like graveyards. All these years I’ve been on the road I’d often find myself in graveyards reading some of the stones. There are lots of lovely poems. It’s very entertaining. It’s changing. You get a lot of Teddy Bear gravestones now for kids. Then you get Forever Young, and they’re usually the junkies.”

    He’s very matter of fact about it. In What we did on Our Holiday we see his character grasp the frailty of life, rebelling against taking his heart pills. After the incredible week of diagnoses over a year ago, he must have been floored. I heard he had to be talked back into ever working again.

    “That’s right. I kind of stopped. It wasn’t shock, it was bewilderment. It’s a lot to take in in one week. I’ve got my hearing aids in, look.” I do look behind a luxuriant curl and see the small hearing aid. “I was disappointed in myself because I’ve always said if a doctor tells me I’ve got cancer the first thing I’m going to do is get 20 fags and start smoking again. I didn’t. It never crossed my mind to start drinking again either.”

    Connolly hasn’t had a drink in 30 years, since he met his wife, former Not the Nine O’Clock News comedian turned psychologist, New Zealand-born Pamela Stephenson. He became a lot less wild and a lot more gentle. “When I got the diagnosis I felt like everything was being snatched away, that I was being tested by some sadist.”

    Instead of working less, he worked more. This year, as well as What We Did on Our Holiday, he will have the third Hobbit film coming out and later this month will embark on a stand-up tour of Scotland. He says it’s not in defiance: “It just happened that way.”

    He has lived in New York for eight years, and before that he had a house in Los Angeles. When he moved he didn’t bring any of the furniture with him. He doesn’t believe in getting attached to pieces of furniture; it’s the Buddhist in him. “I do get attached to some things; my instruments. I suppose there might be a chair or two that I miss. I have another house in Gozo, a wee island off Malta. There might be a jacket I miss and then I’ll remember it’s in another house.”

    He also says, “If you are on the road too long you become a fanatic for your shoes because you can only take three pairs with you, otherwise you have to be Arnold Schwarzenegger to carry your bag through the airport, so you begin to miss all your shoes.

    “I will tour Scotland, England and Wales, and Ireland separately. Otherwise it will begin to feel that you were born on the road. After you’ve been three months on the road you feel there’s no sense in putting yourself through that and schlepping all this stuff around. You miss various shirts as well.”

    Does he miss Pamela too? “Yes. She’s in Australia just now. She is directing a show she’s written about a Brazilian dance called Brazouka.”

    Stephenson became obsessed with dance after her appearance in 2010 on Strictly Come Dancing. Does he ever dance with her? “I can tango. Or at least I try my very best and I can do Scottish dancing, various little reels. There’s nothing better than having all my friends over and dancing. “When we had the house in Scotland, which we sold this year, there used to be a huge living room and friends from America and various pals would all have a big dance on a Sunday night. I’d get the local band in. And there’s nothing better than seeing American Jewish guys in kilts. It’s very good for you.

    He also loves to go trout fishing. “I don’t kill them or eat them unless we’re camping. I just like the fishing. My son Jamie is a better fisherman than me. I used to do a show called Fly Fishing the World, and one time I asked if I could bring Jamie along. They interviewed him and asked how is it fishing with your dad? And he said, ‘Everyone should fish with their dad because fishing takes such a long time, the daddy stuff is good for about an hour and after that you have to really talk to each other, so I got to know my father quite well.’”

    Connolly is beaming from ear to ear as he says this. Was he not close to his children growing up? “I was, but I was like every other dad, out at work, because that’s your duty. I get tired of all these people saying I missed the kids growing up because I was working. Well, that’s your function. Whether you’re hunting deer in an African village, planting wheat on a farm somewhere, you’re the dad, you go out to work.”

    He has two children, Jamie and Cara, from his first marriage to Iris Pressagh (from 1969 to 1985). While they were growing up, he was constantly on tour. First with his folk band the Humblebums with Gerry Rafferty, and then as a comedian. Does he regret being away so much? “No. Well. No. It’s foolish to regret anything. I learnt the past doesn’t exist. Once you get that into your head you can stop carrying that burden, especially if you’ve come through something bad, some kind of abuse situation or something like that.

    “You’ll see people on talk shows, some mother with a child, saying to the host he has ruined her life. And that would be embedded into the child’s mind. But it’s not like that. I might come from a dark place but that doesn’t make me dark.”

    His mother left home when he was three years old, abandoning him to be looked after by his two aunts Mona and Margaret, who mostly humiliated him. His father abused him, as was revealed in Stephenson’s biography of her husband. Yet he bears no malice, no flicker of pain, not even a hint of anxiety.

    Did he not miss his mother when she left him in the hands of his two almost fairy-tale-like wicked stepmothers? “Aye, well, if you’re truthful to yourself you don’t remember anyway. I miss the vague shadowy memory of this woman. I met her again when I was older and I thought if you loved your mother automatically you would know. There was no automatic. I suppose you’d have to work at it like everything else. I was in her home town. She was always there.

    “You can make these judgments from a distance, but you have to understand my mother was a teenager when she had me and there was a war on. My father was away in India and she was a teenager living in a slum with two small kids. Give her a break. From the outside it’s easy to say good, bad, black, white. But it wasn’t like that. You have to understand the class they came from, the religion they came from. This hugely complex thing that this teenager was trying to deal with.”

    Were the aunts ever kind to him? “Sometimes. They had their moments.” Was one nicer than the other? “Yes. One was bullied by the other. They were like Whatever Happened to Baby Jane?”

    And his father came back from the war and became sexually abusive? “Yes,” he says. And there’s a silence which isn’t really a sticky or emotional silence, it’s indicative of his desire not to dwell on it. “There were loads of guys like me,” he continues. “You only hear from the ones who get hold of the microphone. You have to put it behind you. You don’t have any choice. If you don’t, you are condemned to be defined by it and carry it around like a big rucksack full of rocks. Nobody tells you, you can put it down and walk away, but you can.”

    Does he forgive his father? He looks at me as if there was nothing to forgive. “He was a very generous, nice guy. A big lonely man. We used to sail a wee yacht on Victoria Park. Push it into the pond and sail it about. He’d take me to the Barras Market, which was like a kasbah. He bought me my first country and western record, by Slim Whitman. It was called Dear Mary. He thought it was a holy one, a hymn to Mary Mother of God, but it wasn’t.” And he starts to sing Dear Mary. It’s a plaintive, sad, lonesome country song.

    Was his father nice and abusive at the same time? “Yes.” Was he a drinker? “Yes.” Does he think that’s why? “I try not to lean on that. I don’t want it to define me.” Perhaps that’s what attracted him to Who do You Think You Are? He wanted to find other things to define him, or feeling his age more than he lets on, he needed to know where he came from in order to know where he was going to.

    Connolly’s Wild Oats co-star MacLaine is a big believer in past lives. Did they talk about that on set? “Oh she’s very smart with all that stuff, but a space cadet. We talked a lot about sex. We talked a lot about everything.” Demi Moore is also in the movie. “She is an absolute delight,” he says. “We were mates. In the way that women feel OK with gay guys you can do that as a straight guy when you are 71.”

    His complexion is flawless – he doesn’t look 71. “I don’t behave 71 and I don’t have 71-year-old friends, although I’ve noticed some changes recently like some mornings I have to get up and stretch and it didn’t use to be like that.” Does that make him think of his various illnesses? “The cancer is OK. They took out the prostate gland. I have got no sperm but sex is OK. Everything is fine. You just have an orgasm but nothing happens. Nobody has to sit in a damp patch.

    “The Parkinson’s, I feel the effect of it every day. Sometimes I can’t play my banjo as well as I used to because my left hand doesn’t move as well as it did. It’s better when I’m in a hurry because I’m less aware of it, but I refuse to be defined by it. I just get on with life despite this being another bump in the road.”

    I wonder why his tour is only Scotland. We're speaking before the result of the referendum is known, so I wonder: is it a statement about Scottish independence? “I made the decision ages ago never to speak about Scottish independence during this referendum,” he says carefully. “I don’t want to be one of these showbusiness guys telling people how to vote. It’s too important for anyone in showbusiness to put their oar in. I have a much bigger regard for the Scottish people than that. It’s not Mel Gibson with stories of ‘Freedom!’ ” He mocks the movie Braveheart. “No matter how it goes the government could be the same f------ carpetbaggers.”

    With that he asks for another cup of tea to draw a line under the subject. Does he talk to his wife every day? “No. We just talk from time to time.” He says he enjoys being separate and then being together again.

    Did he find it weird that she wrote his biography? “No, it was lovely. Very easy. We would just lay in bed in the dark and she would ask me impertinent questions and I would talk. I would always joke around and say, ‘Be nice to me. I’ve got abandonment issues.’ ”

    Is that because all comedians are essentially dark? There’s always tears in the clowning? “That sort of thing is mostly said by dull people who would like that to be the truth. I know plenty of happy comedians.” Really, who? “I was going to say Robin Williams.” We both laugh. “He was my pal. He was not always depressed. He was a complicated man, but a beautiful person. He was a joy.

    He gets out his phone and shows me a plethora of Robin Williams photos. In the first one he looks very sad. “No, he’s tired because he’s just come to Scotland and he’s knackered. Look at this one.” He shows me a happier one where they are embracing each other and another where he is wearing a kilt.

    “We used to talk about Parkinson’s a lot. He would call me and we would compare notes. His was early onset, the same as mine. Everybody worries about it. It’s like a mugger following you around.

    “We told each other we loved each other. I told him and he told me many times.”

    Does he think people stopped telling him they loved him? That they assumed he knew he was loved and he didn’t? “I never stopped it and he never stopped telling me. As a matter of fact, I thought afterwards he tried to say goodbye to me, because he got very luvvie towards the end. It’s fanciful but that’s what I told myself. On the last phone call he said, ‘I love you like a brother’ and I said, ‘I know you do’ and he said, ‘Are you sure you know?’ and I said, ‘Yes’. Robin worried about everything.” And it doesn’t seem that Connolly worries about much. “It’s an act,” he says and suddenly gurgles with laughter so you’ve no idea if it is or it isn’t.

    For all his lack of attachment to things, his phone seems to store his entire life. He carries around with him a lot of dead people, pictures of Alex Harvey, the Scottish rock star. As well as pictures of all his children, quite a lot of babies, and his daughter’s poodle.

    He also has photographs of his drawings. There’s one called Wee Purple Flower, which is purple with horns coming out of it. Some of the drawings are cartoonish, others are spooky.

    There are several of people blindfolded, others where they have their entire heads bandaged like a mummy. There’s one where it looks like a woman is knitting, or maybe eating with giant chopsticks: “Maybe she’s drumming. I really don’t know.” He refuses to analyse them as he moves on to show me pictures of all his children.

    “I miss the clatter of children about the house. I miss the mess and the shouting and bawling. ‘He’s got my thing. No he hasn’t.’ I miss all of that.”

    His first wife Iris died “four or five years ago. We were in the right place. We were nice to one another. I never fell out with her. It was just over.

    “I met Pamela and people who are in love don’t fall in love with other people. It’s a complex thing. It’s good to be in a loving relationship. Pamela and I are often not together because we are completely relaxed with each other.

    “Sometimes I dream that I am drunk. I think alcoholics call it a wet dream. I haven’t had a drink for 30 years. And in my dreams I always go: ‘Pamela will be so disappointed with me.’ In my dreams I’m always staggering around trying to get home or drowning. Drowning is about sex I think. I think it’s a reminder that I’m alive.”

    What We Did on Our Holiday is released on September 26. Billy's Who Do You Think You Are? will be shown on BBC One, October 2; Billy's tour begins on September 29, in Aberdeen. See


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    "Can Lady Gaga Do Jazz?"


    When an 88-year-old singer releases a new album, critics usually scrutinize every phrase for signs of wear and tear. But Tony Bennett will get a free pass on his latest release, Cheek to Cheek. Yes, his voice has aged gracefully, and even the little growl in his lower register, more noticeable in recent years, only serves to enhance the emotional impact of his songs. But that’s hardly the reason why his new album of duets will get front-page coverage in the entertainment media.

    His female protégée is the real mystery here. Like Bennett, she is part of the long tradition of Italian-American pop vocalists. Her name is Stefani Joanne Angelina Germanotta. You know her better as Lady Gaga.

    Believe it or not, Lady Gaga is now a jazz singer. I never expected that career move. If you had asked me, a year ago, to predict which pop superstar would release a jazz album, I might have guessed Adele or John Legend, or perhaps Beyoncé. Even Pharrell would have seemed a more likely choice. (Am I the only person who thinks that “Happy” has a jazzy, Les McCann-ish beat?) I’ve viewed Gaga as more a performance artist than a musician. She is certainly a risk-taker and attention-getter, but often for matters of costume, props, and behavior. I never suspected a jazz singer might be lurking behind the meat suit, or inside the large plexiglass egg. Let’s be honest: There is zero jazz content in songs such as “Poker Face” or “Born This Way”—although no shortage of charisma and confidence.

    Yet I’ve occasionally encountered another Lady Gaga, one that can be found in video clips of her at the piano or singing in less heavily produced and choreographed settings. And this young woman has a strong voice and good ear. She conveys a genuine interest in music as music, not just as part of a larger spectacle.

    But can Lady Gaga really sing jazz? Jazz requires more than just hitting notes in tune without digital assistance, but also skills in conversational phrasing, bending and tweaking tones, floating over the beat, and handling a host of other demands in real time that can flummox even highly trained vocalists. You don’t just pick up these abilities overnight. I’ve worked, for example, with classical singers who possess amazing voices, but couldn’t deliver a convincing jazz ballad to save their lives.

    Is Gaga up to this challenge? Can she interpret the works of George Gershwin, Duke Ellington, and Cole Porter with plausibility? Above all, can she trade phrases with Tony Bennett—and not get left in the dust?

    The answer is, somewhat to my surprise: Yes, she can.

    Now as a nitpicking jazz critic, I am not about to go gaga over Ms. Gaga, and will offer up quibbles and caveats about some aspects of her new persona. But I must give this Lady her due. As a jazz singer, she operates at a much higher level than any of us had a right to expect.

    OK, she over-sings at times, and an occasional touch of shrillness enters her voice. But you could say the same about several celebrated jazz divas, for example Diane Schuur, who managed to win a couple of Grammy awards with a voice that could drown out a foghorn. And, in all fairness to Lady Gaga, any singer who matches up with Tony Bennett needs to get loud and assertive. Bennett believes that most songs deserve a big finish, and still—even in his late 80s!—can deliver the goods. You can’t be a shrinking violet and meet him on equal terms.

    Gaga is especially convincing at slower tempos, and this is where weaknesses in phrasing are typically most exposed. Her voice projects an appealing innocence—I never thought I would use that word in regard to a Gaga album!  Listen to her delivery on “But Beautiful” and “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye” for good examples. And at almost every juncture of this album, she communicates a disarming enthusiasm for the music. In truth, this occasionally moves her outside the spirit of the melancholy love lyrics she’s delivering. But most of her interpretative choices are sound, even on a song with challenging psychological depths such as “Lush Life.”


    At this point, I must offer sympathy for all the talented jazz singers who have never had this kind of high-profile platform to show what they can do. When will Susana Raya get a record contract? Why isn’t Sara Gazarek better known? Or the boy wonder Jacob Collier? When will Cécile McLorin Salvant, Kurt Elling, and Gregory Porter rise from the ranks of jazz stars to enjoy genuine crossover fame? I have a little list of 20 or 30 vocalists who deserve a chance to move from the margins of the music world into the mainstream. I can imagine every one of them looking at this Lady Gaga album and asking: “She didn’t pay her jazz dues, so why does she get this chance?”

    On the other hand, I have a hunch that Lady Gaga will pay some heavy dues for this career move. She has already faced complaints that her recent Artpop album was a failure, even though it sold more than 2 million copies. True, compared to the 15 million copies purchased of The Fame at the outset of her career, a measly 2 million-seller represents a serious setback. But how can she come close to even those reduced numbers with a jazz album? Many prominent jazz artists struggle to sell 10,000 units, let alone 10 million. I can’t help but predict that Lady Gaga will lose a fair portion of her audience by aligning herself with such complex songs.

    I won’t go so far as to claim that Lady Gaga is committing career suicide by embracing jazz. But this is clearly a move she is making for personal, rather than economic, reasons. History tells us that commercial artists who abandon the style that brought them fame often find themselves abandoned in turn.

    But who knows, maybe Lady Gaga’s little monsters (as she affectionately calls her fans) will open up their ears and embrace classic jazz. Now that would be a remarkable achievement, even a bigger deal than matching Tony Bennett note for note.

    - Ted Gioia

    Source: The Daily Beast

    Excerpts from Positive Reviews

    This is the album for people who want to like Gaga, if only she would cut the crap and just sing. And that’s what she does here, rather beautifully and with a force that’s less Broadway showstopper and more liberated torch singer. She and Bennett bring out the best in each other. - James Reed (Boston Globe)


    The pairing of these divergent performers was always destined to be spectacular given the respective copious gifts and commanding presence of each of the artists singularly, but a spectacular success or a spectacular failure seemed equally likely since one would be hard-pressed to imagine a more unlikely combination. Yet, as we further analyze the worlds in which each inhabits as well as their biographical histories it becomes more than merely plain to see that the musical marriage of Stefani Germonotta from Manhattan and Anthony Benedetto from Astoria as represented on their new duets album CHEEK TO CHEEK makes much more sense than at first may appear - and produces results sure to shock even the most virulent and dismayed naysayer. CHEEK TO CHEEK is, in a word, cheeky... but, it is also much, much more. - Pat Cerasaro (Broadway World)


    Cheek to Cheek may not be the glittering spectacle we've come to expect from Lady Gaga, but with Tony Bennett's guidance the pair have delivered an authentic and solid jazz record that respects the genre's generous history. Lady Gaga may have toned down the scale of her performance for the record, but her voice and passion for jazz does a tremendous job of taking center stage. 4/5 Stars - Lewis Corner (Digitalspy)


    But it’s Gaga who will benefit most from this album, which has the pair finding joyous common ground as they swing through 11 standards. She has been musically hamstrung by the common assumption that her talent begins and ends with the Auto-Tune switch; Cheek to Cheek reveals the considerable warmth and depth of her voice. She and Bennett play it absolutely straight – there are no radical reboots, just two accomplished vocalists having fun. The ballad Nature Boy is treated with the greatest delicacy – underlit by a haunting flute motif, it provides the album’s primary study in contrasts, with Bennett at his most assured and Gaga at her most vulnerable. They bond best on the uptempo tracks, though, where the 60-year age gap is immaterial. Flirting and ad libbing on Goody Goody, while Bennett keeps it suave, Gaga is a wonder. She should do this kind of thing more often. 4/5 Stars - Caroline Sullivan (the Guardian)


    This is not an attempt, in other words, to dilute jazz traditions for Lady Gaga fans with other musical priorities. To the contrary, "Cheek to Cheek" serves up the real thing, start to finish. If you didn't know the name of the vocalist and the kind of publicity that surrounds her, you'd surely say: Who's that swing singer, and why haven't I heard of her before? Not that Lady Gaga turns in anything remotely resembling scat singing, the wordless improvisations that jazz vocal virtuosos often dispatch, evoking the solo flights of a brilliant trumpeter or saxophonist. But you don't have to excel in scat to be a real jazz singer, as Billie Holiday and Bennett himself proved long, long ago.

    It's a pity that those who get the standard version of the album won't hear Bennett's autumnal reflections in "Don't Wait Too Long" or Lady Gaga's plaintive, Ella-inspired account of Porter's "Ev'ry Time We Say Goodbye." On the other hand, there's no loss in missing "Goody Goody," included on the deluxe version but basically a one-joke routine in which Bennett sings and Lady Gaga speaks.

    But that's the rare misfire in "Cheek to Cheek," which amounts to so much more than a marquee commercial partnership. Lady Gaga and Bennett have created a jazz album that will reach far wider than most and, more important, has something valuable to say. - Howard Reich (Chicago Tribune)


    Tony Bennett could sing standards in his sleep. Luckily, his umpteenth run through the Great American Songbook — this one a PR coup with Lady Gaga — never lapses into the lazy or the rote. Both singers sound stoked by each other’s presence. Their tandem versions of war-horses by Cole Porter, Irving Berlin and Cy Coleman emphasize the swing in the songs. They keep the beat brisk and the arrangements sharp. There’s rarely a hint of loungy contemplation or orchestral lushness in their interpretations. Instead, they emphasize energy. That’s especially nice to hear from Bennett. At 88, he’s not just leaning on his authority. He’s navigating the phrases with agility and pluck. 4/5 Stars - Jim Farber (NYDailyNews)


    Bennett knows the secret of a good duet lies in a contrast of styles, adding the right amount of tempo to the title track and some tit-for-tat exchanges on Jerome Kern’s I Won’t Dance. Refreshingly, without all the electronic bells and whistles that usually submerge her natural talent, Gaga enjoys herself. In fact, Cheek To Cheek serves both singers well. For Bennett, it continues a process of introducing the classics of yesteryear to a younger audience that began with 1994’s MTV Unplugged; for Gaga, it puts music above her desire to shock. And that, perversely, is the most surprising move she has made in ages. 4/5 Stars - Adrian Thrills (DailyMail)


    Perhaps the biggest surprise on the album is Gaga's solo vocal on Billy Strayhorn's ballad "Lush Life," a difficult song that has troubled even the most seasoned jazz-pop singers, including Frank Sinatra. Her lower register is warm and her phrasing is heartfelt. "I went into a zone, and that opened me up and made me realize that what I was doing with the song can't be wrong," she said. "It's jazz." - Marc Myers (WallStreetJournal)


    If you’re like me, you don’t pay much attention to the pop charts. You don’t watch the music channels or listen to the radio so to you, Lady Gaga is a recent (6 years ago) development. If you’re like me, you will also have ignored the irrational hatred and accusations of penis ownership levelled at her and noticed that she has genuine musical and artistic talent and as such wants to prove herself to her naysayers. Perhaps that’s what she’s doing here on this album with Tony Bennett. Or maybe she’s just really successful and can do whatever she wants? For example: record an album with Tony Fucking Bennett. Who knows? Or cares for that matter. If you don’t like Gaga, and only know her from pop music, then you should check this out. Likewise, if you do like Gaga, and only know her from pop music, then you should definitely check this out.
    The cover of the Check to Check may be disturbing as anything, but this easily matches the great male/female duets of the 20th Century. You know the ones where the man and woman seem to love, hate, tolerate, laugh with and ultimately, grudgingly respect one another? Well Gaga and Bennett sound like they’ve known each other all of their lives and their voices help each other surf along, not ride above, the absolutely sublime instrumentation of these jazz standards. 5/5 Stars - Mal Mcginley (CultNoise)


    This is a liberating album for Gaga who shows that she doesn’t need the outlandish meat dresses, voice-altering electric effects and elaborate stage shows to make an impact because her voice stands out on its own. Had she been born in an earlier era, Gaga would have been right at home in an MGM musical. On her solo features, Gaga sings softly and with restraint on Porter’s ballad “Ev’ry Time We Say Goodbye,” and shows her vulnerability in an emotional rendition of Billy Strayhorn’s “Lush Life,” clearly identifying with the song’s theme of loss and heartache.

    The only surprise with Bennett is how vibrant he sounds at 88 with a voice that though raspier than in his early years has matured gracefully like fine wine, taking on more emotional depth, as reflected in his solo numbers, “Don’t Wait Too Long” and Ellington’s “Sophisticated Lady.” - Charles J. Gans (WashingtonTimes)


    And so the pair have delivered 'Cheek To Cheek' - a compelling and intricate collection of 11 or 16 tracks - depending on whether you pick up standard or deluxe - that differ in pace, scale and length, but that all leave a lasting impression.

    'Firefly' for example may be under two minutes long, but it's one of the stand-out moments when Bennett and Gaga's voices come together blending perfectly amongst a rambunctious yet beautiful jazz backdrop.

    They stick closely to the originals rather than tampering with them and making them unrecognisable, and genuinely sound like they're having a fantastic time making good music that does the jazz musicians of past proud. 4/5 Stars - Daniel Falconer (FemaleFirst)


    There are very few things to complain about on "Cheek to Cheek." At 16 tracks, the deluxe edition feels a bit long and Gaga's playful banter on "Goody Goody" conflicts with Bennett's singing. However, Gaga makes up for any slight missteps by delivering the best singing of her career. Early on the recording process, Bennett predicted that Gaga would surprise people with the quality of her voice on "Cheek to Cheek." As is the case with most of the things he's done in his illustrious career, Bennett was absolutely right. A - Troy L. Smith (


    Excerpts from Mixed Reviews

    On Cheek to Cheek, Gaga justifies his faith -- sometimes a bit too forcibly. Whereas Bennett is a master of restraint -- a guy whose best performances play like melodic chat sessions -- Gaga thrives on spectacle. She sings many of these songs with the involuntary hamminess that fuels her flawed genius. Gaga definitely needed Bennett more than he needed her, but both will benefit from this pairing. By all accounts, they had a blast working together, so coming in, it’s best to leave all cynicism with the coat-check girl. As for whether Gaga’s legions of “Little Monsters” will do as Bennett hopes and discover the brilliance of Cole Porter and Irving Berlin, it almost doesn’t matter. Their heroine will emerge from Cheek to Cheek energized and validated, and the real success of the album may be measured by what she does next. 3.5/5 Stars - Kenneth Partridge (Billboard)


    The 28-year-old pop diva has impressive raw material — a supple, textured voice capable of evoking sensuality, tenderness and pain — and she and the 88-year-old Bennett enjoy a playful, sometimes poignant rapport. Yet when contending with her partner's effortless, ageless virtuosity, she seems to try too hard, with her husky upper register sounding strained at times, and her crooning (and occasional chatter) mannered or overstated. Gaga manages a potent (if borderline brassy) solo reading of Lush Life, but it's trumped by Bennett's gorgeously wistful Sophisticated Lady. Give both stars credit, though — the lady for her courage and taste, and the gentleman for recognizing chops and encouraging their refinement. - Elysa Gardner (USAToday)


    Lady Gaga's classical training has always been key to her origin story, so this album with 88-year-old crooner Tony Bennett is no big surprise. Gaga has real chemistry with Bennett (whom she befriended after they performed together at a benefit in 2011) on breezily swinging tunes like Cole Porter's "Anything Goes." Befitting a singer who harnessed vocal firepower on huge club tracks, she sometimes blasts away at these songs rather than relaxing into them. But on challenges like the subtle Billy Strayhorn ballad "Lush Life," the queen of the little monsters more than proves she can be a sophisticated lady too. 3/5 Stars - Jon Dolan (RollingStone)


    Excerpts from Negative Reviews

    On songs like the Cole Porter standard "Anything Goes" and the title track, Gaga sounds like what she thinks a jazz singer should sound like; her performances are blatantly affected, marred by shouting and clichéd phrasing. She displays a total dearth of the vocal precision and enunciation that made her so-called idols the masters they were; her timbre on eden ahbez's "Nature Boy," for instance, is wildly inconsistent, shifting from soft and almost pleasant to parodic and comical, often within just a few short bars. Bennett doesn't fare a whole lot better, his otherwise charming performances strained throughout. The pair's solo efforts, particularly Gaga's clumsy interpretation of Billy Strayhorn's "Lush Life" and Bennett's surprisingly pitchy rendition of Duke Ellington's "Sophisticated Lady," only serve to spotlight their shortcomings. - Alexa Camp (SlantMagazine)


    Lady Gaga lives to rile, but her decision to drop everything to make a straightforward album of jazz standards from the Great American Songbook with Tony Bennett is even more baffling than the time she covered herself with vomit at South by Southwest. Having first partnered up on a cover of “The Lady Is a Tramp” for Bennett’s 2011 “Duets II” album, “Cheek to Cheek” offers more of the odd couple’s takes on relics such as “Anything Goes” and “It Don’t Mean a Thing (If It Ain’t Got That Swing).” What’s most disappointing about the album is how tame it sounds as Gaga, 28, reverts to her undistinguished cabaret days, while Bennett, 88, simply coasts in easy-listening mode. Rather than highlight each other’s wildly distinguishing features, they merely settle on a quiet night at the local jazz club, where the background music is far more exciting than the people singing over it. - Aidin Vaziri (SFGate)





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    From primetime network shows to premium cable prestige-TV hits, we've entered a golden age of small-screen gore

    Maybe you started to notice it last March, when AMC's The Walking Dead featured a zombie's head gets bashed in repeatedly by the butt of a machine gun. Perhaps it was during a key episode of Game of Thrones when the Red Viper, Oberyn Martell, unwisely lets his guard down in a fight — and the result is something that resembles a ripe melon given the Gallagher treatment. Or it could have been the moment on FX's pandemic procedural-cum-horror show The Strain when an airport worker is drained of blood and skull-pummeled until there's nothing left but a red blotch of punctuation on the floor.

    On television shows built for old-fashioned scares (NBC's Hannibal, Showtime's Penny Dreadful) and on those aiming for a little more prestige (Steven Soderbergh's new Cinemax series The Knick, HBO's The Leftovers), scenes of stomach-turning gross-out shocks are increasing. The Knick's surgery scenes are a must-avoid for the squeamish. And on The Leftovers, an often bleak show got even more grim with a close-up depiction of a stoning in its fifth episode, which caused a TV critic at Entertainment Weekly to quit watching.

    For most, though, these scenes are far from a turn-off. Some of the grossest shows on television are both adored and acclaimed: The Walking Dead's previous season premiere was the most-watched hour of cable television ever with 16.1 million viewers, with a separate SportsCenter-style after-show — Talking Dead — devoted to replaying zombie kills like game highlights. HBO's Game of Thrones, which regularly pushes the boundaries in both nudity and violence, was nominated for 19 Emmy nominations for its fourth season, which also featured a grisly death by poison and many body parts hacked away in battle scenes. Even the critical hit Breaking Bad, a much milder show than the aforementioned programs, featured a visceral scene involving bodies after they'd been dissolved in hydrofluoric acid and the severed head of Danny Trejo memorably riding atop a tortoise.

    Alan Sepinwall, an author and TV critic at, says he's noticed an uptick in gore-as-spectacle in the shows he covers. "I've been doing a lot of traveling by airplane lately," Sepinwall says, "and it's been much harder than usual to find screeners of things I can watch without grossing out the person in the seat next to me. I think the effects are easier to pull off [now], but I also think it's a way to get attention. Whether you think The Walking Dead tells its stories well or not, whether you think the characters are compelling or not, no one disagrees about how creative, memorable and graphic the zombie kills are," he said.

    On The Strain, based on a trilogy of novels co-written by filmmaker Guillermo del Toro, the infected vampires are not the shimmery, pretty lovers of Twilight. Rather, they're disgusting, sickly, noseless predators with six-foot proboscises shooting out of their mouths to seek blood. Del Toro, who directed the show's pilot and is hands-on in its production, says he is used to playing in what he calls "closed sandboxes" after years of making movies that required conforming to a PG-13 rating (Pacific Rim) or the limits of an R (Pan's Labyrinth). But he says as far as gore and violence, he's not reined in by the TV network.

    "FX was very clear about frontal nudity, and what profanities you could or couldn't use," Del Toro says. “But when it came to graphic violence, they just said to me, 'Do whatever you feel you need and we'll support you as far as we can.' They never set a limit.”

    The director says his approach to the program's gore was partially inspired by the 1970s series Kolchak: The Night Stalker, which once aired an episode with a rotting corpse attacking gangsters. "It was very realistically rendered," says Del Toro. "It looked like a decomposing corpse. I was absolutely floored as a kid. So now, I'm trying to imagine being a teenager and getting together with my friends to watch The Strain when I'm thinking of what to do on the show."

    Before the series debuted in July, its marketing campaign was already disturbing some: Namely, the giant billboards showing a parasitic worm digging in to an eyeball in extreme close-up. FX pulled the ads; Del Toro called it truth in advertising. "I think people who reacted wrong to the billboards shouldn't watch the show," he says. "It's not for everyone. It's a show that's fun if you like the genre."

    "There was a scene in the books, however, that was just too shocking (to include in the series pilot)," Del Toro admits sheepishly. "Worms were crawling over a victim's legs and digging into the legs and going a little upward and digging in. I said, 'That's too much. We cannot do that.' That would have crossed the boundaries of fun."

    One reason gore has become more pronounced on shows like these is that the makeup and computer effects necessary are easier to pull off and cheaper than in the past. Even on a TV budget, showrunners and producers are working to make a big-screen impression. "We're trying to push the look of the series to look far more expensive than it is," Del Toro says. "We now have cutting-edge makeup effects, cutting-edge digital effects. We couldn't have done it 10 years ago."

    Given that so much of the golden age of television is crimson-tinged and popular shows like the CSI and NCIS shows on CBS keep multiplying like flayed rabbits, it may be that viewers, weaned on the icky examinations of procedurals and premium-cable boundary-pushing, have not only grown accustomed to the shocks and splatter-film excesses of today's gore-filled shows — they now expect and crave such leave-nothing-to-the-imagination thrills.

    "I don't think (viewers) are getting blasé about it, but it's definitely something they look forward to," says Sepinwall. 
Gross sells, and given that The Knick and The Strain have already been renewed for second seasons (the latter stayed above 2 million viewers per week after five episodes, making it a breakout hit for FX), not to mention that further seasons of The Walking Dead and Game of Thrones are waiting in the wings, there should be no shortage of guts and glory hitting your TV screen soon.

    Prepare your stomach.


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    From what we can tell so far, the ladies of Real Housewives of Atlanta Season 7 are firmly split into two teams. On one side you have NeNe Leakes, Porsha Williams, Kandi Burruss, and Phaedra Parks, and on the other side you have Cynthia Bailey and Kenya Moore. The new girls —Demetria McKinney and Claudia Jordan — fall somewhere in between.

    As you may remember from Season 6, Cynthia and NeNe are feuding, as are Kenya and Porsha (we all remember last year’s reunion) and Kenya and Phaedra (text gate). You’d think having not one but two H’wives as enemies would put a damper on the season that’s currently in production, but that’s not the case for Kenya.

    The former Miss USA took part in a Q&A session with her fans late last week, and even though she didn’t reveal much about what we can expect to see this fall, Ms. Moore did provide us with some interesting tidbits. For starters, Season 7 is just as tension-filled as seasons past. When one fan asked Kenya how intense filming for the season has been so far, Kenya implied that things on the Bravo hit are “always intense”.

    But is that a bad thing for Kenya? Not necessarily. Another follower asked Kenya to describe Season 7 so far, and her response came as a bit of a shock to us. “Amazing so far,” she replied, later adding, “#winning LOL.” Like we said, given the state of Kenya’s friendships with multiple cast members, “amazing” isn’t the first word we’d think of, so clearly there’s plenty we don’t know.

    Something that could be contributing to Kenya’s positive outlook on Season 7 is her continued storyline with Phaedra’s husband, Apollo Nida. Last season, Apollo and Kenya were embroiled in a nasty feud after Apollo claimed Kenya was sexting him, but based on intel from a few months ago we have reason to believe that Apollo admitted he never received any sexts from Kenya and even apologized to her for stating otherwise in a scene reportedly filmed for Season 7. If Kenya managed to get an apology from Apollo, she’d certainly be a winner in our eyes, but we’ll have to wait and see how all of this plays out!


    kenya is victorious again! first moose, then porsha, now fakedra & apollo! will her winning streak ever end? the true queen of the franchise

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  • 09/23/14--10:08: Taylor Swift Walking Post
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