by Jac Kern
Jac's roundup of pop culture news and Internet findings
American Idol’s 14th season
premiered last week and if you think you shouldn’t care because Ryan Seacrest
makes you uncomfortable, you are wrong. Well, not about the Ryan Seacrest part — he is
very distracting. Like, why is he still around? How much does he get paid to be
a weirdo to young singers? Is he actually a robot? What really happened to Brian Dunkleman? But you should be excited because Cincinnati’s own Jess Lamb is on it, and
there’s a very good chance she’ll go far in the competition.
I typically don’t watch the
music competition shows like Idol and
The Voice, because witnessing genuine
humans be embarrassed on television really upsets me. But when I heard Jess
Lamb had auditioned and got the golden Hollywood ticket, I had to give the show a
shot. Jess is a great local artist and I camped next to her at Bonnaroo one year, so I'm pretty much famous by proxy.Anyway, at 28 years old, Jess is painted as the mature one of the auditioning bunch, which is
probably going to make you feel like a shriveled French fry at the bottom of a
car. But with her age (seriously, I can’t) comes a breadth of talent and
experience. She writes and performs her own songs but — judging by her
audition — has no trouble with the traditional covers Idol necessitates.
Jess auditioned in Kansas
City, Mo., and got a great reaction from the judges, particularly crooner Harry
Connick, Jr. Check it out:
Auditions will continue
every Wednesday and Thursday for the next couple weeks, so we won’t be seeing
much of Jess again until the final 48 contestants are narrowed down to 24 after
a performance in front of a live audience (this has already been filmed). So, will
Jess make the cut? Idol teased us
with a “look” — or rather, listen — at the top 24. You can hear them sing but
can’t really make out anyone’s face. Judge for yourself.
All I can make out is a Captain Hook-looking dude with dreads. GO JESS.
Remember the uber-sleazy
Gaston from Beauty and the Beast? You
know the song, “No one's slick as Gaston/No one's quick as Gaston/No one does push-ups in the middle of an
amusement park like Gaston…” What? Yes.
Sia’s “Chandelier” girl
is back, and she’s dance-battling in a dirty cage with Shia LaBeouf, which some
people are NOT OK with.
Also, why did I just learn
that the little girl, Maddie Ziegler, is from Lifetime gem Dance Moms?!
Speaking of times when we
all get sucked into Wikipedia holes… Rapper T.I. is basically a suicide prevention
specialist. This isn’t news, but it’s new to me (please don’t ask why I’m Internet-searching
random rappers at night). Seriously, “Rescue of suicidal men” is a sub-section
on his Wikipedia page. In 2010, he stopped a young man from taking his life by
convincing him to not jump off a 22-foot Atlanta building. T.I. heard about the
situation on the radio, drove to the scene and asked police if there was
anything he could do to help. Pretty incredible. But before that, in 2006, T.I. discovered a struggling Scott Stapp
after the Creed frontman had jumped over his hotel balcony (whether this was a suicide
attempt or the result of insomniac hallucinations varies in reports). Can
we have T.I. intervene on Scott Stapp again please? Side note: Awesome reality
show idea. For real, though, dude seems like he needs it.
On a lighter note, here’s a
Larry David Lynch blog!
Parks and Recreation’s final season premiered last night. Jurassic World will be unleashed into theaters this summer. Chris
Pratt stars in both. Relevant:
American Crime Story casting news! If you recall, Ryan Murphy is spinning off on his American Horror Story miniseries
franchise with a true crime series. The idea is to explore a different criminal
case in American history each season, like how each AHS season explores fear and freaky folklore in a different arena.
The series’ debut will focus on the O.J. Simpson trial. Cuba Gooding, Jr.will play O.J., David "Forever Ross" Schwimmer will play Robert Kardashian and John Travolta will play Robert Shapiro. So much wut.This dog takes a bus to the
dog park and knows to get off at the appropriate stop — alone — which is more than I can
say about myself.
The Golden Globes, a.k.a Amy
‘n’ Tina’s Sleepover Party, were Sunday. The duo kicked ass in their final
hosting gig, don’t get me wrong, but overall the show left me wanting something
more exciting. Maybe it was the fact that the awards were so spread out. There
were big winners, for sure (Transparent,
Boyhood), but there were a lot of new
winners (which yields heartfelt but otherwise boring speeches) and no one show
or film truly swept.
If anything, it gave me a
bunch of new movies and shows to add to my watch-list. Peep the nominees and
winners here, if
you care, but the best part of the production was the monologue.
TinAmy were perfection. They
even killed it with a Cosby rape joke that certainly shook up the audience. Nothing
like seeing rich, famous celebrities panic over whether it’s OK to laugh.Other notes:
Leelah Alcorn — the local
transgender teen who took her own life earlier this month — got a shout out
from Transparent creator Jill Soloway.
The stars of Fifty Shades of Grey couldn’t muster enough chemistry to present an award, so that’s probably not a good sign…
George Clooney got a
lifetime achievement award and said nice things about his new wife.
Chrissy Teigen ugly-cried
when husband John Legend accepted an award with Common.
And that’s about it! Of
course, the Oscars are the pinnacle of awards season, and those nominees will
be announced Thursday.
by Jac Kern
Jac's roundup of pop culture news and Internet findings
The Internet is a scary place, and anyone who’s browsed 4chan can attest
to that. But this creepy technological web can connect strangers and answer
questions, often with unexpected results. The latest example: Jenna Jameson
exchanged an unverified story and super sad, semi-nude pics for information
about her former agent who Jameson said turned out to be a con man and is sabotaging her
online presence. She was given the man’s phone number, address, social security
number, credit score an more private information within the hour. Cool?
David Lynch fans will likely recall the last episode of Twin Peaks, where Laura Palmer tells Agent
Cooper she’ll see him in 25 years. Peaks
took place in 1989, which means she was referring to this year — 2014. Hence,
Lynch is filming new episodes of the cult series, as evidenced by a Twin Peaks casting call.
It’s always exciting to see Cincinnati on the big screen — not just a
mention, but actual shots of the city. It’s certainly not the most exotic
locale, and many scenes of a Cincinnati-based movie could probably be
replicated in a Hollywood studio. So movies that do make the trip Midwest tend
to be very special to locals. Rain Man, Traffic and The Ides of March all brought a spotlight and stars to the Queen
City. Next up: Cate Blanchett and
Rooney Mara make their way to Cincinnati this spring to film Carol. Based on the Patricia Highsmith
book also known as The Price of
Salt, the movie will be set in 1950s New York City, but shot exclusively in
Cincinnati. Blanchett and Mara in vintage garb, traipsing around town?
Celeb-stalking will be in full force, #ClooneyWatch style. Read more here.
In case you missed it, Shia LaBoeuf has lost his damn mind. Exhibit A.
But, due to my undying love of Louis Stevens, I still anticipate seeing his
wiener (again) in Nymphomaniac.
We’re a week into 2014 but, judging by the proliferation of “best of”
articles and continued obligatory year-end reflection posts on Facebook, it
appears most people are still in #RIP2013 mode — so we’re going to follow suit.
Now that our marathon New Year’s hangover has passed (and since awards season
doesn’t kick off until this week's People’s Choice Awards and Golden Globes), let’s look back at some of the highlights — and low points — of 2013.
The most photographed location on Instagram was a Bangkok mall; the most “popular” is this shot of Will Smith and the Biebs, with more
than 1.5 million likes.
A sacrifice to the Xenu gods? No such luck.
Moving on to Twitter, the most re-tweeted post was a somber one — Lea
Michele of Glee’s photo of herself with boyfriend Cory Monteith, who died of
a drug and alcohol overdose in July.
A close second was the announcement of actor Paul Walker’s death in
OK, enough with the sads! The most illegally downloaded artist of the
year was Bruno Mars. Not sure whether that means he’s even more popular than his record sales show,
or if people are just really ashamed to buy a Burno Mars album. Either way, the
guy who penned, the exquisite phrase, “You
and me baby making love like gorillas,” will be performing at
halftime during next month’s Super Bowl. Good luck topping last year’s!
During awards shows and in end-of-the-year roundups, we often take a
moment to remember people that have passed away. Since just looking at that
Cory Monteith photo makes me want to sob and hide in a room full of Pug puppies and
body pillows, actual real humans are out of the question. So, as a variation of
this trend, let’s look back on some of the important TV characters we lost this
Game of Thrones
After the main protagonist of Game
of Thrones, Ned Stark, was shockingly beheaded in the first season, audiences
quickly learned any character on the series could find themself chopping block
at any time. But who (besides, of course, those who’ve read A Storm of Swords) would expect Ned’s
widow and oldest son to join him so quickly — and in such a terrifying fashion? The episode “The Rains of Castamere” brought the
merciless death of Catelyn and Robb Stark plus Robb’s wife, Talisa, their
unborn baby and direwolf Grey Wind, in addition to at least a dozen others at the "Red
Wedding" alone. Earlier in the season, Ros — one of my favorite “working ladies”
on television — fell victim to the insufferable Joffrey. While she played a much
smaller role than the Starks, her death was heartbreaking and shocking. You’ll
all be missed!Boardwalk Empire
A Prohibition gangster drama is bound to rack up a serious body count. For
some of the historically-based characters, like Al Capone, viewers have a
pretty good idea about how long they will last. The fictional characters, however,
can meet their maker at any point. While I’m still not over Jimmy and Angela’s
demise, Boardwalk fully crushed my
heart by having Richard Harrow go out in a completely un-badass style. Harrow
was more than just a talented sniper with half a prosthetic face. He was a hero
in the show. He killed — a lot — but usually only the true bad guys, and often
to protect others. He was sensitive and strong, but slipped in his final
scenes, accidentally killing Chalky’s daughter instead of his target, Narcisse.
As soon as he missed the shot, I knew he was done for — Harrow, by definition,
always hits his mark! Sure enough, after a dream sequence in which Harrow
reunited with his family, we were jolted back to reality to find the wounded
war vet dying peacefully under the boardwalk. The show will go on, but won’t
have the same heart without him.Dexter
Oh, Debra. I never much cared for Dexter’s little sis — the phony fowl
mouth act just rubbed me the wrong way. But she definitely played an important
role in the series, especially once she found out about her brother’s “dark
passenger.” Dexter seriously declined
after its fourth season, and this final one was a doozy. But it still didn’t
prepare us for Deb’s death. After surviving a shot to the stomach, Deb appears
to be recovering at a hospital. While Dexter was busy chasing down his sister’s
shooter, Deb’s health turned for the worse, leaving her brain-dead. As a
hurricane hits Miami, sending the hospital staff into a frenzy, Dex is able to
pull the plug on his sister — sure she would not want to continue on in a
vegetative state at a hospital for the rest of her days — and takes her body on
his boat, to be whipped into the stormy sea. It seems like Deb and Dex died
together in the water, until we meet up with a bearded, lumberjack Dexter in
some mysterious woodsy locale, living in solitude. The fuh?
The Walking Dead
The Walking Dead killed off a number of significant characters between the end of Season
Three and first half of Season Four this year. Andrea, who once shared a bed
with the Governor, ended up dead because of him. The Gov. hunted and captured
Andrea after she attempted to run away to her group at the prison. Trapped in a
torture chamber with the ticking time-zomb™ that was Milton, Andrea was unable
to protect herself from a deadly bite. Michonne made it to her BFF Andrea’s
side, only in time to put her down before she turned. And, after making an anticipated
return to the show, Merle also fell victim to the Governor. His brother, Daryl,
was tasked with killing zombie-Merle in a super-sad scene.
The Governor’s path of terror finally came to an end at the prison, but
not before he was able to take out Hershel (the closest thing the group had to
a doctor, not to mention Maggie and Beth’s father and the sweetest one-legged
man to make it in the apocalypse). The villain was finally taken down in a big
shoot-out between his group and Rick’s, which left all the survivors in
disarray. Also, baby Judith is MIA, probably in a zombie’s belly. :(Breaking Bad
I made up my mind early on that Walter White needed to die at the end of
Breaking Bad in order for the story to retain its authenticity. Walt got into
the meth business in order to pay for his medical costs and provide ample
support for his family if and when he succumbed to cancer. We all know he stuck
with the game for so long because, as he finally admitted in the finale, he
liked it. He was good at it. “I did it for me,” he tells Skyler in their final
scene. Most fans probably expected Walt to die, and he did so in a truly epic
fashion, while protecting Jesse. His brother-in-law Hank also went out like a
champ, after a brutal desert showdown. The saddest death of all was the end of
the show itself, but Breaking Bad will
surely stand the test of time as one of the greatest American dramas.
Talk about a surprise ending! After breaking free from countless
near-death experiences, Nicholas Brody was captured and killed. Viewers got a taste of a Brody-less Homeland this season, as the character
was on the lam and not present in much of this season. But the show was so much
better with Brody in it — somehow, he balanced Carrie’s cray, despite the fact
that he was a damaged man who flipped every chance he got. This death gives the
show an opportunity to take a completely new route. Hopefully we’ll still check
in on his family (am I the only one who still cares about them?) but
we’re definitely going to have a little bit of Brody in the form of his child
with Carrie. How a fetus could survive the stress, cigs and booze she put it
through proves that this is definitely a Marine baby.
by Mike Breen
Queen gets denied by MTV and Angelo Badalamenti is a soundtracking genius
On this day in 1984, Rock legends Queen started filming the music video for their song, "I Want to Break Free." Queen was a band that embraced the concept of music videos early on. The current Spectacle exhibit at the Contemporary Arts Center, about the history of music videos and where it's at today, cites the band as a vanguard act of the video age thanks to early clips for songs like "We Will Rock You"/"We Are the Champions" and, especially, "Bohemian Rhapsody." By 1984, MTV was finding its legs and providing an outlet for new clips by artists; in the early days, the network had little to chose from to fill 24 hours a day with vids, so they played anything available, including those early Queen clips. The "I Want to Break Free" video featured the band members dressed as women in a parody of suburban life and British evening soap operas. The clip had Freddie Mercury decked out in a short skirt, tight sweater, big falsies, a wig and that trademark mustache, running the vacuum cleaner. It also featured Mercury in his more familiar uniform — leather pants, no shirt and that trademark chest hair — and classic ’80s music video elements like choreographed dancers prancing in the haze from a smoke machine. The clip was well received (and the single did well) in the U.K., but not so much in the U.S., thanks in part to MTV's decision to "ban" it from the network (a clear sign they were becoming less desperate for music clips to air now that everyone was starting to make them). It wouldn't run on the network until 1991. Cross-dressing had become fairly common in Rock & Roll by that point. The Rolling Stones, New York Dolls and David Bowie had all playfully donned women's clothing for album covers, live shows, videos and photo shoots. For some weird, unclear reason, Queen weren't allowed to indulge in that bit of cheeky humor — perhaps because Mercury was a rare "out" gay man in the public eye during a time when AIDS had so many people in a panic (Mercury told NME in 1974, "I am as gay as a daffodil, my dear." I'm assuming NME said back, "No shit.") Straight or bi guys in drag were cool with MTV, apparently, but if the cross-dresser is gay … well, God forbid anyone in the U.S. be exposed to that. Kind of odd to think of MTV playing moral watchdog given the tripe of reality-exploitation shows about teen moms and drunken boneheads that infest the channel. And they play videos by that transvestite Lady Gaga all the time. (Note: I've been informed that Lady Gaga is not a transvestite, but actually a woman. My apologies to Ms. Gaga, her fans and her family.) Below is a cool, hour-long documentary on Queen from the BBC called Days of Our Lives. At about the 21 minute mark, the film addresses the "Break Free" controversy. Guitarist Brian May seems to believe the banning of the video by MTV killed Queen's chances of bigger success in the states during those latter years (he doesn't mention that the song was also not very good). Queen remains an important band to many Rock fans and musicians, their influence more evident in some of the music of today's younger artists' music than it has been for decades (think Foxy Shazam or My Chemical Romance). The "Break Free" clip follows to doc. Weirdly, the version posted on the official Queen YouTube page is labeled as unsuitable for certain audiences and requires users to sign in to view it. Seems people are still incredibly afraid of a man in a leather dress, fake tits and giant hot pink earrings. (It sure didn't hurt Rudy Giuliani's career.) Click on for Born This Day featuring Shatner, Stephanie Mills and Angelo Badalamenti.