While laying beside her husband and William Morris big-wig agent Jim Toth, Reese Witherspoon complained about the lack of substantial roles for women in Hollywood, and her husband pushed her to make a change. He reminded her that she loves to read, and she has a production company, and she’s perfectly capable of carving her own path. And that she did. What began with Wild, soon became Gone Girl and now . . . Big Little Lies — her best yet.
Big Little Lies proves something very powerful. Women are perfectly capable of leading the pack, and they can do it sans testosterone. In fact, though the men in the story have a minor contribution, they are mere pawns for their female players. Those players include, Reese Witherspoon, Nicole Kidman, Laura Dern, Shailene Woodley, and Zoe Saldana. Nicole plays Celeste, a victim of abuse at the hands of her husband, with whom she can’t seem to leave. Of all the performances, hers is by far the most nuanced, proving once again why Kidman deserves endless praise and also why movie actors should flee to television. Cinema isn’t the same, and this is the role of a lifetime. Reese Witherspoon plays Madeline, an all-too-perfect type A divorcee whose new husband found happiness with her zen-like opposite, and even a sweet new spouse and child of her own can’t contain the scorn. Laura Dern is at her best as Renata. Though Dern has less scenes, she steals them. Her mamma-bear insanity is deliciously alarming. Shailene plays Jane, and I can only imagine that it’s a play on her plain Jane performance. While her dull demeanor was likely intentional, I couldn’t help but think she was punching above her weight beside these powerhouses. Zoe Saldana was also understated as Bonnie, but unlike Shailene, she played well inside her lane.
With a beautiful backdrop of Monterey, captivating characters, and a murder mystery, we’ve got a deeply addictive masterpiece. This could have easily veered into Bad Moms territory and made us say #WhitePeopleProblems, but instead–we identify with these deeply flawed women whose quest for perfection is so penetrable. With each episode, we learn more about their hidden lives, and since I’d like you to watch it, I’ll withhold more details, except to say — that was one hell of a finale.
Kim Kardashian wants another baby. E! Online
Mary J. Blige opened up about the end of her marriage. BET
Jared Pedalecki and his wife welcomed a daughter. Popsugar
David Arquette had another baby. Us Magazine
Rob Kardashian and Blac Chyna are back together . . . again. Bossip
Scarlett Johansson’s divorce just got messy. Newser
Don’t call Candace Cameron Bure a homophobe. Wet Paint
Naya Rivera and David Spade are dating. Entertainment Tonight
Alec Baldwin discussed his drug abuse. Too Fab
ARod and JLO are twinning. Wonderwall
Lauren Conrad showcased her baby bump. MSNBC
Here’s a short history lesson for the cool kids who should learn a little history on their favorite, IG-friendly brand. When American test pilot, aviator, and lieutenant in the US Army Corps John Arthur Macready complained of glare from the sun while reaching higher altitudes, he commissioned a solution from John Jacob Bausch and Henry Lomb, a optician and a financier, respectively. What began as goggles morphed into the brand’s classic aviators, which soon hit the market for pilots and airmen. They expanded their designs to Wayfarers and Caravans and once celebrities like Humphrey Bogart and James Dean began to sport the designs, they flew off the shelves (pun intended). Things changed when bigger frames took a fashion hold, and the competition killed Ray-Ban. But the brand got smart, and they paid to be featured in over 60 films, which most notably includes some serious Tom Cruise classics.
Tom Cruise starred in Risky Business in 1983 and throughout the film he can be seen sporting Wayfarers. Though he did not wear them during that legendary underwear scene, that was enough to put him on the map, and the shades entered our consciousness again. And speaking of cool, who could forget Top Gun, when each and every actor wore Ray-Bans? It was the perfect product placement, and the rest is history.
There’s long-standing complaints about Dancing With the Stars casting contestants with previous dance experience, but strong performances lead to strong ratings, and ABC’s method proved positive with 11.9 million viewers. Plus, when you have multiple contestants with high-level talent, it becomes a bit of an Olympic event. And speaking of the Olympics, I knew Simone Biles would be good, but I didn’t know she’d be THAT good. As for Heather Morris, who was once Beyonce’s backup dancer, she has no ballroom experience, and it showed. In fact, I don’t think the decision to appear on this show was a good move for her career. If your skill set is dancing and you appear on a show marketed to beginners, you’re forced to demean your own talent, which is not good for your future. It’s like a sushi chef appearing on a BBQ cooking competition. No one will eat your sushi if you can’t cook a burger. Watch some of the key performances below.
Simone Biles & Sasha Farber
Rashad & Emma
Nancy Kerrigan & Arten Chigvintsev
Heather & Maks
David & Lindsay
Erika Jayne and Gleb Savchenko
Mark Long has been on my radar since his iconic stint on the first Road Rules in MTV history, but the adventure seeker reached crush-worthy status during his appearance on Real World/Road Rules Challenge: The Duel II, when instead of joining his cantankerous cohorts who were screaming at their female partners to perform better, Mark sat down, waited patiently, and seemed perfectly comfortable with the idea that a win was no longer within his grasp. When asked for a lens into this memorable moment and his always-respectful temperament, Long said he has his parents to thank for his admirable character. He was simply happy for a physical challenge among his friends and grateful for the opportunity to compete at all. So what does the reality television veteran have to say about the show that made him famous over two decades ago and his subsequent journey as a Challenge competitor? Read below to find out more about the last true reality-television gentleman.
Take me through your journey from the beginning. What was your original goal when you joined the first season Road Rules?
I have a degree in broadcast journalism, so I always liked hosting. I even thought of becoming a weatherman because I always felt they were less stuffy than the news people. My aunt and uncle live in Huntington Beach, and I visited them one time and then drove up to Los Angeles. It just kind of felt like this is where I was supposed to be.
How did your parents feel about your move?
My parents are great. I could’ve said I was moving to Alaska to work on a fishing boat and they would’ve said, “Oh, that’s great.” They support me no matter what. I’m sure they would want me to have a more structured lifestyle, but I’m hoping that the time I’ve invested in this city will pay through what I really enjoy doing, which is producing, hosting, etc . . .
When you look back at your time on MTV’s Road Rules, can you process that it was truly one of the first reality television shows? In retrospect, it was revolutionary.
No one knew what it was about or what to expect. I actually did the Road Rules pilot with four other people that didn’t make the show. I have no idea [why they didn’t make it], but I remember that we shot the pilot in Catalina Island. I flew out from Florida and I was up to be the new roommate when Puck got kicked out of the Real World: San Francisco house. They called me back months later and mentioned the Road Rules pilot and how it would be better for my active lifestyle. I later got a call from Bunim/Murray Productions and they said, “I know we told you that the [people who shot the pilot] weren’t going to make it to the series, but the guy we had in mind that fit your personality didn’t get approved by MTV so we suggested using you again.” That’s how I snuck through. I don’t know what happened to that other poor bastard [who didn’t make it].
Why didn’t you make it in the Real World house?
The house wanted a girl. They thought, “We had a guy, lets try a girl out.”
I read about how your parachute didn’t open when you were on Road Rules. It seems like you were not aware until you hit the ground.
I was aware that we were having problems in the air because when we were getting prepped, they said, “We’ll never reach for your equipment.” When I realized he was reaching for my stuff, I knew we were having a problem. We were supposed to pull at 5000 feet, and we just flew by that height. I jumped out of the plane fifth and landed on the ground first. My parachute finally popped out via a CO2 cartridge that serves as a last resort. That night I was laying there trying to go to bed and thought, “I almost fucking died today, and that would’ve been a terrible day.” Then, in true MTV fashion, Eric Nies and I hosted Real World/Road Rules Challenge: Battle of the Seasons, and they asked us to skydive in tuxedos. I thought, “lighting can’t strike twice. Let’s do it!”
Do you ever feel like some of what they ask you to do is unsafe? Are there points where you want to say, “No way.”
They’re not “unsafe,” but I don’t think they truly test how a cast member would actually perform. For instance, we did Real World/Road Rules Challenge: Battle of the Sexes in Jamaica, and they had these roller coasters that were taken off the track and set in the grass. Instead of seats they had huge ice blocks, and you had to wear speedos and bikini bottoms and sit with your hands raised above your head for time. While someone who isn’t playing for a cash prize might last 15 minutes before they hop off, I was on there for an hour and a half. I want to say that one of the girls got frostbite. It was terrible, but it’s part of the allure of being on the show. You want to do stuff that you can’t set up in your backyard.
Just to be slightly sexist, is there a point to having the men compete against women?
No, and what a perfect day to talk about that [given the current climate]. Some girls are phenomenal, but not all of them will be able to perform in a challenge that requires the same skill as men. But line us up in a trivia competition and the girls will crush us.
I think Battle of the Sexes could be better produced for that reason. There are challenges where a woman would succeed that aren’t these high-powered challenges of endurance, such as flexibility or balance.
Balance is great. I think we were hanging upside down from our legs, and the guys dropped like flies, and I remember Ruthie hanging up there like she wasn’t even in pain.
You mentioned Ruthie Alcaide, which brings me to my next question. There are people who used to do these challenges that were beasts, and now there’s a bunch of wusses on there that suck. What happened to the top dogs?
I’ve heard that as well, and I see it. There was a guy a couple seasons back from Are You The One that just quit because he missed his girlfriend. There’s thousands of people that will take your place, so why go?
I also feel like it has become the Johnny Bananas show.
Everyone has a love/hate relationship with Johnny, but he shows up and puts in the work. If you’re going to complain about him being on the show multiple seasons then rally a group to kick him off.
Are you friends with Johnny by the way?
I am very good friends with Johnny. We are actually in the process of doing another project outside of the challenge.
If you watched him on Real World/Road Rules Challenge: The Island and the way he spoke to the women on the island, it’s sexist. The people he betrays are all women, and the people he insults are all women. There has to be an argument to be made there.
Johnny will admit that he’s grown up a little since those island days. I don’t think I would have approved of him talking to the women like that if I was on The Island, but I’ve seen him do stuff with the Special Olympics and I’ve seen him around fans that approach him. Cara Maria used to despise him, for example, but after the last challenge they’re now best friends, so something’s changing.
I saw you on Real World/Road Rules Challenge: The Duel II, and I remember that you were paired up with a woman who was lagging behind, and you just kindly sat there, waiting for her. You didn’t seem angry at all, and you weren’t screaming at her or calling her a “dumb bitch,” like Johnny Bananas on The Island. It stuck with me. Do you remember this?
I don’t think I’ve ever called a girl a bitch. My parents raised a gentleman. People are different. I just choose to take a deep breath and comfort someone instead of put them down.
I thought from a viewing standpoint, it was fantastic. How do you not talk about that the next day at the water cooler?
What would you have done?
Come on! Do you even need to ask that? I would’ve split it right down the middle. But again, that’s why I’m me, and he’s him.
Can you analyze it? Do you think it’s an evil move or it’s just part of the game?
It would be a lot harder to analyze it if Sarah hadn’t previously [wronged him] on The Challenge: Battle of the Exes II. I’m not saying it’s the same but in terms of gamesmanship, lets’ not forget that this is a game show and the object of any game show whether it’s Wheel of Fortune or The Challenge, is try to win as much money as possible within the time you’re allotted.
You have to take me inside the Chris “CT” Tamburello/Adam King fight on The Duel II where it looked like if CT got his hands on Adam, he’d have murdered him. Did you fear for Adam?
Of course! Production was looking at the cast members like, “Please jump in and help because we do not want to lose a cast member to fists.” I’ll give some credit to the editing as well. It made it look like a horror movie. But much like Johnny on The Island, you have to give people the benefit of growing up. CT is a different person now, and I know at that time he had some family issues. I think you could definitely leave your children alone with CT now and he would be the best babysitter ever.
It also seems like a bad idea to date people on The Challenge, but you again seem to avoid drama. Do you just sleep with saner women?
I have a different way of handling my showmances than these other guys. It’s with fucking padded mittens, because you have to be very, very delicate. But trust me, some of them have not been sane.
Speaking of showmances, what happened with you and Robin Hibbard?
We met on Real World/Road Rules Challenge: Battle of the Sexes 2 and then started dating off of the show. The problem with the challenges is that even if your relationship or showmance was three years prior, people identify you with each other [far into the future]. I could get stopped tomorrow by someone who says, “Where’s Robin?” It’s like, “Dude, she’s married with two kids in Florida. That’s where Robin is.” People still ask me about Kit [Hoover] from Road Rules, and she is also married with kids. I just went on Access Hollywood with her to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Road Rules.
I thought you were a really good host of the MTV Challenge Aftershows, and the hosts they have now are terrible.
Well, they are terrible. I did it for seven seasons but like anything else, they’re like, “Oh, we’re going to [change it up].” And I’m like, “good luck with that,” especially since they chose someone who wasn’t even on the show. At least if you see me pop up, there’s some sort of relevance there. “Oh, Mark’s from the show. Mark’s an OG. He knows the deal.”
Take me behind the scenes of the show. Are you just all sitting around the house bored with nothing else to do but drink and party?
Today, they really monitor what we drink. It’s very rationed, and they’re much more cognizant of what happens with the alcohol now. Back in the day, like anything else, it was the fucking wild west.
Did you announce your retirement as a shtick, or was that serious?
I’ve retired a few times now.
Would you ever return to the show?
I’d absolutely go back, but I never wanted to be the guy that goes on back-to-back on challenges. I like to let things breathe. If I fit their format, I’d definitely return.
David Arquette had another baby. E! Online
Rob Kardashian and Blac Chyna are back together. Bossip
Scarlett Johansson’s ex is already bad-mouthing her. Newser
Orlando Bloom is back on the market after his Katy Perry breakup. Radar
Paula Patton and Robin Thicke might have called a truce. theGrio
Lily Collins called out her Phil Collins daddy issues. RTVW
Gabourey Sidibe underwent weight loss surgery. Too Fab
A Bachelor Nation baby is on the way. The Stir
Pamela Anderson is dating Wikileaks’ Julian Assange. Jezebel
Ben Affleck and Jennifer Garner might have called off their divorce. Refinery29
Karreuche Tran wants a permanent restraining order against Chris Brown. The Shade Room
Rosie O’Donnell’s daughter got secretly married. People
T.I. and Tiny have reconciled. TMZ
Colton Haynes is engaged. Pop Sugar
Ciara received heated criticism for her naked-pregnancy-photo, and rightfully so. Though I don’t agree with social-media slamming, there are some good points buried beneath the hateful barbs. For starters, I don’t condone naked pictures of children on social media, and that goes for my own personal facebook feed, in which I continually call out even close personal friends for posting pictures of their children with their private parts exposed. Two days old or two years old — if a child is not at the age to consent to such photos, it’s inappropriate. Also, nudity is nudity, and since there is no answer as to when it becomes objectively inappropriate to publicly display your child’s genitals, the answer is it’s NEVER appropriate.
Ciara’s maternity image shows her first child with Future without any clothing, buttocks exposed. She has been accused to slighting Future with the photo, given that the tempestuous twosome have had a heated custody battle and her new husband appears in the family photo. Technically speaking, the more love a child has in his life, the better, and perhaps Future should be happy that Ciara married a man that seemingly loves his child. Having said that, there is no need to publicly display it. Most biological fathers I talk to are devastated by losing time with their child and even more devastated by the idea that the step-father will serve a more permanent role in their child’s life than they will. Aside from it being an inappropriate photo, it also feels insensitive and unnecessary to flaunt the new relationship in this way. Lastly, it’s a bad picture, and it’s weird. I need not elaborate. Just look at it.
The Wood Brothers first came my attention after seeing Medeski, Martin & Wood (MMW) perform at El Rey theater in Los Angeles upon another musician’s invite who was sitting in for a jam session with the improvisational, free-jazz group. That musician is Tony Beliveau of Crash Kings, who plays a clavinet coupled with a whammy bar, making his unique style perfect for an appearance with MMW. Knowing nothing as I entered the venue proved an asset for a free-dive into their high-level avant-jazz jam session. Though I remember feeling as if it was completely over my head, I followed up on that curious evening and discovered that Chris Wood is now a member of the The Wood Brothers alongside his brother, Oliver Wood, and multi-instrumentalist Jano Rix.
When you see Chris (upright bass) and Oliver (lead vocals, acoustic and electric guitar) perform together, the question immediately arises as to why the brothers, who formed their band in 2004, didn’t do that their entire lives. When asked about potential “brother baggage,” Chris is quick to counter the stereotype, saying they “get along pretty damn good.” Though he enjoys the challenge of MMW, he admittedly missed his love for words, having grown up with a published poet for a mother. That thirst is quenched with The Wood Brothers, where his jazz chops now beautifully coincide with extremely moving lyrics co-written with Oliver. What was born of a side project, has now become a main staple in their lives after Billy Martin expressed his desire to slow down from touring with MMW.
To see The Wood Brothers perform live at one of Los Angeles’ most celebrated venues, is a true privilege. It would be a disservice to call them a jam band, given that much of their musical riffs, though both challenging and engaging, do not stray far from their rich melody. I have an innate aversion to indulgent performances, as they often take away from the artist’s connection to the audience, as if the musicians are playing in their own garage — for themselves. The Wood Brothers are far from that. They’re playing for each and every person in front of them, and one song is better than the next. It’s hard to top their recordings, but their live show does just that. Their new record, ‘Live At The Barn,’ is available now. It was recorded at Levon Helm’s studio in Woodstock, New York.