HBO’s ‘The Sentence’ — A Gripping, Powerful Documentary

HBO Documentary, The Sentence ‘The Sentence,’ a new documentary by Rudy Valdez airing today on HBO, is one of the most powerful pieces of filmmaking I’ve seen in years. The documentary focuses on Cindy Shank, a woman who was sentenced to 15 years in prison for conspiracy to distribute cocaine. Though the cocaine belonged to her boyfriend at the time, she broke the law by not reporting it. Her boyfriend was later murdered.

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Kirsten Bell Smokes Weed in Front of Sober Dax Shepard

Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard

Not too long ago in Los Angeles I saw Kristen Bell on a panel promoting ‘The Good Place,’ and I distinctly remember a weed joke. At the time, my first thought went to Dax Shepard, who is honest about his sobriety. “Should she be smoke weed when her husband is sober?” I thought.

While on ‘The View,’ Bell addressed the issue again, saying,  “If you’re not using your critical thinking skills and you can’t give me the benefit of the doubt in a situation and you just come at me, I don’t have time for that, I just don’t. I respond to positive things.”  Furthermore, Dax likened it to  “asking a diabetic spouse [not to] ever eat sugar in front of me.”

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Tabloid Gossip: Babies, Breakups, and Basic Drama

A post shared by Jenna Dewan Tatum (@jennadewan) on Tristan Thompson’s social media has had some joyously savage comments. People

Kate Hudson is pregnant. Ok! Magazine

Jennie Garth is getting divorced. E! Online

RHOA’s Kenya Moore is pregnant. Radar Online

Seth Meyer’s wife gave birth in their apartment lobby. Dlisted

Mariah Carey revealed her Bipolar II diagnosis. Vulture

Jamie Lynn Spears welcomed her second child. MSNBC

Olivia Culpo is back on the market. Celebuzz

Brooke Burke and David Charvet are dunzo. TMZ

Hank Baskett is always open for a reconciliation with Kendra Wilkinson. Us Weekly

Karrueche Tran and Victor Cruz make a hot couple. Daily Mail

Jesse Williams’ (Grey’s Anatomy) estranged wife has  A LOT of expenses. Cafe Mom

Jenna Dewan and Channing Tatum are amicably divorcing. Elle

Brad Pitt has a super hot teacher friend he swears he isn’t dating. Gossip Cop

Joanna Krupa is engaged 7 months after finalizing her divorce. Page Six

Barbra Streisand Blames Her Schnoz for Avoiding Sexual Assault

I’ve been light on my posts lately, and it’s mostly because the barrage of #MeToo news has lessened my spirit, and this blog is largely aimed at lighthearted fun, or a tough take on the deserving ridiculousness of the industry. That being said, a recent interview with Barbra Streisand inspired some deep thoughts, and not the Jack Handy type.

While questioned about her own experience in the industry, Streisand made it clear she had not been subject to sexual harassment, and she blamed her looks for the sheer luck of it, saying, “I wasn’t like those pretty girls with those nice little noses. Maybe that’s why.” I must admit that I have also been fortunate enough to avoid the Hollywood wolves, and much like Streisand, I proudly never received plastic surgery for my schnoz. So could that be it? And if it is, is it worth mentioning? The short answer is no, and the mere suggestion that harassment and looks go hand-in-hand, leaves a bad taste in my mouth. In fact, Pamela Anderson recently put me off by saying that she too had avoided harassment, and it’s largely attributed to her smarts in never entering the lion’s den of dirty hotel rooms. You see — Anderson was shrewd — and others are . . . not? There’s a delicate dance here when discussing harassment, and though I don’t think Anderson intended to victim blame, it was a blunder worth noting. The polar opposite approach to explaining one’s experience (Pamela is hot but smart, and Streisand is no Pamela Anderson), is bad on both ends. Grey’s Anatomy showrunner Krista Vernoff explained this beautifully in an article for The Hollywood Reporter, and it’s worth the read.

While it might be true that we should take every precaution in avoiding assault, to suggest that looks have anything to do with it demeans the victims. Sure we shouldn’t leave our drink on an open bar in a busy night club, and I’d love to live in a world where I’m not concerned about that drink, but that’s simply not how it works. It would also be nice to exit my abode unlocked, or to leave something expensive in my car without fear of a break in, but we live in a world with rapists, thieves, murderers, and school shooters, so we should do everything in our power to stay safe. That includes dismantling the industry of the complicit players who built their client’s trust, only to send them into Harvey Weinstein’s hotel room with their guard down. I personally walk through life thinking everyone is a villain, which might be a better explanation for how I’ve never been harassed. But is that all-consuming fear a message we want to send our children? Probably not. To put it simply, when anyone is asked why they were not subject to sexual assault, the answer should be — “I got lucky.”

 

TV Tune Tuesday: Meet Musician Aron Wright

As we learned from yesterday’s post about Freya Ridings and an earlier interview I did with the very talented Aurora, television is often the perfect venue to highlight new artists. I’ll try to do this feature every week, and this week’s pick is Aron Wright, whom I discovered on Grey’s Anatomy. His soul-melting voice can also be heard on many other shows, including The Blacklist, The Vampire Diaries, and more. According to Wright, he records his music in a 100-year-old church he converted into a studio. His credits include co-writing the song “Hallelujah” by Panic! at the Disco and penning “Walk Out On Me,” which was performed by Courtney Love on the FOX television show, Empire. The multi-instrumentalist (trumpet, bass trombone, tuba and guitar) was born in Little Rock, AR, and raised in St. Louis, MO before eventually moving to South Africa. He now lives in Nashville. Listen below.

JAY Z Defends His Anti-Semitic Song Lyrics With Unacceptable Response

Many of you are aware of my criticism against Jay Z’s anti-Semitic song lyrics on his new ‘4:44’ album, which includes the line, “You ever wonder why Jewish people own all the property in America? This how they did it.” After being rightly called out for his bigoted choice of words on “The Story of O.J.”, the rapper has finally responded, and his viewpoint is both predictable and highly disappointing. According to Jay Z, the Jewish community is filled with hypocrites. He said, “As the Jewish community, if you don’t have a problem with the exaggerations of the guy eating watermelon and all the things that was happening [in the song’s music video], if you don’t have a problem with that, and that’s the only line you pick out, then you are being a hypocrite. I can’t address that in a real way. I got to leave that where it is. He went on to suggest that it is not to be taken literally because “of course I know Jewish people don’t own all the property in America.”

For starters, let me apologize for bothering Jay Z, because it’s clear from his tone that he finds this entire to do tiresome. That being said, I was not aware that exposing anti-Antisemitism demands that I also expose any and all racism simultaneously. But since it is in fact a requirement, I think it’s necessary to point out that his example is NOT analogous. The racist imagery used by Jay Z is done to make a point through exposition. He does not advocate that imagery. It’s used to point out the pain. It’s used to show us how far we’ve come, and to remind us how far we have to go. It’s both shocking and effective. Do I agree with his use of the N-word or anyone’s use of the N word for that matter? No. But that’s entirely different conversation, and I’m happy to have it at another time. As my law school torts professor would say, “Let’s not mix our boxes while we analyze the facts.

The same cannot be said of the anti-Semitic lyric. Yes it’s an exaggeration, as Jews do not in fact own ALL the property in America. It’s clear Mr. Carter is also aware of this, given that he owns property and he is not Jewish. This might seem obvious, but Jay Z specifically said, “I mean, I own things” as an example of how he doesn’t believe his statement is LITERAL. But that is so far from the point it is laughable. He might not literally believe his statement to be true, but his dismissal once again discards the history of this Anti-Semitic comment, and the danger in perpetuating it. He’s not using it to draw some sort of distinction between the past and present.

I was told to lighten up by many members of the Jewish community when I first pointed this out, and while I respect the viewpoints of others, I cannot help but think the Jewish community should also educate themselves on why this is use as an insult. And in light of Charlottesville, it’s ever-the-more important.

The notion that Jews own everything is the same idea used by the Nazis to incite Antisemitism in the community at large. If we own everything, then is our success to the detriment of others? Are we cheap? Are we taking things from you? Are we hogging the wealth, pushing others out, and only promoting other Jews in our secret inside circle? Are we therefore taking over the world and do we need to be stopped? To discard how easy it is to walk the same road as our history, is reckless, unrealistic, and dangerous. You call it an “exaggeration,” and I call it Antisemitism. Jay Z might not get it, but you should.

Grey’s Anatomy Sneak Peek: Meredith v. Maggie



Grey’s Anatomy
is running on fumes in its casting department, and they desperately need an addition beyond its best players, which now only includes Ellen Pompeo, Justin Chambers, and Jesse Williams. I’ve long insisted that their casting crew needs a complete overhaul, as most of their additions don’t work, thus resulting in more than five untimely deaths. In fact, Jesse Williams was part of a much larger merger storyline, and he was the only cast members to make it. That’s a weak result. I’d like to also note that unlike Seinfeld, which was graced with the genius casting of Marc Hirschfeld, Grey’s has yet to find a guest star that has gone on to greatness. That’s odd. When watching the syndicated reruns of Seinfeld, nearly every guest star has become massive. That includes, Teri Hatcher (Desperate Housewives), Anna Gunn (Breaking Bad), Kristen Davis (Sex and the City), Jennifer Coolidge (American Pie, 2 Broke Girls), Debra Messing (Will & Grace), Lauren Graham (Girlmore Girls), and many more. There needs to be more power players on Grey’s Anatomy, and with the loss of Patrick Dempsey, we’re also missing Alpha dogs. The fight between Owen and Riggs could have gained steam, but the storyline just fizzled beyond repair. Need I also mention Amelia has to go? Watch a clip for the upcoming episode, which is more of a high-school fight than a storyline I can sink my teeth into. I think I was seventeen years old the last time I called dibs on a guy who wasn’t interested. Past that age, if you say anything other than “Next!” you’re a small child. Maggie could have at least had sex with Riggs to justify this type of immaturity.

Dancing With the Stars Premiere — Best Performances

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

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Why ‘La La Land’ Was a Terrible Movie


I wanted to like ‘La La Land,’ and I’m the perfect audience. For starters, I love musicals. I also love the idea of resurrecting a dead medium, and given the rise of television musicals, it’s the perfect time for it. And though I’ve kept largely quiet about my take on the film, the Oscar hype has awakened the beast.

‘La La Land’ attempts to remind us of old Hollywood, as a Jazz pianist falls for an aspiring actress. It’s a nice try, but ‘Singin’ in the Rain’ it is not. First, Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling cannot sing. When I say they can’t sing, I’m being kind. They literally cannot sing. I understand the idea of finding stars who can sing rather than singers who can be stars, but this idea only works if you can actually SING. It’s insulting to take two A-listers and put them in a medium that doesn’t suit their talents just to draw an audience. As a result of this sad fact, the vocals are mixed so low I can barely hear them in the songs. It’s a MUSICAL, which means I expect bright, rich vocals. In fact, the opening scene was also mixed horribly, and I can only assume it was a sad attempt to keep the vocals consistent with Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling’s sub-par performance.On the Fresh Air radio show, the host called this opening scene “beautiful mayhem.” I’d call it a mess. The original song is not memorable, the choreography is EASY, and (as previously mentioned) the sound is lacking. And just as I tried to acclimate to this struggling sound, then came John Legend, whose mere presence reminded me what singers actually sound like, and my disbelief was no longer suspended.

If you thought my take on Emma and Ryan’s singing was harsh, I’m going to to be even harsher about their dance number. I appreciate a one-take shot of their tap dancing as opposed to the chopped-up mess we saw from Richard Gere in Chicago, but that doesn’t change the fact that they are not good tap dancers. As a former tap dancer, I can tell you first hand that their moves were EXTREMELY easy, and I’ve seen 75-year-olds achieve more impressive results on ‘Dancing With the Stars.’

I love the IDEA of this movie, and I appreciate the effort, but it is not good enough to justify the hype. As previously mentioned, I also resent that idea that Hollywood values a box-office-draw over casting a true triple threat. I understand that not everyone is a star, and those triple threats are not easy to find, BUT DO THE WORK. They’re out there.

A Tribute to Mary Tyler Moore – On Screen and Off

As a child who resisted sleep, Mary Tyler Moore on Nick at Nite was my sanctuary. It originally aired just four years after her legendary stint on the ‘Dick Van Dyke Show,’ where she won an Emmy for a performance that began at just 24 years old. Though Moore played a traditional housewife, she insisted on wearing pants, which caused major controversy for its time. According to Moore, she found it unrealistic to do housework in a dress with pearls, and therefore pushed for her cool trademark capris, which released other housewives from their “pantyhose prison.”

When Mary Tyler Moore transitioned to her now iconic leading role, producers were quick to make sure the viewers understood this was an entirely new show, thereby giving her a broken engagement to solidify she did not leave the beloved Dick Van Dyke to pursue a career as a journalist in Minneapolis. She was instead single and ready to build her career. She landed in a newsroom as an Associate Producer beside a stellar cast, including Ed Asner as Lou Grant, Ted Knight as Ted Baxter, Gavin MacLeod as Murray Slaughter, Valerie Harper as Rhoda Morgenstern, and of course — Betty White as Sue Ann Nivens.

To understand the radical impact of ‘Mary Tyler Moore,’ one need not look far. Mary and her best friend Rhoda represented independent, empowered women whose dating life was so secondary to their everyday life, it was almost an afterthought. They did not need a man to feel complete, and they were mostly too good for the men they dated anyhow. That narrative is difficult to find even on today’s television landscape, as most women are window dressers to the man’s more important storyline. The 70’s world in which Mary lived was historically significant for women, given that the pill first became available and more women were earning degrees and working outside the home. Behind the scenes, the show was equally important. Treva Silverman became first female with an executive title on a network sitcom. She won an Emmy for Outstanding Writing in a Comedy Series and Writer of the Year in 1974. This makes sense given the content of the show, and it’s a lesson for writers everywhere. If you’re going to write a strong, powerful woman, it’s probably best to use the voice of another strong, powerful woman when doing it. According to The Atlantic, “In 1973, 25 out of 75 writers on the show were women, which was revolutionary at the time.”

‘Mary Tyler Moore’ is not without criticism in the world of feminism. For starters, she conformed in ways that invited debate. She was the only one to call her boss, “Mr. Grant,” instead of Lou, for example, and she was often sheepish, especially when asking for the raise she deserved. Her inner circle were arguably far more rebellious than she, which allowed the viewer to covet their lovable, somewhat innocent protagonist. But that’s far beside the point. She was carving a path and her trepidation made her one of us. As such, Mary Tyler Moore was one of us, and her death could not be more timely in a world with pussy hats, a women’s march, and constant talk of equal pay in Hollywood. Sex and the City certainly celebrated women, but those women were in search of something that Mary Tyler Moore had already found. She will be missed.