June 11, 2013 11:55am EST
Hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons has slashed the price of his New York penthouse by $2 million (£1.29 million) in a bid to offload the property. The Def Jam Recordings co-founder has been trying to get rid of the luxurious duplex in Manhattan's Financial District since before the September 11 attacks in 2001, and had previously attracted interest from rap pal Sean 'Diddy' Combs.
However, the property - which has been on and off the market since its initial listing - has struggled to land a buyer with its $11 million (£7.09 million) price tag, and Simmons has now relisted it for $9 million (£5.8 million).
The apartment boasts four bedrooms, a study, a screening room and a library, in addition to two private outdoor terraces.
May 17, 2013 8:09pm EST
Pop superstar Beyonce has taken aim at gossips speculating she is pregnant again by posting a defensive note on her Instagram.com account. The Crazy In Love hitmaker has refused to address ongoing reports she and husband Jay-Z are set to welcome a sibling for 16-month-old Blue Ivy, but she vented her frustration about the speculation on Friday (17May13).
Beyonce uploaded a scathing note to her Instagram page, stating, "I can't stop the rumors from starting, and I can't really change peoples minds who believe them, all I can do is sit back and laugh at these low life people who have nothing better to do than talk about me."
The message has since been removed.
However, another social networking post by the star has done little to quell the baby rumours after she shared a picture showing her surrounded by happy kids on her popular Tumblr.com account.
Taken during her trip to Cuba with Jay-Z in April (13), the snapshot features a beaming Beyonce meeting schoolkids and comes with the hash tag "#mylife". The musicians celebrated their fifth wedding anniversary in Havana as part of a cultural trip to the Cuban capital.
Reports of Beyonce's baby news were sparked earlier this week (14May13) when she pulled the plug on a show in Belgium, citing dehydration and exhaustion - and rap mogul Russell Simmons appears to believe the hype about the baby.
He tweeted, "Congratulations Jay-Z & Beyonce," but the singer's pal and former bandmate Kelly Rowland insisted she didn't know anything about the pregnancy rumours when she was cornered in Los Angeles on Friday. When asked to comment, she said, "What?", and then refused to discuss the matter further, leaving reporters convinced that she knew more than she was letting on.
May 13, 2013 1:49am EST
Stars including Moby, Russell Simmons and Paula Abdul have expressed their shock over a shooting at a Mother's Day parade in New Orleans, Louisiana on Sunday (12May13). Gunmen opened fire on dozens of people marching in the parade, injuring 19 people, including two children.
Police officials have revealed that three suspects were seen fleeing the scene after the shooting and that most of the injuries sustained by the victims are non life-threatening.
Stars immediately took to Twitter.com to share their dismay, with dance star Moby declaring, "Another terrible and horrifying gun tragedy. how many more???", while singer Abdul added, "My heart, thought (sic) and prayers go out to everyone in New Orleans. Wishing us ALL peace in our hearts. We are all connected."
Melissa Joan Hart shared a link to the latest news update adding, "Heartbreaking!!" and Simmons asks his followers to "pray for New Orleans".
Cops are appealing for witnesses to come forward with any information that could lead to arrests.
May 01, 2013 11:58pm EST
Ll Cool J has dedicated his new song to Chris 'mac Daddy' Kelly following the Kris Kross star's death on Wednesday (01May13). Kelly was pronounced dead at the Atlanta Medical Center in Georgia after he was found unresponsive at his home in the city.
LL Cool J was stunned to learn of the 34 year old's passing and has decided his latest track, Jump On It, will be a tribute to Kelly.
After posting a link to an audio stream of the song on Twitter.com, he added, "R.I.P Chris Kelly. This song is now officially dedicated to you. May God embrace your soul & lift up your family."
Ludacris also took to his page on the microblogging site and tweeted, "One of my motivations as a kid to even get into the rap game. You will be missed. R.I.P. Chris Kelly."
Nicki Minaj added, "So sorry to hear that. Sending love to his family. RIP Chris", while Samuel L. Jackson offered, "How unfortunate. Waaay (sic) too young. My sympathy to all his people."
R&B singer Monica lamented, "Chris Kelly, may the peace of God comfort your family & all of those who love u (sic)."
Stars including Sean 'Diddy' Combs, Russell Simmons and Alyssa Milano have also paid tribute to Kelly on Twitter.
April 09, 2013 11:26am EST
Actresses Cameron Diaz, Scarlett Johansson and Demi Moore are among the stars who have signed music mogul Russell Simmons' petition to U.S. President Barack Obama urging him to reform the country's stance on the war on drugs. The rap pioneer-turned-business magnate has asked Obama to consider replacing jail sentences with rehabilitation and treatment programmes to help non-violent offenders get back on their feet and become more meaningful members of society in the hopes of building a better future.
A number of celebrities, including Jim Carrey, Jamie Foxx and Will Smith, have added their names to the cause, and, on Tuesday (09Apr13), Simmons fired off a letter to the American leader in an effort to bring about change.
An excerpt of the letter reads, "Mr. President, it is evident that you have demonstrated a commitment to pursue alternatives to the enforcement-only War on Drugs approach and address the increased incarceration rates for non-violent crimes. Your administration has moved in the right direction by committing increased funds to drug prevention and treatment programs and supporting state and local re-entry grants. We encourage you to continue your efforts to revamp the policies of the last 30 years that have seen the prison population skyrocket.
"The greatest victims of the prison industrial complex are our nation's children. Hundreds of thousands of children have lost a parent to long prison sentences for non-violent drug offenses, leaving these children to fend for themselves. Many of these children end up in the criminal justice system, which comes as no surprise as studies have shown the link between incarceration and broken families, juvenile delinquency, violence and poverty...
"As you set in motion research and policy to combat this societal crisis, this coalition is poised to help you make the transition successful... We request the opportunity to meet with you to discuss these ideas further and empower our coalition to help you achieve your goals of reducing crime, lowering drug use, preventing juvenile incarceration and lowering recidivism rates. We stand with you, ready to do what is just for America."
February 25, 2013 11:38am EST
UPDATE: The Onion's CEO Steve Hannah has since apologized to outraged and upset readers. The letter, which has been posted on The Onion's Facebook page reads, "On behalf of The Onion, I offer my personal apology to Quvenzhané Wallis and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences for the tweet that was circulated last night during the Oscars. It was crude and offensive—not to mention inconsistent with The Onion’s commitment to parody and satire, however biting. No person should be subjected to such a senseless, humorless comment masquerading as satire. The tweet was taken down within an hour of publication. We have instituted new and tighter Twitter procedures to ensure that this kind of mistake does not occur again. In addition, we are taking immediate steps to discipline those individuals responsible. Miss Wallis, you are young and talented and deserve better. All of us at The Onion are deeply sorry."
"You just don't get it, do you?" It's likely the argument you'll hear the most from both sides of the already raging Quvenzhané Wallis/The Onion tweet battle. Onion defenders will say that all those upset simply don't get the joke, while those standing up for the adorable Beasts of the Southern Wild star continue to ask how anyone could find it funny.
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The online uproar, in case you missed it, happened during last night's Oscar ceremony broadcast when satirists The Onion sent out an ill-advised joke at the expense of 9-year-old Best Actress nominee Quvenzhané Wallis: "Everyone else seems afraid to say it, but Quvenzhané Wallis is kind of a c**t, right?" Only, there was no asterisks and the only response that seemed to follow that question was, "When are you going to take this down and apologize?" After being online for over an hour, The Onion did something they rarely do, they took back a jab. Of course, this is the Internet, where controversy will follow you forever and screen shots of the tweet are still out there. Case in point, the original, unedited tweet here:
Now, let's get the obvious out of the way first: no decent human being in their right mind would think that of the adorable Wallis. It's clearly a riff on the culture of ripping on celebrities — even women and children — and that Wallis is just about the sweetest thing in Hollywood.
The problem — aside from the jarring sight of that vulgar word next to Wallis' name — is that the joke isn't particularly funny, nor does it really stick it to those celebrity bashers. The only person who looks attacked here is the innocent Wallis. (If you'll recall the Daniel Tosh rape joke incident, a major point of contention was that the comic was mocking rape victims, not finding a way to find humor in the light of those atrocities). There have been some arguments that The Onion didn't actually call her the c-word, but the thing is, they did. Yes, it was a joke, but would we say that Oscar host Seth MacFarlane didn't say the Kardashians had dark facial hair?
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There were plenty of people who didn't find the joke funny and took to Twitter to air out their grievance with The Onion. The Wire and Treme star Wendell Pierce wrote from his page, "@TheOnion Identify the writer. Let him defend that abhorrent verbal attack of a child. You call it humor I call it horrendous...I will never lose the ability to be offended and let anyone verbally abuse a child. Especially a child of my community in NOLA...They have the freedom to say whatever they want and I have a right to say it's offensive. I won't stand by and watch the abuse."
Pierce was hardly alone in his outrage, Russell Simmons urged his followers to retweet the "the very offensive tweet about Quvenzhané Wallis that @TheOnion doesn't want you to see" and Chelsea Clinton responded with the hashtags, "#Unacceptable #Outrageous." Keith Olbermann tweeted after finding out what the Wallis joke was about, "they DID wrong. Retract, apologize, dismiss."
Of course, for everyone that was upset, there will be just as many who say that people are simply being sensitive, that The Onion is satire and they missed the joke entirely. Perhaps, sometimes there are words that have a harder time hiding under the guise of the sake of comedy (see: Lisa Lampanelli's unapologetic n-word tweet) and, you know what, yeah, people can be a little sensitive about when 9-year-old girls are called c**ts. It doesn't necessarily mean they are humorless drones.
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Look, The Onion is no stranger to controversy, whether they're being mistaken for a legitimate news source (it happens way more than you'd think) or being accused of, you guessed it, insensitivity. Not to mention the fact that popular, beloved comedian Louis C.K. uses similar language when it comes to kids (granted, for the most part, he's talking about his own). Either the cries of "Won't somebody please think of the children?" or "Why so serious?" will ring louder in the coming days and weeks — and they will all just continue to play out over Twitter. If there's anything to get worked up about, it's going to be that.
[Photo credits: Todd Williamson/Invision for Fox Searchlight/AP Images; Twitter]
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February 22, 2013 5:38pm EST
No one is more surprised than I am that I liked Dark Skies, only because when the trailers are inscrutable and studios keep it away from critics, well, we can connect the dots. This isn't the case. Dark Skies is well written and executed, with effective sound design, good performances from the cast, and eerie creatures that are left mostly to our imagination. Frankly, it's baffling.
Keri Russell (The Americans) and Josh Hamilton (The House of Yes, Kicking and Screaming) play the believable, likable Barretts, a couple that's hit a rough patch in their marriage. Daniel lost his job, Lacy's struggling as a real estate agent, and the marriage bed is a little chilly. Their two kids Jesse (Dakota Goyo) and Sammy (Kadan Rockett) are smart, sweet kids who are the first witnesses to the weirdness happening at their house. Jesse and Sammy have a cute bedtime ritual where Jesse reads Sammy scary stories before they fall asleep using walkie-talkies. Their latest scary story is about the Sandman, whom Sammy blames for the pranks that the Barretts begin finding in the morning. As these occurrences escalate, it's clear there's no way that Sammy could be the perp.
Like most good supernatural thrillers, the weird things happening can be ascribed to stress or nightmares or overactive imaginations. The Barretts become increasingly isolated from their friends and neighbors, which only adds to their stress. The way the Barretts experience this internal/external strife can be read as an interesting bit of social commentary; the family unit that stays together and remains strong is the only thing that can defeat whatever threatens them. Daniel is upset and ashamed he can't take care of his family, either financially or from whatever is stalking them. Jesse is mad at his parents for fighting and acting weird and making being a teen even more awkward than usual. Lacy thinks something out of this world is terrorizing them — or maybe it's her husband. This theory about the strength of the family unit is made even clearer later in the film when they meet with a sort of specialist in extraterrestrial phenomena.
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This specialist, Edwin Pollard, is played by J.K. Simmons, who brings a gentle intelligence and mellow resignation that works really well. He could be a wild-eyed kook who wears X-Files shirts and "wants to believe," but he's not. He's just a bachelor with a bunch of cats who has given up fighting. (He has cats because dogs can sense, yes, aliens, and the barking used to keep Edwin up at night.) His performance is a good example of what makes Dark Skies a surprisingly solid sci-fi film.
The premise is straightforward and simple, even though we're trained to expect all sorts of twists. It's not that the Barretts are dumb or exasperating, it's that they don't want to believe it's possible for aliens to exist or be interested in them. They don't want to be those people, the kind of people like Edwin who have totally isolated themselves from society because of what they've seen and experienced, even though they are quickly becoming exactly that. The weakest character is Jesse's putzy friend Ratner, the kind of obnoxious teen boy who talks about "bitches" and encourages his shy friend to be a little bit naughtier, but he has his place in the story as well. If the performances had been a little more exaggerated or the music a touch more dramatic, Dark Skies could have easily tipped into silly territory, but it very carefully walks that line. It takes these possibilities seriously and earnestly, which convinces the audience to do the same. There's a groundedness to the whole enterprise that's satisfying.
There are one or two scenes that are simply jump scares or perhaps a little silly, but they're not so egregious that they take you out of the movie. (And, I'll be honest, jump scares work on me.) In the end, Dark Skies is a wholly enjoyable film that genre fans will enjoy.
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January 27, 2013 4:00am EST
The big win at the 24th annual ceremony at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Los Angeles is the latest victory for Argo this month (Jan13) - Affleck, Clooney and fellow producer Grant Heslov also picked up major awards at the Critics' Choice Awards and Golden Globes.
The trio beat out the producers of Beasts of the Southern Wild, Django Unchained, Les Miserables, Life of Pi, Lincoln, Moonrise Kingdom, Silver Linings Playbook, Skyfall and Zero Dark Thirty to land the coveted trophy.
Meanwhile, the award for Outstanding Producer of Animated Theatrical Motion Pictures went to Clark Spencer for Wreck-It Ralph; the prize for Outstanding Producer of Documentary Theatrical Motion Pictures was claimed by Malik Bendielloul and Simon Chinn for Searching for Sugar Man, and Tom Hanks and his production partners Gary Goetzman, Jay Roach, Amy Sayres, Steven Shareshian and Danny Strong scored the David L. Wolper Award for Long-Form Television.
Other winners included Cindy Chupack, Paul Corrigan, Abraham Higginbotham, Ben Karlin, Steven Levitan, Christopher Lloyd, Jeff Morton, Dan O’Shannon, Jeffrey Richman, Chris Smirnoff, Brad Walsh, Bill Wrubel and Danny Zuker (Danny Thomas Award for Outstanding Producer of Episodic Television, Comedy - Modern Family), and Henry Bromell, Alexander Cary, Michael Cuesta, Alex Gansa, Howard Gordon, Chip Johannessen, Michael Klick and Meredith Stiehm (Norman Felton Award for Outstanding Producer of Episodic Television, Drama - Homeland).
And Bob and Harvey Weinstein, Tim Bevan and Eric Fellner, J.J. Abrams and Russell Simmons all picked up honorary awards.
December 30, 2012 1:15pm EST
The Flight star was spotted on the beach on 28 December (12) with his wife of 29 years.
The Washingtons later boarded a yacht for an afternoon at sea and they also hit an island restaurant to celebrate in style.
It's not known if the couple will be among the guests attending Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich's New Year's Eve party on St. Barts.
The Caribbean paradise has become a star-studded hotspot this winter - Kate Moss, Russell Simmons, model Stephanie Seymour and Sean 'Diddy' Combs have all been spotted there in recent days and Naomi Campbell and movie mogul Harvey Weinstein are expected to fly in for the big New Year's Eve bash on Monday (31Dec12). Kings of Leon will reportedly headline the party.
December 28, 2012 1:15pm EST
Thanks to The Witches star's volunteerism and work as a narrator of a hard-hitting video expose about how great apes suffer in the entertainment industry, the top 10 advertising agencies in the U.S. have adopted policies to stop using chimps in their ads.
A PETA spokesperson says, "The actor sent her video to agency chiefs across the country, showing them exactly how great apes are torn away from their mothers shortly after birth and frequently beaten during training to perform in ads for companies such as Dodge, Europcar, Pfizer, Samsung, and Travelers Insurance, all of which pulled their ads after talks with PETA."
Representative Wendy Wegner adds, "Anjelica Huston is a true friend to all animals and the perfect choice for PETA's Person of the Year 2012."
Huston also spoke out against New York's controversial horse-drawn carriage industry in 2012 and campaigned against the use of fur as a style item - even though she was once a fashion victim.
She says, "I grew up in Ireland and used to wear fur. I had a change of heart when I learned how minks and foxes on fur farms are crammed into tiny, dirty cages and driven so crazy by the confinement that many... cannibalise their cage mates."
Previous PETA Persons of the Year include Bill Clinton, Ellen DeGeneres and Russell Simmons.