2014 was a great year for fans of pop culture and books. We learned the stories behind the making of a classic, had a young girl tell us what she's "learned," and even learned the secrets of modeling that Tyra could never have taught us. We've rounded up the best of these just in case you're looking for a last minute gift or the next pick for your book club.
1. "Yes Please" - Amy Poehler
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For: A fledgling feminist in her twenties who could use a good laugh and some sound advice from a Smart Girl, or anyone who needs to hear that it's okay to feel the way they're feeling.
Memorable Quote: "Because what else are we going to do? Say no? Say no to an opportunity that may be slightly out of our comfort zone? Quiet our voice because we are worried it's not perfect? I believe great people do things before they are ready."
(Bonus quote: "I have the Angelina Jolie of vaginas.")
2. "Not My Father's Son" - Alan Cumming
Getty Images/Brad Barket
For: Fans of Who Do You Think You Are? or anyone trying to overcome their childhood dramas and are seeking inspiration.
Memorable Quote: "For yes, being a woman, even one with a penis and for the purposes of drama really made me feel that women have been coerced into a way of presenting themselves that is basically a form of bondage. Their shoes, their skirts, even their nails seem designed to stop them from being able to escape whilst at the same time drawing attention to their sexual and secondary sexual characteristics. And I think that has happened so that men feel they can ogle them and protect them in equal measure."
3. "The Woman I Wanted To Be" - Diane von Furstenberg
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For: The fashionista who knows what she wants, or the woman in your life who wants to 'have it all.'
Memorable Quote: "In my older face, I see my life. Every wrinkle, every smile line, every age spot. There is a saying that with age, you look outside what you are inside. If you are someone who never smiles your face gets saggy. If you're a person who smiles a lot, you will have more smile lines. Your wrinkles reflect the roads you have taken; they form the map of your life. My face reflects the wind and sun and rain and dust from the trips I've taken. My face carries all my memories. Why should I erase them?"
4. "So, Anyway" - John Cleese
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For: The Monty Python fan seeking a crash course in what makes comedy funny and what makes a comedian successful.
Memorable Quote: "So, creatively, I was doubly blessed: constant relocation and parental disharmony. Add to these two gifts the well-established fact that many of the world's greatest geniuses, both artistic and scientific, have been the product of serious maternal deprivation, and I am forced to the conclusion that if only my mother had been just a little more emotionally inadequate, I could have been HUGE."
5. "Uganda Be Kidding Me" - Chelsea Handler
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For: Chelsea Handler fans suffering withdrawals during this period between her E! show and her upcoming Netflix gig.
Memorable Quote: "There's a difference between being a class act and being classy. Peeing off the side of a Jeep doesn't mean you're not classy, it just means you're a free spirit with a small bladder."
6. "The Andy Cohen Diaries: A Deep Look at a Shallow Year" - Andy Cohen
Getty Images/Nomi Ellenson
For: Any pop culture junkie who wants all the dirt on their favorite celebrities; any Real Housewives fans itching to know which lady is causing the most trouble.
Memorable Quote: "I literally almost called this book Diary of a Name-Dropper. So if you want to play a drinking game while reading this book—and that's not a great idea and only gonna last for so long—take a swing every time you read a name you recognize."
7. "Not That Kind of Girl: A Young Woman Tells You What She's 'Learned'" - Lena Dunham
For: Any guy or Girl who's almost getting it kind of together; anyone whose own thoughts have sometimes been too much for them.
Memorable Quote: "When someone shows you how little you mean to them and you keep coming back for more, before you know it you start to mean less to yourself. You are not made up of compartments! You are one whole person! What gets said to you gets said to all of you, ditto what gets done. Being treated like shit is not an amusing game or a transgressive intellectual experiment. It's something you accept, condone, and learn to believe you deserve. This is so simple. But I tried so hard to make it complicated."
8. "Dancing With Myself" - Billy Idol
Getty Images/Paul Archuleta
For: The wannabe groupie; anyone interested in the not-to-be-believed antics and lifestyles of glam rockers.
Memorable Quote: "After a while, my nose became so bloody that I reverted to smoking cocaine instead. From there, it was all downhill."
9. "Let's Just Say It Wasn't Pretty" - Diane Keaton
For: Anyone who has ever felt or been told they were ugly or imperfect; anyone who sees themselves aging before a mirror and sighs.
Memorable Quote: "After living with Mr. Lincoln's portrait for several years, I've come to this conclusion: his beauty, like the hidden cast of his right eye, became identifiable only after I included "unsightly" as a possible way of describing a beautiful face."
10. "Carsick: John Waters Hitchhikes Across America" - John Waters
Getty Images/Rob Kim
For: Your eccentric friend with incurable wanderlust; anyone who wants to see America from a very different pair of eyes.
Memorable Quote: "I'm alive, I think, and so many of my friends are not. I may be nuts to be doing this, but I'm kind of proud of myself. I am having an adventure. I like my life. Even if I have to stand here for the rest of it."
11. "Neil Patrick Harris: Choose Your Own Autobiography" - Neil Patrick Harris
Getty Images/Frederick M. Brown
For: The person living a life that seems unworthy of a book and wants to live vicariously through Doogie Howser, M.D.; fans of choose-your-own-adventure books, biographies, and How I Met Your Mother.
Memorable Quote: "If you had known people would be calling you by your character name for the next twenty years, you might have asked for a different one. Thunderbolt Howser, say, or Dr. Feelgood, or Baron von Sexy Ass."
There is a new trend of films, both maintream hits and cult favorites, being turned into successful Tony Award winning musicals. Some might say there are no new ideas and creativity is dead. Others may delight in seeing the movies they love set to song and dance. It seems like nothing is exempt from the treatment, from Disney cartoons like The Lion King and The Little Mermaid, to heartwarming dramas like Newsies and Billy Elliot, and off-the-wall comedies like Monty Python and the Holy Grail (which begat Spamalot). There’s even an off-Broadway musical of the cult flick Heathers. It's getting some decent traction with its stylish production design and hilarious lyrics. Does this mean it could be the next toast of Broadway?
Some of the strangest films have gone on to become majorly successful musical. Here are some of the strangest and most fun:
Despite a memorable soundtrack and the magic of Olivia Newton John (ONJ) and The Electric Light Orchestra (ELO), this film wasn’t commercially successful and was panned by critics. Heck, it even inspired John J.B. Wilson to create The Razzie Awards. However, it did make a wildly fun Broadway musical. The adaptation poked fun at some of the more bizarre parts of the film like ONJ’s love for roller-skates and leg warmers and some major plot holes. Greek muse Clio (Kerry Butler) goes undercover as a mortal named Kira with a thick Australian accent to inspire dim-witted artist Sonny Malone (Cheyenne Jackson).
The quirky British comedy drama finds a son inheriting his father’s shoe factory. When he befriends a drag queen Lola, played by Chiwetel Ejiofor (yes, that Chiwetel Ejiofor) he gets an idea to save his factory. The film also features Shaun of the Dead star Nick Frost. The award-winning musical version has songs penned by Cyndi Lauper (who won her first Tony for the show — she's just an Oscar away from EGOTing now!) and story by Harvey Fierstein.
Reese Witherspoon throws the whole notion of "dumb blondes" out the window when sorority girl Elle Woods goes to Harvard Law School. This highly addictive musical features Laura Bell Bundy as Elle, along with major dance numbers, insanely catchy sing-a-long moments, and fresh additions to the original story. Smash star Christian Borle appears as Elle’s dorky love interest Emmett. The series did not win a Tony but it did find a lot success and even aired in its entirety on MTV.
John Waters' edgy comedy about the 1960s race relations and dance series already had musical numbers, so all it needed was that extra touch. The 1988 film starred Ricki Lake, Divine, and Debbie Harry. It spawned a musical that won eight Tony Awards. It starred Harvey Fierstein and Glee star Matthew Morrison. Xanadu star Butler and Legally Blonde’s Bundy also had roles in this obscenely popular musical. Not only did the musical clean up some of Waters more edgy themes but it somehow managed to inspire a movie musical based on a musical based on a movie. It can best be described as:
While recent animated blockbusters have aimed to viewers of all ages starting with fantastical concepts and breathtaking visuals but tackling complex emotional issues along the way Ice Age: Continental Drift is crafted especially for the wee ones — and it works. Venturing back to prehistoric times once again the fourth Ice Age film paints broad strokes on the theme of familial relationships throwing in plenty of physical comedy along the way. The movie isn't that far off from one of the many Land Before Time direct-to-video sequels: not particularly innovative or necessary but harmless thrilling fun for anyone with a sense of humor. Unless they have a particular distaste for wooly mammoths the kids will love it.
Ice Age: Continental Drift continues to snowball its cartoon roster bringing back the original film's trio (Ray Romano as Manny the Mammoth Denis Leary as Diego the Sabertooth Tiger and John Leguizamo as Sid the Sloth) new faces acquired over the course of the franchise (Queen Latifah as Manny's wife Ellie) and a handful of new characters to spice things up everyone from Nicki Minaj as Manny's daughter Steffie to Wanda Sykes as Sid's wily grandma. The whole gang is living a pleasant existence as a herd with Manny's biggest problem being playing overbearing dad to the rebellious daughter. Teen mammoths they always want to go out and play by the waterfall! Whippersnappers.
The main thrust of the film comes when Scratch the Rat (whose silent comedy routines in the vein of Tex Avery/WB cartoons continue to be the series highlight) accidentally cracks the singular continent Pangea into the world we know today. Manny Diego and Sid find themselves stranded on an iceberg once again forced on a road trip journey of survival. The rest of the herd embarks to meet them giving Steffie time to realize the true meaning of friendship with help from her mole pal Louis (Josh Gad).
The ham-handed lessons may drag for those who've passed Kindergarten but Ice Age: Continental Drift is a lot of fun when the main gang crosses paths with a group of villainous pirates. (Back then monkeys rabbits and seals were hitting the high seas together pillaging via boat-shaped icebergs. Obviously.) Quickly Ice Age becomes an old school pirate adventure complete with maritime navigation buried treasure and sword fights. Gut (Peter Dinklage) an evil ape with a deadly... fingernail leads the evil-doers who pose an entertaining threat for the familiar bunch. Jennifer Lopez pops by as Gut's second-in-command Shira the White Tiger and the film's two cats have a chase scene that should rouse even the most apathetic adults. Hearing Dinklage (of Game of Thrones fame) belt out a pirate shanty may be worth the price of admission alone.
With solid action (that doesn't need the 3D addition) cartoony animation and gags out the wazoo Ice Age: Continental Drift is entertainment to enjoy with the whole family. Revelatory? Not quite. Until we get a feature length silent film of Scratch's acorn pursuit we may never see a "classic" Ice Age film but Continental Drift keeps it together long enough to tell a simple story with delightful flare that should hold attention spans of any length. Massive amounts of sugar not even required.
[Photo Credit: 20th Century Fox]
Bill Joel weds 23-year-old cooking student
Billy Joel married his fiancée, 23-year-old Kate Lee, in an afternoon ceremony Saturday at his Long Island home. According to Newsday.com, guards dressed in black patrolled the sprawling estate on Oyster Bay Harbor while Nassau County police patrolled the surrounding waters and a police helicopter flew overhead. Lee, a native of Huntington, W.Va., recently graduated from Ohio's Miami University and works as a restaurant correspondent for the PBS show George Hirsch: Living It Up! She and Joel began dating about a year ago. For the ceremony, Lee wore an Oscar de la Renta gown and a pair of custom-made Jimmy Choo shoes, Joel's publicist said. This is the singer-songwriter's third wedding. He was previously married to supermodel Christie Brinkley, the mother of Joel's 18-year-old daughter Alexa Ray. Brinkley, who graced the cover of Sports Illustrated magazine's famed swimsuit issue from 1979 through 1981, arrived at the ceremony in a silver van and offered kind words to the couple. "Congratulations to Billy and Katie," she told throngs reporters and curious onlookers clogging the road in front of the house. "We wish you every happiness." Joel, a member of the Rock and Roll hall of fame, received a star on Hollywood Boulevard last month in front of the Pantages Theatre, where Movin' Out, the Tony Award-winning musical based on his songs, is playing through Oct. 31.
Spears buys home in Malibu
Britney Spears, who "married" dancer Kevin Federline in Studio City, Calif., last month, bought a house in Malibu for just under $6.9 million. According to the Los Angeles Times, the traditional-style 9,000-square-foot home features eight bedrooms, eight bathrooms, a tennis court, pool, spa, gym and an outdoor kitchen. The validity of the 22-year-old singer's impromptu marriage to Federline, 26, was questioned a day after the Sept. 18 ceremony when it was widely reported the couple had not yet filed a marriage license--as they are required to do within 90 days under California law. At the time, Spears told People magazine they would file for the license the following week. A draft of the couple's prenuptial agreement obtained by Us Magazine estimates Spear's worth to be about $32 million.
SNL unveils all-female "Weekend Update"
Saturday Night Live unveiled the newest face of Weekend Update on its 30th season premiere Saturday when cast member Amy Poehler joined Tina Fey for the first all-female team in the show's history. Poehler, a regular cast member since Jan. 2001, replaces Jimmy Fallon, who exited the NBC comedy show in May after six years of reading the fake news with Fey. Past Weekend Update anchors have included Chevy Chase, Dan Aykroyd, Bill Murray, Dennis Miller, Kevin Nealon and Norm Macdonald. SNL's debut, hosted by Ben Affleck, scored the highest season-premiere ratings in the show's past three years--up 15 percent over last year's debut with Jack Black. The telecast featured surprise guest appearances by Alec Baldwin and James Gandolfini, who editorialized on gay New Jersey governor James McGreevey during the Weekend Update segment.
Gibson obtains restraining order against stalker
Mel Gibson obtained a temporary restraining order against a man who allegedly showed up at his Malibu estate and the chapel he attends, demanding they pray together. The AP reports Zack Sinclair, 34, was arrested Sept. 20 for investigation of disorderly conduct and loitering and remained jailed last Friday on $5,000 bail pending an Oct. 6 court hearing. The restraining order, which was issued a day after his arrest, bars him from coming within 150 yards of Gibson, his wife or their seven children. According to court documents, Sinclair went to Gibson's estate twice in September and interrupted his worship Sept. 19 at a chapel and "demanded that I pray with him." The man also allegedly sent letters to Gibson and his family, which recounted his prayers for the actor, cited biblical verse and praised his film The Passion of the Christ.
Sharpton turns 50
Rev. Al Sharpton celebrated his 50th birthday in style. At Harlem's Apollo Theater Sunday, artists including James Brown, Sean "P. Diddy" Combs and rappers Doug E. Fresh and Foxy Brown paid tribute to the preacher and former presidential candidate, including a rousing rendition of "Happy Birthday," AP reports. "He says what he feels, he means what he says, and he acts on it," Foxy Brown said. "He has marched, has been jailed, and many times maligned in his fight for recognition of the downtrodden." Sharpton used the occasion to ask for donations for the civil rights organization he founded, the National Action Network, whose headquarters were damaged by an electrical fire last year.
Legendary photographer Avedon dies
Fashion photographer Richard Avedon, who turned fashion and portrait photography into art forms and found new faces of women later dubbed supermodels, died Friday, a spokeswoman for the New Yorker magazine told Reuters. He was 81. Avedon, who captured unforgettable images of some of the world's most famous figures, died in San Antonio, Texas, almost a week after he suffered a brain hemorrhage while working on a photo essay on democracy for the magazine, spokeswoman Perri Dorset said.
Get Carter tops best British films
The 1971 cult hit Get Carter starring Michael Caine as a London gangster investigating the mysterious death of his brother topped Total Film magazine's list of the 50 best British films, AP reports. Carter bested other classics such as Monty Python's Life of Brian and Stanley Kubrick's A Clockwork Orange. Notable absences from the list include Oscar-winners Chariots of Fire and Gandhi.
Reported by Kit Bowen.