"I am picking up where Andy left off, and Kim is the perfect addition to the Warhol legacy. There is no way Andy Warhol would not have painted her. Kim is manufactured gorgeous and is beyond fabulous. How could Andy not have been inspired to paint her like he did Marilyn Monroe and Elizabeth Taylor?" Andy Warhol's artist cousin Monica Warhol, who Kanye West commissioned to paint his fiancee Kim Kardashian's portrait, insists her late relative would have relished capturing the reality TV star.
Madonna is teaming up with bosses at Dame Elizabeth Taylor's AIDS Foundation for a soccer initiative to raise awareness of the disease in Africa. The Queen of Pop's Raising Malawi organisation and the late Hollywood legend's charity will join forces with the Grassroot Soccer program, which helps educate youngsters about HIV prevention and testing through the power of the hugely popular sport.
The Material Girl says, "I'm excited to partner with The Elizabeth Taylor AIDS Foundation to expand Grassroot Soccer's HIV prevention programs in Malawi.
"I'm passionate about education especially and these programs give girls and boys the tools they need to live healthier, more productive lives. Elizabeth Taylor was a role model for many, including myself!
"She devoted a large part of her life to making the world a better place. I know she would be pleased to see her work continue in the fight against AIDS."
The humor in New Girl has been waning all season, so we won't even tackle the general unfunniness of this week's chapter, "Thanksgiving III." Instead, we're inclined to focus on an even stranger calamity incited by the episode — one about which we have mixed feelings.
In some ways, "Thanksgiving III" is an accomplishment for latter day New Girl, allowing the show to get back in touch with its thematic roots. It wasn't just a grab at quirky affability that led Elizabeth Meriwether to her program's title. When Jessica Day entered the lives of Nick, Schmidt, and Coach, it was as a fresh, unprecedented representation of the feminine perspective. She was there to leaven the stronghold that masculinity had on each of the boys (not men) in question.
Coach's was the most on-the-nose of the conflicts in question — he was anchored down by the age-old tropes of manliness: competitive, abrasive, consumed by strength and athleticism.
Schmidt's was a more modern masculinity, but a deafening one nonetheless: his affinity for grooming and cleanliness were tools pointed toward the craft of winning over as many women as possible — a triumph that would define him as a man.
And, of course, we had Nick. Averse to vulnerability, growth, and change of any kind. Vices all intrinsically buried in the fears of "man," a forever weakening figure hanging tight to his grasp on a power once untethered.
So who could be better than Jess to reform this trio? She's a beacon of feminine value, exhibiting emotionality, open-mindedness, understanding. The pilot planted seeds of how she might bring each of these fellows to a platform of liberation from the constrictions of gender.
But then came Winston. Damon Wayans Jr. retreated to Happy Endings (where his comic talents were better utilized than they seem to be on this show, so far) and Lamorne Morris entered the picture without the parameters of character. The biggest victim of Winston's ambiguity was the show's central conceit — the disfigurement of the toxic gender boundaries. It's not as though the themes died out straight away. Halfway through the first season, we saw Jess come to blows with Lizzy Caplan, playing a recurring love interest for Nick, over their conflicting ideas about femininity. But somewhere along the line, New Girl effectively stopped being about these pulsing, interesting ideas. It kept on being funny for a while, and built up its characters affectionately, but lost a good deal of what made it a story in the first place.
Until "Thanksgiving III," arguably the first episode to really tackle gender since Season 1. Nick, feeling undone by his relationship with Jess, demands that the whole gang go camping for Thanksgiving to assert himself as a man. The conclusion, as anyone who has been watching these past several weeks of New Girl might predict, is Jess convincing Nick that he's the sort of man she wants, and Nick taking one more step up the staircase of maturity. Meanwhile, these themes course through a story involving Coach, Schmidt, and Cece — modern man Schmidt feels threatened by former Eagle Scout Coach's traditional masculinity when he proves himself adept at handling the dangers of the California wilderness, and Cece proves her own gender-relevant experiences of making clothing ropes to sneak out of her bedroom window as the true source of heroism when things get heated in the third act. But none of that really matters.
On the one hand, we're excited to see New Girl get back to the themes that birthed it (although we can't imagine that, even with Coach's return to the program, we'll be seeing this become a throughline element). On the other, we can't help but call "Thanksgiving III" a regression. This is a plotline New Girl should have given us two seasons ago — after living with Jess for two-and-a-half years and dating her for however many months (undergoing a series of personal changes in the meantime), if Nick is still the same thick-headed dumb bell who thinks he needs to go on an ad-hoc hunting trip in order to feel comfortable as a male specimen, then it's as if nothing was introduced into the canon of New Girl when Jess Day showed up at the loft that fateful day in 2011.
By now, had New Girl kept to its inceptive identity, the show should be tackling issues of greater complexity than the most surface value of all gender restrictions. Nick shouldn't be dismissing his ill-conceived desires to go hunting (that's Step 1 of the reformation process), he should be figuring out how to tell people he loves them (Step 6, give or take). But there's that old saying about having cake and eating it too. We took one step forward with the themes of gender as fuel for "Thanksgiving III," and two steps back with the execution.
And then another step back for Winston's leggings.
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When we last left our heroes, they had conquered all opponents in the 74th Annual Hunger Games, returned home to their newly refurbished living quarters in District 12, and fallen haplessly to the cannibalism of PTSD. And now we're back! Hitching our wagons once again to laconic Katniss Everdeen and her sweet-natured, just-for-the-camera boyfriend Peeta Mellark as they gear up for a second go at the Capitol's killing fields.
But hold your horses — there's a good hour and a half before we step back into the arena. However, the time spent with Katniss and Peeta before the announcement that they'll be competing again for the ceremonial Quarter Quell does not drag. In fact, it's got some of the film franchise's most interesting commentary about celebrity, reality television, and the media so far, well outweighing the merit of The Hunger Games' satire on the subject matter by having Katniss struggle with her responsibilities as Panem's idol. Does she abide by the command of status quo, delighting in the public's applause for her and keeping them complacently saturated with her smiles and curtsies? Or does Katniss hold three fingers high in opposition to the machine into which she has been thrown? It's a quarrel that the real Jennifer Lawrence would handle with a castigation of the media and a joke about sandwiches, or something... but her stakes are, admittedly, much lower. Harvey Weinstein isn't threatening to kill her secret boyfriend.
Through this chapter, Katniss also grapples with a more personal warfare: her devotion to Gale (despite her inability to commit to the idea of love) and her family, her complicated, moralistic affection for Peeta, her remorse over losing Rue, and her agonizing desire to flee the eye of the public and the Capitol. Oftentimes, Katniss' depression and guilty conscience transcends the bounds of sappy. Her soap opera scenes with a soot-covered Gale really push the limits, saved if only by the undeniable grace and charisma of star Lawrence at every step along the way of this film. So it's sappy, but never too sappy.
In fact, Catching Fire is a masterpiece of pushing limits as far as they'll extend before the point of diminishing returns. Director Francis Lawrence maintains an ambiance that lends to emotional investment but never imposes too much realism as to drip into territories of grit. All of Catching Fire lives in a dreamlike state, a stark contrast to Hunger Games' guttural, grimacing quality that robbed it of the life force Suzanne Collins pumped into her first novel.
Once we get to the thunderdome, our engines are effectively revved for the "fun part." Katniss, Peeta, and their array of allies and enemies traverse a nightmare course that seems perfectly suited for a videogame spin-off. At this point, we've spent just enough time with the secondary characters to grow a bit fond of them — deliberately obnoxious Finnick, jarringly provocative Johanna, offbeat geeks Beedee and Wiress — but not quite enough to dissolve the mystery surrounding any of them or their true intentions (which become more and more enigmatic as the film progresses). We only need adhere to Katniss and Peeta once tossed in the pit of doom that is the 75th Hunger Games arena, but finding real characters in the other tributes makes for a far more fun round of extreme manhunt.
But Catching Fire doesn't vie for anything particularly grand. It entertains and engages, having fun with and anchoring weight to its characters and circumstances, but stays within the expected confines of what a Hunger Games movie can be. It's a good one, but without shooting for succinctly interesting or surprising work with Katniss and her relationships or taking a stab at anything but the obvious in terms of sending up the militant tyrannical autocracy, it never even closes in on the possibility of being a great one.
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Former DWTS professional Maksim "Maks" Chmerkovskiy joined us on the other side of the judging table, where he was handily wedged in between Len Goodman and Bruno Tonioli. Bruno's playfully lecherous flirtation was, needless to say, pretty entertaining. Plus, in such close quarters, Bruno's wild gestures almost decapitated him at one point – luckily, Maks used his dancers' swift instincts to dodge.
The challenge this week was quite interesting as well; the dancers were given the task of performing two distinct dances to different versions (original and acoustic) of the same song – the theme was plugged/unplugged. High points included Amber Riley and Derek Hough's eye-poppingly energetic jazz dance to "Bad Romance," and Jack Osbourne and Cheryl Burke's fiery tango to the Moulin Rouge acoustic version of "Roxanne" (in the face of M.S. flare-ups, no less). Lowpoints: Bill Engvall and Emma Slater's half-baked "Sexy and I Know It" routine (he was pushing through a groin injury, but still), and Corbin Bleu and Karina Smirnoff's overly flame-inspired tango to "Light 'Em Up" (seriously, that was just too much fire. And what was with the hooded cloaks?)
We also got to hear a bit of each contestant's backstory, which was quite sentimental (schmaltzy even for DWTS, but that's why we love it) – we got to see how The Osbournes messed with Jack's childhood, and how Multiple Sclerosis now plagues his adulthood. Also notable were the struggles Amber faced with casting directors, largely based off of her race and weight. I almost wish we could have had these testimonials earlier in the season, but I guess going through it with all 12 of the original couples would have been overwhelming to say the least.
As for eliminations: the reign of Bill Engvall continues...it's getting tricky, isn't it? He truly is delightful (as the judges continually remind us before docking major points), and he has a compelling relationship with his partner – but how far should that take you on a dancing competition? The fan vote has saved him week after week after week, with technically more proficient dancers going home. With Brant Daugherty and Elizabeth Berkley, it was surprising, but with Leah, it was almost melancholy. The two of them came from the same place – both inexperienced dancers with enough personality to make up for it. But even though she has technically improved much more than he has, she was the one who was booted off the show.
We were sad to see her go. With her copious wisecracking, she brought a sense of levity to the show; watching her and Tony imitate each other's sexy faces at each other was kind of awesome. And while they didn't have the chemistry of say, Brant and Peta, you really got the sense that they were looking out for each other. Tony has oft voiced the opinion that Leah is what DWTS is all about – and in a lot of ways, she was. She came in insecure, with little-to-no dance experience (ahem, Corbin), and has slowly worked her way up to the semi-finals, all the way as an underdog through and through; someone you could root for. She in turn, has said how much his belief in her has meant to her as a competitor – their mutual respect for each other led to some lovely moments throughout the season, and as Corbin, Bill, Jack, and Amber continue on as finalists, she'll definitely be missed.
* Worst costume of the week: Emma Slater's mesh bodysuit/furry-looking bikini.
* Some of the song covers were just plain awful. "Locked Out of Heaven" in the style of Evanescence? No. Just, no.
* Leah's daughter crying after her elimination was awfully precious.
The competition continues to get tighter – this week, the term "semi-finalist" was thrown around quite a bit. It turns out the semi-finals begin next week, and the dancers continued to up their game accordingly. Corbin and Karina danced a beautiful waltz (they always have the best outfits, amirite?), and fan favorites Jack Osborne and Leah Remini continued to climb their way up the scoreboard. Bill Engvall faltered, his exuberance only enough to earn him sevens across the board in light of his poor sense of rhythm.
This week's special challenge was the trio dance – it didn't sound quite as exciting as the freestyle, but it turned out to be hugely entertaining. For many of the dancers, adding in a third person to the group improved their dances exponentially. Elizabeth and Val (plus Gleb Savchenko) walked away with perfect 10s all around, and Corbin and Karina (plus Witney Carson) were so good that they drew comparisons to Bob Fosse. Carrie Ann was so charmed, she said something bleep-worthy – all we know is that it had something to do with Usher...?
And the best part of the trio dances? Leah (along with Tony Dovolani, and Henry Byalikov) decided to poke a bit of fun at the three judges (WATCH IT. No, seriously). I suppose as professional dancers, it would make sense that they would make great physical mimics – Tony in particular got Bruno's sweeping gestures down to a T!
Though the odds seemed stacked against Bill (he had the lowest score by quite a bit in both of this week's dances) his legions of fans were enough to keep him on for the semi-final round. He's stolen our hearts, along with the judges, who continue to express regret that they can't score him off of his likability rather than his poor rhythm. Great for Bill, but someone had to suffer this week. And that someone? Elizabeth Berkley. Even after her consistently stellar scores, her fans were not strong enough to save her.
I know nothing about dancing, but even I could tell she had a willowy elegance and sensibility that was a rare find on a reality show like DWTS. Her considerable skill, in addition to her wide (and oh-so-slightly crazy) eyes and rapport with partner Val Chmerkovskiy will make her sorely missed – she definitely belonged up on that semi-finalist stage! It makes you really think about the popularity contest aspect of the show. I suppose that the equally weighted scores means that the show itself really belongs equally to the fans as it does to the judges. But really, it goes to show you that your dancing's not necessarily going to get you that trophy. Like fellow proficient dancers Christina Milian and Brant Daugherty before her, Elizabeth went home before her time.
* Loved the awkward cut to a reaction shot of Bill Engvall's wife as he extolled his two exceedingly gorgeous dance partners, Emma Slater and Peta Murgatroyd
* Okay I get that for whatever reason, ballroom dance costumes are often ridiculously ugly, but Jack's leopard-printed samba outfit was off the charts!
* There was a competition for best abs between Val Chmerkovskiy and Gleb Savchenko. Yes.
Actress Elizabeth Olsen has confirmed reports she has joined the cast of The Avengers sequel Age of Ultron. Samuel L. Jackson let it slip that the Martha Marcy May Marlene star had landed the role of Scarlet Witch in the film last month (Oct13), and now she is speaking out about joining the superhero film franchise.
She'll team up with Aaron Taylor-Johnson - her co-star in upcoming monster movie Godzilla - who will play her twin brother Quicksilver in The Avengers movie.
She says, "We get to play husband and wife (in Godzilla), and we get to play twin brother and sister. It's also fun because even though in Godzilla we play husband and wife, we don't have a lot of scenes together. I just love him. I love his family. I love his kids. I'm so excited... I think it's going to be fun."
Olsen also can't wait to start working with director Joss Whedon, adding, "He's very smart. He's too smart. He might be too smart. Some people are too smart for their own good, but he's amazing."
ABC did exactly what everyone was saying they were trying to do when they hired Bill Nye the Science Guy: they hooked the nerdy millenials. I mean, Bill was eliminated way back on episode 3 (after an adorable immobilized-knee robot dance to "Get Lucky") and I'm still hooked. Glitter and sequins aside, there's something that's touching about watching the stars and "the professionals" really bond as they spend hours a day training. Watching Valerie Harper dance the Viennese waltz to "Carry On" with her very-sweet partner Tristan McManus was -- cheesy as it sounds -- beautiful in more ways than one.
Mushiness aside, this week the dancers/stars were in for a very special treat: Cher was guest judging, in place of at-times astringent head judge Len Goodman. Everyone was over the moon – Cher was über-complimentary and supportive, and she handed out exclusively 8s and 9s. That must have been a nice break (Leah Remini in particular, expressed this sentiment multiple times), and it was fun to see the starstruck stars: Elizabeth Berkley publicly (and only slightly awkwardly) thanked Cher for what she's done to empower women.
As we move into week 8, the competition has been getting tighter and tighter. The scores don't vary that much, and it really comes down to the fan vote: even after earning a respectable 27 after an electrifying foxtrot, Pretty Little Liars star Brant Daugherty and partner Peta Murgatroyd (keep wanting to spell it "Peeta." Damn you, Hunger Games!) were sent home.
It's a shame – as judge Carrie Ann Inaba put it, he's one of the contestants that's actually shown the most growth. He started fairly strong, but has markedly improved on a week-to-week basis, which is no easy feat. Plus, there's the fact that he literally looked like a '70s Disney prince in his peach-colored suit this week, with a kind of scary mannequin smile to match. I may have found it a little odd, but Cher sure loved it, and that's what's important.
Anyways, I think I'm not alone when I say I'll miss Brant, and I'm not just making salacious comments about his abs. (Although: dayyyyyyum!) He had an earnestness and work ethic that we don't always expect to see in handsome young actors, and he and Peta had the best chemistry on the show. (If you google them, you'll find piles of dating rumors.) Farewell Brant and Peta – may you dance again.
Actor Aaron Taylor-Johnson has been confirmed to play Quicksilver in the new Avengers film. The Kick-Ass star has been the rumoured frontrunner for the role since June (13), but a scheduling conflict with the Godzilla reboot movie, which Taylor-Johnson also stars in, almost derailed his chances of appearing in The Avengers: Age of Ultron.
However, the issue has reportedly been worked out and Taylor-Johnson will take on the superhero role, according to TheWrap.com.
Quicksilver is the twin brother of the Scarlet Witch, who will be played by Elizabeth Olsen.
The Avengers: Age of Ultron, which also stars Robert Downey Jr, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson and Samuel L. Jackson, is set to hit theatres in 2015.
Singer Michael Jackson has been named the top-earning dead celebrity of 2013. The administrators of the King of Pop's estate have brought in an estimated $160 million (GBP106.6 million) in the past year, according to Forbes magazine, thanks to deals with Cirque du Soleil and recorded music sales.
Jackson beats Elvis Presley, whose daughter Lisa-Marie was once the pop star's wife, and Peanuts cartoonist Charles M Schulz, who comes in third with a $37 million (GBP24.6 million) fortune.
Elizabeth Taylor and reggae star Bob Marley round out the top five.
Ironically, Jackson topped the very much alive Madonna on the pop fortune list - the Material Girl singer was named the top earner on the 2013 celebrity 100 list, with $125 million (GBP83.3 million) in earnings.