Death is a natural part of life. Without one, the other cannot exist. And in 2012, many heavyweights of the entertainment world were lost. Sometimes death can be a moment to mourn those we've lost, but also celebrate their achievements.
Perhaps the most notable death of 2012 was that of Whitney Houston. Houston passed away at age 48 in February of this year, and with her the world mourned. Houston was a true icon in every sense of the word: her voice was like none other in the world, and her death served as a wake-up call to the real dangers of narcotics. It is said that "despite her past personal troubles, she still became one of the most successful and award-winning female artists of all time." Whether on-screen in The Bodyguard and Sparkle, or on-stage at the Grammy Awards, Houston made every moment shine with her golden vocal chords, and her loss will be felt far beyond her 48 years of life.
In August we lost iconic and barrier-breaking female comedian Phyllis Diller. Diller was "often cited as a pioneer of comedy, helping establish women in Hollywood as legitimate stand-up talent." Her work as a female comedian started "in radio in the 50s, before leveraging the appearances into television spots and a full touring career." A feat, no doubt, impressive at any time, but especially while Diller was doing it. During the 60s, Diller starred alongside Bob Hope in 23 television specials and three films.
Another female icon gone too soon was Nora Ephron, a woman who wore many hats, including director, writer, journalist, and more in her impressive career. In our obituary for Ephron, we discussed the "surprisingly diverse and fantastic career," of hers, one "with nary a creative miss on her IMDb page." She wrote and directed some of the most classic romantic comedies out there, including Sleepless in Seattle, You've Got Mail, and Julie & Julia, Heartburn, and When Harry Met Sally. "What separated Ephron from her counterparts was not only her distinct sense of humor, but the way that she could create original, complex female characters and put them in traditional movies without making them seem simple or pandering." It is a universal truth that the name Nora Ephron "was a hallmark of the quality that she brought to all of her work."
Hero to space nerds and humans everywhere was Neil Armstrong, who lost a battle with complications from a heart bypass surgery in August. His first steps on the moon were "one small step for man, one giant leap for mankind" even though, in the end, Armstrong fancied himself "a reluctant American hero who always believed he was just doing his job."
A shocking loss was the unexpected death of Green Mile actor Michael Clarke Duncan, who was especially known for his booming voice and hulking stature. But not only that, Duncan was a comedy man. "Duncan's comedic timing coupled with his action-star prowess made him a staple in other films," including Daredevil, a remake of Planet of the Apes, Sin City and animated kids' film Kung-Fu Panda.
One of the longest-running careers in Hollywood was cut short in July when Ernest Borgnine passed away. The charismatic 95-year-old had a career that spanned decades. Six, in fact, "making him an icon of the business, beloved and respected by many." He was mostly-known for his work as a character actor, where "Borgnine made the Hollywood scene his playground, making a name for himself with generally villainous roles. His career-bucking role as a lovelorn butcher in 1955’s Marty won him an Oscar for Best Actor." Other highlights of his career included 1953's From Here to Eternity, and his long-standing run on TV's McHale’s Navy as the title character Quinton McHale.
Author and political and gay activist Gore Vidal left us in July, and with him an iconic voice of truth-telling and honesty in writing. From the plays (and screenplays) of Paris is Burning to his work on Ben-Hur, "Vidal was considered many things outside of his writerly pursuits" and one of his most famous works, The City and the Pillar, is said to be one of the first mainstream American novels to feature overtly gay characters at its center." It was so controversial at the time that The New York Times refused to review it in 1948. His passion for Hollywood and his interests never wained.
Another author, Ray Bradbury lost his life in 2012. Best known for works like Fahrenheit 451, The Martian Chronicles, Something Wicked This Way Comes, and The Illustrated Man, "Bradbury gained notoriety around the world as one the 20th century's most important voices in science fiction."
In May, the children's literature world lost the iconic creator of Where The Wild Things Are, Maurice Sendak, the wildly imaginative voice of growing up everywhere. He was considered "a defining voice in children's literature as both an author and illustrator."
This December, we lost Jenni Rivera, the world-renowned Mexican-American singer and reality star. Rivera had "a wildly popular career as a singer and reality-television star and has sold over 20 million albums worldwide in addition to her mun2 reality series I Love Jenni." Millions of fans the world over mourned her untimely passing in a plane crash. Other iconic musicians to leave too soon included the and-you-don't-stop, intergalatic party-rights-fighter Adam Yauch of The Beastie Boys lost his battle with cancer in May. Fans the world over mourned the shocking loss of such a huge player in music and movies, as his Oscilloscope Laboratories is "now one of the most important distributors in the film landscape."
These two heavyweights weren't the only losses in music, which also included such big names as "sitar master and Oscar winner" Ravi Shankar, The Monkees' own lead dreamboat and television star Davy Jones, The BeeGees' founding member Robin Gibb, and At Last crooner Etta James. All of whom made huge marks within their respective genres. The loss of disco diva Donna Summer after a battle with cancer also shook the music world to its core.
In a tragic turn of events, director Tony Scott took his own life in August. Scott "rose to prominence in the 80s with Top Gun and Beverly Hills Cop II," He had recently co-produced the summer's alien blockbuster Prometheus with his brother," as well as several TV production credits including The Good Wife and NUMB3RS.
Others, including television actors Jack Klugman and William Windom of The Odd Couple and Murder, She Wrote also passed on in the past year. The men were 90 and 88, respectively. Dallas star Larry Hagman died of cancer complications in November, leaving behind a career that included I Dream of Jeannie, numerous stage productions, and several films like 1972's The Blob, and Oliver Stone's Nixon and Primary Colors. The comedian and actor Sherman Hemsley — star of movin' on up The Jeffersons passed away in July.
Sesame Street also lost two of its performers, director Emily Squires and puppeteer Jerry Nelson. Tom Cruise's mother in Risky Business, Janet Carroll also lost a lengthy battle with illness in May.
In the end, death will always be what comes after life, but the contributions of those we lost this year will reverberate within the industry for years and years to come. May they all rest in peace.
[Photo Credit: CHP/FameFlynet Pictures; Frazer Harrison/Getty Images; Carrie Devorah/WENN; Joseph Marzullo/WENN; WENN]
Follow Alicia on Twitter @alicialutes
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What should have been the ravings of a beloved loony rocker have become the catalyst for the second American Idol feud in two months – and the show doesn’t even air until January. Of course, the person pouring fuel into this nonsense is none other than brand new judge Nicki Minaj, who already fought with fellow judge Mariah Carey and is now claiming that Season 11 judge Steven Tyler’s recent comments are “racist.”
It makes us wonder: Is this the Idol we’re stuck with? Is it now a show laced with negativity and bitterness – qualities we only thought existed during Hollywood week when Richie the Cowboy was testing all of us? (We’re not dealing with any of his “craps.”)
The answer, it appears, is “Yep.”
Monday, Tyler spoke to MTV about the “new” Idol, saying,They should have something going on so thick and beautiful that they can lay it over the new talent that's trying to birth itself. It needs to be birthed, not judged by 'entertainment' factors, it needs to be judged by people that [are] honest, true, that have the 'it' factor. Not the 'it' factor because they can fight. The f--k is that all about? …
These kids, they just got out of a car from the Midwest somewhere and they're in New York City, they're scared to death; you're not going to get the best ... If it was Bob Dylan, Nicki Minaj would have had him sent to the cornfield! Whereas, if it was Bob Dylan with us, we would have brought the best of him out, as we did with Phillip Phillips. Just saying.Minaj, who’s not one to ever let a story hit the masses without taking to Twitter to tell her side of it, jumped right into the fray with gusto, claiming Tyler’s comments about Minaj's potential for missing a talented performer on the level of Bob Dylan were laced with racism.
I understand you really wanted to keep your job but take that up with the producers. I haven't done anything to you. That's a racist comment
— Nicki Minaj (@NICKIMINAJ) November 26, 2012
You assume that I wouldn't have liked Bob Dylan??? why? black? rapper? what? go fuck yourself and worry about yourself babe.
— Nicki Minaj (@NICKIMINAJ) November 26, 2012
LOL lets make him a shirt that says "No Coloreds Allowed" then escort him down 2 Barbara Walters so he can tell how he was threatened w/guns
— Nicki Minaj (@NICKIMINAJ) November 26, 2012
When Steven 1st went on Idol he was ridiculed by his peers & fans alike. Called a sell out. So what does he do? Ridicule thenext judge.
— Nicki Minaj (@NICKIMINAJ) November 26, 2012
Of course, while we all wonder who we think is more correct – the former, potentially ousted judge or the newer firestarter – we’re already losing the fundamental piece of American Idol that kept it from being just another The Voice or The X Factor. Even when the show brought on superstars like Jennifer Lopez and Tyler, it maintained the promise that the contestants were the ones to watch, not the fireworks happening behind the judges’ table.
But if Minaj can't put up with a little chatter from the peanut gallery, what's she going to do when fans start angrily tweeting at her for a negative comment at a contestant they like? Are we headed for a season in which Minaj's fury will be aimed at her fellow judges and anyone else who voices their criticisms? Is this the era of Mean Idol?
Follow Kelsea on Twitter @KelseaStahler
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Spanning from WWI to the 21st century Eric Roth’s screenplay (based loosely on a 1922 short story by F. Scott Fitzgerald) tells the unique story of a man named Benjamin Button (Brad Pitt). He is born in New Orleans as a very old baby the equivalent of a man in his 80s who then ages backward into youth over the better part of a century. The film is told in flashback by a very old dying woman Daisy (Cate Blanchett) who recounts her tale to her daughter (Julia Ormond) from a hospital bed during Hurricane Katrina. Left on the doorstep of a retirement home one night by his father (Jason Flemyng) Benjamin is brought up by Queenie (Taraji P. Henson) who runs the place. While there he meets a young girl Daisy who will become a key figure -- romantically and otherwise -- in his life. Ben does have some grand adventures: He goes to work on a boat sees sea battles during WWII finds love with an older married woman (Tilda Swinton) -- and gets progressively younger as the decades fly by. It all manages to be alternately haunting romantic funny epic emotional and incredibly moving and will likely to stay with you a lifetime. Brad Pitt manages to deliver a thoughtful and subtle performance through all the special effects makeup and CGI. He does so much just by using his eyes. Cate Blanchett is equally fine as she plays Daisy from a teenager to an old woman and matches Pitt in bringing an entire lifetime skillfully to light. Her aging makeup is completely natural and she’s very moving in the hospital scenes opposite Ormond. Henson is just marvelous as Queenie a warm and understanding soul. Swinton is elegant and memorable in her few crucial encounters with Ben and plays beautifully off Pitt. Jared Harris (TV’s The Riches) as the colorful Captain Mike who hires Ben on his tug boat and Flemyng (The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen) as Ben’s father are also effective in their brief screen time. Interestingly Benjamin Button has been gestating for decades in the Hollywood firmament but needed time for the proper technology to catch up to it. Director David Fincher (Zodiac Fight Club) with his early background at George Lucas’ ILM proves to be the perfect choice to marry a compelling story with spectacular visual effects achievement. He did not want to do the film unless the technology allowed one actor to play the role throughout the course of the film. Remarkably they were able to achieve this superimposing Brad Pitt’s face and eyes into all the incarnations of Ben Button. In one sequence Pitt looks just like he did in Thelma and Louise. It’s an amazing feat. He has seamlessly created a unique universe without ever bringing attention to it advancing the art of screen storytelling leaps and bounds ahead of everything else that has come before. Benjamin Button is a plaintive and provocative meditation of life death and what we do while we are here. It’s the stuff of dreams.
Seaside celebrity enclave Malibu Colony in California has been ravaged by a fast-paced wildfire, which broke out early on Sunday morning.
The blaze has already claimed an animal hospital and landmark buildings Hodge Castle, which was reportedly once owned by Bob Dylan, and Malibu Presbyterian Church.
Locals are mourning the loss of socialite Lilly Lawrence's castle home--because it included a private museum featuring letters from Grace Kelly, Princess Diana and six U.S. presidents.
More than 500 firefighters are battling the blaze as WENN goes to press, but Los Angeles County Fire Department Inspector Sam Padilla admits the fire is far from under control.
Residents of Malibu Colony were evacuated to nearby Zuma Beach as the wildfire threatened their homes.
Built in the 1930s, the cluster of luxury homes that is Malibu Colony has been a favorite of celebrities over the years.
Linda Ronstadt, Larry Hagman, Jeff Bridges, Mel Brooks, Sting and Bill Murray are among the stars who reportedly own and rent homes in Malibu Colony.
In January, a smaller fire hit near the Colony area, and claimed the oceanfront home of actress Suzanne Somers.
Malibu fires in November 1993 destroyed Sean Penn and Ali MacGraw's homes and came close to claiming estates owned by Mel Gibson and Richard Gere.
Students at nearby Pepperdine University have also been evacuated from their rooms to a campus cafeteria.
The wildfire is expected to blaze throughout Sunday and Monday as hot weather and heavy Santa Ana winds marked the height of traditional wildfire season after one of the driest rain years in Southern California on record.
Arson experts have already started to investigate the cause of the fire.
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