Grammy Awards producer Ken Ehrlich has defended his decision to omit Joan Rivers from the prizegiving's In Memoriam segment on Sunday night (08Feb15), insisting he meant "no disrespect". The legendary comedienne, who was posthumously honoured with her first Grammy for Best Spoken Word Album for her memoir, Diary of a Mad Diva, was noticeably left out of the montage of late stars, which included photo tributes to the likes of Joe Cocker, Andrae Crouch, Pete Seeger, Jack Bruce, Ian McLagan, Bobby Womack, Tommy Ramone and Maya Angelou.
Her absence prompted some viewers to question the inclusion of another iconic comedian, Robin Williams, while omitting Rivers, but Ehrlich insists it was just a matter of time constraints, noting that the Mrs. Doubtfire star had earned four Grammys during his career.
The TV mogul tells People.com, "I try and put a time limit on the 'In Memoriam' (segment) and just have to make choices at some point. No disrespect (was meant) at all. I actually knew Joan and worked with her from time to time.
"I think it was just that her Grammy involvement was certainly less than Robin's. There's only so much we can do and we have to make hard choices when it comes to things like that."
Rivers' snub occurred just hours after beloved British actor Bob Hoskins was also left out of a similar tribute piece at the British Academy of Film and Television Arts (BAFTA) prizegiving in London. Event bosses insisted the Who Framed Roger Rabbit star had not been forgotten, as they had previously chosen to honour him at their TV awards in May (14).
Champagne, fireworks, and a midnight kiss aren't the only New Year's Eve traditions America loves to celebrate. From Guy Lombardo to Dick Clark to Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin, Auld Lang Syne TV specials are as much a part of sweeping out the old year and ushering in the new as babies and old men. Of course, they've gotten a bit more outrageous since Guy Lombardo's heyday. While Dick Clark's New Year's Rockin' Eve With Ryan Seacrest remains the most popular Dec. 31 event, it's a relatively tame affair compared to CNN New Year's Live With Anderson Cooper and Kathy Griffin. One particularly awkward moment for Anderson from that broadcast is sure to be the talk today of anyone who watched, but we've found seven others from across last night's broadcasts that had us buzzing as well. Or maybe it was just the champagne.
8. Kathy Acknowledges This Is Anderson's First New Year's Publicly Out of the Closet.
Now, mind you, Kathy didn't poke fun at Anderson's newly disclosed sexuality head on. She can be crude, but not that crude. She was a bit more subtle. Like asking him if he'd ever made out with TV journalism's other Silver Fox, NBC's David Gregory. Interestingly, Anderson did not give a clear answer.
7. Will Someone Please Find Jenny McCarthy a Kissing Partner?
To give a new twist to an old tradition, McCarthy, an unheralded New Year's Rockin' Eve MVP for appearing and hosting on live TV on and off for over five hours, asked the Twitterverse who should be the recipient of her midnight kiss. The candidates? Archetypal. A military man, a firefighter, and an "average Joe" were the three contenders for her puckered lips. Her Twitter followers collectively played the Homeric role of Paris to select from the assembled studs and, surprise, surprise...the military man won the honor.
6. Kathy’s Intended Duet of "Islands in the Stream."
You could argue that Kathy Griffin is at her absurdist best on live TV. While her scripted stand-up act can feel heavily rehearsed, and even stilted, put her on live TV and she's a stream-of-consciousness spark-plug ready to shock viewers, and make her co-host Anderson very uncomfortable. One recurring bit last night was her attempt to sing a duet with Mr. Cooper. The karaoke-worthy choices? "Islands in the Stream" with Anderson and Kathy as substitutes for Kenny Rogers and Dolly Parton. And, even better, "You Don't Give Me Flowers" by Neil Diamond and Barbra Streisand. What? Seal's "Kiss from a Rose" wasn't on the table?
5. Snooki Is No Linguistics Expert.
When 20-year-old U.K. crooner Conor Maynard spoke to the Jersey Shore star, who was hosting the Club MTV NYE 2013 broadcast, she gushed over his "Harry Potter accent." Aw, it's the first time she's ever met someone from Britain!
4. Kathy Griffin Mocks Taylor Swift.
The singer and her repertoire of revenge and resentment fell under the following withering critique from Kathy: "I’m not saying she has an eating disorder. I’m saying, she’s slender. Can she stop whining about her perfect life? She went out with Gyllenhaal and then her song is 'I will never ever, ever take your call again, like never, like seriously, never ever Jake Gyllenhaal, stop calling me.' Who doesn’t want Jake Gyllenhaal to call her?" The only thing better was Anderson's response, "He seems like a nice guy." Looks like someone agrees with us that "We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together" is one of the worst songs of 2012.
3. Jenny Gets Inappropriate With Justin Bieber.
Or rather, a life-size cardboard cutout of Justin Bieber. After he performed an unplugged, surprisingly soulful, version of "If I Was Your Boyfriend," McCarthy raunchily stood behind a Biebs cutout and proceeded to fondle it. And act like it was fondling her right back. “Oh, Justin. I’m old enough to be your mother!”
2. Anderson and Kathy Meet PSY.
The most transcendentally amazing moment of any of 2013's New Year's Eve coverage came when New Year's Rockin' Eve performers PSY and MC Hammer crossed the quantum barrier between networks and dropped in on Anderson and Kathy on CNN. PSY gave the most sincere, heartfelt non sequitur answer imaginable when he said “That means so much coming from you” in response to Kathy's comment about his 2012 success, “You have money coming out of your butt.” Griffin responded with an equally unironic “Keep it Gangnam Style or any other style you want.” Did Seacrest send Hammer and PSY to mess with their heads? The world may never know.
1. Kathy’s New Year’s "Present" for Anderson.
Never, in their six years co-hosting on New Year's Eve, has Anderson ever appeared this uncomfortable. With hindsight, I suppose the whole evening was building to it. First, Kathy demanded that Anderson 'spoon' her after midnight had struck, then claimed that she'd gotten, ahem, a rise out of him. But around a half-hour into the New Year, she started to crouch down and attempt to simulate something a bit more provocative. Anderson was mortified. So he crouched down with her to maintain eye contact, and avoid the horrifying implication of her gesture. Only Kathy crouched down and attempted to give Anderson this "New Year's present' more than just once. Actually, over and over. Both of them ended up finishing their broadcast in a catcher's squat, as CNN's standards and practices department undoubtedly began 2013 with a full-blown panic attack.
Follow Christian Blauvelt on Twitter @Ctblauvelt
[Photo Credit: CNN]
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In a post-Harry Potter Avatar and Lord of the Rings world the descriptors "sci-fi" and "fantasy" conjure up particular imagery and ideas. The Hunger Games abolishes those expectations rooting its alternate universe in a familiar reality filled with human characters tangible environments and terrifying consequences. Computer graphics are a rarity in writer/director Gary Ross' slow-burn thriller wisely setting aside effects and big action to focus on star Jennifer Lawrence's character's emotional struggle as she embarks on the unthinkable: a 24-person death match on display for the entire nation's viewing pleasure. The final product is a gut-wrenching mature young adult fiction adaptation diffused by occasional meandering but with enough unexpected choices to keep audiences on their toes.
Panem a reconfigured post-apocalyptic America is sectioned off into 12 unique districts and ruled under an iron thumb by the oppressive leaders of The Capitol. To keep the districts producing their specific resources and prevent them from rebelling The Capitol created The Hunger Games an annual competition pitting two 18-or-under "tributes" from each district in a battle to the death. During the ritual tribute "Reaping " teenage Katniss (Lawrence) watches as her 12-year-old sister Primrose is chosen for battle—and quickly jumps to her aid becoming the first District 12 citizen to volunteer for the games. Joined by Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) a meek baker's son and the second tribute Effie the resident designer and Haymitch a former Hunger Games winner-turned-alcoholic-turned-mentor Katniss rides off to The Capitol to train and compete in the 74th Annual Hunger Games.
The greatest triumph of The Hunger Games is Ross' rich realization of the book's many worlds: District 12 is painted as a reminiscent Southern mining town haunting and vibrant; The Capitol is a utopian metropolis obsessed with design and flair; and The Hunger Games battleground is a sprawling forest peppered with Truman Show-esque additions that remind you it's all being controlled by overseers. The small-scale production value adds to the character-first approach and even when the story segues to larger arenas like a tickertape parade in The Capitol's grand Avenue of Tributes hall it's all about Katniss.
For fans the script hits every beat a nearly note-for-note interpretation of author Suzanne Collins' original novel—but those unfamiliar shouldn't worry about missing anything. Ross knows his way around a sharp screenplay (he's the writer of Big Pleasantville and Seabiscuit) and he's comfortable dropping us right into the action. His characters are equally as colorful as Panem Harrelson sticking out as the former tribute enlivened by the chance to coach winners. He's funny he's discreet he's shaded—a quality all the cast members share. As a director Ross employs a distinct often-grating perspective. His shaky cam style emphasizes the reality of the story but in fight scenarios—and even simple establishing shots of District 12's goings-on—the details are lost in motion blur.
But the dread of the scenario is enough to make Hunger Games an engrossing blockbuster. The lead-up to the actual competition is an uncomfortable and biting satire of reality television sports and everything that commands an audience in modern society. Katniss' brooding friend Gale tells her before she departs "What if nobody watched?" speculating that carnage might end if people could turn away. Unfortunately they can't—forcing Katniss and Peeta to become "stars" of the Hunger Games. The duo are pushed to gussy themselves up put on a show and play up their romance for better ratings. Lawrence channels her reserved Academy Award-nominated Winter's Bone character to inhabit Katniss' frustration with the system. She's great at hunting but she doesn't want to kill. She's compassionate and considerate but has no interest in bowing down to the system. She's a leader but she knows full well she's playing The Capitol's game. Even with 23 other contestants vying for the top spot—like American Idol with machetes complete with Ryan Seacrest stand-in Caesar Flickerman (the dazzling Stanley Tucci)—Katniss' greatest hurdle is internal. A brave move for a movie aimed at a young audience.
By the time the actual Games roll around (the movie clocks in at two and a half hours) there's a need to amp up the pace that never comes and The Hunger Games loses footing. Katniss' goal is to avoid the action hiding in trees and caves waiting patiently for the other tributes to off themselves—but the tactic isn't all that thrilling for those watching. Luckily Lawrence Hutcherson and the ensemble of young actors still deliver when they cross paths and particular beats pack all the punch an all-out deathwatch should. PG-13 be damned the film doesn't skimp on the bloodshed even when it comes to killing off children. The Hunger Games bites off a lot for the first film of a franchise and does so bravely and boldly. It may not make it to the end alive but it doesn't go down without a fight.