Aly Semigran
Staff editor Aly Semigran is a New York City native who grew up in Philadelphia and spent the better part of her youth trying to figure out what the Philly Phanatic was (an anteater?), quoting 'The Simpsons,' and learning all about movies from her dad. After graduating from Temple University, where she studied journalism, she moved back to NYC and began her career as a freelance entertainment journalist. Her work has been published in Entertainment Weekly, Maxim, Philadelphia Weekly, Philadelphia City Paper,, and She is thrilled to be a part of the team and she is still quoting 'The Simpsons.' ('I'm Idaho!')
  • Barbara Walters To Return To 'The View' After Month-Long Hiatus
    By: Aly Semigran Feb 26, 2013
    The Babs is back in town. Well, she will be very soon. The View co-host Barbara Walters made the announcement when she called to check-in with her co-hosts (as well as guest Brooke Shields) on Tuesday morning, and give them the news that she'd be back for good on Monday, March 4. The 83-year-old has been absent from the ABC daytime talk show for over a month in order to recover from a concussion and a bout with the chicken pox. RELATED: Honey Boo Boo is One of Barbara Walter's 'Most Fascinating People' "Like it or not, I'm coming back on the show again," announced Walters, who said she missed her View c0-hosts Whoopi Goldberg, Joy Behar, Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Sherri Shepherd. "No more chicken pox. ... I haven't been contagious for a while, but they wanted me to have rest, and I've had enough rest and I'm ready to come back." Walters also tweeted the news, sharing with fans from her page, "I'm back! Starting Monday I’m returning to @theviewtv. Ladies - thanks for keeping my seat warm!"  RELATED: Barbara Walters Hospitalized Following Fall Walters came down with a case of chicken pox after she sustained a concussion when she fainted and hit her head at the British ambassador's residence, where she also suffered a cut on her forehead. She was hospitalized and received six stitches as a result of the accident. Watch Walters calling in to The View  to officialy announce her return below, if only to marvel at Goldberg's crazed marching band leader getup:  Watch More News Videos at ABC | Technology News | Celebrity News RELATED: Lindsay Lohan Bails on Barbara Walters Interview  [Photo credit: ABC/Getty Images] From Our Partners:25 Most Scandalous Celeb Twitpics (Vh1)33 Child Stars: Where Are They Now? (Celebuzz)
  • 'Zero Dark Thirty': Senate Drops Their Investigation
    By: Aly Semigran Feb 26, 2013
    With the spotlight now off Kathryn Bigelow's Zero Dark Thirty (her controversial film about the hunt for, and eventual killing of Osama bin Laden, lost momentum during awards season and won only one technical Oscar at the 85th Academy Awards), the Senate Intelligence Committee has backed off from their investigation of the movie.  RELATED: 'Zero Dark Thirty' Investigation: Does It Pique Your Interest in the Film?  Back in January, after receiving complaints from top-ranking senators, including John McCain, about the torture scenes in the film, the Senate Intelligence Committee began a probe regarding the contacts used by Bigelow and Zero Dark Thirty screenwriter Mark Boal regarding the use of “enhanced interrogation techniques”. The investigation was aimed to discover whether or not officials gave Bigelow and Boal “inappropriate” access to top. secret information.  RELATED: The Torture Uproar Surrounding 'Zero Dark Thirty'  According to Reuters, as of Monday, "the Senate Intelligence Committee has closed its inquiry into the filmmakers' contacts with the Central Intelligence Agency." An anonymous source told the outlet the committee  gathered more information from the CIA, Bigelow, and Boal and that no further steps will be taken. Another source revealed that the "CIA did not tell the filmmakers 'enhanced interrogations' led to bin Laden. Instead, the agency helped develop characters in the film." (There is, however, a separate investigation by the Pentagon regarding information given to the filmmakers surrounding the details of bin Laden's death).  Bigelow, who was snubbed in the Best Director category at the 2013 Oscars, has publicly stated that Zero Dark Thirty and its depiction of torture, "is not endorsement." Interestingly enough, those very torture scenes in question which some deemed "too graphic" and sparked this uproar, was described by  former SEAL Team Six member, Don Mann to as "grossly over-exaggerated." RELATED: 'Zero Dark Thirty': Why It Wasn't 'Too Soon' [Photo Credit: Columbia Pictures]
  • 'Arrested Development' Might Just Have One Season On Netflix: Why You Shouldn't Worry
    By: Aly Semigran Feb 26, 2013
    When Arrested Development  returns for its eagerly anticipated 4th season this May, everyone will be laughing and riding and cornholing (except for Buster). But the 14-episode run, which will be released all at once on Netflix, might be the last the fans get of the Bluth family.  RELATED: Kristen Wiig's 'Arrested Development' Role Revealed During a conference call with investors on Monday Netflix CEO Reed Hastings said, "Arrested is a unique property, we don’t anticipate being able to do season five, six and seven. It’s really a fantastic one-off which is coming together incredibly, and I think it will be amazing for us, but think of it as a non-repeatable amazing...Arrested Development is a wildly successful tactic, as opposed to fundamental to the strategy.” I know what you're thinking: That Arrested Development isn't a "tactic" and that there's always money in the banana stand and that there should be more seasons (and a movie, for that matter). Well, you're definitely right about those first two things, and the new era or Arrested might not be, as Hastings suggested, just a one-off. RELATED: Details on the Netflix Reboot of 'Arrested Development'  In response to that announcement, a spokesperson for Netflix told, "We're hopeful there will be more seasons. If anyone can pull it together, it's going to be [Netflix chief content officer] Ted [Sarandos]. But by no means is this the end of it. We're definitely planning to do more with them. We have first rights, so it's not like you'd see it anywhere else. We're absolutely hopeful there will be more." Look, Arrested fans are a patient bunch, we've been hoping and waiting for more of the deranged comedy since it unjustly went off the air back in 2006. Rumors of it returning to television (or, in this case, the web) or a movie have been swirling for years. Now that we know for sure we'll get more of the Bluths (Season 4 will have episodes that individually focus on each character) the last thing we want to do is spend more time wondering if we'll get, well, even more.  Arrested could fall dangerously into Community territory, where fans spend more time worrying about the fate of the show's future rather than appreciate it for the piece of art that it is while its happening. Better yet, I don't want the show to feel pressure to keep performing. For all we know, this upcoming Season 4 could be a brilliant way to wrap it all up and not lose the essence of what the show is and was.  RELATED: 'Arrested Development' Season 4 Will Not Disappoint: Here's Proof And, hey, I want as much Arrested as much as the next fan, but before I get too worked up about a Season 5 or Season 6 or even that yet-to-be-greenlit movie, I'm just looking forward to that one glorious weekend in May when I get to barricade myself in my apartment, watch all NEW episodes (!!!), and drink so much juice. It's going to be off the hook.  [Photo credit: Sam Urdank/FOX]
  • Oscars 2013: The Best and Worst Moments
    By: Aly Semigran Feb 25, 2013
    Ask anyone who made it through the excruciatingly long Oscar ceremony on Sunday night what they thought the best moment was and they'll probably say, "When it ended!" (The broadcast wasn't the longest in the show's history, but clocking in at 3 hours and 35 minutes, it certainly felt like it at times). Of course, they might also be saying that because they endured host Seth MacFarlane's opening and closing numbers, Anne Hathaway's acceptance speech, and the reunion of the cast of Chicago that no one really asked for.  RELATED: Why the 2013 Oscars Was One of the Most Boring Ceremonies in Years But that doesn't mean the 85th Academy Awards didn't have some amazing moments that could — and did! — turn Tommy Lee Jones' frown upside down. There were some emotional, heartfelt speeches (from the likes of Ben Affleck, Jennifer Lawrence, and Adele), actual showstopping numbers (Charlize Theron, Channing Tatum, and Shirley Bassey showed MacFarlane, and performers everywhere, how its really done), and some legitimate surprises (the Best Supporting actor upset, the tie in Best Sound Editing, and a little end-of-show cameo from the First Lady Michelle Obama). RELATED:  Jennifer Lawrence, Daniel Day-Lewis, and More: Watch the Best Oscar Speeches Now, before the always-terrifying theme music to Jaws plays us off, we present to you:  GALLERY: 20 Best and Worst Moments of the 2013 Academy Awards [Photo credit: Kevin Winter/Getty Images] Oscars 2013 Special Coverage Oscars 2013 Best Dressed: PICS! • Anne Hathaway: Oscar’s Worst Dressed?• Seth MacFarlane’s Opening: How’d He Do?• Adele’s Performance Gets Mixed Reviews• 15 Oscar-Winning Nude Scenes• What Happened to Renee Zellweger's Face?• Oscars 2013: The Full Winners List• The Winner, According to You
  • The Onion Sparks An Uproar Over Quvenzhané Wallis Tweet
    By: Aly Semigran Feb 25, 2013
    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. RELATED: Quvenzhané Wallis To Star In 'Annie' Remake  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?  RELATED: Everything That Went Wrong at the 2013 Oscars 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.  RELATED: A Bunch of Jerks On Twitter Don't Realize Robin Roberts Has a Blood Disorder 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] From Our Partners:25 Most Scandalous Celeb Twitpics (Vh1)33 Child Stars: Where Are They Now? (Celebuzz) Oscars 2013 Special Coverage Oscars 2013 Best Dressed: PICS! • Anne Hathaway: Oscar’s Worst Dressed?• Seth MacFarlane’s Opening: How’d He Do?• Adele’s Performance Gets Mixed Reviews• 15 Oscar-Winning Nude Scenes• What Happened to Renee Zellweger's Face?• Oscars 2013: The Full Winners List• Why Kristen Stewart Was on Crutches
  • 'Girls' Recap: Daddy Issues
    By: Aly Semigran Feb 24, 2013
    One of the recurring complaints I've noticed about  Girls (and, boy, are there many) is that nobody knows a Jessa. Even more, nobody who watches the show really likes Jessa. Funnily enough, I actually have someone in my life who reminds me of Jessa (she has a unique outlook on the world, enjoys the truly bizarre, and whenever we hang out, I always find myself in the most unexpected places with the most unexpected people) but that's not why I bring this up. It's that, unlike Marnie and Hannah, whom we've learned plenty about from their background and back stories, There's still missing pieces of Jessa's puzzling life. (Of course, Jessa would prefer to keep it that way). RELATED: Lena Dunham Now Apologizing For Things She Didn't Do Sunday night's episode of Girls, titled "Video Games", finally allowed us to put some of that together. In an episode reminiscent of "The Return" and to some degree, "One Man's Trash", Jessa and Hannah were taken out of their natural habitat and put into a rural landscape. After receiving a nondescript text from her father, which Jessa interpreted as a secret message and Hannah rightly pointed out was probably nothing more than a butt text, the two ventured to upstate New York to see him. Within five minutes we learned more about Jessa than we did an entire season-and-a-half. For one, she may have been molested as a child and uses defense mechanisms to cope with it, or at least has it somewhere in the depths of her mind to just say something like that for the hell of it. That, and her father is not only someone who is perpetually late, but is an slovenly eccentric (he has a car full of old typewriters and a theory that all Camry drivers "are c**ts") who could take off, leaving anyone behind. Jessa's father seemed happy to see her and the two quickly fell into their own secret language that only family members could share. Hannah, already sticking out like a neurotic thumb (she worried about crossing a "third rail" on a country train track to go pee outside), was put in an even more uncomfortable situation when Jessa's fathers equally eccentric hippie girlfriend Petula (Rosanna Arquette), whom Jessa, hates tells her she's there as "cushion" for the group dynamic. She had some interesting theories of her own, like that life is like a video game (it isn't) and that it's completely normal to eat your pet bunnies for dinner every night (it isn't). But it wasn't that it was just a strange, dirty house (literally, with dirt and old issues of Penthouse) that was the real problem, it was that it was filled with so much emotional clutter. The topic of Jessa's divorce was broached with the same amount of concern as him showing up late to pick them up and her father didn't spend more than three hours with her before taking off to go to a lecture. Jessa was abandoned again, but took off with Hannah, Petula's very bizarre son Frank, and Frank's cute, possibly gay friend/Frank's possibly gay crush Tyler for the night instead. An already disastrous trip, even more so when Frank, Tyler, and Jessa did whippets while speeding down a dark country road and Hannah, thinking she was some part of a sexcapade with Jessa, had sex with Frank in a graveyard the woods. (I image Hannah's cry of "I feel like I'm in Hocus Pocus!" delighted a lot of her younger fans to no end). RELATED: 'Girls' Recap: Book Deals and Boy Talk  Later, in the room Hannah and Jessa shared, Jessa confessed that she didn't feel good and that she didn't feel "in the right frame of mind" to see her father, Hannah tried to assure her that no one is ever in the right state of mind for that. Whether the words were meant to comfort Jessa or Hannah can't help but bring everything back to herself (more than likely the latter), Jessa made it clear that she did not have parents like everyone else and her upbringing couldn't be compared to everyone else. (As her father would later put it, "We're not like other people"). The next morning Jessa, looking sad, swung on a swing set. She is, and has been, a lost little kid. In one heartbreaking heart-to-heart Jessa called her father on his bulls**t for abandoning her and everyone else in his life. For not being a better parent to her, for not standing up for her, for not checking in on her, for not being able to have a conversation with her, and most of all, for not letting her be the child in their father-daughter dynamic. Instead of truly apologizing or trying to make things right, he invites her to stay for one more family meal, promising to make her favorite dinner and Jessa obliged. Jessa and Hannah (who had just had an awkward confrontation with Frank) get dropped off at the general store to pick up items for the dinner. As they sat outside with their groceries, Jessa matter-of-factly said that her father wouldn't be coming back to pick them up, that this is what he does: he disappears. The friends take the long walk back to the house and when Hannah comes back from the bathroom she finds a note from Jessa that read matter-of-factly: "See you around my love." Because that's what Jessa does, she disappears. Jessa makes promises to visit, never does, and then shows up unannounced. She leaves you alone the in country, making you find your own way home, alone. It's not her fault, really. It's all she knows and it's the only way she's learned to survive. That despite our best intentions, we make the same mistakes as our parents. You don't have to like Jessa, but you have to at least identify with that. (I don't think is the end of Jessa though, just a covenant, but not out-of-character way to put Jemima Kirke's character on hold as she left the series temporarily for her pregnancy. I sure hope Kirke returns, because between the scene with her father and her post-split breakdown in the bathtub, she continues to amaze on Girls). RELATED: 'Girls' Star Jemima Kirke is Pregnant Even Hannah realized how difficult and delicate our relationships with our parents are, as she called her parents to tell her she loved them in a sincere, and surprisingly sweet Hannah moment, only to be met with a combination of brash (her mother) and a total softie (her father). Like I said, despite our best intentions, all of us, even Hannah who feels like she's floating out in space, have traces of our parents and whether we like it or not, will always need them. While "Video Games" wasn't as effective as "The Return" often feeling like an easy comedy trope, despite Lena Dunham's pitch-perfect delivery (the city girl doesn't know how to handle the weird country life! she has a UTI! she had sex with yet another weirdo!). I appreciated yet another fascinating character study on Girls and how they masterfully handled a topic that everyone, not just twenty-something Brooklynites, can relate to in one way or another.  [Photo credit: HBO] From Our Partners:25 Most Scandalous Celeb Twitpics (Vh1)33 Child Stars: Where Are They Now? (Celebuzz)
  • Lena Dunham Now Apologizing for Things She Didn't Even Do
    By: Aly Semigran Feb 22, 2013
    Pretty soon Girls actress and creator Lena Dunham will be apologizing for the common cold and that dinner you RSVP'ed to but didn't show up for. The Golden Globe-winning star, who has had to clear up everything from her voter registry to women's body issues (or, really, the people who take special issue with her body) is now taking heat for something she didn't say. RELATED: Lena Dunham's Revenge: Looking Damn Sexy On The Cover Of 'Rolling Stone'  Earlier this week, button-pushing stand-up comic, Celebrity Apprentice  star, and Comedy Central Roast regular Lisa Lampanelli — whose schtick, in case you don't know, primarily consists of explicitly talking about her interracial relationships — tweeted a photo of herself with Dunham with the message, "Me with my ni**a @LenaDunham of @HBOGirls - I love this beyotch!!" Only there were no asterisks. While her use of the term is incredibly offensive, Lampanelli refused to apologize for it.  During an interview with, Lampanelli argued that there's a difference "between saying the N-word with the A on the end versus the N-word with the R" and that "y'know, it's humor." (Get it?!) Lampanelli then went on to say that her tweet was more or less a piece of performance art, "Any time I'm on Twitter, Facebook, or Instagram, it's not Lisa the Person, it's Lisa the Comic. Any time I put something out there, it's because it's Lisa the Comic at an event, or Lisa the Comic having fun but still being comedic about it." Now, one could argue that Lampanelli is actually no different from or no worse than Quentin Tarantino, who uses the N-word excessively in his films and occasionally, unwisely drops it in real life. But with Tarantino, Quentin the Person and Quentin the Director are the same crazy (albeit talented) person. There's no separate persona. Also, if that's really the case with Lampanelli, where does Lisa the Person begin and Lisa the Comic end? And what exactly is Lisa the Comic trying to say with statements like this? What's the punchline here exactly?  RELATED: Lena Dunham Says She Voted — Who Do We Believe?  The bigger question to ask, however, is where does Dunham factor in to all of this, considering it was Lampanelli who wrote, and then defended, the offensive tweet? Dunham was called out on Twitter by another XO Jane writer Shayla Pierce for not condemning Lampanelli's choice of words. Or rather, word. Pierce wrote that Dunham "has showed her true colors on this whole n-word debacle. Her silence speaks volumes" and "Even a short 'Not cool, Lisa' tweet would have nice. But nope. Crickets."  Dunham, via Twitter, assured Pierce, who vowed never to watch Girls again, "That's not a word I would EVER use. Its implications are beyond my comprehension. I was made supremely uncomfortable by it... Perhaps I should have addressed it, but the fact is I've learned that twitter debates breed more twitter debates... Don't like the idea that my silence read to you as tacit approval. It wasn't."  The 26-year-old, who has been faced with addressing the issue of racial diversity before, particularly for what many criticize for a lackthereof on her divisive HBO series, explained to Pierce that "140 characters will never be enough for the kind of dialogue that will actually help us address issues of race and class," praised her for her eloquent, heartbreaking essay regarding the N-word in the wake of Lampanelli's statment, and, in the end, apologized. "I'm sorry that any of those feelings were evoked for you, especially by a sentence with my name in it," Dunham concluded in their Twitter chat.  RELATED: Lena Dunham Addresses ‘Girls’ Nudity, Implores Everyone to Cool Their Jets Pierce graciously accepted Dunham's apology ("Thank you so much. And I do <3 you and your work. Thanks for addressing this *hugsies* @lenadunham") but one still has to wonder why Dunham, who didn't say that awful, inexcusable word, has to do so much apologizing on Lampanelli's part. It's no surprise considering that she is a lightning rod for controversy these days (she can't sneeze without someone complaining that her mother probably helped her sneeze) and she should absolutely condemn the use of that terrible, vile word and any association she may have with it, but in this particular case, this really isn't her cross to bear. It's Lisa Lampanelli's.  [Photo credit: Dimitrios Kambouris/WireImage] From Our Partners:40 Most Revealing See-Through Red Carpet Looks (Vh1)33 Child Stars: Where Are They Now? (Celebuzz)
  • 'Zero Dark Thirty': Why Kathryn Bigelow's Bin Laden Drama Avoided Feeling 'Too Soon'
    By: Aly Semigran Feb 22, 2013
    "Too soon!" It was a literal cry that rang out when trailers for Paul Greengrass' United 93  — an unflinching dramatization of the events that unfolded aboard the hijacked United Airlines flight that crashed in Pennsylvania on September 11, 2001 — played in theaters. As Newsweek reported, the response to the preview was so upsetting to movie patrons in New York City, that it was pulled from certain theaters. The Oscar-nominated United 93 was released in 2006, five years after the tragic events of 9/11, but for many, the nerve of that terrible day in American history still felt too raw.  While United 93 was a cinematic achievement (it has a staggering 91% on Rotten Tomatoes), the hard-to-stomach drama only made $31 million at the domestic box office. That same year, Oliver Stone's notably less critically beloved World Trade Center did better at the U.S. box office, bringing in $70 million. But, with the exception of Michael Moore's anti-Bush administration documentary Fahrenheit 9/11 in 2004 (the Palme d'Or winner made $222 million worldwide), no post-9/11 narrative film has been able to appease both wary critics and audiences alike.  RELATED: 'Zero Dark Thirty' Takes Top Honors At 2013 Writers Guild Awards  They have either been too divisive (Reign Over Me, and, of course, Stephen Daldry's 2012's unexpected Best Picture nominee Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close, which earned just $31 million at the box office and has a 47% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, where it's described as "treacly and pretentious") or too exploitative (see: Robert Pattinson's Remember Me) in the past decade to accomplish that. Leave it to Kathryn Bigelow — who turned a suspenseful, if uneasy film about the Iraq War into a Best Picture winner (The Hurt Locker) — to turn the tables once again.  Just 17 months after the killing the al-Qaeda leader, which executed the attacks on America on 9/11 Osama bin Laden, Bigelow's Oscar-nominated  Zero Dark Thirty was released. To date, it has made over $88 million, was one of the best critically received films of 2012 (it wound up on over 200 Top 10 lists), not to mention one of the most talked-about and debated films in post-9/11 cinema. Paul Dergarabedian,'s box office analyst, says the reason why Zero Dark Thirty has clicked with audiences and has the potential to cross the $100 million mark is actually quite simple. "I think because of what this event is and what it represents —  the capturing and killing of bin Laden — is one of redemption, of national pride, of hope for the future," he says. "Movies that were related to an unresolved issue and how it effected the U.S., that's not escapist entertainment." "But, in its most pure form, Zero Dark Thirty is [about] escapism and redemption and validation," Dergarebedian adds. "I think that's why it's doing so well and I think the timing for this is better. It's been over a decade, there is enough time and space between 9/11 ... I think Zero Dark Thirty is just the right movie at the right time." RELATED: Kathryn Bigelow's Oscar Snub Maura Spiegel, a professor of American Studies and English at Columbia University, who agrees that Zero Dark Thirty touched on the wish fulfillment aspect of our collective movie going psyche, adds, "We are pretty hungry to understand this war and understand who these people are. To me, one of the primary differences between this story of bin Laden, and 9/11 is that we're not grieving bin Laden's death. The sense that this was an American victory story, as opposed to a tragedy." But the sense of closure that came with bin Laden's death in the chapter of 9/11 history (Spiegel noted that the film fed some moviegoers' "hunger to see" the actual killing of bin Laden) wasn't just what made Zero Dark Thirty a must-see film. Bigelow's action drama, which stars Oscar nominee Jessica Chastain as a CIA operative relentlessly tracking down bin Laden, has been plagued by controversy. (The film has been under investigation by the Pentagon and the Senate Intelligence Committee.) Those very discussions allowed moviegoers and critics alike to face big, if not unanswered questions. As Spiegel puts it, "Movies about subjects like this are quite preoccupied with questions: Who is the enemy and who are we?" Author, theorist, and chair of the Philosophy of Education in the Graduate School of Education and Information Studies at UCLA, Douglas Kellner, who had a hard time getting past the torture sequences and calls the film a "very uncomfortable experience," says that unlike the Vietnam War era — which had "very little footage of the war and it usually came in days after the event" — this post-9/11 world consumes media differently. "All the media, cable news channels, the Internet, blogging, YouTube — [with] all of this media talking about current politics, there's just mega-interest in contemporary history and people knowing about these events like the killing of bin Laden," Kellner says.  NEXT: Are the torture scenes too soon or just too much?  "I think audiences want contemporary history, whether its political or social. I think people are ready," Kellner adds. "They see so much through the Internet and television and social networking that they're ready for Hollywood to jump right in. I think people are intrinsically patriotic, but if you overdo it and sentimentalize it, it's corny. However, if you do it well ... it definitely works." Don Mann, a former Seal Team Six member and training officer and author of books like Inside Seal Team Six and the recently released Hunt the Scorpion, loved the film and praises it for allowing the public to see what Seam Team Six is like without putting the team's identity in harm's way. Mann appreciates that Zero Dark Thirty gives viewers an unprecedented look into government and armed forces, particularly the CIA and the SEALs. "I really thought for a Hollywood movie, and we've had some pretty bad Hollywood SEAL movies like Navy Seal, they did an incredible job," Mann says before adding, like so many others, "Except for those torture scenes." RELATED: 'Zero Dark Thirty' Controversy Continues  According to Mann, the brutal scenes were "grossly over-exaggerated." And those scenes are hindering some audience members' ability to truly enjoy the film. "There's still a debate going on about torture and about how to deal with terrorism," Kellner says, echoing Spiegel, who says, "The representation of the torture raised questions for me"). So while Zero Dark Thirty may have avoided the post-9/11 pitfall of feeling "too soon," perhaps the open wound of the topic of torture didn't. How do we come to terms with that dark page that is still very much open? (Not being able to answer that question, or not providing an easy answer for it, could explain Bigelow's otherwise inexplicable Best Director snub).  Still, if anything, that raging debate and those very moral questions that it has raised has only made Zero Dark Thirty the water cooler film it's become. "Like they say, there's no such thing as bad press, and it's pretty much true, particularly in this case," Dergarabedian points out. "At the end of the day, the numbers don't lie and the fact that a movie based on this subject matter is doing so well proves not only what an important movie it is, but what a good movie it is." Follow Aly on Twitter @AlySemigran [Photo Credits: Columbia Pictures] From Our Partners:Happy 25th, Rihanna: 25 Naked Pics to Celebrate (Vh1)33 Child Stars: Where Are They Now? (Celebuzz)
  • Nielsen Joining the 21st Century, Realized Traditional TV Viewing Has Changed
    By: Aly Semigran Feb 21, 2013
    Television has changed with the times, and has started to reflect the modern, new American family unit with shows like Modern Family and The New Normal. But the Nielsen Family remains stuck in the television stone age. The Nielsen Company, which tracks television ratings, is now adapting to the times and planning to find the numbers for broadband, as well as X-Box and iPads.  RELATED: 'NCIS' Has More Viewers Than Any Other Show Combined  According to The Hollywood Reporter, the What Nielsen Measures Committee (which is comprised of representatives from major national and local TV networks, as well as advertisers) decided in New York City this week that by September of this year, "Nielsen expects to have in place new hardware and software tools in the nearly 23,000 TV homes it samples. Those measurement systems will capture viewership not just from the 75 percent of homes that rely on cable, satellite and over-the-air broadcasts, but also viewing via devices that deliver video from streaming services such as Netflix and Amazon, from so-called over-the-top services and from TV enabled game systems like the X-Box and PlayStation." ( reached out to Nielsen regarding the story, but they could not immediately respond for comment).  RELATED: Univision Wins Tuesday Night Ratings By Refusing to Show State of the Union Granted, this won't be an overnight solution (the plan is supposed to be rolled out into two separate phases of tracking), nor will it actually find out approximately how many people are watching shows like House of Cards or Arrested Development on Netflix, rather, how much time they spend on that kind of viewing. As THR explains, "Netflix would have to agree to encode its program signals so that Nielsen software can identify them and trace their source," which network television will do for this new method of calculating television viewers. Nielsen is also reportedly customizing a way to track "out-of-town" viewers and television watching in places like bars and restaurants.  RELATED: 'Community' Ratings Mark Record Drop (So, Everything's Back to Normal?) While it's certainly a step up from the current outdated methods (though, for it to be completely effective, there needs to be more comprehensive, collaborative numbers from Netflix and Hulu viewers) in an ever-changing landscape, will at-home viewership numbers really matter? House of Cards has become a smash without having something like Nielsen ratings to prove it, rather, the conversations online have had a bigger impact. Even so, network television shouldn't completely worry that traditional ratings are useless and Netflix numbers tell us everything (after all, for every House of Cards, there's a Lilyhammer) but the acknowledgment that the way we consume television has altered drastically has to be enforced.  [Photo credit: Frazier Moore/AP Photo] From Our Partners:25 Forgotten Celebrity Crushes of the ‘90s (Vh1)30 Stars Who Have Gone Topless (Celebuzz)
  • Conan O'Brien To Host The White House Correspondents Dinner
    By: Aly Semigran Feb 20, 2013
    Has the puppet string dance ever been done at a White House Correspondents dinner? If it hasn't before, it likely will now, as Conan O'Brien will host the 2013 White House Correspondents dinner for President Barack Obama and the rest of Washington D.C.'s elite. RELATED: 'Arrested Development' Casts Conan O'Brien and Andy Richter For Season 4  The ginger-haired late night funny man, who last emceed the event back in 1995 for President Bill Clinton (in a cruel twist of fate, no one has hosted the White House Correspondents dinners more than Jay Leno), announced the news via Twitter. O'Brien posted from his page, "I'm honored to host the WH Correspondents dinner. Get ready for 2 minutes of jokes, then 40 minutes on public employee pension reform."  White House Correspondents Association’s president Ed Henry said in a statement, “Conan is one of television's most innovative and influential talents and I am absolutely thrilled that he has agreed to be this year’s featured act. As social media has changed all aspects of the media business, Conan has embraced this shifting landscape to become a creative force both online as well as in the traditional television model. We are grateful that Conan will be also be using that creativity to bring more attention to the WHCA’s commitment to helping needy journalism students.”  RELATED: Barack Obama and Jon Stewart Prove Comic Chemistry on The Daily Show Taking the baton from Jimmy Kimmel who hosted last year, O'Brien should be a great follow-up with his patented brand of smart and silly comedy that fans catch every night on Conan. It's doubtful he'll push the envelope like Stephen Colbert did in 2006 (then again, Colbert was playing to a very different administration and brought satire to scathing new levels of brilliance), but he won't be shy in terms of getting in a few key zingers, a la Seth Meyers in 2011. Here's hoping, for sake of sheer comedy, Donald Trump is in attendance again.  RELATED: Ryan Gosling Got a Fan to Repeatedly Mock Conan O'Brien The 2013 White House Correspondents dinner will take place on April 27.  [Photo credit: Michael Dwyer/AP Images] From Our Partners:Bradley Cooper Dancing Is Surprisingly Awkward, Sweaty (Vh1)Kate Upton Bares All in Nothing But Body Paint: Video (Celebuzz)