Saturday, March 29, 2008

‘G.I. Joe’ Film Reveals Characters; Aims For Cross-Generational Appeal

By Heather Chin

(previously published at on March 23, 2008)

Paramount provides the first character-reveal for their “G.I. Joe” film, as well as insight into what directors and producers describe as an “origin story.”

In a photo released by Paramount Pictures, a black-clad ninja whose face is obscured by a helmet resembling the sort of mesh mask worn by fencing students grips a sword erect in his hands. He is Snake Eyes, the first character from Paramount’s upcoming film, G.I. Joe to be revealed, according to USA Today.

Due to be released in August 2009, G. I. Joe is being groomed as the resurrection of a franchise just as Transformers was last year. The sci-fi story about a team of elite military operatives battling an unsavory and villainous organization called Cobra, G. I. Joe (the team, not a single person) first appeared in the 1960s as a line of 12-inch figurines from Hasbro. In the 1980s, it evolved into smaller figurines and a successful TV series.

According to its director, Stephen Sommers, the movie will be an origins story, so one of the issues will be how to explain details in a way that will both induct new viewers while developing more background to interest existing fans.

Producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura, who also worked on Transformers, says that this connection between past and present is a basic part of the broad appeal, and maintaining that diversity, particularly of race and gender, is important. “There are quite a few characters in it, and almost certainly a character in which an audience member can see themselves, or want to be,” Bonaventura said.

The character of Snake Eyes is being played by man-behind-the-mask Ray Park, of Mortal Kombat, Sleepy Hollow and Star Wars (he was Darth Maul) fame. Other actors on the “good” side include Channing Tatum (as Duke), Rachel Nichols (as “Scarlett” O’Hara), Marlon Wayans (Ripcord), Dennis Quaid (as The Commander).

On the Cobra side of the battle are Sienna Miller (as the Baroness), Joseph Gordon-Levitt (as the Cobra Commander and in various other roles), Christopher Eccleston (as Destro), and Byung-hun Lee (as Storm Shadow).

J.K. Rowling Admits Past Thoughts of Suicide

By Heather Chin (March 23, 2008)

As a struggling, bankrupt single mother in her twenties, the future author suffered from depression and suicidal thoughts.

Speaking with a student reporter from Scotland’s Edinburgh University, Harry Potter author J. K. Rowling revealed – for the first time – that she had contemplated suicide back when she was a struggling single mother in her twenties with no money or solid prospects, besides writing, for immediate relief.

As quoted in Britain’s Sunday Times and later in CNN, Rowling explained that “we’re talking suicidal thoughts here, we’re not talking ‘I’m a little bit miserable.’”

At the time, she was separated from her first husband and could only afford the £600 ($1,189) rent on her and her baby daughter’s small, cramped apartment after a friend lent her the money.

"Mid-twenties life circumstances were poor and I really plummeted,” Rowling said. “The thing that made me go for help… was probably my daughter. She was something that earthed me, grounded me, and I thought, this isn't right, this can't be right, she cannot grow up with me in this state."

With that in mind, Rowling said she then sought professional help. She also began writing what would become the first book in the Harry Potter series, which was published after many initial rejections in 1996. Since then, the series has been translated into 64 languages with over 325 million copies sold.

It seems that in choosing to share her story of surviving against the odds thanks to the serendipitous benevolence of another to an aspiring journalist, the 42-year-old Rowling is “paying it forward” even after penning the novels that have made her both famous and financially secure.

Tejano Music Star Hospitalized After Bus Crash

By Heather Chin (March 23, 2008)

Emilio Navaira and his band members were hospitalized after their tour bus crashed near Houston.

Grammy-winning Tejano singer Emilio Navaira (pronounced nah-VYE’-rah) was in critical condition on Sunday after being treated in the Intensive Care Unit at Memorial Hermann Hospital in Houston, Texas, according to reports by the Houston Chronicle and the Associated Press.

Navaira, 45, was on tour with his band Rio, and had performed at a Houston nightclub on Saturday night. Houston Assistant Fire Chief Omero Longoria says that the band’s bus collided with traffic barrels at about 5 a.m. Sunday in the northbound lane of Interstate 610 and overturned. There were eight passengers, including Navaira and his brother, Raul, who, as two Houston radio stations reported, suffered minor injuries.

Two other passengers were also treated for minor injuries at Memorial Hermann, and were released after a short period of evaluation, said hospital administrator Lisa Lagrone.

The remaining five passengers were transported to Ben Taub Hospital in Houston, and details of their conditions have not been released to the public, with a hospital spokeswoman citing health privacy laws. The hospital’s website notes that Ben Taub is an elite Level 1 Trauma Center.

Navaira and his brother Raul founded Rio in 1989 and the group has released over a dozen albums, including “Acuerdate,” which won the 2003 Grammy for best Tejano album. They signed with Columbia Records and Navaira, who continued to produce solo albums under the name Emilio, is one of the only Tejano artists to have major success in both the U.S. and Mexico.

Sunday, March 23, 2008

"Buffy" Alum To Shake Up "Gossip Girl"

By Heather Chin (March 21, 2008)

Michelle Trachtenberg will portray elite socialite Georgina Sparks on the CW’s “Gossip Girl.”

Michelle Trachtenberg has been cast as Upper East Side teen socialite Georgina Sparks in a multi-episode arc on the CW's freshman teen soap Gossip Girl, reports the Hollywood Reporter and EW. The story arc will air for May sweeps.

Trachtenberg has portrayed many characters, each with a unique backstory and on-screen development, from kid sleuth in Harriet the Spy to magical kid sister of a supernatural fighter of evil on Buffy the Vampire Slayer to figure skating ingénue in Ice Princess. But it is perhaps her early role as spoiled little rich girl Lilly Montgomery on All My Children that could bear the most resemblance to this new role.

The character of Georgina Sparks appeared in the original novels upon which the CW series is based. A wealthy high schooler fresh out of a stay in rehab, Georgina returns to Manhattan and her coterie of classmates, particularly Serena van der Woodsen, whose lives she proceeds to shake up and torture.

The role was rumored to have previously been offered to O.C. alum Mischa Barton, who supposedly turned it down.

Trachtenberg just wrapped up a role on New Line’s Seventeen Again, a film comedy co-starring Zac Efron, and is next working on Universal/Imagine’s ensemble comedy, Kids in America, which will star Topher Grace and Anna Faris.

Horror Film Remake To Boost Its "Supernatural" Cred

By Heather Chin (March 21, 2008)

“Supernatural” star, Jared Padalecki, is in final negotiations for the upcoming remake of “Friday the 13th.”

As if having a classic horror icon and “veteran” resurrectee the likes of creepy hockey-mask killer Jason weren’t enough cache, the upcoming remake of Friday the 13th (to be the 12th in the franchise) is now likely to feature another supernatural stalwart – Jared Padalecki.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Padalecki, who currently stars in the CW’s Supernatural and is an alum of fright films like House of Wax and Cry Wolf, is in final negotiations to star in the new Friday remake. He will play the as yet unnamed lead, who is investigating what exactly happened (there are many events throughout the Friday franchise) up at Crystal Lake.

This remake is being released by New Line and Paramount, and carries a crew with staggering horror/action credentials. Director Marcus Nispel (he did 2003’s Texas Chainsaw Massacre) will work from a script by Damien Shannon and Mark Swift, who both worked on 2003’s Freddy vs. Jason. Then there are producers Michael Bay (Transformers), Brad Fuller and Andrew Form (both also from Texas Chainsaw Massacre).

The new remake is set for release on Friday, February 13, 2009. So advance Valentine’s Day planners, beware: don’t take your date to see this unless you’re ready for heartbreak.

Jonas Brothers Get Real On TV

By Heather Chin (March 21, 2008)

The tween pop group will star in their own reality show on the Disney Channel, to air this spring.

This spring, tween girls will have something new to get them through the last few months of school – a new reality show about teen pop-rock trio the Jonas Brothers. The Disney Channel has greenlighted the series, which is now in production under the working title, Jonas Brothers: Living the Dream and which will follow the on- and off-stage lives of the tween/teen music stars.

According to the Hollywood Reporter, the best-selling trio – brothers Kevin (age 20), Nick (age 18) and Joe (age 16) – will be filmed during their “Look Me in the Eyes” tour and will feature footage of them rehearsing, performing, having fun and interacting with their parents and younger brother.

If that weren’t enough, the Disney Channel has also given the go for a scripted series and an original TV movie, starring the brothers. The scripted series has not yet been given a production date, but is described as a live-action spy comedy entitled J.O.N.A.S. The movie, Camp Rock, will feature various rock, pop and hip-hop performances in a June summer release.

The Jonas Brothers released their first album, It’s About Time, in August of 2006. Now, with their sophomore self-titled album having gone platinum and hit Billboard’s Top 5, the Brothers’ third CD is set to be released by Hollywood Records on July 8 of this year.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Chuck Norris A Fan Favorite and Hero For Iraqi Police

By Heather Chin (March 17, 2008)

The legend of Chuck Norris has crossed media platforms, but has now proven able to cross continents and even cultures.

Best known for his martial arts skills and tough-guy image on television and in films, Chuck Norris has apparently extended his fan base to Iraq, where some members of Iraq’s security forces have learned about the Hollywood action star from U.S. military troops.

A report by Reuters describes how the admiration for and mystique of Norris, who arose to fame fighting Bruce Lee in the 1972 film “The Way of the Dragon,” and who has visited Iraq several times and was made an honorary Marine last year, has permeated the social culture on U.S. military bases in Iraq.

There is a small cardboard shrine that bears an autographed photo of Norris at a U.S. military helicopter hub in Baghdad, where yellow and hot pink post-it notes declare, jokingly, his manliness and strength. Similar notes have been written on toilet walls across camps in Iraq and neighboring Kuwait.

Known as Chuck Norris “facts,” these sayings have long been a hit on the Internet (see and according to Reuters, dozens of U.S. military personnel could recite at least one “fact” on request. These included the likes of “There are no weapons of mass destruction in Iraq; Chuck Norris lives in Oklahoma.”

The Reuters report also describes how the strong fighter persona that Norris presents on film and in public appeals to the Iraqi security men. When American troops bestowed the nickname of “Chuck Norris” to Iraqi police trainer Mohammed Rasheed, who sports a handle-bar moustache that gives him a vague resemblance to Norris, he was at first baffled and then honored.

“Truthfully, I didn’t know who he was. I asked the Americans, and they said he was a great fighter, and that’s why they named me after him,” explained Rasheed. “They showed me a video, and it’s true, he’s a great fighter.”

Khaled Hussein, who is another police trainer, agreed, saying that Norris was a role model for the police in Falluja, a city in central Iraq which, until 2007, was an al Qaeda stronghold and the scene of violent battles with security forces.

“I’ve seen his videos [and] he’s a hero,” said Hussein, referring to Norris’ long-running TV series, Walker, Texas Ranger. “He saves the city, he protects women and children, and he fights crime wherever it is. We should all be like Chuck Norris.”

Britney Spears and Mel Gibson Break Bread; Are Friends

By Heather Chin
(previously published at on March 17, 2008)

The former neighbors, along with Gibson’s wife Robin, are on friendly terms and had dinner together at a Russian restaurant in LA.

Fresh off of filming a guest role on CBS’s comedy, How I Met Your Mother, and visiting with her sons, struggling pop star Britney Spears had dinner with friends – which included fellow celebrity Mel Gibson and his wife Robin.

According to Efluxmedia, the beleaguered singer and the actor/director met for a two-hour dinner at Romanov Restaurant and Lounge in L.A., where a restaurant source says that they “hit it off and… Britney seemed excited.” The Gibsons and Spears used to be neighbors in Malibu.

The dinner reportedly took place in a well-appointed private dining room, and Spears and a friend, Victoria, arrived at the restaurant first, with Gibson, his wife and some friends arriving shortly afterwards.

Rumors have circulated that Gibson may either be attempting to tap Spears for a role in an upcoming film or trying to bring her into his church, the ultra-conservative Church of the Holy Family in Malibu. However, the general consensus among media critics is that the Gibson family has simply befriended Spears and is now trying to help her through her personal troubles.

Gibson has experience in dealing with negative press and has stated in the past that he feels compassionate about Spears and her many plights.

Reports by TMZ describe the Gibson-Spears friendship as having been built over some time, with Gibson, his wife Robin and their kids reaching out to Britney “during her darkest days” to offer support.

Having friends who don’t want to exploit you can be a difficult thing in Hollywood, so current reports have made particular note of the fact that the two celebrities did not enter or leave at the same time, which effectively prevented paparazzi from getting shots of them together.

Halle Berry Gives Birth To A Baby Girl

By Heather Chin
(previously published at on March 16, 2008)

The actress gave birth on Sunday at Cedars Sinai Medical Center and both are doing well.

Halle Berry gave birth to a baby girl on Sunday morning at Cedars Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles, confirmed one of the actress’s reps to People magazine. The same rep. added that the 41-year-old star is “doing well.”

This is the first child for Berry, 41, and her boyfriend, Gabriel Aubry, 32. The two met in November 2005 and confirmed the news of her pregnancy to Access Hollywood’s Nancy O’Dell in September of last year.

“Gabriel and I are beyond excited, and I’ve waited a long time for this moment in life,” Berry gushed in the interview with O’Dell. “Now the next seven months will be the longest of my life!”

Berry, an Academy Award winner for her 2001 role as a struggling mother in “Monster’s Ball,” has always been vocal about her desire for a family. In another, earlier, interview with O’Dell and Access Hollywood in April 2007, Berry openly discussed her plans too have children.

“Not that there’s not more to accomplish, but I think I’ve arrived at a point in life that I realized I needed more to get me up in the morning. More than going to a new movie set,” said Berry. “I need something even more profound than that and that’s family. And that’s children… I’m at a point where I’m really, really ready.”

Berry, who has been married twice, is not married to partner Aubry, but in an interview with Oprah Winfrey shortly after announcing her pregnancy, said that she feels more married than she ever had before and that the two are fully committed to each other, explaining that “he really understands the spiritual connection is so much more important than the paper and the pomp and circumstance and the ceremony.”

The baby girl’s name has not yet been given or released, but is sure to be hotly anticipated as it comes in the midst of a celebrity baby boom.

One Weekend Only! Radio Service Gets “SIRIUS” About Spitzer

By Heather Chin
(previously published at on March 15, 2008)

SIRIUS Satellite Radio has started a channel devoted to news about the scandal-plagued, soon-to-be former NY Governor Eliot Spitzer.

According to and a press release, SIRIUS Satellite Radio has created “Client 9 Radio,” a channel which is to be devoted solely to reporting news on the prostitution ring scandal surrounding resigning New York Governor Eliot Spitzer. However, its inaugural and farewell broadcasts will last only 48 hours – longer even than the scandal to break and for Spitzer to resign – airing “from March 14 at 5:00 p.m. ET to March 17 exclusively on SIRIUS channel 126.”

Named after the code name moniker used to reference Spitzer in court papers, the new radio channel is described by Sirius as a response to the high levels of listener reaction after the story came out last week.

The novelty of the channel may fuel this limited engagement long enough for decent “ratings,” but there is also a line-up of speakers may just make the station worth listening to even if you’re don’t particularly care about the fate of Spitzer himself. Hosting the channel will be recently departed TruTV (formerly CourtTV Radio) anchor, Vinnie Politan, who is taking live call-in questions and offering legal advice and insight into the Spitzer case.

As reported by’s TVNewser blog, other segments will include contributions from conservative political columnist and TV commentator, Rachel Marsden, and media maven Judith Regan. CNN contributor Bill Bennett and Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain will also be getting in on the action.

If you haven’t already heard, New York Governor Eliot Spitzer announced his resignation last Wednesday, less than two days after it was revealed that he had paid over $80,000 over several years to a high class prostitution ring called Emperors Club VIP. The ring was busted by authorities after an IRS inquiry into suspicious activity between Spitzer’s accounts became a full scale criminal investigation into solicitation and financial cover-ups.

The soon-to-be former governor is set to officially transfer gubernatorial powers to current Lieutenant Governor David Paterson, who will become both the first black governor and the first legally blind governor of New York State.

Sunday, March 16, 2008

David Lynch Creates Scholarships for Meditation Studies

By Heather Chin (March 15, 2008)

Surreal filmmaker David Lynch plans to donate millions towards a scholarship in meditation arts.

David Lynch is most well known for directing the “Twin Peaks” TV series and surreal, dream-like films like “The Elephant Man, “Blue Velvet,” and “Mulholland Drive,” but AP reports report that now the 62-year-old filmmaker is donating $1 million to fund scholarships for students of a particular meditation technique, which Lynch himself has practiced for a long period.

The technique, called Transcendental Meditation, is taught at the Maharishi University of Management, which was founded in 1971 in Fairfield, Iowa. The school is open to undergraduate and graduate students and offers degree programs in art, business, computer science, design, and sustainable living.

Lynch says that his $1 million donation will be made through his non-profit foundation, the David Lynch Foundation for Consciousness-Based Education and World Peace. It is intended to support the learning of TM and to hopefully increase the number of students who meditate on the Fairfield campus to 2,000.

The university will host “David Lynch Weekend” on April 25-28, where performances by Donovan, Moby and Chrysta Bell are scheduled.

In a recent statement, Lynch explained that “America urgently needs at least one university to teach the science of peace – and to actually promote peace in the world.”

Universal Pictures and Dark Horse Sign Deal

By Heather Chin (March 15, 2008)

Hollywood movie production house Universal signs agreement with hugely successful independent comic book company, Dark Horse in a lucrative movie-comics merger.

In a mutual coup, Universal Pictures and Dark Horse Entertainment have signed an agreement granting worldwide production and distribution rights to the major Hollywood production house, and giving the big independent comic book company a well of financial support and distribution avenues.

As reported by The Hollywood Reporter, the deal makes Universal the studio home to Dark Horse and all of the characters and properties that it currently holds, as well as may acquire in the future. This makes the path between printed story and movie development a smoother transition and is lucrative for both parties.

The deal was brought forward by Universal’s co-chairman David Linde and their president of production Donna Langley, and is not entirely surprising.

In the past decade, many Dark Horse comics have made the leap from comic to successful screen adaptation. These include “The Mask” (1994) with New Line and “Barb Wire” (1996) from Polygram. Projects with Universal have ranged from “Time Cop” in 1994, “Mystery Men” in 1999, and most recently, “Hellboy II: The Golden Army.”

This deal could also give hope to fans of current Dark Horse comics that their favorite characters, such as Buffy the Vampire Slayer, may finally end up on the big screen, or have a repeat appearance, as with “Serenity” and “Star Wars: Legacy.”

UCLA Hospital Workers Fired For Spears Medical Snooping

By Heather Chin (March 15, 2008)

Although no info was leaked to the press, several employees will either be fired or disciplined for unauthorized access to the pop star’s private info.

According to reports by the AP and the Los Angeles Times, more than 13 UCLA Medical Center employees will be fired for accessing the confidential medical records of Britney Spears, who was hospitalized twice at the center, most recently in the psychiatric ward.

The hospital’s director of human resources, Jeri Simpson, confirmed the confidentiality breach, but did not detail the exact number of employees involved, which of Spears’ files were looked at, or when they were accessed. However, the Times reported that those to be fired are various staff members, but that several others, including doctors, will be disciplined through other means.

The confidential records were accessed during Spears’ stay at the hospital in the psychiatric ward. However, the employees in question were only able to access her non-psychiatric records.

While there has been no evidence that any confidential information was leaked about Spears, whose personal life and every action is the focus of relentless tabloid attention, the snooping itself is a violation of state and federal privacy laws.

The Times reports that the Department of Public Health has opened an investigation into the hospital, where employees have previously accessed Spears’ files, back in September 2005, when she gave birth to her first son, Sean Preston.

In response to the new breach, Simpson stated that she feels “horrible” about the incident and the fact that it happened again is “is not only surprising, it’s very frustrating and disappointing.”

Tibetan Monks Protest Chinese Rule As Olympics Draw Near

By Heather Chin (March 13, 2008)

As hundreds of monks took to the streets, Chinese security forces surrounded three monasteries and reacted cautiously, likely since the Olympics approach.

Despite a near blackout on foreign media in and around the Tibetan capital of Lhasa, the International Herald Tribune reports that the largest protests in two decades have been occurring in Tibet against Chinese rule. According to advocacy groups and tourist video, the demonstrations have drawn Chinese security forces to the region, where they have surrounded three of the most famous monasteries in Tibetan Buddhism.

China’s Foreign Ministry confirms that protests broke out in Lhasa, but they provided no details and say the situation was caused by “a few monks” and that the situation is now stable.

The protests have arisen despite high security and harsh penalties, and news has trickled out via Tibetan advocacy groups, U.S.-funded Radio Free Asia, and videos posted on the Internet by tourists.

Groups of monks from each of the three main monasteries demonstrated separately from each other and had different demands, but all were peaceful and their actions timed to coincide with the 49th anniversary of the 1959 uprising that failed and resulted in the Dalai Lama being forced to flee to neighboring India, where he still resides today.

‘Girls Gone Wild’ Founder Pleads No Contest; Released

By Heather Chin (March 12, 2008)

‘Girls Gone Wild’ founder, Joe Francis, agrees to plead guilty in exchange for his freedom – just in time for Spring Break 2008.

The AP reported Wednesday that Joe Francis, the founder of the “Girls Gone Wild” video empire, plead no contest to the remaining charges against him of one count of felony child abuse and two counts of misdemeanor prostitution. In exchange, the terms of his plea agreement release him from Nevada state custody after nearly a year in jail, although he still awaits trial on charges of tax fraud.

Francis, 34, posted $1.5 million bond and returned to Florida, where he has also agreed that his company would not conduct any filming for the next three years – but only between the Florida counties of Escambia and Jackson Counties. The judge also ordered him to pay $60,000 in fines, court costs and restitution to the counties.

Despite this week’s plea, Francis maintains that he is still innocent and that he only “pleaded guilty just to get out of jail.” Additional pleas of no contest were made by him on behalf of his company, Mantra Films, on two counts of child abuse.

The “Girls Gone Wild” empire is built upon filming topless or scantily clad young women in sexually provocative positions while they are drunk, and Francis makes around $29 million a year in this endeavor.

In 2003, Francis’s company filmed underage women who had signed agreements stating that they were of legal age. His hotel rooms and corporate jets were raided, and in 2007, contraband of sleeping pills and cash were found by Bay County officials – those charges had guilty pleas entered, as well.

Whatever misfortunes he encounters, though, Joe Francis is determined to continue his life and business as usual. “I’m going to go back to making videos this afternoon,” he said.

NYC Mayor Bloomberg Seeks New Radio Outlet for Weekly Address

By Heather Chin (March 10, 2008)

After oft-embarrassing statements on his weekly radio address, Mayor Bloomberg leaves one station to seek out another venue.

The New York Times reports today that NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg has opted not to accept an offer to continue his weekly “Live From City Hall” vocal appearance on regional radio station, WABC-FM, due to a combination of diarrhea of the mouth, and the effort of radio stations seeking to adapt to changes in everything from the economy to technology’s influence on broadcast communication. However, he may continue elsewhere.

His decision comes after last week’s firing of WABC- AM radio host John Gambling due to budget cuts by the station’s parent company, Citadel Broadcasting. He was replaced with Curtis Sliwa, who is supposed to add a national focus to the show. Where Mr. Bloomberg will move his weekly address is unknown, but offers include NY1 television, a separate hour on WABC-AM, and other radio stations.

Bloomberg’s six years on the air were often filled with amusing peeks into his personality, eating habits and odd humor, but was also filled with useful public service announcements (like ‘311’) time when he would address specific projects, issues and frustrations called in from citizens. The concept is an institution created by New York’s immediate past mayor, Rudy Giuliani.

The mayoral tradition of weekly radio addresses goes back generations and has been used to different effect by many colorful personalities. From Fiorello H. La Guardia in the 1940s, who scolded reporters and bookies while talking about family and Dick Tracy comics,” to TV-friendly Ed Koch and radio-fixture David Dinkins, the tradition has always managed to be useful in different ways.

Former 9/11 Lawyer Sues Casinos For Enabling Her Gambling Addiction

By Heather Chin (March 10, 2008)

After losing over $1 million and her career via casino hopping, a once prominent lawyer from Queens who represented WTC victim’s families sues casinos for not stopping her.

In 2000, the New York Daily News named Arelia Taveras one of “21 New Yorkers to Watch in the 21st Century.” As legal counsel for a Queens assemblyman who fought for compensation for victims of the September 11th attacks and 2001’s Flight 587 crash in Queens, she did TV spots and was a respected rising star in the community. Now, she works at a call center in Minnesota, where she ended up after being disbarred for forging bank slips to cover up the theft of almost $100,000 from four non-9/11 related clients to fund her gambling addiction

As reported in the New York Daily News this weekend, Taveras is also suing a total of six casinos in Atlantic City and Las Vegas for $20 million on charges that they failed to notice that she was gambling excessively and instead of stopping her, enabled her to keep playing.

Taveras claims that at some casinos she would stay at the tables for days, without eating and sleeping (or with only candy bars and orange juice that she says staff provided her), passing out and even using disposable wipes to brush her teeth, and that casino staff saw her behavior, so “they had a duty of care to me.” She adds that staff at Atlantic City casinos knew her so well that they let her bring her dog along in her purse and even transported her between casinos.

As a result of her compulsive gambling and losses of up to $1 million, Taveras lost her law practice, her apartment, her parents’ home, and still owes the IRS $58,000, in addition to the criminal charges she faces for theft and forgery.

The casinos deny wrongdoing and responsibility for problems they see as purely Ms. Taveras’s, and according to AP reports, her chances to win the lawsuit are small, as it will be difficult to prove that casino staff failed to notice she had a problem.

Hoax 911 Call Claims Heather Locklear Suicide Attempt

By Heather Chin (March 9, 2008)

Fire department officials and paramedics found Heather Locklear alive and well after receiving a false alarm suicide call.

According to a report by TMZ, the Ventura County Fire Department and two paramedics units responded Saturday night to a 911 call made by someone reporting a “suicide attempt” by actress Heather Locklear, only to find the Melrose Place star in good health at her home in Thousand Oaks.

Capt. Barry Parker of the Ventura County Fire Department says that the call did not originate from Locklear’s home.

After speaking with Ms. Locklear, emergency personnel left the house within 10 minutes, as TMZ’s unnamed sources say there was no need to take her on a 5150 hold, which describes as a California legal code for professional staff taking involuntary psychiatric custody of a person deemed mentally unstable.

Apparently, there was also no concern that Locklear was in any other danger, as a Fire Department source also told TMZ that, “If there was a problem, we would have taken her with us.”

The Dynasty star has a daughter with recent ex, Richie Sambora, and is currently working on two new projects.

No word yet on whether there are any clues as to who made the hoax phone call and whether it was sincere or intended as a prank.

Saturday, March 15, 2008

Dr. Seuss’ ‘Horton’ LA Premiere Crashed By Abortion Protestors

By Heather Chin (March 9, 2008)

Latching onto the newest Seuss film’s slogan, pro-life demonstrators attempted to utilize children’s entertainment for their message about children... period.

“After all, a person is a person, no matter how small.” – Horton, in Horton Hears A Who!

At the Los Angeles premiere of Dr. Seuss’ “Horton Hears A Who!” on Saturday, pro-life demonstrators arrived at the Mann Village Theater after the film screening and chanted anti-abortion slogans, which included Horton’s oft-repeated mantra in the movie. reports that after they stopped chanting, members of the group plastered red tape that read “LIFE” over their mouths and marched around the event area.

It seems that no police action was taken, but some people in attendance were annoyed enough that a children’s movie was being politicized that they responded with retorts such as, “How dare you?” and “This is a kid’s premiere.”

The use of themes from Dr. Seuss’ work to support the cause of particular interest groups is not new, as Seuss biographer, Philip Nel, notes in a 2004 interview with BookTalk on ABC Radio National in Australia. For example, both the theme of and main character in “The Lorax” have very obvious associations with protecting the environment and conservation (and have been targeted by logging groups and community libraries).

However, it was not Seuss’ intent for the meaning of his stories to be associated with these causes. In the case of Horton and the anti-abortion lobby, the conflict began when Dr. Seuss (aka Mr. Theodore Geisel) threatened to sue a pro-life group unless they took the slogan off their stationery (they did, but the line is still used today by groups in both the U.S. and abroad).

The 1954 story is one of many Seuss stories to be made into TV cartoons, live-action movies, and even Broadway plays. Before writing his stories, Mr. Geisel worked in advertising and as a political cartoonist.

The film, animated by Blue Sky Studio, the production arm of 20th Century Fox, is co-executive produced by Theodore Geisel’s widow, Audrey Geisel, and features the voices of Jim Carrey, Steven Carell and Mary Tyler Moore, and is set to be released this coming Friday.

Sources: (led to from a line in here:!#_note-0

For St. Patrick’s Day, One NYC Pub Bans ‘Danny Boy’

By Heather Chin (March 7, 2008)

In a bid to liven up celebrations even further, one Manhattan pub owner bans the traditional Irish song, which was written by an Englishman.

Drunken revelers at Foley’s Pub and Restaurant, in Manhattan, will be banned from singing the song “Danny Boy” for the entire month of March, reports the Associated Press. In its stead, guests will be rewarded with a prize for singing other traditional Irish tunes. And at its annual pre-St. Patrick’s Day karaoke party, free beer will be offered.

Pub owner, Shaun Clancy, explains that since the song is depressing, not usually sung in Ireland for the holiday, and written by an Englishman, there is no historic precedent for it to be sung here. However, the owners of an Irish pub in Detroit apparently disagree: their AJ’s Café will be holding a marathon on the lucky weekend devoted solely to singing 1,000 versions of “Danny Boy.”

With lyrics first published back in 1913 by an English lawyer, Frederick Edward Weatherly, who had never visited Ireland, the song in question was written to the tune of an old Irish song called “The Derry Air.” It became a hit in 1915, when opera singer Ernestine Schumann-Heink recorded the new version, and big names of the 1940s and 50s sang it, too, from Bing Crosby to Elvis Presley, Judy Garland to Johnny Cash, Cher to Willie Nelson.

The meaning of the lyrics is debatable, as well. Some see it as a mournful ballad by a mother to her dead son, while others interpret the object of lament as a lover or other heart-breaker. It is this emotion that is, in part, fueling the tension today, in the new millennium.

Ultimately, whatever your take on the necessity of this month’s ban at Foley’s Pub, at least there can now be a change of pace. Says parishioner and retired passenger ship waiter Martin Gaffney, “I’m glad!... [The song] is all right, but I get fed up with hearing it – it’s like the elections.”

Traditional Irish ballads that could serve as singing alternatives include “Molly Malone” and Dublin’s “Cockles and Mussels.”

Disney Plans A Japanese “Lilo and Stitch” Program

By Heather Chin

(previously published at on March 6, 2008)

“Lilo and Stitch” TV program just one of several new endeavors by Disney to provide entertainment that accommodates the culture it inhabits.

The Walt Disney Company has announced plans to create a Japanese version of its hit film, “Lilo and Stitch.” Reuters reports that the U.S.-based entertainment and media giant will work with Madhouse Ltd., a Japanese animation company, to create a TV program for the Disney Channel. The program is set to air on Japanese satellite and cable TV, said a Walt Disney Co. Japan spokeswoman to Reuters.

Disney also plans to collaborate with Asia’s huge Toei Animation Co. Ltd. to create a robot adventure computer graphics cartoon to air later this year.

Taken in a broader context, these joint projects are examples of Disney’s innovative global effort, announced to Reuters by Disney Channel Worldwide’s entertainment president, Gary Marsh, to create local teams in Asia to provide local content that would, in turn, be released to a global audience.

Elsewhere in the world, Disney has already transplanted and localized TV programs from one country to another country’s market. This was done with an Italian series that now airs also in Britain, the U.S., and Australia, and inroads are being made with Indian TV.

The story of Lilo and Stitch is about the self-affirming relationship and misadventures of a young Hawaiian girl and the pet dog named Stitch who is really an escaped alien refugee who attracts his own entourage of comedic acquaintances. It opened in the U.S. in 2002, won 8 film awards and was nominated for 20 more.

“Dexter” To Expand Into the Video Game World

By Heather Chin

(previously published at on March 6, 2008)

Showtime signs a deal to design a video game based on their recent hit drama.

“A serial killer isn’t always a bad thing,” said author Jeff Lindsay to describe the idea behind his book series about a man named Dexter Morgan. Apparently not, because with a book series, a unique hit on cable, and most recently an experimental run on network TV (CBS), “Dexter” is now poised to now enter another form of media consumption – the video game franchise.

According to Reuters and The Hollywood Reporter, the Showtime series about a serial killer whose targets are the ne’er-do-wells left behind through his day job as a forensic expert will soon be available on multiple gaming platforms, such as Sony’s PlayStation 3 and Microsoft’s Xbox 360. It will be co-developed by Marc Ecko Entertainment.

The character of Dexter Morgan first entered the world through author Jeff Lindsay’s 2004 novel, “Darkly Dreaming Dexter.” Now played by Michael C. Hall, of “Six Feet Under” fame, “Dexter” reaches an average of around 7 million viewers on CBS, compared to the 569,000 copies of all three Dexter chronicles, according to numbers from USA Today.

“Miss Pettigrew Lives” Has a Fairy Tale Cast

By Heather Chin

(previously published on on March 4, 2008)

The fantastic cast, led by Frances McDormand and Amy Adams, bring life and bright humor to an enjoyable musical fairy tale.

The Hollywood Reporter notes that the new musical film, “Miss Pettigrew Lives for a Day,” is lively, funny and wonderfully cast, but might leave a viewer feeling a bit taken aback by the swiftly moving, lavishly decorated, period atmosphere that creates this self-described “fairy tale for adults.”

Set in a 1939 London full of the nostalgic sounds of Cole Porter, Johnny Mercer and Yip Harburg, “Miss Pettigrew Lives” follows a day in the lives of Miss Guinevere Pettigrew (Oscar-winner Frances McDormand), a down-on-her-luck, middle-aged governess, and Delysia – as in Delicious – Lafosse (Amy Adams, fresh off her Enchanted role), an aspiring American actress trying to “succeed in business without really trying” – by sleeping her way up the entertainment business ladder.

The men in Delysia’s life include Joe (Ciaran Hinds of There Will Be Blood), Michael (Lee Pace of ABC’s Pushing Daisies), Phil (Tom Payne) and Nick (Mark Strong), and it is up to the practical Miss Pettigrew to guide Delysia towards her one true love.

Adapted from the newly rediscovered 1939 novel by Winifred Watson, the screenplay was written by David Magee and Simon Beaufoy, and directed by Bharat Nalluri. The film is set to be released by Focus Features on April 24.

The CW Network Renews Six Shows; Cuts Staffers

By Heather Chin

(previously published on on March 4, 2008)

Renewed CW shows reveal continued dedication to their tried-and-true formula of sex and the supernatural.

As reported by The Washington Post, the CW network announced Monday that they would be renewing six shows for the Fall season. These include raunchy fan-favorites America’s Next Top Model and Gossip Girl, alongside long-running supernatural standbys Smallville (up for its eighth season) and Supernatural (up for its fourth season).

The seeming dedication to familiar programming shows an optimism that is both surprising and understandable. The network is currently averaging only about 2.6 million viewers this season, notes the Post, which is down 20 percent from the same period last year.

Also renewed for next season are the confounding One Tree Hill and Everybody Hates Chris, which is the only comedy on the list of early pickups. Other comedies that have yet to receive word of renewal are Reaper and Aliens in America. Life is Wild has been cancelled.

In the meantime, the CW Network laid off 25-30 employees on Monday as part of a restructuring effort, reports The Hollywood Reporter. This included the removal of its entire comedy department.

Tim Allen Makes His Directorial Debut

By Heather Chin
(previously published on on March 3, 2008)

Tim Allen takes a new turn as a first-time director at the helm of an indie comedy.

After being immortalized as Tim (the Toolman) Taylor, Santa, and Buzz Lightyear, Tim Allen will add another tool on his belt as director of a feature film.

The Hollywood Reporter reveals that Allen is set to direct and star in “Crazy on the Outside,” an adult indie comedy about an ex-con who is released from prison and reunited with his sister, whose life he finds even crazier than jail. Actors who are in talks to also star include Ray Liotta, Carrie-Anne Moss, Julie Bowen and Kelsey Grammer.

The 54-year-old actor has previously directed a single episode of “Home Improvement,” where he played the car-loving, accident-prone TV host and father, Tim Taylor. For “Crazy,” he will be joined by producers and crew from his “Santa Clause’ films, and “Just Shoot Me!” alums, Judd Pilot and John Peaslee, who have written the script.

Most recently a star of the semi-surprise hit, “Wild Hogs,” Allen will next be seen in David Mamet’s “Redbelt,” which opens on April 25. He will also reprise his role as the voice of Buzz Lightyear in “Toy Story 3.”

MySpace Plans To Join the Online Music Bandwagon

By Heather Chin
(previously published on on March 3, 2008)

MySpace plans free ad-supported music streams, MP3 downloads and music subscriptions.

According to Reuters, the social networking giant, MySpace, has a plan for music and MP3’s to be shared and sold online through the site. Such offerings would bring the site into direct competition with everything from iTunes to subscription services such as Rhapsody, and, of course, other social networking sites.

This news comes as rival social networking sites, ranging from Facebook to and, launch their own attempts into the online music business – and increase their audience numbers in the process.

MySpace’s parent company News Corp. hopes to open a music site with the major record labels as partners, says Reuters. In such a deal, the label would get a cut of the advertising revenue generated from the music pages. The goal is for users to create profiles, listen to music, find other users with the same musical tastes, and even buying and downloading songs.

Whether all this competition actually means something or will be significant is unknown. While online music business really might be an alternative to piracy, only 14 percent of Internet users report getting music through social networking sites, said the NPD group, a research group cited by Reuters.

Still, as Martin Stiksel, the co-founder of says, “MySpace is always a force to be reckoned with” – despite joining the movement a little late.

Enrique Iglesias Plans to Retire by Age 50

By Heather Chin

(previously published on on March 1, 2008.)

Iglesias intends to keep going until he makes an ‘It’ album for the ages.

In comments made to The Associated Press, 32-year-old Enrique Iglesias announced his plans to exit the stage by middle-age, assuming that he doesn’t still have the vigor to keep going. “I'm not sure I want to be up on a stage when I'm 64 or 65,” he said. "But that's what I say now. Who knows if I'll have the courage to do it when the day comes."

This would contrast with the career of his father and fellow singer, Julio, who after four decades is still serenading fans with romantic melodies. However, this doesn’t mean the younger Iglesias doesn’t admire such long-term effort. “In my father's case, I think he's going to die onstage and I respect that very much,” he explained. “In my case, in 15 years I'll probably look ridiculous singing 'Bailamos' ('Let's Dance')."

Such a presumption may seems just as ridiculous to fans, but it does leave time for several more albums to be produced. The Madrid-born heartthrob first entered the pop scene in 1995 with a self-titled album and is releasing a greatest hits compilation titled “95/08” this March.

Heartbroken fans can take comfort, though, in the fact that Iglesias considers his musical repertoire a constant work-in-progress. "When I listen to my music I think it can still continue to evolve," he said. "After a couple of months go by, I think I could write a better song."

Then what kind of song and album would he like to end on? As Iglesias put it, "One you listen to 10, 15, 20 years from now and say, 'Oh! I wouldn't change a thing.'"

So until that time comes, the world may still have an Iglesias performing on stage.