Category Archives: Celebrity Happenings

That one time I covered the Oscars

My feet are mangled and numb from standing in 4-inch heels for hours, and the bags under my eyes seem to be holding extra cargo after not sleeping more than 5 hours a night for weeks. Small prices to pay for living a dream.

Last night I covered the Oscars and it was glorious.

My colleagues had warned me that awards season– as it’s known in the entertainment biz– is a killer. It snuck up on me right after the lull of the holidays. All at once, there was the Golden Globes, the Screen Actors Guild, Producers Guild, Directors Guild, People’s Choice, and Independent Spirit Awards… leading up to the mother of all shows: the Oscars.

This was my first year in the job, and the AP does things very differently than my past workplaces, so everything from set up to staffing to production was new. I spent hours on conference calls, making complicated schedules and coverage plans, and negotiating restrictions. I worked too many late nights, and woke up often before dawn in a panic that I’d forgotten to book a fiber line connection or apply for enough credentials.

It was a stressful, exhausting few months learning the ropes and planning for awards shows I’d never attended. But I knew that the beacon at the end of the long journey was that I’d be on the Academy Awards red carpet.

I dutifully saw most of the movies nominated. I picked a dress, made an appointment at Dry Bar that Sunday morning and headed for Hollywood.

Let me just tell you people– it was a career highlight for sure and one of the most memorable nights of my life.

Seeing so many huge stars all in one place, all glammed up and mingling was the insider view I’d always dreamed about. After years of blogging about red carpets by religiously watching E!, I was living it!

The best way to share my experience is to show you the many photos I took throughout the weekend so you can get a little glimpse.

Oscars red carpet prep

Testing out the carpet– behind me are empty fan bleachers

I went to pick up my credentials and see our spot on the carpet — prime real estate right near the entrance where they take the fashion shots– between Ryan Seacrest and the E! crew and the ABC live show.

oscars-signs

The carpet was under plastic wrap to keep it clean before the big day. The whole carpet is tented and looks like a giant set with lights and press risers on one side and fan bleachers on the other.

Oscars red carpet preps 2017

There are VERY strict rules against photographing credentials so you won’t see that.

oscar-and-me

When we arrived on the carpet everyone lined up to take the obligatory photo with Oscar. How can you not?

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Here was the amazing AP Entertainment crew getting ready for the big rush of celebs. We had two producers asking questions and two cameramen for interviews and broll.

oscars-nicole-cards

Producer Nicole did research for days to develop smart, varied and personal questions for each star. She had color coded cards with subject tabs to refer to when she knew a nominee was coming up. We try to get unique, thoughtful answers by asking the right questions.

oscars-entrance

At first, just a few stars came in through a grand entrance flanked by red velvet curtains. They pose in front of the fashion cameras and then either walk down the press line, or duck behind the crowds and enter discreetly.

There are always stars who just won’t walk the carpet– Meryl Streep is one. Other nominees like Emma Stone and Ryan Gosling snuck in without doing the press line. But we had plenty other nominees and presenters to interview.

oscars-john-legend

Ryan Seacrest showed up just minutes before the big stars came and had several producers and groomers surrounding him. It was common to see stars lining up to talk to him. See the cards a producer is holding to the right? That’s how he gets info for his interviews.

One of my takeaways was how beautiful many of these actors are in person. Best Actress nominee Ruth Negga was gorgeous and lovely.

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Negga would be on my best dressed list, along with Halle Berry, Haley Steinfeld, Jessica Biel and Taraji P Henson.

Janelle Monae oscars red carpet 2017

Janelle Monae who was there as a presenter to support both “Moonlight” and “Hidden Figures” had flawless skinn and makeup… and that dress. Many of the embellished dresses that I normally would not like on TV, look so much better in person when you see the textures and detail and how they wear the dress.

Scarlett Johansson red carpet Oscars 2017

Check out Les Moonves and Julie Chen to the left

Scarlett Johanssen was another one who was luminous in person and a smart interview.

We spoke to some of my favorites like Dev Patel from “Lion”….

Dev Patel red carpet Oscars 2017

…and his co-star Sunny who doesn’t speak much English but man is he cute in a tux!

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I was excited to be near Best Song nominee Lin-Manuel Miranda, who brought his proud mom.

LIn-Manuel Miranda Oscars red carpet 2017

Sting!

Sting red carpet Oscars 2017

Andrew Garfield who is charming, and not just because of his British accent.

Andrew Garfield Oscars red carpet 2017

I love director Ava Duvernay. She is so talented and speaks so beautifully and passionately about film and the need for more people of color and more females telling stories.

Ava Duvernay Oscars red carpet 2017

Nicole Kidman did not stop to talk but I watched her walk past us and her skin is like allibaster. Loved her look. She and Keith Urban seemed very connected.

Nicole Kidman Keith Urban Oscars red carpet 2017

And for more adorable couples…..um hello JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE and Jessica Biel!

Justin Timberlake Jessica Biel red carpet Oscars 2017

They don’t do many interviews so we were psyched they stopped for us. Justin was everything you’d want him to be: easy, funny, smart and playful. When they were waiting to talk to Ryan, I watched them on the carpet and they were flirty and laughing.

oscars-leslie-mann

I interviewed my favorite celebrity couple Leslie Mann and Judd Apatow and they did not disappoint. My impression before we met was funny, smart and unaffected… and they were!

We went into our production trailer to watch the show and eat dinner. I thought Kimmel was fantastic. I laughed out loud many times. The show was long but didn’t feel it to me …and who could believe that surprise ending!

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With AP producer and Oscars expert Mike Cidoni

I was part of the Governor’s Ball red carpet press which was only a handful of crews, including Natalie Morales (whom I love) from Access Hollywood.

oscars-mahershala

The carpet is right at the entrance to the giant ballroom where Wolfgang Puck creates culinary delights and fancy champagne flows. It’s a gorgeous party with a live band, a dance floor and more roses than Pasadena on New Year’s Day.

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We interviewed Barry Jenkins and the boys who play the lead character in “Moonlight” about their big surprising win.

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Jenkins was gracious and thoughtful and I wanted to give him a hug. (I didn’t.)

Viola Davis Governors Ball Oscars 2017

We also congratulated Viola on her win. She never disappoints with a sound bite. And what a speech.

And then– after a 13 hour marathon day fueled by adrenalin and nerves– it was over.

Awards season is full of work and stress but completely worth it. Remind me of that come December 2017!

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Shout out to my LA girls who put me up and kept me sane.

oscars-me-on-carpet

 

 

 

Remembering Mary

In my current job as an entertainment news producer I report on many celebrity deaths. Mourning becomes a casualty to getting the news out quickly and getting reaction from family and fans. But when I heard Mary Tyler Moore died Wednesday, I took a moment to grieve.

I was too young to watch “The Dick Van Dyke Show” when it was in its original run, but I watched reruns and always liked Mary’s spunk. Then she became a feminist icon starring in the very originally-titled “Mary Tyler Moore Show.”

mary-tyler-moore

Mary Richards was one of the reasons I wanted to become a journalist, and more specifically, a TV news producer. I’m sure I’m not the only one of my sister colleagues who was inspired by her moxy and independence….her work ethic and heart.

And how about that cool apartment and enviable wardrobe? She was the first to have a giant letter “M” on the wall, and no one ever looked better in a suede vest.

She knew how to deliver a punch line with a quiet power, and how to stand back and let her quirky co-stars have their moments. She and Rhoda created a road map for female friendships, while proving you could have a successful, happy life without needing a man.

mary-tm

Thanks for that Mary.

I met Mary once, while covering the red carpet of the Tony Awards in New York in 2002. I jumped at the chance to talk to her.

She was taller than I thought she’d be and impeccably dressed in a classic black suit that was sophisticated, and age appropriate yet sexy. I asked her a bunch of questions which she answered dutifully.

mary-tyler-moore2

As we wrapped up we had an exchange that I will never forget. I asked her if she enjoyed getting dressed up for big events like the Tonys and she looked me straight in the eye and said “No, I hate it!”

I was so surprised, as she seemed so in her element. But she said she’d rather be home with her dogs. Then I said ” But you look fabulous!” and she cocked her head to the side and smiled and said, ” Well, there’s that.” And then she glided away.

That dame knew how to take a compliment!

I’ll miss Mary, and what she represented to young girls like me: Someone who was smart and capable, glamorous and self-reliant. She made many of us believe we’re gonna make it after all.

 

 

 

My first NY Fashion Week shoot was a celeb bonanza! 

Sometimes my job is cool.

Granted my feet are killing me because I just stood on a sidewalk for three hours crammed next to pushy photographers elbowing me for the same two feet of space.

But it was fun watching all the giant black SUVs pull up to the door of the Tom Ford show, and guessing who would emerge from the car.

Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson at Tom Ford fall fashion  show

Tom Hanks and Rita Wilson prove romance never goes out of style

No surprise that the fashion darling attracted big stars. He’s dressed A-listers like Julianne Moore and Naomi Watts for years.

Julianne Moore at Tom Ford fall show 2016

Julianne Moore has been Ford’s muse on film and on the carpet.

The exclusive guest list included many fashion icons….

Iman at Tom Ford fall fashion  show

Iman arrived solo which made me sad.


Naomi Campbell at Tom Ford fall fashion  show

Naomi Campbell almost didn’t stop for photographers but finally gave us a few classic poses.

The hottest pop culture and music stars were also represented.

Karlie Kloss at Tom Ford fall fashion  show

Karlie Kloss. #squadgoals


Alicia Keys at Tom Ford fall fashion  show

Alicia Keys keeping it real with minimum makeup and husband Swizz Beatz

 

Zayn at Tom Ford fall fashion  show

Zayn (cue the screaming girls)

And of course a few starlets thrown in for good measure.

Uma Thurman at Tom Ford fall fashion  show

Uma Thurman owning the glam


Gina Gershon at Tom Ford fall fashion  show

Where has Gina Gershon been?


Hailee Steinfeld at Tom Ford fall fashion  show

Hailee Steinfeld werking it

Who was the best dressed?

My vote is for Cindy Crawford.


She looked amazing in this white gown –her body toned and hair and makeup understated. Perfection.

Apologies for the amateur photography. The iPhone doesn’t take great pix when there are so many flashes going off at once so the lighting is off in many of these. My phone was in shutter shock!

But all worth it for a night on the town. Now if only I could get inside the show.

I took these stealth photos of the runway through an obstructed view window in the back of the building.


Maybe from the front row next year!

My night with Babs and other recent events worth sharing

Hello Gorgeous!Barbra Streisand on tour at Barclays on Aug 11

That’s the theme of this post. Streisand fans will know it’s one of her famous lines from “Funny Girl.” I went to see her last week at the Barclays Center in her hometown.  She made her grand entrance (she doesn’t do anything small) in a black sparkly jumpsuit complete with black sheer batwings for effect. Her first words to the sold-out crowd?  “Hello Brooklyn!”

Barbra Streisand on tour at Barclays on Aug 11

Her voice is still like buttah

The doting audience of mostly septegenerians in their own fancy pantsuits and sweater sets (despite the steamy NYC weather)  howled and cheered.

I loved her show– part of a world tour for her new album, ” Encore: Movie Partners Sing Broadway” –and was thrilled to scratch seeing her live off my pop culture bucket list. She was everything I could have hoped for after following her career all these years.

Barbra Streisand on tour at Barclays on Aug 11

The show was organized, thoughtful, intimate and moving. The audience kvelled as she opened with “The Way We Were”– gently easing us through the misty water-color memories. She sang one hit song from each iconic album of every decade since the 60’s– and we all marveled at how many recognizable songs she has. And that was all before the 20 minute intermission. (Who has a real intermission at a concert anymore?)

Her second act was favorites from show tunes to ballads, many written by close friends and brilliant composers including Julie Stein, Marvin Hamlisch and Barry Gibb specifically tailored to Barbra’s unique sound.

Barbra Streisand on tour at Barclays on Aug 11

Here she’s pointing out how the record company photo shopped her nose to look thinner. She was not pleased!

Her voice is still strong and rich, and each song was interpreted with respect to the original, but new flare. The best part was how much she chatted between songs. She talked about the history of certain album covers, her iconic outfits and accessories, and those who helped and inspired her along the way.

She got political several times, proudly declaring her support for Hillary, which was met by mostly cheers from the crowd of devotees.

Barbra Streisand on tour at Barclays on Aug 11

She brought Jamie Foxx and Patrick Wilson onstage to sing separate duets from the new album, which was a fun surprise. Both sang with power and literally bowed down to Babs before exiting the stage.

It was like spending the evening with an old friend.

My father was a HUGE Barbra fan and her music was on the playlist of my childhood. Hearing all those songs again– still sounding so good– was like tonic for the heart. Nostalgic and sweet ….and isn’t that why music is so powerful?

In other news…. I have a nephew! I’m a first-time aunt to one Cooper George Lefferts.

Eli is a great cousin!

Isn’t he just the cutest?

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I hold him and feed him and smell his soft mushy head. I sway him and tickle his feet and love him up, before turning him over to his very tired parents.

Hello gorgeous!

brooke and coop aug 2016

Aunthood rocks.

I’m still plugging away at my job. It’s been nearly six months and although it can be overwhelming and stressful, covering entertainment news is cool and the days go by very quickly.

And once in a while I get a perk… like interviewing a celeb I admire.

Paul Reiser stops by the AP

Actor/comedian Paul Reiser came in to talk about the anniversary of “Mad About You.” I gave him sun butter and rice cakes and he made me laugh a lot.

Blake Lively was smart, sweet and easy to interview.

Daveed Diggs at the AP

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Hello Gorgeous!

brooke and daveed diggs

Shortly after he came in, actor/rapper Daveed Diggs won a Tony for his roles as Lafayette and Thomas Jefferson in “Hamilton”

But now it’s time for a break. I’m leaving for Israel at the end of the week to celebrate Aden’s bar mitzvah with family in the Holy Land.

Will blog about that gorgeous place when I return!

I survived month 1 of my new full-time job

Oh it truly feels good to be back on this page. I’ve not had a moment to sit down at the computer since I started my new job at the AP at the end of February. I’ve been working beaucoup hours trying to get up to speed.

My duties include managing a team of 11 producers and 3 cameramen in several cities– including LA, NY, and Nashville — who help cover entertainment news for hundreds of TV clients all over the world. It’s a lot of masters to serve. While I have many years of TV news experience and a solid understanding of entertainment, every shop is different and it takes a while to adjust.

Work pass

But there’s barely time to adjust and get to know the staff because I have to keep up with breaking news– everything from celebrity deaths, divorces and babies to the latest album drop and show opening on Broadway — while receiving literally hundreds of emails a day– sometimes 1 per minute!– of pitches for coverage.

I’m not complaining– I love it! But as a colleague told me last week, coming into this job is a little like building a plane that’s already in flight. It doesn’t stop and I’m constantly worried we’re gonna crash. Miss the wrong email and you lose your spot on the red carpet for Nicole Kidman’s new movie or the deadline for credentials for the MTV Movie Awards. (These are hypotheticals of course…we should be good on both of these….but I’ll double-check now just in case.)

I know everything takes time and I’m hoping in a few months it will all be easier and I’ll look back on this time and laugh. Can’t wait!

In the meantime, some other thoughts on the big change.

How is the family adjusting?-– You know which family member had the hardest time with me going back full-time? Kids are great and Wilson has been extra helpful. It’s Brady! That lonely pup didn’t eat for two days and freaked out when I would walk in the door, chasing his tail and barking like a lunatic. Major separation anxiety! He’s alone more hours during the day now, but my sitter walks him and he’ll be fine. Poor pooch.

Brady needs a lot of extra attention and often has personal space issues.

Brady needs a lot of extra attention and often has personal space issues.

Commuting — I’m working 5 days in the city and take the train. Luckily I can walk from home and work to the station so it’s really a pleasant experience. I like to say I don’t hate the commute, I resent it. It’s nice to have some alone time to gear up, read in and decompress after work, or meet a friend to talk on the way home. But it’s just another 2 hours I’m not with my kids.

I’m crazy tired-– I was always tired– for the brief time I was not working and when I was working part-time– but this is a different kind of tired. It’s like 4pm 9 months pregnant tired. Like just got off a flight from Hong Kong tired. I think this will get easier too. When you’re new you have to be “on” for 9 hours a day. Good news is I sleep well and have been good about getting to bed at a decent hour– which is new for me.

Random celeb sightings– Yes, we have all kinds of actors, writers, reality stars and even celebrity pets prancing into the office. I have yet to make it to a red carpet, but in the office I met the legendary David Hasselhoff (don’t hassle the Hoff,) comedian George Lopez, and Colman Domingo (from Selma and Fear of the Walking Dead.) Jeremy Piven came in and I snuck a photo because Jacob’s a huge Entourage fan. I could have asked Piven for a real photo but we’re the press, not fans, and we should be better than that.

Piven picI thought showing Ari Gold live and in person in my office might impress the kids and let them know what Mom does all day.  I texted Jacob the sly pic and with typical teenaged disdain he texted back “Ayo.”

I don’t even know what that means.  Sigh.

One of the highlights was XMen’s Nicholas Hoult who has a British accent and is easy on the eyes. Nuff said.

Associated Press

Associated Press

 I miss writing– I had one last book review to get out so I wrote it this week and it felt good to be writing again. Right now, I haven’t had any time to write in my job, and at home I’m with the kids and trying to get stuff done. I hope in a  few months I’ll be able to make more time for it.

So keep watching this space– don’t give up on me just yet!

Golden Globes 2016: a forgettable year

Variety

Variety

The 73rd Golden Globes ceremony was a bit lackluster, even for this TV and movie fan. The film that swept was one I’m not sure I can endure, and many of the TV winners were for shows I’d never heard of (Mr. Robot, Mozart in the Jungle, Crazy Ex-Girlfriend )?!

Makes it harder to get excited when you don’t have horses in the race.

One ongoing theme was the seemingly genuine surprise of winners, apparently convinced someone else would take home a Globe. (“I can’t believe this! Wait. am I really up here? I was not expecting this!”)  Perhaps that speaks to the talent level in every category.

Let’s get to the deets…..

The show:

Ricky Gervais was back as host. Many stars looked terrified as he took the stage and started spewing insults. His indiscriminate barbs spared no one, including the show’s network NBC, which he gleefully pointed out did not get one nomination.

He was wry, sarcastic, and funny…but kind of an anti-host. Not deeming the event worthy of a tux, he went with a blazer and no tie. No one felt welcome or comfortable when he was on the stage, and he often spoke some hard-to-hear truths about Hollywood, quipping “it’s funny cuz it’s true!”

Ricky-Gervais-hosts-the-73rd-Annual-Golden-Globe-Awards-on-Sunday-January-10-2016

When introducing presenter Matt Damon, he called him “the only person Ben Affleck hasn’t been unfaithful to.”  Midway through the show, he came on and said with disgust that the ceremony was “waaaay too long. Let’s get through it!”

But the one-note “I’m so over you people and you need to get over yourselves” routine got old after a while, and I was yearning for the creative and playful Amy and Tina.

–Happy to see Jon Hamm win for best actor for playing the miserable Don Draper for seven seasons, on “Mad Men.”

Lady Gaga won for a guest role in American Horror Story: Hotel. I don’t watch that show and don’t doubt her talent but find it hard to believe she was actually the best actress? Holding back tears, she gave a very, very dramatic acceptance speech so maybe she is.

Mr Robot poster

–This Mr. Robot show has now intrigued me,  after it won for best TV drama and Christian Slater won for best supporting actor in the series.

Standout moments:

–The crowd went nuts when Sylvester Stallone won for reprising his Rocky role as best supporting actor in Creed. 

Denzel Washington winning the Cecil B Demille award. Man, watching that clip reel was incredible. So many great movies and he brings gravitas to every role. I was a little disappointed by his speech. I like that he brought his whole family on stage but he seemed overwhelmed and too off the cuff to say what he really meant. He stumbled around on his speech and realized aloud he should have brought his glasses. Not as inspiring and strong as I expected.

–Taraji P Henson gave out cookies on her way to the stage after winning best actress for playing Cookie on “Empire.” When they tried to wrap her up she wasn’t having any of it: “No, no, I waited 20 years to be here you’re going to wait!”

The Revanent poster

Leonardo DiCaprio got a standing O after winning for growing a long, fuzzy snot-filled beard in “The Revenant.”  Seriously, that movie also won best picture and best director for Alejandro González Iñárritu— but it looks hard to watch: cold, violent and not a woman or laugh in sight. Not sure I can do it. Leo was the only winner who got political, saying we have to “protect indigenous lands from corporate interests and protect this planet for future generations.”

Moments that made my kids laugh:

Jonah Hill donning a furry hat and pretending to be the bear from The Revenant, doing an insulting bit so foul-mouthed  and inappropriate he got bleeped and started a “what did he say” frenzy on Twitter.

Jamie Foxx did a spoof of Steve Harvey‘s Miss Universe gaffe by claiming that “Straight Outta Compton” won for Best Original Score … before admitting he didn’t “read the card right” and it was really “The Hateful Eight.”

Full list of winners here.

The clothes:

I noticed that the always reliable and smooth Ryan Seacrest was specifically not asking women who they were wearing as often as usual and sometimes not at all. This must be due to the #AskHerMore campaign from last year that demanded actresses be asked more about their work than their fashion choices. Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls started their own campaign on Twitter #SmartGirlsAsk where fans could pose substantive questions on social media to ask stars on the red carpet. Definitely made for more interesting chatter.

I’ve been doing these awards wrap-up posts for years and I sometimes feel like a broken record picking the same gals as best-dressed, but when you know what looks good on you, you make good decisions. Perhaps some of my winners may sound familiar….

Vogue victors:

My three favorite looks of the night were:

julianne-moore

Julianne Moore never disappoints. This year she brought designer Tom Ford and wore his custom navy sequined sheath with a sleek design and subtle details. She wore her red tresses long and slightly messy to complete the look. Glamorous, modern, perfect.

Kate Hudson has become more known for her style than her acting, no? She definitely made a statement in a light pink Michael Kors beaded sheath that from the front looked like a bandeau top was separate from the long skirt but was actually attached in a sexy twisted back. The cutouts were accentuated by her unbelievable body. She topped off the look with messy bed hair and jewels.

attends the 73rd Annual Golden Globe Awards held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 10, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California.

attends the 73rd Annual Golden Globe Awards held at the Beverly Hilton Hotel on January 10, 2016 in Beverly Hills, California.

The ever svelte Olivia Wilde in a burgundy sequined sheath with deep halter top: Beautiful, lustrous yet with old Hollywood flair.

Amy Adams usually does it right and her long, tight orange Versace dress with an interesting sequined pattern at the belt line popped on the carpet and off the stage. Also loved her long loose wavy red hair- like a fiery sunset.

Also liked Kirsten Dunst’s black velvet Versace sheath with very risqué, cleavage-bearing cutouts and a delicate strappy back, accentuated with a messy bun and diamonds.

And speaking of big-time cleavage, Jaime Alexander ( from “Blindspot”) had a memorable emerald green and black gown that was tight and open on top and flowing on the bottom. Her updo added to the striking look.

It’s hard to talk about a red carpet and not mention JLo but frankly it was not one of my favorite looks for her. The mustard yellow skin-tight Giambattista Valli sheath had beautiful texture and lines, balanced by an attached cape on top. She went with very minimal makeup and flat hair so it wasn’t a wow. Don’t get me wrong– she still looked good, just not a standout.

Taraji P. Henson stood out in a sexy, sleek white strapless Stella McCartney sheath and long dangle giant emerald earrings.

Helen Mirren looked elegant in a black velvet sheath with a sweetheart top and sexy diamond necklace that seemed to be paving a path right to her ample cleavage.

Best dressed men for my money were Rob Lowe– aging well  with salt and pepper coiffed hair and a gray tux that fit snugly and perfectly….Jason Sudeikis in a handsome tux and Air Jordans, with socks to match wife Olivia Wilde’s gown….and Will Smith who knows how to wear a suit.

Fashion fails: 

I love Jane Fonda, but she made a fashion faux pax in a white dress with some kind of dust ruffle clown costume on top. It was a risk that did not pay off and overshadowed how great and real she looks in her own skin.

Variety

Variety

Rooney Mara had a rather severe hair look with a tightly pulled braid, which she coupled with a pale pink dress crowded with tassels and fringe that was more Spanish dancer than young starlet. I don’t think dressing up is her thing.

Emilia Clarke (“Game of Thrones”) looked like she was going to a 19th century funeral all buttoned up and lacy in black.

Lady Gaga had a nice frock but for her, it was rather ho-hum. The look was channeling Marilyn Monroe with platinum blond bob hair and a black velvet Versace 40’s style dress with a sweetheart tip. Snore.

Melissa McCarthy may be hilarious but she really needs a new stylist.  She lost weight and her face was glowing but the silver, drapy garbage bag of a dress was not doing her any favors.

I know I say this every time, but seriously, Giulianna Rancic looks not well. She made the mistake of wearing a dress with cutouts and standing sideways on camera and 1) you could almost see through her and 2) her head looks so large teetering on those bony shoulders and that frail body, if she keeled over and face planted into the red carpet I would not be surprised. Hope she’s ok!

To see all the red carpet looks click here.

That’s a wrap kids. I need some sleep!

 

 

Kanye West: creative genius or out of control egomaniac?

Sorry for the hiatus kids, I was in jolly old England for a week with Aden (at least one post on that loveliness to come.) While I was gone, my review came out on the new book, “Kanye West: God and Monster,” by Mark Beaumont.

While the book is not great– way too long and not well-written or edited– I was fascinated by Kanye and wanted to learn more. He’s surprising in many ways. Growing up with two college-educated parents who valued the arts and instilled a strong work ethic, he started rapping as a kid in Chicago and worked his ass off writing and performing whenever he could.

kanye west god and monster book cover on carpoolcandy.com

He made his bones as a producer and was working in the big leagues by 19– showing up to meetings with record companies in a pink Polo shirt and a Louis Vuitton backpack– ready to negotiate. The 90’s hip hop world didn’t know what to make of him, but he refused to take no for an answer.

Once he broke into the music business, he worked obsessively on perfecting every record, surrounding himself with the best talent and open to all collaboration. As his star began to rise, his healthy ego became his downfall. His media meltdowns became legendary and made him a punchline.

But he just went back to work creating. His vision and influence extends well beyond music into producing and directing videos, fashion, and design. Kanye also changed the genre by writing more honestly about his life experiences and feelings, which opened the door for many new artists since. The book made me want to buy his albums.

While I wouldn’t recommend Kanye West: God and Monster— read why below, I don’t mince words– I hope a good writer gets access to Ye or he writes his own story. I’d buy that book for realz.

Anyone who’s glanced at a tabloid recently knows Kanye West as a flashy rapper married to reality TV star Kim Kardashian. But a new book, “Kanye West: God and Monster,” by Mark Beaumont (Ominibus Press) argues West’s talent and influence stretch well past the gossip headlines. 

Beaumont did his homework — there are eight pages of sources cited in the index– piecing together West’s story, using media interviews spanning more than a decade. But the only quotes in the book allegedly said by West and those in his circle are taken from outside reporting– not original interviews– so there are no revelations, and few new personal details. 
 
The book follows West’s life from childhood in Chicago, to his first shot in the music business, through to the present. The bulk of the content focuses on West’s creative process writing and producing, so it reads more like a music anthology than biography. 
 
The chapters are long and dense, each focusing on a particular album, explaining the origin and meaning of scores of song lyrics and musical hooks, and myriad collaborators. West has joined forces with dozens of rap and hip hop stars and the author names them all, making it challenging to keep up. While Beaumont is deft at analyzing West’s lyrics and relating them to the rapper’s life experiences, including so many examples becomes repetitive, tedious, and breaks the narrative’s flow. 
 
A consistent theme in the book is West’s perseverance and his refusal to accept rejection because his artistic convictions and belief in himself are so strong. Beaumont suggests that while West is a “god” in music now, he had a tough time breaking in.
 
He didn’t look or sound like other rappers in the late 1990’s, and came from a disciplined home with college-educated parents who valued academics, art and a strong work ethic. While most rappers were wearing tight shirts and baggy jeans slung low, West– a high-fashion fan– sported a loose pink Ralph Lauren shirt with the collar flipped up and a Louis Vuitton backpack.

kanye-west Rolling Stones cover
Beaumont builds a convincing case that West is a creative music genius, with an eye for fashion, video directing, and design. He’s also known among peers as one of the hardest working in show business. Rapping as a child, he hustled through adolescence and produced on a platinum record at just 19.   
 
The book examines his process– never writing down lyrics, constantly listening to music from all genres to find hooks, and putting them together with signature beats. West often burrows in hotels and makeshift studios for months with little sleep, barely stopping to eat, as he constantly rearranges songs up until a record release.

A near fatal car accident at the beginning of his career gave him renewed purpose and sparked more honesty in his writing. While most artists were singing about fast cars, guns and sex, West started writing reflective raps about peer pressure, materialism, racism, violence, and stereotypes.

The audience responded to his new vulnerability: he was selling records and wowing critics. Beaumont maintains this introspective writing style changed the game and opened the door for more sensitive artists like Drake, Kid Cudi, and Frank Ocean. 

But with success, came hubris and a lack of self-control. West began to draw negative attention by comparing himself to great musicians and cultural icons, like Michael Jackson, the Beatles, Steve Jobs, and Ghandi, and became famous for his public meltdowns. 
 
He was publicly vilified after effectively calling then President George Bush a racist on live TV, and again when interrupting Taylor Swift after winning her first MTV award insisting Beyonce should have won. The backlash sent him into exile, but the book doesn’t offer any new insight nor explain why West continued his monster ways in subsequent interviews, Twitter rants, and scuffles with paparazzi. 

Fans looking for scoop on West’s personal life will be disappointed. Many life events– messy breakups, his mother’s tragic death following plastic surgery, feuds with other musicians, his marriage to Kardashian and becoming a father — are glossed over. 
 
The book spotlights the music and West’s ambition and artistic influence. He has his own record label, produces and styles music videos, created a Nike sneaker, and has fashion lines in the works. His tour with hip hop magnate Jay-Z broke records and marked transcendence into the mainstream.
 
“They were outselling Rock and Roll giants, and had broken through cultural barriers to become accepted and loved far beyond their niche beginnings. They were pop culture figures dictating fashion, music and even changes in racial and social attitudes,” Beaumont writes.  
 
Beaumont’s writing style is bland, unlike his dynamic subject. West’s personal story, his fearlessness and tireless work ethic, and his talent and creativity will likely inspire readers. Beaumont hails West as innovative and riveting. Unfortunately, his book is not.

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