Friday, December 21, 2012

Carmelo Anthony's game is more efficient

(The New York Knicks host the Brooklyn Nets, Wednesday at 7 ET on ESPN.)

The New York Knicks are coming off a loss on Monday to the Houston Rockets. They’re hoping to have Carmelo Anthony back against the Brooklyn Nets after missing the past two games with an ankle injury.

In two games this season against the Nets, Anthony has scored 80 points -- including a season-high 45 on Dec. 18.

In those two games against Brooklyn, Anthony made eight of 12 3-point attempts. Shooting behind the arc is one area of his game that has improved significantly.

Before this season, Anthony was a career 32 percent shooter behind the arc. That average has shot up to 45.5 percent (51-112) this season.

Long-range shooting isn’t the only area of Anthony’s game that has improved. He’s also shooting a career-best 46.8 percent on mid-range shots (which are 2-point field goal attempts taken outside the paint). Last season, he made just 38.9 percent from that distance.

Combined with making more than six free throws per game, Anthony’s true shooting percentage this season is 59.2, which would be the highest of his career. (True shooting percentage is a measure of shooting efficiency that takes into account field goals, three-point field goals and free throws.)

An improved True Shooting Percentage has resulted in higher efficiency from Anthony. His offensive efficiency this season is at a career-high 115.1 -- meaning the Knicks score 115.1 points per 100 possessions with him on the court. His highest offensive efficiency entering this season was 110.7 in 2008-09. When Anthony is not on the court, the Knicks efficiency drops to 102.6

Among players to log at least 100 minutes this season, Anthony’s offensive efficiency ranks third behind Nick Collison (115.5) and teammate Tyson Chandler (115.2).

Another reason the Knicks would like to see Anthony return? He ranks fifth in plus/minus at +167. He’s been on the court for 712 minutes compared to 445 off it and the difference has been noticeable. Per 48 minutes, the Knicks are outscoring opponents by 11.3 points with Anthony on the court, but are getting outscored by almost two points with him off the court.

Anthony is second this season averaging 27.9 points per game. If he maintains that for the entire season, he’d be just the fourth Knick to average at least 27 points per game for an entire season and the first since Patrick Ewing in 1989-90.

George Lucas Laura Schlessinger’s Spotlight Shines on This Week’s Major Stories-Hugh Jackman, Barbra Streisand, Jennifer Lawrence & Big Boi Reading Grinch! (Video)

This week’s Spotlight delivers Babs herself – yep, Barbra Streisand and Seth Rogen hit the promotional circuit for “The Guilt Trip,” we’ve also got Hugh Jackman cementing his star status, a Jennifer Lawrence Blu-Ray giveaway, a Channing Tatum competition prize pack, and Outkast’s Big Boi bringing his Christmas spirit to Dr. Seuss!

Check out the video! And Hap-Hap-HAPPY HOLIDAYS from all of us at!!!!

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Willow and Jaden Smith Take Flight at LAX

Posted Thursday December 20, 2012 7:40 PM GMT

Traveling as a family, Jaden and Willow Smith caught a flight at LAX Airport in Los Angeles on Thursday (December 20).

The "Whip My Hair" singer wore a maroon jacket, head scarf, and gray boots as she carried her little terrier in a travel bag while her 14-year-old brother wore a black sweatshirt lined with animal-print fur and Beats headphones.

Earlier this week, the 12-year-old star joined "True Grit" child actress Hailee Steinfeld to celebrate her Sweet 16.

The gals nabbed manicures courtesy of Sally Hansen and sipped on mocktails at Rolling Stone Restaurant and Lounge in Los Angeles.

Enjoy the pictures of Jaden and Willow Smith at LAX Airport in Los Angeles (December 20).

Carey Lowell other facts

Thursday, December 20, 2012

Mila Kunis -- Targeted By Anti-Semitic Ukrainian Politician

Mila Kunis
Targeted By Anti-Semitic
Ukrainian Politician

Exclusive Details

Jewish organizations around the world are furious with the Ukrainian government ... after a Ukrainian politician used an Anti-Semitic slur in a Facebook rant about Mila Kunis.

The man who set off the controversy is lawmaker Igor Miroshnichenko -- who had written that Mila (a Jew who was born in the Ukraine) is not a true Ukrainian because she's a "zhydovka" ... a word that has been used as a slur against Jewish people since the Holocaust.

After protests by Ukrainian Jews, the Ukrainian government announced the word was OK to use because it appears in the Ukrainian dictionary as a term for a Jew that isn't necessarily a slur.

Now, the famous Simon Wiesenthal Center in L.A. is getting involved -- firing off a letter to the Prime Minister of the Ukraine to "express our outrage and indignation against the slanders of the Svoboda Party directed against the Jewish community in the Ukraine."

In the letter, Rabbi Marvin Hier explains ... the term "zhydovka" translates to "dirty Jewess" ... and was used as an "insidious slur invoked by the Nazis and their collaborators as they rounded up the Jews to murder them at Babi Yar and in the death camps."

The org. has called on the Prime Minister to "publically condemn this attack and to take measures to defeat the xenophobic forces that threaten your democracy."

We reached out to Kunis for comment -- so far, no word back.

Argentinian Cheerleaders Gail Porter

Path adds search, creates nostalgic window to your past

We’ve been trained to think of search as a strictly business traction where queries yield unfeeling results. With its latest update, Path, the private social network, wants us to see search as something far more personal.

path search

Path today added search to its iOS and Android applications, but it’s not the kind of search experience you’ll find anywhere else. The mobile social network for exchanging intimate moments with real friends, which counts 5 million people as members, has created a nostalgic and deeply emotional way to revisit old moments.

With the release, people using Path on iPhone, iPad, and Android will now find a search bar atop their home screen. The bar promises a trip down memory lane with access to moments created in Path or imported from other social networks. As you type, Path’s search bar suggests different personalized options, including specific stories, and offers up a selection of filtering choices for revisiting the funniest of times (by emoticon) or finding highlights from last Christmas.

The experience follows the tenets of search in that you should have no problem finding the exact moment you’re in search of, but it deviates from the norm by providing you with a myriad of avenues you can take to recall adventures, near or far, you may have long forgotten. The avid collector or Instagram worrywart will also love that their imported moments — Path can import your Instagram, Facebook, and Foursquare history — are stored away for safekeeping and available to relive at anytime.

As is the case with most Path releases, the real beauty of search is in the little details, details you have to experience first-hand to understand. Path 2.9 with search is rolling out to users today. The updated app is be available in English only to start.

Photo credit: KJGarbutt/Flickr

Josie Bissett Holly Combs

Kim Kardashian's "Confessions of a Marriage Counselor" Trailer: Watch Here!

Posted Thursday December 20, 2012 6:29 PM GMT

Making her major non-reality acting debut, Kim Kardashian appears in the first trailer for "Tyler Perry's Temptation: Confessions of a Marriage Counselor."

The drama follows a marriage counselor's personal and professional life as it becomes more complicated after entering into a relationship with one of her clients.

Joining the reality diva in the movie are Jurnee Smollett-Bell, Vanessa Williams, and, coincidentally, Ray-J's sister, Brandy Norwood.

Fans will have to wait until March 29th to see the full movie, but check out Kim's work in the trailer below.

Rachel Ward Carrie Fisher

David Letterman Talks to Oprah About Sex Scandal

Posted by Marissa & filed under SFW, The Daily Dose (Entertainment News).

David Letterman and Oprah Winfrey (Photo Credit: OWN / Oprah's Next Chapter)

Ultra-private late-night talk show host David Letterman sat down with Oprah Winfrey for an upcoming episode of “Oprah’s Next Chapter.”

It’s very unusual for Letterman to talk about his personal life. He’s notoriously known for secluding himself away from the prying eyes of Hollywood and has a reputation for being a bit of a recluse. It looks like he couldn’t say no to Oprah, though.

The media mogual got Letterman to open up about the sex scandal that nearly tore his marriage apart. He also addresses his long-standing feud with his rival, Jay Leno, and admits that he has battled depression.

Watch Oprah’s interview with David Letterman on Sunday, January 6, at 9/8c on OWN.

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John Goodman Rebecca Demorney

Three Senators Call ‘Zero Dark Thirty’ ‘Grossly Inaccurate’

The film “Zero Dark Thirty” is getting raves from most critics, but three U.S. senators say that the Kathryn Bigelow-directed movie about the hunt for Osama bin Laden is  “grossly inaccurate.” Senators John McCain, Carl Levin and Diane Feinstein, members of the Senate Intelligence Committee, sent a letter to Sony Pictures saying “We write to express our deep disappointment with the movie Zero Dark Thirty. We believe the film is grossly inaccurate and misleading in its suggestion that torture resulted in information that led to the location of Usama bin Laden.” “Zero Darl Thirty” was named the best film of 2012 by the National Board of Review and took home top honors from the New York Film Critics Circle.

A representative for the movie wasn’t immediately available for comment.

Here’s the full letter:

December 19, 2012

Mr. Michael Lynton

Chairman and CEO

Sony Pictures Entertainment

10202 W. Washington Blvd.

Culver City, CA 90232-3195

Dear Mr. Lynton:

We write to express our deep disappointment with the movie Zero Dark Thirty. We believe the film is grossly inaccurate and misleading in its suggestion that torture resulted in information that led to the location of Usama bin Laden.

We understand that the film is fiction, but it opens with the words “based on first-hand accounts of actual events” and there has been significant media coverage of the CIA’s cooperation with the screenwriters. As you know, the film graphically depicts CIA officers repeatedly torturing detainees and then credits these detainees with providing critical lead information on the courier that led to the Usama Bin Laden. Regardless of what message the filmmakers intended to convey, the movie clearly implies that the CIA’s coercive interrogation techniques were effective in eliciting important information related to a courier for Usama Bin Laden. We have reviewed CIA records and know that this is incorrect.

            Zero Dark Thirty is factually inaccurate, and we believe that you have an obligation to state that the role of torture in the hunt for Usama Bin Laden is not based on the facts, but rather part of the film’s fictional narrative.

Pursuant to the Senate Intelligence Committee’s recently-adopted Study of the CIA’s Detention and Interrogation program, Committee staff reviewed more than 6 million pages of records from the Intelligence Community. Based on that review, Senators Feinstein and Levin released the following information on April 30, 2012, regarding the Usama Bin Laden operation:

  • The CIA did not first learn about the existence of the Usama Bin Laden courier from CIA detainees subjected to coercive interrogation techniques. Nor did the CIA discover the courier’s identity from detainees subjected to coercive techniques. No detainee reported on the courier’s full name or specific whereabouts, and no detainee identified the compound in which Usama Bin Laden was hidden. Instead, the CIA learned of the existence of the courier, his true name and location through means unrelated to the CIA detention and interrogation program.
  • Information to support this operation was obtained from a wide variety of intelligence sources and methods. CIA officers and their colleagues throughout the Intelligence Community sifted through massive amounts of information, identified possible leads, tracked them down, and made considered judgments based on all of the available intelligence.
  • The CIA detainee who provided the most significant information about the courier provided the information prior to being subjected to coercive interrogation techniques.

In addition to the information above, former CIA Director Leon Panetta wrote Senator McCain in May 2011, stating:

“…no detainee in CIA custody revealed the facilitator/courier’s full true name or specific whereabouts. This information was discovered through other intelligence means.”

We are fans of many of your movies, and we understand the special role that movies play in our lives, but the fundamental problem is that people who see Zero Dark Thirty will believe that the events it portrays are facts. The film therefore has the potential to shape American public opinion in a disturbing and misleading manner. Recent public opinion polls suggest that a narrow majority of Americans believe that torture can be justified as an effective form of intelligence gathering. This is false. We know that cruel, inhuman, and degrading treatment of prisoners is an unreliable and highly ineffective means of gathering intelligence.

The use of torture should be banished from serious public discourse for these reasons alone, but more importantly, because it is a violation of the Geneva Conventions, because it is an affront to America’s national honor, and because it is wrong. The use of torture in the fight against terrorism did severe damage to America’s values and standing that cannot be justified or expunged. It remains a stain on our national conscience. We cannot afford to go back to these dark times, and with the release of Zero Dark Thirty, the filmmakers and your production studio are perpetuating the myth that torture is effective. You have a social and moral obligation to get the facts right.

Please consider correcting the impression that the CIA’s use of coercive interrogation techniques led to the operation against Usama Bin Laden. It did not.

Thank you for your assistance on this important matter.


Dianne Feinstein


Senate Select Committee on Intelligence

Carl Levin


Senate Armed Services Committee

Ex-Officio Member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence

John McCain

Ranking Member

Senate Armed Services Committee

Ex-Officio Member of the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence

Related: An Interview with Screenwriter Mark Boal

Becky Delos Santos Nathalie Oberman

Ahmad Bradshaw hopes to return for New York Giants

The New York Giants are considering toting Ahmad Bradshaw to Baltimore whether or not the running back appears healthy enough to play against the Ravens on Sunday. He's no guarantee to suit up.

Bradshaw missed last week's 34-0 loss to the Atlanta Falcons with the sprained knee he suffered against the New Orleans Saints in Week 14. The sixth-year pro didn't practice Wednesday, but insisted he'd be ready this week. Coach Tom Coughlin likes the enthusiasm, but says it's not up to Bradshaw.

"We'd all love to have him play," Coughlin said Wednesday, via the New York Daily News. "But it's going to be a medical decision, it's not going to be mine. I think if the doctors feel that he can play without hurting himself, then I think that very well might be the case. If the doctors don’t feel that that's possible then they'll make the decision."

The intense race for the playoffs is in full gear. Check out the latest situation in the postseason chase. More ...

The Giants aren't the same team without Bradshaw, but the emergence of David Wilson helps. The rookie back pumped out 55 yards on 12 carries against the Falcons (on a day when nothing was working) after producing a team-record 327 all-purpose yards against the Saints.

This has been an uneven team all season. The Giants often receive a free pass because of their historical tendency to turn it on down the stretch. That didn't happen against the Falcons, however, and the NFC East has become a three-team dogfight because of the Giants' inconsistency. Having Bradshaw back in the fold can't come soon enough.

Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.

Kristy Hinze Julia Brendler

New Red Band Trailer for "The Heat" Released: Watch Here!

Posted Wednesday December 19, 2012 11:56 PM GMT

A new trailer for "The Heat," starring Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy, was released Wednesday (December 19).

Spearheaded by "Bridesmaids" director Paul Feig, the film follows a straight-laced FBI Special Agent who is partnered with a foul-mouthed Boston police woman.

The flick is set for release on April 5,2013.

Enjoy the trailer for "The Heat" in the player below!

PLEASE NOTE: This clip contains strong language.

Rosa Blasa Catherine Bell

Brooke Burke's Family Day Out at The Grove

Posted Thursday December 20, 2012 12:00 AM GMT

Making her first public appearance since undergoing cancer surgery, Brooke Burke went shopping at The Grove Mall on Wednesday (December 19) in West Hollywood.

Accompanied by two of her four children, the “Dancing with the Stars” host topped off her casual look with a grey felt hat and scarf as she and her little ones looked for Christmas gifts.

After a long day, the exhausted Ms. Burke lamented about the holiday hustle and bustle to her twitter followers, tweeting, “Finally done shopping, crazy holiday traffic, kids in the car 4 hours! @LeapFrog is the best entertainment - they love theirs."

Brooke revealed that she is cancer-free on her blog last week, writing, “The thyroid cancer has been removed from my body and all my lymph nodes are clear. So I’m hoping that this is the end of the story … Thank God!”.

Enjoy the pictures of Brooke Burke out shopping with her kids in West Hollywood, CA (December 19).

Betty White George Lucas

Wednesday, December 19, 2012

New ‘Mulan’ Marches to Beat of a Different Drummer

While touring China on a jaunt for the country’s Ministry of Culture, director William Meade knew he wanted to work with the Red Poppy Ladies, China’s first female-only percussion group.

“The quality of the girls is just phenomenal,” he said. “They have to practice for two years to even get into the company, and they do between 150 or 200 shows in China or Asia every year. They’ve been around for many years, and they have a wonderfully established reputation worldwide.”

So he invited them to New York to stage an unorthodox version of “Mulan,” which incorporates their high-tempo percussion with the generations-old story. The troupe arrived Sunday, and after two days of furious preparation, the show premiered Wednesday evening in New York.

Meade chatted with Speakeasy about his new show, which plays 32 shows through January at the Peter Sharpe Theatre on W. 42nd St.

Describe the format of the show.

It is a narrative show in the sense of that you’re going on the journey of “Mulan.” Basically, the story of Mulan, is that in ancient China, there was a war and every family had to send one male to war. So in this family, there were just daughters, and the father was very, very sick. If he didn’t go to war, they were going to throw him in jail. So she decided to pretend she was a male, go to the war and fight in her father’s place. And as a result, she became a leader and world famous and was revered all around the world. Then, it was exposed she was actually a woman and that is what surprised everyone.

The pieces you played in the preview were fierce, loud and very dynamic. Are all the pieces that way, or is there a broader mix of slower and quieter pieces?

It’s a huge mix. It is percussion music, so we’re not out to give everybody a headache. It’s very user-friendly. These, they wanted to show you energy, but there are some solos and very quiet pieces.

There are so many shows in New York. Articulate what viewers will get here they couldn’t get elsewhere.

You’re never going to see anything like this. This is one of most unusual shows not only because you’re getting a world-class musicians and world-class drummers. It’s a huge risk on their part, they’re trying to bring something fresh and new to a well-known story.

Are you worried about any language barriers between the performers, who only speak Chinese, and a New York audience?

The whole thing was constructed so there would be some narration that would take people through the story, as well as illuminate it. So it’s a non-language specific show, with the narration in English.

What are the challenges to bringing a group like this to New York from China?

Because the group is an established touring group in China, they’re used to traveling all the time. So a lot of the logistics in terms of them touring have already been worked out through very well-established channels. But really the big question is taking a traditional story like “Mulan,” which has been around for over 1,600 years, and turning it into a theatrical piece, and then turning it into a theatrical piece as viewed through percussion and through music. It’s kind of like “Stomp,” in the sense that they take percussion out of the normal realm and create something special. But this is unusual because we’re trying to create a narrative story around a percussion group.

From what I heard from the artistic director, this is pretty rare for them to perform 32 shows in a row like this.

The longest running show in China as a musical is “Phantom of the Opera,” that ran for 100 performances in Shanghai, and that’s it. There is a huge touring market in China where they go from night-to-night. They usually do a lot of rapid stuff and change the pieces pretty often. Very rarely do they take the time to develop one particular piece. It’s a very different structure how they work over there.

How do you think that changes the dynamic of their performances here?

The interaction of the audience is the first thing that happens. Night after night, you figure out what works and what doesn’t work. If you keep changing it, you never know. You’re flying blind. And so what over the course of the run here, the show is going to change here, and we’re going to adapt it, and be working on it the whole time it’s here. We want to make it a collaborative effort.

Sherilyn Fenn Ivana Trump

larkin v. amis

Not liking modernism and not wanting to be taken for poncy literary types were Amis-Larkin stances too, and proudly despising Beckett, in particular, is an Amis family tradition. (Kingsley to Larkin in 1985: ‘I think it’s all to do with Mandarin vs. Vernacular was it, as Cyril C put it? You know, art novel, Pickarso, European thought, bourgeois conscience, Tuscany, Beckett, we haven’t got a television set, lesson of the master and nothing happening.’) Yet Bradford’s discipleship is less wholehearted than it first seems. Throughout his narrative of the two men’s friendship it’s clear that he prefers Larkin’s closeted artiness to Amis’s knockabout style. Sometimes, as when he writes of the young Amis being viewed as ‘almost charismatic’, apparent bitchiness turns out to be a side effect of an awkward way with words. Elsewhere he seems as appalled as any taste-shaping puritan by Amis’s boozing and shagging. And after a while it’s hard not to feel for his subjects as he wrenches their every exchange into a pattern of one-way envy and obsession. When Larkin tells Monica that a letter from Amis ‘makes me laugh’, Bradford glosses: ‘No doubt it did but it stirred other feelings too.’ That these feelings, in this instance, weren’t mentioned only shows how deep they ran.
more from Christopher Tayler at the LRB here.

Posted by Morgan Meis at 12:52 PM | Permalink

Martina Warren Hugh Grant

MindSnacks’ new iPad games help you learn languages, pass the SAT

Resolved to pickup a new language in 2013? MindSnacks wants to help, and its popular educational games are now available on the iPad.

Today, the San Francisco-based company is also releasing six new multi-player games, updates to its three classic games, and is teaching subject-specific skills like sentence composition and word connotations.

MindSnacks is known for its highly-visual games that make it fun to learn a new language, or brush up on spelling and grammar. Venture capital firm Sequoia Capital poured over $6 million into the startup because it can do far more than develop addictive games. The bet seems to be paying off – since it launched in 2010, the company’s educational apps have been downloaded 5 million times.

“To outside observers, they look like typical games,” said Jesse Pickard, the company’s CEO. “But we have really interesting things going on in the back-end, like a learning algorithm that surfaces words and phrases that are relevant to you and you need to study at that point in time.” Users are repeatedly tested to ensure they’ve retained information, and the company sends out progress reports on a weekly basis with detailed information about students’ strengths and weaknesses.

In this regard, the company competes with Cerego, memory management tool that spun out of a privately-funded think tank. Cerego specializes in helping its users retain facts, and has already taken off in Japan as an English language-learning tool for businesses.

Pickard told me he came up with the idea for the company while working as a UX designer in New York City. For this reason, the games are designed to be the perfect accompaniment to a long subway ride — as long as they’ve been pre-downloaded, WiFi is not required. It’s ideal for people that are learning a new language — games in Spanish, Italian, French, German, Portuguese, and Mandarin Chinese are currently available.

The games are designed for users of all ages and skill-levels. Pickard hopes the games will prove useful to teachers, but realizes that a challenge is that most students aren’t equipped with iPads and iPhones. Typically, according to Pickard, students take it in turns to play the games as an “after school treat.”

With more U.S. schools opting to purchase iPads and other devices, MindSnacks has a massive market opportunity. When the founders piloted the games in classrooms, they discovered that students’ grades lifted by 10 percent. So MindSnacks is currently building games to help teachers with math and science instruction, as well as tests like the LSAT and GRE. The number-one grossing game helps students’ study for the SAT.

Kimberly Joseph Allie Mutch Junk Drawer: Ke$ha, Tom Cruise and Shaun White

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Alessia Marcuzzi Romane Bohringer

Maison Martin Margiela and Alexis Mabille Are Now Officially Haute Couture

Photo: Imaxtree

Unlike Juicy Couture or Zahia Dehar’s ‘couture’ lingerie line, Maison Martin Margiela and Alexis Mabille can now, in good faith, call their couture lines haute couture.

According to WWD, the two labels have been awarded the official haute couture appellation by French fashion’s governing body, the Chambre Syndicale.

Despite having shown collections alongside the likes of Christian Dior and Jean Paul Gaultier during couture fashion week, Mabille and Margiela were not invited to officially join the club until now. Previously, Mabille had been a guest member and Margiela, a correspondent member of the couture calendar. But we guess the Chambre Syndicale liked what it saw the past few seasons.

Mabille and Margiela will show their newly-dubbed haute couture collections January 21, and January 23, respectively, joining the 12 other houses allowed to use the haute couture appellation.

Published on Wednesday, December 19th, 2012 at 10:50 AM

Laura Schlessinger more stories

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Catherine Bach source

Sanchez, Jets off-target in playoff chase

With Monday’s 14-10 loss at Tennessee, the New York Jets were eliminated from playoff contention. After reaching the AFC Championship in Rex Ryan’s first two seasons, they’re the first team since the 1986-89 Miami Dolphins to miss the playoffs in back-to-back seasons after making consecutive appearances in the conference championship game.

The loss puts the Jets at 6-8, guaranteeing the franchise its second straight season with a non-winning record. The Jets will finish with a non-winning record in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1994-96.

Ryan is 14-16 in the past two seasons after going 20-12 in his first two seasons as Jets head coach.

The Jets defense hasn’t been bad this season, but New York has struggled to move, and hold on to, the ball. The offense is in the bottom five of the league in points and yards per game, turnovers and Total QBR.

The Jets have turned the ball over 67 times over the past two seasons -- only the Eagles have more in that span -- and the Eagles and Chiefs (34 each) are the only teams with more than the Jets (33) this season.

With five turnovers Monday, Mark Sanchez has an NFL-high 24 turnovers this season and leads the league with 50 over the past two seasons.

All four of his interceptions Monday were off-target passes -- two overthrown and two underthrown. That gives him a dozen off-target interceptions this season, tied with Ryan Fitzpatrick for the most in the league.

Nearly 22 percent of his passes this season have been off-target -- only six qualified passers have a higher percentage this season.

His Total QBR was just 6.8 against the Titans on Monday, the fifth time this season he recorded a Total QBR of 10.0 or lower. Only two other quarterbacks have more than two such games this season (minimum 15 action plays).

Sanchez has a Total QBR of 25.0 this season -- John Skelton of the Arizona Cardinals is the only qualified quarterback with a lower QBR.

After posting the fourth-worst QBR in the league last season, the Jets quarterbacks have struggled even more this season. After Monday’s loss, the Jets have the third-lowest mark in the NFL.

But it’s not all on the quarterbacks. Jets receivers have the fewest yards after catch and yards after contact in the NFL and only five teams have dropped a higher percentage of the passes thrown their way.

That combination of off-target throws and drops by receivers mean that only Cardinals receivers have caught a fewer percentage of pass targets than Jets receivers.

Sophia Bush Danniella Westbrook

Mimico CEO discusses designer USB drives and licensing the Star Wars and DC Comics universes (interview)

Black Milk Leggings aren’t the only awesome designer gifts for geeks this holiday season. Mimico’s line of Mimobot licensed USB Flash drives and readers have won designer toy awards and partnered up with some of the biggest names in pop culture: Star Wars, Star Trek, DC Comics, Transformers, G.I. Joe, Adventure Time, and more. Mimobot USB flash drives average roughly $20 for 8GB models, with another $10 for each additional 8GB if you want your Batman or Bruce Lee unit to have a higher capacity.

VentureBeat spoke with Mimico CEO Evan Blaustein about the origins of the company, the motivation for pushing designer USB flash drives, and winning over licensing rights from the world’s largest entertainment properties.

VentureBeat: How did Mimoco as a company come about?

Evan Blaustein: In 2004, I was studying for my MBA and was collecting a lot of designer toys at the time. One day I asked my now wife/then girlfriend to borrow her Flash drive, and she reached into her purse to pull out a TRON Be@rbrick toy instead. I grabbed it and thought, “This is the size and weight of a Flash drive — there are even painted circuits on it!–but is so much cooler than a generic looking plastic flash drive.” That was the genesis of MIMOBOT and Mimoco [the Memory Robot Company].


VentureBeat: What was it about USB drives that seemed like a good thing to base an entire company around?

Blaustein: As a collector of things — toys, cards, comics — and a lover of consumer electronics, it was a natural fit to merge the two to start a tech design studio. In 2004, Flash drives were a relatively new storage medium with low capacities like 64MB and 128MB, vs. today’s 64GB and 128GB!. No one had really played around with the form factor besides the novelty USB Thumb and superexpensive Sushi Drives from Japan. We were the first company to merge contemporary and licensed characters, designer toy aesthetics, and collectability into Flash drives, not to mention preloading the drives with fun digital extras. We turned the plain old Flash drive into an expressive platform for content distribution and portable data storage. Adding personality and character to a USB drive that stores one’s personal data makes a lot of sense. And leveraging the hundreds and thousands of characters that pervade pop-culture provides a ton of opportunity to diffuse our brand on a grand scale.

VentureBeat: What was it like getting the Star Wars and DC Comics licenses?

Blaustein: The first couple years, we only produced low-run limited edition Mimobot characters created by illustrators and toy artists. After proving our concept and exhibiting at trade shows, we got the attention of those in the licensing industry. With a platform toy-like exterior, we designed the product to be reskinned like Lego people but more deformed like a Dunny toy. The cobranded concept really resonated with the team at Lucasfilm. Star Wars was actually and quite fortunately our very first license. It’s been an awesome partnership and we owe a lot of Mimobot loyalists to Mr. Lucas’ galaxy far, far away. We’ve produced at least 30 Star Wars Mimobots in our eight series to date, from all-time best-sellers Darth Vader and R2-D2 to Comic-Con exclusives like the more obscure Lando Calrissian’s right-hand man, Lobot.


And working with Warner Bros. on the DC Comics collaboration has also kept us very busy with at least three different Batman versions produced so far, Superman, Wonder Woman, multiple villains, and the penultimate self-referential The Flash Mimobot Flash drive. It’s great because both properties have active film programs and provide access to mine deep into their respective character universes to offer a wide assortment of iconic characters and more selective cult fan faves.

VentureBeat: How often do you release new USBs?

Blaustein: We release an average of about 30 new styles per year broken into about eight series. But in 2013, we are trying something different by releasing one new limited edition design every other week exclusively on our website along with 20 other styles spread across four or five larger series for wider distribution. Since we produce original and artist characters alongside our licensed franchises, with design challenges and corporate designs mixed in, and now a new take with our Legends of Mimobot where we feature iconic humans like Einstein and Bruce Lee, we have a ton of directions we could go at any one time.

Our goal is to always have a new Mimobot on the horizon and to delight our customers along the way towards a massive collection of characters that have shaped pop-culture during our lifetime.


VentureBeat: What kind of community does Mimoco have? Do you get a lot of repeat customers?

Blaustein: We have the best community. Seriously. We call our customers the #mimocult, and they are made up of collectors, nerds, fashionistas, rockers, trendsetters, media sponges, influencers, creators, pop-culturists, and many who encompass all of those descriptors and of all ages. We love to meet up at trade shows and events every year like Comic-Con and SXSW [South by Southwest], and we try our best to stay on top of all things social media.

You can visit Mimico’s official site to peruse its catalogue or check out Mimibots in the wild, as shared by the so-called #mimocult on the official Mimobot Facebook.

Angelu DeLeon Alexis Bledel

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

UFC on FOX 5's FX-televised prelims add Easton-Assuncao and Siver-Phan

Two fights have joined FX's super-sized preliminary-card broadcast for next week's UFC on FOX 5 event.

FX now airs six fights, not the usual four, prior to the Dec. 8's main-card broadcast on FOX.

The bouts include bantamweights Mike Easton (13-1 MMA, 3-0 UFC) vs. Raphael Assuncao (18-4 MMA, 2-1 UFC) and featherweights Dennis Siver (20-8 MMA, 9-5 UFC) vs. Nam Phan (18-10 MMA, 2-3 UFC).

UFC on FOX 5 takes place Dec. 8 at Seattle's KeyArena and features a main event between lightweight champion Benson Henderson and top contender Nate Diaz.

Although FUEL TV carried past UFC on FOX prelims, they now head to the bigger FX. Other bouts part of next week's three-hour broadcast, which follows additional prelims on Facebook, include heavyweights Brendan Schaub (8-3 MMA, 4-3 UFC) vs. Lavar Johnson (17-6 MMA, 2-1 UFC), "The Ultimate Fighter 15" lightweight winner Michael Chiesa (8-0 MMA, 1-0 UFC) vs. Marcus LeVesseur (22-6 MMA, 1-1 UFC), "TUF 13" runner-up Ramsey Nijem (6-2 MMA, 2-1 UFC) vs. fellow lightweight Joe Proctor (8-1 MMA, 1-0 UFC), and lightweights Yves Edwards (41-18-1 MMA, 9-6 UFC) vs. Jeremy Stephens (20-8 MMA, 7-6 UFC).

The full UFC on FOX 5 card includes:

MAIN CARD (FOX, 8 p.m. ET)

  • Champ Benson Henderson vs. Nate Diaz (for lightweight title)
  • Alexander Gustafsson vs. Mauricio "Shogun" Rua
  • Rory MacDonald vs. B.J. Penn
  • Matt Brown vs. Mike Swick
  • Lavar Johnson vs. Brendan Schaub
  • Mike Chiesa vs. Marcus LeVesseur
  • Raphael Assuncao vs. Mike Easton
  • Nam Phan vs. Dennis Siver
  • Ramsey Nijem vs. Joe Proctor
  • Yves Edwards vs. Jeremy Stephens
PRELIMINARY CARD (Facebook, 3:30 p.m. ET)
  • Daron Cruickshank vs. Henry Martinez
  • John Albert vs. Scott Jorgensen
  • Tim Means vs. Abel Trujillo
For more on UFC on FOX 5, stay tuned to the UFC Rumors section of the site.

(Pictured: Mike Easton)

Alicia Silverstone Naomi Campbel

Ashley Tisdale: Fresh Faced Holiday Shopper

Posted Tuesday December 18, 2012 8:40 PM GMT

Stocking up on last minute Christmas gifts, Ashley Tisdale hit the stores with her mom on Tuesday (December 18) in West Hollywood.

Comfortably casual in grey pants and a plaid shirt, the “Scary Movie 5” blonde strolled through the shopping center as she enjoyed a cup of coffee.

In career news, Ms. Tisdale is rumored to be filming the romantic comedy “Holly, Jingles and Clyde 3D.”

The film, which is focused on two bumbling elves who team up with Santa's daughter Holly to try to help a Michigan family in danger of losing its Christmas-tree farm, is expected in theaters next year.

Enjoy the pictures of Ashley Tisdale in West Hollywood, California (December 18).

other facts Rebecca Gibney

Toronto Film Critics Give ‘The Master’ Top Honors

Posted by Marissa & filed under SFW, The Daily Dose (Entertainment News).

Philip Seymour Hoffman in 'The Master'

It was a good night for director Paul Thomas Anderson and the cast of the film “The Master,” as the Toronto Film Critics handed out their picks for the year’s best.

“The Master” received the top honor for Best Film of the Year. In addition, it took home awards for Anderson in the Best Director and Best Screenplay categories. Philip Seymour Hoffman received the Toronto Film Critics’ vote for Best Supporting Actor.

The film has been controversial since its debut, most notably among the Scientology community who have taken issue with the similarities between the lead character and their own founder. This hasn’t slowed its momentum though as a fave among critics. It’s also received top honors from the Los Angeles Critics Association, along with the San Francisco and Kansas City film critics groups.

The awards from the Toronto Film Critics Association will be officially handed out on Jan. 8.

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Tags: awards, Joaquin Pheonix, Philip Seymour Hoffman, The Master, Toronto Film Critics

Alyssa Milano Emma Watson

Best Dressed 2012: The 20 Most Stylish Ladies of the Year

As 2012 comes to an end, we’ve taken a look back at some of this year’s best red carpet moments and the particularly stylish ladies who made them happen.

Sure, some of them may have had help from stylists, but we think each of these 20 ladies has an innate quality that makes her keep getting it right time and time again.

Click through to find out who they are and what we think makes them 2012′s best dressed.

Photos: Getty

Coco Sumner Christy Turlington

For Jailed Producer, the Show Goes On Without Him

Garth Drabinsky, the Canadian-born entertainment impresario who owned a chain of movie and musical theaters in North America and produced critically acclaimed shows such as “Ragtime,” “Showboat,” and “Kiss of the Spider Woman,” is now the subject of his own movie — the documentary “Show Stopper” which painstakingly follows his spectacular fall.

“Show Stopper,” by Barry Avrich, screened last night at the Director’s Guild of America. Drabinsky, who was recently released to a Toronto halfway house 14 months into his five-year sentence for a fraud conviction, did not attend.

Those who did make the screening include Rob Reiner, Chita Rivera (who starred in “Kiss of the Spider Woman”), Tovah Feldshuh, Chairman of the Shubert Organization Phil Smith, and John Gore, owner of Broadway Across America, among others.

“People laughed in the right places and winced in the right places, so that was good,” says Avrich, who worked with Drabinsky for years creating radio and television ads for his various entertainment concerns before turning the camera on his former client.

The movie portrays Drabinsky’s stratospheric rise as the co-founder of Cineplex Odeon movie theater chain and then Livent, the theatrical production company, and his dramatic demise when both companies, one then the other, turned out to be worthless.

Avrich and others argue that his undoing was “Ragtime” — a lavishly expensive musical that lost the Tony Award to an upstart puppet show named the “The Lion King” in 1998.

When tickets sales for “Ragtime” went soft, Drabinksy’s empire began to crumble and eventually he was forced to sell for next to nothing. His own accountants soon revealed to authorities that they kept two sets of books.

“Garth is where he belongs, which is in jail, and I have no doubt he’ll find a way to defraud the cafeteria while he’s there,” says New York Post theater columnist Michael Riedel in the film.

But Drabinsky’s attorney, Edward Greenspan, says his client “had a grand view of theater,” which is what got him into trouble.

“He never did anything cheaply. He spent a lot of money, and if you spend a lot of money you have to make a lot of money,” says Greenspan, who argues that Drabinsky “never did this to line his own pockets.”

Despite the former tycoon’s public undoing, he is likely to return to the entertainment industry following his stint in jail, Avrich says.

“In the ten years before the case went to trial he was more prolific than most men are in their entire lifetimes,” he says. “He will continue to be prolific, but with whose money, I don’t know.”

Jeri Ryan Carla Bonner

AHL Notebook: Jordan Eberle on tear with Barons

With the NHL lockout in its 93rd day, our weekly look at the AHL focuses on Jordan Eberle, Willie Desjardins, Jamie Tardif, Canadian juniors in the AHL from last year's team and St. John's capacity crowd streak.

Justin Schultz has some company atop the AHL scoring race.

Jordan Eberle, Schultz's teammate with the Oklahoma City Barons, has been on a tear. After he started the season strongly enough with two goals and six points in seven games in the month of October, the Regina native has scored 17 goals and 32 points in his last 19 games to tie Schultz for the league's scoring lead at 38 points.

Eberle's increase in production coincides with Taylor Hall's arrival in Oklahoma after he was deemed fit enough play following shoulder surgery last March. Hall has scored eight goals and 23 points in 18 games with the Barons.

Being caught is no slight for the 22-year-old Schultz. The Oklahoma City rookie has been consistently good through the first nine weeks of the 2012-13 AHL season. His 14 goals and 38 points in 26 games has him on pace to beat John Slaney's record for goals by a rookie defenceman at 20 and Slaney's record for a defenceman, rookie or otherwise, at 30.

With 50 games remaining, the 22-year-old Schultz also has an outside shot at Chris Snell's single-season record for a defencemen of 96 points set in 1993-94.

The 22-year-old Eberle, meanwhile, has played in 46 career AHL games and has scored 28 times and registered a remarkable 61 points.

King's protégé back with success

On the heels of Dave King being honoured with the Hockey Order in Canada last week, we noticed the success one of his protégés, Willie Desjardins, has enjoyed in his return as a head coach this season.

After two years as an associate coach with the Dallas Stars, the 55-year-old Desjardins was appointed head coach of the Texas Stars in the summer. He has Dallas' AHL affiliate off to a sound 13-8-4 start.

Desjardins played for King at the University of Saskatchewan in the early 1980s and was a big part of the school's 1982-83 national championship season. He has since gone on to coach more than a 1,000 regular-season and playoff games in Japan, Germany and North America.

From Saskatchewan, Desjardins spent time at the University of Calgary as an assistant coach before taking over as head coach and winning the Canada West conference championship in 1989-90 -- his first of five seasons running the Dinosaurs.

He won the 1994-95 league championship in Japan and then coached Kaufbeurn in Germany before returning to Canada to become an assistant coach with the Canadian national team.

Desjardins then took over the Saskatoon Blades of the WHL as a mid-season replacement in December 1997 and returned to Japan the following season. He then went back to junior to take over the Medicine Hat Tigers for eight seasons, guiding that WHL team to two championships and eight consecutive playoff appearances.

He also won a gold medal as an assistant coach of the 2009 Canadian junior team and silver the following year as the team's head coach before moving to Dallas.

Tardif has been terrific

Since he graduated from the Peterborough Petes and turned pro in 2006, Jamie Tardif of Welland, Ont., never has hopped over the boards for a shift in the NHL. But if he can build off the last two weeks, maybe the Boston Bruins will give him a shot if this 93-day lockout ends before time runs out on the possibility of a season.

In his last nine games for the Providence Bruins, the 27-year-old Tardif has checked in with nine goals and 11 points and has been held pointless in only two games.

Calgary originally drafted Tardif in the fourth round (112th overall) of the 2003 NHL entry draft, but the Flames never signed him. He re-entered the draft, but was not selected in 2005.

After he scored 10 goals and 30 points in 34 games with the Toledo Storm of the ECHL, Tardif had brief AHL tryouts with the Iowa Stars and Manitoba Moose in the same 2006-07 season before he was signed by the Grand Rapids Griffins in the summer of 2007 and played for the Detroit Red Wings farm club for five years.

On Saturday, Tardif played in his 400th AHL game and celebrated the career milestone by setting up a goal and scoring in the shootout in the Bruins' 2-1 road win over the Albany Devils.

Canadian junior grads

A year ago, they were preparing to play for Canada at the 2012 world under-20 championship in Edmonton and Calgary. Now they are pros. Here's how the 14 players from the 2012 Canadian junior team have fared in the AHL so far this season:

-Brett Connolly, RW, Syracuse (Tampa Bay)
 12 goals, 23 points in 25 games

-Jaden Schwartz, RW, Peoria (St. Louis)
 9 goals, 15 points in 25 games

-Brendan Gallagher, RW, Hamilton (Montreal)
 7 goals, 15 points in 24 games

-Tanner Pearson, LW, Peoria (Los Angeles)
 6 goals, 15 points in 26 games

-Devante Smith-Pelly, RW, Norfolk (Anaheim)
 4 goals, 12 points in 24 games

-Quinton Howden, LW, San Antonio (Florida)
 6 goals, 11 points in 27 games

-Michael Bournvial, C, Hamilton (Montreal)
 2 goals, 10 points in 22 games

-Mark Pysyk, D, Rochester (Buffalo)  
 2 goals, 10 points in 23 games

-Jamie Oleksiak, D, Texas (Dallas)
 1 goal, 10 points in 25 games

-Freddie Hamilton, C, Worcester (San Jose) 
 3 goals, 9 points in 26 games

-Nathan Beaulieu, D, Hamilton (Montreal)
 1 goal, 9 points in 23 games

-Mark Stone, LW, Binghamton (Ottawa)
 3 goals, 8 points in 16 games

-Brandon Gormley, D, Portland (Phoenix)
 2 goals, 7 points in 23 games

-Mark Visentin, G, Portland (Phoenix)
 4-6-1, 3.09 GAA, .904 SP

Jam packed on the rock

Last Wednesday, the St. John's IceCaps tied the Wilkes-Barre Scranton Penguins for the second longest regular-season sellout streak in AHL history with their 54th capacity crowd in a row at Mile One Centre.

St. John's has sold out every single regular-season game since they returned to the AHL on Oct. 14, 2011.

The IceCaps will move past the Penguins when they return from a three-week, eight-game road trip to play host to the Manchester Monarchs on Jan. 4. The next target for St. John's is 90, the AHL record set by Wilkes-Barre/Scranton between March 2002 and October 2004.

It's too bad the IceCaps haven't used their support at home more to their advantage. They have gone an ordinary 29-28-4 in combined regular-season and playoff games at Mile One Centre, but an impressive 34-19-5 on the road.

Back to accessibility links

Mia Farrow Jenny Agutter

Alessandra Ambrosio Tans Her Beautiful Bod in St. Barts

Posted Monday December 17, 2012 11:03 PM GMT

Taking a break from her modeling duties, Alessandra Ambrosio hung out by the pool on Monday (December 17) in St. Barts.

Beautiful in a rainbow colored bikini, the 31-year-old sipped a coctail and read People magazine as she caught some rays.

Later, Alessandra cooled off with a dip in the ocean and enjoyed the beach.

As previously reported, Ms. Ambrosio is on the island for her final photo shoot of the year.

Enjoy the pictures of Alessandra Ambrosio relaxing on the beach during a photo shoot break in St. Barts (December 17).

Stephanie Powers Nicki Minaj

Monday, December 17, 2012

Darren Criss Poses for "Men of McKinley" Calendar

Posted Monday December 17, 2012 11:38 PM GMT

Getting in to the holiday spirit, Darren Criss went shirtless for a Santa-themed picture last week.

The photo, which shows the hunk dressed as St. Nick from the waist down and standing on a present, was tweeted by “Glee” co-creator Ryan Murphy.

"Merry Christmas," Murphy wrote in the caption. "Men of McKinley calendar coming soon."

Darren and his co-stars are busy shooting the fourth season of the hit show. New episodes return to Fox on January 24.

Shirly Jones Angie Hart

Ben Roethlisberger questions Steelers' play-calling

The Pittsburgh Steelers' awkward teaming of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and offensive coordinator Todd Haley has produced mixed results this season.

Big Ben shouldered the blame for Sunday's overtime loss to the Dallas Cowboys, but he openly questioned a game plan that left tight end Heath Miller out of the mix for much of the second half. Asked if Miller's disappearing act had something to do with Rob Ryan's defense, Roethlisberger indirectly pointed the finger at another coordinator. His own.

"I just don't think we called the right plays to get (Miller) the ball," Roethlisberger told reporters. "There were a couple of times we called plays that we didn't execute correctly."

Something isn't right in Pittsburgh. Big Ben is at his best calling plays from the no-huddle, but the no-huddle was scrapped for much of the final two quarters Sunday. Roethlisberger is running out of softly worded excuses for why.

"It's tough for me to answer right now," Roethlisberger said. "In the second half, we didn't do much of it -- and it's disappointing. ...

"The end of the first half, we were getting into the no-huddle stuff. That's when we started moving the ball. Taking shots, taking the short stuff, whatever they were giving us, so that's when we're at our best and that's what we need to do."

But that's not what Roethlisberger's coach wants to do, at least not exclusively. The Steelers -- at 7-7 and facing a season-defining game against the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday -- are running out of time to figure out this one.

Follow Marc Sessler on Twitter @MarcSesslerNFL.

Carrie Fisher Joan Jett

49ers hold off improbable Pats comeback

The San Francisco 49ers led by as many as 28 points in the second half before the New England Patriots tied the game with 28 consecutive points of their own. San Francisco hung on to win, 41-34, capping a wild night in terms of win probability for both teams (see chart below).

It was the final of six games yesterday matching teams with winning records -- the latest calendar day in NFL history with six games between teams with winning records.

Colin Kaepernick threw four touchdown passes -- he had three in his career entering the game -- and posted a Total QBR of 87.1, the second-best mark of his career in a game with more than five action plays. His QBR this season is 79.5, trailing only Peyton Manning (81.5).

San Francisco’s wide receivers certainly benefitted.

Michael Crabtree scored twice, including the go-ahead touchdown with 6:25 remaining. It was his third career multi-TD game and all three have come in his past 15 games. It was also his third 100-yard game of the season (sixth of his career) -- he’s the first Niners player with 100 receiving yards and two touchdowns in a game since 2005 (Brandon Lloyd).

Randy Moss scored the game’s first touchdown, the 157th of his career, passing Terrell Owens for sole possession of fourth on the all-time TD list. He’s just five behind LaDainian Tomlinson for third place all-time. He passed Isaac Bruce for third on the all-time receiving yards list (15,220) and trails only Owens (15,934) and Jerry Rice (22,895).

What It Means for 49ers
San Francisco clinches a playoff spot for the second straight season, the first time it’s made consecutive playoff appearances since Steve Mariucci’s last two seasons as head coach (2001 and 2002). The Niners can clinch the NFC West with a win Sunday and can clinch a first-round bye with a win and a Green Bay Packers loss.

It’s the first time since 2003 the 49ers have scored 40 points at least twice in the same season. And it’s their first win over the Patriots since 1995 (had lost three straight meetings) and their first road win over New England since 1992. The 49ers have won five straight games against AFC teams.

What It Means for Patriots
New England falls to the third seed in the AFC, behind the Houston Texans and the Denver Broncos. That’s bad news for the Patriots, who were the No. 1 or No. 2 seed when they made each of their five Super Bowl appearances under Bill Belichick.

The loss ends their 13-game December winning streak -- which was tied for the second-longest such streak in NFL history -- and their 20-game home winning streak in December. It was their first loss in the second half of the season since Week 17 in 2009.

Melanie Alexander Rachel Ward

Kyra Sedgwick Covers Good Housekeeping (Photo Gallery)

Posted by Marissa & filed under Photo Gallery, SFW, The Daily Dose (Entertainment News).

Kyra Sedgewick in Good Housekeeping

Actress Kyra Sedgwick makes aging gracefully look good. The 47-year-old beauty took time out of her busy schedule to pose for the cover of Good Housekeeping’s latest issue.

Sedgwick told the mag, “I really want to embrace my age. Julianna (Margulies) and I talk about it a lot when we see each other, and that’s helpful. We want to age gracefully and naturally and play roles commensurate with our age.”

What’s also helpful is having handsome hubby Kevin-Bacon by her side. “I don’t know how he does it, but he always makes me feel like I’m the most beautiful woman in the room- the only girl in the room. He says, ‘Honey, you look beautiful. You are sexy!’ Always, always, always!”

That attraction has made things easier now that their kids are out of the house. Sedgwick admitted, “There’s a lot more walking around the house naked.”

Read more in the January 2013 issue of Good Housekeeping.

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Tags: Good Housekeeping, Julianna Margulies, Kevin Bacon, Kyra Sedgwick, magazines

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10-Year-Old Romeo Beckham Makes His Modeling Debut for Burberry

© Copyright Burberry/Testino

Move over, Victoria and David, there’s a new style star in the Beckham family–and it isn’t baby Harper.

It’s middle Beckham boy Romeo who stars in the latest Spring 2013 Burberry ad, shot by Mario Testino. Clearly, he inherited his mother’s modeling skills–but not her aversion to smiling!

The campaign also features Edie Campbell and Charlie France, as well as Burberry staple Cara Delevingne–but really, who can pay attention to them when Romeo is so adorable?

And for some much-needed cute overload for your Monday, there’s a behind-the-scenes video:

Published on Monday, December 17th, 2012 at 1:34 PM

Nicki Minaj Mia Farrow

‘Homeland”s Alex Gansa on Tonight’s Finale, and Season 3

Warning: This story refers to events in season two of “Homeland,” so if you haven’t caught up on the show up to now, please don’t read any further.

All right, “Homeland” fans. Tonight’s the big finale. The show has taken a lot of twists and turns this season, and in last week’s episode, the “Homeland” version of Geronimo, Abu Nazir, was killed.

It’s anybody’s guess how the season will end tonight — Will Brody “turn” Carrie? Will someone else be killed before the season’s out, perhaps at Walden’s funeral? Is Estes about to fire Saul, or is Estes himself about to be outed for his participation in the drone strike that killed Issa?

Mandy Patinkin called tonight’s finale “the denouement of two years of this journey,” and, conveniently, the show picked up Golden Globe nominations this past week for Best Television Series (which it won last year), and acting nods for Claire Danes, Damian Lewis, and Patinkin.

Speakeasy caught up with executive producer Alex Gansa recently to discuss the past season, tonight’s finale, and what’s next for “Homeland” in season three. Here is an edited transcript.

“Homeland” received another Golden Globe nomination for Best Television Series. Is it as gratifying as the first season’s win?

At the beginning of this year, we all felt this tremendous pressure to live up to the promise of the first season. So, in a lot of ways, this nomination is more rewarding than the first one. At some level we must have succeeded, so that makes us really happy.

Why did you blow up Brody’s secret early in the season, and have Carrie confront him then?

At the beginning of a season you have a lot more time for these decisions. So those decisions were all very carefully crafted and discussed and debated. Ultimately we came down on that it was more interesting to change the dynamic between Carrie and Brody rather than to do, for example, Carrie surveilling Brody again for a couple of episodes. We thought that we really wanted to not repeat season one but try to find new territory and new emotion to explore between these two people. That’s why the decision was made to have it earlier than later.

Did you also decide early on to kill off a couple key characters this season?

I don’t want to give anything away for the finale but it was very important that those two characters cleared off the decks for Carrie and Brody in the final episode. We knew we had to get rid of those characters at some point in the course of the season. Not only that, but we had to get rid of Walden in a way so that it could never be put back on Brody’s head. Brody had to be clear of that murder, which is why we did the whole pacemaker thing. His fingerprints are nowhere on that desk. Walden simply had a heart attack and that’s the official story.

Why include the Dana-Finn hit-and-run storyline? There’s enough going on as it is.

This is a controversial story point and a lot of people compare it to the ‘Friday Night Lights’ story. I was a huge ‘Friday Night Lights’ fan too and I hated that storyline as well. We had a couple of things to accomplish but the most important one was to drive a wedge between Brody and his daughter. We wanted to put Dana in an extreme situation where it was made clear to her how the world works, and how corrupt it could be, and how unfair it is, and how unjust it is. So that was the primary intention of that storyline.

Will you reveal who the mole is? 

I’m going to plead the Fifth on that right now. I’m just going to encourage everybody to watch the finale.

What can we expect in the season finale? 

I will just say that this season is really about this love affair between Carrie and Brody, ultimately. That will be explored in the finale, that’s really what the finale is about. It’s about whether or not these two people can actually have a happy ending.

Where does the show go from here for season three?

That’s a very good question [laughs]. We just sat down in the writers room just yesterday to start talking about season three in the most broad terms. We’ve got a bunch of different ideas and options but we really haven’t settled on anything particular yet. We have a broad architecture but we don’t really know for sure. We want to keep our minds open and put season two behind us and clear the decks so we can think about what season three holds.

Are Brody’s feelings for Carrie genuine, or is he manipulating her? There’s a lot of debate about his intentions. 

I find this to be one of the most fascinating aspects about the show. That is, how many people really analyze and read into these characters. I find that amazing that the people picking up on the subtle hints that we dropped that possibly Brody’s intentions are still not pure. I think it’s very much up for debate and I think that’s really the genius of Damian Lewis’s performance. Both these characters have been through so much and are so weighed down by the baggage of their pasts and their mutual experiences overseas and their various damaged hearts, that it’s hard to get a read on them as normal people. I think that’s why everybody is involved in this debate about how true Brody’s feelings are for Carrie, or how true Carrie’s feelings are for Brody. What was she doing in episode 8 sleeping with him? Was that an expression of her love or connection to him, or was she running her asset? These are open questions that we deliberately leave open to interpretation.

What is your reaction to criticism by some that the show has “jumped the shark” this season?

I would say three things. One is I would say please withhold judgment until the finale because the finale I think goes back and explains certain bigger plot points that people have presumed to have some trouble with. The second thing is, it’s not really my position to defend the show or the choices we made. It’s for the audiences to respond one way or another to how the story plays out. But if I were to defend the show I would say, look at the character moments that these events offered us. In other words, we really did get to play a scene between Carrie and her white whale, Abu Nazir. We did allow Brody to have that final moment where he is responsible for Walden’s death. These were the things we were working for. The plot was always in service of putting our characters together in interesting ways. The last thing I would say is, I think it’s in the nature of America that once you put somebody on a pedestal, you want to knock them off. We definitely got put on a pedestal last year. I think some of it was deserved and some of it wasn’t. We’re a television show and we have our strengths and our weaknesses, and I think it’s inevitable. We knew the knives were going to come out at some point. I’m a little surprised it came out on episodes 10 and 11 because I thought episodes 10 and 11 were fantastic. That said, I’m too close to this show. I have no objectivity and I have to rely on people who are fans of the show, for them to render their judgment. We’re just working hard and doing the best we can.

Speakeasy will recap the season two finale tonight. Follow @barbarachai on Twitter for more arts and entertainment news. 

Tyler Faith Christine Anu

The Year According to Karl: Lagerfeld’s Best Quotes of 2012

It seems that every year, Karl Lagerfeld becomes more outspoken. In fact, in 2012 it seemed that news wasn’t news until The Kaiser had weighed in–and weigh in he did.

Read on for Lagerfeld’s most memorable quotes of the year–from his rather sensible take on Alexander Wang’s Balenciaga appointment to waxing poetic on “famous beauty” Choupette.

Photos: Getty

Published on Friday, December 14th, 2012 at 6:18 PM

Cher Isla Fisher

Exeunt Omni: The Story Has Turned

by Gautam Pemmaraju

In a recent critique of Pankaj Mishra’s book From The Ruins Of Empire: The Intellectuals Who Remade Asia, David Shulman points out interestingly, that in attempting to articulate a composite notion of Asian modernity (and thereby resistance to the West), to configure modernity in context with attendant modernizing processes, negotiations, and ‘modern’ ideas, one must take note of pre-colonial times wherein, as Velcheru Narayana Rao has argued for South India, there are intriguing, ‘organic’, ‘forms of awareness’ that are to be found in Telugu and Tamil speaking regions towards the end of the fifteenth century. “Highly original thinkers and poets” had during this time generated work “comprising a novel anthropology” and, Maps_90368_merc_ind_or_med

Thus we find, with particular prominence, the concept of an autonomous, subjective individual, responsible for his or her fate; a new theory of romantic love; the development of literary fiction as a privileged literary technique; a vogue for skepticism and realism, seen as informing the pragmatics of everyday life; the emergence of a cash economy and the conceptual revolution that rapid monetarization entails; the appearance of a bold, full-throated, unfettered female voice; and a new concept of nature as a rule-bound domain, separate from the human and amenable to disciplined observation and extrapolation. An innovative economic model of the mind, centered on the imaginative faculty, came to define the meaning of being human.

Far from the ‘bewildered Asians’, ‘accustomed to divine dispensations’, Shulman points out further that Narayana Rao, Sanjay Subrahmanyam and himself have written extensively on these precolonial ‘shifts in sensibility’ as articulated by several inventive writers and thinkers. ‘Colonial modernity’ in 19th Century India was expressed in part by the high-minded social reform of protests against prevalent social evils – child marriage, ban against widow remarriage, the ‘nautch girls’ question (the institution of courtesans), moribund traditions, evil superstitions, and suchlike. These social reformers and ‘modernists’, such as Kandukuri Veerasalingam in Andhra, ‘dreary’, ‘disassociated’, and ‘strident’, Shulman argues, obscure the influence, the ‘subtlety’, and the imagination of ‘the real modernists’ who reside in the shadows.

It is in this context that he invokes the much loved ‘modern’ Telugu play, Kanyasulkam (1892), seared into the collective imagination of the Telugu speaking people (particularly Andhra), and written by the maverick writer, Gurajada Apparao, who was one of the pioneers of the spoken vernacular in written form, as opposed to the exclusionary prose of elite literary groups. It is then this play, its potency as a work of great literary imagination, as a critical text that animated discourse and society at large, (co-opted by reformists, Marxists, and others alike), as arguably, even a work of ‘internal’ critique holding up a mirror to orthodoxy, transactions of power and venality amongst Brahmins, and ultimately, a critique of colonial experience, that represents a form of dexterous modernity quite beyond the limited purview of social reform and colonial modulation. Revealing subtle social contracts and subversive caste/class roles with deft satire, the nuanced narrative mobility of ‘others’ with finely balanced ethical and moral choices, Kanyasulkam is a marker of an inherent literary sophistication, a preexisting enlightenment of sorts. Its place in the Telugu literary firmament is a prominent one indeed, and its ‘social life’, an influential one.

Image232Narayana Rao discusses with me the playwright Apparao’s own ‘emancipation’ - an irony that sparks about fabulously in his seminal play. Born into the niyogi sub-caste of Telugu Brahmins, who were scribes and administrators as opposed to the vaidikis who performed priestly functions, Apparao initially wrote in English. Born into a family of scribes, or karanams, he was in the employ of the Maharajah of Vizianagaram, Anandagajapati (1850 – 97) whose ancestors had ruled as powerful kings of the region. With a decline in political power, the maharajah, a Sanskrit and Persian scholar himself, was less an autocrat and more a wealthy landlord and patron of arts and culture. After Anandagajapati’s death, Apparao was appointed as a private secretary to the late maharajah’s widowed sister Appala Kondamamba, who had been married to the Rajput Maharaja of Rewa. It was rumoured that Apparao was her lover, and that he spent late nights in her company, drinking wine and eating meat – breaking all social proscriptions. He even visited courtesans, expressing an interest in their lives. It was during this time, in the late 19th century, that there was significant activism against pleasure-women and courtesans, linked in no uncertain terms, Narayana Rao says, to colonial ideas of public morality and the contemporary disavowal of the classical erotic, shringara, traditions in literature and the arts. Untethered from orthodoxy, schooled and literate beyond mere ‘English’ education, sharp and subtle in approach, an aesthete perhaps (?), but aloof from strident reformism, Apparao managed to tread a fairly autonomous path, expressed mostly through his authorial voice as Narayana Rao points out, given that he was a private man.


Set in an environment of social upheaval, where the Brahminic hierarchy was falling apart, challenged by colonial reform, social reform, and the rise of non-Brahmin consciousness, Kanyasulkam presents ‘a subjectivity’, a thoroughly ‘modern self’, which is a continuation of the literary traditions of a pre-colonial modernity, Narayana Rao contends. The characters of Apparao’s play in this context are self aware, ‘dynamic’ and very funny. Arguing that the text itself is intriguingly polyphonic in nature, Narayana Rao writes in the essay The Play In Context, which is found in his translation of Kanyasulkam titled Girls For Sale (2011) that:

Apparao is not presenting a society that is deteriorating, nor is it in any moral crisis. And if there is an occasional violation of the moral order, the play strongly suggests that this society itself is capable of setting it right with a strong sense of purpose and determination. Apparao also suggests, equally strongly, that the impact of colonialism is debilitating even for a confident society such as this one... In this, Apparao is an extraordinarily original writer with an understanding of social reality, very different from many writers of this time, including the more celebrated Bankim and Tagore.

The play itself is written as a farce, for the most part. Built around the social practice of the purchase of young brides via middle men by elderly Brahmins, it begins with the glib hustler Girisam, who masquerades as an English speaking, enlightened social reformer campaigning for widow re-marriage and against pleasure-women. Moving from one hustle to the other, owing money around town, the charming scoundrel is having an affair with a widow who runs an eating joint, as well as ‘keeping’ as his pleasure-woman a central character of the play, the courtesan Madhura-vani. She has other lovers and suitors, in particular, the proud Ramap-Pantulu, a karanam (a hereditary revenue officer/scribe), who fancies himself to be crafty. The main plot of the play is propelled by the efforts of various characters to thwart the marriage of an elderly, miserly Brahmin, Lubdha Avadhanlu, with the young daughter of an ill-tempered Brahmin, Agni-hotra Avadhanlu. Madhura-vani is at the heart of this plot, orchestrating intrigues and schemes, manipulating her various lovers in order to, in some crude sense, teach the greedy and self-serving others around her, a lesson. As Narayana Rao indicates, the polyphony in the text enables autonomous intent and diverse meanings to the actions of the characters, and attributing clear motive can oftentimes prove tricky. There of course, is money involved – from middle men, priests, cops, the young brides’ intemperate father, the miserly Brahmin, Madhura-vani’s own machinations, to Girisam’s con jobs; all the characters seek to insert their interests deviously (and oftentimes obviously) in this complex equation. There is also the well meaning, serious, and morally upright (uptight?) social reformer Saujanya Rao, who wishes to reform the ‘nautch girl’ Madhura-vani. He challenges her morality. She in turn, as Narayana Rao discusses in great detail, challenges him back by asking if he would consider marrying a reformed courtesan, to which he responds in disgust, saying he wouldn’t even touch one; but as is revealed in a hilarious, and deft game of sexual play, Madhura-vani ensnares him with her charms and just as he is about to kiss her, she withdraws. In some fine irony, the confused reformist tells the wily courtesan that the Bhagavad-Gita that he has kept at his bedside turns around bad people, and those who read it find a friend in the god Krishna, to which Madhura-vani slyly (and brilliantly) counters: “So Krishna is not anti-nautch?”


Sir_Thomas_Munro_2C_1st_Baronet_mAs S Inna Reddy discusses in his work on social reform movements in Andhra (see here), and in particular, on the rise of non-Brahmin consciousness in the 19th century, the colonial rule brought several changes in established political and social orders, broadly affecting many social groups. These groups then began “an intense quest for new identities and alternatives”, which resulted in a wide range of responses and the growth of public consciousness, generally understood as part of social reform. Along with colonial tax regulations such as the Ryotwari settlements, whereby the Brahmins lost both the traditional patronage of the ruling elite and the land holdings therefrom received, the challenge to their social hierarchy was led by various groups of non-Brahmins: from the Kamsali (or Vishwabrahmin), Reddy, Kamma, Vaisya, Balija, to the Velama castes. Given also that there were several absentee landlords who leased land out to tilling peasants, the high taxation of the Madras Presidency propelled this loss of the manyam, srotrium & agraharam lands, as the traditional land grants were referred to, and:

When the hold over land relations were weakened under the British rule, some of the non-Brahmin zamindars in Andhra began using force in grabbing the lands held by Brahmins. Such a forceful usurpation was evidenced by the late 18th century and the beginning of the 19th century. The non-Brahmin castes began, thus, asserting their supremacy over land. By the middle of the 19th century the emergence of non-Brahmin castes as landed magnates picked up momentum.

This equation was further compounded by the historic constructions of anicuts on the Godavari and Krishna rivers (see Arthur Cotton), thereby resulting in “unprecedented changes in the agrarian economy of Andhra”. As Inna Reddy further writes, the prominent beneficiaries of these changes were the Reddy and Kamma communities. Commercial agriculture prospered, rice mills grew, and a concomitant rise in trade and communications enabled a ‘money economy’ in the now prosperous delta region of coastal Andhra.

KC Suri, in his work on the non-Brahmin movement in Andhra during colonial times, says at the outset that even during periods when there seemed to be tacit lower caste consent to the hegemony of the upper castes, “the struggles of resistance had been continuing, although in an implicit, unorganized and unsystematic manner”. Notwithstanding the “apparent ossification of the caste system”, caste relations were in a constant state of flux, he argues, due to changing fortunes of groups and members. Conscious efforts by members of ‘inferior castes’ in challenging hierarchy and the oppressive varna system have existed from antiquity, and continue till date, Suri writes. Importantly, he argues further, the changes during the colonial times should be seen as a continuation of the “centuries old struggle for social equality in opposition to brahmanical ideology”. Colonial historians of South India (such as Washbrook & Baker), Suri continues, deny any continuity of struggle from pre-colonial times and attribute it to the policies of the colonial government, caste rivalries, and the ambitions of English educated non-Brahmin leaders. Beyond claims of parity in education, employment and power, the non-Brahmin movement is “rooted in the protest against the brahmanical order, a protest for self-respect, dignity, and equality of status”. Citing Ranajit Guha here, Suri writes that colonial institutions, liberal ideas, and policy have played their part for sure, “gave a fillip”, but to attribute non-Brahmin protest solely to colonial policy is erroneous.


The ‘Christianized’ (see RE Frykenberg’s overview here) hustler Girisam evades a debt-collector by swearing on his Brahminic sacred thread that he will pay him soon. Once the debt-collector leaves, he says to himself in a telling indication of his own sense of self,

At last, I’ve found a use for the shoulder string. You never know. As the theosophists say, every old custom of ours has been put in place for a purpose. You’ll know the truth only by experience…As the Englishman says: Make hay while the sun shines.

Lying to various people that he has gotten a job with the Nizam of Hyderabad as a muyasid (companion), which he has turned down to dedicate himself to social reform, Girisam accompanies his student, the naïve Venkatesam, to his parents house for Christmas, ‘kismis’, break. The boy’s father is the ill-tempered Agni-hotra Avadhanlu, who is adamant on selling his daughter, much against the desires of his wife. She threatens to throw herself in the well if he does so. Dressed in the style of the city of the Nizams, with a cap to match, Girisam immediately draws the ire of his student’s father: “Who is this Turaka (Turk)?” The hustler’s manner and appearance conflates a range of identities and values, which commute freely according to necessity or even whimsy. The doting mother is keen to hear her son speak English; she believes that an English education will secure for the boy a bright future, an official post in administration perhaps, and the means to marry. The hustler, who has taught nothing to the young boy apart from how to smoke cigars, in a most comic scene, musters his two bits of ‘butler’ (vernacularly, botleru) English and recites the 'Twinkle Star' nursery rhyme. The boy replies: “There is a white man in the tent”, to which Girisam responds with the famous lines from Felicia Hemans’ Cassabianca, required reading in schools:

The boy stood on the burning deck,

Whence all but he had fled. 400494_091130132625_samekanons09_0031


As Rama Mantena has previously written while discussing the origins of historiography, there have been creative and innovative ways by which Indians were able to ‘reconfigure’ traditions in their encounter with colonialism, ‘western modes of intellectual inquiry’, and indeed, the kind of modernity it brought. There have been ‘native’ sources of history, the kaifiyats (village records), which the surveyor and antiquarian Colin Mackenzie accessed through his assistants, the Kavali brothers, that “presented an alternative to the high literary traditions of historical narrative in Telugu”. Positivist methods then took over. In a forthcoming paper on vernacular literary traditions and political modernity, she argues for “an attempt to pluralize modernity” which entails a broader ecology of political, social and cultural changes and transactions, as opposed to “a single, homogenous process” (citing Sudipta Kaviraj & Habermas). She discusses in detail the language reform led by the ‘self-fashioned modernist’ Gidugu Ramamurthi, who declared the time to be an “age of defiance” or dhikkarayugamu. Language reform for him, Mantena writes, was critical to creating new political subjectivities, as well as tackling pre-existing social hierarchies. The printing press, which brought about newer forms of written Telugu, pre-colonial forms; all these disparate traditions had to be then brought together. A break from the elite moorings of the written form was also imperative, and both Ramamurthi and Apparao were pioneers here, Mantena writes, promoting colloquial spoken forms in their writing. A desire for newness, change, and ‘reform’, of adhunika, nava or nutana, was certainly a part of the efforts but the process was not “a blind enthusiasm” for western modernity, but a more complex, self-aware process of selective application, “without the ambivalences that plagued many nationalists”. 

The eponymous feature film of 1955 further popularized Kanyasulkam, where the former Telugu film star and chief minister of Andhra Pradesh, NT Rama Rao, portrayed the con man Girisam. The play's life on stage continues till date, and there was also a TV series. While it is viewed and analysed from diverse standpoints, what is enduring is its literary merit, its inventive qualities, its charm, satire and importantly, its deft reflections of a society and region undergoing transformative change.  Fortunes, identities, language, and nations even, they all inevitably change over time, and it is in the multiple mappings of complex, interlinked change that we gain critical insight into who we are and how we have come to be.

Posted by Gautam Pemmaraju at 12:10 AM | Permalink

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