October 7th, 2009
09:13 PM ET

A Beastie and a Dalai Lama

Beastie Boy Adam "MCA" Yauch, who recently had surgery to remove a cancerous tumor in his left salivary gland just got back from a trip to  Dharamsala, India.  He shared some of his experiences in a letter to fans.

Here's an excerpt:

hey all,
 
so i just got back from dharamsala, india. went over there to see some tibetan doctors, but as it worked out, the Dalai Lama was giving a 3 day teaching, so i was able to attend that as well.
 
i'm feeling healthy, strong and hopeful that i've beaten this thing, but of course time will tell.  i'm taking tibetan medicine and at the recommendation of the tibetan doctors i've been eating a vegan/organic diet, which surprisingly enough was harder to do in india than it is now that i'm back home. here i can just shop for the right food and cook... a lot easier than depending on restaurants.
 
when i was in india i visited an ani gompa (a nunnery) called jamyang choling. they did a puja (religious ceremony) for me to help me get well. one nun said to me "we do prayers and then you are better." so i've got that going for me, which is nice.

What's nice is that Yauch's cancer was located early, was localized and according to doctors will not affect his vocal chords.  It sounds like he's pursuing an East meets West course of treatment.

October 7th, 2009
06:32 PM ET

Jon and Kate minus 8

Can Jon and Kate be given a grown up time out? Is there such a thing? Can I create it with them in mind?

I know when I was little and I misbehaved I was sent to my room. If I shot my mouth off at my parents I was sent right upstairs into a time out. Why does that stop when we get older? Jon and Kate are shooting their mouths off and you know what? It’s time for them to stop!

Jon is seen in this new clip on TMZ.com reading an email from Kate to the paparazzi. Now you can see from the clip that he is clearly frustrated; he is worried that Kate won’t honor their custody agreement on their twins’ birthday. Here’s the thing though, I shouldn’t know anything about that. It is utterly reprehensible that Jon was standing on a New York City sidewalk and telling absolute strangers about his divorce.

You both seem determined to air every aspect of your dirty laundry to the public. Kate, you claim you don’t have enough money to feed your children—even though at the same time you want to buy a pearl ring with eight diamonds. Jon, you want your kids off TV during your divorce—the one thing I can support you on. But I digress. I have a suggestion for you Jon and Kate—and I think you will both really like it. It would allow you both to keep talking about your crumbling marriage, make money and get your kids off of TV all at the same time. I am pitching you a new reality TV show: “Jon and Kate minus 8”, all about your divorce and custody battle.

I am willing to bet that people would watch, giving you what you seem to so desperately desire—attention. That brings me back to my original point about time outs. Kids are usually put there when they are misbehaving; you know, yelling, screaming, acting out, etc. Sound familiar? It’s time to grow up; if you are going to act like children I am going to treat you that way. Jon and Kate- TIME OUT!

October 7th, 2009
11:02 AM ET

Your pop culture cheat sheet

Here's what's happening in the world of entertainment today:

  • After "Terminator Salvation," it was only a matter of time before the 1980s "Predator" film franchise was brought back to life. Adrien Brody, in what Variety calls a "surprise development," has been cast as the hero in the upcoming "Predators," where mercenaries once again hunt an alien (or aliens, as the case appears to be).
  • Get ready for a fifth vacation with the Griswolds. It's unknown if Chevy Chase will return but another "National Lampoon's Vacation" sequel is in the works, according to The Hollywood Reporter, focusing on son Rusty Griswold.
  • After Maura Tierney had to drop out of NBC's upcoming comedy "Parenthood" due to her battle with cancer, it seems that producers may have found her replacement: "Gilmore Girls'" Lauren Graham is in negotiations to join the show, according to The Hollywood Reporter. They were unable to make a deal with Helen Hunt to take on the role.
  • Fans showed up in "Force" at a sold-out concert Thursday in Anaheim, California, launching a concert tour of "Star Wars" music. Ticketholders got the chance to take a look at some costumes, props and artwork, which could only previously be viewed at George Lucas' Skywalker Ranch. iReporter Allen Mealey was there to capture all the excitement.
October 7th, 2009
10:31 AM ET

Double elimination on 'Dancing'

Tom DeLay isn’t exactly a celebrity outside political circles, but he was probably the most talked-about cast member of this season’s “Dancing With the Stars.”

(As in “Tom DeLay is going to do what?”)

Last night, the former House Majority Leader pulled out of the competition, saying he wouldn’t be able to continue because of painful stress fractures in both of his feet.

But DeLay wasn’t voted out of the show - in fact he wasn’t even in the bottom two and he actually turned out to be a decent dancer.

OK, the strange, strange sight of him gyrating to “Wild Thing” a couple of weeks back was a cringe-worthy moment - and we could have been spared the camera close-up that began that particular dance number - but DeLay seemed to get into the spirit of things.

His tango was quite good, except a stumble at the end which had him wincing in pain. And who else could have danced a politically inspired samba?

Despite DeLay’s decision to leave, the show continued the elimination last night and it turned out to be the end of the competition for actress Debi Mazar and her professional dancing partner Maksim Chmerkovskiy, who were voted off the show. (Not a complete surprise, but it seemed like they might last another episode.)

October 7th, 2009
10:15 AM ET

Phone-a-friend no longer available

My first game show experience came on the Regis Philbin version of "Who Wants To Be a Millionaire"... but not as a contestant.

millionaire

In 1999, I received the call from Regis himself.  I was on Phone-a-Friend (PAF) duty.

The contestant I was helping was a political analyst whose job required him to travel frequently and, at times, out of the country.  As a result, his knowledge of recent U.S. pop culture was a bit spotty.  That's where I came in.

Within a 30-second time frame, the contestant read me the question (What woman sang to Johnny Carson on his next-to-last "Tonight Show" episode?) I quickly replied that it was Bette Midler and that he should go for it.  He got it right and, when all was said and done, left the stage $64,000 richer.

I've been on the PAF lists of six other contestants over the years, but haven't been selected since.  And it appears I'll never be selected again.

During this week's taping of the syndicated version of "Millionaire", it was revealed that the Phone-a-Friend lifeline was no longer available for contestants.  Instead, contestants will have just three lifelines to use - Ask the Audience (which is pretty useless on upper-level questions), Ask the Expert (which can be helpful or problematic depending on the "expert" the show recruits) and Double Dip (which some contestants pass on due to the fact that if you choose to use it, you must play the question out).

"Millionaire" getting rid of PAF is like "Jeopardy!" eliminating a Daily Double, or "The Price is Right" putting Plinko to the pricing game graveyard.  It was an iconic lifeline that gave the contestant the power to determine his/her fate.  The contestant, not the show, decided who to choose as a PAF.

You could ask the PAF to be prepared with reference books, a computer and fast typing fingers (in case you need to Google your answer).  You could practice PAF techniques with your team, such as reducing a question to its root points, giving the PAF a few extra seconds to research the answer.

So why did "Millionaire" get rid of PAF?  Perhaps the show thought the use of Google and other search engines made the lifeline too easy, or it wanted to save a few bucks by not having someone on staff whose role is to prep PAFs before and during the show.

Whatever the reason, "Millionaire" just isn't the same.  I could handle the change in money tree and the time clock, but not the loss of a lifeline that made the show unique. What do you think?

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Filed under: television
October 7th, 2009
09:20 AM ET

David Spade helps fire departments

I'm a Southern California native, and no matter how hot it gets here each summer and fall, two words are guaranteed to send a chill up my spine: "fire season."

David Spade

This year, as almost every year, dozens of blazes have sprung up, destroying homes and putting hundreds of thousands of lives at risk - including the lives of our firefighters, who work to exhaustion for months on end to save people, pets and property.

One of the many people who has recognized the heroism of these first-responders is David Spade.  Now, my family has taken water bottles and homemade cookies to fire stations to thank firefighters in the past, but Spade showed some major appreciation, with a $100,000 donation to the Los Angeles and Ventura County fire departments.

"We're incredibly grateful and incredibly humble," Bill Nash of the Ventura County Fire Department told me when I called him to confirm the funnyman's largesse.  "It was a surprise to us and an incredibly nice thing to do."

Nash says the money will go to the department's benefit fund, which helps firefighters and their families in times of need.  "It's nice to know that the department has a way to take care of its own - donations of this size are rare."

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