November 2nd, 2009
07:58 PM ET

Hey Jon! Keep it private!

Jon Gosselin took part in what was being billed as an intimate discussion with his new spiritual advisor, Rabbi Shmuley Boteach Sunday  night at a New York City Synagogue. The point of Jon’s appearance was to come clean about his personal battle with the pitfalls of fame and to own up his bad boy behavior since he and Kate announced their divorce in June. He earnestly apologized to his soon-to-be ex-wife Kate Gosselin, saying, “I want to apologize to Kate in private. I'll apologize to her for openly having relationships in the public eye.”

Jon revealed this earnest pomp and circumstance, these so-called heartfelt apologies, before the hoards of TV news cameras. There, Jon said with a straight face, “I think I'm just misunderstood. I'm not a fame seeker.”

When a man who is smack dab in the media frenzy decides it’s time to make amends with his soon-to-be ex-wife and focus on being a better father to his 8 children, the first step is indeed to go to the ex and apologize. But Jon’s first step was make a big stink about his intentions to apologize to the cameras he claims he isn’t seeking out.

I applaud Jon for hooking up with the likes of Rabbi Shmuley Boteach and attempting to get his priorities in life straight. But I say, Jon, as you gauge your so-called “moral compass,” the only way anyone is going to believe that you are a reformed man is to take care of your private business  - in private. Then if you and Kate choose to come forward to let the world know you are on better terms – so be it. But until then, cut the talk, stop doing these panel discussions on being a “moral” father and just start being the man you keep claiming you are.

November 2nd, 2009
04:09 PM ET

'You Oughta Know' Alanis and the anthem

Game Five of the 2009 World Series is scheduled to begin at 7:57 p.m. ET tonight in Philadelphia, and hitting the national stage is seven-time Grammy Award winner Alanis Morissette. She'll be performing the National Anthem.

It's not an easy song to sing, and having a stadium-sized audience of fired-up sports fans - not to mention millions more watching on TV - is either one hell of an inspiration or a recipe for total disaster.

Morissette is certainly no shrinking violet, as the lyrics to her songs attest. I'm guessing she'll nail it.  Not everyone has managed to, though, and I'm betting you can remember a few botched attempts.

Who do you think has performed the worst rendition of the National Anthem ever?

November 2nd, 2009
01:50 PM ET

Should celebs' charity begin at home?

Over the past week, we've chronicled Don Cheadle and friends playing poker to benefit Darfur, Selena Gomez working for UNICEF, and Anthony Edwards running the New York City Marathon to help build a Kenyan children's hospital.  Each time, we've received at least one comment along these lines: "What about all of the problems here?  Why don't these stars help Americans first?"

It's not an unreasonable question - though maybe those folks missed our coverage of Georgia flood relief, David Spade helping firefighters, Moby donating concert proceeds to domestic violence shelters, and our first Find The Good story, Ludacris helping donate cars to people in need.

It's true that many of the highest-profile celebrity charity efforts seem to be aimed overseas.  Is that because those projects seem more exotic, or is the need there truly greater?  Plenty of stars are working to solve domestic problems, from David Arquette's constant work with food banks to Adam Lambert helping schoolkids to Soleil Moon Frye's advocacy of Alzheimer's awareness.  And let's not forget the king of celebrity philanthropy: the late Paul Newman, whose Newman's Own foundation has donated more than $280 million to thousands of different charities, in the U.S. and around the world.

But back to our question: should American celebs focus on American causes, or is all charitable work laudable, regardless of location?  And for those who favor domestic efforts, what should take priority?  (Are you doing anything toward that cause?)  And do you know of any stars whose work we should be profiling here?

November 2nd, 2009
01:07 PM ET

Your pop culture cheat sheet

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

Scandal may have been good for David Letterman's ratings: The Hollywood Reporter says that the "Late Show" is up 13 percent in total viewers so far this season. Meanwhile, "The Tonight Show" has seen precipitous declines with Conan O'Brien at the helm.

"Michael Jackson's This Is It" had a strong opening overseas, The Los Angeles Times reports. Sony Pictures estimates that it made $68.5 million in 108 foreign territories. This is despite what was seen as a disappointing domestic box office.

Warner Bros. Pictures is now stepping in to advertise on Fox's upcoming special, "Family Guy Presents: Seth and Alex's Almost Live Comedy Show," according to The Los Angeles Times. Microsoft recently backed out, reportedly due to concerns over jokes about deaf people and the Holocaust.

Katie Holmes has replaced Liv Tyler in upcoming independent film, "The Romantics," Variety reports. Not only that, she has also been made an executive producer of the movie, which revolves around several college friends who reunite for a wedding.

November 2nd, 2009
10:34 AM ET

Michael Jackson's $100 Million Show!

Michael Jackson's "This Is It" earned over an estimated $100 million dollars worldwide its opening weekend. Not surprising considering the hype around the film after Michael suddenly died in June. I was one of the MJ fans who contributed to the big box office weekend on Friday. So how was it, you ask?  In a word…Inspiring. And I don’t mean how the film was put together. I’m talking about what the film showed me about the man.

Michael Jackson was certainly a complicated guy – no movie has to be made to explain that to anyone. But what "This Is It" does is bring forth perhaps the part of the man we all want to remember – the guy who thrilled us with a show bigger than we could ever imagine.

“This Is It” doesn't have narration or a detailed look behind the curtain of this musical wizard’s mind. There's certainly no hint that Michael would've died within days of the footage that was shown except for the fact that he looked so skinny. It simply shows us a glimpse not only of what Michael wanted to give to fans in his London O2 Arena concert series, but also a vivid reminder of why he was the King of Pop.

In every segment of the film, you see music radiating from every part of Michael’s being. He can’t help himself by singing out or dancing while re-arranging one of his classic hits. And, perhaps, what was so revealing about this film was that you could see that Michael was never more at home than on that stage. On stage, surrounded by music is where he knew exactly who he was, what he wanted and his position among his peers. A chill shivered up my spine with every snap of his leg or burst of his pitch-perfect voice (are we certain he was just in rehearsal?).

At the same time, it didn't escape my mind that it was off stage where Michael became the little boy lost in a big, cynical world obsessed with tearing down the famous. He could have screamed from the top of his lungs that he was misunderstood, and no one would have listened. We didn't listen. In our world, he was a child-devouring monster (though, never convicted).

I have to say, as a die-hard fan growing up, my mind and my heart have been in conflict about MJ since he passed away. He's a sicko! Oh, but he was such a genius! Is it possible to separate MJ’s music from what he allegedly did behind closed doors? Can we do that for Chris Brown? R. Kelly? What about this man who was born a musical prodigy? Must I reluctantly erase “Billie Jean” and “Thriller” from the ipod in my brain after what he allegedly did? How can I reconcile that – especially now that he’s gone?

After seeing "This Is It," the 11 year old inside of me wishes she could've witnessed Michael's genius in person. The only thing this movie shows me is that Michael was it. He was the maestro who composed the soundtrack of my generation. I will always struggle with my feelings about MJ's bizarre and disturbing life choices and his alleged behavior with children... Ultimately, I don’t know that I could ever give him the benefit of the doubt and yet, conversely, I will never deny his musical virtuosity.  I guess, I’ll have to live with that conflict within me, because “This Is It” proves, Jackson’s music will never die.

November 2nd, 2009
02:43 AM ET

Mariah Carey: from diva to dowdy

The last time pop star Mariah Carey had a key role on the big screen was in the notoriously awful “Glitter” in 2001. But her performance in the upcoming drama, “Precious” has drawn a much different reaction from the critics: praise. Director Lee Daniels removed every bit of “glitter” from her physical appearance for the film and transformed her into a dowdy, unglamorous, non-make-up-wearing welfare caseworker - the very antithesis of a diva.

Why would she agree to all this? I put that very question to her at the film’s red carpet premiere Sunday night at Grauman’s Chinese Theater in Los Angeles.

“I just loved the book 'Push' that 'Precious' is based on and read it a few years back,” she says, “And I was just like, if this gets made into a movie - and I know Lee Daniels can do it right - if I can just be a part of it, they can put bags under my eyes and as many mustaches on me as they want, and hideous hairdos, and it is what it is, but it comes from inside and they stripped all the layers and [helped me] become the character.”

One of my colleagues in the press asks, "Was this performance a career milestone?"

“I had one film [Glitter] that had me under the stone! (laughs) I didn't realize that you really have to be selective with the people that you work with and you have to have that support system and you have to work with people who you think are geniuses and Lee Daniels is a genius in my book.”

“Precious” opens in limited release this Friday, November 6th.

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