June 8th, 2010
10:58 PM ET

James Avery is alive and well, thank you very much

At CNN, we are increasingly called upon to see if there's any truth to the celebrity death rumors that often swirl around cyberspace. Just this past Sunday one of them crossed my desk. James Avery, who played "Uncle Phil" on "The Fresh Prince of Bel Air," had died, according to a rumor on Twitter.

I fired off an email to his publicist, Cynthia Snyder, and within a couple of hours she confirmed that Avery was "indeed alive and well – just had a lovely wedding anniversary get away and chuckled at the hoax. He just completed a project with Alfonso Ribeiro [another "Fresh Prince" alum] directing."

But when I caught up with Avery at the premiere of the remake of "The Karate Kid," he definitely wasn't "chuckling."

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June 8th, 2010
05:06 PM ET

Guillermo's (longer) goodbye

Everyone who's been waiting for “The Hobbit” to make its way to theaters was flummoxed to find out that Guillermo del Toro was stepping down as director.

Turns out, it wasn’t easy for him, either. Del Toro, who has already explained that the his decision was a difficult one, turned to fan site TheOneRing.net to provide a slightly more conclusive ending to his time spent at the helm of “Hobbit.”

After thanking those who supported him in his prior position, del Toro wrote that his “commitment to the project demanded enormous sacrifices both in personal and professional terms. The consequences of which will ripple for years. I relocated my entire life and family to New Zealand and first came on board in 2008.”

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Filed under: movies
June 8th, 2010
04:54 PM ET

Hall & Oates joins Arizona boycott

Add Hall & Oates to the list of musicians boycotting Arizona.

The legendary duo has canceled a performance in Phoenix that was scheduled for next month because of the state's recently signed law that requires police to determine the immigration status of individuals suspected of being in the country illegally. Cypress Hill and Pitbull have also canceled Arizona tour dates, and Kanye West, Spank Rock, Tenacious D and Sonic Youth are also boycotting the state.

"In addition to our personal convictions, we are standing in solidarity with the music community in our boycott of performing in Arizona at this time,” the group said in a statement.

Since they were supposed to perform following a Diamondbacks game on July 2, the duo added, “We would like to emphasize that this has nothing to do with the management of the Arizona Diamondbacks, who have been professional and cooperative throughout our dealings with them. This is our response to a very specific action of the state."


Filed under: Celebrities • Music
June 8th, 2010
04:45 PM ET

Stedman Graham: Chicago doesn't appreciate Oprah

According to Stedman Graham, the Chicago area needs to sit up and take stock of the benefits "The Oprah Winfrey Show” has brought to the city now while they still can. Winfrey's Chicago-based talk show ends in September, 2011.

During an interview with Fox News Chicago, Graham said he doesn’t think Chicagoans appreciate Winfrey.

“I don’t think they understand the value of who she is as a human being and what she’s done,” he told the anchors. “Because a prophet has no honor in its home town.”

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Filed under: Celebrities • television
June 8th, 2010
03:31 PM ET

Questlove: Always a risk with offshore drilling

Philadelphia's most recognizable hip-hop group kicked off summer on Saturday with their annual Roots Picnic concert, but even when in a celebratory mood, the impact of the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico weighed heavily on the mind of the group's formidable drummer and bandleader, Ahmir "Questlove" Thompson.

"They need to find another way...another solution besides offshore drilling, or onshore drilling. Another means of fuel solution," he said. "If Exxon Valdez wasn't what I thought [was] the death knell, then there should be absolutely no doubt in anyone's head that there's always a risk with offshore drilling."

The outcry of support in terms of benefit concerts or massive donation drives backed by celebrities or organized by the general public is low because of the difficulty in visualizing the impact, Questlove explained.

FULL POST

June 8th, 2010
03:18 PM ET

'Alejandro' has arrived

As she did with "Telephone," Lady Gaga once again provides a lengthy, visually arresting cinematic short for her single "Alejandro," but this time with Madonna references instead of endorsements. (In case swallowing a rosary and a little S&M doesn’t tip you off, she dons black pants and a bra with strategically placed machine guns.)

Despite the breezy, laid-back, "hot like Mexico" vibe of the single, the accompanying video is dark and cold throughout its totality. There's snow, drab undergarments and Gaga carrying an initialed heart on a black satin pillow in front of a coffin. (If that doesn't say romance, well, we don't know what does.)

“Alejandro” director Steven Klein told Rolling Stone that the design and tone for the opus was influenced by painters more so than musicians or film directors. The process, Klein said, “was to express Lady Gaga's desire to reveal her heart and bear her soul."

In that case, Gaga’s soul contains some men blessed with incredible quads wearing killer stilettos. If you haven’t seen the entire video, you can watch it here (although, as with “Telephone,” it may feel a bit uncomfortable to watch on the job).


Filed under: Lady Gaga • Music
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