September 10th, 2009
08:25 PM ET

Actress goes behind the lens

So, I have to brag for a second... okay, maybe more than a second. For the first time in my broadcast career I got my picture taken! I know what you're thinking. How could I have JUST gotten my picture taken for the first time?

Well, let me clarify. Today was the first day that an actor I  interviewed asked to take my picture. I was covering the "Coco Before Chanel" junket and actress Audrey Tautou pulled out her camera after our interview. She plays the legendary fashion designer in the flick.  You'll probably remember her from "Amelie" or as Tom Hank's companion in "The Da Vinci Code".

Tautou told me she was taking pictures of people today for her personal album.  Now an actress turning the lens on a journalist is nothing new. Many do it in Hollywood when paparazzi follow them ad nauseum. But it's always nice when a star really likes a journalist... especially when the journalist is moi!

(okay you can barf now)

September 10th, 2009
08:06 PM ET

Cobain not such a "Guitar Hero"

Any gamers jamming to "Guitar Hero 5" for the last week or so may boast the finger-tappin' skills to have unlocked the Kurt Cobain character in the game. Once unlocked, a likeness of the late Nirvana frontman can be used during a song of the player's choosing.

guitar hero

Cobain's new video game likeness has his former bandmates Dave Grohl and Krist Novoselic a little peeved at Activision (the developers of "Guitar Hero 5"), as the joint statement below suggests:

"We want people to know that we are dismayed and very disappointed in the way a facsimile of Kurt is used in the Guitar Hero game. The name and likeness of Kurt Cobain are the sole property of his estate – we have no control whatsoever in that area.

While we were aware of Kurt's image being used with two Nirvana songs, we didn't know players have the ability to unlock the character.

This feature allows the character to be used with any kind of song the player wants. We urge Activision to do the right thing in 're-locking' Kurt's character so that this won't continue in the future.

It's hard to watch an image of Kurt pantomiming other artists' music alongside cartoon characters. Kurt Cobain wrote songs that hold a lot of meaning to people all over the world. We feel he deserves better."

Despite their disappointment, "Guitar Hero 5" developers got an O-K from the one individual who matters when it comes to Kurt Cobain's estate: Courtney Love.

“Guitar Hero secured the necessary licensing rights from the Cobain estate in a written agreement signed by Courtney Love to use Kurt Cobain’s likeness as a fully playable character in Guitar Hero® 5,” reads a statement released to CNN by Activision.

Apparently Courtney isn't feeling the "love" with the final product. CNN received this statement from her attorney Keith A. Fink:

“Ms. Cobain is extremely upset about Activision's use of Mr. Cobain's likeness to sing the songs of others in its Guitar Hero game. Activision was granted permission by Kurt's trust solely to use his name and likeness. Activision was not given an unbridled right to use Mr. Cobain's name and likeness. Kurt's songs have a special and unique meaning to his fans and his image and legacy are very important to Ms. Cobain. The agreement Activision has with the trust doesn't allow them to use his likeness in ways that denigrate his image. We would hope Activision would do the right thing on its own and prohibit game users from using Kurt's image to sing others songs and if they don't we expect the trust to take appropriate action to protect Mr. Cobain's image."

Do Grohl and Novoselic have a legitimate beef? And what about Courtney? Should she have signed off on the deal? And what would Kurt think?

September 10th, 2009
06:17 PM ET

Toronto Film Festival: a little secret

It's day one of the Toronto International Film Festival and I am currently en route somewhere over The Rockies.

If you're wondering how this guy is blogging about a film festival when he hasn't even arrived, the answer is my dirty little secret – I see the movies in advance!  Not all of them, by any stretch – I've seen 3 of about 10 I plan to cover – but, I did see as many as I could in order to give myself more time at the festival for interviews and press events.


So, what have I already seen?

First, there's Steven Soderberg's "The Informant."  The film stars Matt Damon and is produced by Damon's "Ocean's" buddy, George Clooney.  The movie is a dark comedy about espionage, price fixing, and a company whistleblower who tries bring down the nation's most corrupt white collar corporate corn criminals.  Say that ten times fast.

 I've also seen the Lee Daniel's movie "Precious," starring newcomer Gabby Sidibe, Mariah Carey and Paula Patton.  It's a heart-wrenching tale of an overweight, illiterate Harlem teenager who fights to rise above her circumstances.  The film, which is produced by Oprah Winfrey and Tyler Perry also stars Mo'Nique as the girl's abusive mother and is already being called one of the most transformative roles of the year.

Jennifer's Body

 Lastly, I saw the horror flick, "Jennifer's Body," which stars one of the country's fastest rising sex symbols, Megan Fox.  The movie was written by "Juno's" Oscar-winning screenwriter, Diablo Cody, and includes much of the trademark phrasing and 'high school lingo' she made famous in her debut hit.  The film's tale of a beautiful cheerleader's demon-possessed body and its need to feed on teenage boys is sure to appeal to the masses.

 In addition to these titles check back here for blog entries, photos and interviews on a number of other movies and their stars as the festival continues to unfold.  I'll be sitting down with Michael Moore for a chat about his latest headline-grabbing documentary "Capitalism: A Love Story."  I'll be attending the red carpet premieres of George Clooney's "The Men Who Stare at Goats" as well as that of Drew Barrymore's directorial debut, "Whip It."  I'll also dig into festival's more serious fare including the politically charged documentary "The Most Dangerous Man in America: Daniel Ellsberg and the Pentagon Papers."

It's time to put my seat and tray table in their upright and locked positions – Toronto International Film Festival, here I come!

September 10th, 2009
05:48 PM ET

Feeling sorry for fashionistas. sorta.

The skinny little models running around Bryant Park are a sure sign that Fashion Week is back in the Big Apple.

Twice a year the fashion world shows its wares in midtown Manhattan. While throngs of people have been arriving at the tents designers use to hold their fashion shows, the big event of the opening day isn't a show, it's something called "Fashion's Night Out". It's Vogue Editor Anna Wintour's big brainstorm to rescue the fashion industry from the people-not-spending-money problem.

"FNO", as the fashionistas are calling it, is a worldwide initiative that has stores around the world holding star-studded events and staying open late in the hopes that shoppers will make the cash registers sing into the night.

In New York, major designers and some celebrities like Kate Hudson, Charlize Theron, Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen, Hugh Jackman, and Justin Timberlake will be at stores in Manhattan and Queens to support the initiative until the wee hours. And on Wednesday, more than 100 top models dragged themselves out of bed before 9 am– the horror– to show off FNO t-shirts. See, everyone in fashion is doing their part. Regular people can buy these  at participating stores and boutiques.

Whether it works or not, we'll know about sales in a couple of days, but the fashion crowd is buzzing that the elusive Anna Wintour is actually heading to a Macy's store in Queens to kick it off– at, gasp, a mall. This, I gotta see. I'm headed out there.

Do you think it will work? Will the fashion kingdom and its reigning emperor /editor seem more real-world relevant with a little help from a big one-night party with real people at real stores?

September 10th, 2009
05:40 PM ET

Randy Jackson welcomes Ellen to 'Idol'

Showbiz Tonight spoke with "American Idol" judge Randy Jackson on Thursday in New York City’s Time Square and he said he's excited to have Ellen DeGeneres as part of the "Idol" family.

Watch Jackson discuss DeGeneres coming on board:

Jackson said DeGeneres will bring a new perspective to the judges' table.

“I think she is going to bring the voice of the people,” he said. “She is not like a music expert, but I think you know the people sitting at home the show is really about them. Simon [Cowell], and I and Kara [DioGuardi], are all the music experts that you need.”

There is one thing that Jackson and DeGeneres share: their southern roots.

“She is my home girl from Louisiana. We are both from Louisiana and the south is going to do it again. That’s right,” Jackson said.

"American Idol" returns to television in January 2010.

September 10th, 2009
05:12 PM ET

Ellen? Why not Neil Patrick Harris?

I love Ellen DeGeneres; really, I do.  She is awesome and I love watching her show but I just can’t see her as the fourth American Idol judge. She is funny, she does great interviews with celebs and she is a heck of a dancer, but that being said, I could sooner see her as a judge on So You Think You Can Dance than on American Idol. I have to wonder- why didn’t the powers that be pick upcoming guest host Neil Patrick Harris as a permanent judge?

Full disclosure: I have an enormous crush on Neil Patrick Harris. I first fell in love with NPH when I was a little girl watching him on Doogie Howser M.D. Now I can’t miss an episode of How I Met Your Mother: his Barney Stinson is one of the best characters on TV.  I am not saying we should include him just because I like him; it’s that he is more qualified for the job.  NPH is an accomplished singer and performer, having even appeared on Broadway.  He has danced his way through Hollywood onto Sesame Street and all the way to the Tony’s– which, by the way, he hosted this year.  He even stars in this phenomenally inventive web series, Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, that my colleague Sid Lipsey recently turned me on to. 

Now, you may be thinking, surely NPH is too busy to add yet another job to his plate, right? No! He is such an avid fan that he is at every taping of “American Idol”, in fact they often show him when they do their celebrity shots of the crowd.  So why not take advantage of this great find sitting right under your nose?

What do you think- is Ellen the right fit? Would you have liked Neil Patrick Harris more? Do you have a completely different suggestion? Tell me what you think!

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