October 5th, 2009
09:17 PM ET

Backstreet Boy Brian Littrell: 'You never think it will hit you'

(We reported earlier that Backstreet Boy Brian Littrell had been diagnosed with H1N1, commonly known as swine flu, upon arriving in New York just prior to the release of the band's new album. Littrell wanted to write something about the experience. Here are his comments, in his own words.)

I knew something was way wrong on the plane ride home from Japan. I mean, I was miserable, but I didn’t expect anything like this. You always hear about this stuff but you never think it will hit you.

(See a video of Brian on the Backstreet Boys' Web site.)

When we got to the hotel in NYC I knew I needed to see a doctor. Then the doctor said I had all the symptoms. Swine flu? It all still seemed so surreal. I mean – I got a record coming out, why me? Why this week?

I couldn’t sleep. The body aches were tremendous.

This morning it reached a new level. It felt like I was hit by a truck. I mean it took me awhile to even get out of the bed, or even move at all. (CNN's Dr. Sanjay Gupta describes his own bout with H1N1 here.)

Then it really hit home when the doctor confirmed it was definitely swine flu. He told me I had to be responsible and do my best to make sure nobody gets it from me. You can feel that pressure. I was supposed to see a lot of fans today at the signing.I’d have to tell the hotel staff here to leave room service, towels, etc., at my door.

And tell my wife she couldn’t come see me for a few days.

It’s a very lonely feeling.

I wouldn’t wish this on anybody.

Filed under: Uncategorized
October 5th, 2009
04:33 PM ET

Mariah Carey: 'Imperfect' and fascinating

You learn a lot about diva-dom when you’re standing 10 feet away from a Mariah Carey performance, as I was Friday. Everything is done with extravagance: the lashes, the Christian Louboutin boots, the skin-tight dress revealing ample cleavage, the long tresses blowing in a gentle breeze provided by strategically placed fans. Check out the scene:

At one point, when Carey’s one-of-a-kind voice reached for the crescendo of Foreigner’s “I Want to Know What Love Is,” a sudden burst of gold streamers showered her and her backing choir.

Ridiculous? Well, sure. But it’s also spectacular.

From the moment Carey stepped onto the “Today” show stage in Rockefeller Center early on Friday morning to perform a few cuts from her new album, “Memoirs of an Imperfect Angel,” her presence hit you like a perfumed hurricane. Fan or not, at close range Mariah Carey is utterly beguiling.

The best-selling female artist of the ‘90s, Carey has sold a whopping 160 million plus albums worldwide during the course of her impressive, if at times rocky, career. She also pulled off one of the most successful comebacks in music history, with her post-breakdown album “The Emancipation of Mimi” becoming the top seller of 2005 in the U.S.

And with the glow of her 18-month marriage to fellow singer Nick Cannon still obvious (they cuddled and kissed on stage after Friday’s set), as well as the positive reviews she’s getting for her acting role in the upcoming film “Precious,” Carey looked happy.

When we stepped onto her massive tour bus for an interview, it was clear she was a little drained from her “Today” performance, but she was perfectly pleasant and un-diva-like.

I was just getting Carey, who turns 40 next year, to talk about the significance of the word “imperfect” in her album title, when I was told to wrap it up.

Seriously? We were only 40 seconds into the interview.

Apparently the bus had overstayed its welcome on 49th Street, and the police outside were getting edgy. Mariah’s caravan had to push off.

Seconds after she shook my hand and said with sincerity that she wished we could’ve chatted longer, my cameraman and I found ourselves back on the street with scores of screaming fans.

Feeling slightly dejected, we watched as Carey’s chariot – all white and adorned with larger-than-life images of the same scantily clad Carey you see on her album cover – drove away.

No, Mariah isn’t perfect. And maybe that’s why we can’t stop looking.

October 5th, 2009
04:22 PM ET

Backstreet Boy gets swine flu

Just as their album "This is Us" is about to drop (Tuesday October 6th), the Backstreet Boys are dropping out of several scheduled appearances. Brian Littrell has been diagnosed with H1N1 flu, also known as swine flu.

It's unfortunate timing - the band was scheduled to appear today for a signing at NYC PINKTOBER Hard Rock Café and Tuesday on the CBS "Early Show," performing their new single "Straight Through My Heart." Band members Nick Carter, Howie Dorough and AJ McLean apparently aren't showing any symptoms and have been prescribed Tamiflu as a preventative measure. The band just returned from touring in Tokyo.

Littrell released this statement via his record label: "We were really looking forward to spending time with our closest fans and friends in NYC and take part of PINKTOBER, an unbelievable and important program. I hope we can come back soon and do everything we can to help."

No word on the rest of their scheduled appearances.

October 5th, 2009
08:59 AM ET

'Transformers 3' set for 2011

It's official - "Transformers" will be back for round three. Plus, Pearl Jam's "Backspacer" breaks records and George Clooney stars in "The American." CNN's Denise Quan has more on these tidbits in today's buzz:

Filed under: movies • Music
October 5th, 2009
08:38 AM ET

'Entourage' finale full of signatures

This season, we've shared a lot together. We've loved Ari, we've kinda liked Turtle and we've flat-out hated Ashley. We've spoken directly to the TV (I know I have - don't judge), we've wondered if the show has lost its mojo, if its jumped the shark, and/or if "Entourage" had sold itself out for the sake of running short on its own material. But now, we are at the end.

Entourage finale

Let me say, for all the many good/bad/love/hate moments in this season, I believe we've seen a fitting conclusion. The final show was chock full of "Entourage" signatures, with a few new wrinkles in our boys' situations.

First, Turtle's abrupt end to our fantasy  - his relationship with Jamie Lynn Sigler - was jarring. I adapted thanks to Brooke (hot chicks always help, right?) but then the kid has a meltdown and I suffer a big let-down. Come on Turtle, why can't I have the rest of that scene? It was going so well! As a result, both Brooke - in her dorm room - and me - on my couch as I watched - had the rug snatched from under us as Turtle just couldn't get over Jamie-Lynn. Fine, we'll deal with it.

Meanwhile, Ari gave a scintillating sermon on exactly why the takeover was going to be his crowning achievement. In one eloquent, fell swoop, Ari verbally processed his intent with passion and sheer contempt. This speech in a word? Let's say: enthralling. It was a fist-pumper and I did just that by the time Ari was done.

We also got to see another side of Drama in the show. I thought it was really endearing to see Drama lay down his cracked shell, reveal his inherent vulnerability and subsequently kill it in his audition. We root for him because he never gives up, but Drama never quite gets it right either. I loved Drama's laughable line re: the insistent Matt Damon..."Sorry bro, he Jason Bourne'd me!"

If this episode missed a step at all, color me the Russian judge to deduct points for that "Matt Damon aggression in the name of his charity" concept. It all felt like a square peg forced into a circular hole as Damon, Bono, (and later) Lebron James were "thrown" into the episode for cameo's sake. Fellas listen: I'm a huge fan of the three of you. You guys make great movies, music and last-second shots to win NBA games, but you have to understand one thing: you just weren't "needed" in this episode.

Speaking of needs, please ask me if I needed Sloan back on a regular basis. The answer is "si", "oui", and "yes" - I absolutely did. But, I'm not sure I needed Eric to go THAT far to keep her around. Was it admirable? Certainly. But will the "gi-normous" lock-down move he made seismically shift things for the group in upcoming shows? We shall see.

Summing it up, this final episode was delightful and I enjoyed it. It may sound cliche', but the best was indeed saved for last. The creators of the show gave us more than enough to come back for more and look forward to a seventh season. Shall I return for more "Entourage" blogs? The answer is "si", "oui" and "yes" I will, and I hope you will too.

Loved, kinda liked, or hated the finale? Let us know!

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Filed under: Entourage • television
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