October 8th, 2009
11:50 AM ET

Your pop culture cheat sheet

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

  • Tina Fey may not be done with her Emmy-winning Sarah Palin impersonation quite yet. EW.com points out that she told Harper's Bazaar, "I feel like I’ve probably not worn that wig for the last time."
  • The number one album in America is not the latest from Mariah Carey or Paramore, it's actually the latest from Barbra Streisand, according to The Hollywood Reporter. "Love is the Answer" is her ninth album to hit the top spot.
  • The Hollywood Reporter says that writer/director Gary Ross will take on a "Spider-Man" spin-off movie based on the villain Venom. So far, he's only on tap to write the screenplay, but he could end up directing as well. In "Spider-Man 3," Venom was portrayed by Topher Grace, though his character was killed at the end of the movie. Ross has directed "Spider-Man" star Tobey Maguire in "Pleasantville" and "Seabiscuit."
  • Fans are none too pleased to hear that Paul Reubens has postponed his long-awaited comeback as Pee-wee Herman, The Los Angeles Times reports. His planned stage show has changed venues in Los Angeles and been moved from January to November. One fan called it "the biggest bummer on the planet." Reubens recently appeared in character as the 1980s icon on "The Jay Leno Show."
  • CBS has picked up two of its biggest hits of the new fall season, "NCIS: Los Angeles" and "The Good Wife," Variety reports. The "NCIS" spinoff has drawn 17 million viewers per week, second only to the original series' viewership.
October 8th, 2009
11:14 AM ET

Foxx and Butler on the justice system

When you get an opportunity to sit down with Gerard Butler and Oscar winner Jamie Foxx, you don't walk. You run! And that's exactly what I did!

I was given the difficult task (cough) of interviewing both of them at the junket for their new film "Law Abiding Citizen," which opens nationwide on October 16th. I have interviewed Foxx many times before. He's always animated, and bounces in and out of character at times. But overall his interviews are definitely memorable. I'd never met Butler before, but being that he is a great actor and not bad on the eyes I was certainly looking forward to it!

I knew the interview was going to go very well when Butler answered my first question about what it was like to work with Foxx and director F. Gary Gray like this: "They loved working with me! I think it was a hugely beneficial experience for them.  No, I'm joking." Butler seemed to be in a joking mood when talking about his co-stars, but got serious when we turned the talk to his film and the justice system in America.

His character takes revenge and becomes a killer after his family is murdered and one of the killers essentially gets off because the prosecutor seeks a plea bargain. Butler confided that even though he is on the other side of law in the flick, he actually favors plea bargaining. Butler studied law back in his homeland of Scotland, and has an honors law degree and a diploma in legal practice. "There's a lot to be said for plea bargaining... in terms of saving huge resources to the legal system with unnecessary court cases."

Foxx's take on the U.S. justice system, after playing a very myopic district attorney, was a little different. He said "Plea deals are anything that you make of them. You can make any kind of plea deal you want." Since the movie can be considered as an argument against plea deals, I asked Foxx what he wanted audiences to take away from the film, and he was brief, funny and to the point: "All I can tell you is this, don't ever go to jail. Don't go to jail because you will be sitting behind somebody braiding somebody's hair."

Enough said. Gotta love Foxx for keeping it real with humor!

October 8th, 2009
09:48 AM ET

Sardines in a can and the Kardashians

Apparently to “Keep up with the Kardashians” I need to learn to squeeze myself into an extremely tight space and wait for two hours.

Wednesday night, the Kardashian ladies hosted an opening for “Famous Cupcakes,” an organic and kosher cupcake shop in Beverly Hills. The ladies made a grand entrance on a carriage drawn by white horses about two hours after the event was scheduled to start. All the while, about every imaginable media outlet waited patiently with more than enough space on the sidewalk of Beverly Drive – NOT. On most nights I can’t believe what an awesome job I have – tonight was not one of those nights.

The media coverage for the Kardashians' red carpet arrival felt like the President was coming into town. All that attention also meant very little space for every one of us there. I have been in the middle of a mosh pit twice in my life, once at college concert, the second time was tonight. I actually think sardines in a can have more room than I did. Cameras from various crews were resting on my head and shoulder.  Heels were dug into my toes and someone actually used my back as a desk to write on. All this so I could ask Kim, Kourtney, and Khloe Kardashian and Kris Jenner why they liked “Famous Cupcakes” for two whole minutes.

However, according to Kim Kardashian, “Hate is the new love” so apparently I must be head over heels in love with tonight’s event.

October 8th, 2009
09:29 AM ET

Chatting with the Jedi Master

There are, I must admit, some very cool aspects to my job.  Like being able to pick up my BlackBerry and tap out the following Facebook status update: "David just finished chatting with George Lucas.  Nice guy."

George Lucas called "Star Wars in Concert" a way to introduce young people to symphonic music.

The occasion was the first Los Angeles performance of "Star Wars In Concert," a touring show with a full orchestra, recut clips from all six films shown on a massive screen, a laser light show, and Anthony "C3PO" Daniels providing live narration.  Fans at the first performances, last weekend in Anaheim, gave it good reviews.  I only got to see the first few minutes, before the press was ushered out, but the "pre-show" interview more than made up for it.

Lucas was relaxed and friendly - though, as a friend noted, if I'd created the most popular and profitable franchise in history, I'd probably be relaxed and friendly too.  He enthused about the show, praised its producers, and recalled fondly how "Steve" Spielberg had insisted more than 30 years ago that John Williams was the only person who could give "Star Wars" the music it needed.  For this show really is about the music - scenes from all six films have been recut around the themes of the score.

"It's very powerful," said Lucas, who insisted repeatedly that others deserved the credit for the production.  "I was completely surprised by it, and I've seen other live orchestra performances with 'Star Wars' images, but nothing like this - I mean, this really works, because it was edited specifically to bring out the emotion."  He also grew enthusiastic when discussing how many "Star Wars" fans, especially kids, might be experiencing a live orchestra for the first time: "We call it the alternative to 'Peter and the Wolf,' in terms of introducing young people to symphonic music."

We talked for seven or eight minutes, and then he had to move on - naturally, everyone wanted to talk with George Lucas.  This was a special night and a special crowd: how often does the "THX music" receive an ovation?

October 8th, 2009
09:00 AM ET

Dancers face the axe in Las Vegas

It was a brutal beginning to the Las Vegas callbacks last night on "So You Think You Can Dance," as many a favorite from the auditions were sent packing, cutting 152 dancers down to 77 by the end of the show.

Vegas judges

Thomas Hamilton, who had one of the more memorable stories - wanting to find a better life outside his small hometown of Scottsdale, Georgia - was one of the first to get cut after forgetting his routine. In desperation, he proceeded to climb up some metal bars on the side of the stage. We didn't have to hear it from executive producer/judge Nigel Lythgoe to know he was on his way out.

Partners Willem DeVries and Jacob Jason were also split up by the end of the first day in Vegas, with Willem having to go it alone. After one day, 41 dancers were already out of the competition.

Hip-hop choreographers Tabitha and Napoleon taught the dancers a routine but some who showed promise early on struggled to follow it. B-boy Jean Lloret, who prompted screams of amazement from the judges in Boston, just couldn't keep up with choreography and was soon sent home. The sister of season five's Caitlin, Megan, also got cut, something many viewers probably didn't catch thanks to rapid-fire editing.

Billy Bell took an unfortunate elbow to the nose while practicing his routine and missed crucial rehearsal time while recovering offstage. Thanks to a quick cramming session from his partner, however, he made it through to the next round. Not so lucky, however, were Teddy Tedholm, best known for his outrageous pants, "New Orleans bouncer" Shelby "Skip" Skipper and John Litzler who failed to survive a "dance-for-your-life" solo.

Finally, there was the unkindest cut of all, Ryan Kasprzak, whose tap-dancing and choreography skills earned him (and his brother, Evan) a big fan-base over the last couple of seasons. He showed early signs of struggling through the hip-hop routine and Nigel theorized that he hadn't kept up with rehearsing over the months that his brother was on the show. Sadly, he wasn't much better at picking up the ballroom choreography, and with a heavy heart, the judges said goodbye to him.

It's going to be tough going through a Kasprzak-less season six, but I still have hope that a tapper might make it through to the top 20, plus contemporary dancer Nathan Trasoras, married ballroom dancers Ryan and Ashleigh Di Lello, and humorous ballet dancer Ellenore Scott all still appear to be in the running.

Were you heartbroken to see Ryan get eliminated, or have you had enough Kasprzak for one season? Who are you looking for to make the top 20?

October 8th, 2009
08:43 AM ET

Vaughn sacrifices for 'Couples Retreat'

Vince Vaughn, Jason Bateman, Kristen Bell and Malin Akerman talk with CNN about their new comedy "Couples Retreat." The movie opens across the U.S. on Friday, October 9 and is rated PG-13.

Filed under: movies
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Our daily cheat-sheet for breaking celebrity news, Hollywood buzz and your pop-culture obsessions.