October 30th, 2009
05:04 PM ET

Finding the good, two feet at a time

Anthony Edwards is committed to building the first public pediatric teaching hospital in Kenya ... indeed, in all of Africa.

How do I know?  Not just because he'll be running the New York City Marathon on Sunday, to raise money for the project, but because to promote it, the former "ER" star ventured out on a gloomy, rainy fall day in Manhattan to run around Central Park for our cameras.  Many celebrities who loudly proclaim their support for a cause would have taken one look at the weather and told their publicist to reschedule the whole thing.

But Edwards came out and stood in the rain with a smile, as he talked about how he wants to make a difference to thousands of kids.  It doesn't take a lot to make a big difference, he said: "All we have to do is shift a little bit to little places."

It makes sense that a man who walked away from a high-paying job on a hugely popular TV show would have his own unique ideas about life.  "There is so much excess in this country, said Edwards, who heard that "two thirds of the deaths of children [in Africa] are very preventable" and wanted to get involved.  He became the chairman of Shoe4Africa, an organization that started out donating shoes to African children who needed them, and is now trying to build that hospital.

To aid that cause, he's running New York, his fourth marathon, despite his promises to himself not to subject himself to another one.  So he's put in months of training runs, and now he's ready to go.  He doesn't want to predict his time, but allows that if he feels good, he may cover the 26.2 miles in under four hours.

When I asked him what he'll be doing the day after the race, his first response was simple and succinct - "moaning" - but then he laughed.  "Hopefully we'll be celebrating a really successful weekend and looking forward to the next thing."

October 30th, 2009
01:25 PM ET

Please save Jon Gosselin from himself!

From: "Showbiz Tonight" producer and mother of two

Date: October 30, 2009

Jon Gosselin is troubled. He is troubled that, “the media has accepted as true the scurrilous rumor that (he) would appear in a reality television program with Nadya Suleman” - aka Octumom. You remember her, the woman who had 8 kids! She already had 6 kids before this spectacular birth. She’s getting ready for her docu-reality show to make some cash to raise her brood of 14.

Anyway, I digress! Back to Jon Gosselin! In this brand new press release, released to, well, the universe, Jon says this “scurrilous rumor” is “utterly false”. False! Thank goodness Jon! We really hope you are keeping your word on that one, because doing a reality show with Octumom while you are trying to reconnect with your, “spiritual, more altruistic self with regular study sessions and counseling with Rabbi Shmuley Boteach” might get a little hairy!

Oops I jumped ahead! Jon’s brand new press release includes a bombshell! The reality show says he is going to change his ways! Jon says that he will publicly apologize to Kate, and his 8 kids with the help of Rabbi Boteach, at a forum inside a New York City Synagogue.

But here’s why I think Jon needs saving from himself! Once again Jon is going through public channels to do something that should be private. Jon says he wants to reconnect with his kids. Jon, it doesn’t take a rocket scientist or a Rabbi for that matter to advise you that there are easier ways to reconnect with your kids!

Get on the floor with them, roll around with them and for heaven’s sake, ask YOUR KIDS how THEY have been feeling since you and Kate called it quits! No spiritual adviser on the planet will be able to tell you how your kids are feeling! By golly, Jon! Save yourself and get back to Pennsylvania and start bonding with those adorable kids. You want them to smile?! You want them to love you?! Do yourself a favor, and dress up in some ridiculous Halloween costume and make them laugh at you because you are a fun daddy, and not because you have become a laughingstock.

October 30th, 2009
01:22 PM ET

Atlanta 'Housewives' reunion bored me

Was I the only one bored to tears with Part 1 of the "Real Housewives of Atlanta" reunion Thursday night?

Other than having the opportunity to hear from Kandi about how she's doing in the wake of A.J.'s death, the event was rather dull for me.

Perhaps it's because the "Housewives" so often bring the drama, that this season's sit down of the Georgia peaches came across as almost staid.

Kim and NeNe are cool again after Kim accused her of choking her at the mall? Really? Like reunion host Andy Cohen said, I'm not buying it.

I've gotten into it with frenemies before – though not to the extent of an alleged almost beat-down – and I can't see that all it takes is a two-and-a-half hour phone call to "clear the air" and now we are chums again.  If two people are that reasonable to start with, there never would have been that type of beef in the first place.

I know Kim and NeNe often break up to make up, but this latest incident is a tad suspect to me.

Everyone seemed like they were just so over it and couldn't be bothered to rise to  the occasion, not even when it appeared as if Cohen was baiting them.

And what's up with Big Poppa just "dropping by" during the commercial break?

October 30th, 2009
01:02 PM ET

A tale of horror: producer and reporter bare all

Producer Jack Hannah hates horror films.

October is not a month when I like to go to the movies. Hollywood's push to scare people into theaters with a slew of horror films around Halloween doesn't interest me whatsoever.

Why? I simply don't like scary movies... because, for me, they work. Horror/thriller/slashers really do scare the crap out of me. There, I said it (or wrote it). We recently interviewed Jason Reiss, a psychology professor at Wheaton College who teaches a class on horror films. He told us the reason some people "...don't like the horror movie is because they can't detach from it. They keep re-living and re-visiting the scenes. Visually they see it over and over again in their mind. So it isn't the beginning and ending experience that it is for a lot of other people." Well, I'm one of those people.

It all started when I was a kid and was forced by my peers to sit through "The Exorcist" at a friend's house late at night. We were all freaked out... but when the credits finally rolled, all my friends were somehow able to shake the vision of "Regan" doing the crab-walk up and down a staircase. I, on the other hand, had to sleep with the light on for months.

However, I cover entertainment news for CNN. And when you cover entertainment news, you're required to screen a ton of movies. For the most part, I've been able to dodge the occasional horror film land-mine... but recently, the editorial powers that be dropped a bomb on me: I was forced to go see the much-hyped thriller and box office darling "Paranormal Activity" for a network story.

Interestingly, our reporter who was assigned the story with me, Kareen Wynter, loooooooves the horror genre. It's common knowledge around our office that a good horror film on DVD makes the perfect gift for Kareen around the holidays. I was nervous and filled with anxiety on the day we had to watch "Paranormal Activity," but at least I had a trusted ally at my side who could ease my fear when the spooky stuff started jumping out on screen.

So I went with Kareen to the movie theater, curled up in a seat, did my best to get comfortable, turned off my Blackberry and did what had to be done: I watched a scary movie.

I have no desire to spoil anyone else's plans to see the film so I won't reveal any plot lines or memorable scenes... but I'll say that, for me, "Paranormal Activity" achieved its purpose: it really did scare me. I was scared, like "fall-asleep-with-the-TV-on-so-you-don't-wake-up-in-the-middle-of-the-night-in-darkness" scared.

As for Kareen? Well, I'll let her dish on her "Paranormal Activity" experience.

Entertainment Correspondent Kareen Wynter is a horror film fanatic.

OK, can I just start by saying that I think I have psychologically scarred one of my colleagues for life!

Not a good feeling at the end of my busy work week considering he’s about to become a new dad. Ok Jack, you’re off the hook when it comes to horror assignments…this season at least.

You know, I’ve given it quite a bit of thought over the years...what is it about horror, about heart pounding thriller flicks that makes my blood rush? I think the psychology professor whom Jack and I interviewed for our story said it best. You get to experience fear and danger without it actually happening. Meaning when the lights go on, hey you’re back to living life as normal. Oh, unless you’re like many movie-goers who just can’t shake those haunting images of the axe wielding murderer. What better escape could you ask for?

But for me, I think it goes a lot deeper than just the adrenaline rush… it’s actually a family affair. My mom will kill me for revealing this and trust me… she had nothing to do with this but my younger brother and I actually grew up watching horror movies together. With our eight year difference, we found ourselves constantly fighting. This was the one true hobby we shared where heck, we actually got along. Where we didn’t mind snuggling up next to each other for an hour and a half to get scared out of our minds. What better bonding opportunity?

I admit it… while the parents were asleep, we would sneak downstairs to watch movies like "Friday the 13th", "Nightmare on Elm Street", "Chucky" ... you name it. As we got older this favorite pastime stuck with us. One thing that was interesting though is we became “immune” to the typical scary movie. I won’t name names as I don’t want to hurt any feelings here but true horror junkies get BORED over time with the tame and predictable films.

This is something our psychologist also mentioned. Yes folks there is a condition for this. Horror fanatics actually try to top the last fear-filled experience. It’s like riding a rollercoaster… you don’t want to go on the same wimpy ride EVERY time. Sometimes you get disappointed since there’s no way of telling how scary a film will actually be, but you do develop a nose for them. I’m sure there are millions of horror fans out there that can relate to this.

So, now you know how much of a fan I am of these movies. You’re also well aware of the strong blood line in the family. But the big question I also get at times is do I get scared?


That’s the whole point to these films. There are times I have to sleep with the lights on…or have nightmares about a movie but this type of fear is actually a fun, exciting feeling.

It’s what keeps moviegoers going back for more. I’ve seen all the "Halloween" movies at least a hundred times. I know every ending by heart and guess what? I still have visions of Michael Myers in my mind as I make my way to the kitchen for a late night snack.

The best ones… the classic horror movies really stick with you.

So here’s to horror! Let’s just hope Hollywood keeps rolling the scary movies out so film junkies like me can continue dabbling in this fantasy of fear!

October 30th, 2009
12:43 PM ET

Your pop culture cheat sheet

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

Anthony Hopkins is joining the cast of "Thor" playing Odin, Variety reports. Norse god Odin is the father of Thor and his nemesis, Loki in the Marvel Comics adaptation. Natalie Portman was previously cast as Thor's love interest.

Don't look for Hugh Jackman at the next Oscars, Variety reports. This past year's Academy Awards host reportedly turned down the offer to return this year in the past few weeks.

Charlize Theron will star in "Mad Max: Fury Road," a reboot of the films which launched Mel Gibson's career, according to Variety. The first "Mad Max" movie in 25 years will co-star "Black Hawk Down's" Tom Hardy. It's yet to be seen if Gibson will be involved.

"American Dad" has been renewed for next season, according to The Hollywood Reporter. This means that all three Seth MacFarlane shows have been picked up for 2009-2010 by the Fox network.

October 30th, 2009
08:36 AM ET

Rock and Roll wrap up

Producer Doug Ganley blogging from backstage at Madison Square Garden where the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame concert took place Thursday night.

A long night at Madison Square Garden wrapped up close to 1:30 on Friday morning with Bruce Springsteen belting out "Born to Run" with Billy Joel.

The concert started late and the sets were pretty long.

Take Stevie Wonder who was on stage for more than an hour and told the crowd that he was there to “turn this mother out!”

There were some moments that definitely stood out for me at the end of the night.
Art Garfunkel and Paul Simon arm in arm performing some of their biggest hits. Garfunkel said backstage that he and Simon had “a lovely falling back together again,” after their long feud.
Stevie Wonder, John Legend, and BB King singing “The Thrill is Gone” definitely riled up the audience as well.
But Bruce Springsteen took the cake. He came out on stage just before midnight and played until well after 1 am.

This is not a young crowd, and I’m sure at least some of them had to be at work in the morning, but it looked like they kept the place pretty full through Bruce’s set.

They were flying when Bruce brought out Sam Moore to sing “Hold On I'm Coming.” You may not recognize Moore’s name (he's from the duo Sam & Dave) but you’ve heard his voice, which Bruce called “one of the best voices of all time.”

The crowd  got louder when the Boss was joined by John Fogerty for “Fortunate Son” and “Proud Mary.”

But the favorite moment for the New York audience came when Bruce discussed his theory of continental drift and how that separated Long Island and New Jersey.

To reunite the two, he held a “Bridge and Tunnel Summit,” with Long Island’s own Billy Joel. The term comes from how people, who live in New York City, disdainfully refer to their suburban neighbors. Everyone loved the pair singing Joel’s hit “New York State of Mind.”

As the concert wrapped up,  even the celebrities discovered that it can be tough to get out of the Garden. As I walked out I saw Shania Twain trying to get past some determined autograph seekers and into her car.

The concert will air on HBO November 29th, after it’s edited down and combined with another show starring Metallica and U2 scheduled for Friday night.

One of the persistent topics backstage was what bands will eventually wind up in the Rock Hall of Fame. So I’ll put it out to you, what acts do you think should be enshrined in the Cleveland museum?

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