November 17th, 2009
04:00 PM ET

Brad and Angelina bring the bling

Now you can buy some bling designed by your favorite boldfacers: New jewelry lines created by celebrities like Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie and Alicia Keys are set to debut this month.

Fans looking to own a small piece of the Brangelina lifestyle can head to Asprey boutiques worldwide where a limited-edition jewelry line designed by the famous couple goes on sale later this week.

The collection, dubbed “The Protector” line after the snake motifs gracing the accessories, is going on sale in stores in London, New York, Tokyo, Beverly Hills and Dubai and features a limited number of gold, platinum and gem-studded jewelry, as well as sterling gifts all bearing snake motifs.

A serpent ring given to Jolie while she was pregnant with her daughter Shiloh, 3, inspired the line. She has since considered the snake symbol to be a protector of her family, according to WWD magazine.

Brad and Angelina have been at work on the line for over a year. Prices for the pieces start at $525 for a silver baby spoon with a serpent-shaped handle.

All proceeds will be donated to the Education Partnership for Children of Conflict, a charity which raises awareness and funds to educate child victims of war, conflict and natural disasters that Jolie co-founded in 2006.

Brad and Angie aren’t the only celebrities to jump on the jewelry bandwagon. For fans of celebrity-designed jewelry who are wary of breaking the bank, Alicia Keys is entering the accessories business as CEO  of “The Barber’s Daughters,” a jewelry line of handcrafted pieces made from precious metals and gems inscribed with inspirational messages.

The “Empire State of Mind” singer will debut her collection with designer Gisele Theriault at the Collette Blanchard Gallery in Manhattan next week.

“Alicia and I have reached this point where we seem to be able to finish each other’s sentences quite easily in design and at the moment we are learning the fine art of communicating over the phone to design the line for next year,” said Theriault, who was introduced to the singer at a concert in 2008.

Keys has so far only designed one piece for Barber’s Daughters, a sterling silver set of dog chains inscribed with a quote from Gandhi, but is expected to fully collaborate on all design efforts with Theriault for the 2010 collection. Keys said she was instantly smitten with Theriault’s designs and philosophy of inspiration.

“When I went in to meet her, I fell in love with the individuality of the pieces she showed me, but more than that, the words that were written on them really resonated with the songwriter in me and I knew at that moment for the first time that through a whole other medium I would be able to spread a message of inspiration,” Keys said.

A portion of the proceeds from each of the dog tag sales will benefit the Keep a Child Alive charity, which is dedicated to providing life-saving AIDS and HIV treatment for children.

November 17th, 2009
03:21 PM ET

Your pop culture cheat sheet

Rachel McAdams
Rachel McAdams

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

Disney's "Captain Nemo," a new version of "20,000 Leagues Under the Sea," won't be going forward, Variety reports. McG was attached to direct and will now tackle other projects.

Rachel McAdams, shown above, has shot down rumors that she will play the character Black Cat in "Spider-Man 4," reports. The sequel is planned for a 2011 release.

Tony Danza is still teaching, and took his class on a tour of Washington, according to The Washington Post. His experiences will be part of an upcoming A&E reality show.

Anna Faris has been cast as Robin Williams' daughter in the romantic comedy, "Wedding Banned," The Hollywood Reporter says. Williams' character will try to keep his daughter from making the same mistakes in marriage that he did.

New music out today from 50 Cent, Justin Bieber, Leona Lewis, John Mayer, OneRepublic, Norah Jones and a collection of "Number Ones" from Janet Jackson.

And on DVD today: sci-fi smash "Star Trek," "Borat" follow-up "Bruno," Cameron Diaz in "My Sister's Keeper" and the 70th anniversary edition of "Gone with the Wind" on Blu-Ray.

November 17th, 2009
10:53 AM ET

'Genius' or exploitation?

Mark Burnett
Mark Burnett

I'm not a fan of children on reality shows. Programs like "Wife Swap" and "Supernanny" make me cringe at the way young children are portrayed, while TLC's soon-to-depart "Jon and Kate Plus 8" makes childhood look like a full-time job with the addition of a production crew and paparazzi following you everywhere.

The latest show that appears to be following this path is Fox's just-announced game show "Our Little Genius," which is expected to premiere sometime next year.

According to Fox, the show will feature gifted children between the ages of 6-12 answering increasingly difficult questions on a specific topic. The show's "gimmick" is that the child's parents can choose to walk away with whatever Junior won at any time.

That's not a gimmick. Several game shows have had special "kids weeks," and many of those games required the parents to participate in situations where the child risked his/her winnings. I'm not sure if this is for legal or rational reasons, but it's certainly not an original concept.

The problem here is that Fox is making this the hallmark of the show. Watching parents make decisions on life-changing money based on whether Junior can recite a certain Shakespeare soliloquy doesn't sound like interesting television to me.

Mark Burnett, shown above, whose production company is behind the show, has been quoted as saying "Our Little Genius" is a show that celebrates what makes these kids special.  Honoring children for academic excellence should be encouraged, but doing it in such a manner reeks of child exploitation.

Burnett is responsible for another child-theme game show, "Are You Smarter Than a Fifth Grader?" While I have issues with "5th Grader," at least the show is presented in a TV-friendly way. Adult contestants and the child helpers are friendly and root each other on, host Jeff Foxworthy is generally cordial to everyone on stage, and the questions are at a difficulty level that allows people to play along at home.  It's a show for the entire family - something hard to find on TV these days.

Maybe it's me, but the idea of 9-year-olds reciting pi to the 70th digit with $200,000 on the line makes for boring television. Add to that the alleged "gimmick" of watching parents decide whether Junior is good enough and smart enough to go all the way to the top, and you have yourself a game show that could take the genre back a few steps.

I'll probably watch at least one episode of "Our Little Genius" - I have an open mind - but I doubt I'll be watching again.

What do you think of this show?  Is it a harmless game show or child exploitation?

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Filed under: television
November 17th, 2009
09:21 AM ET

Remembering game show host Ken Ober

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It was a tremendously busy work day, even for a Monday, but seeing the news that Ken Ober had died stopped me in my tracks.  I'm just one of millions who remember him as the host of MTV's "Remote Control," but I may be the only person who appeared on two of his game shows.

Some of you may be too young to remember – or believe – this,  but back in 1987, MTV actually played music videos.  Lots of them.  But it was starting to branch out into other kinds of programs, and one of the first was "Remote Control."  The premise was that Ken was such a TV geek that he'd set up his own game show in his mother's basement.  Three college kids were strapped into recliners, handed prop remote controls, and asked goofy questions from such categories as "Dead or Canadian?" and "Sing Along With Colin" [Quinn].  At the end of the game, the top scorer was strapped to a Craftmatic Adjustable Bed and had to identify the artist in as many music videos as possible in 30 seconds.  (I'm not sure what all of the being strapped to furniture was about, but hey, the show ran for five years, so they must have been doing something right.)

That first season, MTV came to my New England college for tryouts, and I was one of the students selected.  I had no idea what the show was about, as our dorms weren't yet wired for cable, but who wouldn't have jumped at the chance?  On show taping day, I hopped a shuttle flight to New York, headed for the studio, and soon found myself in "the basement."

I made it to the Craftmatic, though not having seen any music videos in a few months hurt me in the final round.  And I had fun, mostly because of Ken, who seemed to be the perfect low-budget game show host: he was friendly, told bad jokes, and kept the game moving.  He appeared to be having a blast, and that attitude carried over to the rest of the show staff and the players.

Jump ahead 14 years: I was out in Los Angeles, and heard about a new game show, "Smush," in which players combined clues to come up with answers.  For instance, "Chinese martial art + Japanese folding bed" would be "kung futon."  The wordplay seemed right up my alley, so I tried out, made the show... and discovered the host was Ken Ober.  When I told him on the set that I'd been on "Remote Control," he was delighted – and relieved that I didn't expect him to remember me from one taping of a show he'd done for five seasons more than a decade ago.

I had better luck on "Smush," winning the grand prize: $8,000.  (Hey, the show aired after midnight on USA network; it wasn't exactly "Millionaire," or even "$25,000 Pyramid.")  It was a lot of fun, and once again, Ober was a great host.  He marveled at the trickier wordplay, made all of the players feel good regardless of the score, and cracked more bad jokes, making the audience laugh with his reaction if the joke itself didn't draw guffaws.

Taping a game show takes very little time: not much more than the half-hour of the program's running time.  But those two half-hours, out of the hundreds of thousands of hours of my life, are extremely fond memories – memories that will now be somewhat bittersweet.  Thanks for the fun, Ken.

November 17th, 2009
03:01 AM ET

"Twi-hards" howl for the premiere of "New Moon"

On Monday night, I covered the Los Angeles premiere of "The Twilight Saga: New Moon" at the Mann Village Theater near UCLA... and before arriving, I had a pretty good idea of what to expect: screaming fans, posters of a shirtless Taylor Lautner; homemade signs with Robert Pattinson's name in glitter; tight security; etc. But when my photojournalist Chris Audick and I arrived, we were still amazed. Thousands of dedicated "Twi-hards" flooded the streets of Westwood, and they would not stop screaming. Even hours before any of the cast members arrived, loud shrieks, reminiscent of those black and white films of Beatles performances, could be heard from pretty much anywhere.

I had heard reports from local media of adoring fans camping out DAYS before the actual premiere – not to get tickets for the movie, but instead to hopefully get a glimpse of "Bella," "Jacob," or even "Edward."

It turns out those reports were right.

"I love all of this," said Tria Simpson, who came all the way from Minneapolis, Minnesota and had camped out since Friday. "You just feel all the excitement... and the craziness in the air. I'm sucking it all up."

Simpson says she and her friends played "Twilight" trivia games to keep themselves busy while anticipating Monday's festivities.

Another woman from Paso Robles, California, says she made sure her kids were safely home from school last Friday, then hopped in the car for a four-hour drive to Los Angeles. She even got a front row position at the premiere, where she could show off a drawing her five-year-old daughter made of "Edward" and "Bella."

"I think it's a great love story, it's amazing, I think everybody wants it – I'm married and I try to incorporate it into my marriage," she said.

Witnessing all of this was exciting... but it was nothing new for me. After all, I did cover the "Twilight" premiere last fall. As it turns out, I wasn't alone.

Dawn Sirtack of Los Angeles, who was wearing a large button of a steely-eyed "Edward" on her chest, says she was also at last year's premiere, and could hardly control herself this time around.

"We've been out since about Thursday morning... and we've got the best seat in the house."

Check out iReport video of the pandemonium at the premiere.

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