November 5th, 2009
02:47 PM ET

Oprah on her "OWN?" Not just yet...

An article posted on Hollywood scoop specialist Nikki Finke's claims that Oprah Winfrey will leave her syndicated talk show in 2011 and move it to her cable network, OWN (the Oprah Winfrey Network).

But the "Queen of Media" isn't going anywhere, according to Winfrey's Harpo Productions... at least not yet.

"She has not made a decision yet," reads a statement to CNN from Harpo Productions. "As she has previously stated, she'll be making an announcement before the end of the year."

So it sounds like a change is coming... we just don't know when. Or where: according to Finke, the move would involve the show being produced in Los Angeles, not its longtime home in Chicago.

That said, if Oprah decides to make a move... how will it affect her show? Will fans still watch?

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!

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?

August 27th, 2009
03:53 PM ET

John Mayer, it's time to pay up...

Way back in May of 2001, John Mayer was arrested in Georgia for driving without a license, but that's hardly news.

john mayer

What IS news, however, is that a mugshot was taken of the Grammy-winning singer/songwriter... a mug shot that has been rather elusive... until now. posted the coveted Mayer photo Thursday afternoon. So why is this eight-year-old mug so compelling? Here's the backstory:

Wednesday Fall Out Boy singer Patrick Stump was arrested in Los Angeles for driving without a license and later released on $15,000 bail. Thursday, Jon Mayer tweeted that he was arrested for the same offense as Stump and  posted the following message on his Twitter page to's Harvey Levin:

"Challenge: if Harvey Levin at TMZ can produce my mugshot, I will donate 25k to the charity of his choice."

Well, TMZ delivered... and it sounds like the celebrity website is serious about making Mayer deliver on his challenge. The website wants to donate the cash to an animal charity... saying they're close to saving a puppy's life.

Do you think Mayer will cough up the cash?

August 14th, 2009
01:00 PM ET

Samuel L. Jackson goes "Ezekiel"

Samuel L. Jackson had a problem on the red carpet Thursday at a cancer fundraiser in Beverly Hills. No, not with any members of the press. Instead, the "Snakes on a Plane" star was a little perturbed with what we'll call his red carpet handler.


First, a little background for those unfamiliar with arrival line etiquette. Often times at red carpet events, stars are accompanied by someone with public relations credentials who escorts them down the line from interview to interview. For members of the press, these PR humming birds are, at times, a nuisance.

They often ask us to "limit the interviews to two questions, please" or whisk their talent away saying, "gotta go, sorry guys." Some less-experienced handlers can be found standing right in front of their assigned mega-stars when our photographers are trying to shoot some much-needed and ever-so-valuable video. There are events when a star will have their personal publicist with them – and this publicist more often than not has a close relationship with their client.

At this event, however, Mr. Jackson's personal publicist was nowhere to be seen on the carpet, and it was more like seeing Mr. Jackson with Patrick Wilson in "Lakeview Terrace" instead of John Travolta in "Pulp Fiction."

After the first interview, the handler in question apparently got a little too close for comfort to Samuel L... causing the actor to channel the on-screen persona that's made him the subject of hundreds of homemade YouTube videos.

"You're about to make me say M***** F*****," Jackson said to the humbled handler. "I mean for real."

It's important to note here that Mr. Jackson wasn't screaming at the top of his lungs, like in the famous courtroom scene in "A Time To Kill" or the fast food stick-up scenario in "Coming to America." He even had a sly grin on his face... but with that commanding voice, there was no mistaking his meaning. During Jackson's interview with CNN, the handler kept his distance.

About five or six interviews later, that thundering voice returned. "MAN, WHO ARE YOU?!?!?"

Any movie fan can recognize that voice and its meaning.

But you have to tip your hat to the handler in question... the guy kept his cool and managed to save some face despite laughter from members of the press.

Whether or not Jackson was completely serious during this handler heckling remains to be seen... but anyone who's seen "Snakes on a Plane" should know when "ENOUGH IS ENOUGH!!"

August 4th, 2009
01:27 PM ET

TWITTER WAR! Travis Barker vs. Perez Hilton

It's on. Blink 182 drummer Travis Barker and celebrity blogger Perez Hilton are trading blows... not face to face, or even verbally. The two have been battling it out Tuesday on Twitter.

We aren't able to determine what sparked the blow-by-blow, but it's clear that Barker and Hilton (whose real name is Mario Lavandeira) are not afraid to sling insults. We can't re-print their exchanges word-for-word - we try to be a family-friendly website - but here are a few examples from their cyber-confrontation:

–Travis Barker: "Anybody have that footage of Perez getting his (expletive) kicked a month ago? i think he forgot the right time to shut his mouth?"
Moments later...

–Perez Hilton: "Your kids must be SO PROUD of you right now! See, I can go below the belt too."

Want more? Check out what Hilton tweeted about the relationship between Barker and ex-wife Shanna Moakler:

–Perez Hilton: "How are you making the situation with your kids better by going to war with Shanna through Twitter? THINK about it!"

Hilton's low blow was a response to Barker's harsh attack:


Twitter: your ringside seat to celebrity screaming matches. Whose side are you on? Have you witnessed any "Twitter wars"?

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