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Downton Abbey’s Maggie Smith: the Dowager Countess and Great Quips

Thu, 2/26/2015 10:57 AM

I’ll admit it—like many people throughout the world, I’m a huge Downton Abbey fan. My favorite character? For someone who loves comedy as much as I do, it would have to be the Violet Crawley, Dowager Countess of Grantham, played by the brilliant Maggie Smith.

Without a doubt, she has the absolute best lines in the show. But it’s not just the words she says that make her character funny; it’s also how she delivers them.

As you’ll see in many of the clips that follow, Smith has perfect comedic timing. She’s greatly skilled at looking uncomfortable, smug, amused, and befuddled when necessary. She’s also fantastic at doing double takes.

Sadly, for many fans on this side of the pond, this season of Downton Abbey is coming to a close. (Does anyone else wish that the British series would have more than nine episodes a season?)

In the meantime, and until it comes around again next year, console yourself with these memorable moments from Downton Abbey—some of the Dowager Countess’ greatest quips.

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Categories: Entertainment

The Daily Cute: March Towards Spring (Part 1)

Thu, 2/26/2015 10:48 AM

February has been an incredibly cold, snowy, and icy month for most of the country–but it’s almost over. So, I decided to pack these last two posts of February with all the adorable, awww-inspiring, and grassy photos you’ll need to make it to March and to march toward spring. Launch the gallery to see the first installment.

Click here to see “Under the C-U-T-E” and check back every weekday for a new Daily Cute!

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Categories: Entertainment

Angela Bassett Opens Up About Aging

Thu, 2/26/2015 10:09 AM

Angela Bassett, Rob Lowe, Maggie Gyllenhaal, and Maria Shriver are just a few celebrities that are part of a new campaign to raise awareness about long-term care planning.

And for Bassett, it’s personal.

She may still look as sensational as she did playing the lead in “How Stella Got Her Groove Back,” but the actress has faced her own aging and caregiving issues.

When Bassett’s mother began to have health complications, they discussed her long-term care desires. As her mother’s health deteriorated, though, the discussions became harder and her mother avoided making some hard choices. Bassett was happy that she could give her mother the care she wanted in an assisted living facility, but admits that more planning may have made things easier. Her mother passed away in June at the age of 78.

“It highlighted, for me, the importance of this issue. Of having a conversation and of about long-term care planning,” said Bassett, who this year directed the film “Whitney,” which is about the late Whitney Houston.

Bassett is urging all people to discuss long-term care planning as part of Genworth’s “Let’s Talk Now” campaign.

Genworth hopes some star-studded endorsements will get people discussing long-term care needs, which go beyond simply having health care. In fact, the cost of care, whether in home or at a living facility, can be as high as $87,000 per year or more.

Long-term care insurance is growing in popularity—and it’s something that more than 90 percent of American adults do not have. It’s not the only tool for long-term care planning, hence the campaign.

The conversation isn’t always easy to bring up, but it can put everyone on the same page and ensure an individual’s wishes are carried out. For instance, some people may want to be cared for in facilities while others want in-home care. Not everyone may need care, either, but it’s good to have some sort of plan in place. That begins with a talk.

And it’s important to speak with older relatives about their plans, instead of dictating what works best for you, she added.

With 59 percent of Americans uncomfortable speaking with their families about long-term care, Bassett hopes the video will start a dialog. Being aware of the need for long-term care plans is essential, she added.

“We are excited to collaborate with such a talented and well-respected group of celebrities to remind families across the country that it’s never too early to talk about long-term care planning,” said Tom McInerney, Genworth’s President and CEO. “Through this video, we hope that the compelling words from Angela, Jim, Maggie, Maria, Rob and Zachary will encourage Americans to take the initiative to have ‘the talk’ and put a long term care plan in place.”

 

Kristen Fischer is the author of “Ramen Noodles, Rent and Resumes: An After-College Guide to Life.” Connect with her on Twitter.

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Categories: Entertainment

Jadium – February 26

Thu, 2/26/2015 6:00 AM

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Categories: Entertainment

Bias in the News

Thu, 2/26/2015 5:00 AM

Gabria Kramer in Cary, North Carolina, writes:

Many news organizations are biased. The bias in not only in the way they report the news, but also in their selection of which news to report and even the order in which they present the news items. I have friends who are liberal and friends who are conservative, and they prefer to get their news from news outlets that match their political persuasions. I think this biased news reinforces their beliefs while excluding other points of view. What are your thoughts on this subject?

Marilyn responds:

I think the result is even worse: Biased news unwittingly encourages continual civil conflict. To help promote realistic thinking, I suggest getting one’s news from multiple high-quality sources. As for me, I read a liberal daily newspaper, and I watch a conservative channel for televised news. 

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Categories: Entertainment

Numbrix 9 – February 26

Wed, 2/25/2015 7:00 PM
Categories: Entertainment

Showbiz Analysis with Steve Harvey

Wed, 2/25/2015 2:32 PM

I’m a firm believer that the best success stories always involve giving back to others. So I was thrilled when Emmy Award-winning television host, bestselling author, and popular radio personality Steve Harvey joined me on my podcast Whine At 9 to discuss his multidimensional career, theories of success, and his upcoming conference designed to help others achieve success.

Steve Harvey is no stranger to incredible successes, but he’s also the first to admit that his life hasn’t been all accolades. The popular comedian, acclaimed host of the game show Family Feud, as well as hit radio and talk shows, also recognizes that his career, and more recent focus on motivating others, weren’t part of his original mental blueprint. Says Harvey, “I think that I’ve had the life I’ve had, with all of its ups and downs, missteps, and failures. And at the time, when it was happening to me, all these mishaps and failures– I wasn’t understanding it totally. But I get it now. I needed everything that happened in my life, in the exact order that it happened in, in order for me to be who I am today and to be able to sit here, and share with people my experiences, and how I ended up getting over. How I got back up. How I reinvented myself. How I went from the bottom to close to the front.”

In many ways, surviving in Hollywood helped Harvey understand the nuances of perseverance and strategy. Explains the successful talk show host, “Look, Hollywood will swallow you up and spit you out. Hollywood is not a kind place. First of all, you have to understand the basis of Hollywood is fake. It’s fake. It’s make believe. Now you’ve got to be a super-grounded person to go out of there and still be okay, like a Harrison Ford or someone like that…..But if you go to Hollywood, you’ve got to understand that it’s not real….And the moment you’re not producing in Hollywood, they’re done with you.”

Are there lessons in Hollywood that translate to the “real world” most of us live in? Harvey thinks so. “If you’re not hot anymore, they don’t take your phone calls anymore. That’s the reality of Hollywood. Well, that’s the reality of life too though. And when you come from Hollywood and you see it on a more escalated scale– you know, I get to see it up close and on a much larger scale. But that’s how life is. You know, your job is your job, and it’s fine, you work for a company as long as they’re making money…Hollywood is more obvious, because you don’t see the people on screen anymore. You don’t see them on TV. You don’t see their names rolling on the bottom of the credits. But in real life, the same things happen.”

Harvey shared his success strategies in his bestselling book Act Like A Success, Think Like A Success, and plans to do it again, this time in person, at his Act Like A Success Conference, March 6-8, 2015. His mission? “To share with people who are going through those same things [I went through]. And show them some of the tactics that I used to start over again. To show them some tactics that I used to get back up, to overcome, to win. And those principles of success can be applied to anybody, in any situation, if you care to choose them.”

One of the things that Harvey believes evades most people, is the recognition of success. “You’ve got to understand, the road to success is always under construction. There is no smooth route to success. Stop thinking that. Stop expecting it to be. Every time you think it’s right around the corner, it is around the corner. But there’s always something around the corner too. It’s another barrel. It’s another detour sign. You’ve just got to keep going around the corners. See what people don’t look at is– they measure success by their arrival. What you don’t understand is (that) every time you turn a corner and you get a little closer, that’s success. That’s a measure of success,” emphasizes Harvey.

It’s clear that Steve Harvey is happy with this chapter of his life. Says Harvey, “My life is as good as it’s ever been. I think the biggest part of that is my wife. You know, the woman that I found…has been the biggest component and the biggest factor…and it became a game-changer for me. And so, my family is everything to me…my career is off the chain. And you know, I’m living a life far beyond what I dreamed about. I mean, who get’s to do that? And the incredible thing about it is, I mean, there’s even more yet to come…that’s what keeps me very excited about waking up every day.”

Find out more about Steve Harvey’s ‘Act Like A Success Conference’ here.

Listen to Nancy’s interview with Steve Harvey here, on iTunes, or Stitcher Radio.

Nancy Berk, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist, author, comic and entertainment analyst. The host of the showbiz podcast Whine At 9, Nancy digs a little deeper as she chats with fascinating celebrities and industry insiders. Her book College Bound and Gagged: How to Help Your Kid Get into a Great College Without Losing Your Savings, Your Relationship, or Your Mind can be seen in the feature film Admission starring Tina Fey and Paul Rudd.

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Categories: Entertainment

The Daily Cute: Under the C-U-T-E

Wed, 2/25/2015 11:43 AM

I’m taking some liberties with the theme of today’s post because while I’ve included fish and jellyfish and crabs and snails, I also included some turtles which may or may not enjoy the ocean and a baby snake which I really hope doesn’t. Launch the gallery to see some adorable creatures you don’t get to see everyday.

Click here to see “It’s Tricky” and check back every weekday for a new Daily Cute!

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Categories: Entertainment

See the Photo: Eddie Redmayne and Prince William at School Together

Wed, 2/25/2015 9:19 AM

The line-up in a photo of a boys’ school society seems innocuous enough on first glance (except for those waistcoats, perhaps)—but it’s a line-up that happens to include the future king of England, and 2015’s winner of the Best Actor Oscar.

This photograph of Prince William and Eddie Redmayne during their schooldays at Eton has been making the internet rounds in the run-up to Eddie being presented with an Oscar for his portrayal of Stephen Hawking in The Theory of Everything.

Taken in 2000, the photograph depicts the exclusive society at Eton known as ‘Pop’, of which both William and Eddie were members.

The two were also on the same rugby team; recalling those days recently, Eddie said, “I always felt slightly sorry for [William] because everyone wanted to tackle the future king of England. He took all the hits.”

He went on to add, “I’m pretty sure Will was more intimidating than I was. I don’t think I intimidated anyone in my life. I haven’t seen him since school, but he was a lovely man.”

It’s been claimed that Eddie may have royal connections of his own—this time in relation to the Duke of Cambridge’s wife. Researchers have revealed that Kate Middleton’s great-great-great-grandfather and Eddie’s great-grandfather worked in the same coal mine in County Durham.

“I am fully aware that I am a lucky, lucky man,” said Eddie in his Oscar acceptance speech, claiming that the award belongs to “all of those people around the world battling ALS” and to the Hawking family. “I will be its custodian. I promise you I will look after him.”

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Categories: Entertainment

Jonathan Knight Faces The Blind Unknown of The Amazing Race Season 26

Wed, 2/25/2015 8:59 AM

As one of the newest kids to hit the race-around-the-world block known as The Amazing Race, singer and performer Jonathan Knight knows a thing or two about pressure — and that notion’s about to be put to the test as he competes in the 26th season of the Emmy-winning reality competition series.

Knight is joined by boyfriend Harley Rodriguez on season 26 of The Amazing Race, premiering tonight (February 25). The new season pits 11 teams of dating couples against each other, but there’s a catch: Five of the couples have never met before. Six established relationships, versus five blind-dates, meeting for the very first time just as the race begins. No pressure, right?

Does Knight feel he has an advantage entering the race with a longtime partner? And why on Earth would the New Kids on the Block veteran sign on for such a stressful competition, given his public history with panic attacks? Turns out, that’s exactly why Knight wanted to compete — or, at least, one of the biggest reasons.

I spoke with Knight and Rodriguez about why they signed up, how they prepared, their greatest fears, their thoughts on the new twist, and why each episode of The Amazing Race should be six hours. (Hey, you’d watch it, wouldn’t you?)

How did The Amazing Race come together for you guys? Were you fans of the show, or were you approached?

Jonathan Knight: I’m a huge fan of the show. Harley’s a fan, too, but I was more of the die-hard fan. For the last few seasons, I kept calling casting, trying to get on the show. My tour schedule just never synced with their filming schedule. For the last three seasons, it was a no go, and then this year, I got a phone call and they said they were doing couples this season, and it would be perfect to have us. It just so happens that my schedule is clear this year, so everything worked out perfect.

What were your reasons for wanting to compete? What was the draw of going from fan watching at home to racing around the world?

Knight: Oh, man. [Laughs] It is just the most … it’s everything you would never do in your every day life.

Harley Rodriguez: Yeah, it’s just so action-packed. You’re constantly going and going and going and going. It’s an adventure. It’s awesome. I love adventure and I love traveling and doing crazy things. And it’s all about the unknown. By watching the show, nobody knows what they’re going to do and where they’re going next. It’s kind of like letting go and going with it.

Obviously, you guys are big fans of each other. Of course! But embarking on an adventure like this, were you at all worried about what the stress of The Amazing Race could do to your relationship?

Rodriguez: Oh, we knew we would be testy. We knew we’d snap at each other and stuff. That happens in real life. You hear stories about couples breaking up after being on Amazing Race. My feeling is, it wasn’t the race that broke them up; they were already on the verge of breaking up. We knew [fighting] would happen, and it did happen. At the moment, you’ll be like, “You suck!” But ten minutes later, before you know it, it was just in the moment. He doesn’t really suck. He’s the best thing in the world.

How did you prepare for Amazing Race?

Rodriguez: You have to watch the show ahead of time. And you can physically prepare for it. Mentally, some things… it’s about all of the knowledge you have. You never know what it’s going to be like before you start. It’s all unknown. There’s tests of strength and mental stability. You have to kind of just go with the flow. As long as you’re open to the unknown, you’ll be surprised at what you can do.

Knight: Before we even started, we would watch episodes on TV. We would say, “If that challenge comes up, who would do it?” We knew who would be better at doing certain things.

Rodriguez: Once you start watching the challenges on TV, I would be thinking, “Oh, I can do that, and that, and that.” I was memorizing capitals of countries in case that came up. There are things you can prepare for from watching the past shows.

Knight: But then you start the race and 90% of that goes out the window. [Laughs]

I can imagine. It’s interesting, because you have to be strong, you have to be smart, you have to be resourceful… but so much relies on luck, too. If you get the wrong taxi driver, you’re finished.

Knight: I think Bertram van Munster, the producer and creator, pretty much said it best: The Amazing Race really mimics life. You do the best you can do and you keep moving forward, but you never know what’s around the corner. You never know what cards you’re going to be dealt. We kind of felt that a lot of times. You just do the best you can do and keep pushing forward and hope for the best.

Some people who compete on The Amazing Race are just there for the adventure, hoping to meet new people, make friends, get as far as they can by playing a noble game. And then there are others who are all too happy to U-Turn their rivals, and be as manipulative as they can to get ahead in the race. What was your philosophy entering the race this season, as far as how far you were willing to roll up your sleeves?

Knight: We weren’t trying to be [expletive], but there are times when you have to be an [expletive]. Everybody is in this to win it. You can’t always be Mr. Nice Guy. But there are times when maybe you don’t have to U-Turn somebody. You don’t have to be a jerk. But there are times you have to pull out all the stops. It’s every man for themselves out there.

Rodriguez: Yeah, that’s one of the first things that came up. We all had a little bit of downtime where we all got to meet each other. Of course, we went through talks like, “Alright, no U-Turns, no nothing.” But you never know if someone is going to be like, “Alright, I’m going to U-Turn these people.” Until we watch it, we won’t know who did what to who. It’ll be interesting.

Jonathan, how do you think your experience traveling the world and performing with New Kids on the Block helped you out on Amazing Race, if you think it helped you out at all?

Knight: I think my traveling experience helped. I think a lot of people in America don’t leave America. I’ve had experience traveling around and getting to know other cultures. I think some people can go to another country and be intimidated by that culture and not feel comfortable, and stuff like that. But I’m so well-traveled. We’d go to some strange country, and I’d seen it all. It wasn’t like a shock to me at all.

Did you ever feel like you could lean on your fame for any of these challenges? Break out some New Kids classics for the people on the street?

Knight: Ah, I don’t know… [Laughs] I’m the most humble person so I don’t think I could do that. I probably would if I really had to, but before [the season] I never thought about pulling that card, no.

What were some of your biggest fears going into Amazing Race? As you said, you knew there would be moments of tension between you. Beyond that, what were your concerns?

Rodriguez: Mine would be getting physically hurt, and then being not just out of the race, but coming back and being invalid for X amount of time. You see on the show that people do get hurt. They twist their ankle or whatever… that was my biggest fear, getting hurt out there.

Knight: Mine was having to do any kind of challenge involving heights. Probably for a month before we left on the show, I’d be lying in bed, and I’d wake up terrified, after having a dream that I was falling out of an airplane.

Rodriguez: Yeah, that would be my challenge. [Laughs]

The twist this season is that, yes, it’s couples this year, but half of the teams are blind dating couples, meeting for the very first time at the top of the race. What did you think about the twist when you found out about it?

Knight: It was fun. We knew something was going on, but we didn’t know what it was. I think that, first of all, to do this thing? It’s kind of crazy. But to do this thing with somebody you don’t even know? We have the advantage that me and Harley know, “Okay, I’m not jumping out of a plane.” If it’s something more to do with mind and memory, it’s something he’ll do. So I give the single people props for going and doing this with someone they don’t even know.

Rodriguez: And it’s going to be really fun for us to watch. We weren’t in the cars with them, we weren’t in all of the locations with them. Our interaction with them was minimal, so it’s going to be really good TV this season, seeing how they get on each other’s nerves and how they can work it out.

Knight: Yeah. For me, even just being a fan of the show and then being on the show was amazing. It’s such a well-oiled machine out there. The producers and everybody do such a great job. I wish they could do a six-hour version of each episode, so you could really get a full day, really get the full experience of what it’s like. You see the one-hour edited down version on TV. It was a lot more intense than I thought it would be going into it.

Jonathan, you’ve been public in the past about your history with panic attacks. Was this a real challenge or concern, going into a situation like The Amazing Race?

Knight: It was. That was also probably 80% of the reason I did this. I was talking to a friend maybe, I don’t know, a while ago. She’s always telling me to run toward your fears instead of running away from it. It was just… going through the audition process and all that stuff, even if we hadn’t made it on the show, I was just so proud that I did that. I think the fans were all shocked. “This is so outside the box for you!” It was a good personal accomplishment for me.

The Amazing Race 26 premieres tonight (February 25) at 9:30 p.m., before moving to its regular time slot of Fridays at 8 p.m.

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Categories: Entertainment

The Oscars Get Personal

Mon, 2/23/2015 2:29 PM

Just when it seemed like the perfect evening to snuggle up next to the fireplace and watch the Oscars, my city jumped into the spirit of filmmaking and made it worthwhile to dress up and bundle up to celebrate the 2015 Academy Awards. Other than Valentine’s Day (which doesn’t ring a bell for everyone), Groundhog Day (Really? An undependable rodent gets its own day?) and maybe skiing (Sorry, I’m challenged in that department, so I definitely know this isn’t on everyone’s “to do” list), February’s biggest attention-grabber is the countdown to crowning the best in Hollywood. So why wouldn’t non-L.A.-based fans want to get in on the glamour and fun-filled anticipation?

These days, cities all over the country roll out the red carpet for Oscar night. From Atlanta to Las Vegas, big screen parties have become a tradition for many. And who better to celebrate than those who have witnessed the positive impact of filmmaking in their region? The Pittsburgh Film Office, a non-profit dedicated to bringing filmmakers to the region to make their films, notes that the region has experienced nearly $1 billion dollars in film-related economic impact. In fact, many feature films have played a role in that financial picture including The Dark Knight Rises, The Fault in Our Stars, Jack Reacher, and the 2015 Oscar nominee-generating Foxcatcher. So it seems fitting that the organization would choose Oscar night to host their annual gala benefit.

photo courtesy of Perfectly Planned by Shari, photo by George Thomas Mendel Pittsburgh's Lights! Glamour! Action! Oscar "Champagne Goddess" (far right) (photo courtesy of Perfectly Planned by Shari, photo by George Thomas Mendel)

Proving that they could one-up the celebrity-studded Dolby Theatre, party planners for the Pittsburgh event added a red carpet that ended with a live model (Her dress train WAS the red carpet–a fact that guests learned only after their flashbulb moments and walk of fame had ended. Thankfully, they must have literally cut her a lot of slack, because she didn’t seem any worse for wear.). Of course, that surprise was just a kickoff to the quirky (the Champagne Goddess perched high above the crowd witnessing the festivities), the gory (actors dressed as zombies in a nod to Pittsburgh’s legendary film Night of the Living Dead and its producer Russ Streiner who celebrated with guests), and the glamour (Fashion editor Natalie Bencivenga was spotted interviewing more than a few fabulous fashionistas.).

Photo courtesy of Perfectly Planned by Shari, photo by George Thomas Mendel Pittsburgh "zombies" (Photo courtesy of Perfectly Planned by Shari, photo by George Thomas Mendel)

Is it worth heading out in the cold to watch the Oscars in style? Absolutely– especially if you want to feel like a celebrity.

Nancy Berk, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist, author, comic and entertainment analyst. The host of the showbiz podcast Whine At 9, Nancy digs a little deeper as she chats with fascinating celebrities and industry insiders. Her book College Bound and Gagged: How to Help Your Kid Get into a Great College Without Losing Your Savings, Your Relationship, or Your Mind can be seen in the feature film Admission starring Tina Fey and Paul Rudd.

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Categories: Entertainment

Exclusive Clip: ‘Weird Al’ Yankovic Sings in My Little Pony Friendship is Magic: Adventures of the Cutie Mark Crusaders

Mon, 2/23/2015 2:28 PM

It’s no surprise that My Little Pony Friendship is Magic has aired nearly 100 episodes since it premiered in 2010. The show is consistently excellent, has super-catchy songs, features fantastic messages for kids of all ages, and even has an enormous audience outside of just what you might expect the “target” audience for a show about talking, singing ponies to be.

One of the character groups that doesn’t get nearly enough screen time, however, is the Cutie Mark Crusaders. Young ponies Sweetie Belle, Scootaloo, and Apple Bloom have yet to find their cutie marks (which appear after they figure out their own unique characteristic), but they still love to have hilarious adventures. So it’s nice to see them get their own DVD collection, My Little Pony Friendship is Magic: Adventures of the Cutie Mark Crusaders (in stores tomorrow), highlighting some of their very best episodes.

Parade is excited to premiere this exclusive clip from the My Little Pony Friendship is Magic: Adventures of the Cutie Mark Crusaders DVD (in stores on February 24). The clip features the male Earth pony named Cheese Sandwich (voiced by the amazing “Weird Al” Yankovic) singing a tune called “Cheese Confesses” where he basically tells Pinkie Pie that it was one of her parties that turned him into a self-titled “super duper party pony.” From the season four episode “Pinkie Pride,” the song is one of several songs in the episode and gives viewers a good glimpse into how “Weird Al’s” persona really plays into how Cheese Sandwich himself acts. Fans will love this.

My Little Pony Friendship is Magic: Adventures of the Cutie Mark Crusaders arrives on DVD on February 24.

Courtesy of Shout! Factory My Little Pony Friendship is Magic: Adventures of the Cutie Mark Crusaders arrives on DVD on February 24! (Courtesy of Shout! Factory)
Courtesy of Shout! Factory My Little Pony Friendship is Magic: Adventures of the Cutie Mark Crusaders arrives on DVD on February 24! (Courtesy of Shout! Factory)
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Categories: Entertainment

Jeff Probst Digs Deep Into Survivor: Worlds Apart, The 30th Season Of The Hit Reality Series

Mon, 2/23/2015 2:21 PM

Fifteen years ago, Richard Hatch waltzed around the beaches of Borneo, in the buff save for his buff, on the warpath toward his predestined million-dollar check. Twenty-nine seasons later, Survivor still stands.

The legendary reality competition series premieres its milestone 30th season on February 25, titled Survivor: Worlds Apart. And yet, to hear Jeff Probst tell it, it’s just the show’s 30th season. Survivor won’t mark the occasion with a bevy of all-stars, as it has done in the past. The greatest heroes and villains the game has ever seen won’t return for a second (or third, fourth, even fifth in two cases) chance at the title of Sole Survivor. There are no fireworks, no celebrity cameos, no grand plans to celebrate 15 years of Survivor — just straight-up Survivor, with all-new players, a few new twists, and the classic formula that’s kept this show on the air since 2000 with no signs of slowing down.

I spoke with Jeff about what we can expect from the new season, the idea of splitting the contestants into three tribes based on social class and approaches to life, and his take on a few of the players by way of high school yearbook superlatives. Plus, I dished out some superlatives of my own for the new Survivor class; launch the gallery to check that out.

Jeff, you’ve been talking about how Survivor: Worlds Apart is “just” your 30th season. How are you so relaxed about this? Is there no part of you that thinks, “Holy [expletive], this is season 30!”

Well, it’s an odd thing to experience, because Survivor has been on for so long now that we’re used to it being on. But when I intellectualize it and just look back, I can’t believe it’s still on. I live simultaneously in both worlds, which is why on one hand, we looked at our 30th season as this giant celebration, but on the other hand, we were reminding ourselves, “It is just our 30th season. We’re going to have seasons 31 and 32 as well!” That’s where we kind of landed with it. But it’s completely changed my life. Everything about my life is somehow related to Survivor, including meeting my wife through [Survivor executive producer] Mark Burnett at a party.

I’m the crazy Survivor fan in my social circle. When I tell people who don’t watch the show that we’re hitting season 30, the reaction is always the same: “Survivor has been on for 30 years?!” And I have to tell them, no, but it’s been on for 15 years. Their jaws still drop.

Yeah, mine does too. And I’ll tell you: I think this is the season that if you’ve never watched Survivor, or if you used to watch and then you dropped out, watch this premiere. If you’re not in all the way, you’ll never be in. This is a good season.

For the past few seasons — the first Blood vs Water and Cagayan, specifically — I feel like you played your cards close to the vest in terms of your enthusiasm. And yet here you are, on record, saying that Worlds Apart cast is one of your favorite seasons of all time. What makes you feel so confident about stepping up right now and making such a big declaration?

You know, I learned a lesson years ago that the audience is always right. This season is only good if the audience thinks it’s good. That taught me what not to say. Just do the show and let the audience decide. But I had such a good time with this season. I was riveted for so many days over what was happening, that I just gave myself a gut-check and decided, “Why am I going to hold back my enthusiasm when I feel this strongly?” Survivor fans trust me, I think. I’m pretty honest and candid. For instance, I’ve said that last season was not one of our best, and it was my mistake. I’m saying now, you should pack in and enjoy the season, because it’s going to be pretty damn good. If I’m wrong, I’ll go back in my hole and keep my mouth shut. But I don’t think I’m going to be wrong.

Tell me more about the season’s theme — pitting White Collar versus Blue Collar versus No Collar — in terms of the origin. Did the concept for the season come from the cast, or had the concept been on the board for a while, and now was the right time to pull the trigger?

The biggest lesson we learned from season 29′s Blood vs Water is that we made a mistake in that we put the theme ahead of the cast, and had to cast to the theme. That’s not how we typically do it. So for 30, we went back to what we always do: Let’s find the best people and then figure out how to divide them. Once we had our 18, then we figured out the theme. The theme always comes from different places. This one came from me. I had the pictures of everyone [on the cast] on my coffee table, and for about five days, I was just staring at them, trying to figure out what these people have in common, what are their differences.

White Collar and Blue Collar kept coming up. But that wasn’t enough for us in our 30th season. We needed a third element to triangulate things. And then I looked at these pictures that were left over — and I don’t even know if “No Collar” is a phrase, but it became a phrase for me. What I realized with this group of people is that they’re rule-breakers. I started thinking backwards: White Collars tend to make the rules, Blue Collars tend to follow the rules, and No Collars tend to break the rules. Once we had that concept, we went to CBS and pitched it.

It took them a bit to figure out. This is a building full of White Collars. They didn’t understand No Collar. I thought it was really interesting. We joked about it over a period of weeks, while I was pitching it. We joked that there’s something here in that nobody even knows what a No Collar is. But anybody who is a No Collar, says they are one. So, when they said, “Well, what’s an example of No Collar?” I said, “Me! I’m a No Collar! I hate authority, I don’t like Corporate America, I’m certainly not Blue Collar, I’m a rule breaker, I do what I want, when I want, with who I want. That’s a No Collar.” As the conversation continued, we realized there was something compelling here. They finally said yes.

The first few moments of the show was a test to see how each of the players, once they were divided, would react. And every one of them owned their tribe. The Blue Collars couldn’t have been more proud to be Blue Collar. The No Collars were laughing and giggling and dancing on their mats, saying, “Oh, we’re definitely No Collars.” And the White Collars, as expected, said, “Yes, reluctantly, we’re White Collars, but we hate being labeled that, because we know nobody likes White Collars.”

That’s a hard label to come into this game with. I feel like that’s the group that I’d look at as the big threat.

Yeah, it depends. You know, Joaquin, who is on White Collar, says, “I don’t mind being on White Collar, because my job doesn’t define me. Yes, I’m a White Collar. I work in an office. I wear a suit. I’m in charge. But there’s more to me than that.” And with the Blue Collars, if you judge them as hard-working but not bright, you’re probably going to get blindsided. With the No Collars, if you think that they have such an easygoing way of life that they’re not hard-working enough, you might be in for a surprise as well. You can’t judge a book by its cover. But there are certain tendencies that each of these three groups have, and that certainly plays out this season.

In Survivor: Cagayan, you divided the cast into three tribes of six players, built on a theme, and the result was your best seasons in years. How inspired were you by Cagayan when you were coming up with the Worlds Apart concept? Was there a feeling in the room that you had something special in season 28, and you wanted to repeat that success with season 30?

Honestly, we don’t look at it that way, so much as we look at it as this: Three tribes offer us a few things that are working right now in terms of where the show is. One is, with a tribe of six, you get to know people a lot faster. That’s good for the audience, because they can go, “I know those two guys from that tribe, and I know those two girls from that tribe.” With three tribes, it changes the numbers part of the game, in that it’s no longer ten on ten. It’s six versus six versus six, so that when we merge, there’s a lot more dynamics in terms of how the numbers can play out. That’s been working really well for us. It makes it less desirable to have a strong alliance and hold onto it, because you can’t trust it through switches and merges. That forces people to play a more aggressive game. As a result, the players playing aggressive realize, “It actually behooves me to play a bit more aggressive because it’s the only way to keep in control of my destiny.”

Having three tribes of six players also means there are very few places to hide.

You’re right. That’s another good element. There’s nowhere to hide. Every Tribal Council becomes an event.

The game is going to begin with the reliable Day 1 twist of charging specific tribe members with making a choice between an immunity idol clue or food for their tribe — except this time, you have two contestants making this call instead of just one, and even if they take the immunity idol clue, they get a smaller supply of food to share with the tribe.

Right.

But there’s another twist I’ve seen you talk about, too…

Yeah, there is another twist. Something we’ve played around with for quite a while, but didn’t feel it was appropriate yet for the show. This season, we decided these people could handle it. So there is a new twist, and no one is going to see it coming. It plays out beautifully. Everything you would hope a twist would bring you, it brings you.

I wanted to get your opinion on some of the players this season, but rather than run down the line of contestants, I thought I’d try something different. I’m going to list off some superlatives, and you tell me who fits where.

Let’s start with the Class Clown.

Ha! That’s a good one. Let me think for a sec, because there are a couple of good choices. [Pauses, then laughs.] I’m going with an odd choice, but for the Class Clown, I’m going to go with Rodney, who some people will say, after seeing him play, “Class Clown?” I think Rodney’s intention was to be funny, jovial, light-hearted. I’m not sure he achieved that, but I think he was going for it.

There’s another guy vying for Class Clown honors, and that would be Dan, also from the Blue Collar tribe. I’m not sure he achieved it. I think both guys had different approaches, but with the same goal: Bring some fun to camp.

How about Best Hair? Is it even a contest when you have Vince Sly on your season?

Best Hair? Yes, it is a contest. It’s between Vince and Joe, both No Collars. What’s interesting is, both of those guys are adversaries from the beginning. One is envious of the other. It’s interesting that you asked that question, because it really is a great way to categorize their relationship. You could call it a “Battle of the Hair,” and it’s a pretty decent metaphor for what goes down between them.

Who is the Biggest Flirt?

Well… I think Mike does a pretty good job of flirting. I think Jenn from No Collar does a good job of flirting by being an anti-flirt. She appears to care not at all what anybody thinks, which is oddly appealing. It draws you in. I would put those two as the flirts.

I would assume this next one goes to someone on White Collar, but maybe not: Who is Most Likely to Become President?

That’s another good one. Most likely to become President… I’m thinking through the names. Who is the most diplomatic? I would say Tyler, from White Collar. And you know what’s interesting again about your question is, the reason I’d give it to Tyler is that he’s a bit of an outlier on the White Collar tribe. I think that might have to do with the fact that he survived being an assistant to a talent agent, so he literally lived through the darkest chasm you can go through, the darkest hole, and came out of it alive. As a result, though he’s still White Collar, he’s got a little bit of, “You know? It’s not that bad. We can get through it.” He has a little bit of No Collar in him. That might make him the best candidate for President.

Who out of this cast will leave Survivor and win a Nobel Prize?

Hali. She’s a No Collar who is getting into the criminal justice system, not because she has White Collar tendencies. She’s getting in because she wants to go in and blow up the established rules of the criminal justice system, so she can help the underserved. That’s a woman who goes on to win a Nobel Peace Prize.

There are no cars on Survivor — well, not anymore — but who would have the Best Car of this crew?

Oh, yeah, I think that’s gotta go to Rodney. I think Rodney is a guy who, if he drives — and he’s from Boston, so I’m not sure that he drives — but he’s the guy who would have a truck with the wheels a little too big, and the muffler a little too loud, maybe a gun rack in the back, and then he’d tell you about how he’s all about peace and love and he loves his mom.

How about Most Likely to Succeed? Go back to your first time looking at these contestants. Sight unseen, who was your pick to win it?

My guess in the beginning would have been Mike. He’s from Texas, he works in the oil fields, he has the gift of gab, he is incredibly enthusiastic, and has a lot of gusto. He can push it too far and annoy you, but he’s pretty good at recovering. I think he’s not afraid to pull a fast one. So, going in? I’d say Mike.

You listed your Top Ten Survivor Winners of All Time. Obviously, it’s way too early for you to be specific, but where do you think this season’s winner will ultimately fit in the mix? When the dust settles on Worlds Apart, what kind of conversation are we having about the winner?

I think you’re right, that it’s with an asterisk — we have to see how it all plays out — but it would not surprise me if the winner of Season 30 became one of the favorite winners of all time. I do think when this season is over, the audience will feel that whoever has won has absolutely earned it, and this is a very good season of Survivor played very hard by very good players. That’s why I like this group. They play. There is no monkeying around. There won’t be anyone saying, “Well, there wasn’t really any strategy this year…” No. There’s strategy from the get go.

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Categories: Entertainment

The Daily Cute: Monday Melange

Mon, 2/23/2015 2:10 PM

You never know how a week is going to go, so here’s a little smattering of cuteness to improve any mood, situation, or sudden stress you may encounter today. Launch the gallery to see them all.

Click here to see “The Friday Fifteen” and check back every weekday for a new Daily Cute!

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Categories: Entertainment

Jadium – February 23

Mon, 2/23/2015 6:00 AM

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Categories: Entertainment

Reader Comments that Are Just Plain Wrong

Mon, 2/23/2015 5:00 AM

B.J. in New York, New York writes:

I notice that you don’t log in and correct the misstatements in your readers’ comments. Some errors are egregious! Why is that?

Marilyn responds:

I don’t have the time to monitor all the comments and correct them, so if I were to correct any of them (no matter how few or many), readers would think that the rest of them (the uncorrected ones) must be true. So I stay uninvolved.

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Categories: Entertainment

The Very Best Dresses of the Oscars Red Carpet

Mon, 2/23/2015 1:13 AM

Eddie Redmayne and Julianne Moore may have taken home top honors at the 87th annual Academy Awards Sunday night in Hollywood, but it was Lady Gaga who stole the show.

 

The often-flamboyant musician hit just the right note as she performed a touching tribute to The Sound of Music and stunned on the red carpet in a silver and white Azzedine Alaia couture gown accessorized with oversized red rubber gloves.

Gaga’s gown shined among a sea of pink, white and spring pastels—a welcome sign after the bitter cold and snowy winter punishing much of the nation.

Here are a few more of our favorite gowns from Hollywood’s biggest night of the year.

 

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Categories: Entertainment

Oscar Watch! Setting the Stage for Hollywood’s Biggest Night

Sun, 2/22/2015 9:36 PM

Getting ready for the biggest night of the year in Hollywood takes months of planning and weeks of preparation. Take a look at workers putting the finishing touches on the red carpet, golden statues and the Dolby Theatre. Plus, learn a few things you might not know about the Academy Awards.

 

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Categories: Entertainment

Numbrix 9 – February 23

Sun, 2/22/2015 7:00 PM
Categories: Entertainment

Jadium – February 22

Sun, 2/22/2015 6:00 AM

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Categories: Entertainment
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