Letterman Hunts for Jokes in Palin Feud
David Letterman joked Thursday that he things are now fine now between him and Sarah Palin because the Alaska governor called and offered to take him hunting.She’d done nothing of the sort, of course, continuing a feud with the CBS late-night host that may wind up being well-timed for Letterman in the second week of his new competition with Conan O’Brien on NBC’s ”Tonight” show.
”I’m Dave Letterman, making friends wherever I go,” Letterman said at the opening of Thursday’s show, a day after he apologized for wisecracks aimed at Palin and one of her teenage daughter — even as he milked the situation for more laughs. His lengthy discourse on Wednesday blended flashes of contrition with more pokes at Palin and her family.
Letterman invited Palin to come on his show, which her spokeswoman declined with a shot of her own.
Letterman had made several jokes on Monday’s monologue about the Palin family’s visit to New York.
His Top Ten list featured ”Highlights of Sarah Palin’s Trip,” and included: ”Bought makeup at Bloomingdale’s to update her ‘slutty flight attendant’ look.”
But the diciest joke centered on the family attending a Yankees baseball game.
Letterman said ”an awkward moment” occurred for Palin when, ”during the seventh inning, her daughter was knocked up by (Yankee third baseman) Alex Rodriguez.”
Without naming her, the joke seemed to refer to Palin’s 18-year-old daughter Bristol, an unwed mother.
But it was 14-year-old daughter Willow, not Bristol, who had been at the game.
Todd Palin issued a statement that said ”any ‘jokes’ about raping my 14-year-old are despicable.”
And Sarah Palin charged Letterman with ”sexually perverted comments made by a 62-year-old male celebrity.”
”I am not a celebrity,” said a deadpan Letterman, interrupting himself as he read the statements aloud on Wednesday’s show. ”I’m 62 years old, but I’m not a celebrity.”
He denied the joke was meant to be about Willow Palin.
”I would never, never make jokes about raping or having sex of any description with a 14-year-old girl,” he said, dropping his signature sarcasm. ”I don’t think it’s funny. I would never think it was funny.”
”I’m not necessarily proud of these jokes,” he said in a more ironically self-deprecating moment. ”We do stuff all the time and our objective here is to get a laugh, and thank God we don’t have to go to the Hague and the World Court to defend them. It’s a joke and that’s all it’s supposed to be.”
Before he was done, he tried to boil down the situation into two key points, which he stated with playful precision:
”Am I guilty of poor taste? Yes.
”Did I suggest that it was OK for her 14-year-old daughter to be having promiscuous sex? No.”
He also invited Palin to be a guest on his show, saying, ”I think we could put these differences behind us.” But the offer, extended to both Palin and her husband (”or leave Todd at home,” Letterman suggested), was turned down on Thursday.
”The Palins have no intention of providing a ratings boost for David Letterman by appearing on his show,” said Palin spokeswoman Meghan Stapleton. ”Plus, it would be wise to keep Willow away from David Letterman.”
While the incident keeps Palin in the public eye in a manner likely to draw sympathy from supporters, it puts Letterman in the news in an extremely fortuitous time. It’s the second week of his battle for eyeballs with O’Brien and it couldn’t be closer.
In an overnight measurement of the nation’s biggest media markets, O’Brien beat Letterman by one-tenth of a ratings point on Wednesday, according to Nielsen Media Research. It was the same slim margin on Monday, and with Julia Roberts as a guest on Tuesday, Letterman beat O’Brien — the first night CBS has beaten NBC since last October.
In Nielsen’s metered markets, Letterman hasn’t beaten the ”Tonight” show for a week since November 2005.
Full article: http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2009/06/11/arts/AP-US-TV-Palin-Letterman.html
Chastity Bono Announces Sex Change
Chastity Bono is having a sex change to become a man. A spokesman for Bono, born a girl to Sonny and Cher, says he ”has made the courageous decision to honor his true identity” and began the sex-change process earlier this year. Publicist Howard Bragman said Bono is proud of his decision and hopes ”that his choice to transition will open the hearts and minds of the public regarding this issue.”The 40-year-old writer, activist and reality-TV star came out as gay 20 years ago, Bragman said.
In the book ”Family Outing: A Guide to the Coming-Out Process for Gays, Lesbians, & Their Families,” Bono describes the realization of being ”somehow different — specifically different from who my mom expected me to be.”
A message left with Cher’s representatives was not immediately returned Thursday.
Bono’s second book, ”The End of Innocence: A Memoir,” details how relationships with Joan, a lover, and Sonny and Cher changed after coming out.
In 1995, Bono posed for the cover of the gay magazine The Advocate and began working for the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (GLAAD).
Full article: http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2009/06/11/arts/AP-US-People-Chastity-Bono.html
Property Owners Forgive Alba Plastering Posters
Jessica Alba on the red carpet for the 12th Annual EIF Revlon RunWalk For Women at Times Square on May 2, 2009 in New York City.
The owners of property plastered with great white shark posters said Thursday they have little interest in pursuing criminal vandalism charges against actress Jessica Alba, who already has apologized for her role in the stunt.Oklahoma City police are continuing to investigate the allegations, but haven’t interviewed the 28-year-old co-star of the ”Fantastic Four” movies, ”Sin City” and ”Good Luck Chuck.” Investigators first plan to meet with the property owners to see if they are willing to prosecute, said police Sgt. Gary Knight.
”That’s typical for how we handle all investigations of this nature,” Knight said. ”You want to make sure you have a victim that’s willing to prosecute.
”Typically in cases like this if people don’t want to prosecute, often times the case is closed.”
Police found the posters — aimed at raising awareness about the sharks’ declining numbers — glued to a downtown bridge, utility boxes and a billboard for the United Way charity.
Earlier this week, photographs surfaced on a Web site that apparently show Alba hanging some of the posters and posing before the defaced billboard. Alba is in Oklahoma filming ”The Killer Inside Me,” which co-stars Casey Affleck and Kate Hudson.
All the property owners contacted by The Associated Press Thursday say they don’t want to see Alba prosecuted.
”It’s not our intent to pursue any type of charges,” said Brian Alford, a spokesman for electric utility Oklahoma Gas & Electric. ”I think if we have a cost associated with the removal we would hope to be compensated for that cost, but at this point it’s a lesson learned and we just want to put it behind us.”
Telephone and e-mail messages left Thursday seeking comment from Alba’s publicist about whether she plans to reimburse the property owners or United Way were not returned.
An official with Oklahoma City’s Parks and Recreation Department filed the initial police report, but a city spokeswoman said Thursday they aren’t interested in pursuing criminal charges.
”The apology that she made through her publicist, I think, was enough for us,” said spokeswoman Kristy Yager.
The United Way advertisement, which was donated to the charity by a billboard company, has since been removed.
”Even if we had been paying for the ad, I doubt we would have filed a complaint with the police department,” said Erin Brewer, a spokeswoman for United Way of Central Oklahoma. ”I think it would be very generous of her, and certainly we would be honored if she chose to make a contribution.”
Lamar Advertising, which owns the billboard, also said the company doesn’t plan to pursue charges, said Bill Condon, general manager and vice president of the company’s Oklahoma City office.
”I think her comment and what she released seemed pretty sincere,” Condon said.
Under Oklahoma law, maliciously defacing property can be a felony punishable by prison time if the value of the damage exceeds $1,000 or more. City officials placed a preliminary value of the damage at between $500 and $700, and Condon said the damage to the billboard would not exceed $500.
Full article: http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2009/06/11/arts/AP-US-Alba-Investigation.html
No Carradine Suicide, Expert Says
The forensics expert hired by David Carradine’s family has concluded that the ”Kung Fu” actor did not commit suicide, but said that more information was needed from Thai investigators before the cause of death could be determined.Carradine’s brothers, Keith and Robert Carradine, each read part of a prepared statement to reporters from The Associated Press at a Los Angeles hotel Thursday morning. In their first appearance since their older brother was found hanging in a Bangkok hotel room closet last week, they thanked supporters and asked for privacy.
”This is a devastating loss for our family and we greatly appreciate the compassion pouring in from all over the world,” Keith Carradine said.
They also released a statement by Dr. Michael Baden of New York that indicated a second autopsy determined Carradine didn’t kill himself.
”However, to reach a final determination as to the cause and the manner of death we must wait for further information from Thailand as to the scene findings and the completion of the crime laboratory and toxicology studies that are still being performed,” Baden’s statement said.
Reached by phone after the morning briefing, Baden said he expects to receive more information from Thai authorities in a week or two and stressed that the information at hand was incomplete. Baden didn’t elaborate on how suicide was ruled out
”The autopsy is only part of the analysis,” he said.
In the meantime, Robert Carradine asked the public and press for patience and time to allow the family to grieve.
”Until we have all of the pending results of the investigation we respectfully ask … that we be allowed to lay our beloved brother, husband, father, grandfather and great-grandfather to rest in peace and with dignity,” Robert Carradine said.
Rampant speculation about the actor’s death has swirled since a chambermaid at the luxury Swissotel Nai Lert Park Hotel in Bangkok discovered his body hanging in the closet of his room June 4. A Thai newspaper published a graphic photo of the death scene that police have said appears to be a leaked forensics image.
Thai police initially said they suspected Carradine’s death was a suicide, but later conceded it could have been accidental. Their description — that the actor’s body was found nude, with ropes around his neck, wrist and genitals — fueled speculation that he was killed while engaging in a dangerous sex practice called auto-erotic asphyxiation.
Thai authorities said on June 5 that it would take about three weeks for the results of their autopsy to be released.
Medical examiners in the United States and Canada generally classify auto-erotic asphyxiation deaths as accidental.
Keith Carradine last week asked the FBI to take a role, and Thai authorities later said they would allow FBI agents to observe their investigation, but not take an active role. FBI spokeswoman Laura Eimiller said earlier this week that the agency would not make any more comments about its role in the Carradine investigation, but that agents stationed in Thailand have a good relationship with local authorities.
Agents typically only get involved in the deaths of U.S. citizens abroad when foul play is involved, she said.
Others who knew the 72-year-old actor have said they suspect foul play was involved. Keith and Robert Carradine on Thursday urged everyone to wait until the investigation has concluded.
”Once the investigation is fully completed and definitive conclusions have been reached, we will address the findings with the public,” Robert Carradine said.
Both Keith and Robert Carradine shared the screen with their brother, a prolific TV and film actor. David Carradine rose to prominence for his role on the ”Kung Fu” series in the 1970s and experienced a resurgence in popularity after his role in Quentin Tarantino’s ”Kill Bill” movies earlier this decade.
The family’s statement did not indicate the location of his body, or offer any information about funeral arrangements. They did not take questions Thursday after reading the statements.
Full article: http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2009/06/11/arts/AP-US-Carradine-Death.html
Sit! 13 New ‘Marley’ Books Coming
Jennifer Aniston in “Marley and Me”
Call it the luck of Marley.The late Labrador retriever made famous by ”Marley and Me” will be the hero of 13 children’s books by ”Marley” author John Grogan. The first of the series comes out this summer, HarperCollins Children’s Books announced Thursday.
Grogan’s ”Marley & Me,” published in 2005, is a million-selling memoir and the basis for the hit movie of the same name, starring Owen Wilson and Jennifer Aniston.
Full article: http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2009/06/11/arts/AP-US-Books-More-Marley.html
Bob Hope’s Spirit, but No Cheesecake
Bob Hope, at left, in Vietnam in 1969. At right, Stephen Colbert this week in Iraq.
The first comedy show entirely taped, edited and broadcast in a war zone didn’t look like your average U.S.O. tour. Except when it did. In Baghdad this past week the host of “The Colbert Report” was so imbued with the spirit of Bob Hope that he actually twirled a golf club — a Hope trademark — as he told jokes to troops in a former palace of Saddam Hussein. Stephen Colbert, the host, described Iraq as “so nice, we invaded it twice.” Even a sketch on Tuesday, in which Mr. Colbert debated himself on the issue of gay soldiers, wasn’t much of a departure from Hope’s old stand-up routines in places like Long Binh and Cam Ranh Bay.
“Miniskirts are bigger than ever, even some of the fellas are wearing them,” Hope told troops in Da Nang in 1967. A beat. “Don’t laugh,” he added. “If you’d have thought of it, you wouldn’t be here.”
Mr. Colbert’s four-day “Operation Iraqi Stephen: Going Commando,” sponsored by the U.S.O., was unexpectedly charming. His interviews with generals and even an Iraqi deputy prime minister were pleasant, not barbed, and his stand-up routines proved as easygoing and good-natured as many a Bob Hope performance. Mr. Colbert sometimes let his comic persona as an monomaniacal chicken hawk to the right of Bill O’Reilly slip a little, but mostly he stayed in character, and even that matched up with Hope’s self-caricature as someone egotistical and cowardly.
The difference wasn’t in the humor, or even the technology; it was in the intended audience. Hope’s U.S.O. tours were star-studded morale boosters for isolated troops who felt out of touch and forgotten. Mr. Colbert seemed eager to energize viewers who are out of touch with overseas news and have all but forgotten that 130,000 troops remain in Iraq.
“I thought the whole Iraq thing was over,” Mr. Colbert told the troops on Monday night in Baghdad. “I haven’t seen any news stories about it in months.”
When Hope went on the road, and his trips to military bases spanned World War II and Operation Desert Storm, his audiences were young, overwhelmingly male and cut off from home. Even in Vietnam servicemen relied on letters and the occasional scratchy phone call. Hope’s lighthearted cracks about the military, war and women were tailored to amuse and comfort the men on the ground.
Mr. Colbert’s skits and stunts — a mock stint in basic training, a haircut administered by Gen. Ray Odierno (ordered, jokingly, by President Obama via a pretaped message) — were designed to hold the attention of easily distracted audiences back home.
Today’s troops are hardly starved for entertainment; they have laptops, video cameras, satellite phones and every iteration of the Internet, including Skype, Facebook and Gchats. They stay tuned to television, even Comedy Central. Mr. Colbert’s show is broadcast at 6:30 and 11:30 p.m. Central European time on the American Forces Network. He worked in references to “The Real Housewives of New Jersey” and even the bickering stars of “Jon & Kate Plus 8.”
Hope, ever mindful of the mood of men deprived of female company, always brought some cheesecake with him: Rita Hayworth and Betty Grable during World War II; Jayne Mansfield in Korea; Joey Heatherton, Ann-Margret and Raquel Welch in Vietnam.
There were no torch songs or Golddiggers in white go-go boots on “The Colbert Report.” The closest thing to Ms. Welch was Tom Hanks, who played himself in a taped sketch about U.S.O. care packages. Today’s military is coed and in no mood to joke about it. Mr. Colbert asked Sgt. Robin Balcom, how, since women are not supposed to be in front-line positions, she won a combat badge. Sergeant Balcom, a military police officer, bristled at the word won, as opposed to earn. “I didn’t really win,” she said. “I was awarded.” Mr. Colbert quickly apologized.
There’s another difference. When NBC broadcast Hope’s Vietnam Christmas specials in the early 1970s (he performed on Christmas Day, but the fully produced shows were not televised until January), they drew 60 percent of the viewing audience. No conflict has ever been as instantly and closely covered as the Iraq War, but access spurs complacency. In the fractured universe of cable and the Internet, the entertaining of troops doesn’t get a lot of attention. World Wrestling Entertainment produces the annual tribute to the troops; Kellie Pickler, a former “American Idol” contestant who went to Iraq on last year’s U.S.O. holiday tour, made a video diary of her tour that was shown on GAC, the Great American Country cable network.
Mr. Colbert’s audience on Comedy Central isn’t very large (a little over a million on a good day), but he has cachet with young and would-be hip viewers who get most of their news from iPhone applications, blogs and comedy shows.
And that’s one reason Mr. Obama and former presidents humored Comedy Central by taping tongue-in-cheek messages to the troops: they seized the opportunity to participate in a government-sanctioned tribute alongside a comedian popular with people who despise conventional politics and government-sanctioned entertainment.
Normally celebrities go to combat zones with the U.S.O. In this case Mr. Colbert took the U.S.O. on a trip with Comedy Central.
Williams Talks About New CD,’ Ugly Betty’
On May 20, 2009, actress Vanessa Williams attends the Logo network’s second annual “NewNowNext” awards in New York.
Madonna isn’t the only master when it comes to reinvention.In her two decades-plus career, Vanessa Williams has been the beauty queen, the hit-making singer, Broadway star and marquee film actress, and in the last few years, she’s captivated fans yet again with her Emmy-nominated comedic turn as the power-grabbing Wilhelmina Slater on ABC’s ”Ugly Betty.”
This month, the 45-year-old returns to one of her past roles with the release of a new album, ”The Real Thing.”
In a recent interview, Williams talked about her music, the TV role that defines her for many of her fans, and how they relate to her as a result.
AP: What’s the key to your success over the decades?
Williams: Besides talent and being prepared for whatever, you have to stay open, you have to be flexible and think about your options and not get stuck in a rut and do the same thing, if this works, well, I’ve gotta do it 10 different times, always be willing to explore and reach beyond your comfort zone.
AP: How do your fans relate to you?
Williams: Younger kids know me from ”Hannah Montana,” 8 and younger … and I would say (those in their) 20s know me from ”Ugly Betty,” and then anyone over mid-30s, 40s know me from my music. And above that, it’s probably Miss America.
AP: Were you worried about taking a four-year break between albums?
Williams: I’m happy that I’ve been able not to depend on one genre to make a living. The recording industry has changed immensely. … I always hope that my fan base will follow me from project to project and I’m in a position where I have a whole new audience that doesn’t even know me as a singer, which is fascinating.
AP: Are you planning to tour with this album?
Williams: Not right now. … I have to go back to work the second week in July. So I only have eight weeks off. I’m already exhausted.
AP: What do fans think of your role as Wilhelmina?
Williams: People who know me from my recording career always get a kick out of it and say, ”I love watching you be so bad,” and the people who haven’t seen me before, the younger audience, are a little bit intimidated, sometimes afraid to approach me, which I think is hilarious. … To play such a role is very freeing as an actress because you get the chance to really be as broad and loose as you want and kind of be a brat and get away with murder.
AP: How would you describe your music to those who only know you as Wilhelmina?
Williams: I would have to let whoever is discovering me for the first time see a much softer side than what they see on a weekly basis. That’s the funny thing about playing such a terrorized role on TV; my real self is different, so I think a lot of people, if they don’t know me, will see, definitely, a side of me they don’t see on a weekly basis.
AP: There’s talk of upcoming changes on ”Ugly Betty.” Your thoughts?
Williams: I do think there is a definite ”Betty” style which is unique and I wouldn’t want it to become just another show which looks like all the other shows. I hope it will stay unique.
Full article: http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2009/06/11/arts/AP-US-Music-QA-Vanessa-Williams.html