Wednesday, December 31, 2008

OPRAH'S INVESTS IN GETTING SMART
Bazillionaire donates lotsa cash to Atlanta kids school

Just when I think Oprah's gone and gotten on my tits again, she goes and does something amazing.

I caught Oprah's TV show today - it was entitled, "Resilient Spirits" (originally aired March 1, 2007) and told stories of people who experienced some pretty major adversity and bounced back to also achieve some pretty major success in their lives.

One of the people she profiled was NFL player Isaiah Kacyvenski of the Seattle Seahawks who grew up in poverty and abuse only to get a football scholarship to Harvard and gain a place on the team in Seattle which went to Super Bowl XL.

By the way, as a Canadian and as a non-fan of football (in any country) - until I looked it up - I was seriously wondering if XL was a reference to a Super Bowl of the "Extra Large" variety.

As for Oprah getting on my tits, I guess like any of us she just can't help but be herself - but DAMN is she ever irritating to watch sometimes. She kept Oprah-fying her pronunciation of the word "Harvard" as she interviewed Kacyvenski. And by 'Oprah-fying' I mean bastardizing and annoying the hell out of viewers like me. I guess she thinks she's being folksy or something when she does that, but in the end it simply gives me a headache like the kind you get from drinking a Slurpee too fast.

No doubt she's a kind and wise soul, but clearly there's a good reason that she is regularly parodied by sharp comedians like Debra Wilson on Mad TV. Talk about easy targets!



But today there's news in Us Magazine of the self-mitigation of all her nerdiness with some really amazing generosity:



Oprah Winfrey sent a surprise Christmas present to an inner-city Atlanta school: a $365,000 check!

An educator named Ron Clark almost didn't notice the whopping check, which was included in a letter from the talk show host. Clark opened the private academy in 2007 in one of the poorest neighborhoods of South Atlanta. Most students rely on private donations to pay the $14,000-per-year tuition.

"We teach school all day and fundraise at night," Clark told the Associated Press. "To have an unsolicited gift come like that is incredible."

Clark says the donation will pay for 26 students to attend the 80-student middle school for one year.

In her letter, Winfrey calls Clark a role model and says he's making a "profound difference...[with] your passion for teaching."

The check came from the Oprah Winfrey Foundation, which handed out $4 million to educational programs in 2008.

Meanwhile, Winfrey is gearing up for Barack Obama's January 20 Inauguration.

"Oprah is doing her show live from the Kennedy Center that week and flying her staff in for it. It's going to be a huge production," an insider tells the New York Post.

The big-time supporter also plans to co-host a party with BFF Gayle King after Obama is sworn in, the paper reports.

Wow. Kinda makes me wish for a moment I was an employee of Harpo Productions! It'd be rather swell to get to go to the Obama Inauguration, wouldn't it? What an unbelieveable moment in history that ceremony will become for not only those who are actually in attendance, but for the USA and the whole world ultimately.



$365,000 is quite a whopping sum! Over the course of a year, that's a grand a day for kids to go to school. Not too shabby there, Oprah. Not too shabby at all.

I have to wonder why a private academy was considered viable in a poor urban neighbourhood, but whatever the reason it's become a success so there you have it.

I also have to wonder why Steadman seems to never be mentioned in the press anymore. I mean, she's throwing a party with Gayle, but where's the Stead-meister in all of this?

Lastly, if you wanna see a pretty cool photo of how some people reacted today to Oprah Winfrey's gift to the school, check out this page on BlackVoices.com (which also has a little blurb on what I think is Oprah and Steadman's most recent public appearance together back in September in case you're interested in a little bit of celebrity romance at the moment).

I think this story is a great way to wrap up 2008 on Gimme Never Gets and look forward to 2009. Wherever you are, whoever you are ... have a healthy, happy New Year!

Saturday, November 22, 2008

HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL MEETS 90210
Disney star in Beverly Hills for Make-a-Wish Foundation

Last night in the what's-old-is-new-again zipcode, Ashley Tisdale showed up lookin' all glam with boyfriend Jared Murillo at Wish Night Gala 2008, the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Greater Los Angeles' annual charity dinner.


image: jordan strauss/wireimage.com

I gotta admit that I hadn't heard about this dude until now, but apparently Ashley's boyfriend is in a new boy band V Factory. Go ahead and check out their MySpace page.

Also apparently he's not one to shy away from selling his name for product promotion, or from maybe trying to get all the cool kids over at Disney/High School Musical hooked on the alleged benefits of Goyin. See for yourself...

Here's a bit more on Wish Night Gala 2008 from the organization's website:

In addition to high-profile honorees, there is always great entertainment, like
Big Bad Voodoo Daddy and Micky Dolenz of The Monkees, and fun auction items.

Wow, I haven't thought about Big Bad Voodoo Daddy since some time around Clinton's first term in office.

There were a couple other people at last night's party whom I like, so let's take a look at their pics taken on the red carpet.

Carmen Electra posed with Guiliana Rancic from E! I totally love Guiliana and always get a kick out of watching her own red carpet coverage on E! for shows like the Emmy Awards. Her style is just so inviting and she's a hip gal with lots to say and lotsa love for what she does. She certainly must have the most unlikely name for a TV broadcaster. Her name turns generic names like "Karen Taylor" or "Jim Hodge" right on their ears! Guiliana totally gets thumbs up from me.

credit:wireimage.com

Then there's Carmen Electra. While I do generally get a kick out of her, I just have to LOL at this 'over the shoulder' pose. It's just so... contrived. She does look good in yellow, though.


credit: wireimage.com

It obviously makes sense for Disney to stay aligned with an organization like the Make-A-Wish Foundation. I hope a sizable portion of Disney's corporate donations are directed towards bringing a little light to the life of sick kids.

It's easy to feel a bit inspired by their mission:
The Make-A-Wish Foundation of Greater Los Angeles grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy
.

The Make-A-Wish Foundation is the nation's largest wish-granting organization. It has fulfilled the wishes of more than 161,000 children in the United States and its territories since 1980. Based in Phoenix, the Make-A-Wish Foundation serves every community in the United States, Guam and Puerto Rico through its 67 chapters.

Good work they're doing! Despite the current economic crisis, maybe you're able to figure out a way to help out the Make-A-Wish Foundation?

Saturday, November 15, 2008

MADONNA TO BUILD GIRL'S SCHOOL IN AFRICA
Singer clearly fit enough to assume all construction work

I've been on a fairly insane Madonna kick for the past 2 or 3 weeks, ever since I was able to attend her FIRST EVER concert here in Vancouver back on October 30th.

I've been *continuously* playing a shite-load of so much Madonna music that my neighbours probably think there's a Paula Goodspeed/Paula Abdul situation happening in my apartment.

Don't get me wrong - I'm not poking fun at that tragedy, but I'm simply aware that my current Madonna obsession will soon be topping the "bit-too-much-o-meter".

One of the reasons I loves me some Madonna so much is that for as long as I can remember, she's been kickin' ass and takin' names and doing it all her own way. No question she's a trendsetter.

But that all started to change a bit - in my mind, at least - when she went off to Africa and adopted David Banda in Malawi.



Some might say she's gone off and done the same thing that someone like Angelina Jolie has already done. But that doesn't bother me on bit. The main thing to remember is that Madge is doing some real good and really trying to help her little boy's home land, through her organization Raising Malawi.

But now, with all the drama surrounding her impending divorce from Guy Ritchie and as her Sticky & Sweet Tour gets set to wind up its North American leg, Madonna has made a very smart move.

She has begun to publicize her latest and bravest endeavour in Africa which looks and sounds *alot* like something we've seen done by another one-named famous lady.

And I don't mean Charo (unless she's now the black host of a daytime talk show based in Chicago - and if that's was true, Love Boat re-runs would be even more confusing to watch than they already are).

Back to Madonna - let's pick up the story now running on US Magazine's website:

Madonna wants to follow in the footsteps of Oprah.

The singer has released a video on her Web site asking fans for donations to a girls' school in Malawi.


"There are very few girls in Africa in general who are encouraged or allowed to go to secondary school so after spending a lot of time there I realized that one of the ways I could help was to build a girls' school," she said.


She continued: "I would really be grateful if you would get involved and help me in any way that you can with donations, spreading the word, visiting my website, reading about the progress that we've made so far.... I would appreciate any help you could give us."


Wow, eh?! Let's pause for a moment to read Madonna's letter just posted on her website, and there's also a link below to watch Madonna make her request for help from you:

To All My Friends,

I am really excited to share with you a new video message about a project that you can be a big part of: The Raising Malawi Academy for Girls.

WATCH VIDEO HERE

After witnessing the potential of Malawi's girls firsthand, I made it my mission to give them an opportunity to become their personal best.

I hope you will share my urgency and make a donation today. Every donation counts toward helping impoverished girls to reach their full potential. And every dollar will make a difference.


Visit:
http://www.raisingmalawi.org/rm_girlsacademy.php

Thank you for helping me to bring education and opportunity to the girls of Malawi.
They are deeply grateful to you for your support, and so am I.

With Love,
Madonna

Totally, totally cool. I love it! Although one has to wonder how someone reportedly worth approximately half a billion dollars finds it necessary to go on the Internet and ask her fans to help donate to her project. Sure, I get it, it's a way to get people engaged in helping others, but really Madge ... open your heart and your wallet ;-)

Here's the rest of the Us article...

Madonna has made regular visits to Malawi since adopting her youngest son David, 3.

Madonna found David at an orphanage through her Raising Malawi charity and was later granted temporary custody.
The High Court in the capital of Lilongwe approved the adoption this past May after a two-year battle.

Oprah Winfrey opened a school for promising girls from deprived backgrounds in South Africa in January 2007.
"The school is a symbol of leadership, it stands for what is possible for African children," Winfrey said at the opening.

The Oprah Winfrey Leadership Academy for Girls, is located in the small town of Henley-on-Klip, south of Johannesburg.


So there we have it. Madge has gone and impressed me all over again. I have to say, it was amazing to finally be able to see her live in concert a few weeks ago on the Sticky & Sweet Tour. And today, I'm also really jazzed for her latest venture for the girls of Malawi.



She just never stops! And frankly I hope she never does. If you wanna know more about Raising Malawi, here is its website.

Sunday, November 9, 2008

THE PRICE OF ADMISSION
"He could play the guitar just like ringing a bell"

This has got to be thee-most surprising quote ever made by a celebrity living with a disease ... here are the words of Michael J. Fox in response to performing on stage last Wednesday with The Who:

"This is almost worth getting Parkinson's for!" Michael J. Fox declared as he took the stage to play guitar with The Who in New York City Wednesday night.


image: people.com

Wow - I gotta say, I love the guy's sense of humour. Big props to him for that.

It's kind of amazing to realize that no matter who you are or what you might be facing, we can all still go a little ga-ga for our favourite bands (or movie stars or whatever). Here's more of the story from People:

The actor – who was diagnosed with Parkinson's disease in 1991 – rocked out to the legendary band's "Magic Bus," trading licks and windmill guitar riffs with Pete Townshend.

The once-in-a-lifetime performance was the grand finale of Fox's annual A Funny Thing Happened On The Way To Cure Parkinson's.

Ryan Reynolds – who recently ran the New York City Marathon in honor of his father, who suffers from Parkinson's – also attended the star-studded event, along with his new wife Scarlett Johansson. Also on the guest list: Rachael Ray, Julianne Moore, Ben Stiller and New York Yankee Derek Jeter.

Mmmm.... Ryan Reynolds. Can we just stop this blog for a moment to let our mouths fall agape and enjoy the hotness that is Ryan at a marathon?


image: Splash

AND... we're back.

The event was even more celebratory than usual, thanks to Barack Obama's presidential win the night before.

"I'm positive that one of the first things that [Obama] is going to do ... is revisit the [George W. Bush's] ban on stem cell research ...," Fox told PEOPLE at the event, which he attended along with wife Tracy Pollan and daughters, Schuyler and Aquinnah. "I'm really excited."

I gotta say, I also hope to see the same thing come from President-elect Obama. We ALL would benefit from exploring the possibilities inherent with stem cell research. LIFT THE BAN, indeed!

As for Michael J. Fox, while not a rabid fan of all of his work I do absolutely acknowledge his acting talent and his perseverance in life especially since is diagnosis way back in '91. I also feel a bit of - oh, I don't know - a 'connection' with him because I was born at the same hospital as he ... the Royal Alexandra Hospital to be exact.

That pic of him on stage with The Who reminds of that fun scene from Back to the Future where his character, Marty McFly, takes to the stage at the high school dance to perform Johnny B Goode and ends up rocking out so hard on his electric guitar - way before the actual days of real rock n' roll - that he completely freaks out not only his backup band but also all the kids at the dance. Watch it again with me, won't you? The BEST part is at :52 seconds into the clip!

Tuesday, November 4, 2008

CONGRATULATIONS AMERICA!!!
Ya did yourselves (and your Canadian neighbours) proud


CANADA LOVES OBAMA

OBAMA + CANADA = OBAMA-DA!


image credit: cnn.com


image credit: AP


image credit: Getty

OBAMA + CANADA = OBAMA-DA!!!!!!!!!


Friday, October 31, 2008

Spotted: Madonna in Vancouver
Madonna + Canada = Madonna-da!

Yup, I spotted her alright... and so did 60,000 other fans who sold out BC Place Stadium for Madonna's FIRST EVER Vancouver concert. The Sticky and Sweet Tour finally came to town 5 months after tickets first went on sale near the end of last May.

All I can say is... HOLY MOTHER-EFFING EVERYTHING!

I’ve waited years ... decades, really ... to see a Madonna concert and WOW was it ever fantastic, amazing, fun and just so totally good and great. And hot to boot!

Seriously, I’ve been SO geeked about this concert for such a long time now ... I felt like a dog with a full bladder who's been teased with a leash and the promise of 'walkeez'. The actual coming to fruition of something so desperately anticipated was nearly overwhelming!



My excitement grew even more once Danny and I were in our seats, waiting for the show to start. I actually started to believe that my bladder really was full.

I knew it was just nerves, but what did I do anyway? I went to the men’s room and to my surprise found a line up of women waiting to get in!

Turns out, there were so many ladies in the hiz last night, and their washrooms were so busy, that they just threw out all conventions and - in behaviour I have no doubt was inspired by Madonna’s eternal gender-fuck attitude - lined up to do their thang in the men’s room.

Ha! I love it! In fact I loved it so much that I took a photo. The lovely ladies didn’t seem to mind one bit (neither did the guy doing up his fly at the left of the image).


I got back to my seat and waved at my sister, brother and Mom in their seats about five sections away from where I was seated.

Actually, there were tons of people I know also seated very close to me including former co-workers, current co-workers, a former house mate, and even Danny's gorgeous cousins happened to be only four rows in front of us. That was really quite surprising to be surrounded by so many familiar faces in our immediate area.

As for some of the other faces in the crowd, I've now heard on local news reports that some folks with floor seats paid up to $2700 for a ticket! Hmmm... we really are living in a material world, aren't we?

FINALLY, at 9:25pm the lights went down and Madonna came out! Sister was REALLY late starting her show, but... I forgive.

The show opened with Candy Shop - when I looked at the ginormous video screen beside the stage and took note of Madge’s thighs and ass, I was amazed at how ridiculously fit she is! Dare I say that I was thisclose to being turned on by her musculature ... haha.

I also loved all the candy imagery on screens behind the dancers and musicians, especially the huge spinning candy corns which is one of my all-time favourite candies.

In 'Candy Shop', there was something special about the conviction she lent to singing the line “my sugar is raw” - it was like, "MY sugar is RAW!"


Early in the show Madonna ventured out to the runway portion of her massive stage and upon arrival there she likely became aware of the presence of tobacco or marijuana because on microphone she said 'please don't smoke around the stage, thank you'.

Since it's now rare in Vancouver to come across cigarette smokers in action outside their own homes or cars, I'm guessing she was picking up some second-hand smoke from some B.C. bud - little might she know that shit is known to be so strong that by the time she may have inhaled any smoke from someone else, she was probably already higher than her own red stiletto heels.

The first set also included a couple of ol’ faves - ‘Human Nature’ which as you might know is the portion of the show including a Britney Spears video 'appearance'. In the video she wears a hoodie in an elevator and mouths the 'Human Nature' lyrics “express yourself, don’t repress yourself”.



Back to Madonna, she also played quite an interesting version of 'Vogue' which incorporated music elements of ‘4 Minutes’. Honestly, I would have preferred a more traditional performance of Vogue simply because it is such a classic with it's bouncy piano and familiar house-y drum beat. But we all know that Madge is quite literally the queen of reinvention, so that in itself makes it fascinating to be exposed to her latest take on older material.




I felt kind of the same way with ‘Into the Groove’ which was presented with a complete restructure of the original recording. But soon after that she freaking rocked out on a totally-guitared-to-the-max rendition of ‘Borderline’. The moment she began playing it, and as it played out note by note, I just thought it was brilliant and a terrific and fresh sound on a quarter-century old song.



‘She’s Not Me’ was pure megalomaniacal fun – as Madonna dedicated the tune to all the ladies in the house, she performed it surrounded by four ‘versions’ of her ‘self’ on stage with her.

Four dancers were costumed as: the bridal Boy Toy of yore from ‘Like a Virgin’, the insert-a-coin-and-watch-me-dance Madonna from the ‘Open Your Heart’ video, the cone-bra wonder of the early ‘90s and the pink-gowned Marilyn Monroe tribute from ‘Material Girl’.

While self-promoting, it was also a somewhat self-deprecating interpretation. Not to mention just plain fun to watch. Here's a pic from the start of Madonna's performance of "She's Not Me":



‘Devil Wouldn’t Recognize You’ was a beautiful performance with Madge somewhere within a roomy black cloak as she sang the song off the top surface of a piano, all of which was inside a rounded transparent screen featuring layered video imagery of water droplets and other natural elements in a slow moving kind of serenity.

Here is what the round screen looked like. And the second pic below shows the transparency of the screen with Madonna visible inside:




After this set, we saw the brilliant ‘Get Stupid’ video interlude featuring the likes of Obama, Oprah and the Dalai Lama. Very political, very timely, very important to say the least.

Next, she cracked open a bit of spontaneity and took a request from some lucky girls in the front row. Of course, the request was for ‘Like a Virgin’. With that, Madonna got 60,000 fans in Vancouver to sing the entire song at her prompting. It was really quite cool and toooooooootally fun. Here's my short video of that sing along.
video

'Like A Virgin' was soon followed by ‘Like A Prayer’ which certainly brought the house right down.



So did ‘Hung Up’. Here's a video of that:
video

I think Madonna said it best on her latest album when she said, "See my booty get down!" And that, my friends, is exactly what I was doing.

She also played (and I thank goddess for this) one of my personal faves, ‘Ray of Light’ which again had Madge displaying her bony and witchy-looking fingers across the strings of her electric-guitar. Good times, indeed!

Madonna didn't engage herself in too much chit-chat with us, but nearing the end of the show she mentioned the enormous digital clock inside the stadium, way up high near the roof, positioned directly opposite her stage. She must have finally had enough of watching the clock because between songs she gave us a 'time check' (it was 11:02pm) and mentioned 'that fucking clock has been staring back at me all night'. If anything, it got a decent chuckle out of most of the concert-goers.

I bought a tour shirt with a pic of Madonna on the chest. To me, this particular image is very reminiscent of Liz Phair on the cover of Exile in Guyville. Seriously!

Okay, here's an image of the Madonna T-shirt I bought (except this one is the baby-tee for the girls... mine is NOT a baby-tee, but the image of her face is identical)



And now here is the cover of Liz Phair's 'Exile in Guyville' album ... to me, the two are very similar!



Anyhoo, luckily Danny and I managed to get our picture taken with Madonna last night. She's the slightly smaller figure in the background:



And to round out today's Madge-errific post, here's a couple more concert pics:




Wednesday, September 3, 2008

LETTERMAN IS THE BETTERMAN
Late Show host makes rare appearance in the headlines

One of my favourite guys of all time is suddenly everywhere today.



David Letterman
is about to appear on the cover of the Rolling Stone this Friday, and has hit the headlines in the lead up to the magazine's publication date.

In all the time I've been a fan of Letterman, today is the very first time I've seen his name everywhere. Have you noticed that too? It looks like "everybody" has picked up on the story out earlier today from the Associated Press.

CNN is running several quotes of his opinion of the impending late night departure of Jay Leno and re-shuffle of Conan O'Brien.

CTV's eTalk has also included David Letterman in their coverage today, along with the cover from the upcoming Rolling Stone which also happens to include the fabulously & brilliantly hilarious Tina Fey AND Chris Rock ... I love it! 3 of my faves all together. I think this is just a great photograph:



Luckily, it looks like the folks over at Rolling Stone also released some additional tidbits to Reuters and, as a result, we get some more comments from Dave Letterman on how he actually feels a bit bad about poking fun at U.S. Presidential candidate John McCain:

"John McCain looks like the kinda guy who brags that his new denture adhesive allows him to eat corn on the cob," Letterman once said on his CBS talk show.

LOL! Love that. There's more of his McCain-related words on the MSNBC website.

Ah, Letterman. I do fret a bit at the thought of him leaving the airwaves sometime after 2010. That's just too soon, even though I've been watching his show since his early days on NBC.

The only thing I can think of that would be a *good* result of Letterman's departure is that it seems likely that Craig Ferguson, host of the Letterman-produced "Late Late Show", would fill the post. And that would be T-riffic - sometimes I laugh more at the bizarrely-hilarious Ferguson than I do at the self-deprecating and folksy Letterman. But, no question, Dave is still the man. The man for me, tee hee hee.

So, yeah ... it's good to see David Letterman in the headlines today. I'm definitely looking forward to reading his full interview in the new issue of Rolling Stone.

What say we harken back to a classic Letterman episode, "co-starring" another of my all-time faves... Madonna (who I FINALLY will get to see live here in Vancouver on October 30!):

Monday, September 1, 2008

JUDE LAW'S ROAD TO PEACE
British actor promotes peace in Afghanistan

With so much political focus in North America on the Republican National Convention (now delayed by Hurricane Gustav ) and on the seemingly inevitable Canadian federal election, there's one guy out there who is still trying to bring some additional focus to Afghanistan.

And that guy is Jude Law. Today he met reporters in the city of Kabul to promote the upcoming annual Peace Day (September 21) in support of non-violence and a global cease-fire. Here's the details from the Associated Press:


(Getty Images)
KABUL, Afghanistan - Jude Law is visiting Afghanistan to promote peace in the war-ravaged country.

Together with director Jeremy Gilley, the Oscar-nominated Law has returned to Afghanistan to help maintain momentum for Peace Day — an annual day on Sept. 21 urging a global cease-fire and nonviolence.

The United Nations General Assembly adopted Peace Day in 2001, following a lobbying campaign by Gilley which he documented in the film “Peace One Day.”

“When I left Kabul last year, I was hugely moved not by the conflict that I have read so much about, but by the people’s courage and the people’s sense of hope,” Law told reporters in Kabul on Monday.

“It seemed that they really want to make this day, the Peace Day, work. And they did,” Law said. “People recognize the day, because they recognize that lives could be saved.”

Noted for his roles in movies such as “The Talented Mr. Ripley” and “Cold Mountain,” Law helped Gilley produce his second documentary film, called “The Day After Peace.”

The documentary, which also features former U.N. chief Kofi Annan, the Dalai Lama, Angelina Jolie, Annie Lennox and Jonny Lee Miller, charts the way Peace Day can be used as a focus for lifesaving activity, Gilley said.

Law said the movie “was the most important film I have been part of.”

Law and Gilley, who arrived in Kabul on Sunday, are to meet President Hamid Karzai, top NATO and U.N. officials, and members of the aid community.

Last year, they traveled and filmed in treacherous areas of eastern Afghanistan to help promote the day, on which they hope weapons will fall silent, allowing help to reach those most in need.

Gilley said in Afghanistan over 1.4 million children were able to be vaccinated against polio on Peace Day as a result.

“The world celebrates so many days that often separate and segregate us ... and yet there is none that ties us all together,” Law said.

He said ordinary Afghans, who marched and prayed as they marked Peace Day last year, are among the film’s stars.

“It is Peace Day’s commitment to take this film as a message from people of Afghanistan to the rest of the world,” he said.

The visit coincides with one of Afghanistan’s most violent periods since the ouster of the Taliban from power in 2001. More than 3,700 people — mostly militants — have died as a result of the war this year.

Law said that even as Kabul has become more dangerous, hope among its people has remained surprisingly high.

If “it is possible here, it is possible everywhere,” Gilley said.

And how... those seem like pretty good words to hear on this Labour Day, n'est-ce pas?

93 Canadian soldiers have died since the 2002 start of Canada's Afghan mission.

You can get in touch with the Canadian troops on the national defence department's website.

Sunday, August 31, 2008

PHELPS HELPS
8 Gold medals and a heart of gold, too?

The 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing have been over for a week now and the 2008 Paralympic Games are open, but Michael Phelps keeps on bringin' the goodness.

This time, bringing it to some New York kids with his visit to the Manhattan YMCA on Thursday.

Just below this unforgettable image of Phelps during the Beijing games, here's the scoop on his YMCA visit from People magazine:



Michael Phelps faced his toughest competition yet this week in New York City: a group of 6-to-12-year-olds!

The eight-time Olympic gold medalist visited the McBurney YMCA in Manhattan on Thursday to hand over a $20,000 check on behalf of Visa as part of the Play Every Day partnership. Phelps, not surprisingly, spent most of his time in the water, running drills, racing, and slapping high fives with the kids.

"He was very gracious and spent a lot of time with the kids in the water," Mike Spezzano, vice president of programs and membership for the YMCA of greater New York, told PEOPLE Friday. "They swam against Phelps, which is something they'll be saying for the rest of their lives."

Phelps partnered with Visa and Play Every Day, which aims to get kids more physically active. The money donated to the YMCA will give 185 inner city second graders the opportunity to attend the YMCA for swimming lessons. Other funds will go to purchasing new equipment and expanding the organizations aquatic facilities.

"The spotlight is on him after all he's accomplished," Spezzano said. "Meeting with community organizations and kids when he could probably be doing a lot of other things says a lot about him as a person."
Yup, I would hafta agree with that. Right now Phelps could be all over billboards for Speedo, or remaining scantily clad for a celebrity fragrance campaign, but instead it's great to see that he's on track to keep kids interested in the sport of swimming and encouraging their involvement in physical activity. Now if only I would get off the couch and follow his lead...

What say we take a few mins to enjoy some lovely pics of Phelps - in this first one, I think it's really very nice to see him and his U.S. teammates unabashedly enjoying each other's half-naked company:



In this next photo from Michael Phelp's previous appearance on MTV's TRL, I think it is fairly safe and certainly necessary to say that host Vanessa Minillo is, quite simply, a bitch.



And, in one of the cooler photo sessions of the year, famed photographer Annie Liebowitz snapped beautiful, artistic images of well-known folks in Disney-inspired themes. For that project, Michael Phelps signed on as part of the Little Mermaid session. Here he is getting ready for his close-up:



Such a cutie. Next up is the final image Liebowitz created featuring not only Merman Phelps, but also, as Ariel herself, the lovely and beautiful (and one of my all-time favourite actresses) Julianne Moore. This picture is really, really somethin' alright (make sure you click on the pic itself to open up a hi-res version... it's really worth a close look)



So thanks to Phelps and his good deed down at the YMCA for inspiring us today. If you want to know more about how to get involved, check out your own local YMCA or YWCA.



Sunday, July 20, 2008

NOT A GIRL, BUT IS SHE YET A WOMAN?
Britney Spears plays with the grown ups

I kinda hafta admit that I really didn't think I'd ever have a reason to report on the activities of Britney Spears on Gimme Never Gets. Her tendency toward confusing and self-centered behaviour doesn't exactly position her as an individual working toward the greater good, IMHO.



But maybe there's a change in the wind with Ms. Spears because last night she attended a fundraiser hosted by Jim Carrey and Jenny McCarthy for Generation Rescue, an amazing organization dedicated to researching autism under the belief the condition can be reversed!

People magazine's Good Deeds has the good deets:

With her divorce settlement behind her, Britney Spears took time out on Saturday night to do something for the kids, adding star wattage to Jenny McCarthy and Jim Carrey's fundraiser for Generation Rescue, an organization dedicated to researching autism.

"She looked great and seemed really happy," says a partygoer of the Snow Queen Vodka-sponsored shindig at the couple's home in Brentwood. Though she kept close to her assistant Brett and didn't speak to other guests, "She smiled and clapped during the video about autism. She was very into the information and watched a little bit of the dancers from Dancing with the Stars, sneaking out during one of the performances."

Also at the bash were newlyweds Charlie Sheen and Brooke Mueller ("The honeymoon isn't over!" remarked one guest), a "lovey-dovey" Robert Rodriguez and Rose McGowan, who kissed and danced all night, and of course the host couple.

"Jenny and Jim were adorable," says the guest, "She kept saying, 'I love you honey' to him when she thanked him from the stage." Carrey, not to be outdone by the DWTS folks, soon took to the dance floor, even challenging another guest to a playful dance-off.

Says the guest, "Jim was hilarious."


Photo Credit: WireImage

Hmmm... I do realize that smiling and clapping during an autism video isn't a bad thing, but I'm left wondering how deeply Britney Spears wishes to bring about change for autistic kids if she wasn't even engaging in conversation about the condition, about Generation Rescue, or about anything at all for that matter. But at least she was there and I guess that's a good thing, especially since she has two little boys of her own. Her involvement with these people may help her learn about possible ways to keep her own kids healthy.

And what about that Rose McGowan, eh? I had pretty much totally forgotten about her except for the fact that reading this article makes me think about Charmed which makes me think about her co-star on that show, Shannon Doherty, which makes me think about the fact that it's now been confirmed that Doherty will be part of the cast on this fall's 90210.

Yee-Haw for that news! Can. Not. Wait. to check out that show. Not just for old time's sake, but also to hopefully have another fun and fairly mindless teen drama to get all wrapped up in after the summer. I don't why I watch these shows (I'm also a Gossip Girl addict) because they certainly bring up reminders of just how painful being a teenager can be. Not to get all heavy about it, but it's good to know that the teenage years are not necessarily the *best* years of one's life. Things DO get better if you want them to :-)

Note to self: thinking about Rose McGowan also reminds me that I STILL haven't seen Grindhouse which I gotta get around to at some point ;-)



Back to Generation Rescue, I find this organization to be exciting because it is focused on the idea that autism is preventable and reversible. Their thinking is...

Our children are experiencing epidemics of ADD/ADHD, Asperger's, PDD-NOS, and Autism.

We believe these neurological disorders ("NDs") are environmental illnesses caused by an overload of heavy metals, live viruses, and bacteria. Proper treatment of our children, known as "biomedical intervention", is leading to recovery for thousands.

The cause of this epidemic of NDs is extremely controversial. We believe the cause includes the tripling of vaccines given to children in the last 15 years (with unstudied ingredients like mercury, aluminum and live viruses); growing evidence also suggests that maternal toxic load and prenatal vaccines, heavy metals like mercury in our air, toxic ingredients in our water, pesticides; and the overuse of antibiotics are also implicated. Generation Rescue's mission is to support continued research on causative factors and treatment approaches for NDs.

These are bold ideas which totally deserve research, funding and development. I wish the best for the parents involved in the organization because they are the ones who will get to true bottom of the issues and finally learn how to help their kids and, as a result, generations of kids to come. Check out the Generation Rescue website because it really is very interesting.

Woulda been fun to have seen Jim Carrey doin' his thang for his house guests. His work with Jenny McCarthy on autism calls to mind his earlier professional career, when he was already aware of using comedy as a powerful tool for promoting important issues ... check out his hilarious Environmental Guy from In Living Color:

Thursday, July 17, 2008

LET'S ALL (BAY)WATCH PAMELA ANDERSON'S NEW SHOW
Pam: Girl on the Loose! to premiere on E! Aug 3rd

Maybe playing with Barbie dolls or Fashion Plates as a young lad had something to do with my long-standing love and affection for Pamela Anderson.



I don't want to pander to obvious and superficial popular conclusions based on image, but really it's kinda hard not to do so. Howevs, there's much more to lovely Pamela than blonde hair, ginormous boobies, a tiny waist and youthful speech patterns.

She does Canada proud (born on the country's birthday - July 1st - in 1967) by advancing the cause of PETA and placing a recognizable face on a profound movement to change the way people think.

PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) and Pamela work together - particularly against cruelty to poultry allegedly sponsored by KFC. The PETA campaign has been known as KFC or, Kentucky Fried Cruelty.

Recently, PETA was finally able to end its boycott of KFC Canada thanks to the company's agreement to amend its slaughter practices. You can read about this long overdue development, and in addition here's a quick list of some changes made by KFC Canada:

* Phase in purchases of 100 percent of its chickens from suppliers that use CAK, standing for "controlled-atmosphere killing", the least cruel form of poultry slaughter ever developed. KFC Canada is the first major restaurant chain to commit to phasing in the exclusive purchasing of chicken meat from CAK slaughterhouses.

* Add a vegan faux-chicken item to the menu of all 461 Priszm-owned KFC restaurants (more than half of all the KFCs in Canada).

* Improve its animal welfare audit criteria to reduce the number of broken bones and other injuries suffered by birds.

* Urge its suppliers to adopt better practices, including improved lighting, lower stocking density and ammonia levels, and a phaseout of growth-promoting drugs and breeding practices that painfully cripple chickens.

* Form an animal welfare advisory panel to monitor the changes and recommend further advancements.



So, positive steps have definitely been taken. But, if you actually think for a few moments about why this boycott occurred in the first place, and then actually think for a few moments about having a chicken burger... well, you tend to lose your appetite a wee bit, n'est-ce pas?

Lucky for Pam and her fans, her star will continue to shine even brighter very soon which should mean that she can remain in a strong position to influence the effectiveness of PETA's initiatives all over world.

That's because August 3rd at 10pm is the E! premiere of Pam: Girl on the Loose! It's kind of a docu-series on the cable channel already rife with celebreality shows, but I think Pam's will stand out from the pack. Here's a bit about Pam's new show as reported by zap2it.com

E!'s not-really-a-reality-show reality show starring Pamela Anderson will be making its way to your TV screen in August.

"Pam: Girl on the Loose" is scheduled to premiere at 10 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 3. The show promises a "truly personal and in-depth glimpse" into Anderson's life as a mother, working actress and animal-rights activist.

Episodes will feature the former "Baywatch" and "Stacked" star holding a massive yard sale, taking meetings for various business endeavors and tending to her kids without the help of a maid or a nanny.

Anderson is among the executive producers of "Girl on the Loose," along with Fenton Bailey and Randy Barbato ("The Eyes of Tammy Faye," "Showbiz Moms & Dads"), Tom Campbell and Jeff Pollack.

TIT-illated? Me too. Here's a preview:


Yeah, so it's gonna be fun to watch at the very least and at best it'll help to educate another demographic about some of the truly important work this woman does.

I do love me some Pam Anderson, indeed. Here she is on recent appearance on Larry King Live with Dan Mathews, her PETA cohort, talking up the good talk. I love what this guy has to say:


Before we wrap up our little trip down Pamela lane, let's have a moment for Fashion Plates:



Fashion Plates, as described on InThe80's, was 'an "artsy" toy from the eighties. By using several thin plates (aligned on a board and colored/traced over with colored pencils), you could create a woman with interchangeable fashionable outfits.'

Ah, such good times - it all flashes me back to grade four with one of the most non-judgmental gal pals of my youth, Tammy T.

I remember creating stunning designs using her Fashion Plates set, and I was inspired by her early acknowledgment of pop culture evidenced by her wearing of a "Who Shot J.R.?" t-shirt.

And... since we're now talking about that ancient reference too..., here's the classic scene from Dallas for anyone else who is as ridiculously reminiscent of the 80's as I am:






Sunday, July 13, 2008

1 CELEBRITY STORK = 2 BABIES!
Brangelina's Twins Finally Enter the World

Happy News to report today from the land of the gorgeous and the generous...

After much conjecture, anticipation, guessing, erroneous reporting and tons of bated breath the world over, the arrival of twins to parents Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie is now official. OFFICIALLY, official.

At around 8pm local time on Saturday (July 12) near Nice, France, Angelina Jolie delivered twins, a boy and a girl, by caesarean section.

According to Jolie's obstetrician, she and Brad Pitt are doing "marvelously well" after the birth.



In case you still don't quite believe that this birth event has finally happened, here's a photo... not of the babies, but of the next best thing at this point ... a birth certificate!



That's the mayor of Nice, Christian Estrosi, center, holding the birth certificates of one of Angelina Jolie's twins, Knox Leon Jolie-Pitt, with Dr. Michel Sussmann, Jolie's obstetrician, The photo was taken Sunday, July 13, 2008 by Claude Paris of The Associated Press.

Here are alot more details on the babies' birth as reported by the Canadian Press:

NICE, France - The Brangelina twins are here: Angelina Jolie has given birth to a girl and a boy, and dad Brad Pitt took the whole thing in stride. The obstetrician who delivered the twins, Dr. Michel Sussmann, said the actress, the babies and Pitt "are doing marvelously well."

The 33-year-old actress gave birth to a boy, Knox Leon, and a girl, Vivienne Marcheline, by Caesarean section about 8 p.m. Saturday in Nice in southern France. Jolie had a local anesthetic and was conscious throughout, the doctor said.


Pitt was in the delivery room at the seaside Lenval hospital as the babies were born one minute apart, Sussman said, the boy weighing just over five pounds and the girl five pounds.


"He was perfectly calm and everything went well," Sussmann said.
"He was very happy ... The emotion was very strong for him," the doctor added.

"Angelina Jolie was speaking, was laughing with her husband. They were happy."
"The mother, the babies, the father are doing marvelously well," he said.

Sussmann said the Caesarean was moved forward from its originally planned date "for medical reasons" so the babies could be born "in the best conditions." The doctor did not give details.
He said Jolie is expected to stay in the hospital for a few more days and that she now needs rest.

The four other Jolie-Pitt children - Maddox, 6; Pax, 4; Zahara, 3; and Shiloh, 2 - have not yet seen their new sister and brother, he added.


The doctor said he believed the baby girl's middle name was chosen in honour of Jolie's mother, actress Marcheline Bertrand, who died in January 2007 after a 7 1/2-year battle with cancer.


Jolie had checked into the hospital late last month to rest and be monitored by her doctor before the birth.

Before that, she, Pitt and their children had moved into a large estate, Miraval, in the French hamlet of Correns, which is just a short helicopter ride from the hospital. Correns is about 100 kilometres from Nice, a resort on the Mediterranean.


Though the lenses of the world's paparazzi had been trained on maternity wards across the French Riviera, Jolie managed to slip unobserved into the clinic, which has magnificent views of the Mediterranean, reportedly arriving by helicopter on the hospital's rooftop helipad.
Pitt was seen coming and going after Jolie's hospitalization became public.

The first photos of the new twins are expected to fetch millions of dollars.
Paparazzi and curious sightseers gathered outside the hospital in Nice on Sunday, hoping for glimpses and shots of Pitt.

Local newspaper Nice Matin, which first broke news of the birth, reported Sunday that the couple have sold rights for the first photo of their newly enlarged family to a U.S. publication, which it did not name, and that the proceeds would go to charity. The newspaper gave no source for that information.

But the doctor said the couple decided to announce the birth to Nice Matin first because of its links to Nice. The newspaper called the twins "the most famous babies in the world."


Earlier in the week, the hospital said it had coated the windows of Jolie's room with a special material to prevent paparazzi from taking unauthorized pictures of the star couple.


Tourists and residents of Nice, a popular resort, welcomed news of the birth. The city's mayor, Christian Estrosi, visited the hospital Sunday to deliver the twins' birth certificates, which spared Pitt the need to go to City Hall himself to register the babies, and run the gauntlet of the photographers waiting outside.


"It's a happy day for Mrs. Angelina Jolie and all the citizens of Nice," said Estrosi.


The mayor previously has said that the twins will always be considered honorary citizens of the city, regardless of whether they opt to obtain French citizenship.



Wow - I would imagine it's gonna be *quite* awhile before Angelina Jolie is physically able to strike a pose like the one above ;-)

I do hope that the "best conditions" referred to by the obstetrician were achieved and that mama and her babies are able to remain in strong health from this point on.

Marcheline is a beautiful second name to give to the baby girl, and certainly a beautiful tribute to Angelina's late mother.

It's interesting to note that her father, actor Jon Voight, is as yet unmentioned in all of this. It's no public secret their relationship is strained, but with the birth of two new additions to their family we can only hope that new life may give new inspiration for Angelina and Jon to come together somehow.

As expected, I'm really glad to know that the exorbitant sum to be paid for the first photos of babies will be donated to charity. That's really good news. As a hilarious aside to the baby pics aspect of this story, check out this LOL quote from a photo agency honcho:

"I've never known a set of pictures to be worth this amount of money," said Darryn Lyons, owner of Big Pictures, a celebrity photo agency in London. He estimated that the twins' official photos will be worth between $15 million and $20 million.

The only other photos that "would possibly come that close is Britney Spears giving birth to an alien," he said.

Hardy-Har-Har!!! Love, Love, LOVE it!

I wonder if Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie have already selected a recipient for the money through their Jolie-Pitt Foundation? When they established the foundation in 2006, they kicked things off by donating 1 million dollars to each of Doctors Without Borders and Global Action for Children. Who knows where the money from the first pics of twins will go? Oddly, there's no website for the Jolie-Pitt Foundation.

Is it not kinda hilarious and mind-boggling that the hospital is just a short helicopter ride away from their home in France? The lifestyle and lengths gone to in order to ensure privacy are toooooooooooootally amazing! I really cannot imagine living that kind of life. Zoinks!



I guess that after a few requisite days of joyous rest and relaxation at the hospital, Angelina and the new twins will be able to re-join the rest of the family at their Chateau Miraval estate in the south of France which, unbelievably, has a 3-mile driveway and its own forest!

Check this place out!!! Freakin' byooooooooooooootiful, indeed...



Here's a news report with details on their French home (and their other homes, too):

Angelina Jolie and Brad Pitt are buying a new home in the south of France. The couple has spent a reported 70 million U.S. dollars for a 1,000-acre estate in the European country, which even comes with its own title -- Chateau Miraval.

The estate, located in a village called Brignol near the Aix-en-Provence, comes complete with a three-mile long driveway, a private lake, moat and for ultimate privacy, its own forest.


Inside the lavish home are 35-spacious rooms, many of which featuring balconies offering amazing views of the surrounding valley.
On the grounds of the estate, 13 different varieties are reportedly harvested, and sprawled across the acreage are 20 fountains and a stream which runs through hidden tunnels, filling the moat and the lake.



The Pitts, who banked a combined 55 million dollars last year, already own a multi-million home in Berlin, and Angelina also owns a 4 million dollar converted farmhouse in Buckinghamshire, England.


In the United States, the couple owns a 9 million dollar oceanfront home in Malibu, California, and another home in Santa Barbara. They also paid the full asking price of 3.75 million dollars for their home in New Orleans.

There you have it, 3 homes in Europe and 3 homes in the USA. Even though their family just got bigger by two, they clearly have the space to get around and raise their kids with likely the best of everything.

These two brand new babies, along with their 4 siblings, are poised for a very, very interesting life. And with the ongoing and very public humanitarian commitments made by their parents, it looks like the world now has half a dozen youngins that will grow up learning how to live a kind and generous life.

Plus, it stands to reason that their lives will also be very, very interesting since they're going to wind up looking like a combination of their ridiculously beautiful parents.





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