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Oh No They Didn't! - LiveJournal.com

older | 1 | .... | 373 | 374 | (Page 375) | 376 | 377 | .... | 4829 | newer

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    A former manager at an Elkhart, Ind., Pizza Hut trying to give his employees some time off says he was fired for refusing to open the store on Thanksgiving, local CBS affiliate WSBT is reporting.

    Tony Rohr, who started out at the pizza chain as a cook before working his way up to general manager, confronted his superiors after being told the store would need to be open on Thanksgiving.

    In years past, Rohr said, Pizza Hut stores have been closed on Thanksgiving and Christmas, according to Fox 8.

    "Thanksgiving and Christmas are the only two days that they're closed in the whole year and they're the only two days that those people are guaranteed to have off and spend it with their families," he told WSBT.

    His bosses told him to tender his resignation, but he wrote a scathing letter instead.

    "I am not quitting. I do not resign, however I accept that the refusal to comply with this greedy, immoral request means the end of my tenure with this company," Rohr wrote, according to WSBT. " ... I hope you realize that it's the people at the bottom of the totem pole that make your life possible."

    The company is already seeing quite a backlash on their official Facebook page, with some commenters calling the chain "greedy" and threatening to never eat there again. The page did not respond to any of the negative comments.

    One of Rohr's bosses claimed that he quit, and being open on Thanksgiving wasn't an individual's decision — it was a company decision, according to WSBT.


    Do you have to work on Thanksgiving?

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    The One Direction boys often speak out about their whirlwind schedules and global expectations.

    Although Harry Styles seemed to have taken it upon himself to clock up more air miles for the group, as he jetted home to London from New York in a speedy 24 hours.

    Harry and band mates Zayn Malik, Niall Horan, Liam Payne and Louis Tomlinson have been in the US to promote their new EP 'Midnight Memories' which was released on Monday.

    Harry looked like a young rock star as he stepped out of a car north London on Wednesday.


    Dressed in skinny jeans, brown chelsea boots, grey T-shirt, lumberjack shirt a brown shearling coat, the 19-year-old singer accessorised his look with a silver pendant, dark glasses and a khaki head band he had wrapped around his head to keep his short curly hair under control.

    The One Direction heart-throb was accompanied by a mystery friend, who was dressed casually and masked his identity with a blue and white baseball cap.

    The world's most popular boy band have been in the US to promote their new album, making a special appearance on Good Morning American on Tuesday, where Harry confirmed his single status.

    The star received a roaring cheer as he raised his hand when the Good Morning America presenter asked Harry and his One Direction band mates who was ‘still available’.

    The 1D stars were in Central Park performing tracks from their new album and revealed the dates for their upcoming Where We Are tour.

    Niall said: ‘Next year as you know we’re doing our tour, the Where We Are tour. And we’re bringing it to North America and the tickets are on sale on 7th December this year.

    ‘We will be playing our first show on 1st August in Toronto – so we’re very excited. It’s going to be fun.’

    With their breath visable in the air, it was obviously a cold morning in the New York central park.

    Liam congratulated their fans on being so devoted: ‘This is so nice. We can’t believe how many people have showed up in the cold for us.

    ‘We don’t usually get up this early.’ Harry interjected.

    The boys’ album Midnight Memories has only been on iTunes for a matter of hours, yet it’s already at number 1 in almost 200 countries.


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  • 11/27/13--13:01: Tabloid Cover Wednesday
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    Josh Duhamel shows off his biceps in a muscle tank while riding his bicycle around town on Tuesday (November 26) in Brentwood, Calif.

    The 41-year-old actor got in a good workout by riding his bike two miles from his current home to check on the construction of his new home.

    Josh was spotted out the day before in a white t-shirt and light green pants while stopping by a friend’s home in Los Angeles.

    Source: http://www.justjared.com/photo-gallery/3001000/josh-duhamel-bares-his-biceps-in-muscle-tank-on-bike-ride-04/

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    Justin Bieber takes of his shirt displaying his shirtless torso while performing for fans at the Brisbane Entertainment Centre on Wednesday evening (November 27) in Brisbane, Australia.

    The 19-year-old entertainer sang and danced fully clothed before stripping off his shirt and showing off his muscled bod.

    “Thank you to the Gold Coast. Sydney is next.” Justin tweeted out to his fans. Justin is scheduled to perform in Sydney on November 29 and 30 before heading to Melbourne, Adelaide, and Perth.

    Source: http://www.justjared.com/photo-gallery/3001213/justin-bieber-strips-down-shirtless-for-brisnane-concert-03/

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    Brooke Mueller has just declared nuclear war in her child custody dispute with Charlie Sheen -- she's accused Denise Richards of abusing her twins and the 2 other daughters Denise had with Charlie ... sources tell TMZ.

    Law enforcement sources tell TMZ ... cops came to Denise's door Tuesday night and told her they were there to question her about a child abuse claim lodged by Brooke. Denise did not let them inside because her daughters were there.

    We're told Denise walked outside and told cops the claim was "ridiculous" and "vindictive" -- that the L.A. County Dept. of Children and Family Services was already handling the dispute .. a dispute that started after Brooke was stripped of custody after a raging drug problem flared up yet again.

    Sources say Brooke's latest claim will have dire consequences, especially if it's false, because Denise's daughters and the twins will be grilled about the allegations -- something that is ALWAYS emotionally traumatizing.

    We're told Richards made it clear -- she hasn't even seen the twins for 2 weeks, so if Brooke really had a gripe why didn't she lodge it earlier. Also, Brooke has had not contact with Denises' daughters, so the claim is suspicious.


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    John Legend celebrated the birthday of his wife Chrissy Teigen with a "Super Mario Bros." themed bash in West Hollywood last night. See the super cute party pics inside and find out what else John did while in Los Angeles.

    Source: http://theybf.com/2013/11/27/john-legend-throws-chrissy-teigen-a-super-mario-bros-themed-28th-birthday-party

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    The toy company GoldieBlox has pulled its version of the Beastie Boys song “Girls” from an an online video that became a viral hit, and has said it also may drop a lawsuit that sought a judgment that the parody of the music was fair use.

    GoldieBlox posted an open letter to surviving Beastie Boys Michael Diamond and Adam Horovitz on its website, saying, “when we posted the video, we were completely unaware that the late great Adam Yauch [who died in 2012] had requested in his will that the Beastie Boys songs never be used in advertising. Although we believe our parody video falls under fair use, we would like to respect his wishes and yours.”

    The toy company makes several products and the video focuses on the ones intended to encourage young girls’ interests in engineering. GoldieBlox said it had created the “Girls” parody as a comment on the song itself; where the original lyrics focused on outdated female roles, the GoldieBlox lyrics celebrated “the many capabilities of girls.”

    GoldieBlox filed its suit on Nov. 21, claiming that it was a response to legal threats from Beastie Boys’ attorneys. But the surviving members of the group pointed out that they decided “long ago” not to license their music for advertisements.

    “Since actions speak louder than words, we have already removed the song from our video,” GoldieBlox said in the open letter. “In addition, we are ready to stop the lawsuit as long as this means we will no longer be under legal threat from your legal team.”


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    i'm excited! <3

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    Congratulations to POPCORN!!

    AKA Miley the Twerky. (Joke stolen from ‏@mulaney)

    Once pardoned, Miley Twerky will join these other Celebriturkeys in retirement.

    Courturkey Stuffing

    Turkey Minaj

    Lady Gobbles

    T Pain

    Pictures from:

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    Get The Look

    Makeup Artist Scott Barnes:
    Hello my beauties! And now For the moment you've all been waiting for, GET THE LOOK! Tonight is one of my very favorites and I'm calling it the Golden Grateful Goddess! Seeing as how were fast approaching Thanksgiving and the holidays are pressing upon us, it's all about having that golden glow! So smooth & creamy, you just want to eat it! I started out with the signature Dior Airflash 300 for a light and effortless feel and followed up with Inglot blush in orange, nutmeg pencil from Dior, eyes to kill mascara from Armani, flutter lashes in Audrey mink, lips lathered in lip slick by scott barnes called Burlesque, and eyeshadow in metallic gold by makeup forever, with Christian Dior in sequin as a highlighter, all These yummy colors combined to create this perfect campfire golden glow look for the holiday :)

    Don't forget to follow me on twitter and Instagram at @scottbarnes68
    Xoxo Scott Barnes

    Stylist Simone Harouche:
    Tonight we were feeling a little festive with the upcoming thanksgiving holidays approaching. What says holiday festive more than a little gold metallic?!!

    Christina wore a shirt by Saint Laurent, jeans by Rag & Bone, lace up boots by Christian Louboutin Earrings by rings by meus.

    Hope you love tonight's look!!

    Happy holidays!

    Follow Simone on Twitter and Instagram @simoneharouche

    Hair Stylist David Babaii:
    Tonight I was inspired by the elegance of Grace Kelly, and of course by the glamorous Christina! We wanted to put a slightly modern feel on a very classic look.

    I started by curling 1" pieces of hair with a 1" curling iron, keeping the curls clean and classic. Once finished, I used my hands to loosely pull the hair back and then secured with pins. I set the look in place by spraying David Babaii Finished Styling Spray all over.

    Christina absolutely embodied a modern day Grace Kelly tonight!

    pics source
    leno performance source

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    Now officially the all-time November opening record holder, "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" was always a fairly sure thing in terms of box office. But what's more impressive is the advance word on the film (our own included), and the buzz around it, which has been so positive, with it being touted as the rare sequel that improves on the original, and with many going so far as to compare it to "The Empire Strikes Back." (Though, to be honest, we think that comparison is more to do with how open-ended it feels, with the good guys separated and some of them still imperiled, at the film's close.) Some of us might not go quite that far, but certainly director Francis Lawrence has made good on delivering a broader, more nuanced and more layered film than the first, which is fitting considering he was adapting what we'd consider the best of the three books, by quite some distance.

    But not everything worked for us, even for those of us who are among the film's bigger fans. The film is long, it's quite slow to start with and the aforementioned mid-air ending does mean the pacing issues tell a little as it wears on. However, on the other hand, that slightly strange shape does make it feel a great deal less formulaic than the average YA sequel. So know then, that we're coming largely from a very positive place as we take a look through some of notable aspects of "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" that stuck with us—the good, the bad and the somewhere-in-between. Oh, and obviously this is a post for people who've seen the film already, so spoilers ahead.

    The Good

    Jena Malone as Johanna Mason
    Jena Malone as returning tribute Johanna Mason is some of the most spot-on casting of the franchise, and she tears into the axe-wielding part with gusto. Malone brings a much needed wild-eyed ferocity to the proceedings, a fine foil to the also badass, but often overly compassionate Katniss. She’s mad as hell about this Quarter Quell and everyone’s going to hear about it too (her brutal honesty is refreshing). Malone walks off with every scene she’s in, starting with the infamous elevator strip down, where she sheds her District 7 tree costume in order to get a rise out of Katniss (she elicits some quality Jennifer Lawrence side eye that is truly a delight to behold). She’s not without nuance though, demonstrating her willingness to protect others at all costs and hinting that her ferocious demeanor comes from a place of real trauma and loss caused by the Games. In fact, Malone's version of the character comes across as almost a crazy-mirror version of Katniss—she has all the strength of will but none of the love and the edge of jealousy this brings to her dealings with Katniss is deliciously played by Malone. We almost felt like Johanna envies Katniss being the girl who will start the revolution, as it's a role she herself would have relished, but she simply doesn't possess the same inspirational quality. Which makes her spiteful and bitter, even while she's principled and fundamentally decent enough to be doing the right thing. The only complaint might be that there wasn’t enough of her on screen. Prequel material, maybe?

    Amped-Up Scope And Scale
    In the first film, the arena where the games are held seemed like a magically science fiction-y realm, where it seemed like the godlike architects of the games (alongside the nefarious President Snow) could reconfigure land, sea, and air, almost on a whim. But in execution, it seemed like the woodsy arena was next door to the rundown district where Katniss hailed from; the lack of variety didn't just seem like a creative deficiency but a budgetary one too. With "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire," both the budget and the creative principals' imaginations seem to have been widened considerably. Not only do we get cool stuff outside of the arena like glittering, futuristic cities and luxury monorails, but the arena seems bigger and more magnificent. The tropical setting was an inspired flourish; it makes it deadlier and differentiates itself completely from the original's Appalachian backdrop. The games themselves are grander too, with stuff like the sinister wave of toxic fog, a band of carnivorous baboons and the rotating island. In this film, the promise of the games, especially with the expanded "Survivor: All Stars"-like cast of characters, has been fully realized.

    Josh Hutcherson's Peeta Begins To Come Into His Own
    While, not being thirteen, we don't want to spend any time rehashing the "OMG Liam Hemsworth's Gale is sooo way hotter than Josh Hutcherson's Peeta" debate, (especially as The Onion's terrific review dives deep into that same issue), from a slightly less hormonal standpoint, Hutcherson's casting as Peeta did begin to make more sense to us during this outing. While it felt a little like a miscalculation in the first film, here Hutcherson's relative slightness and lack of out-and-out hunkiness seems to be part of the point: the love triangle, for all it feels a little mishandled (see below) is between Katniss and two actual people, not just two guys who are desperately in love with her but otherwise differ only in the type of "studly" they embody. In fact Peeta, who is still something of a liability during the actual games (he does temporarily die, after all), thanks to some sensitive writing, gets to deliver some decent dialogue that suggests his independent thought processes, and makes it clear that Katniss, to her credit and that of the film, has a choice to make not between Hottie 1 and Hottie 2, but between two different young men who are defined by different things in the wider world, and not just their relationship to her.

    It Looks Good (No Shaky Cam!)
    Considering how quickly "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" was put together, it's sort of amazing that the production team had any time to design (or redesign) aspects of this particular, bloodthirsty futureworld; the fact that these designs are so striking is even more impressive. But director Francis Lawrence, taking over from Gary Ross, has designed and implemented a fully realized world, whether the proto-Stalinist architecture of some of the outer districts or the zooming monorails and grand balls of the Capitol, not to mention a version of the Hunger Games in which the lightning trees, whirling typhoons, and clouds of toxic gas are really given memorable, malevolent design. Gone is the first movie's over-reliance on frantic shaky cam cinematography, which added a level of frenetic electricity but often at the cost of things like spatial geography or character placement. Lawrence instead chooses to shoot in long, fluid takes that root you firmly in the action, cleanly establishing the geography of each scene without having to overtly explain it. The best of these sequences is Katniss' introduction to the new arena, mere moments after watching one of her mentors get brutally beaten: initially we're as disoriented as she is, before in just a few strokes, the layout is established and the action breathlessly kicks off. Lawrence is an underappreciated stylist who makes exciting genre movies where very little actually happens ("Constantine," "I Am Legend"); here he steps up his game by making what is arguably the best movie of his career. It's full of action and suspense and, much to our shock and delight, you can actually understand what's going on. Most of the time, anyway.

    Jeffrey Wright as Beetee and Amanda Plummer as Wiress
    Along with Lynn Collins’ Mags, fan favorites Wiress (Amanda Plummer) and Beetee (Jeffrey Wright) add a different layer of humanity to the games that audiences hadn’t seen before. While the first film’s plot just allowed children and teens in the arena, bringing in seasoned veterans gives a new element, and of course this gives the filmmakers the chance to stack the cast more experienced actors. So while Lawrence was by far the most gifted among the tributes’ actors in the first film, seeing her interact with big-league talent here is invigorating. With their quirky intelligence and strategy, Wiress and Beetee stand out among the alumni tributes. From the first moment we glimpse them as they prep basic survival skills for the upcoming games, they are differentiated among the flashing teeth and brawny muscles of the career tributes. Plummer’s Wiress in particular still seems to always carry the weight of what she did, making it clear that though they aren’t as eager for violence, they still have a deadly past that neither can escape. Both Wiress and Beetee could have simply been twitchy, nerdy caricatures, but casting Wright (who seems to be everywhere) and Plummer (who we always want to see more of) gives them depth and brings additional emotional weight to the arena’s proceedings, to the cast of other tributes (which needs all the rounding out it can get) and to the film as a whole.

    Make Up and Costume
    The makeup and costuming are of course showy elements that were fully embraced in the first film too, especially as regards Effie and the Capitol crowd. But this time there seems to be something a little subtler and more subversive at work. Part of the the first film's arc was a kind of makeover transformation of Katniss the dowdy District 12 girl into the Girl On Fire (as daft as those costumes were), and while the Capitol fashions were unbelievably over the top, there was a certain glamor to the flash and dazzle. This time out, however, care is taken to show the cracks in the makeup, the artificiality of the tanning, the absolute horror of of that stupid wedding dress before it reveals the simpler, and much more beautiful gown underneath (though we still have our reservations about the twirling and the fire). And Jennifer Lawrence is styled throughout to look much, much lovelier in her body suit with her hair in a braid running through the forest, than in whatever false-eyelash-and-too-much-bronzer get up she wears to whichever party. The styling cleverly walks this line to show the inherent ugliness of the Capitol's lavish decadence. And at the other end of the make up spectrum, perhaps the most impressively grim part of a film that also features some fairly graphic whip wounds, a gunshot execution and death by fanged baboon, are the big, blistering pustules that break out over the faces and hands of our heroes when they come into contact with the poison fog. Yes, we know they then wash off leaving no trace, but while they're there they are so totally gross and disfiguring that we actually had a hard time watching--perhaps due to some previously unidentified deep-seated fear. So we were simultaneously impressed by the makeup's disgustingness and totally repulsed by the makeup's disgustingness—no mean feat.

    Stanley Tucci as Caesar Flickerman and Elizabeth Banks as Effie Trinket
    Speaking of makeup... We already know how fantastic Stanley Tucci and Elizabeth Banks are as Caesar Flickerman, talk show host, and Effie Trinket, ditzy publicist/babysitter from the first ‘Hunger Games,’ but they are doing career-best work here, dialing their flamboyant and over-the-top characters way, way up without losing the utmost control. Tucci’s teeth alone are bewitchingly white, and every sigh and gesture he makes captures the blissful artifice and ignorance of the Capitol. Banks, on the other hand, lands perfectly intoned and placed asides with aplomb, and even manages to imbue her materialistic character with some heart and soul. They’re an integral part of creating this world, and do much of the heavy lifting for it. In fact, Effie's dawning conscience and the sudden glimpses we get of her sincere grief and sense of injustice, roiling beneath the ludicrous artifice of her exterior, are among the most affecting parts of the film.

    Jennifer Lawrence
    It kind of feels like we don't even have to mention this, but Jennifer Lawrence's performance, while it's nothing less than we now expect from the actress, does deserve its own props. It's difficult to imagine another actress really delivering as much as we get from Lawrence in this role—and director Francis Lawrence, for all he's mostly a genre/visual stylist, knows how to exploit his star's fundamental watchability, and gets more than a few bravura close ups and character moments from her. It's also unusual that it's not her prettiness that is ever emphasized, instead it's that wonderful watchful and intelligent quality that Lawrence gives Katniss that makes her so compelling: there is always something more going in her eyes. We particularly loved the moment when Katniss hears her sister's voice calling to her and pure protective instinct takes over, trumping her rationality, as she goes racing off in search of her. It's a scene that, in showing how the source of Katniss' strength and goodness is also her Achilles heel, tells us almost everything we need to know about her.

    The Bad

    The One-Note Villain
    Subtlety has never been a “Hunger Games” specialty, but Donald Sutherland’s sneering President Snow is glowering menace to the point that he might as well be twirling the ends of his beard. It’s not so much the acting itself, it's just that Snow isn’t given much to do other than threaten, menace and glare at Katniss every chance he gets, but it’s so one-note and repetitive, it becomes a little annoying.

    The First Act: "Show, Don’t Tell" Issues & The Missed Opportunity Of Exploiting Theme
    Put aside for one moment that we’re supposed to believe that one girl victor has given an entire country a sense of renewed hope to the point that it might topple a totalitarian dictatorship (neatly summed up by Katniss herself who remarks on the fragility of a system that could be brought down by a few berries). Now it’s nice that Plutarch convinces the President to let her get killed in the arena and all, but every self-respecting dictator from Stalin on down would have snuffed her out the second he scented a whiff of dissent. And so as if to compensate for the creative license taken here with credibility, all of Snow’s dialogue is painfully expository: she’s a threat, she can damage our world, she needs to be stopped, etc. None of the themes of rebellion, blooming hope and “catching fire” ever really have a chance to fully be realized because Snow and others are essentially spelling them out in conversation with each other in every scene. Of course this runs counter to the 101 rule of filmmaking: show, don't tell.

    And sure we see some graffiti and seditious scrawls on walls here and there, but generally we’re told that Panem is discovering hope rather than actively being shown it and thus we barely ever feel it. This is arguably the problem with the entire first act (and beyond, see "watching world" point below): every important detail is told and not shown. Plutarch replacing Seneca Crane as head games master? Yeah, this is dispensed with through dialogue in a quick aside. The districts rioting? Joanna Mason mentions it in passing. Even the capture of Joanna and Peeta, and the destruction of District 12 is something we hear about, rather than see, and therefore any groundswell moment of change is something we never feel and this is perhaps the film's biggest missed opportunity. The taste and smell of change could be in the air during the movie and this rising civil disobedience could be something, rousing, moving, heart-swelling, something the audience could actively cheer for (see any Obama-like commercial from his first election campaign where there was electricity in the air). This would have elevated 'Catching Fire' beyond simple entertainment and connected it to the consciousness on a much more powerful level. Alas, 'Catching Fire' isn't really interested in really exploring this avenue of thematic texture. And while some of the "show, don't tell" decisions are to do with making sure the audience has a similar level of knowledge to Katniss herself, the cumulative effect if to make the world of the film feel smaller, and more airless.

    During The Games, No Sense Of The Watching World
    An offshoot of our main "show, don't tell" gripe, the second half also suffers from us not being shown the impact of Katniss's actions on the wider world. While Katniss and the other tributes battle the environment and each other in the dome, and we occasionally cut to Plutarch and the drones in the control room, and even once to Snow, we never get a sense of how the people of the Capitol and beyond are responding to the Quarter Quell Games. In the first film, we recall, the position of the cameras and the sense of a world watching that needed to be played to or manipulated into sending in help or whatever, was ever-present. This time there's no sense that they are all involved in, essentially, a very bloodthirsty TV show. And since we know the meta-narrative of this film is Katniss's growing fame outside the arena, as a symbol of resistance and potential revolution among the people, it feels like a sore absence that we don't see how the people are reacting to her various perils.

    Still Hampered By Its PG-13 Rating
    When the first film was released, it drew comparisons to the Japanese masterpiece "Battle Royale," in which children outfitted with explosive collars are forced to kill each other in increasingly creative and ghoulish ways. Still, the films differed in a clear area: the violence in the Japanese film was explicit and punchy, while "The Hunger Games" had violence that was obscured and blurry. It was less impactful, but it meant that the book's young adult demographic could actually, you know, watch the movie. While "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" has a plotline that is less controversial (since adults and even elderly people are entered into the arena), it still feels hampered by its ratings board restrictions. The deaths are similarly quick and hard to register, even though the movie takes on a gloomier, doomier tone. The PG-13 rating is probably also what means we're denied a sequence that is described instead and seems really cool: a blood rain that chokes the combatants to death. Now that we would have loved to have seen. That all said, however, the focus of the story this time out is in general shifting away from what happens during the Games, so while the certificate is a factor, it doesn't seem to impact on the finished film quite as much as it did the first time out.

    Missed Opportunities To Develop The Love Triangle More Coherently
    We're hesitant to come down too hard on the love triangle as it is much less simplistically drawn than that of nearest equivalent phenomenon, "Twilight," and as such is a relief, but it does still feel like we're missing a few of the intermediate steps between Katniss behaving coolly toward Peeta and asking Gale to run away with her, and her warming to Peeta personally even as she passionately, belligerently forces Haymitch and the others to promise to save him at her own expense. As much as Peeta has started to develop into a more interesting character, still Katniss seems to run pretty hot and cold on him, and not necessarily for any discernible reason. As such, we were hoping that the scene in which Peeta comes to sit with the recuperating Gale would give us some insight into how the two relate to each other, but instead we follow Katniss out into the snow. Again it seems that we are really mostly meant to be experiencing only those things that Katniss herself experiences, which is fine except that allying us so closely with her subjectivity should mean we understand what makes her tick, and when it comes to her interactions with Peeta, we just don't, really.

    Occasional Loss of Clarity
    In general, the action scenes in 'Catching Fire' are well staged and the intelligent script usually provides us with enough information that we understand who or what is at stake in each scene. However sometimes the film loses its normally sure-footed balance, especially during the climactic scene around the lightning tree. Having read the books, we're aware of who's on which side and hazily remember how it all went down, but the film feels fractured there and anyone coming in cold (there must be one or two people in the universe who haven't read the books, after all) will likely spend the last few scenes of the film distracted as they try to piece together what exactly happened to Beetee (Jeffrey Wright) and why is Finnick there and was Peeta in on the plan or not etc, etc. Which means the full import of Gale's revelation that District 12 has been obliterated loses some of its power, purely because there's still some lingering confusion over what's just happened, which in turn makes the necessarily mid-air ending (it's roughly the same endpoint as the book, if we recall correctly) even more unsatisfying. A second, lesser example is when Katniss goes in after Peeta to present her "special skill" and there's a painting of Rue on the ground. Again, in the book, it's Peeta who has drawn Rue (using the same artistic skill that had him so amusingly camouflage himself in the first film), which affects the judges deeply so they mark him high, but none of this is alluded to in the film and so it's really not clear how or why the Rue painting is there and why it's significant. The film obviously wants to ally us very closely with Katniss, so for the most part we don't know a huge amount more than she does, but in these two instances anyway, we kind of don't even know as much as she does, and it makes her decisions, and the motivations for her actions (shooting the electrified arrow into the dome; creating the Seneca Crane dummy) a little unclear.

    Poorly Developed Adversary Tributes
    The film is long enough as it is, and certainly the cast is already populous, but the cursory speed with which the "bad" tributes are glancingly introduced and then dispatched is a bit of a shame. We understand that we need to spend more time with Joanna, Beetee, Wiress and Finnick, but reducing their human opponents to "the brother and sister team" and "the one with the sharpened teeth" among a cavalcade of undifferentiated others feels like a trick missed. And so when those endless faces flash up on the sky each evening, in most cases it feels like it's the first time we've seen them.

    Philip Seymour Hoffman Phoning It In
    Philip Seymour Hoffman’s casting as Gamemaker Plutarch Heavensbee (he replaces Wes Bentley’s creatively bearded Seneca Crane, who we are to assume met a not-so-happy ending after the whole poison berries/double winner fiasco) was much reported throughout the blogosphere. That an actor of his taste and stature was stooping to a blockbuster YA adaptation reeked of paycheck motivation, but this series has always attracted top-tier talent. However, from the first glimpse of PSH in 'Catching Fire' it’s clear that dude is just trying to make a quick buck by phoning it in, hard. He didn’t even have the decency to sport a Capitol-style goofy haircut or colorful thingamabob! Not even a swish of eyeliner. Nope, he’s literally just swanning about in some weird waistcoat as himself, chatting with Donald Sutherland, who seems positively lively by comparison, and tossing absurd statements at his white-suited team of gamers. Even though Hoffman is always eminently watchable and a forceful presence, he puts no effort into this part, and it shows, since everyone else on screen is on their A-game.

    The... hmmm?

    Mags’ Stunt Double
    For a film that looks like all of its budget was left on the screen, there were just a few “huh?” moments that managed to slip through, one of them being the incredibly obvious stunt double sitting in for elderly Mags in the piggyback jungle scenes with Finnick. Of course, you can only do what you can with what you’ve got, and if Suzanne Collins says Finnick flings an old woman on his back to run through the jungle, that’s what you’ve got to do. But it was so obviously a petite stuntwoman in a granny wig keeping her head down the entire time. We know you have to do it, but is there anyway to make it not so obvious?

    Snow's Granddaughter
    One of the more pointless alterations from the way things appear in the books was to introduce President Snow's bright-eyed, Katniss-idolizing moppet granddaughter (who is not really mentioned by Suzanne Collins until "Mockingjay"). We know she serves a certain purpose in helping Snow better judge Katniss' worrisome growing popularity, but as mentioned above, we kind of wish that function was fulfilled by some more time spent out in the wider world. As it is, it seems she's been added into the mix to also humanize Snow somewhat, and perhaps is a small attempt to address the dimensionality issues that we mention above with regards to this character. But we don't really think this cosmetic change works to elevate him out of being the kind of pantomime baddie he has been till now, and so it feels underdeveloped at best and at worst, unnecessary.

    So if, as the numbers suggest is likely, you saw 'Catching Fire' over the weekend, what did you think? Agree or disagree with our points? Sound off below.


    Finally saw it and I absolutely love the film - best YA adaptation next to Prisoner of Azkaban. Best: Jena Malone (she stole the movie), J-Law, overall atmosphere and Effie & Haymitch. The worst: the villains and love triangle. Yours?

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    We're so used to seeing Cara Delevingne in baggy trousers, t-shirts and trucker caps that we'd forgotten how sexy the supermodel can be.

    But the 21-year-old showed why she's one of the most in-demand faces– and bodies– in the world with this incredible new ad campaign.

    Posing for lingerie brand La Perla, Cara works her slender figure like never before in a series of smouldering ensembles.


    Wearing her messy blonde hair in loose waves, the beauty stares seductively at the camera while modelling a pretty lace-trimmed camisole.

    She then shows off her washboard stomach and cleavage in a tiny lace bra and knicker set, while holding a black mesh shirt up around her bust line.

    Cara gave a sneak peek of the high-class shoot back in October on her Instagram page, and the official snaps were definitely worth the wait as the socialite displays some tastefully kinky corsets.

    In the only full-colour picture, Cara looks fresh out of the shower as she wears her hair up in a tousled ponytail.

    But the real attention-grabber is her outrageously revealing white bandeau and thong set, held together by a playful lined section over her midriff.

    While the get-up is white, there's nothing angelic about Cara's come-to-bed stare.

    And finally, in a high-fashion shot, the model, who has been linked in the past to One Direction's Harry Styles, shows her true beauty as she poses in a lace brocade corset.

    With a tuxedo jacket draped over her shoulders, it's hard to focus on her ensemble with cheekbones and eyebrows like that in the frame.

    Meanwhile, Cara has been getting involved in slightly cheekier projects since her La Perla shoot.

    The tomboy barely covered her chest after borrowing Miranda Kerr's barely-there Chanel bikini top on a shoot for i-D.


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    They've been divorced for over 20 years but Madonna and Sean Penn are closer than ever, with the chart-topper and her son Rocco, 13, joining the actor for a charity trip to Haiti.

    Madonna flew out with the teenager on Monday to support Sean's J/P Haitian Relief Organization in the Caribbean country which was devastated by the 2010 earthquake.

    While insiders have reported that the former couple, who divorced in 1989, are enjoying a 'lovely reunion' as they work together on projects in the country, Rocco has given his seal of approval, posting a picture of himself hanging out with his mother's ex on his Instagram page.

    The teenager, whose father is director Guy Ritchie, shared a picture of him and Sean in a jeep and captioned it 'Trouble is always here @seanpenn (sic).
    The selfie shows Rocco, wearing a black T-shirt and a backwards baseball cap, giving a half smile for the camera while Sean looks straight ahead behind the wheel.'

    The Oscar winner, who is currently rocking a moustache, is also casually dressed in jeans and a plaid shirt, with sunglasses.

    Rocco shared a number of other pictures of himself in Haiti, including one of him holding hands with a number of children.

    He captioned it 'You got to hold every one together (sic).'

    There is also a picture of Rocco with his famous mother at a hospital, which he captioned: 'Hospitals will make you say, s**t I'm lucky.'

    Rocco's seal of approval comes after it was claimed Madonna and Sean could be reconciling.

    A source told The Sun that the couple, who were in a volatile four year marriage during the 80s, are enjoying their time together.

    'It's quite a lovely reunion for them. They're both working on charity projects they're immensely passionate about and are enjoying each other's company doing it', the insider reports.

    With Thanksgiving on Thursday, it's thought Madonna and Rocco will be staying put in the Caribbean for the holiday, with the insider adding: 'Thanksgiving is a huge deal for them and they've chosen to spend it together. She is giddy in his company.'

    Penn, 53 has served as an ambassador-at-large for Haiti since early 2012, after founding his humanitarian group in the aftermath of the earthquake.

    The group has focused on housing and relocating thousands of people from impromptu settlements that formed after the disaster.

    Sean confirmed Madonna is working alongside him during a brief phone call to Associated Press.

    The actor revealed that he had invited his ex-wife, who has previously donated $250,000 to the relief effort, and that they have 'maintained a great friendship over the years'.

    'She's here, she's seeing, she's made the effort to come here, and I'm thrilled by that... She has a unique platform, and wherever she chooses to bring that to, it's very well,' the actor added.

    The meet-up follows Sean's appearance at Madonna's launch of her SecretProjectRevolution art film in New York in September where the pair greeted each other with a huge hug.

    Back in July the singer's longtime friend actress Debi Mazar told Andy Cohen that Sean was Madonna's 'true love'.

    While Madonna has been spending time with Sean she hasn’t been spotted in the company of her toyboy lover Brahim Zaibat since August, when the couple enjoyed a holiday in France together.

    The singer has been sharing plenty of photos from her trip to Haiti, posting multiple pictures on her Instagram page for her 800,000 followers.

    Sean also posted his first snaps on the photo sharing website this week including one of himself walking through a former camp.

    'With this picture, I bust my Instagram cherry. Gonna try to share snaps of our @jphro work in #Haiti and the country and its amazing people. In this shot, I'm walking where 60,000 people lived in tents after the earthquake. We've got 58,000 back in homes... It's a start (sic),' he wrote.


    Any picture of Rocco reminds me of how adorable he was in Im' Going To Tell You A Secret! In other news, why does the boy in the blue tank top have no pants?

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  • 11/27/13--14:36: AnnE Sings & Drinks
  • Anne Hathaway performed a duet with Jenny Lewis at Beck’s Song Reader concert on Sunday, 11/24/13, at Los Angeles’ Walt Disney Concert Hall.

    Anne Hathaway lent a bit of star support to pal Rashida Jones on Wednesday when she attended a private dinner to celebrate the actress's new jewelry collection with Dannijo in LA. Rashida's Parks and Recreation costars Amy Poehler and Aubrey Plaza also dropped by the event to check out her new baubles and mingle with Anne. Anne's party stop came just one day after she rang in her 31st birthday. She celebrated a day early on Monday with a special birthday dinner in LA with her husband, Amy Adams, and Demi Moore.

    While Rashida, Amy, and Aubrey looked like they were having fun at the event, Rashida will soon be parting from the two actresses as she prepares to leave Parks and Recreation. Rashida and Rob Lowe announced their plans to depart the show earlier this year, and Rashida got emotional on Twitter while reminiscing about good times with her soon-to-be-former castmates. "My family. I will miss them too much," Rashida said while sharing an old photo of the entire cast riding in a van together.


    Source 2

    Praying she blesses us with a Grammy Winning Album. One step closer to getting EGOT.

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    Today's Google Doodle marks Thanksgiving with an animated film showing an array of woodland creatures sitting down together for a feast.

    The traditional holiday is celebrated by millions on the fourth Thursday of November in the United States and on the second Monday of October in Canada.

    Thanksgiving commemorates a harvest festival celebrated by the Pilgrim Fathers in 1621 and is marked by religious observances and 'giving thanks' as people prepare and eat a meal together.
    Turkey is usually served alongside winter vegetables, cranberry sauce and pecan or pumpkin pie for desert. According to the US Department of Agriculture more than 45 million turkeys are eaten on this day - a sixth of all turkeys sold in the US year.
    The President also 'pardons' two turkeys who are not going to be slaughtered in a slightly more unusual Thanksgiving 'tradition' invented by Ronald Reagan in 1987.

    In an extremely rare coincidence this year, Thanksgiving overlaps with the Jewish holiday of Hanukkah, sparking the nickname 'Thanksgivukkah' and adding turkey-shaped menorah to some dinner tables.

    Video: Thanksgiving 2013 Google Doodle


    I need gifs, too cute. Happy Thanksgiving ONTD!

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    Frank Shyong for Los Angeles Times writes:
    A Los Angeles Superior Court judge Tuesday ordered a Sriracha hot sauce plant in Irwindale to partially shut down in response to smell complaints from nearby residents. Judge Robert H. O'Brien ruled in favor of the city and ordered sauce maker Huy Fong Foods to cease any kind of operations that could be causing the odors and make immediate changes that would help mitigate them. The injunction does not order the company to stop operating  entirely, or specify the types of actions that are required.

    The city of Irwindale sued Huy Fong Foods on Oct. 21 after nearby residents complained of heartburn, inflamed asthma and even nosebleeds that they said were caused by the spicy odor coming from the hot sauce plant. O'Brien acknowledged in his ruling that there was a "lack of credible evidence" linking the stated health problems to the odor, but said that the odor appears to be "extremely annoying, irritating and offensive to the senses warranting consideration as a public nuisance."

    He also wrote that the odor could be "reasonably inferred to be emanating from the facility," and determined that the city is "likely to prevail" in declaring the odor a public nuisance, according to the ruling.

    Irwindale officials applauded the judge's decision.

    "We believe it's a strong ruling that acknowledges and is reflective of the concerns that the community has raised about the health impacts of the odor," said City Atty. Fred Galante.

    Huy Fong officials did not return requests for comment Tuesday evening.

    The ruling will take effect as soon as the judge signs the injunction, which Galante says will be filed as early as Wednesday.

    It is unclear what the ruling means for next year's supply of Sriracha hot sauce. The factory harvests and grinds chilis for three months out of the year, and the grinding of this year's chilis has been completed.

    But the mixing and the bottling of the sauce occurs on an ongoing basis. Galante said he did not know if the injunction applies to those aspects of production.

    The city's goal is not to stop the production of the sauce, Galante said.

    "We're going to try to keep having a conversation with Huy Fong and working out some collaborative way to test and make sure the odor problems are addressed," he said.

    The case could still go to trial, but Galante said that the city hopes the matter can be resolved out of court.

    Happy Thanksgiving, ONTD!  What food item(s) are you excited to eat today?  What's the spiciest food you can handle?

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    She just finished the American leg of her world tour which is taking place on home turf meaning she is home for the holidays as such but that doesn't mean Selena Gomez will be relaxing on Thanksgiving.

    The pop star has had a gruelling schedule in the last couple of weeks as she completes her tour across America.

    And on the eve of one of the most important holidays when most stars are flying across the country to be reunited with loved ones, the hardworking star shared a picture of herself preparing for a Thanksgiving Day NFL concert in Texas.

    In a series of pictures shared on her Instagram page the 21-year-old beauty showed the warm reception she has been receiving in her home country.

    As always Selena looked lovely in the candid snaps which were presumably snapped by an assistant with a smart phone.

    Dressed warmly for the cooler Winter temperatures the brunette showed off her winter coat collection in the snaps wearing a cosy puffa jacket with a faux fur trim as she posed with fans in Wisconsin and a smarter black coat with a collar for her appearance in Ohio.

    The starlet's tagline on her Instagram page actually states 'Yes, I make my Insta mostly about my fans, get over it. X'

    And it certainly seems that unlike many of her peers who have a somewhat unhealthy penchant for posting endless selfies Selena actually does use her page to share pictures of herself with her beloved fans.

    Whilst most of her fellow stars will no doubt be posting pictures of themselves posing in their Thanksgiving Day outfits enjoying turkey with all the trimmings the former girlfriend of Justin Beiber will be busy performing at the Dallas Cowboys game against the Oakland Raiders.

    The high profile NFL game will take place in the Cowboys home turf of Texas and Selena is due to perform at half time.

    From a picture posted on her Instagram page it looked as though the Spring Breakers star was spending her Thanksgiving eve in rehearsals.

    Dressed down in sweatpants, a T-shirt and Ugg boots the brunette beauty sits on the grass at the stadium in front of the makeshift stage watching her team prepare for her big performance.

    Clearly excited for her Thanksgiving Day performance the singer captioned the picture, 'But tomorrow....#NFL #HalfTime #IMready'

    @selenagomez: Illinois, Chicago
    @selenagomez: Then Ohio
    @selenagomez: But tomorrow…. #NFL#HalfTime#IMready
    @selenagomez: Big day tomorrow.
    @lyndon_86: #cowboysstadium 🌟🌟🌟🌟🌟

    @hannahnicole0813: I get to stand like right in front on Selena Gomez.!!
    @jo_mahoe: Just at rehearsal with Selena Gomez for the halftime show tomorrow, no biggie.
    @gomezerika: Selena rehearsing for her Thanksgiving half-time performance


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  • 11/28/13--09:26: Leona Lewis megapost
  • 'I Wish It Could Be Christmas Everyday' cover

    DigitalSpy interview:

    First of all congratulations on 'One More Sleep'. It sounds like a future Christmas classic.
    "Oh, I hope so! That would be awesome. I think people weren't really expecting something like that, maybe they were expecting something a bit slower. It's been really good and I've liked hearing what people think of it."

    We remember being slightly confused when you described Christmas, With Love as a Motown Christmas album, but as soon as we heard it we completely got it.
    "You got it! Yeah, that was the intention. Every year in my house a play a lot of Motown music, especially at Christmas and especially stuff like the Phil Spector records, so that's where the influence kind of came from."

    You're the lead songwriter on the three original tracks, but did you find it easier to write a Christmas song because there's already a strong idea there, or did you find it harder?
    "'Mr Right' and 'One More Sleep' were very much together already - the ideas were already formulated - but with 'Your Hallelujah', that was not really coming from a Christmas place at first. We kind of were just sitting down to write and then it kind of came. I think it's the least Christmassy, but it still has that feel in the track."

    You've previously said that Simon suggested you do a Christmas album, so did you sign up straight away or did he have to convince you?
    "Well, I had been thinking for a while to do one and he kind of read my mind. At the time I'd just finished my third album, I went on tour and I wanted to get into a completely different headspace. So the idea of the Christmas album came up again and I was just, 'Yeah, yeah - let's just do it, go for it'."

    One track that stands out on the album is 'Ave Maria' because it's more classical than we've heard you do before. Do you think the public will be shocked to hear you sing like that?
    "Probably, yeah. I think a lot of people don't know that I was classically trained. That's the first thing that I ever did and I really thought that's the market that I was going to head towards, because I didn't sing contemporary music or train contemporary until I was in my teens. So that's the foundation of my singing. It was cool to be able to actually perform that because on any of my other records I haven't been able to do that before."

    Was it easy to pick up again?
    "Well I haven't trained in it for a little while because I was doing my tour. I just wanted to focus on my vocals for that, which is obviously coming from a contemporary place. So I had to have intense training with my opera coach to just get back into it and to make sure it was all good. Also, it's in Latin, so I had to make sure all the pronunciations were correct and stuff."

    We'd quite like to see you perform it live at some point.
    "I might be. There's a show that wants me to perform it so I think that I will. It's weird, because I don't really think anyone's mixed classical in amongst doing contemporary, so it all depends on how I feel and how my voice is feeling."

    The obvious question now is whether you have plans to record a full classical album in the future?
    "I'd love to do a classical record at some point. If the opportunity came up I definitely would."

    Talking of future albums, how is work coming along on your next record?
    "I was working on it for a while in the summer time. I was going in, getting ideas together and working with some different producers, but now I'm focusing just on this record for the next little while. I'll be back in the studio in January doing an album."

    Do you have any idea where you want to go next with your music?
    "Well really this year I took the time to become re-inspired, and after my tour I thought that it was gonna be a chilled kind of year, kind of, you know, going in the studio. But then I did a film and recorded a bunch of '80s songs for it, so I was in the '80s headspace for a while.

    "Then I went straight into recording all these Christmas classic Motown kind of songs, so it really gave me a chance to just get out of my head and go into something completely different. I feel like for the next record I'm re-inspired to do something a bit different, maybe even go into that kind of retro throwback sound for the next record. I definitely want to work with the Smeezingtons. I'd love to do something with Bruno Mars, so I'm reaching out to a few different people and also some Motown people, maybe doing something with them. So I'm still thinking about it, but maybe I'll try something like that on the next album."

    Bruno Mars really mastered that retro sound with his last album Unorthodox Jukebox.
    "Even though it was a huge album, I still feel like it's not as rated as it should be. And he's not rated as highly as he should be because he is phenomenal. I think he could be one of the greats."

    We love your last album Glassheart, but it didn't perform as well as people expected. How are you feeling about it one year on?
    "After bringing out the album, I think a lot of people were like, 'Are you releasing everywhere?', 'Where are you releasing?', 'What's happening?' But when I recorded Glassheart, I recorded it all in the UK and it was our intention to just release it here - and that's what we did. Then I released it in Europe as well, and after that I got to tour in Europe, which I've never done before so, even though it would have been amazing to have a global release, it allowed me to actually concentrate on Europe where I've never toured before. At the end of the day, as an artist, I want to tour. I want to go and do as many live shows as possible and, in a way, it was a good thing because it allowed me to do that. But yeah, for me, I want to better everything. Everything has to be better, so that's kind of my intention."

    Do you think that because of the huge international success you had at the beginning of your career with Spirit, you'll always have that pressure to perform well?
    "Well that's the thing. The first album just blew up everywhere, so then people are always anticipating and it's like, 'What's she gonna do next?' To me, Glassheart did amazingly well. It didn't do as well as my first album, but it still did amazingly, and that's what matters to me. As long as it's getting to the people. It's about being able to do what I love and do my live show and go to Europe and go to places I've never been before, and that kind of is what counts to me. And I'm hoping that I'm going to be an artist that can have a long career. Not just a quick one and then gone, so you have to build on that."

    You're going to make your movie debut next year in a new musical called Holiday!. How did you find it going from the recording studio to a film set?
    "It was mental! Again, it was something that just came along really, really quickly and this year my intention was to get refocused and re-inspired and it was perfect timing. I have done a lot of theatre work before, but it was quite a few years ago so getting back into that was kind of scary. It gave me a chance to learn a lot from the people on set and for a lot of people it was their first movie as well, so we kind of felt the nerves together. It was so fun and hopefully people like it."

    Elle.com interview:

    It must have been a bit bizarre recording Christmas songs in the summer with the sun blazing, no?
    I thought "Oh, this is going to be so weird. How am I going to feel Christmas-y?" First off, I recorded it in the U.K., which is not the sunniest [place]. Of course this summer was literally like the sunniest on record. But it ended up being a blessing in disguise because I started playing loads of Christmas songs and really kind of delving into all of these kind of classics. And I discovered some really amazing recordings that I probably never would have had I not had to really get into that kind of Christmas vibe.

    This was also much quicker than you would normally return to the studio.
    It came together quite quickly because I knew exactly which songs I wanted to do. I knew I wanted to do a Motown vibe and that just kind of came together really organically and quite quickly, which is kind of crazy for me. I usually take quite a long time to record.

    These songs are certainly a lot peppier than your normal material.
    It was just so different to write songs that are really super joyful and super happy. It was just so much fun. And I think when I was writing with the writers none of them had really written a Christmas song before. So it was coming from a completely different place. Everyone was super excited about doing this.

    The first single off the album is called “One More Sleep,” which I’ve read is about that night before Christmas anxiousness. It’s funny because my wife and her mom say the same thing to each other when they’re counting down the days before they get to see each other.
    Yay! Yeah, I didn’t realize that [Americans] say that. But in the U.K. and Europe, it’s quite a popular thing for the kids to say. And I would say it loads. Like especially when I was looking forward to Christmas or before I was going vacation, I would be like, “Oh my God, three more sleeps until I go to blah blah.” So it’s quite a popular thing, and it’s like a really cute sentiment that we wanted to capture on this Christmas record.

    I imagine getting in the Christmas spirit brought back some childhood memories.
    When I was really little I remember my mom would wrap all the presents. She’d put them under the tree, and I’d always try and do little tears in [the wrapping paper] so that my mom couldn’t see—so I could try and look at what she got me. [laughs]

    I hear your label head, Simon Cowell, came up with the initial idea for the Christmas record?
    So I just finished my third record and we had spoken about doing a Christmas record and Simon said, "Well, why don’t you do it now?" I was in the mode where I wanted to be really inspired and I wanted to try something new. And he suggested it and it kind of came together. I really wanted to do something completely different and come up with a different sound and get away from what I was [previously doing].

    We’d love to hear some of these songs performed live. Do you plan to tour the States anytime soon?
    Well, I got to tour the rest of Europe, which I’d never done before which was an amazing vibe for me. I learned so much. But I’d definitely like to visit the States some more and do a tour. I think that’s what I grow the most from, from touring. So it’s something I’d definitely like to expand upon.

    How big of a role has style and fashion played in your life?
    I love fashion. And one of my favorite things about it is being able to do these shoots with these awesome magazines and having all these stylists picking out all these couture dresses. It’s so cool. My mom and dad had fashion stores when I was little. My mom used to design a lot of clothes. And we’d go to New York a lot and literally walk around for hours and hours. My mom would buy pieces and bring them back to the U.K. and sell them. It’s definitely a big part of my life.

    Would you ever start your own label?
    As far as having a label and going into it myself, the main thing is since I’m a vegetarian I don’t wear leather, and I don’t believe in harming animals for fashion. That’s a big thing I’ve been involved in. I love designers like Stella McCartney who are totally animal friendly. If I was able to do something like that that would be my inspiration and reasoning for doing it.

    RollingStone.com interview:

    Motown has a long tradition of classic Christmas music. Do you think Phil Spector would dig it?
    I hope so. His Christmas album plays in my house every year – that's why I decided to go down this route for my record. When we were making the record, I immediately knew that I wanted that Motown "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" vibe, because that's what reminds me of Christmas.

    When did you discover A Christmas Gift for You From Phil Spector?
    When I was really young my mom would play "Christmas (Baby Please Come Home)" [by Darlene Love], and I didn't even realize that was a Christmas record when I was younger. I didn't connect it until when I got older.

    "Your Hallelujah," one of the original songs on your record, has a similar season-less feel. It's more of a ballad like your earlier songs.
    The intention wasn't a Christmas song for that. We were writing Christmas songs at the time, but that came about and we knew that it wasn't really a Christmas song. I just loved it so much that I wanted it to be on the album. We gave it more of that feel in the production rather than the lyrics. It's not about Christmas.

    What's the story behind the song?
    We wanted a prayer kind of song that had a gospel vibe. I wrote it with my man in mind. I had lost my man a few years ago and was going through a struggle of "Where is she now? I can't feel her anymore," and that feeling stuck with me. The song was a comforting song for myself because it's about knowing that she's OK. That was what I wanted to get through in the song.

    Did you write it for another release in mind?
    Yeah, it was around April, and I was just getting into the studio, writing and recording a lot of different things. Not for anything in particular, really – just to see what would come out, and that's what came out.

    Were there any tracks that you made during that period that will be on your next album?
    There are some tracks that have a lot of potential. I'm still working on it. I released an album last year and then I went on tour, and I really wanted to get out of the headspace of anything I had done before – be reinspired and refocused. I did a film earlier in the year [Holiday!] where I recorded a bunch of songs for that. For this album, we went totally Motown, and I touched on a bit of gospel as well. I've been so inspired by different genres and able to get out of the headspace I felt locked into.

    What releases this year have you been excited about?
    I really love Haim. I like their vibe – Fleetwood Mac-y with a little bit of R&B. I really love the Neighborhood, another California band. They've got a song called "Sweater Weather," which I really love.

    What are your thoughts on U.K. pop? There haven't been as many big albums from across the pond this year.
    I feel the same. I really love the Emeli Sande album. I worked with her a while ago and she's so talented. But there have been a lot of people trying to follow suit, and I think that's a bad thing. Everything sounds the same – genres kind of start to mold into one – so I wanted to do something different and throw it back a bit.

    I used to listen to records for such a long time, and now I think they're thrown away easily. I don't like that. I like classic songs that will be around for a long time. I put a lot of work into it, and I hope people will cherish it for a long time.

    Have you and Emeli Sande worked on a followup to "Trouble?"
    We worked on a few other songs as well when we made "Trouble," which didn't get on the album but were still really strong. We also wrote a song called "Sugar." They may get released, depending on where I decide to go on my next album.

    You mentioned your acting debut in Holiday!. Anne Dudley worked on Les Miserables. Aside from being Eighties-themed, how does the music compare?
    I haven't heard final mixes. From what I've heard, the songs are all covers and we're interpreting them in our own way. Although I did record a lot of songs for this, and backgrounds and lines here and there – I don't have one song that I sing on my own. The kinds of songs that we sing are, like, Cyndi Lauper's "Girls Just Want to Have Fun." We do "The Power of Love," "Wake Me Up Before You Go-Go" – classic Eighties tunes.

    Growing up, were you a fan of those songs?
    Yeah. I'm an Eighties baby, so I listened to a lot of them. Although some people feel like the Eighties wasn't the greatest time for music, I actually love it – especially the Cyndi Lauper stuff. She just blows me away. It was so fun doing it.

    Is the filming over, or did you do the music first?
    We did the music first, which is so strange. I know in Les Miserables they recorded the music live, but we couldn't do that with this film. The studio recorded everything first and we have a few re-records that we're working on, but everything is pretty much done.

    How have you been preparing for the acting portion?
    I've been training for a while, and I did a lot of theater when I was younger. I hadn't done anything in a couple of years. This role came up when I was available, so I went in and auditioned, not really expecting to get it, but they offered me the part. I took a really intense course to prepare for it, but nothing can really prepare you to do film. It's so technical, and I didn't realize that, so I've learned a lot.

    What was the most surprising aspect of the process?
    The amount of time it takes – it takes such a long time! – and the amount of focus you need. If you're trying to do a really short scene, it could take a whole day or three days to do a thing that's going to be on screen for 30 seconds. The focus that it takes to always be in the zone when all of this craziness is going on around you . . . I didn't realize how much is going on behind the camera.

    You've talked about keeping your privacy since your early X Factor days. Are you nervous that you'll have to struggle harder to keep your private life private after you've moved into acting?
    Yeah, it is quite difficult. I'm very guarded about my friends and people around me and, obviously, the more you get involved in, people are looking at you more and wanting to know more about your life. And that's fine, but when it gets intrusive, I don't like it and want to step away from it. I think I've pretty much figured out the balance between trying to be private but let people know what I'm doing.

    How did the dance come about for the "One More Sleep" video?
    I wanted to start learning the dance moves a while before, because I don't call myself a dancer by any means. The performances that I've been doing for the song are very Supremes-inspired. People have been sending in videos of them doing the moves, and I've had such a laugh watching them. Some of them are amazing and some of them are crazy.

    What's been the craziest one?
    A nurse did it in the hospital, and the moves were all wrong, and it was just a weird environment to be doing the song. I was like, "Shouldn't you be helping the patients?"

    + Upcoming Appearances
    29th November: Daybreak
    5th December: Live! with Kelly and Michael
    8th December: X Factor (UK)
    14th December: The Jonathan Ross Show

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