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- 12/15/13--07:45: A post about that other Queen B
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- 12/16/13--06:03: Little Me Lyric Video
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She may be busy promoting her new country single, but Jamie Lynn Spears always makes time for her family. The 22-year-old singer posted two adorable pictures of her festive brood on Instagram on Dec. 14.
The first shot featured Spears' fiance, Jamie Watson, posing shirtless while holding her 5-year-old daughter Maddie with their chocolate labrador, Nice.
"Attempting a family photo," she captioned the pic.
Spears, who got pregnant at age 16 in 2007 with then-boyfriend Casey Aldridge, showed off a photo of her little girl looking all grown up, wearing Santa Claus pajamas.
"Christmas pjs for this year!! Fun night last night with friends and family!!" she captioned the picture.
Britney's younger sister recently released her new country single, "How Could I Want More," in late November, and it's still on the country iTunes charts. She plans to release the full-length album in the next few months. She also recorded the song "Chillin' With You" with Britney for her eighth studio album, Britney Jean.
Scans from her In Style mag!
Also an outtake from the Britney Jean photo shoot leaked!
Source 1: http://www.breatheheavy.com/xray/thumbnails.php?album=10962
Source 2: http://www.breatheheavy.com/xray/thumbnails.php?album=11066
Fixed it mods!
The same guy who shot the Britney Jean pictures did the In Style spread as well...His name is Michelangelo Di Battista and he's amazing so Brit keep working with him plz!
Jessica Alba and Molly Sims at the 3rd Annual Baby2Baby Holiday Party.
With Jessica Capshaw and her son Luke
JCap with Michelle Monaghan
Busy Philipps with daughter Birdie
To her fans, Lisa Frank is almost as mythical a figure as her beloved unicorn. For women in their twenties, thirties, and forties, Frank's name alone conjures up a specter of koala bears clinging to rainbow-flavored ice-cream cones, neon tiger cubs frolicking with surfing penguins, and, of course, majestic unicorns prancing before a swirl of hearts and stars. But the company is now a shadow of what it once was, and its fall from grace—a story of scandal, greed, and abuse—is in stark contrast to its shiny, happy aesthetic.
It's unclear whether Lisa Frank—the real woman and artist who founded the school-supplies brand in 1979—was fully aware of the whispers that had been circulating for years around her company's headquarters in Tucson, AZ. It's possible that she had no idea what people were saying about her husband, Lisa Frank Inc. CEO James Green. Rumor had it that Green was an unfaithful monster with a cocaine problem; employees feared he would destroy the company.
As it turns out, those fears were not unfounded. According to court documents and first-hand accounts from former employees speaking exclusively to Jezebel, the personal drama of Frank's marriage quickly turned into professional disaster.
The Woman Behind the Girlie
Frank hails from tony Bloomfield Hills, a city just north of Detroit that is routinely ranked in the top five wealthiest cities in America with a population under 10,000. Her father was in the automotive industry, running Detroit Aluminum & Brass, a publicly-traded family company founded by her grandfather and his brothers in 1925. D.A.B. manufactured automatic transmission components, clutches, et cetera—to put their early success into perspective, D.A.B. was the only company in the United States to make the engine bearings for tanks used in WWII.
Frank's life was, by all accounts, a happy and comfortable one—the kind, perhaps, that would compel a person to illustrate cheerleader bears and ponies with gorgeous eyelashes. Frank told Urban Outfitters' blog that her parents actively encouraged her interests, which were artistic and feminine:
"My dad was an art collector, my mom had a little kiln in our basement and we would make pottery. I think from about age five on, they sent me to art classes, and I was a huge colorer. HUGE. I think to keep me quiet, they would bring the coloring books and crayons, and I would fill up the books.
I was totally a girly girl. I was not a jock. When I was 12, my parents got me a loom, so I was a weaver. I loved to read, I loved to do artwork, I loved to do anything girly."
She attended the same elite prep school as Mitt and Ann Romney, where she began painting. At an art show her senior year, she managed to earn $3,000 (in the early '70s, no less) selling her work. One of her buyers was Lee Iacocca, former CEO of Chrysler.
Frank's entrepreneurial instinct first kicked in during her time at the University of Arizona, where she would purchase handmade pottery and jewelry from local Native American communities and sell them at a markup back home in Michigan. Frank did so well that she eventually started directing the artists on what kind of jewelry to make.
"If I said 'Make a teddy bear or a unicorn,' that was what sold," she told UO.
Recognizing her own knack for commercial sense, she began creating her own original designs. By the time she was 20, she'd created a plastic jewelry line called Sticky Fingers that got picked up by Neiman Marcus and Bloomingdale's. The collection inspired her to design stickers and buttons, too.
"I got the rights for Betty Boop and Popeye and Mighty Mouse from King Features, and I would put, like, Betty Boop on a unicorn," she told The Daily of her first wholesale business.
In 1979, she renamed the company and Lisa Frank, Inc. was born. That same year she received her first million-dollar order from Spencer Gifts. She was 25 years old.
Thirty-five years and one mega-brand later, there are only two photos of Lisa Frank floating around the Internet. In 2012, she agreed to be filmed for a rare interview to promote a short-lived partnership with Urban Outfitters, but asked that her face not be shown.
"In my own little way, I understood Michael Jackson," Frank said in a 2012 interview with The Daily, intimating that her own level of fame is in some way comparable to that of the late King of Pop and has thus affected how she interacts with the public.
"If I use my credit card…and they go 'Oh my gosh, there's Lisa Frank who makes the stickers!' I go, 'Isn't that the craziest thing that I have the same name?'"
That she believes she can comprehend or relate to what life was like for the most famous entertainer of all time—who was notoriously viewed as a victim of his own celebrity—is confounding. But it also provides an illuminating peek into the mogul's mindset.
Ask Frank's former employees about her, however, and her psychology or personality is not usually the first thing they mention. Most, when speaking to Jezebel, went straight to her "super thin" appearance.
"She was very beauty-focused," according to Karen*, who worked in the sales department at LFI in the early 2000s. She said Frank was "obsessed with her body image" and her waning youth, which Karen believes is what contributes to Frank's reclusive nature.
"Well, she's getting older now. She kept getting—I don't know if it was plastic surgery—but she kept getting these lotions, talking about youth…Have you met her? She's like two pounds," she said, adding, "[She] just doesn't want to eat because she doesn't want to look fat or ugly or whatever she thinks."
Kyle, who worked in the creative department for two years right around the time of Frank and Green's divorce, described Frank as, "a very passionate lady, although a little manic and not always all there."
"She kind of looks like one of her characters," he added. "Very over-the-top and very colorful [with] big hair and really big eyes."
Frank admits that she infuses aspects of her own personality into the characters she creates, but she says Purrscilla—an ostensibly wealthy, fluffy, white kitten—is most like her (even though Frank confesses she's "not a cat fan"). She explained the similarities in a 2012 interview with Urban Outfitters' blog:
"[Purrscilla] is very into glam and glitz and jewelry and everything very girly. And some of the jewelry in the illustration is even my own jewelry…[S]he is a really glamorous kitty."
In case you were wondering, Purrscilla's jewelry consists of matching diamond tennis bracelets, a bejeweled tiara, a heart-shaped box packed with various gemstones and ribbons, and a pimp chalice overflowing with butterfly brooches and strands of pearls.
Dancing Dolphins, Ballerina Bunnies, and Sinking Sales
Lisa Frank's line of products—folders, pencil cases, erasers, Trapper Keepers, and notebooks—were so popular that the company was raking in over $60 million a year in sales during its peak in the late '90s. According to court documents, shareholder distributions to Lisa Frank and James Green totaled more than $100 million between 1995 and 2005 alone.
But the halcyon days of dayglo pandas and the stationery gravy train are seemingly over. The company only earned an estimated $2.3 million in annual revenue recently, according to Dun & Bradstreet. Its retail stores have all shuttered. Its products, which once dominated the back-to-school aisles in stores across the country, are tough to find today with drastically limited availability. The number of corporate employees dwindled from 350 to just six, according to a June 2013 article in the Arizona Daily Star that Jackie Gambrell, Frank's Executive Assistant, referred to as "unkind and untrue."
(When asked what was untrue in the Daily Star piece, Gambrell answered, "I'm not giving you an interview." She said she was "waiting for our PR girls" before she would answer any of Jezebel's questions. When pressed on the time frame for that she admitted, "We have have to hire a PR firm," but said it would happen, "sometime this week." That was almost five months ago.)
The small staff of LFI still reports to Lisa Frank HQ: a 320,000 square-foot building in Tucson, infamous in the area for its decor, featuring giant, multicolored music notes, hearts and stars and oversized, fiberglass character statues. Near the building's entrance, a large silver unicorn sculpture is missing its horn. The building and land are listed for lease or sale at a reduced price of $13.25 million. According to Tim Healy, the listing agent at the time, LFI was "still operating inside the facility but not at full capacity."
So what happened? Is this simply the inevitable outcome for a stationery company in a paperless world? Is what's left just a rotting corpse of a fad that died over a decade ago? No, alleged former employees, who pointed to the company's opportunity to capitalize on '90s nostalgia.
"They could have caught on with the hipster market, but in order for a company to really turn a corner in those kind of things, they need compassionate leadership and people who appreciate and can nurture talent," said Jacob, who served as an illustrator for the company for four years. "They didn't have either of those."
"It was the silliest set-up I've ever seen," he added. "Of course, from the outside it's colorful—you've got the rainbow, the stars, the hearts on the building, the statue of the panda—but inside was like an abusive alcoholic home."
"I don't think [Frank and Green] have a lot of business acumen," said Karen. "I don't think they ever did. I think Lisa's parents [funded the start of] her company. She's an artist, not a business person."
In fact, every one of the former employees of Lisa Frank, Inc. who were interviewed for this story all said the same thing: the current state of affairs is unsurprising to them and was a long time coming, thanks to chronic mismanagement from both Frank and Green.
The problem wasn't business—it was personal.
Inside the Rainbow Gulag
"Lisa Frank is notorious in Tucson as the world's shittiest employer," said Caroline, who considered applying for one of the many job openings at the company she saw advertised when she moved to Tucson in 2001, but decided against it after speaking with locals. "Every single person I talked to advised me to avoid Lisa Frank at all costs," she said. "I didn't know a single person who had not heard horror stories about the work environment there."
Even court documents reflect those sentiments, with one longtime employee, Dan Mullen, stating how lowly regarded the company was in the community.
"The word in Tucson is that 'you don't want to work for the Lisa Frank Company,'" he said.
"I don't know if it's possible to really communicate how bad their reputation was in town," Caroline stressed, before adding, "Every person who ever worked there seemed to have a case of PTSD from it. 'Rainbow Gulag' is really an apt description."
While there was an emphasis on productivity, the rules that were implemented seemed counterproductive to a creative environment. According to former employees, the office was a place of silence and co-workers were not allowed to speak to one another. The management secretly (and illegally) recorded phone calls. An interoffice, bimonthly publication called "Frankly Speaking" [left] informed employees how they were to behave, particularly regarding how they were expected to interact with their boss, CEO James Green. Memos were frequently circulated with new, increasingly restrictive company policies. No visitors, including family members, were allowed. The penalty for any violations ranged from verbal abuse to name-calling to screaming to automatic termination to even more bizarre restrictions.
(One time, after discovering that someone left the office 10 minutes early, an enraged Green instructed the warehouse manager to put chains and padlocks on all the downstairs doors so that "the staff can't escape.")
"There was just this air of fear there," said Marcia, a onetime graphic designer for LFI who remembered the office as being cold, both figuratively and literally. "It just seemed very clear, the mentality of it: keep it ice cold, keep people miserable and on edge. It was just insane—totally insane."
And if working there was difficult, so was leaving. The company allegedly often failed to give promised severance packages, fought unemployment benefits, and former employees had to sue for their final paychecks or sales commissions as evidenced by public records of numerous civil judgments entered against LFI.
In addition to the bad publicity stemming from a series of lawsuits from local contractors and builders who claimed hadn't been paid for $4 million worth of work on the corporate headquarters, LFI's image problem stemmed from the company's unusually high turnover rate, with numerous former employees available to poison the well with first-hand accounts of just how unpleasant it was to work there, and others corroborating those stories.
"It was a revolving door," Jacob said of the company's turnover. In the four years that he was employed in the 40-person creative department, he estimates that group "may have changed over at least two to three times…It was just unbelievable. One year, almost a third of the entire staff turned over."
According to Susan Russo, who worked as the Sales and Marketing Manager, "over 80 people walked out the door," between February 2003 and December 2004, "most without notice because they had been treated so poorly."
Even an otherwise positive 2004 Arizona Daily Star article about the company's 25th anniversary couldn't help but point out how seemingly odd it was that, after a series of massive layoffs in which the company slimmed down from 400 employees to just 100, LFI still couldn't retain its staff.
Advertisements for jobs at the company appear frequently in newspaper classified ads. But Frank said turnover is on par with other businesses of similar size…
"We're always on the lookout for new talent to join our team."
The turnover issue was due in part to random, flared-temper firings, according to sources who worked at the company. But many people quit because they couldn't handle the oppressive atmosphere, like Justin, who worked as an illustrator in the early 2000s.
"I couldn't stay there any longer than seven months," he said. "It seemed really just needlessly abusive."
One member of a parenting message board recounted her experience as a Lisa Frank employee:
"I personally heard [Lisa Frank] scream at sales managers and threaten their lives if they fucked up a presentation."
Another former employee posted a comment on a forum for freelance artists:
"Every day was so stress full [sic] and hearing Lisa's voice downstairs on a speaker phone made my blood run cold. I had many instances where she abused me verbally."
"It was like the worst place I'd ever worked," said Karen, "Which is kind of ironic, given that they have rainbows and unicorns everywhere."
Frank at least acknowledged as much. A few years after getting fired from the company for talking on the phone with her father (she later sued for wrongful termination) Karen ran into Frank at a salon.
"I said, 'Oh, Lisa, remember me? I worked for you.' And she said, 'Oh, did we fire you?' And I was like, 'Yeah.' And she was like, 'Oh, I'm sorry. I wasn't really a great employer.'"
Mean and Green
When asked what the root of the problem was at LFI, former employees—some of whom spoke directly to Jezebel, while others are on record in court documents—all had the same answer: LFI CEO James Green.
Green began working at LFI in 1982 as the company's first in-house illustrator and designer. Shortly after beginning a romantic relationship with Frank—"sometime in late 1983 or early 1984"—Green began to move up the corporate ladder. He became an officer of the business in 1988 and was named president and CEO in December 1992.
Green and Frank married on October 22, 1994 in what was described as "an extravagant affair." Their first child was born the following July, when Frank was 41.
"They seemed like very opulent people for Tucson," Marcia said of Frank and Green, who drove "flashy cars," had their own 12-seat, twin-engine airplane, and a mansion characterized by one Tucson resident who spoke to Jezebel as a "nouveau riche monstrosity of a house." (Frank has described her house as "purple and yellow and hot pink and light green and orange.")
It was then, at the height of her products' popularity, that Frank "relinquished day-to-day management duties to Green" in order to focus on raising her children. Shortly after each of her sons were born, Frank—who had once been the sole shareholder in her company—made gifts of her stock to Green in what would amount to 49% of the shareholdings in LFI.
"She wasn't that interested in being a businesswoman," said Karen. "She wanted to just enjoy her life."
Once she had her children—Hunter and Forrest, who were named after two characters in Lisa Frank's multi-chromatic menagerie (a leopard cub and a tiger cub, respectively)—Frank worked from home and rarely participated physically in the office.
"Maybe like once a month, Lisa would come in, kind of poke her [head] around and just see what everybody was up to," said Kyle, who worked as an illustrator in the mid-2000s.
For the next 10 years, Green ran the show.
"[He] really turned that place into a shit hole," said Justin, who added, "The guy's kind of dick."
It seems to be a sentiment shared by others who've been in Green's employ. In 2005, 16 people who had worked for or with LFI in various capacities submitted sworn affidavits in a lawsuit brought against Green, attesting to his management style. Allegedly prone to fits of rage and loud, profanity-laden outbursts in which he would publicly berate people—including his then-wife Frank—Green was described as "abusive, arrogant and extremely difficult to work with." Several former employees witnessed Green throwing chairs and other objects in the office.
Betty Hack, who worked as the General Sales Manager in Hong Kong in 2005, stated:
James' management style is abrasive and he often leads by intimidation. he is often abusive to some of his employees by his language and actions. He will never take someone to the side if he has an issue with them, instead he will scream and curse and belittle them in front of everyone. Whenever he hasn't liked someone or they have crossed him in some way, he makes their work life miserable by his constant abusive comments and harassment.
Justin recounted a particularly cruel facet to Green's personality: he wouldn't bother to learn employee's names so he would give them nicknames of his own invention.
"I had a friend there and she was not the most attractive girl…she was sort of portly. [Green] used to refer to her as 'That Guy.'"
Several people who had worked for or with the company over the years repeatedly remarked on the "oppressive management style" that contributed to a "hostile" corporate culture of "intimidation and insecurity," according to court documents.
"He was a very angry man…a pompous jerk," said Karen, echoing a sentiment expressed by many former LFI staffers who spoke to Jezebel. "He was very yell-y and mean."
A relatively short man who "reeked of cologne," Kyle surmised that Green has a Napoleon complex.
According to another former employee:
"People who worked directly with James couldn't wear heels. He said it was because they couldn't walk fast enough to keep up with him. In reality, he has short man syndrome and didn't like working with women taller than him."
The staff's feelings for the company's vice president, Rhonda Rowlette—who had been with the company since 1984 and was effectively Green's Girl Friday—weren't any warmer.
"[James] was a tool," said Jacob. "And Rhonda was his hammer."
Or as Kyle put it, she was the Darth Vader to Green's Emperor.
Dan Mullen, who had worked in the art department at LFI for 14 years stated in court documents:
"Rhonda Rowlette is the enforcer. James uses her to maintain control of the employees. Through Rhonda employees' jobs are threatened and an atmosphere of hostility is maintained. Employees are consistently called to her office and subjected to threats and harassment."
But even Rowlette was the target of Green's abuse, according to court documents, which only baffled employees.
"[M]any have wondered why she has taken it for so long. He sometimes has been heard screaming at her…calling her fat or stupid or belittling her."
Many former employees interviewed for this story believed the aggression, hostility, and paranoia—"the earmarks of addiction," as Jacob put it—exhibited by the company's leadership stemmed from drug use.
"James and Rhonda were pretty big into coke," said Kyle. "There would be days when James would come down [to the art department] super sweaty and super paranoid and just like walking really fast back and forth through the design area. And there was nothing to be stressed about, it was just a regular day."
Kyle's coworkers whispered that the drug use had been going on for years.
"We saw Rhonda come to work from time to time just totally fucked up," said Justin. He remembered one morning when she "couldn't even stand up straight."
The comments section of a 2009 nostalgia-based blog post about Lisa Frank products devolved, over the next three years, into a sort of refuge/support group for people who had once worked for the company, many of whom made repeated mentions of cocaine use by the higher-ups.
Another former employee shared the following anecdote on a parenting forum about a coworker at LFI:
"She told me that James regularly sent her with an unmarked box or a paper bag to meet someone at a gas station or parking lot. She was supposed to exchange her package for theirs and not look inside. (There were a lot of rumors and a couple of incidents about their cocaine use, so we can guess what was inside.) He also had her buy his Viagra and his porn."
And while Frank, who worked from home, was not present in the office for her own behavior to be observed, employees had their suspicions about her, too.
"I think Lisa Frank was into a little bit of coke or something as well," Kyle said. The reason he thinks that? In the archive room, where all the original artwork ever created for the line is stored, there was rumored to be an infamous letter on the back of one of the pieces.
"It's from Lisa Frank's friend [written] to Lisa Frank [about] how much fun she had freebasing with Lisa and whoring around New York," said Kyle.
Justin remembers the letter, too.
"I think we all Xeroxed that," he laughed.
But it would seem—at the office at least, and with Frank home tending to her boys—that the party had been whittled down to just Green and Rowlette.
According to former employees who spoke to Jezebel, it was accepted by much of the staff that Rowlette and Green were not-so-secret lovers.
"When I [started working] there, people were telling me that [Rhonda] and James had this thing going on behind closed doors," said Kyle.
"She was screwing him!" according to one former employee commiserating with past coworkers online. Another referred to Rowlette as Green's "fuck buddy."
Kobi Miller worked as a product development artist at LFI for over 10 years when he submitted a sworn affidavit remarking on his suspicions about Green and Rowlette's relationship.
"[M]y wife and I were shopping at Tucson Mall over 4th of July weekend 2005 and stopped by the Lisa Frank retail store in the mall…we were surprised to see James and Rhonda together in the store on that 3 day weekend. [W]e had a short conversation with James (Rhonda didn't say much). After we left them we both thought it strange that they would be together and that Rhonda acted sort of caught off guard at seeing us and acted uncomfortable. We wondered why James wasn't with his family and Rhonda wasn't with her husband on a holiday weekend. Something wasn't right…"
At some point, Frank picked up on the alleged peculiarity. In September 2005, she filed for divorce. According to the court documents, Frank noted that "the precise date being unknown…Green and Rowlette formed a close personal bond and secret partnership."
You Mess With the Unicorn, You Get the Horn
"It wasn't a surprise," Karen said of the breakup of Frank and Green's marriage. "They had a tumultuous relationship, it was no secret."
Frank had confided in her friend Roy Hayes, Jr. that she was "frightened" of Green and had been a victim of his verbal abuse for years. She was looking for a way out.
According to Karen, years before Frank filed for divorce, she would test the waters by regularly asking the staff, "If James and I divorced, would you stay with the company?"
Green moved out of the family home in June 2005 and Frank spent the rest of the summer "getting more involved in the day-to-day activities [of the company]," according to Kyle.
Frank undoubtedly knew that ending her partnership—both in life and in business—with Green would be a contentious, litigious mess. She began increasing her presence in the office, according to legal documents, and taking a more active role.
"[I] would get [art] direction from her and then James would come down and be like, 'That's bullshit! I run this fucking company and you've got to do it [my] way," Kyle said.
Sensing that his wife was angling to oust him, Green seemingly began a campaign of his own, enlisting Rowlette's help, according to court records.
"James and Rhonda put pressure on people [to] pick a side: either you pick Lisa or you pick James," said Kyle. "James was telling people if the company splits up he's going to start his own company. He was trying to recruit people to go with him so that way, if Lisa did get the company, she wouldn't have anybody to help her."
For her part, Frank had virtual spies. Green claimed that Frank hired an outside IT consultant to provide her with direct access to all company emails, which she used to monitor their communications, and delete and redirect emails, which he said created a "siege-like atmosphere."
Gearing up for a war to regain control of her company, a siege was probably her aim. One has to wonder, though, what Frank was searching for with her access to employees' email accounts. And it's odd that something like that would anger Green, a man who—according to former employees who spoke to Jezebel—didn't have even the most basic human decency with regards to respecting those who worked for him. Besides, as Betty Hack said:
"[It] is a known fact throughout the company that James has had this very same access for years and has [been] doing this behavior all along.
I was also told by several IT managers over the past years that…phones and offices were also sometimes bugged at the request of James."
Why would he care if his wife were meddling in emails sent on the company's servers if he'd been doing it all along himself? He admitted to as much after he was ordered by a judge to return six computers he'd allegedly stolen from the office shortly after Frank filed for divorce, saying the machines "contain personal correspondence" that he wanted protected.
One month after filing a civil suit (to force Green to attend the annual two-person shareholders meeting so she could elect a new board of directors) and an application for a temporary restraining order against Green (to keep him away from the business and stop him from "harassing employees, blocking purchase orders" and removing assets from the company)—Frank won the first battle in what would be a long, drawn-out, dirty war. She arrived at the company's headquarters with the police, who escorted Green, Rowlette, and Rowlette's secretary from building.
Lisa Frank was once again CEO of Lisa Frank, Inc.
The Trials of Lisa Frank
In the years following the breakup, instead of forging ahead with the company's plans to expand with a Fantastic World of Lisa Frank theme park, a clothing line, and TV shows (the company always considered itself competition for Disney), Lisa Frank spent the latter half of the 2000s mired in litigation, mostly with Green and Rowlette.
Lisa Frank vs. James Green, September 2005 Frank's initial suit against Green to oust him from her company went through a series of appeals.
James Green vs. Lisa Frank, September 2005 In his counterclaim, Green fought tooth-and-nail to block a 1995 "buy-sell" agreement that gave Frank the right to buy out Green's shares in LFI should the couple ever divorce. He claimed that he created all of the company's content, including the "400 original characters and themes with the exception of a handful." Green also petitioned the court to dissolve Lisa Frank, Inc., on the grounds that what Frank was doing—by trying to take back control of her company—was illegal. Ultimately, he wasn't successful, but five litigious years would pass before a settlement arrangement was met.
Rhonda Rowlette vs. Lisa Frank, Inc., March 2006 After she was fired by Frank, Rowlette sued for $2 million plus damages claiming it was what she was often promised as a severance if she were ever to retire or be fired. The litigation and appeals went on for over three years before there was a sealed settlement.
Lisa Frank, Inc. vs. James Green and Jerry Rowlette, April 2006 In a third-party counterclaim, LFI alleged (among things) that Rowlette and Green, along with Rowlette's husband Jerry Rowlette, stole five truckloads of company property and converted corporate funds for their personal use. (Incidentally, both Rowlettes were dragged into and deposed for Frank and Green's civil suit and divorce proceedings.)
James Green vs. Lisa Frank and Lisa Frank, Inc., August 2006 Green sought $16.7 million to repay a loan for a private jet he bought.
James Green vs. Lisa Frank and Lisa Frank, Inc., March 2008 Green sued for $2.2 million, which he claimed was his share of the sale of the jet.
Greenbean Investments, LLC vs. Lisa Frank, Inc., March 2008 Green sued in an attempt to take back Lisa Frank HQ on the grounds that LFI had had violated its lease with Greenbean Investments—which owned the property—by failing to pay rent, which he claimed, as a 47.5% owner of Greenbean, entitled him to "re-enter and take possession" of the property. Frank also owned 47.5% of Greenbean. Their two minor sons owned the remaining 5%. The suit was dismissed.
Jerry Rowlette vs. Lisa Frank, Inc., November 2008 Rowlette's husband sued Lisa Frank, Inc. for punitive damages in regards to the allegations that he stole and converted company property. The suit was dismissed.
James Green vs. Lisa Frank, Inc., October 2009 Green, acting again as a member of Greenbean Investments, attempted to have LFI evicted from its headquarters. As part of this suit, Green sent his sons—the other members of Greenbean Investments, who were about 13 and 9 years old at the time—a written demand to give him consent to take action against their mother's company. They didn't provide it and he was unsuccessful with the eviction.
On top of all of that, Frank and Green have spent the better part of eight years duking it out over everything and anything, such as divvying up personal possessions like furniture and family photographs. As recently as January 2013 they were still bickering within the legal system. According to court documents, they can't even come to agreements on their children's vacations or schedules without the regular intervention of their lawyers.
And while, in the fight to regain control of her company, Frank had charged that Green had "presided over a drastic reduction in corporate sales and profits" (one former employee said Green lacked "focus and direction" and cared more about the font used in presentations than the content), and created a "contentious working environment," she hasn't fared much better at its helm. She severely reduced her staff and entered into an exclusive licensing agreement in 2010 with a Delaware-based company, CSS Industries, which would manufacture and sell her line of products.
"I know they must be hurting because when I was working there there would be no way in hell she'd ever consider licensing," said Kyle. "Because she wanted total control."
However, the relationship with CSS Industries quickly soured and Frank filed a suit against the company in 2012 for failing to earn her the $2.8 million in royalties it had promised.
The End of the Rainbow
Last year there seemed to be a light at the end of the tunnel in the form of the nostalgia market. Lisa Frank, Inc. had entered into a relationship with Urban Outfitters to sell T-shirts she designed exclusively for the retailer using some of her classic illustrations. In addition, they sold her excess stock of "vintage" stationery pieces. Despite the partnership being an apparent success—everything sold out quickly—the company has seemingly ended its apparel deal with Lisa Frank, Inc., although it recently began to sell various holiday items, like Christmas ornaments and calendars. Urban Outfitters has not responded to several requests for comment.
"They lose relationships with people because they aren't friendly," said Karen of the company's inability to maintain business.
Considering how trends are cyclical, it's a shame that Frank's empire couldn't capitalize on the resurgence of the aesthetic she created. But it's not stopping other companies from doing so.
As for Green, he found Jesus.
Previously Jewish, he has evidently converted to Christianity and sells religious-based stationery and T-shirt designs on his website JamesChristianMan.com, where he also shares his poetry, photography, and sculptures (one is a giant sand castle-type creation of a crucifix).
"James did not seem like he gave a fuck about God or anything like that," laughed Justin. "There was that South Park episode with Faith +1 where Cartman started a Christian boy band just to take advantage of people. That's kind of what [Green's new business] feels like."
Green founded his business Salvation, LLC a few months after leaving Lisa Frank, Inc. Rhonda Rowlette is his Vice President. Although he's yet to experience the kind of commercial success the Lisa Frank brand has enjoyed, it's not for a lack of trying. Salvation, LLC has registered a couple dozen trademarks on designs and slogans.
One of them, aptly, is "Blame James."
* Some names of former LFI employees have been changed to protect their anonymity.
Image by Jim Cooke.
It’s already known as ARTFLOP.
On Nov. 6, amid the kind of hype not seen since Michael Jackson floated a statue of himself down the Thames River, Lady Gaga released her third studio album, “ARTPOP.”
And not since Jackson has such a globally famous, white-hot pop star had such a rise and precipitous fall: “ARTPOP” is on track to lose $25 million for her label, Interscope, prompting rumors of imminent layoffs.
But it’s not just album sales. When Gaga opened this year’s MTV Video Music Awards, her performance was eclipsed by the twerking Miley Cyrus. Gaga’s work as both host and performer on a recent “Saturday Night Live” was underwhelming, and her recent ABC special, “Lady Gaga & The Muppets’ Holiday Spectacular,” had a dismal 0.9 rating among viewers ages 18 to 49, with just 3.6 million viewers total.
“That ‘Applause’ Gaga is hearing these days has been reduced to a polite golf-clap,” said The Wrap, referring to the title of her first single from the album.
Just five years ago, Lady Gaga exploded on the scene with her debut album, “The Fame.” She had an invented backstory as an art-school freak (in reality, she was a rich private-school graduate from the Upper West Side), a raft of witty, sophisticated pop songs and an ever-changing visual presentation that pulled from the greatest eccentrics of the 20th century, from Schiaparelli to Leigh Bowery — all thanks to a small, tightly knit team of stylists, collaborators and advisers that she called the “Haus of Gaga.”
“I don’t feel that I look like the other perfect little pop singers,” she told Rolling Stone in 2009. “I think I look new.” Indeed, Lady Gaga felt like the first pop star since David Bowie to approach every aspect of performance sideways. In a landscape populated by earnest, business-minded, on-brand idols like Taylor Swift, Alicia Keys, Carrie Underwood and Katy Perry, here was this glorious freak show with mass appeal, a kook with genuine talent.
And, as suddenly, it seems the public at large is now exhausted by Lady Gaga. Even she admits it: “People think I’m finished,” she told Britain’s Guardian newspaper in September.
What’s gone so wrong?
The inner circle flees
When Lady Gaga released “The Fame” in August 2008, she insisted the album — full of songs about boys and booze — was much deeper than the average pop record. It was, she said, a meta-commentary on a culture obsessed with celebrity as the ultimate validation, and the masses loved it all: “The Fame” ultimately sold more than 12 million copies.
“I operate from a place of delusion — that’s what ‘The Fame’ [is] all about. I used to walk down the street like I was a f–king star,” she told Rolling Stone. “I want people to walk around delusional about how great they can be — and then to fight so hard for it every day that the lie becomes the truth.”
She credited the Haus of Gaga — her version, she said, of Warhol’s Factory — with engineering her rise. There was Troy Carter, the brilliant and loyal manager who signed her in 2007; Laurieann Gibson, her choreographer and creative director; and Nicola Formichetti, the visionary stylist who refined her catchall approach to eccentric dressing, turning her into a high-fashion obsession as well as a regular in tabloids, newspapers and gossip blogs. Within months, Gaga was the rare global superstar to toggle high and low.
“I don’t want to take any credit for Nicola’s work,” she told CNN in 2010. “He’s really, really an amazing designer; he’s an amazing creative.”
Formichetti quit this past summer. “I’ve done two albums with her, it’s been like five years, and you know . . . I cannot do it every day,” he told WWD. “She changes like five times a day; it’s insane.”
Formichetti’s absence is keenly felt; since he quit, Gaga’s looks have become crude, obvious, off-putting. Most recently, she wore a grotesque, disfiguring grill to the YouTube awards, turned her face into a Picasso-inspired funhouse reflection and wrapped herself up like a burn victim.
“She doesn’t know how to do this as well as [Formichetti] did,” says celebrity stylist Robert Verdi. “People think it’s just so stupid and easy to come up with a meat dress — but it’s such a unique way to approach branding talent. The synergy between the music and the way she presented herself actually lets people know how hard the styling was. I think she needs to find partners that understand her the way Nicola did. She’s falling short now — it’s hard to keep up at that level.”
In November 2011, Gaga also parted ways with choreographer Gibson. “No judgment, but it just got a little dark for me, creatively,” Gibson told “Entertainment Tonight Canada.”
The most shocking defection from Gaga’s camp came last month: Carter, the veteran manager who guided her ascent, quit less than a week before ARTPOP’s release. As Page Six reported, Gaga’s label was concerned that the record had no hits and asked her to tweak some of the tracks, or release the record as an EP. She declined, and Carter attempted to intervene, to no avail.
Gaga, according to one source, said she refused to “adulterate my art,” and Carter quit.
“I have a lot of experience in this area,” says one longtime label executive and producer. “Artists have a lot of help on their first albums, and they’re open to a lot of help, and they are very smart collaborators and make great work.”
Once that work results in great success, he says, the artist invariably believes they are solely responsible. “Time and again, they feel like they could have done it themselves, and if they had done it their way, it would have been even bigger,” he says. “So they jettison the people who helped them get where they are and hire people who are less powerful, who let them do what they want. I think that may be where Lady Gaga is.”
And without anyone formidable to guide her, Lady Gaga, for the first time in her career, seems culturally tone-deaf, releasing an album that’s ostensibly about modern art — a “reverse Warholian expedition,” as Gaga so loftily describes it — to a public that doesn’t care.
The release party, dubbed an “artRave,” was held at the Brooklyn Navy Yard, and included installations by Jeff Koons (who did her album cover), Marina Abramovic and Robert Wilson. Members of Gaga’s audience defaced several sculptures by Koons, whose “Balloon Dog (Orange)” just sold at Christie’s for $58.4 million.
Once a master at spectacle, her artRave entrance, strapped in a gargantuan hovercraft that lifted her about three feet into the air, fell flat. When she performed, she wept for no discernible reason. She declared the event was no mere record-release party, but about something larger than herself: “the youth of the world.”
She did not elaborate. She then rambled about her struggles with sobriety and said that by collaborating with her, Koons was “giving a gift to young artists all over the world,” her convoluted logic belying self-congratulation.
“Never before,” said Pitchfork’s Amy Phillips, “have I felt more like I was living a scene from ‘Spinal Tap.’ ”
‘In a dangerous place’
Perhaps the best analogy to Lady Gaga’s trajectory is the rise and fall of the Showtime series “Homeland.”
When it debuted in late 2011, “Homeland” was a wild and unlikely hit, a thriller about a brilliant, bipolar CIA agent who falls in love with the Marine-turned-sleeper terrorist she’s tracking. Like Gaga, “Homeland” was a surprise: culturally relevant and super weird, electrifying in its warp-speed approach to burning through story.
But after that first season, it became clear that the writers had no idea where to take their narrative, and the show’s once-organic outrageousness curdled into patronizing gimmickry.
With her first record, Lady Gaga, too, burned through story — the outsider artist who crashed through popular culture, the “Mother Monster” to all the world’s freaks — and she clearly had no sense where to go next.
She spoke of addiction issues with pot and alcohol, but that narrative never gained traction — perhaps it was too pedestrian, or perhaps no one believed such a dogged careerist would ever lose that much control. Nor did her alleged hip injury, which put her out of commission for months, capture public sympathy or imagination. She didn’t even use it to go away — instead, she commissioned a gold wheelchair, and she began to feel like the guest who just wouldn’t leave.
“She had this incredible origin story emblematic of underdogs everywhere, but she’s no longer that,” says the exec. “She hasn’t found another thing that she can represent. She has to write another great story about where she is in her life — Eminem is really great at that. But when you come out and your new single is called ‘Applause’ and it’s about how you need it — you have to be about more than that.”
The most critical problem, says the exec, is quality control. None of the singles Gaga has released since “The Fame” has reached the same level of critical and commercial success. “I don’t think she’s made groundbreaking music since her first record,” he says. “It’s not enough to be a larger-than-life personality and have marketing muscle behind you.”
Chris Evans and Alice Eve head into the same SUV separately after having dinner together at John’s on 12th Street on Saturday evening (December 14) in the East Village neighborhood of New York City.
The 32-year-old actor and the 31-year-old actress will be starring as love interests in the upcoming movie 1:30 Train, which Chris is also directing and producing.
The film follows two strangers as they meet one night in Manhattan and form an unlikely bond based on the conflicts in their own lives.
Or they're having a working dinner... but, of course, no one in Hollywood ever does that.
There are more images at the source, but they're both almost unrecognisable in their jackets.
Inside sources have revealed a bit about the behind-the-scenes process that transformed what began as Beyonce’s vision into the year’s most successful album launch. Three teams worked diligently on the project: Team Columbia, the artist’s Team Parkwood and Team iTunes.
And what started with just four people in a room (with a plan for what we’re calling the Sneak Attack) ended with the three teams in total coordination, with as many as 15 participants in the inner circle for the final 72 hours. Plans were hatched and revised, and the digital release date changed repeatedly before it was finally agreed upon and the substantial body of work was completed and delivered.
Columbia’s team started early on with their sales team, expanding to production coordinators and marketing. On the Parkwood side, Lee Anne Callahan and Jim Sabey were the tip of the spear. iTunes' Robert Kondrk, Jay Liepis and Janet Rubin also played pivotal roles. Each team moved forward and then spent much of the process in hurry-up-and-wait mode, standing by for the content—which ultimately included 14 songs and 17 videos—knowing they had to be ready to turn on a dime for the launch to proceed smoothly to its privately preconceived conclusion. And smoothly is how it came off, with no press leaks and the element of surprise helping to create the magic and power the ensuing retail frenzy. For more on this amazing development, check our lead story. (12/16a)
A lot of artists can claim to be the bomb, but only a few can truly drop one.
Without any wind-up, preamble or tease whatsoever, Columbia unveiled a brand-new album from Beyonce on the evening of 12/12 on iTunes. At 9pm, an assortment of glamorous black-and-white images of the megastar suddenly occupied the store’s home-page carousel, and fans were invited to download the self-titled "visual album," featuring 14 audio tracks and 17 videos.
And they certainly did, sending the release (Queen Bey’s fifth solo outing) to #1 in a few hours and to 500k within two days. She was quickly positioned not only to blow past the retail bow of her previous album, 2011’s 4 (and making her a shoo-in for the #1 spot on this week’s HITS Album Sales Chart), but also within striking distance of the first-week record for digital sales. Having smashed Taylor Swift’s online number for Red, she soon had Lady Gaga’s 665k (440k of which sold for 99 cents on Amazon) in her sights.
And let’s not forget that she’s attained these heights with a substantial $15.99 price point, though fans obviously felt an album of new material that also featured visually rich videos for every track was more than a bargain.
The album will be unbundled on 12/20, at which point fans can purchase individual tracks; a lavish physical package containing a CD, DVD and a deluxe booklet will hit shelves this week.
Two singles will be delivered to radio this week: "XO" (written by Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic and The Dream) hits Top 40 tomorrow, while "Drunk in Love," a duet with Jay Z, impacts at Urban. Videos for both tracks, meanwhile, premiere on VEVO tomorrow.
The project is entirely Beyonce’s vision, and Rob Stringer’s Team Columbia, the artist’s Team Parkwood and iTunes labored mightily to bring it into the world. What started with just four people in a room (with a plan for what we’re calling the Sneak Attack) ended with the three teams in total coordination; as many as 15 participants formed the inner circle for the final 72 hours. Plans were hatched and revised, and the digital release date changed repeatedly before it was finally agreed upon and the substantial body of work was completed and delivered.
Columbia’s team started early on with their sales squad, expanding to production coordinators and marketing. On the Parkwood side, Lee Anne Callahan and Jim Sabey were the tip of the spear. iTunes' Robert Kondrk, Jay Liepis and Janet Rubin also played pivotal roles. Each team moved forward and then spent much of the process in hurry-up-and-wait mode, standing by for the content
Reportedly crafted over a year and a half, Beyonce features—in addition to hubby Jay Z and co-writers Tedder and The Dream—a panoply of guest collaborators, including Justin Timberlake, Drake, Pharrell Williams, Frank Ocean, Sia, Miguel, Timbaland and her Destiny’s Child bandmates Michelle Williams and Kelly Rowland.
The videos, many of them filmed during her massive Mrs. Carter World Tour; the Queen helmed some of the clips herself, but also enlisted such A-list directors as Hype Williams, Jonas Ackerlund and Terry Williamson. Locales for the vids include a Paris chateau, Coney Island’s Cyclone rollercoaster, a Brazilian beach and her childhood roller rink in Houston.
"I didn’t want to release my music the way I’ve done it," reads a quote from the artist in the album announcement. "I am bored with that. I feel like I am able to speak directly to my fans. There’s so much that gets between the music, the artist and the fans. I felt like I didn’t want anybody to give the message when my record is coming out. I just want this to come out when it’s ready and from me to my fans."
How did those fans react? Well, the word "apeshit" comes to mind. In addition to ringing the bells at iTunes, Beyonce’s ferocious base drummed up more than a half-million Twitter mentions in three hours. Joining the #QueenBey conversation were fellow stars like Katy Perry ("Don't talk to me today unless it's about @Beyonce THANX."), Lady Gaga ("welcome back Queen B"), Snoop Dogg/Lion/Zilla ("my girl @beyonce just changed d game !!"), Diddy, Demi Lovato, Sara Bareilles, Jessie J and many more.
A Q4 superstar release executed this effectively would be impressive under any circumstances; that Columbia, Beyonce’s crew and iTunes have delivered it as a surprise holiday gift, without any pre-release hype, is simply staggering.
Also, 'XO' has been sent to top 40 radio (not 'Blow' as originally reported), and the videos for XO and Drunk in Love will hit VEVO tomorrow. :)
EXCLUSIVE: Two singles from Beyonce’ s blockbuster Q4 surprise have been selected for radio, we’ve just learned: “XO” (co-written by Ryan Tedder of OneRepublic and Terius Nash, aka The Dream), will go to Top 40 today, while “Drunk in Love,” a duet with Jay Z, will impact at Urban. Videos for both tracks will premiere on VEVO today. Details of physical product are being finalized as Team Columbia, Beyonce’s Team Parkwood and iTunes work together to bring the superstar’s vision to fruition.
Aubrey O Day
Rosie Huntington Whiteley
The ‘Witches’ ended their first season with two — possibly three — big deaths, and an even bigger arrival.
Freya’s (Jenna Dewan-Tatum) wedding day finally arrived on the Dec. 15 season finale of Lifetime’s Witches of East End, and the ceremony went off without a hitch! No, seriously, no one got hitched. Of course, Freya and Dash’s (Eric Winter) aborted nuptials were hardly the most surprising twist of the hour.
During one of Penelope’s (Virginia Madsen) classic kidnap-and-torture sessions, she revealed her true identity to Joanna (Julia Ormond), as well as the truth about Dash and Killian (Daniel di Tomasso). It turns out they had powers, but Penelope — excuse me, Athena – borrowed them when they were babies.
Freya also received a heartbreaking little surprise about Killian, when Victor (Joel Gretsch) told her that she had loved him once before. Possibly several times, actually. He believes Killian, just like Freya, is reborn time and again — and every time, his soul is led to hers.
Things got super-bananas when Wendy (Mädchen Amick) and Joanna killed Athena, thus awakening Dash and Killian’s powers, and restoring Freya’s. And when I say “super-bananas,” I mean “super-tragic,” because Dash ended up murdering his brother, then shipping his body out to sea!
And then there was Ingrid’s (Rachel Boston) library buddy Mike (Enver Gjokaj), who decided to crash Freya’s wedding with an unexpected date: his handgun! He demanded that Ingrid open the door to Asgard, which she did — you know, because of that gun I mentioned.
But the joke ended up being on Mike, as his body disintegrated the moment the door opened. The episode ended with Ingrid, Wendy and Joanna looking horrified, as a man entered their realm. I assume the man was Frederick, Ingrid and Freya’s long-lost brother, but I guess we’ll have to wait until 2014 to find out!
That’s right, a drunk and disgruntled Danny Boy — who, having just learned that his beloved ex, Sarah, has tried to take her own life — overhears Victoria and Emily discussing the latter’s fake pregnancy, then confronts his betrothed over her incessant lies and, without hesitation, retrieves the loaded gun she has nearby as a means of faking her death. She immediately apologizes, but it’s (way) too little, (way) too late: He’s already shot her. Twice.
When a very-much-alive Emily doesn’t meet Aiden at their planned rendezvous point, he and Jack — who’s come to say (another, better) goodbye to his childhood sweetheart — happen upon her bloody, discarded wedding gown. Daniel, meanwhile, watches his missus float away and returns to the party as if nothing has happened.
At a recent press conference, Revenge boss Sunil Nayar discussed the near-fatal twist, revealing why the show chose Daniel as the shooter and what’s next for an amnesiac (!) Emily. The EP also previewed Victoria’s next move now that she (for once!) has the upper hand on her daughter-in-law, and multiple “amazing cliffhangers” ahead.
QUESTION | Talk about the decision to make Daniel the shooter.
We played around with lots of different options… We had about three different people that we were really seriously considering and then tried to make it work… We just wanted to do the one that’s the juiciest and that ultimately changes the show as much as possible. We wanted to almost paint ourselves into a corner where you think, “How on Earth are they going to get out of this?!” because we’ve established so many realities that we can’t deny are true now. I think that we found elegant ways out of these problems that really give us tons more story going into the back half of the season.
QUESTION | Who else was under consideration to pull the trigger?
We toyed with so many different people. There was a time that we played out what if it was Aiden who shot her, and then we realized that that just would seem so incongruous with the couple that we know them as. So even to try to think about getting him to that point didn’t really work. We obviously toyed with the idea of Victoria shooting her, because it’s so delicious and wonderful, and then we had Lydia coming back… So we teed up everybody we could think of as the shooter and just saw which had the best prize when it happened and the best dramatic merit coming out of it, and Daniel really was the answer to that question each time we looked at it.
QUESTION | How will Daniel’s actions impact him in the episodes to come?
He’s tormented by the nature of what he’s done. You even get a sense after he shot her, there’s this flicker of regret. He [committed] a brash act. He’s been completely betrayed. It’s not like you don’t understand the impulse to do it. Carrying through with the act was the big moment for Daniel. He will have to wrestle with the demons of what that means and wrestle with the fact that now, he’s learned the truth about this woman that he’s given his heart over to back and forth over the last couple of years. You’re going to see a real transformation in him. There’s a regret that will come from it initially, but then it will grow into a strength, a hardening in Daniel Grayson, because the person he trusted the most has really upended the nature of that trust. It’s going to be a great journey we’re going to put him on.
QUESTION | How did Josh Bowman react to the shooter twist?
He was blown away… Once we knew were doing the storyline, we thought, “We have to talk to Josh before anybody,” because from his acting standpoint, we wanted to give him as much time to prepare for it and make sure he was nuancing his performance as he got up to it. He was obviously very concerned, because it’s a big move, and we kept assuring him, “We’re going to get you to an emotional place where we’re going to believe that you did it,” and hopefully all you guys [watching] actually believed that he got there. I think he did. He did a fabulous job, but he was knocked out that he was going to be the shooter. But also, in a very legitimate way, we wanted to make sure we were going to attend to the nature of his character going forward, and it wasn’t going to be for simply sensational [effect] like, “Holy moly, I can’t believe it’s Daniel”; it actually informs his character going forward, and the dynamic between Emily and all of the Graysons. With his input, we really got to the right place for it, and you’ll see where we get to going forward.
QUESTION | Speaking of Josh, what are your thoughts on him recently saying he wanted to be killed off the show this season?
Josh had gotten himself into a space, because he knew he was doing this storyline, that some of the darkness was in [his remarks] in a way. He had just such a commitment to where his character was going that he, in his mind, just let it go to the nth degree. When he was just talking to [the reporter], he let his imagination get away from him a little bit, just because he was living in the darkest place his character’s ever going to be. Coming out of it, anybody could die on Revenge at any time, so it wasn’t an insane thing to say, but we love Josh and obviously we have plans for his character. lmao backtrack that shit
QUESTION | Has Emily really lost her memory, as the promo for January’s episodes suggests?
She has at the moment lost her memory of all of it, and you’ll see how we play out the amnesia storyline. Because obviously, it’s quite the soap opera trope. [But] what we’ve done with it is [do it] the way that Revenge would do it: in a way that’s extremely satisfying… We wanted to do it, but in the way that the show is capable of doing things, where you never know who’s telling the truth at any given moment. So, we play with the amnesia idea in many different ways, from the first episode back, that you’ll be happy about.
QUESTION | That said, how will an investigation into Emily’s shooting play out?
There are a couple different people who become primary suspects. Obviously, Emily’s not a benefit to them in the nature of the investigation, but they will have evidence on the boat that they’re pursuing, and then they’ll have photo evidence of what Margaux is doing on the boat, so that Voulez is primary in the investigation, and again, in classic Revenge style, you’ll see how one person becomes a real suspect, and then it shifts over to someone else’s focus.
QUESTION | What happens now that Victoria knows a little about who Emily is?
We wanted to set up things so that we have a greater knowledge of who Emily is going forward, and Emily will then slowly understand that the circumstances of what she can do are now drastically different also… Seeing this photograph is the catalyst that starts Victoria on a journey to really have something on Emily… She has no idea that she’s Amanda Clarke at this point in time, but she at least knows that this woman is not on the level and that some of her suspicions are actually correct, which gives Victoria a great engine going into the second half of the season. She now has the power in the relationship, which she hasn’t had obviously in the first half of the season.
QUESTION | And Emily still wants to take down Victoria?
She definitely still wants to take the Graysons down. That will never be a mission that leaves her, but again, with Victoria knowing who she is, and as we play things out coming back, she’s going to understand that the way that she has to go about this is going to be completely different than the way she’s done it in the past.
QUESTION | Will we see Emily quickly stripped of her Grayson name with an annulment?
It’s tricky. We looked into the rules of annulment in New York, and it requires, interestingly, a degree of fraud that has to be committed. Daniel actually has the grounds for annulment much more than Emily would at this point in time, but you’ll see coming into the next episodes that that’s actually not the best option for him at this point in time.
QUESTION | Emily’s humanity has been called into question quite a bit this season, particularly by those she cares for most. Will that continue to be explored post-shooting?
She’s a person who’s been created by circumstance, and so we’ve tried to explore in the first half of this season what her mission has turned her into in some ways. And then answering who shot her and why, we wanted, in the second half of the season, to really answer the humanity of Emily Thorne, to get back to the girl that was destroyed by what the Graysons did, to get back to the family that destroyed her. The examination of the first half of the season was, what are the merits of her mission, and what has it turned her into, and then post-shooting, it’ll be, who has she now become, and how does she see what her mission is and who she is with respect to it? It’s the real humanization of her you’re going to see in especially the next three episodes coming up.
QUESTION | Do Jack’s actions at the end of this episode signify a “reset” for him and Emily moving forward?
Yeah, we’ve had Jack really scrutinize the nature of who Emily is and what Emily’s doing, but he will come to see in the aftermath of the shooting that it’s really his ultimatum that’s led her to be in this position. There’s a bit of culpability that he has for it, so you’re going to start seeing the thaw between Emily and Jack as we get into the second half of the season… It’s a bit of a more equivalent relationship moving forward. meh
QUESTION | How will all of this impact Aiden?
There’s definitely still the triangle of Emily and Aiden and Jack, and Aiden’s definitely still in the picture. But his plans have obviously gone awry. His future’s just been upended, and Emily’s going to have to stay in the Hamptons for a little bit, so it’s confusing to him. There’s another great introduction into the nature of the Aiden backstory that takes him into the future that shakes things up between him and Emily, too.
QUESTION | Will Sara be back? And will we learn whether she actually tried to commit suicide?
Sara’s not gone yet… And you will find out in the episode back what actually happens to Sara.
QUESTION | And how long will Lydia be sticking around?
She’s sticking around for a little bit longer. She’ll play a big role in the episode back.
QUESTION | What’s next for Nolan and Patrick?
We always knew that we were going to bring back Victoria’s son and that he’d become a love interest for Nolan, and the two of them have been so great together. Frankly, what we’re going to do is we’re really going to put them through their paces when we come back. Happy relationships are all fine and dandy, but that’s not where this show thrives. Patrick, seeing that there’s this space between this painting that Nolan obviously bought from his mother, is going to have him call into question with whom his fidelities lie, and the answers are going to really cause a lot of great conflict in the Victoria/Patrick/Nolan triangle.
QUESTION | What’s Charlotte’s journey in the second half of the season?
She will slowly come to see Emily in a different way, which is going to cause that rift between the sister that she’s always tried to get closer to. We want to give Charlotte a love interest in the second half of the season, because now that she is more of a woman, it’s time to acknowledge her as such. We have a way that we could do that that will also create more conflict in the world of Emily and Nolan also, but we want to keep her going, because she’s been fantastic this year, and we love our new Charlotte.
QUESTION | Will we continue to see takedowns of the week moving forward?
Definitely. We’re not going to get rid of the takedowns. We’ve done them sparingly and with the right impact when we do it. Again, now with this new Emily, we have a different sense of how a takedown is going to work, so we’re not giving them up completely.
QUESTION | Are there any major cliffhangers planned to conclude your three-episode run in January?
Oh, yeah. When you get to the end of that Episode 13, there are three, maybe four amazing cliffhangers that we’ve got built up that will carry you into March… Now that we’re past [the wedding], and we’re to the place where Daniel has shot Emily, where Victoria’s figured out who she is, where Patrick’s seen where the infinity box may be hidden, we can get into the more salaciously, revenge-y, interpersonal stuff now. [Our new] 10 pm [timeslot] will give us the opportunity to show you the darker colors of all the people.
QUESTION | Now that some of Emily’s secret is kind of out, is this the beginning of the end? How many more times can her revenge plans be thwarted?
What’s interesting is that there is so much story left to tell, surprisingly, and again, one of the things this episode is helping to do is to change the nature of how we can [tell that story]. But definitely, that is one of the things we’re talking about, that Emily needs a measure of success by season’s end, just so we understand that she is good at what she does. That’s one of the things that you can all know: We’re working… to make sure… you’re satisfied by the nature of what she’s doing as we get into Season 4.
QUESTION | So, you’re feeling good about the future of the series, renewalwise and whatnot?
We all feel very confident that there will be a fourth season of the show, and obviously, we’re already trying to think of that now. We all have a belief that the show could go on as long as we keep changing the parameters of what the show is. The show has legs to keep running for a long time, but obviously, we all hope, and I would imagine even at the network, too, that when the show is going to finish, that we have a chance to finish it correctly, because it would be so unfun for us and for the fans to to not have a resolution. So we definitely want to make sure this is a story that has an ending when it’s done.
that was fun
I secretly hope he never stops so we can get bad songs to laugh at.
Awful Christmas time stories??
Arsenal just can't catch a break smdh.
Freida Pinto on the Cover of Grazia's latest Issue.Recently its confirmed that Ms.Pinto will star in a RomCom opposite Guy Pearce
Her new single, One More Sleep, may have narrowly been kept off Number 1 yesterday, but Leona Lewis has cause for celebration nevertheless after setting a new Official Singles Chart record.
Leona now has more Top 5 hits to her name than any other British female solo artist in history!
"The support from my fans has been tremendous," she tells OfficialCharts.com. "I could not do this without them!"
Leona made her Official Singles Chart debut seven years ago with her X Factor winner’s single, A Moment Like This. She then topped the chart again the following year with Bleeding Love, the first single from her debut album, Spirit. The track went on to become one of the UK’s biggest singles of all-time, selling over a million copies.
2008’s Better In Time / Footprints In The Sand peaked at Number 2, while Forgive Me and Run peaked at Number 5 and Number 1, respectively, later that year. Happy, the lead single from Leona’s second album, Echo, peaked at Number 2 in 2009, while Collide, her 2011 collaboration with Avicii, peaked at Number 4.
And now with One More Sleep peaking at Number 3, Leona overtakes previous record holder, British-born singer and actress Olivia-Newton John's tally of seven UK Top 5 hits (including 1991’s Grease Megamix and the 1998 re-release of her duet with John Travolta, You’re The One That I Want). Petula Clark, Shirley Bassey, Cilla Black, Geri Halliwell, Jessie J and Ellie Goulding sit in joint third place with six solo UK Top 5s, each.
BEY-TUNES: Beyonce has broken iTunes' one-week sales record in three days, moving more than 618k digital copies of her self-titled "visual album," the explicit and clean versions of which continue to hold the #1 and #2 spots on the online store, respectively. Beyonce also broke the worldwide iTunes first-week record. It's a huge end-of-year coup for Columbia chief Rob Stringer and his team, and for Sony Music ruler Doug Morris, who supported the release plan that the megastar and Stringer developed. For details about that plan, see the item below; stand by for further updates. (12/16a)
The Man of Tai Chi director reflects on his favorites, filmmaking inspirations and his career; plus, watch an exclusive behind-the-scenes clip from the making of the movie.
Like a cool breeze blowing through the mountains of modern movies, Keanu Reeves has endured as something of an unlikely cinema icon. Not just the star of summer smashes such as Speed and The Matrix, he's also amassed an impressive resume that includes performances in left-field American classics like River's Edge, A Scanner Darkly and My Own Private Idaho, while continuing to flourish in the popular imagination, of course, as the irrepressibly excellent stoner, Theodore "Ted" Logan.
Having served as the inquisitive anchor on last year's digital-vs-film documentary Side by Side, Reeves recently made his feature directing debut with Man of Tai Chi, a kung fu tournament movie wrapped in a reality-TV-style satire. With the movie releasing on Blu-ray and DVD this week, we talked with Reeves about his filmmaking inspirations, his acting career, and more.
First up, he ran down his five favorite kung fu movies.
Enter the Dragon (Robert Clouse, 1973; 95% Tomatometer)
Alright, so to begin this list I'm going to start with one of my first impressions of kung fu films; my childhood experience. So: Enter the Dragon. As a young child, you must see Bruce Lee, and Enter the Dragon.
It's ground zero for kids getting into kung fu movies.
It is. It is for many people. I grew up in Toronto, and in the late '70s, early '80s, there was an independent channel that would show kung fu movies late at night. And as a young kid I had a little black-and-white TV set, and so I was exposed to these films -- but I couldn't tell you their titles, because I was 11- and 12-years-old. [Laughs] I didn't write them down in my diary. But I remember really enjoying them: the costumes, the fighting, the stories, you know; I mean, just all the different styles, and watching these people do these amazing things. But then there was Enter the Dragon, which I actually saw in a movie theatre. I saw it in Times Square; I was taken there by my stepfather. And that film -- I mean, what a charismatic performance, right? And that story. The drugs, the mystery, the sex; it was very James Bond-ian, wasn't it? I'd been exposed to that kind of storytelling. But again, the drama, the music, the flashbacks, the beginning -- as the tournament fights are starting -- very, very cool. The super fight at the end, the fight in the mirrors, the claw! [Laughs] So that was fun.
5 Fingers of Death (Chang-hwa Jeong, Chung Chang-whu; 1973; 83% Tomatometer)
Then at the time there was also a film called 5 Fingers of Death. That might have been a Shaw brothers film. Oh wait, no, no, no -- who are those other cats?
I think it might be a Shaw brothers one.
Yeah? Well, what struck me as a kid was when the guy jumps up in the air and takes the eyeballs out. I mean, I was a young person; I was just like, "What?!" [Laughs] Yeah! And I saw that on the big screen, so I always remember that making an impression. And I'm sure there were things going on in there -- about the gangs, and the betrayal, and the student and the revenge -- that were a bit above my consciousness at the time. I don't know, but I always felt like there was some kind of political and social agenda in there somewhere.
It does, but when you're a kid, what you remember is the guy getting his eyeballs snatched out.
Yeah... but even there, I mean, the film had a duplicity, right? People were lying and pretending to be things, and he kind of goes on this quest to avenge all of that. He's a truth-seeker and he gets used. [Laughs] And it was moody. I remember it as being moody. It was night-time. And also the composition: people just huddled on one side of the room, talking. And it had some martial arts. I don't remember it having a lot of [camera] under-cranking in it. I'm sure there was. You know, doing 22-frame, 22-23-frame stuff.
Was this sort of thing on your mind when you were shooting Man of Tai Chi? 'Cause there's not a lot of slow-mo. I mean, there are a few shots, but it seems like you were consciously going for a more old-fashioned style.
Yeah, I mean there's a lot of old, and a lot of modern. There's the Steadicam stuff -- there's a lot of Steadicam stuff in the fight scenes.
I feel like a lot of your conversation scenes in this were just as active in terms of camera movement.
Sometimes. [Laughs] Absolutely, sometimes. And sometimes it's just two-shots. I think what I tried to do, especially with our Hong Kong stuff, was to try and have a lot of angles. So also, in the fights, you're seeing the scene, but you're seeing it from different perspectives. You know, when someone gets a phone call, it's like "Whoosh!" Up-top. On-the-side. Down-below. You know? A lot of what the film's about is perspective. I tried to put people there for the moment, whatever that moment may have been. [Laughs]
Fist of Legend (Gordon Chan, 1994; 100% Tomatometer)
Let's go to Fist of Legend. Yuen Woo-ping directing [choreography for] Jet Li. I was shown that film by the Wachowskis before shooting The Matrix, and that was like, "This is amazing." The storytelling and the fights are what I really like. It's just good, hard, Yuen Woo-ping choreography; Jet Li's awesome; there's a lot of fighting... yeah, I'm definitely gonna say that one. A good, clean, awesome fight movie.
Tai Chi Master (Yuen Woo-ping, 1993; 86% Tomatometer)
I kinda wanna go to Jet Li again, which is kinda not right -- we should probably do some Jackie Chan, right? Drunken Master, Drunken Master II, maybe? I don't know, I just wanted to do a costume one, you know -- like Tai Chi Master. There's something really beautiful about that one, the scope. Sometimes the scope doesn't have power to it. This one does. I'm gonna put that one in here as a "highly recommend."
The Matrix* (Andy Wachowski and Larry Wachowski, 1999; 87% Tomatometer)
You know, I'm gonna throw The Matrix out there, I think.
[Laughs] I think I'm gonna throw The Matrix out there as a seminal, modern kind of "keeping the dream alive" of the kung fu movie. Does it need an asterisk? I don't know. Is it a kung fu movie? I would say there's enough kung fu in there to make it a kung fu movie. I think so.
The kung fu is solid in that movie.
It's solid! I think the subway fight is pretty good. Yeah... I don't know. But I think if we were just going by kung fu fight, then I think you'd have to take Reloaded. If we're just going by fights. Even just that one sequence, with the Smith fight, and the choreography in that -- when all those Smiths come out -- I mean, that's just insane, that fight sequence.
I'll put an asterisk next to it for you.
Was there any particular film, or films, that you looked at to prepare for Man of Tai Chi? You obviously have a head full of kung fu movies.
Keanu Reeves: You know, we looked at the cinematography of the films Tiger [Chen] had acted in. We looked at a lot of films. I was looking at them mostly for camera angles and editing, just to see how they were shot and what people were doing. I kinda just went into the library. But mostly, for me aesthetic-wise, the film that I was probably looking at the most was Funny Games by Michael Haneke.
That's interesting. I guess you've got the whole "reality TV/ fight" angle going in Man of Tai Chi.
Yeah, 'cause I wanted to play with the subjective and the fourth wall a lot in Man of Tai Chi, and with Funny Games I liked the composition and those characters looking into the camera. I liked how that worked. So that film, I would say, had the most impact for me, cinematically, on this one.
Looking at your career, you basically went to the best film school in the world; I mean, the people you worked with -- from Francis Coppola to Gus Van Sant to the Wachowskis to Richard Linklater, the list goes on -- was there a specific moment where you caught the directing bug, or did it happen organically over time?
I mean, catching a bug is pretty organic. [Laughs] You know, when I was acting, I always loved the floor -- where was the camera going, you know? I'm one of those actors who likes to see the finished film, as opposed to not, 'cause I wanna see what the directors did.
So many actors never watch their film, which is weird.
Yeah. I mean, I get it. But for me, I like to see, when you go to tell this story, how did they tell it?
You're a student of cinema, as you showed in Side by Side.
Was there any film of yours where you went, "Wow, I didn't know it was going to turn out like that"? I guess The Matrix might be the obvious answer there.
For sure. If only for the simple reason of having the visual effects in it. But I would say another experience of that, for sure, would be My Own Private Idaho. Gus [Van Sant] did such a lovely story. And River [Phoenix], of course. That film, definitely; I was very curious to see what that would be.
There were some stories recently to mark the 20th anniversary of River's death. Was he on your mind?
Yeah, of course. Absolutely. I miss him very much.
Okay, I'm not gonna ask you about Bill and Ted'cause I'm sure you're sick of answering the third movie questions -- and don't get me wrong, I love those movies.
But let me ask you this: Are there any other of your movies that, in a fantasy world, you'd love to do a sequel to?
Ah, I wish I had a chance to play Constantine again. I liked that character. I wish the producers had followed up on that more than they did. I think that Francis Lawrence did a great job. It's definitely an adaptation of the source material, but I thought we did it in the spirit of it, certainly. I really did enjoy playing that role.
Have you ever talked to Kathryn Bigelow about making a sequel to Point Break?
[Laughs] Yeah... I don't know. I think there was talk of it many, many, many years ago, but I guess it never came to pass. I guess that journey was done, you know? Vaya con dios. [Laughs]
[Laughs] Don't mess with what's perfect.
I'd like to see you revisit the characters from River's Edge.
Oh my gosh, like, "Where are they now?"
Where do you think those guys would be now, if they're even alive?
I just hope [Reeves' character] Matt's not selling insurance. [Laughs]
[Laughs] That's the worst possible outcome.
Yeah, I know. That'd just be bad.
Now that you've made your first film, are you gonna be directing more? It feels like, between this and Side by Side, your interests might be gravitating to behind the camera.
Yeah, I would love to. I really enjoyed it, and I'm looking for a story to tell. Absolutely.
How about you just direct the third Bill and Ted?
Well, I'd go direct it with Alex Winter. [Laughs] No, absolutely not.
You know, I think it's time Alex got back behind the camera -- Freaked is really something.
Ahhhh, yes! That's a good movie! "Leader of the freaks!"
Your performance as the dog boy is very moving.
Thank you so much. [Laughs] It's pretty surreal.
It's pretty weird.
It's very weird!
Source (go here for behind-the-scenes clip!): http://www.rottentomatoes.com/m/man_of_tai_chi/news/1929188/2/five_favorite_kung_fu_films_with_keanu_reeves/