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Oh No They Didn't! - LiveJournal.com

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    Toronto 2014: The actress and her director, Liv Ullman, say men excuse their behavior now the same way they did 150 years ago

    Liv Ullman's film version of the August Strindberg play “Miss Julie” may be set in the 1890s, but the beautifully dark and emotionally terrifying film is filled with sentiments that sound strangely and scarily modern, including echoes of the recent theft of celebrities’ nude photos from their cellphones and iCloud accounts, as star Jessica Chastain said at the Toronto International Film Festival.

    At one point in the film, Chastain's title character, an emotionally unstable noblewoman, has sex with John, a servant played by Colin Farrell. The encounter is presented in a way that blurs the lines between consent and assault — and afterwards, Farrell's character tells Miss Julie, “I may be partly to blame, but do you think a man in my position would even dare to look at you if you hadn't asked for it?”

    When TheWrap pointed out that those lines sound like the kind of sentiments we hear today, both Chastain and Ullman eagerly agreed.

    “Look at the photos that just happened,” said Chastain. “There's an attitude of ‘OK, yes, I might be responsible for stealing the photos, but they're famous women and they took it on their phones.’ When I hear that … ”

    She shook her head. “I was at a junket, and one of the journalists asked me what advice I would give to the actresses who had their photos leaked. I would have no advice for them, because they were victimized. Even the question's kind of offensive.

    “So yeah, you're right – that line is still relevant today.”

    Added actress-turned-director Ullman in a separate interview, “You hear that every day, exactly. Things haven't changed. We continue to say things like that, and that's why that scene has a power it wouldn't have had if I did the movie in modern clothes. The scary thing is that that's what they have said for 150 years.

    “And then John goes to [the maid] Kathleen, and she says, ‘What happened?’ He says, ‘I couldn't leave her, because you know how I am with women.’ That also could have been today. And it's fascinating to think, oh yes, that's Strindberg. That happened 150 years ago. We don't change.”

    “Miss Julie,” which premiered on Sunday and is looking for a distribution deal in Toronto, is a frightening piece of work, an immersion in the mind of a woman flailing for a sense of self, swinging wildly between flirtation, recrimination and desperation.

    Ullman opens up the one-room play slightly but never breaks from the emotional claustrophobia of the love/hate battle between Miss Julie and John. The film is unquestionably a tough sell commercially, but a spectacular showcase for raw and riveting performances by Chastain and Farrell.

    Chastain's character is seriously unhinged at times, childlike at others; she's simultaneously a victim and an aggressor, though Chastain said she and Ullman came up with a feminist interpretation that puts the character more in control of her own destiny.

    (Spoiler alert: the concluding paragraphs give away the ending of the story – though considering that the play was published in 1888 and is a staple in the classical theatrical repertoire, it should hardly come as a secret.)

    “She goes from being a capable woman at the start of the play to killing herself because a guy tells her so,” said Chastain.“I have a little trouble with that.

    “But Liv said something to me that was so incredible, and it's one of the reasons I think of this performance as a collaboration. She said, ‘What if Julie wants what happens at the end of the story at the beginning?’ Because then it's not John's decision, it's the woman's decision, and she talks him into helping her. Which is a very feminist take on it.”

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    The fact that there isn't much negative reaction to this yet is disturbing


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    A politician in Mexico has been roundly criticised after he called Ronaldinho an ape.

    Ronaldinho moved to Mexico to join Queretaro after leading Atletico to their first Copa Libertadores title triumph last year.

    His move had widely been greeted with excitement across the country but, sadly, not in all quarters.

    A member of the conservative National Action Party, Carlos Manuel Trevino Nunez, has launched a racial tirade at the former world player of the year on Facebook.

    The offending message has now been deleted but a screenshot of which can be seen below:

    "I try to be tolerant but I hate football and the dumbing down phenomenon it causes," he wrote.

    "I hate it even more because people obstruct and flood the street, and it took me two hours to get home, and this was all for an ape; Brazilian but an ape nonetheless.

    "This has become a ridiculous circus." the post concluded.

    In response, Ronaldinho's club issued a statement calling for the politician to be punished.

    "After the shameful publication on social media by Mr Carlos Manuel Trevino Nunez insulting our player Ronaldo de Assis Moreira 'Ronaldinho,' we call on the authorities to look into the matter," it said.

    When Ronaldinho was unveiled as a Queretaro player he made clear that his intentions were right in line with his reputation when it came to women and success.

    The decorated party machine was very blunt about his aims at his first press conference.

    "I've always lived in the same way and with every team I've been a champion. I hope to keep doing the same and continue winning titles and girls," he told Mundo Deportivo.

    At 34-years-old, it seems Ronaldinho has decided to be upfront about the lifestyle that has prompted many clubs and critics to question his commitment to the game.


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    Young comedian Pete Davidson will join "Saturday Night Live” as a featured player, a spokeswoman for the program confirmed Monday, bringing into sharper focus the venerable late-night program’s lineup as it prepares to enter its landmark 40th season on the air.

    Davidson, just 20, may well be one of “SNL’s” youngest Not Ready For Prime Time Players. He joins the program at an age even younger than that of Jimmy Fallon when he came on board the comedy at showcase at about 22, and just slightly older than that of Eddie Murphy, who was 19 when he debuted in 1980.

    Davidson hails from New York’s Staten Island and has made appearances on “Jimmy Kimmel Live” and Fox’s “Brooklyn Nine-Nine.”

    He is one of just two new players show creator and executive producer Lorne Michaels is adding to the ranks this season.

    “SNL” has also added Michael Che, a former writer who had left to join the ranks of Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show,” as a co-anchor on its “Weekend Update.” As a result, Cecily Strong will cede her spot on the segment and continue on as part of the cast. Meantime, featured players Noel Wells, John Milhiser and Brooks Whelan have left the program while cast member Nasim Pedrad has departed to join the new Fox comedy “Mulaney,” also produced by Lorne Michaels.

    The “SNL” lineup for the 40th season will be: Vanessa Bayer, Beck Bennett, Aidy Bryant, Michael Che, Pete Davidson, Colin Jost, Taran Killam, Kate McKinnon, Bobby Moynihan, Kyle Mooney, Jay Pharoah, Cecily Strong, Kenan Thompson and Sasheer Zamata.

    News of Davidson’s hire was reported previously by Deadline and other outlets.


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    LOS ANGELES -- It didn't take the Ray Rice elevator video to get Kerry Washington talking about domestic violence.

    In fact, it was the day before news outlets were looping security-camera images of the NFL running back punching out his then-fiancé Janay Palmer, that the "Scandal" actress was filming a public service announcement about a rarely discussed component of domestic violence known as financial abuse.

    "For many, many of those cases -- 98 percent of those cases -- the financial abuse is what keeps a woman trapped," Washington said. "Not being able to control your finances, destroying a woman's credit, jeopardizing her job."

    In her PSA, Washington says "one in four women will be a victim of domestic violence. Finances are almost always a weapon of choice."

    Washington rarely talks to reporters about anything outside of her work. She keeps her private life so private that many in Hollywood were surprised by the news in June 2013 that she had married former NFL cornerback Nnamdi Asomugha, with whom Washington welcomed their first child, daughter Isabelle Amarachi, in April.

    Washington said she's taken guidance in her new role as working mother from her own mom, as well as another working mother: "Scandal" creator Shonda Rhimes.

    "I have really amazing role models and she-roes who have found ways to balance work and home life, and so I am just looking to them and trying to live in the amazing abundance of blessings that I have in my life right now," Washington said.

    "Scandal," for which Washington has earned two Emmy nominations, returns for a fourth season Sept. 25, and Washington promised season-three cliffhangers would be quickly addressed. When last we saw her character, Capitol Hill fixer Olivia Pope, she was leaving on a jet plane for points unknown.

    "I can tell you (that) you will find out where that plane is going," Washington teased at last month's Emmy Awards. " And I can tell you there's going to be a lot of (actress Darby Stanchfield's character) Abby this season. I've heard it's been called, 'The Year of Abby.'"

    One of Olivia's so-called "gladiators," Abby is a victim of domestic violence.

    "Darby Stanchfield and I, as actors, talk a lot about, 'What was that like when Olivia stepped in and took a tire iron to some guy's knee to save her girlfriend?'" Washington noted. "'What were the stakes that would make her do something like that?'"

    That "Scandal" storyline has resonated with many viewers, Washington said. "Women watch that (Abby's story) and say to Darby when they see her in public, 'I'm so glad to know that you guys aren't shying away from that issue.'"

    Washington was asked to do the domestic abuse PSA by The Allstate Foundation, which had already put into motion an initiative called "Purple Purse," to raise awareness of domestic abuse involving money. Washington said the facts and figures presented were such eye openers that she immediately agreed to serve as the campaign's spokeswoman.

    Washington also designed a symbolic purse to raise funds for the initiative. Just 500 will be produced, with some given to celebrities to chat up the cause while speaking to reporters at red carpet events. Other purses will be given to charities, some of which are expected to use them as fundraisers, with the purses ultimately going to abuse survivors.

    As Washington held one of the purses in her lap, she explained, "For me, one of the things I wanted to combine was this idea of elegance and classic traditional design, with something kind of funky and fashion forward," acknowledging she was going to have to find a few new wardrobe items that work with purple.

    Not that this will be a problem.

    Washington has been among top designers' favorites since at least 2004, when she dazzled in the big-screen "Ray." Rungs in her climb to the A-list included roles in the acclaimed films "The Last King of Scotland" (2006) and "Django Unchained" (2012).

    But it was TV's "Scandal," which debuted on ABC in 2012, that made Washington a household name and now has given her the star power to both promote causes, and produce, as well as act, in film and television projects.

    "I feel like I need to work on a whole new list of goals," Washington said. "So many of my desires and visions and dreams have already come true."


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    Miss wild child, Miley Cyrus spotted arriving at Nobu in a black beaded halter top which revealed her flat stomach in Malibu, CA. The singer and actress was seen wearing different outfit in one day. She really does make the public go woah!




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    "Blurred Lines," the pop hit that has quickly become one of the most fascinating and controversial songs of the young century, has now spawned even more to discuss thanks to the appearance of absolutely bizarre depositions given by the song's singer Robin Thicke and producer Pharrell Williams. The sworn testimony, revealed for the first time in a Los Angeles federal court on Monday, covers such subjects as authorship, song credit, drug abuse and media promotion, and with almost certainty, will change perceptions of a hit recording that was dubbed last year's Song of the Summer.

    When "Blurred Lines" was released in March 2013, the catchy harmony became a cultural phenomenon, but since then, there's been substantial reassessment of what this song is all about. In some corners of the public, "Blurred Lines," with lyrics that include "Good girl, I know you want it," has been attacked as "kind of rapey." And in the past few months, Thicke has had to endure accusations of misogyny.

    Then, there's the lawsuit filed by Thicke, Williams and song co-writer Clifford "T.I." Harris Jr. intended to protect "Blurred Lines" from claims of being a rip-off. They are facing off against the children of Marvin Gaye, who in a cross-complaint accuse the plaintiffs of making an unauthorized derivative of their father's 1977 classic "Got to Give It Up."
    Last week, Gaye's family filed summary motion papers and also lodged an audio mash-up of the two songs in an effort to win the case. A good portion of the court documents were designated as confidential, but after some back-and-forth between the parties, a judge has ordered that transcripts of the celebrities' depositions shouldn't be sealed. The Hollywood Reporter has obtained copies of the sensational testimony.

    Thicke and Williams gave their depositions this past April, and they were both incredibly hostile.

    For example, when Richard Busch, attorney for the Gayes, attempted to play the mash-up for Thicke's ears, the singer begged him to stop. "It's so hard to listen to it," said Thicke, referencing a clash between major and minor chords. "It's like nails on a f—ing chalkboard... This is [like] Stanley Kubrick's movie Clockwork Orange. Where he has to sit there and watch... Mozart would be rolling in his grave right now."
    The deposition turns even more strange once Thicke is forced to explain his many statements to the media about how Gaye has inspired him. For example, he once told GQ Magazine, "Pharrell and I were in the studio and I told him that one of my favorite songs of all time was Marvin Gaye's 'Got to Give It Up.' I was like, 'Damn, we should make something like that, something with that groove.' Then he started playing a little something and we literally wrote the song in about a half hour and recorded it."

    But that's not actually what happened, Thicke now admits. The singer says under oath that after writing and producing six albums himself, "I was jealous and I wanted some of the credit... I tried to take credit for it later because (Williams) wrote the whole thing pretty much by himself and I was envious of that." In his deposition (read in full here), Thicke soon gets more specific:
    "Q: Were you present during the creation of 'Blurred Lines'?
    Thicke: I was present. Obviously, I sang it. I had to be there.
    Q: When the rhythm track was being created, were you there with Pharrell?
    Thicke: To be honest, that's the only part where — I was high on vicodin and alcohol when I showed up at the studio. So my recollection is when we made the song, I thought I wanted — I — I wanted to be more involved than I actually was by the time, nine months later, it became a huge hit and I wanted credit. So I started kind of convincing myself that I was a little more part of it than I was and I — because I didn't want him — I wanted some credit for this big hit. But the reality is, is that Pharrell had the beat and he wrote almost every single part of the song."

    Thicke says he was just "lucky enough to be in the room" when Williams wrote the song. Afterwards, he gave interviews to outlets like Billboard where he repeated the false origin story surrounding "Blurred Lines" because he says he "thought it would help sell records." But he also states he hardly remembers his specific media comments because he "had a drug and alcohol problem for the year" and "didn't do a sober interview." In fact, when he appeared on Oprah Winfrey's show with his young son and talked about how weird it was to be in the midst of a legal battle with the family of a legendary soul singer who "inspires almost half of my music," Thicke admits he was drunk and taking Norco — "which is like two Vicodin in one pill," he says.

    The singer addresses his honesty ("I told my wife the truth. That's why she left me.") and after saying he's been sober for many months, clarifies towards the end of the deposition, that he's given up Vicodin but not alcohol.

    Despite having limited input in the creation of "Blurred Lines," Thicke was given a co-writer credit, which he says entitles him to about 18-22 percent of publishing royalties. Why would Williams be so generous?

    "This is what happens every day in our industry," said Williams during his own deposition (read in full here). "You know, people are made to look like they have much more authorship in the situation than they actually do. So that's where the embellishment comes in."

    Williams' own testimony also got off to a belligerent start. At one point during the examination, Williams says he can read music, but then is shown a transcription of a song, and asked to identify notes and durations. "I'm not comfortable," Williams responds eight times as Busch presses to figure out whether he really can read music.
    The producer is evasive in other ways. Asked whether Marvin Gaye has influenced him, Williams says , "He's an Aries. I respect him."

    Williams says he didn't go into the studio with the intention of making anything sound like Gaye. He takes the attorneys through his creative process and why the session on "Blurred Lines" was a bit different.

    "When I work with a person, I think about three things," he says. "I think about the energy that they're coming with, but this wasn't the case because (Thicke) wasn't there yet. But usually, I think about the energy and what they come in with, like what's on their mind, you know, argument with a girlfriend, e-mail with the husband, politics, state of the world. People walk in with vibes. They walk in with feelings. This was not one of those days."

    The producer says he was in the "driver's seat" on this particular song, but does give Thicke some credit in a rather interesting section that seems to imply that white people are victims and beneficiaries of racial discrimination in the music business:

    "Q: In your view, what holds 'Blurred Lines' together throughout the different sections?
    Williams: What holds it together?
    Q: Yeah.
    Williams: Robin Thicke's voice.
    Q: Does the bass line and the keyboard hold the songs together through the different sections?
    A: No
    Q: Why not?
    A: Because it's the white man singing soulfully and we, unfortunately, in this country don't get enough — we don't get to hear that as often, so we get excited by it when the mainstream gives that a shot. But there's a lot of incredibly talented white folk with really soulful vocals, so when we're able to give them a shot — and when I say 'we,' I mean like as in the public gives them a shot to be heard, then you hear the Justin Timberlakes and you hear the Christina Aguileras and you hear, you know, all of these masterful voices that have just been given, you know, an opportunity to be heard because they're doing something different."
    Williams then adds that if he had sang the song, "It wouldn't be what it was — what it is today." He admits, though, it's his song. Asked whose creation were the "Blurred Lines" words, he answers, "Mine."b>

    How this all fits into the ongoing lawsuit is an intriguing question in and of itself.
    In attempting to keep the depositions private, Howard King and Seth Miller — attorneys for Thicke and Williams — argued that they were hardly relevant and merely intended to "distract attention from the real issues and to embarrass, harass, and annoy Plaintiffs." They begged the judge to take note of the fact that celebrity depositions can be subject of "untoward media exploitation and public scrutiny," and instructed the judge, "Google 'Justin Bieber deposition.'" (The attorneys were at least successful in getting the judge to keep private the videotaped version of the depositions.)

    The transcripts of the depositions don't necessarily refute the plaintiffs' contention in their own summary judgment motion that "Blurred Lines" and "Got to Give It Up" are not substantially similar for purposes of a copyright analysis, but on the road to a trial that is currently scheduled for February 10, 2015, the Gayes believe they have ammunition to destroy the plaintiffs' credibility and honor.

    "Thicke, for his part, now claims he made all of his statements while drunk or on drugs, none of them true, and he mentioned Marvin Gaye only to sell records," states the counter-claimants' court papers. "He also actually testified that he is not an honest person. This complete contempt for the judicial system, and their obligations to tell the truth, can best be summed up by Thicke’s ultimate admission, while under oath, that he '[does not] give a f--k' about this litigation."


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    Rapper Snoop Dogg was caught in a homophobic snare early this morning after tweeting a gay slur about an Instagram user. The tweet used the language of "f.A.G." and told the Instagram user, whose picture Snoop Dogg had reposted on his own Instagram account (see below), "bitch boy go suck ya man n get off my line." Buzzfeed reports that the post, comment, and tweet were deleted soon after they were posted, around 1am.


    Comments from Snoop Dogg's Instagram followers were telling as well. One user threatened "I got screenshots on my page" while another threw in support, writing "Keep It Gangsta Snoop dez Fags talk tooo much." At the time the screenshot above was taken, nearly 9000 Instagram users had liked the post.

    Snoop Dogg previously theorized that it may never be acceptable to be gay in the rap industry, but claimed, "I got some gay homies."

    No comment has been made by Snoop Dogg or his representation.



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    Image and video hosting by TinyPic
    Image and video hosting by TinyPic
    Image and video hosting by TinyPic
    Sometimes you hit a few bumps on the road to romance—just ask Ariana Grande!

    The 21-year-old "Bang Bang" singer actually got in her first car accident en route to see Big Sean!

    So what happened? "I was driving to Big Sean's house on those windy hills in L.A," she tells Marie Claire's October issue. "It was my first time going up those hills so I was going like 12 miles per hour. This lady was whipping around the corner, and I came to a complete stop so she bumped me really hard—the whole front of my Range Rover was wrecked."

    "She jumped out and was like, 'Sweetie, it's okay, it's totally fine. What do you do?' I was like, 'I'm a singer,'" she recalls, "And she was like, 'Oh, I think I broke my leg.' And I was like, 'I mean, I make jewelry.'"

    And while Ariana admits she "used to pretend to be a little more like her [Sam & Cat character] than I actually was," she's really been quite mature from a young age.

    In fact, she says when she "was 14 years old and ready to make an R&B album," she "wrote this song called 'Higher,' and the lyrics were too sexual, too mature. And my mom was like, 'This is a great song, but damn, you're too young for this.'"

    Image and video hosting by TinyPic


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    Lindsay Lohan might have claimed that she handled Whitney Houston‘s body bag when she worked at the morgue, but the coroner is saying that is not true.
    The 28-year-old actress says she was singled out during her time doing community service. “It’s different for me than it would be for other people – like, no one would really have to work at the morgue in LA and roll a body bag for Whitney Houston,” she said in a new interview.
    A coroner’s official has told TMZ that no one from any court-ordered probation program came into contact with Whitney‘s body. The singer died on February 11, 2012 and the autopsy was performed the next day with her body being gone by morning. In fact, she was never placed in a body bag after she died.


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    Frank Ocean's father is suing hip-hop mogul Russell Simmons for calling him a deadbeat dad, requesting $142 million in damages.
    Ocean's dad, Calvin Cooksey, has been absent from his son's life since the R&B crooner was five years old, TMZ reports, and now he's claiming Simmons unfairly portrayed him as a bad dad on his website Global Grind.
    Cooksey's libel claim, he says, will cause a loss of future income for the self-described singer, writer and inventor. As well, he has taken offense that Simmons' website did not use his actual name.
    Cooksey blames Ocean's mother for his absence, calling her "money grubbing" and saying he wasn't allowed to be a father to his son.
    In December 2012, Ocean tweeted his father wanted to sue him for $1 million. In a post, later deleted, he wrote, "Father wanna sue me for a million. Like I owe him back child support. Weak individual bought me a swiss knife at 6yrs old then dipped on me."
    As of publishing, representatives for Simmons and Ocean had not responded to requests for comment.

    Frank Ocean Signs to New Management With Three Six Zero:
    As Frank Ocean gears up for the follow-up to Channel Orange, his 2012 major-label debut - which has sold 621,000 units, according to Nielsen SoundScan, and took home a 2013 Grammy for best urban contemporary album - he has made a key change behind the scenes. Since July, Ocean has been signed to management with Three Six Zero, Billboard has learned, joining a roster that includes Calvin Harris, Deadmau5 and Kate Nash.

    "Frank is an incredibly intelligent and creatively brilliant individual," says Mark Gillespie, co-founder of Three Six Zero Group. "We're proud that he felt Three Six Zero was the right home for him."

    After parting ways with longtime managers Christian and Kelly Clancy's agency 4 Strikes earlier this year, Ocean met with Guy Oseary (U2, Madonna) and Ron Laffitte (Pharrell Williams, Alicia Keys) before signing with Three Six Zero.

    Though Channel Orange brought him much critical acclaim, Ocean has developed a reputation for being difficult. (Former publicist Heathcliff Berru told Billboard in June he was "relieved" to lose Ocean as a client.) Still, anticipation is high for his next release from Def Jam. Hit-Boy and Rodney Jerkins are among the new producers who've recently logged studio time, along with frequent collaborators Happy Perez, Charlie Gambetta and Kevin Ristro.
    Source 12

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  • 09/15/14--10:36: ONTD Roundup
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    Earlier this summer, we published an infographic highlighting the awful truth that less than 5% of studio movies in the past five years were directed by women.

    Now we've taken a look at the independent world, where the numbers are a bit better -- women are responsible for 10% of independent movies -- but still really shitty. That's just 90 movies out of 879.

    A quick note on methodology: We looked at the 300 top-grossing films of every year from 2009 to 2013, based on Box Office Mojo and IMDb. We removed the studio pics, documentaries, re-releases, and other miscellaneous releases. The numbers include foreign films released in the US.

    As these numbers show, Indieland is doing better than the studios, but there is still a long way to go.



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    Kim Kardashian and Kanye West have confirmed they are trying for another baby.

    The superstar couple, who have adorable 15 month old daughter North together, want to give her a sibling and say it's "in God's hands".

    Reality star Kim, 33, had a difficult pregnancy with little Nori and struggled with weight gain after the birth, so it's surprising she wants to have another baby so soon, but she clearly can't wait to add to their brood.

    The Keeping Up With The Kardashians star admitted to Tim Dormer for the Today Show in Australia on Monday that she and her rapper husband, 37, are trying for baby number two.

    Asked if her fans will get to celebrate the announcement of another baby West soon, she replied: "I hope so, we're trying," adding, "I guess, it's all in God's hands.

    "I think [motherhood] has changed me so much, everything is put into perspective and nothing really matters apart from spending time with your family and doing things that really matter to you."

    Kim has been spending time with Kanye on tour in Australia and is also promoting her new Kardashian Kollection Spring range in the country.

    She said: "I try not to miss a show and I love being on tour with him, it's been the best tour so far."

    The star also insists she no longer has a stylist and she is influenced by Kanye who helps to choose her looks.

    She said: "I think he definitely influences me more, I love the way he dresses, he us a great designer and he gives me amazing style tips.

    "I haven't worked with a stylist in the last two years and I think I've been getting more recognition for this evolution in style by using him as my stylist."

    Kim admits negative comments about her wardrobe used to bug her but she's learnt to ignore them and defended her designer floral dress at the Met Ball.

    She said: "My Met look at the Met Ball two years ago when I was really pregnant - I had these gloves and this whole floral print and I loved it.

    "I thought it was so cool and it got a lot of criticism and I didn't care because I really loved it."


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    George Clooney has just been announced as the recipient of the 2015 Cecil B. DeMille Award, which will be handed out at the Golden Globes ceremony next year.

    The show will be held on January 11 and will be hosted by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler once again.

    Previous winners of the award in recent years include Woody Allen, Jodie Foster, Morgan Freeman, Robert De Niro, Martin Scorsese, and Steven Spielberg. It is bestowed to someone who has provided “outstanding contributions to the world of entertainment.”



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    An unprecedented transformation in the video game world is under way, and it's touching everyone, from players to developers to scholars and critics. Nowhere has that change been more apparent than at Seattle's recent Penny Arcade Expo, the largest consumer-facing video game convention in the country.

    Over the last year, Penny Arcade has experienced some tension in its relationship with LGBT fans. In June of 2013, cofounder Mike Krahulik stunned some readers when he tweeted, "Heads up if you use the word 'cis' save yourself some time and don't bother tweeting at me." He was trying to shut down a detractor who objected to the omission of trans people from games, but his tweets only stirred up more controversy: "If thinking that all women have a vagina makes me a monster than yes I am a monster," he also wrote.

    To be fair, Krahulik had never previously directed hostility toward queerness, and he responded with interest and concern when a trans woman working within his organization expressed her dismay.

    Facing ongoing criticism, he gradually grew more contrite."My reaction when I feel backed into corner is to be an asshole," he wrote a few days later. "It’s been that way since I was in elementary school. I’m 36 now. Maybe it’s finally time to try and let some of that shit go." He went on to donate $20,000 to the Trevor Project, adding, "I realize I was wrong and I’m genuinely sorry."

    The experience seems to have been an eye-opener for Penny Arcade management that they could do more for their queer fans. In December rumor got out that the next PAX convention would add a "Diversity Lounge," welcoming LGBT attendees. Some observers responded with skepticism, labeling it a "Diversity Ghetto" where queer gamers would be segregated.

    But when PAX East, a smaller version of the main PAX Prime event, rolled around in April, the Diversity Lounge was generally considered a success. Attendees who sought out the lounge found a comfortable space with a handful of booths, some beanbags for lounging, free swag. and a gender-neutral bathroom.

    After the critical success of PAX East, organizers got to work on an updated and expanded Diversity Lounge.

    When Diversity Lounge 2.0 launched at PAX Prime earlier this month, attendees found it situated in a high-traffic area frequented by thousands of convention-goers. Amid upbeat music, attendees chatted, played tabletop games, and engaged with others who passed by. It remained jam-packed throughout the convention, giving the event a +1 to diversity.

    At one point, Mike Krahulik was warmly welcomed when he stopped by to play a board game.

    "We could have a room by the escalators," explained organizer Ben Williams amid the hubbub, "but that felt too tucked-away."

    PAX donated everything the Diversity Lounge needed, Williams said, from signs and tables to A/V equipment. None of the exhibitors were charged for their space.

    That emphasis on inclusion mirrors a trend within the game industry. In past years, games have lagged behind other media when it comes to diversity. Queer characters are rare — so rare, in fact, that when The Advocate conducted an informal survey of random convention attendees, about half couldn't name even one. But to their credit, attendees also expressed interest in seeing more.

    "I'd like to see gay protagonists in games," said PAX attendee Mark Taylor. "I can't even think of any."

    "There are a lot of inclusion problems," said Hunter Hughes, who was attending PAX with friends Morgan Want and Nathan Smith.

    "Gaming is generally male-oriented, but it's changing," said Want. When asked if she would play a game as a queer character, she replied, "I would love that," and Hughes agreed: "That wouldn't turn me off."

    Like the game community, developers have in recent years begun to include more women, people of color, and LGBT storylines.

    Previously, players who weren't straight white men could have easily felt invisible and unwelcome in gaming culture. But with more diverse depictions, more people than ever now feel invited to join in.

    Assassin's Creed Liberation features a female person of color as the protagonist. Mass Effect allows players to choose a same-sex storyline. Dragon Age (left) recently added a gay mage.

    Of course, there are still only a handful of inclusive games from the high-budget industry leaders, generally referred to as "triple-A" developers.

    "Triple-A is a slow ship to turn," says James Portnow, creator of the game criticism site Extra Credits. "But we've seen so much more inclusion, especially in the indie space, so many more games that feature female protagonists or LGBT characters. This is a topic that the industry wouldn't even approach four or five years ago."

    That includes independent games like Sometimes Always Monsters, a love story in which the player's gender and race are randomly created, often resulting in mixed-race and same-sex relationships.

    Then there's Social Dysphoria, a game in which players "dodge cisbots Innacurate [sic] Pronoun lasers while fighting through the Medical Referral levels and Psych visits teeming with dastardly Uneducated Doctors to reach the treasured Estrogen ampule/Testosterone vial at the top of the castle and save the world!"

    This changing atmosphere has led some game journalists to wonder if the industry is witnessing "the end of gamers" — that is, a redefinition of "gamer" away from the assumption of being a straight white male.

    Female critics and developers like Anita Sarkeesian and Zoe Quinn have spoken out publicly about the need for more inclusion and expanding the definition of what a game can be. They've been met with varying levels of enthusiasm by the industry and fellow gamers. (Sarkeesian's Kickstarter for a YouTube series about women in games sought $6,000, and fans wound up chipping in nearly $160,000.)

    But like the Westboro Baptist Church, a few noisy critics are violently resisting any change. Both Sarkeesian and Quinn have recently had to leave their homes due to threats.

    Tifa Robles, an organizer of Magic: The Gathering games for women, spoke on a panel at PAX about the problem of the vocal few who have resisted change within the game community."They spent their whole lives being ostracized," she says. From their perspective, "now here come these women telling us we're doing everything wrong." But ultimately, Robles says, there's room for common ground amongst all players.

    "Hey," she points out,"we've been ostracized too."

    Efforts like the Diversity Lounge reflect a mega-evolution in the industry's attitude toward its fans and a realization that queer gamers have historically been excluded. That change is reflected in the fandom as well: As more queer gamers find their voice, there's been a growing acceptance among straight gamers. In essence, as players add more members to their parties, gaming in general is leveling up.

    Most PAX attendees were glad to see the lounge — even when they didn't realize it was there. When asked if they'd heard of the Diversity Lounge, Mandy Yasak and Jared Carmody said they hadn't. But then they started describing an area where queer developers were showing games, and it turned out that they'd visited and enjoyed the lounge without realizing it.

    "We're reaching a tipping point in culture in general," actress Jennifer Hale told The Advocate at Pink Party Prime, an independent queer game-themed party organized Robert Roth and Charlie Logan.

    Hale voiced the female version of Commander Shepard in the game Mass Effect, generally cited as an icon of inclusive game design. Players can select a male or female version of the character and opt for a same-sex romance in the game.

    "So many people come up to me and they're so grateful to have a place to be who they are," she said. "And I'm like, it's about damn time."


    JHale is always on point. My question is why we can't have a lesbian assassin who is a romantic ala Ezio? (No Leliana doesn't count)

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    Kristen and Dax in Samsung Commercial

    Jason Dohring, Percy Daggs III, and Michael interview from Oz Comic Con

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    It didn't take much to convince Reese Witherspoon to jump on board The Good Lie.

    "The producer sent me the script and I just wept and wept through it," the Oscar winner told me at the movie's premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. "I thought it was so beautiful about family and it was funny and what does it mean to be a stranger in a strange land?"

    Based on real events, the film tells the story of an American woman (Witherspoon) who takes four Sudanese refugees under her wing when they win a lottery for relocation to the U.S. Screenwriter Margaret Nagle told me she always had Witherspoon in mind for the role while she was writing the script.

    Sudanese actors were hired to play the refugees, including Emmanuel Jal, who was a child solider during the Second Sudanese Civil War.

    "When they first told me they wanted to hire real refugees for the parts, I was a little nervous," Witherspoon admitted. "I didn't know what that was going to be like that."

    Fortunately, everything turned out just right. So much so that there's already buzz that Witherspoon could pick up an Oscar nomination for her work (most likely as a supporting actress). "They were teaching me things that I didn't understand and know," Witherspoon said. "In the very end of the movie, we got to go to Africa to the refugee camp that's in the movie. It was a great educational opportunity for me."

    Witherspoon is also getting major Oscar buzz for her starring role in Wild, the movie adaptation of Cheryl Strayed's memoir, Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail.

    Before showing at TIFF, Wild premiered at the Telluride Film Festival.

    Oprah Winfrey, who selected Strayed's book as the first pick for the launch of Oprah's Book Club 2.0, was a surprise guest at Telluride.

    "Oprah is amazing," Witherspoon told me. "She is really unbelievable. She is such a force and the fact that she decided to come and support us for Wild, we were thrilled and honored.

    Wild is in theaters on Dec. 5.


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