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Tuesday, February 12, 2008

eJamming: Skype for musicians

eJamming, which makes software that enables people to practice music together if their instruments are Musical Instrument Digital Interface (MIDI)-enabled, is announcing a service that works for non-MIDI instruments too: drums, guitars, voice, violins, etc. The idea is to let musicians practice together even when they can't get together physically, or to let students and teachers work together remotely.

There are really interesting technical challenges to making this work. Not only do you have to transmit very high quality audio, but you have to do it with extremely low audio latency. The eJamming founders, Alan Glueckman and Gail Kantor, told me their audio processor and peer-to-peer technology solves these issues, and they're going to demo their new product on Wednesday at the Demo '07 conference.

But eJamming can't break the laws of physics or go faster than the network it's running on, and it's the first online service I've heard of with geographic constraints. Even with a fast connection, Glueckman and Kantor don't recommend the service for people separated by more than a few hundred miles.

Glueckman says he had his cousin, Aerosmith drummer Joey Kramer, in mind when he built this product. The idea being that Aerosmith can still have rehearsals when one or more band members are out of town. Kramer hasn't yet tried the product, Glueckman told me. I also ran this idea by my wife, who plays in a string quartet. She scoffed at it, since so much of performing, rehearsing, and teaching, she said, depends on subtle visual and personal cues that can't be transmitted over a network. The eJamming team hopes to add video to the product at some point.

I can see this working, though, for occasional rehearsals and for informal jamming. There's also a social-network angle to the service, which helps musicians find each other.

The service will go into beta in a few weeks. However, the cost of the service may limit its uptake: It's $15 a month. Per band member. That means a four-member band will have to shell out $720 a year to use it.

Are you a musician? What do you think of this idea?

By the way, at last year's Demo, iGuitar showed off a cool USB guitar [see video].

In other Demo 07 news from CNET's Webware blog: Eyejot launches a simple video e-mail service; and Trailfire shows off more-evolved Web stickies.

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According to New Study, Musicians Like to Sing About Drugs and Sex


According to a new study conducted by medical researchers, thirty-three percent of popular songs contain explicit content and forty-two percent of songs hint at substance abuse. Rap was the most frequent offender, with seventy-seven percent of songs making reference to drugs or sex, with country music a surprising silver medalist with a thirty-six percent explicit content rate. The study also proves the old war cry “sex, drugs and rock n’ roll” to be factually incorrect, as only fourteen percent of rock songs contain offending lyrics. So how did the medical researchers come to their conclusion? They analyzed the lyrics of a total of 287 songs from 2005 that encompassed all musical genres. This reminds us of that Russian study that proved heavy metal’s subject matter is heavy. To further cement how useless this new study actually is, the researchers failed to draw any conclusions on how hearing all these drug references affects young listeners.

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Record Label Quits, Uploads Albums onto The Pirate Bay [Edited]

Dependent Records, an independent record label from Germany recently decided to shut its doors and upload all its albums onto The Pirate Bay. Interestingly, a year ago the the CEO of the label mentioned piracy as one of the main reasons why they decided to quit.

dependent recordsNonetheless, a few days ago (edit: someone who pretends to be) Dependent records’ CEO Stefan Herwig decided to upload all the albums from his label -which mainly features aggrotech, electro-industrial and futurepop artists- onto The Pirate Bay.

In the description on the torrent download page (edit: the fake) Herwig writes: “I closed down my record label Dependent Records for good. But since I want my music to be heard by the people out there, everything I have ever published is now available on The Pirate Bay,” stressing that it’s a legal torrent, approved by the label.

Over the past few months, more and more artists have decided to make their music available for free on BitTorrent sites. However, this move from Dependent Records seems to be a bit odd, especially when you read why the label decided to close its doors. Perhaps the Stefan who posted the albums onto The Pirate Bay isn’t the real one?

Little over a year ago, (edit: the real) Stefan Herwig wrote: “We are not closing our doors because of the existence of pirate websites, but because there are simply too many people who enjoy our bands and their songs who do not wish to pay for them.”

Herwig and his team got frustrated when they saw their albums appearing on P2P networks. They don’t seem to buy the argument that indie artists actually profit from these new technologies, as Herwig writes: “A popular claim often seen on Internet fora maintains that the P2P culture weakens the majors and bolsters the independent labels. This is, we can assure you, 100% bullshit. Even if there are listeners who download first and buy later, they are clearly in the dwindling minority.”

We understand Herwig’s frustration, but 100% bullshit is not completely accurate. Several studies have shown that most artists, especially those who are not mainstream, profit from filesharing. The dwindling minority Herwig is talking about probably exists because of filesharing, and may have never discovered Dependent Records’ artists if their albums weren’t available there.

Music consumption has changed significantly the last decade. People consume more music simply because it is available, illegal or not. The challenge for the the recording industry is to find ways to monetize this demand, for example by all-you-can-eat plans for a fixed price. The bottom line is, piracy has shown that music is more popular than ever, and no artist will ever argue that this is a bad thing.

Update: Stefan, and a colleagues from Dependent Records officially deny that they have anything to do with the leaked albums. They claim that the albums are uploaded by someone who pretends to be Herwig, and has access to the entire catalog of the label. “We never decided anything like that. The offer is completely illegal.The Person who create an account with the nickname Stefan_Herwig has absolutely nothing to do with our label owner of the same name.”

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Visions of an online music cartel?

U.S. law often comes down hard on price fixing. That's why a magazine story in October about efforts to create a music subscription site potentially backed by the top four music labels may have sounded alarms in Washington.

Universal Music Group and Sony BMG Music Entertainment have received requests for information from the U.S. Department of Justice about a proposed music site called Total Music. The DOJ interest comes after an October BusinessWeek story that said Doug Morris, Universal's CEO, pitched an idea for a subscription site to at least two of his three main competitors, Sony BMG and Warner Music Group. A source with knowledge of the discussions told CNET News.com that Universal Music also went to The EMI Group with the plan. This, say antitrust attorneys, was sure to raise eyebrows at the DOJ.

digital music

"Let's say Ford and GM decide to get together to sell cars," said Bob Lande, a professor at the University of Baltimore Law School. "We would blink a couple of times and then we'd say, 'Hey, that's a cartel. You can go to jail for that.'"

So why would Universal Music risk backing an idea that might have the appearance of a price-fixing scheme, right in the middle of a feud with Apple? That feud with Apple could well be the answer.

In July, Universal Music considered not renewing a long-term contract that enabled it to sell digital music through Apple's iTunes, according to a story in the The Wall Street Journal. The record companies have long asked Apple CEO Steve Jobs for the ability to set their own song prices on iTunes. Jobs has refused, and the price for most songs remains 99 cents.

The music industry has been forced to wait for an attractive iTunes alternative to show up. Morris may have grown tired of waiting.

Besides talking to his competitors, Morris also approached Google, Microsoft, Facebook, and MySpace to gauge their interest in the subscription site, according to a source with knowledge of the discussions.

There isn't enough information available to determine whether any laws were broken in Universal's meetings with its competitors, said Lande, but he also added that his "gut instinct says that it sounds fishy."

"Let's say Ford and GM decide to get together to sell cars. We would blink a couple of times and then we'd say, 'Hey, that's a cartel. You can go to jail for that.'"
--Bob Lande, professor, University of Baltimore Law School

Perhaps the biggest problem for Universal and Sony BMG is that BusinessWeek reported Total Music would offer an all-you-can-eat music service for $5. The mention of a price, if accurate, indicates that the music labels may have discussed price. And that sounds like a potential violation of the Sherman Antitrust Act, Lande said.

The Sherman Antitrust Act makes it illegal for anyone to make deals to limit competition. Violations of the Act are felonies that can land someone in jail for up to 10 years, Lande said.

Lande said that in some cases even attempting to fix prices violates the law.

One source close to Total Music, who asked to remain anonymous because of the pending DOJ investigation, disputed BusinessWeek's assertion that prices have ever been mentioned.

What hasn't been answered yet is why Morris would attempt something that would definitely run into a legal roadblock. Is there any scenario whereby the record labels could partner to sell music together?

Lande said he could think of only one scenario: The music industry was allowed to form a body called the Broadcast Music Inc. BMI is a performing-rights organization that collects license fees on behalf of musicians, composers and other music artists from radio stations across the nation.

The group was allowed to form because it's impossible for a single music artist to police hundreds of broadcasters that might be playing his or her music. It also isn't an anti-competitive practice, Lande said. "I don't think the same application would apply (in the Total Music scenario)."

Dominick Armentano is a research fellow and free-market advocate at the Independent Institute, a think tank in Oakland, Calif. He believes companies should be allowed to do what they want in a truly free market--that includes price fixing. But even Armentano said that under current U.S. law, there's no way competitors can gather to discuss price. He could think of only one way that the music labels could legally go into business together.

"They could try to merge," Armentano said. "Mergers have been allowed to go through in the past and the companies have then been allowed to fix prices. But I doubt that the DOJ would allow them to do that either. That would violate Section 7 of the Clayton Act." That part of the Clayton Act, passed in 1914, is designed to regulate mergers and acquisitions whenever they might diminish competition.

Armentano, who has written books backing the idea that price-fixing companies would still compete with each other in other areas of their business, said charging higher rates also typically invites other competitors into the market.

What if competitors fix prices that are lower than anywhere else? Would the government smile on that?

Not a chance.

"The offense is fixing the price," Lande said. "You never get into high price or low price. If you fix the price you're violating the law. Judges don't want to get into what the price is now. The price might be $5 today but next month it might be $8 and the next month $10. All they want to know is whether this is price fixing."

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Blog, social network buzz correlates to better album sales

The amount of online "chatter" about an upcoming album release directly correlates to higher physical album sales, according to two researchers with New York University's Stern Business School. Professor Vasant Dhar and former student Elaine Chang observed the trends of 108 albums released during the first two months of 2007 to see how different outside elements affected (or predicted) sales once the albums became available, and found that all of them had some effect or another. But certain elements of online chatter—namely blogs and social networks—seemed to be fairly accurate predictors of future success.

The researchers followed the Amazon sales ranks for each of the 108 albums over a period of eight weeks (they said that Nielsen SoundScan stats would have been ideal, but they are costly and proprietary), as well as articles, blog postings, and MySpace friend counts about them. The blogosphere appeared to be most strongly correlated to better album sales—if 40 or more legitimate (written by normal people and not by marketers) blog posts were made before an album's release, sales ended up being three times the average.

That trend doesn't just apply to music from the Big Four, either. Albums from independent labels enjoyed the same level of success. But if an album was from a Big Four record label, sales increased five-fold after 40 legit blog posts. If blog posts crossed 250, album sales turned out to be six times the average, regardless of label.

The number of MySpace friends a particular band has also correlates to better album sales. "The number of friends a band has is displayed on its MySpace page is like a public badge of popularity," wrote Dhar and Chang, while observing the change in the number of MySpace friends from week to week. The bigger the increase in MySpace friends, the better an album's sales turned out to be. The change, however, was not as big as that related to blog posts, which the researchers believe is because adding someone as a friend on MySpace is a relatively passive process compared to putting the effort into composing a blog post.

Despite all of this new data, a good review in Rolling Stone still can't be beat. "Although we found that user-generated content is a good predictor of music album sales, our analysis showed that traditional factors cannot be ignored," the researchers wrote. Music from major labels traditionally sold 12 times as much as that from independent labels, and the more mainstream media reviews an album got, the higher the sales.

As to whether all this online chatter actually causes or merely predicts online sales, the researchers can't say. "It is not possible to make such a conclusion based on this study," they wrote, nothing that it was probably a mixture of both. The quality of the artist and expectations about the album causes people to talk about the album more before release, but new buyers could be swayed as a result of the increased chatter. But Dhar and Chang warn that if there is any causality involved, it has to be totally organic in order for the effect to work. "[I]f blog posts start becoming manipulated because people think they have an impact on sales, that the predictive power might disappear because the underlying reasons for it disappear," they wrote.

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SPRAY COUNTDOWN: Real Bad Boys Of Music


Forget Liam Gallagher or Pete Doherty, meet the real bad boys of music.

Murderers, rapists and gun-toting maniacs, they make a night throwing TVs out of hotel windows look like a party at the Women's Institute. These are the people you really would not want to meet down a dark alley, just in case you got a Stratocaster wrapped around your head.

6. Jim Gordon

The former drummer of Derek and the Dominoes co-wrote Layla with Eric Clapton. He also murdered his mother in 1983 believing she was Satan (the one with horns, not Clapton). Thankfully, he is still locked up.

5. Spade Cooley

The self-dubbed 'King of Western Swing' killed his wife in 1961 after kicking her to death in front of his teenage daughter. Her crime? She wanted a divorce. He died of a heart attack soon after.

4. Hugh Whitaker

It's always the quiet ones. Looking at him, the former drummer of the Housemartins looks like he wouldn't say boo to a goose. He even took being sacked from the Hull-based group in good spirits. But something snapped in 1993, when he firebombed the house of former business associate James Hewitt and hit him in the head with an axe. Whitaker has since been released from prison and now lives in Leeds, where he occasionally drums with a local band called Percy.

3. Varg Vikernes

Norwegian Vikernes is described as 'the most notorious metal musician of all time'. And with good reason, the man behind black metal band Burzum was caged in 1993 for murdering Mayhem's Oystein Aarseth – a former associate. The reason behind the murder is still not clear. Before his spell in jail, he regularly enjoyed church burning. He is due for parole in April.

2. Jah Cure

The baddest of all reggae stars, Cure was jailed in 1999 for 15 years after raping a woman at gunpoint. He has since been released but was refused entry into the UK last year due to his criminal conviction.

1. Leadbelly

The original bad boy, controversial Blues star Leadbelly spent most of life in and out of prison. He was first jailed as an unruly teenager in 1918 for assaulting 'a truculent Dallas prostitute'. It wasn't long before he was back in the clink, this time for gunning down one of his own relatives. He was given a 35 years, but was let out after just two – allegedly because the governor liked his music so much. But he was jailed again in 1930 – this time for assault with intent to murder – and then again in 1939 for assault.

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Star Wars: The Clone Wars is Coming to Theaters!

Star Wars: The Clone Wars

You might have thought that no Star Wars movie would ever show in theaters again, at least not until Lucas re-releases them in 3D sometime after 2010. Good news - that's no longer the case, as we have received confirmation that the animated movie Star Wars: The Clone Wars will be playing in theaters on August 15th later this year! The movie is a full-length feature developed from the 25-episode animated Clone Wars series that played on Cartoon Network a few years back. Lucasfilm is launching this new movie in theaters where it will later play on Cartoon Network again before the launch of yet another new animated series. Star Wars is back in theaters again in 2008, baby!

Warner Brothers decided to kick off the series with this theatrical release after they were shown the first footage from the series. Star Wars: The Clone Wars will run around 100 minutes in length and will take place between Episodes II and III. Anakin is not Darth Vader yet and the story will be focused around the ensuing Clone Wars that began in Episode II: Attack of the Clones. Warner Brothers and Lucasfilm seem as excited about this release as we are, saying "I don't know anyone who wouldn't want it" and taking a risk by "trying to do something unprecedented — marrying TV series and theatrical release."

George Lucas is involved with the project as executive producer. Lucas said he began work on this new spin-off because he "felt there were a lot more 'Star Wars' stories left to tell." And instead of making more live-action movies, he wanted to tell those stories through animation, pushing the technology forward at the same time. Dave Filoni of "Avatar: The Last Airbender" will be directing, with Henry Gilroy, Scott Murphy and Steven Melching writing. No actors from the original movies are involved, except Anthony Daniels as C3PO and Matthew Wood as General Grievous and the battledroids.

USA Today has scored the very first photo from the upcoming animated film of Anakin Skywalker and Jedi apprentice Ahsoka, which can be seen below.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars

In this film, Anakin and Obi-Wan are trying to hold together the galactic republic, split apart by war between a separatist robot army and the good-guy white-armored clones. The Jedi apprentice you see above is actually Anakin's padawan, a change from the story that we've been familiar with throughout the movies. However, they're not changing up the Star Wars lore without the help of the man in charge. "George is our guide. He's the creator of the Star Wars universe, so we couldn't have a better mentor," asserts director Dave Filoni.

I know we'll be in theaters on August 15th watching this movie. With the experience I had seeing TMNT in theaters, I'm certainly just as excited to now also see Star Wars: The Clone Wars. The theater is such a great platform and atmosphere to launch this series in, and I can't wait to see all the crowds and people, young and old, who will be there enjoying it together. Another photo has been added below.

Star Wars: The Clone Wars

Discover More: Hype, Movie News

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Writer Sues Mel Gibson Over 'Passion'

LOS ANGELES (AP) -- A screenwriter sued Mel Gibson and his production company on Monday, claiming he was misled by the actor-director into accepting a small payment for writing "The Passion of the Christ," and was refused extra money when the film became a blockbuster.

Benedict Fitzgerald claimed that when he was asked to write a script about the crucifixion of Jesus Christ, Gibson told him the movie would cost between $4 million to $7 million, according to the lawsuit filed in Superior Court. Fitzgerald also alleged Gibson promised he wouldn't receive any money from the film and any profit would be distributed to people who worked on the movie.

Gibson stated he didn't want "money on the back of what he considered a personal gift to his (Roman Catholic) faith," the lawsuit said.

Fitzgerald, who shared screenwriting credits with Gibson, claimed he agreed to a "a salary substantially less than what he would have taken had he known the true budget for the film," which the lawsuit claimed had an estimated budget of $25 million to $50 million. The 2004 movie went on to gross several hundred million dollars.

The lawsuit doesn't specify how much Fitzgerald was paid for his services.

An after-hours call to Gibson's publicist was not immediately returned.

The suit claims fraud, breach of contract, unjust enrichment and seeks unspecified damages. It also names Gibson's Icon Productions company as a defendant.

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World Leader in Movie Piracy Flees from the Mounties

Last month we reported that Geremi Adam, producer of some of the highest quality pirate movie copies ever seen on the Internet, had been caught and had been ordered to appear in court in January. Adam, aka ‘maVen’ had other ideas - and has disappeared.

mavenprotestBetween 2004 and 2006, Geremi Adam, delighted the movie piracy scene with some of the highest quality Telesync movies ever seen. From ‘The Bourne Supremacy’ and ‘Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire’ through to ‘Spongebob Squarepants’ and plenty of other titles, the work of ‘maVen’ set a very high standard for quality pirated movies.

Following an FBI investigation into ‘maVen’, his file was handed to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP) in April 2006. By September of the same year, Geremi Adam was arrested by police outside a Montreal theater after ‘camming’ the movies ‘How to Eat Fried Worms’ and ‘Invincible’. They seized his laptop and other equipment but later released him. A month later he was arrested again outside another theater.

Facing a $25,000 fine and six months in jail, Geremi Adam was ordered to appear in court on 30th January. Clearly unimpressed by the prospect of being locked up and/or bankrupted, he failed to appear in court and has gone on the run.

“We have a warrant and the police officers will try to find Mr. Adam,” said federal prosecutor Yacine Agnaou in a statement. “When he is found, he will be mandated to appear in court.”

Meanwhile, outside the court a demonstration was taking place by a group calling themselves ‘Hors-d-Oeuvre’ who say that ‘maVen’ is being unfairly treated and that all media should be available on the Internet for free. “Free Geremi!” they chanted in unison.

Fortunately for Adam, he committed the alleged offenses before new tough legislation was introduced to punish movie cammers caught in Canada. He will likely escape the severe punishment of 2 years in prison, a fate awaiting fellow cammer, Louis-Rene Hache. RCMP Staff Sgt. Noel St-Hilaire said: “Unfortunately at the time there was no legislation that forbid anyone from filming in a cinema. There’s not much we could do then other than issue a warning.”

Although not turning up at court is likely to inflame the situation, it’ll be interesting to see if the mounties are prepared to put any serious effort into ‘getting their man’ in this instance.

More photographs from outside the court house are available, thanks to burns1de

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8 Movie Metaphors Worth Puzzling Over


We’ve all seen lists of great screen kisses, great car chases, great fight scenes. They’re easy to appreciate, and perhaps that’s why they get all the attention. Now maybe it’s because I’m a film geek (or because I was an English major), but for me there’s nothing like a really well-done film metaphor. (Really!) It goes back to rule numero uno of good cinema — show, don’t tell — and there’s nothing like a tasteful, well-executed visual symbol to do just that (and really get those geek-juices flowing too). If movies were books, it’s during those big metaphor moments when I would begin underlining and circling passages feverishly, certain I would return later to study and decode every juicy hidden meaning (yeah, right).

Now, this is by no means a conclusive list (it’s somewhat limited by what I could find on DVD and what was already on YouTube), but these eight clips represent some of the finest (or at least most interesting) symbolic/metaphoric moments in cinema in the last 20-30 years. What do they all mean? I’ll take a stab at parsing them, but I’d love to hear what you all think, too.

These are, for the most part, safe for work — but I’ll boldly indicate the few that are not. And watch the videos, people! It took forever to cut these together. (Yes, I did a little editing — but just to maximize the metaphors in the shortest amount of time. Sorry, Stanley!)

The Shining: Hedge Maze
At this early stage in the film, nothing seems too out of whack at the Overlook. But Danny and Wendy are entering a terrifying labyrinth from which there is no easy exit. Jack, looming over the maze like a giant or a puppeteer, almost tips his hand; “you’ve always been the caretaker here,” Grady will tell him later, and indeed, this scene makes him out to be the master of whatever bizarre ceremony we are about to witness. Of course, it also foreshadows the film’s famous climactic scene, in which a nearly unrecognizable Jack chases Danny through the maze with an axe.





Barton Fink: the Woman and the Wallpaper
One of my top five favorite films — and so weird. Barton’s horror-movie hotel room is practically brimming with symbols: the picture of the woman on the beach represents, perhaps, hope and the possibility of escape, while the peeling wallpaper seems to suggest that he’s currently stuck in Hell. What do you think?

Badlands: the Fish and the Cow
As pointless as it seems to make top-whatever lists of my favorite films (there are so many), Badlands is what I call my #1 favorite whenever I’m put on the spot. It’s hard to explain why in a short space, but part of the reason is the deep meaning that director Terrence Malick invests in his images: in this scene — just three simple shots — the protagonists reveal their complex (and vastly different) attitudes toward death, which will soon be played out larger than life when Kit embarks on a murderous rampage, with Holly as his co-pilot.


Stroszek: the Dancing Chicken
No one makes movies quite like that famously odd duck Werner Herzog, and Stroszek is one of his strangest, and best. But I’ll let Roger Ebert do the explaining (and the guessing) here:

Many movies end with hopeless characters turning to crime. No movie ends like “Stroszek.” Bruno and Mr. Scheitz take a rifle and go to rob the bank, which is closed, so they rob the barber shop next door of $32 and, leaving their car running, walk directly across the street to a supermarket, where Bruno has time to pick up a frozen turkey before the cops arrest Mr. Scheitz. Bruno then drives to a nearby amusement arcade, where he feeds in quarters to make chickens dance and play the piano. Then he boards a ski lift to go around and around and around. This last sequence is just about the best he has ever filmed, Herzog says on the commentary track of the DVD. His crew members hated the dancing chicken so much they refused to participate, and he shot the footage himself. The chicken is a “great metaphor,” he says–for what, he’s not sure. My theory: A force we cannot comprehend puts some money in the slot, and we dance until the money runs out.

(By the way, does anyone else experience a slight sine wave of funny while watching this?):


Punch-Drunk Love: the Pudding
True, P.T. Anderson’s There Will Be Blood is the best film he (or a lot of people) have ever made. But that doesn’t make his previous film, the decidedly lower-budget, naturalistic and at times seemingly improvised Punch-Drunk Love any less of a treat. Adam Sandler plays basket-case Barry Egan, who thinks he’s finally duped the system when he stumbles across Healthy Choice pudding frequent-flyer miles promotion seems too good to be true. The guy seems like a big unhappy ball of anxiety about to explode, and this manic, pudding-buying episode is his peak of manic happiness, soon to be followed by some very deep valleys of despair. But the pudding … what does it all mean?? You tell me! (By the way, there’s one naughty word at the end.)


The Last Picture Show: Sweeping
This is one of the great films of the 70s, and Peter Bogdonavich’s masterpiece. For this clip, I took bits from the very beginning and the very end of the film — the sweeping bookends the film nicely — and if there’s a better cinematic metaphor for the futility and fragility of existence, I haven’t seen it. (One swear word near the end.)


Affliction: the Toothache
Okay, this one is kind of graphic and has a lot of swearing, so be forewarned. It’s also the climax of a really brilliant cinematic device from an overlooked gem of a movie, released in 1997, called Affliction. It stars Nick Nolte as a well-meaning small-town cop who begins to unravel as he puts together the pieces of what he suspects is a murder passed off as a hunting accident in his town. His mother dies, forcing Nolte to spend a lot more time with his abusive, alcoholic father (played by a totally off-the-hook James Coburn), and the more time he spends with his horrible father (and the more events spiral out of control in the town), the more Nolte comes to resemble the old man, whose temper, propensity to violence and love of drink Nolte has inherited — nay, is afflicted with (hence the title).

This subtle-at-first then explosive upwelling of violence in Nolte is represented brilliantly, I think, by a nasty toothache he can’t seem to shake. It gets worse and worse throughout the film, until this climactic scene when he (and this is where it gets graphic) removes it himself with a pair of pliers and a bottle of scotch to swish with. With the tooth finally pulled, the curse that’s been bottled up inside him for years is finally loosed — and he and his father are painted as birds of a feather in the final brilliant shot (watching boxing on TV, wordlessly sharing a drink, mirror images of one another).


2001: the Monkey Invents Space Travel
I saved the best for last: the bone that turns into a spaceship at the end of 2001’s “Dawn of Man” sequence. (Possibly the greatest cut in film history, if you ask me.) What about the monolith, you ask, isn’t that a symbol? I’m not so sure: it serves a pretty narrative purpose, being the alien instrument of the apes’ advancement as a species. The bone/spaceship, on the other hand, implies a meaning outside of the this-happens that-happens flow of the plot. What do you think?


And while we’re on the subject, what are your favorite movie metaphors?

Bonus challenge (and shameless plug)! The house in the short Portable Living Room is most definitely a metaphor (though it’s meaning isn’t a huge mystery — just listen to the song):



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5 Mind-Numbingly Long Movies

Although you might think Andy Luttrell is majoring in film, you’d be wrong. He’s a sophomore psych major at Eastern Illinois University in Charleston, Ill. Not only can Eastern Illinois claim Andy as a future alum, they also get to claim John Malkovich; Tony Romo and not one, not two, but three NFL head coaches - the Denver Broncos’ Mike Shanahan, the New Orleans Saints’ Sean Payton and the Minnesota Vikings’ Brad Childress. -Stacy Conradt

5 Mind-Numbingly Long Movies
by Andy Luttrell

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I’m sure I won’t single myself out if I admit that I’ve seen all three Lord of the Rings films back to back to back…yes, the extended editions. That’s more than eleven hours in a row in front of a screen. Though Peter Jackson’s films are long (a late-night showing of King Kong was a bad idea), some filmmakers have had the gall to produce even longer ones.

So in celebration of excruciatingly lengthy cinema, here are five horribly long films that put Mr. Jackson to shame.

1. The Cure for Insomnia
5220 min (87 hours)
United States, 1987


lee.jpgThe next time you’ve got four days straight of nothing to do, go ahead and pick up The Cure for Insomnia. Unfortunately, Amazon.com doesn’t seem to carry it…I guess they’re still recording the director’s commentary.

The movie was shot on video by director John Henry Timmis IV and doesn’t have any plot. Rather, the movie stars artist Lee Groban reading his epic poem, “The Cure for Insomnia,” which is a 5,000 page work of art that Groban says he wrote almost entirely by hand. You can read an excerpt here. If the movie is anything like the excerpt, I’m sure it’s riveting. Apparently, footage of the poetry reading is spliced with clips of heavy metal and pornographic material.

The purpose of the movie—yes there’s a reason for this nonsense to exist—is to be so boring that it would put its viewers to sleep. It was first played in its entirety at the School of the Art Institute in Chicago and holds the Guinness World Record for “World’s Longest Movie.”

2. The Longest Most Meaningless Movie in the World
2880 min (48 hours)
United Kingdom, 1970

Here’s a movie that gets right to the point… that it doesn’t have one. Produced by Anthony Scott and directed by Vincent Patouillard, TLMMMitW was screened only once in its entirety in 1970 at the Cinémathèque Française in Paris. After its initial release, the film was cut to a more palatable 90 minutes. While it was no longer quite so long, it remained just as meaningless seeing as the film is nothing more than an endless presentation of newsreel and stock footage. I’ve wasted a lot of time in my life, but the ambition to create the longest, most meaningless movie in the world makes you question this fella’s priorities.

3. The Burning of the Red Lotus Temple
1620 min (27 hours)
China, 1928

red_lotus.jpgFinally we get to a film with a plot! The Burning of the Red Lotus Temple is a Chinese silent film directed by Zhang Shichuan. The film is based on a novel that was based on a newspaper series (that must have been based on something else). It tells the story of rescuing a commander trapped in the Red Lotus Temple – a temple tricked out with lethal traps like fire-spitting Buddhas and spiked floors. Sounds kind of like my dream house.

Though the film is really 27 hours long, it was released in a series of eighteen installments. I don’t care how good your story is; you don’t have my attention for 27 hours. Well, now that I think about it, I did watch the first three seasons of Lost (more than fifty hours of material) last summer…but at least Lost has dialogue.

4. The Journey
873 min (14.5 hours)
Sweden, 1987

Considered one of the longest documentaries to date, Peter Watkin’s The Journey (sometimes referred to as Resan) explores the subject of nuclear warfare. Watkins spends time with families and nongovernmental organizations from the United States, Canada, Norway, Scotland, France, West Germany, Mozambique, Japan, Australia, Tahiti, and Mexico to discover the public’s opinions regarding nuclear weapons, military spending, and poverty. The film presents stories told by World War II bomb survivors and dramatizations of evacuation procedures.

The Journey has found its place in New Zealand where it is sometimes used in high schools and other educational programs. One New Zealander said of the film: “14½ hours is just long enough to let a picture of the real people involved sink in. Was surprised at my ability to stay awake through a movie with no plot, suspense, etc. – decided I could because it was about real life, people, and opinions I recognised.”

5. War and Peace
484 min (8 hours)
Russia, 1968

war-peace.jpgIf you’re just itching to watch one of these notoriously long movies, you can get War and Peace on DVD to hold you over until the 450-disc The Cure for Insomnia: Collector’s Edition is released. With the original Russian version clocking in at just over eight hours, it’s significantly shorter than the aforementioned films, but you still could have gotten a full night’s sleep instead. Based on the infamous Tolstoy novel, War and Peace was directed by Sergei Bondarchuk, produced with full cooperation of the Soviet Union, and took seven years to make. The work paid off, though, when this eight-hour epic won the Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film in 1969.

While it may not be the longest movie ever, War and Peace still holds a number of records. With a production cost of $560 million (in today’s dollars), the film is the most expensive one ever produced; it received a Guinness World Record for being the longest film broadcast on T.V.; and finally, the film ranks fourth in most-extras-ever with a startling 120,000 (Gandhi, with 300,000 extras, will be tough to top.)

Following in Woody Allen’s footsteps, I decided to watch the film in fast-forward. All I can tell you is that it involves Russia.

Check out the rest of our College Weekend festivities.

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John Ritter Death Lawsuit Goes To Trial

A lawyer representing John Ritter's family told a jury Monday he would show that doctors caused the actor's death by an improper diagnosis and substandard treatment.

"What you'll hear, ladies and gentleman, is that, they did everything wrong," attorney Moses Lebovits said in his opening statement in the Glendale branch of the Los Angeles County Superior Court.

Ritter died from a tear in the aorta, known as an aortic dissection, on Sept. 11, 2003, at Providence St. Joseph Medical Center in Burbank.

Ritter's family says he was instead treated for a heart attack and they are suing two doctors for $67 million. The lawsuit follows settlements with the hospital and eight other medical personnel for about $14 million.

At the time of his death, Ritter was 54 and the star of the ABC series "8 Simple Rules … For Dating My Teenage Daughter." The award-winning star of the sitcom "Three's Company" had a varied career, with credits ranging from TV's "The Waltons" to the 1996 movie "Sling Blade."

Amy Yasbeck, Ritter's widow, was tearful during parts of Lebovits' opening statement.

Lebovits claimed that a radiologist, Dr. Matthew Lotysch, failed to give Ritter warning of his purportedly enlarged aorta two years before he died, and that Dr. Joseph Lee, the cardiologist called to Ritter's side the night of his death, failed to order the proper tests to diagnose his condition.

Central to the case is the claim that Lee failed to have a chest X-ray done before treating Ritter for what appeared to be a heart attack.

"Because they didn't get the chest X-ray, they gave him the wrong treatment," said Lebovits.

"He did absolutely nothing to rule out the existence of an aortic dissection," the attorney said.

Had Ritter been treated properly, Lebovits said, the actor would have undergone surgery that night, would have recovered in six-to-eight weeks, and his life expectancy would not have been affected.

"Ladies and gentlemen," he told jurors, "the family lost a wonderful man. Mr. Ritter was an extraordinary father."

At that point, Yasbeck closed her eyes and wiped away tears.

The defense is expected to assert that a body scan of Ritter done two years earlier showed no sign of an enlarged aorta and that the cardiologist was required to act quickly to treat Ritter for what had all signs of a major heart attack.

Copyright 2008 by The Associated Press. All rights reserved.
This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Sara Varone Hula Hoops Then Showers

Hot Italian TV host Sara Varone is forced into a shower in a white dress after losing a hula hoop contest. Italian TV is more brilliant than Japa more










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Roy Scheider, Actor in ‘Jaws,’ Dies at 75

Correction Appended

Roy Scheider, a stage actor with a background in the classics who became one of the leading figures in the American film renaissance of the 1970s, died on Sunday afternoon in Little Rock, Ark. He was 75 and lived in Sag Harbor, N.Y.

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Roy Scheider, right, with Richard Dreyfuss in “Jaws” (1975). Mr. Scheider played the police chief of a resort town menaced by a shark.

Everett Collection

Mr. Scheider played the lead role in Bob Fosse’s “All That Jazz” (1979).

Mr. Scheider had suffered from multiple myeloma for several years, and died of complications from a staph infection, his wife, Brenda Siemer, said.

Mr. Scheider’s rangy figure, gaunt face and emotional openness made him particularly appealing in everyman roles, most famously as the agonized police chief of “Jaws,” Steven Spielberg’s 1975 breakthrough hit, about a New England resort town haunted by the knowledge that a killer shark is preying on the local beaches.

Mr. Scheider conveyed an accelerated metabolism in movies like “Klute” (1971), his first major film role, in which he played a threatening pimp to Jane Fonda’s New York call girl; and in William Friedkin’s “French Connection” (also 1971), as Buddy Russo, the slightly more restrained partner to Gene Hackman’s marauding police detective, Popeye Doyle. That role earned Mr. Scheider the first of two Oscar nominations.

Born in 1932 in Orange, N.J., Mr. Scheider earned his distinctive broken nose in the New Jersey Diamond Gloves Competition. He studied at Rutgers and at Franklin and Marshall College in Lancaster, Pa., where he graduated as a history major with the intention of going to law school. He served three years in the United States Air Force, rising to the rank of first lieutenant. When he was discharged, he returned to Franklin and Marshall to star in a production of “Richard III.”

His professional debut was as Mercutio in a 1961 New York Shakespeare Festival production of “Romeo and Juliet.” While continuing to work onstage, he made his movie debut in “The Curse of the Living Corpse” (1964), a low-budget horror film by the prolific schlockmeister Del Tenney. “He had to bend his knees to die into a moat full of quicksand up in Connecticut,” recalled Ms. Siemer, a documentary filmmaker. “He loved to demonstrate that.”

In 1977 Mr. Scheider worked with Mr. Friedkin again in “Sorcerer,” a big-budget remake of Henri-Georges Clouzot’s 1953 French thriller, “The Wages of Fear,” about transporting a dangerous load of nitroglycerine in South America.

Offered a leading role in “The Deer Hunter” (1979), Mr. Scheider had to turn it down in order to fulfill his contract with Universal for a sequel to “Jaws.” (The part went to Robert De Niro.)

“Jaws 2” failed to recapture the appeal of the first film, but Mr. Scheider bounced back, accepting the principal role in Bob Fosse’s autobiographical phantasmagoria of 1979, “All That Jazz.” Equipped with Mr. Fosse’s Mephistophelean beard and manic drive, Mr. Scheider’s character, Joe Gideon, gobbled amphetamines in an attempt to stage a new Broadway show while completing the editing of a film (and pursuing a parade of alluring young women) — a monumental act of self-abuse that leads to open-heart surgery. This won Mr. Scheider an Academy Award nomination in the best actor category. (Dustin Hoffman won that year, for “Kramer vs. Kramer.”)

In 1980, Mr. Scheider returned to his first love, the stage, where his performance in a production of Harold Pinter’s “Betrayal” opposite Blythe Danner and Raul Julia earned him the Drama League of New York award for distinguished performance. Although he continued to be active in films, notably in Robert Benton’s “Still of the Night” (1982) and John Badham’s action spectacular “Blue Thunder” (1983), he moved from leading men to character roles, including an American spy in Fred Schepisi’s “Russia House” (1990) and a calculating Mafia don in “Romeo Is Bleeding” (1993).

One of the most memorable performances of his late career was as the sinister, wisecracking Dr. Benway in David Cronenberg’s adaptation of William S. Burroughs’s “Naked Lunch” (1991).

Living in Sag Harbor, Mr. Scheider continued to appear in films and lend his voice to documentaries, becoming, Ms. Siemer said, increasingly politically active. With the poet Kathy Engle, he helped to found the Hayground School in Bridgehampton, dedicated to creating an innovative, culturally diverse learning environment for local children. At the time of his death, Mr. Scheider was involved in a project to build a film studio in Florence, Italy, for a series about the history of the Renaissance.

Besides his wife, his survivors include two children, Christian Verrier Scheider and Molly Mae Scheider; a brother, Glenn Scheider of Summit, N.J.; and two grandchildren. Another daughter, Maximillia Connelly Lord, from an earlier marriage, to Cynthia Bebout, predeceased him.

Correction: February 13, 2008

An obituary on Monday about the actor Roy Scheider erroneously included the daughter from his first marriage among his survivors. The daughter, Maximillia Connelly Lord, died in 2006. The obituary also misspelled the surname of Mr. Scheider’s wife. She is Brenda Siemer, not Seimer.

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‘Vanity Fair’ to Cancel Its Legendary Oscar Party



Can you guess whose legs those are?Photo: Getty Images

According to Radar, the latest victim of the writers’ strike is the Vanity Fair Oscar party. Usually held at Morton's, it was scheduled to be at Craft this time around. Bummer, man! How is Graydon going to peddle reservations to the Waverly Inn for the rest of the spring?


Vanity Fair to Cancel Oscar Party [Radar]
Press Announcement: Vanity Fair Cancels Oscar Party [Vanity Fair]

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Accidental Pill Overdose Killed Heath Ledger

The Dark Knight star Heath Ledger died of an accidental overdose of painkillers, sleeping pills, anti-anxiety medication and other prescription drugs, the New York City medical examiner said Wednesday.

The cause of death was "acute intoxication by the combined effects of oxycodone, hydrocodone, diazepam, temazepam, alprazolam and doxylamine," spokeswoman Ellen Borakove said in a statement.

The drugs are the generic names for the painkiller OxyContin, the anti-anxiety drugs Valium and Xanax, and the sleep aids Restoril and Unisom. Hydrocodone is a widely used prescription painkiller.

Borakove wouldn't say what concentrations of each drug were found in Ledger's blood, or whether one drug played a greater part than another in causing his death.

"What you're looking at here is the cumulative effects of these medications together," she said.

The ruling comes two weeks after the 28-year-old Australian-born actor was found dead in the bed of his rented SoHo apartment. Police found bottles of six types of prescription drugs, including sleeping pills and anti-anxiety medication, in his bedroom and bathroom.

Ledger was discovered by his masseuse on Jan. 22 after she arrived for an appointment that afternoon. She entered his bedroom to set up for the massage and found him unresponsive, and proceeded to call Mary-Kate Olsen three times over the next 9 minutes before dialing 911. Ledger had been dead for some time, and police say no foul play occurred.

In a statement released through Ledger's publicist, Ledger's father, Kim, said Wednesday: "While no medications were taken in excess, we learned today the combination of doctor-prescribed drugs proved lethal for our boy. Heath's accidental death serves as a caution to the hidden dangers of combining prescription medication, even at low dosage."

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9 Hollywood Scandals Long Before Lindsay, Paris and Britney


I’m pretty sure 95 percent of the tabloid-y magazines this week (and last week, and the week before, and next week) are all about Britney Spears. Does she have mental health issues? Did she get a restraining order against her paparazzo boyfriend? When was the last time she saw her kids? How many Rite Aids has she visited this week?

And although Lindsay has been lying low (for Lindsay), there’s still talk of whether or not she’s really sober and who she’s dating now and how bad her last movie was. Then there’s dear Paris. Making out with Jared Leto at Sundance. Sigh. There goes the very last bit of my teenage crush on Jordan Catalano.

These girls are far from the first to be scandalized in the tabloids, though. Let’s take a look back at nine Hollywood scandals before Paris was a glimmer in her daddy’s eye. In fact, before her dad Rick Hilton was a glimmer in HIS daddy’s eye… and some stories before Barron Hilton was a glimmer in Conrad Hilton’s eye. OK, I’ll stop.

1. 1901 – Evelyn Nesbit

nesbit.jpg

At the turn of the century, Evelyn Nesbit was one of the most sought-after models in New York and became one of the famous Gibson Girls. Her modeling career turned to acting when she starred as one of the Floradora chorus girls at the age of 16. That’s where 47-year-old married architect Stanford White started wooing her. It’s said that he is the one who, uh, deflowered her. He then moved on to younger, more virginal girls while Evelyn got pregnant – twice – by John Barrymore (Drew’s grandpa). Although Stanford White wasn’t romantically involved with Evelyn at the time, they were still quite emotionally attached and he paid for her to go away and be treated for “appendicitis”. It’s disputed as to whether she actually had the baby or had an abortion.

She married a jealous, terribly abusive man, Harry K. Thaw, at the age of 20. In 1906, the couple ran into Evelyn’s old lover, Stanford, at the rooftop theater of Madison Square Garden where Thaw shot Stanford point-blank in the face three times, yelling either “You will never see this woman again!” or “You ruined my life!” or “You ruined my wife!” There seems to be controversy over his actual words. Evelyn was presented with a deal: if she testified that Thaw was only avenging her virtue because White had raped her, Evelyn would receive a divorce settlement of $1 million. She did, but was denied the money. She tried to commit suicide several times over the course of the rest of her life, but ended up dying in a nursing home at the age of 82 in Santa Monica.

2. 1924 - Thomas Ince and William Randolph Hearst

ince.jpg
Obviously Mr. Hearst is not without his share of scandal. But murder? Maybe. Actor, director, producer and screenwriter Ince was celebrating his 42nd birthday on Hearst’s yacht when he died. The official reason is that he ate too much and drank too much and simply had a heart attack. The rumor, though, is that Hearst shot him because either Ince was making a movie on Hearst’s mistress, Marion Davies, or Charlie Chaplin was and Hearst confused Ince for Chaplin on the dark boat. I guess only a couple of people really know for sure. His granddaughter Patty Hearst wrote her vision of how it happened in the novel Murder at San Simeon, but makes sure to let the reader know that she has no idea what really happened.

3. 1926 – Rudolph Valentino

stacy12.jpgIf we think it’s hard for a public figure to be openly gay these days, imagine what an uproar even mere rumors would have caused in 1926. Valentino’s first wife, Jean Acker, was a lesbian who admitted she only married him to save her career. He wasn’t aware of her sexual orientation until she locked him out of their hotel room on their wedding night and fled to her girlfriend’s house. There were lots of rumors that his second wife also preferred women and that he was a homosexual who kept marrying lesbians so he didn’t have to consummate any marriages (neither rumor was true). It was suggested that he had relationships with at least five other actors. Journalists were constantly saying he was effeminate based on his style of clothing and hair. He took great offense to this and even challenged a reporter when he noted that a vending machine in a men’s bathroom in Chicago was dispensing feminine pink talcum powder and blamed it on Valentino’s influence. Valentino challenged him to a boxing match (the journalist declined). Supposedly when he was suffering from a perforated ulcer on his deathbed in 1926, Valentino asked the doctor if he thought he was a Powder Puff. The doctor is said to have replied, “No, sir, you’ve been very brave.”

4. 1927 – Marion Parker /Edward Hickman

marionparker.jpgWilliam Edward Hickman terrorized L.A. in 1927 and 1928 when he kidnapped the daughter of a prominent local banker, Perry Parker. His method was scarily simple: he waltzed into the 12-year-old’s junior high school and told the administrator that Perry was ill and wanted to see his daughter. The administrator probably should have realized something was up when Hickman a) didn’t know that Parker had twin daughters and b) didn’t know the names of either of them. Nevertheless, the administrator handed over Marion for some reason. Hickman demanded $1,500 in ransom money, which he promptly received. Instead of sending Marion home safe and sound, though, he returned her minus her arms and legs and internal organs. Police caught him a week later and Hickman was executed in October, 1928.

5. 1932 - Peg Entwistle

pegentwistle.jpgPeg Entwistle was an actress whose career wasn’t going so hot. In fact, her life really wasn’t going so hot. Her widowed father was killed in a traffic accident shortly after the two of them immigrated to America from Wales. His accident left her completely broke so she earned money by working on Broadway. Unfortunately, the Great Depression hit and people could no longer afford to spend money on extras like the theater. Peg started drinking heavily and headed to L.A. to pursue acting in April 1932. She received a role in the movie Thirteen Women, but her screen time ended up getting drastically cut. Right around this time, RKO Pictures decided not to renew her contract and didn’t even invite her to the September premiere of Thirteen Women. The night of the premiere, she told her uncle (whom she was living with) she was taking a walk. She headed for the famous 50-foot Hollywood sign (which still said Hollywoodland at the time), folded her coat, placed it on the ground next to her purse, climbed the maintenance ladder of the “H” and jumped. Her body was found two days later; sadly, her uncle said that the day she was found, a letter arrived offering her the lead role in a stage production. Her character would have committed suicide in the final act.

6. 1934 – Mary Astor

maryastor.jpgMary Astor might be one of the first child stars to be taken advantage of by her parents. When she was only 14, she started making movies with some big name people, including John Barrymore, and earned $500 a week. She moved from Paramount to Warner Brothers to Fox, who increased her salary to $3,750 a week. Her parents bought a mansion in the Hollywood Hills and lived the good life on Mary’s money. She escaped her parents when she married Kenneth Hawks in 1928, but the happiness wouldn’t last long: he was in a fatal plane crash in 1930, just about the time her movie career started going under because her voice didn’t translate well to “talkies”. She had a nervous breakdown and ended up marrying the doctor who attended to her.

By 1933, she was pretty broke and had to get the Motion Picture Relief Fund to pay her bills. Her parents didn’t have much sympathy – they sued her in 1934 for more financial support. She testified that all of her money had gone directly to their bank accounts even after her first marriage. It wasn’t until Hawks died that Mary decided she needed to look out for herself. She did, however, give them the home that they had purchased with her earnings. She also gave them $1,000 per month. When she hit hard times in ‘33, she told her parents she couldn’t afford to support them unless they moved to a smaller house – the house they lived in was bigger and more expensive than the one Mary lived in with her family. She also offered them $100 a month, plus food and utilities, but they refused to leave the mansion.

Mary said in her memoirs that in 1947 she sat with her delirious mother on her deathbed in the hospital. Because of dementia, her mother spent hours complaining to Mary about her selfish, horrible daughter Lucile (Mary’s real name). Mary read her mother’s diaries after she died and said she was surprised to know how much her own mother hated her.

7. 1935 – Loretta Young

loretta.jpgEverybody knows about Gable and Lombard, but Gable and Young? Yup. Loretta Young and Clark Gable had an affair in 1935 while they were filming Call of the Wild, despite the fact that Gable was married to Texas socialite Ria Franklin Prentiss Lucas Langham (say that 10 times fast). Loretta disappeared to Europe to have the baby quietly; nineteen months later she showed back up and said she had adopted a daughter, Judy. When the baby got older, it was very clear that she looked exactly like Loretta Young with Clark Gable’s ears. It wasn’t until 1958 that Judy confronted her mother, who, after throwing up, admitted that Judy was Clark Gable’s daughter. Prior to Gable, Loretta had an affair with Spencer Tracy.

8. 1943 – Frances Farmer

farmer.jpgPoor Frances Farmer was in and out of mental hospitals so often, she’s like the original Girl, Interrupted. In 1936, after only a year with Paramount, she had top billing in two B-movies, had married actor Leif Erickson and was cast in her first A-list movie opposite Bing Crosby. She began to get frustrated that she wasn’t being cast in challenging roles, only “pretty girl” roles. By 1939 she was becoming known for her erratic behavior and excessive drinking. She and Erickson divorced in 1942 (he remarried the same day). She was arrested a few months later for driving with her headlights on in a war-time blackout zone. Police suspected she was drunk and put her in jail overnight.

The following year, Frances was arrested at the Knickerbocker Hotel when her hairdresser said that Frances had dislocated her jaw in a fit of rage on set. At her trial, she shoved a policeman down, hit another and threw an inkwell at the judge. She was transferred to the psychiatric ward at L.A. General Hospital where she was diagnosed with paranoid schizophrenia. She was given shock therapy but escaped the hospital within nine months. Eventually Frances was handed over to her mother’s custody, but that didn’t work out so well - she assaulted her mother, who had her committed to Western State Hospital in Washington. It was there that she received electro-convulsive shock treatment. A few months later, in 1944, it was announced that she was totally cured. The talk of the town was that the “cure” was a lobotomy, but that has been denied by multiple sources. Apparently the cure wasn’t permanent, because she was found wandering around Antioch, Calif., Anne Heche-style, and was recommitted to Western State Hospital for another five years. She did return to showbiz for several years but by 1964 she was having extreme mood swings again. She died in 1970 of esophageal cancer.

9. 1953 – Gene Tierney

gene.jpgFormer New York debutante Gene Tierney became incredibly successful on Broadway by the age of 20. She soon found herself in roles opposite Rory Calhoun, Rex Harrison, Tyrone Power, Clark Gable and Humphrey Bogart. It was Bogart who discovered how deep Gene’s mental problems ran while they were filming The Left Hand of God in 1953. He encouraged her to seek help, so when the movie wrapped she was admitted to Harkness Pavilion in New York and then the Institute of Living in Hartford, Conn., where she received 27 shock treatments. It was too much for her and she tried to escape the asylum, but she was caught and reinstitutionalized. She tried to commit suicide in 1957 by jumping off of a ledge but was stopped just in time. It was thought that her bipolar disorder was triggered when she gave birth to her first daughter, who was born deaf, partially blind and had some mental handicaps. Tierney’s close friend Howard Hughes saw to it that her daughter received the best care possible. Although she never admitted to an affair with Howard Hughes, she did have affairs with John F. Kennedy and Tyrone Power while separated from her husband, Oleg Cassini (one of Jacqueline Kennedy’s favorite designers).

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Nicolas Cage Ready To Quit Acting


Academy Award winning actor Nicolas Cage is threatening to quit the movie industry because he is ‘tired of it’ and admits he has lost his passion for acting and complains his career has forced him to become antisocial.

Some movie stars look like they are having a ball, but I’m tired of it. It has made me reclusive. That is an increasingly gnawing feeling in my body. When I first started I loved it. One of my frustrations is I have no control. I haven’t worked in a while, and it will be eight months before I start my next picture. I know for the first time which direction I’m going in and what changes I want to make.”

44 year old Cage also fears his fans are tired of watching him on the big screen. He adds,:

For some reason, I piss off the audience. People who like one type of film don’t like to see me in another. Things I did and said early on still haunt me. I started acting at 17, but I’m 44 now and have grown up. I wonder if I am still interesting to watch if I didn’t drink or raise hell, but it’s obnoxious to keep drinking.”

Well, I don’t think he’s all that serious about quitting. He has all kinds of movies lined up for this year and next:

  1. Electric God (2009) announced
  2. The Dance (2008) announcedBilly ‘The Kid’ Roth’
  3. Amarillo Slim (2008) pre-production
  4. Knowing (2008) pre-production
  5. G-Force (2009) filming-voice
  6. Bangkok Dangerous (2008) completed
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Hulk Hogan Pasta to Shaq Fu: The 11 Most Pointless Celebrity Products

#11.
Rap Snacks--Dirt McGirt Potato Chips

Celebrity Offender: Old Dirty Bastard AKA Dirt McGirt

If you're wondering who in the blue hell "Dirt McGirt" is, he's the Old Dirty Bastard (ODB) from the highly-regarded and innovative rap super group the Wu-Tang Clan. ODB was his own man. ODB would do things like take a limo to the welfare office to pick up his check while his album was still on the Top 10 charts, all while being filmed by MTV. So either ODB had the biggest set of balls you've ever seen, or he was just batshit crazy. OK, he was just batshit crazy.

The Bastardly one had an arrest record longer than your arm, consisting of assault and battery, failure to pay child support, possession of crack, home-invasion robbery, attempted murder and several other crimes they hadn't invented laws for yet. Naturally, this made ODB the perfect candidate for his very own posthumously released potato chip, displaying the inspirational message "Think Responsibly." Because if anyone is a spokesperson for thinking responsibly, it's a lifetime criminal who died of a drug overdose.
#10.
Jeff Foxworthy Beef Jerky

Celebrity Offender: Jeff Foxworthy

If you ever see this jerky on the shelf while walking around your local Wal-Mart or truck stop, don't get too excited. They didn't ACTUALLY kill Jeff Foxworthy and turn his flesh into a tasty dehydrated treat, he just decided to put his name and mustachioed face on a product sure to delight ages 5 to 60, and IQ scores 70 to 75.

Foxworthy is the southern comedian that made a name for himself by making fun of rednecks, much to the delight of, well, rednecks for some reason. Even the packaging lets you know that "If you eat this, you might be a redneck." So basically, you're paying Jeff Foxworthy to insult you (again), placing his product right alongside "Have Another Donut, Fatass" brand donuts.
#9.
Slam City with Scottie Pippen

Celebrity Offender: Scottie Pippen

Slam City is, quite simply, one of the worst basketball games ever made. The point of the game is to beat a bunch of early '90s "urban" caricatures at one-on-one b-ball until you got the chance to face the man himself: Scottie Pippen. This is about as great an honor as playing Super Mario Bros. all the way through, only to find out that the main boss is a regular goombah.

This came out for the doomed Sega CD system back in the day, and like most games for the system used FMV (Full Motion Video) to make a game that both looked great and was utterly unplayable. You would have video footage of real people doing things (playing basketball, in this case), and pushing buttons on your controller would have some vague influence over what they did on the screen.

According to Wikipedia, the biggest claim to fame for this atrocity is the fact that Pippen himself recorded the game's theme song:

We know that a lot of you folks don't watch videos we embed in our articles, but do yourself a favor and watch this one. There's so much awful stuff going on here, it's easy to miss the unintentional hilarity of...
A) Pippen's truly awful rap.
B) The bizarre performance turned in by "Fingers," whose questionable street-baller name is compounded by his decision to look into the camera at the one minute mark and whisper "Fingersssss" like a pedophile channeling Cobra Commander.
C) The fact that Sega expected you to watch this every time you played the game.
D) Pippen's electrifying personality at the end of the clip, which answers any question you might have had about why he didn't become the celebrity pitch man Michael Jordan did.
#8.
Hulk Hogan's PASTAMANIA!

Celebrity Offender: Hulk Hogan

It was Hulk Hogan's very own canned pasta, brother! Available in two different varieties, namely Hulk-U's and Hulkaroo's, Pastamania claimed to be the answer to the immortal question "Whatcha gonna do when hunger runs wild on you?" Realistically, though, since Pastamania products were exactly like SpaghettiO's, the real question at hand would be "Whatcha gonna eat to flush everything out of your colon?"

The Hulkster also opened a short-lived restaurant by the same name inside Minnesota's Mall of America to push the products, but it has since become an Orange Julius. The Hulk Hogan merchandising machine was hardly deterred by this failure, as you'll see...
#7.
Hulk Energy

Celebrity Offender: Hulk Hogan. Again.

That's right, folks. This is Hulk Motherfucking Hogan's own energy drink. Now, while it's not officially made with the Hulkster's blood (that would make it far, FAR too powerful), it is made with such popular energy drink ingredients such as Taurine, tons of B Vitamins, and Horny Goat Weed. No, we're not making that last ingredient up, and yes, it's for exactly what you think.

It basically exists because, in the Mighty One's own words: "My family and I have an incredibly active lifestyle. Between helping launch Brooke's music career and Nick's racing career, plus the demands of being involved in a hit series, if anyone is in need of their own energy drink it's me." That's right, if you take the Hulkster's word for it, and WE ALWAYS DO, we can blame this energy drink for allowing Brooke Hogan's "music" career to continue, giving the Hogan family the energy to keep producing yet another terrible celebrity reality show, and bringing in more money for Hogan's douchebag son Nick Bollea to spend wrecking expensive cars, the likes of which we'll never be allowed to touch.

Thanks, Hulk Energy!
#6.
Steven Seagal's Lightning Bolt

Celebrity Offender: Steven Seagal

Yes, Steven Seagal has also jumped into the lucrative energy drink market. Each can has a picture of Seagal, presumably to make you thirsty... FOR BLOOD, and a list of exotic ingredients, such as ginseng, guarana, and Tibetan goji berry, whatever the fuck that is. You know what you won't find on the ingredient list? Shame.
#5.
Joe Perry's Rock Your World Hot Sauce

Celebrity Offender:
Joe Perry of Aerosmith

We're not sure quite when it happened, but apparently it's now cool to have your face on the label of some condiment. Joe Perry of Aerosmith and Dexter Holland of the Offspring have their own hot sauces. What either of these rockers have to do with hot sauce is anyone's guess, but if buying their condiments are like buying tickets to see them, you should expect to pay a scalper at least $250 a bottle, or $275 through Ticketmaster.

Sure, we expect this from athletes, what with their Wheaties and canned beef stew. But shouldn't there be some law that requires rock stars to at least pretend not to be corporate shills until after they retire?
#4.
The Michael Jackson Premium Chocolate Bar

Celebrity Offender: Michael Jackson

Before becoming undoubtedly the creepiest motherfucker on the planet, Michael Jackson used to be famous for making some pretty damn good music and sold approximately 3 gozillion records. During this time period, Michael Jackson could have put his name on nickel-plated poop and sold it for a pretty penny. This was probably the reasoning behind the Michael Jackson premium chocolate bar.

There's an obvious joke in this about how M.J. created the candy bar to lure in children for dubious activities, but we'll take the high road and ignore that elephant in the room. What we WILL say is that the packaging of this candy bar is the definition of creepy. Go ahead, take a look at the giant Michael head coming from behind the highly symbolic rainbow, peering into our very souls with those surgically-altered, accusing eyes.

Also, he's grabbing his crotch right there on the wrapper. We personally refuse to buy food that features crotch grabbing right on the label, and you should too.

NOTE: We'd also like to mention that Carmelo Anthony of the Denver Nuggets has his own candy bar, too...

...but he was named after a candy bar in the first place, so it would be stranger if he didn't have his own. If Coolranchdoritos Wilson makes a professional sports team, the dude has a right to cash in.
#3.
Shaq Fu

Celebrity Offender: Shaquille O'Neal

We know what you're thinking: "Another basketball game? There are plenty of bad basketball games out there. Move this article along, you basement-dwelling spastics." But you are wrong. See, Shaq Fu is not a basketball game. In this game, you play as basketball superstar Shaquille O'Neal, who's on his way to a charity basketball game in Japan. Unfortunately for Shaq, along the way he "stumbles into another dimension" (come on, tell us this never happened to you), and has to save a young boy from an evil mummy named Nezu.

The only way to save this boy, apparently, is for Shaq to take part in a one-on-one fighting tournament, in which he discovers that he has super kung fu fighting abilities, along with the supernatural ability to throw fireballs.

This game also has the distinction of being cited as the worst game of all time according to many reviewers, as well as being listed in the "Top 10 Worst Licensed Game Ideas (ever)" by Game Informer, thanks to horrible plot, voice acting, gameplay and every other goddamn part of the game.
#2.
Billy Beer

Celebrity Offender: Billy Carter (brother of President Jimmy Carter)

Billy Carter was the brother of President Jimmy Carter. More accurately, though, Billy was Jimmy Carter's fuck-up brother and the shame of the entire Carter family. He was a college drop out, ran a failed candidacy for mayor of a small city you've never heard of, and was accused in 1979 of "peddling influence" as a lobbyist for Libya. So obviously, the next step in such a promising career was to release his very own beer.

According to Wikipedia, at least 2 billion cans were produced in the late '70s, but sales were very poor. So we're not sure what they did with it. The brand will forever be famous for maybe the saddest ad campaign of all time, and a slogan that's laced with the bitter taste of personal tragedy:

#1.
Socks the Cat Rocks the Hill

Celebrity Offender: Socks (the cat) Clinton

For those of you too young to remember, Socks the Cat was President Bill Clinton's cat, which means two things: 1) He is quite possibly the most famous cat in American history due to the ridiculous amount of attention he got, and 2) He has probably walked in on more sex acts than any other animal, living or dead.

For presumably both of these reasons, the video game company Kaneko decided it would be a good idea to make a video game starring the famous feline, wherein Socks takes on enemies like George Bush (Sr. only, sorry) and Richard Nixon for some reason. We have never played the game but we can only assume the cat would win such a fight by tearing out these elderly men's necks in a blur of feline rage. Unfortunately, the company went out of business before Socks' game was ever released.

For some literal celebrity whoring, check out the 10 most unlikely celebrity porn stars or, head to the forum where you can make a retarded photoshop and win cash.

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