Whitney Houston’s funeral restores dignity to a troubled life

NEWARK, N.J.—It took four remarkable hours of tears, laughter and soaring song in the Baptist church where she grew up. But by the time Whitney Houston’s casket was carried from the altar, she belonged to her family again.

Dignity — a quality absent in the weeklong media circus that accompanied the superstar’s tragic demise — finally cut through, as Houston’s grieving kin reclaimed the person behind the persona, flaws and all.

Saturday’s farewell at New Hope Baptist Church struck a seemingly impossible balance between public and private, celebration and sorrow. A tight police cordon kept the reporters a full block away from the three-storey house of worship, while Houston’s adoring public remained behind security lines a further three blocks from the eye of the media storm.

A lone camera inside the church streamed the ceremony live to the Internet and, by extension, to the ravenous airwaves of CNN and friends.

VIDEO: Sights and sounds from Whitney Houston’s funeral

PHOTOS: Friends gather to remember Whitney Houston

One day earlier, in dishing the details of Saturday’s remembrance, the Hollywood gossip site TMZ.com went with the braying headline, “Whitney Houston Funeral Programs! Getcha Programs Here!” A new low, or high, on the voyeuristic death beat, depending on your appetite for tawdry.

But in holding firm to friends and relatives only at the church so indelibly linked to Houston’s extended musical family, the homecoming service — or rather, “home going,” in Baptist parlance — was a gospel-infused splash of humanity.

“I’d like to thank Mama Houston for forgetting about everything else and doing it here. It took a lot of courage. Because of that, you brought the world to church today,” Pastor Marvin Winans said in his closing eulogy, addressing Houston’s mother, Cissy.

Aretha Franklin, godmother to Whitney, took ill and was unable to attend. Ex-husband Bobby Brown walked out after reportedly being asked to move seats several times.

But the balance of the day saw a who’s who of gospel, soul and R&B talent choking back tears as they shared stories and song, backed by the conjoined mass choirs of New Hope and New Jersey.

Alicia Keys described Houston’s role in nurturing young talent around her: “She’d call you for no reason at all, just to say hi. That’s rare. She made us feel strong and capable and loved.”

Rev. Kim Burrell came forward with a gospel twist, retooling Sam Cooke’s “A Change Is Gonna Come” with Whitney-specific lyrics. And so, too, did Stevie Wonder, reworking “Ribbon in the Sky” to better suit the moment. “Actually, in my little fantasy world, I had a little crush on Whitney,” he said.

Actor/director Tyler Perry said he was struck by “how candid and open and honest” Whitney was about her struggles when they first met. And often in their conversations, she would “go back into this sadness” — only to snap out of it through her faith in God.

“If God be for you, who can be against you? So say whatever you want. God is with her and she is resting with the angels,” said Perry.

Among the least likely suspects in the church was actor Kevin Costner, who acknowledged the odd coupling up front. Pausing periodically to maintain composure, Costner explained how he and Houston forged a “private bond” built upon their shared experiences growing up in fervently Baptist households.

Costner went on to describe the fierce resistance he encountered in Hollywood over the casting of Houston in The Bodyguard. “I told everyone I had taken notice Whitney was black,” said Costner.

Though she eventually landed the lead role, Costner described how the fear of a requisite screen test left Houston riddled with doubts.

“Arguably the biggest pop star in the world wasn’t sure if she was good enough,” said Costner. Those anxieties, he suggested, were a burden that made her great and may also have “caused her to stumble in the end.

“The unexplainable burden that comes with fame — call it doubt, call it fear. I’ve had mine. I know the famous in the room have had theirs,” he said.

Clive Davis, Houston’s music “industry father,” described a final encounter with Whitney little over a week ago in which she vowed she was getting in shape, including a daily swimming regimen and no cigarettes. She promised to have her “high notes back” by August.

“Well, Whitney, I’m going to hold you to it,” said Davis. “Everyone in heaven, including God, is waiting, and I just know you’re going to raise the roof like no one has done before.”

The farewell to Houston, who is to be buried Sunday in a ceremony at which no cameras are expected, echoed in the streets around the church, where small groups of fans on the outer barricades sang and held signs of tribute. Few seemed bothered by their distance from the actual ceremony.

“This is the North Ward. Our part of Newark has been through some hard times, just like Whitney,” said Sekou Salaam, 45, who grew up two streets north of New Hope Baptist Church.

“But she’s still our homegirl. And this is the right way to say goodbye. People all over the world are watching. But it feels right, letting the family have this moment while the rest of us stand here quietly. Respect.”

Whitney Houston’s Chilling Comments On Michael Jackson

In a 2009 interview with Oprah Winfrey, Whitney Houston was asked how Michael Jackson‘s passing affected her — and the singer’s words are particularly chilling given her own untimely death at age 48.

The King of Pop died at age 51 from a lethal dose of the anesthetic propofol in 2009.

Houston told Winfrey that his passing was “devastating”.

PHOTOS Whitney Houston throughout the years

With her voice shaking, the troubled songstress added, “I thought, ‘This can’t be true. This can’t be true.’ I knew he was on painkillers at one time. I didn’t know how far and how deep it was.”

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Houston recalled taping Michael Jackson’s 30th Anniversary Celebration with the King of Pop in 2001. Both stars appeared extremely frail at the event.

The singer remembered looking at Jackson and then looking at herself. “I was getting scared,” she admitted. “I was looking at myself going, ‘No, I don’t want this to be like this. This can’t happen. Not both of us.'”

VIDEOS 10 weird Whitney Houston sports moments

Houston —- whose own substance abuse issues have long been documented -— revealed to Winfrey that she had been doing drugs at the time of the Jackson taping.

She said she “was worried” for him — and for herself. “Mike and I were very close,” Houston said. “No one have I ever met [was] quite like that young man,” she later added. “And to have it in like that saddens me.”

“Was he a mirror for you,” Winfrey asked Houston.

WATCH Michael Jackson’s music videos

“In some ways, yes,” the diva replied. “I didn’t want to go down that road.”

Like Jackson, Houston was on the verge of a career comeback before her Feb. 11 passing.

A coroner’s official says Houston’s body was discovered underwater in a hotel bathtub (some prescription drugs were in her room).

It will take weeks to determine precisely how the megastar died.

A private funeral is set for Saturday in the New Jersey church where Houston first showed off her singing talents as a child.


Whitney Houston dead at 48

There is speculation that the cause of death is from addictions. Until coroners find out the cause of death, it’s all speculation. If it is so, it’s sad to see anyone lose their life over drugs/alcohol. Tonight we lost a legend, someone who had immense talent.  R.I.P Whitney Houston.


LOS ANGELES, CALIF. —Whitney Houston, who reigned as pop music’s queen until her majestic voice and regal image were ravaged by drug use, erratic behaviour and a tumultuous marriage to singer Bobby Brown, has died. She was 48.

Publicist Kristen Foster said Saturday that the singer had died, but the cause and the location of her death were unknown.

At her peak, Houston the golden girl of the music industry. From the middle 1980s to the late 1990s, she was one of the world’s bestselling artists. She wowed audiences with effortless, powerful, and peerless vocals that were rooted in the black church but made palatable to the masses with a pop sheen.

Her success carried her beyond music to movies, where she starred in hits like The Bodyguard and Waiting to Exhale.

She had the perfect voice, and the perfect image: a gorgeous singer who had sex appeal but was never overtly sexual, who maintained perfect poise.

She influenced a generation of younger singers, from Christina Aguilera to Mariah Carey, who when she first came out sounded so much like Houston that many thought it was Houston.

But by the end of her career, Houston became a stunning cautionary tale of the toll of drug use. Her album sales plummeted and the hits stopped coming; her once serene image was shattered by a wild demeanour and bizarre public appearances. She confessed to abusing cocaine, marijuana and pills, and her once pristine voice became raspy and hoarse, unable to hit the high notes as she had during her prime.

“The biggest devil is me. I’m either my best friend or my worst enemy,” Houston told ABC’s Diane Sawyer in an infamous 2002 interview with then-husband Brown by her side.

It was a tragic fall for a superstar who was one of the top-selling artists in pop music history, with more than 55 million records sold in the United States alone.

She seemed to be born into greatness. She was the daughter of gospel singer Cissy Houston, the cousin of 1960s pop diva Dionne Warwick and the goddaughter of Aretha Franklin.

Houston first started singing in the church as a child. In her teens, she sang backup for Chaka Khan, Jermaine Jackson and others, in addition to modeling. It was around that time when music mogul Clive Davis first heard Houston perform.

“The time that I first saw her singing in her mother’s act in a club … it was such a stunning impact,” Davis told Good Morning America.

“To hear this young girl breathe such fire into this song. I mean, it really sent the proverbial tingles up my spine,” he added.

Before long, the rest of the country would feel it, too. Houston made her album debut in 1985 with Whitney Houston, which sold millions and spawned hit after hit. “Saving All My Love for You” brought her her first Grammy, for best female pop vocal. “How Will I Know,” “You Give Good Love” and “The Greatest Love of All” also became hit singles.

Another multiplatinum album, Whitney, came out in 1987 and included hits like “Where Do Broken Hearts Go” and “I Wanna Dance With Somebody.”

The New York Times wrote that Houston “possesses one of her generation’s most powerful gospel-trained voices, but she eschews many of the churchier mannerisms of her forerunners. She uses ornamental gospel phrasing only sparingly, and instead of projecting an earthy, tearful vulnerability, communicates cool self-assurance and strength, building pop ballads to majestic, sustained peaks of intensity.”

Her decision not to follow the more soulful inflections of singers like Franklin drew criticism by some who saw her as playing down her black roots to go pop and reach white audiences. The criticism would become a constant refrain through much of her career. She was even booed during the “Soul Train Awards” in 1989.

“Sometimes it gets down to that, you know?” she told Katie Couric in 1996. “You’re not black enough for them. I don’t know. You’re not R&B enough. You’re very pop. The white audience has taken you away from them.”

Some saw her 1992 marriage to former New Edition member and soul crooner Bobby Brown as an attempt to refute those critics. It seemed to be an odd union; she was seen as pop’s pure princess while he had a bad-boy image, and already had children of his own. (The couple had a daughter, Bobbi Kristina, in 1993.) Over the years, he would be arrested several times, on charges ranging from DUI to failure to pay child support.

But Houston said their true personalities were not as far apart as people may have believed.

“When you love, you love. I mean, do you stop loving somebody because you have different images? You know, Bobby and I basically come from the same place,” she told Rolling Stone in 1993. “You see somebody, and you deal with their image, that’s their image. It’s part of them, it’s not the whole picture. I am not always in a sequined gown. I am nobody’s angel. I can get down and dirty. I can get raunchy.”

It would take several years, however, for the public to see that side of Houston. Her moving 1991 rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner” at the Super Bowl, amid the first Gulf War, set a new standard and once again reaffirmed her as America’s sweetheart.

In 1992, she became a star in the acting world with The Bodyguard. Despite mixed reviews, the story of a singer (Houston) guarded by a former Secret Service agent (Kevin Costner) was an international success.

It also gave her perhaps her most memorable hit: a searing, stunning rendition of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You,” which sat atop the charts for weeks. It was Grammy’s record of the year and best female pop vocal, and the Bodyguard soundtrack was named album of the year.

She returned to the big screen in 1995-96 with Waiting to Exhale and The Preacher’s Wife. Both spawned soundtrack albums, and another hit studio album, My Love Is Your Love” in 1998, brought her a Grammy for best female R&B vocal for the cut “It’s Not Right But It’s Okay.”

But during these career and personal highs, Houston was using drugs. In an interview with Oprah Winfrey in 2010, she said by the time The Preacher’s Wife was released, “(doing drugs) was an everyday thing. … I would do my work, but after I did my work, for a whole year or two, it was every day. … I wasn’t happy by that point in time. I was losing myself.”

In the interview, Houston blamed her rocky marriage to Brown, which included a charge of domestic abuse against Brown in 1993. They divorced in 2007.

Houston would go to rehab twice before she would declare herself drug-free to Winfrey in 2010. But in the interim, there were missed concert dates, a stop at an airport due to drugs, and public meltdowns.

She was so startlingly thin during a 2001 Michael Jackson tribute concert that rumours spread she had died the next day. Her crude behaviour and jittery appearance on Brown’s reality show, Being Bobby Brown, was an example of her sad decline. Her Sawyer interview, where she declared “crack is whack,” was often parodied. She dropped out of the spotlight for a few years.

Houston staged what seemed to be a successful comeback with the 2009 album I Look To You. The album debuted on the top of the charts, and would eventually go platinum.

Things soon fell apart. A concert to promote the album on Good Morning America went awry as Houston’s voice sounded ragged and off-key. She blamed an interview with Winfrey for straining her voice.

A world tour launched overseas, however, only confirmed suspicions that Houston had lost her treasured gift, as she failed to hit notes and left many fans unimpressed; some walked out. Cancelled concert dates raised speculation that she may have been abusing drugs, but she denied those claims and said she was in great shape, blaming illness for cancellations.

Lovin the Lryics to P!nk’s ‘Fuckin’ Perfect’

Made a wrong turn, Once or twice
Dug my way out, Blood and fire
Bad decisions, That’s alright
Welcome to my silly lifeMistreated, misplaced, misunderstood
Miss “no way, it’s all good”, It didn’t slow me down
Mistaken, Always second guessing
Under estimated, Look, I’m still around

Pretty, pretty please
Don’t you ever, ever feel
Like your less than Fuckin’ perfect.
Pretty, pretty please
If you ever, ever feel
Like your nothing
You’re fuckin’ perfect to me.

You’re so mean,
When you talk about yourself, You are wrong.
Change the voices in your head
Make them like you instead.

So complicated,
Look how big you’ll make it!
Filled with so much hatred
Such a tired game.
It’s enough, I’ve done all I can think of
Chased down all my demons, I’ve seen you do the same.

Oh, Pretty, pretty please
Don’t you ever, ever feel
Like your less than fuckin’ perfect.
Pretty, pretty please
If you ever, ever feel
Like your nothing
You’re fuckin’ perfect to me.

The whole world stared so I swallowed the fear,
The only thing I should be drinking is an ice cold beer.
So cool in line and we try, try, try,
But we try too hard, it’s a waste of my time.
Done looking for the critics, coz they’re everywhere
They don’t like my jeans, they don’t get my hair
We change ourselves and we do it all the time

Why do we do that? Why do I do that?
(Why do I do that?)

[Yeah~, Ohh~ pretty pretty please, Ohh~]

Pretty, pretty please
Don’t you ever, ever feel
Like your less than fuckin’ perfect.
Pretty, pretty please
If you ever, ever feel
Like your nothing
You’re fuckin’ perfect to me.

You’re perfect, You’re perfect
Pretty, pretty please
If you ever, ever feel
Like your nothing
You’re fuckin perfect to me

A child is born in China, 18 million times a year

BEIJING—At 12:20 p.m. the doors to the waiting room of Fuxing Hospital’s obstetrics ward fly open and 33-year-old father-to-be Mei Yu is standing there clutching a lunch box of steaming porridge and fish.

He’s perspiring slightly — he sped in on his bicycle.

He slips the box through the doors of the delivery room — he’s not allowed inside. A nurse takes the package and passes it to his wife, Zheng Yalin, who is about to give birth to their first child.

It’s a big moment in the life of a Chinese couple — perhaps the biggest moment.

Most couples are allowed only one child under China’s family planning policies.

And yet — even with that restriction — the number of annual births in China is mind-bending: last year more than 18 million babies were born here. This year 18 million more are on the way.

Every two years a cohort of infants roughly equal to the population of Canada crawls on to the world stage.

“I know people in the West don’t like our one-child policy,” smiles Mei Yu, a university-graduated bureaucrat who works for the central government. “But our resources are limited and I understand it: we shouldn’t be thinking about what’s best for us, but what’s best for society.”

The couple met just before the Beijing Olympics in 2008 and married in August 2009. Now, in what many believe will be China’s century, they’ve decided to start a family.

Once a potentially hazardous experience for both mother and child, giving birth in China has never been safer.

“Thirty years ago when I gave birth to Yalin we used to say the experience was like passing through death’s gate,” says Tian Aiju, the expectant mother’s own mom, who is pacing beside her son-in-law.

“I’m not worried,” counters Mei Yu. “I have complete faith in this hospital, in its doctors and nurses.”

Fuxing Medical University Hospital prides itself on its obstetrics unit — a sought-after venue for childbirth in the Chinese capital.

At the entrance to the waiting room, a banner announces: “May peace and safety be with mother and child. Mother’s milk is like gold!”

Another greeting promises “dreams will come true” inside these doors and boasts of a hospital that is “comfortable, safe and full of care.”

Nearby, a nurse guards the locked entrance to the waiting room, ensuring only family may enter.

Except for the Chinese signage and the locked entrance, this could be any modern Western hospital.

As with so many categories of human development, China has come a long way in a short time in the science of childbirth.

Not long ago, giving birth in this country was dangerous. As recently as 1996 almost 25 of every 1,000 newborns died in the process.

Today, that figure is down to 8.3, according to government data.

The comparable number for the U.S. is 4 — and for Canada, just 3.

While China might not be on a par with the West yet, this is a huge gain for the country. The Lancet, the British medical journal, recently wrote that “other countries can learn from China’s substantial progress.”

Suddenly Tian Aiju pulls out her phone and calls her expectant daughter, just steps away behind the glass doors of the delivery room.

In keeping with hospital rules, pregnant moms can bring in only three things: a cellphone, the cellphone’s charger and tissue paper.

“Try to eat as much as possible,” Tian implores. “You’ll need strength this afternoon!”

Yalin says she’s not hungry and sends the lunch back almost untouched.

Outside in the waiting room one expectant father is leaning over his iPad, blogging his anxieties to his friends.

At 2:36 p.m. Mei Yu’s phone suddenly pulses. Yalin has sent a text: her cervix has dilated five centimetres, she reports.

Twenty minutes later: 10 centimetres.

At 3:36 p.m. she texts: “I am on the operating table.”

Father-to-be, grandmother-to-be and grandfather-to-be, Zheng Chang’an, start pacing even more.

One hour later, Mei Yu’s phone goes off and he lunges for it, fully expecting to hear his wife’s voice.

Instead, it’s his own mother.

She’s 1,400 kilometres away in Huangmei County, Hubei province, boarding a train. She’ll be there in 11 hours, she says.

Such is childbirth in modern China today: an event wrapped in iPads, cellphones, smooth-running trains and — as always — family.

Still, Mei Yu confides he had a sleepless night.

“I was thinking about all kinds of things related to the baby,” he says. “It wasn’t about the hospital. But before, I didn’t have any expectations about whether it would be a boy or a girl. Lately though I’ve been hoping for a boy. And so has Yalin. You know you don’t really need to worry about a girl when she’s little. But once she grows up, there’s so much to worry about.”

Soon, however, those worries are over.

At 5:38 p.m. a doctor bursts through the delivery room doors and shouts, “A boy — 3,480 grams (7.7 pounds)!”

Father and grandparents burst into smiles. In fact Mei Yu cannot stop smiling. He’s like this for 30 minutes until he is finally allowed into the delivery room to see his wife and son.

At bedside, a nurse shows him how to carefully hold the baby — yet to be named — who seems impossibly tiny wrapped in a pink blanket in Mei Yu’s powerful arms.

“Son of Mei Yu,” as he is identified on his birth certificate, coos himself to sleep and soon mother and child are wheeled to maternity room 26, where they’ll rest for about five days before heading home.

The family as a whole will discuss names for the child. But traditionally, it’s the paternal grandfather, Mei Yu’s father, who has the final word.

“He’s beautiful!” Yalin’s mother exclaims, emerging from seeing her grandson. “And,” she adds, “no C-section!”

That’s the way Yalin wanted it. “I think natural child birth is the way to go,” said the graduate of the Beijing University of Chinese Medicine. “I think it’s better for the health of the mother and the baby.”

She’s exceptional on this score — as many as 65 per cent of Chinese mothers do have C-sections, according to a recent study. Most women want them.

The reasons are varied, but they include the belief that the procedure ensures quicker and safer delivery, less pain and rules out any chance of an episiotomy — the cutting of the vagina to assist in difficult deliveries.

For Yalin — like all mothers in China — there is a second stage to the ritual of birth. It’s known as zuo yuezi or “sitting the month,” during which new mothers are confined indoors under a strict set of rules meant to restore their health.

It’s an ancient tradition still followed by almost all women in China.

But many younger moms now feel some of those rules — that they not shower or brush their teeth for a month, for example — are outdated and not in the best interests of mother or child.

“Until recently your mother or mother-in-law would say, ‘You shouldn’t brush your teeth. You shouldn’t take a bath. You should wear warm clothes and not go out,’” says 31-year-old Li Fang, a mother and manager of a company providing live-in “nurses” to help mothers through the month.

There are an estimated 4,000 such companies in Beijing today, charging between $1,400 and $1,900 for a 26-day period.

“But I think this isn’t very scientific,” Li Fang continues. “We can’t stay healthy that way. It’s not good for the baby. Mothers need to breastfeed their newborns and they have to stay clean so their babies stay healthy.”

Yalin has decided to sit the month, she explains, and observe some of the dietary traditions, for example, but to maintain her hygiene.

On a recent Sunday afternoon, in the middle of sitting the month, Yalin and Mei Yu were surrounded by family in their apartment on Muxidi Rd., everyone taking turns looking after the new baby — whose name is now Mei Qing.

In a culture that still has a strong bias for boys over girls in birth — gender ratios in China are out of balance compared to other countries — Yalin said gender didn’t matter. But she “understood” how farmers still want boys. They see them as “strong beams” needed to work the land, she said.

In fact, in many places in the Chinese countryside, if you have a girl, the state will allow you a second chance at having a boy. Hence, you can legally have two children.

And because Yalin and Mei Yu are both single children, born under the one-child policy of 1978, they will be allowed, under law, to have two children if they choose. Yalin and Mei Yu are thinking about it.

“Chinese people associate children with happiness,” says Mei Yu. “The more children, the greater the happiness — and a single child might feel a bit lonely too.”

But that decision will come later, as China’s century unfolds.

“China’s century?” wonders Mei Yu. “I’m not really sure I’d call it that. I believe we should think of this as a happy time for everyone — a time when the world is coming together and belongs to all of us.

“I say this in all sincerity,” he adds. “It’s a time when developing countries have the chance to become developed countries. That’s the way I see it.”

Madonna to perform during Superbowl halftime

Of course Madonna (who looks Russian in this pic) will perform during the half time at the SuperBowl, her movie ‘W.E’ will be released 2 days after. Remember? She’s a marketing genius. She’s reaching 157 Million viewers plus many more that will view it online. She must be really proud of her new project, I just hope she won’t be singing that leaked song I posted.

(Reuters) – Madonna will headline the 2012 Super Bowl halftime show, the National Football League said, in a performance co-created by the Cirque Du Soleil.

The Grammy-winning pop star, who in the past has garnered attention and stoked controversy with provocative performances, joins a roster of A-list stars who have appeared at the high-profile Super Bowl.

The annual ritual, which will take place on February 5 in Indianapolis, has come to be defined as much by its halftime shows and the innovative television commercials that run during the program, as by the football game itself.

More than 162 million TV viewers watched last year’s halftime show, making it the most watched musical event of the year, according to the NFL which announced Madonna’s appearance Sunday.

For the Indianapolis show, Madonna, 53, has partnered with a creative team from Cirque du Soleil, the innovative Canadian circus troupe, as well as choreographer Jamie King who has worked with Prince and Michael Jackson, and multimedia artists from Moment Factory, the NFL said.

Past Super Bowl performers have included Bruce Springsteen & The E Street Band, Prince, the Rolling Stones, Michael Jackson, Paul McCartney and U2.

In an especially notorious appearance, Justin Timberlake and Janet Jackson’s 2004 “wardrobe malfunction,” in which Jackson’s nipple was fleetingly exposed, causing an outcry, and a subsequent FCC fine against CBS Corp. television stations which an appeals court recently threw out.

Freddie Mercury Reincarnated as This Guy

I would of posted this in the video section but since I am a huge Freddie Mercury fan I put in the featured section because this guy could easily be a reincarnated Freddie Mercury, he’s just amazing!!! There’s also another Canadian in the contest who sings awesome as well, but I think this guy has got it!

To celebrate his rock band’s 40th anniversary, Queen drummer Roger Taylor is offering singers across North America the chance to upload a video to QueenExtravaganza for a chance to ditch their day job and become a rock star. It’s not the most rock n’ roll thing a band can do when hoping to replace the irreplaceable Freddie Mercury, but thems the times we live in, kids.

One entrant submitted a video of himself singing “Somebody to Love,” and it’s pretty much safe to say the contest is over. This dude’s so good he can be accused of lip syncing.

Jenny fakes the block? J-Lo’s Fiat 500 ad causes a stir

Jenny from the block? Not so fast. A new TV spot featuring the singer/actress is causing a bit of a stir.

They do this in Hollywood all the time. How many movies were shot in Toronto as if it was NYC??? Big deal!

Jennifer Lopez’s starring role in Fiat’s latest commercials for the Fiat 500 have come under question after a report from the Smoking Gun suggests she used a body double.

The ad features the singer/actress driving a Fiat 500 Cabrio as she takes in the sights in the Bronx, where she grew up. The minute-long spot, dubbed “My World”, explores how life in the New York City borough continues to inspire her to be “tougher, to stay sharper and to think faster,” her voice-over says in the ad.

But not everything is as it seems. It turns out J-Lo actually couldn’t be bothered to return to the Bronx for this shoot, according to the report.

The Smoking Gun report claims a Lopez look-alike was hired to drive around New York City’s poorest borough while the real J-Lo was filmed inside the Fiat 500 in Los Angeles. A production studio then merged the shots with computer-generated images to make it appear as if Lopez was actually driving around the Bronx streets.

You wouldn’t be able to tell by just watching the ad, though. The well-polished TV spot managed to fool scores of media outlets, including the Wall Street Journal.

But really, should this kind of digital fakery come as a surprise to anyone these days?

Despite the aggressive advertising campaign, sales of the 500 have fallen far short of Chrysler’s expectations so far this year. The carmaker had hoped the Fiat 500 would help boost its sales of small cars, an area where its offerings had lagged behind those of other automakers.

Rent Oprah Winfrey’s apartment for $15,000/month

Oprah Winfrey’s 4,607-square-foot Chicago co-op apartment in a 1913 Beaux Arts building is now available to rent for $15,000 a month. What exactly does $15,000 in rent fetch these days on Lake Shore Drive? Views of Lake Michigan, from the library and master bedroom, for one thing.

For another, that master bedroom is a whopping 1,200 square feet in size, and includes a his-and-her bath. There are also two other bedrooms, 3.2 baths, a solarium, a gourmet custom kitchen, a butler’s pantry, a wine room, and a two-car garage.

A spacious and elegant living room highlight’s Oprah’s available apartment.
Photo: rubloff.com

Winfrey bought the sixth-floor property for $5.6 million in 2006, but never moved in. It was reported in Chicago Magazine that she was afraid of nosy neighbors peeping in. She tried selling it for $6 million beginning in June 2008, and withdrew the property from the market in January 2009.

A large master bedroom in Oprah’s apartment for rent.
Photo: rubloff.com

This co-op is but a small part of Oprah’s real estate collection. Winfrey also owns residences nearby in Chicago’s Water Tower Place, and in Elmwood Park, as well as in Merrillville, Ind., Montecito, Calif., an estate in Maui, Hawaii, to name a few.

‘Chelsea Lately’ Renewed Through 2014 By E!


Chelsea Handler Continues as Host and Executive Producer of E!’s Popular Late Night Talk Show “Chelsea Lately” Through 2014

Los Angeles, CA, November 15, 2011 – E! Entertainment and Chelsea Handler have forged a new multi-year deal that continues the comedienne and best-selling author’s role as host and executive producer of the network’s popular late night series “Chelsea Lately” through 2014. As part of the agreement, Handler will also develop and produce shows for E! and NBCUniversal via her production company, Borderline Amazing Productions, in addition to “After Lately,” which returns for its second season November 27.

Chelsea Lately,” which launched in July 2007, reigns as the highest-rated and most-watched late night talk show with Women 18-34, out-performing shows including “The Tonight Show,” “The Late Show with David Letterman,” “Jimmy Kimmel,” “Conan,” “Jimmy Fallon,” “The Daily Show” and “Colbert Report.” The series recently delivered its highest rated and most-watched telecast ever on October 10 at 11pm averaging nearly 1.8 million total viewers.

“Chelsea is an extraordinary talent whose smart, clever, no-holds-barred point of view has clearly been embraced by viewers,” said Suzanne Kolb, President, E! “We are thrilled to continue our partnership with Chelsea as we build on the success of ‘Chelsea Lately,’ which has become the late night destination for young adults, and collaborate with Borderline Amazing Productions on developing even more hit shows.”

“It’s a great time for women in comedy, and it’s a great time to have real breasts,” added Chelsea Handler.

Under the new deal, E! and NBCUniversal obtain “first look” rights to all Borderline Amazing Productions projects and she will continue as host of “Chelsea Lately” through 2014. Handler, along with her partner in Borderline Amazing Productions, Tom Brunelle, will continue to serve as executive producers for “Chelsea Lately” and “After Lately.”

As one of today’s most successful comediennes, Handler has captured a legion of fans and continues to perform stand-up to sold-out crowds across the country. Handler has also seen tremendous success as an author with her popular books “Are You There, Vodka? It’s Me, Chelsea,” “Chelsea Chelsea Bang Bang” and “Lies Chelsea Handler Told Me” debuting at #1 on the New York Times bestsellers’ lists. Her first book, entitled “My Horizontal Life: A Collection of One Night Stands,” has sold over a million copies worldwide.

Recently named one of Glamour Magazine’s 2011 “Women of the Year”, Chelsea is a permanent fixture in pop culture as she continues to build a multiplatform media empire. Going in front of and behind the camera on yet another TV project, Chelsea is currently shooting a new scripted series for NBC “Are You There, Chelsea?” as both an executive producer and a recurring guest star. In 2011, Chelsea had her first feature film role with a cameo in Universal Pictures’ “HOP” opposite Russell Brand and James Marsden. In 2012, she will star in two studio films – the first in February opposite Reese Witherspoon and Chris Pine in Fox’s “This Means War,” and the second in October for Paramount Picture’s comedy “Fun Size.”

About E! Entertainment

E! is television’s top destination for all things entertainment and celebrity. E! is currently available to 98 million cable and satellite subscribers in the U.S. and the E! Everywhere initiative underscores the company’s dedication to making E! content available on all new media platforms any time and anywhere from online to broadband video to wireless to VOD. Popular programming includes E! core franchises, “E! News,” “The Soup,” “Chelsea Lately,” “Fashion Police” and “True Hollywood Story,” as well as the network’s hit series “Keeping Up with the Kardashians,” “Khloé & Lamar,” “Kourtney and Kim Take New York,” “Ice Loves Coco” and “Kendra.” Additionally, E!’s “Live from the Red Carpet” signature events keep fans connected to their favorite stars on Hollywood’s biggest nights. E! is a network of NBCUniversal Cable Entertainment, a division of NBCUniversal, one of the world’s leading media and entertainment companies in the development, production, and marketing of entertainment, news and information to a global audience.