All posts filed under: CELEBRITIES

Mississippi native’s film ‘Big Sur’ about the life of Jack Kerouac premieres at Sundance

Thirty years ago, director Ridley Scott’s film “Blade Runner” presented a dystopian vision of the future where genetically engineered robots that look like humans are hunted down by police. It was the first film that made a significant impression on Mississippi native Orian Williams, 47, putting him “On the Road” to Hollywood, where he is currently in Park City, Utah, at the Sundance Film Festival promoting his latest project. His film, “Big Sur,” based on the life of author Jack Kerouac, debuted this week at Sundance. “‘Blade Runner’ really sort of set me on my path for seeking out a job or something that would have anything to do with combining great elements that I’m passionate about,” Williams said. “The music was timeless in this futuristic world. It had a love story, which I thought was incredibly important. There were so many things incorporated into that film that I wanted to pursue.” After graduation from Baylor University in Texas with a degree in telecommunications, Williams moved to Los Angeles. “I headed west, not only to …

Mississippi Girl scores big roles on ‘Weeds’ and ‘Suburgatory’

When Allie Grant was in the third grade at Church Street Elementary School in Tupelo, she became obsessed with the film “Rain Man.” “I came to school as Rain Man,” she said, which prompted her teacher to call her mother out of concern. “She said: ‘Angie, I don’t really know how to tell you this, but your daughter won’t respond to anything other than Rain Man. I don’t know what’s wrong with her. I don’t know how to explain it, but you need to come pick her up and make sure she comes back to school as Allie.’” When her mom asked what was going on, Grant confessed she wanted to be an actor. “She said, ‘Well, OK then. That’s what we’ll do.’” Since then, the Tupelo native has landed two significant roles on cable and network television shows. She played Isabella Hodes on Showtimes’ “Weeds” for five seasons, and now she is a cast member of ABC’s “Suburgatory” playing the role of socially awkward teen Lisa Shay. Born on Valentine’s Day in 1994, Grant …

Analyzing the lyrics of nation’s current Top 10 songs

I guess it’s the literature major in me that always wants to analyze song lyrics. I don’t listen to a lot of new music; I’m more of a classic rock fan. But occasionally, I like to take a look at what’s popular on the charts and read the lyrics to see if today’s songs are beautifully poetic or just downright awful. I took at look at the Billboard Top 100 Chart this week, and here are the Top 10 songs that the kids are listening to today: 10. I Cry – Flo Rida I didn’t really understand one word of this rap song until I watched the video. The singer is looking back over his life and struggles, as well as some of the nation’s.The song is about a dysfunctional couple who fights hard, throws things and slams doors. The guy keeps saying he’s going to leave, but he can’t break free from the sexual relationship. He prays he’ll only stay one more night, even though he’s said it a million times. 8. Scream & …

Will you give ‘Mama’ a chance? Director Guillermo del Toro says: ‘Come to ‘Mama,’ baby.’

I’ve never been really frightened by pale, gown-wearing, double-jointed ghostly figures who crawl out of televisions or demon-possessed characters who could probably land gigs as contortionists in Las Vegas reviews, but I’ll have to admit, as a horror/thriller movie fan, there is something about the “creepy kid genre” that I find disturbing. Jessica Chastain, who earned Oscar nominations for her work in “The Help” (set in Mississippi) and the new film “Zero Dark Thirty,” will soon have two films in theaters simultaneously when Guillermo del Toro’s “Mama” is released Jan. 18 – another movie with creepy kids. In it, Chastain plays a woman who finds herself caring for her significant other’s young nieces who were left alone to fend for themselves in the forest for five years after their parents died. But the movie asks the question: How alone were they? The trailer looks interesting, but also looks like it relies on those familiar spooky contortionist creatures who, thanks to special effects, speed up and jump out at you. (For an example of what I’m …

Girl Meets World: Reviving 1990s television shows

The buzz in pop culture news today is that Disney and ABC may be reviving the 1990s classic television show “Boy Meets World” that centered around Cory Matthews, a kid who grew up on the show’s seven seasons (1993-2000) from grade school boy to married man. The new show would be called “Girl Meets World.” The girl is Riley Matthews, the 13-year-old fictional daughter of stars Cory and Topanga (Ben Savage and Danielle Fishel.) This is particularly interesting to Generation Y or “the Millennials,” who were still very young when this show premiered, as well as their parents, who watched it with them. I thought it was a brilliant idea on Disney’s part to put these actors to work again. Aside from a Lifetime movie or B horror film, I haven’t seen any of them for a while, and they are talented enough to deserve a pay check. It also made me ponder how long this show has been off the air. And when I realized next year will mark 20 years since it’s debut …

Did you know that The Sexiest Man Alive once lived in Mississippi?

Did you know that The Sexiest Man Alive once lived in Mississippi? Yep, turns out Channing Tatum, a.k.a. “Magic Mike,” who People magazine just named The Sexiest Man Alive, is a Mississippi boy – at least partially. The Sun Herald had a story today titled: “From the shores of South Mississippi to the cover of People magazine” about Mr. Tatum, who has risen to stardom in the past year, primarily because millions of women could not resist seeing his portrayal of a stripper in “Magic Mike.” It’s all about the acting, of course. Here’s a little info about his Mississippi past. The Sun Herald reports that Tatum, who was born in Cullman, Ala., moved to Gautier with his parents, Glenn and Kay Tatum, and sister, Paige, when he was 6. He lived there from about 1986 to 1991. His parents owned a pizza shop. Tatum grew up near the bayous of the Mississippi River, and Channingtatumunwrapped.com reports that he enjoyed a rural existence in Mississippi that included, “All the rattlesnakes and alligators a boy could …

The Band Perry needs your vote

In The Band Perry’s song “All Your Life,” lead singer Kimberly Perry asks her man to show his devotion by meeting some lofty requests. Then, she explains, she doesn’t need all that – she just wants to be the only girl “you love all your life.” In the video, Mississippi natives Kimberly, Neil and Reid Perry are fictional members of a vintage sideshow – free spirits who wander from town to town performing. That’s not much of a stretch because they are currently touring with Brad Paisley who will be in Southaven Aug. 17 at the Snowden Amphitheatre. Until then, you can vote for the band’s “All Your Life” video up for CMT Music Award’s Group Video of the Year. The show airs live June 6. “‘All Your Life’ is a hopeful romantics’ song,” said Reid Perry by phone. “We meet up with some of our friends who are performers. One is a snake charmer. One is a medicine man. It’s a neat video of all of us coming together and sharing an experience. We …

Alcorn grad, NFL standout Driver wins ‘DWTS’

Touchdown! Alcorn State University graduate and Green Bay Packers all-time leading receiver Donald Driver took home the Mirror Ball trophy Tuesday night on the season finale of “Dancing with the Stars.” “Amazing,” he said, when asked how he felt about his victory. Driver and partner Peta Murgatroyd were one of the two remaining couples vying for the trophy. He beat Mark Ballas and Katherine Jenkins, who is known as the world’s most prolific classical crossover artist. A shirtless 37-year-old Driver danced the final dance of the night and earned his second perfect score from all three judges for the season. “I really couldn’t have asked for anyone better in the whole competition,” Murgatroyd said. “He has the best personality I could have hoped for in a celebrity. He’s kind. He’s dedicated. He’s amazing.” Driver said he will “miss the memories that me and Peta shared here in the studio … It’s been more than what I expected.” On Monday night, Driver cowboy’d up with a memorable freestyle performance that earned him his first perfect 10 …

‘Pregnant in Heels’ star revels in Mississippi ties

Fans of Bravo!’s show “Pregnant in Heels” know it’s a docu-drama that follows fashion designer and maternity concierge Rosie Pope as she helps million dollar mamas-to-be prepare for the arrival and care of their babies. But they may not know this: •Pope was a ballet dancer with The London Contemporary School of Dance, who moved to New York City at 18 to model. One of her gigs was posing for photographer Steven Meisel in the pages of Italian Vogue. •She attended Columbia University on a Presidential Scholarship to study neuroscience. •And her unique accent is a blend of British and Southern because her husband has Mississippi ties. That’s right – hubby Daron Pope is a Mississippi native, and his dad, Mike Pope, was an Ole Miss coach before landing a job with the New York Giants. “I think the thing about growing up in England and growing up in the South – there’s a lot of tradition,” Rosie Pope said by phone. “It’s really important to have a family foundation in how we raise our …

Vintage video – Nicholson, Lange, Turner, Fonda, Irons

A while back, bored with modern movies, I decided to watch some of the more popular films of a few great actors. I started with young Jack Nicholson, who stars in one of my favorites, “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest.” Heeding the suggestion of a co-worker, I watched “Chinatown” and wasn’t hooked because the plot lacked realism. But what I did find on my young Jack journey was “Five Easy Pieces.” Described as a character study about a promising concert pianist who leaves to work on a California oil rig, Nicholson returns home to “confront the cultured and dysfunctional family he left behind” after learning his father is ill. What struck me most about this film, aside from Nicholson’s charisma, is it’s one of those rare films written for the thinker that relies on the viewer’s intelligence to psychoanalyze the characters. It’s an emotional piece about clashing cultures and the way people perceive themselves that I found stunning. That led me to “The Postman Always Rings Twice,” a Nicholson/Jessica Lange movie with an interesting …

Mississippi fashion designer sews for Jennifer Hudson, Tyler Perry, Cee Lo

She was No. 19 in a blended family that included 25 siblings. Stuck between nine older brothers and six younger ones, Maria Harper often found herself fighting to be a girl. “It could have been fun being in a large family if I had sisters right in there with me,” she laughed. “But I was in the middle of all those boys, and they tortured me.” Her father also failed to recognize Harper as a young lady. At Christmas, he bought her cap guns and Army men. “I would cry every Christmas and say, ‘But, Daddy, I’m a girl.’ He would say, ‘Be grateful. Kids in Africa don’t have anything,’ and I would be like, ‘Really?’ My mother was like, ‘Baby, we’ll make you some clothes.’” Sewing is how the former Mississippi girl stopped being one of the boys and, in the process, made a name for herself with the Atlanta fashion business Maria Harper Designs. The 53-year-old has worked with celebrity clients like Tyler Perry, Cee Lo Green, Jennifer Hudson and Fantasia. Harper and …

Brittany Murphy’s work

Brittany Murphy was a talented actress and someone who I thought would have a lengthy film career. She was also a great singer – a gift she hadn’t exhibited much in film with the exception of voiceover work done in “Happy Feet.” Murphy was good at comedy, good at drama, and I figured she’d eventually be big on Broadway, so her December 2009 death was shocking. The Hollywood Reporter published an article this week that seems to shed some light on what happened to Murphy or how it happened. Following her death, I watched four of her films and was impressed by three. The Dead Girl (2006) features a cast of great actors starring in vignettes that are all linked by Murphy’s character, a girl who ran away from home to escape abuse and leads an out-of-control life until it ends. The performances of all are great, but Murphy has always stood out when playing unhinged, psychologically lost and unpredictable characters, choices that remind me a lot of the bold work of Juliette Lewis. In …

Jim Henson’s Fantastic World comes to Jackson

It’s difficult to imagine a world without Muppets. Sesame Street premiered in 1969. That means just about everyone 45 or younger has had the opportunity to make a magical Muppet connection. That’s the idea behind Jim Henson’s Fantastic World, a new exhibition from the Smithsonian Institution Traveling Exhibition Service and The Jim Henson Legacy that offers a rare peek into Henson’s creative genius. It opens Saturday at the Mississippi Museum of Art and runs through March 14. Henson, a Mississippi Delta native, created the diverse characters to educate and entertain. Arthur Novell, executive director of The Jim Henson Legacy, said the exhibit appeals to multiple generations. “A 7-year-old and his grandmother are both interested, which is really quite wonderful,” Novell said. “Jim’s popularity grows and grows. The other venues have been breaking attendance records. Merchandise is flying off the shelves.” The exhibit features 100 original artworks, including drawings, cartoons, storyboards, puppets, props, photographs and video. Henson (1936-1990) — an artist, puppeteer, film director and producer — spent his early years in the Mississippi Delta exploring …

Kermit talks Mississippi

I recently had the privilege of interviewing the world famous Kermit the Frog for The Clarion-Ledger. As someone from Twitter stated earlier today: “DeNiro and Kermit . . . those are like the two most famous people ever.”  The interview is posted below. —— Kermit the Frog is undoubtedly one of the biggest stars on the planet and no stranger to Mississippi. His friend and creator, the late Jim Henson, was born in Greenville. There is no one better to share insight about Henson’s genius, so The Clarion-Ledger offers this exclusive interview with the legendary Muppet. Q: Are you a Mississippi native? The city of Leland Web site (lelandms.org) says Kermit’s native swamp was Deer Creek in Leland, Jim Henson’s boyhood home. Can you tell me about your Mississippi roots? A: I was born in Mississippi? That’s great. I always wondered if my swamp had a name. Y’see, we frogs don’t pay much attention to state lines and stuff like that. And when we talk about “roots,” we usually mean that big cypress tree where …

Blindsided by a button-down

I watched The Blind Side in Oxford last weekend in a packed theater. That’s a rarity these days, and we weren’t sure we’d find a seat, but eventually did in the back row. When the movie ended, the audience clapped – also pretty rare. Because I’m a victim of marketing and a UM grad, I noticed one of the Ole Miss button-down shirts Sandra Bullock was wearing in the movie and decided to walk next door to Campus Book Mart to see if they had any. Sure, enough, they did, so I bought a couple. I wasn’t sure if either were identical to Bullock’s, but after doing a quick Internet search, I believe I did purchase a near identical copy, as well as a blue one. PremiereProps.com is selling the exact shirt Bullock wore in the film for $399 if you’re interested. Luckily, I didn’t pay that much. Trivia: Did you know the teen who plays Bullock’s daughter, Collins, in the film is Lily Collins, daughter of ’80s singer, Phil Collins? Got a comment? E-mail …

Sex & the City fans get into character

They were fabulously single in the city — four intelligent, professional women living life and looking for love in New York. Viewers tuned into the HBO series each week to follow eclectic Carrie, sexy Samantha, career-driven Miranda and sweet Charlotte’s taste in men, martinis and Manolos. As a result, Sarah Jessica Parker became a fashion icon, influencing women to don nameplate necklaces, flower pins and newsboy caps. To borrow a line from the movie, audiences will get “Carrie-d” away this weekend when the highly anticipated Sex and the City: The Movie hits the big screen. Many, like the four Mississippi women we interviewed, plan to dress like their favorite character and attend the film. To read more, click here. Got a comment? E-mail me at endyanna@earthlink.com or Tweet me at @lareecarucker.

Mississippi welcomes Oprah’s former chef

This week, Madison will welcome celebrity chef Art Smith, who once worked as Mississippi native Oprah Winfrey’s personal chef. Smith and other local chefs will conduct cooking demonstrations during St. Andrews Episcopal School’s Designer Showhouse event. Two of the chefs participating, Derek Emerson of Walker’s Drive-In restaurant in Jackson and John Currence of City Grocery in Oxford, were named semi-finalists for James Beard Foundation Awards, the Oscars of the food world. Currence was later named one of the five finalists in the Best Chef South category. Oh, and designer Laurie Smith, a Jackson resident and star of TLC’s Trading Spaces, will be present signing her new book. Got a comment? E-mail me at endyanna@earthlink.com or Tweet me at @lareecarucker. Save

Translating the nation’s top five singles

It’s time, once again, to translate the lyrics of the top five singles on The Billboard Hot 100 chart. Again, I don’t really intend to make a moral judgment about the lyrics, even though some I’ve analyzed before undoubtedly warrant parental advisory stickers. My interest stems more from a desire to productively channel sarcasm and literary criticize. As Valentine’s Day approaches, three of the top songs by Fergie, Alicia Keys and Chris Brown many help you feel romantic, while OneRepublic’s “Apologize” will likely have the opposite effect. The song has staying power though; it’s been on the chart the past 25 weeks, while Keys’ “No One” has hung in there the past 20. Low: Flo Rida, featuring T-Pain, sings about a woman dancing in a club. The song initially reads like a commercial for Apple Bottom Jeans and Reebok, two brand names used to describe the woman’s apparel. The rapper explains that he is quite taken with the woman, who easily persuaded him to spend a lot of cash during the course of the evening. …

Heigl’s Ole Miss connection

You may be aware that “Grey’s Anatomy” star Katherine Heigl’s new movie “27 Dresses” opens this weekend, but what you may not know is Heigl recently married a former Ole Miss student with a rising music career. Check out Josh Kelley’s Web site to learn more about his music and bio. In interviews, he has called Oxford his old stomping ground, where he performed at places like Proud Larry’s before hitting the big time. Got a comment? E-mail me at endyanna@earthlink.com or Tweet me at @lareecarucker. Save

Not bad for a boy from Holly Springs

According to The New York Times today, Fox News anchor Shepard Smith has signed a new contract and will be earning $7-$8 million a year for the next three. Not bad for a boy from Holly Springs. The article also reports that although Smith has a hectic schedule as a big time anchor, the University of Mississippi grad frequently returns to Oxford to attend every football game. Click here to read the full article Got a comment? E-mail me at endyanna@earthlink.com or Tweet me at @lareecarucker. Save

Spears album is about the symbiotic relationship between exhibitionist and voyeur

Britney Spears reflects on lessons she’s learned from a failed relationship and her desire to move on with her life in “Blackout,” but the album is also a hyper-sexual celebration of exhibitionism and voyeurism. Only a few songs slightly reach beyond the desire-dominated tracks. With “Piece of Me,” the McComb native ironically asks, “You want a piece of me,” a challenging question conjuring up images of schoolyard fights. But near the end, the phrase is more of a declaration. “You want a piece of me” becomes a statement about the public’s obsession with Spears and how it wants to tear her apart, keeping pieces as souvenirs. It’s a defensive track in which she describes her place in pop culture as “Miss American Dream since she was 17.” She says she can’t see the harm in being a working mother, and argues that no matter what she does, she’s always going to be infamous. “Why Should I be Sad” is about her failed marriage. She thinks back on her fall from grace, talks about the money …

Cat Cora comes to town

Jackson native Cat Cora recently came to town to conduct several cooking demonstrations at the Viking Classic golf tournament held at the Annadale Golf Club in Madison, Miss. Martha Hall Foose, who recently helped the famed chef defeat their competitors during an Iron Chef America battle, worked as her assistant during the cooking demonstration. “We were totally victorious,” Foose said of her television appearance. “It was the most nerve-wrecking thing I’ve ever done in my entire life.” Foose is currently preparing for her next stint on national television. The Yazoo City native will appear on “Good Morning America” June 10 to talk about her new cookbook, Screen Doors and Sweet Tea: Recipes and Tales from a Southern Cook. Published by Clarkson Potter ($32.50), the cookbook crosses literary genres with a Mississippi history theme. It’s filled with recipes, as well as photographs of Mississippi landscapes, landmarks and locals, Foose said. After graduating from high school, Foose worked at La Brea Bakery in Los Angeles. She attended culinary school at Ecole Lenotre in France before returning to …

Kanye West’s distasteful meal

Any person aware that starving people exist in the world will probably become nauseated after reading this post. CNN reported last week that hip hop star Kanye West – the same Kanye West who arrogantly posed as Jesus wearing a crown of thorns on the cover of Rolling Stone last year – recently decided he wanted to order dinner from a Wales restaurant. The problem is this: West wasn’t in Wales; he was in New York. So his $17.50 meal ultimately wound up costing $3,900 when it was delivered to him across the pond. People who exuberantly waste money in an attempt to prove their “exalted status” have always made me cringe. There are lots of things I wouldn’t mind owning if they were given to me. I’m quite fond of fashion and designer handbags, but if I hit the jackpot tomorrow or finally convinced Oprah to adopt me, I doubt you’ll ever catch me dropping $2 grand on a dress or purse, primarily because I am aware that people are starving, and paying that …

Welcome to the Hotel California

At some point over the weekend, television news reporters shifted their focus from the Anna Nicole Smith Media Festival of Tragedy to the Britney Spears Media Festival of Baldness. I’m not exactly sure what happened, but I think it must have something to do with geology and astronomy. Apparently, when Britney shaved her head, the world simultaneously moved slightly off axis or out of orbit. That is, after all, the only justification for devoting so much attention to this particular rebellious act/publicity stunt/cry for help. If this is a cry for help, I sincerely hope Britney gets it. She’s a sweet girl from a small town with a generous heart who has willingly become an entertainment prostitute, frequently dressing the part. Madonna played the role first, but always seemed in control. Perhaps that’s because she didn’t have people photographing her every time she picked her nose and wasn’t constantly subjected to frenzied paparazzi scrambling to obtain images for Web sites that publish 24 hours a day. Madonna provocatively controlled the media. She knew what would …