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Feb 29

 “2 Broke Girls” keeps defying the critical loathing aimed its way by being a ratings success — not to mention winning a People’s Choice Award for favorite new comedy — and costar Garrett Morris is quite cheerful about that.  “We’re not trying to be politically correct.  We’re not trying to be ‘Family Matters’ or ‘Facts of Life’ and be acceptable to everybody.  We’re not saying everyone is going to like us,” says the funny man who rose to fame on “Saturday Night Live” and now plays diner cashier Earl.  “We have a different approach.”

According to Morris, we haven’t seen the end of Earl’s interaction with the fetching Jennifer Coolidge (he found her so hot, he landed in the hospital on the Valentine’s Day episode).  But as far as Earl’s future, he says he’s happy to “let the writers surprise me.

“I’m enjoying myself.  It’s one of the best atmospheres I’ve been in in my life.  The ladies are great,” he says of Kat Dennings and Beth Behrs.  “We change up sometimes and have one script one day and the next evening, another script, and they just jump in with energy, kicking any challenge.”

Morris, who was a music arranger and singer with Harry Belafonte before “SNL” — and had success in vehicles including “The Jamie Foxx Show” afterward — just celebrated his 75th birthday this month.  Besides being “Girls’” Earl, he gets great enjoyment out of owning and operating L.A.’s Downtown Comedy Club, and the fact young comics can hone their standup and be seen there.

As we speak, he lets us know that he just got word of a colleague’s death, which puts him in a reflective mood.  “I’ve been very fortunate.  There’ve been ups and downs, I haven’t been an angel.  In my career, I’ve had moments worthy of criticism, I’m aware of that,” he says.  “When you lose people or you’re ill for a minute, then you look around and see you’re still here, you have to thank providence, or God or whatever.  To live life fully and do what you want to do is such a gift.”

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Feb 29

Davy Jones 1945-2012

 

Sad news about Davy Jones.  Interviewed him recently, and he was full of energy and plans:

Interview with Davy Jones of The Monkees – Music – AARP.

 

 

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Feb 29

Edie Falco Showtime photo

How much longer can Edie Falco’s “Nurse Jackie” remain on the road to ruin without arriving?  For three entertaining seasons now, viewers have seen Jackie’s pill addiction leading her into more and more lies and worse and worse problems, personally and professionally.  So, with Season 4 of the Showtime series ready to be unveiled April 8, one wonders, how much longer can she keep going?

“Everybody’s tolerance for the insanity of addiction is different,” points out the Emmy-winning star.  “We’ll see her still fumbling around to find out exactly what her bottom is, what her last straw is.”

But if she rehabs or overdoses, the show is over, right?

Not at all, assures Falco, 20 years sober this year and a long-time proponent of 12-step programs.  “I’m living proof of life after addiction,” she says.  “Actually, for a lot of people, the real insanity of life is when they quit drugs.  What they get to is what was underneath it all the time, and they have to deal with that without anesthetizing themselves.”

In the wake of Whitney Houston’s death, Falco is all the more mindful of how much she values her sobriety.  “As I’ve spoken to a lot of other recovering people, I feel tremendous gratitude,” she tells us. “Why can some of us make it out of the quicksand, and others can’t?  I don’t know.  Like many people, I have some friends who still can’t quite pull themselves out.”

She’s talked before about the necessity of “getting out of your own way” to survive and thrive.  What does that mean?  How does a person get out of his or her own way?

“It involves a great deal of relaxation, a great deal of trust and faith,” she replies.  “It’s not much more than a decision, really.  You don’t have to have proof that it works, you have to decide ‘This will work.’  What needs to get done will get done.  You will be given the impulses you will need to get through your life.  And the muscles to do that get stronger and stronger the more you do it.”

For those who wish to catch up, Season 3 of “Nurse Jackie” is newly out on DVD.

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Feb 27

Jean Dujardin confessed to dropping the French F-word, Meryl Streep divulged her plans for imbibing, Octavia Spencer admitted her fears and Christopher Plummer copped to being a naughty boy — backstage at last night’s 84th Academy Awards.

The Best Actor winner for “The Artist” answered a lot of questions in rapid fire French.  He said, through his translator, that he has a few ideas he wants to develop for movies he would do here in America.  He also let us know that his canine compatriot, Uggie, had already gone to bed.  But the chatter stopped abruptly when reporter Joal Ryan asked him if he had, in fact, let loose with the French equivalent to the F-bomb during that last outburst of his acceptance speech.  He weighed his translator’s explanation a moment, and then said, with the look of a guilty little boy, “Ah.  Yes.  Sorry.”

Will leg flashing become the next hot pose?  Instantly dubbed “Jolie-ing” (in the spirit of Tebowing and Bradying) backstage at the Oscars, it’s the stance taken by Oscar presenter Angelina Jolie to show off her glorious gam through the slit-up-to-there of her black gown.  (Fierce or fatuous?  You decide.)  It was when the three cowriters of George Clooney’s “The Descendants” — Jim Rash and Nat Faxon (alumni of The Groundlings) and director Alexander Payne — lined up on stage imitating Angelina that the pose burst into the pop culture humor space.  Bur writer/actor Rash (a.k.a. the guy from “Community”) insisted backstage that they had no intention of belittling the movie sex goddess.  “It was a loving tribute:  ‘Oh, she’s standing great.  We’ll stand like that, too.’”  The trio agreed:  “She’s supremely hot.”

Rash was asked whether he thought his winning an Oscar would help “Community” survive.  He hopes so.  “I guess I should take this into their offices,” he noted, holding up his statuette as he talked about the brass at NBC.  “It’s good to let people know where they stand with you.  It’s a good accoutrement to any outfit.”

Best Supporting Actress for “The Help,” Octavia Spencer, was asked about what was going through her mind as she was making her way up the stairs to the stage — while receiving a standing ovation from the Hollywood luminaries in the theater.

“Really and truly, I was just trying not to fall down, because I had an incident where I fell at an awards show,” she admitted.

Asked about what she thinks her win will mean to aspiring young actresses of color, Octavia said, “I hope it’s a hallmark of ‘More’ for young aspiring actresses of color — and by color I don’t just mean African American.  I mean Indian, Native American, Latin American, Asian American.   I hope in some way I can be a sort of beacon of hope.  Especially because I’m not a typical Hollywood beauty,” added the amply-upholstered actress.  She paused a moment, then joked, “You guys are supposed to go, ‘Oh, no — you ARE!’  Crickets, guys.  Work with me here.  Work with me!”

But seriously, “I believe you have to believe in yourself and you have to work very hard — and never think you’re the greatest thing since sliced bread, because I promise you, there would be Viola Davises and Jessica Chastains and Emma Stones who ARE the best thing since sliced bread.  So, take it seriously, but don’t take yourself too seriously.”

Spencer hopes to expand beyond acting in her career.  “I want to be a producer.  I want to be an activist.  I want to be proactive in bringing about work for men, women, boys and girls — anyone who is good at what they do and deserves a shot at it,” she said.  “I want to have a presence behind the cameras and in front of them, to be a jack of all trades and be decent at them.”
Spencer was asked about the recent L.A. Times article regarding the movie Academy’s membership — as having an average age of 62 with a heavy majority of white men.  What did she think of that?

She hemmed and hawed a little, saying, “I haven’t really thought about it.”

Did she have any thoughts on the Academy being proactive to geta more diverse membership?

Spencer drew a breath, then said, “I can’t tell the Academy what to do, honey.  They just gave me an Oscar.  They continue to do what they do.  I really don’t know.  I have no wisdom there….I’m sorry to cut you off, ma’am, but I saw where you were going and I didn’t want to get on that bus, no pun intended.”

Asked by a military reporter about her advice to new recruits for overcoming their fears, she said, “I haven’t really overcome my fears.  I’m scared to death right now.”  She added, “I don’t take what men and women in the military do lightly.  I’ve not served in that capacity, so I would not offer advice.”  But she did offer advice from Emerson:  “Do not go where the path may lead; go instead where there is no path and leave a trail.”

Chrisopher Plummer, who thanked his “long-suffering wife Elaine, who deserves the Nobel Peace Prize for coming to my rescue every day of my life” in his acceptance speech as Best Supporting Actor for “Beginnings,”  was asked to elaborate backstage.   “Of course I’m a naughty boy,” he let us know.  “I’ve been bad all my life.   She puts me in line.  It’s extraordinary.  She rescues me every day of my life — what could be clearer?”

Asked about Hollywood’s propensity for awarding straight actors for playing gay roles, and whether there’s a double standard involved,  Plummer opined that no,  “I think actors are universally the same, gay or straight.  A gay actor can play a straight guy, a straight actor can play a gay guy.  We’re actors.  It cancels out all sexual differences and misunderstandings of sexual differences.”

Meryl Streep, in an expansive mood, let the press know that she doesn’t take her Oscar attention for granted by any means (even after three wins out of 17 nominations).  When a reporter asked her if she was going to give Katharine Hepburn a run for her money, Meryl asked, “Did she have more?”

“Four” said the reporter.

“Oh, well,” she answered with a dismissive flick of the wrist.  (She’s such a good actress, one could almost believe she didn’t know Hepburn’s Oscar total.)

The Best Actress Oscar winner for “The Iron Lady” responded  more seriously when was asked about juggling her career and family life.  She said, “You can ask every working woman that question and get a million different answers, because it’s the juggle and the challenge that we all have.  But honestly, in my life, in the arts, I don’t go to work every day, so my day has been more flexible than other working women.  Even when I was young and broke, I was only working, ever, for four months at a time, and then I was unemployed.  My children never knew when I was going to be home, which was very valuable.”
After the laughter died down, she went on, “It’s an ongoing struggle — women have to do it all.  The more flexible work becomes, the more engaged dads become, the better.”

Meryl was asked whether she’d have a couple whiskeys in the tradition of real-life “Iron Lady” Margaret Thatcher, to celebrate winning her third Oscar.
“I’m going to start with a couple,” she said.

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Feb 25

The waiting is almost over for Hollywood’s biggest night of the year! With the 84th Academy Awards coming up tomorrow (Feb. 26), it’s time to test your Oscar show know-how. Here’s our Oscar Quiz, with a little gossip, a little trivia and a few blush-worthy moments mixed in:

1) Which of last year’s winners failed to return from the bar fast enough, got locked out of the Kodak Theater during the awards, and missed a costar’s win? A. Melissa Leo B. Colin Firth C. Christian Bale

2) This is Billy Crystal’s ninth Oscar show hosting, but he has a ways to go before surpassing Bob Hope’s record of Academy Awards emceeing. How many times did Hope host? A. 12 B. 18 C. 21

3) This past Oscar nominee crashed the Academy’s Board of Governor’s Ball wearing rumpled cotton slacks and a Hawaiian shirt. A. Johnny Depp B. Bill Murray C. Djimon Hounsou

4) This Best Actor Oscar winner’s acceptance speech, thanking his high school drama teacher, a gay man, is said to have been the inspiration for Kevin Kline’s “In and Out” movie. A. Richard Dreyfuss for “The Goodbye Girl” B. Tom Hanks for “Philadelphia” C. Russell Crowe for “Gladiator”

5 ) Which of this year’s “The Help” acting nominees was the parole board member questioning Danny Ocean (George Clooney) in the opening scene of “Ocean’s Eleven?” A. Jessica Chastain B. Octavia Spencer C. Viola Davis

6 ) Hal Holbrook and Ruby Dee were nominees with a special distinction in the 80th Oscars. What did they have in common? A. They were the last two nominees born before the first Academy Awards. B. They were also both Emmy nominees that year. C. They both did voiceovers for Sears Financial Services.

7) The story goes that she won an Oscar, he was jealous, and it led to their breakup. A. Sandra Bullock and Jesse James B. Sally Field and Burt Reynolds C. Nicole Kidman and Tom Cruise

8 ) Which one of these portrayals did not involve partial nudity? A. Gwyneth Paltrow “Shakespeare in Love” B. Catherine Zeta-Jones “Chicago” C. Kathy Bates “About Schmidt”

9) Which Best Actress winner was so mortified to realize she’d forgotten to thank her husband in her acceptance speech, she spent the next year trying to rectify the slight? A. Halle Berry B. Hilary Swank C. Helen Hunt

10) After he dumped her on national TV, she showed up on the Oscar red carpet looking especially stunning. A. Brad Pitt, Gwyneth Paltrow B. Billy Bob Thornton, Laura Dern C. Matt Damon, Minnie Driver

11) A long-standing urban legend has it that the 1993 Best Supporting Actress Oscar should have gone to Vanessa Redgrave for “Howard’s End,” but presenter Jack Palance incorrectly announced this actress’ name instead. No truth to it, by the way. A. Juliette Binoche, for “The English Patient.” B. Mira Sorvino, for “Mighty Aphrodite.” C. Marisa Tomei, for “My Cousin Vinny.”

12) Which actress was so flustered by her win she left her Oscar behind in the ladies room? A. Holly Hunter B. Meryl Streep C. Whoopi Goldberg

ANSWERS 1) C: Christian Bale missed out on his “The Fighter” mom, Melissa Leo’s Oscar moment.

2) B: 18

3) B: Bill Murray

4) B: Tom Hanks

5 ) C: Viola Davis

6 ) A: They were born before the first Oscars in 1929

7) B: Sally Field and Burt Reynolds. Bullock learned James was having an affair days after her Oscar win. Kidman won after her marriage to Cruise had ended.

8 ) B: Catherine Zeta-Jones

9) B: Hilary Swank, who won again the next year and thanked now-ex husband Chad Lowe first.

10) C: Matt Damon, Minnie Driver

11) C: Marisa Tomei

12) B: Meryl Streep

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Feb 24

Wendi McLendon-Covey

There are about a dozen gifting suites handing out swag to Oscar nominees, presenters and other stars this week.  Perhaps the most popular destination for prestige pampering — certainly one of the busiest — is the Roger Neal Style Hollywood Oscar Suite at the L’Ermitage Hotel in Beverly Hills.

As of yesterday (2/23), some 200 stars and 10 nominees had already visited the suite, including Wendi McLendon Covey, Oscar presenter and “Bridesmaids” star, with her friend, Oscar nominee for Best Screenplay honors for “Bridesmaids,” Annie Mumolo.  We’re told they loved
their Raju Rasiah Beverly Hills rings, and their GM Collin SKincare Paris kit.

Richard Middleson, “The Artist’s” executive producer, came with his wife Katherine.  She fell for a Shekar Rahate gown, saying she felt it was perfect to represent the movie.  Shekar customized the dress just for her in 24  hours.

Oscar nominee Eimear O’Kane, (Live Action Short Film), found her jewelry and handbag for the Oscars at the suite from Timmy Woods.

Penelope Ann Miller from “The Artist” came away with a stay at Belleek Castle in Ireland, as well as a collection of Classified Cosmetics

Stars ranging from Rene Taylor to Lorenzo Lamas to Eric Roberts enjoyed their Bob Marley Coffee and Lorimar Winery wine.

The pampering offered to stars at the RNSH suites ranged from manicures to waxing, facials, “instant eye lifts” and massages.

The gifting suite practice, which took a hit a few years ago when the IRS decided to demand its share, is in full-swing again this awards year.  All this giving out of designer clothing, luxury trips, expensive gadgets and myriad edible and drinkable goodies are a win-win for the stars and companies involved.  The celebs get to load up on fabulous freebies, while product makers and designers get valuable celebrity endorsements at relatively low cost.  It’s also standard to see a charity or eco-minded tie-in for the suites.  In the case of RNSH, it’s The Andy Transplant Foundation.

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Feb 22

As martial arts film fanboys and girls are aware, there’s been talk of a sequel to, or remake of Bruce Lee’s iconic 1973 “Enter the Dragon” for five years — at least.  Now, producer Fred Weintraub tells us that he expects “Awaken the Dragon” to be his next filmic undertaking, and it’s actually a prequel to the vintage film.

Who could possibly follow in Lee’s footsteps?

“No one.  That’s why it’s a prequel,” Weintraub replies.  He adds, deadpan, “Unless I get Bruce to come back from that Shaolin temple in Korea where he’s been teaching Elvis.”

Right now, Weintraub is hitting the promotional trail for his new “Bruce Lee, Woodstock and Me” memoir — a fun read that offers a ringside table to some watershed moments in pop culture history in which Weintraub was personally involved.  Besides the madness that went on behind the camera in China while making “Enter the Dragon,” there’s Weintraub’s years as owner of New York’s famed The Bitter End nightclub.   There, he stood up for the rights of controversial singers including Pete Seeger, got into hot water when Lenny Bruce spewed obscenities from his stage, and helped start the careers of stars like Woody Allen, Joan Rivers and Neil Diamond.  There’s also the wild tale of the making of “Woodstock,” the movie that saved Warner Bros. — and Hollywood — in 1970, which was Weintraub’s first feature as a Warner Bros. VP.  And more.

In early April, he’ll be back at The Bitter End, now celebrating its 50th anniversary year.  “I’m going to do a signing.  I’ve talked to Robert Klein, Judy Collins — I spoke to Woody.  I don’t know who’ll come, but some of them will come,” he says.  “It will be like home week for me.”

MEANWHILE:  Weintraub, who does lectures, is used to being surrounded by eager film students asking questions.  “People ask, ‘What’s happening to the movie business?  Is this the end?’  And I say, ‘It’s the beginning!  This is the time of the greatest opportunity ever.  In five years, there’ll be 10 million people paying $2 to see a new movie on its first night on the internet.  I found the business fun.  It’s still fun,” insists the octogenarian filmmaker.

“I’m a great advocate of anybody in the business getting a liberal arts education.  Don’t just learn how to edit, how to use a camera.  Know art and music — all of it.  Every producer I know who was successful had other interests besides making movies.”

 

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Feb 20

Wes Bentley

With a string of high-profile movies on the way — including Summit Entertainment’s “Gone” thriller that opens Friday (2/24) — Wes Bentley has built up a wave of fresh career momentum.  He has a wife and a one-year-old son he adores at home.  He looks great.  Life is good.   It’s hard to believe that between 2002 and 2009, the actor who rocketed to fame with the 1999 “American Beauty” hit the depths of addiction — alcohol, cocaine, heroin.

Coming off a week of following the sad news of Whitney Houston’s death, talking with Bentley has an alternate universe feeling about it.

“It’s upsetting,” he says, asked about the late pop icon.  “I can’t speak to exactly where she was, but probably in a sad place.  Doing that to yourself means you still haven’t found the right support or settled the emotions in yourself you need to settle.  That kind of unrest is difficult to live with.”

Has he settled his own unrest?

“I have a great support system, and I have certain programs to help me,” he replies.  “There’s a big barrier between me and my vices — a lot of phone numbers of people I can call, a child and family.  There are a lot of reasons between me and falling back into that again.”

Bentley went public with his own story in 2010, telling of the years he barely worked and spent his time in clubs, hotel rooms, and drug dens.  To see where he is now can offer a positive example for others trying to break the addiction cycle.  “I hope so,” he says.  “That’s the only reason I ever talked about it.”

That and, as he’s admitted, to help get his career going again.

The actor is in the much-anticipated March 23 release adaptation of Suzanne Collin’s novel, “The Hunger Games” — complete with an elaborately-defined beard that won its own fan following thanks to the trailer and advance publicity.

Now he has “Gone,” playing a police detective dealing with Amanda Seyfried’s character, a woman racing against time to rescue her sister from a serial killer.  “I was attracted to this for a number of reasons — I’m a fan of (director) Heitor Dhalia, and also Amanda.  I love working with her,” Bentley says. “And I like stories that empower women.”

Their scenes are intense, but, “We were laughing between scenes all the time,” Bentley says.  “Amanda is funny.  There’s a scene where I ask her to give me her number so I can get in touch with her — she typed in the number 1.  She also introduced me to the honeybadger video while we were on that shoot.”

Bentley is also in Seyfried’s forthcoming “Lovelace” movie about porn superstar Linda Lovelace, playing the photographer who did the poster for ‘Deep Throat.’”

“It’s a great scene.  He’s one of the more sensitive men to her in the story,” the actor says.

He’s currently shooting the apocalyptic Western-thriller “The Time Being” with Frank Langella, “who I just love.  We get along great together.  We’re kindred spirits, and very similar actors.  It could be a pretty heavy movie, and we both like to joke around right up to the point of action, and then we’re both very focused and prepared.  It’s an adrenaline rush.”

Bentley feels he’s found balance in his life.  The celebrity that once overpowered him is no longer an issue.  “I feel like I always wanted to do good work, and I’m doing that.  I’m staying focused on the core of what is important to me — my family and being a good person.  The rest is, you know, just another part of life.  I don’t let it overwhelm me anymore.  I’ve definitely seen a lot, gone through a lot — and no uncomfortable feeling with fame can compare to the stuff I’ve been uncomfortable with in life.”

 

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Feb 19

Donis Leonard, Jr. and Glynn Turman Showtime photo

Don Cheadle’s “House of Lies” has already been picked up for its second season, and costar Glynn Turman is quick to applaud Showtime for its support of the series that has Cheadle as a slick, smart, ruthless and debauched management consultant for greedy Wall Street giants.

“They’re so behind it, pumping and putting it out there,” he notes. This being Black History Month, Turman looks at “House of Lies” through the lens of race. In his opinion, “It’s not being treated like a ‘black show.’ If there is a show with a black lead, it’s not usually given the push that other shows are given. But with this show, the wheels that make things a success are really spinning.”

Turman has a permanent place in black cinema history, thanks to his role in the classic 1975 “Cooley High.” He’s observed changes in film and TV with regard to African Americans since then, and he’s observed slips backward. The day of the African American network comedy, for example, has pretty much gone away.
The bitingly satirical “House of Lies” — which is, in case you didn’t know, a very wild Showtime show full of sex, drugs and profanity — is in a category unto itself.

Turman, who plays Cheadle’s retired shrink dad, feels the show, “does a wonderful job in presenting Don and his family, me included, as human beings. The issues we see him struggling with have less to do with him being black than him being human. That’s one of the things that’s so refreshing about it. The color issue is so secondary to his relationships with his coworkers, his boss. His coworker is a beautiful young blond white girl,” he notes, referring to Kristen Bell. “His ex-wife (Dawn Olivieri) is a white woman….They’re not ignoring his color. When issues come up, they tackle the issues.”

Cheadle’s wily character is also not above playing the race card, if it’s to his advantage. As Turman notes, “This is a guy who says, ‘This can work for me. I can use this.’ I think that’s so timely.” Its occupation with Wall Street “hits right on the sore spot of the country. I think everybody’s still in shock after seeing it,” Turman adds with a laugh. “People are saying, ‘Can they do that?’”

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Feb 16

As Whitney Houston’s loved ones prepare to lay her to rest, the circus that has been surrounding the pop music icon’s death shows little sign of abating.  It’s become a show unto itself.

For instance, among the hundreds of beautiful and thoughtful statements from her colleagues, there’ve been a few that stopped us short.  We love Tony Bennett, but every so often he says something way out there, like entreating the folks at Clive Davis’ pre-Grammy party to fight for legalization of drugs like they have in Amsterdam (per Tony’s declaration) “so they have to get it from a doctor, not just some gangsters that just sell it under the table.”  Tommy Chong chimed in later, on Twitter, that if only Whitney had stuck to pot, she’d be with us still.

The media frenzy went beyond the pale immediately, and relentlessly continues.  We blanched at the “Entertainment Tonight” email announcement with the subject line:  ET EXCLUSIVE PHOTO – WHITNEY’S BODYBAG, touting the show’s footage inside the coroner’s van.  That’s the kind of thing we expect from leader of the wolf pack TMZ, of course, which provided – among dozens of other things — images of the gurney with the singer’s covered body being wheeled out of the hotel.  And then there’s CNN, with Tweets like this:  “View stake-out camera at funeral home where #Whitney Houston body is expected to arrive in New Jersey. Watch live:”  Perhaps not the best choice of words.

There are worse things than the ghoul patrol, though.  Such as, perpetual “look at me” blowhard Bill O’Reilly and his completely unnecessary and cruel comments about Whitney being a drug addict and wanting to kill herself.

And then we have the Barney Fifes of the horde, transforming into swaggering amateur forensic scientists and detectives before our eyes.  Going all noir on us, we heard one declare the other night, “It’ll be weeks before we get the tox reports, as they say in the biz.”  And how about those on-air interviews with seemingly anyone and everyone associated with Whitney — or not.  Among our favorites: a local news interview with a backup singer who extolled the star as an angel, but finally admitted she’d never actually talked to her.

Although Brian Grazer and Don Mischer are keeping details of this year’s Academy Awards show under wraps, you can be sure Houston will be duly acknowledged on the Feb. 26 Oscars as well.

This ridiculous and sublime, beautiful and awful response to Houston’s passing is appropriate, because it certainly is in keeping with her life of extremes.  Consider these highlights and lowlights:

1985: First album, “Whitney Houston,” released, becomes best-selling debut album with 13 million sold.  Wins Whitney first of multiple Grammys.

1987: Second album, “Whitney,” becomes first album by a female to debut at No. 1 on Billboard’s pop chart, garners four No. 1 singles.

1991: Whitney’s rendition of the National Anthem, recorded at the Super Bowl during the Gulf War, becomes Arista’s fastest-selling single in history.

1992: Marries R&R/rap hybrid artist Bobby Brown of “My Prerogative” fame.  “I may be a B-Boy and she’s America’s Sweetheart, but it’s love,” says Bobby.  In November, “The Bodyguard” is released, goes on to gross over $400 million, yields best-selling soundtrack in history.

1993:  “I Will Always Love You” becomes longest-running pop single in the rock era.  Daughter Bobbi Kristina is born.

1995:  Two hours late to perform at a White House Dinner for Nelson Mandela, testy onstage – “stuff happens” — when she keeps audiences waiting more than an hour.  Whitney and Bobby separate for two months.  “We will work our problems out,” she tells Vibe magazine.  “…He doesn’t like to be disrespected.  He has a temper from hell.”

Brown enters Betty Ford Center in October, facing legal woes including allegedly beating a man over a woman; kicking a security guard, urinating in a police car.  In December, he’s seen drinking beer at a party preceding release of “Waiting to Exhale.”

1996:  Bobby denies reports he called Whitney gay, a rumor that’s dogged her for years, while in rehab.  Whitney makes “The Preacher’s Wife” with Denzel Washington.  Image-repairing interviews include TV Guide, which says she shows no sign of being the “diva-in-distress we’ve heard so much about” as Whitney talks about her Whitney Houston Children’s Foundation, the Nickelodeon Kids Choice Awards.

1997:  A no-show at the Essence Awards, where she was to be honored.  Reports out of Honolulu of Bobby hitting Whitney denied.  Produces and plays Fairy Godmother in “Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella” with Brandy.  Kevin Ammons’ book, Good Girl, Bad Girl contends that her throat problems stem from too much pot smoking, that she spikes her pot with cocaine.  Italian police investigate two-inch cut on Whitney’s face after Mediterranean yacht trip with Brown.

1998: “My Love is Your Love” album a hit, earns some of Whitney’s best reviews ever.

2000:  In January, Houston leaves a bag allegedly containing a small amount of marijuana at a Hawaii airport, which leads to a petty misdemeanor drug charge.  She avoids jail time by promising to pay $4,000 and agreeing to voluntary drug testing over the next few months.  Whitney’s rep as pop’s “Lost-It Girl” worsens when she’s very publicly let go from the Academy Awards two days before show time for flubbing the lyrics to “Over the Rainbow.”  She tells Jane magazine that meeting a president and meeting a junkie are the same: “They’re just men, you dig?” Brown spends 26 days in jail for violating his probation for a 1996 drunk driving incident, in which he had tested positive for cocaine and marijuana.

2001:  Whitney’s anorexic-looking form at Michael Jackson’s 30th Anniversary concert special taping for CBS shocks fans.  Reports have it that her emaciated arms and shoulders are digitally filled in by the time the show airs on television

2002:   In August, her father, John Houston, sues Whitney for $100 million, claiming she owed him the sum for his salvaging of her career following her marijuana arrest in 2000 and his helping her land her $100 million recording contract with Arista.  The action reportedly devastates Whitney.   In December, she exhibits flippant and unapologetic attitude in chat with Diane Sawyer on ABC’s “Primetime Live,” including her weird claim that she wouldn’t do crack cocaine, because it’s a cheap drug and she makes way too much money.

Singles flop and “Just Whitney” album stalls.  Whitney had reportedly taken a $20 million cash advance from Arista against future royalties.

2003:  John Houston dies in February.  Houston is reportedly so disoriented at her 40th birthday party in August that she has a hard time taking off her jacket.

2004:  Whitney enters rehab.

2005:  “Being Bobby Brown” reality show airs June 30-Sept. 8 of ’05 and viewers watch in horrified fascination.  As EW’s Michael Slezak put it:  “Changing the channel isn’t an option.  Not after Bobby discusses using his fingers to help wife Whitney Houston with her constipation.”  The show spawns new Whitney catch phrase:  “Hell to the No.”  Her “Kiss my a—“ clip plays repeatedly on E!’s “The Soup,” which designates it as Clip of the Year.  Whitney declines to appear in a second season, and prevents DVD release in 2008.

2006:  Splits from Bobby Brown, gets custody of Bobbi Kristina.  Brown sues to change their divorce agreement and tries to get spousal and child support.

2009:  A comeback, as she wows the elite at Clive Davis’ pre-Grammy party with her performance and the buzz grows for her first studio CD in seven years, “I Look to You.”  Davis godfathers the album and a first class set of contemporary producers lend their talents.  The album is released in August at No. 1, with largely positive reviews, but not raves.  Eventually sells 2.5 million units.

2010:  The rollercoaster heads downward again, as Whitney’s first world concert tour in 11 years goes wrong.  She’s described as a “hot mess” during Australia concerts.  In Birmingham, England she gives what headlines scream was an “appalling performance,” 20 minutes in length, filled out by her backup performers and video clips.  Cancels concerts due to “upper respiratory infection.”  But by October, she and her mother Cissy look great at Alicia Keys’ Keep A Child Alive benefit.

2011:  Whitney goes back into rehab in May.  In August, she celebrates her 48th birthday.  In November, she wraps “Sparkle” with Jordin Sparks.  Word is, the film could mark another comeback.

2012: Feb. 11, Whitney is found dead in a fourth floor suite at the Beverly Hilton Hotel.  Feb. 12, Whitney paid loving tribute at the 54th Grammy Awards.

 

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