Category Archives: Hollywood Inspirational

For J.R. Martinez, The Inspiration Continues

“Dancing With The Stars” winner J.R. Martinez received the American Red Cross Spirit of Inspiration Award the other night in Santa Monica, adding to the military man-turned-actor-speaker-dancer-author’s many accolades.  Between traveling to speaking engagements and putting the finishing touches on his November-release Hyperion book – Full of Heart: My Story of Survival, Strength and Spirit – J.R. hasn’t had much time for dancing.  And, considering he and his beloved Diana Jones are expecting their baby daughter’s arrival next month, he’ll soon have even less time.  J.R. gives a moving account of how faith and love brought him through his harrowing Iraq war experience and journey to stardom as the May cover subject of Guideposts magazine.

Bethany Hamilton to Join Ranks of Reality TV Stars?

Her story was told on the big screen.  And now, Bethany Hamilton might be heading to the small screen.  The one-armed surfing champ — whose comeback from a devastating shark attack to global recognition as a mighty source of inspiration was chronicled in last year’s “Soul Surfer” – reveals she has more than one reality show prospect in the works.  One is being pitched by producers now, “and I’m also teaming with my brother on a couple of things,” says the 22-year-old.  “It’s a hard world to get going in and conquer,” she adds.

Hamilton’s world now is pro surfing.  She just returned from back-to-back competitions in Australia, in fact.  Still, “I definitely think about my future and stuff — what five things I’m really passionate about.”

One of them is surfing.  A second is, “Encouraging people who are going through rough times.”  Her efforts as an Encourager have made Bethany into a public speaker, albeit a somewhat reluctant one.  She says with a laugh that sometimes, “It’s like you have to practically drag me up there on a leash, but once I’m talking to people, I like it.”

A third area of passion:  “Health and being able to encourage people to have a healthy lifestyle,” says Bethany, who recently taught contestants to surf on an episode of “The Biggest Loser.”  She’s also become a spokes-athlete for Zico Pure Premium Coconut Water – part of their Team Zico, along with such names as NBA All-Star Kevin Garnett and Olympic Gold Medal Decathlon champ Bryan Clay.  “I’m glad to be promoting something healthy, keeping it natural.  I drink it every day,” she declares.

And the other two things on the devout Christian’s list of passions — Faith and Family.  “God is so good to me, getting me through the hard times I’ve had in the past.  And if in the future there are hard times, I’ll be all right.  God is my strength,” she says.

Bethany does still stay in touch with AnnaSophia Robb, her big-screen alter ego.  She notes that the actress is “really busy right now, getting ready to graduate high school, and she has a new role on a TV show.”  For those who haven’t heard, Robb is playing the pre-“Sex and the City” Carrie Bradshaw in the CW’s fall-debuting “The Carrie Diaries,”  which is certainly a world away from “Soul Surfer.”

‘Buried Life’ Guys Try to Find Kidney Donor While Touting Book

A funny thing happened to the “Buried Life” guys as they were ramping up the launch of their What Do You Want to Do Before You Die? book next week.  The quartet, who became famous via the MTV show that centered on their zany bucket list exploits, were getting ready for an appearance at Georgia’s Kennesaw State University, and noticed that their Twitter feeds were getting numerous tweets with the hash mark #SaveRichard.  It was an effort by students to get the fired-up four to help find a kidney donor for fellow student Richard Bland.   And so they are. 

With “Buried Life” Twitter attention,  #SaveRichard was soon the top trending topic in Atlanta, then became No. 1 in Georgia,  and a matter of hours later, landed at No. 3 worldwide, according to group leader Ben Nemtin.  The next day, the guys were on hand at a rally to support the ailing student at Kennesaw State’s common area, along with press.  Also, “We posted a You Tube page,” Nemtin adds.  If massive attention can bring Richard the help he needs, he certainly will get it.

As fans are well aware, good deed doing is standard procedure for the “Buried Life” boys – along with such shenanigans as crashing the Iowa State Fair Parade, trying to steal a lock of Robert Pattinson’s hair, and getting to play basketball with President Obama (yes they did).  Now they’re massing their vast Twitter and Facebook forces to help them get their new, captivating tome high onto the Best Seller lists so as to fulfill the “Write a Best Seller” item on their famous list. 

It is a worthy book.  A collection of followers’ shared “Buried Life” goals and dreams, What Do You Want to Do Before You Die is touching and funny.  “I have so many favorites – the girl who wants to be the first woman president, the guy who wants to be the best father to his future children,” says Nemtin.   It’s full of inspiring quotes and eye-catching images as well.  And it has tens of thousands of user reviews on book sellers’ sites already, another testimony to the power of their following.              

So, what of the purported new, improved version of the “Buried Life” series they’ve been prepping?  “It’s coming along really well.  We’ve been in the editing bay, putting it together.  I can’t talk about details,” says Nemtin, “but we’re finally on the home stretch.”

As the Last Nail Gets Hammered In, Paul DiMeo Reflects on 9 Years of ‘EM:HE’

 “Extreme Makeover: Home Edition” designer Paul DiMeo is philosphical about the ending of the two-time Emmy-winning reality show this week.  “I certainly think that moving to Friday night gave us an indication of what was coming,” he says of their cancellation after nine years.  “Trying to have some type of TV savvy and realizing that all good things come to an end, I think we were pretty prepared.”

 The show winds with a two-hour special finale episode tonight, with the team in tornado-devastated Joplin, Missouri, working with 21 builders to raise seven houses in seven days.  “If it has to end, so be it, but I’m just grateful this is the way we’re going to go out,” DiMeo says.  “I’m honored to be a small part of this show.  There are people I’m going to keep in touch with the rest of my life.” 

He won’t be watching tonight.  He never watches the show.  “Why would I?  It’s an abridged version of what I lived through.  It would just make me angry to know all the things that didn’t get on the air.  We used to shoot 600 hours of video for 43 minutes of television.”

Looking back, he notes, “There are things about what we’ve done over the last nine years that are iconic: ‘Move that bus,’ hitting all 50 states, having the First Lady be part of our efforts.”  His personal list of stand-out memories includes LeAnn Rimes singing “Amazing Grace” on the show, accompanying Kermit the Frog on guitar and piano, interacting with firefighters and the military — and innumerable off-camera moments.  Such as: “There was a little boy, six or seven years old, they knew only had a couple more years to live, who wanted to help out.  We’re not allowed to have kids on the [construction] set, but at that point I said, [bleep] that,’ and had him put up a little piece of trim.  If you can do something like that, it’s a good day.”

Such days are not over for DiMeo and the rest of the team led by Ty Pennington.  They’ll be shooting an episode next week in Knoxville, TN, in fact, for airing late in the year.  There may be more specials.  And DiMeo points out that even though the cameras may be off, volunteerism continues.  “Joplin is rebuilding.  Whether or not we were there, the people would be stepping up.  Habitat for Humanity came in and built 17 homes right after we left,”  he points out.  And he expects to be involved some kind of way.

Holly Robinson Peete: ‘The Talk’ Dismissal ‘A Great Life Lesson in Picking Yourself Up’

Holly Robinson Peete back on daytime TV today with Nate Berkus

Holly Robinson Peete is glad to be back on daytime TV — even if it is just for one day — as she’s guest cohosting on “The Nate Berkus Show” today (11/14).  “If they’ll have me I will definitely return.  Nate is just such a cool guy, the funnest friend to have,” she says.

It wasn’t so long ago, of course, that Holly was a daytime regular, as part of the team on “The Talk” before her surprise axing from that show.  As followers of Holly’s know, she’s rebounded with a new recurring role on “Mike & Molly.”

“Just when you think you’ve kind of figured this stuff out, something happens and you realize you’re still learning things you thought you already knew,” points out the actress, who is also remembered for coming in a close second to Bret Michaels on “Celebrity Apprentice.”

“My kids are like, ‘If you did your job and did everything you’re supposed to do, don’t you get to keep your job?’  They saw me working nights, preparing for the show.  They saw my total dedication,” relates the mother of four.  “This is a great life lesson about picking yourself up.”

There are also fans watching, she’s aware.  “It’s a total bigger picture.  There are lots of people losing their jobs through no fault of their own these days, and it’s tough.  It gets harder and harder to be patient, to say something better might happen, when you’re having to deal with the day-to-day realities of life.  That’s when your resolve has to get even steelier, if that’s a word.  I’m still hustling and grinding trying to figure out the best thing to do next.  I learned to do live daytime TV and that I’m pretty good at it.”

Holly says she learned resilience and perseverance from watching her own mother.  “We could start when she gets divorced and has no money, basically, $500, and is on her own — and she makes a trip from Philadelphia to Malibu of all places, in a beat-up Volvo.  She was like the black ‘Alice,’ this mom driving across the country, thinking she could break ceilings as a talent manager when she had all the chips stacked against her and knew, like, one and a half people in L.A.”

Holly was nine years old at the time, and saw her mother — well-known Hollywood dealmaker Dolores Robinson — find her way into the business and build a client roster including the likes of LeVar Burton and Michael Clarke Duncan.  She recalls: “I saw her get knocked down, but I always saw her get back up, and rebound in ways that she could say, ‘Thank God that happened.’  I didn’ t know I was learning lessons as a child, but I was.”

Holly — a.k.a. the wife of former pro quarterback Rodney Peete — tells us that she and Nate will be doing a football challenge on the show, and there’ll also be a bedroom makeover at the home of a family with an autistic child.  Holly’s No. 1 mission is helping kids with autism.  Son Rodney Jr., has the condition.