Startling Number of Celebrity Scientologists

12 07 2013

So, breaking news in dedicated pop culture circles (like the one I live in):
Actress Leah Remini, best known for her role as Carrie Heffernan on King of Queens, has left the controversial ‘religion.’ She has previously admitted to participating in the Scientology organization for “half my life” (during an interview with Howard Stern) despite being born into a Catholic family in NYC’s Bensonhurst neighborhood.

Read her tweet in response to the news here, via People.

What people perhaps do not understand is just how many Hollywood figures are involved with this organization, to varying degrees. Tom Cruise and John Travolta are the two celebrities most often mentioned in Scientology talk, but they are just the guys standing on the tip of the iceberg.

I have always been fascinated with Scientology, but after reading Jenna Miscavige Hill’s book Beyond Belief and subsequently finding Tony Ortega’s blog I am simultaneously horrified by the very existence of such a group in this country, let alone how many people subject themselves to the ridiculous rigmarole and hierarchy.

I understand that Wikipedia information is to be taken with a grain of salt, as just about anyone can register on the site and begin ‘educating’ others. However, it is the clearest, most comprehensive list of past and present members of note that I have come across. It is worth noting, there is over 100 citations on the page, linking out to independent pages to research the claims. I believe this is so that anyone working for Scientology cannot claim otherwise, as they so often do. Additionally, it has been suggested that full staffs within the Scientology organization are tasked with surfing the internet for anti-Scientology materials and defeating them; be it through threat of legal consequence, blatant comment-bombing and general slandering, or

Here’s a few names that I’ve come across in my Scientology enraged information collection research that surprised me the most (and a little identifier for those of you who fill your brains with meaningful trivia):
– Erika Christensen; the beautiful actress, best known for roles in Traffic and on NBC’s Parenthood series. Christensen was homeschooled, and raised within Scientology.
– the Masterson brothers, Christopher and Danny; actors who have appeared on Malcolm in the Middle and That 70s Show. The boys, along with their half siblings Jordan and Alana, were all raised in ‘the faith.’
– Elisabeth Moss; breakout star of Mad Men is the daughter of (one of) the most powerful entertainment agents in Hollywood. She too was born into Scientology.
– Ethan Suplee; the former Boy Meets World bully was introduced to Scientology by his My Name Is Earl co-star Jason Lee (who is a hugely enthusiastic about the organization).
– Greta van Susteren; former practicing attorney, current news anchor and contributor for Fox News and CNN networks. Honestly, I can’t help thinking “She’s too smart for this.”
– Giovanni Ribisi; accomplished character actor and downright dreamy dude. He and his twin sister, model Marissa Ribisi, were born into the group. Marissa is married to musician Beck, a second-generation Scientologist himself; while Giovanni married British model Agyness Deyn, subsequently bringing her into the fold.

Please keep in mind, these are also people that will probably not befriend or work with Katie Holmes for the next billion years or so, as she remains persona non grata following last years very public (and very courageous) split from husband of 6 years, Tom Cruise.

UPDATE: See this Huffington Post article about Kirstie Alley’s twitter freak out! Alley, an actress known for her roles in the 80s and 90s, is reportedly ‘livid’ about Remini’s defection from Scientology. Great little whos-who of celeb Scientologists slide show attached!

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Tyler Shields is a raging psychopath

20 06 2012

So I wasn’t really jazzed when E! was promoting the new show Mrs. Eastwood & Company, but I ended up catching bits of the first few episodes… I don’t hate it. I’m not sure who thought up this program (though I suspect Seacrest had a tiny hand in it!), the family seems amusing enough but I doubt anyone in E!’s young demographic was dying to know about Clint Eastwood’s second wife.

Dina Eastwood is a pretty cool lady. 
After growing up in a working-class family in Castro Valley, CA, she received a degree in broadcast journalism from San Francisco State.  She worked at various locally oriented stations through the early 90s, before meeting and marrying Eastwood in 1996. Dina would go on to host an educationally based television program “Quest for Excellence” in 1998.

I find that Dina is full of energy, investing herself fully into whatever task lay at hand. I hesitate to say she comes off as too pleased with her status as A-List spouse, because she imparts very reasonable lessons whilst trying to reign in her privileged daughters.

She seems to have a true journalist spirit, interests across the board and a deep-seeded desire to learn about them all. The project of the moment being manager to South African a cappella boyband ‘Overtone,’ to whom she was introduced while accompanying Clint on location for Invictus (2009).

Also featured on the reality show are Dina’s “company.”
Step-daughter Francesca Fisher-Eastwood (18), daughter Morgan (15), Lisa Thrash (family housekeeper), the 6 guys of ‘Overtone,’ and Francesca’s insane liar of a boyfriend, photographer Tyler Shields (30).

And that brings me to my topic: TYLER SHIELDS.

Within minutes of his first appearance on the screen, I knew he was bad news. And I couldn’t help but wonder why his name was so familiar…  Behold the magic of Google. Shields is a professional photographer/artist, known publicly for his highly controversial pictorials with a gun-toting Lindsay Lohan and battered Heather Morris.

 

The Florida native was previously a ranked vert skater, having participated in the X-Games and tours with the Godfather of Skateboarding, Tony Hawk.
With no formal training to speak of, Shields seems to have fallen into his (current) profession the way so many people caught their breaks in the early 2000s: via Myspace. He has been deemed “young Hollywoods favorite photographer” by several online outlets, including PopEater, Celebuzz and the Daily Mail.

 I am stunned at the number of up-and-comers who pose for/with him. They seek Shields out, perhaps behind the backs of their management, in order to get the thrill of working with the crazy blood guy.

Well this guy is so egomaniacal, on Sundays episode he went so far as to tell Dina Eastwood he was a doctor when one of Morgan’s young friends was injured in the family swimming pool. (Her nose was bloody, though not broken.)  He has Francesca totally under a spell. She stated in an interview for the episode that he is “the one.”
I think he’s “the one” who is going to dump her when he gets where he wants to be. Dating the daughter of one of the most prolific actor/directors alive today, and appearing on the family’s reality show, is a great way to market himself.
And that fact has NOT escaped Shields’ consciousness.  The shock value of his work right now is not going to garner him the staying power of other and historical significance of David LaChappelle or Andres Serrano.

Francesca Eastwood, who has already posed for Shields in two not-so-safe scenarios (hanging precariously off a bridge and mutilating a $100k flaming handbag with a chainsaw), could end up in jail — as the cast of The CW’s Vampire Diaries found themselves in 2009 after a night romp in Georgia with Shields– or worse, as death threats for the pair have flown in since the artistic incident aired on June 10.

The latest episode also revealed that Shields is not “close” with his own family, therefore excited at the prospect of being accepted by the Eastwoods. His own family probably recognized those sociopathic tendencies and flair for the grandiose that Dina picked up on.
Subsequently, Dina declared that she never wanted to be in the same room with him again. Easier said than done when you’re (literally) on an island.





Grammy Breakdown (FULL)

14 02 2012

In Brief:  3.5 hours, 17 performances, 9 awards.  6 Whitney comments, 2 Whitney clips, 1 Whitney song tribute.

The 54th Annual Grammy Awards aired last night on CBS, hosted by musician/actor LL Cool J.  He did little more than introduce the presenters.

Fan favorite Bruce Springsteen, accompanied by the E Street Band, opened with “We Take Care of Our Own.”  They played tight, it was a good note to begin the show on…   Well, it was until LL Cool J brought everybody back down by immediately starting in about Whitney Houston.

The second performance of the night was nominee Bruno Mars and his Doo-Wop Hooligans.  The best part of his appearance was when he said for everyone “to get off your rich asses!”
The Grammys are known as the informal awards show of the season, anything can happen. Mars is quickly making a name for himself as an innovative and exciting artist, but this performance was predictable! The flashing lights, kitchy gold outfits and throwback choreography will not land the hooligans on top of any memorable lists for this year.

Alicia Keys and Bonnie Raitt — an interesting duo — shared the stage briefly to pay tribute to two fallen female icons, Etta James & Whitney Houston, with a rendition of “Sunday Kind of Love.”  The pair lead in to the first award of the night: Best Pop Solo, which ultimately went to Adele for “Someone Like You,” her second smash single off 21. The other contenders for this category included Lady Gaga for “You and I,” Bruno Mars for the uber popular “Grenade,” Katy Perry for “Firework,” and P!NK, who was not in attendance, for “F**kin’ Perfect.”

Chris Brown took the stage for the fourth performance of the evening, if you can call it that.  The beleagured wannabe-Michael Jackson was TOTALLY LIPSYNCHING.   My brother (14) was watching with me, and as soon as Brown was introduced he said, “Oh, the Beater.”  No doubt similar sentiments echoed from homes across the viewing nation.

Fergie, who was dressed in one of her tackiest ensembles yet,  took the stage with an underenthused Marc Anthony to present the second trophy of the night, for Best Rap Album.
I can’t believe I’m saying this but, luckily the award went to Kanye West for My Beautiful Dark Twisted Fantasy, and he was not in attendance. Therefore we were not subjected to an idiotic acceptance speech riddled with reminders of his self-assured genius and the gift that it is for us to get to listen to him.

 

One of the highlights of the evening, for me, came in the form of Kelly Clarkson and Jason Aldean reprising their duet single “Don’t You Wanna Stay.”  Aldean always wears a hat that covers half his faaaace! Clarkson was dressed well in a black Grecian gown, accented with sparkly bondage straps.  These two have sung together several times now, and it only gets better!

Then… the moment my brother and I had been waiting for!
THE FOOOOOOOO ❤
Jack Black rambled on about indie cred, how often it’s lost by attending/being honored at the Grammys, and something about the artistry being stolen at the door only to be “sold out back to Bon Iver.”
Under a cloudy LA evening, the tent outside the Staples Center was packed with people eager to have their faces rocked off, something the Foo Fighters always deliver on.  They played “Walk” off thier latest record, Wasting Light.

The second pairing of the night came in the form of a three-song medley from Rihanna and Coldplay.  Rihanna opened with “We Found Love,” surrounded by about two dozen dancers in various levels of undress. Then Chris Martin appeared, and the two sang their duet “Princess of China,”  before Martin finally broke off with the rest of his London mates for “Paradise.”

The third golden gramophone of the night went to the Foo Fighters for “Walk.”  Frontman and founder Dave Grohl gave the speech for their Best Rock Performance win; he was well spoken and topically appropriate. That’s so important– and obviously it was appreciated by the crowd because he got a standing ovation!

The only appearance talked about as much as, but not more than, Adele’s comeback was the 50 Year Reunion of the Beach Boys– which also featured Maroon 5 and Foster the People.  It was low energy and failed to evoke any rich feeling of nostalgia due to the steady 20-something average age of the noms.  Additionally, the remaining Beach Boys who appeared were dressed for BINGO, not a CELEBRATION.

16-time Grammy recipient Stevie Wonder introduced another oldie-but-goodie performer: Sir Paul McCartney. Accompanying the former Beatle on his new single “My Valentine” was legendary Eagles guitarist Joe Walsh (upon seeing whom my brother squealed like a 10-year-old girl does at Justin Bieber) and pianist Diana Krall.

The fourth and arguably most controversial award of the night, for Best R&B Album, went to Chris Brown.
Up against R. Kelly, El DeBarge, Ledisi and Kelly Price, the kid we sometimes hate to love but always love to hate feigned graciousness and stumbled through his thank-yous.
Personally, I deleted any songs of his I had the day news broke of his violence toward then-girlfriend Rihanna… which was two years ago almost to the day of this ceremony. I think it is BULLSHIT that the Recording Academy or the voting audience award this spoiled petulant child with ANYTHING. He has done less than nothing to make strides to redeem himself. He constantly seeks attention in negative ways and refuses to publically take any formal responsibility for what he did.   If I were Neil Portnow, I would have banned him for life.

The tenth performer of the night was usual award show darling, Miss Taylor Swift. She sang “Mean” off her hugely successful Speak Now album.  (The single that won praise in the Best Country Solo* and Best Country Song categories.)
I love her, she is a brilliant lyricist, but I am a little tired of her for two reasons; 1) OMG. If you’ve always wanted to be a country star, DO NOT try to manipulate the markets and release TWO versions of your songs. If you’re good enough to crossover, you will! Shania and Faith never did thaaaat;  2) When you finish singing and everyone stands up to clap, wipe that stupid doe-y surprised look off your face! Staying humble is one thing, and good for you for knowing how lucky  you are… but after all the money and attention and awards, you know we like you. Say “thanks” and wave like everyone else who’s happy to be there.

*This arguably should have gone to Carrie Underwood for “Mama’s Song” which was a stunningly beautiful track.

One of the biggies, Song of the Year, was awarded next, and went to Adele! “Rolling In The Deep” was everywhere this year, and she was genuinely moved by the response to it.  When you can tell the artist is really grateful, it makes it all the more fun to watch. I never liked seeing someone who thought they deserved to win something, win it.

A blue-haired Katy Perry broke it down with a high-flying performance of “Extra Terrestrial” …which lead into the debut of another number: “Part Of Me.”  Girlfriend looked PISSED the whole time, but it is defnitely going to be a smash. She may not be the best singer out there, but she is a great entertainer who is honest with her work.

Shifting genres from the pop performance by Perry, attention was paid to a country trio Lady Antebellum, who won for Best Country Album (Own The Night).  I don’t like them, they’re stuff is kind of catchy but nothing super special.

ADELE FINALLY TOOK THE STAGE AFTER BOUNCING BACK FROM THROAT SURGERY THIS FALL.

SHE GAVE AN AMAZING PERFORMANCE OF “ROLLING IN THE DEEP” AND WAS JUST BEAMING THE WHOLE TIME!
NO WONDER EVERYONE AND THEIR MOTHER LOVES HER.

It was a hard act to follow but somebody had to do it, it was only 10:0 after all.

The Band Perry and Blake Shelton paid tribute to Lifetime Achievement recipient Glen Campbell, before he joined them onstage for a joyful rendition of the classic “Rhinestone Cowboy.”

Another country star came out with the incomprable Tony Bennett for a version of “It Had to Be You” — currently featured on his album Duets II.
They then gave out the award for Best New Artist: which did NOT go to Nicki Minaj! HA HA HA!  The incredibly deep indie rocker Bon Iver took the prize.  He thanked the fans, saying it was a “sweet hookup.”

The highly anticipated ‘In Memorium’ segment of the show was extensive, eliciting “Wow, a lot of people died this year,” from my brother. “I don’t like Jennifer Hudson,” he added before running downstairs for a drink.

The one-time American Idol contestant and longtime Whitney Houston admirer tearfully made her way through “I Will Always Love You.”

So as not to disrespect the somberness of the main hall, the commercial break resumed back outdoors in the tent where the Foo Fighters performed earlier.
The “Grammy Dance Party” of sorts commenced– with Chris Brown lookin like early Run DMC/Ice-T/Sir Mix-a-Lot. It was ridiculous. And he most certainly was using AutoTune in his mic. DJ David Guetta spun for the first part of the ‘party,’ while Brown sing-talked and danced alongside rapper Lil Wayne who looked like he just woke up and rolled of his tour bus.

On the opposite side of the tent, the Foo Fighters started in with “Rope.”  With Deadmau5′ help it got a remix treatment about halfway through.

Things got to an all-time low level of weird with a short play acted out by Nicki Minaj. “The Exorcism of Roman” was such a mess. Minaj was trying way to hard to be memorable, and now she will be for the wrong reasons.  I think the she-rapper was going for some Lady Gaga “Paparazzi”-level performance art, but there was just so much going on and you couldn’t totally understand her. And the blatant religious imagery that wasn’t really defined as good or bad in the scene, would make Sinead O’Connor ask “What the hell do you think you’re doing here?”

The final two award categories to be televised, as there are over two dozen actually given out, were Record of the Year and Album of the Year… which both went to ADELE.
The beautiful Brit was so gracious and cute and in awe of the response to her work, she cried as she told the audience “It’s been a life changing year.”

The finale was, in no uncertain terms, an Epic. Musical. Moment.  For the men on stage, for the viewers in the theater, and fans watching from home.
Sir Paul McCartney reemerged on the grand stage to (appropriately) play the Beatles “The End” with the help of Joe Walsh, Dave Grohl and Bruce Springsteen.  Yeah, I’m serious. It was a freaking fantastic way to end the night, with all these incredible musicians jamming out.





Shocking, Spectacular Exit By TV Personality

23 06 2011

MTV’s Jackass crew will have one less manchild should they move forward with the stunts and antics that made them famous.

Monday morning news broke that Ryan Dunn died in a firey crash on Route 322 in West Goshen Township, PA. April Margera, mother of Dunn’s longtime friend Bam Margera, confirmed the story.

Dunn, who celebrated his 34th birthday on June 11, appeared in the first Jackass film in one of the franchise’s more memorable skits: “The Toy Car.”  He enjoyed success outside the stunt industry, appearing in hosting television shows in 2005 and 2011, acting in Law and Order SVU and several small films.

A photo Dunn tweeted of himself with friends late Sunday night at West Chester bar Barnaby’s, only fueled speculation of the accident’s cause Monday.

Apparently, after losing control of his vehicle in the wee hours of June 20, Dunn’s car careened over a guardrail and struck a tree.  His Porsche 911 GT3 burst into flames with he and passenger Zachary Hartwell, a 30-year-old film production assistant, still inside.

It has been reported that Dunn was travelling in his Porsche at a rate of 132-140mph, and the vehicle came to rest just 100 yards from Hartwell’s home.

The more details that come out, the harder it is to imagine just how Dunn’s Jackass brothers, family and longtime-love Angie Cuturic are going to cope with this tremendous loss.

While initially it was only speculated that Dunn was intoxicated while driving early Monday morning, toxicology results that were expected to take up to four weeks have revealed his blood-alcohol content to be .196, over twice the Pennsylvania state limit of .08.

Also revealed today was Dunn’s checkered driving history, which includes a past DUI and almost a dozen citations for excessive speed.

– – – – – –

RELATED STORIES:

1. Controversial Tweet From Roger Ebert Following Death of Ryan Dunn

2. Conspiracy Theories Rampant Online, Is Dunn’s Death a Hoax?





Has Lady Gaga Peaked?

24 04 2011

I suppose there have been several red flags in the short career of Stefani Germanotta, known the world over as Lady Gaga.  But who could have known that the outrageous fashions and manic lyrics were just expressions of a deeper, much more complex series of issues with herself, organized religion, and society as a whole.

With her latest single, “Judas,” drawing controversy before it’s even officially released, Gaga’s “Born This Way” continues to dominate the charts and our airwaves.

Personally, I was let down by “Born This Way.”  After months upon months of buzz for the title track of her junior effort, and a convoluted premiere at the Grammy’s in late February (see below), I was underwhelmed by the presentation. The music itself was not nearly as layered and technical as some of her other work, and the lyrics — which are fairly profound and topical — get lost in the showiness she has to maintain.

The question of whether Gaga has taken her affection for the maven of envelope-pushing, Madonna, a little far and (inadvertently?) copied the 1989 hit “Express Yourself.”  Comparisons of the two songs have been popping up for months, online and in print, and someone finally had the balls to ask the new Queen of Pop what she thought of the implications.

I totally understand the concept of a creative process, and I respect Gaga for putting herself out there. But there is definitely a line between what is (performance) art and what is publically marketable; if Stefani Germanotta loses the understanding and appreciation of consumers with her ranting and higher-than-thou attitude, she loses what makes her Gaga.

I’ve listened to both songs several times over, and I hear more than a few similarities… basically “Born This Way” is jut a faster pace than “Express Yourself” but the underlaying notes are the saaaame! 

<<Click Here to Listen for Yourself!>>

Gaga saying that she hears no overlap, considers no comparison, is like Vanilla Ice saying he didn’t rip off Queen and David Bowie’s “Under Pressure” for his one-hit wonder “Ice Ice Baby” in 1990. 

It’s obvious to everyone else, but some people just have to live in denial. The idea that their own success has piggybacked off the hard work of others is infathomable.

I consider this the crossroads in Gaga’s career, if she keeps up this ridiculous behavior and clings to the idea that her ‘Little Monsters’ will support every single thing she does or says, she will ascend to the level of nonsensical jabbering previously displayed by Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston and Prince. They have all maintained consistent fan followings, and continue to cash in on events, but they are arguably no where near the level of fame and talent they used to be.

Lady Gaga is set to appear as the musical guest on this season’s finale of Saturday Night Live (May 21), so in the event that she rips up a picture of the Pope — ala Sinead O’Connor — don’t say I didn’t warn you!