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The delightfully trippy television special has been mocked as feminist propaganda disguised as entertainment. This is exactly why, 40 years later, we still need ‘Free to Be.’

Forty years ago today, Free to Be...You and Me, one of the most innovative, progressive, and certainly groovy programs for children aired on ABC. The brainchild of Marlo Thomas, Free to Be was about boys who like to play with dolls, girls who want to be firefighters, and, as the title suggests, the idea of being free—regardless of gender or background—to grow up and be whatever kind of person you want to be.


ABC, via Getty

Thomas, known for her iconic role as prototypical “nice girl” Ann Marie on That Girl, was a left-leaning feminist eager to change the way boys and girls conceived of gender roles. She worked with the Ms. Foundation and Letty Cottin Pogrebin to create songs and stories that challenged the traditional notions of stoic, emotionless men who rescued pretty, simpering damsels in distress. She recruited some of the biggest and outspoken celebrities of the era including Harry Belafonte, Roberta Flack, Cicely Tyson, Dustin Hoffman, Alan Alda, Dionne Warwick, Mel Brooks, and Michael Jackson, and writers Shel Silverstein, Mary Rogers, and Carl Reiner.


Obama vs. Galifianakis

The commander in chief was skewered by 'The Hangover' star on everything from his birth certificate to NSA spying on the hilarious 'Funny or Die' parody show.

President Obama’s always had a knack for comedic timing. There’s the annual White House Correspondents Dinner, where he’s eviscerated everyone from Donald Trump to Matt Damon. He’s slow-jammed the news with Jimmy Fallon on Late Night. And he’s even called Kanye West “a jackass.”


But early Tuesday morning, the commander in chief went for his broadest comedy swing yet: an appearance on Zach Galifianakis’s parody series Between Two Ferns. The show, airing on the Funny or Die website, is a so-awkward-it’s-funny parody of ass-kissy celebrity-interview shows. Set literally between two ferns and shot public-access-style, the hirsute Hangover star’s sketches have become viral sensations, with some garnering tens of millions of views. He’s spanked scowling pop star Justin Bieber on the butt with his belt, gotten into a slap-fight with Bradley Cooper, was called “fat” by Jennifer Lawrence, and once asked Natalie Portman if she shaved her “V for Vagina.”

Oscar Winner

From ‘12 Years’ to Hendrix

The Oscar winning screenwriter of ‘12 Years A Slave’ sat down at SXSW to discuss his film ‘Jimi: All Is by My Side,’ chronicling the London years of Jimi Hendrix, and much more.

John Ridley, balancing a colorful assemblage of libations—coffee, orange juice and water, is seated across from me in an expansive, sunlit lobby at a hotel in downtown Austin. He’s buzzing from a cocktail of caffeine and creativity, the bedfellows of the restless artist. The Lone Star State beckons for two reasons: first, that he’s begun production on a hotly anticipated ABC pilot dubbed American Crime, and second, to promote his low-key, sensational biopic of Jimi Hendrix, Jimi: All Is by My Side, which is screening as part of SXSW.


Jimi All By My Side. (Open Road XLrator Media)

He has been so busy that the Oscar statuette, which he took home just over a week ago for penning the screenplay to the gripping drama 12 Years A Slave, is still sitting on his kitchen table. It was a history-making accolade for Ridley, who became only the second black person to win the Best Screenplay Oscar.

The Juan For Me

She's the Girl He Sort of Likes

There was no engagement and no declaration of love. The worst ‘Bachelor’ ever ended with Juan Pablo telling a girl he liked her a lot and finally doing something that wasn’t dumb.

When you’ve found that special someone, you want to shout it from the rooftops. Unless you’re Juan Pablo Galavis on a reality show about love, in which case you prefer to “keep things to ourselves.”

The Bachelor

Rick Rowell/ABC

“I’m sorry this show didn’t end up like you wanted it to,” he said.


Tilda Swinton Blasts Putin

The Oscar winning actress sat down for a candid talk about her new vampire romance, gay Putin, her MoMA performance art piece, and her ‘cousin’ David Bowie.

Would you like a coffee, love?


Tilda Swinton looks on during a press conference to promote the movie "The Grand Budapest Hotel" at the 64th Berlinale International Film Festival in Berlin February 6, 2014. (Thomas Peter/Reuters)

Those are the first words out of Tilda Swinton’s mouth when I meet her. It’s 10 a.m. and we’re in a suite at the Four Seasons Hotel in Austin, Texas. The British actress is here to promote her latest film, Only Lovers Left Alive—a moody, elegiac vampire saga about two star-crossed, blood-sipping lovers in Detroit and Tangier. It stars Tom Hiddleston as Adam, a reclusive, suicidal vamp-rocker, and Swinton as Eve, his extroverted foil and the love of his life, and was directed by her pal, indie film legend Jim Jarmusch.

Plus One

When Your BFF Is a Hollywood VIP

Jennifer Lawrence’s bestie and Oscar date Laura Simpson knows there are perks to being a star’s pal. But just wait until you have to hold a coat while your VIP friend poses for pics.

Very rarely does the best coverage of a major event come from an unknown writer publishing on MySpace. But this year the most entertaining coverage of the Academy Awards and the A-list parties that followed came from none other than Laura Simpson, aka Jennifer Lawrence’s best friend and Oscar date. Simpson is likely best known to the public—or rather her back is—as the stabilizing force Lawrence grabbed on to for dear life after her highly publicized trip and fall (a sequel to her trip on the way to the stage last year). The fact that Simpson was only at the ceremony because of her friendship with Lawrence, and the fact that while everyone seemed to care that Lawrence fell but no one noticed Simpson almost did, perfectly captures the extreme highs and lows of being a celebrity best friend.


Christopher Polk/Getty

Celebrities are notorious for their entourages, so much so that the concept inspired a long-running show, Entourage, featuring the fictional Vinny Chase and the friends who knew him long before he made it big. According to Lola Ogunnaike, an anchor for Arise TV who previously served as an entertainment reporter for CNN, that’s the primary reason so many stars like keeping longtime friends close by. “Celebs like to surround themselves with their friends because it keeps them grounded and they believe those friends will be honest with them in a way their friends in the industry won’t be,” she says.

It Got Better

Looking For Success? Perhaps

‘Looking’ was headed to disaster, but it was saved through the sudden discovery of plot, tension, and a love triangle.

I’m not sure there’s an analogy that goes with my relationship to Looking on HBO, but let’s try this. You have a terrible date, no, a sequence of terrible dates with the same person. Why would you do this? There’s something about them: not their looks which are broadly handsome and appealing, but they intrigue you. You feel there might be something there, or there ought to be. But they talk in a mumble, they don’t seem to do anything. You get home after every date enraged with them, with yourself. You go back for more, hope for more.


John P. Johnson/HBO

Then, on the fifth date, long after your friends have recommended you give up for your own sanity, for there is no fun to be had here, your bad date becomes a hot date. They stir from their lethargy. They are witty, they twinkle. You look forward to your next date. Three weeks of relative bliss follows. Then they tell you they’re going away for almost a year, but will be back—and will you wait for them?


'Don't Ask Me About Her Again'

Quotes, taken completely out of context, from the only deposition that matters to Beliebers.

“Well, I don’t know Katie Couric, you tell me?” That gem is from Justin Bieber’s deposition, which the pop star says feels like a 60 Minutes interview. (Clearly he hasn’t watched the show in a while.) The 4.5 hour session happened last Thursday in Miami, and is in the lawsuit about his bodyguard reportedly roughing up a photographer. And you thought it was that whole drag racing under the influence fiasco.

Justin Bieber

Mikko Stig/Lehtikuva, via Reuters


Behold: The Milk & Cookie Shot

The pastry chef extraordinaire behind the cronut unveiled his latest—a chocolate chip cookie shooter filled with milk—in Austin, Texas. Verdict? Delicious.

If Dominique Ansel builds it, they will come.


Thomas Schauer

A line stretching almost two city blocks has formed outside the InterContinental Stephen F. Austin Hotel in Downtown Austin, Texas. It’s almost midnight, but some of these dedicated fanboys and fangirls have been mulling about since as early as 9 p.m. Amid a plethora of options at South By Southwest (SXSW), from movie premieres to music showcases to tech parties, they’ve chosen to wait in line for hours to get the first stab at a pastry that may be all the rage in the weeks to come.


Love in the Time of Tinder

Bravo claims to unmask the ‘Online Dating Rituals of the American Male.’ Unfortunately, in the age of virtual meat markets like Tinder and OkCupid, it’s ten years too late.

In 2005, ABC ran a special documentary series called Hooking Up on what was then the new frontier of online dating for women in their late twenties. As a high school student, I wondered if I would someday be intrepid or—as these women were not-so-subtly stigmatized as—desperate enough to enter this uncharted world.



Fast forward to 2014. I’m an online dating veteran with hundreds of virtual and dozens of in-person exchanges under my belt. And I’m not the only one. According to the Pew Research Center, 11 percent of all Americans who use the Internet have used an online dating site, and that number jumps to 38 percent among people who are single and looking. To say that online dating is widely pervasive is an understatement, which is why Bravo seems a little late to the game with the Online Dating Rituals of the American Male.

The End

'True Detective's' Red Herring

Following the season finale of HBO’s detective mystery, the actress who plays Marty’s daughter discusses the troubled Audrey and why fans thought she was doomed. [Warning: Spoilers]

During Sunday night’s season finale of HBO’s True Detective, partners Rust Cohle (Matthew McConaughey) and Marty Hart (Woody Harrelson) stormed Carcosa—the creepy confines of the scar-faced lawnmower man/spaghetti monster/killer/Cary Grant enthusiast, Errol Childress—and closed the books on the 17-year Dora Lange case.


Tommaso Boddi/WireImage

And, while the finale to creator Nic Pizzolatto and director Cary Fukunaga’s eight episode anthology series tied up several loose ends, many questions remain unanswered. And many of them have to do with Marty’s eldest daughter, Audrey (Erin Moriarty).

Good and Evil

Best Show Ever?

Sunday's finale of 'True Detective' was the perfect conclusion to a series that has come close to perfection. To stick around any longer would have broken the spell.

On Sunday night, the first season of HBO's deep, dark crime drama True Detective came to a close. It wasn't your average season finale. Usually with a show you love—Mad Men, Game of Thrones, whatever—you know your favorite characters will be returning in a year or two. Their narrative will continue. But True Detective is different. From the start, creator Nic Pizzolatto designed it as an anthology series. One story per season. Beginning, middle, and end.


Lacey Terrell/HBO

This means that, as of Sunday night, the tale of Rust Cohle, Marty Hart, and the 17-year search for the man who murdered Dora Lange is officially over. The Yellow King is a thing of the past. Carcosa is no more. And Matthew McConaughey and Woody Harrelson won't be coming back. The second season of True Detective will tell a different story—with different characters, different actors, and a different setting.

Time Bomb

The Most Stressful Thing on TV

The Oprah Winfrey-produced Lindsay Lohan docuseries is the most anxiety-inducing hour of television I’ve ever seen. And I loved every second of it.

Have you ever been in the same room with someone who was holding a grenade? You know they're probably not going to pull the pin and it’s probably not going to explode. But that knowledge does nothing to slow down the dangerously fast pace of your heart beating as you stand paralyzed in fear. Sunday night, Oprah was holding that grenade. And that grenade was Lindsay Lohan.


Oprah Winfrey Network

Lindsay was the most stressful hour of television I’ve ever seen. And I loved every second of it.

The season finale of the potboiler crashed HBO’s streaming content website, sending subscribers into a tizzy.

For Rust Cohle, the existentialist detective played by Matthew McConaughey on HBO’s potboiler True Detective, “time is a flat circle.” But for users of HBO GO Sunday night, it was more like a spinning wheel of death.



At approximately 9 p.m. ET Sunday night, many HBO GO subscribers attempted to log in to the website, which features streaming content from the network, to view the season finale to the addictive series True Detective and—hopefully—discover the identity of “The Yellow King.” Instead, many were left trapped in their own tech version of Carcosa, staring at a seemingly endless loading sign. So, fans of creator Nic Pizzolatto and director Cary Fukunaga’s eight-episode miniseries were robbed of two hours today—one for Daylight Savings Time, the other waiting for their favorite show at the moment to load.

Driver's Seat

The Guy on 'Girls'

The breakout star of ‘Girls,’ who was recently cast as the villain in the upcoming ‘Star Wars’ film, discusses his character’s captivating arc on the hit HBO series, and the events that led up to Sunday night's explosive episode ‘Role-Play.’ [Warning: Spoilers!]

The great irony of HBO’s Girls is that the most layered, emotionally rich, and captivating character on the show is a guy. Much of the credit for this, in addition to the sharp writing by series creator Lena Dunham and her team, is due to the talents of Adam Driver. As Adam Sackler, the oddly handsome and deadly serious boyfriend to Dunham’s flighty Hannah Horvath, the towering 30-year-old is a force of nature, throwing his entire being into each line and gesture.


Chester Higgins Jr./The New York Times

[Warning: If you aren’t all caught up on Girls stop reading now or forever hold your peace.

Why the GOP Is Angry About Colbert

When Stephen Colbert was announced as David Letterman's successor, Rush Limbaugh and company both criticized and politicized the move. Keli Goff discusses whether they're actually mad.

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