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Hollywood’s Major Muslim Problem

A planned ABC Family show about a kidnapped American teenage girl, has been canceled. But can Hollywood confront its offensive stereotyping of Arabs and Muslims?

What transpired this week regarding ABC Family’s TV pilot, Alice in Arabia, was in a word: astounding. I say that for two reasons.


Svetoslava Madarova/Getty

First, because ABC Family announced on Monday the outlandish and arguably racist premise for its pilot of the show. And secondly because ABC Family canceled the pilot on Friday after a backlash erupted. While I objected to the premise of the show, I don’t rejoice over its cancelation.

Sweet Music

Can Bach Make It on NYC Subways?

On Friday, musicians took to underground train platforms around the world for the fourth ‘Bach in the Subways’ event, playing the composer’s music. How charmed were harried New York commuters?

All kinds of things happen on subway platforms. People meet, argue, commit criminal acts, suffer accidents and fall in love (I should know; a decade ago I met my wife on the London Underground). But even set against the regular entertainment to be found riding the New York City Subway, the scene just after midnight on Friday at the 96th St 1,2,3 stop was surreal.

A crowd of around 15 people were gathered to watch a cellist play a suite by Johann Sebastian Bach next to a sign reading: “We do not want money but ask simply that you listen with your heart and soul.” The audience shifted as people caught their trains, the announcement, arrival and departure of which loudly interrupted the music.


Rogen & Franco Vs. Kimye (Again)

The longtime pals have stuck it to their favorite targets once more.

They've gone and done it again.

Perennial pranksters (and real-life pals) Seth Rogen and James Franco seem to harbor a unique fascination with superstar couple Kanye West and Kim Kardashian. First came their outrageous shot-for-shot parody of Kanye West's music video for "Bound 2," featuring Franco (as West) straddling a shirtless Rogen (as Kardashian) on top of a motorcycle.


The Kimye 'Vogue' Backlash


It’s finally happened. Kim Kardashian has gained Anna Wintour’s approval and, along with her beau, graced the cover of 'Vogue.' But the Internet, led by Sarah Michelle Gellar, has spoken.

“There’s no way Kim Kardashian shouldn’t be on the cover of Vogue, she’s like the most intriguing woman right now. She’s got Barbara Walters calling her like everyday.”

None other than Kanye West, the loudest—and most innovative—voice in hip-hop, made this proclamation to Ryan Seacrest in an interview late last year.

West finally got his wish.

Maybe Not Do That?

Beyoncé Bows Down to Anne Frank

Anne Frank inspired millions with her indomitable spirit. Beyoncé inspired a generation of spring breakers to caption their Punta Cana selfies with the hashtag #surfboardt.

Beyoncé and Jay Z took a break from raising a child, building a media empire, and running the Illuminati to visit the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam yesterday. While visiting the site where the Holocaust victim hid for two years is one of the classier things a celebrity can do in Amsterdam, it comes with its own unique set of potential PR pitfalls. After all, pot is practically legal these days, while being a jerk at the Anne Frank museum is still highly frowned upon.



Justin Bieber learned this lesson the hard way when he decided to write his own entry in the Anne Frank House guest book. Unsurprisingly, the man-boy behind the great egging prank of 2014 didn't exactly approach this occasion with a sense of tact or gravitas. Presumably after ruling out "I'd totally tap that" and "I just hot boxed Anne Frank's hiding annex," Bieber finally landed on "Truly inspiring to be able to come here. Anne was a great girl. Hopefully she would have been a belieber." #neverforget


Enrique's Album Drips With Nothing

Just in case you get confused, the Spanish pop superstar wants to be straightforward about what his new album is about. But is it going to bring sexy back?

Enrique Iglesias is the guy who dated tennis siren Anna Kournikova for more than a decade. He sang “Bailamos” and told you to let the rhythm take you over. He fondled Jennifer Love Hewitt with wads of cash while asking, “Would you tremble if I touched your lips?” The sensual 38-year-old Spaniard knew exactly why we would buy his new album, lest we forget or get confused.


So let’s make it perfectly clear. “I wanted to be straightforward,” Iglesias enlightened the Daily Mail. “The title describes exactly what the album is about. From day one, I knew that I was going to call it Sex and Love.”

Hey, Hodor

Game of Thrones Invades Brooklyn

Fans at a special New York event to celebrate season four of Game of Thrones obsessed over Arya Stark and sexy new character Oberyn Martell.

"So, Catelyn pulls back Roose Bolton’s tunic, and she sees chain mail, which is, like, not good, so she screams ‘ROBB!’ and then–"

Game of Thrones

Rob Kim/Getty

Catching someone up on the entire third season of Game of Thrones is not easy.  Catching someone up on the entire third season of Game of Thrones in one subway ride between Wall Street and Barclays Center is less so. We, along with 7,000 fans, were en route to “Game of Thrones: The Epic Fan Experience,” the centerpiece of which was a screening of the first episode of season four.


Kimye Covers ‘Vogue’


America’s “royal” couple finally receives Anna Wintour’s seal of approval.

He did it. Kanye West finally got Kim Kardashian the Vogue cover he/she/they have been waiting for. Following months of speculation—fueled by news that West dined with Anna Wintour at The Beverly Hills Hotel’s Polo Lounge in January, and an unnamed source who shared details of Kim’s Los Angeles shoot—the reality TV star and her rapper fiancé are officially fronting the glossy’s April issue.

Forget Kim’s previous “feud” with Anna Wintour. On Friday, revealed the couple’s cover, which features Kim in a billowing, strapless Lanvin wedding dress with a slicked back, low bun, smoky eyes, and au natural make-up. Kanye stands behind Kim (of course) in a blue suit, hands wrapped around his fiancé’s waist. In a behind-the-scenes video, Vogue seemingly recreates the couple’s infamous “Bound 2” music video, with Kim and Kanye walking longingly into the sunset.

This is true love, people. They’re the #WORLDSMOSTTALKEDABOUTCOUPLE. [Vogue]


Her Armpits Are Hairy. So What?



It’s hard to say if Madonna’s selfie is a true call for body positivity, or simply the grown-up version of Miley sticking out her tongue and posing with a sex toy.

These days, your average CW-approved teen heartthrob is bound to have more followers scanning his Instagram selfie than viewers watching his subpar vampire drama. In order to stay current, stars now need to have the social media savvy of a young Mark Zuckerberg in order to compete for headlines, YouTube views, and concert sales. Celebrities like Miley Cyrus, Rihanna, and Justin Bieber have clearly internalized the importance of the sensationalist selfie, posing with blunts, booze, and even nearly nude. But refusing to Instagram even a single boring shot comes at a price, as these stars have to consistently up their selfie game in order to garner likes and hold our attention.

To create a truly newsworthy selfie demands a break with convention—to boldly selfie where no celeb has selfie’d before. This week, Madonna beat the kids at their own game, effortlessly raising the bar of social media sensationalism. Madonna’s selfie features the pop icon in a black bra and bow tie, raising her arm to reveal a thick patch of armpit hair. The image is captioned “Long hair...... Don't Care!!!!!! #artforfreedom #rebelheart #revolutionoflove.”

The artificial policing of female body hair has long been considered a feminist issue. After all, body hair is natural—a whole lot more natural than grown women who have been waxed to look like Barbie dolls. Images from porn, advertising, and celebrity culture all teach us that body hair just isn’t sexy. A picture of a glamorous woman like Madonna sporting a swathe of pit fuzz is more than just a shock to the system—it’s a deliberate challenge to an artificial standard of beauty. The language that Madonna uses in her caption shows that she is tapping into this feminist movement— her invocation of revolution, rebellion, and freedom makes it clear that she didn’t just accidentally skip her morning shave. But the issue of whether Madonna is truly advocating for women’s liberation or merely courting a TMZ headline is, for lack of a better term, hairy.


Jaap Buitendijk

In the frightening, dystopian world of ‘Divergent,’ Shailene Woodley’s character, Tris, manages to fight her way through the film in some seriously on-trend leggings.

In Divergent’s dystopian society, clothing plays a large role in exhibiting one’s identity—factions are divided by color, with Candor (the truthful) sporting black and white ensembles, Amity (the farmers) donning natural, earthy hues, Erudite (the intelligent) wearing different shades of blue, and Abnegation (the selfless) somber in grey.

The fifth faction, Dauntless (the fearless), may wear all-black clothing that’s hardcore and designed for intensive and rigorous movement, but, somewhere in the violent world of a futuristic-Chicago, Tris (played by Shailene Woodley) was able to find extremely durable, yet still very on-trend, leather pants. As seen in the majority of the film, Tris, a new Dauntless initiate, sports black, jegging-like bottoms with decorative leather stripes detailing the outermost part of the leg.

“The patterns are very functional with many pockets to contain the objects needed for the training (knifes, ammo, etc.),” costume designer Carlo Poggioli said of the faction’s ensembles, “and all the fabrics for Dauntless were custom-made." Like the other thousand pieces of clothing present in the film, Tris’s high-fashion pants were crafted from “special elastic,” allowing the heroine to fight in the most glamorous way. 

Fire of My Loins

‘Nymphomaniac’ Not About the Sex

While you are engineered to fixate on all that naked grunting in 'Nymphomaniac,' you might miss Charlotte Gainsbourg in the most raw and intense performance of the year.

The shocking thing about Lars von Trier’s Nymphomaniac is that it isn’t very shocking. Never you mind, however, as there’s no changing the fact that everyone will focus on the sex. It’s a shame, because while you are biologically engineered to fixate on all that naked grunting, you might miss the most raw and intense performance of the young year. The power of Charlotte Gainsbourg as Joe in Nymphomaniac is that, with her bruised pride paraded before us to see, she offers something that is far more than skin deep. The bruises on her face and elsewhere in her mishandled body help, too, but they do not make Nymphomaniac very comfortable to watch. Gainsbourg drew from deep within herself, and her honesty can be refreshing, if a little frightening, like an angel bearing bad news.


“I’ve never felt comfortable with myself,” Gainsbourg tells me as I nodded, until you realize that this is the same person who at the age of 13 sang a song called “Lemon Incest” with her father, the French iconoclast Serge Gainsbourg. Half of her cool came from him, half from her mother, the English actress Jane Birkin, which allowed her to make her film debut in the same year as “Lemon Incest” and steal the picture from none other than Catherine Deneuve in Paroles et musique. She looked a little like a boy, but more importantly, like a wise old boy, who seemed to know more about life than the adults waltzing around her. If she’s not comfortable with herself, who is?

About Time

Broadway’s First Black ‘Phantom’

The Great White Way shouldn't live too literally up to its name. Norm Lewis, the first black actor to play The Phantom of the Opera on Broadway, tells The Daily Beast why theater producers must cast more ethnic minority actors.

Unsurprisingly, Norm Lewis sounds a little overwhelmed. An hour before we speak it was announced that from May 12 he will be the new Phantom of the Opera, and he’ll be the first African-American actor to play the role on Broadway. “I’ve known for about a month and couldn’t say anything,” he says breathlessly. “Now it’s out there and I can tell people—and, yes, something of this magnitude…” His voice tails off.

Norm Lewis,169826247CC00054_The_Sixth_


Robert Guillaume, who played the Phantom in Los Angeles in 1990, best known to TV audiences as the title character on the sitcom Benson, is the only other black actor ever to have played the role. Lewis says Guillaume “paved the way” for him on Broadway, where Phantom has been running for over 25 years—the longest running show there.

Light the Lights

Best Puppet-Caper-Musical Ever

Kermit and the gang are back again (again), capitalizing off their 2011 comeback with a vintage Muppet movie packing all the nonsense, chaos, and rapid-fire gags we crave.

The Muppets Most Wanted might be the best puppet-led musical mystery caper farce that Hollywood has ever produced. The fact that it’s also the only one isn’t a qualifier; it’s precisely why the film is such vintage, Muppet-y fun.


"Muppets Most Wanted" (l-r) Nadya (tina Fey) And Kermit The Frog. (Jay Maidment/Disney)

If 2011’s The Muppets was meant to reboot the franchise in order to introduce Kermit and Miss Piggy to a new generation, Muppets Most Wanted’s mission is to transport them right back to their classic ways. It’s nowhere near as good as The Muppets was, but that’s because Muppets Most Wanted seems to be an entirely different film—a “Muppets film” in every chaotic, messy, loud, and meandering sense. And a perfect “Muppets film” at that.


Hollywood vs. Hillary 2016

The villain in the new movie Divergent bears a striking resemblance to Hillary Clinton. Why are Hollywood’s powerful female leaders always the bad guys?

Many people will love Divergent, the new Hunger Games-style science-fiction movie that arrives Friday in theaters: fans of the blockbuster young-adult novel by Veronica Roth on which the film is based; fans of actress Shailene Woodley, who plays Roth’s nonconformist heroine Tris; fans of a post-apocalyptic future in which the Earth’s remaining human beings wall themselves off inside the ruins of a major metropolis (in this case, Chicago) and split up into five factions (Abnegation, Amity, Candor, Dauntless, and Erudite) designed to “keep the peace.”


Jaap Buitendijk/Summit Entertainment

One person who won’t love Divergent, however, is Hillary Clinton.


Too White for Tiger Lily?

Warner Brothers’ Peter Pan origin story, Pan, has cast Rooney Mara to play Tiger Lily, a Native American. This isn’t the first time Neverland’s been a bit racist.

Because Hollywood truly is a mystical Neverland, where studio executives Neverlearn and Neverevolve, Warner Brothers’ upcoming Peter Pan origin story, Pan, has cast the gorgeous, talented, and whiter than a bleached ghost Rooney Mara to play the part of Tiger Lily, a Native American.


Alessandro Bianchi/Reuters

Suffice it to say that, in response, no one’s thinking happy thoughts.

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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