The Week in Culture

This week, we said goodbye to beloved designer Alexander McQueen, mourned the beginning of the end of Friday Night Lights, picked apart Ellen’s Idol debut, and more. View our gallery.

Matthew Fearn / AP Photo,Matthew Fearn

Matthew Fearn / AP Photo

Alexander McQueen, 1969-2010

Fashion Week started Thursday in New York City, but the usual excited mood of day one was deflated by tragic news: Visionary British designer Alexander McQueen committed suicide at 40 years old, on the morning of what would have been a presentation for his smaller label, McQ. His mother had died a week before, and he had been Twittering for many days about depression, according to the BBC. The sad news rocked the Bryant Park tents, and the McQ presentation was immediately canceled. Read a heartfelt tribute from his longtime friend and confidante Daphne Guinness.

Tasos Katopodis / Getty Images)

Finders Keepers Art

Sign of the times alert: This week, we learned ( via the Tribune) that Patrick Skoff, an artist living in Chicago, is using Twitter to draw attention to his work. Skoff started leaving artworks around the city last year, but noticed that no one noticed or picked them up. Now, he Twitters about the secret locations of his work, and suddenly he is garnering major press and a big following (you can follow his Twitter, here), and his “art hunts” have started a movement. The same trend is also happening in New York, as a Twitter-based artist who goes by Nic Rad is also causing art hunts around the city by “checking in” at spots where he is throughout the day. Find him, become a portrait subject. More about his work, here.

The Buzz on Buzz: Dubious.

This week, friendly neighborhood behemoth Google rolled out a new feature called Buzz, designed to emulate the real-time sharing impulses of Twitter and Facebook, right in your Gmail inbox. Anyone with a Gmail address received Buzz automatically, and was therefore immediately subjected to hundreds of links to articles and YouTube videos that they never asked to see. Yes, it’s possible to turn it off, but the brief interruption into normal emailing life sent the entire media into a frenzy, with articles pouring out about how the service will kill privacy as we know it. Silicon Alley Insider reported that the service could be fatal for beat journalists or anyone else who sneaks around, as it shows a list of who users email the most (this could potentially reveal sources, strange allegiances, or in the case of adulterers, dalliances), deeming it “terrifying.” Since then, Google has tweaked the privacy setting, but many are still taken aback at how intrusive the update was—and how it seems like Google might be not-so-secretly baiting users into generating data and content, whether they like it or not.


Jersey Shore Migrates South for the Winter

Fly, tan birds, fly! This week, we learned that the second season of the MTV phenomenon will be filmed on a beach—just not one in Jersey. The entire cast is heading south to the warm waters of Miami Beach, where the guidos and guidettes will get sloshed, make out with one another, and cook lasagna in a new tropical setting. The people of South Beach have been both welcoming and terrified of the cast members' impending arrival—according to the Miami Herald, one lounge owner denied MTV’s request to film due to “the show's treatment of women and Italian Americans,” while other hospitality types are excited for the publicity. The managing partner of the South Beach Hotel Group told the Herald that she would actively bid for some Jersey Shore airtime: “They've got such a following, I think a lot of the hotels here would take the risk. I surely would.”

Matt Sayles / AP Photo

Lil Wayne's Medical Mercy

This week, rapper Lil Wayne was supposed to have begun a one-year prison sentence following a 2007 weapons possession charge—but he found a last-minute way to delay his sentencing: his teeth. The rapper postponed his court date so that he could deal with a “ dental emergency”, though early rumors speculated that he might be going in to get his $100,000 diamond grill removed from his teeth (a real concern, after some feared that other inmates at the rough Riker’s Island prison would knock Wayne’s teeth out for the jewels). He will now appear in court, grill still intact, on March 2. And in the meantime, his new album Rebirth, is No. 2 on the charts, just behind Lady Antebellum.

Michael Becker / FOX

Ellen's Idol Debut

Ellen DeGeneres is having a good week. She renewed her daytime talk show for at least another three years, and her first appearance on American Idol as a permanent judge during “Hollywood Week” caused a 12 percent ratings spike for Fox. Richard Rushfield has the whole rundown of Ellen’s first night and predictions for her future on Idol.

Frederick M. Brown / Getty Images

The Playwright Stays in the Picture

Jon Robin Baitz, a theater veteran and the creator of popular ABC drama Brothers & Sisters, will bring not one, but an impressive two plays to Broadway next year. This week, we learned that he is working on Love and Mercy, a play about “about a former matinee idol turned ambassador, his screenwriter wife, and their novelist daughter” to the stage in 2011, which will be his Broadway debut. But even more exciting, Baitz is also working on a play about the life of legendary film producer and studio exec Robert Evans. Evans is such good material that the play already has stage classic written all over it.

Chris Pizzello / AP Photo

Jamie Foxx Gets Behind The Music

Though he is appearing in one of the weekend’s worst films, Jamie Foxx still earns gold stars for effort this week. The singer/actor/jack of all trades stepped on stage in front of 400 high schoolers at the Disney Concert Hall in L.A. to help kick off the Fidelity FutureStage Music Program, an initiative to strengthen school music education. Foxx (and Lost star Dominic Monaghan) helped unveil $100,000 of instruments to be donated to local students, part of $500,000 of instruments that will go to schools around the country. Foxx got the crowd riled up by an impromptu performance of his single “Blame It,” and got the kids to chant ““Music! Music! Music!” loudly in the auditorium. We always love to see a celeb doing a truly good deed. Read more on Foxx’ charitable antics over at the Los Angeles Times.

Bob D'Amico

Hawaii Five-O Returns

Lost can’t last forever, and viewers will want another island adventure series the minute it ends. Or so goes the thinking of CBS, who is producing a pilot remake of classic beach show Hawaii Five-O. CBS is taking more cues from Lost than just the setting—starring in the pilot as Chin Ho Kelly is Daniel Dae Kim, who plays Jin on the ABC hit. EW reports that the series “is already receiving strong buzz, as it comes from Fringe co-creators Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci and CSI: NY show runner Peter Lenkov.” And it can’t hurt Kim that both Lost and Hawaii Five-O are filming on Oahu; it’s all very convenient.

Ronald Grant / Everett Collection

New Yorker Films Gets a Second Life

Last year, iconic indie film distributor New Yorker Films (which owned the rights to films like Godard’s Breathless, Shoah, and the catalogs of Bertolucci, Fellini, and Kurosawa), announced that it was going belly-up. This week, The New York Times is happy to report, a new owner has purchased the 400 movie titles and will revive the house, in addition to seeking an additional six to eight films per year to distribute. Here’s hoping that this kicks of a 2010 trend of post-recession second acts for arts institutions.

Paul Drinkwater / NBC / AP Photo

Friday Night Lights’ Final End

It’s been a great run for the critically acclaimed FNL, but DirectTV and NBC officials announced this week that the fifth season of the show, airing in 2011, will be the last. Cast members have been encouraged to look for other work, and the show, which is already languishing on DirecTV, has survived cancellation once, but perhaps cannot withstand this final blow. Still, executive producer Jason Katims says “it’s early yet” to end the series. Things don’t look good, however, so get in your time with the comely football stars and rally girls while you still can, before another critical darling disappears.