'Big Bang Theory' Remembers Leonard Nimoy With Touching Tribute
Chuck Lorre and the cast and crew of "The Big Bang Theory" paid touching tribute to Leonard Nimoy at the end of Thursday's episode. The show closed with a photo of the late "Star Trek" star accompanied by the caption: "The impact you had on our show and on our lives is everlasting."
Nimoy never appeared on "The Big Bang Theory," but he did provide his signature voice to an episode, bringing life to a Mr. Spock action figure owned by Sheldon (played by Jim Parsons).
Nimoy died on Friday at the age of 83.
Kelsea Ballerini: Artist to Watch
Dozens of country artists were in Nashville last week for the annual Country Radio Seminar conference, but few shone as brightly as rising star Kelsea Ballerini.
Ballerini, whose debut single "Love Me Like You Mean It" is already Top 25 at country radio (a notable feat for a new artist, particularly a female artist who co-wrote the song!), wowed industry attendees and fans alike. The 21-year-old Tennessee native already has the stage presence and songwriting chops of a seasoned veteran.
"Songwriting is the core and foundation of who I am as an artist," Ballerini says. "My songs are my stories... good, bad, ugly, beautiful." And although she's country-to-the-core (she was invited to play a second show at the Grand Ole Opry less than one month after making her debut there on Valentine's Day) it's clear that both Ballerini and her songs have massive pop crossover potential.
Ballerini's second single, "The First Time," is a deeply personal ballad that the artist wrote "on my front porch, waiting for a guy to show up who never showed up." She says the song helped her learn the lesson that "sometimes when life shuts doors it's for a reason." The song also serves as the title track to Ballerini's upcoming debut album, scheduled for a May 19 release.
Here's a quick Q&A with country's It-Girl-in-the-making.
You grew up on a farm in Tennessee. How has that upbringing informed your musical style?
Growing up in east Tennessee gave me my country roots, my twang, and a lot of my stories.
CMT and Billboard, among others, have listed you as a new face in country to watch. How does that make you feel?
It makes me even more excited to put out my album and continue to work hard and make the best music I can. It's really humbling to be acknowledged by such established names like CMT and Billboard. I want to prove them right!
How would you sum up your life the last couple of years?
It's been nonstop. I was a full-time college student two years ago and just signed my record deal a little over a year ago. This last year has been the most beautiful blur. Getting to watch songs go from the writing room to Top 25 at country radio (AHH!) is the most rewarding, humbling feeling.
What can fans expect from your debut album, The First Time, when it's released in May?
Oh my goodness, I am so excited about it. Basically it's a snapshot of my life from when I started writing songs at 12 until now at 21. I think the EP captured the fun, free, confident, youthful side of my music, and the rest of the album shows more depth. Every song is intentional; there is a reason it is on there. I'm a writer on each track and couldn't be more proud of it.
What's a song people would be surprised you know every word to?
"Gold Digger" by Kanye West. I thought I was really cool in middle school (I wasn't!) and my friends and I would rap it during lunch.
Although there's no lunchroom rapping (damn!), check out the lyric video to "The First Time."
Pop Star Ryan Beatty Shows Off His Moves In An 'Uptown Funk' Jam Sesh
It's official. Ryan Beatty has got the funk.
In a new video, the "Everything Little Thing" singer gives his best take on Bruno Mars' "Uptown Funk" -- dance moves included. From jamming in the passenger seat to getting down on top of the car, Ryan's got some smooth moves.
Don't believe me? Just watch.
H/T Just Jared Jr.
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Harrison Ford Taken To Hospital After Plane Crash
A plane piloted by Harrison Ford crashed on a Los Angeles area golf course on Thursday afternoon, leaving the actor injured but "ok" according to his son. Ford's involvement in the crash on Penmar Golf Course in Venice was also confirmed by multiple news organizations.
Ford's rep did not return HuffPost Entertainment's immediate request for comment.
TMZ was the first to report the news that Ford was taken to the hospital following the incident. The Los Angeles Fire Department confirmed the plane's solo occupant was transported to a local hospital and tweeted that he was in "critical condition." In an updated briefing, however, a representative for the LAFD said the patient was found in "moderate condition," "conscious," "breathing" and outside the plane when the paramedics arrived on the scene. No other people were injured.
A photo of Ford's plane, which crashed on Penmar Golf Course on Thursday
The LAFD released a statement in a series of tweets:
The single-engine aircraft suffered a medium to high impact on the grass at Penmar Golf Course. Bystanders rendered aid to the conscious and breathing approximate 70 y/o male pilot prior to firefighters arrival. Firefighters provided immediate medical aid to the patient who is now described as suffering fair to moderate injury and being treated at a local hospital.
NBC reported Ford sustained serious injuries, including cuts to his head. "There was blood all over his face," a Penmar Golf Course employee told NBC News. An unnamed family member categorized Ford as "fine."
His son Ben Ford also tweeted an update from the hospital:
At the hospital. Dad is ok. Battered, but ok! He is every bit the man you would think he is. He is an incredibly strong man.— Chef Ben Ford (@ChefBenFord) March 6, 2015
Thank you all for your thoughts and good vibes for my dad.— Chef Ben Ford (@ChefBenFord) March 6, 2015
Ford is a seasoned pilot, and was reportedly flying a vintage World War II-era plane.
TMZ posted audio purported to be of Ford communicating with Santa Monica Airport air traffic control shortly after takeoff. (In the clip, the pilot reports engine failure and requests an immediate return to the airport.) Fox 11 Los Angeles obtained footage of the plane on the ground as well:
Ford has been involved in multiple plane crashes over the years, most notably in 2000 when he made a crash landing in his six-passenger plane in Nebraska. In 1999, a helicopter he was piloting crashed in Santa Clarita, California. He escaped unharmed both times.
20 Years After Selena's Murder, Book Revives Debates Surrounding Her Death
Seventeen days shy of her 23rd birthday, rising Tejano star Selena Quintanilla was shot and killed inside a Days Inn motel room in Corpus Christi, Texas. The former president of the Grammy winner's fan club, Yolanda Saldívar, was imprisoned for the murder. But the events that led to the March 31, 1995, attack are still being debated.
María Celeste Arrarás, at the time an anchor for Univision’s "Primer Impacto," was one of the first to break the sad news nationally. Behind the scenes, the Emmy-winning journalist looked for answers to the murder, an investigation that culminated with her 1997 book, Selena’s Secret: The Revealing Story Behind Her Tragic Death.
The book received mixed reviews, and the Quintanilla family expressed disapproval, but in a recent interview with The Huffington Post, Arrarás explained why she feels the book has been “validated” over the years and what readers can expect in the new edition released for the 20th anniversary of Selena’s death.
“The official version out there was she was at the height of her career -- which she was, she was climbing and doing fantastic -- and that everything in her entire life was perfect and this bullet killed her, end of story,” Arrarás, now an anchor for Telemundo’s “Al Rojo Vivo,” told HuffPost. “And Yolanda Saldívar did it because she was a thief. But the story is much more rich than that and much more elaborate than that, and the fact is that Selena’s life at the time of her death was far from perfect.”
“She was a victim of a lot of people who were trying to manipulate her and that loved her, just like she loved them, but when you’re in a situation of power, you get a lot of people around you that want you to do things the way they want them,” Arrarás added.
The Quintanillas' account has Saldívar accused of embezzling from Selena's boutique, which she also managed, and being fired just weeks before the shooting. According to her family, Selena had agreed to meet with Saldívar at the Days Inn to recover certain financial documents.
In Selena's Secret, however, Arrarás alluded to the possibility that a packed suitcase, a passport and a treasured ring at the crime scene could point to an extramarital affair with a man in Mexico. In 2012, Dr. Ricardo Martínez told Univision that he had been Selena's lover. The book also hinted that Selena had grown disillusioned with her career due to pressure from her father, Abraham Quintanilla, who was also her manager.
In 1997, Abraham Quintanilla told the New York Daily News that he was upset the book portrayed him as a controlling, money-driven figure in his daughter’s career. He also accused Arrarás, who was one of the few journalists to interview Saldívar in person, of siding with Selena’s killer and trying to “slander” the singer’s image.
The author, however, said that she only presented the information and readers could form their own conclusions. She noted that Saldívar was also unhappy with the book.
“Of course, it is very obvious that in this case Selena is a victim and Yolanda is the murderer, but the story around it is fascinating,” Arrarás said. “The thing with Abraham Quintanilla -- I sympathize with his plight, he’s the father and he’s protecting the memory and the legacy of Selena, like I would, like every parent would."
“But journalists also have a right to publish books that are serious based upon the work that they did and the investigation that they did,” she said. “In my case, it was a very vast investigation, for many, many months and now for many years.”
Abraham Quintanilla stands in front of photos of Selena at the family's Q-Productions studio in 2005.
Arrarás anticipated backlash from fans when the book came out just two years after the singer’s death, which is why she said she donated all her profits to charity. Her proceeds from the new edition will go to a scholarship fund for aspiring fashion designers, which was another of Selena’s dreams.
“I didn’t want for people to think that I was trying to benefit from Selena’s blood,” Arrarás said, adding, "It was more important to kind of dissipate any doubt that it might bring up. ... It’s something that I don’t regret doing because for me, at the end of the day, credibility is more important than what you may get from a book.”
The Telemundo anchor said the decision to re-release the book came after going through further information that had come to light.
“I think it was interesting because we all agreed that the original book was validated with the passing of time,” Arrarás said. “Many things that people thought were out there, that the book kind of alluded to, were kind of confirmed with the passing of time and new testimonies and new interviews.”
The presence of the Fabergé egg ring in Selena’s hand and the passports and packed suitcase in the room are just two things Arrarás said are revisited in the book.
“All of that comes into perspective and gets completely cleared as to what was the meaning -- or lack of -- of them,” Arrarás said. “And the new edition also talks about where everybody that was part of the story, all the protagonists of the story, are now 20 years later. How their lives changed as a result of this murder.”
In revisiting the lives of many of the key figures, the author said she refrained from contacting Selena’s family.
“The Quintanillas I did not approach out of respect, because Mr. Quintanilla made it very clear that he was very unhappy with the publishing of this book. And any other book that was published, by the way, not just mine,” Arrarás said.
Arrarás did send a letter to Saldívar, who is serving a life sentence.
“I wanted to see if after all these years her posture had changed, because back then, even though all the evidence made it very clear that this was a murder and that she committed the murder, she was always in denial publicly. Even during my interview, she gave different versions,” Arrarás said. “They all were like ‘it was an accident’ or ‘there was a second shooter,’ which of course there was never any evidence to that.”
According to Arrarás, Saldívar denied her request to be interviewed again because she was upset that the journalist had described her as a “manipulative person.”
“In the new book, I talk about why I say she was manipulative,” Arrarás said. “Not only because throughout my investigation I discovered that she was very manipulative, capital V, towards Selena -- which was also mentioned in the trial -- but when I was trying to interview her the first time, she was also very manipulative."
The 20th-anniversary edition has a new prologue and epilogue. It will be available in Spanish and English and as an ebook.
The two decades since Selena’s death has brought a new generation that may be interested in knowing more about her. Some, like actress Selena Gomez, were named after the singer, and many only know her story from the 1997 biopic starring Jennifer Lopez.
“The movie is great. The movie really talks about her childhood really well,” Arrarás said of the film, which was released two weeks after her book. “But the movie ends when the gun goes off, and the book begins when the gun goes off.”
Why A Film About A Fatal Gang Rape In India Is Drawing So Much Controversy
A haunting new documentary about a fatal gang rape has revealed deep divisions in Indian society about how to address violence against women and what role the government should play in regulating public debate.
The Indian government threatened on Thursday to take action against the BBC for airing “India’s Daughter,” a documentary by Leslee Udwin about the rape and death of a 23-year-old woman on a New Delhi bus in 2012. The horrific crime drew worldwide attention to India's widespread gender violence.
“India’s Daughter” was originally scheduled to air on Sunday, March 8 -- International Women’s Day -- in India as well as several other countries. But an Indian court blocked the airing after excerpts from the film emerged that show one of the convicted rapists describing the crime without any sign of remorse.
While the airing of the film in India has been canceled, the BBC did air the documentary in the U.K. on Wednesday, drawing fierce condemnation from the Indian government. The film has also remained available on the Web, despite a request from Indian authorities to remove it from online platforms.
How has Udwin's film garnered so much debate?
Mukesh Singh is brought to Delhi High Court under high security for a hearing, Sept. 24, 2013, in New Delhi. (Sonu Mehta/Hindustan Times via Getty Images)
Much of the controversy revolves around Udwin’s interview with one of the rapists, Mukesh Singh, who drove the bus on which the fatal gang rape took place. Singh was sentenced to death by hanging for his role in the crime, as were three other men. He is currently appealing his sentence. Excerpts from "India's Daughter" that aired earlier this week show Singh blaming the woman for her death, arguing that she wouldn’t have been killed if she hadn't resisted.
"A girl is far more responsible for rape than a boy," Singh says in the movie. "A decent girl won't roam around at 9 o'clock at night... Housework and housekeeping is for girls, not roaming in discos and bars at night doing wrong things, wearing wrong clothes."
After Singh's comments were made public, Indian authorities sought to ban the film from being aired, claiming that the filmmaker had not obtained all the necessary approvals to air the film -- an accusation Udwin vehemently denies.
Some columnists and social media users have expressed support for the Indian government, saying that Udwin ought not to give rapists a public platform and that Singh's dehumanizing remarks spoil the victim's memory.
"In the name of exposing the rapist, it gives an open platform to the rapist and encouraging other rapists,” Times Now editor Arnab Goswami said, according to The Washington Post.
Goswami's argument was echoed on social media:
#NirbhayaFilmBlocked: In name of Freedom of Speech the documentary glorifies a Rapist. It's not awareness creation; it's commercialization.— Ami Shah (@amishah0505) March 5, 2015
Others have pointed out that Singh’s appeal is still pending, and that it would be problematic to air the documentary before his case concludes.
Delhi police, meanwhile, argued for banning the film "in the interest of justice and maintenance of public order," according to the Associated Press.
Many others, however, have criticized the government’s move. Some argue that it sets a dangerous precedent for media censorship. Others say that the film should be applauded, rather than condemned, for shedding light on a painful reality of Indian society.
"The real 'embarrassment' India needs to confront is its own horrific reality... and the shame that goes with it. Not a bold documentary," columnist Shobhaa De wrote for NDTV.
Anu Aga, a member of the Indian Parliament, said that the country "has to confront the issue that many men in India do not respect women,” according to The Guardian. “What the man [Mukesh Singh] spoke reflects the views of many men in India," she said. "Why are we shying away from that? Let’s be aware of the view and not pretend all is well.”
#NirbhayaFilmBlocked Rather than trending this stuff & hating on the documentary. We should rather watch it and bring change in ourselves.— Apurva :3 (@ApurvaGupta99) March 5, 2015
British filmmaker Leslee Udwin addresses a press conference on her documentary film "India's Daughter," about a Dec. 16, 2012, gang rape, in New Delhi, Tuesday, March 3, 2015. (AP Photo/Altaf Qadri)
Udwin has fired back at her critics, dismissing calls for the ban as “illogical, stupid and uneducated opinion” in an interview with Reuters' India Insight.
“In order to progress, we have to understand," Udwin said. "We must not be scared about looking at this, nor must we say we know it already, which is what they are effectively saying."
"It’s not just the rapist, it’s the whole society," she went on. "The society teaches these rapists what to think. The rapists then act in a certain way, and then the society rejects them as though they have nothing to do with them. They created them, and encouraged them. Society is responsible.”
That line of argument, in turn, drew sharp condemnation from Priyamvada Gopal, a faculty member at the University of Cambridge, in The Guardian's opinion section Wednesday.
"To reduce rape to a matter of a generic Indian male mindset is to fail rape victims," wrote Gopal. "It is, at best, embarrassingly facile. At worst, it is to collude in the silences about gender exploitation and sexual violence as very modern problems inseparable from every other form of global exploitation that blights our supposedly emancipated times."
The Truth About The 'Sound Of Music' Family
"Everyone thinks the Sound of Music was exactly the way things happened, and of course it wasn't because there had to be artistic licence," says Johannes von Trapp. He is the youngest son of Georg and Maria -- the decorated naval commander and singing nun turned governess of the film.
North Koreans Didn't Like 'The Interview,' But They Love 'The Hunger Games'
It's no surprise that North Koreans were not fans of Seth Rogen and James Franco's controversial comedy "The Interview," which chronicled the fictional assassination of the country's leader Kim Jong-un. But they do love watching the dystopian, adventure-filled "Hunger Games" franchise, according to WIRED senior writer Andy Greenberg.
Greenberg investigated North Korea's intricate smuggling networks for a piece published in the magazine this week, and he told HuffPost Live on Wednesday that the reaction to "The Interview" was even more "complicated" than the dramatic lead-up to its release.
"Many North Koreans don't like this movie," he told host Alyona Minkovski. "If you haven't had the groundwork laid to understand this is a comedy, that it's not making fun of North Korea, that it's making fun of the North Korean regime, for instance, you might be offended by this. And many North Koreans are."
Greenberg said "The Interview" quickly made its way beyond North Korea's tightly-sealed border after threats to theaters forced Sony to release the film online instead.
"[The North Korean government knows] that these smuggling operations are there, that they're effective. Two days after its release, Chinese trucks managed to get 'The Interview' into the country," Greenberg claimed.
Despite the negative response among North Koreans, Greenberg added that residents of the country are not completely turned off to western films and television shows.
"They prefer 'The Hunger Games.' They prefer 'Desperate Housewives,'" he said.
Greenberg also learned of other western media that had trickled into North Korea. One 21-year-old activist named Yeonmi Park told Greenberg she grew up watching a bootleg version of "Titanic," which she saw as "revolutionary." Among her other favorites were "Cinderella, "Snow White" and "Pretty Woman." Park even learned to speak English by watching countless reruns of "Friends."
Learn more about the smuggling of western media into North Korea in the clip above.
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Star Wars, Starbucks and the Lesson That Changed My Life
Image credit: Quibe
I grew up with a brother. Therefore, I am well-versed in all things Star Wars. I can remember building with my brother in our playroom for hours -- wooden blocks to house The Millenium Falcon, Dominoes surrounding The Death Star for good measure and the Ewok village behind Mom's spider plants, equipped with a net to catch Han, Chewie and Luke. Always, I, as Leia, would recite lines from the movie -- pleading for help, of course. My best friend (Jen) also grew up with a brother and also shares this love of Star Wars.
Cut to Jen and I very seriously talking at Starbucks about a particular scene from the movie where Luke Skywalker watches the holographic display. What does Luke see on this holograph projected by R2-D2? Oh, I will gladly tell you! He sees a very secretive Princess Leia -- in disguise -- pleading,
"Help me Obi-Wan Kenobi. You're my only hope."
And this plea is what I believe to be one of our greatest human flaws.
With my one-pump-vanilla-latté-no-foam in hand, I say to Jen, "Being like Leia sucks, because if you only have one hope in life and are attached to one solution, you're screwed."
"No, I am serious! All eggs in one basket is the worst way to live your life." Of course, I go on to list all my "eggs in one basket" moments of destruction:
- The agent who was going to be the only person to further my career.
- The man I thought was the only man who would ever love me in that way.
- The apartment I coveted (on which I was outbid) that I swore was the only place I could make a home.
These "only hopes" were ingrained into my brain as a 7-year-old in our playroom in
"Help me, you're my only hope." And just like that, I believed it to be true.
Image credit: Quibe
As I left my conversation with Jen, I realized that I really am a J. I .T. (Jedi-in-training). I pride myself on it, actually. There are many skills necessary to be a Jedi but, perhaps, the most important are the following things:
- When Obi-Wan Kenobi is your only hope, you are headed to the Dark Side. Translation for non-Star Wars folks: Putting all your eggs in one basket is dangerous. It is our worries and fears that cause us to create Obi-Wans. Now I am not saying, "Have no hope." Hope is essential in creating what we desire. We need hope, y'all. I am talking about living a jaded life, always waiting for the shoe to drop, dress rehearsing disaster, etc. All these things happen when we are making something our only hope.
- Trust the Force. This means believe in yourself, no matter what the hell happens. I often have clients ask me if I am religious. How do you feel about psychics, astrologers, coincidences, etc? Listen, if it allows you to trust more, let go of control, release attachment, and calm the crazy, then I am in! Your force is whatever you make it to be.
It can be easy to trust when everything is going your way, but what do you grab onto when it everything falls apart? Remember to trust and then take action. Cultivating resilience in the face of adversity is something a Jedi does quite well, and I am all about it.
Be psyched! Want what you want. Be honest with yourself that you want it.
Want the relationship to work out, a job to be the right one, that property you looked at to be your dream house, but don't make your happiness depend on it. It simply cannot be the only outcome that will bring you joy or you risk heading for The Death Star. For real.
Trust knowing that it's either this or something better. I know Yoda would agree.
'Toy Story 4' Will Not Continue Plot Of 'Toy Story 3'
"Toy Story 4" isn't out for another two years, but we've got our first idea of what it might look like. Speaking to Disney Latino, Pixar president Jim Morris said the new sequel will not really look like a traditional sequel at all.
"The third movie was over in a beautiful way and completed a trilogy. I think this movie is not part of [that] trilogy," Morris said (translation via Google). "We are putting together a very nice story. It is not a continuation of the end of the story of 'Toy Story 3.' Temporarily it is, but it will be a love story. It will be a romantic comedy. It will not make much focus on the interaction between the characters and children. I think it will be a very good movie."
That "Toy Story 4" will have a different slant isn't a total surprise. When Pixar announced plans for the film last year, director John Lasseter -- who directed the first two "Toy Story" films -- said he was most excited about the project's new direction.
"Toy Story 3' ended Woody and Buzz's story with Andy so perfectly that for a long time, we never even talked about doing another 'Toy Story' movie," Lasseter said. "But when Andrew [Stanton], Pete [Docter], Lee [Unkrich] and I came up with this new idea, I just could not stop thinking about it. It was so exciting to me, I knew we had to make this movie -- and I wanted to direct it myself."
Lasseter also brought on Rashida Jones and Will McCormack to co-write the "Toy Story 4" script. "They have such a great sense of character and originality," Lasseter said to the Los Angeles Times. "And I wanted to get a strong female voice in the writing of this."
A representative for Pixar was not immediately available for comment. "Toy Story 4" is out on July 16, 2017.
Are This Season's Diverse Shows Ushering in a New Era of Multicultural Television?
In the first episode of ABC’s "Fresh Off the Boat, a new fish-out-of-water sitcom about a Taiwanese-American family that moves from DC to suburban Orlando, patriarch Louis Huang (Randall Park) floats the idea of hiring a white greeter for the steakhouse he owns so white people will feel comfortable when they walk in and spot a familiar face. It’s a clueless, optimistic line that is played for laughs, and Park’s delivery is laugh-out-loud funny.
Celebrities Take To Social Media To Show Support For #LeanInTogether
Since the launch of Sheryl Sandberg's #LeanInTogether initiative, the campaign has amassed quite the celebrity following.
In partnership with the NBA and WNBA, #LeanInTogether encourages men to help women in the fight for gender equality and emphasizes the economic and social benefits both genders can gain from equality. Everyone from entertainers to athletes and politicians have spread awareness for the campaign on social media.
Celebrities like Beyoncé, Gwyneth Paltrow, Warren Buffett and Dwayne Johnson have posted images and words of support for the #LeanInTogether campaign. Athletes including Chris Bosh, Stephen Curry, Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova have also backed the initiative with #LeanInTogether posts.
Check out some of the posts below:
When Kenny Lerer and I launched @huffingtonpost on May 9, 2005, we could never have imagined what it has become. I am deeply grateful for his insights and vision that were instrumental to what we created together. And all these years later, Kenny is one of my closest friends, who I turn to — and lean on — for his wisdom, judgment, wit, and incredible loyalty. And today is his birthday! #LeanInTogether
A photo posted by Arianna Huffington (@ariannahuff) on
A photo posted by Hugh Jackman (@thehughjackman) on
In for equality? Pass it on by either posting an image to social media showing why you're for equality or an image of a man in your life who's leaning in for equality with the hashtag #LeanInTogether.
Susan Sarandon's Boyfriend Jonathan Bricklin Quashes Split Rumors
Despite reports to the contrary, Susan Sarandon and Jonathan Bricklin have not broken up.
Bricklin shut down the New York Post's claims that the pair ended their five-year relationship following an alleged disagreement over a reality show.
On Thursday, the 37-year-old told People magazine, that their relationship is complicated, but they haven't called it quits.
"Susan and I have a lot of respect and great admiration for each other. It's impossible to concisely characterize our relationship, other than to say that it continues to evolve in new and unexpected ways," he explained. She supported my decision to be a part of AOL's 'Connected,' and making this series about my life has brought up real and somewhat unexplored issues, but it didn't break us up."
According to Variety, "Connected" is AOL's first attempt at a long-form digital series and will feature six New Yorkers, including Bricklin, who will document their lives for six months.
Sarandon, 68, who is an investor in SPiN -- the ping pong lounge Bricklin co-owns -- will make appearances on the series, according to People.
Sarandon first opened up about her relationship with Bricklin this past October after keeping mum about their romance for years.
"Our collaboration extends into several areas,” the actress told Hello! magazine, brushing off any worry about the 31-year age gap between them. "It’s the soul of a person that interests me. When you are in love, the question of age, sex, color no longer hold any importance.”
Full disclosure: The Huffington Post is owned by AOL.
Samantha Bee Will Host TBS Comedy Series, Won't Be Jon Stewart's Replacement
Samantha Bee is known mostly for her hilarious bits on "The Daily Show," but on Thursday TBS announced that she'll join the network to host and executive produce a new satirical news series. Her husband, former "Daily Show" correspondent Jason Jones, will also executive produce.
"We're thrilled to have Sam join Jason at TBS and really make this a family affair. We actually have their kids coming in next week to pitch us animation," Brett Weitz, executive vice president of original programming for TBS, said in a statement. "Like her fans around the country, we absolutely adore everything about Sam, from her straight-faced sarcasm and ruthless wit to her uncanny ability to mine comedy gold from just about any awkward situation. After watching Sam's work for years, we knew that her distinctive humor and talent belong at the front of her own show."
The new show is different than the 10-episode scripted series Bee already signed on to produce with Jones for TBS. The untitled scripted show will star Jones as the head of a family on a road trip to Florida. Natalie Zea, Ashley Gerasimovich and Liam Carroll also star.
News of Bee's series means that she won't replace Jon Stewart as host of "The Daily Show." As longtime correspondents, Bee and Jones were on many critics' short list to take over for Stewart when he announced his departure from the show. Luckily, fans will get their fix of the couple over at TBS.
Fifty Shades of Animal Sex and the Evolution of Sadomasochism
As researcher, I study the psychology of human-animal interactions, but at Western Carolina University, I am known as "the guy who teaches the sex class." When the book Fifty Shades of Grey took over the best seller list, I started getting lots of questions from my students about sadomasochism, and bondage and domination. I am not an expert on the topic, but several the students were. They organized an in-class panel to explain the psychology of BDSM to me and the rest of class. Their discussion of the joys of mixing pain and pleasure did not make me want to order a set of fur-lined handcuffs or a vegan-friendly whip from Amazon. It did, however, get me thinking about the similarities and differences between human and animal sexuality, and specifically, are non-human animals interested in experiencing recreational pain?
Kinky Animal Sex
My course includes a lecture on the evolution of sex. The take-home messages is that there is hardly anything that is completely "unnatural" in the animal kingdom. Homosexuality, for example, has been documented in over 400 species. Among my favorite examples of kinky animal sex are cunnilingus in fruit bats, masturbation in horses, trans-sexuality in fish, and necrophilia in frogs and spiders. And, of course, there is the unusual sexual anatomy of female spotted hyenas. Not only do they give birth through their penis, they also copulate though the opening in it. (Here's where you can find out how they pull off this nifty trick.)
S & M: An Evolutionary Puzzle
From an evolutionary point of view, however, sexual attraction to pain would seem to be maladaptive. Pain is, by definition, aversive. It evolved as a signal to get our attention and keep us out of trouble. And the more agonizing the pain, the more your brain is bombarded with neuronal impulses that scream "Danger! Pay attention NOW!!" Hence, sentient creatures should avoid pain-inducing stimuli and situations. Yet the sales of over 60 million copies of Fifty Shades of Grey are proof that many humans enjoy at least fantasizing about Bondage/Domination/Sado-Masochism (BDSM). So, is there a non-human analog of finding sexual satisfaction in being whipped, poked with needles, or having hot wax dripped on your skin?
Well, animal sex can be rough. Bed bug males have a sword-like penis they stab through the abdominal wall of females and eject sperm directly into their blood streams. And one time, my wife and I watched, horrified, while three male ducks gang-raped a hapless female in a canal in Amsterdam.
But I could not come up with any animal parallels to Fifty Shades of Grey. So I asked the experts. I sent out queries via e-mail and Facebook to some of my animal behaviorist pals. In his response, zoologist Harry Greene pointed out that some lizard sex is so violent the females bear the scars for weeks. John Placyk, a behavioral ecologist who raises ducks and chickens, said he had seen many instances of males intentionally hurting females during sex. Lani Lyman noted that very rough play in dogs, "is often followed by humping..." Bear researcher Bob Jordan pointed out similarities between human B and D games and the ritualized dominance and submissive behaviors seen during animal play. And University of Tennessee ethologist Gordon Burghardt sent me to an article on sexual play in spiders.
But while these examples bear superficial similarities to human S & M, they don't strike me as really being the same phenomenon as Ana experiences in Fifty Shades. (One of my students lent me a copy. I lasted three chapters.) The ethologist Marc Bekoff is also skeptical that non-human animals engage in S & M. When I asked Marc if he knew of any examples in animals, he just said, "nope." Which brings us to red hot chili peppers (the spice -- not the band).
Hot Foods, Painful Sex, and the Masochism of Everyday Life
University of Pennsylvania psychologist Paul Rozin would probably agree that BDSM is restricted to our species. Rozin refers to inherently aversive activities that are transformed into forms of pleasure as "benign masochism." He recently wrote "Benign masochism.... requires some sort of "cognitive over-ride," and should be distinctively human. There is no strong evidence for liking for innately negative experiences in animals."
Take, for example, the enjoyment of the burn of chili peppers. Rozin once tried to teach rats to like the taste of hot chilies. This task should be simple as rats, like humans, are omnivores, and learning plays a major role in the development of their dietary preferences. Except for when it comes to hot chilies. Rozin tried everything: exposing rats to hot peppers from infancy, gradually introducing chilies into the rat diets, pairing chilies with highly preferred foods, etc., etc. Finally, in desperation, he discovered a way to get rats to eat chili-laced foods -- destroy their taste receptors. He concluded that it is just about impossible to overcome a rat's instinctive aversion to the taste of spicy hot foods.
Later, in a series of elegant studies, Rozin showed that, like rats, humans also find the taste of hot chilies innately aversive. However, over time, many people (including me) overcome their instincts and come to enjoy the burn. Subsequently, Rozin and his colleagues listed dozens of examples of activities in which humans learn enjoy intrinsically negative experiences -- the terrifying thrill of a roller coaster ride, the peaty taste of scotch whiskey, watching movies that make you want to cry, listening to T-Bone Walker wail "Stormy Monday." Rozin refers to these experiences as "the masochism of everyday life." They are, essentially, cheap thrills that come from tricking your body into erroneously feeling that you are on the edge, that you are flirting with danger. In short, the rush that comes from of the burn of hot peppers in your mouth -- or hot wax on your skin -- emerges from an unconscious tango between mind and body.
Sadomasochism: A Uniquely Human Pleasure?
In his book Stumbling on Happiness, Dan Gilbert wrote that every psychologist who puts pen to paper takes a vow to someday write a sentence that begins, "The human being is the only animal that...." Previously, I have claimed that we are the only animal to keep pets (here and here.) But I may need to add finds "pleasure in suffering" to my "the only animal that..." list.
I asked Julie Hecht, a dog researcher who writes the great blog Dog Spies, for an example of canine S & M. Julie was stumped, and she replied, "Maybe this is the area where humans are truly unique!"
I agree. I have hard time believing a dog or a chimpanzees would, like the fictional Ana, come to enjoy the sting of the whip.
Hal Herzog blogs on psychology and human-animal interactions at Animals and Us.
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