Celebritology Live

Aug 09, 2012

Celebritology blogger Jen Chaney gabbed about the latest celebrity gossip and pop culture news making waves across the Web.

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What's up?

Chaney Boo Boo is here and ready to chat. (This is my new name by the way. Get used to it.)

I may even remember to hit the live button this week so people can actually see the questions and answers. What can I say? I'm a giver.

Let's do this.

What in the world is going on with Randy Travis? I thought he had some sense, but apparently not.

Clearly I do not know first hand what specifically is going on with Randy Travis.

However, it certainly appears that he has a drinking problem and is going through a very bad spell. Let's hope he gets himself together. He's lucky he didn't kill or seriously injure himself or anyone else during his alleged drunk driving episode earlier this week.

Please stop subjecting us to massive egos like Lochte's and Phelps'. Sorry, Jen et al., but them dating models is in no way newsworthy. Then there's Ryan Lochte's grill, which is proof positive only of having more money than brains. I was so-o-o glad when the Olympic folks (with whom I often disagree re protocol) refused to present Lochte his gold medal as long as he wanted to wear it for the ceremony, so he finally backed down. Why doesn't Lochte just hock the infernal contraption anyway (the metal and gems could be repurposed into attractive jewelry), and donate the proceeds to a worthy cause -- like, say, teammate Cullen Jones' or Water Polo star Brenda Villa's swimming programs for under-served youth, which are far more deserving of public attention?

I agree with you about the grill and think that donating the proceeds to one of his co-Olympian's causes is a great idea.

As far as never covering Phelps or Lochte though, I think that's a tough one. As I noted before these Olympics began, some of these people either are or will become celebrities in their own right as a result of the Games. Phelps already was in that category. And Lochte, while a bit of a heartthrob during the last games, has emerged like a meme just waiting for his moment. These guys are not going away, and the sillier they behave ("Jeah!") the more people may be interested.

Which is not to say I am changing the name of this blog to Lochte-ology. But I also won't say that I will never, ever write about him or some of the other Olympians, especially if they show up on "Dancing With the Stars," cameo in movies, etc. yadda yadda.

Hopefully you where I'm coming from. Also, BTW, I tried to find that Jesse Owens movie you recommended on Netflix and they don't seem to have it. Bummed.

Love that! Hate the reality TV concept. Am not a reality TV fan in general. Feel good stuff I can understand (Home Makeover, Biggest Loser, etc.) but what do you suppose is the draw for the really ridiculous shows? For people to watch and think to themselves "Thank God I'm not as pathetic as these people?"

I actually haven't watched either, but I can't get the words Honey Boo Boo out of my head. 

Like you, I am not a reality show fan. But my sense is that shows like "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" are the equivalent of crazy-people watching with a pseudo-narrative attached to it. A lot of us love to just sit on the boardwalk and watch people walk by wearing ridiculous outfits, yelling inane things at their family members and generally behaving like the lovable freaks that most human beings are.

"Honey Boo Boo" and shows like it appeal to that people-watching impulse, but with situations that are even more extreme. And they lets us engage in the "tee hee hee" people watching without having to get off the couch. Really, it's what Americans crave: the capacity to giggle at others' expense without having to think or do physical exercise. Also, for some, it's just a plain old guilty pleasure. Which I kind of get.

It really isn't even all that important to me whether it is true or not (although as an X-Files fan girl it would be awesome if it was). The twitter/internet response has been hilarious and awesome and so entertaining that the truthiness hardly matters. This is the prism I view most celeb gossip through these days...if it entertains me, I am all for it.

For the record, Duchovny's rep says it's not true. So it probably isn't. 

But watching everyone go bonkers has been fun. And what you said about how we look at celebrity news these days is so right -- I think most readers assume what they're reading is untrue, or at least has a strong chance of being false. But the "value," for lack of a better word, is in the conversations people have around the "news" moreso than the actual information itself.

Which is frightening from a journalistic perspective, but also entertaining for those who enjoy a quality tweet and/or GIF. And who doesn't?

The only way he could be any more of a tool is if he either released it on player piano reels or transmitted a signal set to reverberate the album on Ryan Lochte's asinine grill.

OH MY GOD.

This is the purpose Lochte's grill was always meant to serve. Now I understand the reason for its existence!

I'm hesitant to completely blast Beck for this because I genuinely like his work. But he has really set himself up for mockery, that's for sure.

Jen, I want to compliment you on the marvelous essay/column you wrote about the movie Hope Springs. There are so many people in that boat--they love their longtime partner but something just drifted away. I do agree with one of the other commenters that one reason we might not see those types of thoughtful movies in the big star/name/budget realm is because it's tough to watch when you're going through it and, let's face it, Meryl Streep and Tommy Lee Jones are going to draw the demographic that's going through it. A catch-22. Anyway, that was some durn fine writing.

First of all, thanks for the kind words.

Second, I need to go back and look at the comments. I wrote that piece and then had to dash off to a movie screening so I didn't have a moment to read them.

That said, I don't think movies like this need to boast big budgets. If a script is great, even big-name actors are sometimes willing to cut their fees to do the project. I do agree that movies about troubled marriages are a tough sell, which is probably why "Hope Springs" is being marketed as a delightful comedy, which it isn't, quite.

Still, I would love to see some more bravery when it comes to depicting relationships as they really are, and not the sanitizied, oversimplified Hollywood version. "Hope Springs" does a bit of that, too, at certain points. But when a mainstream movie is even 75% honest, it's pretty striking.

Read that when Will Ferrell and Zach Galifiankis were initially planning to co-star in a movie together last year, they were thinking of making it about two men who have little boys on the tot beauty pageant circuit. But then the Sandusky scandal became public last November (oops!), so they had to change the plot, eventually settling on two candidates vying for the same political office.

I didn't make it to "The Campaign" but I've heard mixed things about it. The beauty pageant plot sounds potentially funnier but also dicier. I can see how that easily could have been too offensive.

I would, however, like to see Ferrell try to convince Pearl to become a pageant star. I have a feeling she would not take any stage direction from him.

and get rid of the character-based ones. I don't care about rednecks, pawn shops, or storage facilities, and the spray-tanned denizens of pageant and bachelor/jersey shore/real house wife shows scare and annoy me. I like shows where people need talent, like Top Chef, or Face-Off, or feel good shows like Extreme Makeover. Can't we get rid of the schadenfreude-fests that the likes of TLC keep pumping out?

Given the amount of chatter "Here Comes Honey Boo Boo" has generated, I would say no.

But I empathize with you.

Call me naive, but isn't it possible that after having co-starred in a TV series for several years, perhaps Gillian Anderson trusts David Duchovny implicitly, so has turned to him in a stressful time in her life. Notwithstanding DD's reputation, it could plausibly be a platonic friendship.

Sure. But the stories circulating have suggested their relationship is romantic, and that does not appear to be the truth.

Unless ... the truth is still out there.

Another option for Ryan Lochte would that genealogy show, "Who Do You Think You Are?" since maybe there are some interesting branches of his family tree and also "Who do you think you are?" seems to the response to his attitude at the Summer Olympics.

Good idea.

And then, as a follow-up, he could do "Who Do You Think Your Mouth Grill Is"? And then we'd all learn that Lochte's grill is actually a distant cousin of Lil Jon's. I'm getting teary just thinking about it.

So, not to pick a fight, but the classic "Queen for a Day" exploitation of people in unfortunate circumstances is okay, but the "gawking at them from the side of the road" version isn't? At it's core, other than tacking on a completely fake "feel good" ending, how do these types of shows actually differ. And, frankly, given that many of the "winners" on the feel good shows are abandoned afterwards, and face foreclosure, re-gaining of wieght/re-adoption of unhealthy life-styles, one could even argue that the "feel good" reality shows are even more cruel than the "gawker" ones, which at least provide some kind of income to the carnival side-show stars during the course of production.

You raise very good points. I mean, all the reality stuff is fake to varying degrees. I guess some feel less skeezy watching shows that at least are trying to convey a positive message, even if some of its situations are just as orchestrated as we see on other shows.

Personally, I think we should all just watch "Parenthood," "Breaking Bad" and "American Horror Story" and forget about the reality stuff. But that is not the world we live in.

Full disclaimer: I make the previous statement knowing full well that I will probably watch this "Honey Boo Boo" business to keep up with the cultural dialogue. You know. It's for work.

Why all the Phelps and Locthe hate? Sure, they both have large egos, but they have the skills (and medals) to back it up. At least they are famous for doing something that took years of dedication and sacrifice. You really can't say that about a lot of the people that are discussed in this chat.

I actually like Phelps. And I don't dislike Lochte, I just must acknowledge that he's kind of a goofball. (Please read this Jezebel piece about him. It is a riot.)

They deserve praise for what they've done as athletes, for sure. But their personas as celebrities are different things, and it will be interesting to see how they handle themselves going forward. Phelps already has learned some lessons on this front; Lochte, however, may be in for some wake-up calls.

Will Jon Stewart confine his Daily Show questions to Cosmopolis-related inquiries, or will he tread on the touchy personal issues of the last few weeks?

Excellent question. I don't see how Stewart can avoid asking Pattinson about "The Affair." I suspect he may tread lightly and with his trademar humor, then switch over to Cosmopolis and Twilight talk that isn't related to Stewart. But we'll see. Very interested to see how Pattinson handles both this and his GMA interview next week.

Good Grief. I must be getting old. Lochte is a kid in his early twenties not always doing or saying the "right" thing. He has a grill. So what? He can spend his money any he wants to. He wanted to wear it at the wrong time? Officials told him he couldn't, problem solved. Charities are always deserving of more publicity and money. How about instead wanting and complaining on the internet that Lochte should donate to the aforementioned charities, you donate? I'm sure Jones' and Villa would appreciate it.

Wait, you're asking us to do something ourselves instead of just criticizing others?

That's just ... that's ... well, that's a fair thing to suggest.

Another interesting point re "Hope Springs" that's been pointed out is that Steve Carrell brilliantly underplays his role as the couples' therapist. I wish more folks wouldn't confuse scenery-chewing with great acting.

Very true. As Ann Hornaday said in her review, he's wonderfully understated, even softens his voice in a way that makes him come across as this trustworthy soul you would want to confide in.

Could not believe that some whack job has been stalking and threatening Ellen Page, of all people. Is it even possible to be a celeb nowadays without having stalkers who are at minimum creepy, if not worse?

I think it's possible not to have stalkers, but the reality is that it's something you can't control. Even non-famous people are plagued by online stalkers sometimes. 

In any case, it's a little scary. One likes to hope that most of the people who make threats on Twitter or other Web sites wouldn't actually act on them. But these days, you never know.

and watch documentary films. They are more real than most reality tv, and hey, there's even a little city just up the red line called Silver Spring that hosts an annual documentary festival.

Nice suggestion.

I love that recommendation.People, please stop watching reality shows. They are taking time slots away from dramas and comedies and good works made by skilled people who work for the Actors Guild and Writers Guild. When you watch reality shows, you are working non-Guild scripted shows that lack the imagination and artistry you find in most dramas and comedies.

Agreed. There are enough channels out there to have room for both reality and scripted shows. But it does bother me when really fine series -- and I include "Parenthood" in that category -- don't get as much attention as shows that, as you say, require far less imagination and talent to create.

"Jeah! Great-grandmother was from County Kerry, Ireland!" Somehow I can't really picture Ryan Lochte going to churches, municipal libraries and county courthouses to get out his ancestors' vital records or old newspapers on microfilm.

That quote alone is why I would watch that episode, even though it's technically a reality show and I just said we should all stop doing that.

Well, for whatever it's worth, I'm all for Lochte and Phelps to do whatever they want with grills, goofiness and "call me maybe" videos. The guys have been swimming for HOURS for YEARS. They've put up with physical strain and pain that we will never feel in our lives. Not only that, they go and WIN. So what if he wants to wear grills? What if he has 9646 pairs of shoes? They are champs! So, nobody ever said anything about Tiger Woods neat looks and see where that ended up. Let the goofs be goofs... relax people. And please keep your shirts off, gentlemen.

Yeah! Shut-up everybody, and let this man parade around shirtless from now until the end of time, as God clearly intended.

I love how passionately people feel about this.

"And, frankly, given that many of the "winners" on the feel good shows are abandoned afterwards, and face foreclosure, re-gaining of wieght/re-adoption of unhealthy life-styles, one could even argue that the "feel good" reality shows are even more cruel than the "gawker" ones, which at least provide some kind of income to the carnival side-show stars during the course of production." And this is where I -- generally not a reality fan, but someone who does watch "The Biggest Loser" while on the treadmill -- have to object. Although one winner of that show did regain his weight, the show puts a lot of emphasis on developing and sustaining healthy food and exercise habits, and many of the contestants continue to live that way after the show. Every season they show an array of past contestants (not just winners) who run marathons and stuff like that. Many of them seem to turn it into a career, working as trainers at weight-loss resorts affiliated with the show, or as motivational speakers, or as spokespeople for products that advertise on the show, and so on. For the record, no, I have no connection to "The Biggest Loser" except as a viewer, and yes, I do keep my soapbox right next to my treadmill.

These are fair points. "Biggest Loser" may have some merit. But then what about "Celebrity Fit Club"? That seems more about schadenfreude, because of the celeb angle, than Biggest Loser.

I recently had a baby, I suffer from Titanic scale sleep deprivation, i need to stay awake and Honey boo boo may do the trick. I don't want to watch documentaries about the Great Depression or Cheetah cubs getting eaten by eagles. I may be a monster but, why NOBODY else is admitting to watch this garbage? Are you saying that they are getting all their Nielsen ratings from me, alone? We need some honesty, people

Oh, people are watching it. And they're reading about it, too, judging from the response I've seen to Hank Stuever's review and reviews on other Web sites.

And for what it's worth, I watched more reality TV during my maternity leave than I ever did before or since. At the risk of oversharing, there was a lot of time when I had to just sit and stare into space while nursing or pumping. And consequently, I wound up staring at whatever was on Bravo, including "Top Design," "Work Out," the one about the hair dressers that was really not very good....

Yes, this was in 2007. Thanks for asking. Anyway, you're not alone. And we still like you. No judging here, my dear.

is the greatest thing I've read all week. Thanks for that!

Hey, I didn't write it. But if sharing it made your day, then I will say, "You're welcome."

So what happens to his concert tour? He was supposed to play in my town; concert got rescheduled because of rain (it was outdoors). I'm not interested in seeing him but my favorite local band (Pure Cane Sugar--check them out!) is scheduled to open for him and I'd hate for them to miss this opportunity.

Good question. My guess is that dates will be rescheduled, but I don't know that for a fact. Keep an eye on his Web site. Certainly if the tour gets canceled because of all this, it will be mentioned in Celebritology.

But the big difference is that on the reality TV shows those people KNOW they're being watched and obviously pander to the camera. On the boardwalk it's just pure, unfiltered crazy. So much better.

True.

And that's how the new reality show "Unfiltered Rehoboth Beach Boardwalk Camera" became a new midseason replacement on CBS.

Is Honey Boo Boo related to Honey Badger? If so, how?

No, not related. But someone has got to be making this connection via a cheeky T-shirt and/or photo-caption meme as we speak.

 

Doesn't Kristi Yamaguchi realize that her endorsement of Mitt Romney for President -- see ad currently running during the Olympics, praising the 2002 SLC Olympic director -- is inherently going to alienate her from roughly half of her fan base?

Maybe she doesn't care? You could say that about any celeb who endorses a candidate.

What do you think is the REAL reason that the "Great Gatsby" remake is being delayed? Not good enough for the year-end Oscar sprint? (see how I tied this into the Olympics there?)

Yes, well done.

I think it's possible that they decided they'd rather not compete against films like "The Master" and "Lincoln." It's also possible that Luhrmann still wants to do additional tinkering.

Kind of off topic but do you know why the Reliable Sources Q&A didnt't happen yesterday? Thank you.

First: sorry for the delay; I was in the middle of answering a question and the chat software crashed. So to the person who had a great, in-depth question about Olympic celebrity: my apologies. The whole got lost.

Re: Reliable Source: Amy and Roxanne are on vacation until Aug. 27, I believe. So I assume there will be no chats for the next couple of weeks. 

It struck me that we have become a very changed society. I was listening to a negative political ad this morning and I immediately assumed it was biased and probably not completely true. I see the gossip papers in stores with celebrity news and immediately assume that all those headlines are false. Yet, it did not occur to me until now that we have become a society which gets our news and immediately dismisses it, and probably so with good reason. What does that mean about our society? I ask this seriously.

I am more likely to assume that something is false -- or at least that there's another motive behind a story -- when it comes to celeb headlines. The same is true of political stories, too. Too many people potentially have something to gain if we believe that we should feel sorry for Robert Pattinson, or that Romney understands how to run the country in a way that Barack Obama does not. (I realize that was a ridiculous sentence, but just bear with me.)

Stories about natural disasters or bombings or economic recovery or whatever, that are based on something that happened and how regular people respond to it -- I generally trust those to be true.

I think people have less faith in the news media than they used to. I also think, in general, we're more cynical and discerning as consumers of news, which is not necessarily a bad thing. And I think that, when it comes to pop culture stories, as was stated earlier, we just want to enjoy discussing them. So the "truth" of them is sometimes less important to people than the potential to "squee!" over something. If that makes sense.

I still think news has value, and I think there's even value in the fact that we're all smart enough not to take things at face value. We're all fact checkers now. We just don't get paid to do it. 

Can you make a post about it tomorrow or next week, perhaps, then?

Good idea, smart person. I'll try to copy the question and save it. The answer is gone and the question is locked and I have no producer, so ... ugh.

Thanks for this suggestion. I'll hope to post on this tomorrow.

Why is it that we need to watch documentaries and read "War and Peace"? Why are people that do that are better than others? Say you work 12 hour days, and have a family to feed, cloth and maintain sanity. Why?! for the love of pete WHY people keep saying "watch a documentary" "read this god awful boring book". No, we all need idiotic entertainment as not to blow a gasket here and there. Like, say... the checkout aisle full of celebrity magazine (i drool at the though... oooohhh)

For all of my indignation over reality TV, I agree with the core of what you're saying here. Should we all read good literature and watch illuminating documentaries? Sure, absolutely. But that doesn't we can't ever watch a mindless reality show or indulge in a good old-fashioned "Wipeout" marathon.

It's called diversifying. In the stock market, the smart investor might put her money in boring old reliable bonds (your "War and Peace" equivalent) but also invest in exciting but potentially dicey stocks (your "Honey Boo Boos") to keep things interesting. It's called balance. Going to one pop cultural extreme or another can set your snobby-to-brainless ratios completely out of whack.

And with that, I'm outta here. Thanks for all the great questions and thoughts today. This was a fantastic chat. Let's do it again next week, shall we?

Oh dear, I'll try to re-type it. I knew I should have saved it on my clipboard!

Chiming in on this post-chat: I saved your answer and will address it in a blog post. So you're all set. Don't do all that re-typing for no reason.

Okay, now it's bye for real. Thanks again, everyone.

In This Chat
Jen Chaney
Jen Chaney anchors The Washington Post's Celebritology blog, The Post's online window into the world of pop culture and celebrities. She also frequently writes about entertainment trends, filmmakers and other Hollywood-related matters for the print edition of The Washington Post.

A Post staffer for more than a decade, Jen also can be seen reviewing movies on WETA's "Around Town," where she is one of the show's regular film critics. Last year, she contributed a series of essays to the book, "The Friday Night Lights Companion."

When she isn't blogging, at the movies or watching a television show, she's ... um ... probably at home watching a movie or a TV show.

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