Category Archives: Celebrity Happenings

Why I’m glad my 12-year-old son saw Taylor Swift live

Taylor Swift 1989 poster on carpoolcandy.com

I can’t get the “Bad Blood” tune out of my head after seeing Taylor Swift live at MetLife Stadium last night. A lot of the show stuck with me today and I’m hoping will stick with my 9 and 12-year-old sons who also sang, danced and waved hands late into the night.

Aden asked for a ticket to the show for his 12th birthday in May so the grandparents contributed to the (very expensive) ticket fund. Eli got treated to the concert by his Aunt Beth and Uncle Jon for an early birthday (and Hanukkah, and probably 8th grade graduation– those tickets are $$$!) present.

boys at Taylor Swift concert on carpoolcandy.com

Some were surprised to hear my boys wanted to go because Swift’s fan base is largely girls. But I’m proud to say my boys are pretty evolved, and care more about good music and pop culture icons than stereotypes. Can’t imagine where they learned that.

There were not many boys in the audience, true. The sold out show was primarily tens of thousands of screaming, devoted girls and women. The age span went from 7 to 40-something, if you include the accompanying moms who seemed to like her as much as their daughters.

Taylor Swift 1989 concert at MetLife Stadium NJ on carpoolcandy.com

I don’t know if I’ve ever seen concert fans go all out like this. There were thousands of girls dressed up– it was Justice meets Halloween.

Taylor Swift 1989 concert at MetLife Stadium NJ on carpoolcandy.com

The girls seemed to be clumped in groups, marked by their own unique spin of Taylor-fashion: colored tutus, matching jerseys, giant sunglasses, light up jewelry, cut and beaded tank tops, and of course, Taylor concert t-shirts.

These girls were dressed as Grammys!

These girls were dressed as Grammys!

She’s gotta be making a fortune on merchandising. Even before the concert started they were sold out of most sizes.

Taylor Swift 1989 concert at MetLife Stadium NJ on carpoolcandy.com

Oh and the signs—such creative, labor-intensive signs these girls brought.

Taylor Swift 1989 concert at MetLife Stadium NJ on carpoolcandy.com

Giant letters that spelled out song titles, accessorized with LED lights to be seen in the dark, and hot pink poster boards with messages to their idol. Adorable!

Taylor Swift 1989 concert at MetLife Stadium NJ on carpoolcandy.com

Taylor gave the love right back. She opened with “Welcome to New York,” which made the crowd go wild…

Taylor Swift 1989 concert at MetLife Stadium NJ on carpoolcandy.com

… and sang many hits from 1989 and some favorites from past albums, including an acoustic version of “You Belong to Me” and a slowed down version of “Love Story.

Although I don’t have girls, I was a girl once and remember listening to my favorite songs over and over to memorize every word. I remember belting out lyrics into my hairbrush and making up dances. We may be living in a digital age of disengagement but loving music in that way hasn’t changed a bit.

The fans sang every word all night long and with such passion and gusto, you couldn’t help getting swept up in the moment.

As expected, there were at least 7 or 8 costume changes– all accentuating her impossibly long legs and svelte figure. I loved all the costumes– the black leather badass rock star getup for “Bad Blood” was my fav– and although she doesn’t do choreographed dance much, she has perfected the hair flip, runway strut, and over-the-shoulder flirty look.

Taylor Swift 1989 concert at MetLife Stadium NJ on carpoolcandy.com

Everyone got a white plastic bracelet when they entered the stadium, which had special lights inside that lit up on command. It was so cool when they changed colors according to the song, or the floor seats lit up a different color than the stands. When it got dark, she said “lift up your lights so I can see every one of you!” and the whole stadium lit up like the Rockefeller tree.

Taylor seemed extra jazzed about the crowd Saturday night and promised special guests. Friday night she brought out a bunch of gorgeous models, Lena Dunham, and the Women’s U.S. Soccer team. Saturday night, more gorgeous models (I would name them but didn’t really know who they were besides Gigi Hadid,) and the actress who plays “Crazy Eyes” in Orange in the New Black Uzo Aduba (random!)

We also got a bonus song that made the girls crazy when Nick Jonas came out and sang “Jealous” with Taylor.

Taylor Swift 1989 concert MetLife Stadium NJ on carpoolcandy.com

Beth and Eli. It was his first concert ever!

She talked a lot about friendship– there were also videos between songs with her gaggle of gal pals, who all seem famous. Love the positive, relatable themes about being a good, supportive friend, but her circle seems extremely unattainable!

What I love about Taylor is that she really appreciates the fans and seems to take in the significance of the moment. At one point, she said she spaced out for a second because she was looking around and soaking up the feeling of 60,000 people traveling from all over to spend their Saturday night singing all the words to her songs.

Taylor Swift 1989 concert MetLife Stadium NJ on carpoolcandy.com

She talked a lot during the show and I loved her message of empowerment and inclusion. She reached out to those who may be going through a hard time, overwhelmed by life’s choices and feeling left out sometimes. Don’t let anyone hurt you and or make you feel bad about yourself, she warned.

You be you.

Taylor has an enormous platform and she’s using it for good. I wish I’d had someone like her to idolize when I was growing up and feeling awkward and insecure, when I was fighting with my girlfriends, and didn’t understand boys. I loved Madonna, but back then she wasn’t exactly about loving yourself for who you are.

Taylor Swift 1989 concert MetLife Stadium NJ on carpoolcandy.com

Cool fireworks show during the “Shake it Off” finale

That’s why I’m so happy my boys were there to hear her words and feel the girl power in the stadium. Taylor’s message is as important for them to hear as the females– maybe even more so.

Taylor Swift 1989 concert MetLife Stadium NJ on carpoolcandy.com

That girl oozes with poise and talent. She can sing, write, connect with fans and hold the attention of thousands, But what I loved most was the joy she exudes onstage. When you watch someone successful and truly happy in their element, it makes everyone feel like anything is possible.

 

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If you’re not listening to podcasts, you’re missing out

In the last few months, I’ve become slightly (and my family will tell you alarmingly) obsessed with listening to podcasts on my phone. When I try to talk to my contemporaries about them, most give me a puzzled look and wonder how I find the time.

The best part about listening to podcasts is that you don’t have to find time, they help you pass the time.podcast icon on carpoolcandy.com

I listen when walking the dog, walking home from the train station, and cleaning up the house. I used to get so irritable when faced with unloading the dishwasher (the most banal, odious house tasks of all) or weeding ill-fitting clothes from my kids’ closets — but now I attack such chores with glee because I’m learning something while I work.

Most people in the pop-culture-know have heard of the smash podcast hit Serial on PBS. I listened to that crime story with my family on a few road trips and was fascinated, but there’s so much more out there. serial itunes logo on carpoolcandy.comWhat I like about the podcasts I’ve been listening to is they’re an uninterrupted hour-plus with a person or story that interests me and teaches me something. Whether it’s the common emotional experience I recognize in a story on The Moth, or Dustin Hoffman talking to Alec Baldwin about what it was like to film The Graduate, it’s all thought-provoking and often inspiring.

the moth podcast graphic on carpoolcandy.com

If you liked Serial, or you’re just intrigued by people and why they do the things they do, you’ll like the tales told on The Moth and This American Life. They run the gamut of topics and experiences, and hearing people’s voices whispering stories into your ears creates a compelling, intimate feeling.

This American Life podcast graphic on carpoolcandy.com

Then, my friend, Julie, recommended I listen to my writing hero Lena Dunham on actor/comedian Jeff Garlin’s podcast, By the Way, In Conversation. It sounds melodramatic to say it was life changing, right? Let’s just say I’ve been listening to an average of 3-4 podcasts a week ever since.

Discovering Garlin’s podcast was, perhaps, like anything amazing you try for the first time– salted caramel ice cream, riding a perfect wave in the ocean, sleeping at a fancy hotel– it’s so good, nothing else quite compares. I find Garlin extremely entertaining. He’s smart, irreverent, and curious about everything from life’s big questions (“Are you scared of death?”) to the mundane (“How many times a week do you do pilates?’)by the way podcast graphic on carpool candy.com

But he doesn’t suffer fools, and he’s not into promoting crap, so he only brings on guests he likes, either personally or respects professionally. He’s been in comedy for decades, from standup to TV, to movies so listening to him talk to his buddies like Conan O’Brien or Bob Odenkirk about the old days is like a master class in comedy. (Other great episodes include Larry DavidWill Ferrell, Amy Poehler, and Judd Apatow.)

I’m pretty sure I’ve listened to every single By the Way available, and sadly Garlin stopped recording them to star in his TV comedy, The Goldbergs, so I had to move on. One great episode of BTW featured comedian and fellow podcaster, Marc Maron. Unofficially the grandaddy of podcasters, Maron’s WTF (yes, it stands for what you think) started back in 2009 in his garage.

WTF with Marc Maron podcast graphic on carpoolcandy.com

Maron still often broadcasts from his garage, hosting many comedians but also musicians, actors, and newsmakers. I started binge listening to WTF but found Maron a mixed bag.  He gets groovy guests (his podcast made news last week when President Obama spoke frankly about racism on his show, ) he’s naturally curious and asks digging questions. His disarming, self-deprecating nature allows guests to go deep.

But he’s extremely neurotic, sometimes seems to do very little research on his guests, and often spends the first 20 minutes on a personal rant about things not usually of interest to me. BUT, there have been several fascinating hours of conversation so if he has a guest I like, it’s usually a good listen. Slate named Maron’s two-part episode with his friend Louis CK the best podcast ever and I highly recommend it. The two used to be friends but jealousy and uneven success tangled their relationship over many years. It’s like being a fly on the wall in a really funny session of couple’s therapy.  For other great Maron episodes click here.

heres the thing alec baldwin podcast graphic on carpoolcandy.com

After picking through Maron’s list, I heard about Alec Baldwin’s online interviews on WNYC’s Here’s the Thing. Baldwin’s podcast has quickly become my favorite (after exhausting all the BTWs) because he’s an excellent interviewer and gets an impressive potpourri of guests, most of whom I’d love to interview myself. He’s an active listener, asks great follow ups, and he’s funny and deferential– not a side of him seen often in public.

Great gets like David Letterman, Lorne Michaels, and Dick Cavett tell Baldwin stories I haven’t heard before on every practiced talk show appearance. It’s interesting to hear two actors talking about their craft, but Baldwin also gets notables from the world of sports, politics, books, and media. I highly recommend his chats with Billy Joel,  John McEnroe, Sarah Jessica Parker, and  Jerry Seinfeld.  koppelman the moment podcast graphic on carpoolcandy.com

As a writer, I love hearing about how other writers and artists create. I’ve been on a recent bender soaking up Brian Koppleman’s The Moment podcasts, which focus on people who’ve done incredible things in their respective fields, and the time in their lives when everything changed and led to their ultimate success.

Koppelman– a successful screenwriter and producer– seems to be friends with everyone who’s anyone in movies, music, comedy, books, media, and even food on both coasts. He lures them in to his confessional recording booth to reflect on the dark moments that came before the spotlight, or the epiphany that drove them to achieve. While Koppelman has an exuberant tendency to talk over his guests, he hosts a richly diverse cast of characters who come ready to talk, no matter where he pushes them to go. I recommend his lively chats with Amy Schumer, Killer Mike, and Ellen Barkin.  

BS Report podcast logo on carpoolcandy.com

I’ve tried a few other podcasts, but none have kept my attention as much as the ones above. A few people recommended Bill Simmons’ BS Report on Grantland but now that he lost his deal with ESPN, his podcast has no home. If you like sports, you can still go back and listen to past guests. Simmons is a sharp guy and I enjoyed some of his interviews with celebrities. I’ll even admit getting sucked into a few episodes about the NBA– despite my lack of knowledge and interest– because he’s that good at what he does. I’m sure he’ll end up somewhere soon.

I’m presently hooked on all the above, but there’s always room for more, so please send suggestions my way in the comments. Happy listening!

My pilgrimage to say goodbye to David Letterman

Another of my favorite pop culture icons is about to walk off into the sunset.

I’ve been watching David Letterman for as long as I can remember. My mother always loved him, and I remember wanting to stay up late with her watching Stupid Human Tricks or the Top Ten list while she painted her nails in front of the TV.

Letterman show logo

Then I went to college and stayed up late watching Dave on many nights I should have been studying, or at least drinking beer. He was always there, that awkward, gap-toothed, smart aleck When he moved to CBS and a better time slot I was psyched that I could watch him more, until career and babies got in the way.

I’ll admit in recent years I haven’t watched Dave much. But I’d often check who he had on and sometimes record it for later. Unlike Leno, he was a terrific interviewer who asked great questions and actually listened to the answers. A rare bird in TV talk shows, he seemed quite happy to go off script and take the lead of his guests down a path of uncertainty that almost always ended up in some funny place.

When I heard the news that Dave was retiring I wanted to see him live one last time. (I went once in the 90’s when the guest was Rosie Perez and we sat right up front and laughed all night.) I turned to my own personal TicketMaster, Wilson’s brother, Jon. As it turned out, Jon had not given me a birthday gift yet so he was happy to make a few phone calls and get me tickets to see Dave.

letterman ticket

A parade of celebs have visited the Dave set in the last few weeks, saying goodbye to the legend. Howard Stern tried to make out with a disgusted Dave who ran away, Julia Roberts giggled and kissed him one last time, Tom Hanks told funny stories, and Tina Fey made quite an exit by whipping off her dress to reveal just a leotard-spanxy thing that said “Bye Dave” on the front and #LastDressEver on the back.

One of my favorite last guests was Ray Romano, who choked up several times while recalling how doing standup on Letterman 20 years earlier led directly to the creation — by Worldwide Pants, Letterman’s production company — of Everybody Loves Raymond, which made him a star and very, very rich.

There were amazing musical guests who paid homage with performances on Dave’s show this month, and credited him with launching their success, including Dave Matthews, Hootie and the Blowfish, and Eddie Vedder.

In the present all-Jimmy landscape it’s easy to forget that Dave was a powerhouse with an eye for talent.

With all that star power I was hoping for a good guest on the evening we went to see the show. On the Late Show website it looked like Bruce Willis, but when I got there, it was Jack Hanna, the director of the Columbus Zoo. Waaah, waaaah.

"Late Show with David Letterman"/CBS

“Late Show with David Letterman”/CBS

But you know what? Hanna was great. He brought a ton of exotic animals and reminisced with Dave about all their goofy segments over the years. Hanna has appeared on Letterman 104 times! (The only two people who appeared more were Marv Albert and Regis.) Hanna got weepy and hugged Dave a lot and when the segment was over, he went around and shook hands with every single member of the crew, which was really sweet.

It was fun to see Paul and the CBS Orchestra, and I had forgotten all about Biff and Rupert. John Popper of Blues Traveler played all his hits with Paul and the band, which was cool. The other musical guest– John Fogerty– played a medley of old songs and proved an old guy can still rock.

The CBS pages were very clear that no photography/cell phones were allowed inside the Ed Sullivan Theater, which was a huge bummer. As you know, I like to document such things. But I’m also a wimpy rule follower and getting kicked out of the show would be mortifying, and might hurt Jon, who got the tickets from CBS.

letterman stage

So this was the best I could do… at the end of the show… from my cell phone camera… from inside my purse. You can kinda make out the stage below, right?

LAME!!!

Dave seemed relaxed and at ease, if not a little nostalgic and embarrassed at all the fuss. It was good to see him, like putting on an old sweater you love but haven’t worn in a long time.

brooke at late show NYC on carpoolcandy.com

In 2013, Dave surpassed Johnny Carson as the longest running late-night talk show host in TV history. Jimmy Fallon had a really nice bit on his show Monday night about what Dave has meant to him… and out of deference for the last show, Jimmy Kimmel will air a rerun Wednesday night.

Chances are, you watched a lot of Letterman over the last 33 years. So even if you haven’t been able to stay up late enough to watch Dave recently, you’ll be happy you were there when he says goodbye Wednesday night. I hope he gets huge ratings for his farewell.

Thanks Dave, for taking risks, and showing us you can be silly and smart at the same time. Late night won’t be the same without you.

 

 

In “The Book of Joan” Melissa Rivers is no longer the straight (wo)man

This week I reviewed Melissa Rivers’ new book about her mother– the late great comedian Joan Rivers– called The Book of Joan. It’s a sweet tribute, filled with jokes (“My mother never cooked. Her signature dish was takeout, ) advice, and personal anecdotes that will make you laugh.

I was a huge Joan fan, practically growing up at her knee as she made fun of herself — from her boobs to her love life– as a standup, talk show host, and red carpet critic.

I was surprised at how sad I was when she died suddenly last September after losing oxygen during a surgical procedure on her vocal chords at a Manhattan clinic. It was the end of an era. She was one of those famous people who was always there– at the awards shows, on the late night talk circuit, writing books–  and I figured she’d always be there. I guess I took her for granted.

I didn’t know much about Melissa before this book, other than being Joan’s sidekick. But she wasn’t just the daughter of a famous person, she’s a Penn grad who rose through the ranks to executive producer of several shows at E and is a single working mom.

Joan And Melissa Joan Knows Best as on carpoolcandy.com

(We TV)

I was impressed with her storytelling and humor in The Book of Joan. It’s a great retelling of Joan’s life in small snippets and stories, from Melissa’s perspective. Melissa had an extraordinary childhood, often on the road with Joan, meeting comedians, singers, and actors, and traveling the world. The book has great Hollywood folklore and behind-the-scenes gossip from the red carpet.

One of the best parts of the book is the personal documents Melissa shares that reveal parts of Joan’s character. There are several hilarious grade school report cards showing Joan Molinsky (her real name) was talkative, attention-seeking, and used bribery to win friends… and an early resume filled with lies about work experience.

But the most touching is a note Joan wrote to a teenaged rebellious Melissa about making mistakes. It was so spot-on I may copy it for future parenting use. Who knew that acerbic, bitchy diva could be such a loving, dedicated and strict mother?

The Book of Joan cover on carpoolcandy.com

(Crown Publishing)

Here’s an excerpt from my review:

The beginning pieces have the same rhythm and campy style of Joan’s books and some of the jokes sound comfortably familiar. But in later chapters, when talking about their life together ruling the red carpet and on several TV shows, Melissa’s own modern, edgy voice emerges.

The book touches on familiar aspects of Joan’s life — her exhaustive work ethic (working six days a week on several shows, books, a jewelry line and her standup act) … her indulgence in expensive things (designer handbags and shoes, first-class travel, a personal driver) … and her preoccupation with looks that led to countless cosmetic procedures (“she changed noses the way Taylor Swift changes boyfriends”).

But new details may enlighten fans. She was a stickler for manners, loved watching crime shows and reading about serial killers, hid cash all over her apartment for spending sprees and stitched needlepoint pillows to relax.

The most touching stories show Joan as a fiercely dedicated and loving mother, and grandmother to Melissa’s only child, Cooper, whom she enjoyed spoiling. Despite an intense work schedule, Joan always made Melissa a priority, bringing her on the road when she traveled, emphasizing the value of education and supporting her extracurricular activities. A note in the book from Joan to teenage Melissa infers her parenting skills. “Sometimes it’s very hard to grow up, to learn to be independent, to become totally your own self …” she wrote. “I love and adore you. P.S. You’re still grounded!”

Melissa describes Joan as a bawdy, fearless comic, but an old-fashioned, strict parent, scrutinizing every outfit Melissa wore and every man she dated. But the funny lady who picked on everyone in public was kind and generous in person, especially to her fans.

If you want to read more click here.

If you were ever a fan of Joan and/or love pop culture and old Hollywood, I highly recommend The Book of Joan. It’s a great Mother’s Day gift.

Need a Joan fix? Watch the amazing documentary, A Piece of Work, which followed her for a year when she was 75, working her ass off and living well. (Available on Amazon Prime and maybe Netflix?) It’s a fascinating look at celebrity, the mind of a comic genius, and the life of a lonely woman who sorely needed to be relevant and loved. Don’t we all?

Oscars 2015: the posh and political

It was a night of platform heels and platform speeches at the Oscars.

Hollywood insider film “Birdman” swept the 87th Academy Awards (winning best picture, director, and original screenplay)  and many of the night’s winners used their acceptance speech time to stump for causes close to their hearts. Here’s the lowdown on a very long night….

birdman promo

 THE HOST:

First-time host Neil Patrick Harris breathed new life into an old show as Oscar producers took a more positive tack that paid off. Less snark and more sugar, the show intended to celebrate our love of movies, not just the celebrities who make them.

neil-patrick-harris-oscars promo

I won’t pretend I’m not a huge NPH fan from his How I Met Your Mother days and I expected him to be lengen (wait for it) dary. (sorry, how could I resist?!)

The opening musical number was well-rehearsed, clever, funny and a love letter to movies, instead of the standard teasing/humiliating stars routine. I loved seeing NPH inserted into movie classics and the Anna Kendrick and Jack Black cameos.

With no less than five costume changes, including three different colored tuxes, he was a compelling and affable steward throughout the show. I loved the bit where he spoofed Birdman and Whiplash and wound up on stage in tight-whiteys.

NOW FOR THE GLAM:

May fav looks of the night….(for pix click here) 

Once again, five-time nominee Julianne Moore wins in a white beaded strapless Chanel with black accents with an impeccable fit that complimented her alabaster skin. Her makeup, up-do and diamond earrings were also perfection.  Glad she looked so good the night she finally won!

Many of the best dresses were white, including Lupita N’yongo’s Calvin Klein white beaded sheath with a sexy halter of pearls. She looked like an oyster goddess.

— I wasn’t sure about Reese Witherspoon’s strapless white Tom Ford gown with two black lines, but it grew on me as the night progressed.  It was her typical simple, elegant, modern fare. Not imaginative or risky, but solid, and she gets extra points for being one of the few who let her hair down, despite the rain.

–I was soooo disappointed with Jennifer Aniston’s Globes dress last month but she completely redeemed herself in a gorgeous nude sparkly Versace dress that hugged her body like a Band-Aid. The sleek design had subtle cutouts that showed off her phenomenal body.  Her loose shiny hair completes any outfit.

–Although black is never as exciting as color, if you’re Cate Blanchett you find a deep velvet sheath with rough, frayed edges and a sexy keyhole back, and pair it with a giant turquoise necklace that matches your eyes perfectly… and you pop right off the screen.

–Another exception to “black is boring” was Sienna Miller, who can do no wrong. Her Oscar de la Renta short-sleeved dress with flared peekaboo skirt and velvet bows was sweet and ethereal and different.

–Although I’m not impressed with Dakota Johnson in interviews or for starring in 50 Shades, I was impressed by her YSL one shoulder red dress and diamond jewels. Perfect Oscar fashion: classic and timeless with a nod to old Hollywood but sexy and fresh, with a sassy ponytail.

Felicity Jones, nominated for best actress for Theory of Everything owned the moment with a gorgeous grey Alexander McQueen ball gown with a hand-sewn beaded bodice and giant satin skirt with classy updo. Channeling Audrey Hepburn, the look was flattering, elegant, regal.

Zoe Saldana looked amazing in a blush pink Versace dress with stiff, artful lines. She paired the dress with loose curly hair pulled up.

Guys who know how to wear a tux, the tighter, the better: Eddie Redmayne in navy, John Legend in Gucci… and Adam Levine in Armani. Whiplash’s Miles Teller is my new boy crush. Handsome, confident, talented, he spoke intelligently on the carpet like an old pro.

Scarlett Johanssen popped off the red carpet in an extremely tight-fitting emerald-green Jessica Rabbit hourglass dress by Versace, and funky green beaded necklace.

But there were some couture catastrophes….

Lady Gaga made quite an entrance in a white beaded Alaia ball gown with red leather spacegirl gloves. The look was very Jane Jetson meets Grace Kelly. Odd.

–Much like how I feel about Gwyneth herself, I couldn’t decide if I loved or hated Paltrow’s pale pink, one-shouldered sheath. It was sexy and flattered her sick Tracy Anderson bod but why oh why did she add the giant organza flower on the shoulder? Too much or avant garde like a Carrie Bradshaw accessory?

—Not sure what the usually best-dressed Nicole Kidman was thinking. She looked like a slimy Rainbow Fish in an iridescent strapless gown with an unexplained red belt.

-Kerry Washington looked more mother of the bride than belle of the ball in a strapless white dress with dowdy beading.

–Loved David Oyelowo in Selma but he looked like he was missing his pals from the barbershop quartet in is tight red tux.

CELEBS I’M WORRIED ABOUT:

–I was disturbed by the lack of movement in Melanie Griffith’s face. She couldn’t express her pride and amusement over daughter Dakota Johnson’s new success because she’s spent too much time at the plastic surgeon’s.

Faith Hill you’re so pretty but your hair’s too short and you and Tim McGraw need to eat a few IN and Out burgers– he looks old and manorexic!

 BEST SPEECHES:

Paramount Pictures

–By far, the best speech was given by John Legend and Common when they won best song for Selma and Common talked about the famous bridge where MLK’s march took place  “This bridge is a symbol for change. Its spirit is built on hope, welded with compassion, sealed by love for all human beings. Selma is now. The struggle for justice is right now. Our voting rights are being compromised,  and our struggle for freedom and justice is happening now.”

–I wanted to stand up and cheer like Meryl Streep and JLo when best supporting actress winner Patricia Arquette used the end of her speech to forcefully demand wage equality and equal rights for women.

–Graham Moore won for best adapted screenplay for The Imitation Game and used part of his moving speech to speak to gay teens who feel hopeless and alone: “When I was 16, I tried to kill myself because I felt weird, different, like I didn’t belong. And now I’m standing here. I’d like this moment to be for that kid out there who feels like she’s weird or different. Stay weird. stay different and then when it’s your turn and you’re standing on this stage, pass that message to the next person who comes along.”

– In her classy acceptance speech for best actress for Still Alice, Julianne Moore said she’s glad the movie has drawn attention to Alzheimer’s Disease, which still has no cure.

Alejandro G. Inarritu, who wrote and directed Birdman used his best picture acceptance speech to ask for respect for his fellow Mexicans and all immigrants.

–J.K. Simmons made his wife the highlight of his acceptance speech forWhiplash (amazing must-see performance in a disturbing but compelling movie) and told us to call our moms– not text or email– call! Thanks dude.

MEMORABLE MOMENTS:

Most of the musical numbers were sleepy, except best song winner “Glory,” performed by John Legend and Common with a powerful reenactment of the Selma march on stage that had the whole crowd on their feet– many in tears–  by the end.

Lady Gaga beautifully sang a medley of songs from The Sound of Music to commemorate the film’s 50th anniversary.  I admit I sang along and wept nostalgic tears when Julie Andrews came out afterwards to thank her and introduce the nominees for best score.

Idena Menzel and John Travolta acknowledged their unusual connection (he famously butchered her name at the last Oscars) and gave out an award together. But instead of making up for last year’s gaffe, he continued his weird streak by pulling her face too close to his very pulled, rubbery face, and spoke to her in a creepy voice that gave me shivers. Ick.

WHO GOT ROBBED:

Richard Linklater in the Best Director category. I loved Birdman but best picture and screenplay should have been enough. Linklater came up with the concept and executed shooting a beautiful, relatable film about an American family experience over a 12 year period. He should have been recognized.

boyhood poster on carpoolcandy.com

Michael Keaton as best actor for Birdman. Eddie Redmayne was wonderful playing ALS-affected genius Stephen Hawking in Theory of Everything, but he’s young and has a long career ahead. Keaton’s an old timer who was great in this movie and may not get another shot at gold.

What were your favorite moments and looks of the night? Tell me in the comments.

Pop culture potpourri

Yeah, I saw all your Facebook photo posts of your fabulous white beaches in Aruba and gorgeous views from the ski lift in Vermont. I was happy for you, really I was.

But one of the great things about staying home for the holiday break was a chance to catch up on all the TV, movies, and other crap I’ve meant to get to but never seem to have the time.

There’s an overwhelming amount of media to ingest, and much of pop culture popularity now is through word of mouth buzz, so thought I’d share some of the stuff I’m digging at the moment.

serial itunes logo on carpoolcandy.com

Serial    I can’t explain why listening to almost 12 hours of one woman talking about a 15-year-old murder case is fascinating but it is! We were driving to Boston for New Year’s and I plugged the podcast into the car stereo. My kids groaned as soon as the top 40 stopped, but within 20 minutes, all 5 of us were entranced.

by the way graphic on carpool candy.com

– By the Way, In conversation    I’ve raved about actor/comedian Jeff Garlin’s podcast before but then it went silent while he was shooting The Goldbergs. But he’s back baby, and better than ever. It’s not an interview show, it’s literally just 2 people onstage before a lucky live audience– chatting about anything from pilates to bad movie endings. He gets the best guests, but I’ll listen to any episode–even unfamiliar names — because it’s always entertaining. Who loves Garlin most? Brady, who’s getting some nice long walks.

imitation game poster on carpoolcandy.com

–The Imitation Game   This movie is a fascinating piece of little known history, and an interesting character study of Alan Turing– an odd codebreaker who helped end World War II.  Wilson and I give it two thumbs up for a riveting story and excellent acting. I know ladies swoon for Benedict Cucumberpatch but I don’t quite get it. I preferred to admire the flawless skin and effortless style of Kiera Knightly. Without giving too much away, there’s also a powerful social/cultural statement about the lack of human rights at that time that resonates today.

boyhood poster on carpoolcandy.com

–Boyhood    There’s been a lot of hype surrounding this movie but I liked it and appreciated the creativity, foresight, and endurance required to make such an innovative film. As the mom of three boys, it was interesting to see their common behaviors and attitudes, but this boy’s parents’ divorce was central to the story and will likely speak volumes to single parents and blended families. The characters were appropriately gray– not all good or bad– and showed growth as they lived with the choices they made. It’s a quiet movie though. Half the time I was stressed while watching, expecting a big dramatic turn of events, but it never came. I’d like to see it again, knowing the outcome, and appreciating the pop culture references and details. It’s groundbreaking in film history, and significant in modern culture.

HBO Boardwalk Empire poster on carpoolcandy.com

–Boardwalk Empire    I don’t know many people who watched this HBO series that ended last fall, and that’s a crime. We finally finished the last season and put it in our top 10 best dramas of all time. Each episode– exec produced by Martin Scorsese– was like a mini movie. The cinematography, art direction, costumes, and attention to historic detail was flawless and the writing was brilliant. Every season had its own intensity, and featured mafia legends including Capone, Bugsy Siegel, Meyer Lansky, Lucky Luciano and Arnold Rothstein.  Season 3 with Bobby Cannavale as the psycho mobster Gyp Rosetti was one of the sickest characters I’ve ever seen on TV.  I’m telling you, watch it. Or I’ll break your legs.

NBC parenthood poster on carpoolcandy.com

–Parenthood     If you stuck with it through all six seasons as we have, it was well worth it. It’s been called “appointment crying” and I don’t think I’ve ever gotten through an episode with a dry eye, because creator Jason Katims and his excellent writers know how to yank at those heartstrings like he’s playing a bass. It got a little soapy in the last couple seasons, but the characters are complicated, the acting is excellent (shoutout to Ray Ramano, who knew?) and the stories are often relatable. Episode 11 was especially great as they started to revisit the past and wrap up the series in a subtle but powerful way. I’m eager to see how they end it. Even if you gave up a few seasons ago, I’d recommend watching the last two episodes. But be sure to bring a hanky.

NBC parenthood poster on carpoolcandy.com

–Into the Woods soundtrack   This was my dad’s favorite Broadway show of all time and we saw it with Bernadette Peters back in the day, so I was thrilled to see it was coming to the big screen. I haven’t even seen the movie yet (soon!) but am loving the music. Sondheim is the most clever theatrical rapper there is. The lyrics are beautiful and poetic, and the bigger message about life in and out of the woods is timeless. (Cinderella: “How can you know who you are til you know what you want, which I don’t?)  As Eli told me– he’s my one kid who loves show tunes as much as I do–  the story is about what happens following “Happy ever after.”  Careful what you wish for!

RHOBH poster on carpoolcandy.com

–Real Housewives of Beverly Hills    Sooo much better this season! They got rid of the two creepy weirdos from last year and scored the goofy, fun, candid Lisa Rinna and her pal, soap opera actress Eileen Davidson. The houses. parties, and shopping sprees are still outrageous, the hair and makeup completely over the top, and the cat fights extra scratchy. Sure, Yolanda is out of touch with reality, but somehow she’s still endearing and a good mom. Brandi is trashy and so clearly in need of therapy it’s like watching a tall white Cadillac Escalade with blinged out wheels crash in slow motion.  Great TV.

The Affair on carpoolcandy.com

Showtime

–The Affair    A lot of fellow TV junkies are raving about this show but Wilson and I thought it was mediocre. The concept is compelling– a story of an affair of two married people, culminating in a murder mystery, told from his and her points of view. But some of the writing was lame and the way they bopped around the Hamptons and Brooklyn when they should have been hiding in hotel rooms was bonkers and unrealistic. Oh but did I mention Joshua Jackson is unbelievably hot?? I don’t care how good The Wire was, I can’t imagine a world where one would choose the overcompensating greasy curls and weak character of Dominic West over Jackson, the brooding cowboy. I will say that the last 3 episodes were great and hooked us in for next season.

Trivia Crack Game on carpoolcandy.com

–Trivia Crack     Jacob introduced me to this app on my phone and it’s an addictive diversion when on-line at Trader Joe’s or commuting home. You answer questions in several different categories in less than 30 seconds, and can play against friends. The questions aren’t that hard (yet) so it’s a nice little ego boost and feels like a better use of brain juice than say, scrolling Facebook.

Are any of these sucking up your time? What are your latest pop culture obsessions? Tell me in the comments.