Crystal vs. Hefner – It gets messier

Wow, everybody loves a messy break-up.

Okay, sure – not the people involved – but when a 25-year-old blonde poppie leaves Hugh Hefner at the altar, well… What’s not to love?

Hugh Hefner and Crystal Harris

Hugh Hefner and Crystal Harris.

Said Barbie doll has, of course, tried her damnedest to squeak out every last bit of fame she could from this split – and just as people were starting to tire of the drama, well, then there was the now-famous Howard Stern interview.

In the interview, Crystal Harris says that she was never “turned on” by Hef (well, there’s a shocker) and in their entire courtship and engagement, she reckons they only had sex once, for “like two seconds” and that she had never seen him naked. She claimed that he preferred to cuddle with his girlfriends and watch movies instead of having any sex.

Well, you know, none of that should be particularly surprising. Seeing as, well, he is an 85-year-old man. And I’m sure he truly would rather just be napping quietly somewhere as opposed to having sex with various arbitrary blonde clones. Let’s be honest, sex is a lot of effort – and I’m not saying that it’s a bad thing, of course – but it makes sense that Hef might rather be playing backgammon or something instead of trying out page 83 of the latest edition of Cosmo.

But the Playboy mogul wasn’t going to have any of that, and took to Twitter to slam comments made by the increasingly insane-sounding Ms Harris. “Crystal did a crazy interview with Howard Stern today that didn’t have much to do with reality. Is she trying to impress a new boyfriend?” People quoted him as tweeting. (The posts were later deleted)

“The sex with Crystal the first night was good enough so that I kept her over two more nights”, he continued.

“Crystal lied about our relationship on Howard Stern but I don’t know why,” he posted.

I got a lot of “Well, who the fuck cares?” comments from readers on this topic. Fair enough, it’s somebody’s sex life. But I’ll tell you who cares… Playboy cares.

See, the Playboy brand still largely rides on Hefner’s legend. He is the ultimate brand ambassador. It’s every guy’s (sometimes secret) desire to be Hefner – in his 80s, with hot blonde girls falling all over themselves to get in there with him. He needs to sell sex. He needs to sell the idea that the Playboy brand is about living life to the fullest – and being able to get what you want, when you want it. He needs to exude youth and exuberance and a joie de vivre. He needs to remain a men’s icon – and not fade into obscurity in a tatty pair of slippers and a flannel bathrobe, content just to – *gasp* – cuddle the girls instead of taking them to bed.

And so, with Crystal insisting that he might not be the sexually vivacious man Playboy needs him to be, he’s had to go on a PR offensive. And with the backing of such a massive company, it seems he’s winning. Seeing as Crystal rapidly backtracked, tweeting, “The Stern interview scared me, he’s harsh. I was unprepared and blurted out things I shouldn’t have said, I’m sorry.”

Seems as though she’s still not taking back her comments. But, with her fame rapidly waning and another season of Girls Next Door to promote, she’s had to remember where her bread is buttered.

An afternoon with the kids at Mirriam’s

On Saturday afternoon a group of friends and I spent the afternoon with Mirriam House in Paarl.

Mirriam has spent the past fifteen years providing a refuge for orphaned and abandoned children in the community – and besides providing shelter for them she she helps to educate them, feed them and clothe them – and she is the legal guardian of most of them.

On 17 July this year, the house that Mirriam and her children lived in burnt down – apparently after a neighbour’s paraffeine lamp was knocked over. They lost everything – and one of their toddlers, an 18-month-old boy, was killed after trying to return to the house. One of our friends, who works with Greater Capital, alerted us to the situation and the appeal for donations – and so we organised to cook up some lunch (and whip up a batch of cupcakes) and take them through to their temporary shelter in Paarl.

Friday night saw us industriously peeling potatoes and carrots, chopping up onions and garlic, and grating ginger. The resident chef among us managed to whip up a 12-litre pot full of curried mince (I would never, ever have attempted to cook en masse like that – I stand to be corrected but I think there may have been about 5kg of mince involved). Saturday morning and fifty-four rolls later (did you know that unsliced bread is really, really difficult to come by on a Saturday morning…!) and we were on our way to Paarl… with three big trays of cupcakes on our laps.

Mirriam's House

Me and "Storm Trooper". It's widely agreed upon that he is the coolest kid in the universe.

The temporary house is attached to a coffee shop in Paarl, and we discovered that not all of the kids had been relocated there. Mirriam herself was staying somewhere else – but by the time we arrived five days after the fire the cupboards were simply bursting with food, new toys and clothes for the little ones. It’s amazing to see how a community can rally around a cause… Working in media and being witness to all the negative things that happen in the world on a daily basis means that we often forget the power of community.

After dishing up for the house’s inhabitants – who range in age from about six months to their early twenties, and of course, for Mirriam and her family – we spent the afternoon playing with a group of the little ones outside, with some of our group pitching in to help with the masses of laundry.

Despite the massive tragedy that had just occurred and their unusual living situation, these kids were so, so well adjusted and so happy – I was blown away. We kicked a ball around, blew bubbles and the teacher among us brought paper, crayons and stickers. We even got involved in a pretty intense water pistol-fight… Which saw me on the ground while the most enterprising of the young girls took advantage of the situation and emptied her entire barrel over me, Geneva Convention be damned…

Now if you know me, you know that I’m pretty much allergic to kids. They’re terrifying – I have no idea what to do with the little buggers. Sure, there have been one or two that have managed to worm their way into my heart but they are very much in the minority. But after spending a day with these kids, well, I can sort of see the appeal in children. (Okay, fine, so I was a little broody. Whatever. No big deal. Jeez, like, get of my case already.)

In all seriousness, I was so taken aback by the amount of love in that household. Honestly, they were a family. These children all come from broken or bad homes and into an environment where along with the basic necessities, they were loved without exception or condition. And these children are smart, engaging, well-behaved and so full of joy that it was a wonder to behold. It goes to show what a proper home can do – I have no doubt that with Mirriam’s careful guidance these children will go on to be amazing individuals.

I was awed and humbled. We live in a remarkable world – which, through our daily hassles and individual  dramas, we so often forget.

Read more about Mirriam House and the work they do – and find out how you can contribute – here.

Rest in peace, Amy Winehouse

Just over a month ago, I wrote a piece called “Amy: A public suicide” for iafrica.com. In it, I questioned the wisdom of allowing her to return to the stage and wondered what was being done, if anything, to get her back on her feet.  I closed off my article with, “Sadly, it may be too little too late for a woman who looks half a move away from catastrophe.”

Exactly a month later, Amy Winehouse was dead.

Amy Winehouse

Amy Winehouse was found dead in her London apartment on 23 July 2011. She was 27.

It somehow felt so inevitable, and yet still completely unbelievable. We all knew where she was headed – especially because by all accounts, she refused to get help, but there was always that ray of hope, that wish she would come out of it and do what she did best.

We all have those “where were you when you heard about…” moments in our lives. I got yelled at by my mom for changing the channel on the morning of Princess Diana’s death, because the ticker at the bottom of the screening reading “The Princess of Wales is Dead” did not quite penetrate my 10-year-old brain at 6.30am on a weekend morning.

Amy Winehouse’s death is going to be one of those moments for me.

I’d spent most of the afternoon at Mirriam House in Paarl (more about that here) after their home burnt down on 17 July. One of their toddlers was killed and they lost absolutely everything – and so we pitched in to bring them lunch and play with the little ones. Afterwards we stopped off at Simonsvlei for some chocolate-and-wine tasting (as you do) and by the time I got home I was nice and giggly and settling down to watch a movie. Then I checked Twitter (yes, I’m on Twitter – you can follow me here) and bang. “Unconfirmed reports that Amy Winehouse has died”. I hit refresh and almost immediately, Sky News had confirmed it. I jumped up, out of bed, left laptop and lights on and was at the office in just over 10 minutes.

And so, it being my job and I love doing it, I’ve been swamped with Amy news… And so I haven’t had time to sit down and actually process anything.

The two overwhelming feelings I’ve had though is – firstly, it’s an absolute shame and I grieve for her. Her death was a tragedy. She was an absolute force of nature – hands down one of the biggest talents to emerge in the past decade. She paved the way for other British female vocalists – Adele, most notably, but also Duffy and Eliza Doolittle – and redefined the jazz/soul genre for the modern age. More after the jump…

Continue reading

First look: Lily Collins as Snow White

Right, so the American press (I’m looking at you in particular, E! Online) are making a major deal of the fact that there are two Snow White adaptations in the works – one starring Kristen Stewart as the titular damsel-in-a-coma and the second starring Lily Collins (daughter of Phil, and of Blind Side fame).

Here’s the first promo image of Lily looking like a porcelain doll in one of the most fascinating dresses in recent memory. She’s teaming up with Julia Roberts for the film, who will be playing the Queen in the as-yet-untitled film from Relativity.

Lily Collins as Snow White

Lily Collins as Snow White (From Entertainment Weekly)

Kristen Stewart, meanwhile, has been spotted horse-riding in preparation for her role in Snow White and the Huntsman – a slightly revamped version of the tale, which is yet to start filming.

We can look forward now to months and months of Kristen vs. Lily articles.

The JLo divorce chronicles

Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony

Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony. I had to double check and make sure they weren't waxworks.

Now, once I picked my jaw up off the floor after hearing that Jennifer Lopez and Marc Anthony were separating, I had a little think on the situation. It wasn’t a case of “Wow, I can’t believe they’re divorcing!” (it’s Hollywood, let’s be honest)… My reaction was more one of “Wow, I can’t believe they’re divorcing now!”

But then it all starts to make sense… JLo stepped out of the spotlight a little in order to spawn – and spawn she did, two cute little babies – but then she started to wangle her way back into the entertainment industry. And then… She exploded again.

She’s starred in a (very feeble) romantic comedy about – you guessed it, babies – (The Back-Up Plan made me sick to my stomach, really). She released a new album and she’s on the radio every.bloody.five.minutes with that inane collaboration with Pitbull (seriously, 3/4 of it is “La la la la la”) and she’s on American Idol as a judge.

And now that she’s back at the top of her game – easily the most popular she has been since marrying Marc in 2004 – it all starts coming out. Stories of him trying to be “controlling” and “dominating”, choosing clothes that befits her as a “wife” and freaking out when she tried to dress a little sexier.

It seems like jealousy – on both sides – was the main reason behind the split. JLo hated Marc’s continued relationship with ex-girlfriend Dayanara Torres and, in turn, Marc tried to “micromanage” every aspect of JLo’s life – including her career. A source on the American Idol set dished that JLo would very often say, “Oh, Marc likes this” or “Marc doesn’t think this is a good idea”.  But, it appears, as soon as she realised that she was a superstar all by herself  – and lightyears bigger than Marc – she broke out of the marriage.

We see this sort of thing all the time. One star’s career takes off and their spouse can’t deal. Ryan Phillippe and Reese Witherspoon. Olivia Wilde and oh-goodness-what’s-his-name-again. Ryan Reynolds and Scarlett Johansson.

Jealousy makes you nasty, absence does not make the heart grow fonder and sometimes you just gotta break free and do your own thing.

The long-weekend wrap-up

Right – so I have neglected this blog for a week or so for a number of different reasons, largely:

  • I was working the 10-day weekend news shift. The weekend news shift turns my brain into mush and it’s largely damage control by the end of it, no time for awesome things like blogging.
  • A lot of Grown Up Stuff happened. Being a grown up sucks. But it was a major wake-up call. Things could always, always be worse.
  • After my 10-day shift I went on a four-day weekend. (Perk!) My weekend included catching Kylie Minogue’s Aphrodite Live at the Grand Arena here in Cape Town (amazing!) and surviving my first-ever trail run. I tried to work as little as possible during my time off.

The great thing about taking a little time off is how much cool stuff awaits your return – especially in the entertainment world! In no particular order…

Blink-182 release their new single, Up All Night. It reminds me of being 13 again.

The first trailer for the new Sherlock Holmes movie drops. Robert Downey Jr rocks my socks off.

Rebecca Black’s new single lands. It’s slightly less terrible than Friday. Slightly.

The first teaser trailer for The Dark Knight Rises has arrived. I squealed.

And, if you missed it, a clip from The Walking Dead Season 2.

Also – the big what.the.fuck moment of the week has come in the form of JLo’s separation from hubby Marc Anthony. But, it isn’t very surprising, if you think about it… And I’ll have more on that tomorrow. For now – research. For something pretty damn awesome.

Hugh Laurie is so, so worth it…

He’s best known for his portrayal of the ridiculously, absurdly sexy Dr Greg House in House – and now Loreal has decided to make him the new face of their Men Expert range of products.

He’s got the rugged look that Loreal want, obviously – the I’m a real man, not a girl, look real men use our products too look that cosmetics companies are going for. But the genius lies in his personality – of which he has oodles, unlike the rather dull Gerard Butler.

Their behind-the-scenes promo video features Laurie at his self-deprecating best. He’s funny, charming and can hold the screen like nobody’s business. (I’m a fan, is it obvious?)

Watch the video below, then check out how well he cleans up after the jump.

Continue reading