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…

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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.

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A right Royal mess

Charlene Wittstock

The new Princess Charlene of Monaco

So there’s pretty much only two things making headlines in South Africa at this point – the Great Vodacom Crash of 2011 (thank goodness I switched networks a few months ago!) and Charlene Wittstock’s wedding to Prince Albert of Monaco.

The whole thing was expected to be a fairytale affair… It’s a beautiful story (on paper ) – a Zimbabwean-born, South African swimmer catches the eye of the prince of the richest country in the world. Of course, that’s soured a little by the fact that said prince was also one of the biggest playboys in the world…

But after years of dating, Charlene Wittstock and Prince Albert of Monaco were due to wed in a highly anticipated summer ceremony. Rumours flew over the menu, the dress, the guest list – it was a wonderful reminder of that other royal wedding a little earlier in the year, only this time it was a Proudly South African wedding! And the new Princess of Monaco made sure that there was a wonderful taste of South Africa – wines from Stellenbosch, chefs from Zimbali and a touch of Afrikaans added to the proceedings.

But there’s a dark cloud hanging over the proceedings – one that, try as they might, can’t be covered by Armani embroidery and Swarovski crystals.

Those persistent rumours – that Charlene tried to run away – just won’t die down. And the more people try to brush the talk aside, the stronger it roars back… And it’s a case of well, where there’s smoke there is most likely fire, too. Continue reading

10 Super-Secret Celebrity Weddings

Rachel Weisz and Daniel Craig

Rachel Weisz and Daniel Craig

So in one of the biggest “Huh?!” moments I’ve experienced as Entertainment Ed to date, Daniel Craig and Rachel Wiesz got married in an uber-secret ceremony in New York over the weekend. Somehow, I’d forgotten the two were even dating… That’s how low-key they were! Their future kids have totally, totally lucked out in the gene pool. She’s so beautiful and he’s freaking James Bond!

Anyway, I got all carried away for work with celeb weddings… Check out the list here!

Penelope Cruz and Javier Bardem: They’re one of the most notoriously private couples in Hollywood – and so it was no surprise that their wedding flew way, way under the radar. The Spanish superstars, who welcomed their son Leo into the world earlier this year, tied the knot in an intimate ceremony at a friend’s home in the Bahamas in July 2010, their representative confirmed some time later.

Alicia Keys and Swizz Beatz: The musical couple – who had already taken part in a Zulu “union” during the 2010 World Cup, blessing their relationship and their unborn child – were married in an intimate ceremony in Corsica at the end of July 2010. Their marriage was performed by modern-day guru Deepak Chopra.

Megan Fox and Brian Austin Green: The former Transformers stunner shattered men’s hearts across the globe when she tied the knot with Brian Austin Green in a super-secret ceremony at the Four Season Hotel in Hawaii. They had eloped to ensure they weren’t stalked by the paparazzi – and even Fox’s father only found out about the ceremony afterwards. She was still kind enough to send him some pictures from her phone.

Jessica Alba and Cash Warren Fantastic Four beauty Jessica Alba tied the knot with musician Cash Warren at a Beverly Hills courthouse, with no guests and only officials to witness it. The wedding was such a secret that Alba’s brother only found out about the ceremony after Us Weekly magazine contacted him for comment.

Britney Spears and Kevin Federline: When Britney Spears got hitched to dancer Kevin Federline in 2007, it was in the height of secrecy. The couple – who went through a very, very public divorce not long after – invited 27 friends and family to witness their nuptials. However, their loved ones were under the impression that they were there for an engagement party.

LeAnn Rimes and Eddie Cibrian: The scandalous couple – who cheated on their respective spouses with each other – seemed to have taken their cue from Britney and K-Fed! They tied the knot in front of 40 of their closest friends and family in April this year, and much like Brit’s wedding, guests thought that they were attending an engagement party! Here’s hoping this marriage lasts a little longer.

James van der Beek and Kimberly Brooks: Former Dawson’s Creek star decided to announce that he had tied the knot with pregnant Kimberly Brooks – via Twitter. He took to the social networking site to announce the surprise ceremony, saying, “The woman I love did me the honour of became my wife today … I look forward to earning her for the rest of my life [sic]”. Aww.

Jay-Z and Beyonce : They’ve been dubbed hip-hop’s royal couple – but despite tying the knot in an ultra, ultra-secret wedding in April 2008 they’ve yet to officially confirm that they are man and wife. Talk about keeping the private, private!

Mariah Carey and Nick Cannon: Never one to shy away from publicity, Mariah Carey’s beach wedding to Nick Cannon wasn’t so much a secret as a complete and total surprise… after only a few weeks of dating. It even had friends questioning the validity of the relationship – which has since produced twin babies!

Gisele Bundchen and Tom Brady: A slight variation of the “surprise wedding” formula, guests at Gisele Bundchen and Tom Brady’s wedding thought they were attending a christening for their infant son, Benjamin.

 

They need to make her go to Rehab…

This year was hailed as Amy Winehouse’s “comeback year”. This year, her team was sure, she would finally overcome her personal demons and get back to the height of her success.

But as 2011 starts slipping away at an alarming pace, that all looks impossible.

Amy Winehouse in Belgrade

Amy Winehouse during her disastrous Belgrade show.

An album was promised for Christmas 2010, which failed to materialise. Then it was set for a January release. It’s now June. She’s attempted various live performances, with varying results. She played her five shows in Brazil in January this year and seemed back on top, despite having to interrupt songs to take sips of water and falling off the stage during one gig. But then she was booed off stage in Dubai in February after appearing tired and distracted. After checking into rehab for a week at the end of May and being told by doctors “Stop drinking or die”, Amy performed a polished set at an intimate venue in London on 12 June, which an audience member described as being “like one of her old performances”.

Somehow, though, in the space of a week – the wheels fell off.

Amy performed a disastrous set in Serbia on 18 June in which she seemed trashed out of her mind. She stumbled onto the Belgrade stage over an hour late, paused to take off her shoes, introduced her band members incorrectly and mumbled her way through her song Just Friends. And that was just the opening number. If you’ve got the stomach for it, you can watch it here. It’s really not a pretty sight.

More after the jump…

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Tom Cruise in ‘Rock of Ages’

It’s one of the most talked-about projects in Hollywood at the moment. The big-screen version of the Broadway musical Rock of Ages already boasts a massive cast. Think Russell Brand, Catherine Zeta-Jones, Paul Giamatti, Alec Baldwin and… Tom Cruise.

Can we just pause to bask in the sheer awesomeness of this? (Click on the image for a larger version).

Tom Cruise - Rock of Ages

Tom Cruise as Stacee Jaxx in 'Rock of Ages'

Cruise is looking fantastic in this pic (which was originally posted on his official blog) – it’s gotta be all the work on the fourth Mission: Impossible. (Yes, there is a fourth. This is indeed the decade of the remake/reboot/sequel/franchise). And, can I just say, Cruise with tattoos works for me.

So sure, he looks the part, but can he sing? Rock of Ages director Adam Shankman reckons he’s going to rock it. “He’s been studying with Axl Rose’s voice teacher, like, five hours a day,” Shankman says. “The prognosis is more than excellent. The voice lesson where he opened up and suddenly let loose… was really great.”

Okay, okay. I can dig it.

Rock of Ages is scheduled for release next year. The hype may kill me.

A new addition to the “Why are they famous?” club

So I have quite a few people on my “Erm, why are they so famous again?” list*. You can see the original list (with original snarky comments!) on iafrica.com, if you like. But here are my favourites:

It started off with Paris Hilton (she’s famous for going to parties and releasing a sex tape), Kim Kardashian (supposed to be famous for Keeping Up With the Kardashians, actually famous for a sex tape), local girl Khanyi Mbau (in the Paris Hilton model, has she released a sex tape? I’m sure she’s made one), “Speidi” (originally on The Hills, when their fame waned they claimed there was a sex tape), Kendra Wilkinson (was a former Hugh Hefner girlfriend), Jordan (big boobs) and Mike “The Situation” (nice abs).

Sure, most of them have their own reality shows etc etc, but there’s a new addition. A spectacular new addition. Courtesy, this time, of the British Royal Family. And what, might you ask, is this new addition famous for?

Find out after the jump…

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Rihanna’s ‘Man Down’ causes controversy. Surprise.

As E! Online so wonderfully put it, “Another day, another incendiary Rihanna video”.

The video in question has been widely covered across the marvellousness that is the interwebz, so I’ll keep the briefing short. (Or you can read more on my site).

Very basically, in Man Down, Rihanna executes the man who raped her. And the industry watchdogs are pissed. For various different reasons. It’s described as an “inexcusable, shock-only, shoot-and-kill theme song”. Which I think is going a little far, seeing as nobody’s actually bothered to listen to the lyrics and watch the video at the same time.

Tell you what, do that now and I’ll carry on after the jump…

[youtube:http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sEhy-RXkNo0%5D

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