uscelebrityblog

Jun 172014
 

Casey Kasem Dies at 82

Casey Kasem, a disc jockey who never claimed to love rock ’n’ roll but who built a long and lucrative career from it, creating and hosting one of radio’s most popular syndicated pop music shows, “American Top 40,” died on Sunday in a hospital in Gig Harbor, Wash. He was 82.

His death was announced by Danny Deraney, a spokesman for Mr. Kasem’s daughter Kerri. Mr. Kasem had Lewy body dementia, a progressive disease of the body’s neurological and muscle cells. In his final months, Mr. Kasem, who had lived in Beverly Hills, Calif., was at the center of a family legal battle over the terms of his death, pitting his wife, the actress Jean Kasem, against his three adult children from a previous marriage. Ms. Kasem removed her husband from a Santa Monica nursing home on May 7 and took him to stay with friends in Washington State. By court order, he was moved to the hospital on June 1. Mr. Kasem’s “American Top 40,” which first aired in the summer of 1970, was a weekly four-hour feast of homey sentiment and American optimism that ran headlong into the prevailing spirit of rebellion in the music culture of the day. At the height of his career, Casey Kasem was among the best-known D.J.’s in the country. His weekly four-hour show, “American Top 40” defined middle-of-the-road radio taste in America at the time.

The show gave new life to the Top 40 format at a time when the popularity of the 45 r.p.m. record was waning and FM disc jockeys were experimenting with more personal formats, creating playlists from their favorite long-playing album cuts. Mr. Kasem, instead, featured only the singles that Billboard magazine had ranked as the country’s most popular in the past week, based on its analysis of airplay — a playlist, in effect, based on the national pop consensus. Building a radio show on the notion that such a consensus existed was considered a risky proposition in that culturally splintered time. As Time magazine put it, “He embraced corniness as Vietnam-era cynicism peaked.” But the format struck a chord.

Only five radio stations carried the debut of “American Top 40” on July 4, 1970. But within a year more than 100 did, and by the mid-1970s it had reached nearly 1,000 outlets “coast to coast,” as Mr. Kasem liked to say, making him one of the best-known D.J.’s in the country. He had modeled the show, he later told interviewers, on the old NBC radio program “Your Hit Parade” (also known as “The Lucky Strike Hit Parade”). “I thought we’d be around for at least 20 years,” he said. “Because I knew the formula worked.”
“American Top 40” became a mainstay of American radio, offering a crowd-pleasing menu of hits seasoned with Mr. Kasem’s heartfelt readings of listeners’ song dedications, wholesome anecdotes about the lives of the pop stars, and an endless store of solid, if cringe-inducing, pieces of advice, like his touchstone signoff: “Keep your feet on the ground and keep reaching for the stars.” (Not all the dedications were necessarily feel-good, however. A pregnant teenager addressed her boyfriend in prison, for example, and a mother begged her runaway daughter to come home.)

Mr. Kasem also hosted a syndicated television version of the show in the 1980s. But his relationship with “American Top 40” ended in 1988 because of a contract dispute with his syndication company. The next year, he started “Casey’s Top 40,” a competing radio program on another network, bringing most of his old audience there with him.
About 10 years later, after acquiring the rights to the name, he was again hosting a show with the title “American Top 40” (for a time he hosted both that and the competing “Casey’s Top 40”). He ended his three-decade run in 2004, handing the hosting duties to Ryan Seacrest, who continues in that role. Mr. Kasem retired in 2009. Mr. Kasem, who had a financial interest in his shows, had a net worth estimated by several sources at $80 million. Last year he put his house in the Holmby Hills area of Los Angeles on the market for $42 million.

Rock ’n’ roll was never Mr. Kasem’s passion, he told interviewers. He knew his subject, and kept up with it in a professional way, but when home, he told Billboard, “I find myself just wanting to sit in my office and make it as quiet as possible.”

“If I were doing a real rock show,” he told The New York Times in 1990, “then it would matter to know how I felt about what I was playing.” But, he added, “I’m just counting them down as they appear on the chart, 1 through 40. What really matters is what I say between the songs.”
Photo
Casey Kasem in 2003 at the Los Angeles studio of his syndicated radio show “American Top 40.” Credit Ann Johansson for The New York Times
Between the songs Mr. Kasem managed to herald the newest of the new with a broadcast style that felt comfortingly old. He set the tone with a neighborly but precise 1940s-style diction, honed to amiable perfection in a second career as a voice-over artist. With plain-spoken warmth and a partiality to sentiments and phrases (“coast to coast” and “sweetheart” were his favorites, hands down), his delivery evoked another time.

“Hello again, everybody,” he said to open most of his shows. “I’m Casey Kasem, and welcome to ‘American Top 40.’ I’m all set to count down the 40 most popular songs in the U.S.A.” When he used biographical teasers to introduce songs (“a high school dropout and a runaway, with a mother who was married six times — coming up,” referring to Cher), Mr. Kasem echoed Paul Harvey on his folksy, long-running news broadcasts. But he told The Times that the technique harked back to his childhood in a Middle Eastern immigrant neighborhood of Detroit.

“I was drawing on the Arabic tradition of storytelling one-upmanship,” he said. “When I was a kid, men would gather in my parents’ living room and tell tales and try to outdo each other. I couldn’t understand the language, but I was fascinated.” I used to hear his show from time to time on Arm Forces Radio in Vietnam, it was a sliver of The World. Thanks Casey. Kemal Amen Kasem was born in Detroit on April 27, 1932. His parents, Amin and Helen Kasem, were Lebanese immigrants who owned a grocery store. After graduating from Wayne State University in Detroit, he worked in local radio, produced broadcasts for the Armed Forces Network during a stint in the Army and landed in Los Angeles, at KRLA, where he developed his trademark of introducing records with historical tidbits about the artists and their songs. For a time he also had local television dance show.

In 1970, along with Don Bustany, a Hollywood movie producer and childhood friend, Mr. Kasem came up with the idea of a countdown radio show modeled after “Your Hit Parade” and proposed it to the syndication company Watermark Inc., which was later bought by ABC Radio Networks. Mr. Kasem had always wanted to be a movie actor, he told interviewers, but never had much success beyond cameo roles in films like “New York, New York” (1977), in which he played a 1940s disc jockey, and “Ghostbusters” (1984), in which he played himself. His biggest role off the radio was in the TV cartoon series “Scooby-Doo, Where Are You!” as the voice of Shaggy, the canine hero’s goofy companion. In the 1970s and ‘80s his voice was heard on television commercials for Sears, Ford, Chevron and Oscar Mayer.

Following the Israeli invasion of Lebanon in 1982, Mr. Kasem, whose parents belonged to the Druze sect in Lebanon, an offshoot of Islam, became a vocal advocate for Middle East peace and Arab-American causes. In later years he was active in promoting Arab-Israeli dialogue, making personal appearances at mosques and synagogues around the country. In addition to his wife, who played the tall, blond, dimwitted character Loretta Tortelli on the sitcom “Cheers,” and their daughter, Liberty, his survivors include his three children from a previous marriage, which ended in divorce: Julie, Michael and Kerri Kasem.

In 2007, after he learned he had Lewy body dementia, Mr. Kasem gave his three eldest children legal authority to act as his health care proxy at whatever point he became unable to make decisions himself. The agreement stipulated that he did not want to be kept alive with “any form of life-sustaining procedures, including nutrition and hydration,” if he lost all cognitive function and was given no hope of recovery. Differences between the three older children and Mr. Kasem’s wife played out in increasingly bitter courtroom clashes in the final months.

Mr. Kasem, with an audience of 10 million listeners in his heyday, made politeness and decorum hallmarks of his broadcast. His courtly voice seemed capable of rendering the most raunchy song titles in appropriate-sounding phonemes, and when not able, to swerve around the problem effortlessly. He would not say “I Want Your Sex” when that was the title of a 1987 hit song, for instance. Instead, Mr. Kasem introduced that one as “George Michael’s latest.”

Given the audience he imagined for himself, Mr. Kasem could hardly do otherwise. “I picture people in a car, with Mom and Dad in the front seat, a couple of kids in the back seat, and a grandparent as well,” he told Billboard. In another interview, he said: “I feel good that you can be going to synagogue or church and listen to me, and nobody is going to be embarrassed by the language that I use, the innuendo. Quite frankly, I think we’re good for America.”
By PAUL VITELLO
www.nytimes.com

Jun 152014
 

Dolly PartonDolly Parton (Dolly Rebecca Parton born January 19, 1946) is an American singer-songwriter, multi-instrumentalist, actress, author, and philanthropist, best known for her work in country music.
Beginning her career as a child performer, Parton issued a few modestly successful singles from 1959 through the mid-1960s, showcasing her distinctive soprano voice. She rose to greater prominence in 1967 as a featured performer on singer Porter Wagoner’s weekly television program; their first duet single, a cover of Tom Paxton’s “The Last Thing on My Mind”, was a top-ten hit on the country singles chart and led to several successful albums before they ended their partnership in 1974. Moving towards mainstream pop music, her 1977 single “Here You Come Again” was a success on both the country and pop charts. A string of pop-country hits followed into the mid-1980s, the most successful being her 1981 hit “9 to 5” (from the film of the same name) and her 1983 duet with Kenny Rogers “Islands in the Stream”, both of which topped the U.S. pop and country singles charts. A pair of albums recorded with Linda Ronstadt and Emmylou Harris were among her later successes. In the late 1990s, she returned to classic country/bluegrass with a series of acclaimed recordings. Non-musical ventures include Dollywood, a theme park in Pigeon Forge in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee, and her efforts on behalf of childhood literacy, particularly her Imagination Library, as well as Dolly Parton’s Dixie Stampede and Pirates Voyage.

Parton is the most honored female country performer of all time. Achieving 25 RIAA certified gold, platinum, and multi-platinum awards, she has had 25 songs reach #1 on the Billboard Country charts, a record for a female artist. She has 41 career top 10 country albums, a record for any artist, and she has 110 career charted singles over the past 40 years. All-inclusive sales of singles, albums, hits collections, and digital downloads during her career have topped 100 million worldwide. She has garnered 8 Grammy Awards, 2 Academy Award nominations, 10 Country Music Association Awards, 7 Academy of Country Music Awards, 3 American Music Awards, and is one of only seven female artists to win the Country Music Association’s Entertainer of the Year Award. Parton has received 46 Grammy nominations, tying her with Beyoncé for the most Grammy nominations for a woman and placing her in eighth place overall.

In 1999, she was inducted into the Country Music Hall of Fame. She has composed over 3,000 songs, the best known of which include “I Will Always Love You” (a two-time U.S. country chart-topper for Parton, as well as an international pop hit for Whitney Houston), “Jolene”, “Coat of Many Colors”,”9 to 5″, and “My Tennessee Mountain Home”. Parton is also one of the few to have received at least one nomination from the Academy Awards, Grammy Awards, Tony Awards, and Emmy Awards.

Jun 022014
 

Chuck Norris Served In The U.S. Air Force In Korea Memorial Day thoughts & prayers: Today we honor and commemorate all of our fallen military warriors. Memorial day holds a special meaning for all of us, and for the families of the fallen it provides a profoundly proud and yet painful remembrance.My father fought and was wounded in World War II in the Battle of the Bulge. I served in the U.S. Air Force in Korea. I am also an honorary Marine. My brother, Aaron, served in the U.S. Army in Korea. Our brother, Wieland, served in the U.S. Army as well in Vietnam, where he paid the ultimate price on June 3, 1970. (His name is etched among the 58,000 fallen service men and women on the Vietnam Wall Memorial in Washington, D.C.) Wieland was posthumously awarded the Bronze Star with “V” Device (First Oak Leaf Cluster) for his heroism on Aug. 27, 1970.

Please keep our military men and women (and their families) who have and are serving our country, in your prayers.

God bless… Chuck & Gena
www.ChuckandGena.com
www.ChucNorris.com

May 072014
 

Miley Cyrus Returns To StageMiley Cyrus declared that she’s the “poster child for good health”

At a London press conference ahead of her BANGERZ shows in Europe, Cyrus seemed more than ready to perform again.

She slammed tabloid rumors that she’d overdosed, explaining, “I took some sh*tty antibiotics that a doctor gave me for a sinus infection, and I had a reaction.”
“I’m feeling good, I’m alive, so that’s f*cking awesome,” Cyrus told the press. “Look at me, I’m the poster child for good health.” She said, ”

I’ve been laying down for three weeks. I’m gonna go off — I’m like a star waiting to explode.”

Cyrus promised fans that she’s “better than ever.” “I’m gonna f*ck this place up,” announced the performer. “We’re gonna have a lot of fun. We’re gonna be, like, tops off, f*cking screaming.”(She got a head start on that before the show even began.)Cyrus declared, “You have no idea how ready I feel.”Here’s hoping she stays in good health as the tour kicks back into gear.

May 052014
 

cloony7George Clooney’s engagement to Amal Alamuddin is being confirmed all over the place after news of their betrothal broke over the weekend in the form of ring sightings and reports from unnamed sources.

The 36-year-old international lawyer’s firm released congratulations Monday: “The barristers and staff of Doughty Street Chambers offer their best wishes and congratulations to Ms. Amal Alamuddin … and Mr. George Clooney on their engagement to be married,” the firm said in a statement obtained by People and other outlets. Clooney’s parents got in on the action as well.

Dad Nicholas Clooney — also known as the Kentucky guy who was arrested in Washington, D.C., with the Oscar winner back in 2012 when father and son were protesting violence in the Sudan — confirmed the engagement to the New York Daily News over the phone Monday, adding, “We think Amal is a wonderful girl, and it’s wonderful news. We think it will be a great marriage.”

The Daily Mail tracked down mama Nina Clooney, who allowed that publication to “say I’m extremely happy” and echoed her husband’s opinion of Alamuddin. The fiancée-to-be was reportedly introduced to the parents about a year ago, which would pre-date romantic rumors about the couple that bubbled up last October.

The 52-year-old actor brought his Lebanon-born girlfriend and his parents all to see a White House screening of his recent flick “The Monuments Men” in February, the paper said.

Nina Clooney called Alamuddin “brilliant,” “bright” and her son’s equal on an intellectual level. “Amal’s world couldn’t be more different from the Hollywood lifestyle,” she said.

Wonder how that last bit is playing with George’s former flames, who include onetime pro wrestler Stacy Keibler, model Elisabetta Canalis and a string of actresses.

Before working for her British law firm, Alamuddin was at a New York firm where her clients included Enron and Arthur Anderson, according to Forbes, which has gone into detail on her involvement in international law. At Doughty Street, clients have included WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange, and she also advised former United Nations Secretary-General Kofi Annan when he was working as a U.N.-Arab League envoy to Syria.

Christie D’Zurilla / http://www.latimes.com

Dec 042013
 



Mila Kunis (Milena Markovna born August 14, 1983) is an American actress and voice artist
In 1991, at the age of seven, she moved from Ukraine to Los Angeles with her family. After being enrolled in acting classes as an after-school activity, she was soon discovered by an agent. She appeared in several television series and commercials, before acquiring her first significant role prior to her 15th birthday, playing Jackie Burkhart on the television series That ’70s Show. A year later, she was cast as the voice of Meg Griffin on the animated series Family Guy.

Her breakout film role came in 2008, playing Rachel Jansen in Forgetting Sarah Marshall. Subsequent film roles included Mona Sax in Max Payne, Solara in The Book of Eli, Jamie in Friends with Benefits, Lori in the comedy Ted, and Theodora in Oz the Great and Powerful. Her performance as Lily in Black Swan gained her worldwide accolades, including receiving the Premio Marcello Mastroianni for Best Young Actor or Actress at the 67th Venice International Film Festival, and nominations for a Golden Globe Award for Best Supporting Actress and a Screen Actors Guild Award for Outstanding Performance by a Female Actor in a Supporting Role.