Monday, December 31, 2012

Global 2012: Apple CEO gets modest 2012 pay after big 2011

Apple CEO Tim Cook got $4.2 million in pay for the latest fiscal year, a modest sum compared with last year, when the company's board set him up with stock now worth $510 million for taking the reins in 2011.

Cook's pay for fiscal 2012, which ended in September, consisted of $1.4 million in salary, a bonus of $2.8 million, and $17,000 in company contributions to his 401(k) account and life insurance premiums, according to a filing.

Apple Inc.'s board saw no need to give Cook additional shares in 2012 after the sign-on grant of 1 million shares in 2011. Half of those shares vest in 2016 and the other half in 2021. A lot could happen to the value of the shares before Cook can cash them out, but the sign-on grant made him —at least on paper— the highest-paid U.S. CEO in 2011.

Cook did vest into shares worth $140 million in 2012. Those shares were granted earlier, when he was chief operating officer. He had been acting CEO for a while before the death of company co-founder Steve Jobs in October of 2011.

Apple tends to grant shares to executives every other year. Cook's closest cohorts got big grants in 2012, including top hardware engineer Robert Mansfield, who got shares worth $83 million. Chief Financial Officer Peter Oppenheimer and general counsel Bruce Sewell both got stock grants worth just over $66 million, more than double the value of the grants they got two years ago, reflecting the zooming value of Apple's stock.

The Cupertino, Calif.-based company's compensation policies are relatively simple. Missing are many of the perks that other CEOs command, like country club fees and private use of company aircraft.

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Sunday, December 30, 2012

Global 2012: Dwyane Wade kicks Ramon Sessions in the groin

Dwyane Wade
Dwyane Wade (Photo credit: Keith Allison)

After the Miami Heat scored a 105-92 win over the Charlotte Bobcats on Wednesday night, pro wrestling legend and Charlotte resident Ric Flair visited the Heat locker room, where he was greeted with a chorus of "Whooo!"s and dubbed "the creator of swag" by Heat star LeBron James. But perhaps Miami's truest tribute to Flair came during the fourth quarter, when All-Star guard Dwyane Wade broke out one of Flair's longtime favorite moves on Bobcats point guard Ramon Sessions.

No, not the Figure Four. A different longtime favorite:
Yikes. Way to split the uprights, Dwyane. You've done "The Nature Boy" proud.

The beauty part: It was Sessions, not Wade, who got whistled for a reach-in foul on the play. Most gentleman observers would submit that Wade's reach-in was far more damaging, but hey: We're not NBA referees.

Ascribing intent in these situations can be difficult at times, but it sure as shooting looks like Wade meant to swing his left leg up toward Sessions' bathing-suit area; I mean, it's not as if his follow-through was the inevitable physics-demanded result of the bump that preceded it or anything.

And when you consider Wade's past penchant for straddling the line between hard-nosed and rule-breaking play — recall, if you will, Boston Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo's declaration earlier this season that Wade makes "dirty plays," or this collection of questionable moments compiled by Larry Brown Sports — it becomes easier to think that maybe Wade was deliberately acting out. Then again, Wade choosing to do so in full sight of the officials in the fourth quarter of a two-possession game in which he personally was playing great would seem completely counterintuitive, wouldn't it? (See? This is why ascribing intent in these situations can be difficult at times, just like I said a few sentences ago.)

After the game, as you might expect, Sessions said he believed Wade's kick was intentional, according to Ira Winderman of the South Florida Sun Sentinel:

The move caught Sessions off guard.

"I thought he did it on purpose, and it wasn't called," Sessions said afterward. [...]

Wade was not questioned postgame about the play in question.

That's kind of weird — it seems like a punt to the plums that caused a player to hit the deck grabbing his nether regions, was captured by TV cameras, elicited rounds of boos from the arena audience and led to a protracted discussion between the kicker and the kickee about what the heck just happened would be the kind of thing someone might ask about after the game. But no worries, reporters — I'm guessing that NBA discipline czar Stu Jackson will have a couple of questions of his own to ask once he catches this video at some point on Thursday. Remember, Sacramento Kings center DeMarcus Cousins was suspended for one game for a surreptitious groin-punch delivered to Dallas Mavericks guard O.J. Mayo less than one month ago. (Then again, it wouldn't exactly be surprising to see Cousins punished more harshly than Wade, or seemingly similar incidents resulting in disparate punishments, because that kind of seems like where the NBA's at right now.)

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Saturday, December 29, 2012

Global 2012: What successful people do in the morning

Pepsi logo (2003-08). Initially, the "Pep...
Pepsi logo (2003-08). Initially, the "Pepsi" script was written across the top of the globe. In 2007 when the packaging was again redesigned, the script was moved below the globe. It was used in countries outside the US until 2010. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The day may have 24 hours of equivalent length but author Laura Vanderkam says not every hour is created equal. Drawing on her own research, surveys of executives, and the latest science on willpower for her forthcoming ebook What the Most Successful People Do Before Breakfast, Vanderkam argues that making smart use of the early morning is a practice most highly successful people share.

From former Pepsi CEO Steve Reinemund's 5 a.m. treadmill sessions, to author Gretchen Rubin's 6 a.m. writing hour, examples of highly accomplished folks who wring the most from their pre-breakfast hours abound in the book. What do they know that the average entrepreneur might not have realized yet?

"Seizing your mornings is the equivalent of that sound financial advice to pay yourself before you pay your bills. If you wait until the end of the month to save what you have left, there will be nothing left over. Likewise, if you wait until the end of the day to do meaningful but not urgent things like exercise, pray, read, ponder how to advance your career or grow your organization, or truly give your family your best, it probably won’t happen," Vanderkam writes. "If it has to happen, then it has to happen first," she says.

But what if you're a night owl by inclination and you go pale at the thought of setting the alarm for even five minutes earlier? Vanderkam explained to that there is hope for nearly everyone.

"Around 10% to 20% of folks are confirmed night owls. Screwing up your schedule is not wise for these folks--and they may have to choose professions and ways of working and ways of dealing with their families accordingly. Everyone else is in the middle--and my thesis is that there are real advantages to training yourself toward the lark side," she said.

And luckily, you don't have to rely on sheer force of will to make the switch to earlier mornings (though some of that is, no doubt, required). In the book, Vanderkam lays out a five-step process to help you make the change with the minimum of pain:

Track your time: "Part of spending your time better is knowing exactly how you’re spending it now," writes Vanderkam, who recommends you, "write down what you're doing as often as you can and in as much detail as you think will be helpful," offering a downloadable spreadsheet to help.

Picture the perfect morning: "Ask yourself what a great morning would look like for you," suggests Vanderkam, who offers plenty of inspiration. Shawn Achor uses the early hours to write a note of appreciation. Manisha Thakor, a personal finance guru, goes in for transcendental meditation. Randeep Rekhi, who is employed full time at a financial services firm, manages his side business, an online wine store, before heading off to work.

Think through the logistics: "Map out a morning schedule. What would have to happen to make this schedule work? What time would you have to get up and (most important) what time do you need to go to bed in order to get enough sleep?"

Build the habit: "This is the most important step," writes Vanderkam before explaining how to gradually shift your schedule, noting and rewarding small wins along the way.

Tune up as necessary: "Life changes. Rituals can change, too."

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Friday, December 28, 2012

Global 2012: Crimson Tide quarterback AJ McCarron is apparently dating Miss Alabama

MISS USA (Photo credit: Post_14)

One story that will never change, no matter how long the game of football is played: The quarterback will always get the girl.

You recall Johnny Manziel, the Texas A&M quarterback, and his model girlfriend Sarah Savage. Well, and say that fellow SEC quarterback, Alabama's A.J. McCarron, is dating Katherine Webb. And Webb just happens to be Miss Alabama 2012. The sites cracked the case by piecing together flirty tweets to each other, the picture above that Webb tweeted, and a tweet from Webb that said she would be sitting with the McCarrons for the BCS Championship Game.

Your move, Zach Mettenberger.

What makes the story a little more unusual than the typical "quarterback meets girl" tale is that Webb is an Auburn grad. She graduated in May of 2011 with a degree in business management. Her relationship with the Crimson Tide's quarterback might cause a stir in that divided state.

"Fine...ill say it. #RollTide," Webb tweeted on Dec. 12.

Oh my.

Webb, on her Twitter account, seems to be taking it all in stride. She's not unaccustomed to the spotlight, after all.

Here's a lesson to all you kids out there aspiring to date a Miss USA pageant contestant: Become a SEC quarterback. Wear some bow ties. Lead your team to the national championship game for a second straight season.

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Monday, December 24, 2012

Global 2012: Leslie Mann and Megan Fox go chest-to-chest in ‘This is 40′

Megan Fox.
Megan Fox. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It takes a strong marriage to pull off the intimate scene in “This is 40” between actress Megan Fox and Leslie Mann, written and directed by Mann’s husband and collaborator Judd Apatow. Or maybe it’s just the stuff of married men’s fantasies: Wife, mother and boutique owner Debbie (Mann) catches her best saleswoman Desi (Fox) in a lacy hot pink push-up bra and launches into an awkward discussion about the younger woman’s perky breasts. “Are those real?” Debbie asks, to which Desi replies matter-of-factly: “Yeah, I’m just young.” Talk leads to touch – and then more girl-on-girl touch. Well, the “Knocked Up” director never backed away from a sexual sight gag.

“We saw Megan on ‘Saturday Night Live,’” Apatow told Yahoo! Movies, “and we thought, “Oh, this girl’s wickedly hilarious, and she probably won’t get a lot of these opportunities. So, let’s give it to her, and show everyone how funny she is.”

OK, that was a safe answer from Judd, who wrote the scene. Again: standing behind the camera while your wife touches the breast of one of the sexiest women in Hollywood sounds like something even voyeuristic Alfred Hitchcock wouldn’t have attempted. According to Apatow, “I get so uncomfortable with even partial nudity in movies. I’ll do one or two takes, and feel weird. Megan is a beautiful woman, but she literally changes the temperature of a room when she walks in.”

“Megan just has great boobs,” Mann confessed to Yahoo! Movies. “Better boobs than I’ve ever seen in my life.”

“I feel very protective of younger actresses because it was so hard for me in the business," said Mann, 40, about her 26-year-old co-star, Fox. And she had other feelings, too. “I wanted to get it over [with] as quickly as possible, because I knew it was uncomfortable for her, probably -- or maybe not. But just in that situation I knew there were a lot of dirty boys around having weird, gross fantasies. And so I wanted to get her shirt back on as quickly as possible.”

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Sunday, December 23, 2012

Global 2012: Mexico's Maya heartland greets dawn of new era

Detail showing three columns of glyphs from th...
Detail showing three columns of glyphs from the Epi-Olmec script dating from the 2nd century CE La Mojarra Stela 1. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Dec. 21 started out as the prophetic day some had believed would usher in the fiery end of the world. By Friday afternoon, it had become more comic than cosmic, the punch line of countless Facebook posts and at least several dozen T-shirts.

At the ruins of the ancient Mayan city of Chichen Itza, thousands chanted, danced and otherwise frolicked around ceremonial fires and pyramids to mark the conclusion of a vast, 5,125-year cycle in the Mayan calendar.

The doomsayers who had predicted apocalypse were nowhere to be seen. Instead, people showed up in T-shirts reading "The End of the World: I Was There."

Vendors eager to sell their ceramic handicrafts and wooden masks called out to passing visitors, "Buy something before the world ends."

And on Twitter, (hash)EndoftheWorld had become one of the day's most popular hash tags.

For the masses in the ruins, Dec. 21 sparked celebration of what they saw as the birth of a new and better age. It was also inspiration for massive clouds of patchouli and marijuana smoke and a chorus of conch calls at the break of dawn.

The official crowd count stood at 20,000 as of mid-afternoon, with people continuing to arrive. That surpassed the count on an average day but not as many as have gathered at the ruins during equinoxes.

The boisterous gathering Friday included Buddhists, pagan nature worshippers, druids and followers of Aztec and Maya religious traditions. Some kneeled in attitudes of prayer, some seated with arms outstretched in positions of meditation, all facing El Castillo, the massive main pyramid.

Ceremonies were being held at different sides of the pyramid, including one led by a music group that belted out American blues and reggae-inspired chants. Others involved yelping and shouting, and drumming and dance, such as one ceremony led by spiritual master Ollin Yolotzin.

"The world was never going to end, this was an invention of the mass media," said Yolotzin, who leads the Aztec ritual dance group Cuautli-balam. "It is going to be a good era. ... We are going to be better."

Ivan Gutierrez, a 37-year-old artist who lives in the nearby village, stood before the pyramid and blew a low, sonorous blast on a conch horn. "It has already arrived, we are already in it," he said of the new era. "We are in a frequency of love, we are in a new vibration."

But it was unclear how long the love would last: A security guard quickly came over and asked him to stop blowing his conch shell, enforcing the ruin site's ban on holding ceremonies without previous permits.

Similar rites greeted the new era in neighboring Guatemala, where Mayan spiritual leaders burned offerings and families danced in celebration. Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina and Costa Rican President Laura Chinchilla attended an official ceremony in the department of Peten, along with thousands of revelers and artists.

At an indigenous South American summer solstice festival in Bolivia, President Evo Morales arrived on a wooden raft to lead a festival that made offerings to Pachamama, Mother Earth, on a small island in the middle of Lake Titicaca.

The leftist leader and 3,000 others, including politicians, indigenous shamans and activists of all stripes, didn't ponder the end of the world, just the death of the capitalist system, which Morales told the crowd had already happened amid "a global financial, political and moral crisis."

"The human community is in danger because of climatic reasons, which are related to the accumulation of wealth by some countries and social groups," he told the crowd. "We need to change the belief that having more is living better."

Despite all the pomp, no one is certain the period known as the Mayas' 13th Baktun officially ended Friday. Some think it may have happened at midnight. Others looked to Friday's dawn here in the Maya heartland. Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History even suggested historical calculations to synchronize the Mayan and Western calendars might be off a few days. It said the Mayan Long Count calendar cycle might not really end until Sunday.

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Saturday, December 22, 2012

Global 2012: Gwyneth Paltrow Recalls Trainer’s Reaction to Seeing Her Naked: ‘I Wasn’t Expecting This’

English: Gwyneth Paltrow at the 2011 Venice Fi...
English: Gwyneth Paltrow at the 2011 Venice Film Festival (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

She may be tall, thin, beautiful, and, of course, a famous movie star, but Gwyneth Paltrow dealt with post-baby body issues just like many other women, she tells Redbook, after she gave birth to her second child, son Moses, back in 2006.

See More From the Gwyneth Paltrow Cover Story

"With my daughter [Apple, born two years prior to Moses] it had been easier, but this time, no matter what I did, I felt stuck. I couldn't shift the weight," Paltrow says in the magazine's January issue in a joint interview with her trainer, Tracy Anderson. Anderson was the one whom Paltrow eventually turned to for help to get in shape for her first role in 2008's "Iron Man" … and for some brutal honesty. "I met Tracy and she was this force from the second I met her. She pulled my pants off. I'll never forget it. She was like, 'Oh, my God, wow, I just am so surprised, because you look so good in clothes. I wasn't expecting this.'"

Getting into tip-top condition has other perks as well, explains Anderson. "When you feel your best, you're more confident in bed. It's not lights-out, under-the-covers sex. It's more like, 'Take a look at this!'"

And Paltrow admits she's experienced those benefits first hand thanks to her training regimen with Anderson. "It did such wonders for my life, my confidence, my sex life, everything."

The "Country Strong" actress also confesses to the magazine that while she was anxious about approaching 40, she's now at ease with the big milestone. "I feel really happy being 40, now that I'm on the other side of it. There was definitely some uncomfortable anticipation. But I'm amazed at what I've been able to accomplish, that I've maintained my important relationships and have such incredible women friends, that I have two funny, beautiful children who can give me a real life," explains Paltrow. "In a way, I feel like no one should make big life decisions until 40. It's when it all starts to settle and become clear."

The mother of two may have a reputation for being out of touch with most of the world, thanks to her lifestyle website GOOP, where she encourages readers to buy $60 olive oil and hawks $90 plain white T-shirts and her 2011 cookbook, in which she writes about the life-changing benefits of having your own in-home pizza oven. But in the Redbook interview, Paltrow admits she's not perfect.

"I've made a lot of mistakes in my life, but I have the good fortune of knowing what they are," she shares. "I can recognize my limitations, forgive myself, and celebrate the fact that I have made it to this important birthday with the information I need to keep making corrections."

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Friday, December 21, 2012

Global 2012: Biggest Celeb Real Estate Listings of 2012

English: Reese Witherspoon at the premiere for...
English: Reese Witherspoon at the premiere for Water for Elephants in May 2011 (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

#5 Mark Wahlberg's Beverly Hills Mansion
Size: 11,500 square feet, including seven bedrooms and 10 bathrooms
Asking Price: $12.995 million
List date: July 18, 2012
Current Status: Still for sale
The Scoop: Wahlberg bought the home in 2001 for "only" $4.95 million and made some multi-million upgrades to the place, which now features a kitchen with commercial grade Viking-appliances and marble countertops, a media room with a fireplace, a two-bedroom, 2,500-square-foot guest house, and a resort-style pool area with cabanas and a waterfall. The estate includes a two-story gym complete with a regulation boxing ring and an outdoor basketball court that can also be used for tennis or racquetball. Though potential buyers should note that the deed to the house does not come with a guarantee you'll end up with Wahlberg's abs.

#4 Sheryl Crow’s Hollywood Hills Estate
Size: 11-acre estate with a 4-bedroom, 3.5 bath main house, a 3-bedroom, 3-bedroom guest house, and a 2-bedroom, 2-bath bungalow
Asking Price: $15.95 million
List Date: October 1, 2012
Current Status: Still for sale
The Scoop: The Spanish Revival home was built in 1924 and has been remodeled to include lots of modern-day amenities like a kitchen chock full of high-end appliances, a library with built-in bookshelves, a wine cellar, and plenty of outdoor luxuries, too, including some close-to-nature spots where Crow must have penned a few tunes. There's the infinity pool with attached hot tub and deck, a footbridge over the property, a cactus garden, and a tropical-style palapa complete with hammock for gazing out into the L.A. skyline, and an outdoor fireplace. As for the guest houses, which share the 11-acre lot, the 1909 Craftsman contains three bedrooms and three bathrooms, while the 1885 "cottage" has two bedrooms and features white oak floors and the always-cool-sounding claw foot tub. According to, the "Perfect Lie" singer and her kids have already completed their move to Tennessee.

#3 Madonna’s Manhattan Apartment
Size: 6,000 square feet, 6-bedroom, 8-bathroom duplex
Asking Price: $23.5 million
List Date: November 20, 2012
Current Status: Still for sale
The Scoop: Though Madge purchased a single unit back in the mid 1980s, over the years she's bought two more neighboring apartments in the building, combining them into what is now a 6-bedroom, 8-bathroom duplex, which takes up the 5th and 6th floors of West 64th Street's prestigious Harperley Hall. A peek at the listing shows the apartment offers luxuries most Manhattanites have to forgo, like great rooms on both floors with French doors leading to outdoor "Juliet" balconies, five wood-burning fireplaces, central air conditioning (not always a given in NYC apartments), bedrooms with their own wings, and yes, those priceless park views. The apartment was featured in a 1991 issue of Architectural Digest, and according to the article, it included a sound-proofed private gym so that neighbors couldn't hear the stereo system. Unfortunately, the plan didn’t quite work. According to the New York Post, the 54-year-old was sued in 2009 by an upstairs neighbor, who claimed that Madonna played her tunes so loudly that the walls shook for up to three hours a day. The building's board reportedly threatened to evict the "Vogue" songstress and she settled the lawsuit in 2011. After that she moved out of the building and into an even bigger apartment across town on the Upper East Side, this one a 12,000-square-foot 13-bedroom, 14-bathroom triple-wide townhouse with nine fireplaces (because five just isn't enough), for which she paid a reported $40 million.

#2 Adrienne Maloof and Paul Nassif’s French Chateau in the Gated Los Angeles Enclave of Beverly Glen
Size: 20,000 square feet including eight bedrooms and 11 baths
Asking Price: $26 million
List Date: September 20, 2012
Current Status: Sold on October 19 for $19.5 million
The Scoop: After entering into a messy divorce, “Real Housewives of Beverly Hills” star Maloof and her plastic surgeon husband Nassif looked to liquefy one of their biggest assets when they put this mega-mansion on the market. And what a mansion it is. The listing agency's website states that the French Chateau-style house, designed by architect Richard Landry, is set on two acres and includes luxurious features like a tennis court, media room, wine cellar, swimming pool, and both a pool house and a guest house. According to, the couple purchased the home (which was built in 2000 and has been featured prominently in the reality show) for just under $13 million in 2004, which means they made a tidy little profit on the sale … more to pay the lawyers with!
[Related: Which Celeb Split of 2012 Surprised You the Most? Vote Now!]

#1 Ryan Seacrest’s Beverly Hills Mansion, Purchased From Ellen DeGeneres and Portia de Rossi
Size: 2.87 acres, 15,000 square feet, 9 bedroom, 11 baths
List Price: $45 million
List Date: October 3, 2011
Purchase Price: $37 million
Purchase Date: May 16, 2012
The Scoop: Was the home with a celebrity pedigree worth every penny? Well, the property includes a main house, two guest cottages, and an additional 3-bedroom house. DeGeneres and de Rossi purchased the furnished property from “Will & Grace” co-creator Max Mutcnick and later bought two neighboring properties and expanded the home with the help of interior designer Melinda Ritz. The house includes a media room (where the couple was married), a giant pool, meditation room, and pond. Best of all, it was also was once home to Joan Collins.

Honorable Mention: Reese Witherspoon’s Ojai Ranch
Size: 7 acres, 4 bedroom, 3-bath main house, three guest cottages, and carriage house
Asking Price: $10 million
List date: October 15, 2012
Current Status: Price dropped to $8.9 million on November 15. Still for sale
The Scoop: Though there were bigger and more expensive celeb homes that hit the market in 2012, Witherspoon’s Ojai property, makes the list since it’s made plenty of headlines over the last year or so. It was the site of Witherspoon's star-studded wedding and was featured in Elle Decor's August 2012 issue. Over the summer it also became a temporary retreat for her friend and "Like Water for Elephants" co-star Robert Pattinson during the media frenzy that ensued after his girlfriend Kristen Stewart admitted to cheating on him. Acclaimed architect Neff designed the ranch's main house, which has four bedrooms and three and a half baths, in 1923 for glassware magnate Edward Drummond Libbey. In addition to the main house, the estate, which sits on nearly seven acres, also includes a swimming pool, barn, and horse paddock as well as multiple guest cottages, which contain an additional five bedrooms. Witherspoon and her family also share the ranch with donkeys, pigs, goats, chickens, and four dogs. No word on whether they come with the house or not.

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Thursday, December 20, 2012

Global 2012: Miley Cyrus Shows Serious Skin, Dances With Stripper While Performing in Hollywood

Miley Cyrus at MMVA Soundcheck.
Miley Cyrus at MMVA Soundcheck. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Miley Cyrus still can't be tamed.

The 20-year-old put on quite a show Saturday during Israeli electronica DJ Borgore's "Christmas Creampies" concert at the Fonda Theatre in Hollywood. Appearing as a surprise guest performer, Liam Hemsworth's fiancée hit the stage after midnight and showed some serious skin while singing and dancing with a topless stripper.

For her performance, Cyrus emerged wearing body-hugging black stretch pants and a chest-exposing crop top that left little to the imagination. The former "Hannah Montana" star also had on a chain belt that doubled as a necklace and knee-high python boots.

The tattooed Cyrus clearly had some fun with the audience. She strutted around the stage alongside a topless pole dancer, who was outfitted in just a thong and pasties. (Surely Cyrus knew it would draw comparisons to her controversial performance on a stripper pole at the 2009 Teen Choice Awards.) She also got cozy with Borgore — dancing up against him on stage.

Cyrus also showed off an even shorter 'do. After debuting her edgy new hairstyle in August, she's since chopped off the floppy bangs she initially had. Now it's buzzed all over in a Mia-Farrow-pixie-meets-punk-rock style.

Cyrus is all about her upcoming fourth studio album. Although she became engaged to Hemsworth last spring, she recently said on "The Ellen DeGeneres Show" that the wedding will take place down the line as her current focus is her album and upcoming tour. "I'm, like, so focused on my record," Miley told DeGeneres. "I kind of don't want to be in between touring and trying to plan all that."

While we will have to wait until 2013 to see what she has in store musically — the album will feature a collaboration with Pharrell Williams — Cyrus recently worked with Borgore on his club tune, "Decisions." The video features porn star Jessie Andrews, as well as a unicorn, a goat, and a woman who smashes watermelons with her breasts.

So we suspect her new album will be a lot like Saturday's show — amplified.;_ylt=AkzwcR9FpOahRh27JmsLg6Vk3Rx.;_ylu=X3oDMTFpNDVwZm9mBG1pdANNb2QgUlIgTGF0ZXN0IEJsb2dzIEphbQRwb3MDMgRzZWMDTWVkaWFCbG9nUlNT;_ylg=X3oDMTJxOWdtY29sBGludGwDdXMEbGFuZwNlbi11cwRwc3RhaWQDMGZlNmI3NzItMGM3Mi0zNWZkLWJiZTEtNDEzY2MxYWE3ZTA2BHBzdGNhdANvbWctbm93BHB0A3N0b3J5cGFnZQ--;_ylv=3

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Wednesday, December 19, 2012

Global 2012: Kelly Clarkson Announces Engagement On Twitter

Kelly Clarkson
Kelly Clarkson (Photo credit: brendyn)

America's sweetheart is making it official with her sweetheart of 10 months, Brandon Blackstock. On Saturday afternoon, the American Idol took to Twitter to joyfully announce her plans to tie the knot with Brandon, excitedly posting: "I'M ENGAGED!!!!! I wanted y'all to know!! Happiest night of my life last night! I am so lucky and am with the greatest man ever :)"

Kelly later tweeted, "Everyone has been asking about my engagement ring, so here it is :) It's a yellow canary diamond with diamonds around it and Brandon designed it with Johnathon Arndt! They did an amazing job! I can't wait to make Brandon's ring with Johnathon as well!"

Kelly has been dating Brandon since February 2012, but the two have known each other for years: Brandon is Reba McEntire's stepson and the son of Kelly's manager, Narvel Blackstock, and he is a talent manager himself, overseeing the career of Kelly's good pal Blake Shelton. Their relationship apparently evolved from friendship to romance after the two crossed paths when Kelly performed the national anthem at this year's Super Bowl.

"After six years of having to say there's no one special in my life, finally there is," Kelly told Britain's Daily Mail earlier this year. "I've known [Brandon] for six years, but he was married for most of that time. Then, suddenly, there he was at the Super Bowl, and he was single…"

Kelly has credited Brandon for inspiring her recent weight loss (she once told People, "I have a boyfriend, and if I'm being completely honest, no one likes to be not toned when you are dating someone") but also for "ruining her creativity," joking to to Zap2It that she can't come up with another signature angry breakup anthem a la "Since U Been Gone," "Never Again," or "Stronger" because "I'm trying to write a tough song and I can't; it's coming out all butterflies and rainbows. It's killing me."

Kelly's engagement caps off a year of major milestones for the Original Idol.  In 2012, she turned 30, celebrated the 10th anniversary of her "Idol" victory, and was nominated for three 2013 Grammy Awards (for Record Of The Year, Best Pop Solo Performance, and Best Pop Vocal Album). Congratulations to Kelly for having such a fantastic year, and here's looking forward to a new album of "butterflies and rainbows" songs soon!

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Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Global 2012: Lady Gaga’s Little Sister Shines in Fashion Shoot

English: Lady Gaga covered in "blood"...
English: Lady Gaga covered in "blood" on The Monster Ball Tour, while performing "Teeth". Magyar: Lady Gaga művérrel borítva a The Monster Ball turnén, a Teeth előadása közben. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Looks like Lady Gaga's sister was born this way, too. But Natali Germanotta, 20, doesn't quite have the same eccentric fashion tastes as her older, famous sibling. In a photo shoot for, the Parsons The New School for Design student strikes a pose in various high-end pieces from Alaia, J Mendel, and Proenza Schouler as she hangs out with well-dressed pals at Joanne Trattoria, her parents' Italian restaurant located on New York City's Upper West Side. It's good advertisement for the eatery, no?

Natali also happens to work at Joanne Trattoria, which has been the recipient of some bad reviews (the New York Daily News deemed it "the worst thing since herpes") when she's not immersed in her fashion studies. Describing the staff — who she was photographed with — as "like a family unit" to, she added, "I do a little bit of everything and adore my family."

The fact that Natali agreed to star in this photo shoot is surprising since she's rarely seen and typically allows her sister to get all the attention. But she did accompany Lady Gaga (real name Stefani Germanotta) down the red carpet at the CFDA Fashion Awards in June 2011. Natali also starred in Gaga's 2010 music video for "Telephone," her collaboration with Beyonce.

But although the photo spread paints Joanne as an extravagant place where people come to see and be seen, that's not exactly the case, says creative director Christian Fleres. "Everything about the shoot was over the top from the oversized meatballs and the 20 pound fish on the table to the big hair and jewelry," he revealed. "We had drama in mind the whole time, for that day everyone was playing the superhero version of themselves."
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Monday, December 17, 2012

Global 2012: Kat Von D Is Engaged to Deadmau5 After Accepting Twitter Proposal

Kat Von D, of LA Ink, at the 2007 Calgary Tatt...
Kat Von D, of LA Ink, at the 2007 Calgary Tattoo & Arts Festival held in the Calgary Roundup Centre, 1410 Olympic Way SE Calgary, Alberta, Canada. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Kat Von D tweeted yes!

The 30-year-old tattoo artist was proposed to on Twitter Saturday, December 15, by on-again-off-again boyfriend Deadmau5 (real name: Joel Zimmerman).

"I can't wait for Christmas so.... Katherine Von Drachenberg, will you marry me?" the deejay, 31, tweeted. He also attached a photo of the engagement ring, and explained in writing on the image, "Changing the diamond to a black diamond FYI. Sorry for the jpg . . . they'll finish the actual ring soon I hope. I love u." The ring features two tiny skulls on either side of the diamond.

The L.A. Ink star accepted Deadmau5's proposal, tweeting, "Mi corazon! Thank you all for the lovely congratulations! Please excuse me while I go squeeze the hell out of my fiance!"

Her fiancee, replied, "Holy f--king s--t. I'm engaged and stuff! Thanks for the well wishes and support from the horde and everyone else! Brb while i spend the rest of my evening with my future wife."

Kat Von D began dating the Canadian deejay in mid-September. In November, she announced on Twitter they had broken up. "Man, I sure was wrong. But at least he made it a no-brainer to break that off. Lesson Learned," she wrote. "Clarification: Deadmau5 and I are no longer together." But the two managed to work things out and reconciled shortly after.

The tattoo artist was previously engaged to Sandra Bullock's ex-husband Jesse James. The two split in July 2011, and Kat Von D is now getting a tattoo of him removed.
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Sunday, December 16, 2012

Global 2012: 'The Hobbit': Bilbo Bags Record $85M in U.S. Box Office Debut

The Hobbit (2012 film)
The Hobbit (2012 film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

"The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey" launched Peter Jackson's new trilogy with the biggest December box-office opening ever in the U.S., taking in $85 million in three days.

Jackson's prequel to the blockbuster "Lord of the Rings" series, the first of three installments, shattered the record for biggest December debut set in 2007 by "I Am Legend" with $77.2 million. The overall box office was the highest ever for a December weekend at $134 million, and was up 14 percent over the comparable weekend last year.

It's been nine years since moviegoers have had the chance to revisit Middle-earth and they were glad to be back, giving "The Hobbit" an "A" CinemaScore. The film is directed by Jackson and stars Ian McKellen as the wizard, Gandalf, and Martin Freeman as the titular hobbit, Bilbo Baggins. New Line and Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer co-produced and co-financed the film.

The "Lord of the Rings" movies all opened the week before Christmas, but Warner Bros. head of distribution Dan Fellman said the studio saw an opportunity with "The Hobbit" to get a jump on the holiday season.

"You sort of lead with your chin when you go out early like this," Fellman told TheWrap, "but we knew we had a great picture, and we think we're set up to build on this from here. Next week is tricky since it's still pre-holiday, but by the time we get to Christmas we'll be rolling."

Fellman said one of the goals was to attract a new generation of Middle-earth fans, and the numbers suggest that could happen. The audience was 42 percent under 25 years of age and 57 percent males.

Fellman noted that school's are generally still not out for the holiday break and that, combined with the "A+" CinemaScore that moviegoers under 18 – who made up 20 percent of the audience – gave the film point to the potential to capitalize on younger audiences in the coming weeks.

The debut by "The Hobbit" is bigger than any of the "Rings" movies, including the franchise finale "The Return of the King," which opened to $72.6 million domestically in 2003.

"The Hobbit" is benefiting from a higher mark-up on 3D tickets. It is the first adaptation of the beloved J.R.R. Tolkien books to arrive in theaters in that format, which accounted for 3,160 of the total 4,045 screens and made up 49 percent of the overall gross. The per-location average overall was nearly $21,000. The 326 Imax locations brought in $10.1 million, averaging more than $30,000 per theater over the three days.

About 460 theaters showed "The Hobbit" in the groundbreaking but controversial 48 frame-per-second format -- which doubles the standard film speed and provides more clarity -- that Jackson utilized when he shot the movie. Between the high-speed film, 3D and Imax versions and combinations of those formats, moviegoers had six available options for viewing "The Hobbit." Imax screens playing the film in the 48 fps format averaged $44,000 per location.

Friday's grosses for "The Hobbit" were swelled by the $13 million in sales from midnight screenings at 3,100 locations, 2,160 of which were 3D.

Finishing a distant No. 2 was DreamWorks' animated kids movie "Rise of the Guardians," which brought in $7.4 million to up its overall domestic total after four weeks to $71 million.

In its sixth week, DreamWorks and Disney's Oscar front-runner "Lincoln' brought in $7.2 million to raise its overall domestic total to nearly $108 million. Sony's James Bond thriller "Skyfall," also in its sixth week, finished fourth with $7 million. It has taken in $272 million domestically.

Fox's Oscar hopeful "Life of Pi" added $5.4 million this weekend. Director Ang Lee's lyrical epic has taken in nearly $70 million after four weeks.
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