Monday, March 03, 2014

Hello, everybody. We'll get to the Oscars in a moment, but I should start with the serious news up front.

First up...the continuing conflict in Ukraine, as the United States and its allies are left with a decision to bolster their missile defense systems in Europe. Secretary of State John Kerry will be heading to Kiev on Tuesday to meet with the Ukrainian government while calling on Russian President Vladimir Putin to pull his troops out of the Crimerian peninsula, which until 60 years ago was part of their country's territory. But according their Prime Minister Arseniy Yatsenyuk, Crimeria is still on Ukrainian soil despite the Russian presence.

Back here in the States, the week has already started with the never-ending winter with the latest (and hopefully last) blast pummeling the Mid-Atlantic and Northeast, closing down schools and businesses yet again. Up to 10 inches of snow will have fallen in Washington and Baltimore with a foot of snow to come in New Jersey and parts of West Virginia, with governors of Tennessee and Virginia declaring a state of emergency.

Punxsutawney Phil was right about those six extra weeks of winter coming our way. Here, we have General Beau Lee, whose forecast called for an early spring in Atlanta. When it comes to weather in March, it's all about asking yourself one question: Who do you trust?

And now...

Slavery and "Gravity" triumph at the Oscars!

"Gravity" may have walked out of the 86th Annual Academy Awards on Sunday with the most overall haul (seven Oscars including Best Director for Alfonso Cuaron); but in the end, the more prestigious honors belonged to "12 Years A Slave" with Adapted Screenplay, Supporting Actress for Lupita Nyong'o, and Best Picture of 2013. Those two films and "American Hustle" were in a cutthroat battle for the big prize, with "Slave" coming in with a huge advantage after racking up Golden Globes, Screen Actors Guild, and BAFTA wins ("Hustle" on the other hand, got nothing, as did "The Wolf of Wall Street").

As predicted, Matthew McConaughey was named Best Actor for "Dallas Buyers Club" with Jared Leto claiming Supporting Actor, while the heavily favored Cate Blanchett completed her winning streak with her second overall Oscar, this time Best Actress for "Blue Jasmine." 

Other big winners include: "Frozen" (Animated Feature and Original Song ("Let It Go")), "20 Feet From Stardom" (Documentary Feature, punctuated by Darlene Love ultimately singing her praises), Italy's "The Great Beauty" (Foreign Language Film), and "Her" (Original Screenplay in a surprise).

Ellen DeGeneres in her second go-around as host put a whole lot of fun into the 3 1/2-hour Oscarcast, as opposed to Seth McFarlane's fawning last year. In addition to serving pizza to the audience, she was also solely responsible for the selfie that crashed Twitter, amassing 2 million retweets and counting. But I thought the best highlight went to Bette Midler in her first visit to the Oscar stage with "Wind Beneath My Wings" closing out the In Memoriam segment (which was probably completed on the fly to include Harold Ramis, whom Bill Murray gave a shout-out to)

One major highlight prior to all that's going on was in the skies above Los Angeles, as torrential rains threatened to put a damper on the fashion action. But thankfully, the sun came out to play just in time, though Jennifer Lawrence still couldn't get the sting from last year out of her head as she tripped in her red Dior yet again...this time on the red carpet. Though they both graciously lost to Blanchett, Sandra Bullock and Amy Adams looked like Old Hollywood in Alexander McQueen and Gucci respectively, while among the men, Jared Leto looked like a true winner himself in his Yves Saint Laurent jacket and red bow tie.

I think the best honor goes to Lupita Nyong'o in her icy blue Prada, but (back to the guys) Pharrell Williams? This is the Oscars, not the Grammys; leave those shorts in the house!

Cate Blanchett has always been the odds-on favorite ever since "Blue Jasmine" was released last summer, and her Best Actress prize did the trick for her. As for Lupita Nyong'o? Like Jennifer Lawrence last year, this is definitely not the last we'll be seeing of her...well, unlike Mo'Nique when she won that very same award four years ago.

And then there was the Sexiest Man of 2005 winner whose Texas charm has drawn the females wild for years. Even though his big-screen persona has now been carried over to the small screen in HBO's "True Detective", there is no doubt that Matthew McConaughey's stature is well cemented now that he and his wife Camilla have welcomed the newest member of their family: an 8 1/2 bundle of joy named Oscar.

Heroes and Hollywood may have been the theme, but there was one other keyword all throughout the 86th Academy Awards that held true: Diversity, and we've seen it. Quite fittingly, the Oscars did soar to new heights in more ways than one. So long and stay strong.

Friday, February 28, 2014

Hello, everybody. I'll get to my Oscar preview in a bit, but first up, the latest on Young Hollywood's bad boy and a relocation:

Now other than Keshia Knight Pulliam, I can't think of any other major celebrities that call Atlanta home. But soon, you can add Justin Bieber to the list as he has reportedly purchased a home in the exclusive Buckhead area, which has been dubbed the Beverly Hills of the South.

Apparently, some people were so against their newest resident that they wanted Bieber out...or so we thought? A group that called themselves the "Buckhead Neighborhood Coalition" started up a Facebook page and on Monday morning, even went all out to hold a protest near Blackland Street, where the house is located. It garnered worldwide media attention, but in the end...it was all for show! Yes, this whole thing was brought to us by Rock 100.5 radio's The Regular Guys, the brains behind the phony group/fake protest, and we were all duped. Even though there were only five "protesters", two others were actually pro-Bieber. Sam Massell, the head of the real Buckhead Coalition, had nothing to do with the faux protest and is welcoming Bieber with open arms.

After that prank, I'm really all for Biebs shacking it up in Atlanta; but since it's that time of year once again, the Girl Scouts should be given fair warning.

And now...with the Winter Olympics in Sochi already over, we are immediately moving forward to two big events this weekend: the 42nd annual running of the Iditarod back in Alaska in which dog mushing's biggest names will be roughing it to see who'll be the first to Nome; and of course, the 86th Annual Academy Awards on Sunday. For the latter, crews have been working round the clock to prevent a soggy red carpet as those aforementioned rains are continuing to pound Los Angeles with a vengeance.

Meanwhile, host Ellen DeGeneres will be doing everything in her power to get the show back to becoming a major event again in the face of not just Richter scale ratings, but also AMC's "The Walking Dead" already ruling Sunday nights after taking a chunk of viewers away from the Olympics. A lot has changed since DeGeneres last hosted in 2006, but after last year's host Seth MacFarlane got some lambasting (thanks primarily to "We Saw Your Boobs") followed by Billy Crystal's rusty return and James Franco and Anne Hathaway bombing (though Hathaway got a lot of redemption also last year with her Supporting Actress win), the Academy felt that Ellen is the safe bet.

"American Hustle", "Gravity", and "12 Years A Slave" are locked in a three-way battle for Best Picture with "Slave" already the heavy favorite. As for "Captain Philips", "Dallas Buyers Club", "Her", "Nebraska", "Philomena", and "The Wolf of Wall Street"? They wished it was back to just five nominees.

Supporting Actor may be all about Jared Leto, but Barkhad Abdi, Bradley Cooper, Michael Fassbender, and Jonah Hill in the mix. The Supporting Actress showdown is between Lupita Nyong'o and Jennifer Lawrence, who wants to add that to go along with the Best Actress she collected last year (Sally Hawkins, 2000 Best Actress Julia Roberts, and June Squibb are also in there). 

Matthew McConaughey may have Best Actor in the bag, but he's not alone as Christian Bale, Bruce Dern, Leonardo DiCaprio, and Chiwetel Ejiofor could take that away from him. And Best Actress? If not Cate Blanchett, then Amy Adams', Sandra Bullock's (winner of that same category four years ago), Judi Dench's, or three-timer Meryl Streep's names could be on that envelope instead.

With all that said, here's whose names I think will be embedded on that ultimate piece of hardware after Sunday night:

SUPPORTING ACTOR: Jared Leto
SUPPORTING ACTRESS: Jennifer Lawrence had one hell of a 2013 with her memorable trip to the Oscar stage as the headliner, but she's been a workaholic and is deserving of a long breather. The chances of back-to back Oscars have already been against her, so it's safe to say that Lupita Nyong'o is the easy bet.
BEST ACTOR: Matthew McConaughey
BEST ACTRESS: Sandra Bullock may have also shared the same sentiment with Jennifer Lawrence, but remember what Mo'Nique said when she won in 2010: It's the performances, not the politics (or your name, for that matter), that land you the Oscar, and Cate Blanchett's in "Blue Jasmine" was a whole lot powerful than political.
DIRECTOR: Alfonso Cuaron, "Gravity"
BEST PICTURE: "12 Years A Slave"

We'll see how I fare Sunday on the original Show of Shows (sorry, Wrestlemania!), with my full recap to follow on this blog Monday. So long and stay strong.

Monday, February 03, 2014

Super Blowout for Seattle!

Hello, everybody. In what was one of the most lopsided finishes in history, the Seattle Seahawks ran circles around the Denver Broncos 43-8 in Super Bowl XLVIII Sunday night. Fueled by their powerful defense, linebacker Malcolm Smith was named the game's MVP, giving the Broncos' Peyton Manning the worst defeat of his career.

A blowout Super Bowl like this has also resulted into blowout ratings. The game pulled in a new all-time record 111.5 million viewers, knocking the series finale of "M*A*S*H" out of the top five!!!

Maybe it was because of New Jersey natives Queen Latifah and opera superstar Renee Fleming with "America The Beautiful" and the "Star-Spangled Banner" respectively before kickoff. Maybe it was because of the unseasonably warm climates of MetLife Stadium (49 degrees!), with fears that a blizzard might postpone the big game. Maybe it was because of Hall of Famer Joe Namath and his coat that made the folks at PETA switch to the Puppy Bowl. Maybe it was because of Bruno Mars at halftime with the Red Hot Chili Peppers, which I thought was excellent though Bruno, for the love of God, should get a haircut!

Or maybe, perhaps MAYBE, it was the commercials. Crude was out, class was in this time, and here were my top five favorites from the game:

5. Coca-Cola's "It's Beautiful" (remember the controversial Spanish version of our national anthem years ago? This one, on the other hand, wasn't like that in my opinion)

4. Bud Light's "Ian's Up For Whatever" (what really happens when you cast a llama, Minka Kelly, One Republic, and Arnold Schwarzenegger alongside an average Joe? Hilarity ensues!)

3. Radio Shack's "Phone Call" (Whatcha gonna do when the California Raisins, Jason from "Friday the 13th", ALF, Chucky from "Child's Play", Q*Bert, Mary Lou Retton, and Hulk Hogan clean out your very outdated store still full of boom boxes and Tandy computers and make an ass out of you?)

2. Audi's "Doberhuahua" (which was why the Puppy Bowl took a chunk of the Super Bowl's ratings this year)


And my number one favorite commercial from the Super Bowl which was also tops in "USA Today's" Ad Meter:

1. Budweiser's "Puppy Love"
(the King of Beers remained the King of Super Bowl ads, and this one was a prime, touching example)

There were others that failed to impress me, like Chrysler. They were tops on my list for three years in a row, but their "American Import" with Bob Dylan? They missed the mark this time. Scarlett Johansson's SodaStream ad (in which there was an alternate ending) also fizzled, as did Maserati's with Quvenzhane Wallis, Dannon Oikos' "Spill" after all the pre-game buzz, and newcomers Turbo Tax and Squarespace. Talk about $4 million for 30 seconds of ad time being pissed away.

The last Seattle sports team to ever win a major title was the 1979 Supersonics (now Oklahoma City Thunder). That 35-year drought has come to an end, as another trophy is coming their way...the Vince Lombardi Trophy. All of the Emerald City is still celebrating, as is my brother Lawrence in Tacoma and especially the whole state of Alaska, which has been Seahawk Country all along. And for this Super Bowl blowout, at least they, uh, "smoked" Manning and company.

Now while all this was happening, there was one major story developing on the other end of the George Washington Bridge: Philip Seymour Hoffman, who won an Oscar in 2006 for "Capote" and has also starred in "The Hunger Games" among other films, was found dead in his New York City apartment late Sunday morning of an apparent drug overdose; he was 46. An autopsy was conducted Monday while we have learned new details on his tragic death, as Hoffman had a syringe in his arm and packets of heroin stamped with an ace of hearts symbol.

The actor joined the "Hunger Games" franchise with "Catching Fire" and "Mockingjay"; he was here in Atlanta working on both films. Lionsgate has announced that Hoffman won't be replaced and said in a statement: "Philip Seymour Hoffman was a singular talent and one of the most gifted actors of our generation. We're very fortunate that he graced our 'Hunger Games' family. Losing him in his prime is a tragedy, and we send our deepest condolences to Philip's family."

This is the second time in seven months that we have lost someone who was in the prime of his or her life; Cory Monteith is the other. And after that other week, I hope Philip Seymour Hoffman serves as a wake-up call to Justin Bieber after his DUI arrest/smiling mugshot.

And last but not least: President Obama's State of the Union Address snagged in a paltry 33 million viewers, as the state of Atlanta, Georgia was a whole lot more important. All last week, a violent snowstorm closed down schools and businesses and our freeways turning into something out of "The Walking Dead", as hundreds of cars took 12 hours or even more trying to get home from work. A lot of fingers have been pointed at Mayor Kasim Reed and Governor Nathan Deal to blame for all this, as Atlanta thought they learned from their mistakes stemming from the 2011 snowstorm that shut the city down for days though since then, they were well prepared.

Meanwhile, my folks back in Alaska had a nice laugh at all this, as at the same time, temperatures hit to as far as 60 degrees! But when it comes to heavy snow like we had, they are the experts at handling it.

Now all my life in Alaska, I've had my share of brutal winters, but Atlanta this time of year is a completely different animal. But whose winter is the 800-pound gorilla of them all? I settle this score once and for all in my...
Winter in Alaska vs. Winter in Atlanta

ON A CLEAR WINTER NIGHT YOU CAN SEE:
Winter in Alaska: The Northern Lights
Winter in Atlanta: Bunches of stars above the Atlanta skyline
Advantage: Draw

SCHOOL CLOSINGS DUE TO EXTREME WEATHER:
Alaska: None, but school children stay inside during recess
Atlanta: Lots, causing school children to catch up on Netflix
Advantage: Alaska

STUDDED TIRE USAGE:
Alaska: Yes, from November to May
Atlanta: No, if you have all-weather tires
Advantage: Alaska

BUNDLING UP FOR THE COLD:
Alaska: Carhartts and Sorel boots
Atlanta: Varies, as temperatures fall to as low as the single digits with below-zero windchills
Advantage: Draw

AND FINALLY, TRAFFIC:
Alaska: Normal
Atlanta: As we've seen last week, hellacious!
Advantage: Alaska, with auto-starts and cars plugged in at 20 degrees or colder

By a score of 5-2, experience triumphs over inexperience.

Both areas until the beginning of the year have never heard of the term "Polar Vortex", but I've been seeing the aftermath of last week's storm here with help large and small, from strangers helping out fellow strangers on the roads with food, water, and even cat litter, to business offering shelter and free meals to those who were stranded for hours. We never saw that same outpouring after the ice storm in Fairbanks a few months ago that left most without power for days.

But at the end of the day, Alaska has always been immune to severe winters as opposed to Atlanta, and for good reason: We're more well prepared than them, and there's no need for calling out our government leaders after all that mess. That's how they do it in the AK, and I have put that same expertise to work now in the ATL. So long and stay strong.

Monday, January 27, 2014

Hello, everybody. They had to do it a little early to avoid the Super Bowl/Olympics crush, but the 56th Grammy Awards on Sunday was dominated by crushing wins and not-that-crushing moments.

Daft Punk and Pharrell Williams (who with his fedora was named Arby's honorary Employee of the Year) claimed the most with five Grammys including Album of the Year for "Random Access Memories" and Record of the Year and Best Pop Duo/Group Performance for "Get Lucky". Macklemore and Ryan Lewis were not that behind with four; Best New Artist among them. They were followed up by New Zealand sensation Lorde picking up Song of the Year and Pop Solo Performance for "Royals", and Pop Vocal Album going to Bruno Mars ("Unorthodox Jukebox"), as a warmup to what will be an extremely cold Super Bowl halftime next week. 

And although Robin Thicke and Taylor Swift got nothing, there were others that got something: Alicia Keys (R&B Album, "Girl on Fire"), Kacey Musgraves (Country Album, "Same Trailer Different Park"), Stephen Colbert (Spoken Word Album, "America Again: Re-becoming The Greatness We Never Weren't"); and finally, after many nods, Kathy Griffin (Comedy Album, "Calm Down Gurrl").

Beyonce with the help of Jay-Z kicked things off as only they could, but the night's ultimate highlight belonged to a mass wedding of 33 straight and gay couples during Macklemore and Lewis' "Same Love" with Queen Latifah officiating. 

As always, there are little to no rules when it comes to Grammy fashion, and I thought Taylor Swift, Alicia Keys, Anna Kendrick, and Beyonce aboded by them. Madonna, Paula Patton, and Katy Perry? I'm afraid they violated them.

But of course, the big talk prior to the Grammys was Justin Bieber, as on Thursday he was arrested for DUI and drag racing on a Miami area street. That would be followed by pulling a Tom DeLay for his mugshot before being released on $2,500 bail. On Sunday, he spent some downtime in Panama, but the news of his arrest was pure comedy and social media gold. You know, if I was the U.S. ambassador to Canada, I would deport Bieber's ass and bring Celine Dion with him.

And last but not least...ugh, not again! The Deep Freeze which has numbed the Midwest and Northeast U.S. on two different occasions this month has returned with a vengeance, and is now spreading to as far as the Deep South including here in Atlanta. Chicago is once again the epicenter, as wind chills may fall to -40, with schools, businesses, and city governments closed. But back in Alaska, a series of avalanches have shut down the only road to and from Valdez on the Richardson Highway, and it will remain so for a week.

With Super Bowl XLVIII now less than a week away, the only places that are worried right now are New York and New Jersey, and if the pundits are right, we may see the big game happen earlier or maybe later than Sunday. And to my Seattle Seahawks: I hope they came well-prepared; they may probably need more than gloves to grab not only the football in the frozen tundra of MetLife Stadium, but the Vince Lombardi Trophy. So long, stay strong, and stay warm.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Hello, everybody, and welcome to our first blog of 2014. The road to the Dolby Theatre began in Beverly Hills on Sunday and the 71st Annual Golden Globe Awards, where "12 Years A Slave" (Drama) and "American Hustle" (Musical/Comedy) took the top film honors and setting things up for the ultimate showdown on March 2.

Matthew McConaughey picked up Best Actor-Drama for "Dallas Buyers Club" (which also earned Supporting Actor for Jared Leto), Cate Blanchett beat out Sandra Bullock for Best Actress ("Blue Jasmine"), and Leonardo DiCaprio collected Best Actor-Musical/Comedy for the profanity-laden "The Wolf of Wall Street." 

But it's "American Hustle" that's prematurely coming in with the huge advantage, thanks to wins by Amy Adams (Best Actress-Musical/Comedy) and Jennifer Lawrence (Supporting Actress). Meanwhile, Foreign Language Film went to Italy's "The Great Beauty" and Animated Feature Film, "Frozen."

On the television spectrum: "Breaking Bad" picked up where they left off from last September's Emmys by cooking up Best Drama, with Bryan Cranston finally Best Actor. Robin Wright received Best Actress for Netflix's "House of Cards", leaving -- you guessed it --  a now-pregnant Kerry Washington in the dust yet again. "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" shot out perennial Emmy winner "Modern Family" for Best Comedy (ditto for Best Actor Andy Samberg), while repeat Golden Globes co-host Amy Poehler collected Best Actress ("Parks and Recreation") after planting a big one on Bono. Other winners include fellow Emmy leftover "Behind the Candelabra" (Miniseries/TV Movie and its star Michael Douglas) and Jacqueline Bissett, who not only took forever to get up to the stage, but sort of woke up the censors a bit. Woody Allen was honored with the Cecil B. DeMille Award, in which Diane Keaton accepted on his behalf.

The only malfunction that occurred well before the show was a water sprinkler flooding a portion of the red carpet and the press line -- yards away from the "Entertainment Tonight", "Access Hollywood" and E! platforms -- leading up to the entrance of the Beverly Hilton.

Once again bypassing the usually dull fashion rundown, I'll say that Amy Adams (in Valentino) gets my best-dressed prize, while Sandra Bullock (Prabal Gurung)? She may be turning 50 soon, but I didn't think she didn't look it.

The Golden Globes ended a thaw from the Deep Freeze that numbed most of the country in the first full week of the year. Temperatures plummeted to as low as -15 in Minneapolis, which is the Lower 48's equivalent to -40 in Fairbanks, which I don't have to deal with anymore. Here, it went to as low as 8, which resulted in a growing number of school closures all throughout metro Atlanta including Clayton County, where I live. But three years ago at this time, a violent snowstorm shut the whole city down, turning roads into instant ice rinks for the vehicles. Compare that to the recent ice storm Fairbanks had this past fall, which left most residents without power for days.

Long story short: I'm glad that I'm enjoying real weather once again, especially when it's 50 degrees above zero...in January! Take that, Mike Shultz, and so long and stay strong.

Monday, December 30, 2013

As we speak, it's the next-to-last day of 2013 while in Australia, it's already the last day of 2013. So without further ado, I present to you...
The Top 15 Things That Were Trending in 2013
(15 because I couldn't think of 20)

15. The Cronut (The Cadillac of baking wonders. But who wants to plunk down $40 for a croissant/donut hybrid when Krispy Kreme has one cheaper for about $4.25)

14. Manti T'eo's imaginary dead girlfriend (the spirit of the "invisible chair" from last year's Republican Convention lives!)

13. The return of Hostess snack cakes (Twinkie the Kid was offered to host next year's Academy Awards; he declined)

12. Amanda Bynes (if only Penelope Taynt knocked some sense out of her...oh, wait)

11. Selfies (If Geraldo Rivera snaps one one more time, I'm deleting my Instagram account. Then again, I don't do Instagram!)

10. "Scandal" (they call die-hard fans of the show "Gladiators." Isn't that a slap in the face to "American Gladiators?")

9. Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines" (Wonder if a nearly naked Emily Ratajkowski attempted to twerk in front of Robin?)

8 (and in her 15th consecutive appearance). Britney Spears (with her two-year Las Vegas gig now underway, she is still working it, bitch!)

7. Candy Crush Saga (already causing fake diabetes among mobile users)

6. The ends of Justin Bieber and Selena Gomez, Ryan Seacrest and Julianne Hough, and George Clooney and Stacy Keibler (proof that the "13" in 2013 was unlucky indeed)

5. TIE: Prince George and Pope Francis (one has touched the hearts of royal watchers, the other prefers to touch everyone's flesh without the aid of extra security)

4. The Healthcare.gov website (cue dial-up modem sound here)

3. "Duck Dynasty" (as Bart Simpson once said to Orthodox Jews thinking as if they were ZZ Top, "You guys rock!"...to the point that anti-gay remarks in between seasons would get you in trouble in bit. But the Osbournes and Kardashians they aren't)

2. TIE: Jennifer Lawrence (she's had one hell of year with "Hunger Games", "American Hustle", and some new man in her life that lives in their family home)/The Harlem Shake (suddenly, the bosses at work were going, "You're all FIRED!!!!)

And the #1 thing that was trending in 2013 which will continue in 2014 once her much-anticipated tour kicks off in February (she's coming here to Atlanta on March 24):

1. Miley Cyrus (And yes, we advise you keep your foam fingers, tongues, wrecking balls, and twerking to yourselves while seeing her live)

And that's it, the AllenBlog's 2013 Year in Review. So long, stay strong, and HAPPY NEW YEAR!!!


Saturday, December 28, 2013

The Year in Pop Culture

The top keywords throughout 2013 in the world of pop culture were "twerking", "selfie", and "sharknado"...all not necessarily in that order. But in between all those, lines were blurred, lionesses roared, royal babies on opposite sides of the Atlantic were born, and we've experience a dynasty which right now appears to be quacked away. That, or a coked-up Canadian mayor has cared more about Candy Crush Saga and less about running his city.

But we begin with redemption, and Ben Affleck got his when even without a Director nod, "Argo" walked out of the 85th Annual Academy Awards the big winner with three Oscars including Best Picture (sharing it with George Clooney). Daniel Day-Lewis made history by becoming a triple Best Actor holder, while Jennifer Lawrence's Best Actress would be the start of her landmark year, which I'll get to in a bit.

"Modern Family" continued to reign supreme at the 65th Primetime Emmy Awards, while "Breaking Bad" closed out in style with Outstanding Drama. "The Colbert Report" ended "The Daily Show's" long streak, "The Voice" was the next show to dethrone "The Amazing Race", and Bob Newhart after many decades finally took home his first Emmy.

In other 2013 television highlights and lowlights: "NCIS" finally becoming the #1 show in all of television, the live "Sound of Music" musical starring Carrie Underwood attracting 18 million eyeballs, the returns of Robin Williams and Sarah Michelle Gellar in "The Crazy Ones" and Arsenio Hall in late night after a 19-year hiatus, "Sharknado" reviving once-dead careers of Tara Reid and Ian Ziering, "Sleepy Hollow" and "Brooklyn Nine-Nine" ratings grabbers for Fox, the ends of "Private Practice", "The Office", and "30 Rock", the very ends of "1600 Penn", "Golden Boy", and the "Ironside" reboot, and "All My Children" and "One Life To Live" being granted second lives online. And speaking of which, Netflix had a banner year themselves with "House of Cards", the new "Arrested Development", and "Orange Is The New Black" (in which one superfan, Julianne Hough, took her obsession with the show a little too far by going as Blackface for Halloween) all worth the $8 monthly subscription fee.

And then you have what was the year's biggest TV phenomenon: "Duck Dynasty" and the Robertson family whose beards would make ZZ Top go duck hunting themselves. From scoring sky-high ratings for A&E to merchandise galore, it was duck season all year round...that is, until just recently. Phil Robertson, the engine behind all this, made a remark about homosexuals in GQ magazine which didn't sit well with A&E executives, and he was put on indefinite hiatus. With the show's future on the line, many have now come in defense of Robertson, hoping the network reverses its decision. As of publish time, we've now learned that Robertson will be back on board after all and that A&E has just lifted the ban on Robertson.

In movies, "Gravity" soared to new heights, the minions returned in "Despicable Me 2", we felt "The Heat", and "Her", "Dallas Buyers Club, "Nebraska", "Saving Mr. Banks", and "Nebraska" had filmgoers sending a three-word message to Oscar voters: "For your consideration". As for "The Lone Ranger", "R.I.P.D.", the "Carrie" remake, and "The Fifth Estate?" They were sent that very same message alright...to Razzie voters.

The world of music saw some shocks and surprises. First, the surprises: Robin Thicke's "Blurred Lines" and its very saucy video creating a star in model Emily Ratajkowski, Justin Timberlake still having "20/20" vision, Katy Perry still "Roar"-ing (all while becoming the new Twitter queen with 48 million followers), and the biggest of them all: Beyonce dropping her latest album right from under us...unlike Britney Spears, whose new album "Britney Jean" came in time for her new stint at Las Vegas' Planet Hollywood Hotel and Casino, which begins by the time this portion gets published.

There is that show "Scandal" which was fiery hot this year...and then there were actual scandals that were more than just fiery hot! The annual queen of them all, Lindsay Lohan, passed the crown to Amanda Bynes this year, as her erratic behavior and saliacious selfies have landed her to a psychiatric facility. Sassy celebrity chef Paula Deen was at the epicenter of controversy when she dropped the N-bomb after having an all-black waitstaff at her brothers plantation-themed wedding. That cost her her Food Network contract as well as partnerships with QVC and Smithfield Foods. 

We also had Lance Armstrong admitting to Oprah Winfrey that he was indeed doping before his races, Reese Witherspoon busted for DUI and trying to play the celebrity card to a Georgia state trooper (this was months before I moved here to Atlanta), Justin Bieber's wild adventures ranging from urinating in a mop bucket to getting kicked out of his Brazilian hotel for getting way too freaky, and Alec Baldwin threatening paparazzi in New York followed by some very scathing remarks that led to his MSNBC show being yanked off the air.

But forget "Girls Gone Wild"; in 2013, it was all about "Politicians Gone Wild"! Anthony Weiner's latest sexting scandal (and using the psuedonym "Carlos Danger") costing him his one and only shot at New York City mayor, San Diego mayor Bob Filner resigning in the wake of numerous sexual harassment claims, and you have the king of them all: Toronto mayor Rob Ford admitting to smoking crack cocaine, pushing a city council member, and even a cable news stint that lasted only one night. Toronto City Council took action and stripped Ford of almost all his powers, even though he vows to remain mayor for who knows when. If only Chris Farley lived 16 more years to offer his own spin on this...

Technology and trends continued to run rampant this year, with Apple releasing the iPhone 5S and 5C and the iPad Air (all with the new iOS 7) being the major highlight. And we now know why sales have continued to be up the creek: "Selfie" becoming the Oxford dictionary's word of the year, and the addictive Candy Crush Saga the app to get hooked on. Speaking of which, the Harlem Shake had us up on our feet though thanks to somebody else which I'll get to later, that craze didn't last long.

Christian Slater and Brittany Lopez, Kristen Bell and Dax Shepard (just moments after applying for a marriage license), Kelly Clarkson and Brandon Blackstock, Kate Bosworth and Michael Polish, Keira Knightley and James Righton, Kristin Cavallari and Jay Cutler, Kerry Washington and Nnmadi Asomugha, Jimmy Kimmel and Molly McNearney, Avril Lavigne and Chad Kroeger, and John Legend and Chrissy Tiegen were among the couples that headed down the altat this year, while Dario Franchitti and Ashley Judd, Bethenny Frankel and Jason Hoppy, Khloe Kardashian and Lamar Odom, Orlando Bloom and Miranda Kerr, and Diane Lane and Josh Brolin were those that headed to divorce court. And those who headed to Splitsville? George Clooney and Stacy Keibler, Kaley Cuoco and Henry Cavill, Nina Dobrev and Ian Somerhalder, Ryan Seacrest and Julianne Hough, and Minka Kelly (who too returned to TV with "Almost Human") and Chris Evans.

The year's two biggest births belonged to Prince William and the Duchess of Cambridge with Prince George, and Kim Kardsahian and Kanye West with North West. But there were several others: Channing and Jenna Dewan-Tatum (Everly), Halle Berry and Olivier Martinez (Maceo, three months after they were wed), Jennifer Love Hewitt and Brian Hallisay (Autumn James, shortly after their secret nuptials), Jimmy Fallon and Nancy Juvonen (Winnie Rose), Jessica Simpson and Eric Johnson (Ace Knute), Kate Winslet and Ned Rocknroll (Bear), and Elton John and David Furnish (Elijah Joseph Daniel). And this year, we've been seeing baby bumps on the aforementioned Kelly Clarkson and Olivia Wilde.

All that's left now is to name my Entertainer of the Year for 2013: Jennifer Lawrence! And why? She began her year with that much-deserved Oscar for "Silver Linings Playbook", continued it with "The Hunger Games: Catching Fire" collecting over $160 million in its opening weekend, and is already capping off with "American Hustle" earning Golden Globe and SAG honors...which could result in a repeat trip (not trip-up) to the Oscar stage.

But the most honorable mention goes to Miley Cyrus, as her 2013 was ripe with...well, everything. From using both her foam finger and twerking technique to arouse Robin Thicke at the MTV Video Music Awards while tonguing it out, to saying "It's over!" to Liam Hemsworth, to straddling around naked in a wrecking ball for her music video, to going toe-to-toe with Sinead O'Connor, you can sure bet that Santa was busy this Christmas putting tickets to her upcoming Bangerz Tour in 2014 in stockings everywhere.


And that's not the only thing that'll happen in the upcoming year. No Screen Actors Guild and Golden Globe nods for "The Butler" (and Oprah Winfrey) opens the door wide open for an Oscar race that may come down to "Dallas Buyers Club", "Nebraska", and "12 Years A Slave" for the big Best Picture prize, and a showdown between Tom Hanks vs. Matthew McConaughey and Jennifer Lawrence vs. Sandra Bullock. Speaking of J-Law, she's been filming "The Hunger Games: Mockingjay" on and off here in Atlanta, and so were Jim Carrey and Jeff Daniels with the "Dumb and Dumber" sequel; both will be making millions in the box office. And One Direction will be hitting the road in a stadium tour that is expected to be sold out, while new late night torches will be passed from Jay Leno to Jimmy Fallon (who's upgrading to 11:35) and Seth Meyers. There are countless scenarios that'll come into play in 2014, but as the old saying goes: "Expect the unexpected."

Next time: We wrap it all up with the Top 20 Things That Were Trending in 2013 and what I call the "Britney Guarantee"!