Category Archives: Entertainment

Pandora Following Script That Could Keep Crushing Shorts

I guess, at the end of every hard-earned day … if I expect to still find some reason to believe, I need to cue up Springsteen and then call out financial media injustice. This time with respect toPandora (P_).

It’s a shame to see Seeking Alpha, the site that provided me and so many of my friends and colleagues with an excellent platform to learn and grow from, devolve into a sweatshop for uninformed and poorly-researched “Short Ideas.”

There’s a “contributor” to Seeking Alpha who stands out among the handful who constantly publish bearish Pandora proclamations. This person only rises from the pack because his short theses do not stand up to even the lightest journalistic eyeball or most casual edit.

I presume Seeking Alpha has stopped using editors because the ones I worked with between 2011 and 2012 would have never let this sort of tripe get past them.

In “Quoth the Raven’s” most recent Pandora piece, he tells us that …

Clearly, the active listeners have started to hit some type of plateau …

He makes this case void of any context whatsoever beyond what he can pull from his clearly uninformed and shamefully opportunistic perch.

First, moderation in the growth of listenership, whether you choose to use listener hours or active listeners, has been expected for years. It’s expected as a general function of the broad business Pandora runs in. But it’s also expected by Pandora’s own admission.

This is where Seeking Alpha is culpable. Any good editor would have directed this “writer” to do a search for the Pandora ticker (it’s ‘P’) at the very Web site he writes for. He would have, after about a minute and a half of searching, come across the articles I cited in this week’s Pandora: The Definitive Look Back and Look Ahead.

These linked articles, published at Seeking Alpha, explicitly state — in my own words and in the words of Pandora’s CFO in 2012 — that Pandora would see growth moderate. Anybody who has even studied the dynamics of Pandora’s business understands this. It’s not the shocking relevation “Quoth the Raven” makes it out to be. It’s not something Pandora has been hiding from us and does not want us to see.

There’s absolutely zero smoke and mirrors here.

As transparent as can be, Pandora has been anticipating and preparing for moderation in growth for years. Certainly longer than this person has been producing hack journalism for a once-respected Web site. And, like the good business it is, Pandora has clear-headed ideas on how its business will play out.

 

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Is Kanye West losing his cool appeal? And is Kim Kardashian to blame?

Gabrielle`s Angel Foundation Hosts Angel Ball Ball 2012

 

Is it a “Kardashian kurse” or is Kanye West losing his cool all on his own? In any case, popularity problems seem to be plaguing the once untouchable rap sensation.

West’s performance this week brought just 4,500 people to the Sprint Center, a venue built for 19,000, meaning less than 24 percent of seats were occupied. He has had to cancel several other shows throughout his nationwide tour and drew criticism when he stopped a Florida concert after only three songs and demanded the lights be turned off before launching a profanity-laced rant at the tech staff and storming off the stage.

So is West’s egotistical, bizarre behavior finally taking its toll on fans?

“We are often drawn to people who have an ego and confidence that is derived from their talent. But an empty ego, based on a fake self-inflated image and concept, creates an over powering sense of desperation and superficiality,” human behavior expert Patrick Wanis told FOX411.

West has made headlines frequently lately, more due to his outlandish remarks than his trailblazing talent. We’ve heard the rapper compare himself to everyone from Jesus, Michael Jordan and Steve Jobs to Nelson Mandela, Michelangelo and Michael Jackson – and amid all that talk, he has also managed to offend much of the Jewish population.

The Anti-Defamation League is accusing West of anti-Semitism over comments he made to a Chicago radio station last month, urging him to take responsibility for saying that Obama can’t execute moves because “he ain’t got those connections. Black people don’t have the same level of connections as Jewish people.”

Adding insult to injury, a new study released in November suggests that West’s connection to the Kardashian family may also be the reason for his popularity decline. Q Scores, a website marketers use to measure recognition, reported that West’s popularity has dipped a whopping 66 percent since he first started dating his reality star fiancée in April 2011, and that he now ranks far below the average hip hop artist and male celebrity.

“When putting two egotistical, self serving individuals together, you’ll create a rather vile spark. And in times of economic hardship across the country, bragging about materialism is typically frowned upon,” says California-based public relations expert Angie Meyer-Olszewski. “The Kardashian brand is a sinking ship. Anybody who jumps on board will eventually fall. A successful celebrity in his own right, Kanye made a horrible strategic decision by engaging himself with Kim.”

And while West’s highly-anticipated album “Yeezus” initially shot to No. 1 on the billboard charts, it fell an embarrassing 80 percent the following week, the largest second-week performance drop for a No. 1-debuting album in more than a year.

Then there was the release of that scandalous music video for “Bound 2,” co-starring his topless fiancée and baby mama, which become an instant laughing stock across the web and was slammed with a viral video spoof courtesy of comedians Seth Rogen and James Franco.

Things are not exactly coming up roses in the Kardashian empire either, with recent reports indicating that the show has been on a steady decline over the last four seasons and has lost almost one million viewers per episode since season five.

But according to some communications experts, West can get back on top if he plays his cards right.

“He can definitely win back favor with fans, as soon as the attention moves back to his music since he is such a talented artist,” says Elissa Buchter, founder of Schmooze PR. “The amount of ego you’re allowed to get away with in Hollywood is directly proportional to success of your projects. As long as his songs are on top of the charts, his romantic life isn’t going to crush his credibility as a superstar.”

A rep for West did not respond to a request for comment.

Chris Tomlin: I’d go to jail to honor Christ

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Christian singer/songwriter Chris Tomlin may have a Grammy and a No. 1 album under his belt, but for him, it’s not about winning awards—it’s just about God and his music.

 

Tomlin’s songs are sung at tens of thousands of churches every week, and his latest tour is now available on DVD. And although some criticize modern worship songs for being overly simplified, Tomlin believes that his approachable take is what draws people to his music.

 

“We’re trying to write in a way that’s singable for people, that is in with the times,” he says. “How do I make this that the average guy who’s tone-deaf and who can’t clap on two and four; how do I write it where he can join in?”

 

Although he is making church music more mainstream, Tomlin said he will never go so far as to deny his religion for the sake of being politically correct, no matter the cost.

 

“I’m never going to apologize for saying Christmas is about Jesus Christ,” he said. “Someday you may be put in jail for that, but too bad.”

 

So, would he go to jail to defend Christianity?

 

“Of course I would,” he says.

 

Kim Kardashian criticized for donating just 10 percent of ‘charity auction’ to typhoon victims

Another day, another controversy in the Kardashian bubble.

This time, it is Kim Kardashian who has come under fire for her latest eBay Giving Works auction in which a “percentage of the proceeds” will aid victims of the Philippines typhoon disaster. But it’s the key word “percentage” that has many crying foul, as just 10 percent, while fully disclosed, will go to the International Medical Corps relief efforts.

“The proceeds will go directly to the communities they’re serving in the Philippines and will help typhoon survivors get access to medical care and ultimately save lives,” Kardashian wrote on her auction page. “My prayers and thoughts are with those affected by the typhoon.”

However, crisis communications expert Glenn Selig is just one of many disturbed by the slim donation percentage and told FOX411 that typically most bidders assume the majority goes to the stated cause.

“When you say something is for the charity, the assumption is much more than 10 percent goes to charity. And when the charity angle is leveraged to boost bidding or to drum up news coverage, when only 10 percent goes to charity people likely will be taken,” he said. “It is wrong to mislead the public.”

Sources tell Fox411 that Kardashian does make a profit from the auction – which ended on Sunday – but contrary to multiple reports, it isn’t 90 percent. EBay takes roughly 9 percent for eBay fees on fashion items, as well as 2.9 percent for domestic and 3.9 percent for international payments received. The auction promoters also take an undisclosed cut from the final sales.

But across the Twitterverse, many are up in arms that the prominent personality and fiancée of Kanye West, who is worth an estimated $40 million, isn’t shelling out a little more.

“Kim Kardashian being selfish selling things for ‘charity’ on eBay and only giving away 10%. Come on 50% at least,” wrote one. Another tweeted: “How dare you use these people’s misery to make money? Don’t you and boyfriend have enough money without using these poor wretched souls in their hour of desperation. Shame on you!”

Yet the E! reality star has been opening up her personal wardrobe to fans via the eBay Giving Works auction umbrella for several years, even long before she was a hugely known name in the entertainment industry, as FOX411 revealed last year. It has always been the case with her auctions that a disclosed 10 percent — the minimal amount required by the eBay charitable arm — would be donated to her designated philanthropic cause. And, according to her rep, Kardashian donates 10 percent of absolutely everything she earns – from public appearances to endorsements to her television salary – to charity, which would make her one of the most generous of the Hollywood types.

“Nobody has to give anything, and yet Kim gives 10 percent of everything and now she is being judged for it,” a rep for the star insisted.

Others also asserted that every little bit counts, and that Kardashian should be praised – not condemned – for her contributions in helping others, irrespective if she makes a profit from it.

“People like to bash Kim all the time no matter what she does, and it simply isn’t fair. This is the quintessential example of no good deed going unpunished. Kim Kardashian did the right thing – and it’s simply not fair to bash her for this,” said Ronn Torossian, CEO of 5WPR, a leading NY PR Agency.

A rep for the International Medical Corps also stood by the star amid the ongoing backlash, stating that they are nothing but grateful for the reality star’s support of their Philippines Typhoon Emergency Response.

“As International Medical Corps’ emergency response teams are reaching the hardest-hit areas, it is critical that we’re able to immediately deliver medical care and vital medicines,” the rep stated. “The generous support of all of our donors allows our first responders to rapidly deliver lifesaving health services to affected families, alleviate suffering and restore hope in the communities that need it most.”

And while eBay didn’t comment directly on the Kardashian case, a rep for the company assured us that eBay Inc. is committed to building a future that enables and inspires charitable giving at a scale never seen before and, to-date, more than $350 million has been raised on eBay Giving Works, with more than 30,000 organizations benefiting from the auctions..

Alec Baldwin returning to TV as a host on Jan. 6 for TCM special

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Alec Baldwin will be back on TV soon.

The hot-tempered actor– whose MSNBC weekly talk show was shut down after he allegedly used an anti-gay slur in a New York City encounter– will be hosting TCM’s “Private Screenings” on Jan. 6 to interview Robert Osbourne, according to Deadline.com.

Osbourne usually hosts the series but he will be switching chairs to get grilled by Baldwin as part of the network’s 20th anniversary celebration.

Baldwin previously worked with TCM back in 2009 and 2011 as a co-host of a weekly film showcase, which included discussions before and after the flick aired.

Reps for TCM said the former “30 Rock” star was carefully chosen to host the network’s special.

“Turner Classic Movies chose Alec Baldwin to host a special edition of ‘Private Screenings’ because of his long association with the network, including serving as co-host of ‘The Essentials’ from 2009 to 2011. Mr. Baldwin is an avid supporter of classic film and film preservation,” the network told FOX411.

TCM did not respond to FOX411’s inquiries as to whether or not Baldwin’s recent controversial antics were taken into account when they selected him as their host.

On Nov. 26, NBC confirmed that Baldwin’s talk show, “Up Late,” was kaput.

“We are jointly confirming that UP LATE will not continue on MSNBC,” the network and actor’s reps said in a joint statement to FOX411.

MSNBC had already suspended Baldwin’s low-rated news program following the actor’s confrontation with a photographer in New York. The series ran for just about a month before it was canceled.

Nigella Lawson admits to using cocaine ‘a handful of times’

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Celebrity chef Nigella Lawson admitted Wednesday in a U.K. court that she had taken cocaine a handful of times. But she denied habitually using illegal drugs and accused her ex-husband of spreading that allegation to savage her reputation.

Lawson said ex-husband Charles Saatchi, a wealthy art dealer and advertising mogul, had threatened to destroy her if she did not clear his name after he was photographed gripping her throat outside Scott’s restaurant in London, a widely published image that was soon followed by a divorce.

“He told everyone that he was taking cocaine out of my nose at Scott’s when he knows that is a lie,” Lawson said, testifying at the trial of two former assistants accused of fraudulently using the couple’s credit cards.

Lawson, 53, appeared as a prosecution witness at the fraud trial of Elisabetta and Francesca Grillo, longtime employees who worked as nannies, cleaners and assistants in the couple’s home.

Coverage of the trial has focused more on the couple’s failed 10-year marriage and their tempestuous home life than on allegations that two women working for them were living the high life at the couple’s unknowing expense. Defense lawyers for the employees have suggested that Lawson ignored the Grillos’ lavish expenditures in return for their silence about her drug use.

Known for her sensuous TV manner and “domestic goddess” image, Lawson said Saatchi had spread “false allegations that I was a habitual user and drug addict” who snorted cocaine daily.

“People who do that are a lot thinner than I am,” she said. “I have never been a drug addict. I have never been a habitual user.”

Lawson said she taken cocaine half a dozen times with her first husband, John Diamond, while he was dying of cancer. And she took it once again in July 2010 at a time when “I felt subjected to acts of intimate terrorism” by Saatchi.

“A friend of mine offered me some cocaine and I took it,” she said. “It completely spooked me.”

Lawson also said she had “smoked the odd joint” starting in the last year of her marriage to Saatchi.

She said she had been reluctant to testify in court because she had already been subjected to a campaign of “bullying and abuse” from Saatchi, whom she divorced in July following the throat-grabbing incident.

“He said to me at the start that if I didn’t go back to him and clear his name he would destroy me,” Lawson said.

“He started spreading false allegations of drug use,” she added. “I have been put on trial here … and in the world’s press.”

The Grillos — sisters from Calabria in southern Italy — are accused of using credit cards loaned to them by Lawson and Saatchi for household expenses and then more than $1 million on luxury clothes, accessories and visits to high-end hotels.

Lawson told a jury at Isleworth Crown Court in London that Elisabetta Grillo had been “a rock” who helped her overcome the trauma of her first husband’s death in 2001. But she said the 41-year-old Grillo — known to the family as Lisa — has left her family feeling betrayed.

“I loved Lisa. My children loved Lisa,” said Lawson, who had showered Grillo with gifts, including a 7,000-pound set of false teeth. But she said her employee’s behavior became increasingly bitter and unkind to Lawson’s children.

Lawson was read a list of expenditures by the Grillos, including nights at luxury hotels and purchases from Yves St Laurent, Dolce & Gabbana and Chanel. She denied authorizing them.

“It’s very difficult when you find out that someone you have loved and trusted could behave in that way,” Lawson said, her voice breaking. “In my heart of hearts I do not believe Lisa to be a bad person. But I believe her to have not a very strong moral compass.”

Lawson appeared composed but tense as she was questioned about her marriage in often testy exchanges with defense lawyer Anthony Metzer.

“I don’t see why my marriage is pertinent to you,” she snapped.

She said she had treated the Grillos like family, but disputed the lawyer’s claim that Elisabetta Grillo was a surrogate mother to her two children.

“My children do not need a surrogate mother,” she said.

David Beckham forced to perform humiliating sex act in hazing ritual as teen

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David Beckham was forced to perform a humiliating sex act while looking at a photo of soccer legend Clayton Blackmore during a bizarre homoerotic hazing ritual, the soccer star admits in a new documentary.

As a teenager, Beckham suffered through the creepy initiation ritual  – while other players watched and cheered —  before joining Manchester United’s youth team, he said.

“Everyone had an initiation that you had to go through on the youth team, that was one of the most uncomfortable ones,” Beckham said, according to UK’s Metro.

“The fact that I had to look at Clayton Blackmore’s calendar and do certain things, while looking at Clayton Blackmore — I mean it was embarrassing to talk about!” he said.

The soccer superstar vaguely describes the ritual in “The Class of 92,” a documentary about six players on his team will air this Sunday in London.

“I was embarrassed when I was saying it on camera let alone talking about it more. But it’s something we all had to go through,” said the 38-year-old superstar. “It was definitely something I wouldn’t like to go through again.”

Beckham now married to “Posh” Spice Girl Victoria and a father of four has graced countless billboards with his chiseled physique.

Joe Jonas: Demi Lovato, Miley Cyrus introduced me to weed

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Joe Jonas gave his most revealing interview yet in a recent sit-down with Vulture, in which the 24-year-old former Disney star opened up about his once squeaky-clean image, those infamous purity rings he and his brothers wore, and claims that it was his ex-girlfriend Demi Lovato and Miley Cyrus who peer pressured him into trying marijuana for the first time.

“The first time I smoked weed was with Demi and Miley. I must have been 17 or 18,” he admitted. “They kept saying, ‘Try it! Try it!’ So I gave it a shot, and it was all right. I don’t even smoke weed that often anymore.”

He also surprising revealed that he felt trapped into staying in a relationship with Demi at the time because of her well-publicized mental health/drug issues.

” … We eventually dated for a month,” Jonas says about his relationship with the “X-Factor” judge. “I really got to know her and got to see the ins and outs of what she was struggling with, like drug abuse. I felt like I needed to take care of her, but at the same time I was living a lie, because I wasn’t happy but felt like I had to stay in it for her, because she needed help. I couldn’t express any of that, of course, because I had a brand to protect.”

Part of that brand was of course the Jonas brothers’ purity rings, though Joe admitted that he didn’t wait for marriage to have sex — he lost his virginity at age 20.

“It started when I was really young — I must have been 10 or 11. There’s a program people do in some churches called True Love Waits, where you wait for marriage to have sex,” he explained about the origin of the purity rings. “We decided to take the rings off a few years ago. I lost my virginity when I was 20. I did other stuff before then, but I was sexually active at 20.”

Besides also surprisingly admitting to hooking up with fans (“There were times when I definitely took advantage of the opportunities I had”), Jonas also takes a not so subtle a dig at his ex Taylor Swift.

“I genuinely don’t have any resentment against any of my exes. So I’m not going to disparage anyone I was in a relationship with — only I might put it in my music a little bit, and hint at it, and tease it here and there, just enough for the fans and the people who really know the story,” he said. “But I’m not going to openly say, ‘Yeah, actually, this person is a b****, and she did this to me.’ I don’t feel the need to do that to sell records.”

Gal Gadot cast as Wonder Woman in Warner Bros.’ Batman-Superman flick

Actress Gal Gadot poses at the world premiere of "Fast Five" in Rio

Gal Gadot has been cast as Wonder Woman in Warner Bros.’ superhero team-up film with Batman and Superman.

Warner Bros. made the casting announcement Wednesday. Already starring in the currently untitled film are Ben Affleck as Batman and Henry Cavill as Superman.

Wonder Woman inclusion in the film brings it closer to a full gathering of DC Comics’ Justice League.

Gadot is an Israel-born actress and former model who competed in the 2004 Miss Universe pageant. She has starred in several of the “Fast & Furious” films, including “Fast & Furious 6,” released earlier this year.

The Batman-Superman movie is set to begin production early next year, and to be released in July 2015.

Autopsy: Paul Walker died from impact, fire in crash

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An autopsy shows “Fast & Furious” star Paul Walker was killed in a car crash by the combined effects of the impact and subsequent fire.

Walker, a passenger in the car driven by his friend and financial adviser Roger Rodas, died Saturday when the 2005 Porsche Carrera GT smashed into a light pole and tree then exploded in flames.

The Los Angeles County coroner’s office released the autopsy results Wednesday. The report also says Rodas was killed by the impact.

Walker, 40, starred in all but one of the six “Fast & Furious” blockbuster films that glorified fast cars and dangerous driving.

Sheriff’s investigators are still trying to determine exactly what caused Rodas to careen out of control. They have said speed was a factor.

He had been on break from shooting the latest installment, “Fast & Furious 7,” which is currently slated for a July release.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.