December 15th, 2009
08:30 AM ET

'Gone with the Wind' still raises fuss after 70 years

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Editor's note: Molly Haskell is a writer and film critic living in New York. She grew up in Virginia and is the author of, among other books, "From Reverence to Rape: the Treatment of Women in the Movies."

Molly Haskell
Special to CNN

The premiere of "Gone with the Wind" took place in Atlanta, Georgia, on December 15, 1939, but not without a territorial struggle of its own, a war between the states of California and Georgia.

Producer David O. Selznick of course wanted it in Hollywood. But William B. Hartsfield, the feisty mayor of Atlanta, with a rampant Junior League and the full force of its citizenry behind him, argued it was "their" story and won the day.

Selznick was terrified that he and the hyper-glittery event would be ridiculed by Northerners. Margaret Mitchell, by then a Pulitzer Prize winner and long past her scapegrace flapper days, was terrified the movie would be a vulgar travesty, embarrassing her in front of her friends.

It was, of course, a triumph - for the South it was like a sweet vindication for their humiliation at the hands of Sherman's army. For Selznick, the biggest gamble of his life would go on to win 10 Oscars and become a success beyond his wildest dreams. In its day the longest and most expensive film ever made, it had cost $4,250,000 to produce. It would go on to become a global hit and, with dollars adjusted for inflation, it remains the biggest blockbuster of all time.

But the tensions and ironies present at the premiere were an indication of fault lines that, without ever completely tarnishing the film as an audience favorite, would plague its 70-year history. How could it not be so in a movie that told "our" nation's history, the Civil War and Reconstruction, from the unreconstructed South's point of view?

A hundred-thousand people turned out on a bitter cold night and there were bands on every street and old men marching in Confederate uniforms. The stars arrived in full force ... the white ones, that is.

Keep reading...

Filed under: Pop Culture • Race in America
September 21st, 2009
09:00 AM ET
September 16th, 2009
11:29 AM ET

Thank you to a Hall of Fame voice

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Paul Caron

How do you say good-bye to a broadcasting legend, who had impacted millions for almost 50 years? Over 41,000 people made up baseball fans, current and ex-players, coaches and other officials will probably have a collective cry together tonight, at Detroit’s Comerica Park, when the Detroit Tigers will honor baseball Hall of Fame broadcaster Ernie Harwell, who announced recently he has been diagnosed with inoperable cancer.

Like many native Detroiters, Ernie Harwell was the voice I grew up with listening to Tiger baseball games on the radio, for decades. Not only was he on my own radio, but anywhere you went at times, you heard him. He was on radios playing at the beach, on a radio on your neighbor’s front porch, or on a car radio during a road trip. His voice was of course smuggled under the bed sheets at night, for those late starting West Coast games, via my transistor radio.

And his voice would be heard from beyond your neighborhood. For most of those years, the Tiger’s flagship radio station was WJR-AM, that had a 50,000 watt clear-channel signal, that could be picked up in the evening as far as St. Louis in one direction, north Florida in another direction, and as far away as Bermuda. Tiger fans could always get their ‘fix” almost anywhere, and it was Ernie’s voice behind that.


Filed under: Paul Caron • Pop Culture
September 16th, 2009
10:20 AM ET
July 27th, 2009
10:50 AM ET

Octo-Mom OKs Deal for Kids to Appear on Reality Show

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Matt Mitovich
TV Guide

Octo-Mom Nadya Suleman has inked deals for each of her 14 children to appear on a reality TV series.

Contracts signed and filed in Los Angeles Superior Court on Friday net the collective brood about $250,000 over three years — or $250-a-day per kid, says The Associated Press.

The contracts, which now require a judge's approval, call for the kids to collect $125,000 for 36 days of shooting in the first year, $75,000 for 21 days in the second year, and $50,000 for 14 days in the third year.

If the workload seems a bit "light" — at least in comparison to what Jon, Kate and their brood take on — that's by design. Suleman's attorney has said that her "quasi-reality" series will focus on select milestones in the children's lives, as part of a concerted effort to be less intrusive and to deviate from Jon & Kate Plus 8's everyday-living style.

The Suleman series will likely air first in Britain before playing in the United States, it was previously reported.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Octuplets • Pop Culture
July 10th, 2009
04:10 PM ET

Young Michael Jackson at home

[cnn-photo-caption image=http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/SHOWBIZ/Music/06/25/jackson/art.michael.jackson.gi.jpg caption="Michael Jackson, shown in 2008, was one of the biggest pop stars in history."]

Neal Preston

Early shots capture the future King of Pop at play.

Keep reading...

Filed under: Michael Jackson • Pop Culture
July 3rd, 2009
08:31 PM ET

Video: Lionel Richie: Singing with Michael Jackson

Andy Segal
CNN Senior Producer

In 1985, with famine ravaging parts of Africa, MJ and Lionel Richie teamed up to write a charity song for relief efforts. It was done on a tight deadline, with the biggest names in pop music adding their voices to what would inevitably be a hit single. But even before dealing with logistics, egos, and the technical challenges of making a record, Jackson and Richie first needed a song. And neither one could write or read music! So how did they do it? Lionel Richie explains.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Michael Jackson • Pop Culture
April 14th, 2009
04:06 PM ET

Michael Jackson Auction Called Off

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About 2,000 items owned by the King of Pop are being taken off the auction block.

The contents of Michael Jackson's Neverland Ranch were going to be up for sale at Julien's Auctions in Beverly Hills later this month.

But late today the auction organizer told CNN the sale is called off. Jackson sued the auction company claiming he did not authorize the sale of items removed from Neverland after he sold the property.

The auction house tells us they're “very happy with the settlement.” Fans who still want to see Jackson's goods in person can check out the exhibit in Beverly Hills through April 25th and then the items are returned to Jackson.

Check out what's off the auction block here.

Filed under: 360° Radar • Pop Culture
April 7th, 2009
11:13 AM ET

Recession ignites sales of romance

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Meghan Daum
Chicago Tribune

Amid the ceaseless reminders that the economy is in a persistent vegetative state, it's easy to forget that some industries and products are thriving. U.S. News & World Report, which recently released its list of "10 winners in the recession," says Hershey's chocolate increased earnings by more than 50 percent last quarter and the Burpee seed company has said it expects sales to increase by 25 percent this year (and this was before the first lady's organic-gardening initiative). McDonald's same-store sales were up 6.8 percent last month (thanks, no doubt, to value meal menus that can provide an entire day's worth of calories for a few dollars). Career development Web sites saw their traffic jump 20 percent from last year to this year, and résumé editors are apparently doing a brisk business, especially when it comes to the health-care, tourism and restaurant industries (finance, not so much).

But the most intriguing entry was the third item on U.S. News' list: bodice-ripper novels. Harlequin, still the biggest name in serial romances, saw a $3 million gain, year to year, in North American sales in the fourth quarter of 2008 (by contrast, book sales in the general marketplace are down slightly). It's so easy to poke fun at contemporary romance novels that there's really no sport in it. The plots, by definition, are formulaic; the prose manages to be at once overwrought and underdeveloped; the covers, well, they're where that famous, flaxen-haired slab of manhood named Fabio got his start. But romances have long dominated sales of mass-market paperbacks (which, in turn, dominate sales of books in general).


Filed under: 360° Radar • Economy • Pop Culture
February 16th, 2009
11:46 AM ET

It's the sale of the century

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Chris Campion
The Observer

In April, an extraordinary auction will provide an unprecedented look into the private world of Michael Jackson. More than 2,000 items, ranging from personal effects and costumes to pieces from Jackson's private art collection as well as fittings and furnishings from his Neverland ranch, will be up for sale at a four-day public auction at the Beverly Hilton hotel in Los Angeles.

Given the continuing fascination that the self-styled King of Pop exerts over the public imagination, Darren Julien, the affable Los Angeles-based auctioneer of celebrity merchandise who is directing the sale, expects a media circus to descend on the hotel as well as tribes of devoted Jackson fans from all corners of the globe. Select lots are to be sent on a touring exhibition that will arrive in Dublin and London in March before a full-scale exhibition opens for one week in Beverly Hills prior to the sale.


Filed under: 360° Radar • Pop Culture
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