Monday, 12 March 2012

Lady Gaga Collaborator Jonas Akerlund Expects 'Great' Things From Her

'She can probably do anything she wants,' 'Paparazzi' and 'Telephone' director tells us at SXSW.
By Kara Warner

Lady Gaga
Photo: Kevin Mazur/ WireImage

After the mostly positive reviews of Lady Gaga's first music-video directorial effort on "Marry the Night". It's fair to assume that we fans can expect more Gaga-directed clips in the near future.

When MTV News caught up with her "Paparazzi" and "Telephone" director Jonas Åkerlund recently during his SXSW appearance for his new ensemble dark comedy "Small Apartments," we asked him for his thoughts on Gaga's future as a director, should she choose to direct all of her videos from here on out.

"She can probably do anything she wants," he said. "So that's probably going to be great."

And would Åkerlund make himself available for advice, should Gaga ever be in need of it?

"Of course. I would never turn her down," he said, at which point his "Apartments" star and funnyman Matt Lucas ("Bridesmaids") asked a question of his own.

"Is her real name Lady Gaga?"

"Yes," Åkerlund answered with a smile.

"Wow," Lucas responded with astonishment. "There's a fact for you MTV fans."

Although Åkerlund didn't mention any more work with Gaga at this time, the busy director is still fully in the mix of the world of music videos.

"I may do a couple music videos and I've done quite a few since 'Small Apartments,' actually. The last one I did was a Duran Duran video, but there's a few coming up too."

"Are you going to do the Osmonds video?" Lucas asked cheekily. "That's what they're asking."

"Maybe," Åkerlund responded, playing along with Lucas' joke. "I'm hoping to."

For her part, Gaga has said that she's always been heavily involved in the creative processes behind all her work, including the direction of her music videos.

"I know it's my directorial debut, but I've really created everything I've ever done in my career," she said. "I really didn't do anything differently on this video that I didn't do on the 'Telephone' video or the 'Paparazzi' video or the 'Bad Romance' video. I hope my fans will take from this the progression that you have to trust yourself to make mistakes."

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Heather Morris In Nude Photo Controversy

'Glee' star has yet to comment on photos that hit the Web over the weekend.
By Jocelyn Vena

Heather Morris
Photo: Getty Images

"Glee" star Heather Morris finds herself in the thick of a nude photo scandal. Reported photos of the former backup dancer hit the Web over the weekend.

In the photos, the actress/dancer is wearing nothing as she poses quite provocatively in what appears to be a bedroom. There are less scandalous shots that also were leaked in the batch, and they feature Morris in a "Slave 4 U" costume she once donned on the hit Fox show. The actress has yet to comment on the shots.

It's hardly the first time she's had naked photos hit the Internet. In 2010, nude modeling shots of her appeared online, but the actress said she wasn't ashamed in an interview with "Extra." "No, I kind of thought it might happen," she said at the time. "I understand completely where it came from. For me, I think they are beautiful. It's not something I'm ashamed of. Everybody should do tasteful beautiful nudes — so when you get older, you're gonna be like, 'Oh that's when my body looked so great!'

The news of her photo leak comes just days after both Olivia Munn and Christina Hendricks were reportedly hacked and nude photos of them appeared online. Munn addressed the controversy in a statement over the weekend.

Read aloud by her "The Babymakers" director Jay Chandrasekhar during South by Southwest film festival, she laughed off all the Internet rumors about the shots. "Oh, and one last thing — Some of those pictures weren't even me," the statement read, according to E! News. "I mean, you can't even see my penis ... and it's pretty big for an Asian. Sheesh."


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Exclusive 'Hunger Games' Clip: Peeta's Interview With Caesar

Don't miss the 'Hunger Games' red-carpet premiere tonight at 8:30, streaming live from MTV News!
By Kevin P. Sullivan, with reporting by Josh Horowitz

Josh Hutcherson in "The Hunger Games"
Photo: Lionsgate

As the countdown to "The Hunger Games" grows shorter and shorter, fans have been craving as much of the tributes as they can possibly get. Luckily, we have a brand-new exclusive clip from the upcoming movie.

Soon after they are chosen for the games, the tributes from District 12, Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) and Peeta (Josh Hutcherson), go through the public relations wringer, including a broadcast interview with the eccentric TV personality Caesar Flickerman, played by a very blue-haired Stanley Tucci.

In this exclusive clip, Peeta sits down to answer a few personal questions from Caesar before heading into the arena.

Similarly, the cast and crew of "The Hunger Games" will have to face the judgments of the diehard fans of the book, when the film finally comes out on March 23. MTV News' Josh Horowitz spoke with Lawrence about her reaction to seeing the finished film and how fans have treated her during the lead-up.

"It was really good. It didn't surprise me, which was good. During filming, I really liked everything what I was seeing. I liked everything that Gary was doing. Then I saw it, and it was all there," Lawrence said. "It's always hard for me watching because I think I am a horrible troll and I'll never work again. Overall, I think everybody else in the movie is fantastic, and I think the film itself is really good."

Life has changed significantly for Lawrence since scoring the highly coveted role, not for the better in some cases. "I get photographers hiding in my bushes," she said. "We're way past autographs. We're into being stalked and followed."

Other than the paparazzi, the response has been generally more positive for Lawrence. "Everyone's been really nice fortunately. I mean, the movie's not out yet, so we'll see."

MTV News goes live from the "Hunger Games" red-carpet premiere tonight! Tune into our live stream from 8:30 to 10:30 p.m. ET as Josh Horowitz catches up with the stars and asks fans' burning questions!

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Rachel Crow Wants Eminem On Her Nickelodeon Show

'X Factor' alum tells MTV News her Nick pilot will be 'really Rachel.'
By Christina Garibaldi

Rachel Crow
Photo: MTV News

Rachel Crow, the pint-size cutie who won over America on "The X Factor" and made a lasting impression with her heartbreaking elimination, may have come out of the singing competition a winner after all. Just last month, Crow not only landed a recording contract with Columbia Records, but also signed an overall talent deal with Nickelodeon to star in her own musical-comedy pilot.

MTV News caught up with Crow on the set of the Nick series "Fred: The Show," where she will be a series regular as the character Starr.

"My head was exploding when I couldn't tell anyone," Crow said about her new projects. "I kept telling people, 'Oh, stuff will be coming out soon,' and then it kept getting pushed back, pushed back, and I was like, 'People are gonna think I'm lying!' But I'm so happy I can tell everyone about it now. I'm really excited."

Crow, who finished in fifth place on "X Factor," has not yet started filming her own series but promises it will be a true representation of her personality.

"I've been thinking about it. We're kind of in the first stages of deciding what it's gonna be now," Crow said. "But it'll be really fun, really Rachel. We'll see how it goes. I'm still thinking about it, something really fun and something that kids can relate to."

In addition to staying true to herself, she's also hoping to reach an audience that may not be too familiar with her: the boys.

"I want to reach the boy audience, because I know that's really hard to do," Crow admitted. "Boys don't usually watch a really girly show, but I want to make sure that it's a family-oriented, very fun, edgy, wacky show."

And to get that edgy twist she is looking for, she already has some dream guest stars in mind.

"I've always wanted to sing with Eminem. I know, it's really weird. I really love him," Crow said. "I would really love for ['Fred: The Show' star] Lucas [Cruikshank] to be on my show, a lot of the Nickelodeon stars. I'm still super excited, I can't even believe what's happening."

Are you excited for Rachel Crow's Nickelodeon show? Let us know in the comments!

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Poem of the week: Lines Written in Early Spring by William Wordsworth

The meditative sombreness of this 'Tintern Abbey' precursor reflects the growing authority of Wordsworth's early maturity

This week's poem, "Lines Written in Early Spring", has all the simplicity of diction advocated by the two radical young poets, Wordsworth and Coleridge, when they collaborated on Lyrical Ballads. Wordsworth's poem is a pastoral, with some distinctly rustic qualities. But the meditative tone we associate with his later or larger-scale works is present too.

It was composed in the year the first edition of Lyrical Ballads was published, 1798, and its sombreness reflects the personal and political disappointments pressing on Wordsworth in his early maturity. In the more substantial and densely argued "Lines Written a Few Miles Above Tintern Abbey", which appears in the same collection and was completed a few months after "Lines Written in Early Spring", there's a famous passage that seems to refine the argument of the earlier poem: "For I have learnt / To look on nature not as in the hour / Of thoughtless youth, but hearing oftentimes / The still, sad music of humanity".

In "Lines Written in Early Spring", nature and mankind are linked but stand for contrasting modes of being. "Tintern Abbey" works its way through self-doubt to a triumphant resolution. "Lines Written in Early Spring" leaves the situation unresolved. If it's a sketch for "Tintern Abbey", it's one of those sketches made by a great master, minor in scale, less profound than the finished painting but with an allure of its own, part of which is a space left open for interpretation.

The onomatopoeia of the first line is subtle. There's a diversity of vowel sounds and a choice cluster of consonants in the lovely phrase "a thousand blended notes". We're not brought into the midst of "all the birds/ Of Oxfordshire and Gloucestershire", true, but we hear the birdsong faintly all the same, like the memory of a memory. Otherwise, Wordsworth's scene-setting is spare. It's the mental state provoked by his thoughts that interests him. The reader enters two parallel imaginative worlds, one mimetic and clear, the other indistinct. The poet generalises fearlessly: "pleasant thoughts" invite "sad thoughts", and the whole constitutes a "sweet mood". Perhaps the enjoyed sadness has an erotic quality (is there an echo of "parting is such sweet sorrow"?). The reader, at any rate, is expected to know the kind of mood the poet means.

The sadness will take a more serious turn in line eight. Meanwhile, the originality in the next stanza first appears in the idea of the soul as an active force, implied by the stroke of metaphorical genius in the final verb: "To her fair works did nature link / The human soul that through me ran". The soul is not some static entity: it runs, like blood, rivers, an electrical current. This leads us swiftly to the crux of "what man has made of man". As an aphorism, the phrase has authority. It may not be specific, but it feels undeniable. The raison d'�tre of Lyrical Ballads was a poetry that used the language of "a man speaking to men". This is a chilly echo of those words. All the negative connotations of "man-made" cling to it, and the reflexive grammar forms an inescapable knot. We have gone wrong; worse, we have wronged ourselves.

The next three stanzas picture nature's various "fair works". The growing insistence of the poem on pleasure is remarkable. In stanza one we had the speaker's "pleasant thoughts", and now the pleasure is nature's ? or so the poet believes. "And 'tis my faith that every flower / Enjoys the air it breathes", he says, and later he seems to emerge from a still more conscious battle between reason and instinct: "And I must think, do all I can, / That there was pleasure there". In acknowledging the subjectivity of his interpretation when he senses the pleasure a leaf takes in opening and feeling the spring breeze, he seems to leave a space for doubt, even while asserting his faith.

As Pamela Woof points out, Wordsworth's mind is flexible: like Keats, he possesses "negative capability" and can live with uncertainties and ambiguities. However, for the moral purpose of this poem, it's necessary to set up positive against negative. The poem's core is solid and bright, with the simple flora and fauna whose regeneration brings us (and it?) such pleasure. Their opposite, the destructive human forces, are compacted into that bare, three-beat refrain line, which first appears at the end of stanza two and reappears to end the poem. Almost any of the humble characters featured in the narratives of Lyrical Ballads could have expressed, if less gracefully, a similar thought. It seems to contain the small hoard of wisdom that belongs to people, whether poets or peasants, who have been uprooted from the natural world. Perhaps the key word in the phrase "what man has made of man" is "made". Factories, mines and mills are spreading the sooty sores of manufacture over English fields and groves. But the Romantic movement would not have been born without them.

Lines Written in Early Spring

I heard a thousand blended notes,
While in a grove I sate reclined,
In that sweet mood when pleasant thoughts
Bring sad thoughts to the mind.

To her fair works did Nature link
The human soul that through me ran;
And much it grieved my heart to think
What man has made of man.

Through primrose tufts, in that green bower,
The periwinkle trailed its wreaths;
And 'tis my faith that every flower
Enjoys the air it breathes.

The birds around me hopped and played,
Their thoughts I cannot measure:-
But the least motion which they made
It seemed a thrill of pleasure.

The budding twigs spread out their fan,
To catch the breezy air;
And I must think, do all I can,
That there was pleasure there.

If this belief from heaven be sent,
If such be Nature's holy plan,
Have I not reason to lament
What man has made of man? © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds


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Behind the music: Why it's worth taking Eurovision seriously

In Sweden, the race to decide each year's entry is taken so seriously that the hint of a fix causes outrage. The UK could benefit from the same commitment to encouraging new artists

Swedish National Television ? Sweden's equivalent to the BBC ? recently screened an expose on the Swedish competition to find a Eurovision entry. The core accusation was that the producer of the show was able to influence which songs and artists would be entered in the regional competitions ? and he tended to favour professional songwriters and known artists. Participants in the show declared this just wasn't fair, as each submission should be considered on the quality of the song. What would they have said about the UK's "selection process"?

Last week the BBC announced it had chosen 75-year-old crooner Engelbert Humperdinck to represent the UK in Eurovision 2012. It said the song he would perform was to be written by Martin Terefe ? the Grammy-winning producer behind Jason Mraz's I'm Yours and Train's Soul Sister ? and Sacha Skarbek ? who writes and produces for Adele, Lana Del Rey, and co-wrote James Blunt's You're Beautiful).

I'm Swedish and Melodifestivalen (the Swedish tryouts for Eurovision) has been part of Sweden's cultural fabric ever since Abba won in 1974. In the 90s it experienced a bit of a slump, but for the past decade much of the Swedish music scene has been dominated by the local competitions. For six weeks before the European final, tryouts around the country are televised in a primetime Saturday night slot, with more than a third of the population watching. Both new and established artists ? even serious actors ? take part (imagine Jarvis Cocker and Ewan McGregor competing with Dappy to represent the UK).

Swedish songwriters and producers have experienced huge international success in the last couple of decades. Max Martin, RedOne (who's actually Moroccan, but launched his career in Sweden), Shellback, Jorgen Elofsson, Swedish House Mafia and many more have contributed to the global charts so heavily that rarely a week goes by without a song written by a Swede entering the top 10 somewhere in the world. Eurovision is no exception to the Swedish invasion. The old rules that required composers of entered songs to come from the country they represented have loosened, and now Swedish writers are responsible for songs for Russia, Ireland, Spain, Romania and Norway. Last year's winner was co-written by a Swede, and Terefe, who is writing Humperdinck's song, is Swedish.

Eurovision is largely viewed as a joke in Britain ? a reason to laugh at our European neighbours ? but maybe Swedes are on to something. Opportunities for British artists to perform on mainstream television have disappeared since the demise of shows such as Top of the Pops. Apart from Later ? With Jools Holland, all we have are talk shows, which usually only feature one established major label artist per show, and The X Factor, which features big stars and contestants singing covers. A show like Sweden's Melodifestival could be a real shot in the arm for new music.

Britain is responsible for 12% of the world's music market and has an incredible music heritage, so why can't we send something more interesting to this year's contest in Azerbaijan? Who cares if we win or not, or if, as Terry Wogan claimed, eastern Europeans vote for each other. Any opportunity to expose new artists to an audience of millions (in the case of the Eurovision final, hundreds of millions), singing newly composed music should be taken. Who knows: maybe the opporutnities granted by Eurovision have played a part in the Swedish music phenomenon, way beyond Abba's win with Waterloo, almost 40 years ago. © 2012 Guardian News and Media Limited or its affiliated companies. All rights reserved. | Use of this content is subject to our Terms & Conditions | More Feeds


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Anderson Cooper Lists Modern Penthouse Pad

SELLER: Anderson Cooper
LOCATION: New York City, NY
PRICE: $3,750,000
SIZE: 3,100 square feet, 2 bedrooms, 2.5 bathrooms

YOUR MAMAS NOTES: Now that he's just about finished refurbishing an historic, huge, and oh-so-manly decommissioned firehouse in New York City's Greenwich Village, (sometimes giggly) CNN news anchor Anderson Cooper has pushed his very contemporary Midtown Manhattan duplex penthouse on the market with an asking price of $3,750,000.

Property records and previous reports show fortunately-born and well-educated Mister Cooper?the son of American heiress and designer jeans pioneer Gloria Vanderbilt, in case you didn't know?picked up his Midtown co-operative crib in early 2005 when he paid $2,480,000 for what was then just a half-floor simplex loft-style apartment with exclusive rights to develop the building's roof for private use. The globe trotting journalist quickly hired the smart, accomplished, and minimal-minded architects at workshop/apd to reconfigure everything, blow out the roof, add a 1,000-plus square foot second floor, and create pair of roof terraces that total, according to listing information, about 1,700 square feet.

The result, according to listing information, is a sleek, restrained, and sparely but luxuriously finished loft-like apartment of  about 3,100 square feet and currently configured with 2 bedrooms and 2.5 bathrooms. A quick study of the floor plan shows a somewhat unconventional layout with the main entry and bedrooms located on the lower level and the more "formal" living/entertaining areas and kitchen situated on an upper level accessed via a thrilling, floating staircase fashioned from accordion-folded steel.

A living/family room with built-in entertainment cabinetry that holds and hides a giant flat screen tee-vee sits in between the two bedrooms on the lower level. A series of frosted glass panels at the north end of the living/family slide open to reveal a spacious guest suite with a wall of over-sized windows, built-in wardrobes that flank an entertainment center cabinet with flat screen tee-vee, and an attached bathroom with full wall of frosted glass that allow light to filter in from the nearby window(s) but sill allow users a modicum of privacy.

A raised den/library nook just off the entry lined with paper thin steel book shelves (already emptied of any books that may have been there when Mister Cooper occupied the premises) connects to the compact but well-equipped master suite complete with closet-lined dressing room, petite bedroom with double-wide fireplace, a row of south facing windows and attached bathroom with swank finishes that include split-faced diamond grey limestone, slattedteak floors, dark chocolate-colored stainless steel accents, acid-etched glass partitions and shower enclosure, and and old-timey (and totally unexpected) claw-footed soaking tub.

The floating steel staircase leads up to a the second level living/entertainment areas comprised of an open plan living area (with fireplace) and window-lined dining area. Around the corner but open to the living and dining areas, the Euro-sleek center island kitchen offers top-grade stainless steel and integrated appliances, Caesarstone counter-tops, a large sky light, and a single glass door that opens to the lower level, wrap-around terrace. The lower level terrace, also accessible from the living room area of the upper floor, has a gas grill and metal and ipe wood stair case that ascends to a second, fully-landscaped roof terrace that wraps around a classic Manhattan water tower and includes decked walkways, wood planters and planter boxes, and at least two patches of grass that Mister Cooper's pooch Molly most certainly appreciated. Yes, puppies, there are actual lawns on the roof of this Manhattan apartment building.

Additional super-luxe amenities, according to listing information, include state-of-the-art surround sound and lighting systems, radiant heated floors, 7-inch wide aged, smoked Chambord oak floors, steel and a variety of acid etched glass panels. The 12-floor, 30-unit boutique building offers residents video security?which probably means no door man?and a full-time super to sweep the halls and haul the trash cans in and out. Listing information indicates Mister Cooper's penthouse condo carries monthly maintenance and common charges that total $3,184.

Previous to his duplex penthouse Mister Cooper owned an approximately 2,000 square foot, third-floor loft apartment in the same building that he had worked over by the folks at workshop/apd and sold in January 2006 for $1,580,000 to a couple of gays who flipped the 2 bedroom and 2 bathroom apartment about 1.5 years later for $1,775,000.

Since at least the late 1990s, in addition to his urban nest Mister Cooper has maintained a 3-plus acre waterfront retreat in the little-known Hamptons community of Quiogue (NY). Last year the buff and hairless silver fox dropped $1,700,000 to expand his Quantuck Bay spread to include an additional 2.4 acres with a classic, 1940s Cape Cod-style shingled cottage.

listing photos and floor plan: Prudential Douglas Elliman


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