Radio Disney Music Awards 2018 Red Carpet Arrivals: See Meghan Trainor, Charlie Puth and More Stars

Meghan Trainor, 2018 Radio Disney Music AwardsThe 2018 Radio Disney Music Awards are here!
Stars are starting to arrive at the award show, taking place at the Dolby Theatre in Hollywood. Before heading inside to the ceremony, the…

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Matt Lauer, Charlie Rose and the Sexism of Morning TV

The job of the morning-show anchor involves connecting with the viewer. Now millions of people have been suddenly told that this fake relationship is over.
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News Analysis: Charlie Rose, Louis C.K., Kevin Spacey: Rebuked. Now What Do We Do With Their Work?

Shows and films caught up in harassment scandals have become radioactive, and the culture is wrestling with where to draw the line.
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Diddy, DJ Khaled, Meghan Trainor, Charlie Walk to Judge Fox’s ‘The Four’

New Fox singing competition show “The Four: Battle for Stardom” has locked in its judges’ panel. The network announced today that Sean “Diddy” Combs, DJ Khaled, Meghan Trainor and music executive Charlie Walk will make up the “Four,” which premieres on Jan. 4. Never one to humblebrag, Diddy, who also served in a similar capacity […]

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Actor Charlie Heaton ‘denied entry to US over drugs’

Stranger Things actor Charlie Heaton was denied entry into the US after officers reportedly found trace amounts of cocaine in his luggage.
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The Real Story Behind Roald Dahl’s ‘Black Charlie’

The author’s early draft of “Charlie and the Chocolate Factory” featured a black protagonist who gets trapped inside a chocolate mold. Was it racial stereotyping, or something more complicated?
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Charlie Sheen Thinks The Moon Is Hollow, According To Rob Lowe

Huh.
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Charlie Gard parents announce death of ‘beautiful boy’

The baby’s parents, who fought a court battle over his treatment, say they are “so proud of him”.
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Charlie Gard parents ‘denied final wish’ for more time

His mother says the couple have had “no control” over their son’s life or death.
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Charlie Gard parents hold private talks about his end of life care

Both sides are discussing arrangements for terminally-ill baby Charlie Gard’s end of life care.
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Charlie Gard: Court hears hospice best option for baby

The judge will rule by 14:00 BST on Wednesday whether his parents can take Charlie home to die.
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Charlie Gard’s Parents Fight to Bring Terminally Ill Son Home: Our ‘Last Wish Is That Charlie Dies at Home’

Connie Yates returned to London’s High Court on Tuesday to request permission for her and her partner, Chris Gard, to bring their terminally ill son, Charlie Gard, home to die — just one day after ending their legal fight over treatment of their 11-month-old son.

London’s Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH), where Charlie has been receiving treatment since October, argued that there are no doctors able to oversee Charlie’s death at home and expressed concerns about getting the proper medical equipment into the couple’s home.

Their lawyer, Grant Armstrong, told Judge Nicholas Francis that his clients’ “last wish is that Charlie dies at home.”

“The parents wish for a few days of tranquillity outside of a hospital setting,” he said. “The parents had hoped that Great Ormond Street would work with them.”

Yates added: “We promised Charlie every day we would take him home. It seems really upsetting after everything we’ve been through to deny us this.”

Lawyers for GOSH told Judge Francis they “would like to be able to fulfill the parents’ wishes… if it is safe and practicable and in Charlie’s best interests.” GOSH doctors argued that moving Charlie to a hospice would be the best option.

The court has given the family until noon on Wednesday to find a medical practitioner that is prepared to take up the couple’s case.

Charlie, who was born on August 4, 2016, has a rare genetic condition called mitochondrial depletion syndrome, which causes progressive muscle weakness and brain damage. He is currently on life support and unable to move his limbs or eat or breathe without assistance. His parents wanted to take him to the U.S. for nucleoside therapy. And after a lengthy legal battle, they made the decision to end their fight on Monday.

A lawyer representing Chris Gard and Connie Yates told the High Court that “time had run out” for Charlie after a U.S. doctor said it was too late to give him nucleoside therapy. The parents were given the test results from Charlie’s most recent scans on Friday.

“Charlie has suffered extensive muscular atrophy,” Armstrong said in court. “This is irreversible even with . Chance of improvement can’t now be delivered.”

Speaking in court on Monday, Yates said making the decision to “let him go” was the hardest thing she and her partner had done in their lives, and that they still believed his condition could have improved with treatment had it been administered earlier.

The family’s story has made headlines worldwide, with Pope Francis and President Donald Trump offering support to the grieving parents.


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Charlie Gard parents end legal fight for ‘beautiful’ baby

Letting “gorgeous” Charlie go is “the hardest thing we’ll ever have to do”, his parents say.
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Charlie Gard: US doctor meets Great Ormond Street medics

Dr Michio Hirano has been given an honorary contract by Great Ormond Street Hospital.
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Charlie Gard has 10% chance of improvement, US doctor claims

A US doctor offering to treat Charlie Gard agrees to visit him, if the High Court adjourns.
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Charlie Gard evidence not new, hospital claims

A judge says it would take something “dramatic” to make him change his mind about treatment in the US.
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Charlie Gard case: Great Ormond Street in new court bid

Clinicians and medical researchers argue unpublished data suggests his condition could be improved.
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Charlie Gard parents given more time to say goodbye to terminally ill son

Great Ormond Street Hospital says it is working on plans for terminally ill Charlie Gard’s care.
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Charlie Gard parents lose European court appeal

The European Court rejects a plea from the parents of Charlie Gard to intervene in his case.
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Charlie DePew Dishes On ‘Famous In Love’ And Bella Thorne

Freeform’s “Famous In Love” was everyone’s guilty pleasure TV series this spring. The show featured rising star Charlie DePew who played Jake Salt, an aspiring screenwriter who’s best friends with Bella Thorne’s character. We chatted with DePew about the series’ dramatic twists and turns, his love of social media and the actor that’s inspired his career. 

A post shared by Charlie DePew (@charliedepew) on

What’s the best part about being in “Famous in Love”?

The juicy drama. In a teen drama like this, it’s a little more soapy. Usually in TV you don’t get drama that’s this exaggerated. There’s a lot of conflict that wouldn’t happen in a usual storyline and I kind of like that. There’s all these plot twists and turns. Another reason why I like it so much is I’m a mega-fan of “Entourage,” so I really like playing the teen girl version of that.

What do you and your character Jake Salt have in common? What makes you different?

Well, Jake is very ambitious and motivated, and I would say I’m the same. I think Jake is a little more straight-edge than I am. I like to have a lot of fun and go to music festivals and that kind of thing, which I don’t think Jake would ever do. He’s a little too much of a nice boy and he’s also a little more earnest. I’m much more of an assertive person. If I like something or don’t like something, I’m usually more open about it. But Jake and I definitely do share traits as far as ambition and motivation goes. And we’re both screenwriters. I got almost halfway through a degree in screenwriting at USC, and I still am a writer. I still have a few scripts, but I don’t write with the passion and tenacity that I used to.

You and Bella Thorne have undeniable chemistry. What’s it like working with her?

We knew each other before “Famous in Love,” but we weren’t close. We would just see each other at birthdays. And then when I got cast in “Famous in Love,” we got closer. I have this straight-edge front, but then you take me to a festival and I’m the first one to be dancing in the mosh pit. I think she just liked that I let loose. We just kind of hit it off. We’re pretty close now.

A post shared by Charlie DePew (@charliedepew) on

“Famous in Love” seems like a really fun group of people to work with. Are you and the cast friends off-set?

It’s literally the perfect crew. I love everyone. They’re all amazing. They all have their own little thing that makes them awesome. We were all basically thrown in a room together and told to be friends. Luckily, with us, it worked. 

What’s one of the biggest challenges you faced while filming “Famous In Love”?

I actually started a business two and a half years ago with a couple buddies called Respark, we do digital and social media marketing for companies. We basically own and manage a bunch of themed Instagram accounts that have over 150 million followers. We were in the middle of making an app right when we went to production. So I was thrown into this, and I still had to work and I was running double time to make sure everything got done. That was not easy, and managing expectations on both fronts was a challenge for sure.  

Since Respark is all about managing massive Instagram pages, what’s one tip you have for anyone trying to build an Instagram following?

Themed accounts are a lot easier. You can just do shoutouts. You get bigger players to shout your page out and you shout them out, and then eventually you get 100 thousand followers. It’s a long process, but it works. For personal accounts, it’s just content. The more content you have, the better. Posting three times a day, your friends may hate it, but that will land you on the Explore page at some point. Keep your page consistent and make the content interesting and fun.

I. Marlene King produces “Famous In Love” and also “Pretty Little Liars.” What’s she like?

She’s legendary. She just knows what she’s doing all the time. She knows exactly what needs to be done and she gets it done. And that’s the mark of a legend, in my opinion. I just like her ideas for making the characters’ choices unpredictable. It’s one of her best traits when it comes to writing.

A post shared by Charlie DePew (@charliedepew) on

Let’s talk about your upcoming movie “The Bachelors.” This is totally different from your TV show. What can fans expect to see?

They can expect a completely different Charlie. The role I have in that is polar opposite of Jake. It was really fun to play, but he’s a complete d**k in the movie. I play the bully character to the lead kid. There’s a scene in the cafeteria where we get into this brawl and it’s so well-shot. It’s very cool.

What was it like working with Oscar winner J.K. Simmons on “The Bachelors?”

I’m pretty honest when people ask me about actors and how they are. He’s a nice person. He’s just quiet. He’s very focused and into his work. He was amazing though. He pulls it out of thin air and at a moment’s notice he’s crying or knocking his head against the wall. He’s really good.

Who’s an actor that inspires your career?

Heath Ledger, for sure. I think one of the huge things that propelled me to act is I was really quick with impressions. Ever since I was a kid, I could get an accent down or get somebody’s voice down. Right after “The Dark Knight” came out, within a day or two I had The Joker impression pretty much locked down. I’d do it at school and my friends thought it was the coolest thing ever. From there I ended up going out for the sixth grade play.

What’s one piece of advice you wish you could have given yourself when you first started your acting career?

Just prepare more. Early on, I wasn’t always prepared going into auditions, but every single one is an opportunity so you have to make sure you do your best for each one.

If you could guest star on any TV show right now, what would it be? 

“Game of Thrones.” 

What are you most proud of having worked on so far? 

My company, Respark.

If you could travel anywhere in the world right now, where would you go? 

At this very moment I want to go to Hawaii. I’ve never been!

If you could have dinner with any three celebrities, dead or alive, who would they be?

Leonardo da Vinci, Nikola Tesla and Michael Faraday. 

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Charlie Gard: Mum shares photo of son with eyes open

Connie Yates posted the image with the message “a picture speaks a thousand words”.
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Charlie Gard treatment must continue until next week, court rules

European Court of Human Rights tells UK to maintain treatment of sick baby Charlie Gard until 13 June.
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Charlie Gard: Parents’ appeal for US treatment bid fails

Charlie’s mother broke down in tears and screamed as justices announced their decision.
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How to Get Away With Murder Co-Stars Charlie Weber and Liza Weil Are Dating

Charlie Weber, Liza Weil Sometimes, you just can’t get away from chemistry.
If you sensed some attraction between Liza Weil and Charlie Weber on ABC’s How to Get Away With Murder, you may have been on to…

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Charlie Gard’s parents fight for Supreme Court hearing

The couple’s ill eight-month-old Charlie Gard is unable to see, hear, make a noise or move.
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Charlie Gard’s parents lose life support court appeal

Appeal court judges rule doctors can stop life-support treatment to eight-month-old Charlie Gard.
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Charlie Hunnam: Pushy When It Counts (Picky, Too)

Mr. Hunnam, who carefully considers his acting roles, forced a meeting with the director Guy Ritchie for his film “King Arthur.”
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Charlie Puth Sings Celebrity Tweets

The "Attention" singer channels Britney Spears, Lil Jon, Kim Kardashian and more stars hilarious tweets. Watch!
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Charlie Gard: Parents to appeal withdrawal of life support

Nine-month-old Charlie Gard’s parents say they were “devastated” by decision to withdraw life support.
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Charlie Gard case: Doctors can withdraw baby’s life support

Charlie Gard’s parents had wanted to take their eight-month-old son to the US for a trial treatment.
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Charlie Hunnam’s Workout Secret: ”I Try to Make Love as Often as I Can”

Charlie Hunnam, Men's HealthCharlie Hunnam doesn’t limit his sweat sessions solely to the gym.
The Sons of Anarchy alum appears on the cover of Men’s Health magazine’s April issue, where he reveals the…

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Charlie Puth Visits Life in Pieces & Things Do Not Go Well in This Sneak Peek

Life in PiecesWe’re just going to guess that no one in the Hughes family is going to be invited back to the Grammys any time soon.
In this week’s episode of Life in Pieces, Tim (Dan Bakkedahl)…

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‘A Charlie Brown Christmas’ Almost Never Made It To Television

In 1965, “A Charlie Brown Christmas” debuted on CBS, with over 15 million people tuning in for the first showing. Over the next five decades, millions more watched the story of a few, still mostly hairless, kids who go on a quest to find the true meaning of celebrating Christmas.

Although the multigenerational resonance of this television special now seems fated, the fact that “A Charlie Brown Christmas” even made it on TV was actually so serendipitous that it’s almost easy to believe some divine, jolly red-suited figure intervened to guide its path.

The Huffington Post spoke on the phone with producer Lee Mendelson about how CBS execs, animator Bill Melendez, and Mendelson himself thought the final product was a disaster before it aired.

“When it was all finished, we thought we’d ruined Charlie Brown,” said Mendelson, who now ― comfortably sitting atop half a century of “Charlie Brown” success, acclaim and syndication money ― can talk openly about the time he thought he’d irrevocably tank cartoonist Charles Schulz’s franchise.

This special was the very first time Schulz had allowed an animator — in this case, Melendez — and producer to try to turn the Charlie Brown–centered “Peanuts” comic strip into a video feature. The stakes were high to not destroy Schulz’s successfully syndicated comic about a kid who couldn’t kick a football or learn to switch up his wardrobe from a yellow and black shirt.

In the alternate timeline where “A Charlie Brown Christmas” actually was a flop, the Halloween and Thanksgiving specials certainly would’ve never been made.

“If you go back and look over the years, very, very few comic strips ever went beyond one network special,” said Mendelson, explaining the concern this apparent disaster of a special could cause for the brand. “They’d get one shot and be gone.”

Adding to Mendelson’s guilt at the time was that he was the one who roped Schulz into the deal with advertising group McCann Erickson to create this special, which Coca-Cola would sponsor.

(As an aside, Schulz, Melendez and Mendelson were fully aware that it was strange their movie was championing anti-commercialism, while a corporate giant made that movie possible. “The whole thing was a paradox,” said Mendelson. “It was all kind of mixed together and we all went marching forward realizing the paradox involved, as did Coca-Cola.”)

Mendelson had first become friends with Schulz after he cold-called the cartoonist to pitch making a documentary about him. Both of them happened to live in the San Francisco area, and the producer simply found Schulz’s number listed in the phone book. The two bonded over a love for baseball, in particular San Francisco Giants star Willie Mays, who was the subject of another of Mendelson’s documentaries.

Nobody ended up buying the film Mendelson made about Schulz, but their known relationship caused McCann to give Mendelson a call to see whether Schulz had any interest in making a Christmas special.

“I frankly just lied and said, ‘Oh, yes, we’ve talked about it quite a bit,’” said Mendelson. McCann wanted an outline for Coca-Cola by the next week, which Mendelson promised he could give them ― based on nothing.

“I hung up the phone, stared at the phone for a few minutes, then I picked it up and called Mr. Schulz and I said, ‘I think I just sold “A Charlie Brown Christmas,”’” explained Mendelson. “And he said, ‘What in the world is that?’ And I said, ‘It’s something you’re going to write tomorrow.’ And again, there was another 10-second pause and he said, ‘OK, come on up, we can do it.’”

They called up Melendez and the three made the outline for the special in just one day. “The final show that came out was just about the same show we outlined that first day, never really changed it at all,” said Mendelson.

The final major component of the movie was filled in an equally happenstance way, as Mendelson heard a song by San Francisco musician Vince Guaraldi in a cab. He hired the local for the project. 

“It was just one of those surreal things that comes together,” said Mendelson. “Like Vince Guaraldi ― where does he live? ― he lives in San Francisco. What’re the odds of that happening? I don’t know if you call that fate or serendipity or what, but why we all ended up in San Francisco, I will never know.”

But if, in retrospect, the combination of these people seems like destiny, at the time it certainly felt like a mess.

Mendelson and Melendez both thought that the special was too slow and that the inclusion of religion would not go over well.

“When [Schulz] said, ‘You know, we’re going to have Linus read from the Bible,’ Bill and I looked at each other and said, ‘Uh oh, that doesn’t sound very good,’” said Mendelson. “But then Schulz said, ‘Look, if we’re going to do this, we should talk about what Christmas is all about, not just do a cartoon with no particular point of view.’”

Schulz also vehemently opposed Mendelson’s suggestion that there be a laugh track, given this was a cartoon.

The execs at CBS ended up having the same thoughts as Mendelson and Melendez, while also believing the music was a bad fit. But Schulz’s team turned in the finished work just a bit over a week before the scheduled airdate, and so changes weren’t an option.

“[The CBS execs] thought the kids were using big words,” said Mendelson. “They didn’t get the jazz music, and so they said, ‘Well, we’ll put it on the air, not much we can do about it. It’s in TV Guide, we’ll put it on, it’s not going to hurt anything.’”

It may seem strange that Schulz agreed to risk the longevity of his career to make such a unique special that went against the conventional wisdom of the time, but Mendelson explained it was a move in line with Schulz’s nature.

“He was very competitive always ― in sports, or being the best comic strip or whatever,” said Mendelson. “So looking back, I can see where he would say, ‘Come on, we can do it.’ He was very confident in it, but he took an enormous risk.”

Just like Charlie Brown fought for his authentic Christmas tree, or just like Schulz fought for his vision, sometimes you’ve got to believe you’re the one with the right idea in a room full of doubters.

“Charlie Brown endures bullying and keeps fighting back ― [this message] is so important today,” concluded Mendelson. “Over the past 50 years, I’ve heard from so many different minority groups that identify with Charlie Brown and his struggle. His struggle is like their struggle. If there’s any way that Charlie Brown’s success can wave the flag for the bullied, then I think that’s a good thing.”

As all the characters yell at the end of the special, “Merry Christmas, Charlie Brown.”

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Another 15 Minutes: Looking Back at “Charlie Bit My Finger,” the 2007 Viral Video That Fascinated the World

Charlie Bit My Finger, Another 15 MinutesViral sensations may be everyday occurrences in this age, but there was a time when only a special few videos or pictures enraptured the masses. And out of that group, it takes a certain je ne…

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Meghan Trainor And Charlie Puth Had A Steamy Makeout Session At The AMAs

Meghan Trainor definitely made Charlie Puth the luckiest man at the American Music Awards on Sunday night. 

The two took to the stage to perform their singles, “Like I’m Gonna Lose You” and “Marvin Gaye.” Now, if you are familiar with the latter, you’ll know that the lyrics say, “let’s Marvin Gaye and get it on,” and well, the pair did just that. Once they finished the song, Trainor and Puth just went for it and made out on stage. Puth even put his hand all up on her (b)ass.

And just in case you needed to see it in motion, here’s a GIF: 

The two first worked together last year, when Puth made a cameo in Trainor’s “Dear Future Husband” music video. Then, of course they recorded “Marvin Gaye.” 

Earlier this year, Puth spoke to Entertainment Weekly about working with the “All About That Bass” singer, saying, “She’s taken me on and introduced me to her fans — they call themselves the Megatrons, and they’ve kind of adopted me.”

So is this the beginning of a beautiful romance? Or perhaps something else entirely. Or maybe, just maybe, it was Puth’s first kiss. What do you think? 

 

Also on HuffPost: 

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BCBGeneration Charlie Medium Chocolate Shoulder Demi Handbag Clutch

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A New House for Charlie

A New House for Charlie


Charlie, like all small snails, lives in a shell. And since this two-in-one protective cover is strapped onto his back, Charlie carries his home with him everywhere. One day, while having a snail race with his friends-as snails like to do-there’s a terrible accident. As Charlie nears the finish line, the misplaced shoe of a little boy running through the garden comes down and breaks his shell. Charlie’s shell-and his home-are completely destroyed. To make matters worse, winter is coming and Charlie has nowhere to go. Charlie’s friends try to help him find a new home, but none seem to fit just right: they are too hard, too sticky, too sharp, or too flimsy. Will someone be able to help Charlie find a new home before winter? Featuring a story of friendship from author and illustrator Doris Lecher, A New House for Charlie teaches children about helping others and showing compassion and empathy when hurting another person, even if unintentionally. Appropriate for children ages 3 to 6. Parents and educators will like the lessons throughout the book and children will be able to relate to Charlie as he tries to find a new home.

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Britney Spears And Charlie Ebersol Reportedly Split After 8 Months Of Dating

Britney Spears is single, according to Us Weekly.

The magazine reports that the singer and boyfriend Charlie Ebersol have split. The two started dating in October 2014.

No word on what went down between the two, but Us Weekly points out that Spears has already deleted all photos of Ebersol, who is the son of “Saturday Night Live” co-creator Dick Ebersol, from her Instagram account, though it seems she hasn’t gotten around to it on Twitter just yet.

In addition to erasing him from her social media, it seems like the 33-year-old singer might be throwing a bit of shade her ex’s way as well. On Sunday, Spears posed in a bikini next to a male friend and she captioned the photo, “So nice to be home! Nothing like Louisiana boys.”

The Huffington Post has reached out to Spears’ rep for comment.

— This feed and its contents are the property of The Huffington Post, and use is subject to our terms. It may be used for personal consumption, but may not be distributed on a website.

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Here’s The Reason Charlie Sheen Wasn’t In The ‘Two And A Half Men’ Finale

The return of Charlie Sheen to “Two and a Half Men” has been speculated about for months. And the show’s series finale, “Of Course He’s Dead,” included tons of Sheen references. Everything seemed like it was building up to a comeback. Then, it didn’t happen.

Sheen did, in fact, tease an “anticipated” cameo on Twitter, but it turns out that was for his upcoming appearance on “The Goldbergs.”

So what happened? Following the end of the series finale and its absence of a certain rock star from Mars, a vanity card from executive producer Chuck Lorre ran on-air explaining the situation:

I know a lot of you might be disappointed that you didn’ t get to see Charlie Sheen in tonight’ s finale. For the record, he was offered a role. Our idea was to have him walk up to the front door in the last scene, ring the doorbell, then turn, look directly into the camera and go off on a maniacal rant about the dangers of drug abuse. He would then explain that these dangers only applied to average people. That he was far from average. He was a ninja warrior from Mars. He was invincible.

And then we would drop a piano on him.

We thought it was funny.

He didn’t.

Instead, he wanted us to write a heart warming scene that would set up his return to primetime TV in a new sitcom called The Harpers starring him and Jon Cryer.

We thought that was funny too.

Despite the lack of warlocks, the finale pretty much had everyone else you can think of: John Stamos, Arnold Schwarzenegger and even Angus T. Jones. And though there was no Sheen, that didn’t stop his former character, Charlie Harper, from coming back in animated form:


Lorre and Sheen, of course, had a historic fallout that gave us memorable phrases like “winning” and “tiger blood” and even led to Sheen’s character being killed off from the show (or so we thought). But as the vanity card shows, it appears the two sides just couldn’t agree on how a comeback would be handled.

As a final ode to the show and the Sheen saga, the last moments of the series showed a Sheen body double getting a piano dropped on top of him, supposedly killing the character for good. Soon after, Lorre appeared and said, “Winning,” right before a piano dropped on him, too.
Comedy – The Huffington Post
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Bill Maher Slams Islam Again In Wake Of Charlie Hebdo Attacks

On the Season 13 premiere of “Real Time with Bill Maher” on Friday night, the host continued to slam Islam following his comments earlier in the week on “Jimmy Kimmel Live.” Maher spoke out against “hundreds of millions” of Muslims on Wednesday night on “Kimmel” for supposedly supporting the Jan. 7 terrorist attack on French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which resulted in the death of 12 people.

Maher revisited the topic on his own show on Friday in a discussion with bestselling author Salman Rushdie, former Hewlett-Packard CEO Carly Fiorina and CNN commentator Paul Begala. “We tend to forget how often it happens, and we’re Americans so we don’t want to single out people,” Maher said before listing terrorist attacks that have occurred across the globe since 9/11. “What we’ve said all along, and have been called bigots for it, is when there’s this many bad apples, there’s something wrong with the orchard.”

Maher then referenced the heated debate between Ben Affleck, author Sam Harris and himself back in October. During the discussion, Harris said that the religion is a “mother lode of bad ideas.” “But it is,” Maher agreed on Friday night. “And, unfortunately, the terrorists and the mainstream share a lot of these bad ideas.”

Watch the full clip above.
Comedy – The Huffington Post
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From France to India, Charlie Hebdo Reminds Us of the Real Promise of Free Speech

It took less than a day after the massacre of staffers, policemen, a visitor and a security guard at the Charlie Hebdo office in Paris for the discussion in India to swing back towards the need for “responsibility.”

Kiran Bedi, former senior police officer, now a prominent politician, tweeted just hours after the attack by masked gunmen that killed Charb, the editor at Charlie Hebdo, and many of his staff: “France Terror-Shoot-Out sends a message: why deliberately provoke or poke? Be respectful and civil. Don’t hurt people’s sensitivities!”

Even by the thick-skinned standards of contemporary Indian discourse, Bedi’s tweet was remarkably insensitive. But it was also undeniably representative of the way the Indian discussion on freedoms of expression has developed — or been choked off, depending on your perspective. That question, “why provoke?”, needs to be more closely examined, because it has strangled so much of Indian intellectual and cultural activity — and everyday life — for far too long.

In 2006, when the Danish cartoon controversy came to a head, many writers in India felt stampeded into one kind of response or another. To support the stance Charlie Hebdo took, republishing cartoons that carried images of the Prophet Muhammad that many Muslims found offensive, was to support the principle of free speech unhindered by the threats made by the religious.

But there was little space for those who wanted to say that they found the cartoons gratuitously offensive, did not endorse them personally, but felt that those who had drawn them and published them should not be persecuted or harmed in any case. I began following Charlie Hebdo’s work then, especially its provocative covers, which took on the Pope, Jesus, Jews, rabbis, French leaders, the Prophet Muhammad, the Boko Haram victims, Islam, Christianity, Judaism etc. I found its work childish and sometimes offensive, but I admired the magazine’s determination to offend all parties equally.

As I learned about the cases it had fought in the courts, my view of the Charlie Hebdo editorial team shifted: the cartoons might have been juvenile, but the team’s belief that free expression must accommodate all forms of satire, protest and parody was deeply serious, and embedded in a tradition of speaking rude, outrageous truth to power that went back centuries in France. Charlie Hebdo’s flaws, to me, were glaring and remainded worth analyzing: it had mocked Christianity and France’s politicians with a comfortable familiarity, but its mockery of Islam, African politics and even in one cartoon, India, were filled with stereotypes. As the writer Kamila Shamsie said on Twitter: “There are conversations to be had about the distinction between ‘offensive’ and ‘racist’. But the fanatics make it harder to have them.”

“I had thought of Charlie Hebdo with some envy. . . They had, I thought, been able to exercise a freedom that many Indians had not been able to claim.”

I respect the Charlie Hebdo team for one important thing: they really did believe that nothing was sacred, that everything human and every religion founded by humans was open to being satirized. They understood the danger of placing any institutions, political or religious, or any icons, gods, prophets, prime ministers, saints, leaders, beyond the reach of human mockery. If you say that the sacred should be respected, ask whether you really mean that gods, religions and their many interpreters “must” be respected. For between that well-intentioned “should respect” (a request) and that didactic “must” (a demand, often a threat) falls the shadow of tyranny, inquisitions, bullying mobs, fearful silence, blasphemy laws. And deadly execution-style massacres.



It might be hard to believe today, but in the eight years or so that preceded the day when gunmen went into its office, calling, “Where’s Charb? Where’s Charb?” before indiscriminately killing the editor and several staffers, I had thought of Charlie Hebdo with some envy. The staffers had gone to court and won their cases; two of France’s premiers had backed them on the right to continue being offensive in the same decade when we in India had lost the right to offend. They had been able to exercise a freedom that many Indians had not been able to claim.



Despite the threats made by Islamic groups against them, Charlie Hebdo had continued to publish, with the support of its community, its courts and even for the most part, its state. I thought it had found a way to work in relative safety, that it had escaped the always-present threats of violence that had silenced and diminished so many Indian artists, writers, filmmakers, liberals, journalists, rationalists, atheists, academics, scholars and publishers, muting some, turning some into exiles or pariahs, mutating many others into cowards. I thought that Charlie Hebdo’s staff had freedoms we could only imagine, but that was before the carnage in Paris.



pk aamir khan
(Poster of Aamir Khan in Bollywood film PK torn by activists of right wing organizations who accused Khan of hurting religious sentiments of the majority community and demanded a ban on the film)


The Trap of Decency

Why provoke when the price is so high, when the innocent could be and are caught in the crossfire? Why not just stick with art or opinions that are inoffensive? These questions have come up again and again in the Indian context, and elsewhere in the world. Charlie Hebdo’s cartoons raise a related question: do creators, artists, writers, opinion-makers need to be more responsible or more sensitive given the inflammable nature of the times, the legions of those looking for an excuse to perpetrate acts of violence?

In India, many are caught in one of two traps when they try to respond to the body of work produced by Charlie Hebdo.

The first is the trap of decency, even more powerful in a country where free expression is treated as a luxury good, to be bestowed as a treat when circumstances are favorable.

For far too many people, support for an artist or content creator is conflated with endorsement, and it is genuinely hard to understand why you might defend the right of someone to create work that you might dislike, be bored by, think in bad taste, or even consider offensive.

Decency demands — or used to, in a crowded and once-secular society — that we try not to offend others, that we adjust out of politeness. The idea that you might defend an essay by A.K. Ramanujan, a book by Salman Rushdie, a series of paintings by M.F. Husain, a film by Deepa Mehta or Aamir Khan, or an attempt by rationalist Sanal Edamaruku to debunk “miracles” on principle without necessarily agreeing with or liking their work is still an alien one. Free speech debates often veer into a discussion on content — why should x have chosen this subject, why should y have written in this particular way when they had other choices — and this tendency is particularly pronounced when people are personally uncomfortable with or offended by the content in question.

The second is the trap of fear, which leads to a belief in the value of appeasement.

The fear is usually the fear of violence that might be unleashed in an irrational, unpredictable manner by either committed groups of religious fundamentalists, as in Paris, or by political goons, as has been increasingly common in today’s India. It is this fear that makes many blame the victims of violent attacks, from the team at Charlie Hebdo and the two police officers murdered alongside, to artists and writers like Rushdie or the late Husain, for the violence visited upon them. Some blame the victims openly, suggesting that they had it coming and that they should have known better than to choose incendiary subjects.

Some use more subtle methods, suggesting that artists, too, have a responsibility to act with sensitivity, to rein their worst impulses in, to refrain from offending. Often, the real fear is that the artist or writer or journalist will bring threats, or escalating discomfort, or terrifying violence, rolling in the direction of others, will threaten the uneasy balance that still allows for a semblance of normalcy in India. Without this fine balance, the country might have to discard what is left — the holding of exhibitions and literary festivals, the publishing of books and magazines, the year-round university seminars and lectures.

In this scenario, publishers who pull back books, as Penguin India did so disgracefully with Wendy Doniger’s “The Hindus,” or agree to subject their books to a further process of review, as Orient Blackswan and Aleph have controversially done, are condemned only by a small section of liberals for caving in. Many others, including many writers, journalists and opinion-makers, see the compromises made as a pragmatic reaction to the pressures of the times. Many have argued that freedom of speech must be limited in India, that the creative and academic community must be prepared to sacrifice some rights for the sake of preserving the peace.

The problem with following a policy of appeasement is not just that this is ideologically dangerous, as the respected Indian historian and professor Romila Thapar pointed out in a blunt speech in late 2014:

“It is not that we are bereft of people who think autonomously and can ask relevant questions. But frequently where there should be voices, there is silence. Are we all being co-opted too easily by the comforts of conforming? Are we fearful of the retribution that questioning may and often does bring?”

Why was there so little reaction among academics and professionals, Prof. Thapar wanted to know, to the banning and pulping of books, the changing of educational syllabuses, the questioning of the actions of several organizations that act in the name of religion, if not in conformity with religious values?

Appeasement becomes a habit, and then so does silence, and the avoidance of difficult questions. The anger that could not be safely expressed by many for fear of reprisal, against, say, either Rushdie’s Islamic fundamentalist persecutors, or M.F. Husain’s Hindu right wing detractors, turns in another direction. In India, that anger is often directed at the victims — why did they have to provoke, did they not know what response they would get, and crucially, do they not see the trouble they might get everyone else into?

“It is easier to believe that a massacre was the victim’s fault, than to accept that one’s own comfort and safety depend almost entirely on not attracting the attention of fundamentalists, terrorists, thugs or the private armies controlled by corrupt and violent politicians.”

That anger, born of fear and powerlessness, is justified in many ways — personal attacks against the character of the victims, an airing of one’s own discomfort with the content under discussion. Often in FoE crises, victims are blamed, as in domestic violence or sexual assault cases, for the violence visited on them, in eerily similar rhetorical terms. It is easier to believe that a massacre was the victim’s fault, than to accept that one’s own comfort and safety depend almost entirely on not attracting the attention of fundamentalists, terrorists, thugs or the private armies controlled by corrupt and violent politicians.



This is how the artist M.F. Husain was exiled, the author U.R. Ananthamurthy hounded before his death last year, and Rushdie made to feel increasingly unwelcome in his own country. Dislike is useful; it allows people to step away from both their fear and their dismay at being unable to protect the books, art, conversations, and free spaces that they were once able to claim. And yet none of these gestures of appeasement have been effective in stemming the rise of hate speech across religious or political groups in India — in fact, the relative suppression of more moderate voices has in effect handed over the loudspeakers and the mikes to the bullies and the bigots.



salman rushdie
(Indian born British writer Salman Rushdie)


The Price of Not Offending

It is only when you stop sifting through the content, looking for possible flaws of taste or insensitivity, and stop interrogating the creative community over the purity of their intentions that you can move to more useful ground: the question of principle.

The right to offend was only one part of the principles that the team at Charlie Hebdo lived (and died) by; the other part was the principle that has most sharply divided humanity in this century, ie, the idea that all of us have an absolute right to question religion. This is where the argument that Charlie Hebdo could have somehow avoided the terror attacks by being a little less offensive or a little more sensitive falls apart.

In August 2014, Bangladeshi TV host Nurul Islam Faruqi, was visited by five men at his home in Dhaka; they tied up his family and slit his throat. Faruqi used to host religious programs, and was an imam himself. His crime was not that he used offensive or insensitive speech — he was murdered for speaking out against superstition and for his criticism of Islamic fundamentalism.

A year before Faruqi’s murder, the rationalist Narendra Dabholkar had been killed in August 2013 in India, by two unidentified gunmen. Dabholkar was not someone whose speech was either incendiary or deliberately offensive. But his work on bringing in anti-superstition laws had been strongly opposed by some members of the BJP and the far-right regional party, the Shiv Sena, which claimed that an anti-superstition/ black magic law would adversely affect Hindu culture.

Nor was Sanal Edamaruku, president of the Indian Rationalist Association, being disrespectful or offensive when he did his many exposes of “holy men” and their fake miracles. And yet in 2012, when he exposed the phenomenon of holy water apparently dripping from the toe of a statue of Christ as a consequence of bad plumbing, he faced a barrage of hate speech cases and escalating threats. Edamaruku now lives in Finland, not by choice, but out of necessity — it is not safe for him to come back home.

Responsibility cuts both ways. It is true that you cannot reason with a fundamentalist, of any religion, that there is no rational argument to be had with armed men bent on murder. But civil society and religious organizations have their responsibilities, too, and one of them is to enable and support those who want the freedom to question, to create, to debunk, and yes, even to mock. It must be kept in mind that what the team at Charlie Hebdo died for was not just the right to offend, but also the right to challenge and question everything — including religion, including Islam.

The promise of free speech goes far beyond the schoolboy thrill of being able to offend; the real promise of free speech is that we all hope to live uncensored lives, free to create in peace, and free to ask questions of or satirize the leaders, and the institutions, that run our everyday lives.

Why provoke, why defend those who are deliberately provocative? Because the bullies and the men with guns are at one extreme, and the Charlie Hebdos of this world — offensive, irreverent, deliberately pushing the boundaries of satire — are at the other. It is not necessary to follow in Charlie Hebdo’s footsteps in order to respect, or mourn the team. But if we want to live lives that are not muffled, censored and fearful, we must learn to give those who do provoke our support. If we don’t, the trammelled freedoms we have left will shrink even further.
Arts – The Huffington Post
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Stars show support for Charlie Hebdo tragedy

Madonna has urged everyone to “live for love” after the tragic Charlie Hebdo shootings yesterday.
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