Archive for Rule 5

Yet another brick falls

It was something like 28 years ago when I saw this in the store:

Debbie Gibson Out of the Blue cover art

Upside: Got that whole blonde-with-nice-legs thing going on. Downside: Why did she draw a face on her knee? Well, she was just seventeen — you know what I mean? — and girls not quite on the brink of adulthood do things like this. I bought the album, and played it through something like three times in a row: it was that good.

Still, I did not anticipate that I’d be paying attention to Debbie Gibson by the time she turned forty-five, which is, um, today. By the time her record sales started to droop in the States, the Japanese had embraced her:

She turned to Broadway, to television, to anywhere she could find an audience. And she always found one, even in places you’d never have expected her:

Debbie Gibson Playboy photo 2005

In 2013, she was stricken with Lyme disease; it looked for a while like she was wasting away.

Photo from Debbie Gibson's Instagram

Healthier now, she’s as busy as ever, and if she’s not topping the charts — here, anyway; her 2010 Ms. Vocalist album, released by Sony Japan, produced the #1 single “I Love You” — she’s all over the papers and the tube.

Debbie Gibson on the Meredith Vieira Show

And I couldn’t be happier for her.

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Long-stemmed flower

In 2012, there was a brief tizzy when Angelina Jolie’s right leg, following some world-class exposure at the Academy Awards, got its own Twitter account. Familiar as I am with the concept of letting the legs do the talking, I of course followed, but the account was dropped shortly after the first of the year. Few knew that there was precedence for this even before Twitter: the right leg of Mexican singer/actress Lucero did a walk-on, so to speak, on a sketch-comedy series, probably XHDRbZ, and was duly interviewed by the host.

La pierna de Lucero

La pierna de Lucero

And I suppose that this was inevitable, since Lucero Hogaza León, born this date in 1969, was almost always known for these gams. (Well, maybe not; as a tween, she starred on a kids’ show called Chiquilladas, in one episode playing Olive Oyl.)

Lucero strikes a pose

Lucero has had long careers in music and in television, particularly in telenovelas. In 2010, she put out her 19th album, Indispensable, from which the lead single was “Dueña de tu amor” (“Owner of your heart”):

A Special Edition of Indispensable was released in the US, and you have to figure the label knew what it was doing:

Lucero Indispensable US cover art

It is incumbent upon some sectors of the press, of course, to find fault with people who look like this.

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It’s only just begun

Scottish singer/songwriter Amy Macdonald first got my attention with the brilliant single “Don’t Tell Me That It’s Over,” from her 2010 album A Curious Thing, which wasn’t released in the States, but that doesn’t matter anymore, does it?

She’s anything but a one-trick pony, it appears: the Daily Record out of Glasgow named her “Scottish Person of the Year” in 2008, and she was nominated twice for Scottish Fashion Icon, winning in 2014.

Amy Macdonald at the 2014 MTV European Music Awards

Amy Macdonald looking pensive

And this amuses me greatly:

In February 2013, she appeared in the Star in a Reasonably Priced Car segment of BBC’s Top Gear, driving a Kia Cee’d to a time of 1:44.4, the fastest lap time recorded for a female star at that time.

Jeremy Clarkson had a habit of pronouncing the name of that car “Cee-apostrophe-dee.” It’s not sold in the States. (Imagine that.)

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A girl who once had a dream

Yukiko Okada — call her “Yukko” — always wanted to sing. She’d appear at any audition for anything, hoping to get a break; at sixteen, she finally broke through on one of those TV talent shows and was signed to Japan’s Sun Music Productions.

It didn’t hurt that she had That Look:

Yukiko Okada stretches out

Yukiko Okada in a swimsuit

Her first single, “First Date,” came out early in 1984; her third, “Dreaming Girl,” was enough to win her Best New Artist in the annual Japan Record Awards. It’s — well, listen for yourself:

Why, yes, it is vaguely reminiscent of Tracey Ullman’s cover of Kirsty MacColl’s “They Don’t Know.”

Sponsorship and television deals followed, and Yukko was on her way. But something, somewhere, went terribly wrong:

Okada was found with a slashed wrist in her gas-filled Tokyo apartment, crouching in a closet and crying.

And then two hours later:

[S]he committed suicide on April 8th by jumping off from the roof of the Sun Music building. She was only 18 at the time. Her suicide made headlines and sent shockwaves across Japan. To top it off, several fans of hers followed suite. It caused such a commotion that the term “Yukko Syndrome” came into being to connote follow-on [copycat] suicides. That year (1986), the suicide rate in Japan jumped to an all-time high.

In 2002, the song “Believe In You” was rescued from the vaults and given an orchestral overlay, becoming Yukko’s last single. If only she’d believed a little more in herself.

She would have been forty-eight today.

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Classic Bouquet

Carole Bouquet, born on this date in 1957, has appeared in more than 40 movies, first drawing attention in Luis Buñuel’s That Obscure Object of Desire as half of a flamenco dancer. (For some reason, Buñuel alternated between two actresses playing the same role, the other being Angela Molina; the late Maria Schneider, originally cast, then cast aside, perhaps should have taken pride in the fact that it took two women to replace her.)

We may know Bouquet best in the States, though, for the role of Melina Havelock in For Your Eyes Only, far and away the most serious of the James Bond films starring Roger Moore. And we probably saw her most recently in an NBC four-hour miniseries based on Ira Levin’s Rosemary’s Baby, which aired in the spring of 2014.

Carole Bouquet closer to then

Carole Bouquet closer to now

Weirdly, while Binging about for pictures — I didn’t actually have any on hand — I was tossed the string “Carole Bouquet Is a Man.” Um, no. Not even close. Where this came from, evidently, was confusion with Caroline Cossey, a trans woman who played a small role in For Your Eyes Only, who got a lot of “Bond Girl Is a Boy” tabloid chatter in those days.

And besides, Bouquet dated Gérard Depardieu for about a decade. Had she had, um, nonstandard hardware, we’d almost certainly have heard about it from him.

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Forever 21st

Actually, Australian model Madeline Stuart is only 18, but 21 is the number that rules her life: she has three, rather than two, copies of the 21st chromosome. This is Down syndrome, and as a general rule, women with Down syndrome don’t walk the fashion runways.

Until now:

The fashion industry is often criticized for lacking diversity on runways and in fashion campaigns. But, after years of fighting for equal representation of every type of woman, new headway is being made. This year, Madeline Stuart, the Australian modeling sensation with Down Syndrome, will walk the runway during New York Fashion Week.

Serving as an inspiration to many around the globe, the 18-year-old is on a mission to change the way people think about those with disabilities. According to her website, Stuart sees Down Syndrome as “a blessing” and “something to be celebrated.”

“People will stare,” Harry Winston once said. “Make it worth their while.” Stuart has set this as one of two quotations on the front page of that site.

Madeline Stuart in florals

Madeline Stuart in florals

And you know, just seeing a runway model not scowling is something of a delight.

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Paparazzo 101

One of the first things they teach you at Pesky Photographer School, I suspect, is candid shots taken at a time when the subject is actually busy doing something. This explains why we see Kylie Jenner — and happy 18th to you, K — fueling up in deepest, darkest Studio City:

Kylie Jenner fuels up her Mercedes-Benz G63

Wait a minute. What the heck is that she’s driving?

Kylie Jenner fuels up her Mercedes-Benz G63

Because, of course, one needs something like a Geländewagen to negotiate the tough terrain of the San Fernando Valley.

And haven’t I seen those shoes before? Let’s see:

Kylie Jenner in Stuart Weitzman Nudist shoes

Yep. This is Stuart Weitzman’s “Nudist” sandal in black. As shoes worn by this clan tend toward the ridiculously ornate, I’m sort of happy to see something simple — and, at under $400, not overly pricey, except perhaps by the pound — on the youngest of the crew.

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Ni!

The 8th of August — think of it as 8-8 — doubles up a classic Chinese lucky number, so I’m guessing that good fortune has been smiling on Chinese actress Ni Ni, born on this date in Nanjing in, um, ’88.

Ni’s Nanjing origins, it turns out, were a factor in Zhang Yimou’s 2011 historical drama The Flowers of War, set in Nanjing during a particularly heinous period in the second Sino-Japanese War; Zhang spent rather a lot of time auditioning the local talent. Ni plays Yu Mo, unofficial leader of the local girls for hire, so to speak, opposite John Miller (Christian Bale), an American mortician who had come simply to bury a priest but found himself increasingly caught up in the carnage.

Ni Ni in 2012, after the release of The Flowers of War

The Flowers of War turned out to be the most expensive film ever made in China, with a budget of some $94 million. A release in the States was inevitable, since much of the film was shot in English, and this is the trailer:

Ni won the 2012 Asian Film Award for Best Newcomer.

Ni Ni in a 2014 fashion photoshoot

And this stereo-effect name of hers foils the standard Wikipedia caution on Chinese names:

This is a Chinese name; the family name is Ni.

Which is, it turns out, a fairly common family name.

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Farewell, Cilla

Perhaps the very definition of ironic: the first I heard about the death of an iconic Liverpool star was from two girls trying to make it big in Liverpool fifty years later.

It was just last year that I got around to writing about Cilla Black (born Priscilla White in 1943), one of few entertainers anywhere who sustained a career for half a century without stirring up any tabloid stories. I admit that I was not overly fond of her first record, a Lennon-McCartney number called “Love of the Loved”, but her take on “Anyone Who Had a Heart” hit the top of the British charts:

She followed with a second Number One, “You’re My World,” which even won me over.

Cilla Black takes a seat

From her obituary in the Telegraph:

“I didn’t choose television. Television chose me,” she said. “I was a bit of fun and a bit of Scouse rough and everybody liked me, I was normal. I could have been the kid next door. And then I turned into the auntie next door. And now I’m the granny next door.”

Cilla Black tips her hat

This is about as far as she ever wanted to go:

“Seventy-five is a good age to go if things start to drop off,” she said. “I don’t want to linger. I don’t want to be a burden on anybody. I know 75 is only four years away, but I take each day as I find it.”

And if things dropped off just a little early, well, you know she smiled as she watched them go.

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Having blossomed

This site has never run short of Rebecca Black pictures, although I had never submitted one for the weekly Rule 5 babefests for the most obvious of reasons. I mean, she was thirteen when “Friday” went viral in the spring of 2011.

At eighteen, she’s shed a bit of the Dorky Teenager look, and if she’s going to be a fixture at the premieres of low-budget features, there may be more of these to come.

Rebecca Black at the premiere of Bad Night July 2015

Rebecca Black at the premiere of Smosh July 2015

RB being a major YouTuber, it should not surprise you that both these films have a YouTube connection. Smosh is based on the highly successful YT channel of the same name; Bad Night is an adventure film starring two YouTubers.

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Demure in gravure

You’re never too old to learn, or at least I’m not, and this phrase crossed my screen for the first time this week:

A gravure idol is a Japanese female model who primarily models in magazines, especially those marketed to men, photobooks or DVDs. Gravure idols, in most cases, emphasize their sexual attractiveness and often model in swimsuits … Contrary to popular foreign belief, gravure idols never appear fully nude in their photos but their poses often can be labeled as semi-provocative.

Gravure models may be of any age but usually range from their late teens to their mid-twenties.

Presumably a cousin to “rotogravure,” in which you were seen in your Easter bonnet.

To illustrate this definition, I bring you Rina Aizawa, twenty-four:

Rina Aizawa sitting in the back seat

Rina Aizawa sitting but not in the back seat

Rina Aizawa obligatory swimsuit picture

I honestly don’t know how I missed that term for all these years, especially since I was an early convert to LaserDisc, which happily vended lots of Japanese nonporn along exactly these lines in the 1980s. A lot of it looked like this:

Like I said, never too old to learn.

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World’s hottest politician

So said Maxim, once upon a time. Mara Carfagna, currently a member of Italy’s Chamber of Deputies, started out as an actress and model; in 2004 she entered politics, and two years later won a seat as a member of the party Forza Italia. (Blatherskite Silvio Berlusconi, then in his second term as Prime Minister, quipped that Forza Italia, his own party, practiced the rule of droit du seigneur; this wouldn’t be the first time Berlusconi said something untoward about her.)

Mara Carfagna strikes a pose

For three years Carfagna served in Berlusconi’s cabinet as Minister of Equal Opportunity; when he resigned in 2011, she returned full-time to her seat in the Chamber of Deputies.

Mara Carfagna strikes a pose

And she also blogs. A recent post [Google translation, slightly tweaked]:

A run scored on behalf of all Italians. The OK by the Chamber’s Judiciary Committee to the proposals of Forza Italia who wanted tougher sentences for property crimes, such as robbery and burglary, is a small step forward to make citizens feel safer, or at least to make them feel more protected.

Mara Carfagna strikes a pose

Incidentally, that Maxim list showed up in 2008. (You’d never believe who came second. Or maybe you would. I think I would.)

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Big Shot Becky

Becky Hammon’s #25 jersey is proudly displayed at Colorado State’s Moby Arena. Weirdly, she went undrafted by the WNBA, but managed to get signed by the New York Liberty, which installed her as the second-string point guard. Eventually she worked herself into the starting lineup, and in 2007 she was dealt to the San Antonio Stars.

Becky Hammon as a San Antonio Star

In 2013, she tore an ACL and spent a year in rehab; during that time she looked for a coaching gig, and found one in San Antonio — with the NBA’s Spurs, on Gregg Popovich’s staff of assistants. Said Pop at her hiring:

I very much look forward to the addition of Becky Hammon to our staff. Having observed her working with our team this past season, I’m confident her basketball IQ, work ethic, and interpersonal skills will be a great benefit to the Spurs.

Becky Hammon as a San Antonio Spurs coach

This past season’s Spurs finished 55-27 and took the Clippers to seven games in the playoffs before bowing out. This summer, Pop dispatched Hammon to coach the Spurs’ summer-league team in Salt Lake City. They finished 1-2, in a three-way tie for second. (The Jazz won all three of their games to claim the championship.) Undaunted, the Spurs proceeded to the Las Vegas summer-league extravaganza (24 teams!) and won that one.

Oh, and here’s Hammon subtly suggesting that one of the opposing players just might have taken one too many steps:

Okay, maybe not so subtly.

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Grexit sign

I happened to find these two pictures of model Anastasia Perraki, who turns 30 on Monday, and somehow they seem to bracket the ongoing financial crisis in her native Greece. The first is from a local Vogue pictorial, shot in and around a classic Cadillac, circa 2012. Note the invocation in the corner:

Anastasia Perraki in the back seat

More somberly, an official photo of Perraki from her modeling agency:

Anastasia Perraki is represented by Ace Models, Athens

You can almost read it: “Yeah, fine, austerity. Whatever.”

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It’s all in the delivery

Deborah Mailman, forty-three today, was the first Aboriginal to win the Australian Film Institute (now Australian Academy of Cinema and Television Arts) Award for Best Actress in a Leading Role, for her 1998 performance in Radiance. (In 2015, she co-hosted the AACTA award show with Cate Blanchett.)

Deborah Mailman in a pose of sorts, 2012

Deborah Mailman on an unred carpet, 2013

And Mailman truly delivers: she’s been nominated five times for AACTA awards, and won every time.

Among her most notable TV work is Offspring, which ran five years on Network Ten and was cancelled, partially because the showrunners had new projects to work on, and partially because the show had run 65 episodes, meaning no further subsidies from Screen Australia.

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Oh, Denise, ooby-doo

Hmmm. Who’s this getting out of the Benz?

Denise Richards exits a Mercedes

Wait a moment…

Denise Richards exits a Mercedes

Why, it’s Denise Richards, from whom we haven’t heard a whole lot lately. She had a substantial role in Twisted, which ran for 19 episodes on ABC Family but was not renewed for 2014-15. Won’t keep her from her yoga class, though.

About thirty years ago, she was featured in a music video. The Swiss duo Double — which, incidentally, is pronounced “DOO-blay” — made this perfectly wonderful song in 1986 called “The Captain of Her Heart.” The video, which featured the two members plus the occasional glimpse of a sideman, was apparently deemed insufficiently interesting to American audiences, and so an Official US Version was shot:

Denise was fifteen at the time, if the math works out correctly, and why shouldn’t it?

(Title courtesy of Randy and the Rainbows.)

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Turn the Vangsness up to 11

The eleventh season of CBS’ Criminal Minds begins this fall, and of course Kirsten Vangsness will return as FBI analyst Penelope Garcia, a role she says was originally intended for a guy:

The story on Garcia was that they had a man whose name was Garcia. They shot the scenes with all the other characters talking to this man named Garcia. When they looked at the footage later, they suddenly realized that they had this pilot that was going to come out, but it was too guy heavy. There wasn’t enough female characters. So they thought they’d put in these two lines, have a woman come in and say those two lines and figure it out from there.

Even then, it wasn’t much of a role, but she got to put her stamp on it early:

It was just this little two-line thing. I remember they called me and said, “Bring your own clothes because it’s just going to be this one scene.” I’m a size 10-12, and in Hollywood, there’s either a size 0 or a size 22. Middle ground is kind of rare sometimes.

I’m a very creative dresser, so when I brought in my clothes, they said, “Are you crazy? This is the FBI. You can’t wear any of this!”

This was, of course, before they discovered she was so popular they had to make her a regular. And at forty-three, she will still wear what she will:

Kirsten Vangsness at GLSEN 2014

Wait a minute. We need a shot of her in glasses:

Kirsten Vangsness promo photo

Her love life has taken an odd curve, also. Having once described herself as “queer as a purple unicorn singing Madonna,” she’s now on a somewhat straighter path:

My boyfriend and I are going to go on a meditation retreat at the end of April. That’ll be fun. I fell in love with this guy, which is like the craziest thing. I was engaged to a woman. I was perfectly comfortable and happy with the nature of our relationship, but sometimes relationships fall apart. The last thing I would’ve thought was that I would meet a guy and fall in love. But I did it.

And hey, it’s not like she’s been re-routed to the office of Too Frickin’ Bad.

(Quotes from SmashingInterviews.com.)

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General Lee speaking

As The Dukes of Hazzard vanishes from cable channels, the Friar gets what ought to be the final word:

Both TV Land and Country Music Television (CMT) were airing Dukes, but are no longer. TV Land will replace it with reruns of Bonanza, a series free of racism and noted for its enlightened portrayal of Chinese immigrant cooks.

Oh, and comparatively speaking:

For the record, I enjoy Bonanza much more than Dukes, because the latter is very very dumb and there’s only so much dumb Catherine Bach’s legs can erase.

If you’d like to test that latter assertion:

Catherine Bach suitably attired

Now: do you feel smarter? Even a little?

One more try:

Catherine Bach suitably attired

Brilliance surely is within your grasp.

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This is an ex-princess

Given my not-quite-an-obsession with the trappings of royalty, wicked monarchist that I am, it seems only natural to look in on someone who rose to heady heights and then opted for something a bit closer to the ground.

I give you, therefore, Alexandra, Countess of Frederiksborg, 51 today, who was a full-fledged princess when she was married to Prince Joachim of Denmark, younger son of Queen Margrethe II.

Countess Alexandra

She and the prince were wed in 1995, separated in 2004, and divorced in 2005; she retained the title of Countess, is addressed as “Your Excellency,” and draws an allowance of $330,000 a year. (Their two children are still officially princes.) What broke the couple apart is not officially disclosed, though there has been no shortage of speculation.

Countess Alexandra

Alexandra’s ancestry is gloriously mixed: English and Chinese on her father’s side, Czech and Austrian on her mother’s. She remarried in 2007, to photographer Martin Jørgensen, fourteen years her junior.

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Alsou

Alsou Ralifovna Abramova, thirty-two today, is a Russian singer who is mostly, though not entirely, unknown in the States. This wallpaper with her image dates to about 2004:

Alsou wallpaperized

She made the cover of the Russian edition of InStyle in 2010:

Alsou on the cover of InStyle

Born in Tatarstan, she and her family moved to Siberia when she was a year old. She showed musical promise early, and released her first album in 1999. “Winter Dream” was the first of three singles.

The next year, she turned up at Eurovision with an English-language song called “Solo”:

“Solo” won second place for Russia.

Perhaps her most elusive recording is a duet with Jon Bon Jovi on a 2003 remake of “Livin’ On A Prayer”, which was released to Russian radio with the This Left Feels Right album; for some reason, the Russian CD release contained the same version we got in the States, with Olivia d’Abo instead of Aisou.

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Perhaps a tad less well

Welsh singer Duffy, born on this date in 1984, burst onto the scene in 2008 with two dynamite singles, the forceful “Mercy” and the pensive “Warwick Avenue”; the Rockferry album won her a Grammy in 2009 for Best Pop Vocal Album. She also, I am informed, puts on a heck of a live show:

Duffy in concert

Then this happened:

Cover of Endlessly by Duffy

Perhaps the blame lay with the one and only single released from the album, which seemed to go over well but which charted low in Europe and not at all in the States:

That was October ’10. The following February, her new management announced that there would be no further singles from Endlessly, and that Duffy would be taking a two-year break from the music biz. I haven’t heard from her since.

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Your very best Bai

What always gets me about Bai Ling is that she’s a perfectly serious actress with a perfectly zany side. She’d been acting in Chinese films since the middle Eighties, but made a fearsome debut before US audiences in 1994 in The Crow, in which she played the half-sister and occasional lover of gang boss Top Dollar. She followed this with the female lead in Red Corner, opposite Richard Gere, a role that annoyed the Chinese government to the extent that they actually revoked her citizenship. (She has since become an American citizen.) She says that her scenes in Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith were cut because she’d done a pictorial for Playboy; George Lucas says no, the cut happened before the pictorial was announced.

Much of her online fame, though, is due to Wacky Costumery. Witness this shot from a waiting area in LAX, earlier this year:

Bai Ling at Los Angeles International Airport

This is perhaps less wacky, but since when does a Big International Star (sort of) drive a Volkswagen?

Bai Ling buys a Beetle convertible

She’s also a hoot on Twitter (@RealBaiLing), where she posts news and bits of philosophy and lots and lots of selfies, some in Wacky Costumery, a few in apparently nothing at all. For an example of the latter, look below the jump:

Read the rest of this entry »

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Lost count

Monica Lewis was thirty when she did this number for an indifferent MGM musical in 1952. There are three things you ought to know about her:

  • For a couple of years she was married to record producer Bob Thiele, who at the time was running the Signature Records label.
  • She was the voice of the animated Chiquita Banana, who warned you not to put bananas in the fridge. (I never have.)
  • She did advertising for Burlington, a major hosiery manufacturer, and justifiably so.

Monica Lewis shows some gam

And you may not need to know this: Monica Lewis, who died Friday at her home in Woodland Hills, California, was my oldest Twitter follower. She was 93.

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Away from the news cycle

Fox News Channel has a series called Outnumbered, in which some poor male shlub is parked on the middle of a very long sofa and bombarded with questions by four News Babes with legs to die for. I submit that this has some entertainment value even with the sound off, which I have long contended is the only way to watch cable news channels anyway.

One of the Outnumbered regulars is Jedediah Bila, and while she’s, um, highly presentable on that show — I know this because someone tweets a picture from the show every day it airs — I’m getting to where I prefer her offstage work, a lot of which she sends up through her Instagram account. A few samples:

Jedediah Bila reads

Jedediah Bila at the gym

Jedediah Bila takes it easy

She also is willing to engage on Twitter, unlike some sorta-celebrity types.

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Hola, Susana

Susana Giménez is to Argentina what Oprah Winfrey is to the States: a major celebrity with her own TV show and a fanbase that seemingly hangs on her every word. She didn’t start out that way, of course:

Susana Gimenez on an RCA record sleeve, mid-1970s

This fiercely generic collection of South American hits, circa early 1970s, simply demanded a pretty girl on the cover, and Giménez was working her way up as a model in those days. I know of one track that has survived: “Balada para un gordo” (“Song for a fat man”) by Juan and Juan. Then again, “Gotas de Lluvia caen sobre mi Cabeza” you know under, um, another title. (Thanks to LPCover Lover.)

The television show, first called Hola Susana, started in 1987; Giménez was 43 then and had been acting, mostly in minor roles, for nearly twenty years. The series continues today as Susana Giménez or simply SG.

Susana Gimenez, 2011

Susana Gimenez, 2014

I couldn’t tell you when she quit being a brunette, but it had to be a long time ago. The earlier of these two shots was taken in 2011. And yes, she does tweet:

Apparently the show was giving away this bag.

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Wedged in

Striding through Japan’s Haneda Airport, it’s Amal Alamuddin Clooney in a knit dress by Missoni that InStyle.com described, aptly enough, as “breezy.” My attention is guaranteed:

Amal Clooney at Haneda Airport in Japan

I adore the color scheme. But what they wanted to show you, apparently, was the shoe, so let’s get a closer look:

Espadrille wedge by Valentino

A tricky shoe indeed. If you’re watching from the side, it might look like a jacked-up (four and a half inches) T-strap, but the shoe — “Rockee” by Valentino — obviously lacks the center strap that defines the T. InStyle.com says that it “simultaneously elevated and grounded her look.” There’s also a black version, with the same neutral-colored platform. Either way, it’s $845 at Nordstrom.com.

You may notice, in the full-length shot, the Ordinary Folks trying their best to get a picture of Mrs. Clooney as she walks away from them.

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We can dig it

There exists a strong possibility that you’ve done an impression of Telma Hopkins at least once.

Okay, you’re shaking your head. How does a background singer best known for being part of Tony Orlando and Dawn, later turned actress, fit into your repertoire? Repeat after me: “Shut yo’ mouth.” If this in any way sounds like you’re replying to Isaac Hayes intoning “You say this cat Shaft is a bad muthah,” you’ve just done an impression of Telma Hopkins, whose voice is out front on that line in Hayes’ original Theme from Shaft.

Before working with Hayes, Hopkins was based in Detroit, where she sang for Berry Gordy at Motown and for crosstown rival Eddie Wingate. After Orlando hit with “Candida” with two studio singers, management figured out that he’d need a touring group, and hired Hopkins and Joyce Vincent Wilson.

This little orange number comes from the days of Half & Half, a successful (for UPN, anyway) comedy that didn’t get picked up when The CW was created:

Telma Hopkins at the 15th Annual Night of 100 Stars

And this is just a classic reaction shot:

Telma Hopkins on TV Land

And Telma’s still busy, with continuing gigs on Are We There Yet? (TBS), Lab Rats (Disney XD), and Partners (FX). In the latter, she plays Martin Lawrence’s mom. In real life, they’re 16 years apart. (Lawrence turned 50 this spring.)

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Beautifully thawed

There are three and a half things I greatly admire about singer Idina Menzel: she’s an old-school belter in the classic style; she’s very easy on the eyes without looking like Queen Elsa of Arendelle, her major behind-the-scenes role; and she has an impish sense of humor.

First, some belting:

The best song from Wicked? We report; you decide.

On the purely superficial appearance front:

Idina Menzel in Billboard

Idina Menzel takes a breather

Then there was that moment at the 86th Academy Awards. (She sang “Let It Go” from Frozen, which won the Oscar for Best Original Song.) This was the night when John Travolta utterly bollixed up her name, introducing her as “Adele Dazeem.” Menzel, unruffled, had the Playbill for her then-current Broadway run in If/Then reprinted:

“Nert,” in case you’re wondering, is an anagram of Rent, and you can see what she did with Frozen.

And in the 87th Academy Awards show, Travolta and Menzel got to announce the Best Original Song: Menzel introduced Travolta as “Glom Gazingo.” This is the very definition of “Well played.”

The only downside: she and Taye Diggs, whom she met during Rent, divorced in 2014 after ten years and one child. Upside: she starts her World Tour today, her 44th birthday.

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Forever foxy

Forty years ago:

Pam Grier on the cover of New York magazine

Then the queen of so-called “blaxploitation” films like Coffy and Foxy Brown, Pam Grier left an indelible stamp on the industry; Quentin Tarantino argued that she might have been the first female action star in cinema, and she proved that she still had the stuff in his Jackie Brown in 1997. She’s kept busy ever since, perhaps most notably with six seasons of Showtime’s The L Word. Here we see her in a panel discussion from 2014:

Pam Grier talks acting

Still got that smile, yes indeed.

Oh, and she’s in Grand Theft Auto V: she’s the DJ from The Lowdown 91.1. Today she turns sixty-six.

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Out to pasture

Maggie Gyllenhaal wore this Dolce & Gabbana gown to the 2014 Tonys:

Maggie Gyllenhaal at the 2014 Tonys in Dolce & Gabbana

Perhaps not the most flattering look for her. Let’s try something a little less formal:

Maggie Gyllenhaal in a 2014 photoshoot

Now this is the point at which things get weird:

Maggie Gyllenhaal, an Oscar nominee getting Emmy buzz for her work on the Sundance miniseries The Honourable Woman, revealed that she was recently turned down for a role in a movie because she was too old to play the love interest for a 55-year-old man.

No kidding.

“There are things that are really disappointing about being an actress in Hollywood that surprise me all the time,” she said during an interview for an upcoming issue of The Wrap Magazine. “I’m 37 and I was told recently I was too old to play the lover of a man who was 55. It was astonishing to me. It made me feel bad, and then it made me feel angry, and then it made me laugh.”

As a man who was 55 seven years ago, I think this is ridiculous.

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