culture

Jo has developed original culture content for WSJ, CNN, Fox, New York, AOL/HuffPo & The Daily Beast,.


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The Model Life of Heidi Klum

A RodThere are three things Heidi Klum is always asked in interviews: How does she always look so good? What makes her marriage so strong? And how does she keep it all together?

Answers: She eats healthy and chases after four kids to stay fit. She and her husband of six years, Seal, value each other. And she’s just an ordinary mom who knows how to multitask. The constant repetition of these tropes was one of the reasons Klum, 38, decided to collaborate with AOL Huffington Post Media Group on her own online channel for the media megabrand. It’s expected to move Klum up the ladder of lifestyle brand leaders into the territory of Oprah, Martha Stewart or Rachael Ray. “People always ask me about so many things,” says Klum about launching heidiklum.aol.com, which went live at the end of May. “They ask me my favorite shampoo, my beauty routine, how I stay in shape—and now I have a place to put all my answers.”
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Safe at Home
Alex Rodriguez rediscovers his New York roots.
A RodALEX RODRIGUEZ ordered a black bean salad with balsamic dressing at a bistro in Soho. By Soho, we mean South Howard Avenue in Tampa, where the Yankees retreat for spring training—a place as culturally removed from “south of Houston” as you can get. While Rodriguez, in his cashmere V-neck and designer aviator sunglasses (carefully removed once we are safely ensconced at a table by the window), is exceedingly polite and welcomed warmly by the staff, he looks every bit the displaced New Yorker. (Former Mayor Ed Koch said that, if after six months in NYC, “you find you walk faster, talk faster and think faster, you’re a New Yorker.”)
It’s taken much longer for the Yankees’ venerable third baseman to earn that title, but after enduring years of public scrutiny and tabloid headlines, Rodriguez’s clinch role in securing the team its 27th World Championship finally goaded Gothamites into welcoming him into a careful embrace.
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Twilight’s Ashley Greene Hits It Big
When Twilight actress Ashley Greene moved to Los Angeles at age 17, she worked in restaurants to pay her rent. Now brands like Mark are signing her for big-time contracts, and People magazine has dubbed her one of the year’s most beautiful people; all the while, directors are lining up to cast her.
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One for All
Milla Jovovich has her priorities as straight as they come.
Milla Jovovich is currently working as if this could be her last year on earth. The actress, model, sometime musician and designer is promoting Stone, a legal drama with Robert De Niro and Edward Norton debuting this fall, as well as filming the Hitchcockian thriller Faces in the Crowd. She just finished an indie film with William H. Macy, Mary Steenburgen and Tim McGraw called Dirty Girl, where she plays a down-on-her-luck young mom living in a trailer park. She might fly to Russia for a role in a Russian comedy. There’s the press for the fourth installment of the Resident Evil franchise, which made her every young geek’s fantasy, and the role in Bringing Up Bobby, an independent comedy directed by fellow actress-cum-model Famke Janssen. And she’s preparing to star in a remake of The Three Musketeers (slated for next year) directed by her husband, director Paul W.S. Anderson.
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Love All
Serena WilliamsShe is one of the most accomplished women’s tennis players of all time. But lately, Serena Williams has been focusing on several off-court pursuits.

SERENA WILLIAMS HASN’T HAD A CHANCE to take a breather since her professional debut in 1995. Lately, it seems the tennis star is always busy doing something: winning tournaments, building schools in Kenya or guest-starring on television shows. So while the surgery on her right foot that had her spending most of the summer recovering was unfortunate, she admits it also gave her some much-needed time to relax.
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Recipe for Success: Renowned chef Eric Ripert and his love affair with all things food
It was a love of eating that brought Eric Ripert into the kitchen. When the new Top Chef judge and celebrated chef was just six years old, he joined his mother, aunt and grandmother in their provincial French kitchen—and snuck snacks while they did all the work. “I was very passionate about eating, and I would pretend to cook with the women so they would let me stay,” Ripert laughs in his Americanized French. “Only later did I discover a passion for cooking.”
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Mad About Mariska
Trying to nail down Mariska Hargitay for an interview is a lot of work for everyone involved. It’s a cliché to talk about how busy celebrities are and how amazingly they juggle life, love, work and charity, but Hargitay is one cliché worth talking about. In the midst of 12- to 15-hour days of physically grueling shoots for Law & Order: SVU, Mariska finds time to be a hands-on parent to her four-year-old son, August; push the envelope to grow the Joyful Heart Foundation, her charity for survivors of sexual and domestic abuse—and chat with a reporter to explain how she has time to do it all.
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Bobby’s Palace
Chef, restaurateur and author Bobby Flay just finished building his dream home. It’s predictably filled to the brim with cooking goodies. It’s also on its way to official eco-friendly certification.
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Wall Street Journal

Making Amends, Tracy Morgan Visits LGBT Teens in Brooklyn
published: June 17, 2011
When Tracy Morgan joked last week that he would stab his son if he ever came out as gay, the blowback was immediate and severe. Morgan, famous for outbursts and absurd humor on “30 Rock” and “Saturday Night Live,” suddenly found himself on the receiving end of angry tweets and demands for an apology from the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation (Glaad).

The comedian did immediately publicly apologize for the joke, made during a stand-up routine at a Nashville comedy club, and now appears to be embarking upon a cross-country campaign to rehabilitate his image—first stop, Brooklyn. read full article

‘Spider-Man’ Musical Still Not Finished, Bono Says
published: June 14, 2011
With the official premiere of “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” just hours away, Bono and The Edge are warning audiences that the overhauled show remains incomplete.

Speaking Monday night at 92Y on the Upper East Side, the two U2 members appeared nervous ahead of opening night for the much-delayed musical, for which they composed the music and the lyrics. read full article

Is That Matt Damon Behind the Mask?
published: June 2, 2011
“Sleep No More,” a performance piece in Chelsea, is no ordinary night out at the theater. Audience members must wear masks as they proceed through the rooms of a fictional hotel, pausing to watch actors interpret moments from Shakespeare’s “Macbeth.” At the end of the performance, they wind up in a cozy bar to drink and flirt, with many still in disguise.

The Punchdrunk theater company’s show has received warm notices from critics, and it has found an unusual fan base among celebrities, lured by the chance for an anonymous night out in Manhattan. read full article

Fox

Thirty-Year-Old MTV Unrecognizable From Original, But MTV.com Is a Different Story
published: August 4, 2011
MTV celebrates its 30th birthday this week.
My, how time has changed it.
At three decades strong, the network has morphed from must-watch music television to 24/7 reality TV. The evolution from “Unplugged” to “Teen Mom” has worked ratings-wise, with the network pulling in its highest numbers ever, but along the way, MTV the has lost some of its “cool” and its “edge,” the things that keep a younger audience coming back.
“I wish there was more variety, because I don’t care about 16 year olds and their children,” 13-year old Daisy Noe told FOX411. Noe says she still loves MTV but is weary of such a heavy focus on shows that are pregnancy-centric.
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Could Anyone Have Saved Amy Winehouse From Herself?
published: July 25, 2011
A month ago Amy Winehouse canceled her European concert because she was too drunk to even stand on stage.
Last weekend she died alone in her London home.
Binging and erratic behavior were nothing new for the singer who penned the lyrics: “They tried to make me go to rehab, I said, no, no, no.” But could the “they” in that now telling tune have ever saved this talented young singer from herself?
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Princess Kate: From svelte and sexy to scary skinny in six months?
published: July 14, 2011
Princess Kate has never looked like she packed away too many crumpets with afternoon tea, but has the svelte royal gone too far in the weight loss department?
The Duchess of Cambridge Catherine Middleton stood side by side with some of Hollywood’s skinniest celebrities on her trip to the West Coast last week—and made the skinny minnies look downright chunky.
First the Duchess made the diminutive Reese Witherspoon look plump and round at a reception in Santa Barbara for the Tusk Trust.
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Family of Murdered Girl Scout Skeptical But Open to Ex-Con’s Film That Promises to Reveal Killer
published: July 11, 2011
The family of a murdered Oklahoma Girl Scout whose cold-case has left investigators stumped for decades is skeptical of a new film being made about the violent killing of the young girl, but they hope it will ultimately lead to finding the culprit.

Lori Lee Farmer and two other female campers were brutally killed more than 30 years ago at Camp Scott Girl Scout camp on their first night at sleepaway camp. read the full article

Ex-Con Claims Film Will Reveal Killer Behind Heinous, Decades-Old Girl Scouts Murders
published: July 6, 2011
An indie film produced by an ex-con seeking to solve the cold case of the 1977 murders of three Oklahoma Girl Scouts has divided the town of Tulsa, with locals scrambling for parts in the film and law enforcement officials wary.

Not only is the film “Candles” seeking to dramatize the horrific crime, but the filmmaker claims he knows who committed the murder and will reveal who it is in the film. read the full article

Amy Winehouse Latest Singer Rushed Through Rehab to Keep Tour Cash Flowing, Experts Say
published: June 23, 2011
Amy Winehouse canceled her European concert tour this week after taking the stage in Serbia so intoxicated she could barely stand up, much less sing.
Winehouse had checked into the Priory clinic last month for seven days to try to rein in her drinking. She reportedly was in such bad shape, she bought and drank a bottle of vodka on the drive to the rehab center.
Addiction experts tell Fox411 that given Winehouse’s history with drug and alcohol abuse, she needed a stay of three months or more in order to prepare for the rigors of a global tour. And they say she’s just the latest in a string of celebs who are rushed back onstage too soon, often after completing only a fraction of the rehab they need.
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Is MTV Responsible When At-Risk Teens it Features Go Off the Deep End?
published: June 17, 2011
Amber Portwood, star of the original MTV series “16 and Pregnant” and its hit spin-off “Teen Mom,” attempted suicide with an overdose of drugs and an aborted hanging.
At 21 years old, she has been arrested and charged for three domestic violence altercations with the father of her child, Gary Shirley. Portwood isn’t alone among MTV’s troubled teen moms. Cast member Jenelle Evans was arrested in October for possession of marijuana, in March for assault, and recently completed a stint in rehab. read the full article

Is Celebrity Personal Security Out of Control?
published: June 13, 2011
Personal security experts tell FoxNews.com that a lack of any standards for celebrity bodyguards often leads to the hiring of inappropriate — and sometimes dangerous — protectors. read the full article

FOX 411 in Cannes: Horrified Viewers Flee Antonio Banderas’ New Flick Due to Extreme Sex, Violence Scenes
published: May 20, 2011
Spanish director Pedro Almodovar’s latest thriller, “The Skin I Live In,” had filmgoers fleeing the theater Thursday night at its gala premiere at the Cannes Film Festival, due to some aggressively violent and disturbing content.
The film, which stars Antonio Banderas and budding actress Spanish actress Elena Anaya, focuses on a mad but brilliant surgeon (Banderas) who kidnaps a man who raped his daughter.
The doctor’s daughter killed herself from the grief and it drives him to take very drastic measures. This is where it gets complicated and disturbing. read the full article

FOX411 in Cannes: Controversial Director Lars Von Trier Tells Crowd ‘I’m a Nazi,’ Later Apologizes
published: May 18, 2011
Controversial Danish director Lars Von Trier apologized Wednesday for saying he was a Nazi, assuring people that despite his earlier comments, he was not “anti-Semitic or racially prejudiced in any way.”
Earlier Wednesday, he apparently felt comfortable enough with the crowd at Cannes to admit he sympathizes with Hitler and to refer to himself as a Nazi—albeit one who loves Jewish people.
Promoting his new film about the end of the world, “Melancholia,” at the festival, Von Trier told the crowd of international press from around the world at the Cannes press conference that he originally believed himself to be Jewish before finding out otherwise. read the full article

Lindsay Lohan vs. Gravity: Is Actress Jeopardizing Comeback With Bra-Free Lifestyle?
published: May 13, 2011
Lindsay Lohan may be making inroads to repair her broken brand, but even if she can stage a comeback with her upcoming Gotti movie project, more damage control could await the young starlet.
No stranger to self destruction, Lohan has unwittingly been doing a number on her breasts by consistently refusing to wear a bra, despite her ample assets, experts say. And her free and easy lifestyle could impact her career.
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EXCLUSIVE: German Playboy Says Cover Model Sila Sahin Not Muslim, Death Threats Exaggerated
published: May 6, 2011
Weeks after causing an uproar among conservative Islamic groups in Europe, German Playboy’s Editor in Chief is claiming his scantily-clad cover star is not actually a Muslim. read the full article

Critics and Audiences Disagree on ‘Atlas Shrugged’: Were They Watching the Same Movie?
published: April 27, 2011
Critics may hate it, but audiences seem to love it.
“Atlas Shrugged Part 1,” an independently produced movie based on the 1957 book extolling the virtues of unbridled capitalism, was a surprise financial success its opening weekend, forcing some Hollywood bigwigs to reflect on why they chose to pass on a project based on a book more than 7 million people have read. read the full article

Celebrities Paying Writers, Recent College Graduates to Tweet on Their Behalf, Insiders Say
published: April 21, 2011
With fans so focused on their favorite celebrity’s Twitter feed, it may be a shock to learn that those 140 character missives from Hollywood are more often than not written by someone other than the person whose name is on the account. read the full article

Beware Celebrity Charities: Madonna’s Raising Malawi Fiasco Shows Risks of Unproven Charity Organizations
published: March 29, 2011
Celebrity charities deserve an extra dose of skepticism and donors should be careful about being wooed by a famous face. Celebrity in itself shouldn’t ever be the sole indicator of a charity’s reliability. read the full article

Charlie Sheen Will Make $100 Million More From Show, Experts Say
published: March 9, 2011
The “Two and a Half Men” gravy train won’t be stopping for Charlie Sheen just because he’s been fired from the hit CBS series. read the full article

Part Sheen, Spears and Ryder: Is Lindsay Lohan Most Screwed Up Star of All?
published: February 10, 2011
There isn’t a play from the celebrity screw-up playbook that Lindsay Lohan hasn’t borrowed over the past three years.
She’s done the Charlie Sheen power party, a double reverse Britney Spears, and now she’s trying out the Winona Ryder fade away for good measure. Does this make Lohan the most screwed up celebrity of all? read the full article

EXCLUSIVE: Sean Penn Vows ‘Decades’ in Haiti as Relief Partners Plan Exits
published: October, 25, 2010
Nearly a year after Haiti’s devastating earthquake, Sean Penn’s JP Haitian Relief Organization is managing a massive tent city. And now, as several of his relief partners announce they are pulling out, Penn is standing his ground.
The actor-turned-humanitarian told FOX411.com in an exclusive interview that he isn’t going anywhere, and won’t let his partners off the hook without a fight. read the full article

‘Secretariat’ Given Special Push to Faith-Based Filmgoers
published: October 7, 2010
The unexpected box office success of “The Blind Side” in 2009 has the film industry hungry for the next faith-friendly blockbuster – that unique movie that galvanizes a Christian audience and brings whole families into the theater.
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Endorsements Change Hands When Celebs Get in Trouble, Moreso Than When They Die
published: October, 25, 2010
When one person is hurt by a scandal, the laws of celebrity economics dictate that someone else will benefit. Those endorsement dollars have to go somewhere. A scandal often forces a product to quickly cut ties with a brand, leaving a pile of endorsement dollars waiting to be spent.
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Money in Mistressing: Sleeping With Married Celebs Can Mean Millions
published: June 11, 2010
They use a mattress as a springboard to fame and fortune.
With the concept of shame out the window and infamy guaranteed by one phone call to US Weekly, the options for the mistresses of Tiger Woods, Jesse James and other high profile philanderers to make bank these days are many. Some participate in cash prize beauty pageants, some sell their stories, text messages and pictures to magazines and television outlets, and some, like porn stars Holly Sampson and Joslyn James, have used the scandal to reinvent their careers in stripping and porn.
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Convicted Favorite: Charlie Sheen and His Show Popular in Prisons
published: June 8, 2010
Prisoners are simply obsessed with Charlie Sheen. They think he is the coolest, funniest man alive. More importantly they consider him the greatest ladies man who ever lived. According to one corrections officer, while ESPN and BET are the two most watched networks, the sitcom that gets the most air time is “Two and a Half Men.”
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CNN

DJ Earworm: Man behind viral year-end mashups
published: Jan. 25, 2010
Some great songs were released in 2009 and thanks to a mashup master named DJ Earworm you can listen to the top 25 releases from the year in just under six minutes.
Earworm, whose real name is Jordan Roseman, has for the third year in a row created his “United State of Pop” mashup compilation of Billboard’s top 25 songs into one comprehensive track.
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The business behind ‘Jersey Shore’
published: January 23, 2010
The self-described “guidos” and “guidettes” of the MTV reality show “Jersey Shore” have gone from unknowns to infamous in less than two months. The former cocktail waiter, computer programmer and receptionist now receive huge appearance fees and enjoy all the trappings of celebrity, including a support staff of agents, managers and publicists.
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Heroes’ actor searching for parents after earthquake
published: January 14, 2010
Haitian native and “Heroes” cast member Jimmy Jean-Louis was searching for his elderly parents in Haiti on Wednesday afternoon after a powerful earthquake struck the nation. Jean-Louis learned that a house he had grown up in collapsed, killing several of his relatives.
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Audiences experience ‘Avatar’ blues
published: January 11, 2010
James Cameron’s completely immersive spectacle “Avatar” may have been a little too real for some fans who say they have experienced depression and suicidal thoughts after seeing the film because they long to enjoy the beauty of the alien world Pandora.
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The song that inspired a nation of remixes
published: December 31, 2009
Whatever your state of mind or current location, there is probably a remix of the Jay-Z/Alicia Keys ode to New York City “Empire State of Mind” available for your listening pleasure and localized for your hometown.
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‘Sherlockians’ say new film succeeds
published December 28, 2010
Certain groups of die-hard fans are protective of the characters they hold on a pedestal. “Star Trek” has its Trekkies and “Star Wars” has the Jedi religion.
Sherlock Holmes has the Sherlockians, scholars of the canon of books and short stories written by author Sir Arthur Conan Doyle. Many Sherlockians are members of the invitation-only literary society, The Baker Street Irregulars.
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Big business for a ‘New Moon’ romance
published: November 19, 2009
Are they or aren’t they a couple? That’s the multimillion-dollar question fueling the “Twilight” franchise.
According to gossip magazines, Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart have been hooking up, breaking up, making up and shacking up for the past year. And as long as Pattinson and Stewart manage to keep fans guessing about the status of their relationship, they will manage to keep them captivated, helping to drive the box office sales for a movie that could have one of the biggest opening weekends of all time.

The Daily Beast

Turning Pounds Into Dollars
published: February 5, 2009
Jessica Simpson may be unfairly mocked for her “weight battle,” but she only stands to gain from it financially. Jo Piazza explains why bulking up can be a celebrity career saver and expand one’s bottom line.
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Cashing in On Coming Out
published: June 10, 2009
Adam Lambert’s admissions of his homosexuality and drug use in this week’s Rolling Stone may come as a shock to few, but his confessional attitude is publicity gold.
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Why Would You Take Advice From Mike Tyson’s Ex-Girlfriend?
published: August 20, 2009
If you’re unfamiliar with gossip of the rap underworld and don’t read tabloid coverage of Bill Maher, you probably don’t even know who Karrine Steffans is, even though she’s sold three popular books and appeared on Oprah, Bill O’Reilly, and Geraldo. Her first two best-selling publications were juicy hip-hop tell-alls, but with her latest book, The Vixen Manual: How To Find, Seduce & Keep the Man You Want, she has gone from memoirist to relationship guru. The Vixen Manual, which came out in July, has already hit the New York Times best-seller list, and publishing insiders expect it to sell 500,000 copies.
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