Books of The Times: Gabriel García Márquez, Journalist? A Book Revives the Novelist’s First Calling

“The Scandal of the Century: And Other Writings” collects García Márquez’s reporting. Along with Silvana Paternostro’s oral history “Solitude & Company,” it’s one of two new books about García Márquez’s life and work.
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Home Is Calling for Young Chinese Designers

SHANGHAI — As Champagne glasses clinked and heads of industry assembled at The Woolmark Co.’s gala in October to celebrate 50 years of trade with China, six of the country’s most successful designers presented their capsule collections made with Australian merino wool. During the event, the designers were periodically called for press photos, interviews and business introductions, yet between these obligations, they gravitated back to one another, sharing pats on the back, chats and inside jokes.
Perhaps it isn’t surprising that in the emerging pool of contemporary Chinese designers, there is camaraderie and familiarity among the biggest players. The kinship could also be down to the fact that many of them have studied at the same overseas colleges, shared the same manufacturers and suppliers, and worked in the same studios as their careers advanced.
Although many of these successful young Chinese designers studied their craft overseas — this cohort particularly favoring Central Saint Martins in London, many are now returning home to China to set up or promote their labels as the market in their homeland matures.
There is a mix of reasons why this moment in time offers a unique and exciting opportunity for Chinese designers to return home. As the nation’s economy continues

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Kathy Griffin Nails The Hypocrisy Of Critics Calling On Michelle Wolf To Apologize

“So journalists are willing to demand that a comic hired to roast people apologize but they aren’t willing to demand that Trump or his staff apologize to people?” the comedian tweeted.
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Wedding Venue Is ‘Mortified’ After Accidentally Sending Bride An Email Calling Her A ‘Cow’

It’s safe to say that one bride will not be celebrating her wedding day at this British restaurant. As Britain’s Sun newspaper
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Who Was Morgan Freeman Calling Out During His SAG Life Achievement Award Speech?

There was one question on everybody’s minds after Morgan Freeman gave his life achievement award speech at the 2018 Screen Actors Awards: Who was the mystery celebrity that the 80-year-old actor called out during his speech?

As Freeman began his acceptance speech on Sunday, he paused for a moment to abruptly call out another member of the audience. And while the actor didn’t elaborate on who he was talking about at the time, backstage he let reporters in on a little secret — it was Lily Tomlin!

“Yeah. That was Lily Tomlin,” he explained at the 2018 SAG Awards press room at The Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles on Sunday. “She’s a wonder in herself and I’ve always loved her. I see her, I say hello.”

Tomlin was also the recipient of the SAG life achievement award at least year’s ceremony.

Be sure to check out PEOPLE’s full SAG Awards coverage to get the latest news on Hollywood’s big night.

Shortly after walking onstage to begin his speech earlier that night, Freeman stopped and said, “Hey…I’m talking to you. Yeah, hey,” to a then-unidentified person in the audience.

“Okay, well you just stand out to me, that’s all,” he added, before resuming his speech.

RELATEDMorgan Freeman & Rita Moreno Playfully Rib Each Other as He Accepts SAG Life Achievement Award

Freeman received the life achievement award at the ceremony this year for his work in film, in addition to his humanitarian accomplishments. His Electric Company costar Rita Moreno, who is an EGOT winner, presented him the honor, which Freeman presented to her back in 2013.

“Morgan is more than just an actor, producer humanitarian — this man is a national treasure,” Moreno, 86, said before the video montage dedicated to Freeman’s career.

Before taking the stage, Freeman was greeted with a standing ovation from the audience — and the cheers intensified, even more, when he headed to accept the honor.

“Morgan, lift up your hat,” instructed Moreno, who wanted to make sure the audience was able to see his face.

“You have no idea how long I’ve had to put with that,” Freeman joked before starting his speech.

To donate to the Time’s Up Legal Defense Fund, which will provide subsidized legal support to women and men in all industries who have experienced sexual harassment, assault, or abuse in the workplace, visit its GoFundMe page. Learn more about Time’s Up, an organization of women in entertainment combating sexual harassment and inequality, on its website.

“This is beyond an honor. This is a place in history,” he said, before adding, “Oh, and one more thing, I wasn’t going to do this. I’m going to tell you what’s wrong with this statue, it works from the back, from the front it’s gender specific. Maybe I started something.”

After winning a statewide drama competition in Mississippi at age 12, Freeman went on to perform in small parts before serving in the U.S. Air Force, eventually graduating to film and television roles in his subsequent career in Hollywood, which has resulted in over $ 4.5 billion in cumulative worldwide ticket sales.

RELATED VIDEO: Kristen Bell Talks Husband Dax Shepard’s “Unending Support” For SAG Hosting Duties

In addition to his work on screens big and small — namely in movies like Unforgiven, Million Dollar Baby, The Shawshank Redemption, Driving Miss Daisy, and Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy — Freeman has embarked on several philanthropic ventures. In 1973, he co-founded the Frank Silvera Writers’ Workshop in support of black playwrights, and he continues to contribute to Artists for a New South Africa and the Campaign for Female Education.

The prestigious award has been given to esteemed members of the industry elite in the recent past, including Ernest Borgnine in 2010, Mary Tyler Moore in 2011, Dick Van Dyke in 2012, Moreno in 2013, Debbie Reynolds in 2014, and Carol Burnett in 2015. Lily Tomlin received the honor at last year’s ceremony.

The 24th annual Screen Actors Guild Awards was broadcast live from the Shrine Auditorium in Los Angeles on both TNT and TBS.


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James Franco Is Calling Exes, Plans to Attend SAG Awards in Wake of Accusations

James Franco is digging into his past in the wake of allegations of sexually inappropriate behavior.

“James has been reaching out to former girlfriends for the past month asking about his behavior,” a source tells PEOPLE. “He’s known this was coming and was trying to get ahead of the story.”

Following news of the allegations, Franco, 39, took a step back from the spotlight — even skipping the Critics Choice Awards last week where he won the Best Actor honor for his role in The Disaster Artist.

But despite being a no-show, Franco is still set to attend the Screen Actors Guild Awards this weekend, where he is nominated for Best Actor.

“There is no reason to believe that he won’t be there,” says a source close to Franco.

During a recent appearance on Late Night with Seth Meyers, the actor addressed the sexual harassment allegations issued by a number of women on Twitter after wearing a Time’s Up pin at the Golden Globe Awards.

“There are people that need to be heard,” the actor told Meyers. “I have my own side of this story, but I believe in these people that have been underrepresented getting their stories out enough that I will hold back things that I could say, just because I believe in it that much,” he said. “So if I have to take a knock because I’m not going to try and actively refute things, then I will, because I believe in it that much.”

In an article published in the Los Angeles Times on Jan. 11, five women accused the actor of abusing his power as an acting teacher and mentor in a sexually exploitative manner. In it, two students claimed the actor would often become angry on set when they would refuse to film topless while another former acting student at the film school Franco founded said he once removed safety guards while filming an oral sex scene on the set of the 2015 film The Long Home.

Additionally, actress Violet Paley recounted her previous social media claims that Franco exposed himself and tried to pressure her into oral sex. Though she said they had a consensual relationship, Paley said: “that time wasn’t consensual.” She also alleged that he told her friend to meet him in a hotel when the friend was 17.

Franco’s attorney, Michael Plonsker, denied each of the women’s allegations, and cited Franco’s comments on The Late Show with Stephen Colbert on Tuesday as his formal denial.

“Look, in my life I pride myself on taking responsibility for things that I have done,” Franco told Colbert. “I have to do that to maintain my well being. The things that I heard that were on Twitter are not accurate. But I completely support people coming out and being able to have a voice because they didn’t have a voice for so long. So I don’t want to shut them down in any way.”


PEOPLE.com

Fashion Deals Update:

EXCLUSIVE: Model Christopher Cates Pens Letter Calling for Action Against Harassment

As the uproar continues over sexual harassment in industries stretching from entertainment to media to finance, the fashion world has remained relatively on the sidelines – until now.
On Saturday, The New York Times published a long-rumored story about alleged harassment of male models by the photographers Bruce Weber and Mario Testino. Both men, via statements their lawyers gave to the Times, vigorously denied the allegations made in the story, although Conde Nast and Conde Nast International both said Saturday that they would be severing ties with the two photographers – at least for now.
The Times’ story comes several months after model Cameron Russell created an Instagram account on which anonymous individuals posted stories about their mistreatment in the industry. Last October, Terry Richardson was dropped by the leading fashion magazine publishers but only after years of allegations surrounding his behavior, while model Jason Boyce filed a lawsuit against Weber in December claiming the photographer harassed him. Weber has denied those claims, as well.
In November, 27-year-old British model Edie Campbell penned an exclusive letter for WWD to the fashion industry in which she said, “We operate within a culture that is too accepting of abuse, in all of its manifestations,” going

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Life After Prison: Why O.J. Simpson Could Return to Hollywood: “A Lot of People Have Been Calling”

O.J. Simpson, OJ Simpson, Parole hearingO.J. Simpson has been dreaming about the day he would walk free.
Last month the former NFL star turned infamous prison inmate finally got his wish when a Nevada parole board unanimously…

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Ben Affleck Defends Meryl Streep Against Donald Trump Calling Her ‘Overrated’ (Watch)

Ben Affleck joins the long list of stars who have come to Meryl Streep’s defense. The actor appeared on “Jimmy Kimmel Live!” on Monday night, and mocked President-elect Donald Trump for calling the actress “over-rated” after she spoke out against him at the Golden Globes. “If there’s one thing truly in the world that we know… Read more »

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Finding Your Calling in an Epiphany: Aviva Kempner and Her Documentary, ‘Rosenwald’

Even though we might wish for it, few of us find our callings in an epiphany: a thunderbolt of lightning revealing what we are meant to do. From that moment on, everything in our life is changed and charged.

Aviva Kempner had such an experience reading Image Before My Eyes: A History of Jewish life in Poland before the Second World War. The book by Sara Brozowsky tells an unfamiliar story of the three and a half million Jews who were living free in a culturally diverse community of city and shtetl, religious and secular, scholarly and creative classes, from poor peddlers to rich merchants. Since the tenth century, only Poland allowed freedom for Jews while other countries restricted Jewish education and contribution or expelling, then murdering Jews. But Poland collaborated with the invading Nazis and turned on their Jewish communities, enslaving and annihilating them in the Holocaust. Aviva Kempner had always wondered why Jews hadn’t resisted and realized in reading Leon Uris’s Mila 18 and other stories about the Warsaw Ghetto uprising that they had, but their stories were little known. Researching her own family inspired her to become a filmmaker.

She might have learned this from her mother, Helen Ciesla Cybensky, who had passed as a Polish Catholic in Germany during the war, but then her mother, who had kept silent about her devastating experience as did other survivors. Her mother, whose parents and sister had died in Auschwitz, wanted to protect her children. In 1945, she was liberated by Americans and married a US Army officer whose own mother had been shot by the Nazis. Three and a half years later, Aviva, the first American-Jewish baby born in Berlin, moved with her parents to Detroit. Her mother, an abstract expressionist painter, exposed her early to art; her father, a political activist, encouraged her. But only in 1960, when Aviva read Exodus, did she understand why Jews fled Europe to settle in Palestine.

Aviva studied psychology as an undergraduate and earned a masters in urban planning — eventually linking the two subjects in her later films. She went to law school to specialize in immigration law and worked at a firm handling immigration cases, but she did not pass the Bar exam, based on multiple choice questions. Her mind, in opposition, was expansive and open.

Reading Images Before My Eyes sparked the epiphany that led her to her own purpose: discovering and filming documentaries of unknown American Jewish heroes. She made four documentaries, each winning awards, translating reality into film: Partisans of Vilna followed by a trilogy of three Jewish lives: The Life and Times of Hank Greenberg, the first Hall of Fame Jewish baseball player, her father’s favorite; Gertrude Berg, the writer-director-producer-actor in television’s first family sitcom, You-Hoo, Mrs. Goldberg; and now, her homage to Julius Rosenwald, the unsung CEO of Sears and quiet revolutionary philanthropist who transformed the lives of Jews and Blacks.

Aviva first heard about Julius Rosenwald twelve years ago, in Martha’s Vineyard, at a talk at the Hebrew Center for and about these two minorities. She listened to Julian Bond, the late eloquent social activist and senator, praise Julius Rosenwald’s gifts — building schools and housing for blacks in the early 1900s and giving grants to nurture emerging black artists and writers. Riveted, she began to investigate.

Julius Rosenwald had apprenticed in his father’s store. Samuel Rosenwald had come with twenty dollars in his pocket from Germany in the 1880’s, carrying dry goods on his back to sell to immigrants, Blacks and Indians. Julius, known as JR, never finished school and partnering with his cousin, started a factory in New York City to manufacture men’s suits. Then he bought into the company started by Richard Sears, a charismatic salesman, and together with his own gift for management built up Sears & Roebuck to be the largest company in the US. By selling goods through mail-order catalogues, a pre-Amazon concept, he replaced the need for peddling or in-store purchases.

JR took the Jewish motto Tikum Ulum to heart: to repair the world. He started helping great numbers of impoverished Jewish immigrants in New York City and then unified opposing German and Eastern European immigrant Jews in Chicago. Influenced after traveling to Europe and seeing a science museum with touchable exhibits in Munich, JR built his Museum of Science in Chicago without branding his own name. JR’s modest life style was visionary: spend a third of his income, save a third and give away a third as seed money.

He addressed racial inequality in America. When Booker T. Washington of Tuskegee Institute invited him to serve on the board, he offered to build schools, desperately needed before desegregation, challenging black communities to participate through their own small donations and to seek larger donations from white sponsors. Black architects on Tuskegee’s faculty designed and taught construction skills to the Black community. When schools were repeatedly burned down by violent bigots, JR had them re-built again, and again. Rosenwald helped create over 5300 black schools across the southern part of the US.

He did more. To help cope with total discrimination in housing, JR created the Michigan Garden apartments in Chicago designed by his nephew. He wanted this living space to encourage real community: apartments surrounding a central park with stores serving the tenants who lived above them. When he recognized that educated black men traveling to northern cities were not permitted in hotels, Rosenwald funded YMCA’s across the country to rent them rooms.

JR created The Rosenwald Foundation to give grants to emerging gifted Blacks such as Gordon Parks, Ralph Ellison, Marion Anderson and others who, in turn, created radiant art, poetry, music, and memoir, enacted legislation and sang anthems for us all. Testifying to his extraordinary contributions in this documentary are Julian Bond, Maya Angelou, Eugene Robinson, Eleanor Roosevelt’s relatives and Rosenwald’s own grandchildren.

Julius Rosenwald is one of our greatest, most unknown heroes. Aviva Kempner’s hope is that this documentary will amend that. She has created The Ciesla Foundation for filmmaking, to keep alive her mother’s family name.

Once we learn what Rosenwald has done, we are inspired by the great panorama of his life’s work and the power of one person to repair the world. Aviva Kempner, an impassioned filmmaker, braiding art and activism through her lens of memory, is another hero.

To begin, you begin!

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Why This Mom Is Calling Miley Cyrus a Hero

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Say what you will about Miley Cyrus but the girl has the ability to accumulate press. And, what I’ve always loved about her, even when her actions made me cringe, is that she didn’t seem to care what other people said or thought. That kind of self-confidence, especially in a girl that age, always blew me away.

But, now she just because my freaking hero.

Have you heard of The Happy Hippie Foundation yet? If not, I want you to finish reading this sentence and take the link to read about it. I’ll be right here when you come back.

Did you read about it? Can you understand why I am moved to tears by her work? She outlines how 40 percent of homeless youth identify as LGBT and how 1 in 3 transgender youth have been turned away from shelters. She has started an organization to directly help homeless youth, LGBT youth, and other vulnerable populations achieve positive outcomes in their lives.

And Miley isn’t just talk. She raised over $ 200,000 in 24 hours for My Friend’s Place, an organization dedicated to helping homeless youth. I can’t even read their description of homeless youth statistics without getting choked up.

Miley’s marketing for her foundation is smart. She’ll be having backyard jam sessions with huge names like Joan Jett and posting them on Facebook to help raise awareness. Um, can you get any cooler than Joan Jett??

Somewhere along the way, little Hannah Montana has grown up to be a young woman who has the world’s attention with a voice on very adult issues. Her recent interview in Out magazine painted the picture of a young woman coming into her own with a desire to use her influence to change the world for youth.

As the parent of a transgender 9-year-old girl, I was excited to share that Miley is very aware of gender issues and embraces a life free from the boxes we traditionally put people into. From the Out Magazine article:

“Miley says she already spent a lot of time struggling with traditional gender expectations–and being resentful that she was a girl. “I didn’t want to be a boy,” she clarifies. “I kind of wanted to be nothing. I don’t relate to what people would say defines a girl or a boy, and I think that’s what I had to understand: Being a girl isn’t what I hate, it’s the box that I get put into.”

My daughter didn’t know who Hannah Montana was (we missed that by a few years) but she was very aware of who Miley Cyrus was. I wish I could have captured the grin that spread across her face when I shared the news with her. Though my daughter identifies strongly as a female, I have a heart for gender-fluid individuals and feel that they are desperately underrepresented and face even more barriers. I’m so happy that Miley has been open and rather candid about her wish not to be put into a binary box.

Thank you, Miley. I am truly impressed with your work and I’m thrilled that my daughter can call you a role model.

Yep, I just said that. And meant it.

— 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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8 So-Called Wedding ‘Trends’ We’re Calling B.S. On

Bridal magazines and blogs are quick to grab onto the latest “trend.” Sometimes, those judgments seem reasonable — we can totally see short wedding dresses taking off. But when media outlets declare donkey weddings or marijuana weddings the hot new wedding fad, we can’t help but roll our eyes. Here are eight wedding “trends” we’re calling B.S. on:

1. Donkey weddings

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Some people may try to convince you that having a donkey at your wedding is a thing. Sure enough, an Arizona company called Haul N Ass Productions has trained donkeys — err, “beer burros” — to be wedding party entertainment. The donkeys walk around wearing saddle bags filled with beer for your guests and are billed as a great “ice breaker.” Or you could just like, hire a bartender instead. That works too.

2. Robot weddings

In the U.S. and Japan, couples have been using robots like the four-foot-tall i-Fairy to officiate their wedding ceremonies. If you want to participate in this trend anomaly, you can call up Oscar the Wedding Robot who is based in Minneapolis and can serve as “officiant, ring bearer, flower girl, videographer, usher, reader, dancer, child charmer, or speech giver.”

3. “Hand lifts” for better engagement ring selfies (aka “relfies”).

Apparently, some women have undergone plastic surgery on their hands for a better selfie of their engagement ring. The surgery involves having fillers implanted to give hands a smoother appearance. Media outlets jumped on the story, and earlier this year, NYC dermatologist Dr. Ariel Ostad told SELF that he’s seen a 40 percent increase in requests. Cue eye roll.

4. Shadow weddings

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If your wedding is designed to be the perfect moment to declare your love for your spouse while looking beautiful, the “shadow wedding” is meant to be the exact opposite. Conceived by two California therapists, the shadow wedding takes place a week before a couple’s actual wedding ceremony in order to “celebrate” the couple’s unpleasant, unromantic baggage. The couple dresses in shlumpy clothes and makes depressing vow statements like, “I vow to be controlling and always think that I know what is best for you.” While it’s meant to offer a more honest counter to the idealized fairy tale wedding, it mostly sounds uncomfortable for everybody involved — and so not a trend.

5. Social media wedding concierge

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Earlier this year, the W Hotel announced a new “social media wedding concierge” service to help you craft the perfect hashtag for your special day. For $ 3,000, the concierge will live-tweet your wedding, splash Instagram with photos from the event and get all your guests to use your wedding hashtag.
We’re just kind of like ¯\_(ツ)_/¯

6. Bum-flashing bridesmaids

“TREND

(REALITYKINGS.COM)

A good bridesmaid will do anything for her friend’s special day, and apparently that sometimes includes dropping trou in the bridal party photos. In June, College Humor noted that a number of photos of bridesmaids showing their bums had been circling the Internet. While media outlets were quick to dub the salacious bridesmaid photo a new “trend,” it turns out many of the photos were from porn sites and were pretty old. So, thankfully, we dub this not a thing.

7. The “solo wedding”

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This “trend” comes from Japan, where the solo wedding is apparently the latest way to celebrate one’s independence. Designed for the “modern woman,” it’s billed as a chance to celebrate self-love by getting married to yourself. For the equivalent of $ 2,750, the Japanese company “Solo Wedding” will plan a two-day excursion where the “bride” can pick out a dress and flowers and pose for photos. We’re all about celebrating singledom, but there’s got to be a more fulfilling way to spend a few thousand dollars?

8. The marijuana wedding

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As legalized recreational marijuana takes off, many have been quick to announce the rise of the “marijuana wedding.” Apparently, these events can include everything from edible pot caramels to marijuana leaf bouquets to vaporizers given as party favors. While this brand of wedding could conceivably catch on in Boulder, Colorado, we don’t see pot replacing a nice old-fashioned glass of champagne in most of the country anytime soon.

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Calling All ‘Frozen’ Fanatics: An Elsa-Inspired Wedding Dress Can Soon Be Yours

If you’re a bride-to-be and Elsa the Snow Queen of Arendelle is your style icon, then you’re in luck.

Bridal designer Alfred Angelo is teaming up with Disney Consumer Products to create a wedding dress inspired by the sparkly blue gown Elsa dons in “Frozen.” The dress will be available in stores in January 2015, but we have a sketch to tide you over in the meantime:

2014-09-18-alfredangeloelsa918.jpg

The ice-blue sheath dress will feature dramatic beading to create a glistening effect, a sweetheart neckline and a Watteau train, which cascades from the upper back of the bodice down to the floor. And you just know that singing “Let It Go” at the top of your lungs would sound a hell of a lot better while wearing something like this.

You can check out more Alfred Angelo gowns inspired by your favorite Disney Princesses here.

h/t InStyle

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Why Oprah Believes Parenting Is a “Sacred Calling” – Oprah’s Lifeclass – OWN

Tune in Sunday, September 21, at 9/8c on OWN.
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Dr. Shefali Tsabary says that after her first appearance on Oprah’s Lifeclass, questions from parents kept pouring in. Now, Dr. Shefali, author of The Conscious Parent, speaks directly to parents in the Lifeclass Social Lab. “The intention here is to understand why it is that we react to our children the way we do,” she says. “Because we all are longing for that connection with our children.”

Watch as Dr. Shefali reveals the two things every parent wants. Plus, Oprah shares her thoughts on parenthood.

About OWN:
Oprah Winfrey Network is the first and only network named for, and inspired by, a single iconic leader. Oprah Winfrey’s heart and creative instincts inform the brand — and the magnetism of the channel.

Winfrey provides leadership in programming and attracts superstar talent to join her in primetime, building a global community of like-minded viewers and leading that community to connect on social media and beyond. OWN is a singular destination on cable. Depth with edge. Heart. Star power. Connection. And endless possibilities.

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Calling All Single Moms for a 2-Week Oprah’s Lifeclass Special Event – Oprah Winfrey Network

It’s a two-week Oprah’s Lifeclass special event!

On Friday, February 28, Oprah and Iyanla Vanzant are joined by actress Nia Long (The Single Moms Club) as they welcome an audience filled with single mothers for a no-holds-barred discussion about the most pressing issues facing single moms today. Tune in at 9/8c.

Then, on Friday, March 7, the conversation continues. Oprah and Iyanla Vanzant sit down with celebrity guests Tyler Perry (The Single Moms Club) and Kym Whitley (Raising Whitley) to talk about the number one topic most single mothers want to discuss: dating! Watch at 9/8c—only on OWN.

For more Oprah’s Lifeclass, visit http://www.oprah.com/OprahsLifeclass

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‘Downton Abbey Christmas Special’ Review – Shirley MacLaine, Paul Giamatti Come Calling

It’s 1923 at ‘Downton Abbey‘, and Rose is to be ‘outed’, in the London 1920s fashion – the opportunity for Julian Fellowes to pick up his pen with a particularly jovial flourish, and put together all the usual suspects, together with some royalty, a conniving schemer and – most disturbingly of all – Americans.

downton abbey

The Americans come calling.. and cause ripples for the Downton regulars

That these New World interlopers came in the high-pedigree form of Shirley MacLaine and Paul Giamatti only added to the fun. As brother Harold, Giamatti especially added an understated but effective presence to proceedings, as a playboy not easily persuaded to give up his hedonistic ways.

downton abbey

A right royal ‘outing’ for Lady Rose, in the arms of the Prince of Wales

Fellowes has form in pitting the family narrative against both social history and real-life luminaries – Downton has already played host to legendary diva Dame Nellie Melba – and this 2-hour special saw him expand his canvas to include the pleasure-seeking Prince of Wales.

The Crawleys got involved in a strange escapade, helping him to avoid a scandal with his real-life ladyfriend Mrs Dudley-Ward, courtesy of a completely invented card game and Mr Bates’ ‘street’ skills, i.e. forgery and pocket-picking. This provided the double bonus of some neat in-jokes – ‘when that Bertie gets himself into trouble next time, it won’t be the Crawley’s fault, tee hee’ – and reminding us that Mr Bates was once an interesting fella, and could be again.

Less fun was Lady Mary’s interminable dilemma over which earnest-browed bore she should encourage, Mr Blake or Mr Gillingham. Guess what? In the end, neither. Well, there is Series 5 to think about, after all. Which something tells me will include some reference to Mr Blake’s sizeable holding in Ulster…

downton abbey

Romance a-brewing for Mr Carson and Mrs Hughes – FINALLY!

Back in Yorkshire, it was all a bit quiet by contrast. It was pretty obvious Branson had plans a-foot, which turned out to be eating at the pub, bumping into Miss Bunting and taking her on a tour of the house, which was pretty awkward BEFORE they bumped, inevitably, into a lurking Mr Barrow – a vindictive valet sorely underused in this series, Christmas special included.

Home turf still afforded the best laugh of the night, however, when Lord Merton paid a visit to Mrs Crawley. Not only did he tell her, with a straight face – “I’m on my way to dine with the Scroops” – WHO? – but then, out of the blue, Mrs Crawley went all continental on him – “I’m much more serieuse,” she told him, with an equally straight face. Obviously a match made in heaven. Dear me, Lord Fellowes must have had fun writing that bit.

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