The speculative controversy around the “Fixer Upper” stars

Photo (cc) 2015 by chumlee10

“Fixer Upper” has been a staple of the home renovation world since its premiere. But the HGTV show has been in the news for a more controversial reason this week.

It started with a Buzzfeed article on the Gaineses, the stars of the show. The article stated that the pastor of their church preaches that homosexuality is a sin. The author was not able to get a comment from HGTV or the Gaineses when it was originally published, but posed this question: 

So are the Gaineses against same-sex marriage? And would they ever feature a same-sex couple on the show, as have HGTV’s House Hunters and Property Brothers? 

Two days later, the Washington Post published an opinion piece called “Buzzfeed’s Hit Piece on Chip and Joanna Gaines is Dangerous,” written by Brandon Ambrosino. In the article, Ambrosino, who is both gay and Christian, defended the couple and condemned the Buzzfeed article:

The entire article is an elaborate exploration of that hypothetical question. And yes, it is very much hypothetical, by the reporter’s own admission: “Emails to Brock Murphy, the public relations director at their company, Magnolia, were not returned. Nor were emails and calls to HGTV’s PR department.”

But that does not stop Aurthur from writing almost 800 more words about the non-story. Her upshot seems to be: Two popular celebrities might oppose same-sex marriage because the pastor of the church they go to opposes same-sex marriage, but I haven’t heard one way or the other. (I can’t imagine pitching that story to an editor and getting a green light, by the way.)

He goes on to accuse Buzzfeed of being manipulative and deliberately targeting conservatives.

It’s no secret that part of Trump’s success is owed to how skillfully he invalidated the media’s authority in the eyes of his conservative followers. The message was very clearly: The media doesn’t like me because I’m conservative, and they don’t like you because you’re conservative, and they’re going to try to ruin all of us, so let’s just ignore them.

And then, like clockwork, BuzzFeed published a story proving him right.

The Gaineses was trending on Facebook into Friday and had released no public comment on the topic.


Journalists respond to Rory’s failed career on “Gilmore Girls”

Alexis Bledel (Rory Gilmore). Photo (cc) 2008 by Jason McELweenie

Netflix’s new series, “Gilmore Girls: A Year in a Life,” has brought journalism and entertainment together, something that certainly peaks my interests and makes it perfect for this blog. The four episode program, a continuation of the WB/CW series that ran from 2000-2007, follows young and often comedic mother Lorelei Gilmore and her friendship with her daughter, Rory. Throughout the original run, Rory dreams of being a journalist, and given her intelligence and admission to Yale’s journalism program, it looks like she’ll be successful.

It therefore came as somewhat of a kick in the gut, at least to me, that the 32-year-old Rory in “A Year in a Life” is a fairly unsuccessful freelancer whose limited career implodes over the course of the year, ending with her jobless and living with her mother. 

Perhaps the most meta and entertaining response to the reveal came in the form of an online piece by The Atlantic. In an episode of “A Year in a Life,” Rory tells her mother that the publication bumped one of her stories. Even though the decision was fictional, The Atlantic still wrote a rebuttal, titled “Turns Out, Rory Gilmore is Not a Good Journalist.” 

The posts goes on to outline not one or two but 21 journalistic missteps Rory makes during the four episodes, from taking David Carr’s image in vein to sleeping with a source. The article, by Megan Garber, doesn’t cut the younger Gilmore much slack:

Amy Sherman-Palladino, Gilmore Girls’s creator, writer, and executive producer, once expressed her annoyance that so many of the show’s fans seem to care more about Rory’s romantic fate (Dean? Jess? Logan?) than about her professional one. “It’s just such a small part of who Rory is,” Sherman-Palladino told Time, of her character’s romantic life. “I don’t see people debating ‘Did she win a Pulitzer yet?’”

Spoiler: She didn’t. And the show has now provided a pretty good explanation of why.

Mashable published a similar article, “Rory Gilmore is not a good journalist,” by Los Angeles-based reporter Saba Hamedy. Armed with the knowledge of Rory’s career failure, she takes a retrospective look at the signs in the original run that Rory’s career wasn’t going places, including her not knowing about her high school’s newspaper and being bad a networking.

Luckily for everyone, Rory ends the new season with the decision to refocus and write a book. Perhaps it will suit her better.

Good News! It’s now easier to watch Netflix.

Photo (cc) 2015 by Uditha Wickramanayaka

Long car and bus rides just got a lot better for Netflix users. The streaming service announced yesterday that it had launched an online viewing option for its subscribers. The service is available on mobile devices like smartphones and tablets on the Netflix app.

Some titles cannot be streamed offline, include the recently released “Gilmore Girls: A Year in a Life,” but the company has promised to make additional content part of the program at some point. 

“While many members enjoy watching Netflix at home, we’ve often heard they also want to continue their ‘Stranger Things’ binge while on airplanes and other places where internet is expensive or limited,” Netflix’s Director of Product Innovation Eddy Wu wrote yesterday.

Amazon Prime Video, YouTube Red and Starz’s mobile streaming app already offer this service.

This decision also follows Pandora’s addition of offline music streaming through its new Pandora Plus service, which was announced on September 15.

A Look Inside a NU Stage “Godspell” Rehearsal

On November 14, I got a behind-the-scenes look at the making of NU Stage’s production of “Godspell,” which opens December 2. NU Stage is Northeastern University’s student-run musical theater group. Check it out!


A Vibrant Facelift for Northeastern University’s Latino/a Student Culture Center

On October 6, the Latino/a Student Culture Center at Northeastern University was more than a building. It was a canvas.

The building, which is at 104 Forsyth St in Boston, is the setting for the latest art on campus, a three sided-mural. It was covered in scaffolding Thursday, but well underway.

Jamal Thorne, an assistant teaching professor in the College of Arts, Media and Design, was onsite Thursday, working on the mural and giving instruction. He said the mural was designed by Latino students and that he’s made it required in five classes he’s teaching for students to come help paint.

Thorne was painting with Kelly Gallagher, a student who works at the center. 

“It’s gonna make the campus more beautiful,” she said.

Barbara Cimatti, the model for one of many figures on the mural, stopped by and briefly chatted with Gallagher, who was working near Cimatti’s likeness. Cimatti explained that she spends many of her days in the center and happened to be on sight when the design was created.

The building will be officially unveiled tomorrow at 3 p.m.

Who Should You Vote For? Let’s Ask a Movie Star

Photo (cc) 2011 by David Torcivia

We love famous people. It’s just a fact about our society. We follow them around with notepads, smartphones and cameras. We spend ridiculous amounts of time watching them play games and tell stories on Jimmy Kimmel. We love them.

The celebrity worshipping in our culture is not hidden or apologetic. Normally it stays in its sphere of light-hearted entertainment. But what’s interesting to me is when that celebrity worship brushes up against the “real world”, which is exactly what’s happening in this election cycle. 

Celebrities being used for political agendas is nothing new (check out this book on JFK and Frank Sinatra’s friendship, if you’re interested). But with the buzz that is building as we head towards November, I think it’s noteworthy to look at how the stars we know and love are positioning themselves, and what it means for our country.

I’ve embedded a video that came out earlier this month below. It includes a large group of celebrities pushing people to vote, and, specifically, pushing them not to vote for Donald Trump. It’s a humorous 3-minute piece that includes everyone from Keegan Michael Key to a good chunk of the Avengers.

The video itself, in a tongue-and-cheek way, included a self-deprecating acknowledgment of the inherent strangeness of celebrity endorsements.

“And the only way we can prove [how important voting is] to you is by having lots of famous people…repeating how important…it is. Register,” the group of celebrities say in the video.

 No one in the video is politically qualified or politically relevant in any way. Yet there is an ethos associated with people like Robert Downey, Jr. It’s arguably unearned, but powerful.

As it turns out, this video is  actually from a super PAC in support of Hillary Clinton. The PAC is called Save the Day and was, interestingly enough, founded by Joss Whedon, the director of both “Avengers” films and creator of shows like “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Firefly”.

On a similar note, last week it was announced that six “West Wing” cast members intended to campaign for Clinton in the state of Ohio.  It perhaps makes the story more amusing or headline grabbing that they’re a group of fake White House workers, but their role in politics is no longer fictional.

“My sense is that our mission statement isn’t about changing hearts and minds, it’s more about mobilizing the voters and getting people to reach out beyond their usual comfort zone to get other family members and friends to go out and vote,” Joshua Malina (Will Bailey) told the Hollywood Reporter. 

If we give added political credence to celebrities, we place an interesting amount of trust and faith in them. To me, it shows that anyone who dismisses the entertainment industry as just for fun or fluff is clearly not fully examining the implications of our cultural attachment to it.

What we’re seeing is that, this election, someone with just a background on a television show can find a wide platform in the political conversation, regardless of that person’s traditional political ties or qualifications. 

That person might be Iron Man. They might be a TV star of the early 2000s. Hey, they might even be one of the presidential candidates.

News, the Twitter way

Photo (cc) 2013 by Esther Vargas

I tend to hear a lot of doom and gloom about Twitter. I’m not going to comment here on the company or make any comparisons to other social media; that’s for someone else’s blog. All I am going to say is that, yes, it is plenty relevant, and it’s worth checking out to find info and news. I will be doing so as I write this blog! To give you some context for my research and to help you keep yourself informed, I’ve written this short post with some important people to follow for entertainment news.

Michael Ausiello over at TV Line is basically the person that got me into entertainment news. I’ve been following him since I was a kid! I highly recommend him for anything television. TV Line Editor-at-Large Matt Mitovich also runs a good, and often funny, twitter account with a lot of entertainment-related content.  Chris Hardwick, who created the Nerdist, is also a good source of news, particularly if you’re interested in the genres that are often dubbed “nerdy.” Samantha Highfill and Tim Stack are both interesting Entertainment Weekly writers, and it’s always worth checking in with EW because they’re kind of the Bible for this sort of thing. Kristin Dos Santos is the Kristin behind “Watch With Kristin” at E! and has lots to say on Twitter. Ryan Parker is a staff writer for the Hollywood Reporter, so he’s automatically relevant, but his feed has the added bonus of being named in the Time article “The 140 Best Tweets of 2014,” a rather bizarre list that included Miley Cyrus and DiGiorno Pizza. Seth Abramovitch, a Hollywood Reporter senior writer, is also worth looking at for his consistent entertainment coverage. Linda Holmes hosts “Pop Culture Happy Hour” at NPR and also writes their entertainment blog, which is called “Monkey See,” so she does a lot with our topic and is a good person to follow. I’ll wrap up this list with Ty Burr, a Boston Globe film critic.

Disclosure: I am a former non-editorial employee of the Boston Globe.