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Nick Cannon Is A Man of the People... Magazine Awards

By  December 17, 2014

From silver screen debuts to primetime competition stages, Nick Cannon has proved that he can move a crowd. Tomorrow, the America’s Got Talent and Wild N Out host will showcase that skill as emcee for PEOPLE’s inaugural awards show.

San Antonio Spurs v Brooklyn Nets

The first-ever PEOPLE Magazine Awards will air tomorrow night with Jennifer Aniston, Chloë Grace MoretzMindy Kaling, and Kate Upton slated to appear, and Cannon on deck to headline.

PEOPLE magazine has created an indelible imprint on pop culture and it is truly an honor for me to be asked to host their very first televised live awards ceremony,” Cannon said in a statement. “For the show to be broadcast on NBC makes it even more special for me.”

Among the performers are fellow NBC reality juggernauts Gwen StefaniPharrell Williams, and Adam Levine (with band Maroon 5).  The ceremony, a Dick Clark production, will hand out accolades for the people that shaped pop culture in 2014, including the fan-voted Best PEOPLE Magazine Cover of the Year. For Cannon, it could be a stepping stone to a PEOPLE award of his own. 

“Looking forward to an amazing night and hopefully this will launch a new category for PEOPLE to name me Sexiest Host Alive in 2015.”

Star Scoop: Lupita Meets Her Match, Kanye Gets Cinematic, D’Angelo Comes Home

By  December 16, 2014

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Academy Award winner Lupita Nyong’o has met her match. Golden Globe nominee David Oyelowo (for Selma), will play her love interest in upcoming indie drama Americanah. The story is based on Beyoncé-endorsed author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s best-seller, and will be produced by her 12 Years A Slave co-star Brad Pitt. [Variety]

True to form, trap star and G.O.O.D. Music emcee Pusha T is back with a new single, and a promise to take your “Lunch Money.” Thank Kanye West for the production. [Stereogum]

Speaking of Kim Kardashian’s better half, he could be coming to a theater near you. In the midst of Sony’s massive hack, it was revealed that West’s creative director Elon Rutberg pitched Sony chief Amy Pascal a feature from Mr. “Bound 2.” “I supervise all of Kanye’s film and media projects, and we have a major film project coming up that involves both cinematic and technological innovation, so I naturally thought Sony and wanted to reach out,” wrote Rutberg. “We premiered a multi-screen cinema experience to great response at Cannes 2012, and are looking to take the storytelling to the next level with a feature length film, shot for an immersive cinema experience.” [The Daily Beast]

It’s been 15 years since we ogled soul singer D’Angelo’s chiseled body in his steamy video for “Untitled (How Does it Feel).” The same amount of time has passed since his last album, Voodoo, dropped. That all ended Sunday night with the surprise early release of his latest LP, Black Messiah, and his first new single, “Sugah Daddy.” The thirst is real ladies; the thirst is real. [Vulture]

An Edward Scissorhands ballet is happening. This is what goes on backstage at the Lez Brotherston and Matthew Bourne production. Date night pick? [Vanity Fair]

There’s more Brian Williams in store at NBC. The Nightly News mainstay and managing editor just signed a new long-term deal with the Peacock on his tenth anniversary with the show. It’s reported that he’ll net an additional $10 million for each year of the deal… and maybe a co-host spot for daughter Peter Pan Allison Williams?! One could only hope. [Variety]

Birdman continues to fly high. After nabbing top nominations at the Golden Globes and SAG Awards, the Michael Keaton-starrer earned 13 nods at the Broadcast Film Critics Association’s 20th annual Critics’ Choice Awards. Its closest competitors are Grand Budapest Hotel and Boyhood, with 11 and eight nominations, respectively. Perhaps director Alejandro G. Inarritu should start celebrating now. [The Hollywood Reporter]

Inside Tracks' Rick Smolan Talks Adventure, Awareness, and Adam Driver

By  December 16, 2014

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Photojournalist Rick Smolan was a 28-year-old National Geographic contributor in 1977 when he met Robyn Davidson, a Australian woman who was training camels in preparation for making a solo trip 1,7000 miles across the outback. Smolan and Davidson became close, and Smolan ended up shooting tens of thousands of photographs of her desert journey, dozens of which were published in a legendary National Geographic cover story.

On the heels of Smolan’s article, Davidson wrote Tracks, an autobiographical tale of her travels. Her story was made into a movie this fall, starring Mia Wasikowska as Davidson and Adam Driver as Smolan.

Now comes Inside Tracks, a new 224-page smartphone-enabled coffee-table book from Smolan. The first half showcases Davidson’s epic outback adventure with stunning, never-before-published photos. The second half details the making of the movie, including screenplay excerpts and behind-the-scenes pictures.

We spoke to Smolan about his work, his inextricable link to Davidson, and how it feels to be portrayed by Girls‘ heartthrob hipster Adam Driver.

What is Inside Tracks about?

Inside Tracks is the story of what happens when you discover that the most dangerous terrain is not external but internal. It’s also the story of how I came to know a young woman whom I admired more than anyone I’d ever met. Unlike most people, whose instincts tell them to run when frightened, this woman’s inner voice urged her to challenge and confront her fears head on. She was willing to risk her life and her sanity for something she felt compelled to do.

Has Robyn ever told you why she made this trip?

It’s the one question that Robyn has never felt the need to answer. Perhaps allowing each person to reach his or her own conclusion is what makes her unlikely journey so compelling. To me, what matters is that Robyn permitted herself to listen to the little voice inside that so many of us ignore.

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What memories or conversations stand out most clearly from your assignment photographing Davidson as she crossed the dangerous desert?

Robyn once made an observation that Americans treat friendship like Valium. She said that every time she saw Americans together they were comforting each other: “Don’t worry. Everything will be fine.” She said that in Australia, if someone is your friend, if you really care about them, then you risk your friendship by being brutally honest and hitting them over the head with a two-by-four if they are doing something stupid. You don’t allow your friends to keep making the same mistake, marrying the wrong person, sticking with an abusive boss, and so on.

It sounds like Robyn was ahead of her time with her mindfulness and ability to live in the moment.

Absolutely. On my third visit, Robyn hadn’t seen anyone for several weeks, and as we sat by the campfire she suddenly demanded: “When are you going to get here?” I remember wondering if she was losing her mind and said: “I’m sitting here across from you.” She stared at me and said: “No, you’re not. You are worrying about where you are going to drop your car in two weeks when you leave me, and whether your photo is going to be on the cover of Time next week. You show up out here and then you are everywhere else but here. If you’re going to come, then be here with me and not lost in your head the whole time!” She was right. While I was always filtering it, she allowed herself to actually experience every moment of the trip, the pain and the wonder.

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What was it like to see the movie Tracks for the first time?

Before Tracks was released, producer Emile Sherman and director John Curran graciously set up a private screening for me in Los Angeles. I was excited and looking forward to a trip down memory lane. Instead, a few minutes into the film I found myself gripping the arms of my seat, breaking out into a sweat, my heart pounding, experiencing a full-blown anxiety attack. Sitting alone in that darkened theater, I was flooded with a sense of dread, suddenly remembering that every time I drove away from Robyn during her journey I would look in my rearview mirror and wonder if that would be my last memory of her, if she would die out there.

Wow! Did you stay for the whole screening?

I did, but that rush of forgotten memories made it impossible for me to enjoy. It wasn’t until I saw the film again at the Toronto Film Festival with 800 other moviegoers, heard them hold their breath when Robyn was attacked by wild camels, heard them laugh in unison at Adam Driver’s fish-out-of-water aspects, and cry when Robyn lost her best friend that I was able to properly experience Tracks for the first time.

How accurate is the film, compared to what actually happened?

Obviously the Robyn and Rick in the film are fictionalized versions of us and many of the events have been tailored and altered to fit into the movie’s 90-minute narrative arc. And, in many ways, even Robyn and I were on different journeys, and we each remember parts of the trip very differently. Ironically, the thing we both fear now is that the movie version of events may begin to replace our memories of the real events.

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What do you want readers to take away from your new book, Inside Tracks?

My deepest hope is that Robyn’s journey will inspire you to look inside and find your own journey, your own personal “camel trip.”

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Use the code BOOKDEAL25 to get Inside Tracks for only $20 (regularly $45) at Amazon.com.

Glam Gift Guide: Trinkets for the Tech Titan in Your Life

By  December 12, 2014

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Okay. Titan may be a reach, but we know you have a friend equipped with every must-have app, whose iPhone (magically!) never dies and can troubleshoot any tech issues in a flash (drive. Ha!). If so, this list is for them. Go-go-gadget flow!

Notable Nominations: Birdman Leads the Golden Globes Race

By  December 11, 2014

If there was any denying Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Oscars potential, his seven Golden Globes nominations for Birdman should quell that.

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The Michael Keaton–starrer trumps all musical/comedy and drama nominees on the film and television side, with chances to take home the gold for best motion picture (musical or comedy), best director, and best screenplay. Those could-be accolades mirror the film’s success on the 2015 Screen Actors Guild Awards ballot where it is up for four of six film honors.

The 72nd annual Golden Globes, hosted by Tina Fey and Amy Poehler, will air live on NBC on January 11, 2015. Tune in to see if Birdman—or The Grand Budapest Hotel, or Into the Woods, or Selma, or The Affair, or Girls—takes flight.

Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy
Birdman
The Grand Budapest Hotel
Into the Woods
Pride
St. Vincent

Motion Picture, Drama
Boyhood
Foxcatcher
The Imitation Game
Selma
The Theory of Everything

Actor in a Motion Picture, Drama
Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game
Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything
Jake Gyllenhaal, Nightcrawler
Steve Carell, Foxcatcher
David Oyelowo, Selma

Actress in a Motion Picture, Drama
Jennifer Aniston, Cake
Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything
Julianne Moore, Still Alice
Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon, Wild

Actress in a Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy
Amy Adams, Big Eyes
Emily Blunt, Into the Woods
Helen Mirren, The Hundred-Foot Journey
Julianne Moore, Maps To The Stars
Quvenzhané Wallis, Annie

Actor in a Motion Picture, Musical or Comedy
Ralph Fiennes, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Michael Keaton, Birdman
Bill Murray, St. Vincent
Joaquin Phoenix, Inherent Vice
Christoph Waltz, Big Eyes

Director
Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Ava DuVernay, Selma
David Fincher, Gone Girl
Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Birdman
Richard Linklater, Boyhood

Animated Feature Film
Big Hero 6
The Book Of Life
The Boxtrolls
How To Train Your Dragon 2
The Lego Movie

Foreign Language Film
Force Majeure Turist
Gett: The Trial Of Viviane Amsalem Gett
Ida
Leviathan
Tangerines (Mandariinid)

Actress in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game
Emma Stone, Birdman
Meryl Streep, Into The Woods
Jessica Chastain, A Most Violent Year

Actor in a Supporting Role in a Motion Picture
Robert Duvall, The Judge
Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
Edward Norton, Birdman
Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher
J.K. Simmons, Whiplash

Screenplay
Wes Anderson, The Grand Budapest Hotel
Gillian Flynn, Gone Girl
Alejandro G. Iñárritu, Nicolás Giacobone, Alexander Dinelaris and Armando Bo, Birdman
Richard Linklater, Boyhood
Graham Moore, The Imitation Game

Original Score, Motion Picture
Alexandre Desplat, The Imitation Game
Jóhann Jóhannsson, The Theory Of Everything
Trent Reznor and Atticus Ross, Gone Girl
Antonio Sanchez, Birdman
Hans Zimmer, Interstellar

Original Song, Motion Picture
“Big Eyes” from Big Eyes
“Glory” from Selma
“Mercy Is” from Noah
“Opportunity” from Annie
“Yellow Flicker Beat” from The Hunger Games: Mockingjay — Part 1

TV Series, Comedy
Girls
Jane the Virgin
Orange Is the New Black
Silicon Valley
Transparent

TV Series, Drama
The Affair
Downton Abbey
Game of Thrones
The Good Wife
House Of Cards

TV Movie or Miniseries
The Missing
Olive Kitteridge
The Normal Heart
True Detective
Fargo

Actress in a TV Series, Drama
Claire Danes, Homeland
Viola Davis, How To Get Away With Murder
Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
Ruth Wilson, The Affair
Robin Wright, House Of Cards

Actor in a TV Series, Comedy
Louis C.K., Louie
William H. Macy, Shameless
Don Cheadle, House of Lies
Jeffrey Tambor, Transparent
Ricky Gervais, Derek

Actress in a TV Series, Comedy
Lena Dunham, Girls
Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Veep
Gina Rodriguez, Jane the Virgin
Taylor Schilling, Orange Is the New Black

Actor in a TV Series, Drama
Clive Owen, The Knick
Liev Schreiber, Ray Donovan
Kevin Spacey, House Of Cards
James Spader, The Blacklist
Dominic West, The Affair

Actress in a TV Miniseries or Motion Picture
Maggie Gyllenhaal, The Honorable Woman
Jessica Lange, American Horror Story: Freak Show
Frances McDormand, Olive Kitteridge
Frances O’Connor, The Missing
Allison Tolman, Fargo

Actor in a TV Miniseries or Motion Picture
Martin Freeman, Fargo
Woody Harrelson, True Detective
Matthew McConaughey, True Detective
Mark Ruffalo, The Normal Heart
Billy Bob Thornton, Fargo

Supporting Actress in a TV Series, Miniseries or Motion Picture
Uzo Aduba, Orange Is the New Black
Kathy Bates, American Horror Story: Freak Show
Joanne Froggatt, Downton Abbey
Allison Janney, Mom
Michelle Monaghan, True Detective

Supporting Actor in a TV Series, Miniseries or Motion Picture
Matt Bomer, The Normal Heart
Alan Cumming, The Good Wife
Colin Hanks, Fargo
Bill Murray, Olive Kitteridge
Jon Voight, Ray Donovan

Star Scoop: Listen to Nicki and Bey’s New Song, Amy Schumer Headed to MTV, Birdman Rules the Oscar Race

By  December 11, 2014

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If you thought Beyoncé and Nicki Minaj were done sounding the alarm, think again. The “Flawless” duo have teamed yet again, this time for Minaj’s upcoming LP, The Pinkprint. Take a listen to their new anthem, “Feeling Myself,” before it’s pulled off the web. As the title suggests, it’s #bossy. [Stereogum]

We already know that Amy Schumer can work a crowd (exhibit A: her intro speech for Tilda Swinton at the Gotham Independent Film Awards). So, it’s with plenty of stocked-up LOLs that we announce her as the “last comic standing” to host the 2015 MTV Movie Awards. April 12, 2015 couldn’t come any sooner. [Vulture]

Birdman may be closer to nabbing an Oscar than you think. After dominating the 2015 SAG Awards ballot, the dark comedy also triumphs over the Golden Globe film nominees. The Alejandro González Iñárritu “tour de force” earned seven nominations at the annual accolade, including best motion picture (musical or comedy), best actor in a motion picture (musical or comedy) and best director. [The Hollywood Reporter]

As we go into complete baby bump mode with Keira Knightley, new mommy Mila Kunis is ready to get back into the swing of things. She made her first post-baby appearance last night on The Late Late Show with Craig Ferguson where she dished on baby Wyatt. Can you believe she just gave birth two months ago?! We’ll have what she’s having. [ELLE]

Another week, another number one for Taylor Swift. The “Blank Space” singer’s 1989 won its fifth non-consecutive week atop the Billboard 200. This makes for a total of 29 weeks that Swift spent at number one with her entire music catalogue. [Billboard]

Speaking of the top, Jay Z protégé J. Cole is projected to have his third number one album on the Billboard 200, thanks to the release of 2014 Forest Hills Drive. The disc, which dropped without the fanfare of a single on December 9, will likely sell 297,000 (or more) in its first week. [Billboard]

Star Scoop: 22 Jump Street Goes to Space, A Sam Smith Christmas, TIME Announces Its Person(s) of the Year

By  December 10, 2014

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22 Jump Street takes on… alien refugees? In a series of leaked emails from Sony Pictures chief Amy Pascal, the studio is considering a Channing TatumJonah Hill crossover with Men in Black. Though Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones will reportedly have small roles in the mashup, Pascal dubbed the idea “clean and powerful and rad.” [Wall Street Journal]

Sam Smith never fails to mesmerize with his rich, haunting timbre. That said, his rendition of holiday classic “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” is sure to top our seasonal playlist. [YouTube]

It isn’t Beyoncé. Or Taylor Swift. Not even Kim Kardashian’s attempt at breaking the Internet earned the accolade. TIME announced its person of the year from a shortlist that included Ferguson protestors, Russian president Vladimir Putin, and the first openly-gay CEO, Apple chief Tim Cook. The victor, or victors, though, were crowned for their heroic hearts: the Ebola fighters. [TIME]

Meet Bonnie Hammer: chairman of NBCUniversal’s Cable Entertainment Group and the most-powerful woman in Hollywood. As consumers cut the cord and lean toward online streaming, here’s what she has to say about shaking up cable TV. [The Hollywood Reporter]

Amy Poehler is joy. For reals. The SAG-nominated Parks and Recreation actress will channel the emotion inside the head of a preteen girl named Riley for Pixar’s Inside Out. Here’s the first trailer, where we get a peak at what goes on inside of her parent’s minds, and the five key emotions that run the show. [Vulture]

We’re still waiting on the day when Stephen Colbert officially takes over The Late Show. As for David Letterman, he will bid his final late-night adieu on May 20, 2015. “David Letterman has given to all of us a remarkable legacy of achievement and creative brilliance that will never be forgotten,” CBS CEO Leslie Moonves said in a statement. “It’s going to be tough to say goodbye, but I know we will all cherish the shows leading up to Dave’s final broadcast in May.” [The Hollywood Reporter]

Rumor has it that Diddy and Drake’s Art Basel scuffle had something to do with one of the biggest hip-hop tracks of the year. The latter’s Grammy-nominated “0 to 100” reportedly belonged to Diddy first, a claim he asserted in an expletive-laced video from TMZ. And yes, there is a #DiddyBop. [Stereogum]

Wake me up! Avicii has the most-Shazamed song of all time. Kanye voice. [Billboard]

Notable Nominations: Jennifer Aniston Earns Her First Film SAG Awards Nom

By  December 10, 2014

The 2015 Screen Actors Guild Awards nominations have arrived, with a washed-up actor’s revival and a family full of hijinks leading the charge.

2014 Variety Screening Series - "Cake" Screening

Alejandro González Iñárritu’s Birdman racked up four of six film nominations, including chances in the Best Cast, Best Actor and Best Supporting performance categories. On the small screen, Modern Family, as expected, trumped all comedy and drama contenders, with four nominations of its own. Most surprising, though, is Jennifer Aniston’s name on the ballot. After decades in the biz, she earned her first movie SAG Award nomination for her critically-acclaimed portrayal of a woman suffering from chronic pain in Cake. Tune in to the 21st annual ceremony on January 25, 2015 to see if she eats it, too.

FILM

Best Cast
Birdman
Boyhood
The Grand Budapest Hotel
The Imitation Game
The Theory of Everything

Best Actor
Steve Carell, Foxcatcher
Benedict Cumberbatch, The Imitation Game
Jake Gyllenhaal, Nightcrawler
Michael Keaton, Birdman
Eddie Redmayne, The Theory of Everything

Best Actress
Jennifer Aniston, Cake
Felicity Jones, The Theory of Everything
Julianne Moore, Still Alice
Rosamund Pike, Gone Girl
Reese Witherspoon, Wild

Best Supporting Actor
Robert Duvall, The Judge
Ethan Hawke, Boyhood
Edward Norton, Birdman
Mark Ruffalo, Foxcatcher
J.K. Simmons, Whiplash

Best Supporting Actress
Patricia Arquette, Boyhood
Keira Knightley, The Imitation Game
Emma Stone, Birdman
Meryl Streep, Into the Woods
Naomi Watts, St. Vincent

Outstanding Action Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Motion Picture
Fury, Columbia Pictures
Get On Up, Universal Pictures
The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, Warner Bros. Pictures
Unbroken, Universal Pictures
X-Men: Days of Future Past, 20th Century Fox

TELEVISION

Best Ensemble in a Drama Series
Boardwalk Empire, HBO
Downton Abbey, PBS
Game of Thrones, HBO
Homeland, Showtime
House of Cards, Netflix

Best Ensemble in a Comedy Series
The Big Bang Theory, CBS
Brooklyn Nine-Nine, Fox
Modern Family, ABC
Orange Is the New Black, Netflix
Veep, HBO

Best Actor in a Drama Series
Steve Buscemi, Boardwalk Empire
Peter Dinklage, Game of Thrones
Woody Harrelson, True Detective
Matthew McConaughey, True Detective
Kevin Spacey, House of Cards

Best Actress in a Drama Series
Claire Danes, Homeland
Viola Davis, How to Get Away with Murder
Julianna Margulies, The Good Wife
Tatiana Maslany, Orphan Black
Maggie Smith, Downton Abbey
Robin Wright, House of Cards

Best Actor in a Comedy Series
Ty Burrell, Modern Family
Louis C.K., Louie
William H. Macy, Shameless
Jim Parsons, The Big Bang Theory
Eric Stonestreet, Modern Family

Best Actress in a Comedy Series
Uzo Aduba, Orange is the New Black
Julie Bowen, Modern Family
Edie Falco, Nurse Jackie
Julia Louis–Dreyfus, Veep
Amy Poehler, Parks and Recreation

Best Actor, Movie or Mini-Series
Adrien Brody, Houdini
Benedict Cumberbatch, Sherlock: His Last Vow
Richard Jenkins, Olive Kitteridge
Mark Ruffalo, The Normal Heart
Billy Bob Thornton, Fargo

Best Actress, Movie or Mini-Series
Ellen Burstyn, Flowers in the Attic
Maggie Gyllenhaal, The Honorable Woman
Frances McDormand, Olive Kitteridge
Julia Roberts, The Normal Heart
Cicely Tyson, The Trip to Bountiful

Outstanding Action Performance by a Stunt Ensemble in a Comedy or Drama Series
24: Live Another Day, Fox
Boardwalk Empire, HBO
Game of Thrones, HBO
Homeland, Showtime
Sons of Anarchy, FX
The Walking Dead, AMC

51st ANNUAL LIFE ACHIEVEMENT AWARD
Debbie Reynolds

Star Scoop: Tilda Swinton Tells the Truth, The Year of Taylor Swift, Boyhood Grows Up

By  December 09, 2014

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Imagine Hollywood without the silver screen prowess of Tilda Swinton. We couldn’t either. So this admission of her never wanting to be an actor, but instead a writer, comes as quite a surprise. “When I left university I was going to stop completely because I realized I was not interested in being a professional actor at all,” she told The Carpetbagger blog. “I’m still being distracted from what I really want to do, 30 years later. On it goes, here we are, it’s the end of another year and New Year’s Resolution number one—stop.” [The New York Times]

2014: the year of Taylor Swift. The dame who rejected Spotify, did more than just drop a contender for Grammys gold. From going pop to revolutionizing how artists use social media, here is how the 24 year old changed the game.  [Billboard]

Congrats are in order for Richard Linklater, whose drama, Boyhood, won the top honors at this year’s Los Angeles Film Critics Awards including Best Picture, Best Director, Best Actress, and Best Editing. And to think, it only took him 12 years to film. [Vulture]

When Bob Dylan’s new album comes out, it will sound rather familiar. The storied icon is releasing a disc entirely of Frank Sinatra covers. “What me and my band are basically doing is uncovering them,” he said of the project, out February 2015. “Lifting them out of the grave and bringing them into the light of day.” [Rolling Stone]

If you thought Netflix’s original series slate was already robust, think again. Chief content officer Ted Sarandos says the streaming giant wants to develop at least 20 more shows, and eventually release a new one every two weeks. If they brought us Orange is the New Black, just imagine what’s waiting in the rafters. [Vulture]

Stephen Colbert may be out of a job weeks before his eponymous show goes off the air. President Barack Obama made an appearance on Colbert’s late night farce, and took over the host’s spot in an ambitious “The Word” segment—and to thunderous applause. Obama for Comedy Central, 2016?! [The Hollywood Reporter]

Fearless Founders: Meet Dez White of Invisible Text

By  December 09, 2014

 

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Ideas, inspiration, and productivity can occur anywhere. Strong leaders and founders learn how to harness the power of those locations – their happy places – to turn them into a place of productivity. From the coffee shop on their corner to a certain nook of their home, Fearless Founders use their specific locale to grow their idea into a business and passion project. Find out how these founders and innovators transformed their lives thanks to their happy place and a brilliant idea.  

Meet the incredible superhuman Dez White, a gorgeous mother of two and the fearless founder of Invisible Text. White founded her first company just after college, a gossip site called MouthToEars.com, where she honed her entrepreneurial skills and in the process unearthed a need for an app that would allow for safe texting. With World War Selfie Leak of 2014—aka the leak of embarrassing pictures of Jennifer Lawrence and Kirstin Dunst, among others—this problem has only escalated. Invisible Text helps its users practice safe messaging with a Mission Impossible–style futuristic element of self-destruction. It’s not every day that an African-American female tech whiz engineers her way to into solving a problem of this magnitude. Here are 14 things I learned from Dez White, the founder of Invisible Text.

What is Invisible Text?

Invisible Text is the original secure-messaging app, created to protect privacy in a world of open information sharing. Our app allows users to send messages to one another that will self-destruct after a predetermined length of time. This method of private messaging allows participants to carry on conversations without the fear of their information being shared with the world. Our proprietary algorithms and patented message-encoding process mean that messages aren’t saved on our servers, ensuring that whatever a person sends through our app remains confidential.

How do you personally use Invisible Text?

I have a lot of fun with it and use it to send funny messages to friends. But I’ve also used it for many practical purposes, like sending my nanny the alarm code, or if I need to send personal banking or credit card information to my husband.

How did you come up with the idea? 

I was in need of a secure way to send messages and realized that nothing quite like this existed on the market. There are other platforms out there that have similar functions, but their security has been and can be compromised. I also wanted to create an option that would allow people to recall messages. There’s not a single one of us that hasn’t sent something we immediately regretted. Invisible Text users can remotely delete a message at any time before the recipient has opened it.

What is your master plan? 

I plan on releasing three more life-changing apps and reaching young girls through a new organization I founded called Girl Code LA (and soon Girl Code NY). I will also be writing a book on my journey and continuing to work on becoming a better person daily.

Who inspires you? 

My father, Victor! He is amazingly selfless when it comes to my sons. He will do anything for them. He has been a LAPD officer for more than 30 years. Most of his life is geared toward giving back.

How do you stay motivated? 

I am never satisfied, which is a gift and curse. I call my business manager, Dan, daily with ideas, and he tells me his honest opinions. My sons keep me young. I look up to leaders like Magic Johnson, Oprah, and Steve Jobs, so I know I am nowhere near reaching my goals.

What is your daily routine? 

I wake up to a 1-year-old asking me if I can get him some “milky,” and then I get my 3-year-old Cheerios. After that, I walk my dog. I talk to my husband about his day, since he is a graphic designer and it varies. I then work out with my friend and trainer, Charm Killings. After that, I head to the office and spend my day in meetings and coding sessions.

Who is your celebrity crush? 

OMG! I have a few, actually! I love 50 Cent and his work ethic. I love Pharrell’s creativity, and I love the way Zero, the new character on VH1′s Hit the Floor looks. 

What is the toughest obstacle you have to overcome as you pursue your start-up?

Being judged by the color of my skin and my gender. It’s hard and often very disappointing, but I deal with it because I hope to pave the way for young women and young women of color.

What is your go-to work outfit? 

Gap workout leggings in green (my favorite color), a Gap workout top, Chanel flip-flops, my Rolex, and Lancôme lip gloss.  

What is the last math problem you solved?

I calculated how much I would weigh if I stopped eating carbs for a month.

What is your personal motto?

Treat everyone nicely; you don’t know what battle they are fighting. Strive for the top; it’s crowded at the bottom.

Where is your happy place?

Watching reality TV with my doggie, Happy, on the couch.

Where do you get the best ideas and inspiration?

Lying across my bed doing work at 1 a.m.

Learn more about how you can work from your happy place with the HP Stream Notebook. #WorkFromHappyPlace.

jesse draper

UCLA grad, Jesse Draper is a technology expert and creator and host of The Valley Girl Show through which she has become a spokesperson for startups and has helped to pioneer the way of new media content distribution. She oversees everything from pre-production to distribution of the show. Draper started the show because she realized there was no FUN business talk show, only grilling teeth clenching interviews, and she believes the most interesting and inspiring people in the world are the ones who’ve started a business. In her former life, she was on a Nickelodeon show called “The Naked Brother’s Band”. Draper also writes columns for Mashable, Forbes.com and San Francisco Magazine and speaks at business conferences around the world including SXSW, DLD, TEDx, TechVentures and STREAM.