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POP INTERVIEW: Nurse/Comedienne/Author Kelli Dunham

Brooklynite Kelli Dunham is a nurse…and a funny one! She has several comedy albums out, her latest being Why Is the Fat One Always Angry?



Brooklynite Kelli Dunham is a nurse…and a funny one! She has several comedy albums out, her latest being Why Is the Fat One Always Angry? Her speciality is laughing off the negativity brought in life. Besides comedy, she has authored several books for adults and children.

kelli dunham

You have an album called “Why Is the Fat One Always Angry?” Really, I was thinking this exact same thing about Hollywood type casting in roles, most particularly when I saw “Bridesmaids.” Melissa McCarthy was severely stuck as the angry girl, or the girl people made fun of for being fuller figured. Whenever she was in anything in the movie, it was like they couldn’t find one single flattering outfit for her on purpose. She was *ANGRY AND FAT*, I’m sure the script read. While poking fun at this, how do you also plan to change this idea in dramatic works and comedy?
The name of the CD comes from a story that’s on the CD about being in the hospital with my partner when she was dying. She was a tough native New Yorker with a black bob and fierce red lipstick. I was the more chatty person, she once imitated me “Hi, my name is Kelli Dunham, I’m from Wisconsin, would you like my lunch?” But when she was in the hospital, I had to be the patient advocate, the bad guy, the person yelling and screaming to get her what we needed. So she once joked the medical personnel whined as they walked away “the fat one, why is she always angry?”

Who are your favorite comedians and comediennes? How have they influenced your humor?
My favorite comics include Eddie Izzard, Kate Clinton, Bob Smith and Margaret Cho. All have done really ground breaking comedy about something of substance. For me, that is what makes interesting comedy. Seinfeld is very skilled technically, but he makes comedy of out the little things, hotel soap, a hair on the wall. This bores me. I also think we have enough people in the world making little meaningless things into huge things. I’m impressed with Izzard’s ability to make comedy about God (or the lack thereof) and history. Kate Clinton has been doing sophisticated political comedy with a lesbian twist since before people had any concept of what a lesbian is. Bob Smith is also another technically skilled comic, his timing is so good I’ve often wondered if he practices with a metronome. He was diagnosed with ALS a few years ago and he writes about that and he’s really funny about it. That’s some pretty serious comic talent, to be able to do that. And a certain skewed perspective which is actually quite healthy. Some of the most amazing comics have never stood on a stage. I don’t know if you’ve seen United in Anger, the ACT UP oral history movie? ACT UP’s actions were hilarious, very camp, very over the top. Here’s a group of people literally dying, literally being allowed to die, en-masse by governmental indifference to their fate, and they’re fighting for their lives and they’re very very funny.

How can people laugh at themselves? How can we learn to forgive ourselves for what we hate most about our flaws? How do we learn to get over things using humor?
Humor does a lot of different things and one of the real benefits of keeping a humorous outlook, the benefits of actively looking for funny everywhere you go is that it gives you some perspective. If you can mock your oppressor, you’re a tiny bit closer to gaining the upper hand. And flaws, hmmm, well, it depends. If one’s flaw involves not looking exactly like someone on the cover of a magazine, it’s important to remember the person on the cover of the magazine doesn’t even look like that, it’s called photoshop. We should all be laughing at media images all the time. Maybe they’re pretty to look at, but they aren’t based on reality. Bodies are complicated and all different. Just the idea of botox: injecting POISON underneath your skin to look younger, it’s ludicrous, right? I get why people do it, this culture is very youth focused. On the other hand, injecting toxin under your skin is ludicrous, straight up.

But if a person’s flaw is that they are a jerk, or selfish, or they’re not taking care of their responsibilities, I don’t advocate laughing at that. I would say stop being a jerk, stop being selfish, take care of your responsibilities. Go to therapy or go to a 12 step meeting or just make “to do” lists. We all struggle with not being the images of “perfection” we’re exposed to in the media but you’d be surprised how much better a person can feel about themselves just by making a list of things to do and crossing them off when they’re done.

What do you differently when approaching comedy versus writing books?
Comedy on the stage is more immediate of course, you can get that immediate feedback. I remember I was trying to develop a closer based on comparing a first date to an episode of Intervention and I was getting totally blank looks. Turns out not enough people watch Intervention to make that joke, there’s not the critical mass you need to have it work. Maybe if I was performing for a group of substance abuse counselors? Or people in recovery. You get that immediate feedback and it helps you grow and refine your act. There are limitation to what you can do in stand up comedy, even in the kind of storytelling stand up comedy I do. Not as many limitations as people think: I talk about being a nun, about the death of my partner, about being born after my mom had a tubal ligation, all as part of stand up. But I can’t get into the same kind of detail on the stage, so it’s really fun to write about something I’ve done stand up about and be able to share the experiences in a more three dimensional way.

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As a nurse, you have probably seen a lot of negativity caused by bad health. It seems when we’re sick like nothing will make us feel better. What do/did you do to make patients feel better with comedy?
When people are sick, they’re not just sick, they also often feel out of control. Our healthcare system just makes this worse: “here strip off your clothes, put on our clothes, be on our schedule, we call you by your first name, but you have to call us by our last names.” Patients often want to joke about their situation, to reduce it to something less threatening, to help them understand it and to take back some of that control that has been stripped from them. Most of the time, as a nurse and a comic all I have to do is stand back and not stop them. I do a presentation called Laughter at the End of Life, specifically created for health care providers. I usually do it for hospital systems and the people who show up are always nurses and social workers. And they say “our patients and their family members joke all the time about death, even while close to death and we don’t know how to deal with it.” And I always say “follow their lead” It’s more complicated than that, of course, but you can’t go wrong with following the patient’s lead about when and how they use humor.

Personally, you identify yourself as genderqueer. Mainstream media and Hollywood tend to cover the LGBT community as fitting into gay, lesbian, bisexual or drag queen positions. In fact, while I am familiar with the term, I cannot name one big celebrity who is genderqueer except for maybe Andrej Pejic, and I myself am unsure if he mostly does this to be able to cash in on women’s and men’s modeling jobs for the mere fact he/she can earn double the money. Which places you all alone…when you were figuring yourself out, how long did it take you to come this conclusion as a young person that you may be not gay or bi but genderqueer? What was your thought process? What do you want to say to anyone feeling the same way?
Well, I think mainstream media and Hollywood have recently begun to understand that there are people living all over the gender spectrum, but it’s true they’re not doing a responsible job with representation. The mainstream representation of transgender identified people in particular has been jaw droppingly horrendous for years, and even now when they have decent representation, they can’t ever god forbid have a trans person playing a trans person. It’s always some cisgendered actor who everyone lauds as brave. It’s ridiculous. But that’s what the mainstream does. Frankly, they’re doing a totally irresponsible job representing people of color, and women. And people with disabilities. And people with mental illness. As for the genderqueer label, that’s just a shortcut: I’m a chick who people think looks like a dude, and people think walks like a dude. So even though I think this idea that’s there are just two genders is really ridiculous, genderqueer is just a shorthand, it’s a way of telling people: okay here is who I am, if that makes you uncomfortable let’s at least have this upfront. I don’t know that’s the customary way of using genderqueer, but that’s how I use it.

But then again, your website refers to you as “she” as opposed to “they,” and…you said prior to this interview you also consider yourself a lesbian. Are you between places or do you feel like you can be both depending on the moment, that sometimes you can embrace having a gender while other days you feel genderless?
I’m all those things, I’m a lesbian and I’m genderqueer, all on the same day: gender identity and sexual orientation are two different things. I think of “lesbian” as a shortcut as well. For straight people, I might use the word lesbian, because they know what that is and it describes me pretty much, I guess. Within the LGBT community specifically, lesbian is a more complicated word so I am more inclined to use the word “queer” within the community. About pronouns: If someone asks me, I’ll say use female pronouns because it seems like too much pressure on the other person to shrug and say “um, I don’t care.” I also want to indicate a pronoun in a sense for solidarity. There are a lot of people who look a lot like me and pronouns are really important to some of them and I don’t ever want to discourage anyone from asking. It would be great if we could start a cultural movement that made asking about preferred gender pronouns a part of everyday generalized conversation. It could really move the conversation forward on gender if kids started saying “hey dad, which pronouns do you prefer?”

At one point I thought about spending the time to take all the female pronouns off my website but then I remembered I had comedy to write so I haven’t bothered. Gender is part of my comedy: some of the juxtapositions of people trying to gender me, mistaking me for a young boy, all that is hilarious, and so it becomes a part of my act. But if you want to learn about me, the fact that I used to be a nun, that I am the person everyone on the subway tells their most intimate secrets to, that I grew up in rural Wisconsin, all that is much informative than knowing my gender. Um, whatever it is.

You’ve done two children’s books about body image. I wish I could lie about saying I think I’m the most incredible looking person ever, but I swear, every woman AND man compares themselves to other people of their respective genders. What current or past insecurities inspired you to write the books? What did you want to tell kids? Are boys included too in your body image talks?
I’ve written two books for pre-teens 8-12: the Boys Body Book and the Girls Body Book. They’re basically super illustrated, funny but serious puberty discussion guides. The books are about the physical changes that come with puberty. They are not at all guides to body image. However, I think having accurate information about body changes and about having a body in general, is important for everyone of all genders. The books have been tremendously successful and are used everywhere from mainstream foster care organizations to conservative Christian homeschool curriculum. About inspiration and body image: everything about our culture sets us up to think of ourselves as less attractive than other people. It’s how our whole system works, you can’t sell people stuff they don’t need if they don’t feel badly about themselves. Some people might need professional help, like therapy or support groups to deal with whatever is going on with their body image, and that can be a really important step, especially for young people. But beyond the situations that might need some specific professional support, it’s all about answering back to this idea that there is one ideal beauty standard. And it’s all so random! Most of the people we see on television and movies don’t conform to the Random Beauty Standard naturally. They have had plastic surgery and they have full time trainers and full time cooks and then they have more plastic surgery. There are a few people who might have some genetic predisposition to have the look of what we call “supermodels” but that’s not what people look like naturally. Not if they’re not starving, or using cocaine to sustain that appearance. Which makes it not sustainable at all.

We all need to find whatever images there are of people who look like us and keep those images in front of us, we need to hold the mainstream media accountable for their representations. But until that time, we need to we need to yell at our televisions. This is one thing I find tremendously interesting about Lena Dunham and the GIRLS phenomenon. First of all, I hate that show, all the characters are so vapid and uninspiring and shallow. And the fact that they’ve created a completely whitewashed New York and Brooklyn is unforgivable. And you know what would cure 90% percent of their problems? Volunteering at a soup kitchen. The characters have no real problems, that’s their problem.

But what I find interesting is how people will refer to Lena Dunham, I even saw some supposedly enlightened gay man do this on his facebook wall recently, he referred to her as “that ugly chick.” Lena Dunham is just a normal looking person. She’s not particularly unattractive, she just hasn’t dieted herself into weirdness or had her faded tattoos touched up. Look around, THAT’S what people look like: people are flabby and they have bad, often faded tattoos. So as much as I detest that show, I have some grudging admiration for her being a part of the cast of the show and being just as naked as the rest of the chicks. And I’m relieved that the whole show isn’t about what a loser she is because she’s not a supermodel. All the girls are losers, even the more conventionally attractive ones. So I guess that’s some kind of progress.

Campus Pride’s poll listed you among its favorite LGBT college circuit comediennes/comedians. What do you do to impress young people, who are constantly, and I say this AS a young person, growing more obnoxious as time goes on?
Today’s young people don’t the market cornered on obnoxiousness. I used to wear flash bulbs for earrings and my bathrobe and swim flippers to English class (sorry Mrs Brooks!) for no reason at all except to be obnoxious. Today’s young people just need a challenge, and I hope I do that with my comedy.

What can people look for you to do in 2013?
My goal is to put out a new comedy CD every year, so I’ll be releasing a follow-up to “Why Is The Fat One Always Angry” in the fall, there will be some new surprises on that CD including a choose your own adventure interactive multimedia portion which you’ll be able to access through my website. I’m excited about that and about getting more work out there. For the month of February I will be doing a bundle special on my website, where you can download all three of my comedy CDs for just 15 bucks, so people who are new to my comedy can get the whole treatment at once. Of course the biggest thing I have coming up is my new book Freak of Nurture from Topside Press. The book is a collection of humorous essays, some about very serious subjects including grief and cancer and earthquakes. It’s getting great advance praise, Kate Clinton, who is THE godmother of lesbian comedy called it “hilarious, laugh out loud storytelling.” The book comes out in May 2013 and I’ll be doing an actual tour and we’ll be doing some interesting video interactive touring as well that should be really fun to follow along on.


What Drama, Darling!

Does The Outrageous Buzz Around “Don’t Worry Darling” Help or Hurt?



If you have ever approached the seating arrangements for a family dinner with careful, deliberate thought and distress, you might appreciate the daunting task facing the person who seated the cast of “Don’t Worry Darling” at its Venice Film Festival premiere: start on the left with director and actress Olivia Wilde, but don’t put Harry Styles next to her, as they’re reportedly dating, (photographed PDA’s don’t discourage the rumors) although as a recent report stated, they may have recently separated, so either way, slide Harry two seats down to minimize that situation, whatever that situation is. Also, star Florence Pugh is reportedly in a feud with Wilde over the aforementioned relationship, so do you seat them next to each other to show solidarity and debunk the rumors? Or seat them apart because one of them insists upon it? I’m exhausted already. Thank goodness for co-stars Chris Pine, Gemma Chan and Nick Kroll who can round out the seating and, hopefully, deflect some eyeballs. Did I mention that across from the seats are a barrage of entertainment reporters and photographers hungry for a flashy headline, reading into each actor’s expression like tarot cards? Even with the best intentions, the antics, expressions, interviews and arrivals from the cast of Don’t Worry Darling have been the most memed, mentioned and in some cases, mocked stories surrounding a film in recent history.

If Top Gun: Maverick marked moviegoers’ triumphant return to theaters post pandemic, Don’t Worry Darling may very well be the return of the movie that everyone is talking about as much for the alleged drama behind the scenes as it is for the film itself. As the film approaches it’s U.S. premiere on September 23rd, the question remains – will the non-stop buzz and gossip surround the film help? Or will people be burned out before the projector flickers to a start? Can all the buzz, the good, bad and bizarre make this project a smash? Or will it crash? Below, we break down the players, the PR and decide whether they smash or crash.

Perhaps ironically, Hollywood itself loves to tell stories about the behind the scenes drama of moviemaking. From “Feud: Bette and Joan,” which centered around stars Bette Davis and Joan Crawford filming “What Every Happened To Baby Jane” to “My Week with Marilyn” which chronicled Marilyn Monroe’s life as she shot “The Prince And The Showgirl.” Take a step back even further, storytellers and Hollywood gossip mongers seem to like rivalry and drama between two women. In this case, Wilde and Pugh are the center of the story… headliners among what is a real life cast of dazzling characters that make the drama of promoting Don’t Worry Darling a truly compelling feeding frenzy.

The Hyphenate – Olivia Wilde is a headliner. From what she’s saying, to what she’s doing, to what she’s wearing, Wilde has the buzz and the look that entertainment outlets love. Her hyphenate status is owed to a successful acting, executive producing, writing and directing career. Her feature film directing debut Booksmart garnered critical praise and a nomination in the category of breakthrough director from the Gotham Awards. And, importantly, let’s note, if you believe the buzz around Don’t Worry Darling is all a publicity stunt, keep in mind, Wilde started this project simply wanting to make a great film, its earliest publicity blitz presented itself to her in the most shocking and unusual way: in the form of divorce paperwork presented to her as she stood on stage, presenting the trailer for this film at Cinemacon. While reports of behind the scenes drama on the film had stayed largely at bay at the time, this unexpected moment in late April, as Wilde stood calmly with an envelope we would later learn was from her ex Jason Sudeikis, virtually ensured that this movie and its director were going to be making news for the foreseeable future. (Sudeikis has said he was unaware of any plans his legal representative had to present the papers before an audience.)

That said, we did know there were some issues. As the release and the summer festival circuit grew closer, more reports would surface including one about the nature in which Shia Lebeouf, who had been cast as the male lead in the movie, departed the film before shooting began. Wilde has suggested that she fired him, referencing a ‘no assholes’ policy in an interview, In August, she told Variety that Shia had “a combative energy,” and that firing him was a move “protect” the film’s star Florence Pugh. 

Lebeouf countered by revealing emails and texts that indicate he left because he didn’t have sufficient time to rehearse with his castmates. He doubled down with a video that Wilde had sent him trying to salvage the situation and retain him for the role, going so far as to reference Pugh as “Miss Flo” getting a ‘wake-up call,’ in reference to implied behavior from the actress that is not directly referenced.

Most film directors can probably relate to Wilde’s position. Trying to salvage a film’s schedule and negotiate your way through cast conflicts is like a hostage negotiation: You’re going to say different things to different sides that you hope will stay private and get you to the end game. Facing the loss of Lebeouf could cause the collapse the entire film if recasting delays impact the availability of the rest of the cast. Investors, producers and a gaggle of others are watching to see how this will impact finances. This is also the reason many film execs would recommend not sending your pleas in writing or a video that can be shared.  Ultimately, the bottom line is Lebeouf was out, and a new actor was coming in… and then things got even more complicated.

SMASH OR CRASH?: If the goal of publicity, both good and bad, is to get people to remember the name of the project and learn more, that has certainly been accomplished. Few entertainment publications have ignored the unusual wave of stories about this film. The question remains, will on-set romances, differences of opinion and casting struggles get people to go watch the movie?  And if the buzz about the movie is reduced to memes and jokes – can the film get the last laugh? While Venice attendees gave the screening a rousing standing ovation, early reviews have been mixed. Gossip aside, moviemaking is a bottom-line business, and Wilde has the most at stake. If the film is a box office smash, Wilde emerges victorious, and all the rumors and gossip will hold less weight, to be replaced with whatever is Hollywood’s next obsession du-jour. If it crashes and burns, it may be remembered for a press run that was much ado about nothing. Verdict: TBA

If the film is a box office success, Wilde emerges victorious, and the rumors and gossip will hold less weight, to be replaced with whatever is Hollywood’s next obsession du-jour.

The Pop Star – Enter pop uberstar Harry Styles, who was brought in to play the role of Jack Chambers, the part previously played by LeBeouf. Style is among a handful of artists who have a far reaching arsenal of ‘stans.’ More than a typical fan, “stans” are often defined as overzealous and overenthusiastic fans of a celebrity to an extent that they can virtually do no wrong. The word is even more commonly used as a verb: “I stan Harry Styles.” Even with little acting experience to his name, casting Styles comes with built in devotees and publicity. From what he wears, to who he dates, to his spectacular concert performances, if Harry Styles does something, anything – people talk about it, and they usually tend to love it.

But even the invincible Styles would not escape the memes from the Venice film festival. In an interview, Styles remarks about the film “My favorite thing about the movie is, like, it feels like a movie,” a co-star Chris Pine is seated next to him, staring blankly into nothingness. The internet was quick to apply Pine’s trance-like state to Style’s unintentionally amusing soundbyte, implying that Style’s commentary was lacking in depth. (Pine could have been daydreaming about what he wanted for lunch for all we know, but this is how the internet works.) You’ll note that the full soundbyte, when played in full shows a greater context, with Styles remarking that the film feels like one you would see in a theater, rather than at home, but the meme-makers and press alike had already decided they only wanted the first half of the sentence. That was enough. That was funny. And a meme was born.

If Harry Styles does something, anything – people talk about it – and they usually tend to love it.

Then, spit-gate happened.

Later on during the festival, as Styles went to sit down next to actor Chris Pine, cameras were rolling as Styles leans over Pine slightly, pauses, and sits – all the while Pine makes a somewhat perplexed expression. The internet got all CSI on the moment – playing and replaying – pushing in – and quickly speculated that Styles had spit onto Pines’ lap. His reaction even sort of backed it up, but there was no visual “spit.” (At least not to me.) It’s a stretch to imagine this is actually true, let’s be honest. Maybe accidentally? It went viral nonetheless.  See for yourself:

After “spit-gate” became a meme, with folks commenting, even editing in other objects and even animals into the scene, Pines’ rep released a hostile response denying any tension between the two. Honestly the publicist could have had a sense of humor about it, but instead treated it like they were denying Pines was a soviet spy. Lighten up, people. This is so preposterous you can make a joke about it. Styles did just that, in fantastic form, at his most recent concert:

Unusual interview bytes and mystery spit notwithstanding, the biggest buzz about Harry Styles as far the film is concerned is his romance with Olivia Wilde. More on that in a second.

SMASH OR CRASH?: Styles, came out of the Venice buzz smelling like a rose, most fans, or stans, would agree. People will see the film for him alone, and like it for him alone. His style on the Venice red carpet gave just the right amount of good buzz, his affable, diplomatic presence did no harm. His meme moments were silly, lighthearted, and ultimately good natured fun that won’t hurt the film. Verdict: Smash

The It Girl – Florence Pugh was already a rising star before her role in the chilling 2019 film Midsommar, but now she is one of Hollywood’s most talked about “it” girls – generating buzz, nabbing great roles, and in the case of Don’t Worry Darling, adding a lot of mystery and speculation to rumors of drama behind the scenes. In August, stories were already surfacing that Pugh did not approve of the relationship between Wilde and Styles, but no direct sourcing was ever made, only reference to on set displays of affection and an imbalance of attention to the budding relationship, rather than the work to be done. No one has gone on record with these allegations.

There were also reports that Pugh was upset about a wide pay disparity between Styles and herself. Pugh never stated anything publicly and no one has gone on record to confirm those stories. Wilde has publicly denied any claims of pay discrepancy.

There is also speculation about Lebeouf’s alleged onset behavior and Pugh’s comfort level with him. Wilde noted in a Variety article that she believes “creating a safe, trusting environment is the best way to get people to do their best work. Ultimately, my responsibility is to the production and to the cast to protect them.” If Pugh didn’t feel protected, she has not said so publicly, but she may understandably have had a reaction to the leaked video of Wilde referring to a wake up call for “Miss Flo.” Ultimately, Lebeouf was out and Styles went in.

One thing that did play out publicly: Pugh apparently didn’t appreciate Wilde’s repeated focus on a scene in which Pugh’s character received oral sex.  In interviews about the film, Wilde often referenced the scene to discuss female empowerment. Pugh herself was less interested in discussing it, telling  Harper’s Bazaar “When it’s reduced to your sex scenes, or to watch the most famous man in the world (Styles) go down on someone, it’s not why we do it. It’s not why I’m in this industry… That’s just not what I’m going to be discussing because [this movie is] bigger and better than that. And the people who made it are bigger and better than that.”

But more intriguing than what Pugh has said about the film is what she hasn’t. When a movie set is abuzz with rumors of tension, the tabloid media love to talk about what a leading actress says about it – but they love to speculate about what she isn’t saying even more.

Pugh’s inability to attend the film’s Venice news conference was explained by the fact that she is shooting the film Dune, and was flying in during the event. Whether her schedule could have been adjusted or if her absence was intentional could be debated. But make no mistake, Pugh did show up for the red carpet – dressed in chic ensembles, playing to cameras and encapsulating every bit the role of movie star, delivering on the kind of lauded publicity movie executives and magazines live for. She even charmed reporters by bringing her grandmother to one red carpet. Did she sit next to Wilde at any of the events? No. Did she make eye contact with Wilde? Not much, if you ask some reporters. Is it her job to make extra effort to gaze into the eyes of her director? Nope.

It’s already been reported that Pugh will not be attending the New York publicity events for the film, but neither will Chris Pine. There will also be no junket for the film.

Internet detectives have also questioned Pugh’s lack of social media promotion for the film, which was limited to only a few Instagram posts made just recently. When the second trailer for Don’t Worry Darling was released, Pugh posted about an entirely different film she was in. Recently, Hollywood agents have started incorporating social media posts as a separate, payable line item in a deal, as a means of garnering more money for a talent in exchange for the promotion. As a result, some stars may be less inclined to post about a project unless it’s part of their contract, although most stars, simply as a means of showcasing work they are proud of, will post about their film to help ensure its success. On top of the simple act of good will for the project, fostering the film’s success is especially wise if the performer is receiving any of the back end box office returns, or simply to be on the radar of member of the academy or Hollywood foreign press.

SMASH OR CRASH?: If there is an example of the expression “if you can’t say something nice, don’t say anything at all,” then Pugh may an example of how this is working in the movie’s favor. IF the allegations of Pugh’s displeasure with the production of the film are true, she may actually be doing the project a favor by simply leaving it alone. Filming is over. In some ways, her lack of commentary about it only fuels the speculation, her inability to attend events doesn’t hurt the promotion, it amplifies the dialogue. (If you follow the adage, all publicity is good publicity, pull up a chair here.) While some would argue that she could ‘make nice’, say pleasant things about everyone and debunk everything being speculated, at this point many would choose not to believe her anyway. The seeds of speculation have already been planted. She came, she posed, she conquered. The gossip about her is solely related to this project. This too shall pass. Verdict: Smash

The Best Chris – If you weren’t already aware, there’s an informal, unofficial, internet sanctioned battle going on in Hollywood. That is, for the role of THE BEST CHRIS. You see, there are a handful of them that are the go-to leading men right now: Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Pratt and Chris Pine. All good looking, all the face of some blockbusters, and all pretty well aware of the competition they never signed up for.

Pine said in 2020, “I feel like I’m the underdog… Those damn Chrises man, it’s either change my name or really just step it up.”

One might say he did just that in Venice, where he was the easy going, handsome, stylishly dressed, happy-go-lucky, if occasionally zoned out member of the Don’t Worry Darling cast. Whether it was staring into nothing during a panel interview, being spit-on or not being spit-on, (who knows,) he was getting lots of meme treatment and lots of love. But it was his red carpet moment with Florence Pugh, where he photographed her like a proud dad, that his ranking among the Chris’s seemed to go up a notch, taking all the wind out of the rumor mill and making the red carpet look more fun than the stone faced side-show it can often be.

Seemingly unfazed by any and all perceived tension, Chris Pine represents all of us in 2022: Having fun when you can, but knowing when to withdraw and meditate, even if it’s during work. But most importantly, not taking any drama too seriously.

SMASH OR CRASH?: Most definitely smash. Happily not at the epicenter of the drama, Chris Pine is riding the wave in the best possible way. Verdict: SMASH


There is an adage in the world of marketing called the rule of seven. It means that for a consumer to know something exists (a product, an event, or in this case, a movie) they need to have been exposed to it seven times before they really remember it exists and are prompted to take action – (In this case, watch the trailer, go get tickets, you get the idea.) By the end of the week it’s likely that you’ve neared or passed your seven times being exposed to stories about Don’t Worry Darling. But here’s the question: Do you know the film’s premise? Have you actually watched the movie trailer? And will you see it?

Here’s a chance to take some action – check out the trailer below, then let us know in the survey if you plan to go see it! It opens in the U.S. on September 23rd.

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Get The Look! A Buyer’s Guide To Brian Balthazar’s Philadelphia Home Redesign



As the world was forced to spend more time at home, Brian Balthazar found himself in a position where he had sold a house before the lockdown and had to find a new one.

“We sold our home with all the furniture in it, so not only did we find ourselves struggling to find a new place, once we found one we didn’t have any furniture to put in it.”

And so, Brian and partner Dennis got resourceful, turning to refurbishing and buying store floor models. They were inspired to make bold, fun choices in color and style when they started shopping around for wallpaper.

Below is the segment as it appeared on the Today Show, and further down, a rundown of where you can find the pieces or ones with a similar look!


Let’s start with the Dining Room!

Move the slider dividing the image to see all of the before or all of the after!

Brian saysThe dining room was the first space we wanted to do. I haven’t had a true dining room since I was a kid, and I’ve always wanted a big table for dinner parties! There were no tables within the price range we wanted, so we found a floor model at one of our favorite go-to stores, Arhaus. We easily saved 75 percent on this table by getting the one that they weren’t going to carry anymore. The chairs are from Wayfair.  On each side of the fireplace (not seen in the photo, but visible in the Today Show video) are two black tall lanterns flanking the fireplace. I got them at Target. I can’t currently find them on their app, but similar versions pop up every year. Get thee to Homegoods! Homegoods and Homesense (same parent company) are my go-to spots for home accessories for virtually every room in the house. You never know what you’re going to find, which is part of the fun.

But let’s focus on the real WOW element to this room – the wallpaper! This pattern is called Bellewood, by RebelWalls.   As you will soon see, I’m sort of obsessed with their patterns. To me, this room is magical with the added whimsy of this forest pattern. (They also have a more muted version with grays and even one with blues.) I also love that by hanging the paper from the chair rail up, you almost get the feeling that you’re standing on a balcony overlooking the forest. I surrounded the whole room with this paper, which I love, but you could easily add the same magical feeling by just doing one feature wall. Their website shows how it can translate to a bedroom or office. You might be intimidated by hanging wallpaper but don’t be! This pattern has so much going on that it really looks perfect when it goes up!



Brian says: The guest bedroom is on the top floor of the house, so it’s got roof lines on two sides that make it a tricky space to navigate if you’re not careful. The planning of this space alone resulted in a few bonked heads. On the upside, the wall where the bed goes is tall, so it was an obvious place to create some visual pop. Again, the wallpaper takes the spotlight.  Called “Nude Roses,” also by RebelWalls, I love this design. Floral wallpaper was ‘big’ in popularity back in the 1920s when this house was built, but the patterns at that time were smaller, repeated more often, and were often really bold in color. This interpretation is so fun to me! Gone are the small roses in favor of oversized blooms, and the bold colors are more subdued pink and gray hues, with touches of dark green and creamy whites.

While roses can inherently feel feminine, the plaid bedding (30 dollars for a queen set from Target) are a surprising complement that keeps everything from feeling a little stereotypical. The side tables are mismatched – partly because we didn’t want to go too “matchy=matchy” – but also to save some money – the one on the left side (hard to catch here) was from West Elm. Normally $199, we got it for half off as the floor model. The one on the right we found in the trash. It was perfectly fine, clearly someone had just gotten tired of it! Nothing some disinfectant can’t fix. That gave us some extra money to spend – To reduce the softeness we went with industrial lamps and edison bulbs. The lamps  are called “Ginyard,” from Wayfair. The headboard was on sale at Arhaus. The dark gray takes balances out the pink hues well. The pillows are from Target and Homegoods.

For the 360 degree view of this room, watch the Instagram reel below!  You’ll see the dresser, on sale for $599 from Arhaus, a lamp from Homegoods, and mobiles from Amazon which we fashioned into a ‘piece of art’ that keeps you from hitting your head on the angled wall opposite the bed. Watch the video to check it out!


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Brian says: The idea for the basement game room was to create a space that feels like a lounge you might find if you went out with friends. When you go into this basement it definitely feels like you’ve gone someplace unique! Believe it or not, I found out the Today Show had invited me to to record my house tour just a few days in advance, and so we turned around this spot in just THREE days! There was literally no pool table at the time, (although it had already been scheduled to come on Friday, the wallpaper came on Saturday, (as well as the floor tiles!) and by Sunday we were covered in paint and glue and drinking wine to celebrate it’s completion! I recorded the final video that Monday.

Some people might not think to take a bright basement and make it dark, but that was our first instinct. Clubs are dark and moody, and we wanted this to feel like that. We painted the walls Wrought Iron by Benjamin Moore, which is a very dark gray that seems to take on different hues based on where you paint it and the light that shines on it. We painted the ceiling black. This was Thursday night! Then Friday the pool table came. The floor tiles (“Tweed Indeed” in black by Flor) hadn’t arrived until the next day, so when they did arrive I meticulously trimmed four tiles to fit around the pool table legs so it looks like they were there the whole time. I had ordered the pool table online weeks before from and by sheer coincidence it was scheduled to arrive in time for me to shoot the redesign. This was the second time I have ordered a pool table from them (which was initially scary because you’re not even seeing it beforehand!) but it always arrives in perfect condition to your specific selections. I love that the felt jet black and keeps things dark and moody. In the time that has passed since this photo was taken, I’ve added more of the carpet tiles to make the carpeted floor area darker and bigger.

But once again, the wall mural steals the show in a marvelous way! This mural is called “A Priori” from Rebelwalls, and is inspired by The Allegory of Divine Providence and Barberini Power, a famous fresco by Italian artist Pietro da Cortona. Fitting, because this house is Italian in style on the outside. You can’t see it from this photo but the wallpaper runs up part of the ceiling as well. It truly gives the room a wow factor when you enter it. The lamps are from Homegoods, (we’ve since added some industrial floor lamps for extra mood lighting) and the piano was something we brought with us. The bar tables are from Amazon ($72 each) and the stools we brought with us – they were discards from someone who didn’t like their original bright colors and thought they were dated! We covered them ourselves with gray plaid fabric and they’re better than they were new!


So there you have it! Hope you enjoyed the rooms and find something you like!

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Well Sh-t, Leslie Jordan Has Shared Three Videos Of Himself Dancing In One Week And They’re All Perfect



Doing much better now, Leslie.

If you’ve never believed that “good things come in small packages” then you’ve never seen Leslie Jordan’s instagram. The 4’11” actor known for his iconic roles in shows like Will & Grace and American Horror Story has recently developed a whole new fanbase who loves him for his viral Instagram videos. Usually starting each video by greeting fans with “Well shit, how y’all doing?”, viewers have grown to anticipate Jordan’s hilarious recounting of stories from his time in show biz or growing up in the south. This week, however, the Tennessee native has shared 3 videos of himself dancing within 5 days and honestly it’s precisely what we all need right now.

The first video was posted on August 12th and shows Jordan taking part of the “Git up and dance challenge” which swept the internet about a year ago. Even though he is a little late, the video is still perfection.

On August 13th, Jordan does a dance to “You Can’t Stop The Beat” from Hairspray a with special guest dance partner Katie Couric!

Finally, on August 15th, Jordan does an epic “tootsie roll” and challenges Real Housewives Of Beverly Hills star, Lisa Rinna, to do the tootsie roll herself. Of course Rinna commented with a big “ON IT ❤️😂.” Who could say no to the viral star?!?

The moral of the story here is that the world is going through some tough times right now but maybe, even for a few seconds, we could all feel better if we’d just dance it out. Thanks for the inspo Leslie Jordan!

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