April 26, 2012 at 8:00 am , by Sonia Harmon
Ever since Kelly Clarkson won the first season of American Idol in 2002, she’s been America’s singing sweetheart. And 10 years later she’s still crankin’ out hit after hit, from power anthem “Since U Been Gone” to the more recent jam, “Stronger,” which is also the title of her new album. Still haven’t had a chance to take a listen? Well you’re in luck, because we’re giving away twenty-five copies of the deluxe version of Stronger, which also includes her hit single “Mr. Know It All.” Do your iPod a favor and enter to win by leaving a comment on this blog post. Good luck!
February 15, 2012 at 12:00 pm , by Sonia Harmon
Latest role. In Smash I play a girl from Iowa who dreams of being on Broadway. It’s the perfect part: Growing up, my mother always took me to see musical theater; plus, the series is produced by Steven Spielberg. Anything he’s involved with grabsmy attention.
Moving from Los Angeles to New York City, where the NBC show is filmed. My New York apartment is so much smaller. I was like, Where do I put all my shoes? So I bought all these bins, filled them with shoes and shoved them under my bed.
My dream collaboration. I would love to work with Adele. Of course, I only say that in my dreams because I don’t believe it will ever happen!
How I give back. I started McPhee Outreach, which helps children in need. We built a preschool in a small country in West Africa called Burkina Faso. I wasn’t able to be at the opening ceremony, but I watched a video of the people there talking about what the chool meant to them. I was like, Wow, I helped make this happen.
Best advice I ever got. Keep one or two voices in your life, meaning one or two people you can trust. And don’t stray too far from those voices because this business is stressful!
Guilty pleasure. Keeping Up With the Kardashians. Khloe is my favorite—she’ll say exactly what she thinks, then follows it up with, “I’m only telling you things other people say behind your back.” Love that about her!
Before this current hairstyle, McPhee’s hair was cropped and platinum blond. “I get tired of the same old thing.” Check out this slideshow of McPhee’s best hairstyles.
October 19, 2011 at 10:35 am , by Sonia Harmon
The week started off with a big twist—one of the contestants would get to go home with their trainer. Even though I knew it would mean so much to Bonnie and Becky to see their families, I didn’t want to have to leave one of them behind. I was relieved when the board chose Sunny, especially after we found out that her weight would be the only one that counted for the black team that week.
During the challenge, I was shocked to hear that Joe drank 8-10 cans of soda every day! Hopefully now that they know how much sugar is in soda, the contestants will think twice about drinking it so often. It’s important for them to understand that nutrition is a huge part of losing and maintaining weight. Earlier in the week, Bonnie complained about being in pain, so when I saw her go down in the challenge I was really scared that she might be seriously injured. It was inspiring to see her fight her way back up and finish the course!
I decided to mix things up and do a workout in the pool to help take some of the pressure off of Bonnie’s knees. The pool is a great place to do high-intensity, low-impact exercises. Becky was really pushing herself, but I was concerned that Bonnie wasn’t focused. I pulled her aside to let her know that it’s okay to let her emotions out, even if it’s anger. Exercise is a great outlet to help you work through any emotion.
At the weigh-in, I wasn’t surprised to hear that Bonnie was upset with me. We weren’t seeing eye-to-eye all week and she felt like I was pushing her past her limits, but I wouldn’t have been doing my job if I let her slack off. I really care about her and I know she’s capable of anything, so I wanted to push her past her comfort zone and help her reach her full potential. And thankfully, with Becky’s eight pound weight loss and Bonnie’s four pound weight loss, our team was safe from elimination. All of our hard work and determination paid off this week—even if it meant Bonnie was upset with me. I can’t wait to see what we accomplish next week!
September 27, 2011 at 2:18 pm , by Sonia Harmon
What if you looked at war as through the eyes of women? That’s the question at the heart of the new five-part PBS series, Women, War & Peace, which focuses on the perspectives of women living in conflict zones around the world. “We have this image of a male hero striking out into war,” says Abigail Disney, an executive producer. “And littering the sidelines, if they’re visible at all, are these women who don’t really matter. But there are no sidelines. Women very much do matter. We need to restore women to a story they’ve never been a part of.”
The series begins airing Tuesday, October 11th. But this Thursday at 7:30 EST, LHJ will present an exclusive online sneak preview of Peace Unveiled, the third installment in the series, which follows three women in Afghanistan who are fighting for the right to be heard in their country’s political arena. (To see the preview log on to livestream.com/independent lens.) Afterward, stick around for a live online panel discussion with Disney and director Gini Reticker, where you can talk with other viewers about the film and submit questions for the filmmakers.
In the meantime, check out our interview with Disney (yes, that same Disney—Walt Disney was her great-uncle) about the series and what you can do to help.
How difficult was this series to film?
There were incredible difficulties in getting footage and getting the women to feel safe enough to talk to us because they were being threatened every day. Some of them were getting death threats in text messages on their cell phones while we were interviewing them. So it was hard, but we had to find women who were willing to step up and take a chance being on camera. Read more
September 23, 2011 at 12:05 pm , by Sonia Harmon
Among the many hot button issues in our country, there’s one we should all be able to agree on: the importance of a great education. This weekend, NBC is starting a conversation on this topic in a major way with its Education Nation Summit, which kicks off Sunday at noon (EST) with the second-annual Teacher Town Hall on MSNBC. The live broadcast will be a discussion for and about teachers, and the challenges they face today. We talked to NBC news anchor Brian Williams, who will moderate the discussion, about this special initiative.
Ladies’ Home Journal: Tell us about NBC’s Education Nation project.
Brian Williams: When we do pieces on education on my broadcast nightly news, we always label them part of our Education Nation campaign. It’s just an enormous commitment by the network to say, “Look, we’re allowed to have issues that are important to us. We just don’t take a stand, but we’d like to be the conduit.” One thing we do that has become quite popular is the Teacher Town Hall. We literally have a tent on the skating rink at 30 Rockefeller Plaza and it’s just like being in the teacher’s lounge. Growing up as a kid, didn’t you always wonder what went on in there? So we let them blow off steam. It’s not a political debate, it’s not a NASCAR race—but it’s as exciting as gatherings go. It just happens to be about education.
What are some education issues you think people need to be more aware of?
Well, I just think people need to dive into the reform effort. Parents need to dial in, folks whose kids are grown and out of school who have time to volunteer and help out, they need to dial in, rich folks who have money to give. That’s the lesson I’ve learned, that when you stop going to PTA meetings and when your kids grow up and out, your obligation to education doesn’t end. In many ways it’s just beginning. You still have a lot to give.
Do you remember a teacher that really affected you as a kid? Read more
June 6, 2011 at 11:21 am , by Sonia Harmon
Tonight is the premiere of season two of Masterchef, with chefs Graham Elliot, Joe Bastianich, and Gordon Ramsay back to judge the home cooks vying for the $250,000 grand prize. This year’s cooking competition comes with some surprisingly tasty dishes from unsuspecting characters, as well as some flat out awful auditions—and the judges don’t hold back with their critiques. Since we all can’t hold the title of Masterchef, we asked Bastianich to share a few quick tips for the rest us wanting to whip up a great meal at home.
Tip #1 “One of the big things I tell people is that when you’re cooking pasta, the last 20 percent of the cook time should be done in a sauté pan with the sauce. So reserve some of the pasta boiling water and add it to your sauce with the pasta in a sauté pan.”
Tip #2 “When you’re grilling steaks, pull them out 3-4 hours before you cook them and leave them on the counter. Season the meat while it’s cold and let it come to room temperature with the salt, pepper and seasoning on it. To get a perfect medium-rare or rare you want your steaks, or any kind of meat, to be at room temperature when it hits the grill.”
Tip #3 “All home cooks should have good olive oil and a good quality sea salt for finishing in their kitchen. And dried porcini mushrooms are like the secret recipe for everything. Put them in a coffee grinder and turn them into a powder, which you can use to marinate meats with salt and pepper and sugar. Anywhere you want to add flavor, you’ve got to use porcini mushrooms. They’re great.”
May 26, 2011 at 10:09 am , by Sonia Harmon
And the confetti falls again.
When I saw Olivia and Hannah at the live Biggest Loser finale, I think my jaw practically hit the floor! I even saw a picture of them the day before and was still amazed at what they were able to accomplish. I think it’s so important for everyone at home to know that the finale is a stepping-stone into a lifetime of wellness, but it is still an event that contestants specifically train for. I weighed my finale weight of 122 pounds for about 2.2 seconds! I was healthy when I left the Biggest Loser campus five weeks before our finale date, but I made a conscious choice to train for the competition. I gave it my all so that no matter what the results ended up being, I knew I’d given it everything I had.
For those five weeks I was in the gym every day from 7 a.m to 2 a.m., wearing a 40-pound weight vest the majority of the time. My diet was very bland with frequent small portions of proteins and green vegetables, and I only drank water. With all of that, I only lost 13 additional pounds, but that’s because I didn’t have anything left to lose—I was 11% body fat. I finally understood how all those women complaining about having to lose 10-15 pounds must have felt. I couldn’t relate because before that period of my life losing 10-15 pounds was like sand off the dunes. With all that said, this was not a lifestyle change, it was training for the win of my life! I was training for my Olympic gold medal, my Tour de France, my history making moment, my confetti. When the moment was over and the confetti was being swept off the floor, so was the training. Read more