Real Life Besties Jessica St. Clair and Lennon Parham Talk About Playing House

April 16, 2014 at 5:41 pm , by

How far would you go to help out a bestie? On the hilarious new sitcom, Playing House, Emma (Jessica St. Clair) ditches her high-powered career to help her childhood friend Maggie (Lennon Parham), who has a baby on the way. We talked to the two actresses (who are also executive producers and co-writers) about their inspiration behind this LOL show.

Jessica St. Clair: Lennon and I are actually real-life best friends. We met 12 years ago doing the Upright Citizens Brigade Theater in New York City. There were very few women there. We were the only ones in sweater sets.

Lennon Parham: All of our ideas inevitably start with us sitting in my living room binge watching Oprah’s Favorites. Plus, we’ve never seen a sitcom where two female friends come together at a turning point in their lives.

St. Clair: We get ourselves in the most ridiculous scenarios on the show, just like we do in real life. Like we’ll be in a high-powered Hollywood meeting and there will be a bowl of sea salt caramels on the table. Lennon will say, ‘Oh, I’m going to eat one!’ And then her crown will come off her tooth in the middle of the meeting. I’m like, “Who puts a sea-salt caramel in their mouth during a high-powered Hollywood meeting!”

Parnham: If you have a best friend, they’re the ones who really know you. This show is kind of a love letter to those friendships. It’s like Thelma and Louise, Beaches, and Fried Green Tomatoes.

St. Clair: Only on our show, nobody dies.

Playing House premieres April 29 on USA Network. Watch an exclusive clip from the show above!


Live Chat with Author Meg Wolitzer of The Interestings, the LHJ Book Club May Pick

April 14, 2014 at 9:32 am , by

Bookmark alert! Come back at 1pm ET on Tuesday, April 29th for an exclusive live chat with author Meg Wolitzer of The Interestings, the LHJ Book Club May Pick! 10 lucky chat participants will also have the chance to win a super-cute tote bag inspired by the book cover.

 

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Elisabeth Hasselbeck Talks Love, Weakness, and Life on Television

April 8, 2014 at 10:55 am , by

On joining Fox & Friends after leaving The View
It was like going from hanging out with your sisters to playing catch with your brothers. I don’t think I am or will ever be the best at what I do but I try really hard. My parents gave me the freedom to pursue passions and take sensible risks.

Getting up at 2:45 A.M. for my job…
I don’t even put one foot out of bed without reaching for my concealer. I have concealer everywhere: in my coat pocket, on my nightstand, in my car. The alarm goes of, I hit snooze. I feel for my concealer and I feel for my glasses. I put the concealer on and I’m ready to start my day.

My first date with my husband [former pro quarterback Tim Hasselbeck]…
We met when we were students at Boston College. We got locked out of the dorm we both lived in. There was nowhere to go, so we sat up against a bike rack and fell asleep holding hands. That first date lasted 14 hours. It wasn’t magical—we had our backs up against a metal bike rack!—but it felt strangely comfortable.

What I learned from being on Survivor in 2001…
I don’t like to fish. I don’t like being out in the wilderness. I don’t want to be with an animal that doesn’t have a cute name or an owner. I went in thinking I was tough and I found out I wasn’t tough at all. But I learned that facing your weaknesses can make you stronger.

The biggest misconception about me…
That I’m super-organized and type A. I’m a wannabe type A. I don’t even see the messes I make. Right now I probably have an apple rotting at the bottom of my bag.

Interview by Kate Meyers 

Photo courtesy of Fox News


Exclusive Clip: Chasing Maria Menounos

March 5, 2014 at 9:44 am , by

Want to see our April cover girl Maria Menounos in action? Check out this exclusive clip from her new reality show on Oxygen, Chasing Maria Menounos, which premieres March 18 at 10 pm ET.


5 Minutes with Octavia Spencer

October 9, 2013 at 11:54 am , by

The Academy Award-winning actress has clearly got the acting thing down (see: The Help, Fruitvale Station, and the upcoming Diablo Cody film Paradise) so we chatted with her about an entirely new venture—publishing her first novel.

You’re publishing your first novel, Randi Rhodes, Ninja Detective: The Case of the Time-Capsule Bandit, as part of a young adults book series. What inspired you to come up with the character?

The characters in my book are doing everything I ever dreamed of doing, from martial arts to actually solving a mystery. I grew up reading a lot of mystery books—everything from Nancy Drew to The Hardy Boys series—so I just decided to put pen to paper and the book and Randi’s character began to take shape.

How did you start writing the series?

It’s what I do in my downtime. I’ve had some acting roles that were recurring—we call it “day playing” because you work a day here, a day there. And between those days, I had to do something to keep myself from going crazy.

Is becoming an author something you always wanted to do?

I knew I wanted to write for kids because growing up reading shaped who I am as a person. It also took a lot longer for me to finish a book because I have dyslexia. It definitely was a challenge, but you cope and figure out ways to get through it. Once I jumped that hurdle, I actually began to enjoy reading.

Do you feel like having dyslexia has affected your work as an actress?

Absolutely. I have severe stage fright. The biggest thing for me was reading aloud. I wasn’t confident that what I was saying was actually on the page, quite honestly. To this day, I hate table reads and it definitely has affected how I approach my work. I start memorizing as soon as I get a script because I know it’s going to take me longer to feel confident. Even though it’s a challenge, I don’t feel encumbered by it.

So far there are two books planned for the Randi Rhodes series. Do you already know where you want to take the character?

There are so many adventures to be had. I’m excited for everyone to read the books but I’m also a little nervous—you feel vulnerable when people read your work because it’s a part of you. But this really is a dream come true.


5 Minutes with Joe Bastianich

September 27, 2013 at 9:00 am , by

The Masterchef dishes about working with kids on the new Fox show, Masterchef Junior, which debuts September 27. Please Joe, tell us you don’t make any of the little contestants cry.

The contestants on the show range from age eight to 13. Do you judge differently on Masterchef Junior than you do on Masterchef?

We want these kids to cook on the same level as the adults, so we try to treat them the way we treat the adults. The kids were a little bit tepid in the beginning, but as much as we’re judging them, we’re also coaching them.

So you don’t go easy on them?

You’ve got to give them love, but sometimes a little bit of tough love is also good. And the kids are great because they’re honest—they speak their minds unhindered, which makes for great reality television.

How did the kids fare in the kitchen as compared to the adults?

They’re better than the adults, I swear to god. A lot of the baking is really impressive because baking is very technical. I think their use of what we consider really gourmet ingredients is amazing.

What’s one of the main pieces of advice you gave the children during the show?

Don’t be frustrated. The one thing that kids do is take their setbacks very seriously. So I think you’ve got to teach them how to regroup, come back and do better next time. The adults have a little bit more maturity—they can deal with setbacks and have more patience. But the kids make up for that because they have so much passion and energy for cooking.

Do you think you would’ve liked being on a cooking show as a kid? 

No, I was much too stupid. These kids are much smarter than me!


Carrie Ann Inaba’s Season 17 DWTS Blog: Week Two

September 24, 2013 at 4:41 pm , by

Whew! What a week it’s been. Last Monday was our premiere and there were so many changes to the format we were all spinning, but that was just the beginning of last week. Next I had a crazy week of prepping for the Emmy Awards on Sunday. (Shout out to Derek Hough—he won for Outstanding Choreography!) The next day I was up early for my workout and had to head to the Dancing with the Stars set for our second and most action packed episode this season. It’s been a busy week so I’m happy to be sipping my coffee at home as I write my Ladies’ Home Journal blog. Let’s get to it.

Season 17 is a whole new Dancing with the Stars and I am truly enjoying the energy of it all. It wasn’t our choice to go to one day a week—it was the network’s decision—but we’re making it the best it can be. I know some of our fans are quite upset that the show is on only one night a week now, but change happens and the best option is to go with it. We will all miss what it was, but it’s time to embrace what it is. What I love most about the new season is that the pace moves so quickly! Sure, last night in particular felt like a speed race to the end with all 12 couples dancing and the elimination, but we knew it was going to be our “tightest” show. We have a few kinks to work out to make it a bit smoother but overall, I’m impressed with our producers for finding a really fun and action-packed way to make the necessary changes. I didn’t write a blog last week because it was such a crazy week, but I want to touch on our big opening number of the season. It was choreographed by my dear friend Mandy Jo Moore, who was my assistant for many years and is an now Emmy-nominated choreographer. For the first time in DWTS history, the judges got to dance. It was barely a count of eight, but it was so much fun to be dancing again. I thank Mandy once again for making that happen, and also Ashley Edens, who puts those fantastic numbers together week after week.

Okay, now on to my thoughts about the show. I got a lot of tweets about the lift rule so I want to take the time to explain it again. On our show, there are certain dances like the traditional ballroom and Latin dances that do not allow lifts. The rule was put in place in the beginning to keep the playing field even. We made the rule for those who are not as young or as agile so that everyone could play at the same level. However, after many seasons, we’ve added dances outside of the traditional dances to keep our fans excited and the show fresh. Argentine Tango, Salsa, Lindy Hop, Swing, Jazz and Contemporary all allow lifts. Foxtrot, Waltz, Tango, Quickstep, Viennese Waltz, Paso Doble, Rumba, Cha Cha, Samba and Jive do not. I realize we don’t have time to refresh everyone’s memory about lifts each season but I do hope this explains it.

So, who did you love most last night? Do you agree with who went home? (Spoiler alert for those of you who DVR the show!) The first to go was Keyshawn Johnson, and I wish he’d shown the audience more of his personality in the first week where their vote could’ve kept him in. It wouldn’t have changed his scores, but I do think the audience may not have connected with him last week. He seemed to be a bit “lost in the crowd” and with 12 couples competing, you need to find a way to stand out so that people remember you when they vote. You have to touch their hearts if you want them to root for you when your scores aren’t so great. Take Bill Nye, the Science Guy for example. Who would’ve thought he had so many fans? Wow! There were over three million YouTube hits for his “Weird Science” routine. He certainly touched some people and made an impact. I personally didn’t find the dance very creative, but he’s the type of contestant that makes our show special and gives it so much heart. From a judging perspective though, it seemed like we’d seen that dance before. I know Bill’s partner Tyne is a newbie to our show, but it’s her duty to research and come up with new and exciting ways to impress the judges. It’s no easy task, but it is an element to consider when creating these routines. It gives impact. And with a competition as tight as this one looks like it’s going to get, they need to have impact.

Last night, Bill’s Beethoven performance had impact. Tyne did a fantastic job of creating a great number—I loved it and it helped raise their scores. He was confident and focused and he delivered a performance that was complete. He needs to add more content and his footwork and placement need a lot of work, but the performance was definitely memorable. Others who stood out last night were Leah Remini, Christina Milian and Elizabeth Berkley for their new found confidence. Elizabeth stood out to me Val choreographed their dance so that they were right in front of us; he didn’t hide her behind him and block our view from the judging panel like so may others do. He faced us and showcased her beautifully. She’s a powerhouse of a dancer with a special languid strength to her movements. Christina blew me away with her new found confidence. People tend to harass me when I give constructive criticism to the ladies, as if I’m trying to put them down, but the goal is exactly what Christina produced last night. She listened and raised her confidence and as a result, she blossomed! She was fantastic. That’s the whole point of constructive criticism—so they can improve their performances. Kudos to Christina! Another woman who gained confidence this week was Leah Remini. Her story is pretty deep; I didn’t know about the Scientology and them wanting her to fail. That’s too bad, to feel that there are people out there who want you to fail. It can overwhelm even the best and most confident people. So once again, I celebrate a strong woman who is a survivor and is not giving up. She raised her game and she did it with a feisty vengeance. Go Samba Girl!

This season looks like it’s going to be fun, but if you blink you’ll miss it, so tune in on Monday nights! For you fashionistas, last night I was wearing an Aiden mattox gold beaded geo mini dress, Steve Madden Dipsiee gold spike pumps, and rings from XIV Karats LTD (to answer a Twitter question, the pear-shaped white diamond ring is 6.34 carats).

Stay tuned and let’s chat again soon. Love to you and remember to hug your animals! They make the world a better place. Just for fun, here’s a photo of my dog, Buddy, in a tree. Animal photos always make people smile, so smile!