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RIP Godfather of Fitness

Jacklalanne Jack LaLanne has died at the age 96. Cher did commercials for Jack LaLanne Health Spas in the late 80s.

LaLanne was known as the Godfather of Fitness. He died in Morro Bay, California, of complications from pneumonia.

Everyone should lift a weight today in his honor.



Becoming Chaz

ChazChaz Bono's gender transformation documentary, Becoming Chaz, has just premiered at the Sundance Film Festival last weekend and Oprah has snapped up the rights to air it on her OWN network.

From Entertainment Weekly:

Beyond hormone treatments and surgeries, the film walks moviegoers through Chaz’s changing relationship with his mom, Cher and girlfriend, Jennifer Elia.

From The Salt Lake Tribune:

The three stars of the premiere of “Becoming Chaz” were, in order, Oprah Winfrey, Chaz’s mom Cher, and Chaz’s longtime lover Jen.

But the buzz at the Park City premiere was all about Oprah, who, to the delight of Chaz and the film’s directors, has bought “Chaz” for distribution on her new OWN Network.

“Oprah said last night that she has seen the film and she loves it quite a lot,” said co-director Randy Barbato. Then he joked: “With Oprah approval, we don’t even need a premiere. We’re done.”

From the Sundance page:

Chaz Bono was a male trapped in a female shell for as long as he can remember. Growing up as Sonny and Cher’s adorable golden-haired daughter in a body he felt wasn’t his own was a crucible it took years to transcend. Now, as he undertakes gender reassignment, he’s bravely decided to share the process on camera. Becoming Chaz invites us along on Chaz’s remarkable journey of transformation. As hormone shots give way to top surgery, down-to-earth, unflappable Chaz beams with a sense of liberation and goes public with his story to put a face on a misunderstood issue. Meanwhile, his gregarious girlfriend grapples with the realities of suddenly living with a man, and it’s clear sex change isn’t solely a physical transition.

Intimate and nakedly honest, the film reveals the humanity and courage it takes for Chaz to ultimately embrace his true self. His moving struggle will reverberate profoundly for anyone to whom authenticity matters.

The film has been receiving good reviews. Excerpts:

Initially the documentary shows Cher struggling with her child's so-called gender re-assignment, though she eventually embraces Chaz's transformation, even if she struggles to refer to him as he.
While she has already spoken about him on Late Night with David Letterman, as we see in the film, expect her to be a guest on Oprah any time soon.

Becoming Chaz delves into the relationship with a level of honesty I wouldn’t have expected from a celebrity profile. Though the film probably would not have mass appeal were it to focus on a transgendered individual without ridiculously famous parents, Chaz uses his celebrity as a form of advocacy.

One of the most poignant segments of the documentary is the interview with Cher, who is openly uncomfortable with Chaz's transition and admits to being afraid to see him post-surgery. Cher often uses the pronoun "she" to refer to Chaz and uses Chaz's childhood nickname in place of Chaz or even Chastity. It humanizes the larger-than-lifesinger and actress, even as it shows how far even those we look to as icons and advocates have to go. (Cher and Chaz finally appear together at the end as Chaz, Jennifer and Cher attend the premiere of 'Burlesque.' Cher was reportedly not at the Sundance premiere of 'Becoming Chaz.')

Oscar Snub

Mask3 Okay, it's not quite a snub of Mask-nitude. But it sucks because I was looking forward to an Oscar-live performance of the song. It's all about me isn't it?

In today's Oscar nomination flurry, many noticed that "You Haven't Seen the Last of Me Yet," the "Burlesque" song written by Diane Warren and performed by Cher -- aka, the best original song winner at the Golden Globes -- didn't receive a nomination for the Academy's best original song. Cher was among those who expressed outrage, tweeting: "The Golden Globe 4 BEST SONG & not even get nominated by the OSCARS? Oh well it is..what it is…the sun is still shining!" In other words, haters gonna hate.

Harumph! Well, oscars love a reason to exclude somebody.

This does not upset me to the level that Farah Fawcett being excluded from the Death Reel last year upset me. Didn't they say something about how she didn't make enough movies.  Umm...I counted seven, including such hits as Cannanball Run, Extremities, and The Apostle. Michael Jackson did make the Death Reel and his only film performance (outside of playing himself) was The Wiz. I'm probably a bigger Jackson fan than I am a Fawcett fan and yet this still irked me to no end. Because it was so obviously a diss. The Oscar people tried to rationalize their obvious exclusion with junk that didn't hold water to anyone who knew how to use

Because they're jerks. There I said it.

Onward to Elephants

MV5BNzczOTU5NjM3NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMDk1NjcwNA@@__V1__SY317_ So Cher's next movie premiere is July 8. In this one she voices the elephant in The Zookeeper, about "animals at one particular zoo who decide to break their code of silence in order to help their lovable zookeeper gain the attention of one particular woman."

And as Cher reminds us at the premiere of Elephants and Man: A Litany of Tragedy, zoo animals have a lot more to think about than a zookeeper's lousy love life.

Cher attended the premiere to endorse the documentary about the mistreatment of elephants. Which is awesome!




Watch the documentary online: tragedy-part-1

Cher's arrival and comments: Elephants

To get an idea how annoying photographers are at premieres:

Ever since working for a few St. Louis-based animal welfare groups as a young woman, I can't endorse zoos. Like Cher says about having elephants at zoos: it's just not worth the suffering. I would extrapolate that to the gorillas, tigers and birds. Okay...and even the snakes, too.


Cher Inspired Disney Villain

ImagesSo is it irony that Cher now has a bonafide Disney villain inspired after her "look" when all she wanted as a wee tot was to be light and blonde because the only dark-haired girls were Disney villains?

Cher was the inspiration for Disney's latest villain, one of the film's director's has revealed.

Byron Howard looked to one of the biggest icons in the entertainment industry when he was working on new animation Tangled. He says Cher’s exotic look cemented his decision to base Mother Gothel on her. The animated feature tells the classic story of Rapunzel who finds herself trapped in a tower by a wicked witch.

“People keep coming back to this, but it’s true!” Byron told Cover Media. “I guess it’s because Cher is kinda gothic and exotic looking and definitely she was one of the people we looked at visually as far as what gives you a striking character.”

“Donna Murphy also really influenced what Gothel would look like. She was a hard one to crack,” Byron added. “In this version she’s not really a witch or sorceress, she has to be very intelligent, compelling, manipulative character who is very smart and can convince this poor girl she is her mother. So in order to contract her with Rapunzel, who is very petite with blonde hair, we need to go completely in the opposite direction with Gothel.

Chertangled “She is very all, curvy and voluptuous, and has this very exotic look. We’re trying to say: this is not Razunzel’s mother.”

Hmmm. I see Cher's point.


Director of Suspect Dies

000337_21 Been quite busy re-organizing after Christmas vacation and getting back into a novel and the next Cher zine. John and I have also been making some day trips out and around northern New Mexico. We went to Santa Rosa to see the blue hole, this totally awesome gargantuan spring 81 feet deep. My grandmother used to tell a story about moving with her siblings from Texas to Santa Rosa in a covered wagon. We drove around a little bit and then to Tucumcari, New Mexico, to that town’s quite interesting history museum, and back to Santa Rosa. The famous Route 66 restaurant I picked out for lunch, Joseph's, was a disaster of bad food and service. We drove by the place three times in two hours and a waitress was always outside the front door smoking a cigarette. When we finally stopped to eat there this waitress ended up being our very unenthusiastic waitress. My reputation for picking out our traveling eateries is now in jeopardy.

....but this is all to say I’m behind in my BREAKING-AWAY Cher news.

The director of one of my favorite Cher movies, Suspect, died the other day. Peter Yates also most famously directed Steve McQueen in Bullitt; and he also directed the great Midwestern growing up flick Breaking Away and Krull and a movie I was once most obsessed with after we first got cable—Albert Finney and Tom Courtenay being very theatrical in The Dresser

Back on Top: The Burlesque DVD and Various Accolades

1e9ec060ada01d6003221210_L One of the things I brought home from my Christmas trip to see my parents was some old, late-80s exercise tapes I found in my stuff still stored in their basement. 

For the last few years I’ve been doing pilates for my back and they always remind me of Doreen Rivera’s Stretch for Life tape I had back when I was doing aerobics. So not only did I get to re-explore that tape but tapes by Kathy Smith, Denise Austin and none other than fitness pixie, Jane Fonda. I used to favor the Rivera tape because the stretches made me feel good. In fact I hated the Fonda/Austin/Smith tapes and never did them. They were so chipper, so perky in that 80s happy-color way. And something about Jane Fonda’s voice used to annoy the hell outa me. My sister-in-law and I used to work out for years to Joanie Greggains records. I watched two Joanie Greggains tapes again last week and man, those were some really dangerous stuff we used to do. I can’t do half of it anymore but I throw my back out.

Surprisingly, now that I’m old, I loved the Jane Fonda, Kathy Smith and Denise Austin tapes. I decided Austin was very encouraging, Smith was challenging and the Fonda tape was most pleasant this time around. What the hell as happened to me?

The Golden Globe

So imagine my surprise to be having this new Fonda moment when it’s Jane herself who appeared last Sunday to do the somewhat awkward introducing of Burlesque for Cher at the Golden Globes. Jane called herself Cher’s friend and really gave a cheerful introduction to the dubious nominee. It was nice.

My friends thought the opening Ricky Gervais Cher joke was mean. How can tickets to a Cher show be considered a bribe, he asked. Do you want to see Cher in Vegas? No. Because it’s not 1975! I actually thought it was funny and athough a jibe, it diffused the drama somewhat. Besides the scholarly fact 70799173-songwriter-diane that Cher wasn’t touring in 1975, the point is…how big of a bribe was it? For real. 

I admit, it didn’t look good and I hope it doesn’t hurt her chances for an Oscar nod for best song. I know. I know. I am not a huge Diane Warren fan. Well documented. But I was really happy she won a Golden Globe award for the song and I was moved by her acceptance.

The Burlesque DVD

You can now pre-order the DVD or Blu-Ray which are set to come out March 1. I’m really pissed the special features are only rumored to come out on Blu-Ray, which I don’t have and won’t be getting soon.
According to Sony:

Blu-ray extras will include director's commentary, an alternate opening, a blooper reel, The Burlesque Lounge: Alternate Full Musical Performances and 5 featurettes (Burlesque is Back!, The Performers: The Cast of Burlesque, Setting the Stage:  Production Design & Performers, Inside the Dressing Room: Creating the Burlesque Look and The Set List: The Music & Choreography of Burlesque).

To Be Camp or Not to Be Camp

The Gay and Lesbian Entertainment Critics Association, a group of writers from publications like The Advocate and Us Weekly, which has announced that the winner for “Campy – Intentional or Not – Film of the Year” is “Burlesque.” It beat out worthwhile contenders like “Sex and the City 2” and “Piranha 3-D.” The win was especially notable because Steven Antin, the director of “Burlesque,” only recently told the Bagger that he didn’t care for the film’s reception. “It really wasn’t what I was aiming for, the camp,” he said of the film starring Cher and Christina Aguilera. “I wanted to make a fun film that was a throwback to Hollywood’s golden age of musicals, and people perceived it as camp for obvious reasons. I was surprised it was perceived that way.”

I am perplexed that Antin didn’t anticipate this.

Breaking the Record

So the big news last week was that Cher’s song from the movie, “You Haven’t Seen the Last of Me,” not only won a Golden Globe for best song but also topped the dance charts. This marked a very impressive chart record for Cher.

From the LV Examiner:

With all that to celebrate how appropriate is it that at press time, Cher had just received a Golden Globe award for Best Song in her latest big screen event “Burlesque.” She told her audience after winning that award that the director for the movie didn’t even want to add the song into the film. But Cher did and she now has another statue to prove it.

And here that song has been the most successful piece of the movie. You can already download a karaoke version:

Cher now has the record for biggest span of time between two hot 100 number 1 singles and is the only act EVER to have a #1 hit song on the charts in each of 6 consecutive decades. [Note: this is a different achievement than the one my friend Christopher was hoping for--a top ten hot 100 single in five decades.]

From Billboard:

On the Dance/Club Play Songs chart to be released on Thursday (Jan. 20), the song reaches No. 1, making the leading lady the only act to have notched a No. 1 single on a Billboard chart in each of the last six decades.

In fitting Cher style, she tells Billboard, "How can it be six decades when I'm only four decades?"
Written by Diane Warren, the ballad was remixed into an uptempo number for dance floors by the likes of Dave Aude, StoneBridge, Edson Pride and Almighty.

Cher collected her first leader on a Billboard list Aug. 14, 1965, when Sonny & Cher's "I Got You Babe" began its first of three weeks at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 singles chart.

In the '70s, she racked up a trio of Hot 100 No. 1s on her own with the story songs "Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves" (1971), "Half-Breed" (1973) and "Dark Lady" (1974). She notched another '70s No. 1 with Sonny, "All I Ever Need Is You," on the Adult Contemporary airplay chart in 1971.

Moving forward to the '80s, the AC chart continued to be a friend to Cher, as she locked up No. 1s on the survey in 1989 with "After All," with Peter Cetera, and her iconic "If I Could Turn Back Time."

In the '90s, Cher stormed back to the Hot 100, where she reigned for four weeks at No. 1 in 1999 with the title track from her album "Believe." The song would go on to finish 1999 has the year's top Hot 100 single. It also hit No. 1 on our Dance/Club Songs chart in 1999, as did two more singles from "Believe": "Strong Enough" and "All or Nothing."

In the '00s, Cher landed a further pair of No. 1s on Dance/Club Play Songs: "A Different Kind of Love Song" in 2002 and "When the Money's Gone" in 2003, both from her album "Living Proof."

The only. act. ever. Take that Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. [By the way, I just read an article on Sonic Youth in Newsweek and they don't think they'll ever get inducted either.]


The Retirement Sucks Tour

Cher-Live-In-Concert-218030 Oh, thou temptress of ticket sales with your wizardry of wiley concert tours...

Randy Phillips, head of AEG Live, however, says that 2010 was a great year for his company, citing the success of Bon Jovi and others. Phillips expects another strong year in 2011 with stadium shows by Kenny Chesney and Taylor Swift and tours by Bon Jovi, Black Eyed Peas and Cher.

So I guess this will be the Retirement Sucks Tour. That’s what Ozzy Osbourne titled his After-Farewell Tour anyway. Maybe Cher could seize on that. Honestly, I have mixed feelins about a new tour.

It will of course be perceived a big money grab. And I don’t look forward to all the sneering from cynicis and critics full of outrage about a a reneging of  one of the most dramatic of goodbye tours.

But of course I will go a purchase merchandise. Why? Because that's what I do.

Other recent Cher articles:



SONNY_AND_CHER_1970So the battle is waging to get Sonny & Cher into The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame. On the fansite Just Plain Cher, I noticed a great, great opinion piece on the matter from Goldmine Magazine by Phill Marder.

By the way, over the years Goldmine has published some of best, most serious, retrospectives of Cher’s musical ouvre. So I'm not surprised to see a defense of her bid to legitimacy there.

Here are the article highlights:


Long before there was Joan Jett. Long before there was Madonna. Long long long before Avril and Pink. And lonnnnnnnnnnnnnng before there was Lady Gaga.

There was Cher.

In short, Cher was it. From top to bottom, Cher was the prototype of the female rock star, setting the standard for appearance, from her early hippie days to her later outlandish outfits, and her attitude – the perfect female punk long before punk even was a rock term.

Contemporaries Marianne Faithfull – the British bad girl with the angelic looks – and Nancy Sinatra – the rebel with the Playboy looks – did their part to advance feminine rebellion in the Rock world, but Cher led the way. Her schtick as near dominatrix over husband Sonny may have been a put-on in 1965, but Cher continued to force issues as she grew, not only with her stage costumes, but with her song selection as well.

With Sonny & Cher churning out hits, Cher’s solo career continued to soar, a rare occurrence in the music industry. Seldom does an artist score simultaneously with solo and group hits – Phil Collins is a recent example – but Cher did it...the very strange “Bang Bang (My Baby Shot Me Down), penned by Sonny, which came in at No. 2 in the U.S. and reached the top 10 in eight other countries, including No. 3 in the U.K. Later the same year, Nancy Sinatra did a smoking version, used in “Kill Bill,” and most recently The Raconteurs, led by Jack White, have been including a remarkably decadent cover in concert.

You’d Better Sit Down Kids, “Gypsys, Tramps & Thieves,” “Half Breed,” among others, followed, covering issues popular female singers weren’t known to address – divorce, prostitution, unplanned and underaged pregnancy and racism just for starters.

In 1974, we listened to it as “Dark Lady.” Today we watch it on the tube and call it “Snapped.”

[I had to include the "Dark Lady" bit because I love the show Snapped! Crazy ladies!]

Cher carried her success through to the new millennium. She starred on TV, won an Oscar and put records into the Top 10 in every decade from the 60s through the 90s, selling out shows whenever and wherever she appeared. In 1998, 33 years after her chart debut, Cher was No. 1 again with “Believe.”

Her album success also was substantial, 22 solo efforts reaching the charts in addition to 12 with Sonny. In the United Kingdom, Cher posted 10 top selling albums, hitting No. 1 twice in 1991 and 1992. Her singles numbers are staggering, 32 reaching the British Top 40 between 1965 and 2001, with her cover of the Betty Everett oldie “The Shoop Shoop Song (It’s In His Kiss)” joining “Believe” and “Love Can Build A Bridge,” a joint effort with Chrissie Hynde, Neneh Cherry and Eric Clapton, as chart-toppers. Seven efforts with Sonny also reached the U.K. singles chart, led off by the No. 1 “I Got You Babe.”

Cher has expressed disappointment in the Hall of Fame’s failure to recognize her accomplishments, but, diplomatically, she has put the emphasis on her late husband, noting particularly the great songs he composed. There would be no complaint here if the Hall of Fame was to induct Sonny & Cher. But realistically, Cher sustained her musical career over the years and has become a show business icon...Perhaps this is the main reason her contributions to Rock & Roll have been overlooked. She has transcended Rock.

But Cher always has been and always will be Rock & Roll. Every female singer who followed her owes her a debt of gratitude. As does the Rock & Roll Hall of Fame.

Burlesque Updates for the New Year

This week Burlesque is #17 box office and Cher's song "You Haven't Seen the Last of Me" is #3 on Billboard's dance club play list.

"You Haven’t Seen The Last of Me" now has an "official" video:

I actually love this video with its lovely editing and montage of great Cher moments in the movie.

Nominated to be a nomination

Burlesque is on the list of possible nominations for a razzie award. That means it has been nominated to be a nomination.

The nomination ballots for the awards celebrating the worst movies of 2010 have just been mailed out, and "Burlesque" leads the pack, with nods for worst actress (Christina Aguilera), worst supporting actress (Kristen Bell and Cher), worst supporting actor (Cam Gigandet), worst screenplay, and worst director.

The glitzy musical was not, however, considered for worst picture, reports the L.A. Times. That distinction went to "The Bounty Hunter,” “Clash of the Titans,” “The Expendables,” “Grown Ups,” “Jonah Hex,” “Killers,” “The Last Airbender,” “Little Fockers,” “Sex and the City 2,” “The Twilight Saga: Eclipse,” “Vampires Suck” and “Yogi Bear.”

The official Razzie Award nominations will be announced January 24.

Sigh. If only the movie had the delicate gravitas and crisp emotional drama of the video...