Without A Net | Pop culture from Southern California and beyond.

Billy Crystal hosting the Oscars; makes announcement on Twitter

Actor Billy Crystal arrives to The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences' tribute to Sophia Loren on May 4, 2011 in Beverly Hills, California.
Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

So, Billy Crystal is hosting the Oscars. This follows Eddie Murphy pulling out after producer Brett Ratner, who Murphy is close friends with, made controversial remarks about gays and stepped down.

Crystal made the announcement on Twitter, writing, "Am doing the Oscars so the young woman in the pharmacy will stop asking my name when I pick up my prescriptions. Looking forward to the show."

The Academy later confirmed that this was, in fact, happening, and not just Crystal having fun with Twitter.

It's an interesting contrast to make an announcement like this on Twitter on the same day Ashton Kutcher pulled back from his longtime relationship with Twitter after accidentally posting something defending Penn State coach Joe Paterno without knowing the full story about the allegations against Paterno and his staff. Kutcher explained that his management team would be handling his tweeting, as he didn't like the fact that he couldn't be as off the cuff on Twitter as he wanted to be.


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Remembering rapper Heavy D, dead at 44

File: Late recording artist Heavy D performs at the Bacardi "Like It Live" Las Vegas event with Cee Lo Green, Travis Barker and Mix Master Mike at the Marquee Nightclub at The Cosmopolitan of Las Vegas June 15, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada.
Ethan Miller/Getty Images for Bacardi

Rapper Heavy D died Tuesday in the emergency room at Cedars Sinai Medical Center. The self-named “overweight lover” was 44 years old; his last album was released just two months ago. Authorities say Heavy D collapsed outside his Beverly Hills home.

His given name was Dwight Arrington Myers. His family moved from Jamaica, where he was born, to New York City when he was a boy. If music lovers were still unsure about the hip-hop art form in the late 1980s, his group Heavy D and the Boyz did a lot to convince them that it had heft — and a future.

In 1991, the group released the third of seven albums, "Peaceful Journey," featuring the hit “Now That We Found Love," sampling the 1973 O'Jays song of the same name and adding rap to create a smash.

“Believe it or not, here comes a brother with flow/A snuggling, bubblin’, overweight lovin’ hugging pro/So what’s it gonna be: me or the TV? Let me take time to set your mind and your body free.”


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Google+ goes corporate, launching branded pages - including the Muppets

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Yesterday, Google+ rolled out branded pages. Essentially, they're like Facebook Pages, but, you know, on Google+.

Google had resisted rolling these out until they were ready. When companies tried jumping the gun and setting up pages using regular Google+ accounts months ago, Google+ began shutting those accounts down.

Well, Christmas is here for all those businesses that wanted to be on Google+ before.

It's hard to say how successful these will be. Google+ has struggled in its early going, quickly gaining a lot of followers but leaving many scratching their heads about why they'd want to be part of Google+ rather than doing similar things somewhere else, particularly on Facebook.

However, there are some compelling possibilities. The coolest thing I've seen since the launch: A Hangout with the Muppets. For those of you who haven't used Google+ yet, Hangouts are Google+ video chats that manage to rather seamlessly allow groups to chat. Now, the Muppets hangout was fairly structured, but it was the latest in a series of bold attempts by the Muppets to utilize digital media to promote themselves, such as spoof trailers for their movie and other random online videos.


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Van Dyke Parks & Inara George at the Getty: Anything but Standard Time

Van Dyke Parks, Inara George and orchestra provide Pacific Standard Time delights at the Getty.
Steve Hochman

If any song could serve as the theme for the vast Pacific Standard Time celebration of the Southern California art boom time, it might be Van Dyke Parks’ “Orange Crate Art,” the title tune of his 1995 collaborative album with Brian Wilson.

Parks performed the song midway through a delights-filled show he and singer Inara George put on Saturday at the Getty Museum’s Harold M. Williams Auditorium, kicking off a series of music events tied to Pacific Standard Time — just hours before we all reset our clocks for the fall seasonal shift.

The song encapsulates everything PST represents: wistful nostalgia, willfully selective memories and, above all, an appreciation of art that is at once ambitious and functional. It filters the image of California through an idealized lens, the image quickly reshaping and remaking reality every bit as much as those put on screen by the Hollywood dream-makers. In this song’s case, it’s accomplished with a very personal memory, an association of the glorious paintings, transformed from from functional fruit crate labels to colorful decor, with a lost love.


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'Warrior' screening with Nick Nolte

Actor Nick Nolte arrives at the premiere of Lionsgate Films' "Warrior" at the Cinerama Dome Theatre on September 6, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.
Kevin Winter/Getty Images

Variety held a screening last night of the movie "Warrior" at ArcLight Hollywood, including a Q&A with director Gavin O'Connor and actor Nick Nolte. The movie feels like "Rocky" meets "The Fighter," moved from the world of boxing into MMA (mixed martial arts).

It tracks the story of two brothers who are both led by circumstances to become MMA fighters. As someone who's watched MMA on occasion, the fights felt largely authentic, adding an extra level of realism to a film that's largely played real.

Nick Nolte plays their estranged father Paddy, the third leg in a broken triangle in a movie ultimately about forgiveness, or a lack thereof, between the three main characters. There's already been some buzz that he may receive a best supporting actor nomination. The reason for Paddy's estrangement: a lifetime of alcoholism. Nolte acknowledged his own background with substances (remember that widely publicized mugshot?), joking "alcohol wasn't particularly my problem."


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