Pop culture from Southern California and beyond.

'Gossip Girl' moves from Upper East Side to beachside in new LA season

In the season 5 opener of popular CW guilty pleasure TV series "Gossip Girl," the excruciatingly rich Upper East Side cast find themselves in sunny Los Angeles. The cross-country move may be the last gasp of a show running out of New York plot twists, or it may simply be a chance to watch the fashion-heavy show take a stab at at west coast clothing.

The complicated, lusty and largely unbelievable plot of "Gossip Girl" unravels like a soap opera. The series began in 2007 with the teens in an upper crust private high school, and through an array of backstabbings, mental breakdowns, drug addictions and designer shoes, the beautiful cast manages to make it to graduation.

Although the series' narrative is decadent and addicting, the real mainstay of the show is the clothing. While there may be some wealthy real-life fashionistas who actually spend $1,000 on Christian Louboutin booties, for the rest of us, the show's a chance to be a voyeur into a world of indulgence.

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Tony Bennett performs at Staples Center for AARP hunger benefit

Tony Bennett's 85th Birthday Gala Benefit for Exploring the Arts

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Tony Bennett performs during his 85th Birthday Gala Benefit for Exploring the Arts at The Metropolitan Opera House on September 18, 2011 in New York City.

Tony Bennett performed Saturday night at the Staples Center in downtown Los Angeles. The concert was sponsored by AARP and benefited Drive to End Hunger, an effort to end hunger among older Americans. The venue was far from full, with the third level trapped off and large sections of open seats in the 100 level, as well as some open sections in the 200 level. The charity event likely made a good deal of money though, particularly thanks to tables in front of the stage with tickets coming in at over $1,500.

The event featured a special guest appearance by Stevie Wonder. Bennett introduced Wonder by saying, "He's a genius, and I don't use that word loosely." Wonder said he first heard Bennett sing when he was 14, and heard a song he fell in love with - "For Once In My Life." Bennett and Wonder dueted on that song, which Bennett had sung and Wonder later took and made into a hit himself. They'd also recorded a duet of the song for Bennett's first "Duets" album.

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Steve Martin offers some friendly Oscars hosting advice to Eddie Murphy

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Steve Martin and Eddie Murphy star in the 1999 movie Bowfinger.

Eddie Murphy is hosting the Oscars next year. We talked recently about skepticism over Murphy being chosen to host. Apparently Murphy's good pal Steve Martin wants to make sure Murphy delivers on the big night, so he wrote this essay for Funny Or Die, "Some Oscar Hosting Advice to Eddie Murphy."

My favorite bits:

"The losers can feel very sad, so when you’re backstage with them, pat their backs, then shake your head sadly. It’s a blast!"

"If you feel tired midway through, give Neil Patrick Harris a Red Bull and throw some sheet music at him."

"Remember to relax and have a good time while 12,000 livebloggers rip you to shreds."

He also offers a nice commentary on celebrity in closing:

"Eddie, since you and I are old friends, and I sincerely thought you deserved an Oscar nomination for BOWFINGER, the movie we did together that stands alone in comedy history, from which we got no credit or acknowledgement except large paychecks and drivers and any type of food we wanted delivered to us every day in our really nice trailers, I wish you all the best on your Oscar hosting gig."

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The best Charlie Sheen Comedy Central roast jokes not about Charlie Sheen

Last night, Comedy Central aired the roast taped last week in Los Angeles for Charlie Sheen. They poked fun at Sheen for a couple hours, though "poked" may be too light a term for some of the shots. They ranged from the obvious (Sheen's manic catchphrases, drug use, sex) to some of the more personal (his children and his ex-wife).

One of the things I find the most fascinating about roasts, though, is all the jokes not about the one being roasted but about the roasters. There's a lot of time to fill, and there are only so many good jokes to tell about one man, so these roasts often fill time taking shots at everyone else on the dais. They took some of the most brutal shots, including jokes about Patrice O'Neal's diabetes and jokes about what nobodies outside of doing roasts many of the others were. Here are some of the highlights.

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Jonathan Coulton's 'Artificial Heart' tiered album release: A model for others?

Musician Jonathan Coulton has a new album out called "Artificial Heart." If you don't know Coulton's work, he's best known for doing music with a certain geek flair, building a rabid fanbase by releasing a song a week for a year via his Thing A Week podcast. (He's also well known for writing the Portal video game song "Still Alive.")

OK, so sure, Coulton's new album is great and you should all go listen to it, but what I'm most fascinated by is his "Artificial Heart" tiered release plan. What to do when you have a passionate fanbase that wants to support you?

He's offering four different purchase plans. For 10 bucks, you get a digital download, whose accompanying online text largely puts you down if you make that choice. For $15, you get the digital copy plus a signed CD once the physical albums are done next month. Kicking it up another notch, for $40, you get the digital copy, a signed CD, a poster and a t-shirt.

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