On Wednesday night, "Daily Show" contributor Lewis Black unleashed an angry tirade against the sensationalistic coverage of Whitney Houston's untimely death. "As with past celebrity deaths, the media observed her passing in the tradition of the Native Americans -- by using every part of the tragedy," he observed. "For instance, did you know with very little skill you can turn a song catalog into hours of terrible segues?”
As evidence, Black presented a montage of news anchors making awkward references to Houston's work. (Sample: "Chances are we wouldn't have to be remembering her soundtrack from 'The Bodyguard,' if only she'd guarded her own body better.")
"Can we cool it with the wordplay?" he asked, getting more and more agitated. "When Cronkite announced the death of JFK, it wasn’t with a clever ‘Ask not, who got shot in Dallas today!'"
Black directed his harshest attack at "CNN's resident hearse-chaser" Nancy Grace, who has repeatedly suggested that Houston might be a victim of foul play, despite considerable evidence to the contrary. “Of course! She was pushed underwater!" Black replied sarcastically. "It’s the only possible explanation for someone dying after years of drug addiction!"
He even compared Grace unfavorably to bodies at the medical examiner's office: "I've been to a morgue. You know what's nice about it? In a morgue everyone who's had their brains removed, keeps their mouths shut."
Black also ripped Fox News personality Eric Bolling, who urged Democratic congresswoman Maxine Waters to "step away from the crack pipe" after she expressed interest in leading the House Committee on Financial Services. “Well, there you have it!" he said. "A beloved pop icon’s death used to criticize the Democrats’ choice for the banking committee!”
Black suggested that Bolling could do more to politicize Houston's death: "Why stop there? Whitney probably wouldn't have had all those prescription drugs if not for Obamacare."
Saturday will be a day to remember Whitney Houston. The pop singer's invitation-only funeral will be held in her hometown of Newark, N.J., and she'll be laid to rest in nearby Westfield, N.J.
But that doesn't mean the singer's fans have been forgotten. Those who wish to pay their respects will be able to remotely witness the events.
According to Houston's publicist, the singer's funeral, to be held at the New Hope Baptist Church, the place she began her singing career as a child, will be streamed live on the Internet. The Associated Press will be allowed a single camera in the church and will broadcast the service, which begins at noon Eastern time.
The funeral will be officiated by New Hope Baptist's pastor, Rev. Joe A. Carter, with a eulogy delivered by pastor and Grammy-winning gospel singer Marvin Winans. CNN reported Aretha Franklin, Houston's godmother, also had been invited to sing at the funeral.
Among the other confirmed attendees: Chaka Kahn, songwriter Diane Warren, Rev. Jesse Jackson, singer Darlene Love, Bishop T.D. Jakes, Antonio "L.A." Reid, Ray J and Brandy.
The live stream will also be available via satellite for the TV networks. CNN will carry live remembrances of the singer starting at 11 a.m. ET on Saturday with Piers Morgan, Soledad O'Brien and Don Lemon.
Roland Martin, the recently suspended CNN analyst, appears eager to repair any damage he may have caused with his controversial Super Bowl Sunday tweets. Martin, who is in Los Angeles for the week, spent part of Tuesday meeting with officials from GLAAD, the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation.
Just over a week ago, Martin sent out a tweet criticizing a TV commercial featuring soccer star David Beckham in his underwear, saying, "Ain't no real bruhs going to H&M to buy some damn David Beckham underwear!... If a dude at your Super Bowl party is hyped about David Beckham's H&M underwear ad, smack the ish out of him!"
GLAAD immediately began a petition to have CNN fire the analyst. Roland quickly defended his tweets, saying they weren't homophobic, just misunderstood. Days later, CNN suspended Martin, calling the tweets "regrettable and offensive."
But now, the two parties appear on the path to some kind of peace. GLAAD reported that Martin met with Herndon Graddick, the organization's senior director of programs, on Valentine's Day and that "Both parties came away with a better understanding of one another and look forward to continuing this dialogue."
While Martin has not commented on the meeting, beforehand, he was definitely open to the discussion and was sure to keep his bosses at CNN in on the developments, tweeting, "Late last night I received word of GLAAD's invitation to meet with me, and as I have informed CNN... I look forward to meeting with GLAAD in the near future and having a productive dialogue."
There's lots of dialogue happening, but will it result in Martin returning to CNN? Time will tell.
HLN host Nancy Grace appeared on sister network CNN on Monday to discuss the death of pop star Whitney Houston. But her commentary quickly turned into wild speculation, causing CNN's more serious-minded anchors to hurry in to control viewer reactions.
While speaking to CNN's Brooke Baldwin, Grace admitted that the cause of Houston's death had not been determined, but she quickly began spinning out the possible future of the investigation, drawing parallels to Anna Nicole Smith and Michael Jackson.
"I'd like to know who was around her," Grace said. "Who, if anyone, gave her drugs following alcohol and drugs. And who let her slip, or pushed her, underneath that water?"
Though police revealed that Houston was found submerged in her bathtub and have conducted an autopsy, they have not released a cause of death. But they have begun investigating the prescription medicines found in her room. However, an investigation does not mean a conclusion, and Grace's speculations appeared to jump ahead in time.
"Apparently, no signs of force or trauma to the body," Grace continued. "Who let Whitney Houston go under her water?"
In an attempt to keep the discussion grounded in reality, Baldwin responded, "All excellent questions. Again, we don't know the cause of her death."
After the segment, CNN news anchor Don Lemon appeared on camera to conduct damage control. He told viewers that any discussion of Houston's prescription drugs contributing to her death should not be taken as fact. "This is not CNN's reporting," he said. "We don't know that to be true."
Grace has long held an unconventional role as a commentator on legal affairs. During the Casey Anthony trial, she campaigned nightly for Anthony's conviction. And after Anthony was acquitted, she railed against the jurors and defense attorneys. She did the same during the trial of physician Conrad Murray.
It appears, with the death of Whitney Houston, Nancy Grace has a new cause.
CNN analyst Roland Martin has been suspended for his controversial tweets on Super Bowl Sunday making fun of an H&M ad featuring David Beckham.
"Roland Martin's tweets were regrettable and offensive," said a statement issued by CNN. "Language that demeans is inconsistent with the values and culture of our organization, and is not tolerated. We have been giving careful consideration to this matter, and Roland will not be appearing on our air for the time being."
The suspension comes a few days after GLAAD and other gay organizations angered by the tweets demanded CNN suspend Martin or take other action.
Martin midway during the Super Bowl sent a tweet making fun of the ad that featured soccer star Beckham dressed only in his tighty-whiteys: "Ain't no real bruhs going to H&M to buy some damn David Beckham underwear!" He continued, "If a dude at your Super Bowl party is hyped about Beckham's H&M underwear ad, smack the ish out of him."
Martin denied he was being homophobic, saying the tweets were a joke.
CNN analyst Roland Martin (perhaps better known to "Daily Show" viewers as the noted ascot-wearer Roland Martin) is working furiously to explain himself after a controversial tweet he sent Sunday night criticizing an H&M ad featuring David Beckham.
Midway through the Super Bowl, Martin sent a tweet making fun of the black-and-white ad that showed the soccer star dressed only in his tighty-whiteys: "Ain't no real bruhs going to H&M to buy some damn David Beckham underwear!" He continued, "If a dude at your Super Bowl party is hyped about David Beckham's H&M underwear ad, smack the ish out of him!"
The tweet has raised the ire of many online, who accused Martin of gay bashing. GLAAD, the Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation, has launched an online petition calling on CNN to fire Martin after his tweets.
Martin defended himself this morning, both on Twitter and in a post on his website, RolandMartinReports.com.
On Twitter, Martin wrote, "Fam, let me address the issue that some in the LGBT community have raised regarding some of my Super Bowl tweets yesterday. I made several cracks about soccer as I do all the time. I was not referring to sexuality directly or indirectly regarding the David Beckham ad, and I'm sorry folks took it otherwise. It was meant to be a deliberately over the top and sarcastic crack about soccer; I do not advocate violence of any kind against anyone gay, or not. As anyone who follows me on Twitter knows, anytime soccer comes up during football season it's another chance for me to take a playful shot at soccer, nothing more."
GLAAD isn't having it, however. On its website, the organization is pointing out a series of insensitive comments and jokes Martin has made about gay people over the years.
"This isn't a mistake made on Twitter. It's part of a pattern of anti-LGBT rhetoric that culminated in two tweets yesterday promoting violence towards gay people," GLAAD spokesman Rich Ferraro said.
On Sunday, Bravo's "Watch What Happens Live" switched to its new five-night-a-week format. Except for the increased frequency, little about the talk show, hosted by Andy Cohen and broadcast live from the tchotchke-filled "Bravo Clubhouse," appears to have changed.
The guest lineup, mostly cobbled together from various Bravo personalities and Cohen's celebrity pals, could definitely use some diversity. But "Watch What Happens" has something that most other late-night shows are sorely lacking: spontaneity. Cohen steers well clear of the rehearsed conversations that make so much late-night TV feel like an endless press junket, opting instead for fast-paced quiz games that make the show feel like an adult sleepover party.
On Monday night's episode, for instance, "Real Housewife" Camille Grammer and CNN anchor/daytime talk-show host Anderson Cooper participated in a game called "Plead the Fifth" -- basically a series of prying personal questions.
First he interrogated Grammer, asking her the weirdest place she'd ever "gotten busy" (in a laundry room) and how many men she'd made out with since her divorce (three). Wisely, Grammer pleaded the fifth when it came to the subject of her new boyfriend's habits in bed.
Then it was Cooper's turn in the hot seat. He demurred when it came to the subject of sexting, and when asked what his "freak number" would be on a scale from 1 to 10, he joked, "I'm a WASP. My freak number's like 1."
But one question -- "What celebrity would you refuse to have on your syndicated talk show?" -- elicited a candid response from Cooper.
After some hemming and hawing, Cooper said, "I'd say generally any member of the Kardashian family."
Then, perhaps fearing the wrath of the almighty Kris Jenner, he instantly began to backpedal. "I don't have anything against them, I just think they're everywhere. I don't think I could really add much," he said.
Life can be stressful for Hollywood entertainers and personalities. The strain obviously took its toll on several who lost their composure, control and dignity, making for some of the most unexpected and memorable celebrity meltdowns of 2011.
CHARLIE SHEEN: Probably no other celebrity will be more scrutinized in 2012 than Charlie Sheen, who staged the mother of all meltdowns this year that eventually cost him one of the most high-paying jobs in Hollywood. Sheen took to the airwaves early this year to blast his bosses at CBS' "Two and a Half Men" after production on the series paused following his stint in rehab. He called executive producer Chuck Lorre "a clown" and referred to him as "Haim Levine" -- which some interpreted as an anti-Semitic slur on Lorre's last name. He appeared on numerous talk and radio shows bragging about having "tiger blood," compared himself to a warlock and constantly said he was "winning." Fired from the show, Sheen became calmer later in the year, endured a Comedy Central roast and even got a new job -- a comedy on FX called "Anger Management" that is slated to premiere in 2012. No doubt many will be watching Sheen to see how he follows his explosive 2011 fall.
KIM KARDASHIAN and KRIS HUMPHRIES: Well, they said it wouldn't last -- and it didn't. The queen of all celebutantes, Kardashian seemed to have everything: fame, wealth, a strong family and a hit reality show show on E!, "Keeping Up with the Kardashians." But what she really wanted was a husband. Her dream seemed to come true when her courtship with basketball player Kris Humphries led to a lavish "fairy tale" wedding in November which cost a reported $10 million and warranted a two-night prime-time special. But the fairy tale crashed and burned 72 days later when Kardashian filed for divorce citing "irreconcilable differences," provoking an outcry from fans who felt the entire event had been staged for profit. The backlash startled Kardashian, who said she really had been in love with Humphries--a claim she likely made about singer and former flame Ray J when they made the sex tape that launched her "career."
CHRISTINE O'DONNELL: Former U.S. Senate candidate O'Donnell had just wanted to promote her new book when she appeared in August on CNN's Piers Morgan show. But the interview became tense when Morgan began pressing her about whether she supported gay marriage. Even after she bristled, Morgan pressed on, asking her what she felt about the "don't ask, don't tell" credo in the U.S. military. When she accused him of being rude, Morgan said, "I think I'm being charming and respectful." But the damage was done -- one of O'Donnell's advisors off-camera told her to leave, and the Delaware Republican took off her mike and walked off. Morgan said later it was his first walk-off in 25 years of doing interviews.
KAT VON D: Live morning TV can be extremely unpredictable. Take the case of "Good Day L.A." on Fox 11. In July, Kat Von D, the tattoo artist who got engaged to Jesse James soon after his breakup with Oscar-winning actress Sandra Bullock, was scheduled to appear on the show to promote her TLC reality series, "L.A. Ink." But Von D, who had previously announced that the couple had split, stormed off the set right before she was supposed to go on. Von D fled the station when she was introduced with a clip from the show in which she surprised James by showing him her new tattoo, a picture of him as a youth. Her abrupt departure perplexed the show's anchors -- producers said that her only request for the planned interview was that Bullock not be mentioned. Von D tweeted moments after her exit: "Dear Good Day L.A., Thanks for the waste of a perfectly good morning. Lack of compassion and respect for each other never fails to disappoint me."
KTLA'S HENRY DICARLO: KTLA weatherman Henry DiCarlo joked that he hadn't had coffee or breakfast the December morning when he erupted during a live report in what later became known as "Henry's hissy fit." DiCarlo had been at Union Station around 6 a.m conducting a live report for Toys for Tots. When he then started his weather report, a full screen graphic appeared and DiCarlo was heard to say, "You know what, it's so interesting. I'm in the communications business and it seems like there's so little communication. When you send a weatherman out to do the weather but you also want him to do a story, you might want to give him a little extra time." He became more frustrated, said someone else in the studio would handle the weather and stormed off -- a moment captured by cameras. DiCarlo explained a few days later that he had been planning to do a four-minute segment, but the producer in the studio started yelling at him through his earpiece about 35 seconds into the report. "It doesn't matter when the circumstances were -- it wasn't a pretty sight for me to act like that, and I get that," he said. But he didn't actually apologize for the outburst, telling his colleagues: "But personally, you guys have seen much worse from me, so I didn't think I was that bad."
At least one person is upset that Piers Morgan is leaving "America's Got Talent": the woman who sits next to him at the judges' table.
"Piers please don't go," Sharon Osbourne tweeted to her more than 750,000 followers on Wednesday night, shortly after Morgan announced that he would leave the NBC show to focus on his CNN hosting gig.
Thursday, she elaborated in another tweet: "I woke up this morning, thought I had a dream that Piers resigned. Now I'm waking up to the reality. Dont go. Never thought I would say this."
The sarcastic Morgan has occasionally clashed with Osbourne on the show, but it's been nothing compared with his feud with fellow judge Howie Mandel, who's pursued a campaign of practical jokes and pranks on his British-born counterpart. That has included hollering into a megaphone outside Morgan's trailer as the moonlighting CNN host tried to catch up on his sleep, a stunt of course caught for the "America's Got Talent" cameras.
Their conflict may not be just a ratings ploy. "I guess I'm more annoying than I thought," Mandel tweeted late Wednesday. "I'll miss you @piersmorgan."
Morgan retweeted the Osbourne message but not Mandel's.
It's unclear what prompted Morgan's decision to exit "America's Got Talent" now. The show does not begin taping next summer's episodes until February. A CNN spokeswoman said she was unfamiliar with the details of the situation and referred queries to Morgan's agent, who could not immediately be reached for comment.
On Thursday, the Wall Street Journal reported that NBC is trying to hire Howard Stern to replace Morgan.
What do you think of Morgan's departure? Sound off in the comments.
Piers Morgan's talent is apparently not juggling two shows -- he announced Wednesday evening on his CNN show that he will not be returning to NBC's "America's Got Talent" when the show comes back next year.
After announcing the news, Morgan later tweeted: "I'm leaving America's Got Talent after 6 wonderful years. Turned out that juggling's harder than it looks, so I'm going to focus on CNN." Following up with: "It's been a blast."
Morgan, 46, has been judging on the NBC talent show since 2006, and he was also was a judge on the British version of the show with Amanda Holden and Simon Cowell. But he took on a heavier load back in January after signing on with CNN to replace Larry King in the much-coveted 9 p.m. slot.
But he's still up for some extracurricular activities, joking on his program that his lighter schedule could make him available to host the 2012 Oscars ceremony in February.
What has Larry King been doing since hanging up his CNN suspenders? The question is answered on the Disney Channel's "Take Two with Phineas and Ferb," the talk-show spin-off of the animated Disney series "Phineas and Ferb": He is practicing his headspins.
Earlier this year, Show Tracker pondered whether Phineas and Ferb, cartoon brothers always looking for things to do on their summer vacation, were the new Larry Kings for the kiddie set. Apparently the suspender-sporting talk icon took note. He will appear as a guest in Friday's episode of "Take Two."
The show has had some notable guests in the past -- Jack Black, Seth Rogen, Emma Stone, Tony Hawk -- who take to the couch for some probing questions from the cartoon brothers, but it's never had a fellow talk show host answer questions. Not only does King give Phineas and Ferb the secret to lasting success in the entertainment business, he also shows off some hot dance moves.
There may have been a little bit of digital enhancement.
Like many of us, Anderson Cooper has a love-hate relationship with famous-for-nothing types such as Kim Kardashian, Kate Gosselin and Snooki, and he's used his popular segment, "The RidicuList," to poke fun of their more ridiculous antics: butt x-rays, pizza tantrums, exorbitant speaking fees.
The latest "fameball" to get the RidicuList treatment is 17-year-old wannabe reality TV star Courtney Stodden, who was thrown out of a California pumpkin patch this past weekend after staging a raunchy photo shoot with her husband, 51-year-old "Lost" actor Doug Hutchinson. (We know: Ew.)
Cooper joked that Stodden's ensemble -- precipitous white go-go boots, microscopic cutoffs and a midriff-baring flannel -- revealed too much "crack o'lantern" for the clientele at the pumpkin patch.
But rather than heaping scorn on the couple, Cooper added "Courtney's Halloween haters" to the RidicuList. "These are just two people in love, and they get thrown out of a pumpkin patch like so much trash, like rotten pumpkins," he said. Tongue planted firmly in cheek, he denounced the pumpkin patch imbroglio as the "latest injustice" suffered by the couple, who've been the subject of much ridicule since they wed earlier this year in Las Vegas.
Cooper noted that Stodden and Hutchinson are holding up well despite the intense media scrutiny (which they obviously hate). He played a clip from the couple's bizarre "Good Morning America" appearance in which Stodden "tries to eat her own face," and shared some highlights from her now-infamous music video, "Don't Put It On Me," which has racked up nearly 2.9 million hits on YouTube. "The Internet: It's a pumpkin patch that's impossible to get thrown out of," Cooper joked.
He concluded the segment with a message for all the "Halloween haters" out there. "It's really simple: If you don't want to see a scantily clad 17-year-old making out with her 51-year-old husband, maybe you shouldn't go to a pumpkin patch."