Archive for June, 2013

The Undertaker Returns At WWE House Show

The Undertaker

Earlier this week we discussed whether a CM Punk vs The Undertaker match was likely to happen at this year’s Wrestlemania. Well if there was any doubt that the Dead Man was eyeing a comeback they seemed to have been laid to rest as he made a surprise return to the ring last night at a WWE house show, live in Waco, Texas.

The crowd exploded as The Deadman appeared through the curtain as the surprise partner of Celtic Warrior Sheamus in a tag team match against Wade Barrett and Damien Sandow. ‘Taker was missing his trademark long coat and hat instead opting to walk the aisle ready to wrestle.

According to sources who attended the event Undertaker looked great and ran through his whole repertoire of moves including ‘Old School’ where he walks the top rope.

We shouldn’t read too much into the appearance because Waco is very close to where The Undertaker lives however sources close to him have said part of his negotiations with WWE regarding Wrestlemania was for him to have the chance to test his body before agreeing to anything as high profile as a ‘Mania match, especially given the quality of his most recent outings against Shawn Michaels and Triple H.

Smackdown star Randy Orton last night Tweeted:

“Got to watch Undertaker perform in Waco tonight at the #Smackdown live event. Very motivating to watch him do his thing. #Legend Killer,”

All of this could lead to nothing though and it does not guarantee an appearance in tomorrow’s episode of Monday Night RAW which emanates from Dallas.

The post The Undertaker Returns At WWE House Show appeared first on WhatCulture!.

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Eva Mendes & Jude Law Give Off Blinding Beauty In New Vogue Eyewear Ads

These are the sexiest four eight eyes we’ve ever seen!

Eva Mendes and Jude Law are the new faces of Vogue eyewear and wow, they sure know how to make glasses look like the perfect accessory!

Besides the fact that they’ve already won the gene lottery in their faces, you’d think that it would be a shame to cover up those mugs with some frames, but instead, the two of them are giving us a smoldering smart and attractive look. Hard to do!

Eva’s ads were shot by famed photographer Mario Testino, whilst Jude’s pics were done by Peter Lindbergh.

Take a look (below) at more of those sexy peepers from the S/S 2013 ad campaign.

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Oscar Pistorius’ Girlfriend — Father Lashes Out … Oscar Will Suffer If He’s Lying

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Reeva Steenkamp‘s father is speaking out about his daughter’s death, saying Oscar Pistorius will suffer the consequences of a guilty conscience if it turns out he’s lying about Reeva’s killing.

Barry Steenkamp told the South African newspaper Beeld, “It doesn’t matter how much money [Oscar] has and how good his legal team is, he will have to live with his conscience if he allows his legal team to lie for him.”

Barry continues, “But if he is telling the truth, then perhaps I can forgive him one day. If it didn’t happen the way he said it did, he must suffer, and he will suffer … only he knows.”

Oscar was released from jail Friday on bail. He is facing a charge of premeditated murder.

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Mischa Barton — I’m NOT Paying Sober Coaches $90k

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Mischa Barton is refusing to pay a team of sober coaches who claim the actress racked up a $90k bill for using their services back in 2009 … TMZ has learned. 

We broke the story … Mischa was ordered to pay Doctors’ Choice Nursing $95,000 back in 2011 for unspecified services rendered in 2009. Mischa failed to show up to court after the suit was filed, which is why a default judgment was entered against her.

The nature of the services has been a mystery for years … until this week in court, when the owner of DCN explained that the nurses were hired to keep Mischa sober. The owner did not specify which substance Mischa was allegedly abusing.

Mischa’s lawyer was in court Thursday fighting the default judgment — and grilled the owner of DCN about why she hadn’t notified Mischa of the mounting bill if the actress was the one responsible for paying it.

The owner replied that she didn’t want the stress of the mounting bill to exacerbate Mischa’s sobriety problems. The owner said it was the nurses’ job to keep Mischa sober before an important acting gig in fall 2009 … the same year she starred in the CW show, “The Beautiful Life.”

Mischa’s lawyer contends it was the actress’ mother who hired the nurses and therefore ran up the bills — so Mischa shouldn’t have to pay. The judge has yet to rule.

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Calvin Klein’s Ex Nick Gruber PULLS OUT of Writing CK Tell-All

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Calvin Klein‘s ex-boy toy Nick Gruber is pulling the plug on his planned tell-all book about his tumultuous relationship with the fashion mogul … telling TMZ that the $375,000 payday wasn’t worth it.

The 23-year-old former underwear model has been fielding several offers over the last couple months from NY publishing houses to write his memoir, tentatively titled “What Came Between Me and My Calvin.” The book was supposed to blow the lid off the dirty details in the duo’s love affair.

But Gruber tells TMZ he’s had a change of heart and that despite the lucrative deals ($375,000 was the highest) he just couldn’t pull the trigger. Gruber told us, “I decided I no longer want to do that anymore. There was a ton of interest, but I just did not want to hurt him or others. I am a good person, not a mean person.” 

He adds, “Love is a beautiful thing. Money doesn’t matter at all.”

Says the guy who once got a $250,000 Bentley as a gift … courtesy of CK.

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George Clinton to Wife — Go Funk Yourself … I Filed For Divorce

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George Clinton‘s marriage has gone to the (atomic) dogs — the funk legend has filed for divorce from his wife of 22 years, Stephanie Lynn Clinton, TMZ has learned.

According to docs filed in Florida court, the couple got hitched back in 1990 in Toledo, OH … but have “experienced long term separation” throughout the marriage and say “the marriage is irretrievably broken.” 

According to docs, the couple has no children together, no shared property and no shared bank accounts. In fact, you’ll hardly find any mention of Clinton even being married in the first place.

TMZ reached out to Clinton’s rep for comment … so far, no word back.

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Weekend Movie Preview — Five Flicks In Five Clicks

Valentine’s Day has come and gone, and it appears that lovers spent their time at home – or at least away from movie theaters – instead of celebrating their affection via the silver screen.

Meanwhile, action lovers turned out in droves to watch Bruce Willis beat the stuffing out of bad guys in A Good Day to Die Hard, and in slightly fewer numbers, comedy fans came back yet again to check out Melissa McCarthy and Jason Bateman in Identity Thief.

This Friday, Willis will have some competition in the action department courtesy Dwayne Johnson‘s Snitch, while Keri Russell makes her first venture into horror with the shrouded-in-secrecy film Dark Skies. Click through Celebuzz‘s gallery of the week’s highest-profile films, and then take a look at each of their trailers below.

Click here to launch Celebuzz Five Flicks In Five Clicks for the weekend of February 22

Dark Skies

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A Good Day to Die Hard

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Identity Thief

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Safe Haven

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Snitch

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Which of these films are you most excited to see this weekend? Let us know what’s your favorite of the five in the comments section below!

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RiRi’s Neighbors Tell Singer — We Don’t Want To Live Next To You!

Rihanna's Mansion in Pacific Palisades

Poor Rihanna can’t catch a break.

RiRi’s neighbors in the Pacific Palisades are rallying against her, in the wake of the dramatic arrest of a man who broke into the singer’s $12 million property on Thursday.

“We never wanted Rihanna to move here in the first place,” one neighbor, who wished to remain anonymous, told Celebuzz.

According to TMZ, the trespasser was confronted by neighbors who were suspicious of his presence on the property. He was apprehended and held until police arrived on the scene to take him into custody.

“It was very scary,” the neighbor added. “Our neighborhood was on lockdown and helicopters were buzzing around and all of a sudden a ton of cops showed up.”

Worryingly, law enforcement sources said that the suspect had told police that he’d been emailed instructions on how to get into the home.

Rihanna was not home at the time; the “Stay” singer was vacationing in Hawaii with on-again, off-again boyfriend Chris Brown to celebrate her 25th birthday.

Added the neighbor: “You know, nobody as ever seen Rihanna at that house. The place has been totally quiet since she bought it – there have been no limos, no parties, absolutely nothing.

“Her property is very secure and secluded — it would be very hard for anyone to break into that particular home.”

Rihanna has had a few other close calls recently. According to TMZ, Zentil Vanzellas spent 277 days in jail after he was convicted of stalking the singer back in 2010. According to court records, the judge deemed Vanzellas a “credible threat” and acknowledged that the 25-year-old had reason to fear him.

And in December an unidentified German man got within a few feet of the singer while she was vacationing in her native Barbados. Police later determined that the tourist did not realize he was on the superstar’s property.

Would you welcome Rihanna into your neighborhood? Tell us what you really think, below.

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QPR vs Man United: 5 Key Battles That Will Decide The Game

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The Premier league’s bottom club will host the top when Man United visit Loftus Road tomorrow. Things couldn’t be going much better for United at the moment; 12 points clear of Man City at the top of the table, into the FA Cup quarter finals and a fine draw at Real Madrid still in the memory. A win will take them 15 points clear before City have to host Chelsea on Sunday.

QPR’s situation is the total opposite: they’re 4 points adrift at the bottom of the table, 7 from safety and they were hammered 4-1 by Swansea in their last league game. Harry Redknapp needs 3 points desperately to put some pressure on the teams around them and lift the spirits at the club.

Harry will take some positives from the fact that Wayne Rooney and Phil Jones look set to miss the game, but his own striker Loic Remy is a doubt due to a groin problem.

Top vs Bottom is always far trickier for the top team than what appears at face value. United will be heavy favourites and will face a QPR side that are in dire need of some points. Redknapp’s men will need some huge performances and try to prey on any weakness in the United line up that they can think of.

Here are 5 key battles to look out for tomorrow at Loftus Road.

The post QPR vs Man United: 5 Key Battles That Will Decide The Game appeared first on WhatCulture!.

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Mass Effect 3: Blurring The ‘Journalism’ In Games Journalism

Mass Effect 3

The unprecedented fan backlash that emerged following the release of Mass Effect 3 early last year had a number of unforeseen consequences in the world of videogame journalism. Most immediately it revealed a stark and needlessly hostile division between the gaming press and a subsection of their readership; but it further exposed some rather complicated interrelations between those critics and the publishers they are tasked with reviewing.

In the wake of the negative fan response to Mass Effect 3, many in the press condemned those unhappy with the ending presented by Bioware as ‘entitled whiners’, describing them as indulged consumers who, in their opinion, threatened to irreparably damage the legitimacy of videogames as an artistic medium. In the opinion rant offered by Colin Moriarty (Playstation editor for IGN), his ferocious, infantile attack even refused any fan even the basic right to express their dissatisfaction once their purchase had been made.

You either admit you liked it (as he did), or shut the hell up.

Frequently, these arguments boiled down to a variation of one rhetorical plea: how can games be considered Art if the audience dares to question the absolutism of its creator’s vision? It is a premise that embraced a reductive, narrow illogic that fundamentally misunderstood the whole history of art; but more than that, it revealed a self-righteous indignation at the heart of the gaming press itself.

After all, it was they in the press themselves who had spent years hyperbolically parroting the promises of Bioware’s publicity machine, ensuring player’s that, yes indeed, their choices would matter, that they would help shape the ending that they chose. Indeed, in an extraordinary amount of cases, it was they themselves that had repeated these very sentiments in their reviews of the game (your choices matter; you define your ending; you decide your fate), and yet they immediately sought to discredit the fans who wanted to question those statements after making their purchase and finding it a distinctly different experience from the one promised.

But as many in the games media shook their collective heads in disappointment, lamenting that their audience was failing to live up to their expectations, the heightened scrutiny that this controversy stirred soon revealed some rather glaring omissions and conflicts of interest – few of which had been previously disclosed – all of which left the moral high ground from which they clucked their tongues a little unstable beneath their feet.

After all, Jessica Chobot, one of the principle representatives of gaming site IGN (one of Bioware’s most vocal supporters throughout), actually appeared as a character in Mass Effect 3, muddying the journalistic distance one might hope for in a publication’s criticism or review. Indeed, it was a decision that made the ferocious screed Moriarty spewed at disgruntled fans appear a little personal. (At the very least it threw a glaring suspicion over his ugly, and weirdly wounded vitriol.)

Similarly, the majority of reviewers of Mass Effect 3 were sent copies that could not import decisions from previous save games meaning that they had no way of speaking to what is arguably the central conceit of the game experience (a fact many did not disclose in their copy), with consequentially few (if any) speaking of the face import issues that spoiled the experience for a great number of players.

And amongst innumerable other such examples, the publication Game Informerwas happy to publish pre-release quotes such as Case Hudson’s promises of no ‘A, B, or C ending’ in expansive, gushing advertorial articles, while going on to not only fail to question the hypocrisies in such promises in their 10/10 review, but actively dismiss fans who questioned such contradiction after the fact.*

Sadly, however, incidents such as these have proved to be merely the tip of the iceberg in an industry that appears to lack the necessary objectivity that a word like ‘journalism’ necessitates. As even a cursory exploration of the medium’s press reveals, in just the past several months a startling amount of evidence has surfaced that suggests that the relationship between publisher and reviewer has become, at times, uncomfortably cosy, with the average reader left unable to disentangle what is unsolicited analysis, and what is coerced, encouraged, or influenced by the very publishers who are supposedly being critiqued.**

* Jeff Gerstmann gave a negative review to Kane & Lynchand was summarily fired by Gamespot who caved to Sony’s threats to pull their advertising and exclusives. The reasoning offered for his termination was that he ‘couldn’t be trusted’ to be an Editorial Director.

* At the most recent GMAs, gaming journalists were offered the chance to win a Playstation 3 console if they Tweeted advertising for the upcoming Tomb Raider game. When a Eurogamer’s Robert Florence questioned whether or not such a practice was above board considering that they were meant to be the critics, not the cheerleaders of these products, he was fired.

* Publishers routinely send swag to reviewers as ‘gifts’ to accompany the review copies of their games – things like pens, clothing, crazy expensive chess sets, and offer expenses-paid ‘preview’ excursions to hotels and events.

* Activision blackballed Gameplanet, refusing them interviews with the makers of their games, because they wrote (extraordinarily briefly) about one such junket in which Activision invited a bunch of gaming journalists to an exclusive all-expenses paid hotel event, questioning the legitimacy of such an advertising technique.

* Sony felt comfortable threatening Kotaku with blackballing when they tried to report on an upcoming Sony service, even emailing them some borderline extortion menace that included the lines: ‘I am very disappointed that after trying to work with you as closely as possible and provide you and your team with access and information, you chose to report on this rumor…. I can’t defend outlets that can’t work cooperatively with us. / So, it is for this reason, that we will be canceling all further interviews for Kotaku staff at GDC and will be dis-inviting you to our media event next Tuesday. Until we can find a way to work better together, information provided to your site will only be that found in the public forum.’

* Electronic Arts seemingly sought to manipulate reviews of Battlefield 3 in Norway by withholding review copies to reviewers that gave bad reviews to previous installments, and forcing reviewers to fill out questionnaires about what they might score it.

So to summarise: confirmed cases of obscuration, extortion, enticement, coercion, all in a systemised ongoing blur between advertising and criticism…

Many in the games industry claim that such actions are uncharacteristic and minor aberrations in an otherwise ethically sound field. They would argue that it is unjust to look upon such incidents as anything more than the misbehaviour of a misguided few who stepped way over the line and were swiftly corrected; but to me, dismissing them as isolated events completely at odds with the standard practice of this field is highly disingenuous. Rather, these events are evidence of an ongoing systemic pattern of behaviour that has shown no signs of cessation or legitimate regulation.

The firing of Robert Florence happened only months ago – and that decision has not been reversed. Sony’s and Activision’s bully tactics appear to be ongoing – or at least have adapted over time. Game publishers continue to send swag to reviewers along with copies of their game; still preview their games in exclusive expenses-paid junkets; and utilise their marketing divisions to determine which outlet will be provided what level of access and which exclusives.

While I agree that people need to exercise reason and personal assessment in their purchasing, to pretend that the division between PR and critique in this industry has not been inextricably blurred, to dismiss the reality that there are few (if any) places to seek out analysis that has not been clouded by the uncomfortably close relationship of publishers and reviewers, is wilfully naive.

While it is not (and is never) as simple an arrangement as ‘I will give you this ludicrous, expensive chess set and you will give me a great score for my game…’ it is instead a system of comingled marketing and analysis has become so engrained – indeed, so expected – that the discerning consumer looking on is now incapable of reasonably drawing a line between what is unsolicited, honest review, and what has been swayed by an undisclosed familiarity with the publisher.

There are innumerable means of influence and persuasion – and yes, they are a part of every business that employs advertising to survive – but when it is common industry practice to ply games journalists with merchandise to invite them to linger longer upon, or think better of a game***, and then those very same people are later tasked with the analysis of that finished product, a line has been crossed that I believe must be considered with reservation. (And again: the recent game-journalists-tweeting-publicity-to-win-a- PS3 scenario is a worrying product of a system that currently appears to be functioning without strict regulation.)

Indeed, the fact that the ‘reviewers’ of games are thought of as potential advertising opportunities in such a manner – potential billboards that can be won over and utilised to spread product awareness – is precisely the issue that makes trusting any opinion offered by these figures suspect. Roger Ebert may get free tickets to the films he reviews, but he is not pictured wearing a Spiderman 6: Rise of the Arbitrary Sequel hoodie at the time; he won’t be denied access to interviews with directors and programmers if he slags off a movie (because publicity is not part of his purview); and the advertising that keeps his job afloat comes from a more diverse field of companies than merely the makers of those film themselves.

When I disagree with Roger Ebert – and I frequently do (the man loved Speed 2) – I do so because it is his personal perspective that I conflict with, not the entire perpetuation of the publicity/critique system that he works within. At present those divisions have not yet been established firmly enough in this medium – and until they are, until such gratis gifts and payed, wooing previews are the exception rather than the rule, such scepticism will, by necessity, always persist.

So no, this is not a field swimming in fraud and dishonesty, but it is hardly a paragon of incorruptible principle, either – and when onlookers of the whole Mass Effectsaga see two facts: ’75 perfect scores’, alongside a player Metacritic score of 1.5, I think a little more scepticism on both sides is healthy.

*And Game Informer(a publication owned by GameStop) announced that Mass Effect 3 was their Game of the Year for 2012 on the very same page that they advertised the release date and details of the ‘New Wii-U edition!’

** And an article like this one by Erik Kain at Forbes is an extraordinary (and rather disheartening) place to start.

*** Ninja Stan, a moderator on the Bioware forum who has previously worked for Bioware (and with whom I had the original discussion that evolved into this rant), confirmed that Bioware, like innumerable other publishers, has routinely employed techniques such as supplying free beer to games journalists at events like PAX in order to entice them to linger longer at their booths and think more favourably of their games.

The post Mass Effect 3: Blurring The ‘Journalism’ In Games Journalism appeared first on WhatCulture!.

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