Singer Joshua Ledet has been astounding audiences and viewers on the hit television series American Idol for the past few weeks, and we’re thrilled that he is still in the running! Ledet is a local of Westlake, Louisiana and a graduate of Westlake High School. Growing up he was influenced by the music of Michael Jackson, Whitney Houston, and more recently, by Fantasia Barrino. Having previously auditioned for American Idol, Ledet was thrilled to just make the first cut this year. But, his increasingly wonderful performances have kept him in the running following each of the eliminations. Currently, 19 year old Joshua is in the top 7 with a few weeks left in the competition. His soulful, classic Motown renditions have gained him specific attention and have us all hopeful that he’ll come out of Idol victorious. We’re also happy to see he’s brought some of that Hollywood South heritage with him on stage. Perhaps his most famous performance was the classic A Change is Gonna Come by Mississippi-born, Sam Cooke. Definitely check out the video of this amazing performance, and be sure to tune in and vote for this local star!
The 1989 film, “Steel Magnolias” depicts a group of women living through love and loss in the great state of Louisiana. The original movie cast a remarkable catalog of actresses including Sally Field, Julia Roberts, Dolly Parton, Daryl Hannah, Shirley MacLaine, and Olympia Dukakis. However, when the Lifetime Network had the opportunity to make a modern version of this iconic film, they jumped at the chance! The new version, which should premiere this year will feature an all African-American cast of equally fabulous talent. Actress and singer, Queen Latifah will take on the role of “M’Lynn”, with Alfre Woodard as “Ouiser”, Phylicia Rashad as “Clairee”, Grammy winner Jill Scott will be in the part of “Truvy”, Adepero Oduye will play “Annelle” and Condola Rashad will take on Roberts’ part of “Shelby”. Sources are not certain if the film will still be set in Louisiana, but they are confident that it will shoot in Atlanta, GA.
Taking on the task of remaking such a famous, and favored film, poses many challenges. But the production staff for this film is equally as talented as the new cast. Sony Pictures Television will produce the new “Steel Magnolias”, and the movie will be executively produced by Craig Zadan and Neil Meron (of "Chicago" and "Hairspray"), as well as actress Latifah. The three have worked together before on several projects and are hopeful to sustain their creative chemistry. Kenny Leon of "A Raisin in the Sun" will be consulting on the script as it is adapted for television.
This incredible talent and exciting new project has audiences and industry experts all anxious for its’ release. Helen Verno, Vice President of Movies and Miniseries at Sony Pictures Television even said that it is “an honor… to be revisiting the classic Sony film Steel Magnolias under the creative auspices of our producing partners…acclaimed director…and team of brilliant actors.”
For more on this story, visit CNN Entertainment.
This past weekend, the HBO Series TREME hosted a benefit to raise funds for three of the area’s nonprofit organizations. Specifically dealing with musicians here in the Crescent City, the gala, “My Darlin’ New Orleans” took place on March 31st. In attendance at the event was the entire cast of the hit show, including local celebrities Wendall Pierce and Khandi Alexander.
NOLA.com reports that “the past two such events have raised more than $175,000 total to benefit organizations that provide support and safety-net services to the people who fuel the culture that the series spotlights.” The three charities selected this year were Sweet Home New Orleans, the New Orleans Musicians Clinic and The Roots of Music. Sweet Home New Orleans provides financial assistance to some of the area’s musicians, and the Clinic provides medical care. Roots of Music is an organization that makes after school music programming available to local kids- making sure that the tradition of New Orleans’ music lives on to the future generations.
Aside from the fundraiser itself, there is no doubt that the HBO series has been good to our city. Particularly on rebuilding the culture here that was affected by the storm. Mobley, from Sweet Home New Orleans comments “It's sort of a fascinating case, … I think that it has helped interest more people who could be part of the culture in becoming part of it. I think it's interested more people who are outsiders to learn more about it, to be engaged with it.”
While we don’t yet know the dollar amount raised on Saturday, we can be sure that the television series did not disappoint! For the full story, please visit NOLA.com.
Hollywood icon, Tom Cruise is making his way down to New Orleans to film a new sci-fi thriller this spring. Joining the cast will be local actress Melissa Leo, who was made famous by the HBO series “TREME” portraying the character, Toni Bernette. Before landing the role with Cruise, Leo was predominantly a television star having appeared in “Criminal Minds” and “Law and Order”. The actress is excited to join the cast for “Oblivion” which will be filmed mainly in Baton Rouge and the surrounding areas. The cast for this picture includes actors Morgan Freeman, Andrea Riseborough and Olga Kurylenko. Local actress, Lindsay Clift, will also be appearing in the picture playing the part of “young mother”. Clift is an active performer in New Orleans, and also is an acting coach at the John Robert Powers Performing Arts Academy. Joseph Kosinski is directing the film. Kosinski is best known for the
"TRON: Legacy", which features similar themes and aesthetics to the
much anticipated “Oblivion”.
For more on this story, visit NOLA.com.
Brad Pitt’s Gala, A Night to Make it Right, was a successful fundraiser that attracted a long list of named celebrities. Among those in attendance, was television personality Ellen DeGeneres. Ellen hosted the evening, which was dedicated to raise more money for Brad Pitt’s “Make it Right” foundation which is currently working to rebuild the Katrina devastated areas of the Lower 9th ward. The Gala was held here in New Orleans and gave Brad and Ellen a chance to witness the progress that the foundation is already achieving. Over 75 homes have already been built, with plans forming for many more! This clip, which appeared on the Ellen show on this week, explains how Brad first fell in love with city and what he is doing now to share that love with the people who live here. Pitt explains that he first fell in love with the city in the early 90’s, and that there “is just something in the air”. Ellen, a native to NOLA, was happy to be home and share this story with her viewers.
For the full excerpt from her show, visit thehollywoodgossip.com.
The HBO Series Sex and the City may have been off the air for several years now, but the momentum of this show continues to gain strength. With a movie release in 2008, and a sequel not long after the dynamic foursome continue to captivate audiences. This show may be known for its very mature content, but a new television series strives to make this trend more all-age accessible.
With the CW leaking news about the new show “Carrie Diaries” it looks like it won’t be another sequel- but a PREQUEL that takes SATC to the next level. This show will focus around a much younger Carrie as she first discovers writing, love, friendship and her signature style. Joining the cast for this exciting new project is Louisiana’s own, Chloe Bridges, who will be playing the enemy of young Bradshaw. Chloe began as a student of acting at the John Robert Powers Performing Arts Academy before landing a role in Disney’s Camp Rock 2, playing opposite of Nick Jonas. She has also starred in the movie Worst Prom Ever, and made several appearances on 90210. We’re happy to see that both her future, and the future of Sex and the City are so bright!
Television anchorwoman, Hoda Kotb is no stranger to New Orleans. She got some of her early television training working as a WWL-TV anchor, before leaving the Big Easy for the Big Apple in 1998. She then gained international renown with her work on NBC’s “Dateline”. For the past few years, Hoda has been co-hosting the morning talkshow “Today” with Kathie Lee Gifford which continues to add fame to her resume.
Hoda’s next big appearance, though, won't be on television. Her next cameo will actually be taking her back to her roots right here in New Orleans! The 2012 FestiGals has just announced that Kotb will be Keynote Speaker at the Bodacious Bras for a Cause Luncheon. The all-female festival “FestiGals” will be June 22-24 of this year and features a “Stiletto Stroll” second line, City Tours, fine dining, and discussions. NOLA.com reports that “FestiGals will include appearances by Huffington Post columnist Colleen Mullaney, Commander’s Palace co-owner Ti Martin and Historic New Orleans Collection historian Pamela Arceneaux” to name a few. Hoda has made several trips back to NOLA since her big more to NYC, including one trip immediately after Hurricane Katrina. The television personality has been very loyal to the city of New Orleans and continues to inspire hope for progress within the city. Everyone here in Hollywood South is excited to have Hoda back for a few days, but perhaps no one is more excited that Hoda herself!
For more information about the festival, please visit their official website.
Metairie may be a small town, but some of its natives have gone on to big things. One local in particular just had the opportunity to join music megastar Justin Bieber for his 18th birthday! Television star and comedian, Ellen DeGeneres hosted the singer on her show today to talk about his new single, his role models, his fans, and, of course, his birthday presents. Justin was given a brand new, entirely eco-friendly luxury car by longtime friend and manager, Scooter. The car features an all electric engine and solar panels on the roof, not to mention an Ellen bobblehead for décor! Perhaps the best present of all was having one of his “superfans” appear on the show. The fan was picked up at her house, blindfolded and placed inside a present box to travel to the television studio. The best part was that she had no idea where she was headed or why. For a clip of her surprise arrival visit the Ellen show’s official website. The new single, "Boyfriend" is schedule for a March 26th release and has everyone talking! All of us at Southern Celebrity Gossip are wishing Justin Bieber a very happy 18th birthday, and are thrilled that he decided to spend it with someone right out of the Hollywood South!
As you are all very aware, the Carnival season has passed. But, while Mardi Gras may officially be over, but that doesn't mean the buzz has died down on the Celebrity Sitings! Over the past 4 or 5 days here in New Orleans stars from music, television and films have been parading around town decked in their very best costumes. Here are some pictures of the star-studded cast of this year's celebration for those of you that missed seeing it in person:
We previously reported that musicians Cyndi Lauper and Bret Michaels were to ride in the Krewe of Orpheus. Since that time, more stars have followed the lead of these rocking celebrity monarchs! Louisiana local Harry Connick Jr., along with actresses Hilary Swank and Mariska Hargitay will also be joining in the parade. Swank is best known for her Academy Award winning performance in “Million Dollar Baby”, but also acted alongside Connick in the 2007 film, “P.S. I Love You”. Hargitay has also acted with Harry Connick Jr. during her television series “Law and Order: SVU” where she portrays detective Olivia Benson. But Mariska isn’t the only television star in the Krewe of Orpheus! Sarah Hyland from “Modern Family” will also be in Orpheus along with her boyfriend, not to mention "High School Musical 3" sensation, Matt Prokop.
Harry Connick Jr. co-founded this particular parade which gets it’s name from the god of music in mythology. The krewe rolls on Lundi Gras, which is the 20th of February this year. Stay with us and we’ll keep you posted about all of the other celebrities heading to NOLA for carnival!
For more on this Krewe, visit their official website.