TIME celebrities

Renée Zellweger: ‘I’m Glad Folks Think I Look Different’

Renee Zellweger arrives at ELLE's 21st annual Women In Hollywood Awards at the Four Season Hotel on Oct. 20, 2014, in Los Angeles.
Renee Zellweger arrives at ELLE's 21st annual Women In Hollywood Awards at the Four Season Hotel on Oct. 20, 2014, in Los Angeles. Jordan Strauss—Invision/AP

The 45-year-old star says she is happier and is glad her appearance reflects that

Read Zellweger’s full statement to People.

Responding to rumors that she underwent plastic surgery, Renée Zellweger says she is healthier and happier and flattered by the attention her appearance has been getting, People reports.

“I’m glad folks think I look different! I’m living a different, happy, more fulfilling life, and I’m thrilled that perhaps it shows,” Zellweger, 45, said in a statement to People of the attention she received after an appearance at the Elle Women in Hollywood Awards in Beverly Hills on Monday.

“My friends say that I look peaceful. I am healthy,” Zellweger continued. “For a long time I wasn’t doing such a good job with that. I took on a schedule that is not realistically sustainable and didn’t allow for taking care of myself. Rather than stopping to recalibrate, I kept running until I was depleted and made bad choices about how to conceal the exhaustion. I was aware of the chaos and finally chose different things.”

Her relationship with boyfriend Doyle Bramhall has also made her happier, Zellweger said. “I did work that allows for being still, making a home, loving someone, learning new things, growing as a creative person and finally growing into myself,” she said.

[People]

 

TIME Hong Kong

Kenny G Went to the Hong Kong Protests and Beijing Is Not Happy

American Musician Kenny G Performs In Hong Kong
American musician Kenny G performs on stage during his concert at Hong Kong International Trade and Exhibition Centre on May 17, 2011 in Hong Kong. ChinaFotoPress—Getty Images

The famous saxophonist's visit prompted officials to reiterate their calls for foreigners to keep out of China's affairs

Kenny G is striking all the wrong notes in Hong Kong, the Chinese government says.

The Chinese foreign ministry has hinted that Kenny G, the American juggernaut of smooth jazz, might well be among the so-called “foreign influences” meddling in China’s affairs, after the top-selling saxophonist turned up at the main democracy protest site in Hong Kong’s Admiralty district, Reuters reports.

The city has been beset by protests for three weeks, with demonstrators furious over the tight restrictions China has put on local elections.

In photos making the rounds on social media, the curly-haired saxophonist is also seen making the peace sign at the barricades with patently delighted protesters.

But the tweet was apparently seen by Chinese officials not as a simple update on the musician’s whereabouts, but as an expression of support for Hong Kong’s protesters, who Beijing has resoundingly condemned.

“Kenny G’s musical works are widely popular in China, but China’s position on the illegal Occupy Central activities in Hong Kong is very clear,” Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying told a daily news briefing in Beijing.

“We hope that foreign governments and individuals speak and act cautiously and not support Occupy Central and other illegal activities in any form,” she said.

Hong Kong’s Chief Executive, Leung Chun-ying, has alleged that “foreign influence” is involved in the massive challenge to his government that the protests pose, but has declined to name such influence until the “appropriate time.” He has never mentioned saxophonists as possible meddlers.

Interestingly, one of the artist’s songs, “Going Home,” is universally used in China at malls and events to gently let people know that it’s closing time and that they have to leave. Conspiracy theorists might see a hidden message for the protesters here.

TIME Music

Watch Italy’s Famous Singing Nun Cover ‘Like a Virgin’

Sister Cristina Scuccia skyrocketed to fame after her audition for this year's The Voice of Italy, which she later won

Italy’s famous singing nun is out with her debut single: a cover of Madonna’s hit 1984 song “Like a Virgin.”

But don’t expect Sister Cristina Scuccia, an Ursuline nun who won this year’s The Voice of Italy, to sing that she was “touched for the very first time” over the song’s original uptempo dance track. Instead, Sister Cristina, who isn’t afraid to let loose on stage despite what her occupation implies, has transformed the song into an emotional ballad, whose music video features her singing in front of various religious Italian monuments.

“Reading the text, without being influenced by previous interpretations, you discover that it is a song about the power of love to renew people [and] rescue them from their past,” Sister Cristina told Italian newspaper Avvenire.

Sister Cristina skyrocketed to fame when she belted Alicia Keys’ “No One” for her Voice of Italy audition. Her eponymous album is out on Nov. 11.

TIME Music

Here’s Why Nicki Minaj is Chopping a Banana in the ‘Anaconda’ Video

2014 MTV Video Music Awards - Arrivals
Recording artist Nicki Minaj attends the 2014 MTV Video Music Awards at The Forum on August 24, 2014 in Inglewood, Ca. Frazer Harrison—Getty Images

Hint: feminism. But she's not saying any more about it.

Apparently, the banana featured in the kitchen portion of Nicki Minaj’s video for the song “Anaconda” is no coincidence. The sexy nature of the video inspired a thousand opinion pieces when it debuted in August and has since racked up more than 200 million views. And now, in a new interview, the singer addresses some of the symbolism, or lack thereof in her performance.

The rapper told GQ writer that she intentionally included the banana as a symbol of female empowerment:

“At first I’m being sexual with the banana, and then it’s like, ‘Ha-ha, no.’ ” I ask if she’s referring to how the Drake scene immediately follows the kitchen scene. “Yeah, that was important for us to show in the kitchen scene, because it’s always about the female taking back the power, and if you want to be flirty and funny that’s fine, but always keeping the power and the control in everything.”

But that’s about the only explicit gender comment Minaj says she makes in the video. Apparently, the singer fell asleep four times over the course of the interview, and didn’t give writer Taffy Brodesser-Akner very much to work with. Aside from the banana moment, she repeatedly denied any overt gender politics in any of her work. Brodesser-Akner writes:

You heard it here first. “Anaconda” is about a snake, and also about a woman’s ex-boyfriends, and the video is just one big slumber party. You can release a record cover into the atmosphere that makes all who see it so shocked and discomforted that their only way to metabolize it is to turn it into the world’s fastest-spreading meme, to the point where her squatting form ends up on a polo shirt, right where the little crocodile usually goes. You can do all this, and still you can look someone in the eye and say that it’s not cynical in the least, that it’s not a comment on gender or sex or the culture or anything. Double shrug.

Shrug.

TIME working moms

Jen Garner Has Your Work-life Balance Right Here

"The men in Hollywood event is every day—it’s called Hollywood," says the actress

Jennifer Garner, who’s starting to flex her political muscles a bit more in her work with Save the Children, is also speaking out about that old bugbear, sexism in Hollywood. “The fact that there even needs to be a Women in Hollywood event is a little bit sad,” Garner said at Elle magazine’s Women in Hollywood celebration.. “I mean, the men in Hollywood event is every day—it’s called Hollywood. Fifty-one percent of the population should not have to have to schedule a special event to celebrate the fact that in an art that tells the story of what it means to be human and alive, we get to play a part.”

Garner, who recently sat down with Time to talk about her movie Men, Women & Children, in which she plays an overprotective mom, likes being known for her parenting skills. When told that she is known on the internet as “America’s most relatable celebrity mom,” she said she had no problem with that. “That’s great with me. I really appreciate that, internet,” she joked.

But at the Women in Hollywood event, Garner pointed out that she and her husband Ben Affleck get treated very differently. “My husband and I do kind of the same job, a little bit. Not long ago we both had one of those magical days, we call it a junket, where we both attended these lovely events where people come in every four minutes, they ask the same questions over and over again.” When they got home, the couple compared notes. “ I told him every single person who interviewed me, I mean every single one, and this is true of the red carpet here tonight Elle, asked me, ‘How do you balance work and family?’ and he said the only thing that people asked him repeatedly was about the tits on [his Gone Girl co-star Emily Ratajkowski], which, for the record if we’re talking about them, they are real and they are fabulous. Take a look and enjoy.”

Also for the record, at Time’s interview, we didn’t ask her about work life balance. We asked her about sex ed instead. See the video below.

 

TIME feminism

Annie Lennox: ‘Twerking Is Not Feminism’

2013 MTV Video Music Awards - Show
Robin Thicke and Miley Cyrus perform during the 2013 MTV Video Music Awards Kevin Mazur—2013 Kevin Mazur

The artist explained why she doesn't subscribe to Beyoncé's brand of feminism

After making headlines for asserting that Beyoncé represents feminism “light” last month, singer Annie Lennox expanded on that during an interview with NPR published Tuesday to promote her new album Nostalgia.

“Listen,” Lennox told Steve Inskeep, “Twerking is not feminism. Thats what I’m referring to. It’s not, it’s not liberating, it’s not empowering. It’s a sexual thing that you’re doing on a stage; it doesn’t empower you. That’s my feeling about it.”

Lennox clarified that her comment about “feminist light” figures weren’t directed specifically towards Beyoncé, but rather all sexualized female performers.

“The reason why I’ve commented is because I think that this overt sexuality thrust, literally, at particular audiences, when very often performers have a very, very young audience, like seven years [old], I find it disturbing and I think its exploitative, and it’s troubling,” she said. “I’m coming from a perspective of a woman that’s had children.”

You can listen to the whole interview below:

TIME Music

Jessie Ware’s Tough Love: Why the Singer’s New Album Sounds So Bold

Jessie Ware Tough Love
Jessie Ware, Tough Love Tim Zaragoza

Featuring collaborations with Ed Sheeran and Miguel, Tough Love shows off the British soul singer's talents in a new way

When Jessie Ware broke through with “Wildest Moments,” two things were immediately clear to anyone who followed the song’s muffled, echoing instructions to “Listen listen listen!” First, that volatile couples everywhere had a new anthem. Second, that Jessie Ware had a voice: elegant and intentionally unflashy, but still plainly capable of holding its own alongside her contemporaries. That’s part of why it’s a little shocking to hear the 30-year-old Brit admit she only recently stopped feeling self-conscious about it.

“I was scared about showing more of my voice,” Ware says of her sophomore effort, Tough Love, out now. “I couldn’t have written this album before. I didn’t feel confident enough.” What a difference a few years makes. Nearly everything about Tough Love is bolder than her 2012 debut, Devotion, from the edgier production (courtesy of one of pop’s biggest producers) to her vocals (whose power is no secret this time around) to her collaborators (hungover sessions with “Adore” crooner Miguel and a spontaneous Ed Sheeran collaboration dot the credits). Just listen to the soaring “Say You Love Me,” and it’s clear fans are dealing with a new and improved Jessie Ware. Finally, the singer jokes, she’s “letting it all hang out.”

The turning point, Ware says, occurred while working with “Stay With Me” songwriter James Napier, who co-wrote the album’s blistering torch song, “Pieces,” and begged her not to hold back. “I remember Jimmy being like, ‘I want to hear you Jessie, I want to hear you sing,’” she recalls. “‘You let it rip in shows! Why can’t I hear that?’” Ware worried she was screaming bloody murder until she played the song for the xx’s whisperer-in-chief Romy Madley Croft, who gave her an unlikely confidence boost. “I was like, ‘Oh God, how is this going to go down with the queen of subtlety and understated vocals?’” Ware says. “She was like, ‘I’ve been waiting for you to have a song like this.’ It really reassured me.”

Just like her debut, Tough Love drew some inspiration from a wedding. Ware wrote “Wildest Moments” after she and her best friend got into a fight at one and didn’t speak for weeks. (“I wrote a pretty good song out of it, so I’m glad we had that fight!” she says. “We’re still best friends.”) The slick electro thump of Tough Love‘s “You & I (Forever),” meanwhile, was inspired by how long it took Ware’s high school sweetheart, whom she married in August, to pop the question. (Ware herself walked down the aisle to Sade’s “Your Love Is King”; fans have gotten in touch to say they play her song “Valentine” at their weddings, which Ware notes is actually a terrible choice — the very first line is “So you will never be my lover or my valentine.”)

Part of the album’s electronic heft comes from Katy Perry and Kesha hitmaker Benny Blanco, who co-executive produced Tough Love with Sam Smith producer Two Inch Punch under the name BenZel. Word of their collaboration left fans wondering if Ware was pursuing a more club-friendly sound, which wasn’t totally out of the question, given her early work with electronic act SBTRKT and “Imagine It Was Us,” a dancefloor workout that was tacked on to the U.S. release of Devotion. Though Ware says she was inspired by Daft Punk’s “Get Lucky” when recording the Dev Hynes disco jam “Want Your Feeling,” making dance songs was never the plan. Part of the reason Blanco and Two Inch Punch work under the name BenZel — and pretended for a long time that the project was actually a group of Japanese school girls — was to put some distance between the duo’s work and Blanco’s Top 40 success. “Everyone was like, ‘She’s trying to crack America! She’s going to have a big ol’ hit!’” Ware laughs. “Benny was never that for me. He knows what kind of artist I am.”

Still, Ware says she and Blanco fought often in the studio about the direction of the new songs. She balked whenever the material veered too far into pop territory; Blanco told her to “f-ck off” and pushed her to stop hiding in her own songs. Listening to the album, it’s clear Blanco’s influence rubbed off — and that Ware is still adjusting to the change.

“I think what Benny wanted was for more people to hear me, and if that meant having more of a direct chorus, then so bloody be it!” she says. “I don’t feel like a pop star.” With Tough Love, she may not have a choice for much longer.

TIME viral

New York Subway Performers Rally for Arrested Musician

The video has almost been viewed 500,000 times

Buskers in New York City planned a demonstration Tuesday on behalf of a fellow subway performer whose arrest for serenading commuters was recorded by protesting bystanders and turned into a viral video, the AP reports.

Adam Kalleen was arrested in an underground station in Brooklyn Friday after he refused a police offer’s request to put down the guitar and go. While the officer said that the 30-year-old needed permission to play, Kalleen and on-lookers said that the MTA does not issue permits.

The video, which has been viewed almost half a million times on YouTube, shows people protesting Kalleen’s arrest for loitering. “You don’t have something better to do? There are people breaking real laws,” someone shouts.

The fedora-wearing busker can be seen singing Neil Young’s “Ohio,” a song written in 1970 by Neil Young about the Kent State shootings, to the chants “F*** the police” from the crowd.

The MTA guidelines state that “artistic performances, including the acceptance of donations” are permitted, although that does appear to conflict with state law that prohibits subway station loitering “for the purpose of soliciting or engaging in business.” Busker advocacy organizations exist to fight for street performers’ rights.

An NYPD spokesperson told the AP that the department is looking into the arrest.

[AP]

TIME Music

Watch Gwen Stefani’s Kaleidoscopic ‘Baby Don’t Lie’ Video

The singer has some green-screen fun

Gwen Stefani just released her solo comeback single “Baby Don’t Lie” yesterday, but she’s already delivered the kaleidoscopic video, directed by longtime collaborator Sophie Muller. The clip is appropriately colorful for the stylish pop star, but it must have been a bore to shoot for Stefani, who probably had to spend a couple hours rolling around on the floor and strutting back and forth in front of a green screen. No wonder the singer checks her iPhone halfway through. (Kidding! It’s probably product placement.)

Wisely, Stefani chose not to reunite the Harajuku Girls for the video’s big alleyway dance-off.

TIME Music

Led Zeppelin Loses First Round in ‘Stairway to Heaven’ Lawsuit

Led Zeppelin File Photos
Led Zeppelin (Jimmy Page, John Bonham, John Paul Jones, Robert Plant) in 1969. Chris Walter—WireImage / Getty Images

The British rockers must confront allegations that it ripped off the rock group Spirit

For decades, Led Zeppelin has faced claims that they plagiarized their iconic 1971 hit “Stairway to Heaven” from the rock band Spirit. Now it looks like Zeppelin is headed for a difficult legal battle.

Back in May, family members of Spirit frontman Randy Craig Wolfe (a.k.a Randy California) filed the suit against Zeppelin, seeking monetary damages and a writing credit for the now-deceased Wolfe, NBC Philadelphia reports. Wolfe’s family claims that Led Zeppelin’s Jimmy Page ripped off the chords for “Stairway to Heaven” from Spirit’s 1968 tune “Taurus.” (The two bands at one point toured together and had thus become familiar with each other’s music.)

Now, Zeppelin and their music companies have requested that the case be dismissed, as the “individual defendants are British citizens residing in England, own no property in Pennsylvania and have no contacts with Pennsylvania, let alone ties sufficient to render them essentially at home here,” according to the Hollywood Reporter.

The judge, however, said no to that request — so the band will now be forced to move forward with the suit.

In the meantime, if you’ve never heard the song that Zeppelin allegedly ripped off, listen to it here, followed by “Stairway to Heaven” for comparison’s sake:

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