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Lifestyle & Trends: From Whoopi to Whitney

TONY COX, host:

It's Friday. That means it's time to put the hard news away for just a few moments and check out the latest lifestyle's buzz with Allison Samuels, entertainment reporter for Newsweek.

Hey, Allison.

Ms. ALLISON SAMUELS (Entertainment Reporter, Newsweek): How are you doing?

COX: Before we start talking about all that Hollywood stuff, I noticed all these people in here, cameras and stuff - and you look wonderful, by the way. You've got the TV look on today.

Ms. SAMUELS: Thank you.

COX: Who are these folks and what are they doing in here with us?

Ms. SAMUELS: They're from PBS and they're doing a legacy series for black history month. And - in part of it is about black Hollywood, so they're covering me around, following black Hollywood.

COX: All right. So if you hear, our audience, some bumps in here that's because a camera crew is knocked into the microphone. We're going to try to make it as smooth as we can. All right. Talking about TV, coming up next week, Whoopi Goldberg on "The View."

Ms. SAMUELS: Yeah.

COX: Is that a big deal?

Ms. SAMUELS: I think it's a big deal because Whoopi is such an interesting character. She's not like Rosie O'Donnell. She's not that type of, sort of - she's not confrontational like that, but she certainly brings a totally different view from the other three women. And - if you look at the promos for them standing altogether, she looks like she's like, okay, whatever. I mean, her facial expression is hilarious.

COX: She's wearing tennis shoes.

Ms. SAMUELS: Yeah, she's just like, okay, and everybody else is all glammed up, but Whoopi looks like okay, I'm just going to come and do my thing and that's that. So I don't know, I think it's going to be interesting. And I think, in terms of getting sort of more minorities to watch it, I think it's sort of perfect because Whoopi is sort of, you know, she attracts everybody, you know, everybody, so I think…

COX: So who do you think she attracts - honestly…

Ms. SAMUELS: I think both…

COX: …do you think she really attracts black people?

Ms. SAMUELS: I think black people are fascinated by her.

COX: Really?

Ms. SAMUELS: Yeah. I mean, in particular if you really read anything about her and really listen to her interviews, she's a very interesting person and has a very interesting perspective on being an African-American. I think a lot of African-Americans, after the situation with Ted Danson, probably didn't know what to think of her. And, you know, she's had her ups and downs with African-Americans but you still find her fascinating no matter what.

COX: One more thing about "The View" before we move on to topic number two and that's this: Particularly since Whoopi is in the chair and because, you know, she can crack on you really quickly and easily…


COX: …I'm surprised Danny DeVito had the nerve to come back on that show and be their first guest after what happened with him and his alleged drunkenness on the show the last time.

Ms. SAMUELS: That was just the funniest show that I've ever seen on TV.

COX: It wasn't funny.

Ms. SAMUELS: It was so funny. I don't think - I think Danny DeVito can hold his own. I don't think he's afraid of Whoopi or any of those other women. I think, you know, that's his personality. He's like, okay, bring it on. I'll be on again and have a good time with Whoopi. I think they're friends. I think they'll be fine.

COX: Well, it's a good way to start out of the box, isn't it?

Ms. SAMUELS: Yes, it is.

COX: All right. Let's switch - let's take a second.

Ms. SAMUELS: Mm-hmm.

COX: Okay. Because we had to switch to something more serious now.

Ms. SAMUELS: Okay.

COX: John Singleton was involved in a very serious car accident here in Los Angeles. Unfortunately, a pedestrian was killed.

Ms. SAMUELS: Yeah.

COX: But he was later cleared because he wasn't, according to the police, he wasn't speeding. He wasn't under the influence and it was her fault because she wasn't in the crosswalk.

Ms. SAMUELS: Right. Yeah. It's a sad situation and it's interesting. I spoke to John, Friday, Thursday, oh no - actually it happened Thursday, I talked to him Friday morning before the woman actually died. He had hit her but she hadn't die. But he told me that the ambulance took two hours to get there, to actually, you know, pick her up.

COX: Really?

Ms. SAMUELS: So I think partially, I think he feels like partially that's the reason to blame for her death because two hours - but, you know, that was in, you know, South Central Los Angeles.

COX: That's so true.

Ms. SAMUELS: So it's sort of typical. But I think for John, he's, you know, incredibly upset about it. You know, he had this movie coming out "Illegal Tender" that he was so excited about and this has just totally changed the whole, you know, sort of vibe for him because now, it's like, you know, even though it wasn't his fault, he mourns. You still hit someone and they died.

So I think for John, you know, it's been a particularly rough week for him, just sort of dealing with that. But the good part is that he was cleared because I think as an African-American, I'm not sure how the justice system would have sort of viewed him. You look at, like, Lindsay Lohan where they said, oh, we looked at your background and we're not going to give you such a harsh sentence because you had a rough background. I don't think they do that with African-Americans.

COX: Well, it certainly didn't play that way on television here in Los Angeles when it happened and that street where this unfortunate incident took place is one that those of us who live in South Central know…

Ms. SAMUELS: Right.

COX: …know about it.

Ms. SAMUELS: Right.

COX: And, you know, people drive fast down there. And it's dark, which it always is…

Ms. SAMUELS: Definitely.

COX: …in communities like that. I can't speak to the two-hour timeframe…

Ms. SAMUELS: Right.

COX: …that it took the paramedics to get there, but a bad situation, and hopefully, it works out okay for him.

Ms. SAMUELS: Definitely.

COX: All right. Let's talk about another bad situation that doesn't seem to be working out okay for anybody - Whitney and Bobby. God.

Ms. SAMUELS: I so hope that that was over, but I think they are just destined to be in each other's lives for the rest of their lives. They have a kid and I think, you know, their love was such an interesting love. Every time I've ever interviewed them, it was clear to me they had a bond that we, as regular people, just could not understand, but they really sort of loved each other. I don't - I think in the end, the tabloids and all the press really got the better of them but they really clicked in some ways. And so I'm not sort of surprised that they may go back and forth over the next few years. I don't think I want to see it but, you know, I think it's going to happen one way or the other.

COX: It's kind of odd - Whitney and Bobby on NPR, just sounds kind of weird, doesn't it?

(Soundbite of laughter)

COX: Oh, well. Well, we talk about everything…

Ms. SAMUELS: That's right. Yes.

COX: …on this show. And that's why we have…

Ms. SAMUELS: And they are newsworthy at times.

COX: Well, I think she got a point there. All right.

Here's something else that's really interesting a lot of buzz about the latest regional ad campaign from Carl's Jr. and Hardee's hamburger chains. The commercial promotes the chain's new patty melt by featuring two comical white rappers in a parody music video. I don't know if you've seen this enough.

Ms. SAMUELS: I have. I have.

COX: Let's take a listen. But first, I've got to warn you, though, they are talking about hamburgers in what you're about to hear and it's a commercial, you could stumble across this commercial anytime during primetime. The song's lyrics may be offensive to some listeners.

(Soundbite of Carl's Jr. and Hardee's "I Like Flat Buns" Campaign ad)

Unidentified Group: (Singing) Well, I like 'em really hot.

Unidentified Man #1: (Singing) I like 'em really flat.

Unidentified Man #2: (Singing) Get the pickle(ph) on.

Unidentified Man #1: (Singing) I like 'em when they're just like a pancake stack.

Unidentified Man #2: (Singing) Look at the hiney(ph).

Unidentified Man #1: (Singing) Got no hiney. I called you the highness. In anatomy class, you got a butt minus. Flatter makes a better rear.

Unidentified Man #2: (Singing) Stand sideways, girl, you disappear.

Unidentified Group: (Singing) Flat buns. I like flat buns.

Unidentified Man #3: The Patty Melt.

COX: I like flat buns. The first time I saw it because the one - one's had a picture of Serena Williams on the blackboard.

Ms. SAMUELS: Right. Right.

COX: And, you know, our hair stands up when we see stuff like this.

Ms. SAMUELS: Right.

COX: But it was funny, too.

Ms. SAMUELS: It - yeah, it wasn't that funny to me. I have to say it really wasn't that funny to me because it's such a - I just feel like it's robbing the culture and making of fun of something that's not really funny. You know, that is - hip-hop is African-American culture. And I just sort of feel like in many ways it's sort of minimizing the importance of hip-hop and making fun of it. And I've seen that done over the years - how many movies, how many, you know, sort of white movies have made fun of hip-hop and tried to, you know, it's like, but it's a serious sort of part of African-American history that's made a lot of money for everybody. So I'm just fascinated on why it has to be co-opted by mainstream to make fun of it. And, you know, it's cute, it's rhymey(ph) or whatever, but I wasn't amused.

COX: Well, it's poor taste.

Ms. SAMUELS: I think so.

COX: But it is clever though, would you say? Even though we don't like it, even though you may not like it, would you say it's clever or you don't think it should be on the air at all?

Ms. SAMUELS: Well, I mean, it certainly makes you look up. I mean, I remember I was not paying attention to the television. Then I heard it and I'm, like, who was that and I looked at it and I was, like, okay, but I was still offended particularly when I saw Serena, I was very offended by that. I'm like, you know.

COX: Now that part was a little funky.

Ms. SAMUELS: Yeah.

COX: There's no question about that, but I kept thinking about Sir Mix-A-Lot and "Baby Got Back"…

Ms. SAMUELS: Well, of course, yeah.

COX: …and all of that, you know?

Ms. SAMUELS: All of that came back to mind. And I just felt like rap and hip-hop is just being so co-opted by mainstream to the point now where it's like you can't even take it seriously, and we have enough problems with hip-hop as it is. I don't think we need mainstream.

COX: Well, you got a point. I don't even like patty melts, so let's just move on.

COX: Allison, thank you so much for coming on. We really appreciate it.

Ms. SAMUELS: Thank you.

COX: Allison Samuels is an entertainment reporter for - with Newsweek magazine, joining me right here in our NPR West studios with her TV people. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.