Beliefnet
Idol Chatter

By Amy & Nancy Harrington, Pop Culture PassionistasGood feelings were flowing again this week. Esquire announced a surprising choice for best looking woman in America. One famous chef helped another make a comeback. A trailblazing star released a third memoir. Celebs put themselves on the auction block. And, once again, pop idols gave back. Here are this week’s most inspirational moments in pop culture. “Mad Men’s” Christina Hendricks is the Best Looking Woman in AmericaBeauty is clearly in the eye of the beholder. That’s why supermodels range in size and shape from Twiggy to Tyra. But, let’s face it, the skinny bird usually gets the worm (even if she doesn’t eat it) in the fashion world and even stunning actresses are the victims of regular retouching. So we were pleasantly surprised when the men’s magazine “Esquire” announced the results of a recent poll that, among other things, picked the best looking woman in America. Bearing in mind that the survey was taken by ten thousand women (no boys allowed), it was still exciting to see that the choice was Christina Hendricks, who plays the cunning and curvaceous 1960s secretary Joan Holloway on “Mad Men.” Winning one for shapely women everywhere, Hendricks is not an anorexia-induced size two. In the accompanying “Esquire” article she waxed poetic about pork and deep fryers-when was the last time you heard Kate Moss talk about beer battered anything?Our hope is that young girls everywhere will hear the news and know that it’s okay to embrace their bodies-even if they don’t fit the current fashion magazine mold. Martha Stewart Comes to Emeril Lagasse’s RescueSay what you want about Martha Stewart, we think she often gets an unfair shake. Some may see her as a privileged, autocratic tycoon. We prefer to look at her as a self-assured, media mogul, who knows exactly what she wants. Still, she’s had her ups and downs. So she must have sympathized with Emeril Lagasse when she realized that times were hard for the king of “Bam!” After all, Emeril, who had been the face of the Food Network since its inception, no longer had a show on the channel. Then Hurricane Katrina put a $1 million dent in his local restaurant businesses. We won’t even get in to that failed sitcom of his from 2000.Who would have thought it would be Martha Stewart who would come to Emeril’s rescue? But she certainly knows a good thing when she sees one. So in 2008, she became Lagasse’s business partner when her company Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia bought the rights to Emeril’s fifteen cookbooks, products, and TV shows (knowing her business acumen, that sitcom was most likely not part of the deal). In return, Lagasse got $15 million cash money and $5 million in stock. Her stamp of approval sure helped him kick it up a notch. Besides the obvious financial benefits, the move helped put Emeril back on track. Now he hosts a Sirius radio show called “Cooking with Emeril,” contributes to Martha’s Everyday Food magazine, and just this week debuted his new Rachel Ray like chat series “The Emeril Lagasse Show” on the Ion Television network. We know that on the surface Martha made a smart business deal as a savvy mogul. But we were also heartened to read her remarks about the Cajun chef in a recent AP interview, “”He made television cooking programs mainstream, opening the category to new audiences and proving that cooking is something everyone can enjoy.” Well-deserved respect from an admirable peer.Michael J. Fox Schools Readers in Life’s LessonsMichael J. Fox ranks up there as one of the more inspiring celebrities on the planet. Rather than roll over and feel sorry for himself that he was stricken with Parkinson’s Disease, he has become the poster child for optimism. In fact, he’s such an optimist he’s already written two books (“Always Looking Up” and “Lucky Man”) and did a TV special on the subject.Now Fox has written yet another inspirational book called “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Future: Twists and Turns and Lessons Learned.” He calls the book “advice to high school graduates from a high school drop out.” It’s his attempt to motivate young adults (and everyone really) to view each day and every opportunity as a learning experience. He says, “We don’t just live AND learn, we live TO learn.”Christie’s Auctions Off Celebrity OutingsThursday night at 20 Rockefeller Plaza, Christie’s Auction House held “A Bid to Save the Earth,” a green auction to benefit numerous environmental groups in honor of the 40th Anniversary of Earth Day. Christie’s and NBC Universal joined forces to offer celebrity experiences, travel packages, and works of art to the highest bidders. The auction house waived their commissions and donated all proceeds to four charities–Central Park Conservancy, Conservation International, the National Resources Defense Council, and Oceana.The star-studded event drew big names like Salma Hayek, Chevy Chase, Ted Danson, and Brian Williams. Up for bid? Anything from a tour of Botswana guided by the National Geographic editor (which went for a whopping $150,000) to a golf outing with Bill Clinton (which sold for $80,000). All together the evening raised $1.5 million.But don’t despair. If you weren’t in New York this week, you can still get in on the fun and help save the planet. There is a corresponding Christie’s auction online at Charity Buzz. It started in advance of last night’s live event and closes on May 6. There’s something for everyone and it’s fun just to window shop if you can’t afford the high sticker prices.Here’s a sampling of what’s up for bid:• Have lunch with Vera Wang at the Mercer Kitchen in NYC followed by a trip to the Vera Wang Boutique with a $10,000 gift certificate–Current bid: $10,000.• Enjoy a one-hour tennis lesson with John McEnroe in NYC–Current bid: $9,500.• Spend the day on the set with Hugh Jackman this summer–Current bid: $6,500.• Own Broken Record Beatles art by Robi Walters and Leanne Wright, signed by Sir Paul McCartney–Current bid: $3,000.• Take a private driving tour of Central Park with Candice Bergen for two, followed by lunch at the Loeb Central Park Boathouse–Current bid: $1,600.“Idol” Gives Back“American Idol” opened the eyes of its billions of fans to the plights of the poverty stricken in the U.S. and the disease inflicted in Africa with the third presentation of “Idol Gives Back.” Stars like Elton John, Alicia Keyes, Jennifer Garner, and Jeff Beck gave their time for the star-studded event, which raised $15 million last night. The organization has taken in over $140 million since its inception in 2007. Money raised goes to both domestic and international organizations including the Children’s Health Fund, Feeding America, Malaria No More, Save The Children, and the U.N. Foundation. President and Mrs. Obama kick started the evening with a pre-recorded message. Queen Latifah hosted the live performances at the Pasadena Civic Center in Pasadena, California, while Ryan Seacrest held down the fort at “Idol” headquarters in Los Angeles. Throughout the evening viewers were shown glimpses into the lives of recipients of the various charities, which benefit from the fundraiser. They met kids in Kentucky who are so poor the average school has one book for every 300 students. They saw a little girl in Africa, whose AIDS inflicted body was literally skin and bones, who now is a healthy child thanks to “Idol’s” aide. And they heard about average families in Pasadena whose wages just don’t quite cover the bills and who have received help from a food bank supported with funds from “Idol Gives Back.”It’s not too late donate. Visit the “Idol Gives Back” website for more details.For more visit the Pop Culture Passionistas website.

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