Idol Chatter

Idol Chatter

This Week’s Inspirational Pop Culture Moments

By Amy & Nancy Harrington, Pop Culture PassionistasA rock star shares his family’s tragic history, a child star gives back and a TV network stands up against discrimination. Here are this week’s most inspirational pop culture moments.Gene Simmons Share His History on the Family Jewels We’ve been fans of the series “Gene Simmons Family Jewels” for years. What’s not to like about watching the KISS frontman in his actually somewhat normal life? Make-up off, common law/former porn star wife and sophisticated teenage kids at his side? It’s not Ozzie and Harriet. Heck, it’s not even Ozzy and Sharon. But it’s good TV. Still we never expected to plop down in front of our TV sets and sob during an episode of the series.But when we saw a preview of this Sunday night’s brand new episode, crying is exactly what we did — and lots of it. We had thought that Simmons was a quintessential pop culture open book. After all he hasn’t been shy about tooting his own horn when it comes to his rock godliness, his romantic prowess or his business savvy. Gene never hid the fact that his mother, Florence Klein, was a Holocaust survivor. But he has been very protective of the details surrounding her journey. Until this Sunday’s episode of “Family Jewels” at least.The show unfolds during a European KISS tour. While in Amsterdam, Simmons gets a guided tour of the city from a local boy. Not only is young Stephen a KISS fan, he and Gene share a common bond — they both have ancestors who are Holocaust survivors. When Steven takes Gene to the Anne Frank House, and Simmons faces some very deeply personal facts that he had never confronted before. Most poignant among them – that Florence was almost exactly the same age as 13-year-old Anne Frank when she was taken to a concentration camp.But perhaps Gene’s long-time partner Shannon Tweed summed it up best, “For the kids out there who are watching the show, know that your dad who snores on the couch while he’s watching TV and your mom who seems to only cook and drive you to school and do nothing else and their parents, who just seem like tottering old fools have a story.”This one will strike a chord far beyond the KISS nation for sure. Don’t miss this very special episode of “Gene Simmons Family Jewels” when it airs on Sunday, December 5 at 9:00 p.m. PST/8:00 p.m. Central on A&E.Visit the A&E Site for more info on “Family Jewels” Alyssa Milano: Survives Being a Child Star and Does GoodSo much time and energy is spent in celebrity gossip columns on the topic of fallen child stars. From Corey Haim to Lindsay Lohan, the who’s who of kids who can’t handle the pressure of success seems to get longer every year.Less often discussed are those who gracefully transitioned from precious teen idol to established adult actor. People like Rick Schroeder, Jason Bateman and Molly Ringwald. Even more overlooked are those who have gone on to use their fame to do some good in the world.That’s why we feel people should do a lot more talking about Alyssa Milano. The 38-year-old star of the upcoming Lifetime Original Movie “Sundays at Tiffany’s” has leant her support to many good causes. In a recent conference call interview, she told us what inspired her to become a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador in 2003.She explained, “In 2000 I lived in South Africa for three months and I volunteered in a children’s hospital in a township there. And I became just very caught up in what was going on socially in South Africa. Apartheid had recently been abolished… it was less than a decade when I was there. So there was still a lot of struggle and a lot of trying to find a place. And when I came home, I lived in Beverly Hills at the time, and I had a very hard time assimilating that person that I learned about in South Africa with the person that I was in Los Angeles. And I went through a bout of depression. And my mom looked at me and she said, ‘You should call UNICEF and see if there’s anything that you can do.'”Thanks to that suggestion from her mom, Milano made the call. “In 2003 they appointed me a Goodwill Ambassador. And with them I’ve been to Angola, Africa and that was in 2004. I’ve been to India six months after the Tsunami hit. And this year I went to Kosovo.”But her charitable affiliations don’t stop there. She is also an active voice for the Global Network. She went on to discuss how she got involved with the organization saying, “I actually met a guy named Dr. Peter Hortez at the Clinton Global Initiative a few years ago and he sat on a panel with Jimmy Carter and discussed this thing called Neglected Tropical Diseases. And I was so fascinated by the fact that in all my travels with UNICEF I had never heard of Neglected Tropical Diseases.” She felt the not often discussed issue was a worthy cause “because [they are] twelve parasitic and bacterial infections that effect the poorest [people]… that live on less than $1 a day. And they are perpetuating the cycle of poverty and not a lot of people know about them.”She’s also glad that this universal problem seems to have a solution. She expressed her optimism, “I think this is one of the good news stories because the Neglected Tropical Diseases are treatable and the pharmaceutical companies are actually donating the treatments.”To see with your own eyes how well Alyssa Milano has turned out, tune in to “Sundays at Tiffany’s” on December 6 at 9:00 p.m. EST/8:00 p.m. Central on Lifetime.USA Takes a Stand Against DiscriminationIn this day and age, when bullying and intolerance is running rampant in our schools and kids feel there is no hope, USA Network is stepping up to try to make a difference. They have launched the Characters Unite campaign, aptly named for the network’s slogan “Characters Welcome.” The movement is designed to “combat intolerance, prejudice, discrimination and hate, and to promote greater acceptance, understanding and mutual respect.”USA wants fans of their shows to join their campaign. For every pledge made over the next four weeks, USA will donate $1 to their non-profit partners including the Anti-Defamation League, Children’s Defense Fund, GLAAD, Human Rights First and the NAACP. Simply log on to their site and sign your name to the pledge.The stars of the USA Network’s shows, including Matt Bomer, Mary McCormack, Tim Dekay and Sharif Atkins, have also joined forces to create a PSA asking their fans to take the pledge. And after you sign on, spend a little time on the Characters Unite website. You’ll find discussion forums, games and a list of 50 things you can do right now to Unite the country. Supporters can also follow the campaign on Facebook and Twitter.Let’s stop tolerating intolerance and stand together for more understanding and respectful world.”Take the Pledge” PSA characters unite

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