BANTER WITH BEN AND LISA: Tribute to Whitney Houston

The world was shocked today when music icon Whitney Houston died today at 48. Listen in as Lisa Timmons and I as well as Matt Whitfield from Yahoo! discuss this surprising turn of events. We talk about our favorite Whitney memories, theorize on how this will affect the Grammys, and wax nostalgic about the singer’s impact. It’s our tribute to Whitney!

Remember you can listen to Banter with Ben and Lisa on the Sideshow Network and subscribe on iTunes.

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TCM Out-Memoriams The Academy’s In Memoriam Sequence

Every year, one of the morbid traditions of the Oscars is trying to guess who will make the Academy’s In Memoriam montage (and furthermore, who will receive the biggest amount of applause and the money-spot at the end). In recent years, the Academy has taken heat for leaving people such as Brad Renfro, Farrah Fawcett, and Corey Haim out of the mix, but I can assure you that if the people at TCM had any say, such omissions would never happen. I say this because TCM just released its very own year-end In Memoriam sequence with such an extensive list of dead celebrities, I find it hard to believe that anyone’s still alive to run this town.

Nevertheless, take a sad trip down memory lane and pay your respects to these showbiz peeps one last time (until the Golden Globes and then the Oscars).

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DEAD CELEBRITIES: Bubba Smith Edition

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Sad news from the world of football / Police Academy. Former NFL star and actor Bubba Smith has died at the age of 66. No word yet on the cause of death, but the Los Angeles coroner’s office has reported that “there is no indication of anything other than natural death.”

Sad emoticon.

For more information, read the full obit here.

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DEAD CELEBRITIES: Macho Man Randy Savage Edition

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Sad news from the world of wrestling. Macho Man Randy Savage died this morning after having suffered a heart attack behind the wheel. The wrestler — one of the most popular in the 1980s, perhaps second only to Hulk Hogan — was 58.

To read more details of this untimely death and to begin your nostalgic mourning, click here.

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DEAD CELEBRITIES: Elizabeth Taylor Edition

After several weeks in the hospital, screen legend Elizabeth Taylor died today at the age of 79. The actress had battled many medical ailments over the past ten years and finally succumbed to congestive heart failure Wednesday morning.

I wouldn’t say that I had a “thing” for Elizabeth Taylor, but she’ll always have a special place in my heart for giving us White Diamonds, the gift that keeps on giving.

To read more about Elizabeth Taylor’s death (including her REAL accomplishments), check out the full story here.

After the jump, one of my favorite Elizabeth Taylor moments: her infamous Golden Globes presentation ten years ago. God Bless her. Continue reading

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Knut Is Dead

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Tragic news from the world of cute. Beloved polar bear Knut is dead. Zookeepers at the Berlin Zoo found him after he had a sudden and unexpected spasm, resulting in his death.

The fluffy, four-year-old bear became a worldwide sensation after he was rejected by his parents, and in the wake of his new fame, Knut achieved such feats as sharing a Vanity Fair cover with Leonardo DiCaprio. In recent years, Knut’s cuddly looks faded as he went from child star to awkward David Faustino adulthood, but that didn’t mean we loved him any less. I always thought Knut would last forever, but today that dream has been shattered.

RIP little guy*

*yes, I’m aware that Knut was actually quite big and probably would tear my throat open if given the chance.

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DEAD CELEBRITIES: Paul The Octopus Edition

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Sad news from the world of soccer. Our favorite clairvoyant cephalopod Paul the Octopus has died. The eight-legged critter gained international fame after accurately predicting the outcome of Germany’s seven 2010 World Cup matches, thus joining the esteemed pantheon of Teutonic animal superstars ruled by Knüt the polar bear. Sadly, Paul was not long for this world. He gave up his octo-ghost today at the ripe old age of two and a half. Let’s hope he’s enjoying himself in the big aquarium in the sky.

For a lovely tribute, click here. And for more information, click here.

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DEAD CELEBRITIES: Rue McClanahan Edition

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They always happen in threes. First Gary Coleman, then Dennis Hopper, and now our third fateful death of the week: Rue McClanahan, who is best known for playing Blanche on The Golden Girls. The actress was 76. This is a rather sad turn of events, especially now that The Golden Girls has received a new injection of nostalgic adoration, thanks to the resurgence of Betty White.

I actually met Rue McClanahan about five years ago. Back then, I worked down the hall from a casting office, and every day, random celebrities would saunter past en route to auditions. It was kind of awesome for me, what with my love of gawking. One day, Rue McClanahan herself walked by, and while I was very excited, I thought I’d act professional and remain in my seat. Luckily though, a little girl whose mom also worked in the hallway happened to step into my office about five minutes later.

“Why is there a Golden Girl in the hallway?” she asked me. I explained that Ms. McClanahan was in fact here for an audition. The girl nodded and then announced a desire to meet her. Well, who was I to deprive a little girl of her dreams? With pen and paper in hand, the two of us marched down the hall and introduced ourselves to Rue. I tell you, the woman was as sweet as molasses (sorry, I feel a need to speak in Southern-style similes). Rue signed an autograph for the girl and then asked us a few questions. It was such an endearing moment that I spied nearby auditioning actors Kristen Johnston and Chris Penn (also dead now) smiling at the scene. Class act, that Rue McClanahan.

Now this leaves just Betty as the last standing Golden Girl, outliving Blanche, Sophia, Dorothy, and even Stanley (not to mention Harry Weston, if you want to talk Empty Nest). Sadness all around.

For more information, click here. (thanks for the heads up, Neil)

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DEAD CELEBRITIES: Gary Coleman Edition

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The run of bad luck with the former stars of Diff’rent Strokes continued today with the death of Gary Coleman. The former child actor suffered an intercranial hemorrhage in Utah and never recovered. He was 42.

And so another pivotal sitcom star of my youth passes away. Sadness. For more information, click here.

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DEAD CELEBRITIES: Corey Haim Edition

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Just days after several ’80s teen icons were resurrected at the Oscars, one of that era’s most famous teen idols has died. Corey Haim passed away at 38 today after struggling for years with addiction and drug abuse. Sad news indeed. Is it bad that my first instinct is to wonder if he’ll make it into the Academy’s In Memoriam montage? What? It’s a current debate! (Farrah Fawcett, anybody??)
Anyway, more information on this tragic turn of events here.
(Thanks to m_ruv for the heads up)

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