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The Biggest Gamblers in Hollywood

Hollywood casino

Money breeds money or so they say. Therefore it is no surprise that gambling, placing a bet, having a flutter is a popular pastime for Hollywood celebrities. However, many are not content with a playing small bets online. Here is a look at some of Hollywood’s most infamous gambling cases:

Ashton Kutcher

The 35-year-old is one of Hollywood’s A-list stars, with a string of big roles to his name on both the small and big screens. He has made some pretty smart investments over time too, purchasing a stake in Skype for example. However, he revealed in an interview that he was also operating a sophisticated betting network which cleared hundreds of thousands of dollars each week during the college football season.

Tiger Woods

Regularly ranked as one of if not the top-earning sportsperson over recent years, Tiger Woods is not short of cash. He is apparently a well-known figure around the Las Vegas casino scene, not surprising given his well-publicised party lifestyle. Apparently, the golf star enjoyed a one million dollar betting limit at MGM Grand Casino and often played Blackjack at $25,000 per hand.

Charlie Sheen

The “Two and a Half Men” star has had his very public problems and meltdowns and so perhaps his penchant for excessive gambling is no great surprise. His second wife Denise Richards specified in the divorce papers which she filed that Sheen regularly gambled $20,000 each week, mainly on sports betting. He apparently even set up his own gambling website, presumably making it just that bit easier to place a wager on the big match.

50 Cent

The rapper certainly seems to enjoy having a bet, particularly when it comes to sport. In 2012, he is thought to have pocketed a cool $500,000 on a championship game between the New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers. He tweeted that he placed the bet having listened to “the voices in my head.” 50 Cent was also spotted in late 2012 on a high-stakes night of gambling with boxing legend Floyd Mayweather Jr. A YouTube clip showed 50 Cent at the end of the evening packing hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of cash into a snazzy car.

Ben Affleck

The Hollywood actor and director’s gambling issues are no big secret. He has previously received treatment for a gambling addiction and a couple of years ago he was said to owe movie-mogul Ron Meyer $400,000 in gambling debts. The same rumours said that Affleck used to host his own high-stakes poker game at a high-end Beverly Hills cigar club. However, there is no doubting that Affleck is a talented poker player, having won $356,000 at the California State Poker Championship in 2004, which qualified him for World Poker Tour final tournament that same year.

Frank Sinatra

‘Ol Blue Eyes certainly spent plenty of time in Las Vegas and having starred in the original Ocean’s Eleven movie, he was certainly more than familiar with the gambling fraternity. However, Sinatra used his fame to positive effect, campaigning successfully for an end to segregation in Las Vegas casinos. This paved the way for him to enjoy nights at the casino with his Rat Pack colleague Sammy Davis Jr!

If you’re looking to get a taste of the Hollywood glam life in Vegas, consider first playing Betsson mobile games. Practice in the comfort of your own home or whenever you find yourself in a waiting room and bored. It will give you the confidence and experience you might want before taking the plunge at a poker table.

You can follow us on Twitter @moviebuffs and on Facebook as well.

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The Papparazzi: A Day In The Life

There are many kinds of photographers out there: there are nature lovers, wedding photographers, those who work for advertisements; and then there are the paparazzo photographers, the ones who stand out from the crowd. The paparazzi sure have a very interesting life too, just like the people they sprint after all day.

Today, many photographers are choosing the paparazzi over other careers in photography. Formally known as photojournalism, the job of being a paparazzo can have some negative connotations as well.

However, nobody can deny the fact that the world of celebrities is brimming with juice only because the paparazzi exists; how else would anyone manage to get those million-dollar celebrity shots? These people behind the lens surely have an interesting job; they have to chase the rich and famous, and get a shot that will sell.

Good photography colleges churn thousands of potential graduates each year, who venture into various fields of photography based on their interests. Some of these take the challenge of jumping onto the paparazzi bandwagon. The paparazzi hired by a magazine are usually expected to bring in their own equipment; high end cameras, tripods etc. But most expected from a paparazzo are a timely appearance, a perfect angle, and a scandal awaiting to be captured.

So why is it that the paparazzi end up being the media scapegoats? These photographers are despised for barging into private estates, capturing awkward moments, and selling someone’s personal affairs. Ever wondered how much of these allegations are true? The paparazzi are also a form of journalists, who head out to earn their bread and butter; and this is something most of us forget.

Photographers of a paparazzi squad are better off with camera equipment that can capture high definition photographs from a great distance. They also have to keep swapping between long range and short range cameras, based on the situation. Precise timing is required by the paparazzi in order to capture the best celebrity shots.

The job nevertheless is absolutely fascinating and out of the ordinary. Whether Lindsay Lohan has earned another DUI arrest, or Britney Spears has another shameful moment; these people have to be there. There are no specific limits for privacy defined for the paparazzi; why should they be answerable when someone else is embarrassing themselves in public?

Having said that, there are some photographers that break the code; the person who captured Kate Middleton sunbathing with her husband did not do a pleasant job. Peeking into private estates is not a great thing to do, especially when you can be sued by the British Royals.

The paparazzi are also harassed by the celebrities on occasions; these brave soldiers head out into the battlefield with their cameras to not only take pictures, but also to occasionally get attacked by a drunken celebrity.

Being paparazzi doesn’t always mean chasing the troubled A-listers; pictures of celebrities shopping and leaving salons sell equally well.

Celebrity photographer Henry Flores, who has also published a book on his profession, says that being a paparazzo is not an easy job. The industry is inundated with inexperienced and under qualified individuals; maybe it is time that more professional and qualified photographers become part of the paparazzi.

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Hidden Netflix Gems – Everything Must Go

Hidden Netflix Gems is a new feature designed to help readers answer that burning question, “What should I watch tonight?” It will be updated every Saturday before the sun goes down.

Hollywood has a rich history of well-known comic actors taking on more serious and weighty roles, from Robin Williams to Ben Stiller to Jim Carrey, and now Will Ferrell, in what is probably his very best performance to date. Everything Must Go bears a strong resemblance to Stiller’s work in Noah Baumbach‘s Greenberg, or Adam Sandler‘s in Paul Thomas Anderson‘s Punch-Drunk Love, in its portrayal of a flawed but basically good-hearted man going through difficult times and coming out better for it. The difference between Ferrell and Sandler, of course, is that Ferrell’s comedies generally don’t suck.

Ferrell plays Nick Halsey, an alcoholic who loses his job at the beginning of the film and, after an ill-advised revenge against his boss, Gary (Glenn Howerton), returns home to discover that his wife has left him. Not only that, she has locked him out of the house, frozen their joint bank account, and left all of his possessions out on the front lawn. Nick is understandably upset, and reacts in the defeated way that has apparently become his life’s standard recourse: he buys a lot of beer and camps out in his La-Z-Boy on the lawn for the night. In the morning, having exhausted his beer supply and unable to find his car keys, he borrows a bicycle from his twelve-year-old neighbor, Kenny Loftus (Christopher Jordan Wallace), and heads down to the convenience store for more beer while Kenny keeps an eye on his stuff.

Nick also befriends his new neighbor, Samantha (Rebecca Hall), a beautiful young photographer who has just moved by herself from New York, where her husband is wrapping things up at his company, planning to join her in Arizona as soon as possible. There are hints that their marriage is on the rocks, as when she tells Nick early on that her husband wants to name their unborn baby (with whom she is currently pregnant) Jack, after himself, a practice she thinks is “kind of ridiculous.” I found this especially ironic knowing that the excellent young actor who plays Kenny is in fact the son of the other Christopher Wallace, best known as The Notorious B.I.G. We also meet Nick’s friend and former Alcoholics Anonymous sponsor, Frank Garcia (Michael Pena), when he rescues Nick from arrest by virtue of the fact that Frank is himself a higher-ranking officer than the ones sent to Nick’s house on a complaint from his neighbors.

Frank allows Nick to remain living on his lawn for the next few days under the pretense that he is holding a yard sale; after that, if Nick can’t get himself together, Frank will have no choice but to take him to jail. Clearly, this is not a plot-driven film, but that is not to say it isn’t a very well-structured one; the yard sale provides the forward thrust for Nick’s attempt to get his life back on track, and subtle details pay off in unexpected ways throughout. It is to the great credit of first-time writer-director Dan Rush that the film never takes the easy or expected routes, and it also takes its time in developing its characters and their relationships, all of which are nuanced and believable. The approach is well-suited to the author of its source material, the great Raymond Carver, and the film finds a perfect balance between poignancy and humor, both of which are equally effective when employed.

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Interview with Imogene Co-Director Shari Springer Berman

After years of directing documentaries, Shari Springer Berman made big waves in the independent film world with her first feature, American Splendor, co-directed with her husband and filmmaking partner Robert Pulcini. Since then, the pair has continued making narrative features such as The Nanny Diaries, The Extra Man, the HBO film Cinema Verite and the upcoming Imogene, starring Kristen Wiig and Annette Bening. I had a chance to speak briefly with Berman on Wednesday evening, as part of Columbia University’s panel on women filmmakers.

Ezra Stead: I’ve noticed a strong fascination in your films for a sort of cranky and eccentric, but lovable, type of character, such as Harvey Pekar (Paul Giamatti) in American Splendor or Henry Harrison (Kevin Kline) in The Extra Man. From what I’ve read about your next film, Imogene, with the title character faking a suicide in an attempt to win back her ex, it sounds like that character fits the bill. What attracts you to these kind of characters, and what else can you tell us about Imogene?

Shari Springer Berman: I am attracted to cranky, lovable people. Bob and I … both are; I don’t know why, I guess my therapist could probably answer that question better than I could [laughs]. I guess I love the idea of someone who isn’t overtly nice, and I feel like so many movies, especially Hollywood movies, it’s so about people being nice. One of the biggest notes when I write for studio films … is that the character has to be likable, and I think that people can be completely lovable and not, on the surface, nice. Some of the most amazing people I’ve met in my life are people who are a bit cranky, not necessarily traditionally nice, but underneath, some of the kindest, most giving people you’d ever want to meet … My grandmother was kind of a little bit cold, and very snarky, but I knew she loved me more than anything in the world, and when she said something kind, it was very real. So I like characters like that … and Imogene is definitely a continuation of the slightly brittle but completely lovable, root-for-them, character. Imogene’s mom [Annette Bening] is not one of those people; she’s very out there and wears a lot on her sleeve – who she is, is very available.

ES: You started out making documentaries, and certainly some of the techniques you brought to American Splendor reflect that background. What kind of advantages and disadvantages do you think documentaries have over narrative, and vice versa?

SSB: It’s completely different. I love documentaries because you don’t know what you’re going to get. When you make a narrative film, your whole goal is to know what you’re going to get … In a documentary, when you’re approaching it the way I like to approach it, you go in with sort of a general idea and then you allow it to happen to you, and you’re open to all kinds of things, and there’s something really thrilling about that experience. It takes you in directions you had no idea you would ever go … Docs take years, and you have to just give yourself over to it. Sometimes it’s really boring, but I like the adrenaline of shooting verite footage – not seated interviews … but just going out and covering events – it’s this really crazy adrenaline rush, and I love it … I miss that sometimes. In this movie, Imogene, that we just shot, we wanted to shoot a scene of a guy walking around with this strange outfit … in Chinatown, and my ADs [assistant directors] were stopping everybody and we were just putting this guy in a crowd and letting him walk, and I was like, ‘Okay, you know what? We have to shoot this like a doc.’ I told the Ads to go get a cup of coffee … I’m gonna take over … and we got all this stuff … genuine reactions to this guy walking down this massive street, and it was one of the most fun days … Working with actors is probably my favorite part – that or writing – is my favorite part of the filmmaking process.

ES: How do you and your husband divide up the duties of directing a film? What is your working process like?

SSB: We have different strengths, and I think that’s why it works, because we sort of take different areas and run with it. I do a lot of … sort of organizational stuff, and he spends a lot of time with the camera, the shots. I used to be a casting director, so I do a lot of casting and, obviously, Bob’s involved in it and I’m involved in everything, too, but these are just the things that we each take the lead on … I talk to the actors, that’s my sort of arena, and if Bob wants something [from them], he’ll tell me … but usually, we see eye to eye. I mean, you have to have the same aesthetic approach; if you don’t see the world the same way and you don’t like the same films, then you’re gonna constantly be battling, so luckily, we tend to agree a lot.

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A Christmas movie . . . already?

John Cho (L) and Kal Penn, cast members in the motion picture comedy “A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas”, attend the premiere of the film at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in the Hollywood section of Los Angeles on November 2, 2011. UPI/Jim Ruymen

I’m not complaining, as we see John Cho and Kal Penn attend the premiere of “A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas” at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in Hollywood. But isn’t this a little early?

The movie should be fun as it has a good rating on Rotten Tomatoes. Jason Zingale agrees:

Following the disappointment of “Harold & Kumar Go to Guantanamo Bay,” not to mention co-star Kal Penn’s surprising decision to accept a job at the White House, the likelihood that fans would ever see another Harold & Kumar adventure again seemed pretty slim back in 2008. And yet here we are, three years later, discussing the newest film in the ongoing stoner buddy franchise. But while my expectations were relatively low going into “A Very Harold & Kumar 3D Christmas,” it’s actually a big improvement over the last sequel, hewing much closer to the spirit of the original film by refusing to take itself too seriously while still maintaining a certain level of tact that was sorely missing from the disastrous second installment.

I didn’t mind the second installment, but only because the characters are always fun. If the movie is better this time, this should be a crowd-pleaser.

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The Twilight Trio at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre

Here’s a Hollywood tradition. Here’s actors Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner at “The Twilight Trio” Hand/Footprint Ceremony at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre.

WWW.ACEPIXS.COM ************ November 3 2011, LA Actors Robert Pattinson, Kristen Stewart and Taylor Lautner at ‘The Twilight Trio’ Hand/Footprint Ceremony at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre on November 3, 2011 in Hollywood, California

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The Biggest Loser: really, 2 hours?

I have to ask as I do occasionally. Does “The Biggest Loser” HAVE to be two hours long every week? Last night, I swear, there were commercials between each contestant’s weigh in. Well, not really, but between every team for sure…..and there was just so much fluff and stalling for time, while this show could have been easily 90 minutes long and maybe even one hour. But thankfully I watched it on DVR delay and skipped the crazy amounts of commercials.

They began with a challenge, where the contestants had to walk a mile and place a flag on where they thought was the exact spot that constituted one mile. There were markers all over the place, but they had to put a flag on the marker they thought was the mile marker. They also only had 15 minutes to do so. The winning team won a night of luxury in Hollywood, while the other three teams had to clean the campus. It was sort of like a “Hell’s Kitchen” type prize and penalty. Well, the black team of Hannah, Jay and Rulon won…even after Hannah’s complaining the whole way that they were approaching the challenge wrong. Ha!

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American Idol: auditions wind down

Last night was Episode 7 of this season’s “American Idol” on FOX. That means it was the last night of initial audition footage, and tonight we get into Hollywood week. But first, a recap from last night’s San Francisco auditions:

HOLLYWOOD BOUND
The first few that they showed going to Hollywood were 21 year old Brittany Mazur; Lara Johnston; and Matthew Nuss. I wrote down next to Lara that she was all technique and I wrote “eh” next to Matthew. Sometimes I’m not quite sure what the judges are smoking, or that they are a bit too lenient…but Stefano Langone, who went next, was quite a story. He was in a life-threatening car accident two years ago, but pulled through. He talked about the desire to win “American Idol” burning in him, and when someone goes through something like that and to top it off, has the talent AND the burning drive, look out. I’m just saying, keep an eye on this kid. He did an awesome version of “Heard it Through the Grapevine” and J-Lo even suggested the word “star” to Stefano….Clint Jun Gamboa, a karaoke host from Los Angeles, was pretty damn good…after a medley of good auditions, some with women in short dresses that caught the eyes of Randy and Steven, the next Hollywood-bound contestant was Julie Zorrilla, a 20 year old beauty originally from Colombia. Her family was rich but constantly extorted by the army, so they left and came to LA for a better life. Good for us, because she was awesome and did a super cool version of the classic, “Summertime”….Emily Anne Reed, whose house burned down like last week, sang “You’re Getting To Bet a Habit,” and she was really good, kind of old-timey but very unique. Steven said no, but Randy and Jennifer said yes resoundingly…..and finally, 21 year old James Durbin from Santa Cruz, whose dad always played in bands and toured but died when James was 9 of a drug overdose, was quite a story. He and his girlfriend Heidi have a little daughter and though he has no job, they make ends meet somehow, and now he wants a better life for his family. Thankfully, he didn’t suck. Dude did a super cool version of Led Zeppelin’s “You Shook Me” and then even did Aerosmith’s “Dream On,” with Steven’s permission of course. This dude was really good and worth keeping an eye on.

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American Idol: L.A. auditions lame

Last night’s “American Idol” auditions were in Los Angeles, not far from where the contestants with golden tickets will go if they move on to the next round. And while they didn’t give an exact number, they said L.A. did not produce the hopefuls they thought it would. Here are the good and the bad from last night:

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American Idol: judges keep spreading love

It sure is going to get interesting as this season of “American Idol” gets into the real judging of Hollywood, because Randy, Steven and Jennifer continue to be much more lenient than Simon ever was. I have said I think it’s refreshing and I stand by that, but I think they are going to have a difficult time making actual cuts in a few weeks. Here were the highlights and (a few) lowlights from last night’s Austin auditions:

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