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Entertainment behind the scenes

Election day, caught on the Web

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(Reporting and writing by Alex Dobuzinskis)

When it comes to election day news, TV coverage is so 2004. The Internet will cover election day from every angle on Tuesday — from the left and right sides of the political spectrum and with plenty of opportunity for Web users to get involved.
    
CNN will allow users to make their own predictions about which candidate will capture the votes in each state at CNN.com/Map, and to compare scenarios for how Republican John McCain or Democrat Barack Obama can get to the 270 Electoral College votes needed to win the presidency. CNN is also giving Web users the latest information on voting problems at CNN.com/VoterHotline.
    
The cable channel Current is relying on the Internet to provide material for its broadcast, and it will air 12-second webcam commentaries on the election submitted to 12seconds.tv and Current.com.
    
From the liberal perspective, the Huffington Post will cover election day with live video feeds and with blogs from American and international writers. Also, thousands of the site’s “citizen journalists” will follow the election paying special attention to what occurs at polling places, said Mario Ruiz, a spokesman for the site.
    
The Web site TownHall.com will look at the election from a conservative viewpoint, which it has done on the Internet since 1995. In addition to having video and plenty of opportunity for Web users to comment on the day’s developments, it will also have audio from election day broadcasts by such conservative talk show hosts as Dennis Prager and Michael Medved.

Paris Hilton, “Your Commander-in-Bikini”!

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So much has been made about the looks of Republican vice presidential nominee Sarah Palin that it’s a wonder nobody’s paid attention to that other, third-party presidential candidate – Paris Hilton.

That’s right, election watchers may forget that this past summer Paris declared herself a candidate for President in a video posted on comedy Web site, funnyordie.com. Well, Paris hasn’t forgotten and to reinvigorate her campaign, she is releasing a new video at swaghousemedia.com on Sunday, Oct. 26.

Opie, Andy and the Fonz stump for Obama

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(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis)

Movie director Ron Howard has spent much of his adult life making a name for himself apart from the All-American boy named Opie he played on “The Andy Griffith Show” and the squeaky clean Richie Cunningham of “Happy Days.” 
    
But in a video posted on Thursday at the comedy Web site Funnyordie.com, Howard stepped away from the director’s chair and became both Opie and Richie, one more time, to promote Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama.
    
Andy Taylor (Andy Griffith) joined Opie, and The Fonz (Henry Winkler), the greaser from the sitcom “Happy Days,” had his own chat with Richie. “Happy Days” and “The Andy Griffith Show” are among the most popular shows in TV history. The full video can be found here.

“I’ve never done this before and I hope never to do it again, but I guess you could say I’m feeling pretty desperate these days,” Howard said in the video. “So, as a demonstration of my sincerity, this is for you America.”
    
With that, Howard entered the black-and-white world of 1960s program “The Andy Griffith Show,” playing the 8-year-old Opie who is the son of small-town sheriff Andy Taylor. He tells his TV “dad” he wants to vote for Obama one day. Griffith told him he could do it, if he avoided the “butter-fly ballot.”
    
In another segment, Howard reappears dressed as teenager Richie Cunningham. He talks to the Fonz, the leather-clad greaser on ”Happy Days” who epitomized cool. The two talk about voting and double dating with someone who sounds a lot like Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin.
    
“Ron Howard’s Call to Action,” as the nearly four-minute video is called, is the latest in a string of political videos placed at Funny Or Die, a Web site created by comedian Will Ferrell and director Adam McKay.
    
The biggest hit for the Web site so far was posted in August, when celebrity heiress Paris Hilton mocked Republican presidential nominee John McCain over an attack ad he put out using an image of Hilton. In that video, Hilton played it relatively evenhanded between Obama and McCain, offering her own political ideas as she launched a fake presidential candidacy.

Election politics: The ultimate reality TV

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(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis)

In one more sign that the current presidential election campaign has drawn increased interest among pop culture watchers, Entertainment Weekly magazine released a survey on Thursday showing respondents, ages 18-24, estimated spending one-third of their TV time watching election coverage.

Of those surveyed, 1-in-5 Americans is watching more election coverage because they are dissatisfied with reality TV.

Leonardo DiCaprio, other celebs pump up youth vote

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leo.jpgCelebrities Leonardo DiCaprio, Forest Whitaker, Tobey Maguire and will.i.am are out to convince young people to vote — and they have made a series of public service announcements for the cause in partnership with Google, YouTube, Declare Yourself and MySpace.
     
While many of the celebrities have shown their support for Democratic presidential candidate Sen. Barack Obama, the PSAs are meant to be non-partisan in tone and content, so don’t expect any digs at Sen. John McCain, the Republican presidential candidate.
    
In the first ad, stars including Jennifer Aniston, Halle Berry, and Ashton Kutcher, address viewers directly and urge them in a tongue-and-cheek way not to vote, before going on to not only call on the viewers to vote but to make sure they are registered and that their friends, too, are registered and are voting. You can watch it here.

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The PSA was produced by DiCaprio’s company, Appian Way Productions. This past weekend, we interviewed DiCaprio and he talked about his desire to get young voters to the polls. “My big message on this next election is that, hopefully, the youth movement will come out in full force this time,” DiCaprio said. “Hopefully we will have a true representation of this country because enough young people who care about policies for the next 50 years will go out to the polls and vote for the candidate they think best represents the United States.”

Obama, McCain draw 14.6 mln viewers on “60 Minutes”

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obama1.jpgIn another sign of strong interest in this year’s U.S. presidential election, Sunday’s “60 Minutes” featuring interviews with both candidates, Democrat Barack Obama and Republican John McCain, drew 14.6 million viewers to the television news magazine for its highest viewership since January 2008.

That figure was up 21 percent in total U.S. households, 55 percent in adults 25- to 54-years-old and 50 percent in adults 18- to 49-years-old, compared to the same night last year, ”60 Minutes” said in a statement on Tuesday.

Tearful Oprah pledges “whatever it takes” to elect Obama

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oprah.jpgIt’s no surprise talk show host Oprah Winfrey was wowed by Sen. Barack Obama’s speech in Denver. After all, she endorsed him last year and may have swayed early primary voters in Obama’s direction.

But O went beyond just being enthused by Obama’s speech on Thursday, as the presidential candidate accepted the Democratic Party nomination. “Just seeing him on stage, I cried my eyelashes off,” Winfrey told a reporter with the TV show Entertainment Tonight.

Does Madonna fuel controversy for her fans or for herself?

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madonna-on-tour.jpgSex, religion, now politics. Madonna, true to style, has kicked off her world concert tour “Sticky & Sweet” with controversy by juxtaposing images of Adolf Hitler with John McCain, the Republican senator running for president alongside Democratic Senator Barack Obama and with Zimbabwean leader Robert Mugabe. Obama was named in a sequence with Mahatma Gandhi, John Lennon and Al Gore.  ”Outrageous, unacceptable and crudely divisive,” said McCain’s camp.

Madonna, who turned 50 this month, is listed as one of the world’s most successful female recording artists of all time, having sold over 200 million records in a career spanning 25 years.  Do you think she fuels controversy to keep fans coming back for more or is it a personal mission for The Material Girl? 

Daughtry, Everclear to rock Democratic convention

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daughtry2.jpgIn this presidential election year, partisan politics have ruled the roost. But the Grammy Foundation plans to buck that trend by bringing live shows to both the Democratic and Republican National Conventions.
    
First on deck is the Dems’ gathering, which starts this Monday, Aug. 25. The Grammy Foundation announced this week that to accompany the convention in Denver, Colorado, the organization will have a concert in the city featuring performances by Grammy-nominated rockers Daughtry and Everclear, as well as the Flobots, a Denver-based band that combines alternative rock and hip-hop.
    
The show will happen on Aug. 26, and benefit the Grammy Foundation, a charitable arm of The Recording Academy that works to promote arts education and cultural preservation. The Recording Academy gives out the top U.S. music awards, the Grammys.
    
In 2000, the band Rage Against the Machine famously rocked fans outside the Democratic National Convention in a Los Angeles show that ended in clashes between police and protesters.
    
This year’s Grammy Foundation events promise to be decidedly less explosive affairs. The organization has pledged to use the events to inform party leaders about issues in the music industry.
    
The four-day Republican National Convention starts on Sept. 1 in Minneapolis, Minnesota. On Sept. 2 The Recording Academy will host “The Songwriters Circle: The Songs We Love” in Minneapolis. Grammy-winning songwriter Brett James, who wrote the song “Jesus Take the Wheel,” recorded by Carrie Underwood, will perform along with rising star Greg Laswell, another singer-songwriter.

(Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis) 

Paris Hilton strikes back at McCain ad

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paris-logo.jpgWASHINGTON – You knew she wouldn’t take this lying down.
 
Paris Hilton struck back Tuesday at Republican presidential candidate John McCain for running a campaign ad that likened Democratic rival Barack Obama’s celebrity to that of the blond socialite and to singer Britney Spears.

The video, posted on the Web site www.FunnyorDie.com, began with images of the 71-year-old Arizona senator: “He’s the oldest celebrity in the world, like super-old. Old enough to remember when dancing was a sin and beer was served in a bucket. But, is he ready to lead?”
    
Then the camera turned on the blond socialite, sitting on a poolside lounge chair in a skimpy leopard-print bathing suit.
    
“Hey America, I am Paris Hilton and I’m a celebrity too,” she said. “Only I’m not from the olden days and I am not promising change like that other guy. I’m just hot.”
    
“But then that wrinkly white-haired guy used me in his campaign ad, which I guess means I’m running for president. And I want America to know that I’m like, totally ready to lead.”

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