Are you sitting down? OK, perfect. It’s no secret that John Cena loves his fans, but recently, a group of fans flipped the script on him and decided to surprise him for a change. During an interview with Cricket Wireless, the WWE superstar received a bunch of cards from people thanking him for changing their lives, and things definitely got emotional. One fan thanked John for being his «light in a decade of darkness,» while a little boy named Tyler Schweer recorded a special video, telling a story about how his mom was diagnosed with cancer and how John’s words taught him to never give up. But what John didn’t know was that all those fans were standing backstage listening to him read each and every note. Watch John’s emotional reaction in the video above, and get ready to turn into a complete wreck.
You’re not going to believe this, but John Daly busted out his go-to karaoke song, “Knockin’ On Heaven’s Door”, at the Dick’s Open in New York yesterday. I know, I can’t believe it either. Everybody should have that one song that they have in their back pocket and this one is CLEARLY John’s. Anytime there’s a mic and guitar, Daly is getting up on that stage to put on a show and you know what song is coming.
That was earlier in the day, but did you think he was done? No chance. I took a gander over at his snaps from last night and what do you know? He hopped on stage and sang it again (the Snapchat cuts off, but he was definitely doing it again), of course after Carlton belted out a little “Purple Rain”.
John Daly is a simple man. He loves golf, he loves ripping cigs, he loves to have a few pops from time to time, and he LOVES singing “Knocking On Heaven’s Door”. That’s Daly in a nutshell.
I read a lot of fan-castings. Of the myriad ways that fandom expresses its creativity and squee, I’ve always found the art of the fan-cast to be the most fascinating aspect of it all. It’s a giddy combination of armchair executive and industry interrogation, as most of the best fan-casts question and subvert the expectations of Hollywood’s archaic methods. Often, it seems as though the big suits at the major studios only know the names of ten actors, and half of them are all Chris. The same faces come up time and time again for the biggest roles, and they’re always the first figures mentioned when a major production is coming up. The industry has a very specific model in place for what it deems to be a popular, profitable face, and that outdated bias is smothering in its limitations. That’s what makes an effective fan-cast so striking: It forces you to acknowledge how subjective and utterly discriminatory the accepted methods are. It offers a direct challenge to what the biggest and most influential entertainment forces on earth have decreed to be the default hero.
A lot of the same names come up in these detailed and varied fan-casts. Everyone knows that Idris Elba should just be cast in every role and be done with it, but a name I see mentioned with comparable frequency is John Cho. I’ve seen him fan-cast in everything from Harry Potter to The Hunger Games to Batman. As a romance reader, I’ve seen him as the model for so many novels’ dream movie cast in every mould of romantic hero, be it stoic alpha or geeky beta. He’s easily reached Internet Boyfriend status by this stage, cemented by the ultimate sign of appreciation: An ‘If John Cho Were Your Boyfriend’ post on the sadly defunct site The Toast.
Cho’s fan-casting king status isn’t just an organic evolution of the fandom world; it’s a political statement, and one led with a specific intent to exact change in the industry. Last year, William Yu started the hasthag #StarringJohnCho, which sought to show the world how the biggest films on the planet would look if they cast a Asian-American actor as their lead. It showed Cho in a whole spectrum of leading men roles: As the comedy star in This Is 40 and The Nice Guys; as the dashing hero if Jurassic World and the Mission Impossible movies; As the romantic ensemble player in Mother’s Day; Even as James Bond himself. The results were striking and the intent clear: Here is Hollywood’s most obvious choice for an Asian-American leading man, a talented actor with decades of work under his belt, and he’s going to waste.
#StarringJohnCho, of course, wasn’t just about John Cho. The hashtag came at a time when the conversation over Asian-American representation in cinema was more necessary than ever. Between Scarlett Johansson in Ghost in the Shell and Emma Stone in Aloha, the industry seemed to have doubled down on Asian erasure in cinema. This erasure is always defended with the same tired arguments, but the most prominent one is thus: There aren’t any major Asian-American stars capable of opening a blockbuster at the box office. Never mind that the industry has put zero effort into making Asian-American stars, they’ve clearly demonstrated that they have no desire to do so. Why else would they keep optioning adaptations of famous anime then casting white people? It’s not as if those white A-listers are paying out much these days, if the grosses for Ghost in the Shell are anything to go by. All the old excuses are dead now, but the lie remains in place. It’s sad and lazy and also super unfair to actors like Cho, who embody all the great qualities of stardom but are deemed too risky to cast because of their race.
Having started his career in bit-part roles in films on film and TV, including American Beauty and Bowfinger, Cho made his first big impression in American Pie as the unnamed MILF Guy #2 (eventually, his character would be named John in the sequels). He landed a role as a Vietnamese restaurant owner in Off Centre (Cho is Korean-American), a WB sitcom from the Weitz Brothers, ‘from the guys who brought you American Pie‘, but that only lasted one season, which was mostly mired in controversy thanks to its raunchy content and subsequent protests from the ever-pointless Parents Television Council.
In 2002, Cho had substantial roles in two movies: The indie crime drama Better Luck Tomorrow and the teen comedy Big Fat Liar. Both films made a profit, and both revealed the contrasting attitudes towards Asian representation in American cinema. Better Luck Tomorrow, directed by Justin Lin, who would later go on to helm four films in the Fast & the Furious franchise, has a diverse Asian-American ensemble playing a group of over-achievers who dabble in petty crime for cheap thrills. Lin has stated that the film is an exploration of contemporary youth culture through an Asian-American lens, but also one that can be viewed as a universal experience. It was well received and is partly remembered today as the film that caused Roger Ebert to stand up against a white audience member at Sundance who asked Lin if he thought the film was an irresponsibly negative portrayal of his community. It’s a badass Ebert moment, but one that also highlights the impossible conundrum directors and actors of colour face: When there is so little representation of your life in pop culture, the little that gets attention must carry the unmanageable weight of generalised expectations.
For Cho, another 2002 film showed a more limiting and all too common scope for Asian-Americans on film as seen through the white gaze. Big Fat Liar is a cartoon of a movie, much in the same way most of the teen-aimed films of the mid-2000s era were. Cho’s role isn’t big but the role changed vastly under his guidance. In an AMA session on Reddit, he admitted that he had been asked to do an accent for the role, which he refused, saying, ‘I don’t want to do this role in a kid’s comedy, with an accent, because I don’t want young people laughing at an accent inadvertently.’ Director Shaun Levy agreed to make changes and so the role is without a racially charged ‘Asian accent’. Hearing that story is a sharp reminder of a crushing reality for so many actors of colour, and you can’t help but wonder how many times Cho and others like him have been asked to do that in auditions (it’s a problem Aziz Ansari tackled head-first in his Netflix series, Master of None). As noted by GQ, ‘in Cho’s entire career, he has not once played a character with a fake accent.’
2004 brought with it Cho’s first starring part, and it’s one that’s quietly revolutionary. The co-leading role of Harold and Kumar Go To White Castle was written specifically for Cho by Hayden Schlossberg, which Cho admitted to being confused about when first approached. A lot of the film is typical stoner comedy goofballs, but there’s a fascinating specificity to its humour and characters, rooted in the leading pair both being second generation sons of immigrants. Harold Lee is an investment banker dealing with the stresses of his job and being manipulated by his white co-workers, while Kumar is afraid of committing to his desire to be a doctor because he feels it will simply confirm stereotypes about Indian kids being forced into the occupation by their pushy parents. Given how many films in this genre are just about bland white kids sticking their dicks wherever they’ll fit, Harold and Kumar has the nerve to try for something deeper. It also paid off, as the film was a mild success but with the right demographics — college stoners — and the film evolved into a trilogy that’s grossed over $ 100m.
A success like that, even a modest one, would be expected to catapult its stars to the next level of fame and roles. That didn’t exactly happen with Cho. He starred in the TV series Kitchen Confidential, based on the Anthony Bourdain book, which was cancelled four episodes in. More bit-parts in film and TV followed, as well as the first Harold & Kumar sequel in 2008. It took five whole years for Cho to land the one-two punch of major exposure he deserved, and both in the sci-fi realm: The hotly hyped but quickly cancelled TV drama FlashForward and the big-screen adaptation of a little known show called Star Trek.
Hikaru Sulu, originally played by George Takei, was originally created by Gene Roddenberry as the stand-in for all of Asia in the Trek universe. For the reboot, Cho was approved by Takei himself, after director J.J. Abrams feared possible backlash to casting a Korean-American in a role originated by a Japanese-American. Cho is a damn good Sulu, but it’s easy to overlook that given how little he has to do in the first two movies. He’s driven but with that sly edge of a guy who’s probably smarter than everyone on board and knows it. Critic Elvis Mitchell had previously cited his ‘lazy magnetism’ in Better Luck Tomorrow, which captures the kind of effortless charm he exudes, even when there’s nothing to do but push a few buttons and give Chris Pine the stink-eye. He’s given far more of a role to work with in the third film, Star Trek Beyond, helmed by his old friend Justin Lin. There, we see Sulu with his husband and daughter, but we also get a richer depiction of the Enterprise’s crew, working together and each with a chance to use their own unique skills. You spend much of the films wondering why there isn’t more of Sulu, but you also know the reason why.
Cho continued to work steadily on film in between Sulu obligations, but it was TV that gave him something meatier. There was a supporting part on Go On, another one season wonder, then irregular appearances on the first season of Sleepy Hollow, but Selfie was the crowning moment, albeit one that will forever remain sinfully underrated. ABC’s modern retelling of Pygmalion suffered before its premiere due to an admittedly ropey title and a set-up that reeked of millennial stereotyping gone sentient. That’s seriously disappointing because the show itself is much savvier than was anticipated, but also an unabashed rom-com that allows Cho to don the mantle of romantic hero, and boy is he great at it. As Henry Higgs, the marketing image guru who takes the social media obsessed Eliza Dooley under his wing, Cho is charismatic to the hilt.
While many critics viewed the show as frivolous fluff, Cho knew the weight the role carried as a rare opportunity for an Asian-American man to be the romantic lead, something that hadn’t happened on American TV up to that point. Cho called it ‘revolutionary’, noting that ‘Asians narratively in shows are insignificant. They’re the cop, or the waitress, or whatever it is. You see them in the background. So to be in this position… is a bit of a landmark.’ It’s also a landmark to see a major network show portray an Asian-American man as sexual and sexy. Cho is unabashedly hot as Henry Higgs, and the series takes full advantage of that, with gif-friendly scenes of him lying on the bed with a champagne glass in hand as he coyly bites his lip. He pulls Karen Gillan close to him, the heat between them palpable, and it’s utterly seductive for Gillan and viewers alike. Sam Levin in the Guardian documented the limited on-screen opportunities for Asian actors, most of which are ‘highly emasculated, desexualised characters’ for men, while Asian women ‘regularly go up for parts as masseuses and sex workers or characters described as submissive, fragile or quiet.’ As actor Pun Bandhu laments to Levin, ‘We’re the information givers. We’re the geeks. We’re the prostitutes.’
The industry has created a harsher route to success for actors of colour, particularly Asian actors who make up a paltry 1% of lead roles in Hollywood, and it seems dead set on making the road even harder to navigate. The markers of success are higher for someone like Cho than any white actor of comparable success: Even two $ 100m+ trilogies with his name over the banner don’t count as much as being a mediocre white dude with ‘potential’. Cho also has to deal with being one of the few prominent Asian-American actors in the industry. #StarringJohnCho was part of that, and Cho himself has thought a lot about what that means. In an interview with Vulture, he noted, regarding the hashtag and its movement:
‘I really feel like it’s this collective dream that we all want to be a part of. Culture is this thing that exists apart from our real life but is something we all have tacitly agreed to in America. And what film and television do, particularly in this country, is lay out the characters involved in this invisible agreement, and dictate who and what can participate. So I feel like it’s tied up in this idea of personhood, that Asian-Americans are looking to be affirmed as real people.’
Koganada, the director of Cho’s latest film, the critically acclaimed drama Columbus, sums up Cho’s career succinctly in an interview with Vulture: He’s a hard worker and committed professional who people enjoy working with, one who loves his job and has the sufficient range to try it all, but not one to suffer fools gladly. His career has been limited by the industry’s racism, but that hasn’t limited his talent. Cho is always a joy to watch, even in the most thankless roles, and you constantly hunger for more from him because you know he’s capable of much more than he’s offered.
John Cho has a good career, but dammit, it could be great if Hollywood let it. Maybe they should check out a few fan-casts for inspiration.
So someone's already pitched John Cho for Spike in the Cowboy Bebop movie, right? pic.twitter.com/Y5mhWrHRMA
— Kayleigh Donaldson (@Ceilidhann) August 5, 2017
James Corden is back at it again with the second episode of Carpool Karaoke: The Series, and this time he has two of the biggest and most beautiful voices in his car: Alicia Keys and John Legend. However, instead of singing their smash hits during the ride, The Late Late Show host had them make up songs on the spot about the weirdest things. While Alicia blows us away with her melody about bad body odor, John’s soulful tune about a long-lasting erection is surprisingly incredibly sexy. Catch all the craziness above, and watch the full episode on Apple Music.
«It’s like a reverse Godwin’s Law,» John Oliver says. «If you fail to mention Nazis, you lose the argument.» Bingo. «Nazis are a lot like cats; if they like you, it’s because you’re feeding them.»
And for those of you, like me, who got your news much of the weekend on social media and in newspapers and didn’t actually see Trump after given his statement, it’s even more clear now that Trump’s refusal to disavow Nazis was intentional. Even after his statement, he «had one last shot before the buzzer on the racist clock hit zero and he threw an air ball so far away it landed in the Third Reich.»
«A non-answer in a moment like this is an answer.»
And if you’re wondering if Trump finally sacked up this morning and denounced white nationalists on Twitter, here’s your answer:
The Obstructionist Democrats have given us (or not fixed) some of the worst trade deals in World History. I am changing that fast!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 14, 2017
More of the fucking same.
Honestly, at this point, it wouldn’t matter how much or how forcefully Trump denounced white supremacy. It will be too little too late.
Have you ever wondered how some celebrities get their names? Some stars are given names from their parents that scream «super star,» like January Jones (sounds like a superhero, right?) and Pierce Brosnan (so Hollywood). Others change their names along the way for more pizazz like, Lana Del Ray (born Elizabeth Grant) or Emma Stone (born Emily Jean Stone). The biggest surprise however is when you learn that one of your favorite celebrity’s real name is NOT the name you’ve known them as . . . like John Legend.
While John Legend sounded like a made-up name the first time we heard it — come on, whose last name is actually as cool and as fitting as Legend? — we eventually came to believe that the «Love Me Now» singer was in fact given that name from the start, but we were wrong!
John’s birth name is actually John Roger Stephens, and if we’re being technical here, it’s still his real name. Legend is actually a nickname, and the story as to how the 38-year-old crooner was dubbed «Legend» goes back a couple of years . . . back to his early career, after graduating from the University of Pennsylvania.
Back in 1999, John (who was Stephens at the time) was actually working as a management consultant. At the same time, he was honing his craft as a musician at night, playing nightclub gigs and knocking on doors, searching for a record deal under his real name — until his friends started to call him «Legend» based on his old-school sound, The New York Times reported back in 2006.
«John Legend is a nickname that some friends started calling me, and it kind of grew into my stage name,» Legend told MTV News in 2008 about his now-famous moniker. «‘Legend’ is something that I never would have chosen for myself originally. It grew to the point where more people in my circle would know me by that name than by my real name. I had to make a decision.»
John decided that although it was a BIG name to take on, he liked it, and he then adopted it as his official stage name. «I was just like, ‘You know what? Let’s just go for it. People are going to pay attention, and I’m going to either live up to my name or I’m not,'» he explained to the publication. «My bet was on me trying to live up to the name.»
Clearly the bet paid off, because now John Legend is just that, a legend, and he has definitely lived up to his new last name. The «All of Me» singer is a five-time Grammy-winning artist, a Golden Globe winner, and an Academy Award winner, not to mention his 2017 Tony Award win for coproducing the play, Jitney. But all of this fame doesn’t mean the star still doesn’t own his Stephens roots.
In fact, his name is still legally John Stephens, as proven by the fact that when he won his Oscar in 2014 for Best Original Song in Selma, his real name was announced (along with Common, whose real name is Lonnie Lynn) as he took the stage.
Plus, when John and his beautiful wife, Chrissy Teigen, had their first child back in 2016, her full name included his real surname. «Our new love is here! Luna Simone Stephens, born on Thursday, the 14th. We couldn’t be happier!» Legend tweeted at the time of Luna’s birth, and now Stephens will continue to live on!
Image Source: Tapout
John Cena is many things: a WWE superstar, an actor, a Tapout ambassador, and a husband-to-be. I recently got the chance to chat with him over the phone while he promoted Tapout’s recent launch of body sprays and we talked about everything from what inspired him to get involved with Tapout to his relationship with longtime love Nikki Bella. Being that I’m a big fan of him and Nikki’s, I tried not to melt over the way he spoke about her and their romance, but I have to admit, it was pretty damn hard. It’s easy to see why people are so obsessed with him and his relationship with Nikki.
- On what inspired him to get involved with Tapout: «There’s a crew of [WWE] superstars known for their dedication and work ethic to fitness and performance and it was a natural progression to go into all facets of performance and well-being.»
- On what sets Tapout body sprays apart from other sprays: «First off, it’s some kickass body spray. Second, sometimes in marketing with body sprays they showcase the weaknesses in the human facade, and with Tapout, we really want to empower [people] and [we] really want we offer a variety of scents for every portion of the day.»
Image Source: Getty / Mike Pont
- On the moment he knew he wanted to propose to Nikki: «It was long before the last time we spoke [January 2017]. I just wanted it to remain a secret. So much of our lives has been an open book and so much is talked about by everyone, including ourselves. I knew quite a while ago. I just wanted to add some element of romance and a lot of the process of an engagement is the spontaneity and the romance. I just wanted to keep that. I’m glad it worked out the way it did. It was a tremendous surprise. It’s a moment I’ll have forever.»
- On why he decided to propose at WrestleMania 33: «I messed around with the idea months before and I guess it was just me having the guts enough to do it on that stage. So many of our viewers know myself and Nicole from the WWE ring, and I’ve been in WWE for 15 years now, [so] they’re my family. WrestleMania is the one day of the year that the entire family gathers together. So, I figured it was a great way for me to tell the woman I love that she’s the one I want to spend the rest of my life in front of all the people that have followed us for all of these years.»
- On getting to propose to Nikki in front of his mom: «My mom doesn’t travel well and she was there by surprise. It was a pleasant surprise. I had no idea she was going to be there and she had no idea what was going down.»
- On how the wedding planning is coming along: «It’s going [well]. We’re at the initial stages, picking invitations and save the dates and stuff, but I found myself more involved in that stuff than I thought I would be.»
- On what he’s looking forward to the most about his wedding: «I want it to be a special day for us so I don’t want to rush into it.»
- On whether he and Nikki are planning to televise their wedding: «I’m not sure. I’m going have to divert to her on that one. She’s the boss. [Her] show is called Total Bellas, so it’s kind of about [her] life and if she decides to open up that moment to the rest of the world, I certainly support her. At the same time, if she were to decide that wants that moment just for us, I’d certainly support her with that as well.»
John Green hasn’t released a new novel since 2012’s The Fault in Our Stars, but that’s all about to change. The bestselling author — who also wrote YA novels Looking For Alaska and Paper Towns — has a new book in the works, titled Turtles All the Way Down. Green’s return has been highly anticipated, and after announcing the news of his new book on Twitter and during his VidCon appearance in late June, a few choice details about it have started to trickle out (including the meaning behind that mysterious title and the release date!). Here’s what we know so far.
On his website, Green lays out the basics for the upcoming novel. It will follow 16-year-old Aza, who’s struggling «to be a good daughter, a good friend, and a good student» all while also trying to solve one of the greatest mysteries of her time. With the help of «her Best and Most Fearless Friend Daisy,» Aza sets out to uncover what happened to fugitive billionaire Russell Pickett (and possibly collect a $ 100,000 reward in the process). Aza and Daisy’s journey to Russell Pickett’s son, Davis, will be an emotional and illuminating one, as Aza also attempts to deal with her own mental illness.
The Real-Life Inspiration
During Green’s Ask Me Anything session on Reddit in 2015, the 39-year-old author opened up about his experience with obsessive compulsive disorder and anxiety. «I’ve known that I have this mental illness for a long time, and I’ve had a lot of therapy and learned a lot of strategies for dealing with my illness,» he wrote. «I know the benefits of exercise and meditation and medication and CBT strategies and etc.»
In a statement from publisher Dutton Books, an imprint of Penguin Young Readers, Green revealed that Turtles All the Way Down was written as a way for him to work through his own struggles with mental illness. «This is my first attempt to write directly about the kind of mental illness that has affected my life since childhood, so while the story is fictional, it is also quite personal,» he said.
The Title’s Meaning
«Turtles all the way down» is actually a popular expression in cosmology that comes from an anecdote explaining «the unmoved mover» paradox. It posits that Earth is actually flat and is riding on the back of «a World Turtle,» which itself is on the back of another turtle, and so on. The end of the anecdote concludes that it’s «turtles all the way down.» Apparently Aza will be a fan of The Big Bang Theory.
The Book Cover
— John Green (@johngreen) August 10, 2017
The Release Date
It’s set to hit bookshelves on Oct. 10.
Just when you thought James Corden couldn’t possibly come up with another amazing idea for The Late Late Show (honestly, what could top Carpool Karaoke?), he goes and and taps into one of the ’90s biggest anthems. Before there was Taylor Swift‘s «Bad Blood,» Brandy and Monica battled it out on the iconic 1998 track «The Boy Is Mine.» The late night host decided to put a fresh spin on things on Wednesday by changing the lyrics to «The Boyega Is Mine» and fighting over John Boyega with Transparent actor Jeffrey Tambor. There really are no words, so just take it all in right now.
The breadth of last night’s episode of Last Week Tonight focused on Trump’s border policy (see the video above), and we’ll dig deeply into that below. But before that, we must acknowledge John Oliver’s savage takedown of Stephen Miller, ‘one of the most revolting humans I have ever seen.»
«You know, in a way, there is no more fitting spokesman for the Trump administration than an entitled, elitist asshole who refuses to take responsibility for the messes he makes and that can somehow manage to pick a fight with a fucking statue.»
Meanwhile, I don’t want to take away from the importance of Last Week Tonight‘s segment on Trump’s new border policy; I feel like Oliver might have gotten it basically covered. Instead I need to talk about the inclusion of lie detector tests during the U.S. Border Patrol’s hiring process. Specifically, «why?» and «don’t.»
See, John talks about how lie detector tests were administered late in the hiring process, and he seems to feel that’s a bad thing. Only the reason he thinks it’s a bad thing is because it was late. Instead of understanding that lie detection is inherently bullshit, and doesn’t have any place in any hiring process.
In fact they’re such bullshit courts won’t allow their resulted admitted as evidence. Because lie detector tests are essentially stress tests, and hearing the sentence «Did you kill your wife and children?» might, for any number of reasons, cause your heart to race. And that’s if they’re even producing results not manipulated by the test taker. So not only can this magic test not really tell if you’re lying, it can’t even tell you the exact reason it might appear that you’re lying. Like I said, bullshit.
What’s more, it was never intended to be used as anything more than bullshit. It’s most often used as an intimidation technique by police hoping to secure a confession. And the more enterprising officers among us don’t even need to administer the actual test.
So while I’m not enthusiastic about cops lying and manipulating suspects, I get it. What I don’t get is why that kind of manipulation would be needed when you’re trying to give someone a job. You have a thing that they want. If they lie to you, you take it away. The manipulation is inherent to the relationship. There’s literally no reason to bring bullshit, pseudoscience «tests» into this situation. They could easily handle this the same way they do White House Security clearance. You just make very clear that if they lie to you, they’ll lose their job, and possibly be prosecuted. Then you just let natural consequences happen because who is stupid enough to lie on-
Oh right. Jesus, they’ve even fucked up lying. Assholes.