I've written everything from breaking news hits and explainers to lengthy features and Q&A's. 

NBC News: Culture & Trends

Daniel Radcliffe on playing a very shirtless 'Weird Al' in new satirical biopic

When people think of "Weird Al" Yankovic, they usually think of comedic takes on hit songs from his heyday in the 1980s and 1990s.

They likely don't ever think of him as regularly shirtless.

But in the upcoming “Weird: The Al Yankovic Story,” actor Daniel Radcliffe plays a very exaggerated version of Yankovic, who quite often appears shirtless on screen. After the movie's trailer dropped, many "thirsting" fans quickly began to notice.

"I'm shirtless more as 'Weird Al' than as anything I’ve do

Johnny Depp wins defamation suit against Amber Heard

Johnny Depp won a defamation suit Wednesday against his former wife Amber Heard after a jury found that she had defamed Depp in saying that he had abused her over the course of their relationship.

Depp, who was not in court Wednesday due to a previously scheduled work commitment, sued for $50 million in damages over a 2018 opinion-editorial essay by Heard in The Washington Post, in which she said she had become a “public figure representing domestic abuse.” Although the essay never mentioned De

'Fantastic Beasts' returns with its third installment this weekend. Do fans still find it magical?

Much has changed in the roughly four years since the previous "Fantastic Beasts" film was released.

Animosity toward creator J.K. Rowling over her views on the transgender community, which some have called transphobic, has grown.

Actor Mads Mikkelsen replaced Johnny Depp as dark wizard Gellert Grindelwald following backlash surrounding Depp, who is in a defamation legal battle with ex-wife Amber Heard, who he alleges falsely portrayed him as a domestic abuser in an opinion piece published in T

Inside the HBO series that deep dives into Lakers dynasty

LOS ANGELES — Ask anyone involved with HBO’s new series “Winning Time,” and they’ll tell you that the story of the Los Angeles Lakers’ rise to fame circa the early '80s is both timely and timeless.

For one thing, everyone loves the story of an underdog determined to prove the world wrong. That was apparent in the team itself at the time, and the team’s late owner Jerry Buss. While the Lakers are the textbook definition of the NBA establishment today, this was not the case back then.


How ‘Abbott Elementary’ is making America’s educators feel seen

Meridith Cooper considers herself more of a Janine. Her mom, Marnie, though, is more of a Barbara.

The two, who are both teachers, said they text every week about ABC's “Abbott Elementary," a mockumentary series that follows the lives of educators at an underfunded public school in Philadelphia. The freshman sitcom, which aired its premiere in December, was created by Quinta Brunson, 32, who also stars as second-grade teacher Janine Teagues.

Cooper's mom has been teaching for more than 20 year

Social media plays an unexpected role in Asghar Farhadi's 'A Hero'

Two-time Oscar-winning director Asghar Farhadi didn't set out to make a movie where social media plays a prominent part. The Iranian filmmaker doesn't even use social media much.

But in "A Hero," his latest Iran-set drama, social media proves critical to the inevitable downfall of protagonist Rahim (played by Amir Jadidi).

The working-class man, who has spent three years in jail for defaulting on a debt, is given a few days off from his stint. During that time, while trying to change his fate,

What sets 'How I Met Your Father' apart from 'How I Met Your Mother'

Just ask the cast and creators of Hulu’s “How I Met Your Father,” a new show set in the same universe as the popular CBS sitcom “How I Met Your Mother.”

The original show, which starred Josh Radnor, Jason Segel, Neil Patrick Harris, Cobie Smulders and Alyson Hannigan, ended in March 2014 after nine seasons. It centered on Ted, an architect played by Radnor, and his search for love in his 20s, and then it jumped ahead 25 years as an older Ted (voiced by the late Bob Saget) told his future childr

'Station Eleven' is a post-apocalyptic show, but it's not all doom and gloom

It's not lost on showrunner Patrick Somerville that his post-apocalyptic drama "Station Eleven" debuted just as omicron, the latest coronavirus variant, began to race around the globe.

The HBO Max series, based on Emily St. John Mandel's 2014 novel of the same name, follows survivors of a devastating flu as they try to rebuild while coping with what they've lost.

Although the series began filming before the pandemic upended everyone's lives, the parallels are hard to ignore. There are scenes a

CNN: National & Politics News

Love in the time of coronavirus: Couples share how they found matches in the middle of a pandemic

If you asked Alec Mahon one month ago whether he believed in love, he’d probably tell you he had “given up.”

When coronavirus first hit in March, the freelance production manager paid about $30 for a three-month premium subscription on the dating app Hinge – and he figured he’d just keep swiping until that ended.

Like many, the 29-year-old used dating apps like Hinge as a way to connect with others, especially since making in-person connections had become nearly impossible with Covid-19 shutdo

People are ditching their homes and joining their friends to avoid isolation. It's called quaranteaming

They are best friends and coworkers who normally go to Coachella together every year.

But in 2020, the coronavirus pandemic has made their regular sojourn to the desert for the April music festival impossible.

So, Charles Lichaa and Lo Noulinthavong decided to throw their own “homecoachella.”

At Lichaa’s West Hollywood, California, apartment last week, the two 30-year-olds sported colorful bandanas as masks, like they would in Coachella where the wind often blows dust around the festival grou

These immunocompromised college students felt isolated when the fall semester began. So they did something about it

At first, Cameron Lynch thought she would need prepared questions for the group to discuss in their first Zoom call.

On the list of proposed topics: “Have you had a hard time with friends in the pandemic?”, “Are you planning to go back to school in the fall?” and “How have you been coping on a day-to-day basis?”

But Lynch quickly realized that the group of immunocompromised college students didn’t need questions to guide them. They just wanted to talk about their shared feeling of isolation du

In Huntington Beach, a George Floyd protest was deemed an unlawful assembly. A stay-at-home protest one month ago was not

It was the tale of two protests.

In Huntington Beach, California, on Sunday, hundreds demonstrated over the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old unarmed black man who died at the hands of police in Minneapolis. Protesters held signs that read “End Racism” and “Black Lives Matter,” according to CNN affiliate KTLA.

Police deemed the gathering an unlawful assembly, and asked the hundreds of protesters to disperse, police officials said in a statement.

One month ago, a different protest in the sa

Following backlash, LA officials say they won't criminally charge or fine peaceful protesters

After facing backlash over how Los Angeles Police Department officials treated protesters during the first week of demonstrations following George Floyd’s death, city officials on Monday said they will not prosecute those arrested for curfew violations and failure to disperse.

“Our Office will be creating opportunities for violators to participate in an exchange of ideas and perspectives – as well as a discussion of tangible steps that can be taken by individuals, communities, law enforcement a

In California's smoke-filled horizon, it's become hard to breathe

For West Coast residents, the anxiety that comes with fire season is all too familiar.

It’s common to have an emergency bag – filled with items like a first-aid kit, a flashlight, a portable cellphone battery pack and a map marked with at least two evacuation routes – at the ready. And along with the emergency bag, a plan at the ready for places to stay if you need to evacuate.

But this year, with air so thick with smoke it’s hard to breathe, the fires, which span beyond California into Oregon

What it's like for Iran's expats to watch protests unfold | Politics

Alaleh Kamran is having flashbacks. Since protests broke out in her home country of Iran last week, the Los Angeles resident has been glued to the news, social media and Telegram, the app used by many Iranians to communicate.

“When I see or hear the people of Iran, chanting in the streets, I feel the same angst, panic, anxiety, the same rush of blood to my armpits, and ears, and the coldness and dampness to my fingers and toes [as I did with the Revolution],” said Kamran, an attorney. “I choke

Everything you need to know about the travel ban: A timeline | Politics

The Supreme Court upheld the constitutionality of the latest version of President Donald Trump’s travel ban Tuesday, holding that the President was within his authority when he blocked travel from several countries, most of which are predominantly Muslim.

Here’s a look at everything that’s happened over the last 18 months that has led up to Tuesday’s Supreme Court decision.

Trump, then a Republican presidential front-runner, called for banning all Muslims from entering the United States.


How Trump's travel ban motivated some Muslim Americans to run for office | Politics

Fayrouz Saad, a 34-year-old Muslim American, said her mom, a Lebanese immigrant, is “not a sign-waving sort of person.”

But when President Donald Trump implemented the first iteration of his travel ban in January 2017 – which temporarily kept immigrants from seven predominantly Muslim nations from entering the US – Saad said her mom was adamant about trekking to the Detroit Metropolitan Airport, where one of many anti-ban protests erupted across the US.

As Saad stood alongside her mother, sist

On Persian New Year, Trump slams Iranian rulers | Politics

President Donald Trump had a message to Iranians celebrating Persian New Year, known as Nowruz: Your country’s government is corrupt.

He began the statement wishing “a beautiful and blessed Nowruz” to people across the globe, but went on to slam Iran’s government and military leaders. The holiday, which this year falls on Tuesday, marks the arrival of spring. It’s celebrated by millions across the globe.

“The history of Nowruz is rooted in Iran, where for millennia a proud nation has overcome

Inside Funny or Die and Billy Eichner's plan to 'Glam Up The Midterms' | Politics

For years, comedian Billy Eichner has been known for screaming at people about pop culture on the streets of New York for his show “Billy on the Street.”

Now, he wants to yell at people about something else: politics.

“I’ve been shouting about silly things – actors, Oscars, thing I’ve always cared about,” he told CNN in a recent interview. “But I want to use my voice to shout at people about more significant things.”

Enter Funny or Die – Will Ferrell and Adam McKay’s 11-year-old comedy websit

The Parkland kids keep checking their privilege | Politics

Ahead of the March for our Lives rally, Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School student David Hogg said the media’s biggest mistake while covering the school’s shooting was “not giving black students a voice.”

“My school is about 25 percent black, but the way we’re covered doesn’t reflect that.” Hogg said during an Axios event Friday.

Hogg, one of the core members of the #NeverAgain Movement, hasn’t shied away from acknowledging his privilege. In fact, “privilege” came up in many of the speeches

Thousands of women have one message: Vote | Politics

What happens in Las Vegas on Sunday won’t stay in Las Vegas.

Or at least that’s what organizers of the Women’s March are hoping after their first ever “#PowertothePolls” activation in Nevada, which was designed to both celebrate and build on the momentum of last year’s Inaugural Women’s March.

Thousands — many who sported signature pink hats and anti-Trump, pro-women’s rights posters — flocked to Sam Boyd Stadium as early as 5:30 a.m. in crisp desert temperatures for the event. It was a smalle

Comey draws big crowds to DC bars for politics and pints | Politics

Jimmy Zuma regretted not getting to Shaw’s Tavern earlier.

There was already a line to get into the DC bar at 9:40 a.m. Thursday, and Zuma, a retired journalist, was among many Washingtonians flocking to local taverns to watch ousted FBI Director James Comey’s Senate testimony.

“This should have been a national holiday,” Zuma mused.

Lines had formed outside the establishment as early as 8:15 a.m., with many – including journalists – trying to cut the line to get inside in time to hear the tes

Police spray tear gas at protesters following Trump's Phoenix rally | Politics

What began as a peaceful protest outside the Phoenix Convention Center turned chaotic Tuesday evening as police officers used tear gas to manage the thousands protesting President Donald Trump’s rally there.

The protests come more than a week after demonstrations in Charlottesville, Virginia, where clashes between white supremacists and counter-protestors turned violent and resulted in one death. Trump drew widespread condemnation for his response to the Virginia clashes, in which he blamed “bo

Hundreds brave Phoenix heat to line up early for Trump rally | Politics

One-hundred-degree Arizona weather didn’t faze supporters of President Donald Trump on Tuesday as they lined up as early as 8 a.m. local time outside the Phoenix Convention Center ahead of his rally.

“I think it’s important that he knows that he is supported even though a lot of people say, ‘He is not my president,’” Beth Gadzick, who was standing in line holding a Trump flag, told CNN. “I’m sorry but he IS your president, and I think it’s important to be united as one country.”

Gadzick was am

Many say Trump's condemnation of hate groups is not enough | Politics

It took President Donald Trump less than an hour to denounce Merck Pharma’s Ken Frazier on Twitter after the executive resigned from the President’s Manufacturing Council.

But it took Trump two days – and outcry from lawmakers and many other people on social media – to condemn white nationalists and neo-Nazis who gathered in Charlottesville, Virginia, for a “Unite the Right” rally. The event led to the death of counter-protester Heather Heyer, who was killed after a car plowed into a crowd. Tru

If there are tapes, can the White House be forced to turn them over? | Politics

Trump tweeted, 'James Comey better hope that there are no 'tapes' of our conversations before he starts leaking to the press!' Former FBI Director James Comey said in his testimony, 'Lordy, I hope there are tapes'

For President Richard Nixon, the controversy over his secret White House tape recordings began with a break-in at the Watergate Hotel. If President Donald Trump is also keeping recordings of his conversations, any controversy over those will have begun with a tweet.

On May 12, three

Mashable: Internet Culture/Entertainment

Apple Originals

Heartfelt shout-outs to Tim Cook from the Emmys and Oscars stages -- how would that sound? Or lest we get too ahead of ourselves, how about a title card that reads "Apple Films" or "An Apple Original Series" in front of your favorite new movie or TV show? It all has a bit of a ring to it, right? Apple is undeniably at work on a future in which it produces original movies and TV shows on the level of fellow tech titans Netflix, Amazon and Hulu. The evidence can’t be denied: Top Apple brass have b

What the digital video world can learn from the death of Vessel and Vine

That was the general reaction from digital stars on the "Multi Platform Strategies" panel at VidCon, a three-day conference dedicated to digital video, earlier this year.

Meghan McCarthy, DeStorm Power, Lexie Lombard and Amanda Steele -- all successful stars on various platforms -- were being asked which platforms they have experimented with and which ones they actually still like to use. Vessel wasn't on their list, let alone on their radar. Meanwhile, they said Vine, known for six second vide

Sex, lies and YouTube: The predatory side of internet fame

It only took one interaction for April Fletcher to get sucked in. It was at the E3 conference in 2011, and Fletcher was there for work. At the time, she didn’t really know what YouTube was. Still, YouTuber Toby Turner(opens in a new tab), she recalled, had a goofy grin and a knack for enchanting large crowds. His demeanor was almost annoying. They exchanged numbers. They Facetimed. They texted. She eventually even moved to L.A. It was all normal – until one day, she realized it wasn’t. She says

'VidCon's gone Hollywood': Movie studios, TV networks go where the teens are

ANAHEIM, California -- After standing in line for 20 minutes, it was finally Aimee Evans' turn to get her wand master training.

"Reparo!" she exclaimed, while waving her wand at a screen before her. One minute later, a video of the moment was sent to her phone.

But Evans wasn't channeling her inner witch at the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. The 21-year-old was among the 30,000 attendees who flocked to Anaheim for VidCon, an annual three-day conference dedicated to all things digital video.

Bill Nye is back: The science guy talks new Netflix show

Much has changed in the world since 1998, when Bill Nye's American half-hour live action science program came to an end.

But the on-air personality -- affectionately known as "the science guy" to most millennials -- certainly hasn't.

"Hey Bill, fix the bow tie!" executive producer and showrunner Michael Naidus yelled to Nye at an October taping of his new Netflix show Bill Nye Saves the World.

"The most important thing!" Nye joked back, adjusting his signature bowtie before the camera began r

Mindy Kaling and 'The Mindy Project' cast chat Season 5 premiere and what's next

Warning: This post contains spoilers for season five of The Mindy Project.

That's perhaps the reaction you -- and many other fans of The Mindy Project -- had when watching the season five premiere of the Hulu series when Dr. Mindy Lahiri makes a bold decision. She doesn't pick Danny or Jody, she picks herself.

But Mindy Kaling -- showrunner and star of the series -- knew it was something that her on-screen persona needed to do in order for the season five storyline to unfold.

Mashable chatted

Hillary Clinton continues to court millennials with town hall for digital stars

LOS ANGELES -- Hillary Clinton has made countless trips to Hollywood to woo A-list executives and stars.

But on Tuesday, the Democratic Presidential candidate had to win over another group of celebrities: digital influencers.

Over 90 Vine and YouTube stars gathered to ask Clinton questions in the first ever Digital Content Creators Town Hall.

The event, held in Hollywood, was designed to get millennials and Gen Zers -- aka creators and their fans -- excited about the presidential election.

Here's what it was like inside the Vanity Fair Oscars afterparty

BEVERLY HILLS, Calif. -- If you weren't allowed to tweet, take pictures or do any interviews at the hottest Oscar afterparty, were you really there?

Answer: Yes, but you're pretty much invisible among the 14page roster of Hollywood A-listers.

And that's OK -- because it's the Vanity Fair Oscars Party. And there was In N Out.

The VF event, hosted by Graydon Carter, has long been the hottest Oscars afterparty. This year was no different, with the The Wallis Annenberg Center for the Performing

If PewDiePie survives this scandal, anything goes

How far is too far?

For PewDiePie -- ranked Forbes' highest-paid YouTube star of 2015 and 2016 -- that question had never been a problem.

In the last year, the Swedish gamer has: tweeted that he and YouTuber Jacksepticeye have "joined ISIS"; bashed reporters for singling him out in articles about the Federal Trade Commission and Warner Bros. "pay for play" settlement; hated on a rival channel which stars a 5-year-old; and trolled fans by saying he would delete his channel after he reached 50 m

Here's what happened at Lilly Singh's lavish Hollywood premiere

LOS ANGELES -- It was hard to hear 17-year-old Magaly Vera behind the sound of her sobbing. As she wiped tears with one hand, she carefully clutched a curled-up poster in the other, making sure it didn't drop to the ground or get too crinkled.

"Lilly [Singh] signed it," the Anaheim, Calif. native said, slowly beginning to crack a smile. "She's so sweet, so inspirational and she never gives up."

That pure love for YouTube star Lilly Singh -- known as Super Woman to her fans -- is what drove hun

Colleen Ballinger brings YouTuber Miranda Sings' backstory to life in new Netflix show

LOS ANGELES — It was Netflix's first time at VidCon, a three-day conference dedicated to digital influencers and their huge fan bases.

At the June event in Anaheim, the streaming giant set up a lounge to promote a handful of its family-themed shows, including Fuller House, the upcoming Gilmore Girls reboot and Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt.

But the hundreds of teens who came and went through the lounge were mostly pre-occupied by a different display in the corner.

There, they gathered and stood i

Fine Bros. Entertainment 'reacts': The company rebrands, expands following YouTube copyright drama

BURBANK, California -- How do you react to poor fan reaction?

That was the question that Benny and Rafi Fine, the brothers known for their popular YouTube channels, had to ask themselves in January after many of their viewers became angered over their (now defunct) initiative.

The duo's goal was to give creators worldwide access to 11 of their company's various shows and trademarks, including their franchise of "react" videos (in which groups of people, including kids, teens and adults, react

Los Angeles Times: Entertainment & National News

Great Read: A head-shot studio on wheels: ‘That’s so L.A.’

The bright magenta van parked alongside Pan Pacific Park near the Grove could be mistaken for any one of the scores of gourmet food trucks roaming the streets of Los Angeles.

But passersby did a double take as they read the sign written in white text across its side:

“Wow, that’s so L.A.,” Robert Lewis, 35, said as he walked by with his two bulldogs.

In a city where a head shot is an actor’s calling card, it used to be easy to get a studio-quality photo. But many of the traditional photo stud

Climbing the Hollywood ladder, one coffee or script delivery at a time

Just before midnight, as 25-year-old JP Erickson was getting ready to go to bed, his phone buzzed.

“Are you available tomorrow at 5:30 a.m.?”

The text was from the production coordinator of a low-budget movie offering a day’s work as an unpaid production assistant.

First thought: Unpaid and early — still worth going?

Then he looked up the address: A 45-minute drive from my apartment.

Not too far. Not close, either. But as a production assistant, commonly known as a PA, Erickson is used to l

Great Read: Low-budget films rely on shortcuts

In a quiet hillside home in Topanga Canyon, filmmaker Brian McGuire instructed his cast members to take their shirts off, put their sunglasses on, snort fake cocaine and “party hard.”

The 20-person cast and crew were filming a party scene for McGuire’s low-budget production in a “borrowed” home. Permission wasn’t a problem — a friend of McGuire’s who had helped decorate the house knew where the key was.

“We didn’t even think we were trespassing, really,” McGuire said of the home, which was on

YouTube's '@SummerBreak': reality TV for the social-media generation

It’s a sweltering 90-degree day, and 17-year-old Dash Dobrofsky, who normally spends his summer days hanging near Tower 26 on the beach in Santa Monica, is inside a Melrose Avenue cake shop, a crisp, white apron over his bro tank and a camera crew over his shoulder. He and his friends Jacob and Ava, each with their own unfrosted cake, are in the middle of a decorating session when things get competitive between the two male cast members of the teen YouTube reality show “@SummerBreak.”

Dash sket

Hack at Sony Pictures shuts computer system

Sony Pictures Entertainment suffered a widespread hack that rendered the film studio’s computer systems useless, in a twist right out of a cybersecurity thriller movie.

Employees of the Culver City-based studio who tried to log on to their work computers Monday were greeted with an ominous warning. An image of a sneering red skeleton appeared on the screen under “Hacked By #GOP,” reportedly short for “Guardians of Peace,” and a list of threats.

Then the system went dark.

Staff from coast to c

Sony calls on media to stop publishing hacked documents

Stunned by a massive leak of sensitive documents, Sony Pictures Enterprises embarked Sunday on an attempt to contain the crisis by discouraging further media coverage of the leaked emails, which have embarrassed Hollywood stars and the studio’s top executives.

Lawyer David Boies, writing on Sony’s behalf to the Los Angeles Times and other news organizations, described the leaked material as “stolen information” and called on media outlets to destroy emails or other Sony documents in their posse

Sony debuts 'The Interview' online, upending Hollywood-tech equation

Sony’s decision to stream the controversial comedy “The Interview” has upended the often fractious relationship between Silicon Valley’s biggest Internet company and Hollywood’s film industry.

Google has repeatedly clashed with major studios over the piracy of films, which can be readily viewed and downloaded online. In fact, leaked emails from the hack of Sony Pictures show that film studios launched a project to counter the influence of “Goliath,” a code name used for Google.

But on Wednesda

Sony hackers issue threat in latest message: 'The world will be full of fear'

The hacking group behind the Sony cyber security attack has made its first physical threat.

In a message sent at around 9:30 a.m., the group -- calling itself Guardians of Peace -- issued a warning along with what appears to be files related to Sony Pictures CEO and Chairman Michael Lynton.

“We will clearly show it [our Christmas gift] to you at the very time and places ‘The Interview’ be shown, including the premiere, how bitter fate those who seek fun in terror should be doomed to,” the hack

Parents at VidCon snap photos of their kids, hide out in 'parents' lounge'

Ron Roza used to travel the world to follow his idol, Bruce Springsteen. Now, he is traveling to follow his daughters’ idol: Joey Graceffa.

Graceffa is a YouTube star, one of hundreds at the sixth annual VidCon conference held at the Anaheim Convention Center. An estimated 20,000 fans, including Roza’s 12- and 10-year-old daughters, flocked to the three-day event to catch panels featuring YouTube stars and workshops on becoming an online celebrity.

“This is the new wave,” Roza, a Montreal resi

'Fifty Shades of Grey' audience: applause, laughter, groans (of pain)

This Valentine’s Day, 73-year-old Roselle Teplitsky had a plan: use her discount movie pass to see “Fifty Shades of Grey.”

Teplitsky said she had a friend, about 75, for whom something about the book and movie excited her. “There’s nothing much that excites this woman, so if she can get excited, I figure maybe there must be something there,” Teplitsky said.

The Pacific Palisades resident hasn’t read E.L. James’ erotic novel, but she was curious about the film adaptation, which opened over the

Denver issues 10 finalized licenses to recreational marijuana stores

The cannabis market in Colorado continues to reach new highs as several store owners in Denver picked up their retail marijuana licenses Friday.

The store owners began lining up outside the Mile High City’s Department of Excise and Licenses before the doors opened at 8 a.m., Amber Miller, a city spokeswoman, said in an email to the Los Angeles Times.

Denver is among the 26 Colorado municipalities and counties that will allow medical marijuana businesses to begin transitioning into retail marij

Utah gay marriage ruling brings mixed emotions

Laurie Wood and Kody Partridge of Salt Lake City didn’t know they were going to get married on Friday.

They didn’t even have the time to tell anyone. Wood was so frazzled she almost forgot to grab her driver’s license before heading to the Salt Lake County clerk’s office.

The couple, plaintiffs in a Utah court case seeking to end the state’s ban on same-sex marriage, were in shock when they heard the news Friday that U.S. District Judge Robert J. Shelby had struck down that very law, which was

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