Allison Janney on Broadway, 'The West Wing' legacy and Trump

Published: Friday, April 21, 2017 @ 6:00 AM

In this March 29, 2017 photo, Allison Janney poses for a portrait in New York. Janney, who won Emmy Awards for her work in “The West Wing” and “Mom,” is starring in a Broadway revival of “Six Degrees of Separation.” (Photo by Brian Ach/Invision/AP)
Brian Ach/Brian Ach/Invision/AP
In this March 29, 2017 photo, Allison Janney poses for a portrait in New York. Janney, who won Emmy Awards for her work in “The West Wing” and “Mom,” is starring in a Broadway revival of “Six Degrees of Separation.” (Photo by Brian Ach/Invision/AP)(Brian Ach/Brian Ach/Invision/AP)

Allison Janney recently found comfort in the fact that she shares something special with the late Sir Laurence Olivier. Yes, acting, of course. But also this: panic attacks.

The Emmy-winning actress from "The West Wing" and "Mom" confesses she's been Googling her nervous symptoms and whom she shares them with as she makes her Broadway return.

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"I'm not going to lie. There's a considerable amount of nerves, panic attacks," she says. "It kind of gets more acute as you get older, for some reason. I don't know why. It should get easier as we get older. I'm going to have to find a mantra."

When it comes to the wonderfully warm Janney, even her bout of nerves is refreshing. The actress — who has two Tony Award nominations — has built a huge following for her smart, heartfelt performances in everything from "The Way Way Back" to "Masters of Sex."

"I think part of the reason I love acting is I never feel more connected than I do when I'm onstage or working with another actor," she says. "I feel like I have a purpose and a reason. It makes me feel connected in a way that sometimes eludes me in my day in and day out life."

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The self-confessed workaholic says she's having one of the busiest years of her life, juggling a movie — "I, Tonya," in which she plays skating star Tonya Harding's mother — as well as the TV series "Mom" — and now onstage in a revival of the 1990 play "Six Degrees of Separation ."

The play's plot, based on a real-life incident, centers on a young black man claiming to be the son of actor Sidney Poitier who bamboozles his way through households of rich, supposedly sophisticated New Yorkers. Janney plays a woman whose comfortable life is jolted awake by the encounter.

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"I think the issues that are in 'Six Degrees of Separation' are issues we're still dealing with as a country — race and class and wanting to be loved. Everything in it resonates, sometimes I think more now than even then," she says. "It's such a beautiful, beautiful play and it breaks my heart every single night."

In this March 29, 2017 photo, Allison Janney poses for a portrait in New York. Janney, who won Emmy Awards for her work in “The West Wing” and “Mom,” is starring in a Broadway revival of “Six Degrees of Separation.” (Photo by Brian Ach/Invision/AP)(Brian Ach/Brian Ach/Invision/AP)

Janney's name came up for the revival of John Guare's play initially as a bit of dream casting on the part of Trip Cullman, the show's director. He fell in love with her when she was playing the fast-talking White House press secretary C.J. Cregg on television's "The West Wing."

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"You just always love to listen to Allison Janney talk," says Cullman, who said she captures both the chilly patrician essence of the "Six Degrees" role and also its enormous warmth. "She is as kind as she is talented, as funny as she is heartbreaking in the role."

In this March 29, 2017 photo, Allison Janney poses for a portrait in New York. Janney, who won Emmy Awards for her work in “The West Wing” and “Mom,” is starring in a Broadway revival of “Six Degrees of Separation.” (Photo by Brian Ach/Invision/AP)(Brian Ach/Brian Ach/Invision/AP)

That Janney snagged the Broadway gig at least in part because she previously played Cregg makes perfect sense: The actress is still a little in awe of that part she played for seven years.

"Of all the roles I've ever played, I wish I was most like her," she says. "I look up to her and wish I could be more like her. I loved her smarts, her heart, everything. It was pretty exciting to get to play her."

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Nostalgia for "The West Wing," which ended its run in 2006, is on the rise, with fans fondly recalling a steady, kindly president surrounded by staffers who were whip-smart, honorable and caring. That fictional West Wing seems better than the real thing to many people, including Janney.

In this March 29, 2017 photo, Allison Janney poses for a portrait in New York. Janney, who won Emmy Awards for her work in “The West Wing” and “Mom,” is starring in a Broadway revival of “Six Degrees of Separation.” (Photo by Brian Ach/Invision/AP)(Brian Ach/Brian Ach/Invision/AP)

"It's just a very confusing time now for the world and Washington and for all of us. It's kind of like a reality show that you don't want to watch. I know I'm having difficulty watching it. I feel unmoored," she says.

Has she watched any briefings from the real press secretary, Sean Spicer? "I have been able to watch few of them because I get so embarrassed and it is too upsetting for me to watch them," she says. "I can't even talk about it."

She may just have to find a mantra for that, too.

Kim Kardashian West, Kanye West’s newborn daughter named Chicago

Published: Friday, January 19, 2018 @ 1:45 PM

Kim Kardashian and Kanye West Welcome Third Child, ‘Healthy, Beautiful Baby Girl’

She has a name.

Days after announcing the birth of their third child, Kim Kardashian has shared that she and her husband, rapper Kanye West, have named their daughter Chicago West.

On Tuesday, Kardashian West confirmed the Monday birth of Chicago on her official website.

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“Kanye and I are happy to announce the arrival of our healthy, beautiful baby girl,” she said in a statement. “We are incredibly grateful to our surrogate who made our dreams come true with the greatest gift one could give and to our wonderful doctors and nurses for their special care. North and Saint are especially thrilled to welcome their baby sister.”

Chicago West was born Jan. 15 at 12:47 a.m. PT and weighed 7 pounds, 6 ounces. She joins big brother Saint West, 2, and big sister North West, 4.

According to a tweet from the new mom of three, Chicago will go by the name Chi, pronounced “Shy,” as in the abbreviated name of the city.

It was confirmed in September that the celebrity couple were expecting a third child via gestational carrier.

People reported that Kardashian West, 37, said her decision to hire a gestational surrogate came after her two high-risk pregnancies.

“I have always been really honest about my struggles with pregnancy,” she said on her website Thursday. “Preeclampsia and placenta accreta are high-risk conditions, so when I wanted to have a third baby, doctors said that it wasn’t safe for my — or the baby’s — health to carry on my own.”

“After exploring many options, Kanye and I decided to use a gestational carrier. Although I have used the term surrogate in the past, a gestational carrier is actually the technical term for a woman who carries a baby that she has no biological relationship to.

“A traditional surrogate donates her egg, is artificially inseminated with the father’s sperm and then carries the baby to term. Since we implanted my fertilized egg in our gestational carrier, our baby is biologically mine and Kanye’s. You can either choose someone that you know or you can go through an agency, like Kanye and I did.

“I’m so grateful for modern technology and that this is even possible,” Kardashian West wrote. “It’s not for everyone, but I absolutely love my gestational carrier and this was the best experience I’ve ever had. Our gestational carrier gave us the greatest gift one could give.”

Video: Astronaut Buzz Aldrin gets upset with Delta agent over missed flight

Published: Thursday, January 18, 2018 @ 4:24 PM

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin was seen on video getting upset with a Delta Air Lines agent when he missed his flight.
Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for WE
Astronaut Buzz Aldrin was seen on video getting upset with a Delta Air Lines agent when he missed his flight.(Dimitrios Kambouris/Getty Images for WE)

Astronaut Buzz Aldrin got upset with a Delta Air Lines agent after missing a flight at Los Angeles International Airport, according to TMZ video posted Tuesday.

Aldrin was told he wouldn’t be able to get on the flight, which prompted his frustration

 >> Read more trending news 

The issue was that it was past the check-in cutoff time at Los Angeles International for the flight, but the agent offered to rebook him on an alternate flight.

“Are you operating an airline here or not?” Aldrin asked on the video. “We’ve been sitting here now 20 minutes waiting for somebody to come and fix a two-minute problem…. This is the most lousy operation I’ve ever seen.” 

At one point, Aldrin stands up out of his wheelchair, frustrated about having to be booked on an alternate flight.

A TMZ cameraman later caught up with Aldrin, who seemed to have cooled off. “Look, my son worked for Delta, I know the people quite well,” Aldrin said.

The astronaut said he’d get a later flight.

Dolly Parton earns two Guinness World Records

Published: Thursday, January 18, 2018 @ 12:36 PM

What You Need To Know: Dolly Parton

Dolly Parton has yet another accomplishment to add to her already legendary list: two world records.

Billboard reported the singer and songwriter holds Guinness World Records for the most decades with a Top 20 hit on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart, with six decades, and most hits on Billboard’s Hot Country Songs chart by a female artist, with 107 hits.

>> Read more trending news 

Parton has Top 20 Billboard hits across six consecutive decades, starting with 1967’s “Something Fishy” and ending with a 2016 version of her 1974 song, “Jolene” with Pentatonix. That same 2016 song set the record for her 107th Hot Country Songs chart entry. Her first was “Dumb Blonde” in 1967.

“To receive these two Guinness World Records is so great,” Parton said in a statement. Joining so many wonderful singers and songwriters who have been honoured this way feels so special to me. You never know when you start out with your work how it’s going to turn out, but to have these two world records makes me feel very humbled and blessed!”

Parton’s six-decade run puts her in the company of George Jones, the only other country artist who spent more than five decades on the Hot Country Songs chart.

Speaking to Guinness World Records about her songwriting process, Parton said it comes from her own experiences.

“I’ve always just written from my heart,” she said. “I try not to dwell on just trying to be commercial and what's a radio hit or whatever. Usually when an idea hits me, it comes from my heart, but I still try to be alert and to be aware and to try to be as up-to-date as I can be, and evidently I’m doing alright after all these decades.”

Ellen Pompeo returning to ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ for two more seasons, earning $20 million

Published: Wednesday, January 17, 2018 @ 4:35 PM

What You Need to Know About Ellen Pompeo

Meredith Grey is here to stay at Grey Sloan Memorial Hospital — for at least two more seasons.

Deadline reported that the star of “Grey’s Anatomy,” Ellen Pompeo, has signed on to continue her role for another two years. She’ll also be permanently adding the title of “producer” to her credits on the series, while also being bumped to executive producer on the forthcoming firefighter spinoff series.

>> Read more trending news 

In addition to growing her resume, Pompeo stands to rake in $575,000 per episode, which comes to $20 million a year, making her the highest-paid actress on a primetime TV drama. The show already holds the title of ABC’s highest-rated series.

Pompeo’s pay wasn’t a given, however. Like many women, she had to fight to be paid adequately, particularly compared to her male counterparts.

In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter published Wednesday, the actress said she’s now comfortable asking to be paid what she’s worth.

“I’m 48 now, so I’ve finally gotten to the place where I’m OK asking for what I deserve, which is something that comes only with age,” Pompeo said.

“For me, Patrick (Dempsey) leaving the show (in 2015) was a defining moment, deal-wise. They could always use him as leverage against me: ‘We don’t need you; we have Patrick,’ which they did for years. I don’t know if they also did that to him, because he and I never discussed our deals. There were many times where I reached out about joining together to negotiate, but he was never interested in that. At one point, I asked for $5,000 more than him just on principle, because the show is ‘Grey’s Anatomy’ and I'm Meredith Grey. They wouldn’t give it to me. And I could have walked away, so why didn’t I? It’s my show; I’m the No. 1. I’m sure I felt what a lot of these other actresses feel: ‘Why should I walk away from a great part because of a guy?’You feel conflicted but then you figure, ‘I’m not going to let a guy drive me out of my own house.’”

Pompeo said that once series creator Shonda Rhimes became more successful and had more control, it brushed off on her and allowed her to have more say in her own career.

“ (Shonda) got to a place where she was so empowered that she was generous with her power. Now, what did that look like? It looked like her letting me be the highest-paid woman on television, letting me be a producer on this show, letting me be a co-executive producer on the spinoff and signing off on the deal that the studio gave me, which is unprecedented.”

While Pompeo is excited to keep the show going, she makes no promises about when it will eventually end.

“I’ve been saying since season one, ‘We have two more years.’ This show, it’s taking on a life of its own, and who knows? We take it season by season,really,” she told Deadline.

Pompeo added, “You never think TV shows are going to go this long. Of course not, never, and especially me, I don’t ever assume things like that. I assume tomorrow everyone’s going to hate us. You got to try. You got to stay humble.”

“I’m extremely proud of the show and everyone that has worked on it in the past, everybody who’s here now,” she said, sharing that she’ll definitely let her children — Stella, 8; Sienna, 3; and Eli, 1, with husband Chris Ivery — watch when they’re old enough.

“It’s the beginning of a movement, and it’s so special to me for so many reasons. So I certainly hope they watch every episode twice,”  Pompeo said.