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

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."

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."

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.

"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.

Janet Jackson loving motherhood as she gets back into her music, producer says

Published: Sunday, June 25, 2017 @ 2:52 PM

Janet Jackson performs after the Dubai World Cup at the Meydan Racecourse on March 26, 2016 in Dubai, United Arab Emirates. Friends say the Grammy Award-winning singer may be looking forward to an upcoming tour, but she loves being a new mom.
Francois Nel/Getty Images

Janet Jackson welcomed her very first child, son Eissa, in January and is having a great time being a mom!

“She’s so happy,” her longtime producer, Jimmy Jam, told Entertainment Tonight.

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“I get FaceTime [calls] at like two in the morning, usually when I’m wrapping up in the studio. It’s always just Isa [on FaceTime], she’s in the background somewhere. He’s the cutest baby in the history of babies.”

Currently living in London, Jackson is reportedly excited to get back into performing and recording music, and motherhood may have come along with some newfound creativity.

“I told her that when you have a baby, it’s going to be a whole different inspiration for you,” Jam continued.”A whole different reservoir of creativity, of cadence, of love, and all these things that have always been with you, but it doesn’t really come out until [you become a parent]. She’s recognizing that.”

In the meantime, Jackson is in the midst of finalizing her divorce from estranged husband Wissam Al Mana, with whom she shares her son.

In April, she shared the first and only picture so far of Eissa.

Courteney Cox regrets plastic surgery

Published: Thursday, June 22, 2017 @ 12:35 PM

In an interview with New Beauty, former “Friends” star Courteney Cox opened up about the plastic surgery that she got as a younger woman --  some that she’s come to regret and in some cases is having reversed.

>> Read more trending news 

“Hollywood makes it hard; this business makes it harder. I grew up thinking appearance was the most important thing. That as long as I looked OK, I would be OK, which got me into trouble […] I was trying so hard to keep up, and that actually made things worse. Now, I’m as natural as I can be,” she said.

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Cox talked about her old outlook on plastic surgery.

“What would end up happening is that you go to a doctor who would say, ‘You look great, but what would help is a little injection here or filler there,’” she told New Beauty. “So you walk out and you don’t look so bad and you think, no one noticed — it’s good. Then somebody tells you about another doctor […] The next thing you know you’re layered and layered and layered. You have no idea because it’s gradual until you go, ‘Oh shit, this doesn’t look right.’”

Now, she says there’s a lot less than used to meet the eye, and that people are (once again) seeing her as she really is.

“I’ve had all my fillers dissolved. I’m as natural as I can be. I feel better because I look like myself,” she said. “I think that I now look more like the person that I was. […] Things are going to change. Everything’s going to drop. I was trying to make it not drop, but that made me look fake. You need movement in your face, especially if you have thin skin like I do. Those aren’t wrinkles—they’re smile lines. I’ve had to learn to embrace movement and realize that fillers are not my friend.”

See more at New Beauty.

Ellen DeGeneres calls out audience member for dishonesty

Published: Friday, June 23, 2017 @ 2:14 AM

Ellen DeGeneres tested the honesty of her audience in a recent show, and most of them passed. The one woman who didn’t was embarrassed with a reprimand on national television.

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With “Ellen” in its 14th season, DeGeneres gave her audience members the chance to choose one item from the Ellen Shop, the Huffington Post reported. What the audience didn’t know was that DeGeneres had hidden cameras trained on the table, filming the shoppers as they chose between hats, mugs and other trinkets. A sign at the table reminded the shoppers that they were limited to one free item.

“I just wanted to see how honest my audience was,” DeGeneres said during the show’s segment.

Most of the guests chose one item and one woman offered to pay for a second item, the Huffington Post reported. But a woman named Nancy failed the test.

DeGeneres played back the video to the audience and called out Nancy for taking more than one item. DeGeneres then had the embarrassed woman placed in a special chair on stage and lectured her about the importance of honesty.

It was awkward, but it’s a safe bet that Nancy learned her lesson.

Johnny Depp: ‘When was the last time an actor assassinated a president’

Published: Friday, June 23, 2017 @ 6:16 AM

Johnny Depp indruduces a screening of

Johnny Depp knew his comments to his British audience were going to spark controversy, even as he said them. The actor was speaking to an audience in a British theater Thursday when he made a vague reference to John Wilkes Booth assassinating a president, The Telegraph reported.

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Depp was taking questions at the Cinemageddon at the Glastonbury Festival after introducing his 2004 film “The Libertine.” Deciding to discuss American politics, Depp brought up the subject of President Donald Trump.

“Can we bring Trump here?” he asked.

The crowd booed and yelled “No,” CNN reported.

“I’m not insinuating anything -- by the way, this will be in the press and it will horrible,” Depp said. “But when was the last time an actor assassinated a president?”

Responding to loud cheer, Depp then said, “I want to clarify. I’m not an actor. I lie for a living.”

President Abraham Lincoln was assassinated by Booth, an actor, in April 1865.

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The Secret Service is aware of Depp’s comments, staff assistant Shawn Holtzclaw told CNN.

“For security reasons, we cannot discuss specifically nor in general terms the means and methods of how we perform our protective responsibilities,” CNN reported, citing a statement from the Secret Service.

Depp played Trump last year in a spoof called “Funny or Die Presents Donald Trump’s The Art of the Deal: The Movie,” CNN reported.